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A Promise Like This

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The first time Derek came swinging through Stiles’s window without permission, Stiles freaked out so hard, he ended up launching his can of coke at Derek’s face. 

The man had fallen off the roof in his own surprise. He hadn’t seemed very happy about that.

But when Stiles had started to realize that hey, maybe Derek Hale wasn’t such a giant creeper, he still didn’t expect the late-night visits, okay? Even Scott didn’t do nearly as much stalking. Well, not over him. Maybe over Allison. But he only went creepy werewolf on Stiles occasionally, which he really appreciated.

Derek seemed to be a different story.

The first time he came swinging through Stiles’s window without permission, Stiles threw a can of coke at his face, Derek fell off the roof with a barked curse, and then he hadn’t come back to the house for an entire month.

That had been fine by Stiles at the time. And Derek knocked more often than not now.

Sometimes, he came to talk about the Monster of the Week. Sometimes, he came to chew Stiles out for putting himself in danger when they were facing the Monster of the Week. Sometimes, he just came to sit broodingly in the corner and that was something Stiles still had yet to understand.

Sometimes, Derek came with food.

Stiles may or may not have made that a mandatory rule when the man came anytime before eight in the morning or after eleven at night.

“Oh my god,” Stiles said, taking the offered bag Derek had brought that night. The moment he opened it, the best smell in the world came wafting out and Stiles moaned. “Curly fries. Oh my god, Sourwolf, I want to marry you.”

In a split second, Derek’s face had gone from neutrally blank to bright red. Except Stiles was much too busy digging the container of fries out to really notice.

He might have been a little intrigued if he had.

“So,” Stiles said, stuffing a few into his mouth and glancing back up. “What is it tonight? Hunters? Witches? I know for a fact I haven’t done anything wrong lately, so if you’re here to go all bossy Alpha on me—”

“It’s nothing like that,” Derek said. Stiles narrowed his eyes, still chewing.

“Uh, okay?”

“I was in the area,” Derek said, suddenly focusing on the floor. Stiles swallowed and continued to study the man, a little more carefully this time. Because he was pretty sure something was off.

“So you got me fries?”

Derek froze. He stared at the floor as if it was the most interesting thing in the world before turning around. Stiles stared in confusion as Derek pulled himself right back out the window; without another word or hint. Without literally anything. In a second, Stiles was left alone in his room with a bag of curly fries and he had no idea what had just happened.

But Derek was gone and Stiles was alone.

He was so confused.

-

There was this one time Stiles had been awake for so long, he’d started to think he was living in a TV show and he was pretty sure their entire group was basically the Scooby-Doo gang brought to life with a lot more tragedy.

If Derek’s plans never worked out, did that make him Fred? He thought the man might kill him if Stiles even dared call him Scooby.

But that wasn’t the point. The point was, they had been chasing a witch around Beacon Hills for two weeks now and Stiles hadn’t slept in three days. Every time he thought they were getting close, it was another dead end. And Stiles was about to tear his hair out.

He was half-asleep at the loft when Derek came looming over the couch. Stiles nearly startled out of his own skin, sure he was seeing things for a moment. But that was definitely the growly-brows that he knew so well.

He closed his laptop and smiled tiredly at the man. Derek frowned harder.

“You smell tired.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Oh, thank god, I thought you were going to say I smell- smell for a second there. Which might be fair, because I might have forgotten to shower this… week? But it’d still be rude and I might’ve had to punch you.”

From across the room, Erica snorted into her cereal. Derek shot her a red-eyed glare before fixing Stiles with a dark look again. “You need to get some sleep.”

“Yeah, no kidding. And once the witch is caught, dude, I will sleep for at least a straight day.”

“No,” Derek growled. Stiles blinked.

“Uh, no?”

“No. You need to sleep now.”

Stiles stared at him for a long moment. Then he shook his head and opened his laptop again, only to squawk in protest as Derek grabbed it off his lap, closing it again and setting it on the coffee table. The moment Stiles tried to reach for it, the man gave him a threatening look.

Stiles carefully drew his hands back.

“Okay, Sourwolf, use your words. What’s happening here?”

“You haven’t slept in days,” Derek said gruffly. “Now you need to either go home and get some sleep or sleep here, I don’t care. But you need rest. You’re not going to do the pack any good if you’re sleep-deprived.”

“Oh, I’m so glad to see this is for the betterment of the pack, then.”

Derek narrowed his eyes. Stiles sighed, flopping back onto the couch. He would never admit out loud that even doing that was like a weight had been taken off his shoulders. But maybe he could do with a little power nap.

Derek was still looming over him like a giant fluffy thundercloud. Stiles raised an eyebrow, gesturing down at himself.

“Dude, see? I’m resting. You can stop being all grumpy Alpha now.”

Derek looked at him for a long moment. Then he turned away, disappearing down the hall, and Stiles watched him until he was out of sight. Then he sighed, turning his gaze up toward the ceiling.

But Derek came back after only a few seconds with a blanket and pillow. Stiles sat straight back up.

“Dude, what are those?”

“I don’t know, Stiles. What do they look like to you?”

“You’re using sarcasm. I’m confused.”

Derek gave him a look that screaming nothing other than; ‘Of course, you are’ and Stiles frowned at that. But then the man was tucking the pillow at the end of the couch and draping the blanket over him, and Stiles felt a bit like a child being tucked into bed.

“You know, Sourwolf,” he said, laying back down. “We have to be married for you to be so marital about this. I’m just saying.”

Derek froze, standing over him. The man’s jaw ticked and Stiles was sure he was going to get his throat ripped out for a second. But then Derek just turned away, shooting Erica another red-eyed look as she continued to laugh, and Stiles was left alone.

He blinked at the ceiling again, head spinning.

Because he was pretty sure he still had no idea what had just happened.

-

Movie nights had quickly become a pack favorite and that had thrown Stiles through a loop at first. Because he was pretty sure the pack would have a ‘to the death’ tournament before ever agreeing mutually on a movie. But then they figured out a pretty fair system which was really just Lydia tending to make the final decisions, and everyone was really just too scared to risk disputing her.

Even Derek never said a word.

That might’ve been why they watched romcoms and Hallmark movies more often than anything else, but Stiles didn’t really hate it. Pack nights meant spending his Friday nights with the pack instead of alone at home while his dad worked. They meant pizza, popcorn, and the occasional accompanying board game that almost always ended in declarations of revenge.

They were nice. Or something.

Because Derek was the one with the secret fortune, he always ended up buying the pack an entire stack of pizzas. Stiles had felt a little bad at first but then Derek got this glow when he ordered and passed out his pack’s favorite pizzas, and Stiles hadn’t said a word after that.

They’d already picked out some rom-com movie by the time Derek showed up with the pizzas and the pack was instantly crowding around him, each searching for their own. Stiles stayed lounging on the couch, fast-forwarding through the commercials, when Derek came over and set a box in his lap. Blinking, Stiles glanced up.

“Usually, I share with Scott.”

Derek’s ears turned red and he didn’t say a word, dropping onto the couch at Stiles’s side and facing the TV. Stiles continued to eye him, waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. Carefully, as if it was going to grow arms, legs, and maybe attempt to eat him, Stiles lifted up the top.

It didn’t attempt to attack or eat him. He blinked at the pizza for a moment and then stared at Derek again.

“This is black olive and pepperoni.”

Derek gave him a flat look. Stiles narrowed his eyes.

“I never get black olives.”

“But you like them.”

“Yeah, but Scott doesn’t.”

“So?”

“Usually, I share with Scott.”

Derek rolled his eyes and faced the TV again. Stiles was half-aware of the pack watching them from their own spots and pizzas, but he proceeded to act like the rest of the loft was empty. Derek was very determinedly avoiding his gaze now and Stiles was ninety-percent sure that no one actually knew about his secret favorite pizza. Other than his dad, maybe. But Scott hated black olives so in return, Stiles never even bothered with that order.

Lydia muttered something about tension from the side and then the movie was officially starting. Slowly, Stiles tore his gaze away and faced the TV.

Derek moved closer and for a second, Stiles’s breaths caught. But then the man just took a slice of his pizza and Stiles stared at him incredulously.

“Derek.”

“What?”

“I’m so confused right now.”

Derek looked defensive. “Maybe you don’t always have to share a pizza with Scott.”

Stiles glanced across the coffee table, but Scott was wrapped around Allison and didn’t appear to have heard a word they said. When he looked back at Derek, he could’ve sworn the man looked a little smug, grunting and pulling the pizza closer to himself.

“Whatever. Don’t eat all my pizza.”

“I did buy it.”

“Oh, I see. So the Sourwolf is a fan of black olives too, huh?”

Derek shrugged and took another slice. Stiles made a few noises of protest which earned him shushing from all around the room. He gave the rest of the pack a stink eye and then turned it to Derek. 

“You’re eating all of my pizza.”

“I’ll buy you another.”

“Soon? Tonight? Is this a marriage proposal, Sourwolf?”

“You’re an idiot, Stiles.”

But Stiles just eyed the man and his red face and wondered if he really was. He stared until it had probably been too long and Derek gave him another flat, slightly murderous look, and then tore his gaze away. But he wasn’t even paying attention to the movie now.

And he didn’t for the rest of the night.

Not with Derek sitting right up next to him, so close that Stiles could probably fall asleep on his shoulder if he wanted to. Not that he ever would. He appreciated having a throat. But he was also pretty sure there was plenty of space further down the couch.

Not that Stiles was complaining. Not at all.

He was just… intrigued.

-

Stiles sat in the middle of his bed with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders and tried to pretend the man sitting a few feet away wasn’t Derek Hale.

It was nearing midnight and Stiles had attempted to kick Derek out, he really had! But then the man had grunted something about needing help with the wendigo that they were tracking and Stiles found himself unable to dispute that. Which might have been why he was sitting in his pjs while Derek Hale poured over the research he’d attempted; two empty fast food bags abandoned a little ways over and Stiles’s open laptop playing the first Avengers as he claimed a need for the second distraction.

This was probably a dumb idea. Because his dad was home, Derek had never come over when his  dad was home, and every time Stiles heard a noise outside his bedroom door or downstairs, he had to smother the fight or flight urge.

It wasn’t like his dad didn’t know Derek swung by sometimes, but… Stiles didn’t often divulge the consistency of Derek’s nightly visits. He was terrified his dad might have words to say about that if he did.

“Hey, dude,” Stiles said, glancing back over. “Remember that one time you used to be afraid of my father? Yeah, I do too. When did that change?”

“We’re not doing anything wrong.”

“Oh wow, no. Not at all. Other than werewolf stuff at midnight in the middle of a school week.”

Derek blinked, glancing up from the bestiary. He actually looked confused and Stiles wondered for the first time if Derek even realized the hours that had passed since he’d shown up. Through the window of course, because Derek might claim to not be scared of his dad, but he never actually used the front door, did he?

Stiles wondered if that was a werewolf thing. But no… that was vampires, right? The whole, invite-only shebang.

Derek glanced at the laptop screen and winced. Stiles barked a laugh.

“Oh my god, Sourwolf, you totally lost track of time. What, does being around this amazing token human make the hours blur by? I always knew you liked me.”

“Shut up, Stiles.”

“The classic response. I think that means I’m starting to get through to you. Or underneath your skin. Or something.”

“Like a parasite.”

“Hey, rude!”

Derek just smirked at him. Literally smirked. Stiles didn’t really know what to do with the way his heart fluttered at that and he very pointedly fixed his gaze back on the laptop screen. Derek shuffled around a little bit more, gathering up the papers, and Stiles blinked at him.

“Uh, what are you doing?”

“... Leaving.”

“Okay, dude. Why?”

“It’s past midnight and your father is home.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes. “Look, he already knows you show up and random times like a total creeper. Heck, from the things he asks me sometimes, I’d be worried he thinks we’re married or something. If you hear him come upstairs, just duck under the bed or something.”

Derek’s expression was flat but his ears were burning bright red. “Stiles, I’m not hiding underneath your bed from your father.”

“I mean… there’s always the closet, but—”

“Good night, Stiles.”

Stiles clamped his mouth shut and watched the man set the stack of papers and books on his desk. He offered his best glare when Derek glanced back, but the man didn’t seem to care. In a couple of seconds, Stiles’s window was being pushed up, the cool night air was breezing in, and then Derek was gone.

Stiles stared at the window for a moment longer, still glaring. That slipped away into a small frown, which slipped away into nothing. Sighing, Stiles shut his laptop and pulled himself up.

It was then that he realized Derek had forgotten his jacket on the back of Stiles’s desk.

For some reason, that made him smile.

-

The intruding pack took Stiles because he smelled like Derek. Which meant maybe wearing the man’s leather jacket around all the time and conveniently ‘forgetting’ to bring it back to the loft during pack nights wasn’t the best idea he’d ever had.

But Stiles didn’t always have the best ideas. So whatever.

He may or may not have been conveniently wearing Derek’s jacket when he was taken from the school parking lot and at first, he was pretty sure they thought he was Derek. But then when he severely lacked in blazing red eyes and fangs, Stiles was hit over the head and stuffed into the trunk; not the best way for them to introduce themselves, if he had a say in it.

He didn’t get a say in it.

By the time the car stopped moving and Stiles was moderately coming back to consciousness, he was hauled out and dumped to the ground with enough force to nearly knock him out again. His ears rang and Stiles groaned, a foot sinking into his stomach the moment he tried to make a sound.

“Can it, kid.”

Stiles clenched his jaw, eyes squeezed shut in pain. The ground beneath him was cool; probably cement. The sound of footsteps around him echoed through the air and Stiles had put two and two together before he was opening his eyes again.

What was it with the Beacon Hills big-bads always living in abandoned warehouses? Stiles would just like to ask.

The pack wasn’t very big when Stiles glanced around. A handful of blue-eyed betas gave him guarded looks as the man that Stiles could only assume was the Alpha stepped out of the shadows. He flinched away as the wolf approached and promptly scrambled up, only to be kicked back down by a beta behind him again.

Laughter filled the air. Stiles scowled.

“You realize Derek’s going to kick all of your little furry asses, right?”

Laughter turned to growls. The man paused in front of Stiles and offered a sharp-toothed grin. “Derek Hale. The Alpha to a bunch of teenagers.”

“Have you ever pissed off a teenager? Cause it never ends well. Especially if they have furry problems and terrible control.”

“You smell like the Alpha.”

Stiles felt his face turn a little hot. “That’s an innocent mistake.”

The man must have heard his heart skip an audible beat because his expression turned even more amused. Stiles scrambled back as he took a step forward; but a sharp growl at his back had him freezing. Swallowing hard, Stiles turned back forward.

“What do you want with Derek?”

“We wanted to talk.”

“Dude, you nearly ripped my throat out earlier. That’s a crappy start to a conversation.”

The Alpha’s expression was nothing but sinister. Stiles dropped his gaze to the floor before the Alpha moved closer and he was on his guard again. Because he wasn’t Derek. So what the hell did they want with him?

“Clearly, kid, you matter to the Alpha.”

Stiles looked up in surprise, but the man looked completely serious. Despite himself, Stiles rolled his eyes. “Yeah, about as much as a parasite living underneath his skin.”

The man’s eyes narrowed. Stiles snorted.

“It’s an inside joke.”

“I see. If we killed you, how much would it hurt him?”

Stiles’s blood went cold. He froze in his position and tried to ignore the growls that erupted behind him. A shiver crept down his spine and he silently wondered how long he’d have to ramble for in order to keep his throat intact until Scott, Derek, or someone came.

“I’m a thorn in Derek’s side,” Stiles said weakly. “Seriously, dude. He won’t care if you kill me.”

“So you’re useless then.”

Stiles swallowed hard. “Uh, no? I know some really good jokes and have been told that my rambling is the perfect way to pass the time. I mean, if you really want me to shut up then grunt, growling, and the occasional shove into the closest wall is usually Derek’s go-to. Might I recommend that?”

The Alpha stepped closer and Stiles scrambled up. This time, there was no one there to kick him back down and he stumbled in panic across the warehouse as the pack advanced closer. Stiles would really rather not be found by his dad mangled and torn apart, thank you very much. He’d really rather not go that way. 

Stiles had wolfsbane mace in his backpack. But that had been left on the ground when he’d been taken.

“Look, look,” Stiles said, throwing up his hands. “I’m sure we could make an arrangement here! How about you let me go, I’ll give you a thirty-minute head start to run from Beacon Hills, and then never mention to my pack how ugly you all were?”

Eyes lit up the darkness; four pairs of blue and one pair of red. Stiles chuckled weakly.

“Or I could just never mention the ugly part ever again?”

The Alpha’s face shifted and a squeak built up in Stiles’s throat as the man moved forward, fangs and claws gleaming. But before he could have his throat ripped out, there was an echoing roar that filled the air, followed by a series of howls.

Sometimes, Stiles hated the pack’s timing. Sometimes, he was just relieved they actually showed up.

The Alpha whirled around and howled back. Stiles stood stock-still as he spotted Derek coming out of the darkness and the man’s eyes snapped to him first, face fully shifted.

“Stiles, get back!”

He really didn’t need to be told twice. Stiles scrambled back as the others moved forward, wishing for nothing more than his mace or baseball bat. He was totally going to start carrying a knife on his person. Goddammit, he was going to start carrying multiple knives on his person.

Stiles didn’t make it far before there was a pain ripping through his shoulder and he was yanked back. He went hard to the floor, vision spotted red with pain, and then he spotted one of the betas from earlier. The one who’d kept kicking him around.

Stiles snarled, trying to pull himself back up. The man’s blue eyes shone in the dim light.

“Don’t mean anything to the Alpha, huh, kid?”

“I really think he just hates doing research,” Stiles said, scrambling back. “I also have a theory he doesn’t know how to properly work a computer. Or you know, I’ve just gotten underneath his skin. Like a parasite.”

“Inside joke?”

Stiles offered his most winning smile. “Inside joke.”

The beta snarled and leaped forward. 

In the past, Stiles had been used as bait, become a popular accidental target, and spent too many of his weekday nights running through the preserve for his life. So he was able to dodge swiping claws fairly easily, pinwheeling around the beta with a yelp. Stiles retreated away and caught sight of his friends beyond the approaching ‘wolf, noticing with a sinking heart that they were all still engaged.

The beta seemed to realize that as well because he approached slowly. Claws out, fangs bared. Stiles moved backward until he was tripping over a bunch of cargo boxes and wood planks, and then he realized he was nearing the wall.

“Guess you don’t mean quite enough, kid.”

Stiles’s breaths lodged in his throat. God, he could not die like this.

He grabbed the nearest wood plank, swinging as the beta leaped forward again. It cracked off the side of his skull and the man roared, stumbling sideways. Stiles attempted to use that chance to make a break for the others, but he really should have known better than attempting to outrun a werewolf.

He was tackled back to the floor in less than five seconds, flipping to his back and kicking wildly out. It was times like this Stiles really wished for a pair of his own claws.

The beta dug claws into his shoulders. Stiles howled in pain.

Then the man was being yanked off.

Stiles caught a blur of movement. There was a thud and a whimper as the beta was shoved into the nearest wall and Stiles thought he caught the metallic scent of blood. Glancing blearily up, Stiles caught a flash of red eyes and Derek’s shaking body as he restrained a set of claws against the man’s neck.

“Your pack turned tail and ran,” Derek snarled. “This is your chance to follow them. But if I ever catch even the slightest whiff of your scent back in Beacon Hills, next time, I’ll rip out your throat. With my teeth. Got it?”

The man nodded. There were hands helping Stiles up as the beta moved around Derek and took off. He was gone from the warehouse in a matter of moments.

Stiles groaned as Erica steadied him by the shoulders a little too roughly, swaying on his feet. Derek’s red eyes flashed as he turned around and she quickly drew back.

“Perfect timing as always Sourwolf,” Stiles said, attempting a small grin. But dammit, he hurt. “Quite nice. Very romantic. I’d totally propose or something right now, but if I get down on one knee I don’t think I’ll be getting back up.”

Derek growled again. Stiles winced.

“Keep the grunts and growls on the down low, dude. I’m fine.”

“You’re hurt.”

“I’m moderately fine.”

Derek’s gaze snapped beyond his shoulder. “Go after the pack and make sure they are out of Beacon Hills tonight. I don’t want them even attempting to stick around. And call Scott. Tell him his best friend was hurt while he was skipping school with Allison and I’d like to have a chat.”

Stiles winced at that. “Oh my god, dude, please don’t do that. No chats needed. I’m moderately fine!”

“You,” Derek said, fixing his red eyes back on where Stiles stood. The shiver he got from that wasn’t fair at all. “Are going to a hospital.”

“Or maybe I could just take a shower and the loft and avoid freaking out my dad?”

There was blood making his shirt— and Derek’s jacket— stick to his skin, Stiles noticed. The leather had actually provided a little more protection against the beta’s claws, though. It was better than being in nothing but a thin t-shirt. Derek stepped forward, searching him up and down, and his face did something funny.

Stiles’s stomach twisted. He dropped his gaze.

“Fine. If you don’t say anything, I’ll go to the hospital. But only because I might need stitches.”

The sound that left Derek’s throat was nothing but feral. Maybe with a little bit of a whine? But Stiles just hunched deeper into the jacket and turned away, not waiting for the man. The other betas were already gone. Stiles had thought Scott might have been with them, but his heart sunk a little when he realized the boy had not been.

Though it's not like he could have known, right? Stiles could have been anywhere. He’d skipped out on classes before.

Usually for pack stuff.

He waited silently by the Camaro parked outside of the warehouse for Derek, still looking anywhere but the man’s face. And the ride to the hospital was a tense one.

Derek never asked for his jacket back. Just checked him in, stayed until Melissa came, muttered something about Scott and the others, and then was gone. Stiles didn’t know how he was supposed to feel about that.

He needed stitches. And when his dad had shown up, he’d seemed too relieved to be furious. 

Stiles supposed it was the little things.

-

He didn’t see Derek for a little while after that.

He didn’t know if it was because Derek was avoiding him or Stiles was avoiding Derek… but he wasn’t outright trying to, okay? He just didn’t go to a few pack meetings and Derek stopped swinging through his window every other night. Stiles stopped wondering if he would. Scott had a come by a few times for a solid two weeks and then he tapered off too.

Stiles threw himself into upcoming finals for his first senior semester. He couldn’t tell if his dad seemed relieved at this or worried at how little Stiles was leaving the house.

The man had even tried to bring it up a few times. Or, more so, he tried to bring up Derek.

Stiles did his best to just wave it all off.

So four weeks passed. To say Stiles was settling into the lull of things would be completely accurate and he was actually starting to remember what it was like to have a regular schedule. Not like he didn’t kind of miss pack movie nights, unexpected Derek Hale visits, or running around Beacon Hills for his life because... maybe he did? Just a little bit. Stiles figured he’d just give it time. So he could look Derek in the eyes without feeling like he was going to drown in embarrassment.

Derek’s jacket hung in his closet. Stiles hadn’t touched it since returning home from the hospital and he was pretty sure it was still covered in blood. Though, dammit, if Derek wanted it back, he could come get the thing himself.

And then Derek did come.

The last thing Stiles had expected was a visitor, so when his window was opened without a warning, his first reaction was to leap out of bed and launch the closest thing nearby at the intruder. Much like the first time.

Except this time, it wasn’t a soda.

There was a loud grunt and a curse as Stiles’s fifth-grade soccer trophy bounced off of Derek’s head. This time, the man didn’t fall off the roof, which Stiles thought was a plus. But he did look downright pissed off.

“Dammit, Stiles!”

“Dammit Stiles? Dammit, Stiles? Dude, what have we established about knocking!”

Derek glared with red eyes, pulling himself all the way into the room. Stiles glared right back, folding his arms over his chest and raising an eyebrow.

“What the hell are you doing here anyway?”

“What does it look like?”

“Uh, I dunno. Crawling into my bedroom like a total creeper after nearly a month of radio silence?”

Derek’s eye twitched. But Stiles didn’t budge.

“I’m fine, if that’s why you came. Or, your jacket’s in the closet. I…” he faltered a little bit, uncrossing his arms and dropping down onto the edge of his best. “I didn’t wash it. But I can do that and bring it by the loft later if that’s what you’d prefer.”

Derek was looking at him like he’d grown horns now. Stiles scowled.

“What?”

“I didn’t come for the jacket.”

Stiles looked at him for a long moment. His scowl slipped. “Oh.”

“I did come to see if you were okay.”

“I’m fine.”

“The stitches are out?”

“One week ago.”

“Oh,” Derek said and this time he was the quiet one. The man nodded, eyes dropping to his feet. “That’s good.”

“Yeah, well, you can go now.”

Grey-green eyes snapped back up. Derek actually looked startled. “You want me to leave?”

“You want to stay?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Oh geez,” Stiles said, his anger mounting again. “Dude, I don’t know. Maybe because you haven’t come by in ages. You know, after dumping me at the hospital and then making like it was hot. I’m so sorry if I did something to offend you. I’m so sorry if me nearly dying was offensive to you!”

“Do you know why you nearly died, Stiles?”

“Because the token human is always the easiest to take a jab at?”

“No, you idiot. Because you smelled like me!”

Stiles froze, all of his anger dissipating. Derek looked at him with red eyes and if he was honest, Stiles had known that. He’d been an idiot. He’d pranced around in a leather jacket that made him feel all gooey for some reason and in return, the big baddies actually thought he mattered. Actually thought that Stiles Stilinski, token human, mattered.

Mattered to Derek Hale.

“You smelled like me,” Derek said, stepping closer. “And that got you hurt.”

“So what, you take off for a few weeks? What, Derek? What do I smell like now? Do I even smell like pack anymore?”

Derek’s face fell. Stiles felt his stomach twist.

“I don’t, do I?”

“It gets you hurt. I shouldn’t have— started things.”

Stiles stared at him for a long moment. Then he swallowed hard, retreating a step back. “Things? What, like the research projects? The pack nights? Cause that’s not allowed, is it? Derek Hale isn’t allowed to let people think he cares. Well dammit, Sourwolf, you were really good at that. I almost fell for it too.”

Derek’s eyes flashed for a moment. Shaking his head, Stiles turned around and pulled the closet open, pulling out the man’s jacket. It was still a little bloody when he shoved it into Derek’s hands and the man visibly flinched.

“Just… tell Scott the things your pack needs. I don’t have to come over anymore, dude. And you don’t either.”

Derek’s face was tight when he looked at Stiles, expression betraying nothing. The man nodded and started to turn away and Stiles clenched his jaw hard, looking at the floor. Because dammit, he’d messed things up. He’d turned a good thing sour.

He should have returned the stupid jacket right away. He shouldn’t have been so dumb.

Silence fell over the room. When Stiles dared glance back up, Derek was looking at the jacket in his hands. The man’s shoulders were tense and he just stood there. Window open, the cool night air breezing in. His grip was white-knuckled around the jacket.

Stiles clenched his jaw even tighter when the man turned around.

“I do care.”

Stiles’s heart skipped a beat. Derek dropped the jacket to the floor, nudging it away, and then glanced back up. Grey-green eyes searched Stiles’s face.

“I— I do care. And I’d like to care. For a while. But I can’t do that if you get hurt and I can’t do that if you die, Stiles.”

“I’m not going to die.”

The man gave him an exasperated look. Stiles swallowed hard.

“... I don’t plan on dying?”

“But you can’t say that for sure.”

Stiles looked at him for a long moment. Then he stepped forward and brushed the tips of his fingers against Derek’s. The man shuddered, catching his hands, and Stiles offered a small smile. “Okay, so I can’t. But come on, dude, that’s the thing about promises. I promise stupid stuff all the time. Remember that time I vowed I was gonna marry you just because you brought me curly fries?”

Derek’s face turned red. Stiles grinned harder.

“How about you care a little, I care a little, and we trust that’s going to be enough? Because hell, dude, I don’t plan on dying anytime soon. I really don't plan on dying soon. And I mean, am I really much safer tagging at the pack’s heels instead of being a part of it? Instead of being… the Alpha’s?”

Derek’s eyes were red now. And they were locked on Stiles’s face as he shrugged.

“I just require the occasional curly fry delivery every now and then because you were in the area. And you’re not allowed to run after dropping them off.”

Derek didn’t say a word. Stiles raised a brow.

“Sourpuss?”

“You’d be mine,” Derek said. Stiles grinned.

“I mean, I don’t know a ton about marriage, but is that like a proposal? Because I am an eighteen-year-old teenager, Sourwolf, and I still need to finish high school. But yeah, I’d probably be okay with being werewolf married to you one day. Of course, that’s going to require a bit more bribing than some curly fries—”

Stiles cut off mid-sentence. Because suddenly, there were lips on his own, effectively shutting him up, and Stiles’s brain logged off as he realized Derek Hale was kissing him. Derek Hale. Of course, maybe he should have expected if because possible werewolf proposals—

Derek drew back for only a second. “Stop thinking so hard.”

And Stiles just grinned. Because Derek Hale was kissing him, Derek Hale cared, and Stiles was totally going to start making sure he used the front door instead of the window. His dad was going to have to be slowly introduced to this.

Or you know… with time. A little bit more time.

Stiles kissed Derek harder and decided maybe it could take just a little bit more time.