Derek watched, a low tingle burning in the bottom of his stomach, as Stiles burst through his loft doors with the usual manic energy that he couldn’t hope to keep up with. There were words about “Hallmark” and “chocolate” and “consumerism at its worst” but Derek wasn’t listening. He took a small swig of the liquor he’d picked up from Deaton earlier and stuffed it back in the freezer before turning to Stiles.
Yes, Derek was, indeed, thinking about the fact that today was a holiday. One of his least favorite, really, given that only one of his few lovers were ever celebration worthy. While Braden had texted him an emoticon smooch earlier in the day, they weren’t really that kind of couple. Or a couple at all, in fact. She was gone, and Derek was happy to see her happy, and Stiles…
Stiles was here, smelling of indignation underlayed with well-hidden sadness — something that bothered the slowly-to-rise contentedness he felt seeping through him as the liquor took hold. It was a holiday, dammit, and Derek wanted to do something to mark it as such. Even if he and Stiles weren’t technically anything yet… even if Stiles was only here because Scott was busy with Kira, because his Dad was busy with Melissa, because everyone else was gone or dead.
And fuck that depressing thought. Today was about the celebration of relationships, and whether Derek wanted to admit or not, he and Stiles had a relationship.
“I have wine. And ginger ice cream,” he offered.
“I don’t even get— wait… what? Wine? Ice cream? What?” Stiles stared at him, perplexed. It was Valentine’s Day. The worst example of crass consumerism in the so-called name of love and then there was that horrid movie that no one would stop talking about and why was Derek bringing up wine and ice cream? “What are you talking about?”
Not waiting for a response, Stiles wandered over to the couch and flopped down, propping his crossed-at-the-ankle, sneakered feet on the coffee table. He pointedly ignored Derek’s expression as it morphed from something earnest to a somewhat irritated scowl.
“I may be disinterested in consumerism in general, but I’m not stupid. I grew up with sisters, Stiles. This is a holiday for lovers, and since neither of us has one of those, it’s wine and ice cream.” Derek turned to the shelf next to the fridge, muscles rippling sensually under his shirt as he reached up and pulled a couple of wine glasses from the shelves over the counter. They were distressingly modern in the abandoned-chic of the loft, tracks where the stem slid between two rails until the glass pulled free, but Stiles supposed it was less expensive than installing actual cupboards. “I hope you like it dry.”
“Dude, you realize I’m underage, right?” Stiles stood and walked over to where Derek was pouring red wine from a green glass bottle. He licked his lips in anticipation and reached for the first glass. “And isn’t wine by definition wet?”
Derek stared at Stiles for a long moment, expression inscrutable. Then he shrugged and turned back to the fridge.
“I don’t care. Just don’t leave here drunk.” He pulled a two liter of Sprite free from the fridge then set it on the counter, grin crooked as he watched Stiles pick up the wine glass. “Just in case.”
Stiles raised his glass in a mock toast. “To crass commercialism, bad movies and good friends!” He took a large mouthful and nearly spit it out. Wha the—? People drank this willingly? Forcing himself to swallow, he lowered the glass to the counter and smacked his lips, eyes tracking to the unopened bottle of Spite before shifting to note the amused expression on Derek’s face.
The man was practically smiling, clearly entertained by Stiles’ first experience with — Stiles glanced at the bottle — cabernet sauvignon. Blinking back the tears that had formed as he choked down the wine, Stiles nodded his head a little too enthusiastically. “I’m good. I mean, it’s good.”
Derek snorted and leaned over Stiles, bottle of Sprite still in his hands. Stiles realized that Derek was wearing his maroon sweater with extra long sleeves and thumbholes. It looked soft and inviting as Derek reached over and poured a generous amount of Sprite into his wine glass.
“This might help,” Derek said, eyes sparkling with amusement. “Dry wine cut with Sprite is called a ‘spritzer’, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.” Not that he dumped any soda into his own drink, of course. He picked up the long-stemmed clear glass that clearly held more than the 5 ounces most restaurants served, downed it in three deep swallows that left his Adam’s apple bobbing, and licked his lips. “Fuck that’s good.”
Eyes narrowed against possibility of patronizing by the werewolf — but more turned on than he wanted to admit by watching the other man drain his own glass — Stiles lifted his diluted wine and took a more cautious sip than before. Between the carbonation and the slight sweetness added by the soda, the taste had improved markedly. He took a bigger swallow and and hummed in appreciation at the slight fizzy burn down his throat.
“Better. That’s better. Thanks, man.” He winked at Derek and grabbed the wine bottle by the neck to carry it to the coffee table. Sitting back down on the sofa, Stiles slapped a hand on the cushion beside him and glanced back towards the kitchen. “You gonna join me or what?”
With a shrug, Derek picked up his empty glass and followed him to the couch. He didn’t engage in his usual dance of sitting too far away to thaw the ice between them, though. In fact, he settled into the cushion next to Stiles and dug around the couch like he was hunting for something, wide hands occasionally brushing against Stiles’ leg and thigh and back as they searched. Only a moment later, Derek made a soft sound of triumph and pulled a fuzzy purple blanket free of the black hole between the seat cushion and the back.
“Here,” he said, offering a free corner for Stiles’ inspection. “Guaranteed to make you feel better about life.”
“Hey, I recognize this!” Stiles exclaimed, placing the super soft blanket throw as the one he had ‘conveniently forgotten’ at the loft a few months earlier. It felt weird to give things to Derek, moreso things that would turn the drafty loft into a home, but Stiles had no qualms about bringing things over and forgetting to take them home again.
Balancing his wine glass on the arm of the sofa, he dragged the deep purple throw so that it covered both their legs. He picked up the wine and took another drink to hide the grin that had formed at the press of the werewolf’s jean-clad leg against his.
“Mmmm…” Derek hummed, reaching out to pluck the bottle from Stiles’ grasp. “I don’t know where it came from, actually. Erica? Someone left it here, and after Scott bled all over my bed that last time, I ended up using it on the couch to sleep before I got the cleaners over here. It’s awesome.” He and smiled as he rubbed his beard all over the opposite side of the cashmere royal purple.
Stiles smiled; the werewolf had no clue Stiles had given him the blanket. Score one for the human!
A red flush slowly began to creep up Derek’s neck, and he put down the fabric. “Sorry. You caught me at a bad time. I was pregaming. I fucking hate this day.”
Stiles winced internally as the charming blush faded as quickly as it rose. It was disarming to see Derek act so human, so vulnerable. Unsettled by Derek’s discomfort, he refocused and decided to take advantage of the opening he’d been given. Maybe he’d learn something. “So...I already babbled about why I hate this day. Why do you?”
The incredulous look Derek gave him was slightly alarming.
“Seriously?” he asked, voice dryer than the wine he’d served pre-Sprite. “You know better than anyone.” He shoved the blanket aside and stood, slightly wobbly on his feet, before he headed to the kitchen. “Valentine’s Days alone are depressing. My Valentine’s Days when I had lovers were even worse.” He shook his head and pulled a clear bottle free of the freezer before heading back to the couch. He sat just as close to Stiles the second time he sank into the couch, the heat of his body almost distracting Stiles from his words. Almost. “Paige was gone when our first should have been. Kate was not romantic when we shared a holiday. We won’t even talk about Jennifer. And Braeden...” He shook his head. “Even if we were still together, she isn’t exactly the romantic type.”
Derek lifted the frosty bottle in Stiles’ direction, eyebrows raised in silent question and offering. ‘Extract of Anise’ was scratched across the plain white label in what Stiles recognized as Deaton’s scrawl. “Want some?”
“Um, thanks, but no thanks. I still have my wine.” Stiles raised the half-filled glass and tried to ignore the giant elephant he had set free in the room. The last thing he had wanted to do was make Derek think about Paige or, worse, that bitch Kate. How to distract? His gaze flickered around the cavernous room, settling on the flat screen television the pack had pestered Derek into buying.
“So, wanna watch a movie?”
“Not really,” Derek shrugged. He poured a splash — perhaps a tablespoon at most — of the licorice-scented liquor into his empty glass before setting it down and filling the rest with the cab. He swirled it around for a few minutes before taking a deep swallow. Even as Stiles grimaced at the imagined taste, Derek seemed to relax incrementally. When he opened his eyes to smirk at Stiles, Stiles could have sworn his pupils had expanded at least a little bit. “But whatever you want to do.”
Stiles stared at the stubble-covered jaw and firm lips, curved in an unfamiliar grin. Surely he didn’t mean— Stiles gulped at what had to be an unintended offer. Distract. Distract! Spotting the remote on the coffee table, he lunged toward it; wine sloshing dangerously as he focused on his prize.
With a rumbling laugh that Derek didn’t even have to open his mouth for, he caught Stiles before he could fall to floor in a tangled flailing of limbs and awkwardness. “Easy, tiger,” he murmured, tugging Stiles backwards into the excessive heat of his bizarrely relaxed body. He kept one firm arm wrapped around Stiles’ midsection as he set down his wine glass. He picked up the remote, dropped it in Stiles’ lap, and retrieved his drink. His arm never left Stiles’ body. “I know you love anything that gives you a leg up over us mortals on pop culture trivia, but damn.”
While smirking at his own joke, he reached for the purple blanket again and tugged it back over both of them.
Tucked securely in Derek’s embrace, Stiles froze. This...this couldn’t be real. Mega-hot werewolves just didn’t cuddle with him. Then again, who was he to look a gift werewolf in the mouth?
He jerked in surprise as Derek’s head settled on his shoulder, snuffling quietly, warm breath tickling Stiles’ neck.
Moving slowly so he wouldn’t startle the apparently stoned — on extract of anise? Who knew? Deaton apparently — werewolf, Stiles picked up the remote from his lap and flicked the TV on, selecting Netflix and scrolling through the recommended options. There. Stiles pressed a button to select and drained the last of his wine from his glass before turning his head to look at Derek.
Who… wasn’t paying even a little bit of attention to the screen. He alternated between pressing his nose against the bare skin of Stiles’ neck and sipping at his wine. His eyelids were heavy, his mouth was loose with satisfaction, and his arm was still tight around Stiles’ waist.
“It’s not like I hate Valentine’s Day, actually,” Derek mused, breath washing hotly over Stiles’ pulse point. “And when — if — I ever have a lover interested in celebrating it, I’d like to think we wouldn’t need it because every day should a day for appreciation. Not flowers, because they’re stupid and they die. And not chocolate, because that’s bad for you. But maybe… breakfast the way they like it. Or a hot towel fresh out of the dryer when they step out of the shower. Let’s face it — a day that’s extra special to make your lover feel good is also a day that’s extra-painful for those of us who don’t have them.”
“Exactly!” Stiles agreed, thrilled that finally someone got his reasons for railing against the annoying greeting card holiday. Leaning forward to set his glass down, he was halted midway by the tightening of Derek’s grip. He patted the well-muscled arm. “Der, just give me a moment.”
Grumbling, Derek loosened his grasp and Stiles set the wine glass on the floor in front of the sofa. He hoped he wouldn’t forget it was there and kick it later. With an appreciative murmur he settled back into the werewolf’s heat, shifting so that he could snuggle comfortably against him. Stiles kicked his legs so that the blanket covered both his legs and Derek’s.
“I should probably make you leave,” Derek sighed. Contrary to his words, however, his arm tightened incrementally and he pressed his body just a little more heavily against Stiles’ only slightly smaller frame. “You probably shouldn’t be here. I’m… too relaxed.”
“So? There’s nothing wrong with relaxing.” Stiles yawned, the wine was clearly having an effect on him as well. He was too comfortable to move. “You deserve to relax, dude. You deserve good things.”
His eyes closed, shutting out the opening credits of — what were they watching again? He shrugged and resituated his head against the firm muscles of Derek’s incredible chest. The werewolf’s heart thudded under his ear and he smiled, patting his hand absently against the fleece-covered abs. This…this was…nice.
“Deserve good things,” Derek snorted, shaking his head. He drank some more of his wine. “I want to be argumentative, but I don’t think I can be right now. I’m too comfortable. Like, even someone standing in front of me with a first edition King novel couldn’t make me move.” He rubbed his cheek against the top of Stiles’ head and did the chuckle-without-opening-his-mouth thing again. “Not even ‘Rage’.”
“Heh, I hear you, man.” Stiles said to Derek’s stomach. It had been so long since he had cuddled with someone. Not since Malia, really. He missed being the little spoon. “Can we just stay like this for a while? Please?”
He felt Derek sigh beneath his cheek and smiled, brushing his fingers along the edge of the sweater’s hem. Warm skin teased above the waist of Derek’s jeans, along his hips.
“That’s not fair,” Derek grumbled as his hips shoved up a mere fraction of an uncontrollable inch. “That’s more motivating than a damn Bachman cover,” he muttered, letting his head fall back against the couch. The arm around Stiles’ waist loosened, but before Stiles could protest, Derek’s big hand shifted to slide up his back. Derek settled after only moments, his body still except for the steady circle his thumb was drawing over Stiles’ spine.
Stiles hummed in happiness at Derek’s reaction to his boldness. Touch was such a magical thing. The gentle weight of a hand smoothing along his back. The press of fingers. The soft scratch of nails. This was his definition of heaven. If only they could just…
“Hey, Der? Can we scootch a little and lie down? Just for a few minutes? You’re so warm. I just want to get warm for a bit.” He carefully left out the part where he wanted to stay there forever. Derek didn’t need that kind of pressure. Just because they were two lonely guys together didn’t mean they were together, but a guy could dream, right?
A nearly subsonic rumble battered its way through Derek’s chest, so quiet that Stiles wasn’t sure he heard it so much as felt it. Derek lifted his free hand to down the rest of his drink before setting the empty glass decisively on the coffee table. He lifted Stiles free of the couch and set him gently on his feet before falling backwards with a cheerful oomph. He stretched on his back on the seat cushions, hair sticking out everywhere as the static pulled it free of its usually gelled perfection. A goofy-happy sort of smile took over his face as he settled, letting one leg hang off the cushions as he threw his arms open.
“Better than a blanket,” Derek promised, smile sloppy. “Well, maybe not the blanket,” he added, casting a raised eyebrow at the purple blanket of snuggles now hanging haphazardly from the back of the couch. “But close enough.”
Flailing for a moment as he found his footing, Stiles only just remembered the wine glass at his feet as he surveyed the intoxicated werewolf with open arms before him. Better than a blanket? Oh, hell yeah! Bending over, he moved the fragile glass to sit next to Derek’s on the coffee table and toed off his sneakers — he didn’t want to dirty the couch with his shoes, right?
“Ready or not, here I come,” he announced and clambered back onto the couch to lie half-on the cushion and half-on Derek. “Hmmm, when you’re right, you’re right,” he sighed happily, giving Derek’s shoulder soft sleepy pets.
“Don’t I know it,” Derek huffed as he shuffled around Stiles’ sharp elbows and knees. Once they’d both stilled, Derek pulled the cashmere throw free and draped it over them again. He patted Stiles contentedly. “There. And tomorrow, when I’m little less loose, I’ll give you a massage. Show you what real werewolf comfort can be like. And maybe get that place down the road to deliver bagel sandwiches. And coffee. And maybe a couple of those cream cheese cherry things.”
An indistinct murmur followed by a soft snore was his response.
Which is when he remembered why he was pinned down to the couch.
Stiles was still curled on the sofa with him, and Derek craned his head to take in the translucent eyelids, the slack mouth open on heavy breaths, the utter innocence of a young man asleep. Derek felt his grin grow wider as he remembered the comfortable trickle of the evening, the anise flowing through his blood like molasses, making everything sweet and slow. It wasn’t often he allowed himself to indulge in the herb that produced such a mild but perfectly adequate high for werewolves.
Derek shifted, careful not to jar Stiles into consciousness. Slowly and methodically, he pulled his leg free from its uncomfortable drape over the side of the couch and tucked it under Stiles. He let his arm tighten in a secure loop around Stiles’ shoulders, holding him there for as long as he was allowed. In the hazy dawn of a pre-sunrise world, it was easy to let his eyes slip closed again, to let himself sink into sensation. Stiles’ breath was rhythmic and soothing, his heartbeat a thrum of hypnotic song that Derek knew far too well. Without the usual anxious flutter of Stiles’ conscious, always-racing mind making it speed up, it was a sound that Derek could get lost in.
There were promises, he remembered. Massages and breakfasts and maybe something about towels just the way he liked them — warm from the dryer and delivered before the recipient had had a chance to step out of the shower. And as long as he could battle his own fears, his own inadequacies, his own desire to keep himself shielded from emotional devastation, he would give Stiles all of that. And more.
Later. When the promise of morning turned into something real, and Stiles was ready and willing.