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Spirit grows when love goes away

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“I got into Stanford,” Stiles said, with a hollow edge to it, like it was something he'd scooped out of his subconscious and discovered wasn’t what he wanted.

Derek turned the thought over in his mind and realised that couldn’t be right.

Because lately it had been all that Stiles talked about. He wanted a degree in psychology on top of his BA in criminology because he thought it would be good for his chances getting into the FBI later on. After his brief intern stint at the FBI during high school, Stiles had attended Washington State for three years on a full ride scholarship purely because of their top ranking criminology program.

But he and Derek hadn’t been whatever they were then. They hadn’t been dating. Derek only saw him occasionally during those three years whenever he returned to Beacon Hills for Christmas break and any of the seven life threatening, earth shattering emergencies the pack had called him back to face together.

They weren’t particularly Derek’s pack anymore, but they weren’t exactly Scott’s either. They’d blended into an amalgamation of both and after several months of training wheels it had functioned somehow instead of imploding in everyone’s faces.

If the alpha pack they’d faced could have more than one alpha, then why couldn’t they?

Still, even now Derek knew it wasn’t the done thing, not the expected thing at least, but he’d long since given up any kind of resistance to the phenomenon that was Scott McCall and Stiles Stilinski when they were determined and working together.

It also didn’t hurt his chances that one of them happened to have feelings for him.

He’d known about Stiles’ infatuation from the very beginning. Back then, it hadn’t mattered because Derek would never have touched him. Not when he was barely eighteen and hadn’t seen the world yet. Or understood exactly what it offered.

Derek didn’t even think he wanted Stiles like that and it was easier not to shoot him down when Stiles disappeared off to Washington a year after he and Braeden fizzled out. He’d gotten texts every now and again, keeping him appraised of the supernatural situation out of state and even inquiring into the monster level horror of Beacon Hills, but they hadn’t really talked that much.

Beside what was necessary. Required.

And then Stiles came home and he was twenty one and still looking at Derek like he’d wanted nothing more than the chance to touch him, and Derek was surprised to find himself returning those looks. Discovering heat and longing when before there had only been frustration and the strong obligation to protect Scott’s idiotic human friend from certain death. To protect Stiles.

But they’d hardly fallen into this for very long before Stiles decided he wanted a degree in psychology too.

He’d applied to a college much closer this time, to California, and Derek had been too afraid to ask if he was the reason for that. No matter how many times Stiles insisted Stanford was the best possible college to study and maybe look into getting his masters, Derek couldn’t help but think Stiles had other motivations keeping him local.

Like Scott now that he was back from veterinary school and nearly running the clinic in Deaton’s stead while he’d taken a year off to travel the world with his sister. Or the fact that Stiles’ father, though happily dating Lydia’s mother at the moment and less happily following Stiles’ dietary plans, was within travelling distance.

And Derek, who he was currently sleeping with, exclusively, and who Stiles kept maintaining wasn’t really part of the decision to stay close at all, seriously Derek relax. And somehow now getting into Stanford was a problem? When it had very much been the focus of Stiles’ careful and scattered planning for months and months on end?

Derek refused to believe it.

“And that’s bad how?” he asked, frowning as Stiles’ heartbeat fell into one of its usual stutters.

Stiles’ heart often revealed a lot more information than his talking sometimes did. He’d always been disturbingly good at keeping things to himself. Especially when it was something important.

“I’ve been researching,” he admitted after a pause and there was a flush working its way up his throat which meant he was getting nervous. “Long distance relationships and their survival rate in college and I- well it doesn’t look good.”

Derek grinned and the sharp look that quickly overcame Stiles’ face warned that his first instinct in finding that amusing had been very wrong. Instantly, he rearranged his expression and played for detached interest though he knew Stiles would never trust it now.

“You researched whether or not we’ll be able to work out long distance?”

That would have taken time. And Stiles always tended to hyper-focus on the things he cared most about, so it was hard not to feel- satisfied in some small way by this new information.

Because it was flattering. Stiles was invested enough in them to fall into a statistics of success rabbit hole. And that would have taken hours.

That-

Derek hadn’t had anyone do that for him before.

He knew what it was like to be desired, as an object, a body that people wanted to touch and then throw away once they were bored but not like this.

Not for something so long term. A committed relationship. Sometimes it scared him how normal he and Stiles were together. In the past, he’d been used and hurt and nobody had been very interested in prolonging the arrangement once they’d gotten what they wanted from him.

Of course Stiles was different. In nearly every way imaginable.

He’d never felt more vulnerable or confused than in the last two years that they’d been dating. Derek had known pretty quickly that he didn’t understand the workings of a functioning and healthy relationship, but since Stiles hadn’t really had a serious relationship before neither of them were entirely prepared.

They’d muddled through together somehow.

But Derek still found it in himself to be surprised when Stiles respected the most obvious boundaries, listened to him, and gave unsubtle nudges in the right direction when necessary. Stiles was a protector of the things that mattered to him at heart, and it was a novelty for Derek to think at times that he fell into that category.

They were good for each other, even with his limited understanding of emotional intimacy, Derek could see that. And Scott hadn’t even been the first one to say it. When they’d first started something, Derek had had no idea that they’d fit like this, or that it would be one of the best things going for him right now.

“Yeah,” Stiles sighed, and flopped onto Derek’s couch ungracefully. “And it’s not looking good.”

The dejected expression on Stiles’ face was enough to motivate him into being open and reckless. “Screw statistics,” Derek muttered, feeling brave and stupid with it. “We’ll want each other no matter how many hours away-“

“Three hours,” Stiles interjected, frowning.

That was nothing. Derek wanted to see Stiles, even living on campus like he’d planned to so what did hours or distance matter?

“Then I drive three hours,” he said simply.

He could see the tension still sitting heavy in the dip of Stiles’ shoulders but slowly, very slowly, he was starting to smile. “You’re insane. You can’t drive that far to-“

As usual, indifference was his best weapon.

Derek shrugged.

“I’ll see you whenever you come home and if it ever gets too much I can always visit. You’d drive that long to see me. And Skype exists.”

Already Stiles was rolling his eyes. “Wow is that a new invention? I had no idea.”

Sarcasm was his best, if panicked, default.

“Stiles-“

But he was looking away, a sure sign that he was about to talk about something heartfelt. And was unsure of how that would be received. Derek stopped and waited and like always, Stiles was true to form.

“Promise me you won’t like forget my face or how you feel about me.”

Derek wanted to say that was impossible but he struggled with those kind of declarations even on a good day, and couldn’t manage to find the words. He still hadn’t mastered the art of telling Stiles that he was in love with him. Hadn’t mentioned that feat since-

Well.

It had been a long time since he’d said those words. Though he might actually mean them with Stiles. No deception. No tricks. Just what Derek truly felt. Derek didn’t think he could still be capable of love after it had blown up in his face so catastrophically. His sixteen year old self’s puppy idea of love had made him an orphan, and an enemy of himself for life.

But Stiles still got through to him anyhow. Walls weren’t made for keeping Stiles Stilinski out, even if Stiles was a little bit more unaware of that power than he should be.

“Maybe you could leave a framed photo behind,” Derek offered with an innocent expression as he slid into the spot next to Stiles that seemed to belong to him now.

Stiles smirked and shoved at Derek’s arm, and Derek let it move him back a little to spare his feelings. It was astounding how much strength simmered beneath his body in comparison. He couldn’t forget that, especially not with Stiles who bruised easy and had a penchant for making Derek stupid when they were sweaty and naked.

“I’ll leave a framed photo of my bare ass on your kitchen counter how’s that sound?”

Derek snorted out a startled laugh and nudged Stiles gently, watching his body reel backward with interest. Stiles, caught the look on his face before Derek could hide it.

“Oh my God are you toying with me?” he demanded, outraged even as he licked his lips and the scent of his arousal curled up enticingly in Derek’s nose.

Derek smirked and bent forward to put his teeth on Stiles’ neck, relishing how his scent got much sharper after that.

“Maybe,” he breathed, hot on Stiles’ skin.

The shiver that went through him next was entirely rewarding. Stiles cursed, and brought his hand up to card through Derek’s hair, holding him to Stiles’ throat as if Derek couldn’t break himself free in a moment if that was what he wanted.

But he wasn’t going anywhere.

“Ugh I hate that I’m so into that,” Stiles said, but his heartbeat was a bit more truthful. “What have you done to me.”

Derek tensed up at the words and pulled off, needing to see the expression on Stiles’ face. His eyes were closed, eyelashes fanning out prettily across his cheeks and Derek swallowed at the way Stiles’ mouth had fallen open, his expression radiating pure enjoyment.

“Where’d you go?” he asked, eyes sliding open when he realised Derek had stopped doing anything.

He was kidding. Stiles hadn’t meant it like Derek had meant it when he’d asked Jennifer that same question through a fog of magic induced confusion. But the words still felt the same, startling and wrong and it had taken him right back to that moment for a second.

“Derek? Are you okay?” Stiles wondered, picking up on his hesitation immediately.

It was funny to think his short lived encounter with Braeden, an actual real life mercenary, had been the least dysfunctional of his relationships before Stiles.

“I’m fine,” Derek said, trying out the words to see if they tested right.

They were almost true.

“Did I put my mouth in it again?” Stiles asked, getting into an upright position on the couch.

When Derek didn’t answer in the negative, and didn’t pull further away Stiles knew that the situation had passed and waggled his eyebrows suggestively instead. “Because if you want I’d be more than happy to put it somewhere else. My mouth, I mean.”

Arousal shot through Derek like a bullet and the brief moment before was left behind as his body stirred to action. “Let’s take this to the bedroom,” he suggested, in a low voice, pleased at the flush working its way up Stiles’ cheeks.

Derek moved in and kissed him because he couldn’t help it and Stiles responded in kind.

“Yeah,” Stiles agreed when they resurfaced again. “Bedroom.”

Later when they were naked and sated in Derek’s bed, he realised suddenly why Stiles’ concern about college and long distance had him so off kilter.

Derek had never had a relationship to protect before.

 


 

The pack met up with them at the big pizza restaurant in town, Cheesus Crust that night to celebrate the news. Scott came straight from work at the clinic and the others did their best to arrive reasonably on time.

Stiles secured their corner booth and Lydia secured the waiter’s attention although they were practically run off their feet and the two waitressing staff had been determinedly ignoring their table for five minutes. The guy practically fell over himself handing out menus, and stood at Lydia’s end of the booth looking like at any second he was going to try and slip his number next to her phone on the table.

It was too bad for him that she was already engaged to the woman on her left. But that was on the waiter for not looking too closely at her fingers for the engagement ring or the way one of her hands was resting on Allison’s thigh under the table.

They ordered quickly, because the pack visited often enough to know their favourites, and the waiter looked at little surprised and then nervous at the sheer amount of pizza they’d asked for.

“Don’t worry,” Isaac insisted, with a wink. “We know what we’re doing.”

The waiter looked confused for a second but nodded and took off to place their order with the kitchen. Derek wondered if the waiter realised that if he’d only directed his romantic attention a little to the right, in Isaac’s path, he probably would have been going home with him.

Isaac had a bit of a crush on that guy, a fact that most of the pack seemed to have picked up on and made fun of him for at nearly every opportunity. As they proved a second later when Erica and Cora dissolved into kissy faces at Isaac behind the retreating waiter’s back.

Isaac flicked table napkins at them in revenge, but the flush to his face was enough to show they’d gotten to him.

The pack ordered drinks for the table and dissolved into conversation to pass the waiting time. Usually it took fifteen minutes to make their food, but with the rush of customers Derek was expecting it to take double that amount.

Stiles chatted away to Cora on his right but his thigh was pressed up along Derek’s under the table like he wanted him to know he was still there. Derek turned to Boyd and started asking him about the new job he’d just started. It was outside Beacon Hills so he had to travel an hour to get there and back again every day, so Derek knew the commute was getting to him.

Boyd was explaining about his role in the chem lab at UC Berkeley when the waiter returned ten minutes later with their wine, setting down the extra glasses carefully onto the table, with one last hopeful look at Lydia before he disappeared back to the kitchen oblivious to the man at the table across as he attempted to flag him down but went on unnoticed.

Isaac poured out the two bottles of wine and he’d barely set the empty bottles onto the red table cloth before Jackson was abruptly lifting his glass to toast Stiles’ success with an expression of unconcealed insolence. He’d been a little shit as soon as they’d sat down since he didn’t like having to wait so long for his meal, Jackson was accustomed to faster service.

“Congratulations, Stilinski,” he said coolly. “We’re happy to inflict you on the undergraduates of Stanford. Let’s hope you make some friends for once and never come back.”

More than half the table was already glaring at him, though Jackson seemed uninterested in his own audience, nor their reaction to his comment as he downed his own glass.

“Cheers to Jackson walking home,” Scott suggested instead, and the table cheered and downed their classes, ignoring Jackson’s heated protests when he tried to bring up that damn Porsche again.

It was a wonder one of the pack hadn’t already crashed the thing out of pure spite. Derek had been tempted more than once.

“Yeah you’d better believe I’ll be making some serious friends at Stanford,” Stiles said a second later with a strange lilt to his voice. “All the friends cause I’m so irresistibly awesome.”

The uptick in his heart said that he wasn’t as confident as he’d tried to sound but the pack was too busy with arriving pizza to pay much attention to him.

But Derek was.

 


He waited until dinner was long since finished and Stiles had dropped Erica and Isaac home in the jeep, and they were alone in the car to bring it up.

“What you said earlier-“ Derek started, hesitant to address the issue, but trying to be sensitive. “About making friends. You were lying, weren’t you?”

Stiles hesitated, and fixed his eyes more determinedly on the road.

“I guess,” he admitted. “I always had Scott you know and everyone always wanted to be friends with Scott. Those guys I hung out with in DC, I only met them because Scott came to my orientation and became friends with them first. It’s so easy for him to meet people and instantly hit it off with them. Even as kids, and I was just the annoying one people tolerated if they wanted to hang out with him.”

Derek knew it was a real insecurity that Stiles was admitting to, one that he would have carried for a while. Even when they’d been forced into each other’s orbit, it had always started out as the Scott and Stiles show, until Stiles captured Derek’s undivided attention without really even trying.

Then Stiles become his biggest problem. In more ways than one.

“You’re not annoying,” Derek said, unable to look at Stiles either, so he stared out into the woods passing them by instead. “You’re different. Maybe a little prone to rambling. Unusual. But who isn’t.”

Stiles didn’t respond straight away, and Derek listened to the soft crooning of the woman singing on the radio instead.

“I mean you kind of have to say that, don’t you?” Stiles pointed out after a moment of silence. “Cause you’re my boyfriend.”

Boyfriend wasn’t a term Derek heard tossed around a lot when people were talking about him, and even now every time he heard it, it was a surprise. But he liked how nonchalantly Stiles did it.

He’d been a complication for Paige, something she couldn’t quite fit into her life, nor her into his and he’d been Kate’s secret until she burned his house down. It was something he didn’t want to be ever again.

Jennifer hadn’t been real, a haze of magical control and possession and Braeden hadn’t been remotely interested in labels.

But Derek was surprised to discover this was a label that he actually liked.

Boyfriend.

Derek leant across the console and trailed his fingers lightly across Stiles’ bare forearm. “I don’t have to say anything I don’t mean.”

Stiles answering blush told him that he’d been convincing even if he still kept his eyes firmly on the road and didn’t outwardly react. Derek was pleased to have done it right. He’d been called insensitive before.

More than once.

“And you know I love all you guys, love the pack,” Stiles continued, hurrying to clarify he wasn’t abandoning them. “And it’s not that I don’t feel like I don’t belong here but-“

“You want to meet more people outside of Scott,” Derek answered for him, understanding all at once what Stiles was getting at. “To make friends without him.”

They’d practically been attached at the hip the entire time Derek had known them. What was Stiles like without Scott though? They always seemed so integral to one another’s existence. But maybe that was the entire point. Maybe that was exactly what Stiles was interested in finding out.

Stiles made an affirmative sound. “Is that kind of shitty? I mean he’s still my best friend but you know I just-“

“It’s not shitty,” Derek assured him. “It’s just another part of life. Friendships change when you do.”

And they had changed. All of them. In the end it had been for the better. So why wouldn’t this be a good thing too?

 



They were lying on Derek’s bed later that evening, Stiles had picked a movie from their Netflix list that Derek was only half paying attention to because Stiles was lying against his chest, all but using him as a pillow and Derek found it very gratifying and just as distracting.

He liked it a lot when Stiles sprawled over him, limbs akimbo and comfortable in the heat of Derek’s body. It was- nice.

“So in the spirit of celebration,” Stiles said, once the credits were rolling and Derek could confidently explain none of the plot of what they’d just watched. “Could we try something out from the list?”

The list was something Stiles had made a year into their relationship and was an inventory of sex things that he hadn’t tried or wanted to try with Derek. Stiles had a modest but adventurous libido and although Derek’s first instinct had been to throw the damn thing out the window when Stiles brought it over to his loft the first time, he’d long since developed a certain degree of fondness for it.

He might have referred to it as the bane of his existence at one point, but Derek had to admit Stiles had the right idea of things when he’d put it together. It was much easier to say no to collars or butt plugs with wolf tails on them when it was all written down on an obnoxiously colour coded spreadsheet.

Though admittedly Derek had struggled to keep a straight face through most of that.

Stiles had a curiosity kink bigger than the state of Alaska it seemed. But that didn’t mean Derek wasn’t averse to trying some things too.

He’d almost forgotten that there were parts of him that were- adventurous. Wild. Carefree. But they were still in him somewhere. Not as buried as he’d thought.

“Okay,” Derek agreed, already roused to the occasion.

Stiles licked his lips and the smell of his arousal went up another notch. “Number twenty two?”

It took Derek a second to think about it. He didn’t have the numbers and corresponding sex acts memorised like Stiles did. Because Stiles had put much more time and care into consolidating the list then Derek had reading it.

“Rimming,” he clarified.

Derek had actually done that to Stiles before. A few times actually. That wasn’t exactly something new and ground-breaking for them. It was a little- disappointing considering how often he waited for Stiles to bring forth an unusual quirk or interest.

Derek frowned at him.

“But I’ve-“

“You,” Stiles corrected. “I want to lick you out.”

All at once Derek remembered the hot, tender feeling it had dislodged in his chest when he’d read that line. Rim Derek for a least half an hour.

Oh. That one he’d remembered.

Stiles was definitely fascinated by Derek’s ass and more than interested in trying out that particular act. Derek felt his face flush but had to admit that this time around he was more than on-board to try it out.

He nodded and the scent of Stiles’ excitement kicked up strong and sharp in his nose and then they were both scrambling to get undressed in order to touch each other. Derek was a lot more level-headed about it than Stiles, whose arms got caught in his shirt layers and would have fallen off the bed mid-struggle if Derek hadn’t seized onto his thigh at the last second.

But eventually they were naked, and Stiles encouraged Derek onto his stomach and got settled in. He was glad suddenly that he’d showered before they went to dinner that night.

“Let me know if you don’t like it,” Stiles said firmly, as he kneaded Derek’s ass cheeks and got a generous handful while he worked.

Derek swallowed as his cock jerked and figured there was a very low chance that he wasn’t going to like this, considering how turned on he was already. When Stiles slipped between his spread legs, it was hard to deny how fast his heart was pounding.

Not that Stiles would have been able to hear it.

“Okay?” Stiles checked, because Derek knew he wasn’t going to do it without his say so.

He licked his lips and tried not to sound ruffled. “Yeah.”

Then Stiles spread his cheeks open and exposed him completely.

Derek shivered at the feeling and was startled at the unexpected press of Stiles’ hot mouth as he sealed it over his rim.

Derek exhaled sharply and didn’t know how to feel about the heat there until the press of Stiles’ wet tongue slid against him assuredly. He started off slow, curious, taking in every minute detail of Derek’s reactions when he increased pressure and speed, testing out the waters.

Derek let himself drift under the ministrations, easing in and out of awareness at every hot press of Stiles’ tongue, pleasure and arousal curled up and mixed together.

It took all of Derek’s concentration to keep still, keep his claws from sprouting and holding back any embarrassing noises, all of which were possible because of what Stiles was doing.

He didn’t know if he could come from this alone, but it was enough to leave Derek boneless, sinking deeply into the mattress as his body relaxed.

When Stiles’ tongue had loosened him up enough the push inside, Derek squirmed and felt the muscles in his thighs bunch up as he tensed away, hot and achy from the enthusiastic attention.

“Are you okay?” Stiles wondered, emerging from between Derek’s ass cheeks where he’d been rimming him and effectively changing his outlook on life for the past ten minutes.

“I’m fine,” Derek gritted out, trying his best not to cant his hips back into Stiles’ face for more.

He’d never let someone lick him out before, and it was both the most incredible thing he’d ever felt and also akin to pleasurable torture. Because he’d been riding the edge of orgasm for the past few minutes and his body kept clenching and tightening up sporadically in an effort to stave it off.

He huffed out a frustrated sound when Stiles didn’t immediately get back to work. Goddamnit, Stiles’ tongue-

“I think I’m gonna need more than that, buddy,” Stiles said, smoothing his hands gently across the flesh of Derek’s ass. “Your version of ‘I’m fine’ could just as easily mean this is amazing, or I’ve just been impaled with a metal rod.”

Derek groaned and buried his face into the pillow, hands curling into fists as the muscles in his forearms tensed. He lost hold on his restraint and pushed back into Stiles’ sure hands anyway.

“It’s good, Stiles,” he panted. “I’m just- trying not to come.”

Stiles let out a laugh and leaned down to place a kiss on the dip of Derek’s spine just above his ass. “Why the hell are you doing that? That’s literally the opposite of what I want to happen here.”

Derek was about to retort that nothing was happening now, but Stiles seemed to take his answer as suitable enough communication because he pulled apart Derek’s cheeks and went back to eating him out like it was his day job.

A breathless noise slipped past Derek’s lips before he could stop himself, but he couldn’t focus on feeling self-conscious because Stiles’ tongue was pushing wonderfully into his ass and heat was flaring up against the sensitive area.

A few minutes later and Stiles got exactly what he’d wanted.

Derek came on a choked whimper, hips rutting furiously into the sheets while Stiles’ tongue made him re-evaluate his existence for an overwhelming moment.

 

 

 

At the end of the week Stiles had finally started packing up the stuff he would need to take with him to Stanford at home while Derek lay propped up on his bed, watching him work.

“You could help you know,” Stiles grumbled after Derek hadn’t moved since he’d come through the front door and gotten comfortable on his bed. “Dad said I needed to be done by the time he’s finished work so he could help me load up the jeep.”

“I am helping,” Derek replied though he very much was not doing anything remotely like that. “I’m offering emotional support. And I told the Sheriff I’d do the heavy lifting.”

Stiles snorted, and threw a t-shirt at him as a material rejoinder to the argument. Derek caught it and then folded it as neatly as possible out of sheer pettiness. Then he set it on the mattress next to him, mostly just to see Stiles glare at him for it.

And it was worth it. Because Stiles did exactly that barely a moment later, and Derek grinned at the simplicity of small joys and settled back onto the bed, folding his hands behind his head.

“Yeah I dunno dad’s got this thing about that,” Stiles continued, rummaging through his drawers and tossing things at random into piles that had to have nothing to do with sorting because they were in utter chaos. “I think he thinks werewolf strength is cheating.”

That made Derek raise his eyebrow.

“Cheating at what exactly? Life?”

Stiles laughed and tossed another shirt at him. Derek folded it deftly and set it atop the other one. Stiles rolled his eyes, and merely resumed his rummaging. His room would look like it had been turned over by burglars by the time he was done with it, Derek had no doubt.

“Don’t ask me. My old man has his hang ups. He’s old fashioned.”

“Alright,” Derek muttered, ignoring the slight twinge he felt whenever Stiles spoke like that about his father. The weight of love in his voice always brought up thoughts of Derek’s own father, and what it would have been like to have a guiding hand steering him forward into adulthood like Stiles’ father had for him. “Tell me when he throws his back out again.”

“Will do,” Stiles agreed cheerfully, picking up on the sudden change in Derek’s emotion as he was struck with the wistful hit of family nostalgia.

“And yet somehow he’s not averse to the whole- werewolf drawing your aches and pains thing.”

“Go figure,” Derek deadpanned.

Stiles waggled his eyebrows at him and tossed two more shirts. “We humans are a contrary bunch, my dude.”

Derek caught the shirts, folded them and added them both to the rapidly growing pile next to his shin. “Werewolves too.”

“Oh I know,” Stiles said confidently, and Derek somehow had the feeling he was being referred to in that scenario.

He glanced over at Stiles who was bending over to inspect the last remnants of what was in the bottom drawer of his dresser. And then Derek was too busy looking at his ass to think properly about being offended.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” he checked again. “Who’s gonna help you carry all this stuff into your dorm?”

Stiles turned around and pitched a pair of pants at him instead of replying. Derek caught those and started another pile. “Why do you think I’m packing so light?” Stiles joked. “I’m probably gonna wear the same pair of underwear for like at least a month.”

Stiles tossed two more pairs of pants in his direction and Derek caught both without even really looking, then started folding the clothes just for something to do with his hands as he comprehended the true horror that was Stiles’ personal grooming techniques.

“I really hope you’re kidding,” Derek muttered, adding the folded pairs to the pants pile.

“You know I am,” Stiles laughed, rolling his eyes again. “I met my roommate at orientation, Bram Nilsson last week. He’s arriving around the same time tomorrow so we’re gonna help each other carry our shit up to our floor.”

“Okay,” Derek said, because this was obviously something Stiles wanted to do alone, sans pack, sans Scott even, and that had the unpleasant result of thoroughly removing Derek from the equation.

But Derek could take a hint at least.

“If you really want to help,” Stiles said suddenly, appearing at the edge of the bed before clambering onto Derek’s lap and getting himself comfortable. “You could give me an orgasm.”

Derek’s gaze flickered up to meet Stiles’ eyes. “Oh really?” he wondered, feigning confusion. “And how would I do that?”

“Oh, it’s easy,” Stiles said, sounding a little breathy when he leaned in and brushed his lips against Derek’s jaw. Already his heart was beating too fast. “I’ll show you.”

Derek laughed, startled into it by the facetious sincerity on Stiles’ face, before he was encouraged back onto the mattress.

Maybe packing could wait.

 


 

Stiles came over to his apartment after he’d finished loading up his car and said goodbye to his dad. Derek felt strange and out of sorts when he saw the boxes in the back of Stiles’ jeep from the window after Stiles pulled up to the curb and walked into his building.

Derek didn’t wait. Once he heard the elevator chime he came out and met Stiles in the hall. Stiles was flushed with excitement or nervousness, Derek couldn’t quite tell. But he did know it was going to be difficult to go from being able to see Stiles in a ten minute drive, or a three minute run to a three hour long stretch of highway between them.

Now there would be real distance keeping them apart.

And the time for it had finally come. The last few weeks had flown by much too quickly.

“Hey,” Stiles said somewhat awkwardly, and Derek didn’t know what to do with the sudden tension between them.

Or with his hands.

Then Derek kissed him because he knew he wouldn’t be able to do that for a while, and if he let distraction get the better of them he’d be regretting not making a move when he left. Stiles relaxed a little under their joined mouths and when he pulled away, his own interest was reflected in his eyes.

“So,” he started nonchalantly, stuffing his hands into his pockets and trying to strike a very casual pose but failing. “Got time for a quickie?”

Derek spared a longing thought for what could have been.

“I’ve got to start work in ten minutes.”

The security company that employed him didn’t appreciate lateness. A guy got fired last week because he'd breached his three-strike limit. And Derek didn’t mind the job, it meant travelling and working in several different establishments with steady pay.

And he did enjoy using his strength to protect people when possible. Stiles kept insisting that he join the police force, but Derek thought werewolf wasn’t much easier to hide there even if it was concealed behind a gun and a badge.

Stiles gave him another heated kiss, a promise of something in the future. “You’re coming to visit, right?”

Derek nodded. “Whenever you want me.”

Stiles’ attention was diverted, already wandering and Derek knew that the college experience would be much harder for him the second time around. Stiles was a serial-commitment kind of guy, leaving town wasn’t at all ideal now, even if it was to improve his education.

And Derek was only just starting to understand how much he was going to miss him.

 


 

He called Stiles later that night after work, just to see how he’d settled in, whether he and his roommate had problems with moving their stuff, but Stiles who was reliably consistent with answering his phone almost all of the time, didn’t pick up.

Derek let it ring out and didn’t leave a message. He figured Stiles would see it eventually and call him back, but it left an odd feeling behind, like he’d been standing in front of Stiles’ door waiting and instead of answering he’d turned the porch light off.

He was just used to Stiles being available that was all. Derek needed some time to adjust.

But it was hard to escape the fact that things were changing.

And that was just the beginning.

 


 

Stiles returned Derek’s call the next day during his lunch break while he was sitting in a booth with Erica in the diner that made the salted caramel shakes that Derek refused to admit were his prime draw for eating there.

Erica dug into the fries surrounding her burger and smirked at Derek once she caught Stiles’ voice on the line.

“Hey Derek!” Stiles said loudly, nearly overrun by the sound of other noises and voices in the background. Where was he right now? “Sorry I missed your call last night but I think I actually lost all feeling in my arms and needed to sleep it off.”

Derek did his best not to roll his eyes out of loyalty to Stiles since Erica was sitting across from him and was also currently rolling her eyes at his boyfriend. His human boyfriend. Stiles was plenty strong.

“I figured,” he replied, not at all as bothered as he’d briefly been last night. “How’s class?”

“Good,” Stiles insisted. “I already hate one of my professors but that’s a given, though I’ve chatted to a few people in my classes here and there. Actually,-“

Derek caught the strange lilt in Stiles’ voice and immediately rose to his feet, slipping through the aisle and out the front door of the diner so Erica couldn’t keep listening in.

“What is it?” Derek asked, once the door snapped shut behind him and the breeze picked up.

“Nothing bad!” Stiles rushed out spectacularly fast. “Oh god I should have led with that. Everything is peachy on my end, my dude. But I just wanted to say I’m pretty sure I made a friend.”

The tension slid out of Derek at once.

“Oh- that’s great. Someone who talks as much as you had nothing to worry about.”

Stiles laughed happily and Derek ached at the sound, suddenly missing the chance to see his face in person.

“You flatterer,” he teased, but Derek could hear the warmth in his voice. “Is it way too co-dependent to say I miss you?”

“Definitely,” he agreed, just to be a dick. Then added. “I miss you.”

Stiles was quiet for a second but Derek heard the shift in his breath. “Fuck you’re smooth sometimes,” he said finally. “You know it’s really shitty tactics when I’m here and I can’t get my hands on your dick.”

Derek covered his phone quickly at the woman walking past with her pram but there was no chance she could have overheard what Stiles said. Not that Stiles would have even been embarrassed. He was entirely too shameless sometimes.

“Same to you,” Derek retorted, knowing Stiles was just messing around and not actually upset. “You’ll just have to resort to other methods like the rest of us.”

Stiles let out an offended sound. “Just for that I’m sending you a video of me masturbating.”

Derek jerked his gaze back at Erica through the glass just to double check she wasn’t listening but she was too busy dipping her fries in Derek’s unprotected salted caramel shake. He was going to make her regret that later.

“By all means,” Derek said, keeping his voice flat. “I’d be happy to watch you come.”

Stiles gasped.

“We are not doing phone sex! Now," he amended quickly. "I’m sitting out in the quad, within earshot of several people who are now staring at me because I said that way too loud.”

Derek grinned into the phone. “Very subtle, Stiles.”

“That was entirely your fault,” he grumbled. “And I think it’s only fair you send me a pic of your dick as penance.”

Derek’s cheeks felt warm at the suggestion. “It’s literally been a day, Stiles,” he muttered, lowering his voice so nobody walking past would overhear him. “If you’ve already forgotten what it looks like I’d be concerned for your short term memory.”

“Don’t you mean long term memory?” Stiles wondered innocently and Derek could actually feel him waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

“I’m hanging up now,” he threatened, though he had no intention of doing such a thing.

“No, wait,” Stiles hurried. “I didn’t finish my funny story about the new friend I made. Because Derek it’s actually so ironic and hilarious I don’t even know how-“

“Stiles,” Derek heard someone shout in the background. “You coming or what?”

“Oh shit,” Stiles said, and then there was the sound of him scrambling to get his stuff together. “I gotta go Derek. But I’ll tell you later okay? Shit I didn’t even ask about the pack. Fuck, keep me posted okay? Bye!”

“Bye,” Derek said, startled by the sudden interruption, then the dial tone.

He didn’t give much time to ruminate over the interaction though, because Erica was dragging his shake over to her side of the table with clear intent to finish it off herself and that was not going to fly under any circumstances.

Stiles’ funny story would have to wait. Derek barely reached the booth before Erica was grinning up at him. “In my defence,” she started. “You’re the one who left it all alone and vulnerable, so this is really all on you.”

Derek caught the eye of the waitress wiping down a table a few rows behind them.

“I’m getting another one,” he declared with as much dignity as possible considering it was his shitty beta who had stolen most of the fries off his plate and drunk his thick shake. “And you’re paying.”

“Fine,” she muttered, pulling out her wallet as Derek started telling the waitress his order.

When the waitress returned a little while later with his drink and an extra side of fries that he hadn’t ordered but the kitchen had accidentally cooked up and given for free, he couldn’t stop smiling.

Especially when he kept it out of reach of Erica’s wandering hands.

Small victories.

 


 

Derek’s phone buzzed while he was striding through the garden area of the bar and restaurant that had contracted his security company that morning for him to cover a shift.

After a few fights had broken out last week, they’d been hired to patrol the establishment, to be generally visible and de-escalate any growing conflict between patrons. Derek had been a bouncer before and generally knew the ins and outs of the job so it wasn’t too difficult a role to fall back into.

He ducked back into the kitchen where some of the bar staff were loading up dirty glasses into the dishwashers and whipped out his phone to check it knowing it was probably Stiles. The pack didn’t text him at work, and they generally would only call then if it was an emergency.

Since it was Stiles’ first week at Stanford he’d kept a pretty constant commentary of what had been going on, telling Derek about his professors, some of the strange people he’d seen and suspected might be supernatural creatures, and generally anything he’d thought would be of interest to Derek.

In turn, Derek had kept him as appraised as possible on the goings on of the pack and anything unusual that had come into town, the most abnormal thing being Jackson kept insisting he’d seen a mermaid at Beacon Hills Peninsula but nobody else believed him.

And Jackson being an annoying shit wasn’t exactly news.

Stiles didn’t believe him either, when Derek had told him about it, but that was mostly because Beacon Hills was hardly near the ocean and a mermaid making themselves at home there seemed, well odd.

He’d thought about visiting Stiles that first weekend, to see how he was settling in and meet his roommate in person, but Stiles had been bemoaning how swamped he was with class assignments and weekly readings already so Derek promised to show up next week when Stiles was a little more organised and Derek had the time off.

That didn’t stop Stiles from texting though.

Derek subtly peered at his screen and read the text off the home screen.

Guess who made more friends? Stiles’ message read. Spoiler alert its me cause im awesome, which he’d followed up with three emojis: a racecar, a wolf and a person fencing.

Derek frowned at the emojis because Stiles liked to tell him confusing things through picture speak a lot of the time and he couldn’t always work out what he meant.

Quickly and out of sight Derek unlocked his phone and shot off a quick reply. Humble too, he wrote, talk after work, then added the hot dog emoji because he usually retaliated with equally cryptic emojis whenever Stiles started it first.

Satisfied, Derek pocketed his phone, smiled at the kid unloading the dishwasher and stepped back out into the restaurant to finish his shift.

 


 

Cora caught him reading a book on the couch on Saturday and frowned at him hard enough that Derek was forced to put the bookmark in to mark his place as he closed it.

“Okay what?”

“Why are you still here?” she wondered. “I thought you’d be visiting Stiles this weekend.”

Derek shrugged and refused to let his sister insinuate that they couldn’t handle being apart. He’d heard sceptical comments from the pack about their newfound long distance-ness and he wasn’t in the mood for Cora to weigh in as well.

“He’s busy with college,” he replied as lightly as possible. “I’m driving down next weekend.”

Cora smirked. “How is he already swamped with studying? I bet he didn’t do the readings when he was meant to. He’s got to be the laziest smart person I know.”

Derek didn’t confirm out of loyalty to Stiles, because that was entirely what had happened and now Stiles was paying the price and using the entire weekend to catch up. Derek didn’t mind so much, since Stiles had sounded pretty bummed about deciding to stay in Palo Alto for the weekend and kept insisting Derek send shirtless pics every few hours in order to help with morale.

Derek had sent a total of one shirtless pic but that was only because Stiles brought out the irrationality in him and made him do stupid things. Not that Stiles had been complaining. He’d pretty much done the complete opposite actually.

“You know Stiles,” Derek replied eventually. “He’ll do well no matter what.”

“Nerd,” Cora snorted, but Derek could tell it sounded fond.

Derek’s phone buzzed a second later with a message from Stiles. What ever happened to that dick pic you were going to send me?

Derek looked to the ceiling for a moment, felt his face heat and then did his best to ignore Cora when she heard his elevated heart rate. He went into the emoji selection, clicked the eggplant and sent it.

Derek should probably stop distracting Stiles anyway. He had work to do.

 

 

 

The next week was strangely uneventful without Stiles around. Besides the fact that Erica had made fun of Jackson’s panic-stricken I saw a mermaid moment, and now Jackson refused to let the subject drop at any given occasion when last week they’d been more or less able to coax him into a change of topic.

Derek was getting very fed up with the whole situation and when Friday night came along he packed up an overnight bag with much more enthusiasm than usual, the seeing Stiles part factored into it, but the getting away from Jackson and his mermaid vendetta definitely helped move him along faster.

“Fine,” Derek heard Jackson snap from his position in the living room. He was talking to Cora and Boyd who were out there using Derek’s Netflix account.

Derek stood up from the crouch he’d been in to reach the bottom drawer in the bathroom in order to fetch his deodorant and stuffed it, and his toothbrush into the overnight bag and wandered out into the living room.

Jackson was already storming off towards the door as Boyd and Cora sniggered conspiratorially at his stiffened back.

“I’ll fucking prove it then,” Jackson sneered, and then he was gone, slamming the door right behind him.

Derek reached Cora and Boyd sprawled out on the couch and raised an eyebrow at their equally obnoxious smirks. “The mermaid thing?” he guessed, since it was all Jackson goddamn talked about lately.

He’d seen one tail in the Peninsula pool and taken that to mean mermaid without further investigation, since apparently she’d disappeared straight after. But knowing Jackson she would have walked straight past him and he probably didn’t notice. It could very easily have been a costume.

It had to have been a costume. What kind of self-respecting mermaid came to Beacon Hills of all places to visit? It had been very funny at first, the entire pack taking the opportunity to laugh at Jackson and generally tease the hell out of him to a whole new level, but as normal, Jackson managed to be an asshole about it.

And now he just refused to let it go.

“Yeah,” Boyd confirmed, turning back to watch the TV with more interest.

They’d started watching The Good Place a few days ago and now they were obsessed.

Derek sighed heavily. “Let him search,” he muttered. “Maybe he’ll finally shut up about it then.”

Cora nodded. “Why do you think you’ve hardly seen the rest of the pack this week?” she said. “We’ve all been avoiding Jackson. He’s like that Ahab guy from Moby Dick. Scott’s been threatening to bite Jackson’s leg off at the knee if he brings up the mermaid again.”

Trust Scott to threaten someone with a Moby Dick reference. If that could even count as a serious threat.

“Don’t let Jackson work himself up too much,” Derek said. “So keep Erica away from him until I get back and call if anything goes wrong.”

“She’s out getting pedicures with Allison and Kira anyway,” Boyd explained, without looking away from the screen. “She doesn’t want to be within three feet of Jackson at the moment.”

“Who does,” Cora echoed darkly and Derek left them to the TV to finish grabbing the rest of his stuff.

But he had to admit, Jackson was probably the one pack member the rest of them could do without most days. It just happened to be Derek’s poorly made decision to have bitten him in high school, and now he had to wear the consequences of it.

Which meant putting up with Jackson in their pack.

It barely took him fifteen minutes before Derek had located the last item, his wallet, said a quick goodbye to Cora and Boyd who hadn’t moved off the couch, and headed out towards his car in the parking lot. He had barely dumped his bag in the back of his Camaro before the sharp scent of salt and seaweed caught his nose and he turned.

Just in time to see Jackson grinning broadly at him, as he carried a real, live fucking mermaid over toward him. Her lengthy hair spilled over Jackson’s forearm in a wet tumble, almost long enough to touch the floor and the tips of her fins bobbed up and down as her tail tapped the concrete in a jaunty rhythm.

Her tail. In public view of Derek’s building’s parking lot where anyone could just walk in.

And there was no way the inhuman shape of her face or the kaleidoscope colours of her tail, the scales of which slid up past her hips and blended unnaturally into the skin of her exposed midriff, could possibly be mistaken for a costume.

Derek rushed forward and tried to ignore Jackson’s smug expression in favour of not killing him immediately on the spot. Had he walked all the way over here with the damn mermaid in his arms?

“I told you-“ Jackson barely started before the mermaid was flicking her hair and eyeing Derek with interest.

“You did wash your hands before you picked me up, didn’t you?” she demanded loudly, eyeing Jackson somewhat suspiciously. “I’ve heard human germs are-“

“We’re not human,” Derek said firmly. “And you should not be here. Where anyone could see you.”

The mermaid’s expression went from coquettish to petulant. “I was on a vacation,” she insisted. “The witch I paid insisted I’d have your human legs until the next full moon, but it wore off!”

“Which was why she was hiding out in the pool,” Jackson declared, puffed up from his own victory. “Which is where I saw-“

“Fine you were right, shut up, Jackson,” Derek snapped, desperately trying to think.

They had to get the mermaid out of here. Out of Beacon Hills preferably. Werewolves were one thing, but a mermaid was bound to draw way too much attention. And it wasn’t like he could leave Jackson to the task, he looked like he was one second away from marching up into Derek’s apartment and parading the mermaid around just to prove to the pack he’d been right all along.

“What’s your name?” Derek asked her, and the mermaid preened, fluffing her long hair again at the sudden attention.

Then she opened her mouth and made an unnatural screeching sound that sliced at Derek’s eardrums. Jackson let out a yell and promptly dropped her.

Derek launched forward and managed to catch her before she hit the ground. She was surprisingly heavy but Derek figured she carried most of the weight in her tail. Jackson at least had the sense to look apologetic when she threw him a betrayed look afterward and the awful sound she was making cut off almost straightaway.

“That’s my name in our language,” the mermaid explained. “But that one,” she continued, jabbing a finger at Jackson with an expression of puzzlement. “Has been calling me Ariel.”

Derek adjusted his hold on her and let out a frustrated breath. The mermaid was probably the furthest looking thing from Ariel the mermaid and Jackson fucking knew it. Well that settled things anyway. Now there was definitely no way in hell he was leaving this task to Jackson then. Or even the rest of the pack who probably would decide to keep her instead.

“I’m not calling you-“

“I can take her,” Jackson insisted. “Go see Stilinski. I’ll get her back to the sea.”

Derek wanted to roll his eyes. Yeah, only after he’d thoroughly rubbed it into the pack’s faces that he’d been right all along. Jackson would delay things, take stupid risks and it wasn’t like subtlety was his strongest attribute on a normal day.

“No,” he muttered. “I’ll take her.”

“I’ll take the werewolf with the big muscles,” she said prettily from her position in his arms, eyeing Derek appreciatively enough that his jaw clenched.

That might be a problem.

Jackson scowled, probably affronted that the mermaid hadn’t taken the time to notice his muscles too. “He’s already taken,” he pointed out, a little less amused than he’d been before. “But whatever.”

Derek turned and moved back to his car, trying to figure out how he was going to fit all of her in there. The backseat didn’t look like it would hold her tail. Jackson, in an inexplicable fit of assistance, held the door open for him and they managed to squeeze her in, though she complained a lot and cursed the witch who’d put the spell on her in that strange, screechy language of hers that hurt both of their ears.

Once they were finished, Derek noticed Jackson looking very pleased to see the back of her as he hurried off to Derek’s loft, no doubt to brag to the others that his sanity was still perfectly intact.

Derek dragged out his phone and accepted that his plans for the evening had been thoroughly derailed.

“Hey,” Stiles said, answering almost immediately. “You almost left yet?”

“No,” Derek said, wincing at the hopefulness in Stiles’ voice. “Uh- change of plans actually.”

The mermaid took that opportunity to lean out the open window Derek had helpfully rolled down for her. “Is that the human you’re taken by?” she demanded. “He sounds pretty.”

Stiles let out a choked noise and laughed. “Derek,” he wheezed. “Who is that?”

“So remember that mermaid Jackson’s been insisting he saw in-“

No,” Stiles breathed, delighted.

“Yeah,” Derek sighed, irritated beyond belief. “I’ve got to take her home.”

“To Morro Bay!” she sang, fluttering her hands happily across the side of the car.

Morro Bay? Fuck. Derek wanted to curse.

“That’s in the totally opposite direction,” Stiles said, tone immediately changing. “Fuck that’s so unfair. Why did we get our first mermaid as soon as I left town? I wanna meet the mermaid.”

“Next time,” Derek promised because he didn’t know how else to say it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be without offending her.

She was half leaning out the window by this point, there was no avoiding her listening to the entire conversation.

“Text me once you’ve got her back in the ocean,” Stiles said with a little laugh like he couldn’t believe it was a sentence that had come out naturally. “Or call me later I want the full details. Or better yet send pictures.”

Derek could definitely imagine the mermaid posing for a selfie. But the last kind of encouragement Stiles needed was a photo of one. He’d stick it to his dorm wall and then tell anyone who asked that it was a costume and the girl was a cosplayer or something.

“I’ll try,” he promised though they both knew the last thing he’d ever do was pose for a selfie with a mermaid. “Maybe I could drive out tomorrow?”

Stiles let out an unusually long groan. “We’re all going to Cantor Arts Centre tomorrow,” he said sounding disappointed. “Jerome wants to see this new exhibit and I have to study on Sunday.”

So then Derek wouldn’t be seeing Stiles at all now. So much for their plans. It was discouraging, but that was the reality of distance. It was harder to organise their schedules to fit one another for last minute changes.

Derek recovered quickly.

“It’s okay,” he said. “Another time.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said a little heavily, like he didn’t like the reality of distance either. “I miss you.”

Derek could feel his face warming up under the mermaid’s unblinking attention as she watched him. He doubted she’d seen much of humans outside of beaches and piers and boats, watching this unfold in front of her was probably top tier entertainment.

And he was fairly certain that she could hear Stiles through the phone.

“Yeah,” he said awkwardly, because there was no way he was saying anything incriminating in front of the mermaid. Not when he was one of the alphas of Beacon Hills and gossip probably spread just as fast underwater. “Bye Stiles.”

“Bye.”

The mermaid was still watching him when he hung up.

“Why didn’t you say you missed the human too,” she demanded, almost agitated on Stiles’ behalf. “That is a lover’s custom, isn’t it?”

Derek was taken aback by the question but knew there wasn’t any way he was planning on explaining his feelings to her. The mermaid raised an eyebrow like he was unsatisfactory somehow and Derek sighed and climbed into the front seat.

This was going to be a long drive.

Fucking Jackson.

 


 

Derek started doing his own research.

He didn’t even realise he was filling a void until Cora caught him poring over a musty old book on supernatural creatures, one he’d bought from a shady used bookstore that was perpetually surrounded by fog.

Chapter six was entirely devoted to mermaids, and Derek had to admit he was a little bit more interested since the mermaid, Not Ariel, had figured out how to use his camera and had sent Stiles a grand total of at least sixty selfies of herself, and one or two of Derek in the driver’s seat when he’d taken her home.

Stiles still thought it was the funniest thing to ever happen to them and Derek was determined to be more prepared next time, lest another mermaid with itchy fins came wandering into Beacon. But once Cora came into his kitchen and caught sight of the books spread out across the counter, and the empty energy drink cans which Derek was actually maybe starting to like the taste of now (though he was never telling Stiles that) she let out an disbelieving snort.

“Missing your boyfriend much?”

Derek glanced around himself and abruptly saw what Cora was seeing. The mess of research paper and collective chaos, the almost unnecessary hyper fixation, the energy drinks that Stiles insisted weren’t the reason he kept getting heart palpitations.

And Derek was wearing flannel this morning. He looked down at himself as if he couldn’t believe it had come to this but Cora merely laughed and patted his shoulder.

“Just go visit.”

Like it was that easy.

Derek wished it was that easy.

But long distance was hard. It was always going to be hard and Derek had no intention of making it worse by demanding what little of Stiles’ free time he had available.

They’d see each other soon.

Derek just had to be patient.

 


 

It was 1:16 in the morning when his phone started ringing. He was deep in the middle of a book, not researched based this time thankfully, and didn’t feel tired enough to try going to sleep yet.

When he set the book down on the bed next to him and picked up his phone he was only a little surprised to see Stiles’ name on the screen.

Stiles kept strange night hours too so calls like this weren’t entirely out of the norm. One of them usually tried to call and if the other was awake, which was likely, they’d pick up. What Derek didn’t mention was that the vibration of his phone ringing always woke him up, and usually he would pretend he’d been awake the entire time, because otherwise Stiles wouldn’t talk very long.

And Derek liked these late night phone calls. Even when they were living within ten minutes of each other.

Listening to Stiles talk was settling.

“Hey,” he said, as soon as he picked up the call.

Derek could hear Stiles’ exhale on the other side of the line. “I just had a dream about you,” Stiles said, launching into the story without preamble. “You totally had wings, like the kind from the x-men movies-“

Derek could actually confess to seeing two of those films and for once the angel thing was familiar. Especially the part where the guy tried to saw off his own wings with random tools because he hadn’t wanted anyone to find out about them. That disturbing image had unsurprisingly lodged itself firmly in Derek’s mind.

“I could fly?” Derek wondered, curious to see what Stiles’ subconscious had come up with. “What was I doing? Fighting Magneto?”

“HA no,” Stiles laughed. “It was totally a sex dream. You literally banged me to new heights.”

It was a good thing there was no one else in the loft to see Derek blush.

“That’s what you dreamed about?” he demanded with disbelief, wondering if Stiles was trying to use it as a segue into phone sex. “Or are you seconds away from asking me what I’m wearing?”

There was a pause when Derek could actually hear Stiles licking his mouth.

“What are you wearing?”

Derek was tempted to hang up right then and there because that would really get Stiles going, leaving him to his own devices to furiously jerk off, but one glance down at his sweatpants and it was clear this was something already in motion.

“Where’s Bram?” Derek asked first, reason coming in hot before his libido took over.

“Out,” Stiles replied sounding breathy and the rustling in the background unsubtly declared that this was definitely happening. “A party or something. I don’t care. Derek-“

He sounded half desperate already.

“Are you touching yourself yet?” Derek wondered, jostling the phone as he slipped a hand down into his sweats to cradle himself just as Stiles let out a long groan.

“Yes, you dick. I was dreaming about you.”

Derek moaned almost automatically and he could hear the snick as Stiles opened up the cap of lube which he normally kept stashed in his bedside drawer.

“Do you dream about me a lot?” he asked, aware it wasn’t exactly dirty talk but knowing it would be enough to turn Stiles on anyway.

It really didn’t take much on Derek’s part. Stiles was especially receptive to anything he did. It was flattering but also came with an almost overpowering sense of fear. Stiles just wanted him so much.

“Lately?” Stiles said. “Yeah. Being sexually frustrated does that.”

Derek laughed at that because he couldn’t help it. And maybe he was a little bit sympathetic. “That lube was already half empty when you left Beacon Hills.”

He could hear more rustling and then the slick sound of Stiles’ hand moving along his dick, and the weaker gasp that he couldn’t quite hold back as he touched himself. Derek wished he was there to see it, Stiles was always something to watch.

“Okay fine I jerk off a lot, Derek,” Stiles muttered, sounding flustered and annoyed and Derek was never going to admit that was doing it for him. “Is that what you wanted to hear?”

“Yeah,” he said gruffly. “Tell me what you’re doing.”

Stiles grunted and made a noise between excitement and frustration. “I’m stroking my dick, imagining you’re between my legs and trying to be quiet cause the walls here are so fucking thin.”

Derek felt his body tighten up like a shiver at the thought of Stiles trying to silence his pleasure and he finally started tugging his cock with a sense of purpose. “And what would I be doing?” he wondered a little unevenly. “If I was there?”

Stiles cursed something filthy for a second and Derek tugged himself a little harder at the words, luxuriating in his desire while Stiles got a hold of himself.

“Ugh I don’t know, I’m just remembering what it’s like having the weight of you- oh- on top of me… and I- fuck, really like that. Feels good to have you there- when I’m wrapped around you, shit.”

“I’d blow you if I was,” Derek stated. “Be strangled by your thighs.”

Stiles gasped and then laughed like Derek had physically drawn the sound out of him. “Fuck you, I did that once- and oh- fuck, shit… I did not strangle you.”

“You did,” Derek murmured and there was so much pre-come now it was like he didn’t even need lube to keep going. But he did, he did, even though with Stiles in his ears the edge of roughness felt just right anyway. “It was- shit. Really good. I liked that you- couldn’t control yourself.”

“Oh god,” Stiles groaned. “Derek, I wanna rim you again. I can’t get the sounds- God the sounds you made… out of my head.”

Derek’s body responded in kind and he was arching his hips up almost automatically as he touched himself.

“I want-,” he panted and swallowed. “That too.”

For a moment there was nothing but the slick sounds of them working together in tandem and the stilted echo of their breathing. And then the words were spilling out of Derek’s mouth before he could stop himself.

“I think I want you to fuck me.”

It was something they hadn’t done before, but Derek had added it to their list himself and he’d been thinking about it for a long time. Stiles stifled a noise and then went still. Derek stopped at once at the reaction and listened intently for a moment, hand pausing on his own cock.

“Did you just come?” he breathed, a little shocked.

It took a little while before Stiles was able to reply and then he let out very satisfied sound as if to confirm the inquiry. “Yeah,” he admitted, sounding almost hesitant. “Did you mean what you-?”

“Yeah,” Derek promised and then he was moving his hand again, feeling that answering heat in his body which welcomed the touch.

“You close?” Stiles asked, voice rapidly changing in tone.

Derek considered the curl of desire building in his gut. “Just- keep talking.”

“I’ll take care of you,” Stiles said with a vehemence that was startling. “I’ll make it so good just like you did for me, Derek, I swear. Like, fuck you don’t know how amazing it’ll feel once I get inside you-“

“Shit,” Derek swore, grip tightening unthinkingly for a second at Stiles’ words.

“I think I’ll go slow,” Stiles continued as if he didn’t hear Derek’s fast breaths. “So you can really be in the moment, you know? I want you to feel so good-“

“Stiles,” he huffed, thoroughly shaken by the longing in Stiles’ words and then he was coming before even grasping how close he was.

When the toe curling, body arching throes of it were over, Stiles was still there, patiently listening to him breathe and relax through it. A comfortable silence settled over the line.

“So yeah,” Stiles said eventually. “It was a really amazing dream.”

Derek groaned out a shaky laugh and drew his hand out of his sweatpants, finding the mess of come a little uncomfortable now that the desperate need for orgasm had left.

“I have to shower. Again,” he said pointedly, though the both of them knew he wasn’t upset about it. “I’ll text you later.”

Stiles laughed. “Yeah. Night, Derek. Hope you have sensuous dreams about my dick.”

God he could be such a little shit sometimes.

“Good night, Stiles.”

 


 

By the end of the week Derek couldn’t take it anymore. The sudden lack of Stiles in his everyday happenings was getting much too noticeable.

So Derek drove down to visit on Friday. He knew Stiles was missing him, from their failed plans last weekend and the late night phone call the other night, and there was nothing he wanted more than to just finally see him. Maybe even some time alone together.

Derek barely even drove into the residence hall parking lot of Stiles’ campus, switched off the engine and climbed out before Stiles had jogged over and tackled into him.

Immediately, Derek stiffened and that was not at all the reception Stiles was expecting from the way he tensed up in return. Awkwardly, Stiles unwrapped himself and stepped back, a question in his eyes and Derek tried to take short breaths so as not to drop his fangs in the campus parking lot.

“Stiles,” Derek started bracingly, wrinkling his nose even as he reached back out to take Stiles’ hand. “Is one of your new friends a werewolf?”

Stiles relaxed immediately and got all up in Derek’s business, catching at his jaw and dragging him into a hungry kiss. Derek’s enthusiasm hadn’t changed, if anything the distance between them had increased it and he was forced to draw back or let Stiles pass out if he didn’t stop kissing in turn.

“Yeah,” Stiles panted once he’d gotten his breath back. “I forgot to say. Jerome. That was the funny story I was gonna tell you about. He’s part of a pack from around here. I think we met his alpha at that conference we went to in Nevada, remember?”

“I remember.”

Alpha Rojas had been friendly and more than impressed with Derek’s supposed turnaround of Beacon Hills as if that was something he’d done entirely single-handedly and without outside help.

She’d liked Stiles too, and had been more than a little stunned when he’d started rambling for over twenty minutes about sixteenth century werewolf migration patterns in the Sierra Nevada range that he’d randomly examined in a fit of boredom one day. Stiles liked to say for once that they’d actually made a good impression on the Rojas pack and Derek happened to agree with him.

The Hale pack had a tendency to blow shit up and turn things entirely sideways in a manner of speaking.

“Yeah he’s a pretty chill beta, though I don’t think Bram likes him much. Oh god there was this super awkward moment where Jerome left our dorm room the other day and then Bram was immediately like ‘you’re friends with that guy?’ and it was within werewolf hearing and he had no idea and man, it was pretty yikes. But yeah, I mean Jerome’s cool. It’s nice to have someone here to talk to about the supernatural. Weird being among the blissfully unaware humans and all that.”

“Right,” Derek agreed, struggling to keep up with all of the information Stiles was throwing him at once.

Jerome was a werewolf. His roommate didn’t like him. Stiles missed being among others who knew about the supernatural. “Also,” Stiles started as he led Derek over into his residence hall. “There’s this party tonight that I may or may not have been invited to and my new friends are going and you could possibly meet them all.”

Derek could hear the slight tremor of excitement in his voice and knew this was a big deal for him.

“But you just drove three hours so I get it if-“

“Stiles,” he interrupted. “Let’s go meet your friends.”

“Oh good,” Stiles said, a little relieved. “We won’t stay that long. I don’t really want to be buzzed because of- well, later.”

Immediately Derek knew what he meant. He never slept with Stiles whenever he was more or less intoxicated and Stiles knew it. Which meant that he was planning on abstaining because he had other plans.

Other plans that Derek could definitely get on board with.

“What about your roommate?” Derek asked.

“He’s going to another party across campus later,” Stiles explained. “I can’t believe there’s so many parties already since classes barely even started but there you go. He won’t be back at all tonight. He told me.”

He gave Derek a pointed look and dragged his hand down Derek’s chest, before bunching up the fabric of his shirt into his hand and gripping it pointedly, tugging it away and exposing the bare skin above the waistband of Derek’s pants.

“And full disclosure here- I have plans.”

Derek didn’t doubt it. When Stiles led him up the third floor and down the hall to the furthest door on the right, Derek recognised it was his room by the scent of Stiles’ in the air alone. The smell of weed in the halls hit him next. Stiles pulled out a key and let them in and there was Stiles’ roommate half bent over one of the beds, bracing one foot on the mattress and struggling to get his shoes on.

“Oh hey,” the guy said, rather easily for one stuck in the compromising position he was in, shirtless, fully bent over and pointing his clothed ass in their direction.

He turned and stuck his hand out. “I’m Bram.”

Derek reached out and took it.

“Derek.”

“Ah the boyfriend,” Bram said immediately, without a flicker of unease.

So he wasn’t a Straight Guy at least. He narrowed his eyes next and squinted at Derek through them, looking him up and down for a second. “Not bad, Stilinski,” he admitted. “I get it.”

Stiles’ pulse jumped and Derek did his best not to smirk.

“Maybe you should get a shirt first,” Stiles pointed out, gesturing at Bram’s chest. “Aren’t you late anyway?”

“I am!” Bram declared happily. “Been trying to get these damn shoes on for twenty minutes.”

Derek glanced down and resisted raising an eyebrow though he definitely felt a twitch. “They’re on the wrong feet,” he pointed out as politely as possible. Derek had never been much of a sugercoater.

Bram glanced down and laughed, a whole belly laugh that he did with his entire body. Derek could see why Stiles said he liked him.

“I think I smoked a little too much,” he agreed, slipping down to remove his shoes and put them on the right feet. “I’m way too high for this.”

Stiles glanced at Derek like he was unsure if he should expect some kind of judgement about this but Derek just shrugged and moved over to sit on the bed the smelled like Stiles. Weed didn’t bother Derek that much, the smell wasn’t too oppressive, and Laura always told him she’d heard of a strain that could affect werewolves if smoked right.

He hadn’t found it yet, hadn’t really been looking, but he wouldn’t put it past the pack to track some down. They were curious enough. And he’d caught Cora and Isaac trying to get drunk on more than one occasion.

Erica loved to turn it into a competition but it never went anywhere, werewolf tolerance was too high for that. And Jackson always scoffed and said it was a waste of money. Though out of the lot of them, Jackson had the most cash to burn.

“At least you got the shoes on,” Derek said, laying back and looking about the room to see how Stiles had decorated the space as his own.

There was a photograph of the pack pinned to the centre of his wall, along with random newspaper clippings, some band posters and pictures of what looked almost suspiciously like crime scene photos. The essence of him bled into everything. And Derek relaxed into it like he hadn’t in days.

“That is true,” Bram said reasonably, and he must have finished with his shoes because suddenly he was throwing a shirt on, grabbing keys and heading for the door. “Bye Stiles. Bye hot boyfriend, Derek.”

Stiles spluttered out a protest but Bram had already disappeared out the door, letting it snap shut behind him. Derek smirked and dropped back onto the bed.

“Well I like him,” he announced because he knew it would get the best reaction.

Stiles grimaced, but his phone started going off before he could reply. He fished it out of his pocket and Derek sat up with interest. “Aw shit,” Stiles muttered. “It’s Luke. We were meant to be there already but-“

“I was late,” Derek finished, standing up abruptly. “So let’s go.”

Stiles grinned and they headed back outside, Stiles locking up the room behind them. He led them back down the stairs and then cut across the grass separating Stiles’ building from the rest.

The night was humid and warm and Derek liked the smell of the air here.

“You better not have used up all that lube,” Derek said conversationally as they moved in the direction of the music Derek could faintly hear, but Stiles probably couldn’t yet. “Because then there won’t be much of an- after plan.”

Stiles nearly tripped over the curb and Derek caught at his waist to steady him, letting his hands linger longer than they would have if it hadn’t already been three weeks since they'd last saw each other.

“I have plenty of lube,” Stiles protested before his eyes widened. “Oh god… but no condoms.”

Derek was surprised. Stiles was almost a boy scout of preparedness whenever the hint of sex was in the air. “You don’t have condoms.”

“Well it’s not like I’d have use for them,” Stiles hissed, lowering his voice as they passed three girls walking out of what must have been a library, carrying a lot of books between them and looking bleary eyed like they’d had little to no sleep. “Seeing as you’re not here.”

Derek had to admit it was a little amusing. “And what am I now?” he wondered. “A figment of your imagination?”

“I meant you living here with me,” Stiles elaborated and they kept walking a little longer until they passed a convenience store tucked into the side of the building.

The both of them paused and looked at it.

Then Stiles looked at Derek.

“No,” he breathed, jaw slackening in horror. “My professors are sometimes in there.”

Derek tried to picture it and ended up smirking instead. “If they’re in there now you’d have to be the unluckiest bastard on the planet.”

“I mean do we even really need them though?” Stiles wondered. “We hardly ever do. You’ve got super werewolf STD protection which technically extends to me so-“

“And you’re the one with the communal bathroom on your floor,” Derek interjected. “Where it would make things very inconvenient if we needed to clean up private, intimate messes which a condom would otherwise succeed in preventing.”

Stiles looked distinctly thwarted.

“Fuck. Yeah. There is that.”

But when Derek went to walk inside Stiles dived out and caught at his arm before he could, looking flushed and aggrieved. “Derek, I can’t be seen buying condoms in there.”

Derek raised an eyebrow but let himself be stopped. “Then there go your plans.”

Stiles looked so unbelievably torn at that that Derek suddenly wavered. “Fine, I’ll go get them and meet you at this party.”

Stiles glanced at him in surprise.

“But you don’t even know where it is!”

He smirked and flashed his eyes at Stiles for good measure. “Stiles, I can hear it. It’s right over there, right?”

And then he pointed in the direction of the thumping music. Stiles followed his hand and squinted through the darkness. “Yeah that’s it,” he agreed. “It’s off campus. Like around the corner in someone’s house. I’ll text you the address in case you can’t find it.”

“I’ll find it,” Derek replied assertively.

Stiles dithered and didn’t give up on the dilemma immediately. “Forget it,” he said suddenly. “I’m a grown man I can buy my own condoms. Let’s just-“

“Stiles,” Derek interrupted. “I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t want to do it.”

Stiles watched him carefully as if to gauge how okay with it Derek was. He didn’t want to admit that he could also just track Stiles if he got turned around, because he wasn’t entirely sure Stiles was aware of how recognisable Derek found his scent.

“Okay,” Stiles agreed, and then suddenly he was shoving bills into his hands and kissing Derek’s cheek before Derek could tell him he could pay for his own damn condoms.

But Stiles was already jogging off in the direction of the music.

This was going to be an interesting night for sure.

 


 

Derek hadn’t been gone that long but Stiles kept glancing around expecting to see him in this random dude’s house anyway.

He hadn’t texted since Stiles left him at that store and now he was filled with images of Derek striking up a conversation with his intro to psych professor, box of condoms in hand, absolutely zero shame. Because he would.

Stiles also didn’t like being separated from Derek so quickly after he’d arrived on campus, and he felt bad that Derek had gone off to buy them condoms when it was something he’d neglected to buy. And should have remembered that he would very much have use of them tonight.

But the both of you will be using them, Stiles reminded himself. It was only fair, and Derek said he hadn’t minded. Still, he felt anxious and out of sorts while he stood with the others and peered at the faces moving in the crowd, hoping to see Derek among them soon. Except Luke pushed a beer in his hand after long, told him to stop worrying and to have some fun.

So Stiles was trying his best to do so in the interim, trusting Derek hadn’t disappeared into the wrong party, or fallen prey to a horde of college girls.

Both were equal threats of possibility.

“Who is that?” Iliza wondered, eyes raking over someone in the crowd, and drawing him out of his thoughts.

Stiles turned mid sip of his beer and peered through the herd of dancing bodies but couldn’t see who she was talking about. “And why do I feel like I’d kill someone just for the chance to lick his stubble.”

At the mention of stubble, Stiles’ head snapped alertly toward the man in question and sure enough there was Derek, edging his way patiently through drunk college students, most of which had the sense to back out of his way once they saw him.

Some primal instinct maybe.

His expression wasn’t entirely hostile, but it definitely wasn’t the kind of expression anyone in their right mind would want to mess with. Well, anyone except for Stiles. Even now it kind of amazed him the amount of cheek he’d given Derek in the very beginning when they’d first met and he’d just been an irritating, interfering teenager and Derek had been the big scary werewolf, possibly murder guy.

Fun times.

“Whoa,” Luke muttered, as Stiles’ cheeks went hot. “He looks like the kind of guy who could fuck you up against the wall without breaking a sweat.”

Stiles could definitely confirm that to be true only he was much too distracted at the moment by the fact that that observation had come out of Luke’s mouth. He was a great dude but he had that habit of wearing straight person goggles at all times and living in a hetero bubble. But there was just the slightest dose of no homo on the side of his personality so it was all kind of tolerable.

Only he was pretty sure that was the least hetero thing that had ever come out of Luke’s mouth. Stiles wasn’t sure whether to be upset or impressed that Derek had inspired it.

“I feel inferior,” Luke continued, glancing at the others. “Like I should be in the gym more often. Is that normal? Oh man, that dude is a specimen… shit is he coming toward us?”

Derek was because he would have located Stiles pretty much immediately once he’d stepped into the house. He’d explained once that parties made it harder to concentrate, but he could still use most of his senses to operate normally.

Well normal for a werewolf.

“Holy motherfucking shitdick,” Iliza breathed. “He is. Oh fuck how do I look?”

Derek glanced over at her for the briefest second as he approached and Stiles realised he could hear what they were saying even over the speakers. Fuck. He should probably get them to shut up now.

“Stiles,” Luke said suddenly, still sounding all kinds of intimidated. “Dude. He’s looking at you like he wants to eat you alive.”

Derek grinned then and it was that fake grin he brought out whenever he was trying to charm strangers and look like an upstanding citizen but Stiles could see there was something genuine in it around the eyes and that there was a significant bulge in the pocket of his leather jacket.

Oh god, the fucking condoms. How had Stiles even forgotten about those?

“Uh,” Stiles felt this whole thing suddenly spinning out of control. “That would be my boyfriend who I haven’t seen for about three weeks.”

That’s your boyfriend?” Iliza demanded, horrified. “Oh god I’m so sorry- I take it all back-“

Stiles shrugged. But really he’d heard worse. “It’s cool at least you’re not trying to hit on him intentionally.”

“People have done that to you before?” Iliza asked, looking both sickened and appalled.

Stiles shrugged again. People were kind of brazen whenever Derek was involved. And sometimes they were even worse when they realised Derek was with Stiles.

He knew it wasn’t really helping his chances with how he dressed and how he talked most of the time. People took one look at them together and decided that they didn’t make sense. Stiles didn’t entirely blame them, sometimes even he was amazed that they fit so well. Logically, their chances of working as a couple were slim but they'd seemed to have defied every misgiving and obstacle through sheer chemistry alone.

And if it meant he had to put up with a fair bit of outsider ogling of his boyfriend and raised eyebrows once others figured out he was dating Stiles, well it was something he was willing to go through. It came with the territory of dating a guy like Derek, who’s face and body could probably convince anyone to sleep with him if he felt inclined.

Too bad when Derek opened his mouth he was completely terrifying though. Well, at least to the people who didn’t know him and who Derek wasn’t trying to win over.

At lot of people didn’t quite get Derek’s sullen and sarcastic vibe with a lot of painful indifference to all but a select few. But Stiles did.

“Yeah. To my face. It was great.”

Derek’s mouth twitched and Stiles knew he was holding back a scowl. Whenever he caught wind of anyone being shitty to Stiles his attitude drastically changed around them, which kind of made it all worth it in Stiles’ opinion. It was nice to know Derek had his back, but sometimes Stiles felt a little more than embarrassed too. He could defend himself.

Derek wasn’t particularly big on PDA so it was surprising when he stepped in close and slipped his arm around Stiles’ waist, dragging him forward. There was no mistaking what they were to each other when Derek caught his mouth and kissed him in front of everyone.

And Stiles realised suddenly, that it wasn’t just his friends watching Derek. Watching them both.

“Hey,” Derek said softly in his ear after he’d pulled back and Stiles felt everything in him relax under the touch. “I found you.”

“Hey,” Stiles replied, finding it hard to swallow all of a sudden.

Derek stepped back but didn’t entirely let go. Already Stiles was thinking about their later plans back at the room and wildly he wondered why he’d even bothered with this stupid party in the first place. Because Derek was here. Finally.

“So uh-“ Stiles said, still a little red in the face to be showing so much of himself and the soft Derek-shaped centre of his heart. “Guys this is Derek. Derek this is Iliza and Luke.”

“Heyy,” Luke said a little awkwardly following the previous commentary and Iliza physically took a step back as if that would prove she had no intention of trying to make a move on Derek.

Stiles resisted the urge to laugh. Then Jerome squeezed out of the pressed bodies a second later, drink in hand.

“And Jerome.”

Derek merely nodded at them, which was downright charming considering how monosyllabic he could get. “Hey.”

Jerome gazed at him steadily, and Stiles could see them sizing each other up. He really didn’t have time for a werewolf pissing contest right now especially if the rest of his friends were still labouring under the impression that they didn’t exist.

But thankfully they managed to keep it under wraps.

“Hey,” Jerome returned, with a thin smile, reaching out to shake Derek’s hand.

Stiles was expecting something worse, but Derek accepted it without even a flicker of his eyes. A very human response if Stiles ever saw it.

“Are we gonna dance?” Iliza shouted over the thumping bass.

“I saw beer pong over by the kitchen,” Luke suggested.

Stiles saw Derek’s eyes light up with interest. “I’m on Derek’s team,” Stiles said automatically, sensing a champion in their midst.

Derek turned and led the way into the kitchen, Stiles following close behind, gaze lingering on Derek’s ass.

Man he was looking forward to later.

 


Derek settled in one of the lounge chairs by the pool with a beer after their group headed out the back for some fresh air. Stiles and Iliza had tossed their shoes off and were now sitting by the stairs of the pool a few metres away, dipping their feet in as random strangers crowded in and moved around them.

Luke was already swimming in the water, shirtless, with his shoes on and Derek was keeping an eye on him just in case drunk transferred over to drowning.

Jerome sat down next to him a second later.

“So what do you do?”

Derek glanced over at him, at the way Jerome had folded himself almost perfectly into the chair, poised like he was expecting to be photographed. There was a cool look of disinterest on his face and for a brief second, Derek wondered why he’d even bothered asking.

Jerome seemed like someone concerned with image. His slicked back hair said as much. Even Jackson never used that much product. Derek wondered how he and Stiles had actually become friends.

“I work at a security company,” Derek said. “Part time.”

Jerome raised his eyebrow as if he’d expected something more impressive. Derek had the distinct impression that he wanted him to think it was something to be embarrassed about.

But Isaac was always saying being an alpha was like a full time job anyway, and privately, Derek agreed. Even if Beacon Hills was settled now. That didn’t keep the supernatural out and Derek was busy enough keeping the pack in line during the fifty per cent of the time that they were willing to listen to him.

He was surprised Jerome didn’t consider that fact. He was in a pack wasn’t he? Didn’t Jerome realise how much coordination and planning that took?

“Oh,” Jerome replied, almost leaning away from him.

“Looking after Beacon Hills’ territory takes up most of my hours,” Derek explained, wondering why he even felt the need to say so.

He wasn’t interested in impressing Jerome.

A guy walked in front of them, plastic cup in hand as he drained it with a glittery Roger Dubuis watch on his arm, one that Derek only knew the name of because he’d read it in a magazine waiting to get his car serviced the other week and Jerome watched the guy's wrist hungrily as he moved past.

“Doesn’t pay much though,” Jerome noted with some distraction.

Ah. So that’s what it was.

Jerome was ambitious and interested in money. Or at least increasing his own. That made sense since Jerome didn’t particularly strike Derek as a pack werewolf, or a team player. A lone operator more like. Belonging to alpha Rojas pack might merely have been an act of convenience while he pursued his own ideas and goals.

Derek looked away and had another pull of his beer. “I’m independently wealthy,” he muttered, though he always hated how that sounded.

Actually Derek preferred not to talk about it at all. Or the money still sitting in the Hale vault. It felt crude. Tainted. Blood money. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Jerome roll his eyes and take a sip of his drink. Derek didn’t bother to react.

“Trust fund baby,” Jerome guessed, but he said it with an air of disdain as if it was worth his loftier disapproval.

Something to sneer at.

Already Derek could see that Jerome wasn’t much of a kindred spirit. They weren’t going to have anything in common. Not even sharing the experience of being werewolves could cross that divide.

“Life insurance,” Derek corrected bluntly. “My parent’s had a great policy.”

The pause shadowing that was the typical painful silence that usually followed whenever Derek mentioned the fire or his family’s deaths- which wasn’t often. But considering the way Jerome backed off, it felt almost worth it.

“I’ve met your alpha before,” Derek said, after a moment. “She seemed- capable.”

The corner of Jerome’s mouth tightened a little.

“She is. Great.”

Definitely a pack of convenience then.

Stiles came over and interrupted the conversation before Derek could ask more questions about that, and he reached for Derek’s beer taking it out of his hand and draining a large portion as he squeezed in to sit next to him with a happy grin.

And that was that.

 


 

On Saturday morning Stiles was walking with a noticeable limp when he followed Derek out to his car.

Derek had planned to stay until Sunday but there had been a call from Erica in a panic that morning, saying that Boyd had gone out on patrol last night and hadn’t come home.

Derek was sure that he was okay, he could still sense him through their pack bonds, and Scott had pretty much said the same but that didn’t mean it wasn’t worrying. Beacon Hills had settled down since Stiles’ high school days, the worst they’d come across recently was a lost werewolf and a family of witches passing through town.

Not to mention the shrill singing mermaid.

Still, Erica wouldn’t be able to relax until they’d tracked Boyd down and Derek wouldn’t have been able to stop thinking about him until he was in on the search as well. So it only made sense that he head home.

“Let me know when you find him,” Stiles said, mouth twisting with concern though he’d been the one insisting over and over again that Boyd was probably fine. “Call me whatever time. Otherwise I’ll be up worrying anyway.”

“I can still sense him,” Derek said. “He’s alive.”

Stiles led him back over to his car and Derek finally noticed how much Stiles was hobbling along and what had caused that. Heat surged up under his skin, pleasure and shame mixed in all together. Derek thought he’d been holding back his strength last night but he’d been too passionate. Out of control.

“I was too rough on you,” Derek muttered, catching Stiles about the waist and pushing his hand to the bare skin there to take away his pain. “You should have said.”

Stiles flushed but didn’t look remotely upset. “Did you once hear me complaining?” he asked, still reeking contentment and happiness and the dazed look of one who’d been thoroughly fucked.

He meant it though. Stiles wasn’t lying and the pain Derek drew out of him was more of the achey variety than a full blown injury. He relaxed a little and leaned in to kiss below Stiles’ ear. “I heard a lot of things last night, none of them complaints.”

Stiles smirked, but there was a telling flush deepening across his cheeks. Derek kissed him goodbye and climbed into the Camaro, while Stiles stepped back onto the curb to watch him leave.

The engine revved as he reversed out of the space and he couldn’t resist glancing back at Stiles and smirking as the engine roared in the quiet parking lot. Two guys were walking past and glanced over at the car with interest before looking back at Stiles, who was still grinning at Derek.

“Trust me,” Derek heard Stiles speak to them once they caught his notice and the fervent edge to his tone was entirely damning. “He’s not compensating for anything.”

Derek drove off then before he could hear Stiles starting to compare sizes because it was absolutely what he would do if goaded and that was not something Derek wanted to be exposed to right now.

If flustered was a concept that Derek ever engaged in, that moment definitely came close to it.

 


 

Lydia and Derek were the ones who found Boyd first hours later. In a cave, just off the main track of the Preserve.

The pack had split up into twos to search, Derek joining as soon as he’d arrived back in Beacon but he’d managed to catch a hint of Boyd’s scent twenty minutes ago.

“Oh damn,” Lydia said unexpectedly, when her flashlight caught the edge of Boyd’s sneakers.

They stepped in closer, the beam of light throwing Boyd into high relief. He was lying against the stone wall, covered in colourful flowers, a circlet of woven poppies, resting atop his head like a crown. There was magic still in the air, and Derek realised at once what must have happened to him. Boyd had been beset by a troupe of fairies that lived in the deeper parts of the Preserve.

He winced at the sight of them, and Derek struggled not to crack at grin. He was unharmed in body, but maybe not so much in spirit. The expression on his face was certainly dejected for one who’d woken up in a bed of roses.

“Not a word,” Boyd muttered.

Lydia brought a hand to her mouth but Derek could see she was stifling her laughter. Derek smiled and stepped forward to free Boyd from the riverbed of flowers and honeysuckle he was buried in.

Stiles was going to love this.

 


 

“No,” Stiles gasped when Derek relayed the whole thing to him over the phone later. “You’re kidding!”

“No,” Derek replied unable to keep the smile out of his voice. “Kidnapped. By Fairies. Boyd.”

“This makes me so happy,” Stiles said gleefully. “Please tell me you got photos.”

“I didn’t,” Derek admitted, because he was the alpha and it wasn’t exactly fair for him to hold onto potential blackmail material of his betas.

Stiles let out a disappointed sound.

“But Lydia did.”

Stiles actually cackled then and Derek’s smile widened listening to it. It would have been so much better to explain in person. Then he would have been able to see all of Stiles’ reactions. “I gotta go, Derek,” he said quickly and Derek knew that tone very well.

“You’re literally about to call Lydia, aren’t you.”

“Absolutely. This is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I bet he looked pretty in that flower bed, didn’t he? Was there a flower crown situation? Please for the love of god, Derek tell me there was.”

Derek didn’t really think it was the worst thing to ever happen to them so it was hard not to find the humour in Stiles’ enthusiasm. “Guess you’ll have to call Lydia and find out.”

And the fact that Stiles hung up immediately without even bothering to say goodbye in his excitement to view the physical evidence of Boyd’s recent adventure didn’t even register.

Because Derek was willing to admit it was a very good photo.

 


 

The next weekend Derek drove down to see Stiles, because his jeep had stopped working. Again.

And after the fight Cora had had with Erica four days ago, Cora was currently camping out at his apartment to avoid her roommate. So there wouldn’t have been much chance of them being alone at his place anyway.

Derek wasn’t worried about the fight. They’d work it out. The pack didn’t hold grudges for long. Cora and Erica usually found the middle ground, but in the meantime Derek would prefer not to be stuck in his apartment listening to his sister’s complaints about Erica’s stubborn refusal to wash the dishes.

Once he’d arrived at Stanford, the car park was nearly completely full but Derek managed to snag the one a pretty looking girl in a SUV left behind. He left his bag in the car and started walking, letting his senses alone track Stiles down first.

It led him further across campus than he’d been before, but eventually he spotted Stiles sitting alone on the wall, hunched over slightly and taking notes from a large textbook. But Stiles wasn’t the first voice that he heard.

“Did you see that guy?” a red headed, muscular looking guy said to his friend, his gaze lingering on Stiles admiringly as they strode past Derek. “Cocksucker lips if I ever saw them.”

They laughed together, but Derek could smell their arousal lingering in the air behind them as they walked on, and Stiles, completely oblivious to their attention, licked at his mouth as he continued to read, chewing on the end of a highlighter.

It wasn’t the first time Derek was uncomfortably aware of other people’s interest in Stiles, but he was taken aback by it. The other man sounded hungry almost. Stiles licked at his mouth again and Derek nearly forgot about his two fans altogether.

Jesus Stiles was a menace sometimes. And what’s worse was that it was completely unintentional. Most of the time he had no idea he was doing it.

“I’d take him for a ride,” his friend agreed, voice low and full of promise and Derek did his best to push it out of his mind, because it wasn’t going to end well for them if he didn’t.

“Hey,” Stiles called, catching sight of him between two passers-by and snapping his textbook closed, stuffing the highlighter into his bag as he tucked it over his shoulder and made to stand up.

Derek crossed the divide between them in two steps just as Stiles started bounding over to him. Stiles glanced around, but since there were lots of passers-by and Derek wasn’t too big on PDA, he settled for putting his hand on Derek’s chest and letting it linger.

“Hey,” Derek replied, staring at him as if to drink in the memory of his face.

Stiles’ hair was in disarray, he looked like he hadn’t slept much in the past few days and the scent of coffee and energy drinks lingered heavily on his skin. Derek could smell the particular brand of body wash he favoured along with the new detergent he must be using on his clothes.

Altogether the smell amounted to something overwhelmingly good.

“Want to go get a drink?” Stiles wondered, still not letting go of Derek’s shirt. “Jerome just texted. He’s in the bar not too far from here with some friends.”

Right Jerome. Derek’s least favourite person of Stiles’ new friends. But he was bearable at least. And Derek could play nice when he felt like it.

“Sure,” he agreed, though drinking with werewolves always seemed like a recipe for disaster. “Let’s go.”

And it would be a nice walk through the campus anyway.

 


When they got to the bar though, Jerome was very much alone and clearly surprised to see Derek there. Maybe he’d meant for this to be just the two of them. Derek had already picked up on how little he’d impressed Jerome last week.

Stiles went to the bar to get their drinks so Derek was evidently forced to sit with Jerome at the booth he’d snagged or make it obvious to Stiles that he was snubbing him.

Derek sat down.

“Hey Derek,” Jerome greeted, without really looking in his direction.

His eyes were trained on the crowd in front of them. “Hey,” Derek said shortly, before he glanced over at Stiles’ back, and reminded himself that wasn’t good enough. “How are classes?”

Jerome shrugged and then launched into a story about one of their professors that Stiles had given cheek to the other day and it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen. Derek had actually heard this story, from Stiles himself, but it came out a lot differently from Jerome’s perspective.

Derek could hear the admiration in his voice.

Stiles returned with their drinks a second later, putting a beer into Derek’s hand and resting his fingers across Derek’s thigh as he squeezed in next to him. Jerome sipped the whiskey he was already drinking and immediately engaged Stiles in a topic in one of their classes that Derek barely knew anything about.

Stiles replied easily enough, but steered it towards something they would all have in common. It was of no surprise to Derek that that was werewolves.

And alphas.

“Inheriting status has to be the weakest method of becoming an alpha,” Jerome stated in the way of someone making an enlightened statement as he threw back the rest of his glass.

Derek pulled a face and wondered if Stiles had told him that’s what had happened to Laura after their mother died. And in a round about way had happened to Derek after Peter had been resurrected for the second time.

It was a comment that felt like it had been directed his way somehow. “How does that make sense?” Stiles countered, looking like he was genuinely interested in getting into this debate right now. Maybe Jerome hadn’t known about Derek at all. “Genetically blood ties would make the status stronger if it was passed down through generations of family.”

“Yeah but it’s not like they earned it,” Jerome continued. “It’s meant to be taken through violence that’s just the nature of the thing.”

“Murder, you mean,” Stiles corrected with a roll of his eyes. “Forgive me for not immediately taking the werewolves are violent monsters route. It’s so derivative. And completely untrue.”

His eyes slid over toward Derek for the briefest of seconds.

“You guys are predators. Not killers.”

Derek felt a swell of pride and relief well up in him at the words his mother had spoken so often. Stiles had retained the importance of them, and their meaning to Derek as per usual.

“Jeez,” Jerome said, laughing. “What kind of kid’s fairy-tale is that?”

Stiles winced and glanced at Derek out of the corner of his eye. “I never thought to ask, but are you a born werewolf or bitten?”

Jerome opened his mouth but Derek answered first.

“Bitten.”

Stiles stared at him in surprise. “How do you know that?”

Derek shrugged. “I just can. There’s sort of a distinctive smell.”

At Stiles’ confusion and Jerome’s frown he tried to elaborate and explain in the kind of details that Stiles would understand as a human. “It’s like the scent of werewolf isn’t as strong,” Derek clarified. “Like it hasn’t settled into the skin as long as it would for a born wolf.”

Stiles’ eyes were shinning with focus, and Derek realised it was something they hadn’t discussed before and something Stiles probably hadn’t come across in his research.

“How fascinating.”

Jerome shrugged like it wasn’t all that interesting.

“It’s different being raised in a werewolf household,” Stiles suggested with a pointed look at Derek. “You don’t grow up thinking there’s only violence and death.”

Derek inclined his head to show Stiles he agreed with the sentiment. He’d explained to Stiles before a little of what it had been like, when he was younger. Before everything had gotten so wrong.

Jerome looked thoughtful, but didn’t try and argue further. But Derek knew that he wasn’t convinced. Jerome was the type of person that thought his opinions were right and didn’t budge on them. And Derek couldn’t see him shifting here. He wondered what kind of pack Jerome’s must be like if he thought this way, even with alpha Rojas’ excellent reputation and he didn’t think that meant anything good.

“C’mon,” Stiles said, abandoning his empty beer and climbing to his feet with a groan. “I’m starving. Want to come with us and get some food?”

Jerome shrugged but his gaze slid almost imperceptibly over Derek. “Nah I’m good. Some other time.”

Derek did his best not to let it show on his face how much that worked for him as he rose to his feet as well. Generally that wasn’t something he was afraid of saying to a person’s face. He wasn’t usually someone who played nice with people he didn’t like, but for Stiles he could be.

For Stiles he could put up with a thousand Jeromes.

Stiles hugged Jerome goodbye and Derek finished off his beer and then they were outside, heading back to Stiles’ room.

“I’ll grab us dinner,” Stiles announced as soon as they were inside and met Bram in the dorm. “I’m paying.”

Derek frowned and went to grab his wallet. “I’ll-“

“You already drove three hours here,” Stiles protested with an aggressive twist of his mouth. “I’m buying you dinner or else.”

Bram snorted from his position on the bed, proving in fact he had been listening to their conversation though he’d been politely pretending not to. Stiles turned towards him. “Who even threatens someone with paying for their meal,” he muttered, eyeing Stiles’ questioningly.

Derek grinned. “Stiles does.”

Stiles seemed especially proud of himself when Derek put his wallet back on the bedside table without further argument, and hurried out the door with one last lingering look at Derek. Stiles’ footsteps had barely become faint to Derek’s ears before he realised Bram was looking at him.

“So,” he said, still staring. “You’re kind of an intimidating guy.”

Derek wondered where he was going with that.

“Sometimes.”

“So is there a way to know if someone’s gonna actually beat you up or if they’re just bluffing?”

Derek straightened up and looked at Bram more closely, listening more carefully to his bodily rhythms and the information it broadcasted. “Someone’s threatening you.”

“Yeah,” Bram sighed, flopping back onto his bed. “This guy thought I was hitting on his girlfriend who’s in my BIOE 10N class so he’s been sort of-“

“Harassing you,” Derek finished, pursing his lips.

“If it was just him I’d be able to handle it,” Bram explained. “But he’s got friends.”

“How many?”

“Two other guys,” Bram said. “They’ve been following me around campus whenever they spot me. Just you know- menacing stuff. Nothing too physical yet.”

Derek scooped up his leather jacket and threw it on. “Do you know where they are now?”

Bram looked alarmed. “What are you gonna do?” he asked. “I don’t want to cause trouble. It’s why I didn’t say anything to the RA.”

Derek shrugged and tried to look harmless. “I just want to talk to them.”

Bram hesitated.

“They like to sit out by the grass of Serra Grove.”

Derek picked up Bram’s keys and tossed them to him. “Let’s go.”

 


Bram didn’t need to point them out. Derek spotted them straight away. All three of them were sprawled out on the grass and as they approached, Derek saw one of them toss a can of energy drink at one of the garbage bins nearby, missing it entirely.

When all three of them laughed and made no effort to pick it up, the one in the middle’s gaze sliding lazily towards Bram, he knew these were the ones to deal with. Not that there was much to be dealing with at all. Only one was sturdy, and the other two were skinnier looking then Stiles, much less lean.

When the sturdy one smirked and nodded, Derek took that to mean he was the leader. “Stay here,” Derek muttered and strode on over to their group.

“What do you want?” the one in the middle demanded rudely.

Derek strode right into the centre of their half circle and looked down at him. “What’s your name.”

He didn’t ask, he demanded.

“Jack Fisher,” the guy said automatically, then looked angry with himself for being flustered into answering truthfully.

“That guy over there,” Derek said with a jerk of his head in Bram’s direction. “You’re gonna leave him alone.”

“Right,” Jack snorted, glancing meaningfully between his friends.

“You’ve been having fun,” Derek continued. “Following him around campus. But you don’t really know what it’s like to stalk prey.”

Derek watched their eyes widen slightly. However incrementally. It was a human fear response. Uncontrollable. But it proved that he had their attention.

“The whole point is to track them as long as possible,” Derek explained, letting his voice get lower and more dangerous. “Really draw it out. Enough so that they start to think they’re safe, that no one could possibly hurt all three of them sitting out in the open like this.”

Derek heard the uneven beats of their hearts kick into overdrive and caught the sudden, acrid scent of fear and knew that they understood. They might not have spotted him for a werewolf, but their human instinct identified the threat, even in those underdeveloped lizard brains of theirs.

“That’s when you strike,” Derek said conversationally, and then he smiled, letting his teeth lengthen just a little bit. Just enough to look unnatural.

Jack shrunk away from him and suddenly his friends were scrambling to their feet, looking very keen to get as far away as possible. And Derek hadn’t even flashed his eyes at them. “Just something to remember,” he said, unfolding his arms and slipping them into his pockets, turning and whistling as he strode back to join Bram.

Who was staring at him like he’d lifted a car off the pavement with his bare hands. It really hadn’t been that impressive. Derek wished most things could be that easy.

“How did you do that?” Bram asked, wonder in his voice.

Derek shrugged, an expert of perfect evasion.

“Natural talent.”

 


“I still don’t get it though,” Bram muttered thoughtfully as they walked back to the dorms. “I swear I barely talked to this girl. I don’t know who would have even noticed let alone told her boyfriend.”

Derek’s brow wrinkled but it wasn’t entirely suspicious. He’d heard of people doing stranger things out of misplaced possessiveness or fear. “Jealousy brings out the worst in people.”

Bram sighed and stretched his arms behind his back. “Man, people just make no sense.”

Well, that was probably true too.

Neither Bram nor Derek mentioned anything when they made it back to the residence hall before Stiles. They ate and then Derek drove home because he had work early Monday morning. He didn’t think it necessary to tell Stiles about the vague threats he’d given out to three random assholes.

Stiles obviously didn’t agree because he called Derek late Monday afternoon to discuss it.

“All the freshman in this dorm think I’m dating someone in a motorcycle gang,” Stiles announced gleefully as soon as Derek picked up the call. “My street cred just went way up on campus.”

Derek only rolled his eyes. “Bram needed my help and I don’t even own a motorcycle.”

But Stiles was much too clever to be put off by that. “But you were wearing your leather jacket and sexy trademark scowl, weren’t you?”

“I might have worn- wait, sexy scowl? What?”

Stiles let out a heavy laugh. “You are aware of the constant fear boner I had around you when you started running with Scott.”

Derek pursed his lips together with the sheer effort to keep from laughing. It wasn’t like he’d been entirely oblivious to Stiles’- interest but he’d definitely never heard it expressed in those terms before.

“Anyway I’m not complaining. People know not to mess with me now.”

Derek settled into the couch and smiled. “People know that anyway. You brought that damn bat covered in barbed wire with you to Stanford, didn’t you?”

“That’s for supernatural emergencies not students,” Stiles said, as if that was completely reasonable. “But maybe your point stands.”

Well at least Stiles had some limits.

 


 

Stiles was thumping his pen repeatedly against paper while he tried to encourage his brain to come up with the word he was trying to think of.

“What’s this I hear about your boyfriend terrorising other students?” Jerome called, interrupting his concentration and Stiles swivelled around in the computer chair with a grin, faltering a little when he realised Jerome wasn’t even smiling.

Oh. Stiles had thought-

Didn’t werewolves find it funny to scare the shit out of dickhead humans? Or was that a Derek experience only? Jerome certainly didn’t see anything playful in it when he folded his arms and stared expectantly at him.

“Oh no dude,” Stiles corrected, laughing a little at the confusion. “Derek’s a good guy, he was just helping out my roommate who had a couple of dicks hassling him.”

Jerome was still frowning and he didn’t seem satisfied with Stiles’ response. But it wasn’t like Derek went around wolfed out and beat those shitbags senseless or anything. Derek’s physique was intimidating enough without throwing all the werewolf bits in there.

“There aren’t that many supernatural students at Stanford,” Jerome said still frowning. “And the last thing they want is some out of town alpha bringing attention by beating up a couple of weak humans.”

Whoa! How did they go from a few vague threats to grievous bodily harm? Stiles gaped at him, even as his entire body rebelled against the thought. “Derek never even touched them,” he said, surprised at the stance Jerome was taking on this and even more surprised by the anger rising in his voice.

They’d never so much as raised their voices at each other before.

Was this a fight right now? The tone of it felt totally different from any of the arguments that had happened with Scott. Mostly since it didn’t really feel like Jerome was listening to him all that much. And that whatever this was it definitely didn’t seem like Jerome was backing down.

“Dude what’s got you all bent up?” Stiles muttered, irritated on Derek’s behalf and eyeing him sideways. This was spinning way into let’s not hang out anymore territory. “I thought you liked Derek.”

Jerome visibly seemed to reel his temper in. “I do, I just heard some freshman girl’s talking about it in the quad, the word spread so fast-“

He’d backed off finally, so Stiles stopped pushing it and went back to smiling to himself. “Yeah Derek has that effect on people.”

“And werewolves that go looking for fights have a tendency to lose control.”

What the hell? Stiles spun the chair back as his mouth fell open. “Derek has more control than literally every werewolf I’ve ever met.”

Jerome’s face practically spasmed once he realised Stiles’ meaning but Stiles was already on a roll and not at all worried that he’d cause offence. Jerome was kind of being a dick about this. As far as Stiles was concerned Derek had done absolutely nothing wrong.

“He would never expose your wolflihood or whatever and he’d definitely never go after someone unless they deserved it. And I spoke to Bram after, and trust me, man, those guys deserved to have some big hulking guy scare them into good behaviour. And I’m not just saying that because the big hulking guy happens to be my boyfriend. Are we cool?”

Jerome reached out and gripped Stiles’ shoulders, spinning him back to face the computer screen with a heavy chuckle. “Yeah, yeah we’re cool. Don’t have a meltdown about it.”

Stiles frowned at that, not sure why it was so off-putting. Because if anything Jerome was the one who came after him spouting irrational bullshit about the whole thing.

But whatever, the moment had passed.

 


 

Stiles was feeling kind of bummed out. He was sitting with Iliza and Jerome in their usual study spot only this time the fourth chair at their table was empty.

Jerome told them as soon as he'd sat down that Luke didn’t want to be in their study group anymore. It was interfering too much with his classes, his basketball schedule and his job at Burger King.

“Why didn’t he tell us anything?” Iliza demanded with narrowed eyes as soon as Jerome dropped the news. “We’re all in the group chat.”

“I don’t think it was something he wanted to say over text,” Jerome said, shrugging and frowning enough that a crease had formed on his forehead. “Look, I’m gonna be honest he was- well kind of rude about it. I think he just wanted to be left alone.”

If that wasn’t the mental state of every college kid during assignment week, then Stiles didn’t deserve to consult on his dad’s cases. “He’s probably just stressed,” he guessed, in between chugging his can of energy drink. “Because I can pretty much guarantee I’m fucking stressed over here.”

Iliza smirked. “Maybe you need to get laid,” she suggested innocently and Stiles almost snorted his next gulp up his nose. “Tell me how is your delectable boyfriend lately?”

“He’s fine,” Stiles spluttered, though maybe that wasn’t entirely true. Derek hadn’t texted him that much this week because he’d picked up a lot of extra shifts covering another guy’s injury leave and Stiles had been so busy with his essay for his research capstone class that he hadn’t had the time to start a conversation himself.

He missed Derek though. That was kind of the reason why this week had felt so shitty.

“Focus you two,” Jerome teased. “I seriously don’t want to flunk this class and without Luke we’re down a study partner.”

Iliza rolled her eyes.

“Yes, how will we go on,” she muttered. “Luke will hang out with us when he’s got the time, no point freaking out over it.”

“I’m not freaking out,” Jerome retorted, with a sudden expression of annoyance. “I need to pass this class.”

Iliza leaned back in her chair and folded her arms, raising her studded eyebrow. “Looks like someone else needs to get laid too.”

Jerome flushed a little and Iliza grinned before she started leafing through her textbook again. Stiles was still laughing when Jerome ignored her and started pulling out flashcards with as much dignity as possible.

 


 

Stiles did realise later that Iliza was right though. Once classes were over and he’d returned to his dorm. Well not entirely about the getting laid thing, but definitely about the Derek thing.

It was Friday night. His car was up and running again. He could make it to Beacon Hills before it got late in the evening, and Derek would be hanging out with the pack or patrolling the area since he didn’t always work weekends.

It would be the perfect time for a visit. This week had been shitty, and he did miss Derek and it was stupid that Derek kept driving all the way out here when Stiles hadn’t even come home to visit him once. That changed now.

Stiles started scooping up any necessary items and dumping them in the opening of the duffel bag on his bed. He sent Bram a text letting him know their room was now prime hook up territory because Stiles would no longer be there for the weekend, grabbed his phone which was almost dead and checked he had enough cash to fill the tank before he locked the door and headed downstairs.

Stiles was halfway to his car when he ran into Jerome.

“Hey!” he called, jogging up to Stiles’ side then eyeing the duffel bag slung over his shoulder. “Where are you going? Weren’t we hanging out this weekend?”

Stiles frowned at him. Were they hanging out this weekend? Stiles didn’t remember what they had planned to do. For an odd moment it reminded him of Scott, whenever Stiles had wanted to hang out and Scott was out chasing a girl or forgot about their plans because there were bigger things going on.

God, was Stiles becoming as absent as Scott in this scenario?

“I’ll be back Sunday,” Stiles promised apologetically, pulling out his keys and heading over to where his jeep was parked. “I’m going home for the weekend. Gonna visit Derek.”

Jerome only rolled his eyes and laughed. “Man you’re always running off to your boyfriend,” he teased. “You should stay here, have some self-respect.”

Stiles nudged him out of the way but he was grinning. If he had to be whipped, Stiles was more than happy to be whipped on Derek. “I haven’t seen him for ages and I haven’t driven back to visit yet, he’s been the one making all the trips.”

Jerome dragged his hand across the back of Stiles’ neck and hauled him into a half pat bro hug. “Fine, fine. You’re terrible.”

“Tell you what. Come stay with me last weekend of break, meet the rest of the pack. I will personally show you around Beacon Hills myself.”

Jerome paused and considered the offer, before his grin widened. “I’m in, man!”

Stiles waved him off as he made it to his car, dumping the duffel in the back and plugging his phone in to the console. He sent a text just before pulling out of Stanford’s residence parking lot.

Hey, he wrote, driving back to Beacon Hills for the weekend. Should I crash at Dad’s place or???

Stiles had been driving for less than ten minutes when his phone buzzed with Derek’s reply. Stiles didn’t bother to pull over to read it. Derek had only written two words anyway.

Come over, it said.

Jeez, Derek knew how to sweet talk. Stiles sent a couple of emojis, including the eggplant one because he knew it would piss Derek off the most and then turned up the volume with a big grin on his face.

Already he could see this week was getting better.

 


 

Stiles made it to Derek’s building in record time and the sound of his footsteps had barely even reached his ears before Derek had gotten to his feet and opened the door and then Stiles was dragging him into his arms.

Stiles exhaled like he hadn’t done so in days, going boneless on Derek, letting himself be held up altogether. Derek wondered what kind of week he’d had to be acting like this. Were his assignments really getting to him that much? He’d sounded fairly on top of it when they’d spoken last.

“Hey,” Stiles said softly, sounding warm and relieved and happy all at once.

Derek turned his head into Stiles’ throat and jerked back a little in surprise. Stiles reeked of Jerome, much more than Derek had been expecting. But he managed to keep the expression of distaste off his face.

“Hey,” he said, a little stiff, feeling odd. “You smell like-“

“Yeah,” Stiles said, swallowing hard and smelling of arousal all of a sudden. “I totally jerked off in the shower thinking of you before I left Stanford.”

That wasn’t what Derek meant at all, but Stiles was here and what did it matter if he smelt like that other werewolf? He wouldn’t for much longer. Derek anchored his hand on the back of Stiles’ neck and kissed him again, this time with tongue. He pressed his fingers along Stiles’ neck and felt the knot of tension there.

Stiles’ moan changed when Derek started kneading it with his thumb. “Oh my god,” Stiles hummed in between kisses. “Don’t stop.”

Derek pulled away and looked at him, but didn’t stop working his thumb in tight circles. How had Stiles gotten so tense already? “Have you been hunched over the entire time you’ve been there?” Derek wondered, dragging both hands to Stiles’ neck to work the muscle properly, pushing down to where it met his shoulders.

“Uhn,” was all Stiles could manage under the sweet pressure.

Derek knew it was because he was loosening the muscle for him but the sound was provocative enough that his cheeks warmed.

Derek worked at it for a minute before he realised they were standing in the doorway and he finally dragged Stiles in and led him over to the couch. The book Derek was reading was sitting on the coffee table and Stiles sank into the position Derek had vacated, stealing the warmth and relaxing into it with another groan.

Derek disappeared into the kitchen to make coffee, leaving Stiles to sink into the couch for a few minutes. He seemed tired, a little run down and Derek hadn’t realised how much it had taken out of him. When he came back and set the mugs down on the table, Stiles looked practically asleep already. But his eyelashes fluttered with signs of life at the scent of coffee.

“Yesssss,” Stiles cried out, snagging the handle and dragging the mug towards his mouth.

Derek rolled his eyes a little but waited until Stiles had had a few more sips and recovered his wits about him. “You hungry?” he wondered. “I can order in? Cheesus Crust?”

“Oh god yes,” Stiles agreed, nodding his head firmly. “Feels like forever since I’ve had that.”

Derek called up to order three pizzas for them both, because he ate a lot on his own and Stiles liked eating leftovers the next day.

While they were waiting Derek told him about the little things that had been going on in the pack lately in Stiles’ absence, mostly featuring Erica and Cora’s prolonged roommate wars and then Stiles told him about all of the drama that had been playing out in the classroom and his dorms.

“…and I kid you not Derek, the guy was escorted out of the rooms in his underwear.”

Derek blinked at him. “You said he broke in through the window.”

“On the second story,” Stiles said. “Just so he could hook up. In the wrong room! And you’ve seen my building dude, the guy can’t have been human.”

Derek laughed. “Maybe he wasn’t.”

Their pizza arrived just as they’d decided on something to watch, and while Derek was paying and tipping the guy at his door, Stiles selected the first episode of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

When Derek returned with the pizzas Stiles was already getting comfortable on the couch. “This is by the same guy who wrote Hitchhiker’s guide right?” Derek wondered, settling in next to Stiles and putting the boxes down on the coffee table so that they were within reach.

Stiles inhaled with a happy moan and went straight for his cheese crust margarita, throwing the box open and grabbing a slice. “Yeah,” he said around a mouthful and Derek should not have found that at all endearing. “S meant to be really good.”

Derek had read the book by Douglas Adams and enjoyed the movie, so he was willing to give something else of his a try. Stiles had been selling him on it for the past few days so it wasn’t a hard reach.

He opened the meat supreme and took a slice and focused on the screen, soaking up the calm scent Stiles was giving off so readily. He wondered if Stiles had realised just how much he smelled like Jerome now. But it didn’t feel right to ask. Not now when Stiles looked so comfortable and relaxed.

Derek would bring it up some other time.

 


 

“About scents,” Derek started hesitantly, later that night when they were laying in his bed, naked and well sated. “You know they’re pretty personal right.”

Stiles snorted and looked at him. Did he forget that it was Stiles who had done all the werewolf googling when Scott was first bitten? He knew all about werewolves and scents.

“Yeah Derek I’d agree they’re pretty personal since I’m lying in your come right now and I bet any werewolf with a nose will be able to smell that when I go outside tomorrow.”

Derek flushed and dragged Stiles in closer which was pretty endearing Stiles was willing to admit. “I just meant- with scent sharing. There’s always meaning behind it. Especially with wolves. If they’re not pack, not family, the intention can be different.”

“Have strangers been rubbing up on you again?” Stiles joked, only a little suspiciously because he wasn’t sure how to handle that.

He was pretty sure jealously wasn’t a good look on him, and Stiles didn’t want to be constantly guarding against Derek’s many admirers because then he’d never have any peace. And he trusted Derek anyway. He wasn’t the cheating type.

“I can totally defend your honour if need be.”

“I’m fine,” Derek said shortly, sounding frustrated which just left Stiles more confused. Sometimes he didn’t always understand where Derek was coming from, made harder by the fact that Derek struggled at the best of times to articulate it. “Just- something to be aware of.”

Stiles was definitely aware of people trying to hook up with his boyfriend whenever they encountered him, that wasn’t something that was flying under his radar. So what was Derek even talking about exactly?

He paused and waited, let Derek feel out the moment to see if there was more information forthcoming, but Derek just set his jaw and didn’t say anything else.

A mystery for the ages it seemed.

“Don’t worry,” Stiles said leaning in to kiss him. “I’m totally aware of it.”

Though the way Derek didn’t entirely unwind again afterward, until Stiles had fallen asleep first suggested maybe he didn’t entirely agree with him.

 

 

 

Stiles woke up on his side, turned over and caught Derek watching him.

They looked at each other for a second. Then Derek rolled on top of him. Stiles reached out first but Derek moved with purpose and sealed their cocks together in his hand before proceeding to stroke them off. Derek’s grip was rough and fast and perfect but it was much too quick before Stiles came all over his fingers. He’d wanted to savour it a little, maybe draw out his orgasm but a second later it became clear Derek wasn’t at all finished with him.

When he kept going, hand much slicker than before, taking in Stiles’ tremors as his body continued to work through the recent orgasm, Derek looked down at him with dark eyes and watched him pant.

If anything Derek’s superior skills were to blame for why Stiles was able to get hard again so quickly. He was actually pretty sure he’d never even gone soft, but it was a struggle to pay attention when Derek was looming over him like that with such focus, kissing him on the mouth and jaw every so often when Stiles’ noises got more strangled.

After, when they’d both come again, Derek flopped onto his back and Stiles slid away onto the mattress next to him and tried to get his breath back. “Have… you noticed we really only hang out-,” Stiles panted, happily flopping down onto the sheets. “During the night?”

Derek glanced over at him, idly pushing his fingers through the mix of their come on his stomach.

“What?” he asked, absently.

Stiles had to swallow before he could talk again. Derek was being- Derek. That was to say distracting.

“Like at night we’re all on the town and monster hunting and pack movie nights and going out to dinner and during the daylight hours… nothing. Have you noticed that?”

Derek frowned at him. “No.” he admitted.

“So do you think that’s a conscious decision then?” Stiles wondered. “Are we incapable of doing things during the day?”

“We’re not vampires, Stiles,” Derek said immediately as if sensing Stiles was about to fall into another lengthy debate about whether he might be long dead or not, and just an apparition without realising it.

Stiles liked to have those kinds of discussions.

“Yeah but like- if there’s sunlight… we’re not there. It’s like- a pattern. We’re those people in b-list horror movies where it’s always dark and we’re permanently trapped late in the school with like an axe murderer or something and poor visibility.”

Derek let out a disbelieving noise.

“First of all, you graduated from high school a few years ago and neither of us have been there since. And second of all, yeah maybe we do end up spending more time together at night, but that’s usually when we’re available or finished work. And three- we’re hanging out right now.”

Derek even gestured at the sunlight streaming in over the bed as if Stiles needed the help to make the deduction. Stiles scowled at him.

“I mean like go outside,” he explained patiently. “Why do we never do brunches or something? Does the pack not exist during the daylight hours? Or is it-”

He trailed off when Derek rolled out of bed and stood up, still covered in come as he started walking off toward the bathroom. That was his usual manner of ending conversations so Stiles did his best to appreciate the view and take the very unsubtle hint that Derek might not be interested in such serious talk so early in the morning.

Stiles watched Derek’s bare ass move as he walked away and decided this was just as good a conclusion. If not better. Then Derek looked over his shoulder at him.

“You gonna shower or what?” he asked bluntly and Stiles was getting jumbled because he thought they’d be fooling around a little longer before they got cleaned up, but then Derek added. “Let’s get breakfast. Outside. In a direct square of sunlight.”

“Oh ha ha,” Stiles grumbled, but he clambered out of Derek’s bed enthusiastically and hurried forward to catch up as he stepped into the bathroom.

Derek’s shower was roomy, and Stiles had to admit it was a very suitable place for fucking. He probably couldn’t come again at the moment, but he was pretty sure he could get Derek to. His refractory period was much shorter than even Stiles’ sometimes.

Maybe Derek would even let Stiles lick him out again if he asked nicely. They had time. Those ridiculous hipster artisanal cafes in the main stretch of town always served breakfast dishes until at least midday.

“Hey Derek you’re still cool to drive me to the Winter Festival thing in town at twelve right? I promised my dad we’d go together. Remember I texted you about it the other day-“

“Yeah Stiles I remember,” Derek called back. “You asked me like five times, including last night, and I said I would do it.”

Stiles rolled his eyes and hurried into the bathroom as he heard the shower start, Derek already inside, tipping his face up towards the warmth as the water rushed down over his naked form.

He’d left the glass door open, an open invitation, and Stiles swallowed as he stepped in with him, admiring Derek from all angles.

Oh yeah he was gonna put his tongue somewhere that was for sure.

 


 

“Table for two,” Derek said to the waitress who met them at the door, giving the place an interested once over and very suspiciously not making a face.

Stiles, who was making a face himself at the décor and also the bearded man featured at one of outside tables on his left, long hair pulled back into a bun as he skimmed the page of the book he was reading that Stiles could literally see was titled A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius which had to be some kind of cosmic joke.

This place looked terrible. Definitely not their style at all.

Stiles wanted to turn around and leave based on that detail alone but Derek was unmoved and apparently unaware of how the bearded dude seemed to be glancing at Derek’s perfectly shaped stubble every now and again with unconcealed jealousy. The fact that Derek hadn’t written this café off immediately was enough to make Stiles instantly wary.

“Inside or out?” asked the girl, who seemed to have mustered the effort to smile once she’d seen Derek and realised there was a very handsome man hidden under those dumb sunglasses he was sporting.

Stiles was already regretting bringing this up at all. Derek’s appeal during the daylight hours seemed to be monumentally worse. Stiles was certain he’d have to drag him off into a corner somewhere and try to have his way with him.

“Outside,” Derek said firmly, with a smile that was utterly faked, the asshole. “In the sun, please.”

The waitress already had menus tucked under her arm and seemed to possess the sense to steer them to the right as far away from bearded dude as possible. Stiles wondered if Derek had slipped her a twenty to make that happen.

If so it had been a good call on his part. She set the menus down at their table, said something about getting them water and flounced off with a lingering glance at Derek’s chest as he stretched out of his jacket and threw it over the chair.

Stiles went to take the seat opposite except suddenly Derek was there, hand on Stiles’ lower back as he leaned in and drew out the chair for him first in a sudden, embarrassing act of chivalry.

Stiles stood frozen in shock for a second before his brain caught up with the proceedings.

What was Derek doing?

“Oh my god stop it,” Stiles muttered, cheeks pinking as Derek drew back and took his own seat, already smirking at how flustered Stiles had gotten. “You’re acting like I’m your pregnant wife who needs help sitting down.”

Derek’s smirk widened and he opened his mouth to reply but Stiles beat him to it. “I swear to god if you say you like the sound of that I’m leaving.”

Derek laughed then, and it sounded too much like a cackle for Stiles’ liking so it was probably a good thing that Derek disappeared behind the menu a second later and didn’t meet his eyes. Silence settled comfortably around them as Stiles scanned through the menu himself and tried to figure out what he wanted to eat.

“Want to share a milkshake?” Derek wondered innocently and Stiles put down the menu in order to glare at the deceptively calm expression on his face.

He was pretty sure Derek was still laughing at him. Stiles looked at the sky next and immediately started squinting because of course, Derek had insisted they sit in the sun.

“All I wanted,” he said with false sadness. “Was to be out in the sunlight. I don’t deserve this.”

Derek was still grinning at him and reached up and adjusted his sunglasses as if to remind Stiles that he’d offered to lend him a pair before they’d left his place and Stiles had stupidly said no.

“I have no idea what you mean.”

“Stop making fun of me,” Stiles groaned as the waitress returned and dropped off a pitcher of water and two glasses and then left without bothering to pour them out or ask them for their order.

Stiles wasn’t concerned because he hadn’t reached a decision yet, and it looked fairly busy inside. They were probably run off their feet.

“You’re the one who wanted to do breakfast,” Derek pointed out with a very false amount of sincerity. Stiles could see straight through him. “I’m just- accommodating your needs, Stiles. Want me to put my hand in a patch of sun to make sure I don’t burst into flames?”

“You fucker,” Stiles said, and then he was laughing because it was so ridiculous.

Derek taking him to a hipster café, pulling out his chair for him, asking to share milkshakes-

Derek reached across the table next and took his hand which Stiles had been using to tap across the table surface a few second ago. He glanced down at their entwined fingers and then back to Derek who was still smirking.

Hand holding. Man, Derek really was making fun of him. Stiles could count on one hand how many times they’d held hands before, and in public.

“Oh you wanna play it like that, huh?” Stiles demanded when Derek continued to smirk, obviously enjoying himself now. “Well fine, I’m not giving this back now. It’s mine.”

Just for good measure Stiles’ tightened his grip on Derek’s hand and then raised his eyebrows challengingly. Derek could have gotten free easily, werewolf strength and all but amazingly he didn’t even try. He just shrugged and went back to looking at his menu but Stiles could see he was pleased. And Stiles couldn’t be mad at Derek’s slight smile.

When the waitress finally came back to get their orders, Derek was still holding his hand.

Stiles cleared his throat and could feel his face heating up when the waitress saw their hands together on the table and looked surprised for a second. Derek was staring at Stiles the whole time, and his expression turned satisfied as he leant back in his chair and then ordered the big breakfast.

Stiles realised Derek was ruffling him on purpose with these unexpected displays of affection and once he figured that out he was furiously trying to act unaffected even if his heart was beating fast and there was a warm feeling in his chest. He left his hand in the tangle of Derek’s, trying to ignore the need to shift his legs and ordered waffles.

Derek tilted his head to the side once the waitress had written it all down and they’d ordered coffee too before disappearing and then Derek looked like he was visibly scenting the air.

His mouth twitched. “Are you turned on right now?” he asked, a little incredulously.

Derek kept his voice lowered though, thank Christ. Stiles glared at him, but still didn’t let go of his hand. “Physical intimacy turns me on, okay.”

“So say if I wanted to cuddle for a while-“ Derek asked, because of the many amazing things Derek was, a long haul cuddler wasn’t one of them.

Well okay, he was sort of an amazing cuddler as well. But only once he’d managed to relax a little into it, and that wasn’t always easy for him. Considering the amount of times people had broken into his apartment, kidnapped, threatened and otherwise attacked him, and burned down his childhood home it made sense.

Finding it hard to relax, even with casual intimacy, took Derek some trying. Which was why this attempt in the sunshine was actually really kind of awesome for Stiles.

“Instant boner, Derek,” Stiles replied gravely. “Instant boner.”

Derek went back to smirking and Stiles knew he should never have admitted that. The food took a while to come out of the kitchen but they occupied their time fairly easily while they were waiting.

It was surprisingly simple like this. Just the two of them. When they didn’t have to help Scott with a new harebrained scheme and someone innocent didn’t need saving and monsters hadn’t invaded Beacon Hills. They could just- hang out. Even if Derek was teasing the hell out of him about it.

Stiles missed being able to spend time together so easily like this. Now before anything could happen they were staring down a three hour drive first. Stiles didn’t mind travelling, not for Derek, but it was a big change from how things used to be. He also missed being able to get to Derek in under ten minutes, when everything was so great and comfortable.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t willing to fight for it though. Distance meant nothing in the long run. Derek might not say much about how he felt, but Stiles knew this was something that lasted.

He was going to suck it up for the next year or so because losing Derek wasn’t any kind of alternative. Stiles settled into breakfast and decided to make the best of it.

But it wasn’t until they were well into their food that things finally started working in Stiles’ favour. Derek was in the middle of getting bacon onto his fork when Staggering Genius guy finally closed his book and wandered over to their table.

“Excuse me,” the guy said, sounding utterly obnoxious but Stiles was already grinning from ear to ear because he was facing Derek and was clearly only interested in addressing him. “What kind of beard trimmer do you use because-“

Stiles stopped listening immediately because he was too busy making a victorious face at Derek behind the guy’s back as Derek glanced between them and his mouth set into a thin, unfriendly line.

"Suck it," Stiles mouthed, jabbing at Derek with his free hand and enjoying himself as much and as silently as possible as Derek worked out how best to reply.

Honestly it made the entire breakfast worth it.

 

 

 

Stiles spent the rest of the day with his dad, so Derek caught up with Boyd and Jackson for the afternoon, helping Boyd assemble a cupboard for his place.

Jackson up and quit within the first five minutes but then Isaac, Kira and Scott came over to help and it didn’t end up being so bad. Derek went and did his shopping after, and a few other errands, picking up a new uniform because his had been torn in a bar fight last week, before heading back to his apartment.

He’d barely settled in to the couch before Stiles was texting him and saying his father was going to drop him off. Derek went out and met them at the front of his building, then John came in for coffee and they chatted for a while in between watching a game on TV and then finally, he and Stiles were alone again.

Stiles dragged him back to the couch, put his legs in Derek’s lap and got himself comfortable, until they were half draped on top of each other. Derek was prepared for the promising start of an afternoon nap when the door to Derek’s loft opened and Erica and Isaac came barging in.

Derek pulled back a little so that it was Stiles mostly arranged over him, and frowned at Erica and Isaac’s interruption.

Sometimes his pack mates were the worst.

 


 

When Derek tensed up and immediately started frowning at Isaac and Erica’s arrival Stiles was surprised. But when he drew his hands away into something much more PG friendly Stiles almost couldn’t believe it.

Derek keeping his hands to himself for once. A concept which seemed incredible to Stiles, given the senses that the other werewolves had. Stiles had never thought that around the rest of the pack Derek would get shy.

Even with the added bonus of being able to smell exactly what they’d done to each other. And recently.

“Why hello Stiles,” Erica said, immediately dropping into the armchair next to them and turning to face the TV. “What are we watching?”

Stiles definitely recalled Derek saying the pack was busy tonight. “How did you know I was here?” he wondered, surprised. “I thought you guys already had plans.”

Isaac smirked as he sat down on the carpet but didn’t otherwise answer.

“Oh Derek said not to come over because he had company and that obviously meant you were in town,” Erica said. “And we didn’t have plans, whoever told you that?”

Stiles glanced over at Derek but he was suddenly very absorbed in an ad on the TV about dishwashing liquids. Stiles couldn’t help smiling to himself. He didn’t know that Derek even thought of telling the pack to beat it when Stiles was at his place.

He’d just figured Derek had impeccable timing, or perhaps the pack could smell what was going on inside and knew instinctively to turn around and head back the way they’d come. But no this took planning. This meant Derek was texting the pack to tell them to leave him alone. So he could be alone with Stiles.

And knowing that made him feel very smug.

“Trust you to take that as an invitation,” Stiles muttered, still smiling. “Where’s Boyd?”

“He didn’t want to come,” Isaac said.

Just as Derek added, “he actually respects boundaries.”

Erica just waved the admonishment away. “Oh come on you guys have had plenty of sex already and you’ve got another night ahead of you. Meanwhile we haven’t see Stiles in months.”

“Don’t smell how much sex we’ve had!” Stiles spluttered, embarrassed and maybe a lot flattered that they’d actually missed him.

“Don’t smell how much sex they’ve had!” Scott shouted from the doorway, almost at the exact time as Stiles.

He came into the living room a second later, looking a little apologetic for being there now that he knew the topic in question but Stiles was beaming at him. If it had been long between bouts of seeing Derek, it had been even longer since he’d last seen Scott.

Scott squeezed through the group and bent down to hug him, practically half collapsing on top of him in the process and Stiles laughed and smacked Scott on the back.

Isaac probably would have invited him over since Scott usually didn’t interrupt Stiles and Derek’s alone time. So Isaac was probably here to shit stir, but Erica was most definitely being genuine about wanting to spend time together.

“It’s hard not to,” Isaac muttered under his breath, but even Stiles could hear that one.

“Just put on a movie,” Derek muttered, as Scott went and sat down between Isaac and Erica, but Derek wasn’t annoyed enough to do anything about their presence because his hand came down on Stiles’ thigh and his arm had inched back behind Stiles’ shoulders on the couch, which meant he was settling in for the long haul.

Stiles grinned as Erica pulled up Derek’s Netflix account with the ease of someone who spent way too much time on one of her alpha’s couch and a second later selected a film from the horror selection called The Descent.

“If the killer in this is someone with a mental illness I’m gonna be so mad at you, Erica,” Stiles warned, reading the brief synopsis before she selected it to watch.

But she only shrugged. “Nah it’s fine it’s about cave dwelling cannibals.”

Scott rubbed his hands together excitedly. “Oh I’m gonna regret this,” he announced with glee.

Isaac snorted and Derek rolled his eyes before Stiles relaxed into him on the couch. “Sweet, I’m in.”

The movie had barely started before Cora came in through the front door and joined them. “Hey Stiles,” she said with a nod in his direction before sitting down next to Isaac. “What are we watching?”

“Horror movie,” Erica said, smiling and jumping up to darting into the kitchen. “I’ll make popcorn.”

Stiles took that to mean that their roommate war had come to an acceptable end. Derek looked relieved and Stiles knew it was a pain for him to try and help resolve their conflicts. Mostly because, and Stiles thought this with love, Derek was pretty terrible at conflict resolution. As Erica disappeared Derek’s hand tightened on Stiles’ thigh for the briefest second.

“Just to be clear I didn’t invite any of you here and you’re leaving as soon as the movie is done.”

Stiles would have blushed at the implications of that, but he was too busy smirking.

“Jeez, relax Derek,” Cora muttered. “Stiles will blow you later.”

“Cora!” Scott protested around a grimace.

Isaac barked out a laugh and Stiles felt like he swallowed his own tongue by how suddenly and unexpectedly he started coughing. Derek’s hand shifted down and wrapped around the back of Stiles’ neck soothingly and then the moment passed. He must have choked on air or something.

“Thanks Cora,” Stiles muttered, and she at least looked a little apologetic when she shrugged and turned back around to face the TV.

Stiles could see Derek scowling at her out of the corner of his eye, so Stiles reached out and patted Derek’s chest comfortingly before shifting back into the comfortable position he’d originally been in.

Pack drama aside for the time being, cave dwelling cannibals were more important.

 


Afterwards, when the others had left, Stiles knelt between Derek’s open legs and tried to look as intent as possible. “So did you want to-“

Derek almost reeled away from him entirely once he realised what Stiles was getting at. “You are not blowing me because my sister suggested it,” Derek said, looking thoroughly disturbed.

Stiles laughed because Derek made it too easy sometimes and then let Derek haul him back into his lap.

 


 

Derek’s phone buzzed Tuesday just as he was walking out of the Hole in the Wall bar at the end of his shift at one am in the morning.

The streets were quiet save for the bar staff Derek watched walk over to their cars before they climbed in safely and took off for home. Derek turned left on the sidewalk and headed off in that direction because the bar itself wasn’t too far out of Beacon Hills and was in easy walking distance of his own place.

He unlocked his phone as his feet moved automatically, savouring the fresh chill in the air, the lack of people and scents clouding his thoughts.

Stiles had messaged him.

Hey how was work? Was the freaky regular still there again?

Stiles was referring to one of the patrons who liked to pull Derek aside whenever he was patrolling the bar to tell him unusual stories, most of them made up. Since the guy was human and relatively harmless Derek couldn’t quite figure out what he was after.

Unless of course he was just lonely and in need of some social interaction. Still Derek didn’t understand why that social interaction involved the guy trying to take credit for financing the bar when Derek had already met the owner several times and she looked nothing like him.

Either way the things he said made for some entertaining stories, as Stiles liked to put it.

Yeah he was still there Derek replied. How’s college going?

Derek had finished crossing the street when Stiles texted again.

Good. Busy. Miss you. Hey are you free this weekend? Wanna come visit? I’ll buy you dinner (and put out)

Derek was free and nothing sounded better right now then seeing Stiles again and spending time together. Not to mention the potential for sex, however much Stiles liked to joke around like that he probably meant it. Derek smiled into his phone and mentally checked the fuel level in his car.

He was just a little over half a tank at the moment and if it got low he could always stop for gas anyway.

I’m free. I’ll be there this Friday night

Stiles sent him a few incomprehensible emojis after that but one of them was a heart so Derek assumed that meant he was happy about their future plans. When Derek made it home, showered and climbed into bed Stiles sent another text asking for a shirtless pic.

Derek laughed a bit at the question, drew it out a little just to tease Stiles more but he eventually peeled back the covers and took a photo of his chest and face for him and sent it.

Stiles replied almost immediately.

Shit. Going to jerk off now. Love u byeeeeeee

Derek rolled his eyes, asked for a return photo of Stiles in bed later then typed a goodnight text. Then he set the phone down by the nightstand and closed his eyes.

He fell asleep straight away and didn’t dream.

 


Friday came and Derek reached Stiles’ dorm on time as planned but was surprised to realise he couldn’t hear Stiles’ heartbeat behind the door.

“Oh,” Derek said, a little startled after he’d knocked and Bram answered with a bag slung over his shoulder, keys in hand and didn’t immediately step back to let him in. “Is Stiles here?”

Bram’s eyebrows rose.

“No,” he answered, looking a little surprised himself. “He went to study in Rykers Hall around two pm and hasn’t been back since.”

Huh.

Stiles had forgotten they were supposed to meet for dinner. Derek didn’t know what to do with that information. They’d talked about it a couple days ago. Derek was pretty sure Stiles had mentioned it again this morning.

That was weird.

“I can’t believe I got sexiled tonight and Stiles didn’t even show up to banish me himself.”

Bram was only sort of kidding, Derek realised from the smirk and the ill-timed laugh. But he was too distracted thinking on that to respond. Stiles wasn’t usually forgetful.

At least not when it came to the important stuff, like meeting up with the pack or getting to appointments. The medication he took for his ADHD took away his appetite so much that he’d forget to eat most days until it came back in full force around three o’clock and then he’d be eating like a freshly bit werewolf.

But that was about as forgetful as he got.

“You seem like you’re having a very intense think about that,” Bram’s voice came through, interrupting his thoughts and even managing to sound a little uncertain. “And that’s great and all, but it’s kind of scaring me because I still can’t get over how you somehow terrified those guys into leaving me alone with just a couple words.”

That caught Derek’s attention. “So they have left you alone?”

“Yeah,” Bram assured him. “And that girl in my class ended up dumping that Jack guy anyway since he was being such a creep which is cool for her. Um- anyway I’ve got somewhere to be, so come in and make yourself comfortable. Stiles will be back soon. I bet.”

“Right,” Derek said, jaw set in his uncomfortableness as Bram stepped aside and held the door open for him only smelling vaguely of nerves.

Derek wasn’t trying to scare Stiles’ roommate. At least not intentionally.

“See ya Derek!”

He must have been in a hurry because Derek barely took two steps into Bram and Stiles’ shared dorm room before the door was snapping shut behind him and he could hear Bram’s shoes in the hall.

Derek stood in the centre of the room for a second, took in the modest but colourful mess that was Stiles’ side of the room, his unmade bed hosting a pile of opened text books and food wrappers, before Derek went to retrieve his phone from his pocket. He called first because that seemed easiest, but when it didn’t go through he realised that Stiles’ phone must either be off, or it had run out of battery. It was more than likely that he was just running late and hadn’t been able to shoot off a text to warn Derek about it.

Either way Stiles was bound to remember their plans eventually.

 

 

“I’m so fucking sorry,” Stiles gasped, out of breath as the door slammed open. “I’m late. Study group went over because Jerome needed help with this new concept he wanted to introduce in his thesis and Iliza thought it would be better if we all stuck around together. My phone died and I-“

“Didn’t you bring your charger?” Derek wondered, curious, since Stiles was usually habitual in dragging that thing around everywhere.

“I’ve lost it,” he groaned, setting down a plastic bag on top of Bram’s mini fridge. “Would you believe that? Two months in and already my shit’s going missing.”

He was within reach then so Stiles swooped in and kissed Derek, warm and rough on the mouth, before Derek had the chance to do it himself.

“Were you waiting a long time?” Stiles asked, glancing at the clock and wincing.

Derek didn’t want to lie about it, but he also didn’t want to make Stiles feel worse so he just shrugged. “I bought you Chili’s. You can still heat it up in the microwave.”

“So you were waiting long,” Stiles decided, smacking his hand to his forehead. “I’m so sorry. But I’m here now? And I brought you that Ben & Jerry’s you like.”

Stiles fished the aforementioned ice cream out of the plastic bag and put in the freezer section of the mini fridge with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows at Derek. Instantly Derek was on the defensive, rolling his eyes as he finally set down his book.

“I don’t like-“

But when Stiles turned back he was grinning. “Right. Because it just goes mysteriously missing whenever you’re around and those two things have nothing to do with each other. You just don’t want to admit it cause the flavour is called chubby hubby.”

Derek stubbornly refused to acknowledge that accusation on principle and went to inspect the back of his book like he hadn’t read the blurb before.

Stiles only snorted at the reaction.

“And I don’t know about you,” he continued, in a much more sensuous tone. “But I told Bram to clear out for the evening and I’ve been thinking about your dick and I being reacquainted like all week.”

Derek had heard as much. The scent in the room changed when Stiles slid forward and dropped between Derek’s open legs. The heat was there, but Derek wanted to talk first. “You don’t have to- use sex to say sorry,” Derek said, struggling to get the words out.

This wasn’t the kind of thing he was used to talking about, but Derek refused to let their relationship be anything like the others he’d had.

“I’m not upset, Stiles.”

Stiles narrowed his eyes at him and reared back to pluck Chili’s receipt off of the coffee table where Derek had left it. “The time stamp on the receipt says you were there an hour ago.”

Derek sighed and stood up, moving over to wrap his arms around Stiles’ waist. “It doesn’t bother me that you have new friends,” he said into Stiles’ warm neck. “Yeah, a call would have been great, but I figured you were still studying and not in imminent danger.”

Stiles snorted at that. “Yeah, for once.”

Derek couldn’t resist scraping his stubble against Stiles’ throat, spreading more of his scent there which had started to fade from the last time he’d seen him. “So let’s eat, and talk then.”

“I downloaded more episodes of Animal Kingdom to watch,” Stiles offered, curling into Derek’s body almost automatically. “Man, you smell good.”

Derek preened a little. “Showered before I left.”

“God,” Stiles groaned, and suddenly he was turning, wrapping an arm around Derek’s neck and bringing their mouths together.

Derek easily got lost in the taste of him, in the entanglement of their scents in the air heightened by Stiles’ pleasure and arousal. They became more entangled as the kiss deepened, Derek and Stiles’ hands both roaming as they got reacquainted again. This was probably one of the best parts of their newfound distance; having the chance to familiarise themselves with each other. Every time.

The heat of contact burst between them but it didn’t go beyond kissing. Derek knew he hadn’t given Stiles enough of the kind of encouragement he usually needed to pursue sex and the need between them crested and fizzled without going much further as they got settled. Though Stiles did throw his legs over Derek’s and keep them as closely touching as possible throughout.

Not that that was any issue to him.

He was just happy to be there, smelling Stiles’ contentment purely because they were in the same room together.

 


 

“You can be annoyed you know,” Stiles’ said sometime later, with his hand on Derek’s thigh, curled up together on his bed as they watched TV. “I was totally a subpar boyfriend tonight.”

Derek tensed a little. Things used to go like this before, a little statement masquerading as a test and if Derek said the wrong thing it would blow up in his face. But this was Stiles, and he knew he could say what he wanted, what mattered and the situation would be different.

“I was- irritated,” Derek admitted, pausing to listen to Stiles’ heartbeat, watching his face carefully for a reaction. “But it’s not like this happens all the time. And you felt bad about it.”

Stiles nodded before he let out a pained sigh. “I’d been thinking about you coming to visit all day. I don’t know how I lost track of time.”

“It’s fine,” Derek promised, though he had to wonder at that a little himself. Stiles was never forgetful about this sort of stuff it was- unusual of him. “It’s good to see you.”

“You too,” Stiles said, though his voice was a little quieter. “I’ve missed you so fucking much.”

Derek leaned forward and buried his nose in the line of Stiles’ hair.

“Are you- are you sniffing me?” Stiles wondered, laughter in his voice.

Derek wasn’t even embarrassed.

“Yeah. I like your scent.”

“Flatterer,” he retorted but still tipped his throat back obligingly when Derek’s nose slid down Stiles’ temple, along his jaw and dropped into the hollow of his throat.

He took a few deep breaths and felt centred by them, by the overwhelming scent of Stiles’ skin. He could smell the arousal too, before he heard Stiles’ heart beat increase. “Can we fool around later?” Stiles asked after a moment of comfortable silence. “I promise it’s not apology sex. It’s needing to see you naked after a long separation sex.”

Derek smiled into Stiles’ neck before pulling away to look at him.

“I think I could be persuaded into long separation sex.”

Stiles rolled his eyes but dragged his fingers across the back of Derek’s neck, reeling him back in again.

 



Come Monday morning Stiles set his textbooks down with an enthusiastically loud thump on their study table in the library.

It was a perfect four seater, close to the bathroom, further from the action of the main library so there wasn’t much noise or wandering students and there were enough outlets for each of them to charge their laptops and phones.

He glanced over at Luke’s empty chair which was still habit even now and let out a small sigh even as Jerome got set up across from him, removing his laptop from the bag and plugging it in to charge.

Usually they waited until the others, well other, got there idly chatting until their entire group had arrived but Jerome must have been distracted by their upcoming assignment because he just dragged Stiles’ Criminological Theories textbook from the top of his stack and pulled it to his side of the table to start flipping through pages.

Stiles frowned and glanced at the entryway that Iliza usually came walking through and let the minutes tick by, only interrupted by the clack of Jerome’s laptop keys as his fingers moved across them.

Fifteen minutes later and Iliza still hadn’t arrived.

“Did she text you?” Stiles wondered, glancing down at his phone and the very distinct lack of messages from their friend.

She couldn’t have forgotten about the study sesh, Iliza wasn’t really the forgetful type. Nor was she flaky.

“Who?” Jerome wondered, without looking up from Stiles’ textbook.

“Iliza,” Stiles said, feeling a little worried now. “Did she text you and say she wasn’t coming?”

Jerome finally stopped what he was doing and looked up, blinking a few times like he’d only just realised they were another study partner short. “Oh,” he said without glancing at his phone. “No.”

Where are you? You ok? Stiles typed out in messenger on his laptop before sending it to her. Then he tried to focus on his own research because the essay due date was looming and he hadn’t done nearly enough work.

An hour later and she was still a no show. Stiles went back into messenger and saw that his message had been read nearly thirty minutes ago and Iliza hadn’t replied. What was that about?

Stiles frowned and tapped his highlighter to the textbook Jerome was reading to get his attention. “Hey I think she might be ghosting us,” he admitted, wondering what on earth could have happened.

They’d gotten on so well that Stiles had even been considering introducing her to the pack and inviting her down to Beacon Hills for the holidays. Jerome’s mouth twitched a little but his eyes were wide and a little hurt. Then he seemed to shake it off entirely with a non-committal shrug.

“Her loss I guess.”

“Yeah,” Stiles agreed faintly, still glancing at the chat box on messenger where his questions had gone unanswered. “Her loss.”

 


 

Two days later and Stiles still hadn’t heard anything back from Iliza though he’d spotted her once on campus so it wasn’t like she’d been kidnapped by monsters. When it became clear she’d ditched Stiles too he’d almost would have preferred to find out the reason was monster related.

It would have taken the sting out of it.

“Hey don’t feel bad,” Jerome insisted when they were sitting down eating lunch and Stiles was more playing with his food rather than eating it. “If she doesn’t want to talk to us that’s on her. We didn’t do anything wrong and she didn’t bother explaining if we did anyway. Can’t do much about that.”

Stiles nodded because that was all he could do in the situation. It was difficult to find out what had happened when Iliza was ignoring them and all of the messages Stiles had sent her since she missed their study date. It really didn’t give him any answers at all.

“Hey c’mon just think it’s almost break,” Jerome said. “And you’re taking me back to Beacon Hills remember? It’s gonna be a blast.”

Stiles perked up a little.

Yeah. That was happening at the end of the week. Jerome was finally gonna meet all of the pack. Stiles would see Derek and literally everyone else for the first time in ages. And Scotty! Jerome would be able to meet his best friend.

That thought cheered him up exponentially.

“Yeah! It will be a blast.”

 


 

At least Stiles thought it would until Friday finally arrived and his jeep crapped out on its own and refused to start.

“It’s cool,” Jerome said airily from his position outside Stiles’ car window as Stiles’ tried to turn the engine over yet again. “We’ll just take my car.”

He swung his duffel bag over his shoulder and stepped back as Stiles sighed and reluctantly abandoned his jeep. Derek would be able to help him tinker with it since he was good with cars but they didn’t have future plans for him to come back to Stiles’ campus yet so that could be a while.

And Stiles didn’t have the money to pay for any quick repairs at the moment. His jeep would just have to stay where it was. He dragged his bag out of the back seat and locked it all up before following Jerome over to where his own car was parked.

It was nearly a ten minute walk but the weather was nice and Stiles was still excited about seeing the pack again so nothing could truly bother him at the moment. Jerome’s car looked a little more sleek and expensive than Stiles’ but he didn’t comment when he unlocked the door and stuffed his shit in the back seat next to Jerome’s.

“Ready?” Jerome wondered with a delightful grin, one that Stiles couldn’t help but return.

“Hell yeah I am. Let’s do this.”

Jerome’s engine started immediately before he eased out of the parking space and then they were off, leaving Stanford behind them. Stiles was surprised at how eager he was to see it in the rear view mirror.

Losing another friend had bummed him out a lot more than he’d originally thought.

What was going on with Iliza and Luke anyway?

 


 

The drive back home was long but it was more enjoyable with company. By the time they’d rolled past the Beacon Hills sign Stiles had almost forgotten about the whole Iliza thing altogether.

Stiles directed Jerome to Derek’s apartment first because his father was still at work and with the new renovations there wasn’t any room at his place for the both of them. Stiles would be staying with Derek and Jerome would crash in the guest room.

They had plans tonight to hang out with Scott too which Stiles was really looking forward to. Derek had to work later on in the evening but he had a couple hours to kill between that time and Stiles was looking forward to it. Jerome carefully parked his car in the lot and then Stiles was sliding out the passenger door with his bag and heading straight for Derek’s place.

Jerome caught up with him when Stiles reached the buzzer and dialled Derek’s apartment number. “Special delivery,” Stiles sing-songed. “Have I got a big package for you.”

Derek didn’t reply but a second later the door buzzed open and Jerome adjusted the duffel over his shoulder and sniggered. “Nice.”

Stiles thought so too and grinned back before taking the stairs two at a time.

Tonight was gonna be fun.

 


 

Derek pulled a face at him once he met them in the hall.

“You’re lucky I opened the door,” he muttered, though it was all talk because he let Stiles drag him into a hug and nodded quietly at Jerome over Stiles’ shoulder.

“You love these antics,” Stiles teased, feeling a little giddy as they pulled apart and Derek led them inside.

Derek showed Jerome the guest room first, and while Jerome was busy dumping his stuff and ducking into the bathroom, Stiles turned to Derek and put his tongue in his mouth.

“Do you have to work tonight?” he groaned when Derek eventually dragged his lips away.

“Sorry,” he muttered. “I’m the only one who can cover for Jamil.”

“I hate your work ethic,” Stiles grinned, leaning back towards Derek’s mouth again.

At the sound of a throat clearing Stiles jerked back, catching sight of Jerome giving them a pointed look. “So what are we doing tonight?”

“Well we’ll get dinner with Derek first before he’s got work and then we’ll go to the movies and you can meet Scott!”

Jerome nodded, smiling a little strangely. Maybe he was just tired from the drive to Beacon Hills. “Sounds like a plan.”

 



Scott and the rest of the pack were a bit wary at first but they made it to the movies without claws coming out so Stiles saw that as a win.

He was sorry to see Derek go though when he finally left for work, but Stiles consoled himself with the knowledge that Derek would be finished at 1am and Stiles would most likely still be awake by then so they could go to bed together.

The whole pack couldn’t make it to the session they’d planned because they’d already had plans to go to an EDM concert so they only had Scott, Kira, Erica and Cora for company.

Cora was a bit more standoffish than usual but everyone else was their usual remarkable selves and Stiles couldn’t have been happier to spend some real quality time with his friends.

Black Panther was awesome, and the weather was so nice that Stiles didn’t even mind the fifteen minute walk back to Derek’s place, even waving away a lift in Cora’s car. Jerome didn’t mind either, he’d said he wanted to see more of Beacon Hills anyway so Stiles sent the others off and they went their separate ways out of the theatre.

“I don’t think Scott likes me,” Jerome said once they were out of earshot of the others, after Scott had long since rushed off with Kira to meet her parents before they left for their flight to Hawaii for two weeks.

“Nah man,” Stiles promised with a laugh. “Scott’s the most easy going dude I know. It’s like physically impossible for him not to like people.”

Jerome shifted awkwardly but didn’t outright deny his words.

He just didn’t get Scott’s makeup yet but he totally would given time. Stiles could see them all being great friends together. And they had another day or so to hang out and get to know each other more.

“Hmm just felt like there was a bit of a vibe, you know?”

“Yeah I get it,” Stiles said, resolving to keep things a bit separate until Jerome relaxed a little.

Not all of his friends had to get along after all. Stiles shouldn’t have assumed it would just all work out neatly.

Besides he had plenty of time to see Scott outside of college. Stiles could work it out. And he didn’t want to lose such a good study partner. His marks had been great since they’d started hanging out. Well they were usually good, but somehow they’d seemed better than usual. Bouncing ideas back and forth off each other definitely helped.

Well truthfully it had worked better when it had been the four of them, Jerome and Luke and Iliza. But study partners definitely did help.

Stiles would just hang out with Scott later.

 



Derek had work again the next night so the three of them spent breakfast together before meeting up with the rest of the pack.

They took Jerome to some of the best spots in Beacon Hills and hung out well into the afternoon. At four Derek left for work so the others headed back to Cora’s place to marathon horror films.

They were on their way over in Jerome’s car when he slid a sly look Stiles’ way and innocently asked, “so where’s your best bar here anyways?”

Stiles, who was up for a side quest, grinned.

Oh the possibilities.

 



When Jerome was in the bathroom and Stiles checked his phone he realised it was five past twelve and he was much drunker than he’d thought.

Way too drunk to drive. And Jerome didn’t seem that great either since he’d messed with a small dose of wolfsbane in his beer to give him a buzz. Stiles dialled Derek while Jerome was still in the bathroom and told him he’d be there in ten minutes when he came back.

For a second Jerome seemed annoyed to interrupt their partying but the bar would be closing soon and if anything Stiles had saved them money by not using uber or getting a taxi. And Derek was more than willing to take them back to his place since he’d finished work fifteen minutes ago. So win win for everyone.

Since Derek had hang ups about messing around if Stiles was drunk, Stiles knew he would be in for some pretty awesome cuddling when they got back. Jerome was kind of quiet while they waited by the curb, and Stiles realised he’d been waxing poetic about how good Derek looked in his work uniform, like the dark trousers and tight button up he’d still be wearing when he arrived to pick them up.

It was a good thing Derke had only just gotten home and hadn’t gone to bed yet, though considering the late shifts he’d been taking lately he might have been better off sleeping. When he finally pulled up to the curb though, Derek was looking very much alert as he frowned at them both. Stiles climbed into the front seat and kissed him clumsily on the cheek.

“Where’s Scott?” he asked, a little surprised and Stiles realised he’d assumed Scott had come out with them.

“Oh he-“ Stiles realised that he hadn’t actually thought to ask. Why hadn’t he invited Scott out tonight?

Because they were already at Cora’s weren’t they? Or had Scott had other plans? Stiles really couldn’t recall. “He was busy remember?” Jerome interjected helpfully. “He was on that date with Kira.”

“Oh yeah,” Stiles agreed only a little reluctantly, feeling an uncomfortable swell of unease in his stomach. Too much alcohol probably. “That’s what it was.”

 



Lydia came over for coffee the next morning when Stiles had silently dragged himself out of Derek’s bed so as not to disturb his sleep.

His mouth tasted like the gutter and he was hungover to all hell as he let her in the front door and set about making coffee. Jerome woke up just as Stiles was boiling the kettle so he set another mug out and Jerome immediately got down to business ordering them pizza at ten in the morning.

Lydia hadn’t spoken much around Jerome yet and was content to listen to their conversation as she drank her coffee in silence. Stiles took that to mean he was undergoing the Lydia examination of friendship approval. Either that or his choice of clothing that day was offensive enough for Lydia to create a sizeable distance between them.

Stiles didn’t realise she’d been meaning to get him alone until Jerome went out to grab their pizza from the delivery guy fifteen minutes later and Stiles was left with Lydia in Derek’s kitchen. Lydia walked in after him, leaning against the counter as she folded her arms, a definite no-no sign and glanced at him carefully.

“So what happened to you last night? You ditched us."

Stiles groaned and regretted ever being tempted by the prospect of booze and a wild night. "Jerome wanted to see the local watering holes. Man I got so drunk but you guys were already settled into that marathon. I didn't think it was a big deal."

Lydia pursed her lips which Stiles took to mean maybe it might have been. Just a little. He probably shouldn't have ditched his friends last night even with that drunken text he'd sent letting them know about it. Why hadn't he thought to invite them out? They might have shown up.

"You haven’t been on Facebook for a while either,” she noted. “And you haven’t been answering my messages.”

“Oh,” Stiles said, hurrying to reassure her that he hasn’t been ducking his friendship responsibilities. “No. no. Jerome and I had this bet to see who could stay off Facebook for longer and I intend to win.”

It had been surprisingly easy to sever social media contact. Though in hindsight Stiles probably should have sent out a warning blast so his friends knew he hadn’t vanished entirely from the fabric of reality.

Lydia didn’t respond straight away. “That’s- kind of weird actually. What’s the point of being disconnected from everyone you know again?”

She didn’t get it. At the time it had been so funny, Stiles was sure he’d prove himself victorious and Jerome would cave eventually. There was an unlimited supply of burritos riding on Stiles’ success here. That and bragging rights.

“Just a bit of an inside joke, I guess.”

“Right,” she said, not really smiling and Stiles felt like she wanted to say more but was holding herself back.

And then Jerome was entering the room, triumphantly holding four boxes aloft while Stiles’ stomach growled in sympathy at the smell of it filling the room and the moment was broken.

Jerome smirked at the noise, waggling the boxes temptingly in Stiles’ direction.

“Who wants pepperoni?”

 


 

Derek woke up the scent of an unfamiliar werewolf in his apartment and an empty bed.

Instantly his hackles rose before alertness kicked in and he remembered there was supposed to be an unfamiliar wolf in his apartment because he’d been invited there after Stiles had asked him to.

Derek didn’t get the chance to wonder where Stiles might be before he heard his laughter in the hallway and caught the smell of hot pizza. He rolled out of bed with a groan and went out to meet him. But when he reached the kitchen he only found Lydia.

“Morning,” he said, surprised as she handed him a mug a coffee and went back to drinking from her own. “Where’s-“

“He left.”

Derek paused in raising the mug to his lips. “Stiles left?”

“Jerome wanted some fresh air. Stiles said not to wake you.”

Derek frowned at that and wondered why that left him feeling so unsettled. “I think you should tell him,” Lydia said. “About what Jerome is doing. I know it seems kind of harmless, but Derek, I really don’t think that it is.”

He didn’t have much to say against that because he was starting to think that Lydia was right, that maybe what Derek had been trying to ignore from the beginning couldn’t really be overlooked anymore.

“C’mon, Derek,” Lydia pushed. “I’ve dated boys exactly like him before. Bad guys. You know this doesn’t feel right.”

“I tried explaining,” Derek said, frustrated. “But he didn’t get it. This is the first friend he’s made at college- I don’t want to ruin that.”

Lydia drained the rest of her mug and rinsed it out under the sink before bending to stack it into the dishwasher. When she turned back to face him her eyes were hard and Derek felt the first twinge of anxiety.

“I think Jerome might be fixing to ruin something else much more important.”

The thing was though, Derek had the feeling that Lydia was absolutely right about that.

 


Derek made himself breakfast, showered and picked up the book he’d started reading two days ago before settling into the couch.

He kept his phone right next to him but it didn’t buzz once, Stiles presumably thought that he was still sleeping, but Derek had assumed they would be back from their search of fresh air eventually.

Two hours later and Derek hadn’t heard a thing. So he buried himself in the book and tried not to think too deeply about Lydia’s words.

When Stiles finally came back barging through the front door mid-conversation, Derek was still in the middle of reading The Secret History in the living room. He looked up immediately, eyes flashing when he caught sight of Stiles in Jerome’s jacket.

“Phew,” Stiles interrupted himself, shivering as he wriggled out of Jerome’s clothing and handed it back. “Thanks so much for lending me your jumper, dude. I have no idea how I lost mine. I swear it was in my bag.”

Jerome rolled his eyes at Stiles fondly but accepted back the jacket that Derek could smell from where he was sitting. Stiles must have been wearing it since he’d left Derek’s place because it carried his scent now along with Jerome’s and Derek was doing his best not to react to that.

Stiles spotted him on the couch and moved over to perch on the edge of it, throwing his arm over Derek’s shoulder and settling into his side. “Hey there,” he said, moving in to nuzzle at Derek’s throat.

Derek reared back and covered the action by closing his book and leaning forward to put it down on the coffee table like he was trying his best not to lose his place. Stiles mustn’t have known what he smelled like.

Derek didn’t understand why he would have done it before he realised Stiles probably hadn’t seen the difference between something like falling asleep on Boyd’s shoulder, borrowing Erica’s leather jacket and wearing Jerome’s clothes. Except Erica and Boyd were pack, and the mixing of scents didn’t really matter so much.

A strange werewolf on the other hand. Well, if Stiles didn’t know better, then Jerome definitely should have. Derek would never share scents with a person from another pack. It was disrespectful. A very subtle kind of challenge.

“Hey,” he said, desperately trying to keep the stiffness out of his voice as he inclined his head. “Stiles. Jerome.”

Stiles grinned at him, a faint crease in his forehead as he picked up on Derek’s tension, no matter how he’d struggled to hide it.

Derek glanced over at Jerome who was grinning at him now, the kind of grin that wasn’t remotely friendly. Stiles wasn’t even looking at him directly, purely focused on Derek, so he didn’t see how Jerome kept eye contact with Derek and slid back into the jacket that smelled of Stiles.

Of Stiles and Jerome. Together.

Derek’s claws itched beneath his skin but he did his best not to respond. Not even when Jerome’s gaze dropped to Stiles and lingered pointedly.

“We ready to hit the road?” Jerome interrupted a second later sounding unnaturally cheerful. “Can’t wait to finish this group assignment.”

Stiles groaned and leaned into Derek, even as he glanced back. “Yeah man, don’t I know it. I’ll just grab my bag and we’ll go.”

He kissed Derek’s cheek softly. “Sorry we didn’t get to spend more time together this weekend,” Stiles said, sounding genuinely sad about it.

“It’s fine,” Derek replied through gritted teeth. “I’m sorry I had to work so much.”

Stiles peered at him carefully, frowning slightly like he couldn’t quite crack what was going on in Derek’s head but he nodded, and squeezed Derek’s wrist and disappeared into the bedroom to grab his things.

His sudden withdrawal left nothing to cover the newfound silence between Derek and Jerome in the room. Derek was starting to realise that Jerome wasn’t just a poor conversationalist but that he might be exactly what Lydia had said he was: bad news.

Stiles came skidding back out into the hallway, bag flapping across his shoulder before he reached Derek and kissed him eagerly on the mouth, saying something about texting him once he made it back to campus later. Derek nodded almost automatically but his eyes were still trained on Jerome standing in the doorway.

Jerome slid his hands into the pockets of the jacket and met Derek’s eyes over Stiles’ head one last time. Then his eyes flashed and his smirk grew more pronounced, teeth sharper over his grin.

There was no denying it now. Derek had been right. Jerome didn’t like him. In fact, he was pretty sure that he wanted Derek out of the way completely.

A second later when Stiles pulled back and turned away to leave, there was no evidence of that triumphant look on his face, nor the dangerous glint of ownership in his eyes.

And then Derek knew for sure.

The jacket was no accident at all.

 



Derek had been a little weird yesterday afternoon when Stiles had left for Stanford again with Jerome, and he was beginning to wonder if the long distance might be finally getting to him.

The thought left Stiles feeling wonky and out of sorts when he walked to his morning class, so much that he didn’t even notice Iliza was nearby until he was practically walking beside her.

“Iliza!” Stiles shouted, finally catching sight of her familiar pink hair even as she turned to head down another corridor. “Hey, wait!”

She half glanced around, spotted Stiles and took a half step like she was going to leave without waiting. Then she stopped. Stiles’ smile fell at that and he reached her side with an odd sense of dread. “Hey, are you alright? You missed the last study sesh and didn’t answer any of my texts and I just thought-“

“I don’t want to do them anymore,” Iliza said quickly, not meeting Stiles’ eyes. “The study sessions. And it’s probably for the best we don’t talk either.”

Stiles was utterly bewildered. So this was why she hadn’t responded to his messages?

“What? Did- did I do something?”

Iliza grimaced. “You should be careful Stiles,” she said glancing around. “You really don’t know what-“

“Hey! Stiles! Iliza!” called a voice, and there was Jerome, smiling wide and walking towards them.

By the time Stiles had turned back to ask Iliza what she’d meant he saw her pink hair whipping around the corner as if she’d run off. Friends were literally running away from Stiles now. Jerome’s smile fell too when he reached him.

“What’s her problem?” he asked, frowning.

Stiles shrugged but it felt like a lot of it had to do with what he’d asked her.

 


 

Ever since Jerome's weekend visit, Derek hadn't been able to stop thinking about what happened.

So much so that it led to him being unable to wait for the next weekend. Instead he ended up driving to Stanford Thursday afternoon knowing that Stiles' classes were finished for the day and they would be able to spend some time together.

He was also starting to think that maybe it would be best if they talked. About Jerome.

Except Bram was in the room when he got there and Stiles was too tired to head outside so Stiles ended sprawled across the bed on Derek’s chest while Bram listened to music and seemed to be filling out a few practice exams for one of his classes when there was a knock at the door.

“Stiles,” called Jerome and Derek felt a muscle in his cheek jump from the sheer effort of trying not to react at his presence. “C’mon already. We’re gonna be late for the concert remember? Krrum? The doors open in twenty and I wanted to see their supporting act.”

Stiles jumped up like he’d been electrocuted.

Then he glanced back at Derek with wide eyes. “I completely forgot about it,” he said to Derek, also forgetting Jerome could hear him through the door in his panic. “We got tickets ages ago, but then you showed up and all I could think was-“

“It’s okay,” Derek said quickly, it was his fault for arriving unannounced, no matter how enthusiastically Stiles had welcomed him.

But he didn’t doubt if Jerome had known Derek was visiting he would have found a way for only him and Stiles to go. Derek tried not to feel like he was being pushed out, but it was very, very similar to what had been happening lately. And it was too late to deny that he was starting to worry about it. And how unquestionably Stiles seemed to trail after Jerome.

“Go on, I’ll wait,” Derek replied. “ I’ll see you later-“

“C’mon Stiles,” Jerome muttered, banging on the door again to interrupt Derek. “We’re gonna be late.”

“Shit, shit,” he cursed, tripping over his own feet as he scrambled to get shoes and socks to throw on. “One sec, man I’ll be right out.”

While Stiles was getting changed, Bram rolled off his bed, discarded his earphones and went to let Jerome in. By the time he got into the room, nodded at Bram and Derek, Stiles had managed to get his shoes on and grab his phone and wallet.

He looked flustered but he was ready at least. But Jerome clearly didn’t think so.

“Aw c’mon Stiles why do you dress like that? Hiding beneath all those layers?” he demanded with a perfected shake of his head while he looked Stiles up and down as if his dress sense was comical. “If you put some real effort then you’d look-“

“Stop it,” Derek said sharply from across the room, anger surging up instantly when Stiles’ expression fell. “Don’t talk to him like that.”

“I just meant you’d clean up good if you’d wanted,” Jerome said, rolling his eyes at Stiles like Derek was overreacting and he was just being a good friend. “Settle down, man.”

Stiles laughed helplessly and actually sent Derek an apologetic look of all things but he knew what a comment like that would cost Stiles. Too many people had already made fun of how he dressed, and a lot of time those comments had been synonymous for why he didn’t deserve to be with Derek.

He’d never heard anyone say it in those kind of uncertain terms cause Derek would have laid into them, but he couldn’t pretend people didn’t hassle Stiles about his relationship with Derek because they seemed so different to each other. Which seemed insane to him sometimes, because Stiles was unbearably eye-catching when he wasn’t even trying. Stiles didn’t even have to try really. That innate inner certainty he had about himself a lot of the time was impossible to ignore, and it was suggestive even if Stiles wasn’t trying.

Though Stiles made a lot of sensual comments, with an almost lewd fascination. Mostly because he had zero expectation of them ever coming to fruition.

Derek didn’t think Stiles was entirely aware of how easily he could hold Derek’s interest, Stiles’ greatest method of seduction was not being at all conscious of the fact that his personality, the unusual uniquely Stiles way that his body moved, the ridiculous t-shirts and his irritating, obnoxious charm all suggested how satisfying it would be to pin him down and-

Yes, Stiles was a lot more irresistible than he knew. And he really had absolutely no idea what he did to Derek.

But his clothes were more than just obscure t-shirt references and a verging on unnecessary amount of layers, they were a barrier Stiles used against everyone else in the world. It had taken a while for Stiles to be comfortable being completely naked with Derek, and he wasn’t going to let Jerome hassle him now for how he liked to dress.

“I’ll see you later,” Stiles promised, doubling back to kiss Derek meaningfully like he was trying to thank him for what he‘d said without making a big deal of it.

At least Jerome didn’t try and make any faces behind Stiles’ back this time. He probably wouldn’t have dared with Bram there too. It was risky to let too many people see what he was really like, then it might come back to Stiles quicker. Derek knew how people like him thought.

The door shut behind them and he waited until their footsteps disappeared out of hearing range before glancing at Bram who’d dropped back onto his bed again.

“So,” he started casually. “What do you think of Jerome.”

“Absolutely hate him,” Bram said cheerfully. “He’s slimy alright. The kind of guy you think is your friend but he’s really just laughing at you while stabbing an eight inch knife in your back.”

Yeah, Derek knew exactly what he was talking about. “I’d watch him with Stiles too,” Bram added, frowning a little and Derek’s muscles clenched automatically.

“I trust Stiles and Jerome hasn’t done anything,” Derek said quickly, not wanting to start something that hadn’t even been started.

Not yet at least. But Bram’s expression was knowing.

“He will,” he said. “Sooner or later he will. Because he seems very interested in Stiles, and not so much in you if you get my meaning.”

Derek nodded.

Yeah, he was definitely starting to understand what Bram meant. But what would be the point of telling Stiles? He was already depressed about how Iliza and Luke had stopped hanging out with him. How was he going to take it if Derek tried to tell him that Jerome was trying to mess with him too?

He might not have said it, but Derek knew he’d been worried about not being able to make any friends at Stanford. Derek wondered sometimes if that was why he’d stuck it out with Scott for so long, especially whenever Scott was being a terrible friend.

All of this mattered to Stiles. And he was already stressed from the study load he was taking on as well as his assignments. He didn’t need this kind of bullshit at the moment. And what had Jerome done really that was so bad? He’d been scent marking Stiles but that wasn’t something easily noticeable and Derek could suck it up if it meant Stiles didn’t have to worry.

He’d say something if Jerome escalated things. If he actually made a move on Stiles or something. Derek fought his instincts, his shift struggling to rise at the thought of needing to defend Stiles. He’d never really thought of himself as a jealous type but Jerome had definitely gotten under his skin.

It was why he’d driven down to Stanford out of the blue like this on a Thursday night. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Stiles, he knew how strongly Stiles felt for him.

But it was hard not to be concerned about a situation that Stiles was completely oblivious to.

It wasn’t worth it, Derek decided.

Because if Jerome was going to get anywhere he needed Stiles to reciprocate and that was never going to happen. He and Derek were doing fine with the long distance thing. They were still solid. On the same page.

Derek really had nothing to worry about.

 


 

Derek went out and grabbed dinner with Bram and they hung out for a while before Bram took off to meet a girl he was interested in so they could go to the movies. When Derek headed back to the dorm with Stiles’ key it was dark out and the long hours on the road had finally gotten to him.

He left the door unlocked so Stiles could get back in, knowing full and well that he’d wake up to any intruders and collapsed on Stiles’ bed to rest his eyes for a little while.

When he stirred again, it was to the sound and scent of Stiles as he crawled into bed with him.

“Oh shit sorry,” Stiles breathed smelling of cigarette smoke and beer though he’d had neither of those things. It was the unpleasant after effect of being pressed against other people all night long. “I was trying not to wake you.”

Derek rolled Stiles until he was on his back, mouth sliding along his jaw. “I’m awake now.”

“Derek,” Stiles groaned, when he leaned in and started working on Stiles’ neck, worrying the skin there, unconsciously working to leave a mark with his teeth. “Can you- uh stop doing that?”

Derek froze and pulled back. “Did I hurt you?”

Stiles let out a low pained moan but all Derek could smell was his arousal. “No, it’s definitely the opposite. But um- people in my class like to make fun of anyone sporting hickeys and you know… would rather not have that kind of attention.”

He didn’t get it. What Derek had been instinctively trying to do by leaving such a visible mark. He might not have reacted to the scent sharing incident, but this was another method to show the other werewolf who Stiles wanted. Short of drenching Stiles in the scent of them and sex before he went out to meet up with his ‘friend’.

Derek backed off. But Stiles grabbed at his shirt before he could get further off the bed.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t leave hickeys in other more hidden areas,” Stiles pointed out, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

Derek let himself be pulled back in and tried to shake the feeling that everything was slowly crumbling apart no matter how hard he kept trying to believe it wasn’t. And it wasn’t even about marking Stiles, really.

It was about being certain that they were in this together.

Except Stiles was distracted. Had been distracted a lot lately actually.

And there was no point denying it now.

Or what that might mean for the both of them.

 


 

Derek woke up the next morning, to find Bram’s bed empty and Stiles locked onto him like a limpet.

He managed to extract himself and got up with the intention of locating Stiles’ instant coffee. He checked the time on his phone before sliding it into the pocket of his sweatpants first, eyes searching for a caffeine hit instead.

Derek wasn’t even looking for it. If it wasn’t for Stiles’ perpetual habit of leaving books half opened and abandoned in strange places then he never would have found it. Because before he reached the instant coffee, Derek actually tripped over the damn thing first.

He cursed and nearly went head first into the wall before he caught his balance. It was a good thing he was a werewolf, a human’s reflexes wouldn’t have saved him. When he bent down and retrieved the book Stiles left half untucked under his bed and wide open at the spine, Derek folded it up and closed it, thinking to store it somewhere much safer before his eyes latched onto the title.

It was the word ‘trauma’ that caught him. Derek eyes swept back again after their perfunctory first look and he paused half way to stowing it safely into the mess that was Stiles’ small bookshelf.

Trust after Trauma: A Guide to Relationships for Survivors and Those Who Love Them by some woman called Aphrodite Matsakis.

Immediately Derek had to sit down.

He barely made it onto the edge of Stiles’ bed, heart pounding, thoughts swimming as he shakily turned the cover over to read the words on the back.

It was exactly what he thought it was.

Derek dropped the book like it was covered in wolfsbane and slid to his knees, ducking under Stiles’ bed to see if it was the only book about- about Derek that he’d been reading.

He didn’t bother being quiet but Stiles was a pretty heavy sleeper anyway so when he saw the box first and that the lid hadn’t been placed back properly like Stiles had been through it recently, he dragged the whole damn thing out.

Even with the little morning sunlight available he could see the title of the next book. Derek caught the edge of the box and tore the first book from the top of the pile with a sharp noise that didn’t sound human. He yanked the rest of the books out, there were three of them, urgency overriding sense as he feverishly scanned the titles.

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence was one.

If He is Raped: Derek’s stomach dropped out at that, A Guide for Partners, Spouses, Parents and Friends.

And then his hands settled on the last book at the bottom of the box.

The Male Survivor: The Impact of Sexual Abuse.

No.

Derek had to get out. Out of this room. Out of this dorm. Or he was going to lose control of himself. Already he could feel the change coming on, unbidden, an automatic defence mechanism in the face of such overpowering emotion.

He was shirtless. Still in the same sweatpants from last night but Derek didn’t think about shoes or the morning chill in the air. He primary focus was the need to escape.

Derek was on the street, passing the 7-eleven, when he realised that while he hadn’t grabbed practical things like his shirt, car keys, shoes or a jacket, the book on male survivors was still in hand.

He could hear cars one street over and he could smell the trees and the scent of fresh, rich soil in front of him. So that was where he went. The woods were thick and deep and Derek started running before he could come up with anything else better to do.

He didn’t stop until he was sweating and the sun had long since properly risen between the trees. Only then had his claws finally receded. That was when his phone started buzzing in his pocket.

He didn’t pick up the call but he did check to see who it was. Stiles. Of course. Derek didn’t answer and it rang out.

Five minutes later and the pack started calling.

Erica tried first but Derek didn’t think she was Stiles’ first choice. He would have dialled Scott, Derek was certain but Scott wasn’t the best in a crisis and he definitely wouldn’t be the first to pick up his phone if it was an emergency. Even now Scott wasn’t reliable.

Erica was a wildcard. Derek wondered why Stiles would have called her after Scott, but he didn’t have much time to think it over since Boyd tried next after he let Erica’s go to voicemail. Derek watched the screen almost distantly and decided he would turn it off so he could think.

But then Cora called.

Stiles really wasn’t messing around. Derek could almost imagine the frantic energy he would have unleashed once he’d woken up, found the books and Derek gone.

Derek took a deep breath and picked up on the second ring.

“Don’t say it,” he told her.

“What?” she replied, and already he could hear noises in the background.

“Is that him?” Isaac whispered and Derek almost hung up on her.

“Can you- are you alone?”

He could hear her moving about. “I can be. Are you gonna talk?”

“No,” he replied truthfully.

“Derek,” Cora said firmly, cutting to the point. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he snapped, and then he did hang up on her.

Derek stuffed the phone back into his pocket and stared at the book still in his hands. He’d wanted to throw it away during the run, rip it apart with his bare hands and toss what was left into the nearby river.

But there it was. Still clutched tightly in his hand. Derek sighed, climbed to his feet and started walking back.

He didn’t reach the edge of the trees because Stiles found him first. Derek didn’t know how long he’d been wandering around in the woods looking for him but there were a few dead leaves stuck to the knees of his pyjamas that told Derek he’d fallen over more than once.

Derek winced almost automatically at that and his mouth tightened at the sight of him. Stiles was bright eyed, but pale and flushed, like something had been chasing him.

“Are- are you trying to fix me?” Derek demanded, brandishing the book at him like an accusation.

It was the worst possible conclusion he could have reached but it was a fear that Derek had carried around for a while now.

Stiles goggled at him.

“What- no this was- research I didn’t want to-“

“Because I don’t need anybody treating me with kid gloves,” Derek said. “Least of all you.”

Stiles stared at him, mouth open.

“When have I ever treated you with kid gloves?”

“Called my little sister to check up on me lately?”

And that’s when Stiles started to get angry. “You freaked out and took off without a word! And you didn’t grab your keys or shoes for that matter so it’s not like you were going to get far! And you wouldn’t answer my calls-“

“I needed to think,” Derek snapped. “I tripped over this book and then I found more under your bed and- what other conclusion was I supposed to reach?”

“Not that,” Stiles said, crestfallen. “I would have thought you trusted me enough to ask.”

Derek shook the book in his fist, agitating climbing wildly. “How do I trust this?” he yelled. “What possible reason would you even want to read about this?”

“Maybe because I was terrified of fucking this up!” Stiles shouted back. “So I grabbed anything I could read, anything that would stop me doing that- from being exactly like-”

Derek tensed all over.

“I don’t want to talk about-“

“Well too bad,” Stiles snarled. “You’re the one who came after me with some pretty fucking big accusations so you’re gonna fight your nature Derek and we’re gonna talk this out.”

“You should have told me.”

“Should have told you what? That I knew about Kate and how she abused you as a teenager? Why would I do that when you already knew I’d been asking Cora questions.”

“So what was the point of this?” Derek wondered, shaking the book in his hand. “If you were so certain we didn’t need to have that discussion then why did you buy this?”

“I wanted to be prepared,” Stiles said, sounding so distressed that Derek’s heart jolted almost automatically in concern. “I wasn’t gonna hurt you like the rest of them, Derek. I would rather die.”

All the anger and the fear slipped out of him then, because Stiles meant it. He would rather die than-

“You can’t hurt me,” Derek insisted, crossing his arms in his last defensive position because they both knew it.

Stiles was human. He was weak. Breakable. He was-

“You know I can,” Stiles protested quietly and Derek forgot everything else. “You know pain isn’t just physical. You know.”

And he did. Finally, Derek understood.

“I don’t need you to lie to protect me,” he said. “And this-“ he waved the book again. “This- this is something you don’t hide.”

“I shouldn’t have kept it from you,” Stiles agreed. “But I needed information as some kind of reassurance for me that I wouldn’t fuck up, do you get that?”

Derek remembered what it had been like in the beginning, when Kate had given him a little bit of extra attention and he’d been so terrified of messing it up, of being inexperienced and making her lose interest. He’d been so desperate to keep her looking at him. And he’d been so wrong.

Stiles knew that. He knew what the fire had burned out of Derek, he saw what was left and he never found it lacking. Not once that Derek could remember.

He remembered how Stiles had skirted around him in the beginning after that first kiss. At the time Derek thought it was because he was Stiles’ first guy. Now, of course he knew better. Stiles hadn’t taken that kiss lightly. And maybe Derek hadn’t either no matter how nonchalant he’d been about it in the beginning.

Stiles had seen the weight he carried, the stain of violence on Derek and he’d still wanted him anyway.

“I get it.”

“I’m sorry,” Stiles said, and Derek saw how badly this had shaken him up.

Stiles wasn’t normally someone who apologised often, because he was always so confident in his own actions and he stood by them. Whatever the consequences. But this. This mattered more to him than that. Derek mattered more to him.

“You weren’t some guinea pig to me, I swear I wasn’t gonna use secret techniques on you or something. The books weren’t like that. They were just- helpful.”

Helpful was the last thing Derek needed to hear right now.

“There’s still so many things that you don’t know. Don’t you get that? Reading this is a luxury to you. Interesting,” he sneered. “For me it’s-“

Derek cut himself off abruptly after he heard the strain of emotion in his voice. Stiles was looking at him attentively, actually leaning forward to catch the rest like he was dying for some kind of vulnerability from him. Something palatable. Beyond the physical.

“Yes?” Stiles prompted, and Derek could see how badly he wanted to hear it, how desperately Stiles wanted to know him.

Derek met his eyes and kept talking. “For me it’s a nightmare. It’s my biggest mistake that changed the course of my family’s life. It changed everything. Ruined everything. It killed a part of me, Stiles.”

Stiles stared at him, and Derek chest rose and fell rapidly in the harsh silence between them. He was sweating from the run but Derek’s skin felt cold.

“I get that,” Stiles said eventually, slowly and charily. “Truly I do. Losing my mom left a hole in me too.”

Derek’s eyes slid shut in frustration.

“No, you don’t get it. Your mom was taken from you. I led my family to their deaths. I- brought Kate to them. It was my fault.”

“It felt like my fault,” Stiles said quietly, and it was raw enough that Derek realised Stiles had never voice this out loud before. Maybe not even to Scott. “For a long time I thought it was my fault like I could have stopped it somehow, like if I’d been better behaved and focused more or-“

Derek let out a sound of surprise and Stiles gave him a wry smile. “I was nine. My dad wasn’t coping. She was my mom. Of course I was going to think it was my fault.”

Derek wanted to comfort him. But he didn’t know what Stiles wanted and he didn’t know what he could give.

“But we were both wrong,” Stiles continued firmly. “You know that.”

“I was the one who-“

“You were a teenager who hadn’t had anyone look at him seriously before,” Stiles said sharply, his voice harder than before. “And who didn’t know any better than to trust an adult woman, and think she wouldn’t take advantage of you. You were innocent.”

Derek shuddered at the word ‘innocent’ and couldn’t say anything else.

“My first girlfriend,” Derek said finally. “Died, Stiles. Because of what I was, because of what my world exposed her to. After that I just wanted something normal. Human. And Kate- seemed so normal.”

The fact that Stiles watched him without reacting, without immediately welling up with pity and sympathy kept Derek talking.

“I was so young,” he said quietly. “And so stupid.”

But Stiles wasn’t backing away in horror. He hadn’t moved at all, standing his ground, stubbornly refusing to let go. “You were a kid,” Stiles repeated. “It’s not your fault.”

“I know that, I know that,” Derek said bitterly. “But I still feel it, do you get that?”

Stiles nodded and took a step toward him, testing the air between them. “I get it.”

He held out his hand then and didn’t say anything else. He let Derek come to the decision on his own. Derek could hear his heart and how fast it was beating, and saw Stiles’ unguarded face. Then he took Stiles’ hand and pretended not to notice how Stiles’ heartbeat spiked and the soft air he released in a quiet fit of relief.

They started walking back to Stiles’ dorm together. When Stiles started wincing as they were moving Derek realised he could smell some of his pain.

“You felt flat on your face, didn’t you?” he guessed thinking of the state of Stiles’ knees.

“Twice,” Stiles admitted grimly.

Derek shook his head at the irony of having such an accident prone human as a boyfriend, and started drawing out Stiles’ pain through his fingertips. He didn’t give the book back when they walked. After so long the weight of it felt right in his hand.

So Derek carried it with him.

 


 

They were both a bit of a mess afterward so Stiles led him to the communal shower on his floor so they could get cleaned up.

Derek felt too raw to share a stall together so they showered separately, mostly in silence and for once he was thankful no one else around was an early riser because it was just the two of them in there.

When he was done Derek strode out naked to find Stiles naked too, eyes oddly averted as he handed Derek one of the towels he’d brought with him so they could get dressed. Derek changed into the jeans he’d worn yesterday and a Henley and Stiles threw on sweatpants and a massive hoodie that Derek recognised with some surprise, was his own.

Quietly, carefully, Stiles took his hand afterward and led him back to the room, looking like he was doing his level best to gently soothe him.

All at once Derek understood the effort he was making and when they were finally alone again, back in Stiles’ dorm he let Stiles wrap his arms around him and hold him close.

The sound of his heart beating steadily in his chest was a rhythm Derek could get lost in but instead Derek pushed himself up against Stiles, cupped his face and kissed him, making his intentions known in the press of their bodies.

Stiles was always hungry for it, Derek hadn’t known someone this insatiable but when he rocked his hips against Stiles pointedly, for once he pulled away. Derek couldn’t deny that he was surprised.

“We’re not having sex,” Stiles gasped, looking very much and smelling very much like he wanted to.

The conflicting messages threw Derek off for a second, but Stiles looked serious. Derek frowned at him. “Why not?”

“You literally ran out of here barely half an hour ago,” Stiles muttered. “Emotions were running very high.”

“I want this,” Derek said, as if that wasn’t already clear. “Don’t you?”

Derek thought he’d been pretty clear. Stiles was neither impressed nor swayed by the words.

“It was a pretty bad fight. Sex isn’t gonna-“

“I thought you weren’t trying to fix me,” Derek pointed out, stepping back.

“But,” and Stiles looked torn. “Is this healthy? Shouldn’t we talk about-“

Derek let out a frustrated noise and dragged a hand through his hair. “We’ve already talked, Stiles. I don’t think there’s more we could find to talk about-“

“I mean how about how terrified I was that I’d lost you,” Stiles butted him off. “Because I feel like that’s a pretty important distinction to make, how much it freaks me out that I’m gonna push too hard and you’re gonna dump me and retreat into your own personal cave of suffering and never speak to me again.”

“Who said I- personal cave of suffering?” Derek repeated, completely side-tracked for a second as the words sank in. “What does that even mean?”

Stiles shrugged.

“Everyone’s got their own way of dealing with things,” he said nonchalantly and Derek’s mouth twitched with the effort of not showing any amusement at the way Stiles could be sometimes.

Always so unpredictable.

“I’m not going anywhere, Stiles. And right now I want to be dealing with things like this,” Derek said, gesturing between them like Stiles hadn’t gotten the message already. “By being close. Feeling intimate- connected… just you and me. It makes me feel- grounded”

The scent of Stiles’ arousal got stronger.

“Ugh when you talk about feelings I literally can’t with you,” he groaned, not looking remotely upset. His skin was already taking on that tell-tale flush. “Fine, but this is gonna be the most openly consenting sex of your life.”

Derek didn’t even bother to answer, he just took that yes for what it was and moved in again for another kiss.

But when they were back on the bed, both shirtless with Stiles on top, Derek got lost in his own thoughts again. A fact Stiles was much too clever to miss.

“I swear to god Derek if you’re just laying back and thinking of England right now-“ he warned, sounding upset that Derek had zoned out of the proceedings.

Derek was drawn back in though because Stiles had stopped rocking down against his crotch once he’d noticed his absence. And that was something Derek didn’t want.

“I’m thinking,” Derek muttered. “Non-British specific thoughts- about you.”

“Your eyes literally glazed, over-“

“Very non-British specific thoughts. I don’t want you to stop.”

Stiles glared at him a little suspiciously and even that was doing it for him. They should really get out of their clothes. Derek wanted to ask about bottoming soon, but he didn’t think it was the time right now. After their fight, they both needed this familiarity, normalcy. Derek knew introducing it too quickly would only upset the balance and Stiles would never go for it if he thought Derek’s head wasn’t in the right place.

“I’m going to need more than you don’t want me to stop for me to continue,” Stiles insisted, crossing his arms over his bare chest stubbornly and Derek’s cock twitched beneath him. “Because you’ve got that self-destructive look going on and I’m very much questioning your choices right now.”

“Fine,” Derek said through gritted teeth. “I want you to rub your cock up against me until you come in your pants, Stiles,” he declared and smirked when Stiles let out a strangled noise. “Is that what you wanted?”

“You’re such a dick,” Stiles groaned. “But I’m not gonna take advantage of you, I don’t care how frustrating you think this is. So use your big words, buddy and tell me-”

Derek knew his eyes were flashing from the way Stiles’ mouth fell open, and his pupils widened. Derek could even hear his heart beating a little faster. “I’m gonna get you on your back and take your pants off now,” Derek said, not sounding entirely human. “Is that okay with you?”

Stiles took a second too long to respond and Derek knew it was because he was the one who had gotten Stiles distracted now. Derek could almost see his thoughts rebooting.

“More than okay,” Stiles assured him eventually, nodding his head frantically as Derek took hold of his hips and rolled them over, settling in between Stiles’ legs.

Stiles’ hands reached the skin of his waistband and he leaned in and started kissing along Derek’s throat. “Can I?” he asked, mouthing at Derek’s neck and making him shiver. “Take your pants off?”

Derek huffed an impatient breath against Stiles’ hair. “Yes, dammit.”

Stiles responded by yanking them off without finesse or style and Derek had to admit he was maybe being a little unfair about the whole thing. Stiles wasn’t a kid gloves type of person, and that wasn’t what this was.

“I’m going to put my fingers in you,” Derek said, in between kissing down Stiles’ bare chest while he squirmed and tossed Derek’s jeans in the direction of Bram’s bed. “Then I’m going to fuck you and knot you. Is that something you want?”

Stiles was already writhing frantically against him, trying to find the right friction to get himself off. “Yes, fuck you. It’s what I want.”

Derek smirked into Stiles’ navel and started dragging his sweats down. By the time he’d slid them past Stiles’ thighs, Stiles was patting at his forearm to stop him. Derek listened and raised an eyebrow in question.

“Leave them there,” Stiles gasped, as he started yanking down his own briefs to join them, cock springing free. “I can’t wait any longer.”

Derek swallowed at that image. Him between Stiles’ open legs, pants tangled around his knees as Derek fumbled to get his own clothes off. Because neither of them had the patience to wait to be free of them. He liked that image a lot.

“Alright.”

He abandoned the task quickly and leaned forward to swallow Stiles’ cock down, licking up the pre-com seeping out of his slit. Stiles cried out, fingers grasping at Derek’s hair but he pinned Stiles’ hips to the mattress with one hand, because they both liked that sometimes, and got to work.

He sucked Stiles attentively, enjoying the feel of him on his tongue way too much to get started on anything else. The noises Stiles made as he struggled against the unrelenting heat of Derek’s mouth was good too. Derek could feel the sharp tug of arousal in his gut, signalling his own need and he dragged his hips along the bed, seeking out friction.

Stiles cursed something awful for a few minutes and dissolved into unintelligible sounds when he finally managed to push the bottle of lube towards Derek’s hand. That small task seemed to take all his effort because he collapsed onto the bed straight after and stopped moving. Derek hummed his approval around Stiles’ dick a second later, relishing how Stiles had started to tremble.

Derek reached under to touch his balls just as they tightened up and Stiles came in his mouth, body arching forward, pushing more of his cock past Derek’s lips as he did so. Derek swallowed most of it, licking the rest of Stiles’ come off, tasting it in his mouth as Stiles fell back onto the bed, twitching and still cursing.

“Ready for me to start fingering you now?” Derek wondered innocently, just to have Stiles glare at him.

Stiles lifted his head up in order to catch his eye and did not disappoint.

“Yes, you fucker.”

Derek laughed then, and then got to work coating his fingers and warming them up. He knew how to open Stiles up right, but he also knew Stiles’ limits and what he could rush without hurting him.

Stiles knew them too.

“You are taking way too long,” Stiles muttered, more than a minute later when his dick looked like it was valiantly trying to rouse itself again. “Trying to torture me or something?”

Derek’s two fingers brushed Stiles’ prostate next in lieu of a reply and Stiles arched off the bed with an incoherent groan, sounding like he’d been shot. “You suck,” Stiles panted, moving against Derek’s fingers. “You know I’m stretched just fucking- put it in me.”

“Well you didn’t ask,” Derek retorted, just to be a dick. “And I thought we were supposed to be communicating our-“

“I hate you,” Stiles moaned, but his heartbeat told Derek the real truth. “I want your dick in me. This is an emphatic yes.”

Derek grinned and moved back to peel his briefs off which had been constricting the hell out of his cock up until this moment. He then settled back in between Stiles’ thighs, spreading them apart as much as he could, which wasn’t far considering Stiles’ ankles where still trapped in the mess of his sweats.

Derek angled his cock up against Stiles’ hole and then stopped. “Are you ready?”

Stiles glowered at him. “Yes already! Jesus, yes!”

So Derek pushed in. The both of them groaned in unison at the first bit of resistance until Derek’s prep paid off and Stiles’ body opened up for all of him, taking his cock inside like it was meant to be there.

Stiles was hot and tight and exactly what Derek needed after teasing himself and Stiles for so long. They both fell silent when Derek bottomed out, breathing heavily and adjusting to the incredible sensations.

“So good,” Stiles warbled, and then his hips were moving. “I’m so ready, Derek, fuck please.”

And then Derek didn’t want to tease anymore. He drew back and his first thrust forced Stiles so far up the bed he had to throw his hands up to prevent being brained on the headboard.

“Humigod,” Stiles gasped, cock jerking as it fattened up between their bodies. “Do that again.”

“Stiles,” Derek gasped, half exasperated, half out of his mind with pleasure as he anchored one of his hands on Stiles’ hip and did it again.

Everything became very frantic after that. Derek had been right about needing this. The wild movement of their bodies proving what they were to each other, how well they fit.

Stiles egged him on and drew Derek’s gratification out of him as if it was the most important thing in the world, basking in his own pleasure like it was deserved, as if the moment belonged to them and them alone.

Derek’s emotion surged up with them, as he gasped and panted and they fucked like they’d never get to again, Stiles hand buried in the nape of his neck, holding Derek close like he was afraid of disappearing. He could feel the swell already, his cock eager to lock their bodies together and Derek slid out once it got too much, ignoring Stiles’ protest until Derek caught his hip and pressed Stiles’ thighs together, rolling him onto his side for a better position.

“Last chance-“

Stiles cursed again. “Do it.”

Derek could scent Stiles’ anticipation in the air, his heady desire, and he pushed his cock back into him with a final groan, his knot growing rapidly as he pushed in deep.

“Oh yessssss,” Stiles gasped, tilting his ass up to make the angle easier as Derek continued to press inside him. “Fuck, good idea. Keep going.”

Under that encouragement, Derek didn’t know if he could stop, until his knot had thickened to its normal swell and he was sealed well and truly inside Stiles.

Stiles let out a breathy sound, his flush deepening and spreading across his chest like it always did when they knotted and Derek relished the small, inaudible gasps as he rotated his hips a little and kept thrusting with as much give as the knot would allow. Stiles honestly whimpered and then his hand was reaching up and covering his eyes and Derek could smell the contentment, the pleasure and how it overwhelmed him and settled back into the sensations of it for himself to experience.

“Why are you so quiet?” Derek wondered afterward, dazed and satisfied but not so out of it not to notice how Stiles hadn’t spoken for a few minutes.

Derek scented the air and put his hand questioningly on Stiles’ skin, but there was no pain for him to draw out, and Stiles reeked of satisfaction. He might have just been overwhelmed by the sensations, Derek got like that too whenever they knotted.

“Stiles?”

Still no answer. So Derek rocked forward, grinding his knot in Stiles’ ass.

That got a reaction.

“Oh fuck, fuck,” Stiles cried, pushing back against him. “Derek.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m keeping my mouth shut,” he finally managed. “To avoid releasing sensitive information that might otherwise ruin the mood-“

At once Derek knew what he was talking about. What he’d been trying to hold back for a while now, Derek had noticed him struggling with it lately and it filled him with equal parts excitement and terror.

“Say it,” he encouraged, feeling senseless and hopeful. “I want you to.”

Derek knew how important it was, and as dysfunctional as their relationship felt sometimes, he still wanted it.

“I love you,” Stiles gasped like he couldn’t breathe without admitting the fact.

Derek could feel his heart beating away in his own chest but for a second it felt like it stopped and restarted with Stiles’ words.

He buried his face into Stiles’ neck, knot still pulsing in Stiles’ ass and whispered his name until he couldn’t anymore.

 

 

 

Stiles couldn’t stop thinking about everything that had happened. Derek had taken off. They’d fought. They’d fucked. He’d told Derek he’d loved him.

And he knew Derek might not be capable of saying it back, might never be capable of returning the words, but in that moment Stiles had felt it reciprocated anyway. And he was glad that they’d talked about the books. Harbouring them for so long had only increased his sense of guilt about them.

“Are you okay?” Jerome wondered, interrupting his thoughts from across the library table and the question seemed more accusing than inquiring. “You look like shit.”

Stiles dragged himself up off his textbook which he was using as a headrest. “Uh- I haven’t slept well lately. Been kinda worrying about Derek-“

“Are you guys fighting?” Jerome wondered, taking the open seat by Stiles’ right and looking concerned and interested all at once.

Stiles sighed and rubbed at his face. “No,” he said firmly, because they weren’t not exactly. At least not anymore.

He felt something buzz against his leg and jerked his hips up in order to drag his phone out of his jeans. There was a message from Derek and immediately Stiles’ heart leapt.

I read the book, it said, and Stiles hadn’t even realised that Derek had taken it with him when he’d finally left last night after hours of touching and talking and being close to one another. I’m willing to admit it was- helpful.

Stiles’ grin felt blinding. Jerome, who was leaning in to read the message glanced up at Stiles’ face and drew back in surprise.

“You were fighting over a book?” he wondered, disbelievingly.

Stiles laughed, unable to hide his relief. He’d been worried Derek might need more space than this. He’d gone radio silent before and it had been agonising then waiting for the right time to approach him. Sometimes Derek’s emotions were more wild than human.

“Not really, more like the contents,” Stiles said absently as his phone buzzed again. “Derek found out and was pissed.”

Underneath his last text, Derek had sent, don’t be a little shit about it.

Stiles’ grin widened. Too late.

“He was angry because you read a book?” Jerome demanded loudly. “What like you needed his permission? He controls your reading choices now too?”

The smile froze on Stiles’ face for a half second as he turned to face Jerome. Then he started frowning. “What the hell are you talking about?” Stiles asked, bewildered.

Jerome merely raised an eyebrow. “You just said-“

“I read up on some personal shit regarding stuff that happened to Derek before we started dating. He found out about it and- misunderstood my intentions. That’s all.”

“What kind of stuff?” Jerome wondered, looking if anything more suspicious.

Stiles was starting to think he shouldn’t have mentioned anything to Jerome at all. It was personal after all. And he seemed much too invested in the discussion. And what the hell was that about Derek controlling him? It wasn’t the first time he’d jumped to bad conclusions about Derek either.

Why was that? Derek had never even said a bad word about Jerome before. Stiles thought well- they weren’t best friends but at least they liked each other. Didn’t they?

“Did you not hear about the Hale fire?” Stiles wondered. “I figured it was pretty common knowledge in werewolf circles.”

Jerome blinked and his expression rapidly changed as his body relaxed back into the chair. “Oh yeah. That fire. What were you reading? A book on survivor’s guilt or whatever-“

“No,” Stiles said abruptly, stomach clenching horribly at the indifference of Jerome’s words as he jumped to his feet. “Look I gotta go anyway CRM/LAW C7 class in ten-“

“But you’re still coming back to study later, right?” Jerome demanded. “You did promise.”

“Yeah sure,” Stiles agreed, wondering why he suddenly felt so uneasy as he turned and hurried away.

 



Derek barely finished his shift at the bar a town over from Beacon Hills before he stopped in at the grocery store to buy some pasta and promptly ran into the sheriff in the same aisle.

“How’s Stiles doing?” the Sheriff asked him once they’d exchanged greetings and Derek had nicely ignored the high carb content being loaded into John’s grocery basket. “I haven’t seen him in a while. Haven’t talked to him much either.”

Derek tried his best not to show what he thought about that on his face. Stiles never forgot to talk to his dad, ever. He made sure to see him every week, to find out how he was doing.

“When was the last time you talked to him?”

“About a month ago, I’d assumed he was busy with school stuff.”

That was about the time when Stiles had started hanging out with Jerome. Derek couldn’t believe Stiles’ distraction now included forgetting about the sheriff. Stiles would drive through a blizzard to get to his father if he thought he needed to.

How the hell had Jerome influenced him into forgetting about that? And Derek knew for certain now that it had to be Jerome’s influence. Stiles would belly crawl over broken glass for his father, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for him.

That major oversight was almost unnatural. And Jerome had to be at the heart of it. What else could explain Stiles’ sudden lack of attention in the relationships he used to put above all things? Derek didn’t even know the last time he’d spoken to Scott. Stiles hardly even mentioned Scott anymore. And Scott and John meant everything to Stiles.

What was going on?

“But it’s not just that, is it?” the Sheriff asked and Derek realised that John had been watching him closely the entire time. His concern must have been written all over his face. “Something else is wrong.”

“No,” Derek assured him, because the last thing he wanted to do was make Stiles’ dad worry. “He’s been plenty flat out with college. He might have just forgot to check in, I’ll talk to him.”

And he would. Enough was enough. There was no more excuses to be made anymore, not for Jerome’s strange behaviour, nor for Stiles’ sudden unexplainable shifting of priorities.

Not this time.

Something was desperately wrong.

 



Stiles picked up the Skype call Derek initiated but he was already moving past him on the screen, dressed to go out. Leaving. Again.

“I’m really sorry Derek-,” he said quickly, moving from the door as if he wasn’t even going to wait around to log off. “I’m literally heading out the-“

“Hey,” Derek called, catching sight of Stiles for the first time in a week even if it was somewhat blurry and Stiles was practically out of frame. “Have you heard from your dad lately?”

Derek saw Stiles pause at the door, and then he was hurrying all the way back to the desk to peer at Derek properly through the screen. “Is he okay?”

“Yes,” Derek amended quickly realising he should have been clearer than that. “I just meant when was the last time you were together.”

“Oh,” Stiles said, then his eyes slid a little out of focus as he thought about it.

“Yeah, like the other day. I really gotta go, see you later though?”

Then he went to leave, no doubt disappearing to meet up with Jerome who had a surprisingly strong grasp on the monopoly of Stiles’ time lately. But Derek wasn’t dropping it that easy.

“When,” he pushed, a little firmly. “When was the other day, Stiles?”

Stiles dropped the edge of the door and turned back to face him, attention fully caught.

“I-“

“Because I ran into him yesterday and he said he hadn’t seen or heard from you in a month.”

“No,” Stiles said with an easy smile. “I saw him at that winter festival the other week in Beacon Hills remember? We spent the whole day together. You drove me there.”

Derek wondered for a brief second if Stiles was doing it on purpose. But he knew the wide-eyed expression on his face was genuine and Stiles would never consciously jeopardise his relationship with his father.

John was everything to him.

Which was why all of it was so strange. Stiles often got distracted, but never in that way. Not enough to forget to spend time with his father. In all the time Derek had known him it had never happened.

“That was January Stiles,” he pointed out, trying to sound patient. “We’re in March now.”

Stiles looked surprised. “Aw, shit. How did that-? I’ll call him this afternoon.”

He dropped his hold on the door again and came back into focus, shifting his grip on his backpack a little. “Are- are you okay?”

“Me?” Derek said, startled to become the focus of the conversation now. “I’m fine. Why?”

Stiles stared at him with the kind of countenance he usually wore when he didn’t believe a word someone was saying. “You’ve just been kind of off lately and I-“

Stiles’ phone started buzzing and he yanked it out of his jeans and put it to his ear. “It’s Jerome, sorry,” he said and Derek’s expression darkened considerably but Stiles wasn’t paying attention to him anymore. “He’s asking about our plans tonight. I gotta go. But um- let’s talk later? You’re coming to see me tonight right?”

Derek nodded and wanted to say more but Stiles had already turned away from him.

“Yeah. Sure.”

Stiles hesitated for a second in the doorway and Jerome voice echoed through the speaker of his cell phone and then he was gone.

Derek looked at the background of Stiles’ empty dorm room for a few minutes, trying to alleviate the uneasy feeling stirring in his chest but it didn’t help things. He would see Stiles tonight, without Jerome, and then maybe they’d be able to have a proper talk about what had been going on between them lately.

Derek logged off to a vacant room and tried not to see that as prophetic.

 


 

At around ten thirty Stiles realised his hand was keeping his head up from slumping on the table rather than writing any real notes and he decided to give up for the night.

He was tired, he missed Derek, because he always missed Derek these days, and his brain wasn’t interested in Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice, though the textbook cost more than any of the others he’d been forced to buy.

Jerome agreed they should get some sleep and offered to drive Stiles over to his dorm which was about a fifteen minute walk from the library.

They stopped to get slushee’s first because Stiles needed the sugar intake and he didn’t bother arguing when Jerome paid for it. He hardly let Stiles pay for anything which was awesome but also a bit annoying. Stiles was an equal share kind of guy and he didn’t enjoy not being allowed to contribute at all.

Derek let him pay for things. And so did the pack, maybe a little too much considering how many times Stiles ended up being the one emptying his wallet for their take out. So had Luke and Iliza too when they were still talking to him. Stiles sighed and tried not to think about that. Because it sucked not hanging out with them anymore and he still didn’t understand what it was he had done.

But when he went to stow his wallet into his backpack in the backseat, thoughts still trapped on Iliza and Luke and awkwardly balancing his slushee in his left hand, he spotted something familiar.

“Hey,” Stiles said, reaching over the gym bag Jerome left on the backseat with a laugh and tugging the familiar item free. “This is my jacket.”

The smile froze on Jerome’s face when Stiles clambered back into the front seat with the jumper still in hand.

“Hold on,” he said, smile wavering. “This is the jumper I lost like months ago. Did I leave it in here?”

Stiles realised suddenly that that had been the first time he’d ever worn Jerome’s jacket, after he’d lost this specific jumper and it had been especially chilly in Beacon Hills that weekend. And that wasn’t the only thing he’d misplaced lately.

Except. Maybe he hadn’t been misplacing things after all.

He glanced over at Jerome, and the very careful way he was holding himself, politely and innocently interested in the question. In the exact sort of way someone would be when they already had the answer and knew it wouldn’t be well received.

“Wait. Have you-“ Stiles tried, swallowed and tried again, hardly daring to believe it. “Have you been scent marking me?”

Jerome actually threw his head back and laughed at the question, his face screwing up with the movement and Stiles was startled enough into dropping the jumper.

“Only like every time I could get my hands on you without Derek around.”

Stiles paused, brain slowly catching up with Jerome’s outrageous answer. The way he’d said ‘Derek’ like it was synonymous with sludge or a dumpster fire made Stiles’ blood run cold.

“I’m with Derek,” Stiles pointed out, amazed that that even needed to be said.

Was- was that somehow unclear? Jerome was a werewolf he could smell that they were together.

Jerome only crossed his arms. “Yeah but like why are you with him anyway? He doesn’t exactly have a winning disposition and you have next to nothing in common. Looks can only get you so far and Derek’s personality is about as appealing as a gastropod.”

Stiles couldn’t believe he was hearing this. He couldn’t understand how it was a conversation that was actually happening in real time. “Are you seriously comparing the love of my life to a fucking aquatic snail right now?”

“You know it’s the truth,” Jerome said, with a laughable amount of seriousness. How was he serious right now? “Think of how much fun we’ve been having together lately just you and me.”

The ‘you and me’ blipped on Stiles’ wacko radar almost instantly. Because they certainly hadn’t started out as a ‘you and me’.

They’d been a study group.

“Iliza and Luke didn’t start ditching our study sessions did they,” he realised. “You- did something, didn’t you? You just stopped inviting them.”

Jerome looked at him liked he was stupid, and the expression was suddenly so familiar that Stiles realised he’d seen it before. Countless times actually. It had been on his face whenever Derek was around during their study time and tried to ask about their research. Or when he opened his mouth to make a genuinely interesting observation about something and Jerome was always quick to counter with a joke that carried a little too much bite to it.

Stiles had just thought that was his sense of humour.

But it was suddenly, bitterly clear that Jerome had hated Derek this whole time and Stiles had had absolutely no fucking idea about it. Stiles didn’t wait for his answer.

He reached back to grab his laptop, his backpack and the offending jumper and climbed out of the car, thinking he would walk back to the dorm instead of spending another second with Jerome and the bullshit currently spouting out of his mouth.

It wasn’t that far a walk. Stiles could literally see the 7-eleven from his dorm room window.

He slammed the door shut heavily just as Jerome climbed out the other side to follow.

“I honestly thought you knew Stiles,” Jerome said evenly, hurrying around the front of the car to reach him as if they were having a reasonable conversation and not an extract of insanity from the twilight zone. “I wasn’t exactly subtle. Even your pack could see what I was doing. Why did you think we all stopped hanging out after that weekend in Beacon Hills?”

Stiles genuinely hadn’t noticed. Sure he’d liked spending time with the guy but he hadn’t just wanted to talk criminology all the time. There were literally so many other better things to do. Like hang around the pack and be with Derek.

Oh god Derek. Who’d hesitantly mentioned the scent thing so many weeks ago because he’d known exactly what Jerome was doing and then Stiles had just dismissed him, hadn’t said a word or done anything about it. Who’d started marking up Stiles’ neck with a sort of dogged determination that week or so ago until Stiles asked him to stop because he didn’t want the lingering looks.

Who’d move away when Stiles kept trying to touch him after spending an entire day with Jerome, after Jerome had let him borrow his jacket, wrapping his arms around Stiles to warm him up and basically spreading as much of his scent as possible, trying to set Derek off. To make him uncomfortable.

Stiles had just thought Jerome was one of those touchy feely types.

And so he had just kept wearing Jerome’s clothes that day anyway because it was winter and he was fucking cold and they were all friends so what did it matter. Stiles shared clothes with the pack all the time.

Except Jerome wasn’t pack. And Stiles should have realised that sooner.

Christ.

“I gotta go,” he said. “I need to see Derek.”

Jerome reached out and caught his arm first. “Why don’t you just think about this Stiles. It’s late. Derek doesn’t even live nearby. He hasn’t visited you in like a whole week. Have you noticed that? Seems to me like he’s already given up on you. Think about what I’m offering you right now. You won’t get this chance again.”

Stiles blinked. And then slowly pulled his arm free. Jerome’s expression was guileless, completely inoffensive looking but Stiles was starting to see there was a lot more hidden under the surface.

And he didn’t like one bit of it.

“Okay, okay, I’m willing to forget all about this,” Stiles finally said when he managed to find the words. “And stick with being friends because and I’m being very clear here: there’s no way in hell anything else was ever happening. Ever.”

Stiles swung his backpack over his shoulder and started walking.

“You won’t even give us a chance,” Jerome said petulantly following after him and Stiles had to hold in his incredulous laughter because he was certain it would have come out sounding hysterical.

There was an us now? Since fucking when? What kind of fantasy universe was this dude living in? Stiles was just about to tell him how very wrong he was and exactly where he could shove that ‘us’ when Jerome grabbed the back of his jumper, spun him around and pushed his mouth onto his.

At first Stiles was frozen in shock, that anyone could be this fucking forward when he’d very clearly shown and declared that he was otherwise attached and not interested and then he just got mad.

Stiles grabbed hold of Jerome’s wrist that tried to cup his face and twisted it at an awkward angle, pushing Jerome back by his chest at the same time. He let out a short hiss of pain that was entirely satisfying when Stiles glared at him. “You’d better back the hell off and never do that again if you don’t want me hitting you.”

Jerome broke free with an irritated sigh.

“What’s so great about Derek anyway?” he demanded resentfully, not accepting Stiles’ no for the clear boundary it was. “Or do you just like them a little bit broken- ?“

Stiles punched him in the jaw next.

Jerome reeled back with a cry of shock and the throbbing in Stiles’ whole hand made the fact that he’d punched a super fast healing werewolf all the better.

“You made me bleed,” Jerome snapped, wiping at his mouth as if it was the most offensive act committed this evening.

Stiles would fucking beg to differ.

“If you ever talk about Derek like that again,” he snarled, voice shaking with fury. “I’m gonna personally cover your balls in wolfsbane doused barbed wire and yank them off with my bare hands, you creepy little piece of shit.”

Jerome recoiled at the vehemence in Stiles’ tone.

“Do not talk to me again. Ever. Or I swear to fucking God you’ll regret it.”

 



Stiles stomped all the way back to the dorm, cursing to high heaven in his rage, feeling drained and a lot more furious with himself for not seeing the signs sooner.

Jerome was controlling, possessive and evidently skilled in manipulating the fuck out of people because Stiles hadn’t recognised any of his behaviour for what it was.

All those little comments.

Saying he used his phone too much. Betting him he could stay off social media longer, suggesting he wear something else when Stiles put on clothes he was comfortable in. Always preferring to hang out just the two of them, never introducing Stiles to his other friends. Having too many opinions about what type of boyfriend Derek was when he hardly even knew him, subtly putting Derek down at any and every opportunity. Lying about supposed plans they had to hang out and then guilt tripping Stiles into prioritising their spending time together. The jealousy.

All of these warning signs were clear as day now.

Not to mention Stiles was pretty sure he'd figured out where his lost charger had disappeared to. Much easier to keep him away from Derek when his phone died all the time, wasn't it? How had he not seen it at the time?

And the scenting. Did his whole room reek of Jerome? How the hell was he supposed to air that out? Is that why Derek had been reluctant to stay in the dorm lately?

Fuck, Stiles needed to talk to him. Bram looked up in surprise when Stiles entered their room, angrily dumping his laptop and bag by the door as he got out his phone to text.

“Did you and your boyfriend have a fight?” Bram asked and Stiles flinched at the question, nearly dropping his phone altogether.

“I am not dating Jerome,” he spat, wanting to crush something with his bare hands.

Bram blinked and raised his hands up in a warding gesture. “Whoa chill. I was talking about Derek, Jesus Stiles what’s your problem?”

“Derek?” Stiles said quickly, spinning about. “What about Derek?”

Bram looked even more confused. “He was just here? Like about five minutes ago. I went to the bathroom and then he was gone. I figured he went out to meet you. Didn’t you see him?”

Stiles felt his stomach drop.

“No,” he said flatly, knowing this entire situation just became infinitely more worse.

But he was pretty sure that Derek had seen him.

 

 

Stiles tossed some random articles of clothing into his duffel bag, fetched his phone and the new charger he'd been forced to buy and did a general search to find his keys while Bram continuously peppered him with questions.

“So Jerome made a move on you then?”

Stiles dropped his keys from where he’d retrieved them from underneath his duvet. Then he turned to stare at Bram with his mouth open. “You knew about- about what just happened?”

Bram stared at him expressionlessly. “Are you trying to tell me you actually had no idea what was going on? Stiles, really?”

Stiles fumbled for words but astonishment had gotten the better of him. He’d been surprised earlier, shocked by what Jerome had said and what he’d admitted to but it wasn't like he’d been the only one utterly oblivious to it.

Right?

“You knew the whole time?”

“That he was a creep trying to freeze your intimidating but surprisingly cool boyfriend out so he could take a crack at you? Yeah dude, wasn’t that hard to miss.”

Stiles grabbed his wallet from the pocket of his jeans slung over their desk chair and tried not to dissolve into complete hysterics. “So you knew and I’m a dumbass. Why didn’t you say anything?”

Bram shrugged, looking concerned. “I don’t know I guess for the same reason Derek never said anything? I figured you were handling it.”

Stiles’ grip slackened on the duffel bag. “Derek never said anything?” he echoed weakly. “Derek knew this was happening too? Oh god I have to get home.”

“Dude it’s fine,” Bram insisted reaching out to grip Stiles’ shoulder. “I’m sure he just went out to buy us all dinner.”

“Then where’s his bag?” Stiles demanded, pushing past him. “No, I know Derek and he’s already left for Beacon Hills and he’s probably switched his phone off because he needs to be alone to think and process everything he just saw and- fuck I gotta go.”

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Bram said, following him to the door. “Derek trusts you.”

Stiles wasn’t as confident as his roommate. Not after what Derek must have seen. “I’ll text you later. I have to sort this out.”

Stiles jammed a hoodie into his duffel bag, finished zipping it up and swung it across his shoulder, practically diving out the door. It was late and there were rules against making noise past ten pm in the halls but Stiles didn’t even think about it when he took off running, his shoes slapping heavily across the floor as he bypassed the elevator and slammed into the stairwell.

He had enough gas to get him to Beacon Hills and he’d taken the jeep into the shop to get more parts so hopefully it wouldn’t crap out on him on the drive home.

Because he needed to get a hold of Derek and explain things. And also find out why the hell Derek hadn’t bothered to point out what a leech Jerome was and that Stiles was better off miles and miles away from him.

God, yeah they needed to fucking talk.

 


 

Stiles tried to call Derek when he was on the highway, but as predicted, Derek had turned his phone off.

“Goddamn it,” he muttered and dialled for Scott instead fully expecting it to ring out because Scott was not the most dependable of cell phone users. But he actually picked up after one or two rings.

“Stiles?” he said around a yawn and oh yeah it was pretty late at night and Stiles had most definitely woken him. “What’s going on?”

“So did you know Jerome was a shithead too and I’m pretty much the most ignorant person on the planet?”

There was a pause where Scott basically confirmed all of Stiles’ worst fears and then he asked, “what happened?”

So Stiles told him. All of it. Including the most recent developments of the evening where he had a complete trashbag try and shove his tongue down Stiles’ throat.

“I just feel so stupid you know,” he sighed, winding up his rant. “Like I was completely duped. And Derek- it’s like he totally gave up. He didn’t even say anything about what was going on-“

“Hey I know where that thought is going and you’re totally wrong Stiles,” Scott insisted, cutting him off before he could get started. “Derek really cares about you. You guys just need to talk. I bet he didn’t say anything to protect you or something.”

Stiles didn’t feel very protected at the moment. And he would have much rather had Derek there now, having told him what was going on and them discussing a plan of action together, then have Derek not tell him and worrying he’d lost his guy for good.

Jerome’s shittiness had basically exposed all of Stiles’ worst fears: that Derek wasn’t as in love as Stiles was, nor as devoted or protective of their relationship. That at the slightest roadblock he’d turned home and given up. Stiles was worrying so much he’d given himself a headache.

“But I just can’t help thinking I’m the one more invested in this. I told him I loved him the other day and he just- like what if he’s still thinking this is all casual and it doesn’t matter?”

“You do know you’re the only one who makes Derek laugh, right?” Scott asked abruptly.

“What?” Stiles said, glancing from the road for a second to frown at his phone. “No, I’m not.”

“No seriously, Stiles,” Scott said. “Trust me on this. You’re the only one who can make him laugh. You’re not always watching but he seriously gets this look on his face afterward like he can’t believe it happened. Like it’s an instinct he can’t fight. Every single time. I’m not kidding.”

“Cora can-“ Stiles started stubbornly.

“Not even Cora,” Scott insisted. “She can get him to crack a smile, yeah, but that’s it. So can Boyd and the others sometimes too. But you’re the only one who makes him laugh, think about that.”

Stiles did think about it.

“That doesn’t mean he loves me though,” Stiles said. “And he still let that fucking shitstain Jerome-“

“Just talk to him,” Scott said simply. “And you can find out what was going through his head the whole time. You know I’m right.”

Stiles did know.

“Thanks for listening to me,” Stiles said eventually with a sigh. “I’m sorry if I’ve been an absentee best friend lately but I swear dude, Jerome was never gonna replace you.”

Scott didn’t answer straight away and for a second Stiles thought he’d nodded off.

“I’m gonna be real with you here, Stiles,” Scott said eventually. “I wasn’t the one Jerome was trying to replace, but yeah I did totally miss you. Maybe- maybe we can spend a bit more time together you know? Make a bit more of an effort. I haven’t been suggesting we hang out either, what happened… us not seeing each other as much- it’s kind of on the both of us.”

Stiles couldn’t really argue with that.

“Yeah, I know. Let’s- let’s make more of an effort starting now.”

“Okay,” Scott agreed easily. “I’m gonna go to bed first though.”

Stiles cracked a grin. “Yeah goodnight, Scotty.”

“Night. Come over to mine if stuff doesn’t go well with Derek though I know it will be fine.”

Stiles swallowed after he hung up and tried his best not to think that he might need to take Scott up on his offer.

 

 

 

Derek hadn’t really been able to sleep after he’d gotten home from Stiles’ campus about an hour ago, the three hour drive had been filled with thoughts of Stiles and Jerome. Derek couldn’t get the image of them kissing out of his head. As of that moment, he wasn’t emotionally ready to address the thought that Stiles had cheated on him. Was cheating on him.

He’d been not enough before, in past relationships. But Derek had always believed he was enough for Stiles.

Obviously he had been wrong.

Cora had been slumming it at his place but Derek had kicked her out almost immediately, ignoring her questions and the scent of her concern. After that, once he was finally alone, Derek knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep so he grabbed a book at random, and sat down in the living room, fully expecting to occupy his thoughts until daybreak.

Bram might not have mentioned Derek was there at all so Stiles probably hadn’t known Derek had shown up. And seen them both. Together.

Derek wasn’t sure he wanted him to know. He wasn’t sure of anything. So he focused on the book instead.

The front door key turning in the lock distracted him from the pages barely twenty minutes in before the door slammed open at one in the morning.

Derek glanced up from the book he was reading, drinking out of the mug Isaac bought him a few Christmases’ ago that had a horribly inaccurate picture of a transformed wolf on it and the word BEAST spelled out in large letters.

Stiles was there standing in the doorway, wearing the same clothes he’d been wearing only a few hours ago when he’d been with Jerome. He looked wide eyed and frantic, like he’d been drinking several pots of coffee and Derek could hear the anxious thumping of his heart from across the room when they stared at each other.

And then Stiles’ eyes slid down to the mug in Derek’s hand.

“Oh hell no,” he snarled, with a rage that was astonishingly persuasive. “Put down that fucking sadness mug.”

Derek glanced at the mug in surprise and then at Stiles again, whose chest was heaving with effort as if he’d run all the way there instead of driven in his jeep. “I- what?”

But Stiles was already stomping forward. “You only ever use that mug when you’re bummed out about something. I went back to my dorm and Bram said you’d showed up-“

“Stiles-“

“And you were in my dorm,” Stiles continued. “So I’m betting you might have seen something that you didn’t expect. Something that was surprising enough that you drove immediately back here instead of crashing in my bed like you usually do.”

Derek still couldn’t look at him. So he set the mug and book down for something to do, not in the least prepared for this confrontation yet. Derek wasn’t even quite sure where his emotions lay after everything he’d seen.

“I think we both know what I saw,” said Derek hollowly.

Stiles looked at him and frowned, reeking of misery and confusion. “Did you know then all along? Because what Jerome said-“

Derek’s hackles rose as he turned away. “I really don’t give a damn what Jerome said.”

Stiles’ eyes narrowed. “Yeah that’s funny cause that’s exactly what I said when he tried to tell me I should break up with you.”

There was an edge to Stiles’ voice, one that singled out the anger in his words. Why would that suggestion make Stiles angry? Unless--

“You didn’t-“ Derek said, spinning back to face him. “You didn’t want to be with him?”

Stiles let out an incredulous sound. “Why the hell do you think I wanted that? I’m with you, I love you, we’ve been together for two years, Derek. I don’t give a shit about Jerome.”

“But you both like World of Warcraft and obscure criminology research and he was friendly and talked about his feelings and wasn’t… you know- damaged.”

Stiles’ mouth fell open and he went deathly quiet for a second.

“Okay, I’m gonna clarify things here because you sorely need to hear this. Having things in common with another person does not equal soulmates for life alright? There’s no checklist for love, Derek. You’ve taken some damages, yeah, but you sure as hell aren’t damaged. You’re perfect and you’ve been through hell and back and I wouldn’t change a single thing about you.”

Stiles moved in close, close enough to touch but Derek still jerked back when he laid a hand on his chest. He saw the flicker of hurt on Stiles’ face before he recovered, took a deep breath and lowered his hand.

“Derek I’m going out of my mind here and I know something’s been off for a while. So I need you to talk. Is this you breaking up with me right now? Is Jerome- something we can’t move past? Because knowing that bag of dicks managed to get between us is literally the last thing I want to hear after the night I’ve had.”

That’s not- how could Stiles possibly think Derek was the one who wanted to end this?

“No. I don’t want to break up.”

Stiles’ mouth trembled. “Then why are you still pulling away? You won’t let me touch you. You hardly even been texting me this week. Did I do something- or was it because- Jerome said-”

“I saw him kiss you,” Derek admitted hating how Stiles flinched. “I figured you’d be stopping at that 7-eleven near your dorm since you love those slushies they make and then I saw you two from the window. That’s why I left without saying anything. I saw you together.”

“And didn’t stick around after, did you?” Stiles wondered dully. “Otherwise you’d have seen me punch him in the face.”

“What?” he said flatly, and then he was reaching out and taking hold off Stiles’ right wrist, lifting his hand up to see the fresh bruising on his knuckles. He’d even broken the skin there too.

Sometimes it was startling how breakable Stiles was.

“You hit him? Stiles, he’s a werewolf.”

“Hell yeah I hit him,” Stiles muttered without guilt. “He kissed me and I didn’t want him to. That was before I got back to the dorm, found out you’d been there and then left without any explanation.”

Derek was dazed. “And you drove straight here? Don’t you have a class early tomorrow?”

Stiles stared at him like he was the one being strange right now. “You left,” he repeated as if that explained everything. “Without say anything. Without even seeing me.”

Derek hadn’t expected this. “But Jerome-“

“Yeah Derek he basically admitted he’d been trying to manipulate me into having feelings for him this whole time. It was super romantic I don’t know why I didn’t immediately leap into his arms.”

“That’s not funny,” Derek said sharply, letting Stiles’ hand drop.

“Exactly,” Stiles retorted and he was shouting now. “Because this isn’t funny at all. Why the hell didn’t you tell me what you thought he was doing? Why didn’t you stick up for yourself? For us?”

He was so angry. Derek hadn’t heard him like that before and there was a large part of it that thrilled him. Stiles didn’t want Jerome. He didn’t want Jerome at all.

“You were so worried about making friends,” Derek said slowly. “I wasn’t going to be the one to tell you that the werewolf you brought over was trying to challenge me.”

Stiles frowned at him, clearly thinking the words through.

“But that’s not just it, is it?” he demanded.

Derek shrugged and refused to look at him. “You just had so much in common-“

Stiles reached out and took his hand.

“But I don’t want him Derek. I literally never once thought that I wanted him. I thought he was my friend and he abused that trust and tried to manipulate all of us. Dude, he manipulated me into not talking to my friends anymore, my family. You were right when you asked about my dad, I hadn’t seen him in weeks. The guy was so good and I just go so swept up in feeling interesting enough to be his friend that I didn’t even see what he was up to until I found my jacket in his car.”

Anger coiled in him, possessive and irrational at the thought of what Jerome had been doing.

“He took it right?” Derek guessed. “So he’d have the excuse to offer him yours.”

“I’ve been so- it’s all my fau-“

“Don’t,” Derek said sharply. “It’s not your fault he was an asshole, Stiles. And I should have told you.”

Stiles buried his face in Derek’s chest with an angry sigh. “Can we- are we okay?” he asked, after they stood like that in silence for a few minutes. “This isn’t going to break us, is it?”

“No,” Derek said firmly. “Not as long as you don’t want it to.”

Stiles drew back.

“But do you want it to? I know you think I get you, Derek, but you gotta admit sometimes you’re kinda a hard read, especially when it comes to feelings.”

“I hated that shithead,” Derek said with a vehemence that was startling. “Putting his hands all over you in ways no self-respecting werewolf would dare-“

“But I’m with you,” Stiles promised gripping his shoulders tight. “I want you, Derek. So you have to let me know if this is something we can’t move past.”

Derek dragged him in close. “We can’t,” he said. “Because there’s nothing to move past. I always trusted you. It was the other werewolf that I didn’t.”

Stiles actually slumped against him in relief.

“Thank god,” he breathed, and Derek could hear in his heartbeat how much Stiles meant it. “Will you come to bed then? I’m so fucking tired.”

Derek stood up and laced his fingers with Stiles hardly daring to believe he’d thought he’d lost him tonight, only to get it all back again. Stiles still smelt of anxiety and stress so Derek squeezed his hand before dropping it and led him toward the bedroom, abandoning the coffee and book. He went to his chest of drawers first once they were inside in order to find something for Stiles to sleep in.

But when he turned around Stiles had striped to his underwear and shook his head at the shirt Derek offered. He looked embarrassed for a second and Derek wondered what else could be wrong when Stiles reached up and scratched at the back of his neck.

“Could you- um scent me for a bit?” Stiles asked, sounding surprisingly shy. “I’d kind of rather not smell at all like-“

“Okay,” Derek agreed because it looked like Stiles didn’t want to talk about Jerome anymore either. “I can do that.”

Derek shut the light off and climbed into bed first, stripping off his sweatpants and leaving space for Stiles to climb in next to him. Stiles did so almost immediately, burying his face into Derek’s throat. Derek dragged his arm around Stiles and tangled their legs together next, letting himself enjoy the exchange of warmth, the skin on skin.

“I know I’ve never said this,” Stiles started suddenly. “But I always feel safe here with you.”

And then Derek found the rest was easy.

“I love you,” he said. “I know I haven’t said it before, and you already know me well enough to know how I feel about you, but I do. I love you.”

Stiles inhaled sharply, but Derek couldn’t see his face tucked under his chin like it was so he continued. “And feeling like I was going to lose you-“

“You weren’t-“ Stiles started fiercely.

“But feeling like it,” Derek corrected. “I guess that made it easier to see. Just how much you matter.”

“I was so afraid you were going to call this off when I got here,” Stiles got out in a rush. “I didn’t think I’d even get my key through the front door.”

Derek hugged Stiles close and let himself unwind properly for the first time in weeks. “I’m not going anywhere,” he promised, hand pressing firmly across Stiles’ naked back.

“Good,” Stiles sighed, already sounding sleepy.

Derek smiled and inhaled the scent of them both.

“Where the hell would I have found a locksmith at this hour anyway?”

And just like he’d hoped, Stiles snorted into his neck, tucking his arm across Derek’s hip in response and resting it there as his heartbeat slowed.

 


 

When Derek woke up Stiles wasn’t in his arms, but Derek could hear him pottering around the kitchen.

He could smell eggs, bacon and coffee too. “Stiles,” he called, frowning through a yawn as he eyed the alarm clock. “Don’t you have a class soon?”

He heard Stiles’ footsteps approach and in the next second he was coming into the bedroom balancing two cups of coffee and a plate full of food on his arm. Derek snagged one of the mugs and set it down on the bedside table before he dropped it.

“Cancelled,” Stiles said, though his heartbeat disagreed.

Derek raised an eyebrow.

“Really.”

Stiles started to smile as he set the plate on the bedspread and passed Derek a knife and fork from the crook of his arm. “Well it was cancelled to me,” he modified. “Since I didn’t show up.”

He knew things seemed bad last night but Derek didn’t exactly like the thought of Stiles missing class because of him. It must have shown on his face because Stiles rolled his eyes and stabbed a piece of bacon onto his fork.

“It’s literally the first class I’ve missed all semester,” Stiles explained. “It won’t affect anything I swear. And not gonna lie but there were extenuating circumstances that meant missing it was way more important.”

Derek felt his cheeks heat up. But he focused on getting some scrambled egg on his fork instead.

“Hey wanna come with to see my dad today?” Stiles wondered, sitting in close so they were shoulder to shoulder. “I was texting him earlier and he’s free for lunch.”

Derek chewed and swallowed. “Wouldn’t you rather be alone together?”

“No,” Stiles responded cheerfully, taking a hesitant sip of his coffee. “I’m inviting you.”

Derek shrugged and went for some bacon next. “Then yeah.”

“After we have sex though,” Stiles added thoughtfully. “Because that’s a definite priority.”

Derek nearly lost half the strip of bacon out of his mouth at the words. He managed to chew and eat it like a normal person though. Barely. “Oh is it now?” he wondered, glancing at the low ride of Stiles’ briefs, how snugly they held everything together.

“I don’t know about you but I really need the mutual orgasms between us as soon as possible.”

Derek grinned and reached back to pick up his mug and take a sip.

“I’ll take it under consideration.”

Stiles smirked back.

“I’m sure you will.”

God, Derek had missed him.

 


 

By the time they’d finished breakfast and coffee and Derek had taken the plate and mugs out to the kitchen, Stiles had already disappeared into the bathroom to brush his teeth. When Derek returned he was already starting to get hard smelling Stiles’ arousal lingering in the room.

When Stiles came back and saw that Derek hadn’t gotten dressed his grin turned appreciative.

“Are you finally getting naked?” Stiles wondered with obvious interest. “Because I really want to smell like I’m yours.”

Derek’s eyes flashed then and Stiles could hear the snarl emanating from his chest as he crowded in close.

“And I-“

Stiles’ heart blipped unexpectedly and a deep flush bloomed on his cheeks as he trailed off.

“What,” Derek asked, reaching for him, dragging Stiles down onto the bed as he waited to know what Stiles was about to say.

Stiles licked his lips nervously and then met his eyes. “I want you to smell like you’re mine.”

Heat shuddered through Derek at the thought. At what that would mean. “Do you even know what you’re asking?”

“I want to be close to you,” Stiles said simply, kissing along Derek’s jaw and bracing his arms on his shoulders. “Any way you want.”

Any way you want. Derek felt a thrill trail along his spine and knew exactly what Stiles meant. “You know what I want,” he replied, voice low and full of promise.

Stiles reached out and touched Derek’s face, tenderly trailing his fingers along his skin. “You’re gonna have to use your words. Especially for this.”

“I want you to fuck me,” Derek said firmly.

Stiles smiled.

“I’d absolutely fucking love to, Derek, thanks for offering.”

Derek laughed unexpectedly, and the easy grin on Stiles’ face, the familiarity of his hands on Derek settled some of the nerves prowling in his chest.

“I want to shower first though.”

Stiles subtly sniffed himself. “Yeah, good call.”

 



Twenty minutes later and Derek was laying naked on the sheets, thighs splayed apart and watching Stiles expectantly as he stood at the foot of the bed staring down at him open mouthed.

“Well?” Derek demanded, expectant, edgy and turned on beyond all belief at the way Stiles was eating him up without even touching.

“Give me a minute,” Stiles said sounding strangely breathless already. “I think you just broke my brain.”

Derek loosened up a little enough to feel flattered by the thought. Even as Stiles fetched the lube from Derek’s usual spot and clambered up onto the mattress, situating himself easily between Derek’s outstretched legs.

He dropped the lube on the sheets first without even bothering to open it and then his hands were sliding along Derek’s bare thighs, gently easing them apart as he stroked the skin there.

Derek wondered at what he was doing for a moment, before Stiles started kneading the muscle and he realised Stiles was trying to put him more at ease.

“Go ahead,” Derek encouraged softly after a moment. “I want you to.”

Stiles nodded slowly, leaning in to kiss the inside of Derek’s thigh, dropping further still so he could put his mouth on the head of Derek’s stiffened cock.

Derek slid into his mouth with a curse of surprise. “Not what I meant,” he started, gasping even as he shallowly rocked into Stiles’ open mouth.

Stiles sucked for a moment, briefly hollowing out his cheeks before the pressure on Derek’s cock released and he dick slid back out. Then Stiles uncapped the bottle of lube and got his fingers wet.

“You ready?” Stiles checked, even as his finger skated the edge of Derek’s hole, introducing him to the sensation of it.

Derek shivered and tried to stay still.

“Yes. Just. Go slow.”

Stiles did. He circled Derek’s rim for a while, getting him used to the pressure of it, the give against his skin before Stiles’ finger pushed more firmly and slid inside him.

Derek gasped and kept his gaze locked on Stiles’ face, on the expression of wonderment overtaking it. Stiles’ finger was long but thankfully not thick and Derek found his body adjusting almost immediately, liquid heat curling languidly through his insides as his cock twitched and Stiles set about pushing in another.

“Yes,” Derek panted, feeling how gradually Stiles was working, reaping the benefits of the way his body bloomed for the stretch of it, opening up under his ministrations.

Stiles was surprisingly capable with his hands.

“Fuck, you’re so hot inside,” Stiles moaned, pressing his forehead against the inside of Derek’s thigh like he was attempting to distract himself from it.

“Just wait,” Derek managed, the unsteady rise of heat within telling him just how good it would be when Stiles finally pushed his dick into him.

Stiles paused the movement of his fingers, tilting his head to meet Derek’s eyes. “Too much?”

Derek shook his head, found his hips moving slowly on Stiles’ fingers of their own accord. “No not enough. More, Stiles.”

So Stiles gave him more.

Derek’s head slid back into the pillows at the press of his third finger, stretching him wider than expected, his body starting to protest. But Stiles loosened him up, massaging, spreading him from within and soon the discomfort vanished.

“I want-“ he tried, failing to speak around the fizzing of his body, the simmering desire in his blood.

But Stiles knew what he meant and sure enough he edged a fourth finger past his rim, pressing in soft, waiting for that gentle give as Derek’s body relaxed into it. All at once Derek knew that he was ready, could feel it in the exorable stretch of muscle.

“I’m ready,” he announced, and he was.

Derek wanted to feel this, wanted all of it, wanted to share every second of it with Stiles. In the next moment, Stiles fumbled one handed for the lube, slathering it onto his cock.

“Want a condom?” he wondered, though obviously this time around there wasn’t the threat of a communal bathroom keeping them from making a mess of each other.

Derek didn’t feel the need for it at all. He wanted skin on skin, his werewolf genes would protect him and by close approximation, Stiles, from the rest.

“No,” he said, as Stiles’ quietly began to remove his fingers.

There was resistance now that Derek’s body had opened up around them, an unwillingness to give them back and Derek barely got used to the sudden emptiness they left behind before Stiles was taking his cock and pressing the head against the furl of Derek’s hole.

“Do it,” Derek encouraged, because he didn’t know how else to prove to Stiles how badly he needed it.

Thankfully it was one of those times that Stiles read him perfectly, because he didn’t wait another second.

 

 

 

Finally, agonisingly unhurried, Stiles pressed in.

He tried to move gradually, deliberate, be the gentle Derek wanted, no, needed but Derek was overwhelmingly hot inside, clutching the head of Stiles’ cock as he eased in and Stiles realised there would be no careful control that he had hoped for.

Already he was unsteady, muscles trembling to keep himself in check as he pressed in inch by inch, giving Derek the time he needed to accommodate all of him. When he was more than halfway, Derek let out a sound Stiles had never ever heard him make before as his hand reached out suddenly to grip the flank of Stiles’ thigh.

Stiles pushed deeper, trying to keep it together at the constricting heat but the feeling of Derek all around him was devastating. Then Derek let out another soft sound and Stiles’ felt his lower navel jerk with the arousal of being inside his boyfriend and trying his best not to blow his load in the next five seconds because of the sweet noises falling from his lips.

And then of course, Derek had to really make it a challenge.

“Baby,” Derek moaned unexpectedly, the word escaping his mouth so suddenly and surprisingly that Stiles nearly froze.

Derek had never once called him that.

They weren’t really a pet name kind of couple unless they were trying to piss each other off. Derek saying it was so completely out of character for him, and for them. But in the heat of the moment it was the hottest thing Stiles had ever heard.

Because the expression on Derek’s face told him that he hadn’t meant to say it. That the word of endearment had just slipped out. Stiles swore colourfully and kept going, watching Derek’s expression carefully for any other minute reactions. Stiles intended to commit all of them to memory.

Particularly the way Derek was softly biting his lip before Stiles' cock grazed deep and his mouth fell open.

Oh yeah, he knew that look.

“Fuck yeah, that’s right,” Stiles groaned. “Does that feel good?”

Derek’s hands were fisted in the sheets and Stiles was amazed at how his body arched, accepting everything Stiles had to give him, opening up for more. He was flushed and vulnerable and so damn beautiful that Stiles felt his chest tighten in relief and anguish.

Even as Derek groaned low and satisfied and replied, “goddammit Stiles, you know it does.”

“Do I?” Stiles gasped as he finally bottomed out, pressed flushed against the heat of Derek’s skin, lost in the tight grasp of his body. “Because open communication is the key to-“

Derek moved then, before Stiles was ready, instinctively rocking down onto his cock so that Stiles slid deeper with a sharp curse.

“Oh fuck, noooo,” Stiles protested. “You’ll make me come.”

Derek stopped moving and made a frustrated sound. “Then do something.”

Cursing and struggling to get his shit together Stiles leaned forward, taking proper hold of Derek’s thighs before drawing back, watching his cock slide a little further from Derek’s ass before he pushed back inside in one hot, slippery glide of his hips.

Derek gasped again and Stiles dissolved into a steady rhythm, taking Derek gently, fucking him towards a orgasm. Derek half looked like he was there already and Stiles had a feeling that he probably wasn’t going to last long.

The experience was way too intense for stamina.

Derek let him control the pace though, rolling into Stiles hips, feeling it when he thrust just right, murmuring soft words of reassurance. Stiles couldn’t bear to hear him much longer not with the tell-tale heat rushing up his thighs warning of an impending orgasm.

He let go of one of Derek’s thighs in favour of taking his cock in hand, still slippery with lube as he locked his hand tight around him and began to stroke. Derek cursed as if he had almost forgotten the sensation of his cock in the wake of what they were doing and Stiles could see the added combination was pushing him to the edge.

“Yeah, c’mon,” he panted, hips pumping furiously now. “C’mon Derek. Come for me.”

Derek’s eyes fluttered shut and Stiles knew he was almost there, knew he'd need one last push.

On the next roll of his hips he leaned down, close to Derek’s flushed face.

“Come, baby.”

Derek tensed all over and that was it, Stiles had him. In the next second he was shooting across his own stomach, covering his abs with come and Stiles would have commented on how hot that was except for how the orgasm had Derek tightening around him like a vice and there was nothing but the blinding pleasure of it as Stiles’ own orgasm was yanked out of him straight after.

He collapsed on Derek, breathing heavily and struggling to remain calm after the earth shattering sex they’d just had. The softness to Derek’s expression said he was experiencing a similar sentiment.

“You okay?” Stiles gasped, still out of breath even as Derek shifted and tightened around him experimentally again.

“Yes,” he answered sounding dazed.

“Fuck,” Stiles groaned, too sensitive for that as he carefully withdrew his cock and dropped back onto Derek’s naked chest again.

They lay there in the afterglow for a few minutes before Stiles was able to speak again.

“Best sex list ever.”

Derek opened his eyes and dragged Stiles up for a much needed kiss. “We're doing number sixty eight next.”

And Stiles could have praised the heavens.

 

 

 

Derek really couldn’t believe how many parties were held on Stiles’ campus. And so frequently. It was a small wonder nobody had died of alcohol poisoning.

Yet.

Though Iliza was chugging her beer with a certain grim determination that was borderline concerning, until she emptied the cup and caught eyes with him across the makeshift dance floor.

It turned out Jerome's influence had extended to the reason for why both Iliza and Luke had ultimately begun avoiding study time, and through close proximity, Stiles. Once Jerome had gotten out of the picture they had even reached out first.

Derek was glad. It was good for Stiles to know what kind of an incredible person, and friend he was even if he was less than inclined to believe it. The added bonus of having his study group back though, meant Stiles had felt confident enough to branch out further and make more friends. It was just the kind of thing he'd needed.

“Derek!” Iliza shouted, in the decibels of one heavily inebriated and he wondered whether it would be worth it to dive out of the crowd to get away from her.

There wasn't much chance for that though because she squeezed her way through the writhing bodies and reached his side with a relentless sense of purpose and top speed.

Derek nodded at her before she threw her arm around his neck and then he was leading her out of the noisy area and into the kitchen in search, hopefully, of Luke or Stiles or some other kind of reinforcements to take her off of his hands.

He found a couple of random girls inside, setting up tequila shots.

“Derekkkk,” Iliza continued, struggling to speak she was so trashed. “I’m never gonna hit on you y’got that? Because Stiles is my bro. And I loveee him and he loves you. Okay?”

“Got it,” Derek replied, helping her into the barstool even as one of the girl’s closest to them gave him a quick, appreciative once over.

Where the hell was Stiles?

“Oh so you’re Derek,” the girl said without even letting Derek introduce himself. "That makes so much sense."

He frowned and took another closer look at her. Despite the tequila shots surrounding her, her face was familiar. “Have we met?”

“I’m Normani, I share Stiles’ CRM C127 class,” she explained.

That didn’t make things any clearer.

“How did you-?”

“Whenever Stiles gets drunk he talks about you like non-stop,” she grinned, gesturing at Derek for the other girls who seemed to perk up at being able to connect the dots. “That boy is whipped. I distinctly remember him calling you a wolfy marshmallow once.”

Way to keep it secret, Stiles.

“Which is funny,” Normani continued, narrowing her eyes at him suspiciously as Derek accepted the shot the girl next to her passed him out of sheer desperation. “Cause you don’t really look like a furry.”

Derek nearly spat out his tequila. “What? I’m not-“

“Relax, I didn’t think you were.”

Normani laughed again as she handed him a cup full of questionable alcoholic content. Derek sipped at it immediately just to get the taste of tequila out of his mouth.

“I figured it was a pet name. You know for the whole facial hair vibe you’ve got going on. He calls you a werewolf, right?”

Derek’s fingers bit into the plastic of his cup so deeply that he crushed it a little.

“Stiles says a lot of things,” he muttered glancing through the crowd to see if he could spot Stiles and somehow murder him from this distance.

But he really couldn’t see him. Derek was pretty sure if he focused though he’d be able to locate his heartbeat.

“Nah he’s right,” she agreed, slurring a little now and finding it difficult to stand up straight without losing her balance. She should probably join Iliza in sitting down. “You’ve definitely got a wolfy vibe.”

“Heyyyy,” came the sound of Stiles’ voice as he crashed through the crowd of people to reach Derek’s side, beer in hand. “You’ve got that look on your face that says I’m in trouble.”

Derek snatched the beer from him and took a leisurely pull before responding. “I have no idea what you mean.”

“Oh relax, Stiles,” Normani said. “I was just embarrassing him a little with your unbridled affection. Remember at the last drinking trivia night where you were telling us he was the-“

“No!” Stiles shouted, hands outstretched and going very pink in the face.

Derek turned to look at his boyfriend with a raised eyebrow. What kind of things had he been saying?

“It was nothing,” Stiles said very quickly, his heartbeat almost fast enough to match. “Just waxing poetic and all that.”

Derek knew a deflection when he heard it, but since he could smell Stiles’ embarrassment from where he was standing he decided not to push it. Normani glanced between them and seemed to assess that she’d said too much because she smiled awkwardly and went back to drinking her tequila instead.

A calculated retreat it was. And when she mouthed ‘sorry’ at Stiles and drifted away into the crowd after, Derek’s curiosity only grew.

Stiles’ eyes flittered rapidly about the room before he found some excuse to change the subject and Derek let him, allowing himself to be dragged outside where Luke was once again drunkenly swimming in someone’s pool.

The guy had a weird relationship with water.

 


 

Derek waited until later on in the night when people were out of earshot and they were walking back to Stiles’ dorm room alone and hand in hand to bring it up again.

“What were you saying? At that trivia party?”

Stiles’ cheeks immediately turned pink again. So it was definitely something. Derek soothed his thumb along the back of Stiles’ hand encouragingly and waited.

“Oh I don’t know... nothing major-“

“Stiles.”

At once Stiles stopped avoiding his gaze, making direct contact as his pulse skyrocketed. “I may have been a little drunk, rambling and entirely truthful about my thoughts that I would like to put a ring on it.”

Derek gaped at him.

“On me?” He demanded. “You want to marry me?”

“I mean we’re a bit young now I’d say but in a few years, that’s an emphatic hell yeah from me. Normani was making fun cause I got pretty emotional about it.”

Derek blinked at him, amazed and dumbfounded by the wonder that was Stiles Stilinski.

“How emotional?”

Stiles’ face turned red.

“I started crying into my beer and declaring loudly that Derek Hale was it for me,” Stiles started after a hesitant pause. “That you were the one.”

Derek tried to process that all at once, his own heart surging in exhilaration at the words.

“Okay,” he said.

“Okay?” Stiles demanded, turning to look at him more closely. “That’s all you wanna say?”

“No,” he disagreed. “That’s not all.”

Derek turned so that he was facing Stiles’ properly and let himself be in the moment. Let himself feel what was really going on in the complicated rush of emotions entangled inside his heart.

“I love you,” he said quietly. “You’re it for me too.”

And Stiles’ returning smile as he dragged Derek into his arms made those few seconds of bravery entirely worth it.