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Baking My Way Into Your Heart

Chapter Text

Derek Hale was the type of person who liked the organized and predictable. He would much rather go on a vacation where every event was planned to a "T" than do anything - God forbid - spontaneous. So you can imagine how Derek felt when he entered his favorite little coffee shop only to find out that his regular barista wasn't there.

"Good morning!" came the cheerful voice of the boy behind the register.

"Where's Clara." Derek didn't even bother with a greeting. He didn't even bother making it a question. It was a command. It was 'tell me where Clara is now or else I'll tear your face off.'

However, this didn't seem to deter the young man. "Ah yes. Clara. She had to change her schedule since she has an early class this semester. But don't you fret! I'll be here to take her place. The name's Stiles," the boy grinned, holding an outstretched hand to Derek.

Derek just looked at the hand, choosing to ignore it. This was not how he wanted to start his morning. "Look, I'm sure you're an adequate barista and all," the boy dropped his hand back down at the word 'adequate', "it's just that I have a very specific way of how I like my coffee and Clara had it down packed."

The boy seemed to consider this before nodding in understanding. "I see… How's this then. Tell me your order, I'll make it free of charge this time and if you don't like it, I will track Clara down herself and demand that she teach me how to make it perfectly. Sound good?"

It didn't. But what other choice did he have? Derek had a very specific routine and this transaction had already set him back two minutes. He exhaled in frustration. "Fine, whatever. Large extra hot coffee with two pumps hazelnut, syrup, no cream, only one shot low-fat milk, no caramel and - God - no little drawing of a heart in the foam, please."

The kid - Stiles - took a second, his expression and the way his lips were moving showing Derek that he was trying to remember all parts of the order. Derek inwardly groaned. 'He's probably going to forget something. He should have written it down as I was saying it. Dammit. Clara should have said something before she left. Then I wouldn't have to be stuck with this kid. And Stiles? Who names their kid Stiles?'

Derek watched the kid move behind the counter. 'What is he doing? Clara doesn't pack the coffee in that tightly. Argh! I said two pumps of hazelnut! That was clearly two and a half! Is that low-fat milk? That better be low fat milk. Jesus… now what's he doing?'

Stiles spun around, coffee order in hand. "Here you go." He smiled.

Derek looked down and immediately frowned. "I thought I said no little drawings in the foam."

"Ah, ah," Stiles smirked, wagging his finger. "You said no drawing of a heart. This, good sir, is a flower."

Derek gave him a withering look. "Cute," he snipped sarcastically before grabbing a stir stick and making the flower disappear.

The boy didn't seem put off by the action though. He just chuckled before watching Derek expectantly. It was then Derek realized that he was probably waiting for his critique. But since Derek was already cranky, he just took his coffee and sat down in his regular spot in the far corner. It was his routine to come in promptly at six in the morning, order his coffee, and spend the next hour studying for whatever classes he had that day. It was convenient, really, considering that this particular coffee shop didn't really get customers until later when normal students actually woke up. It allowed Derek the peace he needed to study. He pulled out his laptop, ready to begin where he had left off the night before. He reached over to his drink with a sigh. 'Okay… get ready for disappointment…'

Derek took a sip. Then he took another sip. Then he looked at the cup in his hands before taking a large gulp of the mixture. Derek licked his lips. 'This is surprisingly good. I can actually taste the coffee despite the syrup and the milk.' He glanced over to the boy behind the register, obviously pretending to be busy while glancing over through the corner of his eye. Derek snorted, deciding to just ignore him and carry on with his work.

The dark-haired man was thoroughly engrossed in his reading half an hour later when a small plate invaded his space. Snapped out of his concentration, Derek looked up at the boy smiling down at him.

"Cause it seemed like you liked the coffee, I thought it would go great with this muffin. My treat."

Derek glanced at the baked good then back up at the boy. "I don't usually eat muffins in the morning."

"Then now's a good time to break tradition," he grinned. "Make an exception, just this once. I baked it myself," he said proudly. "Actually, I was pretty stoked when I found out the morning spot was available cause I always wanted to try baking. So," he looked at the muffin before looking back at Derek, "yaaay." He picked up the plate, tilting the edges as if to make the muffin dance.

Derek just stared incredulously at the boy. "Are you suggesting I be your guinea pig?"

"Well, technically no. I've baked for my dad and Scott, but never here. So I guess in a way, yes and no?" He shrugged, still smiling.

Derek rolled his eyes before turning back to his reading. From the corner of his eye, he could see the boy frown before setting down the plate in front of him once more. He walked away, disappearing into the backroom. Derek glanced at the muffin in front of him. It looked to be a cinnamon swirl of sorts with streusel sprinkled on top. The smell of it wafted through the air, displaying its freshness. Derek sighed. He dragged the plate in front of him and tore off a piece of the top, popping it into his mouth.

'Oh... my…' His eyes went wide with surprise. He tore off another piece, cause surely the second bite couldn't be as good as the first. But he was wrong. Pathetically so. He closed his eyes, savoring the treat. He reached for the last bit of his coffee, groaning that he had downed it so quickly, but satisfied with the last drizzle of it as it mixed in perfection with the muffin in his mouth. It was like a symphony of goodness all wrapped into one. He very nearly moaned, that's how good it was.

In hearing the boy's oncoming return to the front, Derek quickly pushed the plate aside, and feinted focus on his laptop. He tried to continue reading, but from the corner of his eye, he could see the boy glance his way. And he saw the way the boy lit up in seeing the half eaten muffin. And he saw the smug smile just before the boy carried on with his work.

Another half an hour later, Derek packed away his things, needing to make his way to his morning class. He brought his empty cup and empty plate up front to the eager boy behind the register.

"I see you liked the muffin," he smiled.

"I was hungry," Derek lied, but the boy seemed to know better. Derek pulled out his wallet, taking a ten out.

"Whoa, whoa," he said, hands out to stop him. "I told you, free of charge."

Well that didn't sit right to Derek, especially with the way he had to restrain himself from licking both the plate and cup clean. He frowned. "It's fine." He dropped the ten on the counter and began to walk away.

"Wait!" The boy called. "This is way too much!"

"Tip." Derek replied noncommittally, not bothering to stop. He heard shuffling behind him, and the rustle of a paper bag.

"Then at least take another treat with you!"

At this, Derek stopped, his mouth already watering in anticipation. "Damn…" he mumbled to himself. He bit his lip, fighting himself from turning around. It was a losing battle. Derek glanced over his shoulder. The boy was still standing behind the counter, a paper bag in his hand outstretched in Derek's direction. Grumbling to himself, and making particularly sure that he didn't make eye contact, Derek snatched the bag out of the boy's hands before practically running out the door. He didn't even bother looking back when he heard the boy call "Have a nice day!" after him.

It wasn't until later in his history class that Derek finally opened the bag, succumbing to the smell it was giving off. It wasn't a muffin, but a scone, an almond one with a light drizzle of frosting on top. It was good that he was seated in the back of the room because the moan he emitted after the first bite might've drawn much more unwanted attention than it did. After a few odd stares, Derek pushed the bag away, deciding it was probably best to eat it in private.

Chapter Text

Derek wasn't excited to go to the coffee shop that morning, not at all. He didn't wake up early, wondering what kind of goods were going to be baked and he certainly wasn't thinking about the deliciousness that his coffee promised while he was shampooing his hair. And because Derek wasn't any of this, then it's completely and entirely improbable that he - a man that could practically schedule his bathroom breaks to the second - showed up at the coffee shop a full minute early.

Except that he was.

Derek frowned at his watch. He needed to get that fixed. He frowned at the clock on his phone. That was probably broken too.

"Good morning," came the cheery voice as he walked through the door. Derek glanced up, Stiles smiling jovially at him. "The same as yesterday?" he asked as Derek walked up to the register. Derek gave a curt nod. "Did you want me to call up Clara? You didn't exactly tell me yesterda-"

"That won't be necessary." He ignored the way the boy practically preened at this.

"Okay. One large coffee, extra hot, two pumps of hazelnut syrup, a shot of low-fat milk and no heart drawing in the foam."

"And no flowers either," Derek added, a bit surprised that he had remembered the order. It had taken Clara a little over a week to get it down without a pen in hand.

Stiles chuckled and nodded. "Right. No flowers either." He turned around to start the order.

"And um…"

"Hm?" Stiles' eyebrows went up in question as he turned back around.

Derek didn't say any more. He just darted his eyes over to the empty display case. "Nothing. Nevermind." He adjusted the strap of his satchel before making his way to his usual spot, not bothering to watch the barista for any mistakes like he normally did, even with Clara. He pushed aside the ball of disappointment he felt welling in his throat at the lack of pastries. 'They're probably not any good today anyway,' he tried to convince himself.

He looked up when a cup was placed gently down on the table. "Enjoy," Stiles smiled softly, turning back and disappearing into the kitchen.

Derek glanced at the coffee, cautious of it. 'It won't taste as good today. Yesterday was just surprisingly good. Today, it will just taste… good.' He pulled the cup forward, scoffing when he saw it. Instead of a heart or a flower, there was a drawing of a sun in the foam. Despite himself, he found the corners of his lips tugging upward. He pushed that aside too, before taking a sip of his coffee.

He was wrong again. It wasn't just good. It was as if this kid studied Derek's taste buds to create the perfect blend of coffee/hazelnut/milky goodness. He had to put the cup down, calming himself before he downed the hot beverage in one go. Besides, he had some reading to do.

About ten minutes into his reading, another plate was placed in front of him.

Stiles grinned at him sheepishly. "I was hoping they'd finish before you got here," he said, rubbing the back of his head. "And I know yesterday, you said you weren't a muffin man," he chuckled at his own joke, "So here's a strudel instead. It's apple."

Derek glanced down at the pastry, fighting the urge to just dig right in. Instead, he just turned back to his laptop and feinted reading.

From the corner of his eye, he could see the kid shift awkwardly from one foot to the other. "Welp… okay then. I'm just gonna… yeah." Stiles shuffled away, back into the kitchen.

Once he was out of sight, Derek sat up with excitement, reaching for the pastry. After just one bite, he closed his eyes, breathing deeply. It was like an orgasm for his mouth. It was flaky and fluffy, and the apple filling was sweet but not cloyingly so. Derek had to drop his head on the table, burying it in his arm to stifle the inevitable moan. Like, seriously. What was going on with these pastries? How did they make him feel warm inside with just one bite? Licking his lips, he took another bite. Scratch that. How did they make him feel warm inside with every bite?

When Stiles came back out with a tray of freshly baked strudel, Derek bolted upright, tossing his pastry back on the plate. The movement didn't go unnoticed, even as Derek pretended that he had been immersed in his reading the entire time. Stiles slid the tray into the display case before making his way over.

"Ah, so you tried it," he grinned, eyeballing the two missing bites. "How was it?"

Derek shrugged. "It was all right."

Stiles' eyes narrowed, studying the man before him. "Okay…" he said slowly, turning around and going into the kitchen once more.

Derek watched him go from the corner of his eye. Once the door closed behind him, he grabbed at the strudel once more, taking another deliciously satisfying bite.

"Ah ha!" Stiles jumped out, pointing at the only customer in the shop. "You like it!"

Derek seemed to freeze in place, like a kid getting caught sneaking treats from the cookie jar. He was still holding the strudel while a huge bite of it was making his cheek bulge.

"Admit it! You think it's delicious, don't you?" Stiles said, a self-satisfying beam on his face.

"I was hungry," Derek simply said, mouth full.

The boy rolled his eyes at the lie. It was the same Derek used just yesterday. Derek cursed his lack of creativity. He also cursed himself for taking another bite, right in front of the boy.

Stiles just watched him, entertained by the contradictions Derek provided. "Okay then. If you find yourself still hungry later on," he taunted, using finger quotes around 'hungry', "then I have some mini lemon tarts baking in the oven."

Derek almost gasped. Almost. He loved lemon.

"I can pack some up for you to take when you leave," he offered.

Not wanting to seem too eager at the prospect of more treats, Derek just shrugged, placing the rest of the strudel onto the plate and turning back to his laptop. "Yeah, sure, whatever."

He heard a snicker before seeing the boy disappear again. Derek reached for the strudel once more.

"By the way-" Stiles said, poking his head out the door. He smirked, seeing the pastry back in Derek's hand. "It wouldn't kill you to admit you like my baking. It would make our mornings together a lot better if you just admitted it." Derek didn't respond. Of course not. He was too busy eating. Stiles shrugged. "Just saying." And with that, he disappeared back into the kitchen.

Derek sighed, chomping down the last bit of the strudel before drowning it in his coffee. 'He doesn't know… it might kill me. They could be some magical words that cause a rabid dog to come bite me on the ass. Cause that's likely.' Derek snorted to himself before turning his attention back to his studies.

He made his way to the register when it was just about time for him to head to class. He reached for his wallet while glancing at the display case. Derek frowned. There were no lemon tarts.

"Ah," Stiles smiled. "Let me get those for you." He took the cup and plate from Derek, putting them aside for later. He pushed a few buttons on the register. "Oh yeah. Did you want those tarts, or no? They're cooling in the back, but they should be just about done."

Did Derek want them? Did Derek want them? Hell yeah he wanted them! But he wasn't going to tell the kid that. He shrugged again. "Whatever."

Stiles mirrored the gesture. "Okay then. Five twenty-five."

Derek stared at the boy. Did he not understand Derek code? 'Whatever' meant 'Go box up the good stuff and be snappy cause I got class in a few minutes!' He frowned.

"Is there something else?" Stiles asked, a sly smile forming on his lips.

"No. Whatever." Derek said again.

"Okay then," Stiles repeated slowly. "Five. Twenty. Five."

Derek nearly growled at the kid's petulance. "All right fine. I'll take a box, okay?"

Stiles grinned. "Six or twelve?"

"…Twelve." He didn't understand how the boy's grin could get bigger, but it did.

"All righty," he said, tapping the register once more. "Ten twenty-five."

Derek opened his wallet. 'Damn… I forgot to stop at an ATM last night…' He sighed, tossing his debit card onto the counter.

Stiles picked the card, glancing at the name. "D… Hale. What's the 'D' stand for?" He asked, swiping the card and handing it back.

Derek didn't answer. He just punched in his pin number before looking at the boy expectantly.

"Is it David? Daniel?"

Derek exhaled through his nose. "If you don't mind, I have a class I need to be getting to."

"Okay, okay." He headed back into the kitchen, coming out a minute later with a box in his hands. "Here you go… Dylan? Desmond?"

He cocked an eyebrow, taking the box into his hands. "Really? Desmond?"

"Delilah?" At scowl he was receiving, Stiles just laughed. "Well, I don't know!"

Derek just rolled his eyes before heading for the door.

"Have a nice day, Damien! Donald? Darius?"

Derek couldn't help himself. He chuckled softly, shaking his head as he walked out the door. This kid was something else.

And later, when Derek found himself staring at a box that used to be filled with mini tarts, and the name 'Dennis?' scribbled on the bottom, he felt a small smile tug at his lips. Yeah. This kid was definitely something else.

Chapter Text

The next few days were pretty much the same. Every morning from Monday through Friday before class, Derek would go to the coffee shop and get a large coffee and whatever treat Stiles had baked, plus a little something to take with him to go. Somewhere along the line though, Stiles dared to make himself comfortable with Derek. Sometimes, halfway through his study session, Derek would look up and see Stiles sitting with him. Sometimes the boy was playing on his phone, other times he was resting with his arms on the table to pillow his head. Derek didn't say anything, especially since it wasn't like the kid was disturbing him. He was just… there.

Until one day…

"So what are you studying anyway?"

Derek darted his attention away from his laptop to the boy in front of him, his coffee halfway to his lips. Today's foam drawing happened to be a shark. He had been immersed in his reading, momentarily forgetting that someone else was there. "History."

"That's cool," Stiles said, bobbing his head. "Anything in particular?"

"War tactics."

The boy's eyebrows shot up in interest. "I didn't realize there was a department in war tactics."

"There isn't."

Stiles leaned against the table, resting his head against one hand. "Mr. Hale, can't you say any more than two words at a time?"

Derek scoffed. "No."

"I bet if I baked you some lemon squares, you might say more."

"Doubt it," he snorted, despite the watering of his mouth at the idea. He briefly wondered when this kid picked up his penchant for lemon.

"And Mr. Hale, when are you gonna tell me your first name?" He pouted comically. "We've been seeing each other every school day for almost two weeks now and you still haven't given me your name."

Derek rolled his eyes and returned his focus back on his laptop.

"Is it Dartagnan? Desiree? Dilandau?"

"I'm not a musketeer, nor am I woman on an adult sex phone hotline. And what the hell is a Dilandau?"

Stiles smiled. "You don't watch anime, do you?"

He didn't dignify that with an answer.

Stiles sighed deeply. "Mr. Hale, I truly enjoy our deep and meaningful conversations."

"Stiles."

"Yeah?"

"Shut up."

/\/\/\

"Hey, Daigo?"

Derek snorted at the name. "What?"

"Do you think I'm attractive?"

Derek didn't dignify that with an answer, either.

/\/\/\

So, okay. Call him crazy, but oddly enough, Stiles was somehow growing on Derek. The kid made the best coffee in the world and always had a freshly baked pastry made when Derek got there at 5:58 AM. On a side note, he had tried getting his watch fixed, but the repair guy assured him there was nothing wrong. Derek seriously questioned this guy's credentials. Anyway.

At first, he found the boy a bit annoying. Or maybe a lot annoying. Stiles was a chatterbox who seemed perfectly content on continuing a conversation even when Derek so blatantly refused to acknowledge anything he was saying. It got on his nerves a bit, especially since he really was trying to study. But somehow, along the way, Derek found himself being pulled out of his concentration and actually listening to Stiles. At first, it was a few sentences here and there, usually only ones that peaked his interest.

"I saw this thing on PBS a few years ago about life on a Navy ship and I thought it might be pretty awesome to be on a ship like that."

Derek had watched that too.

"I wanted to try baking some mint brownies but I think I'll just wait 'til I can get some fresh mint instead of using artificial flavoring."

Derek thought that mint brownies sounded delicious.

"Will you at least tell me if I got your name already? Cause seriously, I'm running out of ideas, Dagmar."

Derek had to stifle a laugh at that.

Eventually, it had gotten to a point where the hour reserved for studying had dwindled down to a mere thirty minutes. Stiles would join him after he was done baking and once he was there, Derek found himself listening more and more to the point where he was - and this was a doozy - participating in the conversation.

"I don't know what it is about that show, but whenever it's on, I find myself stuck watching a marathon of Storage Wars."

"It's a good show."

"I'm debating whether I should make chocolate chip cookies or double chocolate muffins for tomorrow."

"Make both."

"Seriously? Not even a hint, Django?"

"Django?

"The D is silent."

At the end of the month, Derek stopped pulling out his laptop altogether.

/\/\/\

Derek couldn't actually say what he was doing here, at this part of the school. Walking through here between classes actually took up more time than his usual route. But he figured that even with this longer path, he still had plenty of time to make it to his next class. So he convinced himself that taking the long way would ultimately be good for him because it meant more walking which lent itself to a better, healthier lifestyle. And with this in mind, Derek found himself ambling by the science building on his way to his next class, which just so happened to be on the other side of the campus.

"Mr. Hale?"

Oh yeah. Stiles had mentioned something about being a science major. He also mentioned something about having a chemistry class at this time. What a coincidence.

"Hey, Mr. Hale," Stiles grinned, jogging up to Derek. "Whatcha doing here?"

"I go here."

The boy laughed. "I meant, I've never seen you pass through this way before."

"I found out this way is faster."

Stiles just nodded, oblivious to Derek's blatant lie. "So what do you have right now?"

"Mythology."

"Cool! I have Lit. That's in the same building."

Derek hadn't thought of that. No, really. He hadn't… except that he had.

"So did you finish those cookies from earlier?"

"No," Derek said, pulling out the bag from his satchel, about to munch on one now that he had mentioned it.

"Sweet!" Stiles smiled, grabbing the bag and scoring one for himself. "I didn't get to eat yet and I'm starving."

Derek frowned. "That's mine."

The boy laughed again. "Don't worry, Dimitri. I'll bake you something really good tomorrow."

He cocked an eyebrow at that. "Lemon?"

"You know it," he nodded in affirmation.

Although his face was a perfectly trained blank expression, Derek was cheering on the inside.

/\/\/\

Everything seemed to be going smoothly for Derek. He was doing well in his classes and he was starting his mornings off right with some good coffee, some good food, and some good company. He popped into the coffee shop, eager to start the day.

"Good morning, sir. What can I get for you today?"

Derek furrowed his eyebrows in confusion at Stiles. "You know what my order is."

"I assure you, sir, I don't."

He frowned. Stiles was smiling as usual, but something seemed a bit off. There didn't seem to be a smile in his eyes. "Are you feeling all right?"

"I'm having a great morning. Now, your order, sir?"

Derek sighed. Fine. "Large extra hot coffee, two pumps of hazelnut syrup, one shot of low-fat milk."

"Would that be all for you?"

"Stiles, you know that's not-" Derek huffed. "What are you doing?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm just trying to take your order, sir."

"What's with the 'sir'?"

"As your barista, it is my job to greet you in a manner such as this," Stiles said robotically. "Would you prefer I call you something else?"

Derek exhaled. Whatever was going on with Stiles, he didn't want to deal with it. "Whatever. The coffee and a pastry."

"Coming right up, sir."

Derek frowned as he watched the boy go to work. Stiles was definitely acting strange. He made his way to his usual spot, waiting for the boy to join him. Once he was done, Stiles set down the coffee and a cheese Danish in front of Derek. But, instead of sitting down with him, Stiles walked away, disappearing into the back. Derek was confused. He pulled his coffee to him. He was even more surprised to see that the foam was just plain foam. There was no cheeky little drawing staring up at him. Derek confirmed it. There was definitely something wrong.

Derek spent that morning alone, the shop feeling quieter than ever despite the random clang scoming from the back. When it was time for him to go, Derek stood at the register, waiting for Stiles to come out. A few short moments later, he emerged, a generic smile on his face.

"Hello, sir. Ready to close out?"

Derek had just about enough of this. "Stiles, what's wrong?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, sir."

"Stiles, come on. What's going on?"

"There's nothing 'going on' sir. I'm just your barista, after all. It's not like we're friends or anything."

Derek scrunched his eyebrows at that. That sounded familiar.

"I mean, I'm just this annoying little chatterbox without any boundaries. I'll talk about whatever whenever I feel like. Why, in fact, I probably get on people's nerves with my incessant rambling."

Derek frowned. 'Shit.'

"So, sir," Stiles said, fake smile slipping off his face. "Are you ready to close out?"

"Stiles-"

He just tapped the register. "Five twenty-five, sir."

"Stiles-"

"Your total is five twenty-five, sir."

Derek was getting pissed off. Stiles wasn't even giving him a chance to explain. 'Fine if he wants to act that way then so be it.' Derek pulled out his wallet and handed him a ten.

The smile came back to Stiles' face. "Thank you, sir," he said, popping open the register and giving Derek his change. "Have a nice day."

Derek just scowled. He hiked the strap of his satchel on his shoulder before storming out the door.

In a word, Derek's mood was surly. He wasn't even paying attention in class. He was glaring at everyone, getting annoyed at people that he bumped into. And all of this over something that wasn't even his fault.

Okay, actually, it was.

Yesterday, he and Stiles had been walking to the English building, as they were wont to do since that first time. Stiles had dropped Derek off at his classroom turning the corner to walk to his. And that's when Erica Reyes popped up, a smile on her face.

Now, Erica and Derek weren't actually friends. They were just classmates. But this apparently gave the girl enough of a reason to sidle up to Derek just outside the classroom with a question in mind.

"Who's your friend?"

Derek had frowned at her. "What's it to you?"

She shrugged. "He's cute."

Derek glowered at that. He didn't like this girl. And he didn't want her liking Stiles. "He's not my friend. He's just my barista. He's an annoying little chatterbox without any boundaries. He'll talk about whatever whenever he feels like. He'll probably just get on your nerves with his incessant rambling."

Erica just rolled her eyes at him before taking up her usual spot. Derek smirked. It worked. Unfortunately, what he hadn't counted on was Stiles overhearing the whole thing.

'But I didn't mean it!' Derek growled in frustration, running his hands through his hair. 'He didn't even give me a chance to explain!'

Later that day, while Derek waited for Stiles to come out of the science building so they could walk together, he was disheartened when the boy brushed right by him, not even acknowledging his existence. Derek walked to class alone.

'You know what? Fine. I didn't need him before. I don't need him now. If that's how he wants to act, then fine. Maybe now I can get back to studying in the mornings like I used to.'

So the next day, when Stiles was giving him that fake smile, Derek decided to ignore him too. He gave the boy his coffee order and sat down, pulling out his laptop. He didn't even look up when Stiles dropped off the coffee. He did, however, frown at the lack of pastry. But fine. If that's how it was going to be, then no pastries either.

This carried on through the rest of the week. And as much as Derek liked to deny it, he was actually starting to miss Stiles' company. His mornings were lonely. Stiles had even started ringing him up after he placed his order. After the boy dropped it off, Derek would study quietly and slink away when it was time to go, not even getting a second glance at the usually perky kid. After a weekend of failed studying attempts and pure moping, Derek was reaching his breaking point.

On Monday, Stiles was probably being even more stubborn than ever. He didn't even look Derek in the eye. As soon as Derek walked in the door, Stiles just started making the coffee, handing it to him when it was done. Then he just stood there waiting, not even saying anything until Derek figured out he was waiting for his money. Derek handed it over and without even a gritted 'sir,' Stiles handed him his change and made himself busy in the back room.

Derek looked down at the coffee in his hand, staring at the plain foam swirling at the top. He sipped it. And of course, it was still as perfect as ever. Derek sighed, a dull ache in his chest. He put the cup down and walked away.

/\/\/\

Derek was determined. He had a goal in mind and when this happened, he was dead set on reaching it. He was going to make Stiles listen and therefore was going to get the boy back in his favor. A plan had formulated in his mind during his morning class, and he was going to see it through. Which was why he was currently standing outside the science building, waiting for Stiles to come out.

Seeing the familiar shorn head in the crowd, Derek quickly made his way over, picking him up and hiking him over his shoulder like a caveman.

"Ack! What the hell?! What are you doing?!" Stiles screamed, trying to break free from Derek's hold.

Granted, it wasn't exactly a great plan, but Derek was going to see this through. He needed to clear things up and if Stiles wasn't going to listen willingly, well Derek had reached a point where he was going to make him listen. He held down the struggling boy, lugging him to the English building, not caring about the odd glances thrown his way.

"Dammit, put me down! Seriously people? You're just going to stare while this thug is kidnapping me? Like, seriously, this isn't right!"

Derek took Stiles into his classroom, finally setting the boy down in front of Erica.

"What the hell is your problem you psychopath?! I'm outta here!" But before Stiles could take off, Derek snatched his wrist, holding it firmly so the boy couldn't get away. "Let go of me!" he growled, trying to pull his wrist out of Derek's steady grasp.

Derek held strong, turning to face his classmate. "This is Stiles. Yes, he's my barista. Yes, he talks incessantly and yes, he can get annoying sometimes. But yes, he is my friend and I miss his stupid chattering and I miss his stupid foam drawings and I miss his stupid face. So there." He ended, flinging the wrist out of his grasp. "Have a happy life together." Derek huffed, staring down at the wide-eyed girl.

Just then, Derek spotted movement from the corner of his eye. Another boy was making his way over to them. He draped an arm over Erica, staring levelly at Derek. "And who is she supposed to have a happy life with exactly?"

Derek recognized the dark-skinned boy as Boyd. He looked between the two of them, Erica trying to stifle a giggle.

A sudden burst of laughter came from behind him. Derek frowned at the ceiling, exhaling deeply before turning around. Stiles was bent over, draped over one of the desks, laughing his ass off. He looked back to the couple in front of him.

Erica shrugged, an amused smile on her lips as she moved to hold her boyfriend's hand hanging off her shoulder. "I just said he was cute."

Without a word, Derek composed himself, fixing the strap of his satchel before promptly leaving the room. He could still hear Stiles' laughter as he left the building.

/\/\/\

Derek didn't want to get out of bed today. Quite frankly, after his display, he didn't want to get out of bed ever again. But then he manned up, realizing he didn't have time to be embarrassed and got himself ready for the day.

He entered the coffee shop - having resisted the urge to never return - to see Stiles smiling at him. Like genuinely smiling.

"Good morning, Mr. Hale," Stiles greeted. "What can I get for you today, my friend?"

Derek closed his eyes, hating himself for coming up with such a stupid plan. Who does that? Really? He didn't even bother answering Stiles. He just walked over to his table, whipping out his laptop and dying of shame whilst he hid behind the screen.

In minutes, Stiles just placed the coffee in front of him, a warm blueberry muffin with it before disappearing in the back. Derek reached for his coffee. He sighed, letting out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. Despite himself, a smile graced his lips. He stared at the foam in his cup, a picture of a little wolf staring back at him.

Chapter Text

Laura Hale was disgruntled. And that meant Derek had to listen to his sister's grumbling into the wee morning hours. He had tried in vain to hang up the phone, but Laura was the one person he couldn't do that to. She and their uncle were all he had and despite almost falling asleep on her, he had forced himself awake for his sister's sake.

Laura was the co-chair of the Hale Group, a family business she ran with their Uncle Peter, and there was just thing after thing that she was stressing over and a list of other things that Derek didn't really understand why he had to listen to considering how terrible he was at this company stuff. But he let her rant, being a good supportive brother and knowing that Laura just really needed to vent before she exploded on some poor assistant or secretary just trying to do their job.

She also nagged him about coming back to Beacon Hills to meet her fiancé. But by this time, Derek was already snoring.

So it was without much surprise that Derek found himself waking up at 7 in the morning, his cell still clutched in his hand, though the call had long since ended. Derek's head snapped back at his phone, staring at the clock.

'Shit!'

Derek leapt out of bed, running to his closet for a clean set of clothes. He slipped on his sneakers, not bothering to tie them, grabbed his satchel and ran out the door hoping he would make it to class on time.

He did. Just barely.

Unfortunately, he found it might've been better to just skip this class. He was groggy and he was pretty sure he looked like a damn mess. His notes would likely need translating later on and worst of all, he didn't get his caffeine fix. His stop to the coffee shop was the thing that set his day off right. He considered whether or not to stop by between classes so he could at least continue the day on a better note.

'Plus, I miss Stil…es' baking! I miss his baking!' Derek shook his head, convincing himself that his thoughts were lagging due to caffeine withdrawal. That's no good. It was decided then. He was going to the coffee shop after class to get some Stiles… Erm. Some of Stiles' baking.

When Derek entered the shop, he was actually quite surprised to see how busy it was. There were students everywhere, occupying nearly every seat in the house. He was used the quiet mornings, not the hustle and bustle he was seeing now.

"Ah! Mr. Hale!" Derek's eyes raked over the crowd, finding Stiles in an instant. The boy was smiling eagerly at him waving him over to the counter. "I missed you this morning, Darren," he smirked.

Derek fought the urge to blush. "I-um. I woke up late." What he wanted to say was 'I missed you, too.'

"I'll make your coffee. Isaac here can ring you up," he nodded to the other boy behind the counter, currently helping another customer.

"I'm gonna have to take it to go, Stiles. I got class in about fifteen minutes."

He saw the boy's head bob up and down in acknowledgement, his back turned to him as he worked the machine. Derek recognized the other barista behind the register as Isaac Lahey. They had had a class together the previous semester. He waited for the curly-haired blonde to finish up.

"Hey just the coffee, then?" Isaac nodded a greeting.

"Um," Derek glanced over to the display case. It was void of tasty treats.

"Oh yeah," Isaac frowned following Derek's line of sight. "Sorry, man. We usually run out of stuff by this time."

"It's fine," Derek said, ignoring the disappointment in his voice.

Isaac gave him an understanding half-smile before ringing up the coffee.

Stiles finally turned around, handing the paper cup to Derek. He kept the lid off, looking down at it. "Eh? What do you think? I'm getting good, aren't I?"

Derek looked at it. He frowned. "What is that thing?"

Stiles gaped. "What- what is that thing?"

Isaac peered into the cup. "Dude, that's a Pikachu. You don't know what Pikachu is?"

Derek just shrugged before taking a swig, thus decimating the creature's head.

Stiles gaped again. "My masterpiece…" He cried dramatically, hands outstretched.

Derek just rolled his eyes, taking another swig.

"Hey Stiles. Who's your friend?"

Derek glanced at the redheaded girl who had slipped behind the counter as if she owned the place, wrapping an arm around Stiles' waist. He felt the frown forming on his face.

"Ah," Stiles smiled, draping an arm over the girl's shoulders. "This is my friend, Mr. Hale. He likes to keep me company in the mornings."

Derek scoffed. "I come for the coffee."

"Details," Stiles said with a wave. "Mr. Hale, this is Lydia."

"Nice to meet you," the petite girl smiled, holding out her hand. Derek shook it cordially, eyeing the girl carefully. She turned back to Stiles. "Is Jackson's order ready? He's getting pissy. You know him."

Stiles chuckled. "Yeah I got." He looked to Derek. "Just hang on a sec, okay?"

Derek nodded as he watched the pair meander through the shop to a table full of people. Then he watched as another person wrapped his arm around Stiles' waist, this time a boy with messy dark hair. Derek practically growled.

"Dude, are you okay?"

He snapped his eyes from the sight over to Isaac behind the register. "Uh, yeah. I…" he looked at the cup in his hands. "It's hot."

"Here," Isaac said, holding open a coffee sleeve so Derek could slip it on the cup.

"Thanks," he nodded, grateful that this guy didn't seem to question him. He turned his attention back to the table. Stiles had stepped closer to the messy-haired kid and had placed a hand on the boy's shoulder.

"That's Scott."

Derek turned back around, seeing that Isaac had followed his line of sight again. "What?"

"Scott McCall. Him and Stiles are inseparable. Have been for a long time now."

Derek frowned at this, feeling a thump in his chest. He looked back at them, eyes narrowing on the hand on Stiles' hip.

Suddenly, a loud spitting noise came from the table as a boy with short blonde hair abruptly stood.

"Ew, Jackson!" came Lydia's disgusted squeal and she moved away from the boy.

"Dammit Stiles! You're dead!"

Stiles was laughing, but he managed to ask, "What are you talking about, man?"

"You! You put salt in my coffee instead of sugar!" He made a grab for the boy across the table, but Stiles ran away. "Get back here, Stilinski!"

"That's what you get for switching out my shampoo with glue!" the boy yelled over his shoulder, running back to where Derek was. He ducked behind the older man, using him as a shield.

Derek thought he lost all brain function in feeling Stiles' hands slipping around him, one resting on his shoulder, the other just on his hip as he hid from the angry blonde. The boy - Jackson, he presumed - stormed up, huffing his annoyance. "Stiles, this isn't over!" He blinked, finally realizing that his friend was hiding behind an actual person. "Who's this?"

From the corner of his eye, Derek could see Stiles' head pop up from behind his shoulder. "This is Diego and he's gonna Go, Diego, Go in to town on your face if you get any closer!"

Derek was confused. 'The hell is a Go, Diego, Go?' He was just about to ask when Isaac suddenly burst into laughter.

"Stiles, you're stupid," he cracked between laughs. "Get back to work."

Jackson stepped forward, pointing threateningly at Stiles over Derek's shoulder. "You better watch your back, Stilinski."

"Aw Jackson, I know deep down inside you really love me," he grinned. He grabbed the blonde's finger and kissed the tip.

Jackson snatched his hand back with an annoyed look on his face, wiping his finger on his shirt, but otherwise didn't deny the statement. "Whatever, Stilinski." He looked crossly at the boy behind Derek and walked back to the table of his friends.

Derek seemed to be frozen to the spot, trying to digest everything. He heard Stiles chuckle right by his ear before he felt the hand on his shoulder slide across his back as Stiles moved to face him again. He felt his insides getting warm, but he figured it was probably just the coffee finally settling in his stomach.

"Oh! That's right!" Stiles spasmed, jumping behind the counter and disappearing into the back.

Derek looked over to Isaac who was still wearing an amused smirk. "Is it normally like this?"

The lanky boy nodded lazily. "Every. Day."

Derek shook his head just as Stiles popped back out with a small paper bag in his hands. "Here you go!" He smiled, holding out the bag to Derek. He furrowed his brows, looking at the bag as if something was supposed to happen. Stiles just shook it, urging Derek to take it from him. "I made some mini cheesecakes this morning. I saved you a box. I was gonna give it to you when I see you later, but since you're here…" He shrugged, shaking the bag again.

Derek wanted to snatch the bag right out of the boy's hand and just inhale down the tasty treats. Instead, he just looked at the bag with shifty eyes. He feinted indifference. "What kind are they?" he asked with a shrug.

"Half of them are plain, topped with raspberries. The other half are lemon," he smirked, "topped with blueberries."

Derek clenched his jaw to refrain from reacting. Stiles definitely knew Derek's tastes. But, keen on keeping up appearances, Derek forced a groan as he rolled his eyes. "Fine. If you insist." He reached out to take the bag.

Unfortunately, Stiles dropped his outstretched arms back down to his sides, a frown on his face. "Well if you don't want 'em, I'm sure I can just put them ba-"

Derek growled, snatching the bag from the boy. "Yes, of course I want them." He huffed, but was secretly excited to have the treats in his hand.

Stiles just chuckled again. "You should get going before you're late. And don't worry about paying for those. I can just charge you for it tomorrow morning. I'll see you later, yeah?" Derek nodded, taking another sip of his coffee. "Bye, Mr. Hale," he waved, smiling cheerfully.

Derek looked at Isaac, who apparently had watched that entire transaction with apt amusement. He looked like he was holding back a grin. Derek just broke eye contact, affixing his gaze to the exit.

"Bye, Mr. Hale," came the teasing voice of the taller barista. "Come again!"

Derek looked back to scowl at the boy. That wiped the mischievous smile off his face. Derek snorted. 'I still got it.' He smirked, leaving the shop feeling pretty good about himself.

As Derek munched peacefully on his little cakes during class, he thought back on what he saw in the coffee shop. 'First that girl put her arm around him. Then, some guy put his arm around him. And then, he kissed the finger of that other guy. I wonder what's his relationship with them. Lahey said that Stiles and that McCall guy were close… but how close?' Derek tried to pay attention in class, he really did. But his mind kept replaying the images of Stiles with his friends. Were they just friends? Was any one of them more than just a friend to Stiles? And most importantly, why did Stiles save him only three of each tiny cake?

Derek frowned at the empty box. He wasn't going to find any answers there.

Later, Derek was still wondering about a few things as he waited for Stiles to get out of class. Seeing the younger boy hop down the steps of the science building, Derek made his way over.

"Hey, Mr. Hale," Stiles smiled. "You're looking a little sour. Did you finish those cakes already?" He teased.

Derek just ignored the question, his mind focused elsewhere. "So… this morning… those were your friends?"

Stiles was unaffected by the blatant disregard for his question. "Mm-hm. We're a motley bunch, but we get along."

"That redhead-"

"Ah-ah," Stiles said, waving his finger. "She's a strawberry blonde."

Derek pursed his lips. "You…you two seem… close."

Stiles shrugged. "Yeah, well we've known each other for a long time. Actually, I knew her and she pretty much didn't know I existed for the better part of our school life," he laughed. "Man, I had the biggest crush on her-"

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "Had?"

"Yeah. Like from the third grade, on," he said, stretching his arms out as if to demonstrate the length of time he spent crushing on the girl. "But once she actually started noticing me, I crossed into the 'friendship zone', which is like doom for any guy trying to make a move on a girl. But I'm okay with it now. Plus, she's totally in love with Jackson."

"…With Jackson…" Derek repeated slowly.

"Mm-hm."

"That's the guy whose coffee you messed with."

At this, Stiles laughed again. "Oh man, that was great, wasn't it? He totally had it coming."

"So you guys are… friends?"

Stiles nodded. "In high school, he was a complete dirt bag. Like, I mean, total asshole. Used to pick on me and Scott all the time," the corners of Derek's lips turned downward at the mention of the other boy. "But now we're okay. I mean it helped that Lydia and I became friends. But every once in a while we still prank each other. Like the other day, he decided to take a couple of my shirts and cut little holes in them right over where my nipples are and so I decided to cut out the crotch to some of his boxers. Ya know. Tit for tat." He smiled proudly.

"Real mature," Derek commented, pushing aside the mental image of Stiles' nipples.

"I regret nothing."

Derek stifled a little smirk. "So, um-" he cleared his throat, "what about this… Scott?" He glanced over to Stiles from the corner of his eye.

"Hm? What about him?"

"You guys… close?"

"Yeah, the guy's like my brother." At this, Derek felt the tension in his shoulders lessen. "We've been best friends since we were kids. He's a bit of a space-case, but I love the guy. What can you do?"

Derek just nodded. "So… none of them…"

"None of them what?"

"I mean, you and them…"

"Hm? Oh. Oh! No, no, no!" Stiles laughed, shaking his head with vigor. "I am a free bird. And this bird," he jutted his thumb at himself. "This bird, you cannot change."

Derek scoffed, recognizing the Lynyrd Skynyrd song.

"What about you? Got yourself a girlfriend?"

"No."

"Wife?"

"No."

"…Husband?"

Derek just gave him a look. "I'm single, okay?"

He chuckled. "Well, you never know these days. I know when I first met Danny, I didn't think he swung that way. I just thought he smelled nice."

Derek snapped his head to look at Stiles. "Danny? Who's Danny?"

"Uh, I don't know if you saw him, but he was in the shop sitting next to Jackson."

Derek tried to remember, but he hadn't really been focusing on the other people at the table, now had he?

"Danny's a cool guy. Real athletic. And he's got these dimples- Ugh! That guy."

"You… like him?"

"Who doesn't like Danny?" Stiles smiled as if this was an acceptable answer. Which it wasn't. Not by Derek's standards. "Oh! By the way, what's your number?"

Derek blinked at the sudden change in topic. "What?"

"Here," the kid said, hand out to Derek, "let me see your phone."

"Um," Derek reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell. Before he could even get it firmly in his palm, Stiles snatched it.

With expert fingers, Stiles maneuvered through the phone as if it were his own. He was typing away, then paused, holding the phone backwards in an outstretched hand, typed some more, then tossed the phone back to Derek. "There," he smiled. "Now you have my number." He pulled out his phone, showing Derek the new text alert. "And now I have yours, too."

Derek looked back at his phone. "What are you gonna do with it?"

Stiles snorted. "Seriously? What do you think? I'm gonna sign you up for all sorts of phone surveys and political questionnaires. It'll be great." At the glare he was getting, Stiles chuckled. "Come on. I'm gonna call you and text you, duh."

"About what?"

"About whatever. That's what friends do, you know."

To be fair, Derek never really had that many friends.

They soon arrived at Derek's classroom.

"See ya, Dudley," Stiles waved. "I'll text you."

Derek just nodded a goodbye, but frowned as he watched the boy turn the corner. 'He's gonna text me? When?' He took his usual spot in the back of the room and glanced at the phone in his hands as if it would give him the answers. He tapped it, opening up the phone book, scrolling down the short list to the newly added entry. He scoffed. It was labeled "The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D". He tapped it. As he suspected, Stiles did take a picture of himself whilst they were walking to class. He felt a smile creep up as he stared at the picture of the beaming boy.

"I told you he was cute."

Derek immediately sat up, burying his phone under his arm. He glared at Erica. She just smirked knowingly as she took her usual seat. Frowning, Derek cleared the screen and shoved his phone back in his pocket, getting ready for class.

About twenty minutes in to class, he felt a little buzz against his leg. Derek froze, startled by its suddenness. He pulled out his phone, looking at a new text alert from The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D. He opened it.

im soooo bored T_T

Derek looked up to make sure his teacher was still distracted by the lesson. 'What do I say back? Maybe I'll send him a joke. That way, he won't be bored.' Derek racked his brain for a joke. He came up miserably short. 'Okay, forget that.' He frowned. Finally settling on something, he typed back.

Shouldn't you be paying attention?

A few seconds later. should be. and i would be if i actually cared about tintern abbey. damn you wordsworth!1!

Derek scoffed, but wondered what to say to that. 'I'll sympathize. I'll tell him I don't like Tintern Abbey either.' He frowned, remembering the poem he had read two years ago. 'No that's a lie. I actually liked it.' Derek had felt that he related to some of the themes in the poem. He actually ended up writing an essay about it in that class. He settled on something else.

It's a good poem.

Then, omg then u sit here and listen to this nonsense i dont get it.

Derek sighed, thinking about the paper he wrote. It's about the sublime.

sublime is a band from the 90s.

Derek blinked. This kid's mind was just everywhere. 'How do I even respond to that?' He couldn't think of anything. But time had been ticking. Was Stiles waiting for a response? He didn't want to keep him waiting. He thought of something.

Focus, Stiles.

Derek instantly began to worry if that was the wrong thing to say. Obviously the kid was bored and so was texting Derek to quell said boredom. Stiles was looking to Derek to keep him entertained and all he could do was send him back into boredom? What kind of friend does that? Derek furrowed his brow, wishing he could take the text back and think of something better. He was so caught up in his head that he jumped a little at the buzz in his hand.

ok ok crankypants. ill be good. ill see u after class.

Derek exhaled, feeling himself relax. He looked up, a smile on his face only to drop it once he realized that everyone was looking at him. He looked at his professor.

"Mr. Hale, if you're done playing on your phone, maybe you'd like to tell us about Norse Gods and the importance of the hammer."

Derek shoved his phone back in his pocket, trying to come up with something to say from the bit of studying he did the night before. "Um. The hammer. Right. It's a symbol. Obviously. A response to Christianity and the cross?"

This seemed to satiate the teacher. He found himself at the wrong end of a stern look. "Focus, Mr. Hale."

Derek had to snicker at the irony of it. He picked up his pen and prepared to take notes. 'This texting thing is tough. Seeing Stiles is a lot easier than texting him.' He looked around, making sure everyone was paying attention to the teacher. Derek slipped his phone out again, tapping it until the picture of Stiles was looking back at him. Derek smiled.

"Mr. Hale!"

Derek shoved his phone in his satchel, promising not to take it out in class again.

Chapter Text

Sunday. Sundays were the perfect days to sleep in, lounge, and overall just relax. Sundays were good days to forget the world and do something just for you. So then what was Derek doing at six in the morning hiding behind a cabbage stall?

The answer to that could be found on Wednesday, just a few days ago. Derek was enjoying his coffee and a cinnamon roll, complete with a drizzle of frosting, when Stiles collapsed into the chair in front of him. He interlocked his fingers, stretching his arms above him as Derek pointedly did not stare at the flash of skin he could see from the side of the boy's apron… much anyway.

"Man, I can't wait 'til Sunday."

"What happens Sunday?"

"What happens Sunday? I'll tell you what happens Sunday. Sunday is when I get some delicious cherries so I can finally try out this cherry-almond teacake recipe I have. They get a little harder to come by this late in the season, but the vendor assured me that he'll have some this time."

"Vendor?"

"Yeah, at the farmer's market. I go every Sunday to grab some fresh stuff for the apartment. Lately though, my boss has been giving me money to buy stuff for the shop for when I bake. Pretty sweet deal, eh?"

Derek simply nodded, taking a swig of coffee. He made a little mental note, before listening to Stiles go on about some obscure topic he knew nothing about.

Which led Derek to today: Sunday. He figured he could drop by the farmer's market, casually walk by the boy when he saw him, and then they could spend the morning together perusing the produce. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But when Derek got there, he began to have second thoughts.

'What if he thinks I'm stalking him?' Derek frowned. He didn't want Stiles to think that at all, but Derek could see how it might look that way. He began to think that this was a terrible idea. He should've just stayed home, like he did every weekend, and studied like the good student he's supposed to be.

And then he saw him. Stiles was just a few booths down, wearing a red hoodie and pulling a little cart behind him. It looked like he had just arrived since the cart was empty.

'Shit…' Derek felt his heart jump to his throat. He ducked behind a cabbage stall, peering around the side of it to catch a glimpse of the other boy. He was getting closer. 'Damn… I gotta go before he sees me.' He paused, mulling over things a bit more. 'Well… so what if he sees me? I'm just here to buy some food. I like food. It'll be fine,' Derek persuaded himself, building his courage. He stepped out from behind the stall, moving forward towards the younger boy. He felt bold. He felt confident. He felt… like a creepy stalker perv that followed this guy everywhere. Derek instantly turned back around trying to get a clean getaway.

"Mr. Hale?"

Derek inwardly winced. "Shit," he mumbled under his breath. He had been caught. Slowly, he turned around.

"Ah! I thought that was you!" Stiles beamed, walking over to Derek. "Getting some shopping done?"

Derek just nodded. He glanced at the cabbage, grabbing one firmly in his hands. "I like cabbage." Derek instantly berated himself for his stupidity. 'I like cabbage? Seriously?'

Stiles' brows arched up, amused. "Cabbage, huh?"

Derek closed his eyes and shook his head. "I don't know why I said that. I mean, cabbage is fine. I like it fine. I mean, I like it the same amount as a normal person does." He shut his mouth, afraid of the verbal vomit he would spew should he leave it open any longer.

Stiles just smiled. He examined the display before picking up a head for himself. "I gotta get some vegetables for the apartment, too. I have to find ways to hide them in dishes, otherwise Scott won't eat it."

Derek furrowed his brows. "Scott? Your friend?"

"Yeah. I have to cook for us or else he'd live off of hot pockets and instant noodles."

This gave Derek a reminder to refill his stock of hot pockets and instant noodles on his way back to his apartment. Not everyone has a Stiles to cook for them. He saw Stiles hand some money to the vendor. Derek looked at the cabbage in his hands. 'I guess I should pay for this too. My hands were all over it…' He pulled out his wallet, handing the vendor a couple of ones before slipping the greens into a small plastic bag. He suddenly wished he brought a bigger bag with him, or something.

"Here," Stiles said, hand held out for the cabbage. "You can put your stuff here for now."

"Uh, thanks."

The pair moseyed on down from stall to stall, Stiles picking up a few things along the way. Stiles idly chatted like he normally did while Derek just listened. He briefly wondered why he had been so nervous in the beginning. Stiles seemed perfectly content having Derek tag along. They passed by some baked goods, the smells drawing them to it. Stiles happily munched on some hot and toasty croissants while Derek picked at a palmier.

"Mmm," Stiles sighed blissfully. "These are so good."

Derek reached into the bag in Stiles' hand and tore off a piece for himself. He popped it in his mouth, assessing the fluffy bread. "Hm." He shrugged. 'It's not as good as yours,' he thought to himself.

"Oh, um, thanks."

Or at least he thought he had thought the thought.

Derek felt the brush creep up and demanded it go away. He dared a glance at Stiles who was smiling contently, bringing another piece up to his lips. Derek shoved another piece of his palmier into his mouth, hoping that would keep him from saying any more embarrassing things.

They continued along amiably. Stiles grabbed his much anticipated cherries, thanking the vendor profusely. Derek helped him with a box of apples and another of blackberries. Once the cart was getting a little heavier, Derek just took the handle, not bothering to say anything about. He didn't miss the quick look of surprise, followed by a grateful smile on Stiles' face. He hid a small smile of his own. Later, Derek tried to contain his excitement when he saw Stiles pick up a bushel of lemons and add it to the cart.

"These things seem to go fast at the bakery," the boy commented, eyes shifting accusingly at Derek.

The older boy just shrugged. "You don't have to make lemon treats." And there goes the word vomit again. Derek regretted it before he even finished the sentence.

"Oh, is that right?" Stiles smirked, rubbing his chin as if considering the notion. "I don't think that would sit right with one of the regular customers. He seems to like lemon. Maybe almost as much as he likes cabbage."

Derek closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. Coming here really might have been and awful idea.

Stiles just laughed again. "Come on, Sourface. Cheer up. I wouldn't dream of taking away your precious lemons." Derek just hid another little smile.

They stopped at a few more stalls. Stiles picked up some more fruit, bagged up some various vegetables, and chatted the entire way. Much too soon it was time for them to part ways. Stiles' cart was packed as Derek held on to his cabbage, half-eaten palmier, and a bag of red seedless grapes he had purchased and begun to munch on. He briefly wondered if he should have bought some more stuff to make him look like less of a creeper, but he was okay with not having done so. He was actually having a hard time wondering what he was going to do with the cabbage alone, so having a bunch of other fresh produce would completely throw him. Most of his food came from a freezer or from whatever delivery menu he grabbed from the stack by his phone. Cooking was definitely not his thing.

"You sure you don't need help with that stuff?" Derek asked, nodding to the full cart, popping a grape into his mouth.

"Nah, I'll be fine. I don't live too far from here and I can convince Scott to help me bring these to the shop later."

Derek picked off another grape, holding it halfway to his mouth. "So, I guess I'll see you tomorrow?"

Then, like it was the most natural thing to do in the world, Stiles bent forward, grabbing the grape by his teeth and eating it. "You betcha," he winked. "See ya, Dwayne," Stiles smiled, waving before he turned to head home, full cart in tow.

Derek, however, was glued to the spot. He didn't even think he was breathing at this point. He was just left staring between the retreating figure in the red hoodie and his fingers. Fingers that nearly brushed against that boy's lips. He didn't know how long he stood there, even after Stiles disappeared around a corner. Then, a small smile tugged at his lips. Slowly, it grew to full-blown grin. Coming to the market today had been his best idea ever.

/\/\/\

Derek frowned. This couldn't be right.

Fourteen. Four. Teen.

He stared at the scale in his bathroom. He didn't even know why he had one. It was probably just one of those things his sister was convinced he needed and so threw one into the cart of stuff to buy for college. But when Derek slipped into a pair of jeans this morning, he was surprised to see that they were getting a little snug. He finally pulled that scale out and weighed himself.

He had gained fourteen pounds. Fourteen.

Derek groaned, sliding a hand down his face. He didn't understand it. He still worked out every morning before getting ready for school. He sighed. 'It's all those pastries I've been eating. Maybe I should cut back…'

He thought about that. He loved Stiles' baking. It was part of his routine now to get a pastry with his coffee in the morning. He wasn't willing to alter that. Derek devised a new plan. This was going to mess with his schedule, but it was necessary if he wanted to stay relatively in shape.

Derek continued his day like normal. It wasn't until later in the evening, after he finished all his schoolwork that he implemented the new part in his routine. Derek slipped into a pullover sweater and some shorts. He laced up his sneakers, leaving his apartment. Then, he began to jog.

It was seven at night. He liked the cool air and the hazy sky, the sun having just set behind the hills. He jogged over to the school, knowing there he wouldn't have to worry about getting run over if he just circled the campus. Derek felt good. He felt the sweat begin to gloss his skin. He continued running through the night until the only things lighting the sky were the moon and the stars. After about an hour and a half of running, Derek slowed down, wiping his forehead on his sleeve. He shook out his joints, stretching his legs, giving his body a cool down after the work out.

"Mr. Hale?"

Derek straightened up, turning at the sound of the familiar voice.

"Stiles?"

The boy grinned. "Yeah! Hey!" He hiked his backpack on his shoulder before jogging over to his friend.

Derek was honestly stunned. He hadn't planned on this. No, seriously. This time he hadn't. "What are you doing here?"

"I go here," Stiles teased, using Derek's own line against him. "I just got out of class."

Derek looked at his watch. It was 8:30. "You're taking night classes?"

"Well, duh. I work in the mornings."

Derek blinked. "When do you sleep?"

Stiles laughed. "I sleep. I'm good off 5 hours. I'm usually too hyped up to sleep much longer than that. So what about you? What are you doing here?"

"Jogging."

"Ah," the boy smirked. "Getting a little pudgy around the edges, eh?" He teased, patting Derek's stomach.

Derek fought the urge to lean in to the touch, and just settled for blushing. Luckily, it was dark out so he didn't have to worry about Stiles seeing. He straightened up, pulling on a poker face. "Well, who do I have to blame for that?" He asked, giving Stiles an accusatory look.

"Don't blame me, Dashiki. I'm not forcing you to eat all those treats."

"Dashiki? That's not even a name. That's an article of clothing."

Stiles merely shrugged. "Well, I'm running out of options."

Derek just shook his head despite his amusement. "So-um…" he gulped, drawing invisible patterns into the sidewalk with the toe of his shoe. "Do you… do you want me to walk you home?" He peeked up.

Stiles was smiling. "Sure. I could use the company."

Derek let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. He relaxed. "So, what class did you just have?"

"Sociology."

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "I didn't realize science majors needed sociology."

"Well, typically they don't. But ultimately, I want to get into forensics and solve murders and stuff. Sociology will help me pick people's brains."

"Huh." Derek grunted.

"What?"

"That's kind of what I'm studying."

"What? War tactics?"

Derek just looked sideways at the younger boy. "No. Criminology."

Stiles chuckled in surprise. "No way! So you're like studying history and mythology for what? Wait, wait, I can guess it. History for war tactics, duh. And mythology for…" he tapped his chin, face contorted in concentration. "For what?"

"You can tell a lot about a person's motivations if you know their beliefs."

"Ah! That's perfect!" He grinned up at Derek, a little hop in his step. "You know what would totally be awesome? If we had, like, an agency together. You can be the super cool detective guy and I'll be the even cooler lab guy."

Derek scoffed. "And why exactly would you be cooler if you're the one in the lab while I'm the one on the streets, kicking ass?"

"Because, Donatello, because. Despite all your physical prowess, you wouldn't get anywhere without me and my superior brain," he tapped his temple, emphasizing his point. "You'll be like 'Stiles! I need your help!' every single case." Derek just rolled his eyes. "But that's okay! Cause that means whenever some bad guy wants revenge on me and my greatness, you'll be like my own personal bodyguard." He turned a winning smile on to Derek. "I can picture it now. We'll get our own TV show: Mr. Hale and Stilinator!" He swept his hand across the night sky as if their names were in lights. "We'll win over the world, you with your dark, broody, mysterious thing going on and me with my wit, charm, and pure sex appeal." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Derek simply shook his head, unable to stop the smile form on his lips. 'This kid…'

"Oh, and you'll do the thing. With the sunglasses. And make ridiculous puns like 'Looks like this party was… to die for.' And we'll have an awesome theme song and have dolls made in our likeness and we'll get movie deals and sick cars and everything." Stiles finally took a second to breathe. He smiled, warmly at Derek. "Yeah. That'll be us."

Derek looked at Stiles, taking in the kid's exuberance. Slowly, he nodded. "Yeah. That'll be us," he repeated.

Stiles' smile grew. He threw an arm around the older boy's shoulders. "You and me, kid. We're going places."

Derek liked the sound of that.

Soon they arrived at Stiles' apartment building.

"Well thank you for walking me home, kind sir," Stiles said in a poor excuse of a southern belle accent. He batted his eyelashes, miming twirling a parasol. "I do appreciate it. A true gentleman is so hard to find these days."

Derek scoffed. "You're ridiculous, you know that right?"

"I find that's what people love most about me," he grinned, smugly.

"Ah! Yes! Stiles! Feed me!"

Derek saw a blur of motion before Stiles was bombarded by another person. Derek was just about to rip the stranger off of him, but then recognized the messy mop of hair.

"I was just about to go out to get some Mushu pork!" Scott whined, pulling back a bit from the bro-hug.

"Gross man. You know that stuff is all grease."

"Well, I'm hungry."

Stiles sighed. "You're hopeless." He returned his attention back to Derek. "Mr. Hale, this is Scott."

"Hm?" Scott made a confused face before turning to see Derek standing right there. "Oh! Dude, you scared me!" He chuckled, patting his chest. "How's it going?" He asked, holding out a hand.

Derek just looked at the hand before trailing his eyes back up the boy lazily.

Stiles snorted. "Be nice to my roommate."

Derek's furrowed his brow. "Roommate? You guys live together?"

"Yeah, dude. That's what 'roommate' implies," Stiles said, amused.

"Stiles is like the best roommate. It's like living back home with my mom."

"Thanks, bud," Stiles smiled, throwing his arm around Scott's shoulders, giving a little squeeze. "Although, I can't say the same about you."

"Oh, ha ha." Scott gave his friend a withering look.

Derek's was having a hard time paying attention. His eyes were focused on the hand on Scott's shoulder.

"Do you want to come up? I'll make us some dinner," Stiles offered.

He tore his eyes away from the hand. He trained his face into a blank expression. "No thanks. I already ate," he lied. He wanted to try Stiles' cooking, very much so. But he definitely didn't want to share it. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he understood that he was being childish. But quite frankly, he didn't care.

"You sure?" he asked again.

Derek just nodded. "Yeah, I'm good."

They were all distracted by the sound of a growling stomach. Scott grinned sheepishly. "I guess I'm hungrier than I thought."

Derek glowered at the boy.

"All right," Stiles said, dropping his arm back to his side. "I should get cooking then."

"Night, Mr. Hale. It was good to finally meet you." Scott smiled courteously, holding his hand out. "Oh, right. You don't." He dropped his hand back down.

"Night, Derek," Stiles smiled. "See you tomorrow."

For a second, Derek was thrown, hearing Stiles finally get his name right. It warmed his insides against the cooling air of the night. He nodded, his earlier animosity slipping away. "Night." He watched the pair enter their building before heading back home.

Derek had to admit. Seeing Scott with Stiles made him yearn for something. He wondered what it would've been like to have a close friend like that. Maybe they'd be rooming together. Maybe they'd be the ones cooking for each other. But then he thought back to what Stiles had said earlier. "Mr. Hale and the Stilinator." So maybe Derek didn't have that kind of friendship now. But maybe, just maybe, he could have that in the future.

Chapter Text

Derek was currently roaming around a bookstore, trying to locate its psychology section. He needed to pick up a book for one of his classes. Once he found the right shelf, he easily spotted the required reading and tucked it under his arm. As he was walking over to where the registers were, another book caught his eye. Derek picked it up, flipping through the pages.

It was a cookbook. More specifically, it was a dessert cookbook. On every page was a picture of the dish it described; its instructions on the opposite page. Derek looked at a picture of red-velvet cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. 'I wonder if Stiles can make that…' He skimmed through a few more pages, pausing at a picture of coffee-crumb cakes. He wondered if Stiles knew how to make that too.

Derek decided that getting the book wouldn't hurt. He could give it to Stiles and maybe Stiles could try out some of the recipes he found in it. He tucked it under his arm with his psychology book, heading to the registers once more. But then, something else caught his eye. Soon, Derek found himself in the cooking section of the store. He picked up one book, leafed through the pages, liked what he saw, and then added it to his pile. He found another book, thumbed through it, liked what he saw, and then added that one as well. He did this three more times before he felt he sufficiently went through all the relevant cookbooks related to desserts and pastries. He finally went up to the register, not even caring that what should have been a fifteen dollar purchase turned out to be almost seven times that. Actually, it didn't even really occur to him what he had done until he was safely back in his home, after scrounging up something for dinner, and setting the bag of books down at his desk.

Derek blanched. 'What did I just do?' He emptied out the bag, strewing its contents over the tabletop. There, staring up at him was one psychology book and six different cookbooks. Six.

'Oh my God,' Derek reached into his back pocket, pulling out his wallet with the receipt from the bookstore. 'Oh my God.'

He looked at his watch. It was already getting pretty late and Derek didn't think he could make it to the store before closing, even if he took his car. Derek sat down, burying his head in his hands, tugging at his hair.

'It's fine. I can just return them tomorrow. I'll go back after classes and just return them. It'll be fine.' He exhaled, feeling himself relax. He took a few deep breaths before deciding to continue his schoolwork. Derek pulled his psychology book over to him, flipping it open. He grabbed a pen and some sticky notes so that he could make notes in it while reading.

Derek lost himself in his studying for the next hour or so. He had already read well into the recommended reading, so he soon found himself getting distracted. He kept glancing at one of the cookbooks, still sitting messily on his desktop. He tapped his pen against his lip. Giving in, he pulled the book to him, flipping it open.

The next morning, Derek finished up his routine before packing up his school stuff. He shoved his psychology book into his satchel, setting it by the door so he could grab it on his way out. And then, Derek froze.

'Oh no…' he groaned. Derek rushed back to his desk. He remembered now. After finishing with his psychology book, he had picked up one of the cookbooks. And marked it. He flipped it open to one of the tagged pages. There was writing on the margins. In pen. 'Oh my God!' Derek screamed to himself.

He had made comments. He made little notes in the margins asking if Stiles knew how to make this or that. There were even little doodles of caricatured lemons on various pages. His eyes trailed over to the other books on the desk. 'You have got to be kidding me…' All six of them had tags sticking out. Derek dropped the book in his hands, grabbing another one and throwing it open. Surely he couldn't have made notes in all of them. But, sure enough, there were little notes in his handwriting. He dropped it and picked up another. Then another. All six of them were marked up. In pen.

Derek dropped the last book on top of the pile before running a hand through his hair, placing his other hand on his hip. He began to pace. 'Okay. Maybe it's not such a big deal if I give it to him. He'll probably be grateful for them. I'm sure he likes finding new recipes.'

Derek nodded to himself, satisfied with the thought. It was decided. He grabbed a bag, stuffing all six books into it, taking it with him as he headed on over to the coffee shop.

"Good morning, Dustin," Stiles greeted as he walked through the door.

Derek nodded in greeting before setting his stuff down in his regular spot. He put the bag of books on the floor by his feet. Stiles soon joined him, setting the coffee in front of Derek. Today's drawing was of a very intricate leaf. He had to ask Stiles about that one day. Where did the kid learn all this stuff?

"Let me go check on the tarts," Stiles grinned. "I get to work with a blowtorch with these!" He rubbed hands together before eagerly dashing away.

"What person in their right mind gave you permission to use a blowtorch?" Derek called after him, making the boy pause at the door.

"Ah ha! Therein lies a perfectly good question. To which I reply, you only need permission on things people know you're going to do." Stiles tapped his temple. "Think about it."

Derek knew what he meant in an instant. He shook his head solemnly. "Just be careful, okay?"

Stiles smiled. "Yes, dear." He laughed before disappearing behind the door.

Derek scoffed, but smiled to himself. He shifted in his seat, feeling his foot knock against the bag on the floor. And then his doubts about giving them to Stiles returned. 'What if he doesn't need them? He seems to have a huge collection of recipes already in his head. Will he think it's strange that I did this?' Derek frowned, gulping down some more of his coffee. 'This was a dumb idea. I shouldn't have brought them here. I shouldn't have bought them in the first place.' The inner turmoil in his head was driving him crazy as he inwardly growled out his frustrations. But he still managed to look calm when Stiles came back out with a plate of torched apple tarts.

"So, what's in the bag?" Stiles asked, nodding to the bag on the floor.

For a fraction of a second Derek's eyes widened before he caught himself. "It's nothing. Nothing."

"Can I seeeeee?" He grinned, sliding into his chair and bending down to grab the bag.

"Stiles, no." Derek felt himself blushing, snatching the bag up before the boy could get to it. He held it against his chest, determined not to let him see the product of his embarrassing lapse of better judgment.

Stiles relented, sitting back up in his chair with his hands up. "All right, all right. But just so you know, I'm going to be coming up with some pretty ridiculous ideas on what's in the bag and will be asking you periodically through the morning. You can't just bring in a mystery bag and assume I'm not going to try to figure out what's in it. To this day I'm still trying to figure out what was in that briefcase in Pulp Fiction. It keeps me awake at night."

Derek just affixed Stiles with unsympathetic gaze.

The boy pouted.

And still, Derek gazed.

"Guh! Fine!" Stiles said, throwing his arms up in the air. "Let me die of curiosity. You can find someone else to bake rainbows and sunshine for you."

Derek just cocked an eyebrow. "You know, you can't actually die from curiosity."

"I think maybe you can. Like if you're curious enough, your brain will explode. And then the rest of you will just spontaneously combust."

Derek scoffed. "You're an idiot."

Stiles mocked offense. "That's no way to talk to the Stilinator!"

And with that, Stiles went on a tangent, from topic to topic like he normally did. Derek made his little comments, sipped his coffee, devoured his tarts. He eventually relaxed enough to put the bag back down on the floor, not even really thinking twice about it. And when it was time to head on over to the school, Derek strolled along, both hands swinging freely at his sides.

He froze again. Both hands. Were free. 'No! That sneaky little… He lulled me into a false sense of security! The hell, Derek! What kind of criminologist would fall for something like that?' Mentally haranguing himself, Derek full on ran back to the coffee shop. He threw open the door, but it was too late. Stiles was standing next to the table, bag situated on a chair, one of the books open in his hands. Derek could have died. "Those aren't- they- I'm not-" Derek couldn't seem to find the right words.

Stiles glanced over to Derek who could only stare from the doorway. "Is… this for me?" he asked.

Derek thought it would be best at this point to keep his mouth shut. So he just stood in the doorway, mentally freaking out, though you wouldn't guess it if you saw his face.

Stiles looked back at the bag, then to Derek, then at the book in his hands. Something seemed to click. A soft smile began to form on his lips. "Thanks, Mr. Hale," Stiles lit up. He closed the book, running his thumb over the various tags sticking out. "I love it. I'll try some of these out tomorrow."

Derek could only nod, turning his face away from Stiles to hide the blush creeping up his cheeks. He stood glued to the spot for several more minutes before he heard Stiles chuckle.

"Dude. Aren't you gonna be late for class?"

Derek jerked his wrist up, looking at his watch. "Shit!" He spun around, running down the block, hoping to make it to class on time.

Later in class, it would hit him. Stiles loved it. Derek actually did something that Stiles loved. He knew he was grinning like an idiot, but he didn't care. It's not like anyone was paying attention to him anyway from where he sat in the back of the room. All that mattered was that Stiles was happy. And it was Derek who had made it so.

/\/\/\

It was late one Sunday evening and Derek was brushing his teeth when he heard his phone chirp. Curious, he rinsed his mouth and made his way over to his nightstand. There was a new text message from The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D. Derek smiled, tapping his phone to open the message.

hey mr. hale srry if im distrbing u but i frgot to mention that i wont be there tmmrow morning. but dont worry cuz i taught isaac how to make ur coffee just how u like it. im just givin u a heads up so u dont idk KILL the poor guy. our first mrning was tres harsh. frreal.

Despite the joke, Derek couldn't help but frown, pushing aside the wave of disappointment that was trying to force itself on him. He quickly typed a message back.

Is everything okay?

yea evrythings fine. not tryin to be a debbie dwner or anything but tomorrws the annivrsry of my moms death. i figure im allowed to have a day off.

'Oh wow.' Derek thought.

I'm sorry.

its cool. i just dont really feel like working ya know?

Yeah, I get it.

He wanted to say more, wanted to sympathize with the boy. But words were never his strong suit.

but hey! ill be back on tuesday to spoil u explicitly with choco and lemn macaroooooooons mmmmmmm!

Derek smiled.

Don't worry about it. Have a good night, Stiles.

gnite douglas ;)

Derek stared at his phone a few seconds more before giving in. He tapped through a few menus until a smiling face was looking back at him. Derek collapsed into his bed, feeling his heart swell just looking at the picture. 'I wish there was something I could do for him. But what?' Derek sighed, studying the features of the boy's face as he had done numerous times before.

He could imagine how Stiles felt. He had been there himself. Derek had lost both his parents. It had been the worst time of his life. Fortunately he had his sister to help him through it, plus his uncle Peter who took them in without a moment's hesitation.

A dull ache pinched his heart whenever he thought about his parents. He wondered if Stiles felt that too. Finally tearing his eyes from his phone, Derek cleared the screen before burying his face in his pillow and hugging it tightly, wishing it were more than just a pillow.

/\/\/\

Derek went through the motions of the day. He got his coffee from Isaac, and while it was adequate, it didn't compare to how Stiles prepared it. Even the pastries seemed a bit drier this morning. Classes were boring and the walk to his mythology was unsettlingly quiet. He thought back to what he had said to Erica the day he made a complete fool of himself. 'I miss his stupid chattering and I miss his stupid foam drawings and I miss his stupid face.' It had only been a morning apart from him and those words felt truer than ever.

He still wished there was something he could do. So after class was through, Derek found himself just outside Stiles' apartment building. Even though he wasn't with the boy, just knowing that he was nearby helped ease his mind. Plus, he felt that in some way, his proximity meant something, even if the boy himself didn't know he was there. He had considered just visiting Stiles to make sure he was okay. But surely if Stiles wanted company, he would've asked his friends. In fact, Derek wouldn't be surprised if there was a whole pack of people up there to support the usually jovial boy. And it wasn't even like Derek knew which apartment to go to anyway. He sighed, deciding it was best to just go home. He was just about to turn away when the entrance door swung open, leaving him face to face with Scott.

"Dude! Mr. Hale! You're here!" Scott instantly grinned.

For a second, Derek had panicked. He didn't want Stiles to know he was here, just standing outside his home like a stalker. Which he seriously started to feel like despite not intending to.

"It's good that you came, too," Scott continued, "cause I don't like leaving Stiles alone when he's all down, you know? I'd stay myself but I'm already having a tough time in economics and if I miss another class, I'm totally gonna fail and my mom's gonna get pissed if I screw this up so Ineed to get to class before my life is over. I mean I have a job and all but I can't be a vet's assistant forever you know what I mean?"

Jesus. When did this kid breathe? He could see now why he and Stiles were best friends. They were probably the only people who could keep up with each other.

"Come on," he said, grabbing Derek by the arm and pulling him inside. "I'll let you in."

Derek frowned. This kid was surprisingly strong despite his slight frame. "Actually, I wasn't- He's not expecting me-"

"Oh that's cool. Don't worry about it. I'm sure Stiles will be stoked to have you over. He thinks you're pretty awesome."

Derek glanced over to the other boy. "He said that?"

"Dude! He totally doesn't have to!" Scott just laughed, leaving Derek a bit confused. He felt like he needed a translator for whenever Scott spoke. Either that or a voice recorder that gave him the option of slowing the speech down.

The younger boy twisted the knob of his apartment and practically shoved Derek through the door. Derek would have snapped the guy's neck for manhandling him so much if he weren't partially frozen at the fact that he was in Stiles' apartment.

"Stiles! Mr. Hale is here! Don't forget to make me dinner! Love you, buddy!" Scott grinned at Derek before waving at him and closing the door behind him.

"What are you talking…?" Stiles appeared from down the hall, dressed in pajama pants and a plain tee. His eyes widened in surprise once he looked up to see Derek standing in his living room.

"Um, hi," was all Derek could think to say.

"Hey… Mr. Hale…."

Derek rubbed the back of his neck. "I was just… passing through. Then your friend kind of just… grabbed me…" he felt incredibly awkward with the way Stiles was just staring at him. Derek pointed to the door. "I'll just go- I didn't mean to disturb-"

"Oh- no! No, no! It's okay," Stiles said, snapping out of whatever reverie he was in. "I was just surprised to see you, is all."

"If you're busy I can just-"

"No, wait. Stay. Please stay. I want you to stay."

Derek slowly nodded, ignoring the slight hitch in his breathing at the words. "Okay."

"Well, wait," Stiles shook his head. "What are you doing here? Don't you have like a strict routine you do after school? I don't want you to break it."

"It's okay… something more important came up," he said automatically, surprisingly honest. It took a few seconds for it to occur to Derek what he had just said aloud. He broke eye contact, fighting the blush on his cheeks. 'Idiot…' he berated himself.

He heard Stiles chuckle softly. Peeking up, he watched as the boy walked up to him, placing a hand on his arm. "Thanks, Mr. Hale. I'm glad you're here." He smiled softly, easing any doubts in Derek's head.

"Yeah," he breathed out. "No problem."

For the next hour, the two crashed on the couch as Stiles schooled Derek in the art of video gaming.

"Dammit Dawson, what are you doing? You need to pick up a gun!"

"I have one!"

"Shoot him! Shoot him!"

"I'm shooting!"

"Mash X. Mash X. B-B-X-Y!"

"I don't even know what that means!"

Needless to say, Derek learned that video games certainly have gotten more complicated than the joystick-toggle of his Pac-Man days. Luckily, Stiles saved him from feeling like an utter failure by turning their attentions onto a new task.

Which is why Derek was currently sitting at the kitchen counter, cracking open a huge bag of walnuts.

"Why don't you just buy the shelled ones?" Derek grumbled, trying to extract the nut from the shell without breaking it.

"Because they don't have the same taste. People usually add like a preservative or whatever to it. Fresh walnuts are the best because they are untouched by the time you use them. They have more of a nutty flavor to them."

Derek looked at the bag beside him. "So why, exactly, do you need so many?"

"Well, one of my mom's specialties was the walnut pie. So every year on this day, I make some in her honor."

He glanced up. "Some. Not just one."

"Correct. It used to be just the one for me and my dad. But now a couple of people back home who my mom used to be friends with want it too once they realized what an awesome chef I was." At this, Derek snorted, but didn't disagree. "So after these bake and set, I'll ship them out. Four of them for my mom's friends, one for here, and one for my dad, even though I know I shouldn't cause he needs to be eating healthy and this pie isn't exactly a fruit salad if you know what I mean."

Derek cleared his throat. "So-um… how is your dad?"

"He's good. I talked to him this morning. I know he misses her, but he keeps himself busy with work and all."

Derek just nodded, cracking open another nut. In hearing Stiles chuckle, he looked up. "What?"

"Nothing," he grinned, a box of brown sugar in his hand. "It's just… Veruca Salt, eat your heart out."

Derek frowned in confusion. "What?"

"I got my own walnut shelling squirrel," Stiles said, lighting up with pride. At the blank look Derek was giving him, he continued. "Oh come on. You know. Haven't you watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?"

"Watched? Don't you mean 'read'?"

"No, silly. Who reads the book? They make movies about everything nowadays."

Derek scoffed. "So wait. Are you calling me a squirrel?"

Stiles sighed blissfully. "My own personal squirrel." Derek just glared at the boy, throwing an empty shell at him. "Hey! Bad squirrel! Bad! Don't make me get out the spray bottle."

Derek rolled his eyes before continuing his task… like the good squirrel that he was.

Once the pies were safely baking in the oven, Stiles determined that it was time to teach Derek how to make some whipped cream.

"There's nothing like some homemade whipped cream to go with a slice of freshly baked pie," Stiles smiled, taking up Derek's previous seat behind the counter to watch him at work.

"What's wrong with the canned stuff? Or Cool Whip."

Stiles just stared at him as if he had been smacked. "What's the-what's the difference? God, do you live in a cave?"

Derek scowled.

"Okay, first of all, half of that stuff isn't actually whipped and the other half isn't actually cream. Just trust me on this. Have I ever led your taste buds astray?"

True. Derek had to agree there. When it came to his taste buds, Stiles never did him wrong.

"Okay, so what? Just dump some cream in the bowl and start mixing?"

"You're a brute, you know that? I bet in a past life you clubbed a baby seal on the head, dragged it over a fire pit, and called it 'dinner.'"

The older boy rolled his eyes, looking lazily at his companion. "I could just club you on the head."

Stiles just gave him a withering look. "All right. Just pour the cream in the bowl. Now add the vanilla, some honey and now the sugar."

Derek did as was instructed.

"Okay, now put the bowl under the mixer. Make sure it's on low or else it'll splash everywhere."

He checked the settings, adjusted it, and then looked to Stiles. "Now what?"

"Flip the switch and let 'er rip!"

Derek turned the machine on, the mixer whirring to life as it whisked the ingredients together. Together they watched as the liquid slowly grew fluffier.

"You can turn it up once it gets thicker."

"What, like this?"

"No, wait!"

The contents of the mixer exploded up into Derek's face, getting in his hair and all over his shirt. He heard a snicker of a laugh coming from across the counter. Derek wiped his eyes with his fingers, snapping them up to pierce Stiles with a glare of warning.

"Don't."

"I'm not laughing." Stiles said with a straight face. A second later, a little snicker escaped from the boy's nose.

"Stiles." Derek warned.

"I'm not laughing," he repeated.

Derek sighed, looking around for a towel or something he could wipe himself down with.

"Hey, Duncan."

Derek looked back up only to be hit by a sudden flash.

"Stiles!" he snarled, realizing the boy had just taken a picture. The boy leapt off his chair as Derek made a grab for the phone. "Stiles, give me your phone," he warned.

Stiles was sporting an ear to ear grin as he quickly typed away on the device. He jumped away with a strangled squawk as Derek made another grab.

Quickly looking around, Derek snatched a nearby towel, wiping his face of the cream haphazardly. He threw down the towel with a snap, affixing Stiles with his most dangerous glare. "Stiles. Give me. Your phone." He said through gritted teeth.

Stiles burst out laughing. "No way!" And with that, the younger boy made a mad dash for his bedroom.

"Stiles! Get back here!" He cut the boy off, blocking the path to the hallway. Stiles, still laughing, darted away, making sure to place the couch between him and the angry man. "Stiles, give me the phone!"

"Never!"

Stiles shifted one way, then the other. Derek mirrored the movements, determined to get the phone to erase the incriminating photo. With a quick dart to the right, Stiles feinted left, effectively ducking Derek's defense, as he charged down the hall.

Derek was hot on his tail, chasing the kid. Stiles slipped into his room trying to close the door behind him, but Derek barged right in.

Stiles backed up. "Okay, hold on a second. Just hold on a second," he said, still smiling, with a hand out as if to stop the older boy.

Derek saw Stiles' quick glimpse of the bathroom door, figuring out his game plan. When the boy tried to make a run for it, Derek caught him, knocking the both of them backwards onto Stiles' bed. Derek straddled the boy's waist, trying to wrestle wayward hands into submission for the phone they desperately clung to.

"Stiles, would you just-"

"No!"

"Just give me the damn-"

"Never!"

Stiles twisted himself under Derek, curling himself into the fetal position with his phone securely tucked against his chest. He shut his eyes tightly as if this would make Derek go away.

"I emailed myself the photo so you might as well just give up and let me keep the picture cause even if you delete the one here I can just download it all over again and besides you have a picture of me on your phone and now I have one of you on mine that's only fair right?"

The words were a seamless stream as they flew out of the boy's mouth.

Derek growled in frustration. It was hopeless if Stiles had already sent out a copy of it. He relented, sitting back on his haunches.

Stiles popped an eye open, then the other. He turned his head to look up at the other boy, but was still tucked in tightly. "You're letting me keep it?"

Derek sighed in defeat. "Fine. But I swear, Stiles, if that thing shows up online or on posters all over campus-"

"I got it, I got it," he smiled. "I promise." He uncoiled himself, adjusting so that he was lying on his back.

They were both breathing a little heavy from the chase, adrenaline still pumping through their veins.

Finally, Stiles reached up, curling his fingers softly in Derek's ruined shirt. "I'm really glad you came over today," he said softly, eyes trained on where his hand gripped the article of clothing. "Most people don't know how to handle me when I'm not… you know. All me. So when Scott said that you were here, I really thought he was just bullshitting me, but you really were here. It made me really happy." He finally met green eyes, his brown full of sincerity. "So, I guess what I'm trying to say is thanks. For today. For everything."

Derek gazed down as the boy below him, feeling his heart expand as the words sunk in. He didn't know what to say to that.

It was strange to Derek. He didn't know how, but Stiles managed to become part of Derek's routine. His days no longer felt complete without seeing the boy or at least hearing from him. It was new to Derek. It was precious to him. Here was the first person he could honestly call his friend.

And for the first time, Derek smiled at Stiles. A full, genuine smile. They were frozen in this moment, truly appreciating what it was that had grown between them.

Then something caught his attention. A scent wafted in the air. He frowned. "What's that smell?"

Stiles' brows furrowed before they shot up in surprise. "Oh shit! The pies!" He wriggled out from under the older boy and ran to the kitchen.

Derek seemed immobile as another thing caught his attention. He was in Stiles' room. On Stiles' bed. And had not ten seconds ago been straddling the boy down. The thought sent his heart racing as if he had been chasing the boy through the apartment once again. It took a few minutes for Derek to collect himself. Luckily, Stiles had been too preoccupied with the pies to notice.

"Well those first two were ruined," Stiles pouted once Derek appeared, opening the balcony door to air out the smell. "Which means you get to open more walnuts? Pleeease?"

At this point, Derek was beginning to believe he couldn't refuse the younger boy of anything. He sighed. "Can I at least wash up first?" He asked, waving his hand up and down his disheveled appearance.

A cackle came from Stiles as he raked in the memory of the whipped cream debacle. Derek glared again. "Sorry, sorry. I'm not laughing," he lied despicably. "The bathroom's down there," he pointed. "You can grab one of my shirts from my dresser."

Derek ambled over to the bathroom, partially afraid of what he was going to see in the mirror. He was a mess. His hair and his face were sticky and his shirt was starting to cling to him. Derek pulled the offending piece of fabric over his head, turned on the sink, and began rubbing down the sticky skin with warm water. He reached for a towel, drying his chest and running it over his face. He caught himself in the mirror again. 'How do I get myself into these things?' he wondered. He was pretty sure the answer had something to do with the kid in the other room.

He wandered into Stiles' bedroom, walking over to the dresser. He pulled open one of the drawers and promptly shut it afterward.

'So that's the underwear drawer.' Derek shut his eyes, taking another second to gather himself again. He moved to the next drawer, holding his breath, and to his relief, pulled out a plain white tee. He held it up and frowned. His frown only deepened as he glanced over the rest of them.

"Stiles! None of these shirts fit!"

He heard the boy snicker from the other room. "Just pick one! Unless you wanna go shirtless!" He added with a laugh.

Derek groaned, but tugged out a black shirt that looked like it could fit. He was wrong, but it was better than being naked. When he finally went back to the kitchen, Stiles had to stifle another laugh.

"I don't know what you're talking about," the boy teased. "I think it fits you perfectly."

Derek scowled. The shirt was way too tight for his liking. "You're scrawny," Derek huffed, that being the only thing he could think to say.

"Now, now. We can't all be built like you. Besides, my personality all but makes up for it."

Derek just scoffed.

Stiles tossed Derek a towel. "Come on, grumpy. Help me clean the mess you made."

"You said to turn it up."

"Yeah, but I didn't mean for you to crank it all the way up to eleven."

Derek blinked. "What? Eleven?"

Stiles rolled his eyes. "You really do live in a cave, don't you?" At the blank stare he was receiving, Stiles shook his head. "Forget it. Just help me wipe down everything and we'll tackle those walnuts together."

Derek sighed, but did as he was told.

The two eventually managed to get all six pies made. Derek even retried making the whipped cream, this time with no mistakes. By the time Scott came back from school and work, the pies were occupying the refrigerator, and there was a hot plate of spaghetti waiting for him. Derek, who had passed on spaghetti that wasn't made specifically for him, was happily munching on a slice of pie, now understanding why Stiles insisted on making his own whipped cream.

It was getting late and Derek still needed to do some reading before bed. Plus he still wanted to take a shower to wash out any traces of the cream on him. Stiles had packed him a large slice to take home with him, insisting that Scott needed to cut back on the sweets anyway.

"I'll get going then," Derek said, holding his ruined shirt in one hand and the container with the pie in the other.

"Hey, wait up. I'll walk you down," Stiles said, hopping out of his seat and slipping into his sneakers. As they entered the elevator, Stiles turned to him. "I had fun today, Dwight. I mean, it was nice. Making the pies with you reminded me of when I made them with my mom."

Derek nodded in understanding. "Did she teach you how to bake?"

"For the most part. She taught me basics, but I didn't really get into until after she passed and that's cause I had to teach myself how to cook since my dad usually worked late. So I guess for me, baking's a great way to keep her memory alive."

They walked to the entrance of the apartment complex, Stiles holding the door open for Derek. A hand on his arm made Derek pause. He turned to look at the boy. "I meant what I said earlier. I really appreciate you stopping by. It meant a lot to me. It means a lot to me. So thanks, Mr. Hale. Or Dominic. Or Deon. Or Darryl, Dane, Duke, Dionysus, Dante, Dale, Deiter-"

Derek shook his head in resignation, feeling the corners of his lips tug upward. Finally, he relented. "It's Derek."

Stiles smiled softly, biting his bottom lip as he nodded slowly. "I know." Derek snorted, but he couldn't say he was surprised. Stiles lightly squeezed Derek's arm before dropping his hand to his side. "Good night, Derek."

"Good night, Stiles."

Unable to fight off the urge any longer, Derek draped his shirt over his shoulder before pulling the younger boy into a one-armed embrace. He wanted to pour everything he couldn't say into the hug, everything he wanted to say to comfort his friend. Even now, he struggled with words.

But Stiles seemed to understand. Stiles always seemed to understand. He felt the boy's arms wrap around him. "Thanks, Derek."

Derek pulled back and simply nodded. He nodded again before heading on home.

Later, while Derek was in the shower, he received a text from The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D. It was the picture of him covered in whipped cream plus a little message.

like my new wallpaper? ;)

Derek scoffed, a smile playing on his lips, before getting ready for bed.

Chapter Text

It was just supposed to be a nice little outing with his friend. Derek had no idea how it had escalated to this.

It had started with a text one Saturday afternoon.

hey mr. hale! come get lunch w me!

Derek had been getting an early start on his research paper for his history class. 'I guess one lunch couldn't hurt.' Who was he kidding? He would have stayed up all night trying to finish the research paper if it meant an afternoon with Stiles.

Where?

my fav lil diner w THE BEST curly fries. its a bit far tho. we'll be wlking some.

Derek thought about it.

If you want, we could take my car.

waaaaat? hell yeah! come pick me up in fifteen then!

Okay.

Now, Derek was never the type to flaunt his riches, but his car was his pride and joy. He worked hard to maintain his baby and made sure she was running smoothly spotless. So when Stiles saw the sleek, black Camaro pull up next to him, Derek couldn't help but smirk at the look of awe on the boy's face.

"This is your car?" Stiles asked in disbelief, bending down to talk to Derek through the window. "Man, why haven't you been driving this everywhere? If it were my car, hell, I'd probably live in it!"

Derek rolled his eyes. "Just get in."

"You don't have to tell me twice," he said, pulling the door open and hopping in.

Stiles was practically buzzing in his seat. He kept pushing everything. He tested how close the seat went in and how far back it reclined. He touched the a/c buttons, the radio, even the overhead light. He twisted around to look at the back seat, leaning over to play with the center compartment. He even felt the rugs on the floor.

"Stiles, stop. You need to give me directions," Derek scolded.

"All right, all right," Stiles sighed, returning his seat to the upright position. "Just follow the road for now. I can't wait for you to try those curly fries. They've got this rich flavor on them, and they're so crispy on the outside but so soft and potato-y on the inside, you'll love it. I'm drooling just thinking about it."

"Just as long as you don't drool on my seats."

"I make no promises. Make a left here."

Derek did as he was told. After a few more twists and turns, they finally arrived at the diner. Derek followed the boy in, taking a seat at an available booth.

"Ooh! You should try the-"

"Curly fries?"

Stiles gave him a withering look. "No, snippy. I mean, yes you should try them, but that's not what I was gonna say."

"Oh really."

"Yes really. And now you'll never know what I was gonna say. You'll have to sit there in all your unknowing glory wondering if maybe the thing you ordered was the best on the menu or if you could potentially be eating something greater if only you had listened to your good buddy Stiles."

Derek just rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to his menu. After a beat, he heard the boy scoff.

"Aren't you even the least bit curious as to what I was going to recommend?"

He didn't even look up. "Nope." Derek inwardly smirked, feeling the frustration coming off the boy in waves. Teasing Stiles was just plain fun.

The waitress came and took their orders, Derek making sure to switch his regular fries for curly ones at Stiles' insistence. Once she had walked away, Derek began tearing away at an innocent napkin that had been placed in front of him. "So… did you have any plans after this?"

Stiles took a second to think about it. He shrugged. "Nope. I'll probably just go home and catch up on my homework. And by that, I mean play video games until my guy makes it another three or four levels. Why?"

"Well, there's this thing. In the park."

"Oh, you mean Music in the Park?"

Derek slowly nodded. He hesitated. "I was thinking of taking the rest of the day off… to maybe go see… do you wanna come?" He asked the last part cautiously, bracing himself for rejection.

Stiles just grinned. "Sure. Sounds fun. And if not, they sell this really good kettle corn there."

"Why does it always come back to food with you?"

Stiles mocked offense. "I am a growing boy. If my mind is not on sex, it's most likely on food." Derek fought off the blush at the mention of sex. "And in the rare but not uncommon scenario, sometimes the two worlds collide to create this apex of-"

Luckily, this particular tangent was cut off by the waitress, who had returned with their drinks. Derek jammed his straw in his glass before taking a long, hard gulp. The distraction was enough to deter the younger boy's train of thought as he went off on something else completely different.

They were making idle chitchat, waiting for their food to arrive, when a familiar redhead came up to their table. Or strawberry blonde. Whatever. She was toting a shopping bag on one arm and a brunette girl on the other.

"Hey Lydia! Allison!" Stiles smiled, greeting the pair as they approached. He got up, hugging his friends. "Derek, you remember Lydia? And this is Allison, Scott's main squeeze."

'Main squeeze? Who still uses that?' Derek wondered to himself, but shook the girl's hand politely.

"We're supposed to be meeting Jackson here," Lydia supplied.

And with that, it seemed like the girl had invited herself and her friend to the table. Lydia made Stiles scoot over so the pair of them could sit in the U-booth. She snuggled up to the boy, draping an arm over his shoulders and fixing the collar of his flannel.

Derek frowned, watching them as if this was normal for their relationship. And considering how little Derek actually knew of their dynamic, it very well could be. And that made Derek's frown deepen.

The two girls placed their order, apparently set on staying. At it wasn't long after that this Allison girl was on the phone, inviting Scott to come over after work as well. Derek inwardly groaned.

The girls made small chitchat with Derek, seemingly interested in him. Allison seemed all right, but Lydia was downright fascinating. At first glance she seemed like a pretty shallow, rich girl but she was actually surprisingly smart, trying to earn a double major in physics and chemistry. Derek thought he might actually like the girl if it weren't for the little looks she quite frequently shared with Stiles. 'Doesn't she have a boyfriend?'

Not long after their food arrived, Scott showed up with Isaac, both greeting everyone at the table. The messy-haired kid squeezed in next to his girlfriend while Isaac opted to slide in next to Derek. Their U-booth was getting a little too full for his liking.

At this point, there were several conversations going on. Lydia was chatting with Allison while Stiles and Scott were trying to talk around them. Isaac actually struck up a conversation with Derek, where he learned the curly-headed boy was interested in criminology as well. They bonded over their common interest, Derek finally finding someone who understood what he meant by 'strain theory'.

"String theory?" Stiles piped in. "That's physics, isn't it?"

Derek was going to answer, but Isaac laughed boldly. "No, Stiles, not string theory. Straintheory."

Derek didn't miss the frown that formed on the boy's face before he was pulled back into the conversation with Isaac, once he brought up biosocial theory. He also didn't miss the way Stiles was sneaking some of his fries from his plate once his own pile disappeared.

And around the time Scott and Isaac got their food, Jackson finally arrived with a friend in tow. The group greeted the pair, except Derek of course, but his attention did peak once he found out the other boy's name was Danny.

"Why are you so late?" Lydia asked, sounding a little annoyed. "You were supposed to be here, like, half an hour ago."

"That's my fault," Danny smiled, sheepishly. He sighed wistfully. "I just found out my ex already found a new guy."

There was a table of condolences, making the Hawaiian boy smile gratefully. They played musical seating once more, Danny and Jackson squeezing in between Stiles and Lydia respectively. Immediately when Danny slipped in next to Stiles, the smaller boy patted the guy on back.

"That guy was a jerk anyway. You can do better."

"Thanks, Stilinski."

And surprisingly, Danny boy turned and kissed Stiles on the cheek. Derek's eyes widened, fists instantly clenching to create little crescent shapes in the palm of his hand.

"Ugh," Jackson groaned. "Remember way back when you used to find this guy annoying?" He said to his best friend.

"He was just in denial of his raging attraction to me," Stiles smirked, leaning over Danny, his neck bared right in front of the boy's face.

"Dude…" Derek felt a hand on his arm, Isaac's voice low. "Relax."

Derek looked crossly at Isaac and then down to his white-knuckled hands with surprise. He relaxed them, stretching them under the table to get the blood flowing. He didn't look back at Isaac, but heard a tiny snicker come from him.

He didn't know how it happened, but somehow Derek had found himself surrounded, and practically squished into a booth of people. It wasn't all that long ago that Derek avoided this situation at all cost. Derek was a man of personal space and sitting with this group was severely cutting him from it. But since these were Stiles' friends and since it was Stiles himself he was sitting shoulder to shoulder with, Derek forced himself to tolerate the uncomfortable experience. And well, at least Isaac wasn't bad company either.

Once dishes were cleared, bellies stuffed, and checks paid, they all filed out of the booth and made their way to the parking lot. Stiles sidled up to Derek, grinning. "So, we still going to the park?"

"Wait, what's going on at the park?" Scott asked, loudly.

Derek restrained the urge to groan out loud. He could already tell where this was likely to go.

"Oh, isn't it Music in the Park this afternoon?" Allison asked, interlocking her fingers with Scott.

"Jackson, let's go," Lydia said, turning to her boyfriend.

"Why? So we can sit in the grass and listen to some crappy bands?" He snorted, tossing a smirk at Danny who just rolled his eyes.

"I think a trip to the park could add a little culture to your life," Danny said, matter-of-factly.

Jackson just tossed his friend a bored look. "You just want to go there to ogle guys."

"Jackson. We're going." Lydia stated, leaving no room for argument.

"Aw, I want to go," Allison pouted, "but we have to meet with my dad."

"That's tonight?" Scott looked stunned, and perhaps a little worried.

"Scott, I've been telling you all week," she chided. "We should get going, actually."

Scott deflated, but accepted his fate. "Isaac, you gonna ride with us? I'll take you home?"

"Actually, I kind of want to see how this plays out," he smirked. "I'll ride with Derek," he turned to the older boy, "that is, if you don't mind."

"Ooh! I want to ride with Derek, too!" Lydia jumped in.

"What about me?" Jackson frowned.

"You're riding with Danny, idiot. Your Porsche only sits two, or did you forget?"

"Fine. Whatever. Come on, Danny, let's go," Jackson said, leading the way to his car.

"We'll see you guys later," Scott and Allison waved, walking off hand-in-hand.

Derek pinched the bridge of his nose. How the hell did this happen? He unlocked his car and immediately, Lydia dragged Stiles into the back with her, leaving Isaac in the front next to Derek. On the way to the park, Derek would sneak a glance at the boy in the back seat as he joked around with his friend. Derek felt his frustration growing. He was the one Stiles should be joking with, not these tag-alongs. He would have glowered all the way there if Isaac didn't offer a good distraction with idle conversation.

Once he found a parking spot, Lydia dragged Stiles along some more in order to find the best location where they could hear the music but still talk without pissing people off. He and Isaac tailed them, following them as they weaved through the crowd. Jackson and Danny found them easily. Lydia instantly released Stiles' arm, latching on to Jackson's instead, much to Derek's satisfaction. But Derek found himself frowning again when Danny took the opportunity to sling his arm over Stiles' shoulders. This was not how this was supposed to go.

In his head, Derek had pictured a nice lunch with Stiles with some light banter. Afterward, they would come to the park in part to listen to the music and but mostly to chat some more. They would eventually get up and stroll around the small man-made lake, Stiles buying his beloved kettle corn whilst Derek would grab handfuls at a time from the boy's bag to munch on. Derek sighed.

"I'm gonna go get something to drink," he said to Stiles, needed some space from the rest of the group lest he maim one of them in his frustration.

Stiles opened his mouth to say something, but Isaac cut him off. "I'll go with you." He looked to the others. "You guys want anything?"

"Nothing for me, thanks," Danny said.

"Sparkling water," Lydia said, holding up a finger.

"Alcohol." Jackson drawled.

Stiles was uncharacteristically silent.

Isaac rolled his eyes at Jackson's request. "So just water for the lady?" She smiled at the curly blonde before he and Derek walked away from the group.

"Lively bunch, aren't they?" he said, making small talk.

"What's with Danny? He's gay right? I think Stiles mentioned something like that," Derek rushed, not even really thinking about what he was saying.

Isaac chuckled. "Yes he is. Why? You interested?"

Derek just gave him an annoyed look, only serving to make him laugh again. "What's with him and Stiles?"

Isaac cocked his head, thinking about it. "I do recall Stiles asking him once or twice if Danny thought he was attractive."

Derek scowled.

Isaac laughed, shoving Derek playfully. "Man, you've got it bad."

"What are you talking about?"

The boy snickered. "You don't have to worry about Danny. Stiles isn't his type."

"Worry? Why would I be worried?"

"Yeah, sure. Okay."

The pair purchased their drinks, walking back to the others. They had found a seat in the grass. Lydia was snuggled against Jackson while Danny and Stiles looked like they were having a private conversation. Despite what Isaac said, Derek couldn't help but glare at the way Danny was leaning in towards Stiles every time he turned to speak to him. He wanted the other boy to go away.

'At least the music isn't too bad,' Derek thought, trying to find some good in the day. 'And this Isaac kid isn't so bad either. His pastries are dry, but at least he's slightly interesting.' He was sure he probably would have just grabbed Stiles to rake in all his attention if Isaac wasn't there. Not only did Isaac provide some good conversation, he also served as a distraction from the way Danny some times glanced back at him, almost as if to say 'Ha ha! I've got Stiles all to myself and you're just his customer and I'm his actual friend and have been much longer than you and I can kiss his pale cheek like I own it and I have stupid dimples that Stiles likes and-' Derek exhaled, shutting down his inner monologue. That would lead to no good.

After a while, he slipped away to find a restroom. He was beginning to wish that they had gone anywhere else other than that stupid diner that everyone had decided to go to that day. Derek paused. 'Well, what if Stiles planned it that way?'

He didn't get a chance to explore that idea before the boy in question looped his arm through his and pulled him along. "Hey- what-" Derek sputtered.

"I needed to stretch my legs. Plus," he grinned, "Kettle. Corn. I can smell it from all the way over there."

Once Stiles had the biggest bag in his arms, Derek started back towards where the boy's friends were seated. He frowned once he realized Stiles wasn't following. The boy just tossed a kernel in the air, catching it easily in his open mouth. "Let's go for a walk."

Derek simply cocked an eyebrow, although he wanted to jump at the idea. "What about your friends?"

Stiles waved his hand. "They'll live. I bet they won't even notice we're gone."

Derek just shrugged. He wasn't going to argue with that. He had wanted to get away from them since they first arrived.

"So…" Stiles said between bites. "You and Isaac seem pretty comfortable."

"He's not so bad," he replied, noncommittally. Stiles just nodded, shoving another handful in his mouth. Derek pursed his lips before giving in. "What about you and Danny? You two seem pretty close."

Stiles shrugged. "Danny is on the hunt, looking for a new man."

Derek eyed the boy carefully. "Yourself included?"

Stiles laughed. "No way. I'm not his type." He gave Derek a sidelong glance. "He is, though, quite interested in you."

Derek blinked. "Wait, what?"

"I think Danny might have a crush on you, Mr. Hale," he teased.

Derek just shook his head. He wasn't interested. At all.

But Stiles continued. "He thinks you've got this whole dark and mysterious thing going on." He was quiet for a beat as he crunched through more kettle corn. "What do youthink of him?"

'That he wears too much cologne and sits too close to you,' was what he wanted to say. But he just shrugged.

"Are you attracted to him?" Stiles persisted.

Derek snorted derisively. "No."

Then, "Are you attracted to Isaac?"

Derek furrowed his brows and looked to the boy beside him. Stiles kept his gaze straightforward onto the path they were walking.

"I mean," he continued, "you two seemed to hit it off real well."

"We have a common interest."

Again, Stiles nodded slowly. "Right. Criminology. You two could be partners one day."

Derek paused as Stiles walked a few more paces before turning to him. 'Is he… he sounds a little off… could it be that he's…?' Derek just came right out and asked. "Are you jealous?"

"N-no!" Stiles sputtered, shoving another handful of popcorn in his mouth. The blush on the boy's face said otherwise. "Why would you ask me that? I don't care who you're friends with. You can be friends with whoever. Isaac is cool. You can be criminology friends together. Whatever." The words flew out of him in a rush as he disgustingly shoved more popcorn in his mouth every few syllables.

Derek just rolled his eyes, despite feeling pretty good about himself. He liked the idea of Stiles getting jealous over him, even if it was in a friendship context. It made him feel less ridiculous over feeling the same whenever Stiles was close to Danny or Scott or Lydia or even Jackson. Derek inwardly frowned, deciding Stiles had too many friends.

Resigning himself, Derek walked over to the boy, reached into the bag and stole some popcorn for himself. "Come on, Stilinator. Let's go walk around the lake." He didn't even wait to gauge the boy's expression. He smiled to himself as he heard the boy scuttle to catch up.

"Okay, just out of curiosity," Stiles started once he was in step with Derek, "what is your type?"

"Big busty blondes," Derek smirked, proud of his use of alliteration.

"Well, duh," Stiles rolled his eyes once he figured Derek wasn't being serious. "I mean, whodoesn't?"

Derek conceded. "My studies are what's important right now. I'm not concerning myself with all that other stuff."

"A valiant idea," Stiles nodded. "I wholeheartedly agree with this. You should totally become a monk and devote yourself to your schoolwork and in the future, your job. No women, or men if that's your thing." Derek scoffed. "It should just be about you and your buddy Stiles, I mean, cause we'll be partners, of course."

"Of course."

"I mean, Isaac can come in for assistance every now and again too, I guess, since you guys are like bosom buddies now or whatever-"

"Bosom buddies?"

"-but yup. It'll be the two of us against the world."

"Mr. Hale and Stilinator?"

Stiles nodded happily. "Mr. Hale and Stilinator."

Derek just chuckled to himself. That didn't sound so bad. Glancing down at the happy boy with a half-eaten bag of popcorn four times the size of his head, he had to admit, he liked the sound of that more and more.

"I didn't know they'd all be there," Stiles said, suddenly. "Lydia and Allison were out shopping, Scott was at work…" he trailed off. He sighed. "I didn't know they'd all be there."

He didn't exactly understand why, but this made Derek feel a bit better. And despite the hitch, he did manage to get what he wanted. He and Stiles had shared a good lunch, listened to some music in the park, and were now strolling around the lake whilst he sneaked some handfuls of popcorn for himself. And although they eventually had to return to the others who really hadn'tnoticed their disappearance- except perhaps a smirking Isaac- Derek had to admit, today had been a pretty good day.

/\/\/\

"Come on, Derek, it's only fair."

"The answer is no, Stiles."

"But you've seen my place! I wanna see your place!"

"No."

"It's probably this awesome bat-cave of awesomeness. Do you have a butler standing at your door, answering your every beck and call? Is he named Jeeves? Come on, Derek, you have to let me meet Jeeves."

"There is no Jeeves."

The boy pouted. Then, "I'll make you dinner."

"…Fine."

The only problem with this idea was that Derek, who was completely ecstatic at finally getting a meal just for him from Stiles, had forgotten one major thing.

Stiles had asked Derek if he could visit his place that morning at the shop, curiosity getting the best of him. Derek vehemently denied the boy access. But that didn't stop him from asking him again before and after Derek's mythology class, to which Derek still denied. But it would appear that Stiles had formulated a new tactic. So, when Derek met up with him that night after his run, Stiles asked one more time. And this time, with the promise of food, Derek had agreed.

They had stopped at the grocery store so Stiles could pick up whatever he needed to cook. And since Derek basically had nothing but some rotting cabbage in his refrigerator, they had to stop and buy everything. And it wasn't until Derek was standing at his apartment door that it occurred to him that maybe this wasn't such a good idea, at least not with the way things currently were.

"I change my mind," Derek said, just as he had his keys in his hand to unlock the door.

"What? You can't change your mind. We're already here."

"Just… come by tomorrow. I forgot… something."

"What? Do you have like a dead body in there?"

"…No."

"Why did you pause?"

"I didn't."

"Oh my God, you have a dead body in there!"

"Stiles, shut up."

"But we came all this way! We're right here!"

"No, Stiles. Maybe tomorrow."

The boy just sighed in exasperation. "You know what, fine. We'll just go back to my place."

Derek relaxed. "Good."

Stiles led the way back down the hall from where they came from. "I don't see what the big deal is."

Derek just kept quiet. He had his reasons.

At the end of the hall, Stiles hailed the elevator. "Oh, can you hold this for a sec?" He asked, handing Derek the bag of groceries he had been holding. He patted down his pockets. "Where is it…?"

"What are you looking for?"

Stiles looked up. "Nothing." And with that, Stiles snatched Derek's keys right out of his hand and ran towards the apartment.

"Dammit Stiles!" Derek growled, realizing too late what the boy had done. He ran after him, groceries positioned awkwardly in his arms, but it all for naught. Stiles already had the door unlocked, swinging it open victoriously.

What Stiles saw, he certainly wasn't expecting. Derek inwardly flinched, bracing himself for what he knew was coming. The younger boy took a step forward into the room, eyes wide as he took everything in.

"Oh…"

"Look, I know what you're thinking-"

"My…"

"And it's really not that bad-"

Stiles turned somberly to Derek, face in full seriousness. "Derek… are you a hoarder?"

"No."

Derek watched as Stiles took another look around. There were books stacked in various places throughout the room. Old papers were scattered over the floor, across the couch, lining the countertops. Clothes were messily strewn about, as if Derek stripped while walking through, leaving a trail in his wake. Sneakers were separated, one shoe over by his desk, its partner hidden under a pile of old newspapers. And there were old pizza boxes and empty cartons of Chinese take-out all over as well as half-eaten bags of chips, candy bar wrappers, and the occasional hot pocket microwave sleeve.

Derek furrowed his brow. "It's not normally like this." The sad part of it was that this actually wasnormal. He had become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and there wasn't any real reason for him to change it. It's not like he ever really had anyone come over so he was fine with a bit of a mess. Except this, tragically, was a bit more than a bit of a mess. Derek growled again. "This is why I said to just come over tomorrow."

"Jesus Christ, Derek. I know that Scott and I can get a bit messy, but this?"

"I get it. I know it looks messy, but I have a system. I know where things are. Everything has a place."

Stiles looked skeptically at Derek. "Even these empty pizza boxes? Cause quite frankly, Mr. Hale, I think the place for that stuff is in the garbage."

Derek huffed. "Just- Come on. We'll go to your place." He turned to lead the way out, sure that Stiles was following behind him. But when he turned around, the boy was in his kitchen, rifling through the cabinets. "What are you doing?"

"I can't just leave it like this," Stiles practically whined. "Ah ha!" He pulled out a box of trash bags.

"Are you serious?"

"As a heart attack." He pulled out a bag before tossing the box to Derek. The box just bounced off his chest, landing neatly on the floor.

"Dammit, Stiles. With which hand was I supposed to catch that with?"

Stiles grinned sheepishly, having momentarily forgotten the bags of groceries in the older boy's hands. "Sorry. Here," he walked over, taking the bags. "I'll put these away. You start… cleaning." He waved his hand over the expanse of the apartment.

Derek huffed before snatching a bag from the box. He started shoving the empty food containers into the large bag. 'I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe he saw this. God, this is disgusting. Why did I let it get this bad? Oh hey. I was looking for that…' Derek got distracted from the task at hand, skimming through an old paper he wrote that he was particularly proud of.

"Hey, hey!" Stiles snapped, a bag of potatoes in his hands. "Focus."

Derek scowled, but did as he was told. He set the paper aside for later and began picking up the various trash, stuffing the bag in his hands. Stiles soon joined him, opting to gather Derek's books and put them away on the empty shelves. After a while, Derek heard a snicker come from the kid.

"What." He said through gritted teeth, as if daring Stiles to say something bad.

"I just-" he smiled. "I really wasn't expecting this. I thought you'd be like one of those obsessive-compulsive types. I mean, you're just so uptight." He ignored the glare Derek was giving him. "I like it though. Makes you normal."

Derek didn't say anything back. He just continued tidying up. It wasn't like he was seriously filthy. He just had a bunch of stuff out of place. And to be fair, the life of a full-time college student was taxing. He was more concerned with his studies than he was with making sure he did his laundry.

Speaking of, Derek started picking up the various pieces of clothes off the floor and shoved them into the washing machine.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Stiles said, hands out to stop him. "What are you doing?" Derek looked from the washing machine, to the clothes in his arms, to Stiles as if this should be obvious. "You have to separate those. I mean, look at this. You've got some white shirts in here. If you mix that with these jeans, the color will bleed and now you've got a blue shirt. Haven't you noticed that?"

He had. He had also found it easier to just buy a new white shirt if he needed one.

Stiles looked around, grabbing a hamper that had been filled with loose socks. He dumped them out, setting it between them. "Here. You can put your whites here and put your darks in the machine. I swear, you're just as undomesticated as Scott."

Derek rolled his eyes, but started yanking out the white fabrics from the washing machine to dump them in the hamper. Stiles took a seat on the floor, folding his legs in under him. He began to pair the socks in front of him.

Derek cocked an eyebrow, closing the lid. "Why bother? There's a black sock. There's another black sock. Now I have two black socks to wear."

Stiles shook his head, a murmured 'animal' coming out of his lips. "It's just messy. Unnecessarilymessy. Plus, this way you'll know if you're missing one."

"Does it matter?"

Stiles looked at him incredulously. "How can you go to sleep at night knowing you have an unmatched sock? It could be anywhere."

Derek snorted. "Maybe you're the obsessive-compulsive one."

"That very well might be true. But at least I know my socks match."

Eventually, Stiles started cooking. He was a bit appalled that Derek had pots and pans in his cupboard that were still in their original box. Derek had defended that his sister had bought him those things, despite his insistence that he would most likely just eat take-out.

While the steaks he pan-grilled were setting, and while Derek was mashing the potatoes, Stiles took a look around the now neater apartment. The garbage was put in bags by the front door, books properly on the shelves, papers and schoolwork nicely arranged on Derek's desk. There was just one big box of random items sitting on Derek's couch.

"Hey, what's in there?" Stiles nodded to the box.

Derek looked over. "Just some random knick-knacks my sister thought would make this place homier. I was gonna go through it, but never really found the time."

"I'll just move it so you can, I don't know, actually sit on your couch."

Derek just snorted.

Stiles lifted the box, looking around for a place to put it. He didn't really see anywhere where it would be out of the way. Derek was busily mashing away when he heard Stiles over his shoulder.

"Here, I'll just put it in here."

Derek's eyes widened. "No wait!" He dropped the masher in the pot and hurried after the boy to where he just knew he had gravitated.

"Whoa, no way…"

Derek froze, seeing Stiles standing in the open doorway. The boy had reached over and flipped a switch. His jaw dropped. Derek inwardly flinched again, bracing himself for what he knew was coming.

Again, Stiles was seeing something he had not been expecting at all. Inside the small room was a bunch of toys. Not the kinky kind, but toys for kids. Oddly enough, this room was actually quite organized. There was a train set, some racetracks, and large Lego models.

Laura had always teased Derek for his fixation with toys, but watching the train circle its track, or launching a car through a loop-de-loop, or just building something with the bricks was just something Derek could do that was stress free. After a long day of whatever, he always found this to be a good way to unwind. Derek spent most of his day reading, studying, doing homework, and working out. If he didn't have an outlet, just some mindless activity, he probably would have snapped by now. Not a lot of people understood that. Most people just watched TV or partied with friends. But Derek didn't have that. He had his toys. He glanced over at the wide-eyed kid, worried of what he was thinking at that moment.

'He probably thinks I'm weird,' Derek frowned. 'First I'm a slob, and now I'm a child. Godbringing him here was such a bad idea.'

But Derek was wrong. Stiles passed the box in his arms over to the older boy before literally jumping in. "Aweeeeeesome! How do you turn this on? Is it… whoaaaaa! Oh my God, it has little puffs of smoke! That's so cool!" Stiles hopped on over to the other side of the room. "What is this? What does… no way!" He clapped his hands as the matchbox car zoomed down the track. He picked another one, shooting it, watching excitedly as the two cars rocketed down the figure eight. "Boom!" He cried, arms outstretched when they finally collided. "Oh my God, Derek, you have a play room! This is so much cooler than a Jeeves!" He grinned at the older boy before picking up the Lego Millennium Falcon and running around the room, making whooshing sounds.

After a while, Derek began to wonder why he had even worried at all. Stiles was probably a bigger kid than himself, so of course he'd get a kick out of the room instead of mocking him for it. Derek chuckled to himself before setting the box down.

"Come on, you. You have a dinner to finish."

"But-but!"

Derek just pulled Stiles out by the collar of his shirt.

"You just don't wanna share your toys!" Stiles whined. Then, "Hey, do you think Scott would let me throw out all his stuff and put in my own play room?"

Derek snorted before taking up the masher once more.

The two finally sat down for their late dinner. Derek couldn't understand how this kid in front of him managed to take a steak, throw on some simple salt and pepper and cook it to near perfection on a pan-grill. It was tender and juicy and had Derek stretching across the table to steal some more of it off Stiles' plate, much to the latter's chagrin. Even the mashed potatoes were fluffy and buttery. If this was what Scott was getting every day, then Stiles really was thebest roommate, ever. Derek was seriously considering kidnapping Stiles and keeping him all to himself. 'As a housekeeper,' he added.

Stiles popped a bite of his raspberry crepe in his mouth. "You know, you really surprised me today, Mr. Hale."

Derek cocked an eyebrow, contently munching on his own crepe.

"I think I like you even better now that I know what you're really like."

"And just what am I really like?"

Stiles grinned, pointing his fork at the man across from him. "A big 'ol softy."

Derek rolled his eyes.

"I mean, you're just as messed up as the rest of us. Maybe a little messier than the rest of us, but still very… normal. And you have a play room!"

Derek frowned, opening his mouth to say something.

"But I get it," Stiles continued. "Life gets stressful sometimes. We all have our thing. Yours just happens to be a lot cuter than others." Derek looked away, trying to hide the flush on his cheeks. "And what's a better thing to have than the nostalgia of childhood?" He nodded to himself. "I get it," he repeated. "It's just adorable coming from a sourface like you."

Derek tossed him a disdainful look, but it was just a front. He was actually very glad that Stiles wasn't judging him for it like others were wont to do. Hell, it actually made Stiles like him even more for it. And that made Derek all the more grateful for the boy sitting across from him.

After their meal, Derek shared his toys, much to Stiles' delight. He figured after all the cleaning and cooking the boy did for him, it was the least he could do.

Chapter Text

It was almost five in the evening on a Friday when Derek heard his phone ring. He glanced at it, didn't recognize the number and so silenced it, figuring they'd leave a voicemail if it were important. He had to make some progress on a report for his psychology class so he couldn't afford a distraction. Unfortunately, life had another plan in store for him as his phone began to ring again. Derek frowned. It was the same number. But no. He had to concentrate. Whoever it was needed to realize that he was busy and should leave a message. Of course, Derek had no such luck as the phone began to ring a third time. Derek growled, snatching up his phone and pushing the 'Talk' button.

"What." He growled.

"Uh-hey- is this- um- Mr. Hale?"

Derek narrowed his eyes. "Scott?"

"Hey! Yeah! It's me! Okay good. I wasn't sure if I snagged the right number. I had to go through it pretty quickly and it's not like your name is in there as Mr. Hale so I had to make an educated guess and I was totally right! Allison's gonna be so prou-"

Derek exhaled in exasperation. "Did you need something?"

"Oh right," he chuckled awkwardly. "So Lydia has this idea that a surprise birthday can't be a surprise if it's anywhere near the person's actual birthday, so she and the gang planned a birthday party for Stiles and we were wondering if you could come."

Derek inwardly groaned. "Parties aren't exactly my thing."

"Aw come on, man! I know Stiles would love to have you there."

"I'll think about it, okay. When is it?"

"Eh-heh- well see, that's the thing. Lydia also has this idea where I can't exactly keep things a secret…"

"Scott. When is it?"

"Um- tonight? At 8-ish before he gets home from class?"

"Tonight? As in three hours from now?"

"Well we would have told you sooner, but Stiles is the only one with your number, and I was the only one who could get ahold of his phone and they only just told me about the party this morning even though it's at my apartment, so I had to sneak a peek at his phone while he wasn't looking to find your number- nice picture by the way. Was that whipped cream?"

Derek shut his eyes, feeling slightly mortified. He ignored the question. "Scott, what's your point."

"My point is, I know it's really short notice, but I think Stiles would really appreciate it if you came to his birthday party. It's at my apartment at 8 tonight."

Derek sighed. "We'll see."

"Okay, okay. I hope to see you there. Later, Mr. Hale!"

Derek just hung up, not bothering to say anything in return. He put his phone down, burying his face in his hands. 'Three hours? Three hours? They couldn't have given me a bit more notice than that?' He sat back in his desk chair, staring up at the ceiling. This was definitely going to cut into his schedule, but it's not like he could not go. It was for Stiles. At the very least, he should stop by and drop off a present. Derek groaned again. 'A present.' He hated shopping. Shopping meant messy displays, lines, and incompetent workers. But it was for Stiles. Derek could weather the chaos of the shopping experience if it was for Stiles.

He got up, grabbed his keys and slipped his sneakers on. He was not looking forward to this.

/\/\/\

Derek looked around. He really wished he had more of a game plan coming in. 'What should I even get him?' He was skimming through the clothing section, pausing whenever he thought he could see Stiles wearing something on display. 'This is dumb. I don't even know what size he is.' Derek held up a hoodie, trying to figure out if it could fit the younger boy. He tried to picture Stiles wearing it. He frowned. 'What if he already has it?' Derek groaned, slamming the hanger back on the rack before walking away. He could settle for a gift card.

Standing in line, waiting for the next available cashier, Derek let his eyes wander the various displays. Then his eyes caught something that sparked his memory.

"Hey Mr. Hale," Stiles said, setting down a cup of coffee- complete with a drawing of a panda bear- and a plate of chocolate-coffee tartlets with almonds on top. "If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be?"

"A fish."

"A fish?"

Derek just nodded.

"Why a fish?"

"Because they can swim wherever they feel like. They can go to China one day, then swim to Hawaii if they want."

"Well, birds can fly there, too."

"Birds are annoying. They have to travel in groups and there's non-stop squawking."

Stiles laughed. "Well then why not a shark or something? Or even a killer whale. At least they're badass."

Derek shrugged. "Fine. I'm a shark."

"Okay, then if you're a cool and awesome shark, then what am I?"

"A bee."

"What? A bee?"

Derek just nodded.

"Why are you a shark and me a bee?"

"Cause. You're always buzzing around."

Stiles scoffed. "You know what? I take it back. You're not a shark. You're a mean, grumpy wolf who just growls at everyone, always huffing and puffing, stealing baked goods from little girls."

Derek considered this. He shrugged, taking a bite of one of the tarts. "I can live with that."

"Unbelievable."

Derek stepped out of line and walked over to the display. He smirked to himself before grabbing the stuffed wolf and going back to the end of the line.

At about 8:15, Derek found himself outside Scott and Stiles' apartment. He could already hear the noise and music from down the hall. He briefly wondered if there would be any noise complaints from the neighbors, but decided he didn't really care. He rang the bell and was instantly greeted by Lydia, holding a red Solo cup.

"Oh good! You made it," she smiled.

"I just wanted to drop this off-"

She darted her eyes to the box in his hands that was wrapped with meticulous precision, complete with a red bow on top. She shook her head. "No I don't think so. You're staying. Come on," she waved him in.

Derek stayed where he was. "I've got a paper to write."

She rolled her eyes. "We've all got papers to write. Come on. He's almost here."

This time she didn't wait for him. She grabbed his arm and with inhuman strength, yanked him inside without a second thought. The next thing he knew, he was in the middle of the living room with the gift still in one hand and a red Solo cup full of something in the other. He sniffed the beverage, didn't trust it, and just placed it down on the first available surface.

The small apartment was filled with people Derek didn't recognize. They were all laughing, having a good time, waiting for the birthday boy to arrive. Some were dancing to the music, others were munching on the provided food. Derek made his way over to where a large pile of gifts had accumulated and added his to the collection.

"Hey! Mr. Hale! You came!" Scott grinned, pausing dancing with Allison to greet the older boy. "Help yourself to some food! Grab a drink or two!" He pulled a red Solo cup out of nowhere and placed it in Derek's hand. Derek just frowned at it and put it aside.

Allison giggled. "I think you've had a drink or two." She wrapped her arms around her boyfriend's waist and nuzzled his cheek. "But yeah," she said, turning to Derek. "It's good you came. Stiles will be happy."

Derek scoffed. "When is he not?" Despite this, he couldn't help but feel his heart swell a bit at her words. He ignored the feeling.

"Guys! He's on his way up!" called Danny to the crowd.

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "How does he know?"

"He hacked the elevator camera feed. Danny's all sorts of tech savvy," Scott grinned.

"Shhh," Lydia snipped. "Everyone shut up! Jackson! Turn off the music!" She flipped a switch, sending the room into darkness as the music was silenced, presumably by her boyfriend.

Derek let his eyes adjust to the low lighting. There were giggles here and there and whispers amongst friends. But a hush fell over the room when they heard the doorknob jiggle, probably as Stiles tried to unlock the door. The door swung open, hallway lights silhouetting the unsuspecting boy. He reached for the light switch, flipping them on once he felt them under his fingers.

"Surprise!"

"Holy shit!" Stiles literally jumped back in shock. Once realization hit, that he wasn't under attack and that these people were actually his friends, a grin spread across his face.

"Happy birthday!" Lydia said, throwing her arms around him in a hug.

"It's not my birthday," Stiles laughed.

"Which makes this surprise party even more of a surprise, duh," she replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

The boy laughed again, moving throughout the room, hugging and high-fiving his friends. The music kicked back up again and everyone shifted back into full party mode. Derek watched as Stiles greeted and chatted with everyone. He looked ecstatic, his cheeks flushed from the excitement.

"Hey Derek."

Derek looked over his shoulder and nodded in greeting. "Hey Isaac."

"Here," the curly-headed boy said, handing Derek a red Solo cup before taking a swig from his own.

Derek just stared at the cup in his hand before setting it down with the one Scott had handed him, shaking his head. "I wasn't planning on staying long."

"Oh? How come?"

"I've got a paper to write."

Isaac snorted. "That's what the weekend is for." He picked the cup back up and handed it to Derek once more. "Lighten up a bit, huh?"

Derek rolled his eyes. "I also don't like parties."

This time Isaac laughed. "That doesn't surprise me in the slightest. But you're here anyway, so try to have a good time. If not for yourself, then do it for the birthday boy." He nodded in Stiles' direction. He was now chatting away with some friends, a red cup in each hand.

Derek sighed. "Fine." He gulped down the beverage, throwing care to the wind.

Isaac smirked. "Attaboy."

Eventually, ten minutes turned to thirty, thirty minutes into an hour and Derek just let himself relax a bit. Somewhere down the line, someone had hit the lights again, only to turn on some disco lights that spun around the room. Again, while Stiles was busy amongst his friends, Isaac was there to help him feel less like the awkward wallflower. The boy was actually sort of growing on him. As they weaved through the crowd over to where the food was, Derek accidentally bumped into someone.

"Sorry," he apologized.

"Mm, honey, with cheekbones like that, you don't have to apologize for nothing."

Derek blinked before Isaac just tugged him along. Derek glanced around the room again, trying to take in the faces through dim lighting. "Isaac… is it just me or are there a lot of drag queens in here?"

At this, Scott jumped in out of nowhere, still grinning like a madman. He had always looked like he was generally happy with everything, but now he looked positively euphoric. "There are a lot of drag queens in here," he said, matter-of-factly. He reached for the cup in Isaac's hand, drinking from it.

"Easy boy," the blond chuckled, trying to take it back. He turned to Derek. "Yeah, we all went to a gay bar for Danny's birthday."

"Yeah!" Scott smiled, recalling the memory. "It was drag night so Jackson dared Stiles to enter the contest and of course Stiles was gonna enter if Jackson dared him," he reached for the cup again, but Isaac just held it over the shorter boy's head.

"Anyway, Stiles lost. Completely," Isaac continued. "He looked ridiculous, actually. But the ladies there loved it and found him adorable. And there you go. Instant friends."

Part of Derek was surprised by this, but another part of him knew that that was typical Stiles. The kid was fearless, saying and doing whatever he wanted, not caring what the world might have to say about it. And as for instant friends, well that was no surprise at all. Stiles had managed to worm his way into Derek's life. Doing so with others was a cakewalk compared to that.

"Oh! Oh!" Scott suddenly said, bouncing up and down. "I think he still has the stuff! I'll go-" he didn't even finish his sentence. He just darted off to where Stiles was, throwing his arm around his best friend and talking into his ear over the music.

Derek watched as Stiles burst into laughter, throwing his head back before looking to the group in front of him. They seemed to be eager, nodding at whatever Scott had said. Next thing he knew, Scott was dragging Stiles down the hall to where their rooms were.

If he were curious as to what was happening, he didn't have to wait long to find out. But he pretty much figured out what Scott had likely said to the boy before they even emerged from the room. Loud hoots and hollers, whistles and catcalls filled the apartment as Stiles strutted out in a bright red dress and a big, curly, brunette wig. He had, however, opted to keep his sneakers, throwing the whole look off. He did a little spin, earning himself some applause.

"You're still ugly as hell, Stilinski!" came a voice in the crowd.

"Stop talking about your face, Jackson!" Stiles yelled back.

Derek couldn't help it. He laughed. The whole thing was just funny and ridiculous. And it was soStiles. In a room filled with people, where most people might shy away and worry about impressions, Stiles didn't care. He wasn't afraid to just have fun and roll with the punches. Derek thought more people should be like that, himself included.

The night carried on, an hour turning to two and three. Derek made small talk with some of Stiles' friends. He even got a few numbers slipped into his pockets while he wasn't looking. He continued to watch Stiles with his friends, smiling and laughing. And while he would never admit it out loud, Derek found himself a little jealous of the attention they were getting. Attention that he craved from the boy for himself.

At some point, someone had started a campaign: Kisses for the Birthday Boy. Friends would kiss him on the cheeks; the bolder ones would go for the lips. Even Jackson relented, kissing his friend on the cheek. And while he knew it was all in good fun, Derek couldn't help but frown every time he heard the campaign cry. His jealousy was daring to rear its ugly head. He felt that now was a good a time as any to grab some fresh air. Plus, the room was getting a little too warm for his liking.

Derek grabbed a bottled water before slipping his way outside to the balcony. There were a few people out there already, having the same idea as him. He cracked open the bottle before taking a long drink from it. Derek collapsed into the loveseat there, throwing his head back to look at the stars. He sighed, letting the cool air brush his flushed skin.

He had known that Stiles had a lot of friends. Stiles was the type of person that people naturally gravitated to. And even if they didn't, he still managed to get them on his side. So he shouldn't be surprised that there was a whole apartment full of people who care about him. He supposed that he was just feeling a bit left out. 'He probably didn't even notice me…' Derek sighed, feeling a little childish at the thought. He couldn't help but want all of Stiles' attention. It was what he had grown used to. Whenever they met in the morning, or between classes, or even when Derek went on his runs, it was always just him and Stiles. He never had to compete for the boy's attention. But now, in a room filled with people, he felt like maybe he didn't exactly measure up. He closed his eyes, hearing the people go inside. He was alone.

A few minutes later, he heard the door slide open as someone stepped out.

"There you are!"

Derek glanced over. Stiles was there, still in his red-sequined dress, hair long gone. Stiles smiled, walking over to Derek, leaning against the railing to face him.

"You enjoying yourself?" the boy asked, swiping the water for himself and drinking some.

Derek's heart swelled at having Stiles with him. He wasn't inside entertaining his numerous guests. He was here. With Derek. Derek nodded.

"Good," he smiled again, handing the water back. "I would've come up to you sooner, but you seemed busy." He chuckled. "I never realize how popular you were, Mr. Hale," he teased. "I was worried you had left when I didn't see you."

Derek couldn't stop the small smile on his lips in hearing the boy's words. "Stiles, it's your party. I came here for you. I'm never too busy for you." The truth of the statement went way deeper than into this night.

The boy just smiled softly. He nodded. "Good." He hopped up, sitting on the edge.

The movement instantly washed the smile off Derek's face. "Be careful."

Stiles grinned slowly. "It's okay. I sit here all the time."

"You've been drinking."

"True. But I think I can manage sitting down."

"Not when there's a four-story drop right under you. Get down."

"Derek, I'm fine-"

"Stiles." He reached over, pulling the boy's wrist to him. Stiles lurched off the ledge, falling into the space next to Derek. "Just- don't. Okay?" He wrapped his arm around the boy's shoulder, pulling him in close.

Stiles let himself be pulled. He nodded slowly. "Okay."

Derek let out a breath, relaxing.

"My hair's gone," the boy said, wistfully, adjusting himself so that he was leaning into Derek's warmth.

Derek snorted. "I'm pretty sure you shave it every few weeks. This really shouldn't be a surprise."

Stiles laughed. "He jokes. Get a few drinks in him and the man's a friggin' comedian."

"Shut up."

Stiles just smiled. "I meant my wig."

"Ah."

"It's lost. Somewhere in there," he said, waving his arm in the general direction of the apartment.

Derek shrugged. "I like you better without it."

Stiles smiled again, dropping his head against Derek's shoulder. He yawned. "You're warm."

"And you're sleepy."

He shrugged. "I've been up since four. I'm allowed to be sleepy."

Derek glanced at his watch. It was already approaching one in the morning. He was getting tired, too. Besides, it sounded like the party inside was dying down. "Your friends are interesting," he commented.

Stiles snorted. "You mean the ones in pretty dresses?" Derek nodded. "Just a heads up, you gotta be careful with those ones. Those ladies may have a pretty mean manicure, but they've also got a pretty mean left hook."

Derek chuckled. "Some of them slipped me their numbers."

The boy scoffed. "I'm jealous. I had to ask for theirs." He was quiet for a moment. "You gonna call any of them?"

"No."

"They're nice ladies."

"I'm sure they are."

Stiles sighed. "Fine. Don't call them."

"I won't."

He smiled, closing his eyes. "You're warm."

"You already said that."

Stiles didn't respond. His breathing began to slow as he turned a little more into the warmth.

Derek edged Stiles a little closer, resting his cheek atop the boy's head. They sat like that for a while, undisturbed. The occasional party guest would step outside, sometimes for air, sometimes in search for the birthday boy, but once they noticed the scene, they would quietly make their way back inside. Eventually, the voices inside dialed down to light murmurs; the music turned down to softer tones. Derek was content to just stay where he was with Stiles sleeping softly against him, but he knew that the cold would eventually overwhelm them. Reluctantly, he shook the boy.

"Stiles."

"Hn…"

"We have to go back inside."

"Nn…"

"It's almost two."

He didn't respond.

"Stiles," Derek tried again, pulling his arm away.

"Juss… ca'ry mm…"

Derek sighed at the request. But, of course, he caved. Slipping his arms under the boy's legs and cradling him against his chest, Derek carried Stiles. He slid the door open with his foot and entered the now nearly empty apartment.

Allison and Lydia were still awake, clearing up a bit of the mess. Scott was snoring lightly from his sprawled out position on the couch, complete with Stiles' wig on his head. Jackson was sleeping on his stomach, stretched out on the floor, using his arms as a pillow. When the girls spotted Derek with Stiles in his arms, they smiled. Lydia slid past him, opening the door to Stiles' room for him. Derek nodded in thanks before she left to return to her friend.

Derek gently lay Stiles down on his bed. He pulled his shoes off, setting them neatly on the floor before pulling back the blankets and wrapping them over the boy. Stiles rolled onto his side slightly, curling into the blankets. He blinked his eyes sleepily, as if he were trying to wake himself up. Derek sat on the edge of the bed, rubbing his hand gently over the younger boy's shoulder.

"Go to sleep," he whispered.

"Mm…" Stiles sounded, rolling onto his back. He brought his finger up to his lips, tapping them softly. "Kisses… for birthday boy…" he slurred, reciting the campaign cry.

Derek just gazed down at the boy before him who watched him with sleep-addled eyes. Then something caught his eye. On Stiles' bedside table was the stuffed wolf, watching protectively over the sleeping occupant. The ribbon from the wrapping paper was now a collar for the toy, red bright against the black fur. Derek smiled, turning his gaze back onto Stiles. Gently, he traced the boy's face with his fingertips, connecting invisible lines from one mole to another. He studied the face he had fallen for, helplessly so. Then, he leaned down and pressed his lips against Stiles' for a kiss.

He felt the soft lips press against his own, clumsy in their half-awakened state, as a hand lightly clutched his shirt. He felt his insides warm, felt happiness spread throughout his entire body. He felt complete. Derek kissed Stiles, kissed him gently, indulging himself in the emotions daring to overcome him. He pulled back for air, resting his forehead against the boy's before kissing that too.

Derek sat back up, smiling softly. "Happy birthday, Stiles."

The boy just smiled contently, finally closing his eyes. "Best… birthday… ever…" He rolled back onto his side, succumbing to sleep.

Derek moved, pulling the covers up some more and tucking him in. He brushed the back of his hand against one flushed cheek before cradling it in his hand. He understood that he cared for this boy, cared for him deeply. His day-in and day-out had not only shifted to involve him, but had moved to revolve around him. And more than that, he found himself hoping that Stiles had moved in the same way.

Derek sighed, pulling himself away from the sleeping figure. He stood, crossed the room, and paused to look at Stiles once more before shutting off the light and closing the door behind him.

He bid 'good night' to the girls, ignoring their knowing smiles. He went home, got ready for bed. And as he lay down, drawing the covers over himself, he sighed again, wishing he had Stiles in his arms once more.

Chapter Text

When Derek woke up, there were quite a few things that didn't make sense. One, half of him was warm while the other half was cold. Two, his neck felt like shit. Three, his head felt like shit. And four, he was sitting, not lying down like he should have been.

Derek cracked an eye open to try to make sense of the world. What he saw was surprising. Instead of the inside of his bedroom, he was staring at another building. It then occurred to him that he was outside. He jerked his head up, eyes popping wide. He regretted the movement immediately, his neck throbbing in pain from having slept in an awkward position. He rubbed it, trying to massage the kinks out.

And then he realized another thing. His other arm was trapped under the weight of whatever it was warming his side. Or, rather, whoever. Derek nearly jumped up in surprise.

'What the hell? Stiles?' Derek was confused. 'No. We went inside. He fell asleep so I carried him inside. And that's when I-'

Derek immediately flushed. 'I kissed him! But… wait…' He frowned, feeling even more confused than ever. 'If we're still outside, that means…'

A dream. The kiss had been a dream.

Derek eased back into the couch, letting his muddled mind catch up. 'I must've fallen asleep after he did. Which means we never…' Derek glanced at the sleeping figure, eyes trailing down to lips slightly chapped. They had felt so real. They had felt so right. But it had never happened.

Disappointment overcame the boy. He had wanted it to be real.

Derek was quickly snapped out of his thoughts when he heard the sliding door open. Isaac stepped out, barefoot and stretching his arms above his head as he let out a big yawn. He glanced over to the side, jerking back in surprise in seeing the two figures on the couch.

"Uh, hey Derek. Morning," he said softly as to not disturb the still sleeping Stiles. A sly smile grew on his face. "Fell asleep there, didja?"

Derek just rolled his eyes. "What time is it?"

Isaac yawned again, bringing his wrist up to his face. "Almost 10?"

"Jesus…" This was not how Derek usually spent his Saturday morning. But to be fair, that wasn't exactly how he usually spent his Friday night either.

As content as he was to just sit here and let Stiles use him as a pillow, Derek thought the boy would be more comfortable in his own bed. So, as he had in his dream, Derek shifted around to gather the boy into his arms, cradling him against his chest. He carried him inside as Isaac watched with amused eyes.

Oddly enough, it was actually Jackson who ended up with the wig from last night. He and Lydia were lying down on the couch while Danny slept sprawled out on the floor. Allison and Scott were nowhere to be seen, but Derek could assume that the pair were sleeping in Scott's own bed. Derek walked past the mess of a living room and down the hall. He opened the door to the boy's bedroom, taking immediate notice of the lack of stuffed wolf on the nightstand. Derek couldn't understand the disappointment he felt in that as well. Gently he placed Stiles down onto the bed, pulling the covers up over the boy. He sat down on the edge and sighed.

'It was just a dream…' Derek repeated to himself. He glanced down at the sleeping figure, finding himself wanting to trace the boy's features as he had in his head. He found himself wanting to kiss the boy's lips as well, but ultimately decided against it. He just sighed again before standing up, crossing the room and closing the door behind him.

When he walked back out into the living room, Isaac was there, tying his shoelaces. He stood from where he had been sitting on the floor. "Come on," he said jerking his head towards the door.

"What?"

"You're coming with me."

Derek shook his head. "I'm going home."

Isaac rolled his eyes. "No. You're coming with me."

"And where, pray tell, are we going?" Derek huffed out. He was in no mood for this kid's sass.

"We've got an apartment full of sleeping college students who probably had one too many drinks. And soon, this is going to be an apartment full of awake college students who are hungry and hung over. So we're getting breakfast."

Derek just studied Isaac, trying to make sure whether or not the boy actually thought he cared. "Yeah, no. I'm going home." He made his way to the front door.

"Okay," Isaac shrugged. "I just thought it was something they'd appreciate. I know Stiles would greatly appreciate it."

Derek froze, his hand on the doorknob mid-turn. He scowled over his shoulder at the curly-haired boy. "You don't get to use that anymore. I'm not just gonna flip over every time you mention his name."

Isaac smiled to himself. "All right, all right. So you're not coming with me then?"

Derek sneered at the door before ripping it open and walking out. "…I am."

He ignored the chuckle he heard from somewhere behind him.

/\/\/\

As Isaac led the way to a hole-in-the-wall donut shop, convinced that the fried concoction was the best hangover cure, it gave Derek some time to think about what didn't happen. He considered it some small consolation that while he didn't actually kiss Stiles, he did end up falling asleep with the boy snuggled up next to him. Just remembering Stiles' warmth against him seemed enough for Derek. Also, not kissing Stiles meant that he and Derek were still just good friends, which Derek was totally on board with. He had very good and valid reasons as to why he was so focused on his schoolwork. There just wasn't any time for any potentially romantic entanglements. That would just screw with his carefully plotted out college life. Besides, just because he dreamt of kissing Stiles didn't exactly mean he wanted a romantic entanglement with him. Derek's the kind of person who believes that dreams are simply a manifestation of the day's events, scrambled all up in your subconscious, that don't particularly mean much of anything. He was at a party where people were kissing Stiles, so it made sense that in his dream, he had kissed Stiles as well. See? Simple. Logical. Yeah. He'll go with that.

Once they reached the shop, Isaac picked two dozen varying donuts, handing one box to Derek to carry on the way back. Wanting his own slight hangover to be cured, Derek reached in and grabbed one before Isaac had even finished paying for it.

On the trek back to the apartment, Derek massaged his neck again, wishing the kink would just go away.

"Creak in the neck?" Isaac asked, munching on his own donut.

Derek simply nodded. Lightly. "A downfall to using someone's head as a pillow," he said, rolling his neck gingerly.

Isaac snorted. "I'm sure you didn't mind it."

Derek just ignored the statement. "Where did you end up crashing?"

Isaac glanced over to the older boy. "Stiles' bed."

Derek turned his head to give the blonde a sidelong glance.

"What?" Isaac shrugged sheepishly. "He wasn't using it. Besides," he said, focusing his attention back to the sidewalk in front of him. "It's not like I haven't slept in his bed before."

This time, Derek made a complete stop, staring down the boy who carried on a few more paces.

"Relax," the blonde smirked. "I meant it in a completely platonic sort of way."

Derek continued walking, but didn't find himself relaxing. "Are you two close?"

"We're pretty good friends, if that's what you're asking. I'd say I'm closer to Scott than to Stiles." At this, Derek finally felt his shoulders relax. "There was a point in time that Stiles actually hated me. Thought I was trying to take Scott away. But he got over it." He turned to look at Derek. "We've been buddies ever since."

"All of you seem pretty close…" Derek said, mostly to himself.

"Well we've known each other for some time now. We went to high school together. I mean, we didn't all get along at first. Who does? But, eventually it all worked out. You spend enough time with a person and they just get familiar, you know?"

Derek nodded slowly. He definitely understood that.

When the two finally returned to the apartment, the front door swung open just as Isaac reached out for it. Danny was there, a surprised look on his face before he let out a smile in seeing what was in the blonde's hands.

"Perfect! Just what I needed," he said, reaching into the box and stealing a donut for himself. "I gotta go though. Work in an hour."

"Yeah, see you later Danny." Isaac said, giving the boy a half-hug with his free arm.

"Later Isaac. Derek," he smiled at him. Derek just nodded a goodbye, letting the boy slip by.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee wafted through the air as they made their way back into the apartment. Both Lydia and Allison were awake, tidying up a bit, but mostly just chatting away. Jackson was still passed out on the couch and Scott was probably still asleep in his room.

Derek inwardly smiled in seeing a yawning Stiles sitting at the counter, nursing some freshly brewed coffee. He immediately took a seat next to the boy. "Morning."

Stiles did a double-take. "Derek. You're here," he smiled. "I thought you might've gone home."

He just shook his head, placing the box of donuts in front the boy, taking notice of the fact that Stiles had finally slipped out of his dress and into some pajama pants and a plain tee. Stiles perked with excitement in seeing the box, instantly figuring out what was inside before he even threw open the lid.

"Yesssss," he groaned out, grabbing a jelly-filled pastry. "You're awesome!" He professed before digging in. Derek absolutely didn't swell with pride… much, anyway.

"See… greatly appreciative," Isaac whispered lowly into Derek's ear, elbowing him slightly before leaving to offer up some donuts to the girls.

Derek just ignored Isaac and the blush creeping up on his cheeks. He distracted himself by snatching Stiles' abandoned cup of coffee, taking a swig of it for himself. It was a bit sweeter than how he liked his own, with a hint of vanilla rather than the hazelnut he preferred, but it was still pretty good. He took another drink. And then he almost choked on it when it occurred to him that if Stiles had placed his lips exactly where Derek's were while drinking, they'd actually be sharing an indirect kiss. The faint flush on his cheeks deepened in color.

"Are you okay?" Stiles asked, noticing how red Derek was.

Derek just coughed. "Yeah. It's hot," he lied.

Stiles just gave him a look of understanding. "Did you move me inside? Cause I remember sitting outside with you but then I don't remember going inside…"

"Uh, yeah. We fell asleep out there. I… moved you inside when I woke up."

"Oh," he was quiet for a moment before he turned to smile at the older boy. "Then you must've been a pretty comfy pillow. I usually toss and turn at night." He chuckled. "Can't keep still, even when I'm asleep."

"You were probably just exhausted," Derek rationalized.

"…Probably."

Derek brought his hand back up to his neck, massaging it again.

"What's wrong with your neck?"

"I just slept on it wrong."

"Well then here," Stiles said, licking his fingers and wiping them on a napkin. He spun on his seat, swirled his finger, motioning Derek to turn around.

Derek was frozen to the spot, not because he didn't understand what Stiles wanted, but because he knew exactly what he wanted. Derek wasn't sure if he could take it without his head exploding. Or his pants. Either or.

"I work with dough all morning," Stiles assured, taking his hesitance for resistance. "My fingers are like magic." He didn't wait for Derek to move himself. He scooted closer before spinning the older boy's seat so that his back was to him.

Derek felt his heart begin to race, anticipating Stiles' hands against him. His hands were warm as they massaged stiff shoulders. Derek nearly cursed himself for wearing a jacket, but soon it didn't even matter as Stiles moved up the curve of his neck, digging his thumbs into the tense area. Derek unconsciously tilted his head to the side, inviting Stiles to massage deeper on the afflicted side. He shut his eyes, enjoying this. Stiles hands really were magic.

"Ooh! Donuts!"

Derek snapped his eyes back open as Scott finally emerged from his room, only to squeeze in between Stiles and Derek to grab a fried pastry in the box just past them. Because it's not like there was a whole other side of the counter Scott could have reached over in order to get one. Except that there was. Which meant Scott ruined this perfectly perfect moment for no reason. Derek nearly growled his frustration.

"Morning Stiles! Morning Mr. Hale!" he grinned, oblivious to the murderous thoughts running in Derek's head. Scott walked around into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of juice. "Last night was great, wasn't it?"

"Last night was crazy," Stiles agreed.

Scott took a swig of his juice, setting it down to devour the donut. "Oh man, did you bring these?" Scott asked Derek. Not even waiting for a response, he leaned over the counter, kissing a startled Derek on the cheek.

"Dammit, McCall," Derek scowled, pushing the boy's face away, wiping his cheek with his sleeve. "What the hell? Don't ever do that! Besides, Isaac was the one who bought them."

"You're welcome," Isaac smirked, coming up behind Derek and Stiles, placing a hand on both their shoulders. "Don't ever say I never did anything for you. And keep your lips to yourself."

"Dude, anyone who brings food here deserves much love," Scott said matter-of-factly, not caring what Isaac had to say. He jumped up on the counter to wrap an arm around Isaac's head to pull the taller boy in for a kiss of his own. Unfortunately, this caused the messy-haired boy to knock over his juice, effectively splashing it across the counter. And all over Derek's shirt.

"Dammit Scott!" Derek hissed, jumping back. But the damage was already done.

"Aw man! I'm sorry!" Scott scrambled, grabbing a towel from the kitchen and moving to wipe the mess. Stiles and Isaac were just laughing as Scott tried to dab down Derek's chest.

"I'm glad you guys are amused," Derek deadpanned. "Give me that," he snapped, snatching the towel from a sheepish Scott to wipe his chest himself.

"Come on, Grumpy Gills," Stiles said between chuckles. He stood up, taking hold of Derek's wrist and pulled him into his room. "You can borrow one of my shirts."

"Is this gonna be a thing now? Should I just start bringing a spare shirt whenever I come over?"

Stiles just laughed.

Derek shrugged off his jacket and tossed it onto the bed. That's when he noticed that the pile of gifts from the living room had been moved to it. There was wrapping paper scattered about. Stiles had obviously opened a few of them while he was out with Isaac. He recognized one particular print on the floor and scanned the rest of the room. And there, just as it was in his dream, the stuffed wolf was sitting comfortably on Stiles' nightstand, as if it had been there all along, complete with the red ribbon around its neck. Derek froze, wishing someone would pinch him to make sure he was actually awake.

"Deeeeeerek."

He snapped out of his daze and looked to the boy. Stiles was holding out a shirt for him. Derek took it, nodding in thanks. He pulled his ruined shirt over his head.

"Hey, you have a tattoo."

Derek just paused, his ruined shirt in one hand and Stiles' shirt in the other. He looked over his shoulder. Stiles was studying the mark curiously. His finger was twirling in the air, as if tracing the image. It faintly registered in Derek's mind that Stiles was technically checking him out. And with this in mind, he completely and totally did not stand up straighter… or flex a bit. No. Definitely not.

"What is it?"

"It's a triskelion."

"What's it mean?"

"Well, the symbol itself can mean different things to different people. But to me, it's about past, present, and future. And how the roots of all three can shape a person."

Stiles nodded in understanding. "That's cool. I want one. I mean- not a triss- triska-"

"Triskelion."

"Yeah, that. Not that specifically. Just a tattoo. But I think I might faint at the sight of my own blood."

Derek snorted, finally tugging the clean shirt over his head. He actually should have thought twice about just accepting whatever shirt Stiles handed him cause as he looked down, he saw a picture of a "stud muffin" looking back up at him. "Stiles, what the hell?"

He heard the boy laugh. "It was just the first one I grabbed, I swear."

Derek sighed and spun around, causing Stiles to laugh even more at the full effect. Of course the shirt was two sizes too small, which meant the little muffin was stretched tight across his broad chest.

Stiles took in Derek's unamused expression and tried to calm his giggles. But all that came out - between laughs - was, "that's right. I forgot. You're not a muffin man."

Derek scowled at the boy laughing at his expense. He grabbed his jacket, slipping it back on to cover himself. "You know what? I'm taking the wolf back."

Stiles instantly sobered and gasped. "You wouldn't!"

Derek turned back around and moved towards the nightstand.

"No, no, no!" Stiles whined, rushing over, blocking Derek's path. He grabbed it first, snuggling it close to him. "It's mine. I like him."

Seeing it up close, he spotted writing on the ribbon that wasn't there before. "What'd you write on it?"

"His name, duh."

"You named your stuffed animal," he said, incredulously. "What did you name him?"

A grin spread across the boy's face. "Sourwolf."

Derek scoffed. "That's a terrible name."

"I think it suits him. I mean, the person who got it for him is pretty sour. He threatens to take away a person's birthday gift."

Derek narrowed his eyes. "It's not even your birthday."

"Okay then, someone's unbirthday gift."

He frowned. "What does that even mean?"

Stiles blinked. "You're hopeless."

Derek just shook his head and turned back around to leave the room. He paused when he got to the door. "That card that went with it-"

"With Sourwolf."

Derek pursed his lips, not even going to comment on it. He continued. "Invest in bigger shirts."

Then, "Cause it means you'll be by more often?"

Derek didn't respond, but the smile on Stiles' face said he already knew the answer to that.

/\/\/\

Two shirts. One and two.

Derek stared at the two shirts folded neatly on his bed. One was a plain black one; the other was black as well, but with a picture of a muffin on it. Both belonged to Stiles.

He knew he needed to return them. There was no use in keeping them. They didn't exactly fit him. But…

Derek harrumphed before taking a seat in the middle of his bed. He turned the shirts around to face him as he continued to stare at them, arms crossed over his chest.

'This is ridiculous. Just return them,' Derek told himself. 'You can go over there right now and return them. Stiles is probably at home, wasting his time playing video games.'

'Cause staring at shirts is an entirely productive use of time…' Derek sassed himself. He frowned at his inner voice. 'Shut up.'

Derek closed his eyes, half-aware that he was arguing with himself. He inhaled deeply. And therein lay the problem.

The smell. There was a smell coming off both shirts that Derek inexplicably liked. He may or may not have spent an afternoon with that first shirt over his face just smelling it. Because that's not creepy.

It had hints of coffee and sugar, and just a blend of baked goods, with an undertone of Stiles. It smelled good. It was part of the reason why he hadn't washed it yet. And now he had a second one. A second one that was ripe with Stiles' scent. Yeah, he hoped the boy wasn't expecting these back any time soon.

It was decided then. Derek was keeping the shirts. And it was for a completely logical reason. Should Stiles come over and spill anything on himself, well then there's already a shirt here for him. Two in fact. He'd have a little special place in his dresser just for that. Because it was normal to have a drawer for your friend who has only come over once, and during that one time never even managed to get a crumb of food on himself. Perfectly. Normal.

Derek groaned, hating himself. He grabbed the shirt with the muffin on it and draped it over his face as he lay back down onto his bed, not worrying about wasting any time. It's okay. He had no problem penciling in some time for his creepy affixations.

/\/\/\

Derek was seated against a planter with his legs swinging back and forth. He had just finished his jog and cool down and was now waiting for Stiles to get out of class, as was their tradition the three nights of the week he had added the workout to his schedule.

Stiles had been in a particularly good mood that day. He had given Derek some extra lemon-cornmeal shortcakes on the way out of the coffee shop that morning and had even slipped him a bag of cardamom butter cookies between classes. Now, Derek certainly wasn't going to complain, but it did leave him curious as to why the boy was so perky that day.

"Hey, Mr. Hale," Stiles beamed, hopping down the steps over to where Derek was waiting, his backpack slung off of one shoulder.

"Hey," Derek nodded in greeting, sliding off the planter. "How was class?"

Just then, someone dressed in all black with a hood pulled over their head darted out of nowhere and snatched the backpack right off of Stiles' shoulder.

"Wha-hey!" Stiles yelled.

Without a moment's hesitation, Derek was in pursuit. No one, and I mean no one, steals from his Stiles! Er… just Stiles.

The assailant tossed a glance over his shoulder. "Oh shit!" He sped up, trying to get away from the angry man.

There was no way Derek was going to let this guy get away. He picked up the pace, reaching out. The black sweatshirt was just out of his grasp. With a final burst of speed, Derek tackled the guy to the ground. He pinned him down, struggles useless against the full weight and strength Derek had against him. He was just about ready to lay into this guy for even thinking about attacking Stiles when he heard the boy running up. He was… laughing?

"Wai-wait!" Stiles laughed, bending over, trying to catch his breath. "It's Jackson! It's – haha – it's Jackson!" At this, he finally toppled over, rolling on the floor, laughing.

Derek looked back down at the figure underneath him. He yanked the hood down and sure enough, the blonde was staring up at him wide-eyed with terror. "Oh," was all he could think to say. He stood, offering a hand to the flattened boy, helping him up.

Jackson was scowling now, brushing himself off. "Jesus Christ, Stilinski. Get your boyfriend under control."

Derek just glared at him, causing the blonde to take a step back.

Jackson averted his gaze back to the boy on the floor. "Keys. Now." He tossed the backpack onto him.

Stiles, still chuckling, zipped the bag open, pulled out a set of keys and tossed them to Jackson who caught them deftly in the air.

"Steal my keys again, Stiles, and you're dead."

At this, Derek took a step forward, making the blonde stumble a bit back before turning and walking away.

"I love you, Jackson!" Stiles called from his seat on the floor. "That was totally worth it!"

Derek, needless to say, was a bit confused. He just helped Stiles back onto his feet before fixing him with a lost expression. "What the hell was that?"

Once Stiles got his giggles under control, he explained. "Yesterday, Jackson was going on and on about the new rims he put on his Porsche. He - rather stupidly - left the keys out while I was there so I took them. I guess he was trying to scare me, acting like a robber while getting them back."

Derek shook his head in dismay. "You two have a very strange friendship."

Stiles smirked. "Not unlike our own. You totally took him down for me." Derek flushed, grateful for the darkened sky. "Like, if that had been a real attacker, he would have been pummeled to death by now! That was awesome!"

Derek just began walking away.

"No, seriously, Derek. You're my hero!"

"Stiles. Shut up."

Stiles jogged up, looping his arm through Derek's before nuzzling it. "Thank you for that. Just seeing Jackson's face was so totally worth it."

Derek didn't respond. But with the way Stiles was merrily pressed against him, he found he couldn't agree more.

Chapter Text

It was Thursday. There was nothing special or significant about Thursday. Thursday was just another day of the week. This is what was in Derek's mind when he woke up that morning. He looked at the date then told himself that it was just Thursday. Only Thursday.

The day had been going smoothly. It was just like any other day. He got his coffee, ate some spiced pumpkin pie, went to class, did some studying just like he did every Thursday. And then he got a call from his sister.

She just wanted to check up on him, make sure he was all right considering the day. She had meant well, but Derek wished she understood his need to just numb himself from what the day was. His Uncle Peter knew that. He was likely to hear from him on Friday, maybe even Saturday, but definitely not on Thursday. But Laura always thought she knew Derek best. And in most cases, she was spot on. But when it came to this…

Derek sighed. He couldn't be mad at her. He couldn't be mad at anyone. And that just left him with a stuffy apartment where he was all alone with these emotions daring to overwhelm him. Unable to stand it any longer, Derek grabbed his keys and left.

It was late. Nearly midnight. He had to be grateful for it, cause any earlier and he probably would've crashed into someone. He had been driving around at reckless speeds, making sharp turns, wearing down his tires and his brakes. He rolled his windows all the way down, letting the cold air sting against his face. And once the need for speed had died down, he found himself here, parked with his windows back up, just outside Stiles' apartment.

He had no plans to go inside. Hell, the boy was probably asleep by now. He just needed the proximity. Just being there, in his car, made him feel better in a way he couldn't understand. Derek sighed, leaning his head against his steering wheel.

'Dammit Laura… why did you have to call? Everything was fine.' He shut his eyes. "Everything was fine…" he repeated to himself, over and over again. At some point, he wasn't even sure he was talking about his sister any more.

Just then, a knock came on his window. Derek snapped up, darting a look to the figure leaning in.

"Derek? I thought this was your car."

'Stiles.'

The boy smiled.

Derek blinked out of his reverie and unlocked the doors.

Stiles just pointed to the passenger seat in question and moved to the other side of the car when Derek nodded. Stiles climbed in, pulling the hood of his red sweatshirt down, and laying the bag he had been carrying on the floor between his feet. "Hey, whatcha doing here?"

"I was just… driving…"

Stiles cocked an eyebrow, but didn't push it.

Derek looked at his hands, clenched tightly against the steering wheel. "Why aren't you asleep?" He wondered, voice low.

"Hm? Me? I told you, I don't sleep much. I actually went out to buy some midnight snackage," he smiled, lifting up the bag and shaking it before laying it back down. "Don't tell Scott though. I nag him about eating healthy so he'd probably maim me if he knew about the Oreos I plan to demolish."

Derek heard the boy chuckle. He was trying to lighten the mood. Derek knew he should react. A smile – hell – even a scoff would do. But he just couldn't bring himself to do either.

The moment passed, leaving nothing but silence. Stiles looked to his friend, worry in his eyes. "Derek? You okay?" he asked, concerned. Gently, he placed his hand over Derek's arm, feeling the muscles tense underneath.

"I'm fine. Everything's fine," he said automatically.

Stiles was quiet for a moment. From the corner of his eye, Derek saw him nod lightly before he slipped his hand away. He turned, Derek assumed, to open the door. Instead, Stiles reached for the seatbelt, buckling himself in. "Okay. Let's go."

Derek finally turned to look at the boy. "What?"

"Let's go. Wherever you want," Stiles smiled. "It'll be our little midnight adventure."

"Stiles-"

"Wherever you want," he said with a nod, looking Derek squarely in the eye.

Derek looked back out through the windshield, letting his hands loosen their grip on the steering wheel. He just sat there, jaw clenching. Finally, he turned the key in the ignition and began to drive.

Stiles made commentary along the way, probably just to fill the void. He talked about various landmarks, the trees, even the stars in the sky. Derek listened, finding the boy's voice a source of comfort, although he was hardly in any state to respond. He drove them out of the city, through the hills, until finally they were staring at the ocean under a moonlit sky. Derek parked the car, but made no move to get out.

Stiles glanced over to his friend. Then, after a few moments of silence, he bent down and began to undo his laces.

Derek looked to him, curiously.

Stiles smiled softly and shrugged as he pulled off one shoe. "If we're gonna be at the beach, I don't wanna get sand in my shoes."

Derek watched as Stiles pulled his sock off, stuffing it in the abandoned shoe before moving to do the same with the other. He then rolled his jeans up to his knees. When he was done, Stiles looked at him expectantly. After a moment, Derek follow suit. When he had finished, Derek popped his door open and walked out onto the sand. He heard Stiles trailing behind.

"God," Stiles breathed. "The moon looks amazing."

Derek looked up and had to agree. It shone brightly over the water, its reflection rippling in the distance. Derek took a seat in the sand, drawing his legs up and wrapping his arms loosely around them. He watched as the waves crashed against the shore before receding back into the deep blue. Stiles came up next to Derek, folding his legs underneath him, settling his bag of snacks in his lap. He pulled open the package of Oreos, twisted the two sides apart and ate them separately. He held the package up to Derek, offering him a cookie. Derek took one, and without the fancy techniques, just bit right in.

"Ugh. Brute," Stiles murmured.

Derek frowned. "What? Cause there's a wrong way to eat an Oreo?"

"Technically no, but if there were, it'd be that," the boy scoffed.

Derek just rolled his eyes and popped the rest of it in his mouth. He reached for another.

"You know," Stiles said, picking out another for himself. "I love Oreos. But there's one downfall to eating them." He pulled the two pieces apart and ate them separately again.

"And what is that?" Derek asked, finishing off the cookie.

"They make the biggest mess of your teeth." He proved his point by smiling at Derek. His teeth were sprinkled with bits of the dark cookie. It was disgusting. Derek had to laugh. "Ha!" Stiles said, pointing at Derek. "It got you too!" Stiles reached back into his bag and pulled out a quart of milk. He broke the seal, popped off the top and took a drink before handing it to Derek who drank some gratefully.

Stiles ran his tongue over his teeth. He looked to Derek. "Did I get it all?" he asked, baring them to the other boy.

Derek nodded before doing the same. He pointed to his own teeth.

Stiles nodded. "Yeah, you're good."

Derek was chuckling. Being with Stiles always made him feel better, even if all they were doing was eating Oreos. They sat there, watching the waves, listening to the water lap, killing off half the package of cookies and nearly all of the milk.

Finally, Derek spoke. "My sister called. Everything was perfectly fine and then she called me." He exhaled in frustration, dipping his head. His voice was low. "My parents died today… seven years ago…"

He felt a hand on his shoulder squeezing lightly. "Derek… I'm sorry…"

He looked back up. "Everything was fine," he repeated. "I just… I didn't want to forget what today was, but I just didn't… I didn't want to be reminded of it."

Stiles nodded slowly in understanding.

"But it's not like I can ignore Laura," Derek continued, voice bitter. "She's done practically everything for me ever since it happened. She and Peter are all I have left. And I was fine. And then she called. And it's okay for her to remember cause she's got her fiancé, and dammit, even Peter knows not to call me cause I can't…" He dropped his head again, shutting his eyes. "I can't… do this… not when I'm out here by myself…"

He felt the hand slide down his back to rest at his waist as Stiles scooted closer, pulling Derek into a half-hug. Stiles leaned his head against Derek's shoulder, hand rubbing up and down his back in a soothing motion before resting again at his waist. "You've got me." He said, simply.

Derek didn't say anything in return despite the torrent of emotion he felt, but he knew Stiles understood how much that meant to him. Slowly, he allowed himself to lean against the boy, borrowing a bit of his strength. They sat there for an unknown amount of time, the only source of light coming from the moon and the few streetlights lining the road behind them.

Stiles was the one to break the silence. "How did they die?" he asked softly.

Derek let one of his hands fall to the sand, picking invisible things from it. "There was a fire. They were trapped inside our house while Laura and I were at school." He stopped, his hand stilling at his side. "Everything was fine…" he said again, this time with pain in his voice. "And then they pulled me and Laura out of class and the next thing I knew, the principal was telling me that my parents were dead. I was supposed to be worrying about school and prom and what type of junk to eat for lunch, not where was I gonna go or what was I gonna do without my home or my parents. The only way I managed to get through it was because of Laura and my uncle. Without them… I don't… I wouldn't have even…"

Stiles was rubbing his back again, the motion successful in soothing the distraught boy.

"Luckily, my uncle took us in to live with him in New York. I got my GED and took a few years off from school, not really knowing what to do from there. I just felt… lost..." Derek turned his head to the side, picking up a handful of sand and watching it pour back down. "I spent my time just angry at the world. Angry at my parents for dying. Angry at myself for acting out the way I was. But Laura," he scoffed. "She literally beat some sense into me. Told me to get myself together. Told me to focus and move on. She brought me back to California with her so I could stop running from what happened. She even brought me back to the house – at least what's left of it. God… I was a mess that day… all the ash, the blackened porch… They had ruled the fire as accidental but I had always wondered if maybe they missed something. Just the smallest of things…"

Stiles shifted against him. "Is that why you got into criminology?"

Derek nodded slowly. "I guess so. I mean, I had always been interested in it… but I guess if I ever found myself in a similar situation as the detective on the case, I'd feel some sort of closure knowing I did my best to bring closure to someone else, you know?"

He felt Stiles nod against his arm. "Yeah. I get that."

Derek stilled his hand again and looked out into the ocean. He sighed. "Maybe there's something wrong with me. Laura deals with it. She remembers what happened and she's stronger for it. Me… I just try to avoid it."

"Hey, there's nothing wrong with that," Stiles frowned. "It hurts. People cope with the pain in different ways."

"I don't want to avoid it… I just… I don't think I can handle it. I can't handle it. Look at me."

"Hey," Stiles said again, more firmly. He gave Derek a little shake. "We handle it the best we can."

"But I feel like I'm running away from it. Even now after all these years."

"Okay, then just stop running," Stiles said simply, lifting his head and turning to look at the other boy. Derek sighed. "No, hear me out," he continued. "You remember what we did for my mom's death?"

"We played video games and made a mess of your kitchen."

"We baked. And baking is something my mom did. Baking helps me remember her and the happiness it brought her whenever someone complimented her food. Baking is my way of remembering the good things. So… just find the good things to remember. What do you think of when you remember your parents?"

Derek exhaled heavily. "Fire. Death. Pain."

Stiles bumped him. "Come on. What's something you guys did together that made you happy? That made you a family?"

Derek sighed, but tried to come up with something. He tried to remember a happy moment, before the fire. "Baseball."

"Baseball? Yeah, okay. Baseball. We can work with that. What about baseball?"

"It was something my dad taught me. We would watch the games, rooting for our favorite teams. And when I played back when I was a kid, all of them were there to cheer me on." Derek let out a breathy chuckle, a memory coming to him. "I remember the first time I scored a home run. My mom stood up from the stands, screaming at the ball to get over the fence while my dad was waving his arm like he could push it along. Even Laura put down her phone and watched. And once it landed just outside the field, they were all standing, screaming their heads off." Derek smiled into his sleeve. "After that, my dad took us to get some pizza. And for dessert, we went to this place that made these soufflés that were the smoothest, creamiest things you can imagine. My parents shared a chocolate one while I got-"

"Lemon?" Stiles guessed, smiling.

Derek nodded, a smile on his lips. "Yeah. Lemon." He bit his lip, reliving the memory in his mind.

"Well all right then," Stiles said. He stood up, brushing his backside of the sand sticking to his jeans. He bent down, grabbing Derek's arms, pulling him up. Once Derek was on two feet, Stiles jogged a few paces away before turning back to the older boy. He stood sideways, bringing his hands up in a cupping motion. "Next up to the plate is Derek 'Sourwolf' Hale! He's batting at .384 this year, not bad for the rookie."

Derek frowned, giving the boy an exasperated look. "Stiles, what are you doing?"

Stiles held his hands out as if it were obvious. "We're playing baseball. Come on. You're up." He resumed his pitcher's stance.

"Stiles-"

"Here comes the pitch!" He threw an imaginary ball in Derek's direction.

Derek just stood there, cocking an eyebrow. Stiles bobbed his head, waving his hand, waiting for Derek to react. He just rolled his eyes before swinging half-heartedly with one hand.

"Boo! A clear strike for the rookie. Maybe if the pitcher were throwing cabbages, the rookie might actually hit something."

Derek scowled at this. He exhaled slowly, before picking up a batter's stance, cracking his neck.

"Ahhh. What's this? Has the rookie finally decided to step his game up? Did he bring his big boy britches? Is he getting ready to get down in the big league? Will he-"

"Stiles."

"All right, all right. Here comes the pitch!" Stiles threw the imaginary ball. Derek, despite feeling a bit silly about the whole thing, swung hard. "And there it goes! Out of the park! It's a grand slam! The crowd is going crazy! Aaaaahhhhhhh!" The younger boy threw his hands up in the air and began running around, tagging imaginary bases. "Sourwolf did it! He won the game! He won the pennant! He's going to Disneyland with his best buddy, Stilinator! Wooo hooooooo!"

Derek couldn't help but chuckle as Stiles began to run circles around him. He was smiling. "You're ridiculous."

Stiles leapt onto Derek's back, wrapping his arms around the boy's neck. Derek stumbled a bit under Stiles' sudden weight, but caught his balance in time to keep them from tumbling into the sand. "That's no way to talk to the Stilinator!" Stiles growled playfully, mussing up Derek's dark hair.

"Hey! Stiles! Stop!"

"Never! You must apologize to the Stilinator!"

Derek growled. "All right then." He grabbed the boy's thighs, holding them tight as he ran down to the water.

"Hey wait!" Stiles called, trying to let go, but Derek's grip wouldn't let him.

Derek kept going until the sand was wet under his feet. He waited until the cold waters of the Pacific washed up the shore again before shifting as if to drop Stiles in the water.

"No, no, no!"

Derek let go of his legs, but Stiles immediately tried to wrap them around the older boy's waist. The tips of his toes managed to dip into the water before he could. "Ack! Cold!" He held on tighter, burying his face in Derek's neck. "Okay, okay. I won't mess up your perfect hair ever again, okay?"

Derek smiled in victory, before hiking the boy up his back, and taking hold of his thighs once more. "Good."

Stiles loosened his hold as Derek just continued walking along the shore, content with the weight of the boy pressed against him. Derek could feel Stiles' heart pounding against his back. He kept walking until he could feel Stiles calming down, his breath catching up to him. Then Derek smirked and began to run.

"Ah!" Stiles grinned, tightening his hold again.

Derek ran back to where they had been sitting, the bag momentarily abandoned. He heard Stiles laughing in his ear, struggling to hang on the faster Derek went. Finally, they tumbled into the sand, Stiles landing on his back, Derek just next to him. They were both laughing, trying to catch their breath.

Then Derek turned on his side and wrapped his arms around Stiles' waist, pulling him in close. He rested his head on the boy's chest, listening to his heart pound against it. Stiles brought one hand up to rest against Derek's arm as the other carded through his hair, massaging Derek's scalp in the process. Derek would have protested as Stiles had just agreed not to mess with his hair, but found he couldn't. It felt good having Stiles' fingers rub again his head. He closed his eyes, letting himself relax against the soothing touch. When he finally caught his breath, he sighed.

"I really wanted to see you." He admitted softly. Stiles stilled for a moment, but then carried on. Derek continued. "But… it was late. I thought you were sleeping… so just being close was good enough for me." He opened his eyes again. "I thought… 'if Stiles were here, he'd know what to do.' And… there you were." He shut his eyes, hugging the boy closer. "And you knew exactly what to do to make me feel better… I'm… I'm grateful for you… I'm really glad I got to see you…"

"Derek…"

Silence fell over them. Derek soaked in the warmth of the boy in his arms. He was happy, content, and just… thankful for Stiles. Thankful that he was here now. Thankful that he was in his life. He didn't want to remember a time before he knew this hyperactive chatterbox, this amazing baker, this wonderful breathtaking boy. This boy who had burrowed a place into his heart, implanting himself in his life, giving him joy and tenderness and love.

Derek was in love with Stiles, the boy who had baked his way into his heart.

Stiles turned slightly to cradle Derek in protective arms. They fell asleep like that, pressed against one another, holding on to each other like they never wanted to let go. The worries of the day didn't matter. All that mattered was now.

Chapter Text

Derek was sitting at his desk in his apartment, history book open, highlighter in his hand. He was staring down at the words on the page, but nothing seemed to stick. The only thing that seemed to register in his brain was this:

'What did I just do?'

Derek tossed his highlighter aside and slammed his book shut before burying his hands in his hair.

Stiles had woken him up that morning on the beach. It was already five and Stiles needed to get back to his apartment to get ready for work. Derek had half a mind to just ignore his talking pillow, opting to hit the snooze button to get back to sleep, but it wouldn't stop buzzing. Once he opened his eyes and realized his surroundings, he apologized for hitting the boy on the nose and quickly got him back home. And it was once Derek was back at his own apartment that he really came to terms with everything that had happened that night.

It was the first time in a long time that he had talked about his parents' death. And it was the first time ever he had done so with someone other than a family member or a professional. Derek was more than grateful that Stiles had been there for him and had cheered him up with baseball and Oreos of all things, but it was that last moment before falling asleep that really made him nervous for two reasons.

Firstly, he was afraid of what Stiles thought of him after practically clinging to him.

'Ugh…Good move with that one.' Derek mentally berated himself. 'But…' He paused, loosening his grip on his hair. 'It's not like he pushed me away. He actually held me. That's gotta mean something, right?' He frowned, sighing heavily. 'It means he's a supportive friend. Obviously I was upset, so he was comforting me. That's all.' Derek found himself a little disappointed at the thought. 'He was being a good friend and I practically throw myself on him. God, how pathetic are you?' The whole thing left Derek feeling more than just a little embarrassed.

And secondly, there was one more fact that was staring him right in the face; one that he couldn't exactly accept.

'I'm not in love with Stiles… I can't be in love with Stiles. Stiles is… Stiles is – He's Stiles! Sono.Just no.'

He had tried convincing himself that everything between them was fine. That the night hadn't made a difference in their friendship. He tried going into the coffee shop that morning like normal, but when he caught a glimpse of the boy busily filling the display case with freshly baked cranberry muffins, he felt his heart begin to pound, his throat begin to dry and his palms begin to sweat all from just looking at him. Needless to say, Derek freaked out and fled the scene.

'That's just anxiety. I'm nervous about what he thinks about me so I panicked. That's all,' he rationalized. He sat up, pulling his hands out of his hair to tap his fingers lightly against his desk. 'I mean, obviously he means something to me. He's my friend. But it can't be love. That's just insane.' Hell, the mere thought of the word made Derek uncomfortable.

He groaned. "Forget it! Just study. Just open your book and study." He flipped his book open again, snatching up his highlighter and popping off the cap. He looked down at the words, urging himself to read and focus on the material.

For the next twenty minutes, he sat there, reading the same sentence over and over again, trying to make sense of it. But the only thing registering in his brain was this:

'What the hell did I just do?'

Derek threw his highlighter across the room before burying his face in his arms.

"Damn it."

/\/\/\

When it came to his emotions, Derek didn't handle them very well. In fact, he spent a lot of time running away from them. And there was no greater example of that than his life after his parents' death.

His life before had been chaotic and self-destructive. After getting his GED, he had no idea what to do with himself. He had no direction, wandering through life aimlessly. His parents were the ones who always knew what to do, but they were gone. All that remained was the pain of loss. Hating the feeling, he shut himself off from the rest of his family, thinking that if he didn't care about them then it wouldn't matter if they were lost too. He found absolution at the bottom of a shot glass and in the beds of strangers. In this way, if he was out of his head and caught up in the moment, he didn't have any room left to feel sorry for himself. If his brain was drowning in an alcoholic daze, he didn't have to remember how insecure and depressed he really was.

But finally, Laura had tracked him down. And instead of giving him a heartfelt talk and an intervention, she punched him square across the jaw. And she did it again. And she did it over and over again until her knuckles were raw and tears were streaming from both their eyes. She cursed at him, yelled at him, spat out every piece of venom she had towards him and everything he put her through. And finally, when she was all done, she had asked him:

"What are you doing with your life, Derek?"

He shattered, words whispered in a voice void of hope. "…I don't know…"

And that's when she realized what her brother needed most. He needed guidance, control. And with Peter, they finally had that heartfelt talk. The three of them got organized, plotted out his life, giving him something to focus on, something to work for. And so Derek got his life back together using schedules and routines.

Chaos - the unexpected - became something he was afraid of.

Derek had carefully constructed his life around his new goal of finishing school. And once school was done, he would work hard to become a detective. With these tasks in mind, he found focus. And with his strict schedules, he found control. So when Stiles came in, changing up a routine that Derek had grown accustomed to, it was disconcerting. But somehow, the boy managed to become part of Derek's routine, and Derek was okay with that. He was okay with having a friend he could talk to, someone who could make him laugh, even it if was mostly on the inside. He was okay with his little crush and those moments where he ended up doing something unexpected just as long he stayed on track with his real goal.

But loving Stiles? Loving Stiles was dangerous. Loving him could potentially derail him. And worse yet, what if something happened to Stiles? Derek didn't think he could handle a loss like that after only just getting his life back together. He never wanted to find himself in that place again. He was already half-worried about his sister and uncle. It would do him no good to add to that list. So loving Stiles was out of the question.

And since Derek was still unwilling to face the boy after what he had finally concluded was a disaster, it was with some relief that Derek decided to try to go back to how things were before Stiles. He figured he could just avoid the boy and simultaneously avoid his feelings for him like he always did. He grabbed his coffee elsewhere. He studied before classes. He went straight to his mythology class and went straight home after. His nighttime jogs were cut, not needing them anymore without his morning treats. And the only calls he returned were the ones from his family. Anyone else went to voicemail.

It was hard. Stiles had become part of a routine that brought stability in his life, despite all the spontaneous things he had done since meeting him. Not seeing him was hard. And what made it even harder was that Derek knew just where to go if he wanted to see him. He knew if he just walked down a certain way, he could see the boy, possibly talk to him, but the idea of talking to him freaked him out and renewed his diligence in staying away. But it didn't help that Derek still had those shirts. It didn't help that he still had that picture on his phone; on his phone that would ring every morning at 6, then later at 2, and once more at 9; his phone that would chirp before class, during class, and after class, signaling a new message from The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D each time. He couldn't even bring himself to read the messages or listen to the voicemails cause he knew if he did, he'd want to run right back to him and he just wasn't ready to. And he wouldn't be ready to until whatever it was that he felt for the boy returned to something he could handle.

But it was hard.

Derek felt himself wanting to cave. Even though it hadn't been that long, he already missed Stiles. Missing him almost overpowered the uncertainty he felt over what Stiles thought about him now. But he was convinced that he had made a fool of himself and he couldn't stand the idea of Stiles mocking him for it. Or possibly pitying him. Or worse yet, turning away from him because of it. So paralyzed by his own thoughts, he couldn't even figure out that if Stiles had any intention of mocking him or turning away from him, he wouldn't have been trying so hard to contact him.

And he still didn't figure it out when after about a week of running away, a pounding came on his door just as Derek was getting ready for bed.

"Derek?" came the muffled voice.

Derek froze, floss halfway up to his mouth.

Another pounding at the door. "Derek? Are you home?"

He turned, walking slowly out of his bathroom to the front door, floss still twined between his fingers. He approached it cautiously, as if it were a wild animal.

"Derek? Are you okay?" He pounded again. "Derek, come on!"

Derek stilled just in front of his door. Just beyond it was Stiles. He wanted nothing more than to just rip the door open and scoop him up into his arms. But he didn't. He just stood there, staring at the door.

"Dere- what? No, it's okay. I'm a fri-"

Derek furrowed his brows in confusion. He moved forward, looking through the peephole. He took a sharp intake of breath in seeing Stiles, even through the tiny hole.

"Well then obviously you don't know him very well cause we're like best friends… Yes, I've been here before. Once… " Stiles was arguing with someone. "Look, that's not necessary. I'm not… Heywait!" Stiles darted away from the door, only to return a few seconds later. "Derek! Your neighbor is trying to get me arrested!" He paused, looking over his shoulder. "Fine! I'm going! Derek, yourcrazy ass neighbor is kicking me out! This isn't over yet, Derek!" And with that, Stiles disappeared from sight.

Derek took a step back from the door and found himself gasping for air. Stiles had been right there. He finally uncoiled the floss from around his nearly purple fingers, trying to relax the tension he felt from that short moment. He stumbled backwards until he was leaning against the armrest of his couch. 'He was right there… what did he want? Was he mad at me?' Derek felt himself wanting to run after Stiles. 'But what good would that do? I can't face him… not just yet…' After a few more minutes, Derek sighed. He gathered himself, continuing his nightly routine as if it hadn't happened.

But it had. And it happened twice more. And each time, Derek had just froze right in front of his door, hand outstretched towards the knob, wanting to twist it open, but still afraid of what would happen if he did. And each time, his nosy neighbor had eventually driven the boy away.

Derek began to wonder if he'd ever be ready to face Stiles. Signs seemed to point to 'no'. But life decided to throw him a curveball. It took away the option. Because one morning, after finishing his routine, Derek stepped out the door and froze.

Stiles was there. Sleeping. Right next to his door.

'He must've come back during the night…' Derek thought, as the door shut firmly behind him with a loud thump. Derek panicked, cursing the door for its loud noises.

Stiles stirred at the sound, eyes blinking wearily. He rubbed them and yawned. He shook his head awake, and that's when he realized there was someone standing over him. Stiles looked up and jumped in surprise. "Derek!" He scrambled to stand. "You're here! Well, I'm here- we're here-" he babbled, shrugging.

Derek was glued to the spot. "Stiles, what…?"

"Jesus, man," the boy said, exasperated. "I haven't seen you and I've been worried. You kinda just disappeared on me. I mean, it's only been a few days, but I'm used to seeing you like three or four times a day and you didn't even respond to my calls or texts and so I got worried that maybe something happened to you but then Allison said she had seen you between classes so that at least meant you weren't dead which was a huge relief. But then it wasn't a relief cause I wanted to see you myself and make sure for myself that you were okay. I mean, are you? Okay?" At the blank stare he was getting, he lowered his voice and leaned in. "Look, I know that whole night about your parents was tough, but if you're still hurting from it, I can help you through it."

Derek just stared at Stiles.

Then a thought registered in the boy's brain as he leaned back. "Wait… were you… were youavoiding me? Is that why you haven't been around?" His voice was sad, confused. "Derek, are you mad at me? Did I do something wrong?"

"No," he said, firmly. Though he couldn't find the words to explain much of anything he had to at least assure the boy that everything he had done that night was perfect. "You didn't do anythingwrong."

Relief washed Stiles' face, but only for a second. He frowned. "Then why are you avoiding me?"

Derek looked down, face flushing red. "I… I wasn't myself that night."

Stiles scoffed. "No shit, Sherlock. It was the anniversary of your parents' death! I don't expect anyone to be at a hundred percent on a day like that. I certainly wasn't."

Derek replayed that night on the beach in his head. He remembered latching on to Stiles and babbling about wanting to see him. Thinking about it again made him want to duck back into his apartment and hide. But the way Stiles was looking at him with concern in his eyes… he couldn't. "I just… I may have done something or said something that I…" he trailed off.

Stiles cocked an eyebrow, ducking his head to try to catch Derek's gaze. Derek wasn't having it. "That you what?" Another thought hit the boy. "What, are you embarrassed?"

Derek remained silent. How was Stiles always just so spot on?

"You're embarrassed? Derek! I do stupid stuff all the time! I make a fool of myself all the time. The last thing you have to be in front of me is embarrassed. I get it, okay?" He ran a hand over his head, sighing heavily. "You know what? No. Not okay. We're friends now, Derek. You don't get to do that. You don't get to just cut me out cause shit is getting tough or cause you think you've made an ass of yourself - which, in this case, isn't even the case! I'm here for you! I'm here to help you through the bad times and even if you do make an ass of yourself, I'm still here so we can laugh about it later. Just like how you were there for me. Besides," he scoffed again, looking at Derek with a look of incredulousness on his face. "You've done plenty of embarrassing things before, way worse than anything that you think happened on the beach. There was that time you admitted your love of cabbage, that one time in front of that Erica girl, the way you pretended to not like my strudel even though you had a gob of it in your mouth, the way you tackled Jackson," Stiles was ticking each moment off on his fingers, "but that last one was pretty awesome so it totally overrules anything embarrassing about it-"

"Stiles," Derek grimaced. Recounting all the ridiculous things he'd done so far was not something he cared to do. Ever. He rubbed his hand against his forehead. "You're not helping."

"I'm just saying that there's nothing you did that night that was even remotely embarrassing so you don't have to hide from me."

Derek was dumbfounded. He dropped his hand back to his side.

Stiles was huffing. He held his hand up. "Let me see your keys."

Derek blinked. "My keys?"

"Yes. Your keys."

Derek reached into his pocket and pulled them out, staring at them as if they'd give him an answer. Why do you need my k-"

Stiles snatched them out of his hand and began to pull the apartment key off the loop.

Derek frowned. "What are yo-"

"I'm gonna make a copy of this-"

"What? No! Stiles-" Derek moved forward, but Stiles quickly stepped back out of reach.

"Actually, yeah, Stiles. Yeah, I'm making a copy of this so if you decide to pull this shit on me again, I'm gonna come into your apartment when you're not home," he pointed at the door behind Derek, "and I'm gonna take apart all of those pretty little Lego sets you got in that toy room of yours and I'm gonna keep just one piece from one set and you're not gonna know which one it is until you put them all back together again and it'll be a vital piece too, so then you're gonna have a toy that's broken, Derek. Broken."

Derek's frown deepened."…That's just cruel."

He placed his hands on his hips. "Well you've left me with no choice. You have to be ruthless sometimes to make a point." He tossed the key ring back to Derek, leaving just the key to his car. He pulled out his phone from his pocket, glancing at the time. "And now, since I'm late for work, you're gonna help me bake. You're gonna do all the heavy lifting for me. I'm talking fifty-pound bags of flour and thirty-pound bags of sugar. And you get to do all the hand-mixing and if you mess up your shirt – your white shirt… actually… is that blue? Derek I told you about separating your whites – I'm not gonna let you go home and change it and it'll be like the Scarlet Letter where the batter stain is your red 'A' so everyone knows what you've done. And you know what? I'm gonna make something lemon. And you're not gonna get any. That's your punishment for trying to get rid of me and for making me worry about you, got it?"

Derek's mouth fell open. He was speechless. Here, standing in front of him, was a boy who was yelling at him, threatening him to essentially stay his friend. Stiles' cheeks were red out of anger; anger in realizing what Derek had done. Derek had tried running away from Stiles, of what he felt for him. But here he was, dragging him back. He didn't care about the things that Derek was embarrassed about – and yes, as Stiles had pointed out, there were plenty. Stiles wasn't here to make fun of him, or pity him, or reject him. He was here out of pure concern over his friend. Derek should never have been worried about what Stiles thought of him because it was clear now that even if it wasn't at the same depth as he cared for him, Stiles cared about Derek too.

"…Okay."

Stiles' head snapped up. "What?"

Derek slowly nodded. "Okay."

A smile began to form on the boy's face. "Okay then." He pocketed the key and grinned. "Let's go."

When they got to the shop, Derek followed Stiles' every instruction, wary of any messes he might make on his shirt. He helped Stiles make madeleine sandwiches, filled with a lemon curd. He resisted the temptation to eat one as the smell of it wafted through the kitchen. And while his heart still pounded a bit harder just by being near him, and his breath still caught each time he saw him smile, Derek realized that maybe he could do this. Maybe he could handle falling for this boy, because he certainly didn't think he would be able to stay away from him any more, even if Stiles didn't have a key.

And later, when Derek was getting settled in class and found a small bag of the madeleine he helped make tucked away in his satchel, Derek knew. When he read the messy scrawl that said 'You can thank me later Sourwolf', he knew. All this time he spent avoiding falling in love with Stiles, he finally understood that he was already there. He was in love. And while the thought still terrified him, he was okay with that. It was easier to be in love with Stiles than it was to run away from the feelings that had already taken root in his heart.

/\/\/\

He had heard of this before but he had never experienced it himself until now. And quite frankly, he couldn't understand why anyone would willingly put his or herself through this masochistic brand of torture. But glancing at the boy laughing by his side, he could understand how sometimes people had no choice.

Ah yes. Derek was, for the first time in his life, feeling what it was like to have an unrequited love.

He had accepted his feelings for Stiles, unable to run from them. But just because he accepted them did in no way mean he had to act on them. Because what if Stiles didn't feel the same way? Derek didn't think he could handle that kind of rejection. And worse yet, what if Stiles rejected him and felt awkward around him afterward. Then Derek would be the one being avoided. And the thought of that, as hypocritical as it was, was much more alarming than he cared to admit. He had been on that dark side before with Stiles. It was not a fun place to be, and that was just when they had started out. He was certainly not eager to go there again now that their relationship had deepened and especially not after realizing his love for the barista.

So Derek was content just being back by the boy's side. He was happy to spend time with him any chance that he got. And little did he know, Derek was just about to get a big chance.

One morning, when Derek arrived at the coffee shop, he was surprised to see that it was still closed. The lights were off and it didn't look like anyone was in the back. He frowned.

'Where's Stiles?'

And before his brain could come up with a plethora of horrible scenarios that would put him in a state of panic, he whipped his phone out, ready to call the boy to make sure he was all right. He was just about to hit the call button when he heard footsteps fast approaching.

"Sorry! Sorry! I know I'm late! Sorry!"

Derek turned to see Stiles running up to the shop. He waved at Derek, motioning him to follow him through the back way. Unlocking the door and flipping on the power, Stiles quickly hurried into the kitchen leaving Derek to close the door behind him.

"Is everything all right?" Derek asked, walking up to the counter, calling through the open door.

"Is everything all right?" He heard Stiles scoff as loud clangs came through the kitchen. "Everything is totally and completely not all right!" Another loud clang.

"Do you need help?"

Stiles groaned. "Please."

Derek dropped his satchel on to his regular spot along with his jacket. Then he made his way into the kitchen, carefully stepping over Stiles' backpack and jacket. Stiles had apparently dumped all of his things haphazardly on the floor before proceeding to run around the kitchen, trying to quickly set up for the morning. Derek moved them aside so the boy wouldn't trip over them.

"Heads up!" Derek swiftly caught the apron tossed in his direction, pulling it over his head and securing it around his waist. "Oh, and I think it goes without saying," Stiles said, disappearing into the walk-in refrigerator, "but please don't tell my boss I put you to work. If anyone asks, I'm giving you a tour." He reappeared again, arms full of ingredients.

Since Stiles didn't have much time to get his baking done, he settled for something quick and easy. Something that he could leave Derek with while he set up the rest of the shop. Which was why Derek was staring at a bag of marshmallows and box of Rice Krispies.

"Just stir the marshmallows in the pot with some butter," the boy instructed. "Once they're fully melted, move it into the mixing bowl and pour the Rice Krispies in and mix, mix, mix. I gotta go flip chairs and restock cups and all that."

"Um, maybe I should do that stuff…"

"Nonsense. You'll be fine," Stiles smiled, waving his hand.

And so Derek was left in the kitchen by himself. He followed Stiles' instructions, doing his best not to duff it as sounds of Stiles' movements could be heard through the door. As Derek watched the marshmallows melt slowly, he called out.

"So… why were you late today?"

"Cause my upstairs neighbors are idiots."

Derek cocked an eyebrow at that. "What happened?"

Stiles jumped back in, making his way over to where a tray of clean mugs was resting. He picked them up and headed back out. "Late last night, someone decided to run a bath. Unfortunately, they forgot their decision and ended up leaving their water on for hours." He heard a clang before Stiles came back to grab another tray. "So, as you can imagine, the water seeped through the floors and into our apartment. So, in the middle of the night, our friggin' bathroom ceiling caved."

Derek stared at Stiles dumbstruck. "Wow."

"Hey, hey. Keep stirring," Stiles nodded before continuing his way back out the door. Derek did as he was told. "Fortunately," Stiles continued, "the damage was limited to the bathroom. The building owner is getting everything repaired and even put me and Scott up in a hotel.Unfortunately, the hotel is about a fifteen minute drive from here and I don't have a car." Stiles came back and grabbed a stack of plates. "And if today's bus commute is an example of what I have to put up with for the next few days, then I'm probably just gonna have to switch shifts with Isaac. Or maybe just convince him to let me stay with him until this thing is over. Or maybe even Danny and Jackson will let me stay with them, but I think living with Jackson might be hazardous to my health…"

"…You could stay with me." Derek's eyes widened in surprise. The words were out of his mouth before he had even thought about it. He was glad that Stiles was in the front so he couldn't see how red Derek had turned. Unfortunately, that was short lived as Stiles quickly darted back in the kitchen, a look of question on his face.

"What?"

"I-um… what?" Derek stammered, looking at the boy.

Stiles just stared at him curiously. "What did you say?"

"I-um," Derek fumbled, lowering his head and turning his back slightly to keep they boy from seeing his reddening face. "I mean- I live close by- you know that- I just- if you needed a place-" Derek furrowed his brows. 'Just stop talking. Just stop talking!' He inwardly yelled at himself.

Stiles was quiet, but Derek could sense his eyes on him. He refused to look up, finding the melting of the marshmallows fascinating.

"Really?"

'Yes really. In fact, I already have a drawer just for you,' was what instantly came to Derek's head. But what came out of how mouth was a measly, "Um." He fumbled for some more words to say. "I mean… you have a key already anyway…"

"I mean, I wouldn't want to impose… it would just be for a few days."

'Stay forever!' was what instantly came to Derek's head. But what came out of his mouth was a simple, "Okay." He swallowed the lump in his throat. "Aft-after your last class, I can take you to your hotel… and you can get your stuff… if you want." Derek frowned to himself. 'Oh God, what am I doing? What am I saying? I can't do this. I can't have Stiles living with me. That's just insane! He'll be sleeping in my apartment. He'll be showering in my apartment! He'll be nakedand wet in my apartment!' Derek felt his breathing get rough, panicking at what he had just agreed to. 'This is a bad idea. This is a terrible idea.'

Trapped in his thoughts, Derek didn't hear the footsteps come up behind him until two arms were wrapped around him. Derek froze. He felt Stiles lay his head against his shoulder, nuzzling it softly.

"You're amazing, you know that?" Stiles said gently, his breath brushing against the nape of Derek's neck.

Derek couldn't move. He couldn't even breathe.

He felt Stiles shift, before he gasped sharply. "You're also burning the marshmallows! Derek!"

Derek was swatted away, stirring spoon snatched from his grasp as Stiles tried to figure out if the marshmallows could be salvaged. He half-heard the boy ask him to finish flipping the chairs. And like always, Derek did as he was told.

It wasn't until he got to the last chair that Derek took a deep breath, allowing a bright grin to spread across his face. Okay, so maybe living with Stiles wouldn't be so bad after all.

/\/\/\

Derek spent his afternoon cleaning up his apartment. While it wasn't nearly as catastrophic as it was the first time Stiles came over, it wasn't exactly neat either. After tossing out a bag full of garbage and throwing his linens into the wash, he had just enough time to get some studying in before leaving to get his evening jog in. He figured he could just drive to the school so when Stiles got out of class, they could go straight to the hotel. He was waiting for Stiles, sitting on the planter like usual. When the boy finally appeared, Derek led the way to his car.

"Thanks again, Derek. I really appreciate this."

"Yeah, no problem," he replied, fighting off the blush creeping up.

"I talked to the landlord earlier. It should only be two days. Three, tops."

"Like I said," Derek said, trying to sound nonchalant, "not a problem."

Stiles pointed out the way to the hotel. When they arrived, Derek followed Stiles into the room, offering to carry his toothbrush. Stiles just laughed, but led the way in.

"Hey, Mr. Hale!" Scott smiled, waving at the older man. Derek just nodded in greeting to the boy. He was sitting cross-legged on his bed, schoolbooks and papers spread all around him. "It's pretty cool of you to let Stiles stay with you. I told him I could drive him to work in the morning-"

"Scott, you're a demon in the mornings if you don't get enough sleep. There's no way in hell I'm waking you up to take me to work."

Scott rolled his eyes and looked to Derek. "He's exaggerating."

Stiles scoffed, also looking to Derek. "I wish."

"Anyway," Scott said, blowing a raspberry at his friend. He looked back to Derek with a smile. "It sucks about our apartment, but at least we get a new toilet out of it, huh?"

"That and a week off our rent," Stiles smirked, ducking into the bathroom to collect his things.

Scott watched him go, then took the opportunity to leap off his bed and scurry over to Derek. "Dude, Mr. Hale," he said lowly. "There are some things you gotta know about living with Stiles."

Derek cocked an eyebrow, looking at the younger boy cautiously. "Like what?"

"Stiles is like a gremlin." At the blank stare he received, Scott gasped. "You don't know about Gizmo?" No expression. "Mogwai?" he said, voice imitating the creature.

"Scott, what's your point?" Derek sighed.

"Right, well there are three rules you gotta follow when living with Stiles. First, never never neverlet Stiles watch a scary movie after dark. Two, make sure he's got plenty of blankets. And three,lock the bathroom door. That one's important. Stiles is notorious for-"

"Okay, I'm all set."

Scott grinned at his best friend as he slapped Derek heartily on the back. Derek just scowled at him. "All righty. Have fun you two!" He waited until Stiles walked past him before turning back to Derek, voice low. "Remember! Don't forget what I told you, okay?"

Derek wanted to know why, but Stiles was holding the door open, waiting for him. He had his suitcase in one hand, and his toothbrush outstretched in the other towards Derek. He snorted, snatching it from the smug boy.

"See ya later, Scott," Stiles waved before leading the way back down.

Derek gave one last glance back at Scott before the door closed behind him. He was holding three fingers up, nodding vigorously at them. It made Derek wonder just what he had gotten himself into.

They stopped for groceries on their way back. Derek tried to make a good impression by buying fresh produce instead of his usual splay of chips and soda. He insisted that Stiles pick a few things for himself since for the next few days or so, Derek's home was his home as well. They carried everything up to the apartment as Derek led the way in.

"Hey," Stiles said, smiling as he looked around. "It's actually clean this time."

Derek rolled his eyes. "I told you, it's not always like that."

Stiles eyed the bag of garbage sitting in the corner, smirking. "Yeah. Sure."

"That- that was from yesterday. I just forgot to take it down," he lied.

Stiles didn't reply and instead started putting their purchases away.

Stiles insisted on making a late dinner for the two of them, though Derek hardly fought him on that. He doubted he'd ever refuse a Stiles-made meal. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until they both were getting ready for bed.

"You can take the bed," Derek offered, pulling a blanket from the linen closet, preparing to sleep on the couch.

"No way, man. This is your apartment. And that's your bed."

"And you're my guest. Take the bed."

"The only way I'll take the bed is if you share it with me."

Derek stiffened, eyes going wide.

"Mm-hm," Stiles smirked. "That's what I thought." He snatched the blanket right out of Derek's hands. "I'm taking the couch."

Derek sighed, collecting himself. "Fine." He looked around as Stiles walked over to his suitcase, pulling something out. "Did you need anything else?" He thought about what Scott had said. "Maybe another blanket?"

Stiles turned back around. "No, I should be fine with the one."

Derek blinked. Sourwolf was in the boy's arms.

Stiles grinned sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. "What? He protects me while I sleep," he explained, snuggling the stuffed animal.

Derek just smiled softly as Stiles got settled on the couch. "Good night, Stiles."

He tilted his head back to look at Derek upside-down. He smiled. "Good night."

Derek climbed into bed, briefly entertaining the fact that there was more than enough room that they could share if had he said anything. 'Cause that's what I need,' Derek thought to himself. 'It's bad enough that he's in the same apartment. I don't know what I'd do if he were in the samebed.' Turning off the light and pulling his blanket over himself, he thought it was probably a bad idea to have 'Stiles' and 'bed' as the last thing he thought of before going to sleep.

/\/\/\

When Derek woke up the next morning, he realized two things. One, he was cold. This was due to the fact that his blanket was gone. And two, there was something shifting on his bed.

Derek shot up, looking at his bed's other occupant. Stiles was there, curled up in his blanket. The boy nuzzled the pillow, snuggling his wolf close to him before settling back into sleep. Derek rubbed his eyes, trying to make sure he wasn't dreaming. But no, Stiles was really there. He looked between his open door back to the boy in his bed and back. 'When did he climb in?' he wondered.

"Stiles." Derek said loudly. "What are you doing in my bed?"

He got no response. Rather than press him for answers, Derek decided it would be best to just start his morning routine. He needed to get his morning workout in. It would help release his pent up aggression. And other pent up things. Having Stiles in his bed was certainly a trying test.

He was in the shower, washing off the built up sweat from his workout, enjoying the feel of the warm spray against his muscles. Suddenly, the door popped open. Derek jumped in surprise, turning to face the wall, trying to cover himself up. "What the hell?" he growled, looking over his shoulder through the steamy glass.

Stiles was there, standing by the toilet, doing his business as Derek pointedly did not look anywhere below the waist. But with the way Stiles was angled, it wasn't like Derek would have been able to see anything anyway.

Derek glanced at the boy's face. 'Wait... Is he still asleep?' He poked his head out to get a better look. "Stiles?"

"Mrn'n Dere…" the boy grunted, eyes heavy with sleep, not even turning in his direction. Stiles pushed the toilet seat cover down, slapping at the plunger to flush it.

"Wait, no!" Derek called out, but it was too late. Derek suffered through the harshness of a cold spray as Stiles mechanically washed his hands and walked out as if nothing had happened. Derek shut off the nozzle, jumping out and grabbing a towel to quickly dry himself of the cold water. 'Jesus…'

When he walked into his room, Stiles was back in bed, blankets secured tightly around the sleeping boy. Derek shook his head before making his way to his closet and picking out his outfit for the day. He slipped back into the bathroom, making sure to lock the door this time.

/\/\/\

It was five when he heard Stiles' phone go off, probably an alarm to wake him up. Derek was sitting at his kitchen table reading the news when Stiles stumbled out of the room, still wrapped inside his cocoon of blankets to grab his phone charging next to the couch. He had one eye open as he squinted over to where Derek was watching him, amused.

"Morning," Derek greeted, looking at him over the top of his paper.

Stiles yawned and rubbed his eyes. "Morning," he croaked out. "Was I… I was in your room, right?" Derek merely nodded. Stiles looked at the fluffy blanket wrapped around him. "Did I steal your blanket?" Again, Derek nodded. Stiles sighed.

"I thought you said you were fine with just the one."

"I was. But I guess I got colder through the night. Scott says I used to steal his blankets all the time when we had sleepovers as kids."

Derek frowned at the idea of Stiles in the same bed as Scott, but pushed the mental image aside. He shrugged. "He did warn me to make sure you had plenty of blankets. My fault I guess."

"He warned you?"

Derek nodded. "He also warned me about locking the bathroom door. I should have listened to that one, too."

Stiles' jaw dropped. "Did I… what did I do?"

"You walked in on my shower." Stiles shut his eyes, cheeks turning red. Derek was having a hard time not enjoying this. "You also flushed the toilet."

Stiles visibly winced at that, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Was it cold?"

"Yup."

He looked to Derek with apologetic eyes. "I'm sorry. I am completely unaware of myself early mornings."

Derek flipped his paper back up to continue reading. "Don't worry about it. I know better now. And I now know that no matter the reason, I shouldn't let you watch scary movies after dark."

"Wait, what?"

Derek looked back to Stiles. "Scott also warned me not to let you watch anything scary after dark. And considering his other warnings, I guess this one is important too."

Stiles scoffed. "There's nothing to warn you about with that. He's being ridiculous." Derek just looked at him skeptically. "I'm not twelve, Derek. I can watch a scary movie. It's not a big deal." Again, Derek fixed him with an unconvinced look. "I'll prove it to you," Stiles said. "We'll rent a scary movie. It'll be fine. You'll see. Scott was probably just pulling your leg."

Derek looked back to his paper. "Okay. If you say so."

"I do." Stiles said with a nod. He shuffled to his suitcase, pulling out a bag of toiletries. He looked to Derek. "Um, is it cool if I can get a towel?"

"I hung a fresh one in the bathroom."

"Yesssss… You're awesome."

When Derek heard the shower begin to run, he tried his damnedest to concentrate on the paper and not on the naked boy in the other room. 'Well… technically, he barged in during my shower… it's only fair that I would do the same…' He entertained the idea for a beat, but ultimately decided against it. That would only lead to problems that Derek couldn't handle. He tried focusing on his paper again. His concentration broke again when he heard the shower stop. Stiles popped a wet head out of the bathroom, looking over to where Derek was. He grinned sheepishly again as their eyes met.

"I just… my clothes," Stiles pointed at his suitcase on the other side of the room.

Before Derek could even offer to bring it to the boy, Stiles darted out of the bathroom, holding his towel securely around his waist, giving Derek a quick show of Stiles' naked and wet torso before running back in. It made Derek wish he had a cold shower now. And yeah. Really. He couldn't handle this. Derek dropped his head onto his arm on the table, stifling a groan.

'This kid is going to be the death of me…'

/\/\/\

Derek ended up going to the coffee shop with Stiles, a half an hour earlier than when he normally arrived. Stiles didn't mind. It gave him someone to talk to while he opened up shop. The rest of the day went on like normal. Derek got his coffee, complete with a drawing of a lion, ate some mini red velvet whoopie pies, and listened to Stiles chatter away. He went to class, fought off the replaying image of a naked Stiles running in his head, tried not to think of how they technically slept together, and took notes on the lectures. He also tried not to think about what it might've been like had he hung up a smaller towel.

'Hmm… maybe tomorrow…'

And then Derek mentally scolded himself for trying to exploit his otherwise guileless friend, although he didn't exactly take the idea off the table. Derek was a bad, bad man.

/\/\/\

Later, when Stiles got out of class, the two went to rent a scary movie as planned and order a pizza on their way back. And to Derek, it certainly seemed like Scott might've had this one wrong. Stiles seemed to be doing fine. They were sitting on the couch, watching the movie like nothing. The only inkling Derek might've got that something might be wrong was when Stiles took his blanket and wrapped it around himself, pulling it up over his head and gathering Sourwolf into his lap. But his eyes were still glued intently on the screen so Derek chopped it up to him just being cold. When the movie was done, Derek got up off the couch, stretched and was ready to hit the hay.

"Well, that was uneventful," Derek commented, taking the movie out the DVD player and putting it in its case. He looked to Stiles. "Night, then."

"What? Wait- no!"

Derek was stopped as a hand seized his wrist, strong in its grasp. He looked to the wide-eyed boy. "No?"

"Derek, there are evil, vengeful ghosts out there waiting to eat my eyeballs! We can't go to sleep! What if they come after us?"

"You can't be serious," Derek said, rolling his eyes. He saw the pout form on the boy's lips. "You're serious."

"It could happen!"

"Stiles, even if it could – which it can't – what have you done that would make anything vengeful towards you?" Stiles thought about it – actually thought about it. Derek shook his head before the boy could even get a word out. "You're being ridiculous. It was just a movie."

"Fine, fine," he frowned. "Can you at least just stay up with me? Just for a little bit?"

Derek sighed. "Fine."

Unfortunately, a little bit turned into a couple of hours. At some point, they had migrated into Derek's room. They were playing cards on his bed. Stiles was still wrapped in his blanket, one arm still holding the stuffed wolf his other hand holding his cards up to his face. Derek was stretched out across the foot of his bed, nodding off.

"Derek!"

His eyes snapped open. "What?"

"Seven?"

He glanced at his cards. "Go fish." He watched Stiles pick from the pile between them and sighed. "Stiles, I'm tired. I'm going to bed."

"You're already in bed."

"You know what I mean," he said groggily. He dropped his cards on top of the pile, before moving to slip under the covers. He reached for his bedside light. "Good night, Stiles." He said, emerging them in darkness.

"Wait, wait, wait," Stiles hissed. "Derek?"

"Mm."

"What if there's a creepy dead girl out there?"

"There's no creepy dead girl in my apartment."

"But how can you be sure? What if the contractor buried her here before you came here?"

"Well then she's been a very quiet dead girl. Go to sleep." Derek was just about to drift off when he heard Stiles call his name again. "What?"

"What if she's just biding her time?"

"Stiles," Derek practically growled. He flipped over, gathering the bundle of fear into his arms and held him. He pulled Stiles in close, his chest pressed against the boy's back. "I'll keep you safe," he murmured. "Go 'sleep."

He heard Stiles sigh, arms tightening around his Sourwolf. Satisfied, Derek let himself drift off to sleep.

/\/\/\

Despite being secure in Derek's arms, Stiles still somehow managed to steal his blanket.

/\/\/\

Convincing himself it was just a little bit of punishment for the boy for having kept him up and for stealing the covers, Derek went ahead and gave Stiles a smaller towel. Stiles was none the wiser.

/\/\/\

During class, Derek had to fight off the mental image of a naked Stiles in a shorter towel running in his mind. He also had to fight off the idea of not giving the boy a towel at all. He also chose to ignore the fact that they had technically slept together in his bed two nights in a row now.

/\/\/\

And it was with great disappointment that Derek found out Scott and Stiles' apartment was ready. He tried not to think of it as a death march as he walked Stiles home.

"Thanks again, Derek," Stiles smiled brightly once they were standing outside his apartment door. "For letting me crash with you. And for carrying my toothbrush."

Derek just nodded solemnly, glancing lazily at said toothbrush in his hand. "Anytime."

"Wanna come in for a bit?"

Derek shook his head. "Nah, I should head back."

"Right," he nodded slowly. He put his suitcase down and wrapped his arms around Derek for a hug. "Sorry about stealing your blanket," he said softly into his ear. "And thanks for keeping me safe." He turned his head, giving Derek a little kiss on the cheek.

He smiled at him before taking his toothbrush, picking up his suitcase, and stepping into the apartment. "Night Derek."

Derek blinked. "Night Stiles," he breathed.

On his way home, Derek couldn't stop himself from touching his cheek where Stiles' lips had pressed against him. He couldn't stop the grin he had on his face as he literally ran home in his excitement. He decided that letting Stiles stay with him had been his best decision ever. And when he climbed into bed that night, smelling the boy's scent on his pillow and in his blanket and just being enveloped in Stiles, he thought 'Yeah. I definitely could get used to that.'

Chapter Text

One Friday, Derek was making his way to the coffee shop like normal. But when he looked through the window, who he saw wasn't his now regular barista. He frowned.

"Isaac, where's Stiles?" he said, walking through the door.

The blonde yawned. "And good morning to you, too." Derek merely huffed, glaring at the boy. "Look, I don't know, okay? He called me about two hours ago asking if I could come in for him. Something about his dad being in the hospital," he explained. "Now, you want the same thing, right?"

"His dad's in the hospital? What happened?"

Isaac just shook his head. "I don't really know the details- hey wait! Where are you going?"

Derek didn't respond. He hurried back out the door, pulling out his phone to try calling his friend. When he didn't get an answer, he began to run towards Stiles' apartment. 'Did something happen to his dad? Is he sick or hurt or…' Derek didn't want to think about that last one. 'If something bad happened, Stiles is gonna need support.'

Derek chose to forego the elevator, bounding up the stairs three steps at a time. Once he was at the right door, he began to knock. "Stiles? Is everything okay? Stiles?"

The door opened to reveal a sleepy Scott. "Dude… Mr. Hale… it's way too early for this shit. Go away," he growled, preparing to shut the door again.

Derek would have taken offense to the attitude but one, it was still pretty early, and two, Stiles had mentioned that Scott was not the happiest of campers without a full night's rest. He shot a hand out, stopping the door. "Scott, where's Stiles?"

The boy growled again in frustration, pushing harder against the door. "Come on, man. Your boyfriend's not here."

Derek frowned. "He's not my- Ow! Damn it, Scott!" He snatched back his hand, shaking it. The boy had bit him. He bit him! He stared incredulously at the now closed door, briefly wondering if he needed to get checked for rabies. "Where did he go?" He called through the door.

"Home."

Derek paused. 'Was it so serious that Stiles had to go home for it?' The thought made him upset. "Damn it, Scott!" Derek growled again. "What kind of friend are you? Letting him go home by himself when something bad happened to his dad? His dad's all he has left!"

The door swung open. "Oh my freakin' God, dude. Just go bone him already. Seriously."

Derek scowled, eyes narrowing dangerously. "You need to calm down."

"So do you." He said through gritted teeth. For the next few moments, they stared each other down. Eventually, Scott exhaled deeply in exasperation. He rolled his eyes. "He's taking the 8 o'clock train to Beacon Hills. You can sex him up there." And with that, Scott slammed the door shut.

Derek decided he really didn't like sleepy Scott. "Wait. Beacon Hills?" He didn't get a response this time, so Derek took a step back, leaning against the wall facing the closed door. 'Stiles never mentioned he was from Beacon Hills… then again, neither did I…' He frowned. 'I haven't been back there since Laura brought me to the house…' He felt the dull ache in his heart return as the pain of loss resurfaced once again. He pushed the feeling aside. 'If Stiles' dad is hurt, he might be feeling the same. He needs someone with him.' Derek wanted to be that someone.

It was decided. He ran home, quickly threw a bag together, and drove his Camaro to the train station, purchasing a train ticket on his phone along the way. He was picking up his ticket at the service desk when a familiar voice called out to him.

"Derek?"

He spun around. Stiles was looking at him with surprise. He got his ticket from the worker before making his way over to the boy. "Hey. I heard about your dad."

Stiles sighed. "I swear, that man will be the death of me." He chuckled, much to Derek's puzzlement. "He rolled his ankle from apparently trying to do some fancy fly-fishery. He's the Sheriff of a town and he gets injured by going fishing?" He laughed again. "Only a Stilinski."

"Oh."

"I figured it was as good a reason as any to check up on him," Stiles continued. "Make sure he's keeping off it and eating right. He's pretty stubborn when it comes to his own health. He'd go into work with a broken leg, assuring people it's just a flesh wound." He laughed.

Derek forced a small smile of amusement, but really he had to visibly restrain himself from smacking his hand against his forehead. 'Why do I always think the worst?' The weight of the situation was beginning to settle on him. 'I packed a bag and came running to be by his side all for a rolled ankle? No wonder Isaac and Scott didn't seem to be making a big deal of it. They got to hear it from Stiles himself so if there wasn't any alarm in his voice, there was probably nothing for them to be alarmed about either.' Derek mentally groaned. 'I'm an idiot. I should also apologize to Scott for calling him a bad friend…' He glanced at the red bite mark on his wrist. 'Then again, maybe not…'

"I was gonna call you," Stiles said, snapping Derek out of his thoughts. "Give you a heads up about Isaac. I know how particular you are about your coffee." He smirked. "But my phone died. I forgot to put it back on the charger last night. Didn't realize it until I was already out the door." He held up his phone and gave it a little shake. "I was actually looking for an outlet I could steal some power from when I saw you." Stiles glanced at the ticket in Derek's hand then back up. "You going somewhere?"

'Shit.' Derek was drawing a blank. It's not like he could say 'I came running to be your rock in your time of need.' No, that wouldn't do at all. He looked to the train ticket in his hand, hoping it would give him an answer. It didn't.

A small smile tugged at the corners of Stiles' lips. "Hey, didn't you mention your sister wanted you to visit?"

"Yes," Derek said, perhaps a little too loudly. He reigned himself in. "Yes, exactly. I am going to visit my sister."

Stiles smiled. He held up Derek's wrist, turning his head to read the ticket in his hand. "Beacon Hills."

"Yeah. Hey, you never told me you're from Beacon Hills."

He shrugged. "You never asked."

"Never stopped you before."

Stiles laughed. "Well, Mr. Hale, it seems we are heading in the same direction. Shall we go find a place to wait for our train?"

Derek just nodded as Stiles led the way. "So wait, did you know that I was from Beacon Hills?"

"Not at first," Stiles admitted.

He looked at him, cocking an eyebrow.

Stiles continued. "Remember when you absolutely refused to tell me your first name? Well… what can I say?" he shrugged. "I'm a curious guy. I did a little detective work myself."

Derek narrowed his eyes. "Why does this sound like the beginnings of something incredibly creepy or incredibly illegal… possibly both?"

The boy laughed. "Nonsense. I'm pretty sure my methods were legit. Most of them anyway. Besides," he grinned. "It was Danny who did the actual hacking."

Derek shook his head. "So what? You looked up my file in the school's system?"

"Is that weird? I mean, you can't really blame me. You were just so interesting." At the confused look Derek was giving him, Stile elaborated. "Most people would say 'thank you for the coffee,' possibly chat for a bit. But you, Mr. Grumpy-pants, were just so… different. So… mean." He laughed again.

Derek frowned. Is that really how Stiles saw him?

"But," Stiles continued, "I'm glad I got to get to know the real you."

"The real me…" Derek echoed, flatly.

"Yes, the real you. The one who secretly enjoys every silly drawing I put in your coffee every morning. And the one, in turn, who draws little lemon caricatures in the margins of cookbooks," he snickered.

Damn. Derek glowered. He almost forgot about that one. Add it to the list of embarrassing things he's done since meeting Stiles. It was getting too long for his liking.

"Come on," Stiles said, taking Derek's wrist and pulling him to a table. "I can charge my phone here while we wait."

Derek sat opposite Stiles when a thought hit him. "Did… did you already know about my parents? I mean, before…"

Stiles paused, looking Derek squarely in the eye before sitting all the way down. "No. I had no idea," he said, firmly. "I mean, my dad was a deputy at the time so of course I heard of it, but I didn't know the details and I definitely didn't know it happened to you."

Derek was solemn.

Stiles reached across the table, hand patting Derek's in a comforting way, smiling softly in sympathy.

Derek just shook his head, wanting to clear it of the sorrowful memories. "So you hacked the school computer. You know, with that kind of behavior, you're going to have a hard time finding a job working alongside the police."

Stiles smirked, sitting back in his seat, hands fiddling with his phone. "Yeah and that's why I've already assigned you as my partner. It works out cause you already know about my criminal past and I already know that under your sour exterior, you're really just a softie."

Derek just rolled his eyes.

Eventually, the two were able to board the train for the long ride to Beacon Hills. It would be a six-hour ride, an hour and a half of it devoted to the three stops along the way. On the train, they killed time by playing cards, never having finished that game of "Go Fish" they had started on Derek's bed the night Stiles stayed over. Stiles won, but Derek was convinced that the boy had cheated. He was also convinced that Stiles needed to learn new games so they wouldn't be stuck playing a child's game.

"Come on," Stiles said, stretching out of his seat before tugging on Derek's wrist when the train had made its second stop. "We're gonna be here for an hour. Let's go find something to eat."

"I don't know," Derek said skeptically. "What if we don't make it back?"

"We'll make it back. Come on."

Derek sighed, but followed the younger boy off the train. They sat down at a little taqueria. Derek had a simple burrito and Stiles decided that ordering seven different types of tacos was normal.

"Do you exercise?" he wondered aloud.

Stile paused, his fish taco halfway up to his mouth. "No. Why?"

Derek glanced at the two remaining tacos left on the boy's plate. He didn't look like he was slowing down at all. Derek shook his head. "No reason."

Stiles just shrugged and proceeded to devour his meal in record time.

"Oh come on," Stiles said, incredulously as they strolled back to the station. "You're saying youwouldn't want to be The Hulk?"

"No thank you," Derek frowned.

"Bruce Banner is like super smart and- 'Hulk Smash!' How can you turn down 'Hulk Smash'?"

"Bruce Banner is in constant fear of changing. He has to hide from the world cause he's afraid he's going to 'Hulk Smash' it to pieces."

Stiles laughed. "How is it you're completely dense to all of the other references I make, but Hulkyou get?"

Derek scoffed. "I'm not dense."

"Yeah, okay." Stiles shook his head.

Derek just rolled his eyes. "What time is it?"

"I don't know. I thought you knew. Aren't you Mr. On-Time, Schedule-Pants?"

"Again with the pants. Grumpy-pants, Schedule-Pants. What's with the pants?" He pulled his phone out of his pocket to check the time. "What time did we get off the train?"

"Umm…"

"Stiles," Derek's eyes widened. "Stiles! What if we missed our train?"

"I thought you of all people would be keeping track!" He paused, giggling. "Ha. Track."

Derek didn't have time to glare at him for the stupid pun; not when a train whistle let itself be heard. And with that, the two made a mad dash towards the station, trying not to knock over the people in their way.

"What dock were we on?" Derek called to the other boy.

"Seven. Definitely seven."

"Where's seven?"

Stiles looked around. "Who designed this place? This is an unnecessarily confusing layout for a train station!"

Eventually, they made it to their platform just in time. Stiles crashed into his seat opposite Derek, laughing while trying to catch his breath.

"I'm sorry," he panted between chuckles. "I really thought you knew."

Derek scoffed. "Well from now on, I know not to trust you to keep schedule." He flopped down in his seat next to the window, crossing his arms over his chest. He scowled at the boy in front of him.

"Aw, don't look at me like that," Stiles smirked. He got up to sit next to the older boy. "We made it on time. Just two more hours and we're back at Beacon Hills." He readjusted himself, leaning against Derek, resting his head on his shoulder. "It'll be good to be back home."

Derek relaxed into his seat, letting out a little sigh. "Home…" The thought was both soothing and unsettling.

After a while, with their stomachs full and their energy from the run drained, they fell asleep, waiting for what lay ahead in Beacon Hills for the two of them.

/\/\/\

Derek probably should have planned this out better. Somewhere along the line, he should have thought beyond the train ride. Most importantly, he should have called his sister.

Once they had pulled into the station and were off the train with their bags in tow, Stiles was immediately stopped by a deputy. The boy had laughed, commenting on how the officer should have had something better to do than pick up the Sheriff's son. Then, Stiles asked Derek if he needed a ride. To which Derek immediately thought 'to where?' Frowning, Derek declined, opting to take a taxi, hoping that he'd figure something out before it arrived.

"You sure?" Stiles asked, a little concerned.

"Yeah," Derek shrugged. "I think my sister might freak out if I came home in a cop car. Plus, it's what I planned to do anyway," he lied.

Stiles just looked skeptical, despite the joke. "Call me later then, okay?"

Derek just nodded, watching as Stiles hopped into the car. Once it drove out of sight, Derek pulled out his phone to call for a taxi, asking the driver to take him out to the Hale house. In no time, Derek was soon closing in on the house he once called home. The closer they got, the more anxious Derek felt. The last time he was there, the house had been charred, wrecked. And while he knew that Laura had decided last year to rebuild the place to move back in, he still couldn't get the image of the broken home out of his head. But when the taxi pulled up, he let out a sigh of relief. The exterior of the house looked good as new. But he was greeted with something he hadn't been expecting. After paying the driver. Derek climbed out of the car, staring curiously at the living room set placed oddly outside.

"-And can we get these put away, please. I don't want any mold on my furniture. And don't scratch anything! These are restored family pieces. They've already been through hell. I rented these containers for a reason people."

Derek glanced at the woman barking orders as she made her way out the front door and down the porch. She was pointing at the living room set, directing a few men, pointing them in the direction of the storage containers. Derek felt any remaining anxiety slip away. Seeing his sister was always a source of comfort.

"Derek?"

Laura was staring disbelievingly at the man standing in the driveway. Derek just waved. Deciding he must be real, she smiled, jogging up to her brother and pulling him into a hug. "Hey, brat. What are you doing here?" She held him at arm's length, face in full seriousness. "Did something happen? Whose ass do I have to kick?"

Derek smiled. "Relax. Nothing happened. I'm here to visit."

She looked at him skeptically. "No way. You never want to come here just to visit. I've been asking you to come visit for months now."

Derek rolled his eyes. "I'm here now aren't I?"

She still wasn't convinced. "All right. Spill. What are you doing here? Really."

He sighed. "I came here with a friend."

Laura laughed. "Wait, wait, wait. You? Have a friend?"

Derek scowled. "I hate you."

She just laughed again, pulling him into another short hug. "Okay, so wait. You came up here with a friend? All right. Who is she?" She frowned, crossing her arms over her chest.

"She?"

"Yes, she. The harlot that has you so twisted around her fingers that she can convince you to skip classes, Derek, to escort her to Beacon Hills when your own sister can't even get you to come here for a weekend."

Derek frowned. "Okay, relax, will you? My friend's dad got hurt, so I came here in support. But as it turns out, the injury was nothing. And he is not a harlot."

Laura arched an eyebrow in interest. "He. That's new."

Derek scoffed. "I've had male friends before."

"Not ones that made you willingly suffer through six-hour train rides for a minor injury," she smirked. Suddenly, she frowned again. "I don't like him," she declared, simply. She spun around and headed back into the house.

Derek gaped, trailing after her. "You haven't even met him."

"First of all, anyone who wants to be friends with you can't be right in the head," she mocked, talking to him from over her shoulder. Derek just shook his head in dismay. "And second, I don't like anyone who has more control over my baby brother than I do."

"Cause that's healthy." Derek paused, looking around. "What's going on?" He asked, taking note of the torn up floors and empty rooms.

"Ah, yes," Laura sighed. "This, Derek. This is why people call before visiting," she chastised. "I swear, you couldn't have picked the worst possible weekend to come up. Tom's on business and won't be back until tomorrow night and I'll be stuck in the office tomorrow until it's time to pick him up, and all the while I'm having crews come up here to redo the floors and install new bathroom fixtures." She shook her head. "We're staying at a hotel tomorrow night. Seriously,Derek, you should have called." She scoffed before throwing her hands up in the air and walking away. "Oh what am I saying? It's not like you planned on visiting. You came running when that trollop of a boyfriend of yours beckoned you."

Derek glared at the back of his sister's head. "He's not my boyfriend. And he's not a trollop. Seriously? Stop reading those trashy romance novels."

Laura spun around, jabbing a finger in her brother's chest. "They're not trashy. I'll have you know, you could learn a thing or two from Roberto and Olivia."

Derek blinked. "I'm not even gonna comment on that."

Laura smiled, wrapping her arms around her brother once more. "Welcome home. I'm glad you came even if it was because of some floozy."

"Laura-"

She just grinned, undeterred by his glare. "Take your stuff upstairs. I gotta go survey these guys with the furniture. I did not spend all that money getting that stuff fixed only to have them duff it all up. Go take a look around. You haven't been here since I started renovations. It's actually turning out quite nice." She smiled softly, fixing the collar of his jacket. "Oh and later, you're buying dinner cause that's what happens when you spring a visit on your unsuspecting sister who is only a call away." She flashed him a toothy grin. "Love you," she stood on her tiptoes to give her brother a kiss on the cheek before disappearing into another room.

Derek watched her go, a small smile playing on his lips. Although she can be mean and slightly terrifying, especially when loaded with a killer left hook, Derek loved his sister. And while he couldn't exactly understand why she wanted to live in a house held such bad memories, part of him was happy to be back.

Derek trekked up the stairs, making his way to what used to be his bedroom. Sparing a brief glance at the door that used to lead to his parents' bedroom, he pushed through, only to find himself in a gutted bathroom. Derek blinked, taking a step backward. He walked over to where the bathroom used to be only to find himself in the new master bedroom that Laura shared with her fiancé. And out of sheer curiosity, he walked over to where his parents' room used to be, opened the door and found himself looking into a linen closet.

"Laura!" he called.

The older Hale came bounding up the steps. "Yeah? What's up?"

There was no other way to put this. "I'm… lost."

Laura just laughed. "Come on," she waved him over. "I had to redo the whole second floor, so I figured why not change up the floor plan a bit? Here," she said, holding open a door for him. "This is your room."

Derek stepped in, taking a look around. It wasn't his actual room from seven years ago, but it was his. He could tell that his sister had put thought into what he would like when designing and picking furniture for the space.

"You like it?"

Derek turned slowly to look at his sister still standing at the door. He nodded.

She smirked. "You like it enough to visit more often?"

He scoffed, but nodded again.

Laura smiled. "Good."

As she closed the door behind her, Derek dropped off his stuff at the foot of the bed. There was no point in unpacking anything in he was just going to end up at a hotel the next night. Looking around, he was actually relieved that Laura had changed things up. He wasn't entirely sure how he'd be able to handle staying in a house that was made to be exactly how it was before his parents died. At least with all the changes, it was like a fresh start with a hint of familiarity. Half of the room he was in was part of his old bedroom, so while the bedroom itself was different, looking out the window was a familiar sight. Derek made his way over, peeking through the curtains. While the house may have changed, nature had stayed the same. His view over the backyard was as it had been years ago. The trees still surrounded the territory, as the hills were littered with them. Derek used to walk through the trees often. Being in the woods was always relaxing to him, no matter how stressed he was that day.

Derek turned away from the window, deciding to kill time by exploring the rest of the house.

/\/\/\

"This isn't exactly what I had in mind when I asked you to buy dinner."

"You didn't specify."

"Derek, I wanted you to take me out to a fancy restaurant so I can wear a pretty dress and show off to the ladies in town that my good-looking brother is back so they can swoon and make fools of themselves over you."

"Well… the pizza guy knows I'm back. I'm pretty sure he swooned. Although, it could have just been gas."

"I hate you."

Derek just snorted at that before taking a bite from the slice in his hands. He had taken his sister's car to bring back dinner just as she had asked. It wasn't his fault that she had been expecting something fancier than pizza.

"Anyway, the water's being turned off tomorrow at noon. And the floor guys are going to tear up the rest of the wood and will start installing the new floors after that. It's going to be noisy. I don't know if you want to stay."

Derek didn't exactly like the sound of that. No plumbing. No peace and quiet.

"You could always come to work with me," Laura tried.

Derek didn't like the sound of that either. "I'll be fine. I'm sure I can keep myself busy until you're off work. I brought some of my school books to make up for anything that I missed."

"All right, all right."

Derek ate the last bit of his pizza and washed it down with some soda. He looked around the kitchen they were eating in, standing over the breakfast bar. Even with the new appliances, the new paint, and the new cabinets, the room still held the same feel. He couldn't help but remember all the meals his mom had prepared for them in this very room. He look to his sister. "Can I ask you something?"

"Shoot," she said around a mouthful of food.

"Why did you want to come back here? I mean, why not just sell the property and get a new house somewhere else?"

Laura took her time, finishing the bite of food in her mouth and studying her brother. "Because," she said, finally. "This is home." Derek frowned, opening his mouth to retort, but Laura cut him off. "I get it. This is the place where Mom and Dad died and that sucks. But this is also the place where Mom and Dad lived. This kitchen is where Mom used to make us breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That den is where Dad used to watch football every Sunday; go Niners. So yeah, a reallyreally bad thing happened here, but lots of other happy things happened here too. I wanted to rebuild this place to make it the home that it once was."

Derek let the words sink in. It made sense. And while it wasn't a decision he personally would have made, it's part of the reason why he admired Laura so much. She didn't run from the bad stuff. It was the bad stuff that made her stronger. He smiled at his sister, pulling another slice from the box.

"What?" she asked.

He smirked. "You've got sauce on your chin," he lied.

She dabbed at it with her napkin, only causing actual sauce to get on it this time. Derek just laughed.

"Damn it, Derek!" she growled in frustration, tossing the rest of slice in the box before scurrying away to the sole functioning bathroom in the house.

He just laughed again. Yeah, it was good to be back. If nothing else, he had missed spending time with his older sister.

Her words stuck with him through the rest of the evening up until he was about ready to go to bed. He had just finished brushing his teeth and was ready to slip under the covers when he glanced outside his window again. The moon was bathing the trees in its light, a familiar sight. He decided he needed to be in those woods again at least once before leaving to go back to school. He glanced at his phone, charging on the nightstand. It was late, but maybe not too late. He pulled it off the charger, dialing in the number he had already committed to memory. It only took two rings.

"Hey! I've been waiting for your call!" came the cheerful voice.

Derek felt his heart swell just hearing Stiles over the phone. "Yeah, sorry. I hope I didn't disturb you or anything."

"Nah, it's fine."

"How's your dad?"

"He's good. He's enjoying playing up his injury so that he can get others to do things for him. Otherwise, he's perfectly fine." He chuckled. "How are you?"

Derek sighed, taking a seat on the bed, leaning against the headboard. "It's not too bad being back. It's a little strange being back at the house, but my sister changed it up so much on the inside that it's almost like a different place."

"That's good."

"Actually, I was… I was thinking about you said… that night. About how I should remember the good things…" Suddenly, Derek felt nervous. "Well one of the good things I remembered was just being out in the woods. I spent a lot of time out there growing up and it got me thinking since I don't have anything to do tomorrow that maybe I could go hiking," he paused, trying to build courage for the next part. "And then I thought… maybe… maybe you'd like to come with me?" Derek held his breath.

"You know what?" Stiles replied, slowly. "That's actually perfect."

Derek released the breath he had been holding, allowing himself a smile of relief.

Stiles continued. "The guys at the station decided to surprise my dad with tickets to a baseball game. I tried explaining to him that they were just using him for his temporary handicap parking placard, but he wasn't buying it." He chuckled. "But yeah. They're kidnapping him all afternoon, so I would love to go hiking with you. I'm allllll yours."

Derek blushed at the choice of words. If only.

"But," Stiles cut in, making Derek briefly worry he was going to change his mind, but that wasn't the case. "My dad said there's been some mountain lion activity in the woods. You sure you wanna risk it?"

"What are the odds of us running into a mountain lion?" Derek could almost hear the numbers crunching in Stiles' brain. "We'll be fine," he assured.

The two went over the details before hanging up for the night. Derek was excited to share this with Stiles. He was looking forward to tomorrow, wondering just what the day would bring.

/\/\/\

When Stiles pulled up the next day, Derek looked skeptically at the blue Jeep. It definitely looked like it had some age on it and it made Derek wonder if it could handle the terrain. Stiles just mocked offense, assuring him that his baby could withstand anything.

"If she can handle the shenanigans of a teenage Scott and Stiles, then I'm sure she can handle a trip through the woods."

Derek could only hope he was right.

"So, was your sister surprised when you showed up?" Stiles asked, adjusting the strap of his backpack while trailing Derek through the trees.

"Yeah," Derek replied, brows furrowing together. "How'd you know?"

Stiles chuckled. "Well, I'm gonna take an educated guess here and say that not everything was planned yesterday."

Derek paused, looking over his shoulder. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, Scott called yesterday and he was totally freaking out. He was asking me if I thought he was a bad friend for not coming with me to check on my dad even though he knew it was just a rolled ankle. Apparently, someone had stopped by that morning saying so…"

Derek flushed, turning back around quickly and continuing his walk. "I-I didn't say that."

"So it was you! Scott wouldn't say but I had an idea," Stiles laughed.

Derek inwardly groaned, picking up his pace as if he could outrun the situation. It wasn't until he felt Stiles' arm slide around his own that he slowed down. He looked to the boy at his side who smiled softly in return.

"Fine, okay. I didn't come out here to visit my sister. Not initially, anyway. I just… I wanted to make sure you were all right. I didn't know it was just a rolled ankle."

Stiles just nodded as if he had known this all along. "I appreciate it nonetheless. And you should think about apologizing to Scott for making him feel bad."

Derek scoffed. "No way. He bit me."

Stiles dropped his arm to his side, staring at Derek incredulously, yet with slight amusement. "What?"

"You're right about him needing all his sleep. He's terrible without it."

"Yes!" Stiles cheered, arms above his head. "I'm not the only one who's seen it! Everyone thinks I'm lying, but he really is a demon! He does a complete one-eighty. My happy peppy friend turns into this grumpy monster. He's almost as grumpy as you."

Derek scowled, unamused.

"See? That's the same face he gives me when I wake him up early."

The two made idle chitchat throughout the hike. They took a break around noon to eat some sandwiches Stiles had prepared for them. They relaxed in the shade, sitting on top of a fallen tree, enjoying the nature surrounding them. Everything was going smoothly. But that didn't last for long.

Derek had wandered off, wanting to take a leak. He was on his way back to where he had left Stiles when he spotted the boy standing on top of a hill, waving at him. Derek raised a hand, waving back. But then he saw the boy cup his hands around his mouth. He couldn't understand what he was saying.

"What?" He yelled back.

"-ek! –un!"

Derek frowned, trying to figure out what he was saying. 'Run?' The thought sent a chill down his spine as he remembered the mountain lion spotting Stiles had talked about the night before. He looked around, expecting to see the feline charging at him.

"-ek! A b-r!"

Derek tried deciphering this one. 'A bear?' That was just as bad as a mountain lion. He looked around again but didn't see a bear either. He wasn't exactly sure he wanted to face either so he hurried back to the trail that would lead him to Stiles. And that's when he saw it. Not a lion. Not a bear. A boar.

Derek blinked. Then he laughed. 'A boar? Stiles is afraid of a boar?'

The boar snorted at the laughing human, kicking one of its legs.

Derek still had a smile on his face, but his laughing abruptly stopped, eyes darting to the bovine. 'Are boars dangerous?' He paused to think.

It snorted again, shaking its head, beady eyes staring directly at its target: Derek.

The smile slowly slipped from Derek's face as his eyes glanced at the massive tusks that suddenly looked much sharper than they had a few seconds ago. 'Maybe I should-'

With a loud squeal, the boar charged at Derek, rearing its ugly head.

"Shit!" Derek spun around and ran away from the creature. He never knew how fast a boar could run. He had always thought he was pretty fast, but compared to the beast behind him, Derek felt like his legs were made out of putty. So he did the only thing he could think of. He leapt up the nearest tree, climbing it so he was out of reach.

The boar stopped at the trunk of the tree, looking up at the man above. It was snarling, scratching its tusks against the bark.

Despite the fact that boars couldn't climb trees, this didn't stop Derek from climbing a little higher to get further away from the angry animal. He clung to the tree, wishing he had something else. Maybe something that could scare the animal away.

He didn't know how long he was stuck in that tree. All he knew was that while the boar was still circling the trunk, there was no way in hell he was coming down. And after what felt like hours, when it was probably only minutes, Derek tried climbing down. He was sent scrambling right back up again when he heard another squeal as the boar came charging back. Let's just say that Derek was very glad he had relieved himself before the whole ordeal. He stayed in the tree until the boar had left again. And he stayed still even after it had left. And just when he felt like he was going to live in this tree forever, Stiles came strolling by, looking up at him from the forest floor.

"Just hangin' out, eh?" he teased.

"Oh ha ha," Derek gave him a withering look.

"You can come down now, Tarzan. He's gone. He was just clearing the way so he and his family could get by."

Derek felt his muscles relax as he released his death-grip on the tree. He started making his way back down.

Stiles was racked with a fit of giggles. "Oh man, I wish I could have video taped the whole thing! The way you bolted through the trees! And then how you scaled the tree! And then how you scaled the tree again when the boar came back! It was awesome!" Stiles pumped his fists in the air in his excitement. "I'm telling everyone when we get back."

"You're gonna tell everyone that I got chased into a tree by a boar," Derek replied, flatly.

"Hey now, boars are dangerous with the tusks and the hooves," Stiles supplied, gesturing with his hands. "That thing might not have been able to rip your throat out, but he could definitely shank you."

Derek just closed his eyes and breathed deeply. "Let's just head back. I think I've had enough of the woods to last me quite a while."

Stiles laughed and saluted the older man. "Aye, aye, captain."

Derek led the way back, wondering to himself what he must have done in a past life to have to endure such embarrassment in front of the boy he wanted nothing more than to impress. He felt like he was doomed to make a fool of himself in front of Stiles no matter what the situation. But once Derek started paying attention to Stiles' recount of the attack, all he could hear was the admiration in the boy's voice.

"I mean, seriously, Derek, all that working out really paid off. You were in that tree in a heartbeat! I probably would've gotten maimed if the tables had been turned."

Derek didn't begin to preen. Really, he didn't.

"And you were so fast, too! I mean, I didn't even know boars could run that fast, but you were pretty fast too!"

He didn't walk a little taller, head a little higher.

"And then you were able to climb the tree again? My arms would've been dead! My legs would've been jelly! Like, it was amazing!"

Derek didn't puff out his chest at all. But he did accept the fact, with immense gratuity, that not only did he not make a fool of himself, he actually did impress Stiles with his feats. This time, Derek did swell with pride.

"Ow, shit!"

Derek spun around to see Stiles lying face-first flat on the ground. He hurried to his side. He crouched down, helping Stiles up into a sitting position. "You okay? What happened?"

"Friggin' tree root," Stiles frowned, grabbing a handful of leaves and throwing them at the offending root, sticking up from the ground. His hands were caked in dirt, his pants torn at the knee where he had scraped it.

Derek frowned, shrugging off his backpack to grab his first-aid kit. He silently thanked his parents for having forced him into boy scouts for a year. It was never a bad idea to always be prepared. Derek pulled out some antiseptic wash and some gauze.

"What is that?" Stiles whined. Derek didn't answer, moving to clean the wound. "No, no, no, don't do that!" He winced, grabbing Derek's shoulders as the liquid came into contact with the scrape. "Owww! That stings!"

"Quit acting like a baby. We have to clean it or else it'll get infected."

He heard Stiles scoff, murmuring, "You're the baby…"

Derek just fixed him a hard stare, effectively silencing the boy, before carrying on with his work. The pants were a bit of a problem, not giving him enough room to clean the entire area. Without even asking, he ripped it even more, exposing more of Stiles' leg.

Stiles opened his mouth to say something, but another hard stare from Derek had him quickly snapping it shut. Derek tended to the wound as gently as he could, blowing on it softly as his mother had done for him whenever he got hurt. He was pretty sure the act didn't actually doanything, but it always made Derek feel better. Hopefully it worked on Stiles, too. He glanced up at him. The boy's cheeks had reddened, his mouth slightly open as his eyes were fixed on Derek's lips.

'Well that's interesting…' Derek thought.

Stiles' eyes met Derek's for a brief second before the boy quickly turned his head and looked away. The blush had deepened, reaching the tips of the boy's ears.

'Well now that's very interesting…' Derek thought.

Stiles cleared his throat, eyes still turned towards the treetops. "I hope you have some awesome and manly Band-Aids. Like Spongebob… or Batman…"

"Spongebob?"

"Or Batman."

Derek smiled, reaching into the kit. Unfortunately, his bandages were boring flesh colored ones. But Stiles forgave him. He was nice like that. He helped Stiles to his feet.

"You good?"

The boy shrugged. "I'm fine. It's just a scrape."

Derek grabbed a bottle of water from his backpack, cracked it open, took one of Stiles' hands in his own and poured the water over it, brushing the palm with his thumb, cleaning it of the dirt caked on to it. And as he did this with the other, Derek watched the boy carefully.

Stiles' cheeks were red once more, his mouth slightly open again, with his eyes fixed on Derek's thumb grazing against his hand. And again, when the boy glanced up, he quickly looked back at the trees as his cheeks reddened even more.

Derek didn't exactly know what to do with this information. All he knew was that it made him feel giddy inside. These little reactions that he was having on Stiles made his heart race in a good and wanted way. He let his thumb trace the hand much longer than necessary, but it didn't seem like Stiles was objecting.

'Yes,' Derek thought, smiling to himself. 'Very interesting indeed.'

Stiles just wiped his hands on his jacket before looking back at Derek. "So uh- we should head back now, right?"

Derek smirked, but nodded. Feeling bold, he took one of Stiles' hands in his before turning to head back.

"Uh- what?" He heard the boy stammer.

Derek allowed himself a smile. "So you don't fall again," he lied. He just used it an excuse to hold Stiles' hand.

"Oh. O-kay."

Derek chanced a glance over his shoulder. Stiles was red again, eyes trained on their joined hands. Turning his gaze back on the trail in front of him, Derek grinned. He had never seen Stiles react that way before. Then again, it wasn't like they'd been put in a situation like this before. Most of the time he spent with Stiles, they were in the safety of the coffee shop. And most of the time, it was Derek messing up. Was it possible then that during his own fits of embarrassment, Stiles had eyed him in interest?

Feeling the warm hand secure in his own, and here in the comfort and familiarity of the woods, Derek allowed himself to hope. He let himself hope that maybe, just maybe, Stiles was interested in him, too.

Chapter Text

"So by the time it's all done, it'll kinda be like it's a whole new house," Stiles commentated.

"Yeah, pretty much."

The two were sitting in the driveway of the Hale house, watching as workers moved in and out of the home. To be honest, Derek was stalling. As soon as he stepped out of the car, he would have to go to his room and collect his things before taking a taxi to the hotel where he would be staying. But beyond that, stepping out of the car meant no more time with Stiles.

Derek might've looked cool, calm, and collected on the outside, but on the inside he had been bubbling with excitement. He had just spent nearly two hours trekking through the woods, holding Stiles' hand in his. He had even slowed the pace, using Stiles' scraped knee as an excuse. And all the while, Stiles never complained. Holding his hand felt like the most natural thing in the world. And replaying the image of Stiles' soft blush in his mind, he had to deem the entire day a success. And because of that, he was in no hurry to end it just yet.

"Jesus, is that a bathtub or a Jacuzzi?"

"Both."

"So wait, if all the plumbing is out for the day, how are you gonna go to the bathroom? You guys rent a port-a-potty or something?"

Derek sighed, unable to prolong their departure any more. "I'll be staying at a hotel." He glanced at his watch. "I mean, I will be when I get a room." Then Derek thought of another excuse to spend more time with him. "Hey, you think you can drop me off? If you have time, I mean."

"Wait, a hotel?"

"Well yeah. Obviously I can't stay here. Plumbing won't be back on until late afternoon tomorrow. So, hotel it is."

Stiles brightened as an idea hit him. "You know what? I'll do you one better. You can stay with me tonight. That way you don't have to pay for a room for just one night."

Derek snapped his head to the side, staring at Stiles with a look of disbelief. 'Wait… did I hear right? I couldn't have heard that right…' he blinked. "What?"

Stiles shrugged. "Yeah. I mean, you let me stay at your place when my bathroom was getting fixed, now you can stay at my place now that your bathroom's getting fixed." He chuckled at the irony.

This was way better then getting a fifteen-minute ride. Derek had to mentally restrain himself from bursting out in delight cause no. That's just not something he does. Instead, Derek put on a bored expression and shrugged nonchalantly. "Yeah, sure. Whatever."

Stiles frowned, studying Derek who had to refrain from squirming under the intense stare. "Is that the same kind of 'whatever' you said when I asked you about the lemon tarts that first time? Cause it sounded like the same thing."

"It's… whatever."

Stiles snorted. "All right, then, stubborn. I'll take you to your hotel."

Derek almost pouted. Almost. Apparently Stiles still wasn't proficient in Derek code. 'Whatever' in this context very clearly meant 'Yes, I want to stay with you! Forever, if that's a viable option!' He exhaled deeply, eliciting a little growl.

Stiles smirked. "You should probably get your stuff if I'm dropping you off."

'Wait? Did that mean staying with him is no longer an option?' Derek glanced over at Stiles who merely raised his eyebrows in question. Did Derek just ruin his good mood by being stubborn?

Stiles cocked his head to the side. "You did still want me to take you, right? Or was that a 'whatever' as well?"

With another growl, Derek popped the door of the Jeep open, stalking back into the house to gather his things. He grumbled the whole way.

"Idiot… I should've just said 'yes'! Why is that so hard? If he asks, 'Hey Derek, wanna stay at my place?' say 'yes.' This shouldn't even be an issue!" He tossed his toothbrush into his bag, scooping it up off the floor before stomping all the way down the stairs. He was still berating himself as he climbed back into the car.

"So? Where to, Miss Daisy?"

Derek frowned again. 'I guess it really is off the table…' He slumped in his seat, eyes fixed out the window. "The Regent. It's off First."

"I know that place," Stiles said, starting the car. "My dad and I stayed there once while our house was getting fumigated. Just a head's up, don't take anything from the mini-bar unless you don't mind spending five-dollars for something that typically costs less than a dollar. My dad was notpleased with that one."

The drive to the hotel was very much one-sided. Stiles made commentary along the way while Derek just stewed in his own frustration and melancholy. The day had been going so well and had the prospect of being much better. And then he had to go and ruin it. 'Idiot…' he internally growled for the thousandth time. So annoyed at himself was he that he didn't even pay attention to where they were going. He didn't even pay attention when Stiles had stopped the Jeep, proclaiming their arrival. He had just hopped out of the car, only pausing when he looked up and saw a garage, not the entrance of a hotel. Derek did a double-take, head zipping around as he finally took note of where Stiles had driven them. He heard the boy laughing as he made his way up the front steps to unlock the front door.

Stiles turned around and fixed Derek with a smug smirk. "Coming?"

Derek was glued to the spot as his mind tried to catch up. 'He was pulling my leg all along…' He narrowed his eyes, a scowl forming on his face. 'Okay. Two can play at that…' He looked the house up and down before looking back at the boy still smiling on the porch. "This isn't the hotel," he said, a touch of disdain in his tone as he slowly brought his arms up to cross them over his chest.

Stiles' mouth dropped open as he gaped at the older boy. "Liar!" He accused, mirroring Derek's own stance. "Just admit it, Derek. You want to stay at my house. I know you do."

"And why would I want that?"

"Obviously, it's cause I'm awesome and you want to hang out with me, like, all the time," he rolled his eyes as if this were the most apparent fact in the world. He hobbled down the steps, walked over to the passenger-side door that Derek had yet to close, and grabbed Derek's bag. "So quit dilly-dallying and let's go." He waved him over and walked back to the front door.

With Stiles' back to him, Derek just grinned, finally closing the door and following the boy into the house. Maybe Stiles was more proficient in Derek code than he let on.

Stiles gave Derek a quick tour of the first floor before deciding he needed a snack. Derek took a seat at the breakfast bar, watching the younger boy dart around the kitchen. "You sure your dad won't mind me staying?"

"Yeah, it's no problem," Stiles said, head inside a cabinet. "Scott used to crash here all the time."

Derek tried to convince himself that he was over being jealous about Scott and Stiles' long-time friendship. He tried, but he failed. "But that's Scott. Your dad knows Scott."

Stiles sighed. "Look, if it'll make you feel any better, I'll call him, all right?" He grabbed his phone, tapped through a few menus before setting it down on the counter on speaker so he could continue rifling through the cabinets. After a few rings, the Sheriff picked up.

"Hey kiddo, what's up?"

"Hey Dad. Enjoying yourself?"

"Eh-the game's all right. And these hot dogs are ridiculously expensive. Luckily, I'm not paying so..."

"I'm going to ignore the fact that you're eating hot dogs and not carrot sticks and I want you to keep that in mind when I tell you what's come up."

"Jesus Stiles, you've been home one day. What did you do?"

"Daaad," Stiles whined, chuckling nervously as he glanced at Derek who merely cocked an eyebrow. "I didn't do anything. Think better of your only son, please."

The Sheriff snorted. "Have you met my only son? Did he tell you about the time he thought it was a good idea to take my cruiser for a joyride?"

Stiles sputtered. "Hey, I explained that to you. I only did that on a dare. A dare from Jackson, of all people. Besides," he harrumphed. "I brought it back in one piece."

"Stiles, the fender was hanging off on one side!"

"It was technically still attached. I rest my case."

Derek was a mix of incredulity and amusement.

The Sheriff sighed. "Did you need something?"

"Yes," Stiles perked, getting back on track. "I just wanted you to know that my friend needed a place to crash tonight so I offered up the couch. You're okay with that, right?"

"Yeah, sure. No problem."

Stiles gave Derek a smirk as if to say 'I told you so.'

"Actually, that's good," the Sheriff continued. "You see, after the game, the guys and I were going to play some poker over at Ron's house-"

"I don't like where this is going. Why don't I like where this is going-"

"-So it's good that you'll have company over night while I'm out."

"What do you mean while you're out? What time are you coming home?"

"Oh, about eight…"

"That's not so b-"

"In the morning."

"Dad, what?"

"It's poker, Stiles. There's bound to be drinking involved."

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean you need to partake in it. Whatever happened to not giving in to peer pressure?"

"I am an injured man. I need every ounce of relaxation I need. And I know you're not suggesting I drive home after a few beers."

"Then have someone else drive you home."

"I doubt any of them will be in any better a shape than I."

"But Dad, I wanted you to meet Derek-"

"Wait, it's Derek? Derek Hale?"

The man in question sat up a little bit straighter, unconsciously leaning in towards the phone to listen better.

"Yeah, Dad."

"The same Derek Hale from school that you've been talking to me about for weeks now?"

Stiles glanced at Derek, cheeks flushing. "Eh-heh. You don't have to put it like that, Dad."

"If he's the one you're having over, you better be sleeping in different rooms."

"Oh my God, what are you even implying?"

"Now," the Sheriff continued, ignoring his son. "I will be back tomorrow morning as planned, just in time for breakfast. So if he's still around, I can meet your new boyfriend then-"

"Dad! He's not my boyfriend."

The Sheriff scoffed. "Well, from the way you talk about him-"

"And that's enough of speaker-time with Dad," Stiles said loudly, grabbing his phone off the counter and running out the back door to finish the call outside.

Derek was stifling a grin. Apparently he wasn't the only one who kept getting the 'boyfriend' shtick. And it's not like he actually minded if others thought Stiles was his. It would discourage them from looking at the boy with any sort of interest. And if it was the Sheriff who already thought he was Stiles' boyfriend, well that couldn't be a bad thing, could it?

Stiles came back in, grinning sheepishly. "Bottom line, you can stay," he said, rubbing the back of his head.

"Just how much do you talk about me, Stiles?" Derek teased.

Stiles tossed him a withering look. "My dad is injured and therefore is doped up on some pretty intense meds. Anything he says can't be used against him in a court of law." He hopped back into the kitchen, throwing a bag of popcorn into the microwave. "Soooo, since you're staying, what do you want for dinner tonight?"

Derek blinked. "That's right… I have dinner with my sister." He had almost forgot.

"Oh," Stiles.

It might have just been wishful thinking on his part, but to Derek, Stiles sounded a little disappointed. "Her fiancé is flying back in from a business trip later so I'm being forced to finally meet him."

"Whoa, buddy. Don't sound so excited, there," Stiles said, hands up in jest.

Derek just rolled his eyes. "She's already marrying the guy. I don't see why she's making such a big deal about us meeting one another."

Stiles gaped at him. "Okay, seriously. Did you grow up in a cave or something?" At the glare he was receiving, he pressed on. "I mean, obviously it matters what you think. That's your sister. And this is the guy she wants to spend the rest of her life with. And if her brother and her boyfriend can't get along, then that's definitely a problem. I doubt she'd want to go the rest of her life having awkward family get-togethers if you and her hubby can't stand each other. Hell, even I get that and I'm an only child!"

Derek was still wearing a blank expression, looking very unconvinced.

"Look," Stiles said, placing his hands flat on the countertop and leaning in on them. "Think of it the other way. What if you were the one getting married? Wouldn't you want your sister and your girlfriend to get along?" He shrugged. After a beat, he added, "Or boyfriend. You know, you never clarified the matter."

Derek snorted derisively, but it did make him think. He wasn't very pleased with his sister when she outright said she didn't like Stiles just because she thought the boy had Derek wrapped around his fingers. Stiles was important to Derek and so was Laura. It would kill him if they couldn't get along and that's just what he felt as Stiles' friend. If Derek were actually marryingStiles… Well, Derek didn't want to think about that just yet, lest he overwhelm himself with feelings. Baby steps. But yeah. All in all, he understood what Stiles meant. Which is why he said what he did next.

"Come with me."

Stiles blinked in surprise. "What?"

"Come with me to dinner tonight."

Stiles snorted. "Yeah right. Suffer through the awkward meet and greet yourself. Besides," he said, reaching over the counter to pat Derek on the shoulder. "It'll do you some good to meet new people. You can practice being nice."

Derek frowned. "I can be nice. I'm nice to you."

"Pffffft," Stiles snickered. "That's only cause I wooed you with my goodies," he winked with a laugh.

Derek sighed, before reaching over the counter to take one of Stiles' hands between his own. Apparently, he was still feeling a bit courageous from earlier in the woods. He pulled the hand toward him, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the countertop, bringing his hands mere inches from his lips. "Please, Stiles. Come with me. If you're there, I think I'll feel comfortable enough to get through this dinner without scaring this guy off like my sister thinks I will."

The flush returned to Stiles' cheeks as eyes tracked over his hand between Derek's.

"Stiles," Derek urged, forcing the boy's eyes to snap up to his own. "Please."

He gulped, before nodding slightly.

Derek smiled, keeping the boy's hand secure between his own, squeezing it gently. But then a familiar scent called his attention. "Is something burning?"

"Huh?" he blinked in his stupor. Then Stiles shook his head, eyebrows jumping up. "Oh crap, the popcorn!" He snatched his hand back before leaping over to the microwave. He yanked open the door as a cloud of smoke billowed into the room.

Derek moved quickly, throwing open the back door to let the kitchen air out, as Stiles tossed the bag into the sink, drowning it in water. He coughed as a cloud of steam wafted through the air as he waved it out of his face.

Derek had to laugh. "Who burns popcorn? Isn't there a pre-set on your microwave specifically forpopcorn?"

"Oh- you- just stop it, okay? Just stop," Stiles stammered. "I must've pushed the wrong button is all. It happens."

Stiles let the smoke clear out of the kitchen before trying again. This time, he made sure to push the right button so that he and Derek had something to munch on while they caught some movie on TV.

Later, Stiles showed Derek the second floor, giving him the tour of his old bedroom and showing him where the bathroom was. Derek tried not to react when he saw Sourwolf sitting on the bed as Stiles quickly snatched him up and took him to his dad's room. Apparently, the wolf protected him while on the road as well.

"You can stay in my room tonight, and I'll take my dad's bed since he won't be using it," Stiles had explained when he returned. Derek just nodded in understanding before perusing through all of the boy's knickknacks.

The both of them then took their time washing up before heading out. Stiles drove to the restaurant where Derek would finally be meeting Laura's fiancé. And despite Derek's instructions to slow down and take his time driving there, Stiles drove at speed limit, reminding Derek that he couldn't put off the inevitable. And also that there were impeding laws in California.

As they approached, Derek spotted his sister near the entrance, her arms wrapped around the neck of her fiancé as she laughed at something he must've said. She looked purely enamored. And then, when she finally spotted Derek approaching, her soft smile turned into a grin as she waved at him, but the grin almost instantly fell once her eyes tracked to the boy just beyond his shoulder. She eyed Stiles suspiciously before narrowing eyes at her brother. She looked less than pleased by the unexpected guest.

"Ah, Derek. Good to finally meet you," Tom greeted as they neared, holding his hand out.

Derek just glanced at the outstretched hand, prepared to ignore it. But then he felt the icy glare from his sister as well as a nudge from Stiles, and he was holding out his hand to shake it courteously. The nudge didn't go unnoticed, Derek noted, as he looked to Laura who in turn was looking at Stiles, cautiously.

"Derek," Laura said, tone sterile. "Who's your friend?"

"Stiles," the boy introduced himself, holding his hand out. "Stiles Stilinski."

"Stilinski?" Tom piqued, shaking his hand. "As in Sheriff Stilinski?"

"That would be my dad."

"Who names their kid Stiles?" Laura wondered aloud, earning herself a glare from Derek. Why was he expected to be nice to Tom when she couldn't be nice to Stiles?

But Stiles was unfazed. He just laughed. "You'd be saying the same if you knew my real name. Possibly worse." He shrugged.

Laura just cocked an eyebrow at that.

"Whoa," Stiles stared.

"What?" she frowned.

"That thing with the eyebrow. It makes you look just like Derek," he mused. Stiles looked over to Derek, face lighting up with glee. "See?"

Not even realizing it, Derek had made the same face. He trained it back into a blank stare, but Tom was already laughing.

"They do look very much alike. Could pass as twins, almost."

Both Hales rolled their eyes at this, only causing the other two to laugh even more.

"Shall we?" Tom asked, looping his arm through Laura's and nodding towards the door.

Derek and Stiles followed behind the happy couple. Stiles leaned over, voice low. "See? He doesn't seem like such a bad guy. Just relax, be cool, and pretend like you're talking to me when he asks you a question. And for God's sake man, if the guy sticks his hand out, just give it a damn shake. You're so rude sometimes, Derek," Stiles teased, bumping him on the shoulder.

Derek looked at his friend sideways, but didn't miss the brief glance Laura took over her shoulder before she looked to him. Derek cocked his eyebrow at his sister in question, but she merely mirrored the act before turning her gaze forward once more. Maybe they were more alike than they had noticed before.

While waiting to be seated, Laura quickly eyed Stiles. "So, Stiles. How do you know my baby brother?" she asked, though her tone made her sound uninterested.

Stiles answered anyway. "Well, we go to the same school. He's a customer at the coffee shop I work at-"

"Oh, so you're a barista," she said, flatly, as if baristas were beneath her.

Derek glared at his sister. She was being so incredibly rude. Was this how Derek acted as well?

"Yeah, well, it helps pay the rent and for the books I need for classes," Stiles shrugged.

"He's studying to be a forensic scientist," Derek added, wanting Laura to be impressed. Forensics was hardly an easy thing to get into. But she wasn't having it.

"Oh so, what? You'll be looking at cum stains under black lights?"

Derek was mortified. If looks could kill, Laura would be six feet under, then resurrected just so he could murder her again by the cold, hard glare her brother was giving her.

And yet, Stiles remained unfazed. "Cum stains? I can't actually be certain about this, but I'm pretty sure that not every criminal has time to jack off before leaving the scene of a crime. I mean, not unless he gets off on that sort of thing… or unless he's a teenage boy getting his first hand job." At this, Tom had to laugh. Stiles snickered, pointing to the man. "See? He gets it."

Derek was shaking his head, wondering how his life had brought him here. And despite herself, Laura looked like she was having a hard time fighting off a smirk. Derek counted that as a win for Stiles.

"So what about you, Derek," Tom asked. "Tell me a little about yourself. I only know what Laura's told me."

Derek scoffed. "Well in that case, just take the opposite of everything she's said and that's me."

"You wanna know about Derek Hale? Derek Hale is one cocky miscreant. Just your average, stuck-up, arrogant, rich kid."

Derek could recognize that voice anywhere. A smile tugged at his lips as he turned around. He was just about to greet the man standing behind him when Stiles stormed right past Derek, moving to place himself between Derek and the unforeseen guest.

"Excuse me? Do you even know Derek?" Stiles barked. "Cause if you did, you'd know he's nothing like that. Sure he can be a little grumpy and it wouldn't hurt if he smiled more often, but he's actually a really good guy-"

"Stiles-" Derek tried, but the boy continued.

"-and who are you, anyway? Who do you think you are, talking about Derek like that when obviously you don't know a thing about him?"

"Stiles," Derek tried again, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder to calm him down, his own eyes wide in surprise. Stiles just glanced at Derek over his shoulders, eyes questioning him. "Stiles, this is my Uncle Peter. He was joking."

He was silent for a moment as he let the words sink in. "Ohhhh," the boy finally said, slinking back some. "Your uncle… was joking…" he chuckled nervously, taking a step backward, trying to hide behind Derek.

Once his eyebrows came down from the shock of the verbal onslaught, a grin spread across Peter's face. "Fascinating," he said slowly, taking Stiles' wrist in his hand, pulling him back out from behind Derek. "I like you. You're spunky. You're sitting next to me tonight."

"U-um," Stiles sputtered.

It was at that moment that the hostess led them to their table. And as he said, Peter, with his hand still around Stiles' wrist, took a seat at the head of the table, and directed the boy into the seat on his left. And before Derek could take the seat next to his friend, Laura swooped in, leaving him to sit on the other side of his uncle, across from the Stiles and next to Tom. Derek narrowed his eyes at his sister, trying to warn her to be nice to the person she was sitting next to. And again, all he got in return was a mirrored expression as she silently warned him to be nice to Tom.

"Sorry about that," Stiles said to Peter, rubbing the back of his neck. "I didn't know you were related."

"How very bold of you," Peter smiled. "Do you come to all of your friends' defense when someone speaks ill of them?"

Stiles blinked. "Of course." He looked a bit gob smacked, as if even suggesting there could be another answer to that was just outrageous.

Peter just grinned, delighting in Stiles' response.

Derek noticed the way Peter looked Stiles up and down. He didn't like it. He leaned forward, clearing his throat to get his uncle's attention. "Peter, what are you doing here? I thought you were still in New York."

"I was," he replied, drolly. "But your sister called me this morning and said that you were having a little reunion and I didn't want to miss out. So, I took the jet."

"You have a private jet?" Stiles asked in awe.

'No, Stiles,' Derek frowned inwardly. 'I'm taking the attention off of you. Don't go snatching it back up.'

"That I do," Peter bragged. "Would you like to fly in it some time?"

"Where are our menus?" Derek said, loudly.

Peter and Laura just looked to him, amused.

This was going to be a long dinner.

/\/\/\

"You're the Sheriff's son?" Peter mused. "Ah, I've had my fair share of run-ins with him. I don't think he's ever pleased to hear when I'm in town."

"That's because the last time you were here, you trashed a hotel room and got three different noise complaints, and when the Sheriff finally arrived, you answered the door naked," Laura recounted.

Peter shrugged nonchalantly, feeling no shame whatsoever. "It's not my fault he interrupted me in the middle of something."

Laura snorted. "Yeah. In the middle of those two barely legal women."

Again, Peter just shrugged. "Yeah, I know. Only two. I was having an off night."

/\/\/\

"Ah, so you bake as well?" Peter asked, intrigued by the boy on his left. "Are you any good at it?"

"Well, Derek seems to like it," Stiles said, nodding in his direction.

"He does, does he?" Peter smirked. "Well you know what that says, don't you?" His smile grew mischievous at the blank shake of the boy's head. "It means you must be good with your hands… and even better with your tongue."

Derek was choking on his water at that.

/\/\/\

"You were chased by a boar?" Laura repeated, highly amused.

"Hey," Derek snapped. "That thing had massive tusks. He could have mutilated me."

"You wanna know what else is massive? My-"

"Damn it, Peter!" Derek growled.

"What? I was going to say 'my condo back in New York.' What were you thinking of, Derek?"

/\/\/\

So somewhere through the night, probably after they received their food and in between Peter's inappropriate comments, Derek managed to learn a bit about Tom. He was apparently some hot-shot corporate lawyer that Laura had met when his client was doing business with the Hale Group. He had struck up a conversation with her and promptly asked her out, to which she, in similar promptness, declined.

"She was tough," Tom winced at the memory. "All business, no pleasure. I asked her out probably ten more times, on separate occasions throughout the few months your family's company and my client's company worked together on this project."

"So what'd you do to finally get her to go out with you?" Stiles asked, curious.

"It's funny, actually," Tom recalled. "On our last day working together, I had ordered this cherry tart and asked my assistant to bring it in for me after the meeting so I could eat while glossing over the last bit of paperwork. And just as she was stepping out, he stepped in. And next thing I know, she was basically stealing it from me." He chuckled.

"I did not steal it. We were sharing it," Laura amended.

"I noticed she really like the cherries so I offered to show her a place that had the greatest cherries jubilee in town – just as business associates – and she finally accepted."

Stiles laughed. "So wait, cherries are to Laura as lemons are to Derek? What is it with this family and their fruits?"

"Wanna know what my favorite fruit is?" Peter asked, slyly.

"No, Peter," Derek huffed. Seriously. Was he going to have to kill his uncle? At the way he was laughing at his expense, Derek felt very inclined to do just that.

/\/\/\

Throughout the night, conversations carried on. Derek only had to shut his uncle up six more times before dessert. All the while, Tom did his best to get to know his fiancé's brother. He was curious about what Derek was studying and with how things were going and 'Oh? A toy room? What kind of toys?' And each time Tom asked him a question, Derek felt a little tense, like maybe this guy was trying to shake him down or something. Or maybe he was judging him. But every time he glanced at Stiles, who continually gave him encouraging smiles throughout the night, Derek reminded himself that he was being ridiculous and that the guy on his right was only asking out of genuine curiosity because that's what normal people did. They made an effort to get to know other normal people.

All in all, Derek decided that Tom wasn't a terrible guy. In fact, he was probably a really goodguy. Derek could tell that he genuinely cared for his sister, and so he held off on threatening to rip his throat out should he hurt her in any way. He supposed that could wait until after the guy was done with his cheesecake.

Furthermore, as the night progressed, Laura seemed to loosen up. Her face was less of a scowl and more of a smile. For that, Derek was relieved. A grumpy Laura was never a good thing. She had gone from questioning Stiles to merely asking him questions. By the end of their meal, she was laughing with him as he retold the story of how Derek tackled Jackson, and he was laughing with her as she told him about the time "Derek glued black felt on his cheeks-"

"Shut up, Laura!"

"-spiked his hair up into two little points-"

"Laura. Shut. Up!"

"-and ran around with plastic butter knives between his fingers to pretend he was Wolverine."

Derek wanted to just slide down his seat until he was safe under the table where older sisters who ruin their younger brothers' lives don't exist.

Frowning at his sister, Derek turned to Tom. "Laura was so freaked out by the movie 'The Ring' that she unplugged all the phones in our house just so no one would call. And not only that, she moved every TV so that the screen was on the floor just so that girl wouldn't crawl out of it."

Tom just laughed, but Stiles chimed in.

"Who didn't do that after watching that movie? That little girl was creepy! I pointed mine out the window so that if she did climb through, she'd fall off the roof."

"See! I'm not the only one freaked out by her! Up top!"

Derek rolled his eyes as the two shared a high-five.

"Oh and you know what my jerk wad brother did? Knowing that I was petrified of this girl, he went and made a separate e-mail address just so he could e-mail me 'Seven Days.' I literally slammed my laptop shut and threw it across the room before I realized it was my skeevy little brother."

"Why would you do that, Derek?" Stiles asked, looking genuinely appalled. "That's just cruel."

"So, to get him back, I mixed peroxide in his shampoo."

"No!" Stiles sat up, both alarmed and excited.

"Laura, shut up!"

"He was screaming!"

"Hey! That stuff burns!" Derek defended.

"I took pictures," Laura smirked.

Stiles immediately brightened. "Oh, now you know I'm gonna have to see these."

Derek sighed in exasperation. He almost wished Laura went back to being mistrustful of Stiles, that way every embarrassing story of his from his past – and every embarrassing picture for that matter – would stay there, safe and sound.

/\/\/\

"No, no, no. Clearly it was real! He saw their faces! He couldn't have been stuck in a dream. Come on, Tom. You agree with me, right?"

Tom took a gulp of his wine before nodding in agreement. "I'm with Stiles on this one. The top was clearly wobbling at the end. He was home."

"No way! The whole movie was about dreams within dreams within dreams! And that little reunion at the end? Sorry to break it to you, but that was a dream too," Laura said, defending her belief. "I know Derek agrees with me."

All three turned to look at the man in question. He nodded as well. "She's right. Just because it wobbled, doesn't mean it was going to stop, especially in a dream. You just wanted to believe that it was going to topple because you wanted to believe that it was real."

"Damn it, Derek," Stiles frowned. "I never should have made you watch Inception if that's how you think it ends. He got his kids back. He was home." He turned to Peter. "Come on, Peter. You're the tiebreaker here. Tell me you're not as cynical as the doom and gloom twins here."

"I'm afraid to say I haven't watched that movie yet," Peter shrugged.

"Whaaat? It's like one of the best movies out there! The entire second level was just intense!"

Peter smirked slyly. "Well, if it's so good, how about you and I-"

"Compare notes on it through an appropriately worded e-mail?" Derek cut in.

The older man scoffed. "I was going to say 'watch it together whilst we snuggle in my hotel room.' Jesus, Derek. When did you become such a prude?"

Derek was about two seconds away from turning his steak knife into a murder weapon. But Stiles was laughing, enjoying himself. If it weren't for that, if there were any indication that Peter made Stiles uncomfortable in any way, well, quite frankly, Derek didn't doubt that Peter could still do his day job with only one functional thumb. 'Yeah,' Derek thought to himself. 'Two might be a little extreme… Peter would be fine with just one thumb.' He scowled at his uncle, who was still smiling, oblivious to the violent thoughts in his nephew's mind.

/\/\/\

Somehow, Derek managed to survive the dinner. The only thing that he had to leave behind was his pride and dignity. Peter and Laura were the worst. The two of them together made Derek wish he didn't invite Stiles at all. But then seeing how his sister went from glowering at the boy to laughing carefree with him, he figured it might've been worth it. And while he couldn't say that his own relationship with Tom had turned out quite as buddy-buddy, he did find a new respect for this man that his sister had welcomed into her life. And he supposed that was the point of the dinner after everything was said and done.

As they were exiting the restaurant, Laura came up to Derek, throwing an arm around his shoulder. "All right, I concede. He's not a harlot."

Derek smiled. "Or a trollop. Or a floozy."

"He's adorable," she practically groaned. "And the way he kept smiling at you and the way you kept smiling back-"

"I didn't-"

"You did. In your own subtle, usually non-expressive way, you smiled. All night. It was sickeningly sweet," she sighed wistfully. "It looks like I'm going to have to give up my baby brother."

Derek scoffed. "What are you talking about?"

"You have my permission."

"To do what exactly?"

"To marry him, duh. Isn't that why you brought him to dinner?"

"No," Derek shook his head in disbelief. "Stiles is just my friend."

"Well then snatch him up before someone else does cause I like this kid. And I'm not gonna like much of anyone you bring home. So get on it." She punched him on the shoulder before jogging over to the others.

Derek frowned, rubbing the affected area. Then he sighed, looking to the boy walking ahead of him, keeping the others entertained. Stiles was just this beacon of light that people were drawn to. Derek wanted to do as his sister said. He wanted to just snatch him up and keep Stiles all to himself. But did Stiles want that too? As much as Derek speculated and with all his wishful thinking, the truth of the matter was that he just didn't know. But if today was any indication, perhaps just paying more attention to the way Stiles reacted would give him a better idea.

"So? Back to the hotel?" Laura asked once Derek finally joined the others.

"Um, actually," Derek spoke up. "Stiles said I could stay with him for the night." He glared at Laura and pleased look on her face, silently threatening her to stop. Like always, she just ignored him and waggled her eyebrows suggestively instead.

"Aw," Peter frowned, draping an arm around Stiles. "I wanna stay at Stiles' place, too." He looked to the boy. "I can stay, can't I?"

"Stiles, don't answer that," Derek cut in, turning his glare on his uncle.

Peter gasped in mock offense. "Derek, it sounds like you don't want me around. Were you planning something with Stiles? Something nau-"

"And that's enough of my family," Derek growled out, pulling an amused Stiles out from under his uncle's arm, maneuvering him so that he was behind Derek. He turned to Tom. "Oh yeah. And just so you know, if you hurt my sister, I will kill you."

Tom blinked in surprise as Laura rubbed his back and assured him that that wouldn't happen.

Derek lurched forward as Stiles thumped him discouragingly on the back. He sighed, before continuing. "But other than that, it was good to finally meet you. You're a good guy. I'm glad Laura found you." He held his hand out, mustering up what he hoped was a friendly smile.

"Yeah," Tom blinked again, taking the offered hand in his own, giving it a firm shake. "Likewise."

"Tomorrow, lunch," Laura said. "You too, Stiles."

"Ah," the boy chuckled. "Thank you for the invite, but no can do. I have a father to tend to and spoil before heading back to school."

"Next time, then," Laura said. "And bring your dad with you."

Stiles grinned and nodded. "Sure thing." He looked to each of them. "It was really nice meeting you all."

"And it was a pleasure meeting you," Peter smiled, slipping past Derek to throw his arm over the boy's shoulder once more. "I hope to see you again, Stiles."

Derek wasn't having it. He pulled Stiles away again, leading him back to the Jeep. "Good night," he huffed out, not bothering to look over his shoulder.

"Bye!" Stiles said, twisting around and waving with his free hand.

Derek could practically feel their eyes on his back. And he could pretty much figure out what they were thinking without even looking at their faces. He was going to get an earful at lunch tomorrow.

"Well that went well," Stiles smiled, putting his keys in the ignition. "I like your family."

"They're insane. Especially Peter."

"Aw, I like Peter. He's funny. Sassy."

"Don't let him catch you say that. He'll be all over you if he does."

Stiles laughed. "I don't mind. Ain't nothing wrong with a sugar daddy, am I right?" He winked.

Derek looked visibly disturbed by the notion.

Stiles pressed on. "Can you imagine? I could be your new uncle, Derek! But don't worry. I'd be the cool uncle and spoil you with lots of presents."

'No, no,' Derek thought, shaking his head. 'Do. Not. Want.'

Stiles only laughed harder. "I'm joking. Lighten up, Sourwolf."

Derek sighed and tried to relax into his seat. He certainly did not like the idea of Stiles as his uncle, be it a joke or otherwise.

The trip back to Stiles' house was peaceful after such a roller coaster of a dinner ride. It was already pretty late, and considering the excitement of their hike earlier, it was no surprise that both were pretty tired by the time they reached the house. They slipped into their pajamas and brushed their teeth side-by-side over the tiny sink, Stiles bumping Derek playfully to take up more room and Derek bumping him back. Then they bid each other 'good night,' before slipping away into the separate bedrooms.

Initially, Derek was prepared to just pass out as soon as his head hit the pillow. He was getting relaxed, getting comfortable in the small bed. But it wasn't until he was lying down in the darkened room, inhaling Stiles' scent from having slept there the night before, that he became troubled. Derek was literally on the brink of sleep after a tiring day, on the cusp of unconsciousness, when his brain decided to throw one last pitch at him, with a voice that sounded as smug as his uncle's.

'You know,' he thought. 'This is probably the same bed Stiles was in when he first masturbated.'

Sleep was overrated, anyway.

/\/\/\

Derek had tried moving out of the boy's room, hoping that maybe getting out of the bed would help him catch some Z's. Unfortunately for him, he was wrong. With that last thought, all Derek could think about was Stiles pleasuring himself everywhere in the house. He couldn't find one room, one chair, or one surface that he could look at without picturing a naked Stiles. And it only escalated from there. He soon couldn't look at any surface in the house without picturing having his way with Stiles. And in the back of his mind, he knew he was being ridiculous, but he was tired. He didn't have as much control over his wandering thoughts when this exhausted. It seemed that since his mind was determined to not think of screwing the sleeping boy, of screwing the Sheriff's son in the Sheriff's house nonetheless, it was all he could think about. Derek briefly entertained the thought of rubbing one out, just to get it over with. And it would be so easy, too. All he would have to do is just climb back into the bed, surround himself in Stiles' scent, and then it would be an embarrassingly short trip to euphoria. However, a rational part of his brain absolutely refused to let this happen. It reminded him that there would be shame and embarrassment in the morning. Plus, facing Stiles afterward would feel impossible. So Derek had suffered in silence, blaming Stiles for being so lovable, blaming Peter for suggesting that he had planned anything naughty with the younger boy to begin with, and blaming himself for being unable to control his wayward thoughts.

It wasn't until later - much later - that Derek finally passed out on the couch in front of the TV. And when Derek woke up just a few short hours later, that same TV had been moved so that the screen was lying face down. Feeling discombobulated, Derek blinked a few times, trying to figure out if his sleep-addled mind was playing tricks on him. The answer to that was a resounding 'no.'

The true culprit was actually pressed tightly against him, half on the couch and half draped over Derek, bundled snugly in a cocoon of blankets. Derek nearly jumped up in surprise.

'This is a ploy. Someone is messing with me. He's pulling my leg again. He's toying with me. He's…' Derek paused his mental rant to glance back at the TV, then to the stuffed wolf curled tightly in the boy's arms. Then it clicked. Derek sighed. 'He was scared.'

Unconsciously, he pulled the boy in tighter, gently nuzzling the top of his head. "Stiles," he said softly, not wanting to wake the boy. "It was just a movie. No creepy little girl is going to crawl out of the TV and steal your soul. Not while I'm around." Derek figured that Stiles probably got stuck in his head, obsessing over the part of last night's conversation about the scary movie. He probably replayed the movie in his mind, then probably freaked himself out about the girl coming through the TV. And from there, he probably went to find Derek, possibly wake him up to help distract him from the scary thoughts only to find him missing. Then, he stole the blanket before finding Derek downstairs on the couch.

Derek wondered what happened then. Did Stiles try to wake him? Or did he just slip under the blanket, knowing it would be okay since they had done this before? Had the tables been turned, Derek was pretty sure he would have watched him sleep for a bit, maybe even brushed his lips across his face if he were still feeling so bold. What if Stiles, despite being freaked out, felt a moment of similar courage? The idea was certainly a pleasing one. Perhaps a little too pleasing.

'Damn it, Derek, calm down,' he growled at himself, shifting so that less of Stiles was resting on him, specifically the part of the boy pressed against his hip and thigh area.

Unfortunately, the small movement made the boy stir. Stiles edged closer; his hand that had been tucked under him now splayed over Derek's chest; his leg – which had been fine where it was, thank you very much – inched higher as he tried to get comfortable. Feeling the boy's leg drag up against his own only made matters worse. He was getting too excited and in his panic that Stiles might actually feel it, Derek suddenly shoved the boy off him. Stiles landed unceremoniously on the floor in a sitting position just in front of the coffee table as he was startled awake.

Stiles blinked sleep-heavy eyes as Derek sat up and scrambled to grab a pillow to hide himself. The boy finally looked up at him, confusion on his face.

"S-sorry," Derek stammered. "Y-you startled me… is all." It was technically true.

Stiles just nodded. "The… jam is… on the left…" He closed his eyes and lied back down on the floor, adjusting his arm to use it as a pillow as the other curled back around the stuffed wolf.

Derek slumped back into the couch, breathing a sigh of relief. As he waited for his heart – andother body parts – to calm down, he praised whatever powers that be for Stiles' complete lack of awareness early morning, even after such a rude awakening. Once he felt more in control, Derek studied the sleeping boy before deciding to pick him up and dump him on the couch. He would have tried being more gentle, but he feared losing control again if Stiles were in his arms longer than necessary. Besides, it seemed the guy could sleep through anything.

And with that thought in mind, Derek glanced around the room, even though they were the only two in the house, before crouching down beside his sleeping friend. Derek watched him, curiously, poking him lightly on the nose. 'How can a person who looks so peaceful while they sleep be soenergetic when they're awake?' He wondered. He thought back to his earlier idea of brushing his lips across this face that he adored, should he still feel so bold. Did he still feel bold?

Stiles suddenly turned, unconsciously elbowing Derek right on the nose. Derek held his face, stifling his groan of pain as he tumbled backward onto the floor. No. He most certainly did notfeel bold, whatsoever.

It was still pretty early. The sun was still hidden behind the hills, but a sliver of light was beginning to shine against the night sky. And since the house had become a rather dangerous place, Derek thought it would be a good idea to try to get some air. He went back upstairs and into Stiles' room, making sure not to look at the bed, and slipped into a sweater and a pair of shorts. A nice jog would do him some good. It would help distract him from the pain of his nose and the inappropriate thoughts in his mind.

/\/\/\

When Derek returned from his run about an hour later, Stiles was finally awake, pouring himself a cup of coffee. It was amusing to watch the boy, still half-asleep really, shuffling around the kitchen with his blanket tucked neatly around him.

Derek smiled to himself. "Do I get one of those?" he asked, taking a seat on one of the stools by the counter.

Stiles peeked at Derek with one eye and nodded, reaching up for another mug. He watched as Stiles poured the coffee in with some creamer and some sugar, tasted it, and then adjusted it a bit more before finally setting it down in front of the older boy.

"Sorry," he yawned. "We don't have hazelnut. My dad lives for Irish Cream."

Derek nodded in understanding as he reached for the mug. There really was no need for the apology, though. The coffee in his hands was almost as good as what he normally got at the shop. It really amazed Derek how Stiles was able to take instant coffee and make it taste so good.

"Mmm," Stiles purred, taking a sip of his own brew once he settled into the stool next to Derek. "You'd think I'd be sick of the stuff considering where I work, but coffee is just too good to hate." He took another sip before looking at Derek. "How was your run?"

Derek nodded thoughtfully. "Good. Exactly what I needed after last night," he replied in all honesty. The run had given him an outlet for all the energy he had pent up. It was revitalizing. He drank some more coffee. "So… I noticed the TV was on the floor," he said casually, "…and that you were using me as a pillow." Derek didn't think it was the coffee that turned Stiles' cheeks pink.

"Uh-yeah. That," he stammered, putting his mug down, but keeping his hands wrapped around its warmth. "Well last night right before I was about to go to sleep, I was thinking about some of the stuff your family said and then suddenly all I could remember was what was said about the creepy little girl and then after that all I could think about was her doing that creepy little walk all the way to the bed and then I got freaked out and didn't want to get my brains sucked out or whatever she does to her victims so I grabbed Sourwolf and a pack of cards to see if you were awake, but you weren't even in the room so I panicked and thought maybe she got to you first but then I found you on the couch and I tried to wake you up but you're like a rock and completely out of it when you're asleep but I was still scared so I thought maybe it'd be okay if me and Sourwolf slept with you so you could keep us safe like last time."

'Holy hell…' Derek thought, eyebrows nearly touching his hairline, having inched their way up each time Stiles didn't stop to take a breath.

"What?" Stiles frowned. "Was that not okay? I thought maybe it wasn't when I woke up and you were gone."

His eyebrows returned to their rightful places. "No, it was fine," Derek reassured. "You're always welcome to sleep with me."

Stiles bit his lip, holding in a laugh.

"Wait, no. That's not what I meant," Derek frowned, eyes turning downward into his coffee as his own cheeks turned pink.

Stiles laughed this time, patting Derek on the back. "I got it, I got it. And thanks. It's nice to know I'm welcome in your bed," he teased.

Derek shook his head and sighed, opting to keep his mouth shut and down his coffee in silence.

"Hey, how come you were on the couch anyway? Was there something wrong with the bed?"

'You mean other than the fact that I kept picturing you naked on it?' Derek bit back. That kind of reply would only lead to trouble. "Um, no? I, uh, came down for some… water. Yeah. And just… was too tired to go back up?" It sounded like a good enough excuse to him. He nodded. "Yeah."

Stiles looked skeptical, but just nodded in acceptance.

When Derek finished his coffee, he went back upstairs to take a quick shower, as Stiles got ready to make breakfast. Once he was refreshed, Derek made his way back down.

"Ooh! Can you do me a favor?" Stiles asked, whisking some concoction in a mixing bowl. He nodded over to the trashcan. "Can you take that out for me?"

"Sure," Derek shrugged. He tugged at the lining, easing the bag out of the can. "Is it…?" He pointed towards the front, then the back door.

"Out the front," Stiles directed, nodding towards the door. "On the left side. Dump it in the green can."

Derek nodded and did as he was told. He was closing the lid when he heard a car pull up.

"Yeah, yeah. I hope your wife doesn't castrate you for staying out all night! I'm not locking her up for you if she does."

Derek glanced over. The Sheriff was home. He was leaning into the open car door – as far as his crutches would let him, anyway.

"Haha, all right, all right. Take care." The Sheriff closed the door and waved as it pulled out of the driveway and took off down the street. He turned and had started to go towards the house when Derek caught his eye. "Ah. You must be Derek."

Derek nodded. "Uh, yes- yes, sir."

The older man looked at the garbage can, then back at the boy standing before him. "I asked my son to take that out yesterday." He cocked an eyebrow. "You doing his chores for him, Derek?"

Derek shook his head. He didn't want Stiles to get in trouble. "He's busy. Making us breakfast."

"Us?"

"You. Making you breakfast," he quickly amended, although he didn't exactly know why. Stiles was making breakfast for all three of them.

The Sheriff looked amused. He waved Derek over, to which he immediately complied. He looked him once over. "Derek Hale… I knew your parents," he said gently, placing a hand on Derek's shoulder. "It's terrible what happened to them. They were good people."

Derek just nodded, swallowing down the lump in his throat. The two stood in silence for a moment. It felt slightly awkward to Derek, but if he were being honest, the hand upon his shoulder was actually a bit comforting.

The Sheriff was the one to break the silence. "Come on. Let's get back inside. I smell… cinnamon pancakes?" He chuckled. "Those are my favorite. I wonder what he's buttering me up for, hm?" He looked suggestively at Derek.

Derek was shaking his head, his mouth opening and closing as he tried to find something to say. "I- I don't-"

The older man just sighed before pushing Derek heartily towards the front door.

Derek was soon going to realize that the moment of comfort out in the driveway was a short-lived one. Once the Sheriff got back into his house, it was like the tables had turned.

Derek actually began to feel nervous under the steady gaze of Sheriff Stilinski, even an injured one with a slight hangover. It made him feel like he was a suspect in some crime he didn't even commit. In fact, it made him feel like confessing to things he did commit. Like thinking impure thoughts of his son under his own roof. It didn't help that they were now sitting face-to-face across the dining table while Stiles was still in the kitchen, cooking for them.

"So, how old are you Derek? You know, despite California law, my son is still pretty young-"

"Dad, what are you even saying? Leave him alone and eat your pancakes. They're cinnamon. Just how you like 'em," Stiles chastised before flipping another flapjack out of the pan and onto his father's growing stack.

"Is there a reason why you're making me my favorite breakfast, son? Anything you'd like to confess?"

Stiles gaped. "What? Can't a kid make his father's favorite food because he wants to? It is our last morning together for a while, Dad. You should be thankful it's not plain wheat toast after youabandoned me yesterday. I come all the way home to check up on you and this is how you repay me?" He shook his head, grumbling out that last part.

The Sheriff just snorted.

"And you better eat those blueberries. I know they'll go to waste once I leave so you better eat them now while I can watch you."

The Sheriff rolled his eyes, but did as he was told, bringing a forkful up to his mouth. He turned his attention back to the boy in front of him. "Did you know, Derek? I'm pretty handy with a rifle."

"Dad."

"What? I'm just making good conversation," he huffed. "Lighten up, kid." He looked back at Derek. "So tell me, Derek. What are you studying?"

"Um, criminology, sir. I'd like to become a detective one day."

"Is that right? That's a very respectable position, if I do say so myself."

Derek smiled in agreement.

"You know, Stiles is studying to become a forensic analyst."

Derek breathed out a soft, yet nervous, chuckle. "Yeah, he told me. He's convinced we're going to be partners."

"Is that right?" The Sheriff cocked his head to the side, chomping down on a blueberry. "Partners?"

Derek just cleared his throat, grabbing his glass of orange juice and taking a hearty swig. He scrambled for something else to say. "Um, Stiles is a great cook," he said lamely, mentally berating himself for not thinking of something better.

"That he is. Anyone would be lucky to have him. Even as a partner."

"Dad."

"What?"

"You're saying 'partner' all weird," he frowned, pointing his spatula at him dangerously. "Stop being weird. You're making him uncomfortable."

"It's been my experience that whenever someone feels uncomfortable in a situation such as this, he's got something to hide," he turned his eyes back on Derek, who was now squirming in his seat. "But you don't have anything to hide, do you Derek?"

"No, sir. Nothing."

"Good," he flashed him a toothy grin.

Derek couldn't help but feel like it was a trap. Like that was the sort of smile that people used to lull their victims into a false sense of security before they struck.

"So, tell me, Derek," the Sheriff started around a mouthful of pancakes. "Do you know what it's like to get hit by twelve-gauge?"

"Dad!"

Derek could actually feel the blood drain from his face.

"It's a valid question, Stiles!"

"It is not appropriate breakfast conversation, Dad!"

"And what, pray tell, is?"

"I don't know, talk about sports or something. Preferably something that doesn't involve guns."

"Fine," the Sheriff agreed through gritted teeth. He looked lazily back at Derek. "Sports. You like sports, yes?" Derek merely nodded. "What's your favorite?"

"I guess, baseball…"

"Baseball? Is that right?" the Sheriff nodded in acceptance. "I like baseball too. Do you know what it's like to get hit by a baseball bat?"

"Dad! Oh my God!"

"A baseball bat is not a gun, Stiles!"

Derek just felt tinier and tinier – and maybe just a tad more afraid for his life – as the morning went on.

/\/\/\

It was just about a quarter to noon when the doorbell rang. The three of them had migrated to the couch and, after placing the TV back on its stand ("Seriously, son? You watched that movieagain? Wait… whose bed did you crawl into this time?" "None, Dad. I slept on the couch."), they watched some Storage Wars. The Sheriff was seated comfortably and purposefully in between the two boys, his injured ankle resting on a pillow upon the coffee table. Stiles had hopped off the couch to answer the door.

"Oh, hey Peter."

Derek's head darted towards the front door. 'No way…'

"Ah, hello again, Stiles. You're looking mighty chipper this morning."

Derek shut his eyes. 'Yes way…' He got off the couch and made his way to the door, standing protectively behind Stiles. "Peter. What are you doing here?"

"Isn't it obvious? I'm here to pick up my nephew for lunch," he grinned, charmingly.

"How did you find this place?" Derek asked.

"What? Like it's hard?"

"What's going on? Who's at the door?" came the voice of the Sheriff from where he was still seated in front of the TV.

Stiles invited Peter in, leading him to where his dad was resting. "Dad, this is Peter. Derek's uncle."

"Ah, yes. We've met," he said slowly. He nodded to their guest. "Morning, Mr. Hale."

"Sheriff," he nodded in return. "Always a pleasure."

"You're not causing any trouble for my deputies, are you?"

"Please," Peter said, with a wave of his hand. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"What? No joyrides? No parties? No threesomes?"

"You have a wild imagination, Sheriff. I like that. Call me next time I'm in town. We'll try all three." Peter just grinned, winking at the older man.

The Sheriff just glanced at Derek as if to say 'this is the type of person you're related to?' He tossed him another look, this time to say 'if you pull anything your uncle's done on my son, I'll show you the barrel end of my rifle.' Then he shook his head before turning back to his TV. Derek was finding it hard to breathe.

Peter laughed as he turned to Derek. "You ready? Go get your things. Your sister is waiting for us."

It took a second for Derek to come to his senses, having been momentarily stunned by his uncle's audacity. Without a word, Derek made his way up to Stiles' room to collect his things before swiftly coming back down, lest Peter cause even more trouble.

"Okay, I'm ready." He walked over to the Sheriff and held out his hand. "Sir, it was nice to meet you. I hope your ankle feels better." He spared a brief glance at Peter who had a look of surprise on his face, before a strong grip clenched his outstretched palm.

"Good meeting you, too, Derek. Take care." And there was that smile again. The one that looked friendly, but also quite dangerous. "And just so you know, I keep my shotgun fully loaded."

"Dad!"

Derek paled, nodding slightly before walking over to where Stiles was standing with Peter. He cleared his throat before turning to his friend. "I'll see you at four, right?"

"Yup," Stiles nodded with a smile. "Don't be late. Actually, I guess you could be. Your uncle has a private jet and all."

Peter grinned. "You could be late too, Stiles-"

"And it's time to go." Derek took hold of his uncle's shoulders and led him out the door.

Peter just laughed. "My nephew is so predictable. Goodbye Sheriff! Goodbye Stiles!"

Derek pushed Peter all the way to his car. He tossed his bag into the back before climbing into the passenger seat. He waited for his uncle to start the car, but after a few moments of nothing, Derek looked to his side. Peter was grinning at him, knowingly.

"What?" Derek barked.

"Someone has a cru~sh," Peter said in a singsong voice.

"Would you just drive already!"

Peter laughed the whole way there.

/\/\/\

Lunch was almost as excruciating as dinner. He truly believed that this was punishment for all the things he put his uncle and sister through. It was as if somewhere down the line, they had made an agreement to ruin his life by way of humiliation.

"So did you two have a fun night? Any naked parties?" Peter asked smoothly, sipping his tea.

Derek scowled, pausing with his fork halfway to his mouth. "We're just friends."

"I have naked parties with friends all the time," he said with a wave of his hand.

"Clearly you like him," Laura popped in. "So what are you waiting for?"

"What do you mean 'clearly'?" Derek frowned.

"Are you really gonna make me do this?" Laura said, folding her arms over her chest. "You're really gonna make me do this. Fine. Last night alone, you were staring at him with twinkles in your eyes. Twinkles, Derek. Like, every freakin' time Tom asked you a question, you'd frown, but then you'd look at Stiles and everything would be right as rain. It was sickeningly adorable."

"I didn't frown every time-" Derek shook his head, looking at Tom.

"It's okay," he chuckled. "We just met. Some people just aren't comfortable around people they just met. Your sister can be like that, too."

"Am not," she frowned.

He just smiled at her, kissing her softly on the temple.

"You should have seen him at their house," Peter piped. "All cordial and proper with the Sheriff. Trying to make that good impression on the future father-in-law, eh Derek?"

"It's not like it would have done any good anyway, thanks to you. He probably thinks I'm some sex-crazed maniac just by association."

"Hey, I'll have you know nymphomania is a real thing."

"We're getting off track here," Laura huffed in frustration. "We're talking about Derek and his obvious love for the little smiley boy. Hey, how come you never listen to me when I tell you not to be rude? Does he really have that much control over you? Are you really that far gone?"

"Not to mention, you've basically peed all over him, marking him as your territory," Peter added. "I'm just trying to have a little light-hearted fun with the guy and you're practically foaming at the mouth."

Derek just turned a glare on his uncle. "Peter, you know how people say that in every family there's a creepy uncle that hits on your friends? That's youYou're my creepy uncle. I'd behave the same way even if I weren't interested in Stiles."

"Ah ha! Ha! You said it!" Laura said, pointing at her brother and looking to Peter for confirmation. "You admitted you're at least interested in him!" Derek exhaled heavily, rolling his eyes. "So why, dear brother, is that boy still on the market? Stake your claim and go get laid. Please."

"Cause it's that easy? Look, I don't even know how he feels about me."

"Oh my God, Derek. Obviously he likes you too. The way he kept smiling-"

"He's like that with everyone. No, seriously," he reiterated at her skeptical look. "Stiles is always smiling and laughing with everyone. He's got tons of friends. I just happen to be one of them." Derek sighed, pushing the last bits of food around on his plate. "He's always touching and hugging his friends. I've even seen him kiss one of his friends on the finger, and they don't even seem to be as close as he is with the others so there's no telling what I haven't seen. And I've also seen him get kissed by another guy friend and not even blink twice at it. That's just how he is." Derek set his fork down and pushed his plate away. "I mean, sure there are times when I think he could like me," he smiled softly, remembering the blush on Stiles' face just yesterday. "But, until I'm sure, I'm not gonna ruin what we have just cause of my stupid crush on him."

And that truly was the heart of it. Although Derek knew and understood how much he cared for Stiles, the fact of the matter was that he didn't know how Stiles felt in return. He knew that they were friends, good friends. Hell, to Derek, Stiles was the best friend he ever had, but even then, the feeling might not be mutual. Stiles had Scott. And Lydia. And the list went on and on. So even though Derek might be feeling this way, he wasn't going to make a move on it until he had irrefutable evidence in the boy's mutual interest.

"That's laaaame," Laura drawled.

"I'm with her. You gotta break that pony before he runs off into the wild," Peter said with a shrug.

Derek just tossed an exasperated look at his uncle's crudeness.

"Okay, come on, guys. Lay off him. It's hard having a crush and not knowing how they feel for you in return," Tom said, coming to Derek's defense. He was liking this Tom guy more and more. "It's nerve-wracking."

Derek actually felt bad for the guy; thinking of what he must have went through with Laura. If she had only agreed to have dinner with him as business associates, he was probably faced with a one-sided crush all his own. It made Derek wonder how and when Tom figured out the feelings were mutual. Did he find the courage to ask her out one more time? Or was she the one who finally came to her senses and asked him out instead? There were things he could learn from them; things that might help him in his own relationship with Stiles.

"Nope," Laura shook her head in utter disagreement. "Derek's being a little scaredy-cat. I say, man up and do shameless things with him. Like ridiculously, things-that-might-get-you-sent-to-jail, shameless. All day. And night. And double time on holidays."

"That's my niece."

Derek shook his head, wondering if there were some way he could switch families.

/\/\/\

At a quarter to four, Derek was waiting at the station wondering where Stiles was. It had taken him a while to convince his uncle to go away, threatening to rid the man of his eyebrows should he stay. His sister was no picnic, either. She wanted to stay and watch 'the show,' as she put it, but luckily his future brother-in-law had the good graces and good sense to drag her away, convincing her that the contractors were probably waiting on her word for some final touches and whatnot. Derek had to remember to be much nicer to the guy in the future. He was definitely a keeper.

At ten 'til four, Derek was beginning to get nervous. Was everything okay? He needed to board the train if he intended to get back to school today. At five 'til, Derek was ready to grab his bag from where it was stowed away above his seat to run all the way to the Sheriff's house if need be. He pulled out his phone and was ready to dial when he saw through the window as Stiles ran across the platform and onto the train. Stiles grinned when he spotted Derek, shoving his bag up top and crashing down into the seat next to him.

"Where were you? I didn't think you were gonna make it."

Stiles laughed. "Yeah, me neither. I had to make a quick stop before coming here."

"Oh? Where?" He asked, just as the phone in his hand beeped twice. He glanced at it to see two new text messages.

"Your house, actually," Stiles replied.

Derek was just about to ask why, but didn't have to once he opened the messages.

One was from ANSWER THE PHONE DEREK OR I'LL KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP It's Laura:

He made us pie, Derek! Pie. Fucking marry him already!

The second was from Uncle I Hope Insanity Isn't Hereditary:

oh wow. he must be very good with his tongue ;P

He cleared the screen before Stiles could catch a glimpse of it. "You, um, made them pie?"

"Yeah," he smiled. "Was that them? Did they like it?"

"I'd say so…"

Stiles exhaled in relief. "Good." He relaxed back in his seat before jumping up again. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot." He reached up to pull something from his bag, as Derek pointedly did not stare at his exposed midriff and the happy trail leading down into-

"Here," he grinned, sitting back down, handing a Tupperware container and a fork to Derek.

Derek popped it open and was immediately hit by the smell of freshly baked apple pie. His mouth watered instantly.

"I took my dad grocery shopping after you left so that I at least know he's eating something healthy in between all the junk I'm sure he hides from me. And since apples are in season, I figured why not? They paid for dinner. I might as well give them something nice. Hopefully, make a good impression."

Derek scoffed, cramming a forkful into his mouth. "Please. You don't need to win them over with pie. They're already in love with you. You should have just given it to me."

"Are you saying that if I keep making you pie, you'll fall in love with me?"

Derek snapped his head to the side, eyes wide, his fork half in his mouth. "What?"

Stiles just laughed, patting Derek on the shoulder. "Here," he said, hand held out for the fork. "Let me try some."

Together they demolished the hefty slice as the train shipped them back to school. Along the way, Derek finally taught Stiles a new card game called Speed, in which Derek found out that against Stiles, he really had none. When the train stopped, they used their hour wait to go find some dinner at the chicken joint across the street. With Derek watching the clock this time, they had no problem making it back to the train in a calm, orderly fashion. And during their last few hours before their stop, they napped, this time with Derek using Stiles' shoulder as the pillow. And after Derek had dropped Stiles off and was now back in the comfort of his own apartment, he had to think that although the trip was unplanned and filled with unexpected twists and turns, it had gone pretty well.

As Derek climbed into bed, ready to turn in for the night, he got one last text from The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D.

hey! look what ur sis sent me :D :D :D

Derek found himself staring back at a picture of himself. With bleached hair. Shutting off his bedside lamp, and pulling his blanket up over himself, he had to think maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if things hadn't gone so well. At least then Stiles and his sister wouldn't be new texting pals. And since there were a lot of photos, more incriminating than the last, that she could send Stiles' way, he had to remind himself to be much nicer to Laura as well.

Chapter Text

It was the middle of the week just as he got home from his last class when Derek got a call from an unknown number. He would have been content just letting it go to voicemail, but right after his phone stopped ringing he got a text from the same number.

Ooh. You better not be screening me. Answer your phone.

Derek nearly dropped the cell when it began ringing again. Wary, he tapped the answer button and held it up to his ear. "Hello?"

"That's more like it," came the smug voice.

Derek frowned. "Who is this?"

"It's Lydia. You know, Stiles' friend."

"How did you get my number?"

"I got it from Allison who got it from Scott or whatever. Details. Not important. What is important is you coming to my Halloween party."

Derek's frown deepened. "Halloween already passed."

"Details," the girl said again. "Not important. No one's going to complain about getting to dress up again."

Derek sighed. "Thanks for the invite, but-"

"But nothing. You're going. It's not optional. Besides, I'm sure Stiles would enjoy having you there."

Derek stared at his phone for a second before bringing it back up to his ear. "…Have you been talking to Isaac?"

"What are you talking about?"

Derek shook his head. "Never mind." He rubbed his forehead with his free hand. "Look, I don't really like parties-"

"You didn't do so bad at the last one."

"That was different. That was-"

"-For your boyfriend, yes I know."

"He's not-"

"The party's next Saturday," she spoke over him, completely ignoring anything she didn't feel like listening to. "It's after finals week so it can give people a chance to wind down and relax. And that'll give you plenty of time to pencil it in."

"Look," Derek practically growled. She wasn't listening. "Even if I did want to go – which I don't – it's not like I even have a costume-"

"Just wear what you wore on Halloween."

"I didn't wear anything on Halloween."

"Kinky."

Derek stared at his phone again. 'Is this girl serious?' He shook his head and brought it back up to his ear once more. "I meant, I didn't wear a costume on Halloween. I didn't go out."

He heard her sigh. Then, "Allison! He said he doesn't have anything to wear! I know, right? Okay, I'll tell him… Allison's offering to make something for you."

Derek pinched the bridge of his nose. "That's not necessary."

"It is if you're going to get into my party. Allison says she's going to need to take your measurements, so you should come over now."

"I'm not going to your party, Lydia. You're not going to change my mind."

He heard the girl take a few moments before sighing in defeat. "Fine."

Derek sighed in relief. "I mean, thank you, but I just don't like parties."

"Well, you can't say I didn't try. Stiles will be disappointed – and no, I'm not saying that to try to get you to change your mind. I mean, he already expected as much, but I figured I'd try anyway just in case he was wrong. You know. For my friend's sake."

'Don't ask it. Don't ask it because you'll only regret it,' Derek told himself. He clenched his jaw tight, but eventually, curiosity got the best of him. "He told you that I'd say no?"

"Well, yeah. I asked him if he thought I should invite you. And at first he got all excited. He thought it would be 'awesome' if you came," she said, imitating the way Stiles had said it. "But then he thought about it some more and said never mind. That you'd most likely decline because parties just aren't your 'thing,' whatever that means. Then he made this disappointed face that he thought I didn't see, but I completely saw it and because I saw it, I figured that as his friend I should at least try to get you to come because of how happy it would make him."

Despite himself, Derek felt a little jab at that comment because not going implied that Stiles would be unhappy, and that was something Derek never wanted to make the boy feel.'It's just a costume party. I wouldn't even need to stay that long. Just show up, eat some food, then leave. That should be enough. And since classes are out, it's not like I'll really have much else to do…' Derek exhaled slowly, bringing his hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. He shut his eyes, bracing himself for what he was about to do.

"What's the address?" he groaned out.

"Wait. You're coming?"

"Yes," he gritted out. "Now tell me before I change my mind."

"I'll text it to you. Be here in fifteen. Bye! See you soon!"

A few seconds later, his phone beeped, signaling the arrival of a new text. Derek sighed. 'Let's just get this over with.'

Wanting to be purposefully stubborn, Derek showed up a minute late at Lydia's doorstep. Okay, so one minute wasn't so bad, but for a guy who not only schedules to the very minute how long his study sessions will go but also how long his snack breaks will go, a minute late was brutal.

"Welcome to my humble abode," the strawberry blonde nodded in greeting, stepping aside to let Derek in.

"How long is this going to take?"

"Not long," Allison smiled, appearing at the top of the stairs with a tape measure draped around her neck. "Hey Derek. It's great that you decided to come."

"It truly shows how much you care. About Stiles of course," Lydia added, a knowing smile on her lips.

Derek just rolled his eyes, opting not to comment on the matter. Instead, he turned to Allison. "So you're going to make the costume? Is that something you do?"

The girl smiled softly. "Fashion is a bit of a hobby of mine. I probably get it from my mom. She was a buyer for some big-name store."

Derek tried to figure out a way to word his next question without being rude. "You any good at it?" he blurted out. Clearly he didn't try very hard.

Allison just chuckled. "Well, I made this blouse," she said, looking at the top she was wearing. "I think it came out pretty well."

Derek eyed the article of clothing. It didn't look half bad. "Okay. So now what?"

"Take your jacket off," she said, helping him out of it before tossing it on the couch where Lydia had taken a seat. She began to take his measurements, wrapping the tape around his chest. "So? Anything in particular you had in mind? Costume-wise I mean."

"Not really," Derek frowned. "I haven't done this costume thing since I was fifteen."

"How about Superman? You've got that chiseled jaw thing going on. Just give yourself that little curl of hair and it's perfect," Lydia suggested. "Or maybe even Batman. You've already got that dark and broody thing going on."

Derek just gave her a dry look. "No superheroes. No spandex." He lifted his arms as Allison measured his waist.

"Okay… so do you have a favorite movie or something? A favorite character?" the brunette tried, pausing to write his numbers.

Derek shrugged. "Not really."

"So then what do you like?" Lydia asked, rolling her eyes, exasperated.

Derek exhaled, thinking about it. "History." He let Allison position his arm as she draped the tape measure down its length.

"History. That's good. I can work with that," she said, moving to measure his forearms. "Anything in particular?"

Again, Derek just shrugged. "Not really."

"It's like talking to a brick wall," Lydia groaned. "What does he see in you?"

Derek was both insulted an intrigued. "He talks about me?"

"Like, only nonstop," she said with a wave of her hand.

Derek fought back a smile as Allison stepped in front of him.

"Um, I'm going to measure your inseam now. So if you could just hold it…" she motioned where, before holding out the end to him.

Derek did as he was told. "So… um, what… what does he say?"

"Oh you know. Derek this. Derek that. Blah blah."

He scowled at the girl. She was being petulant on purpose.

Allison laughed as she stood up. She patted Derek on the shoulder. "All good things, I promise." He was liking Allison more and more. She took a few more measurements, wrote them down before draping the tape over her shoulder once more. "Okay, that should do it." Her eyebrows shot up as a thought hit her. "Oh, actually…" She kneeled down, grabbing his shoe to look at the size.

"You could have just asked, you know," Derek frowned, trying to balance on one foot.

She just smiled once more before writing down the final number. "Okay. Now we're done."

Derek picked up his jacket and slipped it back on. "Are you sure you'll have enough time to do this? I mean, with finals and all."

Allison looked thoughtful for a moment. "Actually, if I play my cards right, I can probably just submit it as part of my project for art history. So you might really be doing me a favor."

"Art history?"

"Mm-hm," she nodded. "My major. I'd love to be like an archaeologist or something."

"A real life Lara Croft," Lydia piped in. "With the same efficiency with a bow and arrow."

"Who's Lara Croft?"

The redhead stared at him with disbelieving eyes. "Really? How are you and Stiles friends? He's like, totally in love with her."

Derek frowned at this. Whoever this Lara girl was, he didn't like her.

"Lara Croft is a video game character from the Tomb Raider series," Allison explained.

Oh. Derek was half glad that he kept most things internal. Announcing that he didn't like a girl when she was just a video game character seemed like one of those things he could get embarrassed over.

"So yeah. Next Saturday. It starts at eight, so come early," Lydia said, standing up. "You can help us set up since we're doing this for you pro bono."

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "From my understanding, she's doing all the work."

"Yes, and I'll be here for moral support."

Derek rolled his eyes again and made his way to the door. "Thanks, Allison."

"No problem," she waved.

"Hey? What about me?" Lydia frowned. "I'm the one that invited you."

"So then you're the one I'm going to blame for getting me into this mess," he said, stepping outside.

"I'm the one you'll be thanking when Stiles hugs you for agreeing to come!" she called out to him from the doorway. He didn't have to turn around to know she was smirking.

Derek just shook his head, stuffing his hands in his pockets before heading back home.

/\/\/\

Later that evening, Derek was seated patiently on his planter, kicking his legs, waiting for Stiles to come out of class. He inwardly smiled once he spotted him, but paused in seeing him talking to someone else. He narrowed his eyes, feeling a scowl forming, as the two clapped hands and came in for a bro-hug.

'Who is that guy?' Derek glowered.

The two split up, waving their goodbyes.

'That's right. Walk away.'

"Hey Derek," Stiles smiled, jogging up to his friend.

"Who was that?"

"Hm?" Stiles followed his line of sight over his shoulder. "Oh that. That's Brian. He's my study buddy for my sociology class."

'So this guy is going to spend time alone with Stiles?' Derek thought, frowning to himself. He didn't like him already.

Stiles continued. "Brian's a pretty cool guy. Wants to work in social services. Anyone who's willingto get into that line of work can't be a bad guy. Plus, with finals coming up, it can't hurt to have someone to study with."

"I can help you study. I took that class before," Derek offered.

Stiles smiled. "Tempting, but I think it might be in my best interest to study with someone actually in my class. Things may have changed since you took it. Plus, it helps to have a study buddy. They might've caught something the teacher said that you didn't. Something important."

Derek thought about that. Having someone to study with didn't seem like too terrible an idea, especially in a class he was having a bit of a hard time in. He decided to keep that in mind for later. As for right now, his attention was on Stiles.

"So… Lydia called me today," Derek said casually, as they headed off towards Stiles' apartment complex.

"Lydia? I didn't know you two were in contact."

"Neither did I." At this, Stiles laughed, the sound of it warming Derek's insides. He continued. "She… told me about her party."

"Her costume party?"

"Yeah… I… I hope she has good food there."

Stiles stopped. "Wait, what? You're going?"

Derek paused, turning to face him. "Yeah. Why? Should I not?"

A huge grin broke out across Stiles' face as he hurried back to Derek's side. "Of course you should! That's awesome! I didn't think you'd go. She asked me, you know, if she should invite you. And of course, I wanted her to but then I know how you don't like people in general so a costume party didn't seem like something you'd be interested in, but I guess she asked you anyway which is great cause now you're going and now it's gonna be better than ever!" Stiles cheered before jumping on Derek's back, nuzzling the back of his head. It wasn't a hug, but it still made Derek feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And because it wasn't a hug, he saw no need to thank Lydia for persuading him to go.

Derek wobbled under the sudden weight of Stiles, taking a few steps to stabilize himself before hiking the boy up and continuing to walking him home – or in this case – carry him home.

"So what are you gonna dress up as?" Stiles asked, draping his arms around Derek's neck, resting his chin on a broad shoulder.

"I don't exactly know. Allison is making it."

"Allison is making it? Then you're in luck. She once helped me make my Altaïr costume and it was the best. That girl is gifted."

"What's an 'Altaïr'?"

"Wh-What's an 'Altaïr'? He felt the boy drop his forehead onto his shoulder, shaking his head. "Derek, do you do this on purpose? Like, to intentionally break my heart?" Derek just scoffed. "Altaïr is a character, a person, from Assassin's Creed."

"What's Assassin's Creed?"

"How are we friends?" Stiles proclaimed, loudly.

This immediately just reminded Derek of the conversation in Allison and Lydia's apartment. He had to snort.

"When we get to my apartment," Stiles declared, "I'm going to show you just what exactly is Assassin's Creed and who exactly is Altaïr. There are just some things in life you can't go without knowing, Derek."

Derek rolled his eyes and shook his head. "No can do. Finals are coming up. You and I both need to study."

"Aww, whaaaat?" He could practically feel the pout on Stiles' lips. "Fine. Then let's just go to your place and we'll read some boring books."

"Stiles, I know you. If we go to my place, you're just gonna sneak into the toy room to play."

And now that he thought about it, just being with Stiles during finals week seemed like a bad idea. Of course, he wanted to spend as much time with Stiles as possible, but Derek was sure that studying would be one of the last things on his mind with Stiles nearby. Even if Stiles were on his best behavior, Derek was sure that he'd have a hard time concentrating on anything other than the way his brows knit together when deep in concentration, or the way his eyes moved intensely across the page of whatever book he was reading, or how every so often he would unconsciously run his, what looked to be, a soft pink tongue across his equally soft-looking red lips… Yeah, no. Studying together didn't seem all that great an idea if Derek actually wanted to get some studying done.

Derek frowned, coming to a stop, and putting Stiles down to face him.

Stiles looked to him, curious. "I'll only play with the train, this time. And I told you, that piece of the jet was already coming off."

Derek took a deep breath. "I think we should stop seeing each other."

Stiles looked like he had been smacked.

Derek's eyes widened, realizing what it sounded like. "No, no. I mean, during finals," he said quickly, needing to clarify. Stiles looked less scandalized, but still wore an unhappy look on his face. "I mean, I'll still see you at the coffee shop and between classes and now when I walk you home, but no dinner, and no weekend lunch, and no toys."

"But… I'll be good," he swore.

"It's just for a week, Stiles."

"Ten days."

Derek sighed. "I made a promise to myself and to my family that I was going to not only finish school, but do well in it also. And while I'm doing well in most of my classes, I'd still like to see my 'B' turn into an 'A' in mythology and I can't do that if I'm not fully prepared for next week."

"I can help you prepare." At Derek's skeptical look, he assured, "No, really. I can. I've got like a gift. An expert test-taking gift that I need to share with the world. And I'm willing to share this gift with you for four easy payments of $49.99."

Derek scoffed. "Oh how kind of you," he replied, dryly.

The boy sighed, but relented. "Fine, no more play dates." Derek absolutely did not blush at the idea that he and Stiles had ever been on any sort of 'date.' But he did blush at the idea of wanting to. "Buuuuut," Stiles continued with a grin. "That means next Saturday, you and I are gonna party it up at Lydia's. Finals? Forget finals. You best be preparing yourself for shenanigans, oh yeah." He leapt back up on Derek's back, nuzzling his head once more, hugging him from behind.

Okay. Maybe, just maybe, Derek might have to thank Lydia for that one.

/\/\/\

Finals week proved to be more of a hassle than he had originally thought. First of all, the weather decided to reflect the mood of the stressed out students by blocking out the sun with grey clouds, heavy with rain. And second of all, Derek's time with Stiles in the coffee shop was now spoiled because of the study groups deciding to meet up early. Every time Derek thought Stiles had time to finally sit down, a new group would walk in and order coffee. Their quiet mornings together had been infiltrated by the student body. Even Isaac had to come in early for the week, just to help Stiles with the crowd. The only good that came of it was that it at least gave Derek more time to study.

And while Derek was confident in most of his classes, he still was unsure about how well he was going to do in mythology, which was why he had thought back to what Stiles had said. The fact of the matter was that Stiles was right. A study buddy was useful in that they could not only help give you information that you didn't have but also expand on the information that you did have. And because Derek was serious about wanting to do his best in all his classes, he decided to actually reach out and get some help. So, as class was dismissed for the day, Derek grabbed his satchel and made his way to the front of the room where Erica Reyes was still putting her stuff away.

"Uh, hey."

The blonde girl looked up, cocking an eyebrow. "Hey yourself."

Derek sighed. "I'm just gonna say it. I need a partner to study with. You in?"

The girl just stood, pulling her bag over her shoulder as she smiled at Derek. "You need a study partner? Mr. Takes-Notes-On-Every-Little-Thing?"

Derek had no reason to tell her – or anyone for that matter – that most of his mythology notes were covered in little doodles and irrelevant observations pertaining to a certain barista. And while he was meticulous in taking notes, this class was his last one for the day. Even he was susceptible to boredom and a few wandering thoughts.

He sighed. "I just wanna make sure I'm doing my best on this final. And I know you've been doing pretty well in this class, so that's why I asked. You in or not?"

Erica smiled. "All right then, here. Let me see your phone."

Derek pulled his phone out of his pocket, only to have it snatched right out of his hand. Erica tapped through it, took a picture of herself with her tongue out and hand up in a 'rock and roll' gesture, tapped a bit more, then tossed the phone back to Derek. It just reminded him of the time Stiles did the same thing.

"Text me later," she said, heading out of the classroom. "My last class ends at 6. We can meet up after that." As she stepped out the door, she smiled seeing Stiles just making his way up. "Hey cutie," she winked, running her hand across Stiles' cheek before disappearing down the hall.

Derek frowned at the sight before glancing at his phone. She had labeled herself as 'HBIC Erica'. He briefly wondered what 'HBIC' meant, but tapped his phone to edit the label just as Stiles came up to him.

"Hey, you ready to go?"

Derek nodded, slipping his phone back into his pocket.

"What was that about?" he asked, referring to the blonde. "You two meeting up?"

"Yeah. Our final's in two days. I took your advice and found myself someone to study with."

"Oh. With her."

Derek almost missed the way the corners of Stiles' mouth twitched down. But because he saw it, it made the boy's blank tone all the more intriguing.

"Hey, if you needed help studying, you could have asked me," Stiles said, plastering a grin on his face. "I wasn't lying about having a gift."

"You don't take mythology."

"True. But I have a sure-fire way to help you remember all the facts you need to know. It's worked for me and it's even worked for Scott and it even seems to be working for Brian."

"Brian?"

"Yeah, my study buddy for sociology. Remember?"

'Oh, right. That guy.' Derek frowned, but nodded, wondering just when the two of them met up and if that guy kept his grubby hands to himself.

"So," Stiles carried on, "When you walk me home tonight, come up and I can show you."

"Actually, I don't know if I'll be out tonight. I was hoping Erica would be free to study."

"Oh."

This time there was no way to miss the frown on Stiles' face. Derek was just about to say something about it when Stiles cut him off.

"Well, I guess we better get going. My math teacher likes to go over some problems before class starts and I wanted to ask him about one from last night's assignment."

"Okay."

As Derek walked Stiles to class, he couldn't help but wonder if maybe Stiles' frown was from the idea of him and Erica studying together. Maybe Stiles' frown was the same as Derek's when he thought of Stiles and that Brian guy together. And even though he preferred Stiles' smile to his frown, Derek couldn't help but letting out a smile all his own at the thought that maybe Stiles wasjealous. Maybe Stiles didn't like the idea of Derek spending alone time with Erica, just as Derek didn't like the idea of Stiles spending alone time with Brian. The thought was certainly pleasing. So, despite the rain drizzling down around them, Derek felt nothing but warm inside.

/\/\/\

Derek had texted Erica as she had said once he got back to his apartment. Shortly after he got a response from HBIC Erica – Keep Away From Stiles, Break Arm If Necessary:

im gnna grab dinnr w my bf frst. hows 730ish? ur place?

Derek typed out an agreement before opening a new message to send to Stiles, telling him not to expect him after his class. It was strange then, that Derek didn't get a reply, considering Stiles was usually so prompt. But he thought nothing more of it as he pulled out his history notes and began to review them.

Erica had finally showed up at 7:45. The fifteen minute difference was a killer, but at least she was smart enough to get right into work rather than try to make small talk. They went over their review sheet, taking every topic on it and tried to recall all the information they had either read or had taken note of on each. Erica was actually proving useful in that she took better notes in class, having caught a few things Derek had only vaguely paid attention to. Derek was also proving useful to Erica as well, considering her notes on the readings were less thorough than Derek's. Hell, maybe if he had worked with her all semester, he would have been sitting pretty with a solid 'A' instead of a low 'B'. They had gone through about two thirds of the topics on their review sheet when Derek heard his apartment door open.

"Stiles?" Derek looked incredulously at the boy from where he was seated at the kitchen table.

"Hey cutie," Erica smiled.

Stiles just grinned and waved. "How's the studying coming along?"

"Good," she answered for the both of them. She stood and stretched. "We could use a break though, right?" She looked to Derek for permission.

He just nodded before looking back at the boy making his way into the kitchen. "Stiles, what are you doing here?"

"I am here to help. I told you. My sure-fire way to help get you to remember your facts."

"I didn't know you meant today. Now."

"Well, maybe Erica can find it useful, too."

"How considerate of you," she smirked.

Stiles set a bag down on the counter as Erica took a seat at one of the stools to watch him. He began to pull out various ingredients. "How's your boyfriend?" he asked, making small talk.

"Boyd? He's good. Wasn't really comfortable with the idea that I'd be here. Alone. With Derek. But otherwise good."

"What's there to be uncomfortable about?" Derek frowned, getting up and taking the seat next to her. "We're just studying."

"Derek, if you had a fine looking woman like Erica," at this, he winked at her, she smirking in return, "you'd be concerned about leaving her alone with any man, even if they are 'juststudying'."

"My, oh my, cutie pie," Erica playfully swooned. "You sure do know how to talk to a lady."

"I also do dishes," he said, face in all seriousness.

"Good," she replied, equally solemn. "You can do that while Rufus and I kick Ryu's ass."

"Oh my God, Street Fighter reference! Marry me!" Now it was Stiles who was playfully swooning.

"Sorry cutie. Already taken," she smirked.

Derek had watched the entire exchange, brows furrowing in the slightest.

Stiles was grinning merrily as he rifled through the cabinets for various items. "Okay, so what sort of things are you guys studying up on?"

"Ooh, hang on," Erica said, hopping off her seat to grab the review sheet. She read the next thing on the list. "We read a myth called The Bride and the Monster. In it, there's this thing called theMoselantja. It's this creature with a long tail that has a mouth on the end."

"Oh perfect," Stiles said, reaching into his bag and pulling out a cinnamon stick. "This cinnamon stick is long and kinda looks like it has a mouth, which are the two features you rememberMOSEly on the Moselantja." Stiles grinned. "You get it? It's best to associate an image with the things you're trying to remember. And once you remember the image, you can remember – what I like to call – your 'power statement.' I also find it works even better with things you can remember through taste and smell." He ground a bit of the stick until it was fine before dipping his finger in and popping it into his mouth. "Therefore, cinnamon. M-Mose… Mosley-"

"Moselantja," she supplied, dipping her own finger in and tasting the cinnamon.

Both of them looked to Derek. He looked between them before realizing they were waiting for him to follow suit. He just dipped his finger in and tasted the cinnamon.

"Now when you think of the myth, you'll think of cinnamon. And then you'll remember the cinnamon stick which kind of looks like the features of a moose-ly-ja."

Erica laughed at Stiles' butchering of the pronunciation. Derek just snorted.

"Okay, what's the next thing?"

"The three brothers: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. They should be pretty easy to remember, right?" she said, looking to Derek. "Zeus of the skies."

"Poseidon of the seas," Derek had added. "Hades of the Underworld."

"Yeah, and they each had their power items. Zeus had his thunderbolts, Poseidon had his trident, and Hades..." Erica trailed off as she tried to remember the last item.

"The helmet. Of invisibility," Derek finished for her.

"Okay, there!" Stiles said, excitedly. "Clearly you need help remembering Hades' power item," Stiles looked around. "Oh! Here. Sea salt."

"Sea salt? Wouldn't that help me remember Poseidon more than Hades?" she asked, skeptically.

"Not if you think of it this way," he took one of her hands in his, pouring a bit of salt in her palm. Derek narrowed his eyes at that. "You can't see actual salt in the sea. The salt is invisible like Hades' helmet. Now lick the salt."

She did as she was told, making a face before laughing it off.

Stiles smiled. "See? Okay, now you try one."

"All right…" she gazed down the remaining items on her list. "Ooh Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess known for her hot temper. She was… expelled from her home because her sister thought her too ambitious. So… Pele," she looked at the items in front of Stiles and spotted the crystallized ginger, "she's a bit bitter and spicy like ginger."

"Yeah! That works!" Stiles smiled with pride, pulling out a piece and cutting a bit of it to give to Erica and Derek. "Okay, Derek, now you try one."

Although he didn't exactly believe that this method would work, Derek obliged. He looked over at the paper in Erica's hand and tried to throw something together. "This cake flour," he said, grabbing the bag, "is like the Ketaki flower, which was shunned by Shiva for having lied to Vishnu."

Stiles laughed softly. "That one was easy. And you would pick one of the only things here you can't eat raw." He reached for the bag and tried to tear it open, frowning when the top wouldn't come apart as easily as he had hoped.

"Here, let me help," Derek offered, holding his hand out for the bag.

"No, I almost got it."

"Stiles," he stood, coming around the counter. "Let me-"

"Derek, I said I got-"

With a hard yank, Stiles ripped the top of the bag right open, causing the bag of flour to explode all over the kitchen… and all over Derek as well.

A loud gasp was heard as Erica watched on in surprise and pure amusement. Stiles looked horrified, guilty, as Derek stood frozen to the spot in shock, covered from his head to his waist in flour. Apparently, Stiles wasn't so horrified that he couldn't reach into his pocket for his phone to snap a quick picture of his powdered friend.

That snapped Derek right out of his reverie. "Stiles!" He made a grab for the phone, but the boy ducked right underneath him, out of his reach.

"I'm sorry! It was an accident!" He called over his shoulder.

"Stiles, give me your phone!" the older boy growled, chasing his friend around the couch.

"You really shouldn't run after me when you're covered in flour, Derek! You're making a mess!"

Derek paused, looking down at his carpet. Leading from the mess in the kitchen to a ring around the couch was a trail of white powder. Unfortunately, in this brief moment, Derek realized too late that Stiles had taken the opportunity to send the picture to his e-mail, as he had done before.

"Stiles!" he growled again.

The boy held up one hand to halt his friend. "You can take my phone, but you and I both know that picture is mine no matter what you do to it. So, you can chase me some more as the bag in my arm slowly spills more or you can give up now and wash up while I willingly and apologetically clean your floor and kitchen whilst baking you some delicious ginger cookies as I had planned to begin with."

Derek knew he was right. There was nothing he could do to the phone to get that picture back. He half-sighed, half-snarled in resignation. "I don't want to see one speck of flour on my floor, Stiles."

He nodded vigorously, a grin breaking out across his face.

And with that, Derek stalked off into the bathroom to clean himself off. He grabbed a small towel and stepped into the shower with his clothes on so he could dust himself off. Then, stripping down, Derek took a quick shower to wash off any excess flour on his face and in his hair.

Derek had to wonder why he was always the one getting messy whenever he was with Stiles. Not once did Stiles ever have to change shirts because of exploding whipped cream or a burst of cake flour. Derek was beginning to believe he was cursed.

Which led Derek to wonder why Stiles had stopped by in the first place. The boy hadn't mentioned coming over. In fact, he never even replied when Derek had texted him, saying that he'd be busy studying with Erica.

Then an idea hit him. 'Did he come by because he knew I'd be here with her?' It reminded him of earlier in the day when he thought maybe Stiles was jealous. The idea that Stiles was here to basically supervise under the pretense of wanting to show off his quirky study technique made Derek giddy inside. He almost wanted to kick Erica out so he could show Stiles just how happy it made him.

He shut off the water and reached for a towel. He could hear the vacuum running in the other room, as the distinct smell of ginger wafted in the air. He wondered if Erica had left on her own, and hoped that they could pick up where they left off tomorrow, but was ultimately happy for it so he could spend some time alone with Stiles. While they still saw each other every weekday so far, finals week had certainly affected the amount of time they spent with one another. And while it made Derek wish there were more hours in the day, he knew that it was ultimately for the best so he could do his best. He ducked into his room, quickly slipped into some clothes before coming back out.

Stiles was wrapping the cord back up, and surprisingly, Erica was still there, sweeping up the pile of flour on the linoleum of the kitchen. The two were immersed in conversation, laughing with one another.

It was then that another idea struck Derek. As he looked between them, smiling at one another, not even aware that he had returned, he frowned. 'This morning… maybe Stiles was jealous. But maybe he wasn't jealous of her… but of me. Maybe he likes her. Is that why he came?'

A beeping snapped him out of his thoughts.

Stiles silenced the timer on his phone before slipping it back in his pocket. He popped open the oven door, grabbed an oven mitt and pulled the tray of cookies out, using a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.

"God, Stiles, those smell delicious."

"Here," he grabbed one, breaking it in half and blowing on them before tossing one half to her. "Try it when they're super fresh."

They both popped a piece into their mouths before sucking in a breath of air. "Hot, hot, hot," they both breathed, laughing at each other.

Derek felt a pang in his chest. They were uncannily in sync with one another.

"You've got a little flour on your nose," Erica said, motioning where on her own nose.

Stiles swiped at it. "Gone?"

The girl just laughed. "Hang on." She grabbed the kitchen towel and splashed it with a little water before moving to wipe the boy's nose for him. "There. Now gone."

"Thank you milady," Stiles smirked, giving a slight bow.

"You're welcome, good sir," she curtsied, making the both of them laugh once more.

Derek couldn't take it anymore. Seeing their easy camaraderie made Derek the jealous one, more so now than he had ever felt before. He cleared his throat before swallowing down the growing lump in it. Both of them turned their heads at the sound and smiled in his direction.

"I think that's enough studying for today. Is it okay if we finish off the rest of the list tomorrow?" he asked the blonde girl.

"Yeah, sure," she nodded, standing up and heading to the table to gather her things. "I need to get back to Boyd anyway. He's probably slacking off when he should be studying for his own finals."

"Oh here," Stiles said, pulling a Tupperware container out of his bag and shoveling some cookies into it. "You should have some. I can make more for Derek, later."

"Actually, you should just take them all," Derek said, voice an even monotone. "I don't really like ginger anyway."

Stiles frowned, looking at Derek with concern before moving to box up the rest of them. "Keep the lid off for a little bit to let them cool some more. You can just return the container tomorrow. I'll get it from Derek," he smiled at her.

Derek tore his eyes away from the scene as their fingers gently brushed against one another's as Stiles handed her the box. He made his way over to the door and held it open for the girl.

"See you tomorrow, Derek," she smiled. He simply nodded. "You too, Stiles," she waved to her new friend.

"Bye Erica," he waved in return. "Enjoy the cookies." Once she disappeared down the hall, Stiles smiled over at Derek. "So? If not ginger, what can I make for you?"

Derek hadn't moved from where he stood. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the door he still held open. "Actually, Stiles, I think you should go home, too."

The room was quiet for a moment. "Derek… I said I was sorry. The flour… I didn't mean to-"

"I know you didn't."

"And I got every speck of it just like you said. Erica helped me and we made sure that everything was clean."

Derek inwardly flinched in hearing her name on his lips. "Thank you for that. I'm grateful-"

"You're not! You're mad!"

"Stiles, I'm not mad-"

"Then why won't you even look at me?"

'Because all I can see is you smiling at her!' he wanted to scream. He wanted to rip the door off its hinges and destroy it. He wanted to take Stiles and lock him away so that he couldn't smile at anyone else but him. But he didn't. That was crazy. He merely gripped the door until his knuckles were white, as he opened his eyes and forced himself to look at the boy he loved. "Stiles," he tried again. "I'm not mad."

Stiles looked unconvinced. "Look, if it's about the picture, if you really want, I'll delete it."

"I don't care about the picture as long as it stays with you." It was just another to add to his growing collection of unflattering shots.

"You know I wouldn't do anything mean with it."

"I know." The two were quiet a few moments more. Derek sighed heavily. "Stiles, it's getting late-"

"It's only 9:30-"

"I still have other classes I need to study for-"

"I can help you-"

"Stiles." Derek shut his eyes again, exhaling deeply before opening them once more. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay?" The boy didn't move. "Okay?" He said, more pressingly this time.

Stiles finally looked away and nodded minutely. He moved back into the kitchen and gathered his things, hiking the bag on his shoulder. He walked over to the door, pausing just in front of Derek.

"Derek, I'm sorry-" he tried again with apologetic eyes.

"I said it's okay, Stiles. There's nothing to be sorry about."

He was still unconvinced. He looked down for a second before looking back into Derek's eyes. "Tomorrow then?"

Derek just nodded.

"Night, Derek."

"Good night, Stiles."

Stiles finally moved into the hallway disappearing around the bend. Derek closed the door behind him, leaned against it and let out a heavy sigh.

He knew that Erica had a boyfriend. He had known this ever since the whole debacle early on in the semester. So there was no reason why he should ever think that Stiles and Erica would run away together when she was clearly happy with her own man.

'But he obviously thinks she's attractive. And she made it clear that she thinks he's cute.' Derek growled at himself, burying his face in his hands. 'I'm such an idiot. Why would he be jealous over me? To him, we're just friends, right? I mean, he's made no real indication otherwise.'

Derek slid down the door, curling his hands into a fist and pressing it against his mouth. 'But what if Stiles does take an interest in someone else? Then what?'

He thought back on how easy things seemed between the two. She understood him. She laughed with him. She joked with him. She was someone he could be friends with where no one would ever ask 'how'? And more than that, she was the type of person Stiles could fall in love with.

'And here I am, hardly ever smiles. Laughs even less. Don't get half of the things he's talking about. How could he ever fall for someone like me?' The bitter, bitter truth in Derek's head was this:

He can't.

Derek threw his head back against the door, shutting his eyes, stinging in his sadness. There would be no studying for him for the rest of the night. He wouldn't have been able to concentrate on much of anything, let alone schoolwork, even if he tried. All he was left with were his sobering thoughts and the bitter scent of ginger in the air.

Chapter Text

When morning decided to rear its ugly head, Derek was in no mood to get out of bed. His alarm was screeching at him so he smacked it, rolled over, and stared blankly at the window. Unfortunately, smacking the clock accidentally set off the radio option. And what came on wasn't exactly soothing to his ears.

You're beautiful, it's true.

I saw your face in a crowded place.

And I don't know what to do,

Cause I'll never be with you…

'What. The actual. Fuck.' Derek yanked his clock from where it had been sitting innocently on his nightstand, ripping the cord from the socket, and threw it across the room, effectively smashing the device. Was it a bit of an overreaction? Probably. But Derek decided he never liked that clock anyway. He would have to invest in one without a bothersome radio.

Eventually, Derek did pull himself out of bed because a solid routine was the best thing to get out of any slump. It lets you know that the days will continue as they should, no matter how shitty a mood you're in.

'I'm fine,' Derek thought to himself as he did his push-ups. 'So what if Stiles finds a nice girl or even a guy to marry? So what? We're still friends. That's not gonna change. In fact, we're gonna stay such good friends that I'm gonna be his best man.' Derek frowned at that. 'Okay, maybe that spot will be reserved for Scott since they're basically family. But after Scott, it's gonna be me and I will put on the stupid penguin suit and I'll help plan the bachelor party, and I will be the best God damn groomsman Stiles could ever hope for. And even when we're old and grey, he'll still be making me my coffee with the stupid little drawings in it and I'll still be here to protect him fromeverything. From some annoying kids stepping on his grass to annoying pill bottles he's having hard times opening. And if he falls down and can't get up? Well, forget Life Alert. I'll be there drag his ass to the emergency room.'

Derek sped up, exhaling every time he dropped back down. 'I'm okay with just being his friend. I'd rather have him in my life as my friend than not have him at all.' Derek dropped down and paused after this thought. He shut his eyes and let himself fall to the floor, burying his face in his arms. 'But why can't I have him?' He let out a loud groan. 'My life would be ten times easier if he would just love me back. Like me back, even. Just a bit. Just a teeny-tiny bit. A fraction of what I feel for him.'

Derek sighed, righting himself to continue his workout. 'Until then, I'm fine. Everything's fine.'

And Derek proved to himself that everything was fine by not making a big deal about showing up at the coffee shop that morning. He'd be fine seeing Stiles. Because they're friends. And friends don't make a big deal about getting upset over seeing the object of their unrequited love getting friendly with someone else who made a more logically sound prospective partner than he did. Yeah.

"Morning, Derek," Isaac nodded from behind the counter as Derek walked in.

Stiles burst through the kitchen door, stuttering to a stop with his arms up for balance. "I got it, I got it!" he said, pushing past his coworker to reach the coffeemaker. "Morning Derek," he smiled, wiping his hands on his apron before setting to work.

"Morning Stiles, Isaac," Derek greeted. Even after all the pining he did last night, he couldn't help but still feel elated in seeing the younger boy. It seemed Stiles would always take his breath away.

"The hell, Stiles? You're supposed to be baking," Isaac half-heartedly frowned.

"I am. I will. It's fine. It's Derek's coffee. I make his coffee better than you do," he teased, snickering at the blonde. "Tell him, Derek."

Derek had to nod. "It's true."

Isaac rolled his eyes. "Get a room already."

Both Derek and Stiles seemed to ignore the comment.

"Ah…mm-hmm, there and… voilà!" Stiles spun around, setting the mug in front of Derek.

Derek looked into the cup. "Is… is that a seahorse?"

Isaac also looked at the drawing and chuckled. "Stiles, you have wayyyy too much time on your hands. Where do you even learn these things?"

"You're just jealous. You wish you had my awesome skills." He looked to Derek. "I'll bring you your pastries when they're done, okay? It shouldn't be that long."

Derek just nodded. "Yeah, no problem."

Stiles smiled softly, although his eyes stayed on Derek as if trying to read him. "So um, how are you?"

Derek gulped lightly, then gave a curt nod. "I'm fine."

The corners of Stiles' lips turned down for a fraction of a second, before he masked it with a smile. "Well… you're about to be even better," he said ominously. Before Derek could ask what he meant by that, Stiles had spun back around and disappeared into the kitchen.

Shrugging it off, Derek took a seat in his regular spot and pulled out his psychology notes just as a group of students walked in through the door. He became immersed in his schoolwork for the next few minutes, when shortly after, Isaac collapsed into the seat across from him, having fulfilled the group's orders.

"Man, these early mornings are killing me," he groaned, throwing his head back. "Finals need to be over and done with so I can go back to my regular schedule."

"How're you doing in your classes?" Derek asked, not only to be polite, but because it actually mattered to him how Isaac was faring. Somewhere along the line, Derek had taken an interest in the other barista. He was probably the only other person next to Stiles that Derek actually considered a friend.

"I'm not doing so bad in most of them, but I think I could be doing a little better in Psych."

"General? With Bradford?"

"Yeah."

"I took that class about three semesters ago. I think I still have the final, if you wanna take a look at it. I mean, obviously it's not gonna be the same questions, but it'll give you an idea what to focus on."

"Yeah? That'd be great. Thanks, Derek," Isaac smiled.

Derek just nodded before looking back over his notes. From the corner of his eye, he saw Isaac stretch his arms over his head.

"Ugh," he groaned, joints cracking. "I don't know how Stiles does it. To get up early, serve sleep-deprived people alone until I get in at 8, and bake. It's madness."

Derek glanced back up. "Well to be fair, it's hardly this busy the rest of the semester. Sometimes he even naps in the morning, so lucky for him I'm not a petty criminal." Isaac just snorted at that. "Plus, I'm sure if you worked early mornings more often, you'd probably get used to all that."

"I guess," Isaac shrugged. "That's probably how come he has the energy to be baking like crazy back there." He snorted again. "He must have a craving for lemon today or something."

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"He's back there making lemon tarts and lemon cookies and even lemon muffins. I swear, he's lucky our boss likes him or he might get in trouble for not giving enough variety."

Derek was pensive. He couldn't simply brush off the idea that Stiles was making all this on a whim. Stiles constantly teased him for his affinity for lemon. It made Derek curious as to what Stiles was thinking.

"Can I go back there?"

This time it was Isaac who cocked an eyebrow. "You know, when I said 'get a room' earlier, I didn't mean our kitchen."

Derek rolled his eyes. He didn't even wait for a response. He just stood up, made his way behind the counter, and walked right into the kitchen, ignoring the amused snicker behind him.

"Oh, good! Can you go in the walk-in and get me some more cream? Bring out three jugs. I think I'm gonna need 'em all. Oh! And there's a bowl of lemon juice in there that I squeezed earlier. If you get that too, I'll love you forever."

Derek froze just inside the kitchen at the words. Stiles had his back to him as he whisked away at some concoction in his arms.

"Isaac! Come on!" Stiles snapped when he didn't hear movement.

Derek actually jumped into action, despite not being Isaac, or a paid employee for that matter. He entered the refrigerator, found what Stiles had asked for and placed it all on the workstation.

"Thanks, buddy. You're a lifesaver! Or in this case, a batter saver," he chuckled at his own joke.

Derek looked around. "You need anything else?"

"Jesus fucking Christ!" Stiles jumped, startled. In his surprise, he jerked his arms, successfully launching his batter into the air before gravity did its job and made it come back down again… all over the busy barista.

Derek stared, wide-eyed, mouth open with a gasp. Was this what it was like to see it from the other side? Derek immediately felt the urge to take a picture so he coule remember this forever. He scrambled for his phone and quickly took a picture of his shocked friend, before an uncharacteristic fit of laughter came over him. So amused was he that he found himself doubled over the workstation, trying hard to catch his breath.

"Damn it, Derek," he heard Stiles whine. "What are you doing back here? I thought you were Isaac."

Derek couldn't even answer.

"Yes, yes. Soak it up," the boy said, dryly, grabbing a towel and wiping his face. "Nearly giving me a heart attack and destroying my batter is hilarious."

Derek tried hard to restrain himself. He stood upright and fought off his smile, although a chuckle here and there continued to rack his form. "Can you really blame me?"

"Yes, actually. You startled me. If you hadn't, I wouldn't be covered in this stuff." He undid his apron, carefully balled it up so it wouldn't drip on the floor and walked over to the sink to wash off his arms. "It's all over my shirt… and my hair…"

Derek looked down at his own shirt. Without even a beat of hesitation, he slipped off his jacket and pulled the Henley over his head, leaving him in just his A-shirt before slipping his jacket back on. Another idea came to mind as Derek glanced at the sprayer dangling above the sink, while Stiles tried to get the excess batter off his face. Putting the shirt down for now, Derek walked over, coming up behind the boy. "Here, let me."

"What?"

Without even a word of explanation, Derek took Stiles by the scruff of his neck and pushed him forward so that he was bent over the sink. Ignoring the younger boy's flails and struggles, Derek grabbed the sprayer and aimed it for Stiles' head.

"Cold! That's cold! If you're gonna wash me like a friggin' dog in a sink, at least adjust it so it's warm!"

Derek removed his hand from Stiles' neck to fiddle with the tap until it was a more agreeable temperature. He moved his hand to the top of the boy's head, running it against the short hairs to wash out the batter.

One could argue that Derek might've manhandled Stiles a bit as a sort of punishment for not loving him back. One could argue it, but that certainly didn't mean Derek would admit to it.

Once he was done, he shut off the water, looked around for a clean towel, and draped it over the boy's head once he had found one.

"Great," Stiles growled. "Now my head is gonna smell like cheap detergent." He stood upright before drying his head off. "Thanks," he muttered to Derek, although he didn't sound the least bit sincere.

Derek just chuckled to himself once more, walking back to where he had left his shirt. "Here," he called out, tossing it to Stiles once he had the boy's attention.

"Oh. Where did you…?"

"I was wearing it," Derek said simply.

"Oh-um th-thanks…" he stuttered, ducking his head and spinning around. Despite the move, Derek still saw the blush come over the boy's face.

Stiles pulled his soiled shirt up over his head, and suddenly it was Derek's turn to blush. It made the older boy briefly wonder if Stiles had gotten batter on his pants too.

He slipped Derek's shirt over his head, and frowned. "Way to make me feel tiny compared to your chiseled chest," he said, dryly.

Derek narrowed his eyes. "You could always finish your shift nude." It was meant to be a joke, but Derek couldn't help but secretly hope that the carefree Stiles would be in a bit of an exhibitionist mood today.

"Ha. No thanks," he said, giving his friend a withering look.

He just shrugged in return. Can't blame a guy for trying.

Stiles tugged up the sleeves and grabbed a clean apron, securing it around his waist. As he glanced at the remaining batter in the mixing bowl, Derek remembered why he was back there in the first place.

"Stiles, what are you doing?"

The boy looked up, confused by the question. "I'm… whisking?"

Derek sighed. "No. I mean, Isaac said you're making lemon tarts, and lemon cookies, and lemonmuffins." Stiles' expression changed into one of understanding. "Just what do you think you're doing?"

"My… job?" At the blank glare he was receiving, he sighed. "All right fine. Look, I don't know what happened yesterday, but I do know that even though you said everything was okay, everything was not okay."

"Stiles, nothing-"

"No, not nothing!" He sighed again, tossing the bowl onto the workstation. "You don't wanna tell me? That's fine. But don't lie to me and say everything is okay when obviously you were upset about something. And all this," he said, waving his arm over the cream, the batter, the lemons, "this is me trying to make you happy the best way I know how."

Derek was stunned. Speechless.

Stiles looked back at him, eyes sad and confused. "Last night I couldn't sleep cause I kept thinking that maybe I did something wrong by showing up." He dropped his gaze and started picking at his nails, the sleeves of the oversized shirt slipping back down his arms. "I know I should've called… I was gonna call… but what if you said no? And… I thought it would be fun. I mean, finals week is already stressful enough as is. I just thought I could have some fun with my friend, especially since I haven't seen you as much as I'm used to."

Derek tried to calm the pounding in his chest. He forced himself to move. Derek crossed the kitchen to stand in front of Stiles, putting a hand on top of his to still their fidgeting, before taking ahold of one long sleeve and folding it up in a way where they wouldn't slip back down. "Stiles,listen to me," he urged, moving to fix the other sleeve. "I'm not mad at you." He stilled his own hands, his own fidgeting, and forced himself to concentrate. Placing them on Stiles' shoulders, Derek cocked his head to try to catch the boy's eyes. "You did nothing wrong, okay?"

"Then why'd you give away the cookies?" he asked, his voice small, eyes still trained on his nails.

He exhaled heavily, dropping his hands back to his side. 'How do I answer that? I can't tell him I was jealous of how good they looked together. That's ridiculous.' He shook his head. "I don't know," he finally said. "She looked like she'd enjoy them more than I would." Stiles finally looked up, although he seemed unconvinced. Derek reached. "Look, you're right, okay? Finals week is stressful. I guess I got upset over… wasting time having to take a shower when Erica and I could've finished up the rest of our list." It was partly true. A very small part. "And no, I don't blame you for that." He added, as Stiles opened his mouth to comment. "Okay, maybe, honestly, a little-"

"Ah ha!"

"-But to be fair, she was late so I blame her, too. It's not like I want to have her over again."

"Wait, you don't like her?"

"Not really, no. I mean, she's nice enough. Smart. But she comes off a little arrogant sometimes."

Stiles snorted at this. "That's like the pot calling the kettle black."

Derek rolled his eyes. "The point is I'd much rather spend my evening walking my friend home than sit at my kitchen table with a girl I hardly know. And now, that's exactly what I have to do.Again."

Although it wasn't the main reason, it was a valid reason as to why Derek had been so upset. It was true. Erica wasn't half bad, but she was no Stiles. Stiles was caring and carefree, loving and loveable. And Derek didn't exactly enjoy sharing his time with him with someone else, especially when it reminded him of how much Stiles wasn't his and how he might never be. Thoughts like that just put him in a dark place and whenever Derek went there, he almost never wanted company – but more than that, he never wanted company to see him there – and most of all, he never wanted Stiles to see him there. So he allowed himself to wallow in the night, but with morning, it was time to crawl out. He forced himself to move on and look to something brighter. To accept whatever he could get. And in this case, he was happy to be whatever Stiles needed him to be as long as he was still needed.

A small smile began to form the Stiles' lips that slowly grew into a full-on grin. He took a step toward Derek, dipping his head and leaning forward so that his top of it was pressed against Derek's chest. Then, Derek felt Stiles' hands grip the bottom of his jacket, tugging at it just slightly.

Derek wanted so much to just wrap his arms around Stiles, to pull him in close and never let go. He didn't exactly understand what the boy was doing, but feeling him this close in a way that was awkward, but still strangely and incredibly intimate, there was no way he was going to stop it. Instead, he raised a hand and gently and tenderly placed it on Stiles' arm, squeezing it softly in a way that he hoped was reassuring. He would have tried doing the same with his other hand if he weren't afraid of slipping it around the boy's waist instead.

They stood like that for what felt like ages until Stiles broke the silence.

"…The floor is messy."

Derek scoffed. "That's what happens when you throw batter into the air."

Stiles finally looked back up, moving one of his hands to point a finger in Derek's face. "Hey. You're not even supposed to be in here. I thought Isaac was helping me out, so I'm sorry if that's what happens when an unexpected voice pops up and scares the living shit outta me."

Derek scrunched his face at the colorful idiom. "Gross."

"Since you're here – and especially since this is partly your fault – you can help me clean this up," Stiles grinned smugly.

"What? No way." Derek frowned, taking a step back, his jacket slipping out of Stiles' grip. "I already – literally – gave you the shirt off my back. Why should I clean this up?"

"Because, Derek. Because. If I clean this up myself, not only will there not be any lemony goodness, but there will be no pastries whatsoever."

Derek's face immediately fell into full seriousness. He sighed, exasperated, yet torn. He really should get back to his things and continue studying. But what good is studying if you don't have food to nourish the rest of your body? He frowned, coming to a decision. "What do I clean it up with?"

"Yes! You're awesome!" Stiles cheered before darting around the kitchen to grab some cleaning supplies.

Soon, Derek found himself wiping the mess on the table and the various appliances that got hit, while Stiles gathered more ingredients to remake the spilt batter. The boy was back to whisking away as he watched Derek work.

"There's some over there, too," Stiles pointed out, jutting his chin in the direction of the mess.

The boy merely smiled at the glare Derek was giving him. But, like always, Derek did as he was told, crouching down to wipe the mess clean. Shortly after, he heard the kitchen door swing open.

"Stiles, what's taking so long with the-"

Derek glanced over his shoulder to see Isaac frozen from where he stood in the doorway, his eyes wide and mouth open in surprise. It then occurred to Derek what it might look like seeing Stiles standing before him with Derek on his knees. From where the blonde was standing, he probably couldn't see anything from the top of Derek's head down with the workstation in the way.

"Whoa, hang on! It's not what it looks like!" Derek scrambled to get back on his feet.

"God damn it, Derek. I said not in the kitchen!" The curly-headed boy threw his hands up and stormed back out the way he came in.

Derek buried his face in his hands, mortified. It didn't help that Stiles was just laughing. "Oh man," Stiles choked out. "From where you were, Isaac probably thought you were giving me a blow-"

"Thank you, Captain Obvious!" Derek barked. He tossed the rag he was using to clean at Stiles before stalking out of the kitchen. He could still hear the laughter behind the closed door as he slumped back into his seat and buried his face in his notes, pointedly avoiding making eye contact with the taller barista.

He had to question his sanity. How could he have fallen so hard for this kid who took pleasure in seeing him in his most embarrassing of moments? If anything, it should've made Derek want to steer clear of him, not only because of the inevitable teasing that would ensue, but also because he was clearly a totem for bad luck. The logical thing would be to avoid Stiles at all cost. But when the still chuckling Stiles finally came out of the kitchen to set a plate of freshly baked goods on Derek's table, he had to concede. And when Derek took out his phone later in class, and had to retrain himself from bursting into laughter in seeing the picture he took of a batter-covered Stiles, he had to surrender. Because it wasn't just Stiles who was entertained by the things that happen to Derek; Derek, too, was entertained by all things Stiles. And that made Derek love him all the more.

/\/\/\

The rest of the week went without hitch for Derek. He had delivered the test to Isaac that afternoon, but stared him down in an intimidating way, as if daring him to mention what hethought he had seen that morning, and smirking to himself when it worked. And later that night, he met up with Erica again so they could finish their review and to double check that they didn't miss anything. Stiles didn't show up that time, which she was bummed about because she and Boyd wanted more free cookies. Derek might've also been bummed, but at least this way, he wouldn't have to feel jealous in seeing them be so companionable.

And finally, Friday came; along with all the important tests he'd been studying all semester for. He went in as prepared as he'll ever be. And after hundreds of multiple-choice questions, dozens of short answers and true or false statements, and a handful of short essay questions and threefull essay questions, he finally made it through all four of his classes and another semester of school.

It was funny, though. In mythology class, during the exam, the mere mention of Hades brought salt to his mind. Simply reading "The Bride and the Monster" brought the memory of cinnamon. Hell, even glancing at the word Shiva and Vishnu made Derek remember being covered in flour. And he would bet that Erica had recalled the same thing when in the middle of taking the test, the girl giggled loudly.

But once he handed in his answer packet, he was done. Derek was one step closer to reaching his ultimate goal of becoming a Criminologist. All that was left of the semester was to wait for grades to be released in two weeks time.

But until then, he still had a costume party to go to.

/\/\/\

It was about 7 o'clock on the day of the party when Derek got a text from The Bossy Redheaded Girl while he was in the shower.

We ordered food from that place on the corner of Third and Market. We put it under your name so pick it up. And yes, it's already paid for. Oh and can you also pick up some plates? Make them cute. That one you'll have to pay for. Thanks. You're a doll.

He should have known that by letting Allison make his costume for free, Lydia would make him her errand boy. He didn't actually mind, especially since he was used to it, having been his sister's errand boy for most of his childhood. The two were oddly similar.

He finished getting ready, stopped by a store to wonder what made a plate a 'cute' one as opposed to an 'un-cute' one, settled with plain white ones, picked up the food and finally arrived at the girls' apartment with ten minutes to spare.

"Finally," Lydia groaned out, throwing open the door.

Derek blinked. The girl was wearing a black corset with black hot-pants, thigh-high stockings, a necklace with massive pearls and a black curly wig. "Who? What?"

She sighed, rolling her eyes. "Really, Derek? You never saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show? It's like a Halloween classic. And Dr. Frank-N-Furter is the best," she finished with a confident smirk. She reached out to take a bag from Derek's hand. Peeking in, she frowned. "Are you serious? Plain white? These are not cute."

"I could draw happy faces on them if you want," he deadpanned. "That might make them cute."

"Funny," she drawled. She looked over her shoulder and waved. "Jackson, come here. Help Derek with the stuff while I finish my make-up. We'll just have to make due with what we've got," she said, looking pointedly back at Derek before she made her way back upstairs to her room.

Derek heard a groan followed by an "All right, all right."

The blonde boy showed up at the door wearing nothing but gold shorts and gold boots. It looked like he had sprayed his hair with something to make it look a shade lighter than it normally was.

Jackson nodded at Derek in greeting. "'Sup Derek."

"Uh, hey. What are you supposed to be?"

"The creature, Rocky Horror," he explained. At Derek's blank look, he shrugged. "It was Lydia's idea. Quite frankly, if she doesn't mind everyone staring at my hotness, then I'm not gonna complain."

Derek scoffed and just shoved the tray of food into the boy's arms before turning around to grab another in his car. Once he brought in the last of it, leaving it for Jackson to set up, Allison appeared at the top of the stairs.

"Oh, Derek! Good! You're here," she smiled. Her costume, Derek instantly recognized. The girl was dressed as Catwoman, the Dark Knight Rises version. "You like it? I made it myself."

Derek had to give it her. The high level of quality she put into her costume was apparent. She was good. It settled some nerves he wouldn't admit he had about what she had made for him. "It's… good."

She placed her hands on her hips and sighed, still smiling. "Coming from you, I bet that's a huge compliment. Come on up," she waved him over. "I have your costume here."

Derek did as he was told and went up the steps to Allison's room, poking his head in.

"Here you go," she said, handing him a bag. "You can change in the bathroom right over there."

Derek peeked in the bag before moving in the direction she pointed to. "So wait, what exactly did you make?"

"Um," she chuckled nervously. "You remember how I said I could use it for my art history project? Well I did. And the concept was artistic interpretation on historic events. And the historic event I chose was the battle of Thermopylae."

"Oh, not bad."

"I know, right? It's an amazing story. The few Greeks versus the many Persians?" She smiled. "Anyway, I decided to make you Spartan costume. Or… Frank Miller's interpretation of it in his comic 300."

If Allison read comics, he could understand why Scott was so smitten with her. Personally, Derek had never heard of this 300 she was talking about. It made him curious about it considering this sort of wince she did when mentioning it. "Okay…"

"You've never seen or read 300 have you?"

He shook his head. "Nope."

"Okay, well, go ahead and change in there," she said, pointing to the bathroom once more. "I also made you a helmet, a spear, and a shield, so once you've got everything on, just come back to my room and I'll help you get those on."

Derek's eyebrows jumped up in surprise. "You did all that?"

She chuckled nervously again. "Well, I had enough time to. Plus, ancient weaponry is an interest of mine." This time she practically pushed Derek into the bathroom. "If you have any problems, I'll be right outside to help," she said, closing the door behind him.

Derek wondered why she seemed so nervous. Being a Spartan sounded like a great idea. Derek looked into the bag once more before he started pulling things out. In it were a pair of gauntlets for his arms and legs, some sandals, a large piece of red fabric – probably a cloak or something – and a… he didn't even know what to call it.

"Allison?"

"Yes?" came the timid reply.

"Is there a piece missing or something?"

"…Doubt it."

Derek opened the door and held up the unknown garment. "This is a Spartan costume?"

"Yes. A Frank Miller interpretation of it," she repeated. At his blank look, she darted her gaze back to her room. "I still have some pictures I used for reference. Would you like to see them?" She didn't even wait for an answer before going into her room and grabbing it, handing it over to the older boy.

Derek looked at the images and frowned. "Wait. This is what he thinks they wore into a battle? That doesn't even make sense. They'd die instantly from the cold alone!"

Allison exhaled. "Well, that's what the whole thing looks like put together."

"There's hardly anything there. I can see now why you had time to focus on the weapons. The guy's practically naked."

Allison took Derek by the shoulders and ushered him back into the bathroom. "Just go on in and change. I made the bottoms longer than what it looks like in the picture."

"Because an inch or two over the thighs makes a guy feel like he's wearing more than just a speedo," Derek said, dryly.

"Once you have everything on, you'll feel less naked. I promise."

"I doubt that."

"And besides, I doubt you have anything to be ashamed of. People already think you've got the body of a Greek god."

"People? What people?"

"People. Now go change!" She gave him one last shove before closing the door behind him once more.

Derek gave in. Allison had gone through the trouble of making the costume for him so he didn't want to be rude by flat out rejecting it. And it's not like Derek was exactly self-conscious when it came to his body. He'd had his fair share of appreciative looks back in the summertime when Peter had taken him to the Caribbean for vacation. And the more he looked at it, at least he had more coverage than Jackson.

Derek stripped down to his boxer briefs, rolling up his clothes and putting them in the bag the costume came in. And since there was no way he was going commando, he folded the bottoms up as best he could, which was just enough to keep them from sticking out. He slipped on the gauntlets and sandals easily enough, but found himself struggling to pin the cloak on.

"Allison," he called again, walking out of the bathroom and into the girl's room as he tried to snap the pin shut.

"Oh, here. Let me get that," she said, taking the pin in her own hands. Once it was clasped, she adjusted the cloak and the arm gauntlets before she took a step back and smiled. "Just a few more things…" she said, cocking her head to the side.

"Wait, wait, wait what is that thing?" Derek frowned after she had grabbed something from her dresser and made her way over to Derek with a paintbrush in her hand.

"I need to apply the glue to make your beard stick."

"A beard."

"If you're going to be the king, you're going to need his beard."

Derek sighed again, but allowed it. The brush tickled a bit, but the beard itself was just itchy. Allison then slipped a necklace with a tooth for a pendant over his head before picking up his spear and shield and handing it to him.

"And now for the pièce de résistance…" she walked over to him, slipping the helmet over his head. She took a few steps back, hands pressed together and up to her lips. She broke out into a grin. "Oh my God, you look amazing. I really should switch my majors."

Derek glanced at himself in the girl's full-length mirror. If he had known he wasn't going to be wearing a shirt, he might've tried to squeeze in a few extra sit-ups into his work out, but overall he didn't look half bad. At least when compared to the picture, he looked pretty spot on. Now, when compared to what they most likely wore in history… well that was different story.

"Lydia! Come look at Derek!" Allison called.

The girl walked in, a smile breaking across her face once she spotted Derek. "Oh my God, that's perfect. Well done, Allison. I hardly recognize him without his leather jacket and scowl."

Derek did just that, aiming it at the normally redheaded girl.

"Oh wait, there it is," she added, drolly, unfazed by the glare he tossed in her direction. "What? Do you not like it? Because if you don't, we could always just staple a leaf to your crotch and call you Adam."

He gave the girl a withering look. "It's fine." He turned to the brunette, softening his gaze. "Thanks for this. You did a great job," he conceded.

Allison smiled, proudly. "You are very welcome."

"Come on," Lydia said, taking Derek by the wrist. "There's still some food left to set up, and also some lights and speakers."

"I'll put your things in my room," Allison called out as Derek was dragged away.

As the night carried on, Lydia kept finding more and more things for Derek to do. He hardly had any time to really look at the rest of the guests in their costumes, she kept him so busy. But Derek wouldn't complain because busying himself as her gopher meant he didn't have to mingle with all these strangers. He finally caught a few seconds for himself to munch on some eggrolls only to see the apartment was now packed with party-goers.

'I wonder where Stiles is…' Derek thought, glancing over the crowd. He saw Allison dancing with Batman and if that jaw weren't a dead giveaway that it was Scott, then the contented grin on his face was. And if Scott was here already, then so had to be Stiles.

Derek made his way over to the drinks. There, he spotted Jackson talking to a guy in a trench coat, some sunglasses, and a number of hopefully toy guns strapped to his legs and waist. And once the guy smiled, Derek recognized the dimples belonging to Danny.

"Hey Jackson, Danny," Derek nodded before grabbing a cup for himself.

"Jesus Derek, watch where you're pointing that thing," the blonde frowned, swatting at the spear.

"Whoa, wait, Derek?" Danny said incredulously, sliding his shades down.

Derek just nodded before taking a sip of his drink.

"Wow man, I didn't even recognize you! Your costume looks amazing."

"You should tell that to Allison. She made it." Derek looked the Hawaiian boy over. "Who are you supposed to be?"

Danny smiled. "I'm Neo. From the Matrix."

"Oh," he nodded, although he didn't exactly know the reference. "Have either of you seen Stiles? I saw Scott so I think Stiles should be here by now…"

The duo shared a look before turning back to Derek. Danny glanced over the crowd. "Umm… there! He's right over there."

Derek looked over to where Danny was pointing. Stiles was wearing a red and white speed suit, red goggles with yellow lenses, and a wig of messy brown hair. That was probably why he didn't immediately spot the boy. "Thanks," he nodded to the both of them before making his way over.

"Hey."

"Hey- whoa! Awesome costume, King Leonidas! This. Is. SPARTAAAA!"

Derek just looked at him quizzically. Maybe he should watch the movie Allison had mentioned. He took in Stiles' appearance. "Who are you supposed to be?"

"You don't recognize the lightning bolts?" Stiles frowned.

"…Flash?"

"Gah!" He growled, throwing his hands up. "I'm ImpulseKid Flash. And, well, technically I dobecome Flash later on…"

Derek just smiled softly. "Well you look good," he complimented, trying not to stare at the way the speed suit clung to Stiles' body.

"Thank you," Stiles smiled. "I was gonna try the Smallville version with the red hood and all but then Lydia complained that it looked too much like street clothes and you know Lydia, obviously, cause you're here."

That last bit was a little odd, but maybe Derek just heard wrong. The music was loud and his helmet was doing a good job of stifling a bit of the noise. He thought nothing of it as he was soon distracted by the way Stiles kept glancing over the crowd. Derek tried to follow his gaze but didn't see anything of interest. "You… looking for something?"

"Hm?" Stiles seemed to have forgotten Derek was there. "Oh, yeah. Um, my friend. He said he was gonna be here, but I haven't seen him yet."

"Maybe he's in costume."

"Ha ha," Stiles smiled, looking at Derek sideways. "I don't know. I think maybe he just decided not to come after all."

Derek frowned. "You sound disappointed."

Stiles shrugged. "I guess I am a little. I was really hoping to see him."

Derek's frown only deepened. "Now you sound really disappointed."

He laughed. "Well, no. I mean, yeah, but I understand why he bailed. He's not the most social butterfly if you know what I mean."

"Yeah, I definitely get that."

"Yeah? You don't seem to be doing so bad. This guy, I call him Sourwolf cause he always has this sour expression on his face and cause he's like ridiculously obsessed with lemons and he's also like this lone wolf type of person," he laughed again.

Derek furrowed his brows, looking at Stiles, confused.

"But it's a shame cause he's actually this really good guy… amazing, really," he continued, voice wistful. "Like, a downright puppy if you ask me. Oh, but don't tell him I said that cause then he'll give me like this glare of doom he's trademarked or something."

'Is… is he talking about me?' Derek wondered, completely perplexed.

"And then when he smiles…" Stiles continued on, his words soft, his gaze far away. "It's like the best thing ever. Like the sun, it's so bright and warm and…" he sighed.

'Does he not know it's me? Could he be talking about me?' Derek thought, his heart suddenly speeding up. "Stiles, I-"

"Oh! That's him! He's here! He came!" And without even the slightest look back, Stiles dashed off into the crowd, throwing his arms around the guy he'd been looking for.

Derek felt like his heart had been stomped on. He tore his eyes away from the sight. He couldn't stand to see Stiles smiling so brightly at some guy that wasn't him. 'I swear, it was like he was talking about me. Sourwolf… that's our thing… right?' Derek stumbled backwards a bit, steadying himself against the wall. 'What if it wasn't? I mean, how could it not be? I bought him the wolf for crying out loud! But… but if he named it after someone else… then that Sourwolf is his real protector… and I'm…'

He shut his eyes, the beat of the music thumping in his ears. 'The way he spoke… I've never heard him talk like that before…' Glancing up, his eyes fell back on Stiles. The boy had his hands on the guy's shoulders. He was laughing.

Derek pushed himself up off the wall and squeezed through the party guests to get outside. He needed the air. He needed to get away. He took a seat on the stoop, leaning his spear against the steps as he buried his face in his hands, or at least as best he could with the helmet still on. Derek would have bet anything in the world that he was who Stiles was talking about. And while Stiles had been saying what he had, Derek couldn't help but get happy and excited because to him, it sounded like the boy was in love.

'So then why did he jump on that other guy? Who the hell was that guy?' Derek was crushed. He had gone from feeling elated to feeling like he'd been stabbed in the gut in a matter of seconds. It made Derek feel ready to put his spear into good use on the stranger. But then he tried to remember what he had already accepted. He had decided to be there for Stiles no matter what. And if Stiles fell for someone else, he'd still be there. He just didn't feel like being there now. He felt himself going back into his dark place and he couldn't let anyone see him go there. He was ready to leave.

Derek suddenly found his helmet stifling. He was done with the party. Over it. He needed to get out of here and think things through in the solitude of his own home. 'I've been here almost two hours now anyway… I think that's plenty long enough… and if Lydia needs anymore help, she's got a room full of friends that can do it for her.'

He stood back up, picked up his spear before going back inside and making his way up the stairs and into Allison's room. 'Where did she put that bag?' He looked around the room, tossing aside his spear and pulling the shield off his arm. He was about to yank off his helmet when another person burst into the room.

"Excuse me, I don't think you should be up here."

Derek looked over his shoulder to see Jack Sparrow looking back at him, crossly. Derek took in the lanky frame and the blonde curls poking out from under the wig and realized it was Isaac.

"I'm just gonna get my stuff and go."

"Okay, what stuff do you think you have up here, huh? Look, I'm a very good friend of this girl's boyfriend and he'll literally claw you to shreds if he finds out you're snooping through his girlfriend's stuff."

Derek exhaled deeply in frustration. "Isaac, relax. Allison put my stuff somewhere. I'm just gonna change back and get out of here."

The boy narrowed his eyes, brows furrowing in confusion. "Do I… know you?"

Derek rolled his eyes and pulled off the helmet while simultaneously stripping himself of the scratchy beard.

"Holy shit, Derek." Isaac said, eyebrows shooting up in surprise. "God, man, I did not recognize you."

"Well, here I am. You gonna help me find my clothes?"

"Yeah sure," he nodded, making his way in the room. "But… why are you leaving now?"

"I've been here long enough. I'm done."

Isaac looked curious, but didn't push. "Well, did you at least see Stiles? He was looking for you earlier."

Derek shut his eyes and bit his lip. "Yeah, I saw him. He was busy looking for someone else."

Isaac scoffed. "What are you talking about, man? Stiles has been looking for you all night. I swear, it looked like he was gonna cry when he thought you decided not to show up."

"What are you talking about, man?" Derek mocked. "I saw him. He saw me. We had a conversation about some guy who smiles like the fucking sun and then he ran off to hug him once he saw him across the room." Derek winced at the hostility in his own voice. He knew he shouldn't be taking out his frustration on Isaac. But he was getting angry and he needed to get out now.

It took a second for the blonde to register what Derek had said. Then he shook his head. "No. No, I saw that. That guy Stiles jumped on, it was some kid from Lydia's bio class. Once Stiles figured that out, he was laughing and apologizing like crazy. Said he thought the guy was someone else." Isaac suddenly started laughing. "That guy was dressed as Danny Zuko from Grease. It was no wonder Stiles thought it was you."

Derek was not amused. He was also not convinced. His expression made it clear.

"Look," Isaac said. "You can ask Scott. He was with me when we saw it happen."

"No. I'm going home."

"Derek, come on. Just ask Scott. He'll tell you what I told you. And if you still don't like what you hear, I will personally dig through this room to find your clothes and hand it to you myself."

Derek just growled out another sigh. He rolled his eyes. "Fine. Let's get this over with."

Isaac followed Derek out of the room and down the stairs. Derek looked over the crowd and saw Batman munching happily on a chicken wing. He started to make his way over to ask him about what Isaac had said, but stopped, spinning back around when Stiles had beat him to him.

"Derek, what-" Isaac frowned.

"Shut up," Derek hissed. He was not ready to face the boy. Not with his emotions on the brink of turmoil.

"He didn't come!" he heard Stiles whine. Derek peeked over his shoulder, spying on the two. "He said he was gonna come, but he didn't come!"

"Dude, he's here. Allison went through the trouble of making him a costume. And you're here. Of course he's here."

"No, no. I've been looking around allllllll night. And I thought I saw him, but it turned out it was just Kyle."

Scott laughed. "Yeah, I saw that. That was hilarious. You really think Allison made the guy a leather jacket? He's already got like twelve of them."

"Three, okay?"

Scott snorted. "Of course you would know."

'It's actually four, but that's beside the point…' Derek thought, before telling himself to shut up.

"Okay, look," Scott said, tossing an arm around his friend. Derek snapped his head back around, hiding his face, only to find himself looking at an overly amused pirate. "Let's see… oh there. See, he's right there with Isaac."

"Who, that guy? No, that's not him. I talked to that guy earlier."

"Then you were talking to Derek. Look, I recognize that cape. I was playing with it when Allison was making it." Derek had to snort at that. "Watch. Mr. Hale! Yo, Mr. Hale!"

Derek glanced at Isaac who was merely stifling a smile while giving him a look as if to say 'nowwhat are you gonna do?' Derek turned around, slowly, facing the two friends he had been eavesdropping on.

He watched as Stiles' face went from confusion to recognition to shock. "Derek?"

He raised his hand and gave him a short wave. "Hey Stiles." Derek lurched forward as Isaac shoved him towards the boy. He glared at the smug guy from over his shoulder.

Stiles made his way over, closing the distance. "You're… you're King Leonidas? I didn't… I didn't even recognize you!"

Derek nodded slowly. "I… seem to be getting that a lot tonight…" He ran a hand through his hair. The anger he was feeling just minutes ago was beginning to settle down. "So… Isaac said you were looking for me…"

Despite the low lighting, he could clearly see the blush on the boy's cheeks as he ducked his head and started rubbing the back of his neck.

Derek continued. "And I guess… since you didn't recognize me… maybe you said it yourself that you were looking… for me."

Stiles looked back up at Derek, chuckling nervously.

Derek pressed on some more, his earlier frustration weaning away. "A puppy, Stiles?" He cocked an eyebrow, fixing him with a deadpan expression.

"Hey now, puppies are awesome."

"Amazing, really?" He teased, repeating the boy's own words. Frustration gone, it was now dawning on him that Stiles had been talking about him.

"Did you try these eggrolls? They're fantastic!" He said, making his way over to the food and taking a big and messy bite.

Derek couldn't help but smile. Then he remembered what Stiles said about his smile and it only made him smile even more.

As Stiles rambled on while shoving food in his mouth, all the while trying to distract Derek from what he had said earlier, Derek found himself having a hard time concentrating. 'He was talking about me. He thinks I'm amazing. He thinks my smile is like the sun!' Said smile didn't seem like it'd be able to go away.

The rest of the night was perfect now that Derek had Stiles by his side, his earlier desire to leave dissipating with every second next to him. The food tasted better, the drinks tasted sweeter, the music sounded heavenly, and even the crowded room felt like the best place to be. He didn't even mind when Lydia had found him again and asked him to restock the beverages.

And all the while, Stiles was right by him. He was no longer looking out into the room. His eyes were on Derek. His attention was all on Derek. And Derek couldn't help but replay in his mind what Stiles had said when he thought he was someone else. And while the words were hardly a confession of love, the tone of it made it seem like a real possibility. It made Derek forget all about any other guy or girl Derek thought Stiles might end up with. Because now, after this night, Derek had hope that that special person just might be him.

And finally, into the wee hours of the morning, after the party guests had gone home and all that was left were the core few to help clean up a bit and sober up before heading to their own homes, Stiles was still by his side.

They had slipped away, taking a seat next to each other on the stoop just outside, the night sky lit just a hair with the impending sunrise a little over an hour away. Stiles leaned into Derek, taking comfort in his warmth while Derek leaned into Stiles, taking comfort in his proximity.

Stiles fiddled with the straps on his shoes. "It was a good party, huh?"

"Parts of it."

Stiles chuckled. "Lydia sure kept you busy…"

"I didn't mind. She reminds me of Laura."

"You know? I thought so, too!" He glanced over his friend. "Geez, aren't you cold?"

Derek looked down. He should be considering he was half naked, sitting outside in the middle of winter, but all he felt in the moment was warm. "Actually, this cloak is pretty thick. I think maybe Allison planned it that way."

"She did a really good job. Here," he said, pulling out his phone.

"Where the heck did you stash that?"

Stiles laughed. "I have pockets," he explained, tapping away at the device. "Let's take a picture." Stiles held it up, pointing the camera at them. "Say cheese."

Derek snorted, a small smile playing on his lips as he glanced at the boy next to him.

Stiles flipped his phone back around to look at the screen. "Derek, you moved! And you were supposed to smile," he frowned.

"I thought I was just supposed to say 'cheese'."

Stiles bumped him. "Behave!" He held out his arm again.

Derek behaved and looked at the camera on the phone, smiling just as Stiles had asked.

Stiles looked over the picture, smiling contently. "There you go. Much better. You should smile more, Derek. Or, as Allison would say: Don't frown. Someone could be falling in love with your smile."

Derek looked at Stiles from the corner of his eye and smiled to himself. He had a pretty good idea who that someone just might be.

Chapter Text

"I told you. I don't know yet."

"Then, when will you know?"

Derek sighed. "They said grades would be out in two weeks. So probably next Friday."

Peter groaned over the line. "Fine. In the mean time, have you given any thought about where we're going while you're on break?"

Derek hesitated, knowing that Peter would instantly figure out the real reason behind his decision. "Actually… I thought about it… and I think it might be good for a change if I stay here for the break. Maybe take an intercession class."

"Oh realllllly," Peter sang, amused.

"Yeah. I mean, I think I might even be able to squeeze two classes in, if I really work hard-"

"Okay, you can just stop right there. You and I both know you just want to stay to be with your new boy toy."

Derek exhaled, pinching the bridge of his nose. He could practically feel the grin on his uncle's face through the phone line.

"I like Stiles," Peter said simply. "Let's bring him along."

"Can't," Derek sighed, giving up his ruse. "He's got work."

Peter was quiet for a moment. Then, "Where does he work? We can just buy the business andthen let him off for vacation. I was thinking the south Pacific is beautiful this time of year."

"Hm," Derek hummed, considering the option. He liked the sound of that. Going to Tahiti with Stiles, drinking from coconuts with little umbrellas with Stiles, swimming in crystal blue waters with Stiles, strolling along sandy white beaches with the moonlight kissing their skin and the waves licking their feet as they kiss and lick each other. 'Yeah...' Derek was grinning dreamily at the thought.

"Derek," Peter barked, snapping his nephew out of his thoughts.

"What?"

"Send me the info on the business. I'll call the owner right now and we'll be in Fiji on Wednesday."

"I was leaning more towards Tahiti."

"Ooh, with the sexy dancers with the fast hips. I like your style, baby boy."

"Stop calling me that."

"You're my adorable nephew. I will never stop calling you that."

"So Tahiti," Derek growled.

"Yes, yes. Find the owner's number and I'll get cracking on that."

"On a Sunday?"

"Good business never needs weekends."

Derek shrugged. If it meant getting to go to a tropical island with Stiles… 'Wait.' Derek frowned. Buying a business just to get to go on vacation with him? Wasn't that a bit much? "Peter. Buying a business just so I can go on vacation with Stiles? Isn't that a bit much?"

"No way," Peter scoffed, as if the notion was insulting. "So how should we do this? Tell him straight up or just kidnap him and don't remove the mask until we're sipping Mai-Tais?"

"For the last time, Peter, that wasn't funny. I broke that guy's nose."

"That was the funny part!"

It seemed Derek needed to be the rational one here. "No, no. Forget it. As much as I want to spend the break with Stiles in a place where he can walk around half-naked all day, I think buying the business just to do that is a little… over-the-top."

He heard Peter groan again. "Nephew, you're getting soft. Can you at least tell me that you've tapped that by now?"

"…No," at the sound of Peter groaning once more, he quickly added, "-but I think I stand a real good chance. I mean, he didn't directly say he likes me, but I'm pretty sure he does."

"What are you even talking about? Of course he likes you! He sat through a dinner with Lauraand me. If anyone can walk out of that unscathed, there's definite pining for your penis involved."

"Damn it, Peter," Derek scowled. "How are we even related?"

"I ask myself that more and more with each day you haven't boned the little baker boy."

Derek huffed. "Look, just because I'm not some creepy old perv like someone, doesn't mean I'm not thinking of some way to make this happen."

"Okay, first of all. Your words hurt. I'm not old," Derek scoffed at this. "And second of all, what's the plan?"

"Like I said before. I need to be sure that he's really into me, at least in the same way I'm into him. So, I'm gonna figure out a way to get him to admit it. And then, when he finally confesses his undying love for me, then I will take him to my bed and never let him wear clothes again."

"That's more like it. You're a Hale after all."

"I just need to talk to him. Maybe see if he lets off any hints. I'll be ten times more observant than I have been."

"So then what are you doing sitting at home talking on the phone with your uncle? I know I'm incredible and everything you wish to be, Derek, but I think you need to get your priorities in check. How can you observe him if you're not even spending time with him?"

"Christ, Peter. Get a handle on your modesty, why don't you?" Derek drawled. "I'm going to his place this afternoon. I'm helping him bake some cookies for Danny."

"By 'helping him bake' I hope you mean 'fucking,' by 'some cookies' I hope you mean 'that tight ass,' and by Danny, I hope that's just a weird nickname you've given the blue balls you must've developed by not doing a damn thing by now."

"I'm hanging up now."

"Love you, Derek! Keep me updated! Call me as soon as your grades are in or when you finally man up and take that tight little nugget-"

"You're creepy and disturbing and I'm hanging up! Bye Peter, I love you too."

The call was ended before Peter could utter another unsettling syllable.

It's true. Derek had done a bit of light research for tips on how to know whether or not a guy was into you. He figured with these tips in mind, he'd know without a single solitary doubt whether or not Stiles was in love with him. And if he was, Derek had a secondary plan in which he would let his lips say everything for him, as he tasted every inch of Stiles' pale skin. But if he wasn't, he had plotted out an emergency strategy that involved hiding in a darkened corner for about a week under the pretense of getting minor dental surgery, whilst really blocking out the pain of his broken heart to try to restore it to a place where he could tolerate being by Stiles without feeling the effects of utter rejection.

Yeah. Derek really hoped he didn't need that emergency strategy.

After the costume party, Stiles had managed to enlist Derek's help for later in the day to renew his job as his own personal shelling squirrel. Derek, of course, had agreed before the two went their separate ways to at least try to get in a few hours of sleep. And once Derek had woken up later that morning, he started his research. And if all went well, he was sure that he'd be sharing kisses with Stiles during the holiday season without the need for mistletoe. However, he also kept in mind that mistletoe was still a valid option should things not go as planned.

So, later at Stiles' apartment, instead of walnuts, Derek was tasked with opening pistachios. He snuck a few of them, popping them in his mouth when Stiles wasn't looking. Apparently, Danny had requested some dark chocolate-pistachio cookies from Stiles, and Stiles gladly obliged. So Derek had no problem eating as many pistachios he wanted from the pile. The less Danny got meant maybe the Hawaiian would be less eager to approach Stiles again and that suited Derek just fine.

"Stop that!" Stiles frowned, swatting at Derek's hands. "I know you're eating more than you're opening!"

Derek scoffed. "You can't know that."

Stiles stared at him blankly. "Derek. Look at the pile of shells. Then look at the pile of pistachios. The ratio is severely off."

Derek just shrugged. "That could just mean most of these shells are empty. Maybe you should just find a better place to buy your pistachios."

"Or next time, I'll just make sure you're too full to eat them by making sure you've had lunch first."

He rolled his eyes. "Like that would stop me." He popped another pistachio in his mouth.

"Derek! Stop it already!"

Eventually, Stiles had enough pistachios he needed to make the cookies. He was just about to show Derek how make the cookie dough when he stopped suddenly.

Derek looked to his friend. "What?"

"We have to take preemptive measures," Stiles said, stroking his chin. "Follow me."

Derek frowned in confusion, but followed nonetheless. Stiles led him into his bedroom as Derek watched him go to his dresser. Then he understood with a chuckle. "I see."

"I should probably just get you your own apron," Stiles smirked, tossing a shirt to Derek. "That one should fit. I got a bigger size as you wished. Besides," Stiles added, "this way, you're just messing up the spare shirt and you can go home in the one you came in."

"How very intuitive of you."

"Well, you never know," he shrugged. "For some reason, you keep attracting messes."

Derek rolled his eyes and pulled off his shirt and tossed it aside before sliding into the one Stiles handed to him. It was still a bit tighter than he liked, but at least it was a better fit than the previous ones. He glanced down. "Really, Stiles?"

"What?" he said, stifling a grin.

He read the bright red words on the dark blue shirt. "'I'm Just A Love Machine?'"

"And I won't work for nobody but you, yeah baby!" Stiles danced.

Although he was amused, Derek wasn't amused.

"Okay, okay. Here," Stiles said, tossing him a different shirt. "Try this one."

Derek didn't move. He just stared at the fabric in his hands. "Stiles, this is pink."

"You never specified what color you preferred," he smirked.

"Forget it," Derek rolled his eyes, stripping once more and tossing both shirts back to Stiles. "Where's the shirt I gave you the other day? When you threw the batter on yourself?"

"I did not throw the batter on myself," he scowled, shaking his head. "Anyway, no. That shirt is comfy and I have decided to keep it for myself."

Derek frowned. He liked that shirt. It really was comfortable. "Stiles-"

"So what'll it be? Pink? Or Love Machine?" He held them up, one in each hand, extending them out to the older boy. The look on the Stiles' face made it clear there was no arguing. Derek sighed and grabbed the blue one before slipping it back over his head. "Excellent choice, Jeeves. Although, personally, I think the pink would've looked just as nice," Stiles shrugged.

Derek just rolled his eyes before turning around to fold his original shirt and leave it on Stiles' bed. That's when he spotted a guitar in the corner of the boy's room that he hadn't noticed before. He looked back over his shoulder at Stiles. "You play?" he asked, nodding to the guitar.

"Hm?" he glanced at Derek after folding the pink shirt and putting it back in the dresser. He followed the older boy's gaze and shook his head. "Oh, no. No, no, no. Not really."

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "What do you mean 'not really'?"

"That's Scott's guitar. Him and Isaac like to mess around with music. They're actually pretty good. They're good enough to get invited by Scott's boss to play for some event they're having, 'Carols for Kittens' or something," he snickered. "And they needed someone else to play a bit of back-up so Scott's trying to teach me in time for the show. Hey! You should totally come!"

'And see Stiles play music on stage? Where do I sign up?' Derek thought to himself. "Yeah, sure," he nodded. "When is it?"

"It's in three weeks. Here," Stiles stepped forward, ignoring Derek's personal space and reached into the pocket of the older boy's jeans to pull out his phone.

"Wha-Stiles!" Derek stammered, flustered. The wandering hand was dangerously close to Derek's crotch, warm as it pressed against his thigh, the thin lining of his pocket the only barrier between skin on skin. Stiles was unfazed. As he tapped through some menus on the cell, Derek took a moment to regain himself, to urge away the effect of Stiles' action before it made itself known through his jeans.

"There," Stiles grinned, showing Derek the screen and shaking it. Derek had to silently breathe a sigh of relief and applaud himself for his self-control as he calmly took the phone into his hand, looking at the addition to his calendar. "Now you'll be reminded and you'll go and we'll save some kittens and have a good time."

Derek just nodded, not really trusting his voice at the moment. He slipped his phone back into his pocket, taking a second to dig his nails into his thigh to distract his body from the brief contact of pleasure with a bit of pain. It worked.

Stiles, all the while, was none the wiser of the turmoil his minor act had caused his friend. He just smiled at him. "Do you play any instruments?"

"I-um," Derek cleared his throat. "Not really."

This time it was Stiles who cocked at eyebrow. He mirrored Derek's question. "What do you mean 'not really'?"

"My dad tried to teach me guitar. He had this one song he always played for my mom and he taught it to me, but that was a long time ago. I don't know if I could still play it."

Stiles just nodded. "You should try some time. In the mean time," he grinned, taking Derek by the shoulders and leading him out the door. "We've got some cookies to bake."

Once they were back in the kitchen, Stiles began mixing the ingredients as Derek watched. Every so often, he would hand him an ingredient to toss into the mix and soon enough, they were reaching into the bowl to place some dough onto a cookie sheet.

"No, Derek," Stiles chided, picking up a piece Derek had simply schlepped on and fixing it. "You can't just throw them on. If it's too crowded, they'll stick together."

Derek just scoffed, taking another handful and tossing it onto the pan.

"Derek, no," Stiles scolded. "Those are too big. They won't cook evenly with the others- Derek. No. Those are too close to the edge! You know what? It's okay," he patted the older boy on the shoulder. "I can take it from here. You just watch, okay?"

Derek smiled smugly to himself as he walked around the kitchen to sit at the counter. He didn't want to play nice if the cookies weren't even for him. He wiped his hands on a towel. "You got anything to drink?" He asked. All those pistachios he had earlier made him thirsty.

"Yeah. There's some bottled water in the fridge. There's juice there too, if you want. Help yourself."

Derek quickly rinsed off his hands in the sink and grabbed a glass from the cabinet, pouring himself some apple juice. "So, any plans for the break? I was thinking of taking a class for intercession but…" Derek trailed off as Stiles stared at the cookie dough in his hands, face contorted in contemplation. "Stiles?"

He looked up at Derek, eyebrows furrowed. "I forgot. How could I forget? We planned it all summer!"

"Um."

Stiles looked down and put the cookie dough onto the sheet. "The guys and I- I mean, all of us – Lydia and Allison and Danny and Jackson, even Greenberg – we all planned this trip together. Everyone took a few days off work so we could all go together to Bear Valley."

"Oh…" Derek frowned, slumping in his seat, taking a swig of his juice.

Stiles glanced up. "I mean, it sounded fun back then… but now… it sounds kinda lame…"

Derek slowly sat back up.

"I can just skip it. The snow is cold anyway. Oh, but the concert…"

"Concert?"

"Yeah, Scott and I got these tickets to some concert he was so stoked about… but now I can't even remember who we were going to see." Stiles shrugged. "I guess I could just give my ticket to Isaac… I'm sure he wouldn't mind going with Scott."

Derek studied Stiles. If he just listened to what he was saying, it seemed like Stiles really had no problem skipping the trip. But the tone of his voice and his body language and the way his eyes were now trained on the cookie dough he continued to set down said otherwise. As much as he wanted Stiles to stay, he didn't want him to miss out on a trip he really wanted to go on.

Derek frowned. 'This is going to put a hitch in my plans…' But he conceded, picking up the towel once more to meticulously clean off his hands. "I don't know," he said slowly. "It sounds like it could be fun to me."

"Yeah?" Stiles asked, looking back up.

"Definitely. I think you should go. Stock up on fun so that I don't feel bad when I go on vacation with Peter."

"Oh? You're going somewhere with Peter?"

Derek nodded. "Yeah, every year during winter and summer break, Peter kidnaps me and takes me somewhere. I think he was planning on Fiji or Tahiti this year," he shrugged nonchalantly. "So, yeah. You should definitely go." He finally looked Stiles in the eye, setting down the towel, smiling encouragingly at him.

Slowly, Stiles began to nod. "O…okay. It won't be too bad. It's just a few days." He brightened. "Hey, maybe if wanted, you could come too! I mean, the house we rented is small, but maybe we could squeeze you in somewhere or maybe you could stay at a hotel if you really wanted, but you could come up with us."

Derek did want that. But he didn't want to intrude on their trip. He shook his head. "It's okay. Have fun with your friends."

"Just think about it, okay?"

He sighed. "I will think about it."

Stiles smiled. "Good. And now," he placed one last bit of dough on the sheet before picking the whole pan up. "Just throw these in the oven and in 20 minutes of low and slow, Danny's cookies will be complete." Stiles placed the sheet on the rack and shut the oven before placing his hands on his hips and frowning.

"What?" Derek asked.

"I'm just… surprised is all."

"With what?"

"Well my dad always told me that one's incident, two's coincidence, and three's a pattern."

"Stiles, what are you talking about?"

"Your shirt. It didn't get messy this time. And whenever you and I have been in a kitchen together, your shirt got messy," he smirked mischievously before scooping some leftover dough into his hand.

Derek's eyes narrowed. "What are you doing." It wasn't a question. He could figure out by the evil little grin the boy was donning where this was going. He just couldn't believe it was going there.

"Derek, we don't want to break the pattern. It could disrupt the space-time continuum," he said, matter-of-factly.

"I don't think it works that way," Derek frowned, slowly getting to his feet.

"Well, I don't think we want to chance it, do we Mr. Hale?" Stiles to a step forward, forcing Derek to take an abrupt step back, knocking over the stool he'd been sitting on.

"Stiles, stop it," Derek growled, hand up as if to stop the boy from coming any closer. "You know,you got messy too," he tried, reaching over the counter to grab his half-empty glass of juice. "I think the continuum would be just fine if you got messy instead," he said, voice filled with warning.

"That was a fluke," Stiles rationalized, taking a small step back of his own.

Derek smirked. "Let's test your theory then, eh?" And with that, Derek leapt for Stiles, trying to wrap his arm around the boy's waist, but Stiles was fast, easily slipping away.

"Derek, I was joking!"

He snorted. "Yeah right. Stiles, I know you."

"Okay, fine," Stiles said, holding up his hand free of cookie dough. "But you're right. If the universe wanted you to get messy, you'd be messy."

Derek relaxed some, bringing the glass back down. "Good."

"Yes. Good."

And in a flash, the mischievous grin was back as Stiles threw the dough in his hands in Derek's direction. With lightning-fast reflexes, Derek ducked, looking over his shoulder at where the mess had landed before looking back at the laughing boy.

"Stiles!"

He ran after the boy, doing his best not to spill the juice still in his hands. They circled the couch, Stiles' shirt always just a few centimeters from Derek's grasp.

"Derek, don't spill that!" he called over his shoulder. "It'll look like a pee stain on our carpet!"

"You brought this on yourself."

Stiles tried to duck into the hall where his room was, but Derek blocked the way. Slipping out of his grasp yet again, Stiles made his way towards the living room, but when Derek blocked him yet again, he found himself cornered in the kitchen.

"Okay, okay," he panted. "Look, I missed-"

Derek wasn't having any of it. Stiles was not going to talk his way out of this one. Derek rushed up to the boy, finally getting an arm around him so he wouldn't get away.

"No, no, n-"

In sweet, sweet revenge, Derek poured the glass of juice down the front of Stiles' shirt, smirking in triumph when the glass had been emptied. Stiles gasped as the cold liquid traveled down his skin. He glanced down at his ruined shirt before looking back up at Derek, a scandalized expression on his face.

"You know," Derek shrugged, "you always have that pink shirt you can change into."

Stiles frowned, exhaling heavily through his nose. And in a flash, he brought his hand up, still caked in a bit of the cookie dough, and smeared it all across the side of Derek's face.

Derek gasped in surprise, eyes going wide as he felt the little pricks of the pistachio bits graze his skin. His eyes darted over to the open bag of flour still on the counter. He snatched it.

"Wait, no-" Stiles tried, putting his hands back up to shield himself from Derek, but it was no good. Derek took a handful of the white powder and tossed it in Stiles' direction. The boy looked down at his shirt, sticky from the juice and now caked with flour.

Derek saw the way Stiles' eyes darted towards the eggs. "Stiles, don't," he warned. Stiles made a move for it, but Derek tackled him down. He was wrestling with the struggling boy, trying to pin him down, but Stiles managed to sit up and grab the egg he was looking for. He smashed it against Derek's chest, laughing as he spread the gooey mess across the now ruined shirt. The space-time continuum was safe.

Derek wrestled some more until he was straddling the boy. He reached up for an egg of his own to smash against Stiles' head. The moment of distraction was enough for Stiles to grab the bag of flour from his hand, grabbing a handful to toss on Derek as the egg was smeared over his hair. The two of them both reached into the bag of flour tossing handfuls at one another, laughing like children in their moment of immaturity. Derek managed to wrangle the bag away from Stiles, dumping the last remnants of flour onto the boy under him. Stiles sputtered, trying his best to wipe his mouth with messy hands. Derek just laughed. Stiles looked ridiculous, although he was sure he didn't fair very well either.

"Are we interrupting something?"

Both boys darted their heads in the direction of the voice. They were surprised to see both Scott and Isaac leaning over the counter looking at them in utter amusement.

"If you guys are done with the foreplay," Scott grinned, "Stiles, we're supposed to be practicing for the benefit. If you remember."

"Oh, right," Stiles blinked, trying to sit up as best he could with Derek still in his lap.

"Really, Derek? 'I'm Just A Love Machine'?" Isaac read the shirt.

"It's-uh, it's Stiles' shirt," he tried lamely, scrambling to stand up. He held a hand out to the boy, helping Stiles to his feet. He shook his head, trying his best to shake off the excess flour Stiles had tossed on him. Stiles mirrored the action as a cloud of white powder floated to the messy kitchen floor. Derek spared a glance at Stiles and couldn't help but snicker. "You've got egg shell…" he fought the smile daring to emerge as he picked off shell bits from Stiles' hair.

"There's some pistachio on your…" Stiles smiled in return, doing his best to wipe the mess still on Derek's cheek.

They couldn't hold it in any longer. They burst into laughter, dying of amusement from taking in each other's appearance and remembering the ridiculousness that made it so.

"Should we just reschedule for a later time?" Scott said, smugly.

"No, no. It's fine," Stiles breathed. "Oh, but the cookies." He turned to messy partner in crime. "Derek, do you think you could drop off the cookies for me? Pleaaaaase?"

Derek pretended to contemplate the matter. Of course he'd drop them off if Stiles asked him to. There was very little he wouldn't do for him. But he could still pretend that he didn't bow to his every whim.

"I'll make you some lemon Jello?" Stiles added, trying to win him over.

Derek cocked an eyebrow at that, intrigued.

"I'll even make them look cool. Like they're actual lemon wedges, but they're not cause they're really Jello."

"You can do that?"

"For you, Sourwolf, I can do anything."

Derek furrowed his brows. "Is that another movie reference I don't get?"

Stiles just snickered before taking Derek by the shoulders once more and leading him towards the bathroom. He looked to Scott and Isaac. "Clean this up, will ya?" he smirked, waving his finger over the mess on the kitchen floor.

Scott scoffed, frowning at his friend. "What? You guys made the mess. Why don't you clean it?"

"Cause I'm making you both dinner," Stiles retorted, ending the argument.

They entered the bathroom, Stiles tossing a towel to Derek so he could clean up his arms and his face. Stiles on the other hand stepped into the shower and began brushing himself off. "You wanna stay?" he asked, wiping down his jeans. "It's spaghetti night."

'Tempting…' Derek thought. "Ah, no thanks," he said, wetting the towel. "There's something I need to take care of… some research I need to do."

"Research?" Stiles frowned, pausing. "School's out, Derek. What more research do you need to do?"

"It's-uh, personal research. Boring, really," he lied.

"Well, all right," he shrugged, grabbing his shower curtain and pulling it closed.

Derek froze, towel pressed firmly against his cheek. He heard some rustling before the shirt Stiles had been wearing tumbled over the curtain rod. Derek just stared at it through its reflection in the mirror.

"Stiles… what are you doing?"

"Isn't it obvious?" he said, dully. Soon, a pair of jeans came tumbling over, meeting the shirt on the bathroom floor, followed by two socks.

Derek's eyes widened, realizing that just behind the shower curtain was Stiles, wearing nothing but his boxers. Or briefs. Or maybe neither… he could be going commando. The thought made Derek's pulse race.

It was quiet for a moment. Then, "Do you wanna join me?"

Derek thought he might faint right there, a layer of cookie dough on his cheek and flour still stuck to his arms.

But then he heard some snickering coming from behind the curtain, and it was clear that Stiles was just messing with him. "Ha ha," he replied, dryly. Derek scowled at the closed curtain and quickly finished cleaning up. He pulled his shirt up over his head before tossing it to the dirty pile next to the tub.

"Suit yourself," Stiles said, tossing his boxers over before starting the tap.

For a second, Derek just stared at the garment. The garment that had been no more than ten seconds ago pressed against Stiles in the most intimate way. He was having a difficult time keeping himself from stealing the garment for himself. Hearing Stiles snickering some more snapped Derek out of his reverie. He scowled at the curtain again. As he turned to make his way out and into Stiles' room for his clean shirt, Derek thought it would be okay to exact some revenge for the torment Stiles was inducing. He grabbed all the towels in the room, tucking them under his arm, pushed down on the plunger of the toilet, and scurried out of the room, closing the door behind him just as Stiles cried out from the suddenly cold shower spray. He smirked. Vengeance was sweet.

Both Scott and Isaac looked to him from where they were in the kitchen, startled by Stiles' cry. Derek composed himself, wiping the smile off his face and just shrugged. He opened his mouth to say something, to maybe explain why he was shirtless and had a bunch of towels in his arms, but nothing he could think of seemed like it would be relevant considering the sly smiles the two were exchanging with one another. Instead, Derek just cleared his throat and made his way into Stiles' room, tossing the towels onto the boy's bed and slipping his shirt back over his head. He rejoined the two in the kitchen, helping them clean up the mess he had made.

Just as they had finished up, they heard Stiles yell from the bathroom once more. "Damn it, Derek! Where'd you put the towels?"

He couldn't help the chuckles escaping his lips. He also couldn't help the hitch in his breathing when Stiles slipped out the door, wet and very much nude, covering himself poorly with the dirty clothes he had stripped out of, scowling the whole way. He scampered to his room, quickly shutting the door behind him.

"Easy, tiger," Isaac snorted, bringing a hand to Derek's chin, closing his mouth for him.

Derek swatted the hand away, glaring at the blonde.

"Derek, if you take the cookies out of the oven now, I'll consider forgiving you!"

Again, Derek chuckled, but did as he was asked.

Once Stiles was fully clothed, comfortable in his nice pink shirt, he gave Derek directions to the apartment where Danny lived with Jackson, after complaining about how he knew he had made 24 cookies but there were three mysteriously missing. Isaac, Scott and Derek all had no idea what could've happened.

With cookies cooled, Derek bid them farewell and went off to deliver them. Danny thanked him, and also asked him to thank his boyfriend for baking them. Derek opened his mouth to retort, but sighed, uttering a simple "I will."

When Derek got home, a box of fried rice and walnut shrimp in his hands, he took the time to do that personal research he had mentioned. He tried to recall all his interactions with Stiles in the short time they had spent together today, making a log in his laptop.

This was how he was going to figure this out. With meticulous notes and attention to detail, Derek was going to study Stiles' behavior to determine whether or not he was interested. He was sure that with enough data, he'd solve the mystery once and for all.

/\/\/\

Day One: Stiles and I baked cookies together. It should be noted that the cookies weren't for me, but for a friend of his.

Also note: He was comfortable enough to reach into my jeans to pull out my phone. However, this just might be a sign of Stiles' lack of personal space. More data is needed.

/\/\/\

Day Two: I met Stiles at the coffee shop this morning. He brought the Jello he had promised me. Note: he spiked them with vodka. This could be seen as an attempt to get me drunk, but could also be seen as retaliation for stealing his towels. More data is needed.

/\/\/\

Day Three: Stiles and I went grocery shopping this afternoon. He kept returning all my Hot Pockets and replacing them with some leafy stuff. This could be interpreted as concern for my well being, although I should note he does the same for his roommate and father. Therefore, perhaps I'm more like a brother-figure to him, just like Scott is, rather than a potential suitor. I must make more comparisons between his treatment of Scott and myself.

/\/\/\

Day Four: Stiles purchased a Lego set for he and I to build together. This can be interpreted as a metaphor. We can build a life together. But it can also just mean he wanted to play. More data is needed.

/\/\/\

Day Five: Stiles came over after his shift to finally show me the movie in which Allison referenced my costume. Despite the historical inaccuracies, it was entertaining. However, it seems Stiles favored the redheaded Stelios more than he did the king.

Does he have a thing for redheads?

Note: Dying my hair is not an option.

…Unless it's a deal breaker.

More data is needed.

/\/\/\

Derek thought he was doing pretty well with his research. It kept him pretty occupied in the evenings, so much so that he was nearly started when his phone started ringing unexpectedly. He glanced over, frowning at the unknown number. Considering his previous experience with these unknown numbers and the persistence of their owners, Derek just reached for his phone and answered it.

"Hello?" he sighed.

"He answered. Okay. What? Look, if you already know what to say why did you make me call him? Forget. Do it yourself."

He heard a thump, followed by "Damn it, Jackson! You're such an asshole! Hello?"

Derek eyed his phone. "Danny?"

"Oh good, you didn't hang up. Hey Derek."

"Hey… what's up?"

"Well, I don't know if you know, but the gang and I are all going on this trip to Bear Valley tomorrow."

'That's tomorrow? Already?' Derek frowned. "Yeah… Stiles mentioned it."

"Oh he did? Okay good. Well here's the thing. Our douchebag, deadbeat friend Greenberg decided to flake on us last minute. I mean, I swear, who cancels the day before the trip? No wonder Finstock always yelled at him," Danny rambled. "But there were also those rumors that they had a thing going on too…"

"Danny. Where are you going with this?"

"Yeah, sorry. Well, as it turns out, that means we have a spot open and we're down 200 bucks for the rental. And while I'm sure we could all just throw our money together to make up for it, I thought maybe you'd like to come along in his place."

'Yes. Say yes. Say yes, damn it!' Derek growled to himself. But part of him was apprehensive. "Did Stiles put you up to this?"

"Hm?" Danny sounded confused. "No. Greenberg literally just called me and Jackson ten minutes ago. I swear, who does that? He probably just wants to skip out so he can spend the weekend with his secret lover. Anyway, you were the first one we thought of to bring along."

Again, Derek was screaming at himself to agree. But he still had to know. "What about the others? You sure they wouldn't mind?"

Danny chuckled. "No way. Trust me, you're a big step up from Greenberg, anyway. He tends to get on Lydia's nerves and you know that's never good. And because he's not coming that means we don't have to deal with his flatulence either. Biiiiiig step up. We'd love to have you along. You snowboard, don't you?"

"Actually, I don't…"

"Well, then here's the perfect opportunity for you to learn. Unless you already have plans for the next four days."

"Uh, no. Nothing…" 'Nothing except twiddling my thumbs waiting for Stiles to come home.'

"See? Perfect. So are you in?"

Derek slowly nodded, finally allowing himself to agree, but then realized he was on the phone. "Yeah, sure. I'll go."

"Good. We're meeting at the train station at seven-thirty tomorrow morning. We're staying for three nights, returning here on Monday. Pack for the cold. Oh and you should pack a bathing suit too."

"A bathing suit?"

"Yeah, they have a Jacuzzi and a heated pool. It could be fun. Or an insanely stupid idea. We'll see. Also, keep in mind, there's only three bathrooms and Allison and Lydia spend a ridiculous amount of time on their hair and considering the effort you put into your hair-"

"I don't-"

"Derek, please. Don't insult me. Just keep in mind, you'll probably end up sharing the bathroom with at least two other people, probably three if the girls take too long, so all hair care should be kept to a minimum, got it?"

Derek closed his eyes and exhaled. "Yeah, got it."

"Good. See you tomorrow, Derek. Oh, and don't tell Stiles. Jackson thought it might be funny to see his reaction when you show up instead of Greenburg and even though he's a dick most of the time, he's still my best friend. So yeah. Mum's the word."

"All right. See ya, Danny."

Derek had to take a second to stare at his blank phone, trying to figure out if this really happened. He tapped his phone, looking at the recent calls, and sure enough, there was that unknown number – probably Jackson's, now that he thought about it.

'I'm going on vacation with Stiles and his friends…' Derek let that sink in for a moment before looking back at his laptop at the entry he had been working on.

/\/\/\

Day Five: continued.

Also note: His friends just invited me to go on a trip with them. This could mean they accept me into their group as a potential partner for Stiles. Furthermore, nearly all of them have referred to Stiles as my 'boyfriend,' his father included. However, this could simply be a running joke amongst them. More data is needed.

/\/\/\

Derek saved his notes, before shutting down his laptop. He had some packing to do.

Chapter Text

Derek arrived promptly at 7:30 the next morning with a large duffle bag in tow. He had to take a moment while brushing his teeth that morning to really realize what had happened, in a broader sense.

'I just agreed to go on a vacation with Stiles and his friends the day before the trip. And it wasn't even a full day. It was at night. And beyond that, I have no idea what we'll be doing there once we arrive. I don't know what sort of sleeping arrangements will be made; I don't know what sort of restaurants are in the area. It's all very… spontaneous.'

Typically, in a scenario such as this, Derek would be annoyed without a set plan or a list of activities he pre-approved. He liked going places knowing what he could do during his time there. And sure, Peter's previous kidnappings were sudden and unplanned, but his uncle knew him and Derek knew that once the blindfold was off, an itinerary would be dumped into his lap for review.

And sure, maybe Stiles' friends had an itinerary planned out, but Derek didn't know that. For all he knew, they were just going to arrive and it would be a free-for-all after that. And normally, Derek would wince at the idea because he always found it best to make the most out of his time when travelling, wanting to get the most out of his trip by seeing the most or doing the most. Anything less would feel like a waste of time.

But, oddly enough, he wasn't worried this time. He was surprisingly calm. If anything, he might even be a little excited about what might happen on this trip. He was actually eager about the unknown. All he knew was that if he were with Stiles, everything would be all right. As long as he had Stiles by his side, then he was already making the most out of this impromptu vacation.

So it was with keen anticipation that Derek arrived at the train station. He spotted Danny, Jackson, Lydia and Allison sitting together, chatting amongst themselves at a table while waiting for the others to arrive.

"Hey, Derek!" Allison smiled, waving him over.

"Oh good! You're right on time," Danny smiled.

"Yeah, hey," Derek nodded in greeting to all of them.

"Derek, can I just say, it's such a relief that you're coming instead of Greenberg," Lydia said. "If I had to listen to one more fart joke, I swear, I might throw the guy in a barrel of hydrofluoric acid. I don't even know why you guys are still friends with him."

"We've been friends with him since high school," Jackson shrugged. "But I'm a little relieved also. That guy thinks he's staring at you discreetly, but I always catch him drooling whenever you walk by. Not cool." He threw his arm around Lydia's shoulders, possessively.

"Here, put your stuff down," Danny offered. "Let's go buy your ticket."

Derek did just that, setting his stuff down before following Danny to the vendor. He let the boy do all the talking and just handed over his credit card when asked. On their way back to the table, both Jackson and Lydia had mischievous smirks on their faces while Allison was just shaking her head in amusement.

"What?" Danny asked.

"Well, we all know Stiles is gonna flip when he sees Derek here," Jackson stated, nodding in the older boy's direction. "But we figure it'd be more of a surprise if he doesn't realize you're coming along until we're actually there."

"Wait, what?" Derek frowned.

"Think about it," Lydia smiled, slyly, getting up to wrap her arm around Derek's. He had half a mind to yank his arm away, but the other half told him that would be rude. Plus, she's close with Stiles. It would not be a good idea to upset her. "When Stiles sees you here, he'll probably just think you're here to bid him farewell or possibly that you're going somewhere else until he finds out you're coming with us, but by then, it won't be as exciting. But if he sees you there he'll be so excited that he'll most likely leap into your arms and you'll have snuggle-time in the snow."

'Snuggle-time in the snow…' he repeated to himself. He liked the idea of that. Stiles would likely be excited either way, but Lydia did have a point. It was possible that Stiles would be more excited if he showed up in Bear Valley. But then that would mean he'd have to go the whole seven hour train-ride without him. 'But…' Derek thought. 'It would allow me to watch him with his friends from afar… and since I do need more data on how he acts when I'm not around, this could be the chance I need to research just that.'

"I can see your brain's ticking," Lydia commented after Derek just stood there not saying a word. "Trust me. I know Stiles. He'll enjoy this much better if he sees you there."

"And also, he does this funny grin and frown thing whenever we mention you and you're not here but he wants you to be, so it'll be a blast to torment him in that way the whole trip," Jackson smirked.

While Derek was intrigued by this, he also didn't like the idea of Jackson tormenting Stiles.

As if reading his mind, Lydia quickly jumped in. "Oh, but it's not really tormenting him, especially if we're just building him up to his surprise."

Derek sighed. In his gut, he knew that this whole scheme was just ridiculous and he just wanted to forget about it so he could sit with Stiles and possibly snooze on his shoulder like they did last time. 'But this could win me brownie points with his friends… and the data. I definitely need the data.' He glanced over at Allison. She was a rational girl who seemed soft-hearted enough. "What do you think?"

Allison seemed a bit surprised that Derek was asking her opinion. But she smiled. "Well… to be honest, I think he'd really get a kick out of seeing you there. Like Lydia said, if he sees you here he'll be happy for sure, but if he sees you there, realizing right off the bat that you're there in the same place as him for vacation, I think he'll be really ecstatic and overjoyed."

Derek nodded slowly, taking her words into consideration. "All right, fine," he agreed. "So what do you want me to do? Hide at the back of the car?"

"At the back of- no, no, no," Lydia frowned. "He could see you there, obviously. Your jacket is a dead giveaway." She shook her head as Derek looked at his jacket, wondering what was wrong with it. "No. Okay. You'll have to sit in a different car."

Derek didn't like this. That would ruin his chances of spying on them. He didn't even get a chance to argue as Lydia began pulling him towards the train. "Wait, can't I-"

"They're gonna show up any moment now. You don't want to ruin the surprise, do you?"

"No, but-"

"Just sit here. We'll be in next car over. You brought a book or something, right?"

"Well, yeah-"

"Good," she smiled up at Derek, picking invisible lint from his jacket. "This'll be great. It really is sweet how much you care about him. I'm rooting for you."

He didn't exactly know how to respond to that. He found he didn't have to as she made her way back off the train. Derek sighed, resigning himself to a lonely and boring seven hour train-ride. Hopefully, it would be worth it. He pictured the look of surprise on Stiles' face once he revealed himself. He wondered what he'd do then. 'Will he jump up and down in excitement? Maybe run over to me with arms wide open? Hug me? Kiss me?' Oh, the possibilities were endless. Derek tried to calm himself down, stowing away his belongings after pulling out some reading material. Until then, he'd have to wait it out. He sighed. "Just seven hours. No problem."

/\/\/\

Seven hours was a problem.

It had only been one and Derek was already bored. He found he couldn't concentrate on his reading, finding himself distracted by the boy in the other car. He hadn't even seen Stiles yet so all the different scenarios that could happen once they arrived kept replaying with him in different outfits. 'What if Stiles is wearing that blue shirt with the shark? What if he's wearing that red hoodie? What if he's wearing a French maid outfit?' Okay, so that last one was a bit of a stretch, but it was Derek's mind the scenarios were playing out in. He even managed to picture Stiles in one scenario wearing nothing whilst covering himself in batter-soiled clothing. He was sure if that were actually the case, the boy would be sent to prison for indecent exposure of too much sexiness. So lost in his thoughts, he didn't notice anyone coming up to him until they were seated right across from him.

Derek blinked. "Hey Isaac."

Isaac nodded in greeting. "Hey Derek. Danny told me what was happening. Thought I'd give you some company for a bit."

"Oh. Thanks. But… won't they notice?"

The boy shrugged. "Maybe. But Scott and Stiles are the only ones who don't know – since Scott can't keep a secret from Stiles – and they're busy playing red-hands so who knows how long they'll be distracted before they just start hitting each other."

Isaac helped Derek keep his mind out of the gutter for a while, providing him with actual conversation. It couldn't have been more than half an hour before Danny was making his way back there too, snacking on some brownie bites.

"Jackson is snoring and Allison and Lydia are going over the itinerary," he explained, taking a seat next to the blonde. "And Scott and Stiles are still at it. Like, I can't believe how intense they are about it."

"Wait, still?" Isaac gaped.

"Mm-hmm," he nodded, kicking his legs up to rest them on the seat next to Derek.

Derek's eyes narrowed in on the bag in the boy's hand. "What is that?"

"Hm? This? Stiles made us snacks for the ride."

"He made snacks?" Derek abruptly stood, rushing over to the door that would lead to the other car, but he soon found two sets of arms pulling him back. "No," Derek snarled over his shoulder. "He made snacks. That's not fair! I didn't agree to this!"

"Derek relax," Isaac tried, struggling to maneuver the older boy back into his seat. "I can go get you some if you want it so badly."

Derek just gave him a look as if to say he should know how badly he wanted it. Isaac just rolled his eyes and made his way back into the other car. In the mean time, Derek stole one of Danny's bites.

"So what is the itinerary?" he asked around his mouthful. Apparently, old habits died hard. He really did like knowing ahead of time what he had to look forward to.

Danny kicked his legs back up. "Well, tomorrow morning we're heading out to the slopes bright and early. I heard Lydia and Allison talking about some ice sculpture exhibit they wanted to see, but I'm not sure if they're going or not. We're planning to find an ice rink later that day while Scott and Stiles are out at the concert, too. Then Sunday, we're going back to the slopes. Isaac and I wanted to grab some snowmobiles and take a trail around the lake. Oh and of course, when we arrive, we're splitting up into teams, building forts and having a war. Lydia's idea. Hope you have extra layers to throw on once we get there."

Derek nodded, taking it all in. While it wasn't as meticulously plotted out as he had hoped, all of it did sound like it would make for a fun and busy weekend. Isaac was making his way back to them, tossing a bag of brownies into Derek's lap before taking his seat. They all talked some more before Isaac went back to the others, but soon Jackson was taking up his vacated spot.

"The girls are getting violent. And Lydia and Allison are talking about boots," he scoffed. He angled himself in his seat so that his feet were up next to Danny's.

Danny shook his head. "First of all, you have a little drool going on right there," he pointed at the corner of Jackson's mouth. The boy frowned and swiped at it. "Second of all, that's offensive. And third, remember when we played Spoons? They wrestled for almost twenty minutes trying to grab that last spoon from each other."

"By the way, Derek, you should be careful when you do anything with those two. They play dirty."

"You're just bitter about the time they were trading cards under the table when we were playing Uno. It was your fault that you had to get all cocky and throw money into the mix."

"I would've won it had they played fairly!"

Derek shook his head, amused as he bit into another piece of brownie. After a while, and after the bag had been emptied of chocolaty treats, Derek found himself sitting with Allison. She sent the other two back before handing Derek another bag. This time it was filled with coconut macaroons.

"Isaac thought I should bring you these," she smiled.

"Smart guy," Derek smirked, tearing open the bag.

"You should ease up. We're gonna be stopping soon. And it's an hour before our connecting train comes."

He took this into consideration before popping one in his mouth and saving the rest for later. She provided some conversation, although some of her views were just wrong to Derek.

"How can you say that? A person is nothing if they can't fight with their own two hands," Derek scoffed.

"Humans are separate from animals because of their use of tools. And the bow and arrow is the greatest tool in their arsenal. Not only can they stab someone with the arrows, they can attack an enemy from much safer a distance than bare hands can."

"The bow and arrow is for sneaky people who like to hide in the shadows."

Allison gasped. "It's for cunning people who know how to use strategy as opposed to brute force."

"I prefer a Molotov. It makes a bigger boom."

Both Derek and Allison looked to the side to see that Lydia had joined them.

"I can make them, you know. It's not that hard."

Derek stared at the girl filing down her nails, finding himself both intrigued but seriously afraid of her. Allison just laughed at her best friend.

Before he knew it, four hours had already passed on this train ride and surprisingly, all of Stiles' friends had come to join him in the back car, with the exception of Scott. It made Derek feel less ostracized when it came time for them to switch trains. It wasn't because they didn't want him there. It was purely for the sake of this surprise. And while Derek still found it a little silly, and found he'd much rather just sit with Stiles, he figured he'd gotten this far. He might as well see it through. So when he wandered into a restaurant for lunch by himself, he reminded himself it was just a few more hours until they arrived. He felt himself anticipating seeing Stiles' reaction the closer and closer they came.

Derek placed his order and took a sip of his water when he heard a group of familiar voices just behind him.

'What? No! They came here too?' Derek peeked over his shoulder and sure enough, the group of friends was being seated at a table not too far from where Derek was. The whole surprise would be ruined if Stiles saw him sitting there. Luckily, Stiles had been seated with his back to Derek. He breathed a sigh of relief. There was still a chance of this working out. He smirked, seeing him in the familiar red hoodie. He was growing quite attached to it himself.

"Is someone gonna share the nachos with me if I order some?"

Derek recognized the voice as Scott's. Then he realized this would be the perfect opportunity to listen in on their conversations, to see how Stiles really was around the rest of them. He readied himself mentally to take down some notes on the matter.

Stiles really was pretty carefree. He often stole food from his friends' plates and even dunked his straw into Isaac's drink to have a taste. And when Jackson casually mentioned Derek to him, Derek couldn't see his face but did notice how he sat up only to slump back down. He could just imagine the kind of expressions associated with the act. Other than that, the only thing that seemed different was how often the boy checked his phone. Every ten minutes or so, Stiles would pull his phone out of his pocket only to stuff it back in a second or two later after glancing at its screen. It made Derek want to subconsciously check his own.

After finishing his meal, Derek slipped away into the bathroom, making sure he took the long way around to avoid the table of friends. He washed his hands and was making his way back out the door when he saw Stiles heading his way.

'Shit!' Derek quickly jumped back into the room, ducking inside a stall to hide from him.

He heard the door open. Peeking through the crack between the stall door, he saw Stiles stand in front of the sink and check his phone once more before letting out a sigh. 'Is he expecting a call or something? Why does he keep checking it?' It was then that Derek realized that he hadn't even called or texted this morning. Had he not been invited last minute, he certainly would have at least bid the boy a farewell, wishing him nothing but fun on the trip. 'Is he… is he checking to see if he got a message from me?'

Stiles brought his phone up to his ear, and Derek realized he was calling someone. He found out just who that someone was when the phone in his own pocket began to ring loudly in the little stall.

"Shit!" he hissed out under his breath, reaching into his pocket to silence the thing before peeking back out to see if Stiles had been alarmed. The boy had merely looked over his shoulder, a curious expression on his face. Despite himself and the brief panic attack he just had, Derek felt his lips curve up slightly, just seeing the boy in profile.

Stiles frowned, brining his phone back down. He began typing away and before Derek could get a chance to turn off the sound completely on his phone, it chimed once more, alerting him to the text received from The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D. Again, Derek held his breath, hoping Stiles didn't think anything of it.

The boy looked over his shoulder again, brows furrowed. He slipped his phone back into his pocket before walking out of Derek's sight. He heard one of the stall doors open and close. Derek let out the breath he had been holding. Slowly, he unlocked the door and was ready to slip out.

"Derek?"

Derek literally jumped, slamming himself back against the wall. He looked up where the voice had come from, his surprised expression matching the one looking back down at him.

"Stiles, what the hell? You can't do that! What if I was some stranger trying to do his business in peace?"

The boy was unfazed. He was grinning, scrambling to climb over the stall wall. He had his arms outstretched to Derek, meaning for him to catch him. Derek helped Stiles over, soon finding himself engulfed in a warm embrace. Derek breathed another sigh of relief. It felt good to be held by Stiles. It felt even better having him in his arms.

"You're here! You're here! What are you doing here?" He was bouncing with excitement, nuzzling the side of Derek's face.

Derek cast a glance at the toilet.

"No, I don't mean in this stall," he groaned. "I mean, here!"

"Um… surprise?"

Stiles took a step back, but not fully out of Derek's arms, which the older boy was certainly content with, keeping his hands firmly planted on the slim waist. Stiles fixed him with a confused expression. "What do you mean 'surprise'?"

Derek sighed. "Danny called me last night and asked if I wanted to come with you guys on the trip since your friend Greenberg couldn't make it. It was Jackson and Lydia's idea to keep it a secret from you. They wanted it to be a surprise, I guess."

Stiles was bouncing again as he leapt back into Derek's arms, pulling him into another hug. "This is great! You're here and we're gonna have the best time and drink hot cocoa and snowboard and ice skate and catch snowflakes on our tongues and everything!"

Derek smiled at his friend's excitement. Although the location wasn't exactly ideal, he was glad he went with the surprise if it meant getting to hold Stiles this closely and this tightly.

Stiles finally took another step back, his grin still as wide as ever. "I'm glad you came."

Derek nodded. "Me too." He let out another sigh before stepping outside of the tiny stall. "I'm also glad that you found out so I can stop hiding in the back of the train."

"Is that where everyone kept going? I thought that was weird. I figured maybe they were handing out free shrimp cocktails or something."

He chuckled, taking Stiles' hand in his to lead them back to their tables. "Well now I get to sit with you for the rest of the trip."

"What? No. No, no, no," Stiles gasped out, pulling Derek back through their joined hands.

Derek frowned. "What do you mean 'no'?"

"Jackson and Lydia went through all this trouble trying to fool me. I need to get them backsomehow."

Derek shook his head. "No. I wanna sit with you." He didn't pout. He absolutely did not pout. His bottom lip jutted out on its own, thank you very much. "You made snacks."

Stiles chuckled. "I promise, you can have all the snacks you want if you let me do this."

He cocked an eyebrow. "Do what exactly?

"Just go with it. It'll be great and it'll teach them for trying to mess with me."

Derek sighed. "All the snacks I want?"

"All of them."

"Fine."

"Yes! You're amazing!" Stiles cheered, moving in to plant a tiny kiss on Derek's cheek. "This is gonna be the best vacation ever!" He released Derek's hand, smiling at him once more before leaving the bathroom to rejoin his friends.

Derek was stunned, moving the hand that was just holding Stiles' up to his cheek. Slowly, a grin began to form across his face. Surprising Stiles was so worth it. Not only did he get all the snacks he wanted, he got a hug and a kiss as well. Quite frankly, he should think about surprising Stiles more often if this is what he got out of it.

Derek slipped back to his table to pay his bill before making his way back to the connecting train. He took a seat in the back car again, settling himself in for the next two hours. Soon enough the train started up again, leaving Derek to wonder just what Stiles had planned. He didn't have to wonder long when Lydia came rushing over to him.

"He's getting worried! He's convinced you're not answering your phone cause you're out with some woman. You need to call him. Text him or something. He looks so depressed!"

Derek gaped at the girl. 'So this was his plan…' Just then, he heard his phone ring in his pocket.

"Is that him?" Derek glanced at his cell and nodded. "Well, answer it," she ordered.

Derek tapped his phone. "Uh, hey Stiles."

"Oh good! Derek! You answered! I was getting worried. Thought maybe something happened to you."

"Uh, nope. I'm fine. Everything's… fine."

"Are you alone?"

"Um…" he glanced at Lydia. "Not… exactly."

"So you are with another woman!"

He said it so loud that the girl could hear it herself through the receiver. Her eyes went wide and she shook her head, signaling to Derek he should say no.

"Uh- no. I'm not with anyone. I meant… I was gonna go… to the dentist? Yeah? I'm in the waiting room and there are people here so technically I'm… not alone." He mentally berated himself. He couldn't exactly think of something clever, not with the way Lydia was scrutinizing him.

He heard Stiles laugh on the other end of the line. "Well, that's good to know. I guess all those treats are giving you cavities."

This time Derek had to chuckle. "I'll have you know, I take good care of my teeth because of all those treats you feed me."

Stiles was quiet over the line for a second. Then, "I miss you."

Derek felt himself warm all over, a smile overcoming him. "I miss you, too."

"I'll let you go now. Can't keep those pesky cavities waiting."

Again, Derek glanced at Lydia. "Guess not."

"Bye Derek!"

"Bye Stiles. Have fun on your trip."

"It's better already."

Derek was grinning when the connection ended. He reeled it back in as Lydia studied him carefully.

"The dentist? Really?"

Derek just shrugged. "He seemed to buy it."

She studied him some more through narrowed eyes before she let out a gasp. "He knows!"

Derek blinked. "What?"

"He knows! Of course he knows. It was so weird that he suddenly got so upset. I mean, sure, he wasn't exactly chipper this morning whenever we mentioned you, but it just got so bad when we got back on the train. When did he find out? Did you tell him? I bet it was when he went to the bathroom. Did he call you then, you sneaky-"

"I didn't tell him," Derek frowned. "Not technically anyway. I was at the restaurant when you all decided to go to the same one. I went to the bathroom, he called me and heard my phone go off."

"Ugh," she groaned. "Not only is the surprised ruined, we didn't even get to see his reaction. You know, watching you two is almost as fluffy as a Korean drama."

"You mean without the need for subtitles?"

"Subtitles?" she scoffed with a wave of her hand. "I learned Korean with my downtime back in junior high."

Derek just blinked again. This girl was seriously fascinating.

"Anyway, now that the surprise is ruined and since it's partly your fault, you're gonna stay here while I play with him some more."

"Wait, what?"

"Well, he knows that you're here, but he doesn't know that I know that he knows. It's time for a little payback." And with a flip of her hair, she made her way back to the other car.

Derek rolled his eyes and slumped back into his seat. 'All I wanted was to enjoy a nice little trip with my friend.'

It wasn't long after that Stiles came through the door, running over to Derek. "They think I'm in the bathroom so I have to make this quick," he breathed out, not stopping to sit. "Did you really go out with some brunette three weeks ago? Lydia swore she saw you when she and Jackson went out to the movies. I mean-" he flushed. "Not that it's really a big deal. It's not really any of my business if you did. I mean, I was just curious and-"

"Stiles," Derek said, calming his friend, placing his hand over one of his. "No. There was no brunette. I don't even know what she's talking about. I haven't gone to the movies in over a month now."

Stiles sighed in relief, patting the hand on top of his own. "Okay. Good. I mean, not good, but… wait," he frowned. "Does she know that I know?" He glanced at Derek. "She knows that I know?! Derek!"

"I didn't tell her. She just figured it out and then walked away-"

"Ooh, that sneaky… Well she doesn't know that I know that she knows that I know. Stay here. I'm gonna go get her back."

"Stiles, no- wait-"

But it was no use. The boy was already running back to the other car. Derek buried his face in his hands, shaking his head in disbelief. Surprisingly – or not surprisingly – this happened two more times. After Stiles had retreated, it was Lydia who came rushing back demanding to know what Derek had told him. Then it was Stiles' turn to ask him about some comment Lydia had made.

Eventually, he got a text from an unknown number.

Hey Derek. It's Isaac. They're just arguing back and forth now. You should just come up and join us.

Derek sighed in relief. He couldn't keep up with who knew what about knowing who and whatnot. He picked up his stuff and made his way to the next car. Sure enough, the pair were sitting across from each other making snarky comments as the others watched on in amusement. Derek slid into the seat next to Isaac, across from where Allison and Scott sat distracted.

"Hey Derek," both Isaac and Allison greeted.

"Hey," he nodded.

Scott snapped his head to look at the person sitting across from him. "Dude! Mr. Hale! You're here!" Scott grinned, his face wide with surprise. "Guys! Look who's here! It's funny cause we've been talking about you all day."

Both Isaac and Allison stifled chuckles. Allison patted the confused boy on the leg before resting her head on his shoulder.

Scott frowned. "Did I miss something?"

/\/\/\

Once they arrived, they all gathered into taxis to take them out to the house. It was actually pretty amazing out. The sun was shining, while snow glistened, reflecting its light. It was chilly enough for Derek to wrap a scarf around his neck and slip on some gloves, but not so cold that he needed to seriously bundle up. And now that the air was clear, Derek finally got to sit next to Stiles as he happily munched on the homemade granola bars Stiles had given to him. As they filed out of the cars and made their way up the driveway, Jackson decided it was time to figure out sleeping arrangements.

"So obviously Lydia and I get the master-"

"Wait. Why 'obviously'?" Danny frowned.

"Because. We pitched in the most to get this place and it was Lydia's idea to begin with," he snapped. Danny just rolled his eyes. "The other room goes to Allison cause her dad's friends are letting us use their trucks while we're here." Jackson unlocked the door and led the way in. "So obviously, she's bunking with Scott."

"Wait. Why 'obviously'?" she said in mock confusion. At Scott's shocked expression, she pulled him into the house, giving him a little kiss to ease it away.

"Ew," Jackson groaned. "Take it upstairs." He turned to the others. "There's one more bedroom, but it's a small one."

"Derek can take that one," Lydia offered, before slipping in past Jackson. "He is the oldest one."

Derek didn't know if he should take that as a sign of respect or as a jab at his age.

"Which leaves the air mattress and the futon. Two of you will need to share the futon," the blonde explained.

"I don't mind taking the futon if neither of you mind sharing with me," Stiles shrugged, looking between Isaac and Danny before stepping inside to set his stuff down.

Derek frowned, opening his mouth to say something, but Isaac cut him off.

"I'll share with you, Stiles," he said, nonchalantly.

He followed the boy in, but Derek grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and pulled him back out. "I'll take the futon with Stiles, Danny can have the bedroom, and you can sleep on the air mattress," he directed, settling the matter before brushing past the other two to go inside. He didn't miss the knowing smirks both Isaac and Danny shared.

Stiles looked at him curiously as Derek dropped his bag next to the folded futon. "What? You don't want the room?"

Derek hid his blush by pretending to rifle through his stuff. "I let Danny have it… as thanks for inviting me," he lied.

"Hey, technically I invited you first."

Derek glanced up. "You'd rather have the room?" While Derek would like to share the futon with Stiles, he would still be all right with him getting the room because it meant no one else would be sleeping with him.

Stiles just shrugged. "Eh. What's done is done. I'm fine with this. It's not like we haven't shared a bed before. Or a couch," he winked, playfully.

It was true. And now with the futon, it was like a strange blending of the two.

Slipping his scarf and his gloves off and setting them off to the side, Derek took the opportunity to explore the house. The futon he was sharing was in the living room, placed just in front of the fireplace. Derek would have thought it could be romantic if Isaac hadn't decided to set up his mattress no more than ten feet away from them. Derek could swear Isaac was being insufferable on purpose just to mess with him. Also on the first floor was the den with a huge wrap-around couch in front of a big screen TV. The kitchen was also large with an island in the middle and the dining table sitting not too far from it. A sliding door led out to the back porch where both a pool and the Jacuzzi lay covered. Jackson was already out there, familiarizing himself with the settings. There was one bathroom on the first floor and two bathrooms up the stairs with the three bedrooms. All in all, it was a nice place.

Another feature that Derek soon found out about was the large backyard. All eight of them were currently outside. Danny had been right about the war Lydia had been planning. It was actually a good excuse of the eight of them to stretch their legs after being cooped up for so many hours. Somehow Derek found himself building a make-shift fort with his new teammates: Isaac, Scott and Jackson.

"Look. Clearly we have the strength. We can just march right up there, over-power them, take the tennis ball and have hot chocolate within ten minutes flat," Derek shrugged.

"I'm with him," Jackson nodded. "Look who they have. The two girls, Stilinski and Danny. The four of us can easily take them on."

"I don't know," Scott frowned. "Lydia's pretty smart and so is Stiles. I'm sure they've got something up their sleeves."

Jackson scoffed. "Please. I play Call of Duty with Lydia all the time. She doesn't care about this stuff. I beat her all the time."

This time it was Scott who scoffed. "You beat her or she let you win?"

Jackson was about to retort but then bit his tongue, thinking about it.

"Okay fine, Scott. What do you suggest we do?" Derek looked to the messy-haired boy.

"Well they're probably expecting a frontal attack. I think maybe we should try to flank them."

Derek nodded, taking this into consideration. "We'll split up. Go off in pairs. Isaac and I will take down the front and you and Jackson can slip in behind them. All three of you have lacrosse skills so I'm sure you can dodge a few snowballs, no problem. Sound good?"

Scott still didn't seem too sure, but he nodded in acceptance anyway.

"Isaac, you see anything?" he whispered to the boy perched in a tree.

"No. They disappeared behind the trees over there and I haven't seen movement since."

"How much time is left?"

Jackson glanced at his watch. "Just two more minutes before we start."

"Okay. Isaac, come on down. Scott, go bury the ball over by those logs."

The younger boy scampered off to do as he was told while Isaac lithely slipped back down to the ground.

"You guys ready?" Jackson asked, looking at his watch again. "Let's go!"

Derek and Isaac leapt over their wall of snow as Scott and Jackson took off to the side. Armed with a snowball in each hand, the two of them scurried off in the direction of the trees where the other team had disappeared. Derek went from tree to tree, ducking behind one as he made his approach with Isaac following his trail. He was finally able to see the fort the other team had put up. Derek smirked. This was gonna be cake.

Derek charged ahead, leaping over the fort wall, expecting to see someone trying to defend their home base. But, surprisingly, the area was clear. Derek stood upright, looking around, confused.

"Where are they?" Isaac asked, coming to a stop just behind Derek.

"I don't…" A sound suddenly caught his ear. Then it dawned on him. "Isaac, it's a trap!"

Both boys tried to leap out of the way in their sudden realization, but it was too late. Soon they were bombarded by snowballs, courtesy Lydia Martin and Stiles Stilinski, both of which had been hiding under a snowdrift. Having been sufficiently pulverized, both Isaac and Derek rolled their eyes and put their hands up in surrender.

Lydia was smirking. "Well, Stiles, I must admit. You were right."

"He does this every time we play a video game together. Just barges right in without thinking things through. Isn't that right, my grumpy little captive?" Stiles cooed, throwing an arm around Derek's shoulder.

Derek just gave him a withering look while Isaac just snorted in derision.

Not too long later, Danny came jogging up, a tennis ball in his hand. "You guys were right. They tried to hide it by that fallen log."

Lydia chuckled this time. "It's just like a pack of puppies to hide their ball next to their stick."

"Damn it, Scott!"

All five of them turned to look in the direction of Jackson's yell. The blonde came storming up, looking none too pleased, his hands up signaling he'd already been hit. Both Scott and Allison were following closely behind.

"No luck?" Isaac asked.

"None, no thanks to him," he glared at Scott. "The ball was right there, Scott. I went for it, but Allison was guarding it. And then Scott had a chance to grab it, but he decided to fraternize with the enemy instead."

"To be fair, she's a really sexy enemy," Scott shrugged, earning himself a playful ruffle of his hair.

"Ha!" Stiles laughed. "I knew putting Allison as guard would work!"

Scott gasped, looking at his girlfriend. "You duped me?"

She just gave him an apologetic smile, scrunching up her shoulders. "Sorry, but there's no room for love in war."

Jackson rolled his eyes and let out a huff. "I'm switching teams."

/\/\/\

The next few matches were a bust for Derek as well. Even when he tried a new maneuver, both Stiles and Lydia were able to outwit him and his team. He even tried a few tactics from Scott and Isaac, but they were all failures. They all eventually realized that it was a march into death with Stiles and Lydia paired up. Together, they were able to outwit anyone. Splitting them up was the only time Derek, Danny and Isaac caught a win for their team. With Lydia as their strategist, she was able to anticipate many moves the other team could come up with. Stiles was pretty successful too, but at the end of the day, Lydia was the clear winner.

Eventually, they all just stopped plotting things out and just went full-on snowball fight. It was the only time Derek was sort of on Stiles' team. Of course, he threw a few of them at the boy, but shortly after found himself taking a few hits to save him from a spiteful Jackson and an overly excited Scott.

Stiles laughed as snow splattered across Derek's shoulder. He threw his arms around Derek's neck and pulled him in for a hug. "My heeeeero!" Derek would have been warmed by the act if Stiles hadn't shoved a freshly packed snowball into his nicely coiffed hair seconds later. Derek retaliated by pushing him back down into the snow and proceeding to bury him in it. Stiles just laughed the whole way, kicking his legs to try to break free.

"It's cold! It's cold!"

"Now you know how my head feels!" Derek eased up when all you could see were Stiles' legs poking out of the pile. He laughed, patting himself on the back after a job well done.

Legs well stretched and energy well spent, Allison's dad's friends finally arrived to drop off the trucks, giving a few of them a chance to go out to buy some groceries. Scott, Stiles and Lydia went out to do the shopping while Isaac and Derek tried to start a fire. Jackson and Danny were determined to put that Jacuzzi to good use, starting it up to get the water heated, while Allison showed the other two how to properly start a fire.

She smirked. "Six years of Girl Scouts, never gone to waste," she winked at the boys, tossing the poker to Isaac before walking away.

Once the others arrived with groceries, they all helped here in there with dinner, but Stiles was ultimately the one who did most of the cooking. And finally, after a nice meal together, Jackson declared the Jacuzzi ready. They had all changed into their bathing suits and hopped in, letting the hot water relax their muscles and let them unwind.

"I'm gonna get something to drink," Stiles said after a while, thoroughly soaked. "Anyone want anything?"

"I'll help you," Derek offered, moving to follow him out.

"No, no," Danny abruptly stood, pushing Derek to sit back down. "Allow me. I'll help Stiles," he smiled. "Come on, Scott. You help too."

"Uh, okay."

Derek frowned, watching the three of them climb out. His eyes immediately fell on Stiles and his wet skin and how his wet bathing suit was clinging to all the right places and-

"Derek."

Feeling a splash of water hit his face, Derek snapped his attention back to the people still in the hot tub. "What?"

"Let me be frank," Lydia started off. "Why exactly haven't you put the moves on our precious Stiles yet?"

Derek blinked. "Excuse me?"

"There's no point in denying it," Isaac said. "We can all see how much you care about him."

"Yeah, ever since that lunch we all had together, it was clear how much you wanted his attention all to yourself," Lydia added.

"And every time we've seen you two together since, you've just looked less and less… well… grumpy," Allison smiled.

"Quite frankly, it's sickening," Jackson drawled.

"Jackson, shut up," Lydia frowned, splashing her boyfriend in the face. "What he means to say is since it's so obvious, what's keeping you from making this official already?"

Derek splashed his own face with water, rubbing his eyes, wondering if he was really having this conversation in a hot tub. When he opened his eyes again, they were all looking to him for his answer. Derek sighed. "Look, sure. I know how I feel. And I know how he makes me feel. But…" he shook his head.

"Oh please don't tell me you don't know how he feels," Lydia groaned.

"Well, it's true."

"Oh my God…" was the collective sound from all four of others.

"Derek," Isaac said, leaning forward. "That guy. He's crazy about you."

"Like insane."

"Jackson, really?" Lydia frowned. The boy just shrugged.

"Really though, Derek. Stiles is always like ten times happier when you're around. I mean, he'sStiles so he almost always acts happy. But ever since you, he really seems to be it."

Derek looked at Allison, letting her words sink in.

"I said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm rooting for you. I think we all are," Lydia urged. "For whatever reason, you seem to be good for Stiles. And I think he's good for you too."

"We're not saying to jump his bones this very second," Isaac said.

"Please don't," Jackson scoffed. The other three just rolled their eyes.

"We just think that you guys should just save yourself all this time dancing around each other and just admit what's been there all along," he finished off.

Derek looked at the four of them, then to the boy on the other side of the sliding door. He let this all sink in, turning his gaze to his hands under the water. 'They're basically telling me that if I admit my feelings to Stiles right now, he'd accept and return them…' The idea sent Derek's heart pounding. 'These are his closest friends and not only do they accept me, but they accept what I feel for him.' Derek brought his gaze back up to Stiles, laughing with Scott in the kitchen. 'Does he really care about me as much as they say he does?'

Finally he turned his attention back to the other four. "I hear what you're saying. And yes, there have been times where I think maybe he likes me back-" at this, Lydia tried to speak up, but Derek cut her off "-but I need to know for sure. I need to know without a single doubt that he feels for me what I feel for him because I am not ready to lose him if I'm wrong."

"But you're not wrong," Lydia groaned out.

"Has he said specifically that he likes me?"

"Well, no-"

"See-"

"-But he doesn't have to! All you have to do is just look at him! Just one look at him looking at you and you can see the world in his eyes."

"Look, I will tell him how I feel, okay? But on my own terms."

"How's tomorrow sound?" she asked simply.

Derek furrowed his brows together. "What?"

"Tomorrow. We'll arrange it so you have the perfect opportunity to tell him. Ooh, you can have a little lunch date together."

"I'm not gonna tell him tomorrow just because you arrange it-"

"So you don't want a lunch date with Stiles?" Isaac asked, sarcasm clearly dripping in his words.

"I didn't say that," Derek seethed. Considering all the activities they'd all be doing together, Derek quickly found out it would be hard to get any alone time with Stiles at all on this trip. If they were willing to arrange some, there was no way he was going to turn it down. "But," he added. "If andonly if the opportunity feels right, then I'll tell him."

Again, Lydia groaned, but it seemed good enough.

"Hey," Jackson spoke up. "You think Stiles will jump in the pool if I dare him to?" They all turned incredulous stares at the blonde. "What?" He frowned. "You don't think he will?"

"Jackson, really?" Lydia scoffed.

"Really, what?" Scott said, shuffling back outside, trying to balance three drinks in his hands. He handed one to Isaac and Allison before slipping back in between the two.

"Hey Stilinski!" Jackson yelled, just as the boy was making his way back outside with three drinks of his own in his hands.

"What?" he barked, handing one to him, the other to Lydia and the third to Derek.

"Go jump in the pool."

Stiles balked. "Are you kidding me? That thing is freezing. I can literally see ice floating." He took his own cup from Danny once the boy had slipped back outside, making sure to close the door behind him.

Danny climbed back in next to Lydia. "What's going on?"

"Stiles is about to do something stupid," she commentated.

"Am not," he frowned, getting ready to climb back in next to Derek.

Jackson smirked. "I dare you."

Stiles froze in place, eyes narrowing at the blonde. "You dare me?"

"Mm-hmm," he grinned smugly.

"See? Stupid." Lydia shrugged.

"Hold my drink," Stiles said, handing the cup to Derek, though keeping his eyes locked on Jackson.

"Stiles don't do it. It's cold," Derek tried. This didn't seem like such a good idea. "You're already shivering."

"It's best just to let it play out," Scott said, shaking his head solemnly.

Stiles started breathing deeply through his mouth, preparing himself as he pulled the cover off just enough to jump in.

"Come on, Stiles," Jackson prodded. "Unless you're chicken."

"Well then why don't you do it too then, Jackson?" Isaac rolled his eyes.

Jackson clenched his jaw. "You know what? Fine. It's no big deal. I will." He handed his cup to Lydia and climbed out. "It's just some stupid water."

"Idiots. The both of them," Lydia shook her head in disbelief.

"Go first," Jackson said, giving Stiles a little push.

"Don't push me," he frowned, pushing Jackson in return.

"Stiles, don't-"

The two started smacking each other until they both just tumbled into the freezing water.

"Holy shit!" Jackson cried, scrambling to get out.

Stiles was right behind him, both breathing through their teeth now. The both leapt into the hot tub, submerging themselves in the water.

Stiles slipped in next to Derek leaning against him for extra warmth.

Derek rolled his eyes, draping his arm over the edge of the Jacuzzi, allowing Stiles to edge closer. "That accomplished nothing. You feel better about yourself?"

Stiles just snorted. "I do actually," he smirked, taking his cup back from the older boy.

/\/\/\

As it got later and later into the night, they all went back inside, taking quick showers before getting ready for bed after a long day. While Stiles was off taking his own shower after Derek had just finished his, his phone began to ring. Derek checked the ID. It was Uncle I Hope Insanity Isn't Hereditary.

"Hey Peter."

"Hey baby boy, how's it going?"

"I told you to stop calling me that."

"And I told you that that's never gonna happen."

Derek sighed. "Did you need something?"

"What? Like I need a reason to call my adorable nephew?"

He tried again. "Did you need something?"

"Vacation spots. As much as you want to stay home with the little baker boy, I'd much prefer to spend time with you sipping some random, colorful drink out of a coconut with an umbrella in it. So come on. You can take a few days away from him. You're not gonna die."

"Oh…" Derek ran a hand through his still damp hair. "Actually… I'm technically already onvacation."

"Derek, how many times do I have to tell you. A tub of ice cream and a History channel marathon on some obscure battle that happened a billion years ago is not a vacation."

"That was one time!"

"Still counts."

Derek huffed. "No, okay. I'm not home. I'm in Bear Valley."

"Bear Valley? What are you doing in Bear Valley?"

"Vacationing."

He heard Peter sigh in exasperation. "I liked you better when you used to poop on yourself."

Derek rolled his eyes. "Stiles and his friends invited me up. So, I agreed, okay?"

"You're with Stiles? I thought we were gonna vacation together! The three of us! One big happy family. Tahitian dancers, Derek. Fast. Hips!"

"We can go in the summer or something."

"In monsoon season, I don't think so. You know what that does to my hair."

"We'll do something together, I promise."

"Mm-hmm."

"In the mean time, it's getting late and we had a long day travelling. So good night, Peter. Love you."

"Love you too, baby boy."

Derek just scoffed at the nickname, ending the call before sticking his phone on his charger. He felt a bit bad for not mentioning it to Peter sooner but it would be all right once they got back. He was sure Peter was gonna do what he wanted and kidnap him anyway. He actually wouldn't be surprised if he ended up buying the coffee shop while they were away just to make sure he could take Stiles with them. And now that he thought about it, Derek was sort of hoping that his uncle was crazy enough to do it.

Derek pulled out his laptop, ready to record the day's events. He was just about to open the file when it dawned on him.

'Tomorrow could potentially be the last day of this. If things go well during the lunch, I just might… he just might…'

"Whatcha working on?"

Derek snapped out of his thoughts as Isaac came up behind him. "No-nothing."

The boy snorted. "Yeah. Sure. Dear Diary, Stiles looked so cute today in his blue plaid."

Derek scowled at the blonde. "You sure you feel like sleeping there tonight? There's plenty of room in the den."

Isaac just laughed. "Why? It's not like anything is gonna happen in here."

Derek tried to leer him into submission as he had been able to before, but it didn't seem to be working this time around. Derek inwardly frowned. 'Have I lost my edge?'

"I'd ask you to keep it down, but I guess there's no real need to, huh?" he teased, laying himself down on the mattress with his hands behind his head, the smuggest of grins donning his lips.

Derek just scowled again before putting his laptop away, turning his back to Isaac, and pulling his blanket up over his shoulder.

"They say you should never go to bed angry, Derek," Isaac called.

"I will physically smother you in your sleep," he growled out in response. He just heard the boy laugh some more before hearing the mattress squeak as he adjusted himself for bed.

Stiles popped in, running a towel over his head before draping it over a chair off to the side.

Derek propped himself up on one elbow, trying to see clearly in the firelight. "Stiles? Is that my shirt?"

The boy looked down then grinned. "I told you, I like it. It's comfy." He crouched down over his things only to reappear with a bundle in his arms.

Derek chuckled, seeing the familiar wolf. "Really?"

"What?" Stiles frowned. "Where I go, he goes."

"You got that right."

Derek pursed his lips, before launching a pillow at the boy lying down nearby. Isaac just laughed again.

"What was that?" Stiles asked, looking between them.

"Ignore him," Derek said, shaking his head. He settled back down as Stiles climbed in next to him. "You okay? You need another blanket?"

"I should be fine."

"That's what you said last time."

"Well this time I've got my own thick blanket, the heater's on, and we've even got our own crackling fire to keep our feet warm. I think I'll be okay. Actually, scratch that." Stiles got back up, slid open the doors of the fireplace and grabbed the poker. He shifted the logs around so that they were separated before grabbing the shovel to douse the flame in ash. Satisfied, he put both tools away before making sure the doors were firmly shut. He looked to Derek while brushing his hands off on his pants. "Just… a precaution."

Derek hadn't even really been aware of it, but when the act was done, he felt a bit of tension release from his shoulders, realizing how anxious the burning fire had subconsciously made him. He glanced at the glowing embers, then back to Stiles, marveling in the thoughtfulness of this boy and how he could know him so well when it seemed he hardly knew himself.

Stiles climbed back onto the futon and settled down on his side to face Derek, one arm draped around Sourwolf and his other pillowing his head. He smiled. "I'm really glad you came," he whispered.

"I'm glad Greenberg didn't," he whispered back.

Stiles chuckled. "Today was fun."

"Mm-hmm."

"Tomorrow's gonna be fun, too."

Derek slowly nodded. "Yeah… hopefully tomorrow will be perfect."

"You and me in the snowy mountains? How can it not be?"

Derek smiled softly. "Yeah…" He stared at the face in front of him, memorizing every detail. He felt his hand move up, wanting to trace over his features, to caress the soft skin of his cheek. But he restrained himself, choosing to settle it over Stiles' hand instead. Stiles flipped his hand around, interlacing their fingers, giving Derek's a tiny squeeze. Derek sighed, contently, rubbing his thumb against the hand in his. "Good night, Stiles."

Stiles smiled softly in return. "Good night, Derek."

As Derek was soon lulled to sleep by the warmth spreading over his body, he couldn't help but wonder just what tomorrow would bring. No matter what the result, at least he had this night to be with the boy he loved.

Chapter Text

Derek woke up early that morning feeling a little chilly. He sat up, got his bearings, and easily figured out why. It had nothing to do with the heater. It was still blowing at a warm enough temperature to feel comfortable underneath a blanket. If you had a blanket. Of which Derek did not. The sneaky little blanket bandit had struck again.

'How did he even do it?' Derek wondered, looking at where their hands were still joined. He smiled, rubbing his thumb against the back of Stiles' hand. 'You know… I could really get used to this. Waking up next to you.' He sighed. 'Actually… I think I already am.' Gently, he brought the warm palm to his lips, giving it a soft kiss.

Derek yawned, and with great reluctance, let go of the hand in his to stretch and rub the sleep out of his eyes. He looked around, trying to find a clock or something to figure out what time it was. In the dim light, he could see it was almost six on the wall clock hanging nearby. A creature of habit, Derek wondered how he might be able to get a morning workout in. Jogging would be dangerous considering he could slip on black ice. He supposed he could just go over to the den and workout in there. He was just about to do so when he spotted Isaac shift from where he was on his air mattress.

Derek scowled at the sleeping boy, remembering the teasing he did last night. 'I liked him better when he still feared me a little.' He rubbed the stubble on his chin, an idea hatching. 'Technically, it's not mean. I'm just asserting my authority is all,' he rationalized. 'Plus, it might be a good workout for my arms.'

Derek slid off the futon, doing his best not to stir its other occupant. He went over to his duffle bag, slipped on some socks and a sweater before putting his plan into action.

/\/\/\

About a half an hour later, Danny came downstairs.

"Morning Derek," he greeted.

Derek was standing over by the sliding door, arms crossed over his chest. He looked over his shoulder and nodded at the Hawaiian boy. "Morning."

"What are you looking at?" he asked, curiously, walking up next to the older boy to look out the sliding door. Danny gasped. "Is that-?"

"Mm-hmm."

Danny laughed, before running back up the stairs. Derek could faintly hear the boy trying to wake up his best friend.

"Mornin'," he heard uttered out as it was caught in a yawn.

Derek looked over his other shoulder, smiling when he spotted the sleepy Stiles shuffling over to him in a cocoon of blankets. "Good morning, Stiles."

"You wan' coffee?" he murmured.

"Please?"

Stiles yawned again as he made his way into the kitchen to brew a pot.

Derek returned his gaze back outside. "I hope you don't mind. I had to steal my blanket back from you."

Stiles flushed. "I stole it again?"

Derek merely nodded. "It's okay. I let Isaac borrow it."

From the corner of his eye, Derek saw Stiles look around. "Yeah, hey. Where is Isaac? Did he move to the den?"

"Nope."

"There, thereLook!" Danny said as he came back into the room, grinning as he dragged a sleepy Jackson over to where Derek was standing. He pointed outside.

Jackson's face grimaced in confusion. He rubbed his eyes, blinked a few times then burst into laughter. He turned to Derek, patting him heartily on the back. "Welcome to the group, man. Glad to have you."

Derek snorted. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Both Jackson and Danny just laughed some more.

Stiles made his way over, curious as to what they were laughing at. Derek heard him gasp as he took a step forward to get a better look at what was outside. Or in this case, who. Stiles then began to laugh, which in turn made the other two laugh all over again.

"How- how long has he been- out there?" Danny managed to ask between chuckles.

Derek glanced over to the clock in the kitchen. "Maybe 10 minutes."

"Look, look! He's moving!" Jackson said, excitedly.

"Probably waking up from the cold," Stiles added. "God, I hope he doesn't roll over."

"Oh please let him roll over!" Jackson countered.

The coffeemaker beeped, catching Stiles' attention. With the experience of a barista during rush hour, he quickly made four cups of coffee, balanced all four mugs in his hands, before returning to Derek's side and passing the mugs to his friends.

Derek smiled, sipping his brew. "Thank you."

Stiles smiled back. "You're welcome."

"What are you guys looking at?" Derek looked over his shoulder again to see Lydia making her way over to the boys, rubbing her eyes. "Danny, you're so noisy…"

Jackson wrapped an arm around her waist to pull her over, kissing her temple. "Derek pushed Isaac outside on the air mattress."

Lydia did a double take. "Into the pool?" She smirked, looking up at the older man. "You aredevious. You'll fit right in."

Derek just snorted.

"Coffee?" Stiles asked the girl.

"Please and thank you," she smiled as Stiles hurried back into the kitchen.

From where they all stood, they saw Isaac's face contort into a grimace.

"What's going on? What's with all the racke-"

"Allison, hurry and look!" Lydia said, grabbing the sleepy girl's wrist and pulling her over.

"Oh my God, is that Isaac?" she asked, suddenly no longer sleepy.

"Yeah. Derek pushed him out into the pool," Danny laughed.

"Derek?" She glanced at him, smiling. "I was not expecting that. Oh thanks," she smiled again at Stiles, who handed both her and Lydia a fresh cup of coffee.

Derek just shrugged.

Then, Isaac eyes began to open, a frown still firmly in place. A second later, the boy jerked up, forcing the mattress to teeter precariously.

"Oh, please, please, please," Jackson chanted.

Isaac froze, steadying his makeshift raft.

"Damn," the blonde muttered.

Isaac looked around, confused, until his eyes landed on the group of people watching him from behind the glass. A look of realization came over him and he mocked laughter. "Someone get me out of here! It's cold!" He yelled, his voice tinny through the glass.

Derek snickered, handing Stiles his mug. He walked back outside, closing the door behind him to keep the warmth inside. He made his way over to the edge of the pool and looked at Isaac with an amused grin. "Quite the predicament, huh?"

"You did this?" Isaac asked, slightly amused and very surprised. Derek didn't have to answer. The smirk on his face already answered it for him. The blonde boy pulled his blanket tighter over his shoulders. "Well what are you waiting for? Help me out," he frowned, feeling bold enough to splash some water in Derek's direction. He blew on his hand immediately after, the cold water intense.

Derek just took a step back to avoid the trickle. "You know, Jackson's in there hoping you fall in. I have no problem obliging." And for good measure – and to see if his authority over the boy had been fully reinstated – he glared at Isaac.

Isaac lowered his head. "All right, all right. Help me out, please?"

Derek smiled. 'That's more like it.' He walked over to where the leaf sweeper was and held it out to the boy in the middle of the pool. Isaac graciously grabbed it and was pulled in. Once he was close enough, Derek held a hand out, helping Isaac off the mattress and back on solid ground.

Isaac finally laughed, patting Derek on the back. "Man, you're cruel. What if I did fall in?"

"Don't worry. I watched an episode of Man Vs. Wild. I know what to do in this situation. The water's not frozen on the top so that's a good sign right there."

Isaac just shook his head. "Am I allowed to go inside now? I'm freezing my ass off."

'Asking permission?' Derek smirked, leading the way back in. 'My plan worked better than I thought.'

/\/\/\

Scott was pouting. "Why didn't anyone wake me?"

"Cause you're the devil," Stiles hissed, ruffling his friend's hair.

Scott swatted him away and tried feebly to fix it. "Am not."

"You are," Stiles said, matter-of-factly. "Ask Derek."

Scott looked to the older boy.

"It's true," Derek nodded.

"You're just saying that cause he's your boyfriend."

There was no point in denying it, despite it not being true. They all seemed to think so anyway. "Scott, you bit me last time."

"Ew. I hope you got checked for rabies," Jackson grimaced.

"Still," the messy-haired boy frowned. "I woulda liked seeing Isaac floating around in the middle of the pool."

"There's always next time," Danny snickered.

"No next time," Isaac scowled, punching his friend on the shoulder. "We could just push you out there, Mahealani."

"Try it and fail," Jackson drawled, pushing Isaac away.

"If you're all done, we're next," Lydia said, and with a flip of her hair, made her way over to the rental counter.

After a quick breakfast, the eight of them all gathered into the two cars to make their way to the ski resort. Scott was apparently disappointed when he found out about the morning's shenanigans he missed out on, but he quickly bounced back once they got their gear. Like Derek, it would be his first time snowboarding too.

"I'll help you," Stiles offered Derek, lacing up his boots.

"You sure? You don't want to do down the expert trails with your friends?"

The boy smirked. "I have a feeling, watching you fall down several times is going to be much more fun."

Derek snorted. "Gee thanks. I'm glad you have such faith in my failure." Stiles just grinned. "But seriously. Go with your friends. Scott and I will be fine."

"Mr. Hale is gonna get us a private instructor," Scott beamed excitedly, coming up behind the older boy and throwing an arm around his shoulder. "We'll be pros in no time."

Stiles just shrugged, smiling to himself as he tied off his other boot. "Well, no pressure. Everyone falls their first time. My ass and my knees were crazy sore at the end of the day."

Derek had to hide his blush.

"No one wants to hear about your sex life, Stilinski," Jackson snickered, punching the boy in the arm before running out the door, snowboard under one arm, Danny and Isaac laughing as they followed closely behind.

"Oh ha ha, guys!" Stiles called after them, shaking his head.

"You walked right into that one," Lydia shrugged, giving Stiles a kiss on the cheek before following the boys.

"Okay, you sure you got this?" Allison asked Scott, picking up her own board.

"We got this. Right, Mr. Hale?"

Derek looked out to the snow. How hard could it be? He nodded. "Yeah. We got this."

/\/\/\

As it turned out, Derek did have it. He was doing surprisingly well for his first time on a snowboard. He wasn't exactly excited about having this five foot piece of plastic stuck to his feet, but he easily got the hang of it. The instructor showed him and Scott how to find out which foot was their lead – in which Scott had a bit of fun shoving Derek and Derek having no problem shoving the younger boy in return. They learned how to shuffle along on the board, pushing themselves on one foot. Turning was a piece of cake, and although stopping took a second to really get, he still got it a lot sooner than his partner.

Half the time, Scott was just a mess. He turned left when he meant to go right, he stopped when he was supposed to glide, he tumbled downhill when he was instructed it was safer to fall facing uphill. But Derek had to give the guy credit. He never complained once and got right back up with every fall. He found a deep respect for Scott in seeing his determination and positivity.

Even when they finally were led to the lift up the bunny slope, getting off proved to be a challenge for the younger boy as the tiny slope sent him whisking away into a snowdrift. Derek stifled a laugh, but helped him up.

"Thanks, Mr. Hale," Scott grinned, grateful for the hand.

Once their hour was up with their instructor, together they tried an intermediate trail. Derek made his way down the hill swiftly and agilely, while the improving Scott managed to fall down only twice.

However, things somehow changed once Stiles and Allison joined them.

Scott seemed to puff up a bit, wanting to impress his girlfriend. And with the skill he hadn't had just ten minutes ago, Scott managed to board his way down the hill without a single fall, despite his wobbly legs. It was quite admirable.

Derek, on the other hand, couldn't seem to catch a break. Snowboarding near Stiles was dangerous because one second, Derek would be glancing at the smiling boy and the next second, he'd be toppling over a little bump that was certainly not there five seconds ago. Hell, even when they were stopped, Derek still managed to trip. The only consolation to his newfound misery was the pure elation it seemed to be giving Stiles. After a pretty gnarly face plant, Stiles glided over to Derek, offering him a helping hand.

"I'm good at this, I swear," Derek tried. "I didn't even fall once during the lesson."

"I believe you," Stiles said, patting Derek on the arm, although his smirk said he clearly did not.

"Really," Derek tried again. "I don't know what's going on. I was fine twenty minutes ago."

Stiles helped Derek back up on his feet, brushing off the excess snow on the older boy's jacket. "Derek, relax. We're here to have a good time. I'm having a good time. You should too."

Derek smiled softly, soaking in the brightness of his eyes. "I am having a good time."

Stiles grinned. "Good. Now let's go."

Derek watched as Stiles glided away, his lean frame weaving across the trail in expert form. He looked like he had been doing this for years. It made Derek think of the strong muscles he must have in his core and in his legs for him to stay so balanced and still look so good. Stiles glanced back in Derek's direction. Even from a way's away, he could still see the beam spread across his face. It made Derek's heart warm.

But that was quickly squelched as he found himself face planting once more from just standingthere. Derek growled in frustration, wiping the snow off his goggles. Snowboarding just wasn't his thing.

As the morning wore on, Derek found a new thing to be happy about despite his incessant failures. With every fall, Stiles was right by his side, helping him up. And while he knew he shouldn't be taking advantage of his kindness, Derek couldn't help but let his hands linger once he stabilized himself with Stiles' help. He may or may not have fallen one or two times on purpose just to be able to lean into Stiles' sturdy frame. His hands may or may not have held his slim waist under the pretense of needed help to stand. Derek would have felt guilty over it, but Stiles was enjoying every second of it. And if it made Stiles happy, who was Derek to ruin his good time?

But it was with great relief that noon had fast approached. It meant freeing himself from this godforsaken board. He knew after all the falls he had taken, he'd be feeling it in the morning. It seemed he wouldn't even need a morning workout after this. It made Stiles' comment about his ass and knees make all the more sense.

The two headed over towards the main building where they had planned to meet with the others. They spotted the rest of the pack just outside.

"Hey Stiles. Let's go down the back trail one more time before we head out," Danny said, sliding over to the boy.

He glanced over at Derek. "Um, that's okay-"

"Go," Lydia piqued. "Derek's gonna take me and Allison back to the house now anyway."

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "I am?"

"How come?" Stiles asked.

"We're going to see that exhibit Lydia was talking about. Don't exactly want to go in all this gear," Allison shrugged.

"Aw, you're leaving?" Scott pouted.

"I'll see you later," she smiled, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Isaac'll go with you for one last run."

"There's an intermediate trail down the same way," the blonde explained.

"But wait. What about lunch?" Stiles frowned.

"There's a place over at the lodge that's supposed to be good. We'll meet there," Lydia shrugged. "Now go play. We'll see you later."

And just like that, the two groups split up. Derek wondered if this was part of Lydia's master plan to get him and Stiles alone together on their secret lunch date. After returning their gear, Derek climbed in behind the wheel, taking the two girls back to the house.

"So, obviously, we're not going to lunch with you. Jackson already knows to drop Stiles off at the lodge and hightail it out of there."

Derek was skeptical. "What if he asks about you?"

"Get creative," she said with a wave of her hand. "Tell him… tell him we decided to have lunch closer to the exhibit."

"Besides," Allison chuckled from the back seat. "If it means lunch alone with you, I doubt he's even gonna question it."

Derek wished he were as confident as they were. Snowboarding almost made him forget about the upcoming lunch. But now that it was here, he found himself nervous yet excited at the same time. 'This is it. This could be it. If everything goes right, I'll finally be able to tell Stiles how I feel.'

"-so don't screw this up."

Derek blinked. "What?"

"Ugh," Lydia groaned. "You weren't even listening?"

"She said to make this chance count. After lunch, he and Scott are gonna be driving out to Tahoe for that concert," Allison repeated. "So this'll be your only chance to tell him today."

Derek scoffed. "No pressure."

Allison just patted him on the shoulder, smiling supportively at him through the rearview mirror.

Once they got back to the house and changed to outfits less bulky and more comfortable – in which Lydia verbally assaulted Derek's lack of dress shirt and blazer for the special event – Derek drove the girls to their destination in his usual attire with the addition of a warm and comfortable sweater. Alone in the car, he couldn't help but feel anxious the closer he got to the lodge. He made his way in and found a seat in the lounge near the entrance so he could immediately spot the boy once he arrived.

'This is it. Am I really gonna tell him how I feel? I mean, only if it feels right. God, how weird would it be if I just randomly blurted it out? Hey Stiles! By the way, I'm in love with you! How are the breadsticks?' Derek shook his head. 'That's… stupid.'

Derek tried to calm himself down. He tried to convince himself that this was just a lunch. Just a regular lunch with his friend. They'd had a handful of lunches together. This one would be no different.

'Except that it could be…'

Again, Derek shook his head, trying to clear it. He tried to relax into his chair as he idly flipped through a magazine that had been laid out on the table in front of him. Once he had finished with one, he started to drum his fingers on the armrest of his chair. Feeling a bit restless, he glanced at his watch. It was about one-thirty. Twenty minutes had passed since he arrived. He frowned. 'How long was that run?' He had taken time waiting for the girls to get ready and took even more time dropping them off. Stiles should've had plenty of time to get to the lodge between now and then. Derek tapped his fingers against his seat again, restless as he began chewing on his bottom lip. 'I'll call him. Just to see if he's on his way.'

Derek pulled out his phone and called his friend. There was no answer.

'Okay… maybe he's still on the hill. He can't hear his phone ringing cause he's zooming down the trail. But… he knows I'd be waiting for him. The guys would know, too…'

The guys. Derek glanced at his phone again, tossing it between his hands. After a few minutes, he tapped through his contacts, stopping on The Kid Who Bit Me.

"Yo, Mr. Hale. What's up?" Scott answered.

"Hey, how far away are you guys?"

"We're all the way across town."

"Oh. So how much longer before you drop off Stiles?"

Scott laughed. "What are you talking about, man? We already dropped him off. Isaac told me what was up and I gotta say, dude, you can tell me things. I'm not gonna blab to Stiles like everyone thinks I will. If you want some special alone time with Stiles, I'm all for it. Anyway, Danny told him that he really wanted to try this fancy burger joint on the other side of town and when Isaac asked him if he thought you'd want to come along, Stiles just shrugged and said it was okay and that he really wanted to try the lodge where he knew you'd be with the girls, but Allison just texted me so I know they're actually at the convention center so that you and Stiles cause have that date. I'm actually surprised. You guys aren't eating yet? I thought you'd be getting it on like those two dogs in Lady and the Tramp. Wait, so does that make you the Tramp?" Scott just snickered on his end of the line.

Derek let the words sink, trying to sift through everything the boy had said. "Hang on, when did you drop him off?"

"Umm… maybe half an hour ago?"

Derek frowned. 'That means he came here before me.' He stood up and looked around. "Oh... Maybe I just missed him. Thanks Scott."

"No problemo, Mr. Hale. Enjoy your lunch date," he cooed.

He just scoffed before hanging up. Derek took another look around, but didn't immediately spot the boy. He tried ringing him again. 'Come on, Stiles. Pick up.' While glancing around, the sound of a phone ringing caught his ear. It didn't grab his attention at first because it could've been anyone's phone. But then when Derek tried calling again and heard the phone ring again, he couldn't ignore it. He spun around, trying to follow the sound. And that's when he spotted a familiar jacket, draped across the back of chair near the elevators.

'That's the one he was wearing earlier…' Derek frowned, picking the article of clothing up. He dialed Stiles' cell once more and sure enough, the ringing was coming from inside one of the pockets. With the jacket in his hand, Derek looked around again. 'Maybe he went to the bathroom?'

Derek searched for the boy but had no luck. He tried the bathroom and the lounge. He tried the bar then the lobby. He even checked outside in the parking lot. He went to the restaurant to see if maybe he was already seated, but Stiles was nowhere to be found. Derek spent a good hour just checking and re-checking areas. He looked in every possible place just short of the kitchens and staff rooms. The fact that his jacket had been there while he was nowhere to be found was making Derek even more anxious than he had been on the drive over.

'He was here. But then where the hell did he go?' Derek ran his hand through his hair. 'What if… what if something happened to him? What if someone took him and now he's trapped in one of the rooms upstairs and is being held down against his will?' Oh, that thought made Derek downright angry. He was ready to make his way to every room to kick down every door to make sure that wasn't the case.

'No… no, no, no. Think, Derek. Think before you do something drastic.' After all his searching, it was now almost two hours since Stiles had been dropped off and Derek was feeling none more at ease. He paused, an idea coming to mind. Derek made his way to the front entrance with a plan. 'It's too early to report a missing person, but at least if I notify the police, they'll be able to keep an eye out for him.' He was just about to call Scott back to let him know what happened, when he heard a familiar voice.

"Derek! There you are! And you have my jacket."

Derek spun around, relief washing over him in hearing Stiles' voice. He was just about to hurry over to him, to wrap him in his arms, when he saw who Stiles was with. Derek blinked in disbelief. "Peter?"

"Hello Derek," Peter grinned at his nephew. "Surprise!"

"I was waiting for you in the lounge area when I saw Peter coming out of the elevator. He was just about to go out to lunch, too. He said he called you. Left you a message, telling you to meet us across the street."

Derek shifted his eyes over to his uncle. "Funny. I got no such call."

Peter grimaced, sucking in air between his teeth. "Oh man. You know what I think happened? I must have dialed the wrong number. I guess that happens when you get old, huh Derek?"

Despite the act, he knew his uncle was messing with him.

"Well why don't you boys come up? The suite I got for the night is amazing. You can see the lake from it and everything."

"Ooh-" Stiles perked.

"We can't," Derek huffed.

Stiles frowned. "Don't be such a Sour-"

"Stiles, it's already three. I need to get you back to the house so you and Scott can go to your concert tonight."

"Oh… that's right…" he slumped. "Oh, but what about you? You didn't get to eat yet, did you?"

"It's okay. Now that I know my dear old uncle is here, I'm sure he'll have no problem splurging on me over dinner tonight."

"Uh oh," Peter winced, leaning into Stiles' ear. "Looks like I might be in trouble."

"Come on, Stiles," Derek said, draping the jacket over the boy's shoulders before taking him by wrist and leading him out the door.

"Bye Peter! Thanks for lunch!" Stiles waved.

"Bye Stiles! If my company reports their CEO missing, tell them my nephew did it!"

Derek just glared at Peter over his shoulder before heading out to the car. Climbing into the driver's seat and buckling in, Derek shook his head. "What's he even doing here?"

Stiles clicked himself in. "He said he flew in for the night for a business meeting. He's taking the jet back to New York tomorrow."

Derek huffed. "How very… convenient for him."

"I know, right?" Stiles beamed. "What are the odds?"

Derek couldn't even comment. He didn't have the heart to tell Stiles about the blatant lie, the huge lack of coincidence and most definite scheming his uncle had pulled. His lunch had been ruined. He could have had a nice lunch with Stiles. Hell, he probably wouldn't have even minded a lunch with Stiles and Peter. But his uncle hid Stiles away, knowing that Derek would be looking for him. And now he was upset and hungry.

Derek frowned. He knew he couldn't be entirely mad at Peter. He didn't know what the lunch meant. Or what it could have meant. Peter was just being his usual impulsive, self-centered self, which half the time Derek found slightly amusing. 'But damn it, Peter… you have such bad timing… This was supposed to be the lunch…'

And to make matters worse, the drive back to the house was filled with Stiles going on about his lunch with the older Hale. It was 'Peter this' and 'Peter that' and 'he invited me to go to Fiji' and 'he really seemed interested in my boss.' Quite frankly, by the end of the drive, Derek was feeling a little bit jealous of his own uncle. Stiles seemed to be over the moon. At this rate, Stiles becoming his new uncle seemed more likely. He shuddered at the thought.

Once they were back at the house, Stiles slipped away for a quick shower. This gave Derek the opportunity to text his uncle while he scrounged around the kitchen for some food.

Damn it, Peter, what are you doing here? And I know it's not for a business meeting.

About a minute later, he got a reply.

what? youre not happy to see me der-bear? im hurt. really i am. and im not old.

The sound of the others coming in through the door pretty much signaled the end of any alone time with Stiles. Today was not going as planned at all. It renewed his displeasure in all things impulsive – most specifically, the impulsivity of one Peter Hale. He typed out one last text, telling his uncle to pick him up for dinner later in the evening.

"Ah! How's the happy couple?" Danny grinned, finding Derek in the kitchen.

Derek just frowned and chomped on an apple.

"That doesn't look promising," the boy winced.

"You didn't tell him?" Lydia asked making her way in next to Danny. "Derek, we arranged it for you and you didn't even bother-"

"We didn't even make it to lunch," Derek growled out. "My nosy and annoying uncle decided it would be fun to crash the trip and take Stiles out to lunch himself without telling me. So no. I didn't tell him. I never got the chance."

"Your uncle?" Lydia frowned.

"Yes. He likes to torture me. Takes pride in doing so, actually," Derek shook his head. "Damn it, Peter…" he muttered under his breath.

"Wait, Peter? Peter Hale? Peter Hale is your uncle?" Lydia gasped. "You're that Hale?"

"Peter Hale? What about him?" Jackson asked, walking over to the fridge to pull out a bottle of water.

"Peter Hale is Derek's uncle!" Lydia gasped.

Derek was seriously confused by the girl's… excitement?

Jackson gaped. "You've got to be kidding me." He rounded up on Derek. "You. Keep your uncleaway from my girlfriend," he growled.

"Jackson, shut up," Lydia rolled her eyes, smacking him on the shoulder.

"What am I missing?" Derek frowned looking between the two.

"Lydia's had a crush on your uncle ever since her dad did business with him years ago," Danny explained. "Thinks he's soooo dreamy."

"Ugh. Please. The man runs a fortune 500 company, has successfully made the switch to 'Go Green', and even during the time of economic crises, he managed to not only stay marginally profitable, but did so without laying off a single worker. And I've looked over employee contracts. The insurance policies and retirement plans are amazing. Once you're with the Hale Group, you're practically set for life. There's much more about him to admire than his flawless appearance and good fashion sense," she was practically beaming. She looked at Derek. "Why didn't you ever say you were that Hale?"

"I… don't-"

"Like I said, Hale. Keep your uncle away from my girlfriend," Jackson growled out again, poking Derek in the chest.

Derek glared at the boy, snatching the offending finger and squeezing it until Jackson was backing down with a whiny "Ow, ow, ow!"

Danny scoffed. "Jackson, you're an idiot."

"Oh wait… if Peter Hale is your uncle, that must mean Laura Hale is…"

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "…My sister?"

"Your sister!" Jackson cried, throwing his hands up in surrender and walking away from the conversation. Danny was laughing.

"What am I missing?" Derek asked again.

"If Lydia has a crush on Peter Hale, she's downright in love with Laura."

"Please," Lydia scoffed. "Laura Hale managed to walk into a position she had little experience with and prove herself as a co-chair to the Hale Group. She showed each and every one of those board members that she rightfully deserved that spot and wasn't just a petty little heiress with a 15% share." She rounded up on Derek. "You have to get me a meeting with them. Give me something. A coffee date. An internship!"

Derek balked. This girl knew more about his family's business than he did.

"If you do," she continued. "I'll tie Stiles down to a bed myself so you can have your way with him however you want, however many times you want."

"I don't actually think that's legal," Danny tried, despite his chuckles.

"Shh!" the girl snipped. She was staring at Derek intently, waiting for an answer.

Derek considered the offer. "Well… my uncle's coming to pick me up for dinner…"

"He's coming here? I'm going with you."

She didn't even wait for an answer. Lydia was rushing back upstairs, probably to find an acceptable outfit to impress Derek's uncle.

Derek looked to Danny. "Should I be concerned?"

The boy just scoffed. "Have you met Lydia? You should always be concerned."

Derek sighed, taking another bite of his apple.

/\/\/\

Scott and Stiles left for their little road trip soon after everyone had arrived. Derek slipped his scarf around Stiles' neck, picking invisible lint off of it before wishing the boy a safe and fun journey. He ignored the sly coos coming over his shoulder once the pair of friends hopped into the car, choosing instead to simply smile and wave as they backed out of the driveway. He tossed the whole lot of them his death glare, effectively silencing the bunch, once the car had vanished from view.

Later, Allison drove the boys to the ice skating rink, but not before Jackson tried to make a deal with Derek to keep Peter away from Lydia.

"You like baseball? I'll get you VIP seats to the Dodger games."

"My sister and her fiancé have season passes for the Giants."

"I'll… bake you something?"

Derek just snorted derisively at the idea.

"Well what do you want?" the blonde growled out in frustration.

"Nothing. My uncle is ridiculous. I wouldn't let him come near any of you guys with a ten-foot pole."

"Oh."

"Now go before I decide to take your Porsche."

Jackson laughed at the joke, but his smile fell once he realized Derek wasn't laughing in return. He just gulped and shuffled out the door.

Derek smirked. It was fun having his authority back.

/\/\/\

For some reason, Derek felt like the third wheel on this impromptu dinner date. He looked between his uncle and Lydia, feeling incredibly awkward.

When Peter finally showed up, Lydia practically ran for the door, happy to finally and officially meet the older man. And of course, Peter was his typical creeper self.

"Lydia Martin? Of course I remember you. My, you grew up well."

Derek could have sworn he threw up in his mouth a little.

Once they got to the restaurant, it was like they were off in their own little world. The conversation was filled with business strategies and jargon that completely went over Derek's head. It was with some relief that Lydia excused herself for the little girls' room. Once she was out of earshot, Derek glared at his uncle.

"Can you lay off with the Uncle Creepy? That girl is like half your age!"

Peter rolled his eyes. "Just how old do you think I am, Derek? Besides," he scoffed. "That girl's fascination with me is purely analytical. She's in love with my business, not my package, if you know what I mean," he said with a wink.

Derek shook his head. "Okay. So can you please tell me what you're doing here?"

Peter shrugged. "You said you were in Bear Valley. I wanted to go to Bear Valley. So, I came. And before you go off on me, it was purely coincidental that I ran into Stiles. I was just on my way out the door, preparing to call and tell you I was here when he stopped me. And since he mentioned that you were on your way, I thought it'd be a fun little punishment to play a little hide and seek for all those times you called me old."

Derek sighed. "Seriously Peter, just accept your age with grace and dignity before you throw out your back or something." Peter just balked, looking affronted. Derek inwardly laughed. "And just so you know, his friends arranged it so that Stiles and I could have lunch together alone. I was gonna tell him how I feel."

Peter's eyebrows shot up. "Oh? Really?"

"Yes. If the opportunity presented itself."

"See, that's your problem right there. You're waiting for the perfect moment. What you need to realize, baby boy, is that there is no perfect moment. The moment becomes perfect once you tell him how you feel."

Derek sat back in his chair, letting his uncle's words sink in. They were surprisingly thoughtful coming from a man who thought edible underwear was an acceptable Christmas gift.

"Take it from me, Derek. The next time you're alone with the kid, the next time your heart's all aflutter just looking at him, tell him. If my lunch with him today was any indication, he's already got it pretty bad. You boys are two adorable but oblivious peas in a pod."

"Are you talking about him and Stiles?" Lydia asked as she rejoined the table, nodding in Derek's direction before taking her seat. "Because I can't picture any two more dense than these two."

"I know," Peter frowned. "I mean, what's it gonna take for these two to just go at it?" He shook his head, looking back to Derek. "Do you need me to kidnap him and tie him down on a bed for you? Because I can. Or, I have people who can."

Lydia lit up, smacking Peter playfully on the arm. "That's what I said!"

It was at that point that Derek realized having Lydia here was like having a redheaded version of his sister with him. It only got worse from there.

/\/\/\

"Derek, how could you ruin the surprise like that?" Peter looked appalled.

"I know! We were trying so hard to keep it a secret and then he had the nerve to try to trick me in return."

"The nerve!"

"It's not like I did it on purpose," Derek defended. "Plus, he made snacks!"

Peter scoffed. "My nephew will do anything to get at Stiles' goodies, if you know what I mean."

Lydia snorted. "Oh, I know what you mean."

Derek really wished his authoritative stare-down worked on Lydia, but it would seem his attempts were futile.

/\/\/\

"It was obvious right from the start. All I did was put my arm around Stiles' waist and he was already Scowly McScowlington."

Peter sighed wistfully in understanding. "He wouldn't let me join their sleepover."

"Oh my God, Derek, how could you not? What did you think would happen? It's not like Peter would have bed him right in the Sheriff's house. Especially not with the way you practically snarl at every person who comes near the guy."

"I do not-"

"He does, doesn't he!" Peter perked up. "He did that to me!"

"To your own uncle, Derek?"

Derek just pinched the bridge of his nose, wishing this dinner would wrap up soon.

/\/\/\

Dinner would not wrap up soon. Especially not when Peter pulled out his phone to call up Laura.

"You guys are in Bear Valley without me?"

"You're only a few hours out. Drive up," Peter suggested.

"Yes! That would be perfect!" Lydia cheered.

"Please don't," Derek groaned.

"Wait, who was that? The girl? There's a girl with you?"

"Hi! I'm Lydia Martin. I'm a big fan of yours."

"We like her, Laura," Peter smirked. "We're adopting her."

"Oh my God, yes!"

"No, no, no…" Derek groaned again.

/\/\/\

"You sold her out for snacks, Derek? Snacks? How old are you?" Laura berated. Derek just shook his head. "Lydia, you poor dear. I can't imagine how frustrated you must be watching them everyday."

"It is tough. They're just so hard-headed."

"Derek, buy the poor girl something nice," Laura demanded.

"Ooh! A Hammacher Schlemmer Light Cycle. With pink trimmings."

"A girl after my own heart," Peter sat in awe. "I have one with red. You're welcome to try it out some ti-"

"No, Peter. She has a boyfriend," Derek hissed.

"Derek, shush!" she snapped before turning awestruck eyes back on Peter. "Tell me more. What other gadgets do you have back in New York?"

"I recently purchased a hover chair for my office."

"You mean the one that uses repelling magnetism to float?"

"That's the one. It's like sitting on a cloud…"

"I'd love to sit on one of those."

"You're welcome to sit on my-"

"Peter! No!"

Laura just cackled over the phone line.

/\/\/\

"Actually, I prefer skiing but it's practically impossible to look cute walking around in ski boots," Lydia commented.

"So, how'd you do baby bro? You carve your initials into the side of that mountain on your board?"

Lydia laughed before Derek could edge in a word. "Please. Every time I saw him, he was doing another face-plant."

"That's surprising," Peter said thoughtfully. "Normally, you're so good at sports."

"I was fine with the instructor. But then later, when Stiles and Allison came over-"

Lydia gasped. "That's it! That's why you kept falling over, isn't it?"

Derek looked at her curiously.

"Stiles. He gets you all weak in the knees so that you're falling all over yourself. Clumsy cause you've fallin' in love~" she sang the last part.

Derek opened his mouth to retort but was suddenly silenced when twin booms of laughter came from Peter and Laura from over the phone. Peter was doubled over the table, banging his fist against it. He could just imagine how amused Laura was by everything. And Lydia looked positively pleased with herself.

"Oh my God, oh my God," came Laura between chuckles. "Lydia. Sweetie. You're in. You're so in. Welcome to the family."

Derek slumped in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest, wondering what he ever did to deserve these crazy people.

/\/\/\

Derek was beyond grateful that the restaurant had a closing time, or else he'd be stuck in that damn restaurant for hours with the three most horrible people in the world. They had bid Laura a fond farewell, but not before she had started negotiations on an internship for Lydia. In the car, Derek opted to sit in the back seat with his hands over his ears to block out any conversation happening in the front. Once Peter pulled up to the house, he was ready to bolt out the door, but his uncle stopped him before he could get too far.

"Lydia, it was most certainly a pleasure," Peter smiled charmingly at the girl, giving her a kiss on the back of her hand.

"The pleasure was all mine," she smiled in return.

"I'll have my assistant forward you the info on the internship."

"I look forward to working with you and Laura."

Derek just sighed, turning his eyes up to the sky.

Peter bid the girl a good night before turning back to his nephew. "Derek, all kidding aside, I amsorry I ruined your lunch date. That was certainly not my intention," he said softly, placing his hands on Derek's shoulders.

"I know."

"I just wanted to spend some time with my nephew. Blowing me off for a pretty face? It's begun!" he whined, melodramatically, brining his fist up to his mouth, feigning distress.

Derek just snorted.

"Luckily for you," he continued. "I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon. Come say goodbye to me. And bring Stiles. And Lydia. They're adorable."

"I will definitely bring it up to them."

Peter pulled Derek in for a hug. "Love ya, kiddo."

"I love you too, Peter. As much trouble as you cause me, I am happy to see you. I wish you would've called ahead though, so we could have done more together."

"Next time then. And since Stiles told me about his boss, I think I can negotiate more time off for him, if you want. The alps, if you care the snow so much. However, I will say that I think you might like it better in France. They have a nude beach after all," Peter waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Derek just rolled his eyes.

Peter hopped back into his car. "Oh, and think about what I said, okay?"

Derek nodded, solemnly. "Edible underwear is completely appropriate on the third date."

Peter barked with laughter, throwing his head back against his headrest. "Yes, that and what I said about the perfect moment."

Derek chuckled softly, pleased with himself. He nodded again. "I will."

And with another smile, Peter closed his door and drove back to his hotel, leaving Derek alone to think about what he said. 'Don't wait for it. Make it.' He repeated to himself. Derek went inside the house to think about how he could do just that.

/\/\/\

It was nearly two in the morning when Derek heard the front door open from where he was sitting on the futon, idly surfing the web. The rest of the house was already asleep, but with the noise coming from the door, he was afraid they'd all wake up.

"-ne'er did quite un'rstan' what she meant! In spite of e'rythin'!"

"Scott, shhh!"

"In spite of e'rythin'!"

Derek got up off the futon and walked over to the front door to see Stiles carrying a stumbling Scott. He helped him steady the messy-haired boy, draping his arm over his shoulder to bear his weight. "Is he drunk?"

Stiles snorted. "You would think so, wouldn't you? He's not. He's just stupid happy and verysleepy. I told him to just sleep while I drove the rest of the way, but he insisted on staying awake. And as you can see, he's not very functional when he's dead tired," Stiles tried to shift his friend's weight but almost let him slip in the process. "Can you…? I have to go. I drank like 20 gallons of Redbull to make it back here in once piece and despite that, I feel like I'm ready to crash and I'd rather not do that and wet the bed, especially if I mean to share it with you."

Derek took the hint and took on all of Scott's weight. "You want me to bring him upstairs?"

"Don't bother," Stiles said with a wave. "Just dump him off in the den."

"But Isaac's there. Didn't want to chance a repeat performance."

Stiles snickered. "You know what? That's fine. In fact, that's even better. Dump him off with Isaac."

Derek cocked an eyebrow in curiosity, but didn't question it as Stiles made his way to the bathroom. He half-led, half-dragged the sleepy boy into the den.

"Dude, Mr. Hale. Mr. Hale," Scott slurred.

"What is it, Scott?"

"I gotta- I gotta warn you. About y'r blanket."

Derek patted Scott on the arm. "I already know. Stiles steals it in the middle of the night."

"No, no. I know. I mean, I know with a 'k,' not no with-a, with-a… a 'no'."

Derek just blinked, trying to decipher Scott's words.

"Juss… to stop him. From stealin-it. You gotta…" Scott leaned into Derek's ear to whisper the rest. "You gotta be the blanket."

Derek blinked again, looking at Scott with skepticism. "What are you even talking about?"

"Canoodle him! Give him a lil' snuggy-wuggy time," Scott showed him by hugging Derek around the waist.

Derek just frowned at the boy, slapping his arms away before dragging him the rest of the way into the den. "I've held him like that before. He still stole my blanket."

"No, no, no. You gotta hold him. Lemme show you 'gain," Scott said, slipping his arms around Derek's waist once more. "Be the blan-ket, Mis'r Hale."

Derek slapped him away again. "How do you even know that?"

Scott grinned. "Practice."

Derek didn't exactly know how to take that, so he just dropped the boy on top of the sleeping Isaac.

"What! What's going on?" Isaac yelped, sitting up and blinking sleepy eyes.

"He's your problem now."

The blonde looked down at the boy crumpled into a heap in his lap, struggling to slip underneath Isaac's blanket and use him as a pillow. Derek took in Isaac's blush, making a mental note of it before walking out of the room and climbing back onto the futon just as Stiles made his way into the room.

"Much better," Stiles smiled, walking over to his suitcase. "How's Sleeping Beauty?"

"Getting comfy with his new pillow."

Stiles just snickered again before pulling his pajamas out. "Oh, Isaac…" He slipped Derek's scarf over his neck and tucked it in with his stuff. It looked to Derek like that was another thing he wasn't getting back.

"How was your concert?" he asked.

"Amazing. We almost got our faces pounded in by some guy Scott accidentally spilt his drink on, but luckily we're faster runners than that guy," he chuckled at the memory as he pulled his shirt over his head.

Derek forced himself to focus on the boy's face and not on the sudden expanse of pale skin just within his reach. He didn't have to try all that hard because said skin was soon covered up by the shirt Stiles had commandeered.

"What are you still doing up?" he asked, turning around to undo his belt.

Derek had to shake his head and look away before he could try to figure out what Stiles had asked. "I just… I was waiting for you," he said truthfully. "Wanted to make sure you made it back okay."

Stiles didn't respond. Instead, Derek felt the futon shift before two arms wrapped around him as Stiles rested his cheek against Derek's shoulder. "That's really sweet. My own little Sourwolf waiting for me at the door," he chuckled.

Derek snorted, but placed his hand on Stiles' arm gently.

Stiles yawned. He let go of Derek before slipping under the covers. "I'm beat. Night, Derek."

Derek laid back down, turning so that he was facing the younger boy. Stiles smiled softly at him, his eyes getting heavier with sleep.

"Good night, Stiles." He was quite for a second, just watching his friend. Derek bit his lip. "Stiles?"

"Hm?" He already sounded half-asleep, his eyes already firmly shut.

Derek sighed. "Never mind. I'll tell you in the morning."

"Mm-hmm…"

Derek watched as Stiles' breathing slowly evened out. With another sigh, he edged his way forward, implementing Scott's advice. 'Be the blanket, he said.' Derek snorted. Gently, he eased himself on top of Stiles, resting his head on the boy's shoulder, wrapping an arm around his waist, and draping his leg over his. Derek had to snort again. 'I feel like I'm just trapping him under my weight to keep him from moving… But…' Derek couldn't argue that he was quite comfortable, feeling Stiles' warmth against him. The only other time they had slept like this was that night on the beach and technically Stiles didn't steal his blanket – but that mostly had to do with the fact that they didn't have one.

He wondered if sleeping like this would work, but soon, as he began to drift off, Derek – trapped in a world of comfort and warmth – found that he didn't care.

/\/\/\

When Derek woke up the next morning, he felt warm all over. It would seem Scott was right. And while the idea that Scott had been in this position an unknown number of times to actually figure this out made Derek feel ridiculously possessive, he found that he was much too cozy to make a big deal about it. In fact, it was borderline enough to make Derek want to thank Scott for the excellent tip.

Derek took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of Stiles' through the Henley. He nuzzled his pillow, scooting in closer and just allowing himself to relax.

'Okay, so yesterday was a major bust. But today. Today will be different. What's happening today? Danny said… snowmobiling… and then back to the ski resort later in the afternoon. Yeah. I think Stiles would enjoy that. Maybe while snowmobiling we could slip away from the pack while they zoom off on a trail. Or maybe if there's a repeat of yesterday on the snowboard, I can just hold him close when he comes to help me up and just tell him. And then we'll kiss in the snow amongst the trees and then everything will be perfect.' Derek smiled contently to himself, pleased with his plans.

He pushed himself up to rest on his elbow so that he could look down on the sleeping boy, his body no longer pressed up against him. Gently, as to not disturb him, Derek brushed the back of his hand against Stiles' cheek, caressing him tenderly. 'Or…' Derek thought. 'I could just tell him right now. Wake him up and just tell him.' It was certainly tempting.

"Stiles…" Derek called softly.

He saw a little crease form between the boy's eyebrows as they furrowed slightly.

"Stiles…" Derek called again.

Suddenly, Stiles' hand shot out, striking Derek on the nose as it made a grab for his blanket. The blanket was snatched from right off of Derek as it was wrapped securely around the younger boy, he turning onto his side before relaxing into his pillow once more.

Derek held his nose between his hands and stifled a groan. He collapsed back down onto his side of the futon, staring at the ceiling as stars danced across his eyes. 'Again? Really?' He decided it would be best to wait until the boy was fully awake to confess. Telling him while he was still asleep was just too dangerous.

/\/\/\

"All right, who's coming with me?" Stiles grinned, slipping on his jacket as he made his way into the kitchen. Derek was mildly amused to see his scarf back around the boy's neck.

"No one wants to go on your stupid little hike, Stilinski," Jackson frowned, nursing his coffee as he waited for it to cool down.

"Don't be rude," Danny chastised, punching his friend on the shoulder. He looked at Stiles. "No thanks. Isaac and I are gonna do some research to rent some snowmobiles. At least, when he wakes up we will."

Derek inwardly snickered. The curly-headed blonde was probably very startled by his sudden bedmate. He thought about the blush that came over him. 'Does… does Isaac like Scott?'

"Why do you wanna go hiking out there anyway?" Jackson huffed, cutting through Derek's thoughts. "It's like ten times colder today than it was yesterday. Isaac's lucky that Derek didn't decide to push him out into the pool today. He might've frozen his balls off."

"Nice," Danny said, snidely. "Real nice."

"Seriously though. He wouldn't even need the mattress. He could probably just toss Isaac out there right now and all that would happen is he'd skid across the ice. We probably could've saved money by just skating here instead of that place last night."

By now, Danny was just chuckling in amusement at his friend's ramblings.

"Well, if you guys are out, theeeeen, that leaves you," Stiles smiled, sidling up to Derek. "What do you say? Morning hike through the mountains? It snowed last night so think of all that fresh powder!"

Derek snorted. "Stiles, do you even remember our last hike? You remember how well that turned out?"

The boy laughed, patting Derek on the back. "I promise you, all the vicious wild animals will be hibernating by now. You will not need to acquaint yourself with any trees this time around."

Derek rolled his eyes. He doubted he could even make it up a tree with the way his legs felt after yesterday's workout. 'But… it would give me some alone time with him…'

"Pleaseeeee?" Stiles tried again, taking Derek's silence for hesitance. "Don't make me go alone." He gave Derek his saddest puppy-dog eyes, complete with full-on pout.

Derek doubted he could have refused Stiles even without the plea. Finally, he relented. "Let me go change…"

"Yessss!"

After being instructed by Danny to make it back at the latest by 10 if they intended to go snowmobiling with them, Derek followed Stiles out into the woods to explore the surrounding area.

"So, did you go ice-skating with them last night or was it just dinner with Peter," Stiles asked, skipping ahead.

"Dinner with Peter."

"Aw," he chuckled. "I think it would've been fun to picture you gliding across the ice like a princess."

Derek's only response was to scoop up some fresh snow and throw it at the boy's back.

Stiles just laughed. "I kid, I kid. So then how was dinner?"

"Terrible."

Stiles spun around, cocking an eyebrow. "Really?"

"Did you know that Lydia is like in love with my family?"

"Ohhh," Stiles said before bursting into laughter a moment later. "So she found out that you'rethat Hale. I should have warned you. What happened?"

"She crashed the dinner. And you know Peter. He was being his usual inappropriate self. And somewhere along the line, Laura was called, and now it seems I have a new adopted sister."

Stiles was racked with chuckles. "It sounds fun. Wish I coulda been there."

"Yeah, me too."

"Ooh, look at that," Stiles smiled, scurrying off to look at something in the snow. "You know, I wish I had grown up in a place that snowed every winter. There's just so much you can do in the snow. And don't even get me started on snow days."

Derek just smiled to himself, following the sporadic trail Stiles was leaving behind. "So does that mean no trip to Fiji with my uncle?"

"Ha! Are you kidding me? Free trip to Fiji? I'll send you a postcard when I get there. Ooh, look at that! Oh wait, no. Don't look at that. That's just a pinecone."

Derek chuckled in amusement. How could anyone skip out on a hike with Stiles? He was like a kid in a candy store, running from thing to thing, to anything that caught his attention.

"Hey look, a cabin!" Stiles hurried over and stuck his nose in the window. "You think anyone's home?"

"Stiles, get away from there. You'll set off the alarm," he reprimanded, taking the boy by the arm and leading him away.

Stiles just hooked his arm through Derek's and smiled at him. "We should totally get a cabin in the woods. Just come to the snow every winter and build forts in the day and get toasty by a well-managed fire at night."

Derek smirked. "That sounds nice."

"That sounds awesome," Stiles smirked, pulling the scarf around his neck, hooking it over Derek's head and giving both ends a little tug. Derek just snorted before yanking down the bottom of Stiles' beanie over his eyes, laughing to himself as the boy balked in surprise. Stiles pushed his beanie back up, smile on his face as something over Derek's shoulder caught his attention. "Oh, whoa," he said as he jogged through the trees into a clearing. "Look at the lake! It's so blue!"

Derek stepped through the trees and took in the sight before him. He was mesmerized by the view. The ground was blanketed in snow, pure white glistening in the sun. The trees stood tall and firm across the shore, their evergreen pines poking out. The lake was a deep blue, reflecting the soft hues of the morning sky. But what really took his breath away was the boy standing in the middle of it all. Running off in his excitement to get a better look at the lake was Stiles. His cheeks were rosy, nose red from the cold mountain air. He was smiling. And it was that smile that Derek fell so helplessly for.

Derek felt his heart swell when Stiles turned and smiled back at him, shining in the light of the sun. He was reminded of all the things he fell in love with. Stiles was this bright light to Derek's dark and dismal demeanor. He brought happiness and fun into his life. Derek had just been going through the motions before, but after meeting and just being near Stiles, he'd never felt more alive. He'd never felt more in love. 'Just stop being afraid, Derek,' he tried to convince himself. 'Just tell him how you feel… Just tell him now….' Finding courage, he took a step forward."Stil-"

Derek nearly tripped on a piece of wood. 'Damn it!' he cursed as he tried to maintain his balance. He was just about to kick the offensive object when it actually caught his attention. It wasn't just a piece of fallen timber. It was a post. Furrowing his brows, Derek kicked the snow around, revealing a set of planks under his feet. He blinked, taking in the whole picture. 'I'm on a… dock?'

Then, a sudden movement caught his attention as Stiles slipped, limbs flailing as he came crashing down on his rear.

Derek's eyes widened in realization, heart clenching simultaneously. "Stiles! Get off of there! It'sice!" And considering how far out he was, Derek would bet it was thin ice. And that fall probably didn't help things either. "Stiles!"

Derek saw the surprise and realization blanket the boy's expression. Stiles scrambled to turn around, to crawl his way back to where the ice was thicker. 'Come on, come on,' Derek chanted, urging Stiles to move faster back to safety. Derek felt his heart leap into his throat when Stiles' form jerked, but not of his own accord. A piece of ice had broken, Stiles' weight making it sink to one side.

"StilesNo!" Derek screamed, seeing the panic in the boy's eyes. He rushed forward, wanting to just grab Stiles and run.

"Derek, stop! You'll fall!" Stiles yelled to him as he scrambled to hang on, to grab on to anything. It was no good. He was slipping away. Slipping down into the icy waters below.

"Stiles!" Derek cried, desperation in his voice. He edged his way closer, praying for the ice to hold.

But it was too late. Derek watched helplessly as Stiles slipped into the lake, the ice that had given way righting itself, like a door being shut in his wake.

"No, no, no," Derek chanted, getting on his hands and knees, hoping the move would better spread out his weight. He crawled over to where Stiles had disappeared, doing his best to shove the block of ice over, to open up a gap, anything to get Stiles through.

The water was freezing. He could feel it through his gloves. 'How long has he been under?' Derek's mind raced. 'Where is he? I have to get to him!'

He pushed hard, but the piece was heavy. He wished he had a hammer or something he could try to smash it with. But with adrenaline pumping through his veins and panic striking his heart, Derek gave the ice one last shove, moving it just enough to be able to pull Stiles back through. If he could find him.

"Come on, Stiles, where are you?" Derek stuck his arm into the water, a thousand pinpricks shooting against his skin in the cold. He hissed, but pushed aside the instinct to recoil. He needed to find Stiles.

He made a sweeping motion, hoping his hand would brush against the boy. He felt something, grabbing it and pulling it up, but it was just Stiles' beanie. Derek felt his heart leap into his throat. "No, come on Stiles. Where are you?"

He absolutely refused to believe that Stiles anything but alive. 'Maybe if I jump in…' Derek took a few short breaths, preparing himself for what he was about to do. But before Derek could even move, Stiles breeched the surface, gasping for air, hands reaching out to grab Derek's. He was coughing up water, holding on to Derek for dear life.

"Stiles! Thank God!" Derek grabbed the boy's jacket, pulling him into his arms and out of the water. But he could hear the ice cracking, could feel it straining under their weight. With an arm secure around Stiles' waist, Derek scrambled backwards as fast as he could across the ice. Using his elbow and his feet, he kicked back towards the safety of the dock. He breathed a sigh of relief when he felt the post hit his back, feeling grateful towards the piece of wood he earlier hated. Derek collapsed back, trying to catch his breath.

"Y-Y-You're an id-idi-idiot!" Stiles screamed at him, body racked with shivers. "You c-could have fall-en thr-though!"

Derek sat back up. "I had to get to you!" He growled back. There was absolutely no other option for Derek in the moment. He would gladly risk his own life time and again if it meant saving Stiles'. And they weren't out of the woods yet. Having been under for as long as he was, Stiles was going to be dealing with hypothermia if Derek didn't act quickly. His own arm was starting to lose feeling and it had only been submerged a fraction of the time.

Derek gathered Stiles into his arms, holding him close before hurrying through the woods from where they came. "I have to get you warm."

"D-Der-ek. The c-c-cabin," Stiles stuttered.

Derek picked up the pace, seeing the small shelter in the distance. He assessed the situation. There was no deadbolt, so that was a good sign. He just hoped it was a simple lock. Breaking through also meant the alarm would go off, but Derek was actually hoping for that. The alarm meant someone would know they were there. It meant someone would come, someone better fit to take care of Stiles in his current half-frozen state.

Derek set Stiles down in the snow so he could try to break down the door. Bracing himself, he slammed against it, throwing all his weight into the move. It hardly budged. He tried again, crying out as a sudden pain shot through his shoulder.

"Der-?" Stiles looked to him, worried.

Derek rotated his shoulder. Nothing seemed broken, but it still hurt like a bitch. He gave it one last go, taking a few steps back, hoping the excess momentum would help him break through. With a resounding crack, the door gave way as an alarm blared through the trees.

Derek quickly gathered Stiles back into his arms and carried him into the small space, doing his best to close the door behind him despite its broken frame. "Can you… your clothes?" He asked, settling him down in front of the fireplace.

Stiles understood, and did his best to remove his soaked clothing with unsteady hands. Derek took the opportunity to look around the space, trying to find anything he might need. He ran into the bathroom, finding a few towels and grabbing them off the rack. He searched through the drawers in the kitchen, finding some matches to start a fire. He yanked the blanket off the cot, grateful for its thickness.

Crouching down in front of the fireplace, Derek tried to light the match. But his own hands were shaking from the cold, from adrenaline, from the leftover fear in almost losing his best friend. He tossed the broken match aside and tried a new one, willing his hands to steady. With one firm strike, a flame was lit and Derek carefully set fire to the kindling already and thankfully in place.

He looked to Stiles, to see how he was doing. Stiles had managed to unzip his jacket, but was having a hard time taking it off. Derek crouched down next to him, helping him out of it.

"Y-you know. I-I always pic-tured you str-stripping me f-for a diff-differ-ent reaso-n," he chuckled, trying to make light of the situation.

And despite the direness, Derek couldn't help but laugh as he pulled Stiles' shirt over his head. "You know, same here."

Stiles smiled. Derek would have taken a moment to let that sink in. To understand that this meant Stiles had thought about Derek stripping him. It meant that Stiles did picture being with Derek. And if Derek had a moment to let that sink in, he would have screamed in absolute joy to finally realize that Stiles wanted him too.

But Derek had to make sure Stiles was all right. He moved to take Stiles' boots and socks off. He paused then, eyes glancing at his pants then back up to his face. Again, Stiles understood, ducking his head and nodding. He bet if he could, Stiles would be blushing.

"Don't worry," Derek reassured him. "I won't peek."

Again, Stiles merely nodded.

Derek moved to undo Stiles' pants, closing his eyes as he pulled them down the boy's thighs. Despite his earlier claim, Derek might've cracked an eye open.

"H-hey!" Stiles growled out, hand pushing Derek's face aside. "Sn-sneaky little S-Sourwolf."

Derek just snorted, closing his eyes firmly before pulling the rest of the wet clothes off Stiles' body. Opening them again to search for the towels, he set one down near the fire so that Stiles wouldn't be sitting in a puddle. He stuck his arm out in Stiles' general direction, purposefully and somewhat shamefully handing the boy the smaller of the remaining two towels, offering him a bit of modesty. Stiles took the offered towel and did his best to secure it around his waist. And with the final towel, Derek finally looked back at the covered Stiles and began to wipe down his skin.

"S-some-one ne-eds to b-buy fab-ric sof-softener," the boy commented.

Derek just laughed through his nose.

Once the task was done, there was only one thing left to do. Derek began stripping himself of his own clothes.

"Wh-what? What are y-you doing?" Stiles blinked, staring up at Derek.

He kicked off his boots and shimmied his pants off so he was left in nothing but his boxer-briefs and silly little scarf. "Come on. You're smart. You should know the best warmth in this situation is body heat," he smirked, getting on his knees and wrapping his scarf around Stiles' neck.

Derek sat on the towel be the fire, wrapping his arms around Stiles' cold frame and pulling him in close before draping the blanket around the both of them. He pulled Stiles into his lap, rearranging the boy's legs so that they curled around him. This time a blush did manage to grace Stiles' face as he tried vainly to keep his parts covered under the towel. Derek took it as a good sign. He took Stiles' wrists in his hands, stopping him from fiddling, and wrapped them around his torso before returning his own arms around Stiles.

"Stop. I need to keep you warm," Derek chastised the fumbling boy.

Stiles finally settled down – or at least as best he could while still shivering – and rested his head in the crook of Derek's neck, nuzzling into his warmth. "Y-you sca-red me, yo-you know-w."

"scared you?" Derek scoffed.

Stiles clung to Derek even tighter. "I-I could s-s-sort of see you. Thr-through the ic-e. I-I was w-w-orried you'd fall."

Derek shook his head. How could this boy have been worried about him when he was the one trapped under the ice? Derek shut his eyes, finally letting his nerves calm down, the adrenaline bleed out.

He had been scared. Terrified, really. Stiles could've drowned. He could have lost him today. Fire had taken away his parents; he'd be damned if he'd let ice do the same to Stiles. Derek held him tighter, as close as he possibly could without crushing the boy.

"D-Derek? You're sh-shaking," Stiles said, his voice low, concerned.

He opened his eyes. He was shaking. And it certainly wasn't from the cold. "I almost lost you…" Derek said, voice hushed. "What if I didn't go with you? Would you have still gone out? Would you have still fallen through? What if I wasn't there to move the ice? What if I couldn't move the ice? What if Greenberg never cancelled? Would I have lost you while you were away? Where I couldn't save you? Where I couldn't reach you? Stiles, I was so scared. I can't lose you. I just can't-"

"Hey, hey…" Stiles soothed.

Derek mentally scolded himself. Here he was panicking when it was Stiles who had almost died.

"It's ok-ay. I'm o-kay. You are here. You s-aved m-me. Sourwolf always pro-tects me."

Derek exhaled, breathing a sigh of relief. He let all his tension drain, suddenly feeling exhausted. "Stiles, I-"

"What in the…?"

Derek's eyes snapped to the door. There was a woman standing there, eyes wide as she took in the state of what he assumed was her cabin. Her eyes settled on the pair in the middle of the floor.

"He fell in the lake," Derek quickly explained. "I'm sorry about breaking in, but he fell…"

He watched as her eyes raked over the pale body in his arms, still shaking under the blanket. She shook her head, silenced the alarm and pulled out her phone, calling for an ambulance.

Apparently, the cabin was a part of her much bigger home some few hundred feet away. She thought maybe a bear had broken a window or something, not a pair of college students breakingin to find shelter. The ambulance arrived shortly, and once Stiles was safely stowed away, Derek gave his information to the woman, promising to pay for all damages done to her home. He climbed into the ambulance as well, sirens blaring as they fled to the hospital.

The EMT started asking questions about Stiles, things that Derek didn't know like allergies and emergency contact information. Stiles tried to answer himself, but his shivering had grown more violent now. Derek was worried, wanted to pull Stiles back into his arms where he would be safe and warm, but put his trust in the EMTs. Then Derek thought of someone who just might be able to help.

"Do you have a phone I could use?" He asked, thanking the medic when he handed it over. Derek did his best to recall the number from his memory. He showed Stiles the number, saw the boy's eyes light up as he nodded in its accuracy.

"Hello?"

"Scott, it's Derek."

"Oh, hey Mr. Hale! I didn't recognize the number," came the friendly voice. "What is that? Is that a police car? What did Stiles do this time?"

"Scott," Derek urged the boy to focus. "Stiles fell through some ice."

"He what?"

"We're on our way to the hospital right now. It's just… They're asking me things and I don't know and Stiles can't answer and-"

"Hey, hey, Derek, relax. It's okay. Just hand the phone to the EMT. I got this."

Derek did as he was told. He was only half aware of the one-sided conversation he could hear. He was more focused on the too pale skin and bluish lips of the boy before him. He didn't even notice at first when after a few moments, the EMT tried handing the phone back.

"Mr. Hale? I'm on my way there, okay? I'll meet you there and we'll take care of this together, all right? How's Stiles?"

"He's freezing, but he's alive."

"Good, good. I'll see you soon, okay?"

"Okay," Derek nodded, although the boy couldn't see it. "Thanks, Scott."

"No, man. Thank you." And with that, the call ended.

Derek returned the phone before taking one of Stiles' hands in his, giving it a little squeeze. Stiles just smiled softly at him.

They soon arrived at the hospital where Stiles was quickly rushed away. Derek moved to follow, but a nurse was blocking his way.

"Sir, we need to check out your own state. Sir," the nurse tried.

Derek ignored her, wanted to just step past her and be with Stiles. "He needs me. I have to-"

"Sir, calm down. We need to examine you first-"

"No, I-"

"Mr. Hale!"

Derek looked over his shoulder to see a concerned Scott make his way over. He never felt so relieved to see the messy-haired boy.

"Mr. Hale, I'll go with Stiles, okay? You get yourself checked out."

"But-"

"Your fingers man. Look at your hands."

Derek glanced down. The tips of his fingers had started to turn purple.

"Go get yourself checked out," Scott commanded. "I'll go with Stiles. It's okay. He'll be okay."

Derek slowly nodded and allowed himself to be led away. Now that he was away from Stiles, surethat he was in good care, he felt everything at once. His shoulder began to ache, his arms and legs burning from strain. He could barely feel the tips of his fingers. His energy was zapped and he willingly obliged when they asked him to lie down. He felt ready to pass out. They checked his hands, made sure no permanent damage would be sustained. They took an x-ray of his shoulder. The bone appeared to have some minor bruising, but luckily it wasn't cracked. They gave him some medicine to help with the pain.

Later, Derek was joined by Isaac who sat with him until the nurses gave Derek permission to leave. The boy had brought with him a change of clothes of which Derek was incredibly grateful.

"When Scott said what happened, I couldn't believe it. The fact that you guys made it out of there… it's amazing, really."

"Yeah," Derek breathed, pulling a sweater over his head, careful with his shoulder. "Stiles is a lot stronger than he looks."

"No," the boy said, shaking his head. "I mean you."

Derek looked up at Isaac, looked into sincere blue eyes full of concern and relief. He placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Thanks."

Isaac just nodded, patting Derek's hand before leading the way to the waiting room. The rest of the gang were all there, concerned expressions on their faces. They stood as Derek made his way over.

"Hey, how are you?" Danny asked.

"Shoulder feels like shit, but other than that, I'm good."

Lydia walked over to him, punching him on his uninjured arm. Derek frowned. "You two are idiots. What were you doing going out there anyway? Read the forecast! You'll freeze your balls off!"

Jackson snorted. "That's what I said…"

"What she means to say," Allison said, taking Lydia by the shoulders and easing her aside to look Derek in the eye, "is thank goodness you're both all right."

Scott finally came out and joined his friends. Derek swarmed him almost instantly. "How's Stiles? Is he okay? Is everything all right?"

Scott pulled Derek into a hug, surprising the older boy. "He's fine, thanks to you. It was a little hard to understand, but he told me you saved him. So thank you, Mr. Hale."

Derek stood there, stiff, muscles taut, unable to find the words to say anything in return.

Scott pulled away before turning to address everyone. "Stiles is gonna be okay. They're just trying to get his body temperature up to a normal level, monitoring him to make sure he's gonnastay okay. He's resting now."

They all took up their seats, relieved by the good news. Derek was about to sit too, just wanted to sit down and fall asleep, when the entrance doors burst open.

"Where's my son! Where's Stiles!"

Derek was surprised to see Sheriff Stilinski hurrying through the doors, his face wrought with worry. The Sheriff spotted Derek and made his way over, hands grasping at his arms. "Where is he?"

"Sheriff Stilinski," Scott said, standing from where he had just sat down, grabbing the man's attention. "I'll take you to him."

He breathed a sigh of relief as Scott led the way.

"Sir! You can't park your car there!" a nurse called.

The Sheriff didn't even bat an eye. He just tossed his keys in Derek's direction, before the doors closed behind him. Derek did as was suggested. He stepped outside to see the Sheriff's patrol car parked haphazardly; half on the street, the other half on the curb. The siren was off, but the lights were still swirling on the top of the car.

'Scott probably called him,' Derek thought. 'He probably raced up here from Beacon Hills. I know that's what would have done…' Derek moved the car, finding an appropriate parking spot. Before going back inside, he took a few seconds for himself, breathing slowly to really try to accept everything that had happened.

'God, what a mess… I want to see Stiles. Make sure he's really okay.' He closed his eyes, but all he saw was skin too pale and lips too blue. The image was frightening. He would give anything to make the image go away.

He nearly jumped in his seat when a knock came on the window. Derek looked up, surprised. He opened the door and got out. "Peter?"

He suddenly found himself in another embrace. "You stupid, stupid kid. You'll be the death of me, I swear. Your sister is gonna kill you, but only after I kill you first, you got that?"

Derek wrapped his arms around his uncle, resting his head on the man's shoulder and nodded. Despite all their differences, Peter was a source of comfort to Derek. He was love and support, all things Derek needed right now.

"God, you should have called me. Lydia called me."

"I'm sorry. I just- a lot happened and I-"

Peter just ran his hand up and down his nephew's back in a soothing motion. "Well thank God you and Stiles are okay. He's okay, right?"

Again, Derek just nodded.

"Good," Peter sighed, pulling away. "You look like shit."

Derek couldn't help it. He laughed. Peter was all things Derek needed right now.

He led the way back inside where he introduced Peter to the others. They all sat together, waiting to hear good news about their friend.

Scott had returned and was now sitting with Allison, his head resting on her shoulder. He looked tired himself. Isaac and Danny were talking amongst themselves as Lydia struck up a conversation with the older Hale. Jackson just scowled at Peter, glaring daggers.

And despite attempts to get him to sit down, Derek merely stood by the clinic doors, willing them open and reveal a healthier, livelier Stiles. Eventually, though, it was the Sheriff who walked through, looking relieved but as if he had aged ten years in the process. Derek straightened up as the older man made eye contact before heading his way over.

And Derek was once again surprised as he found himself a recipient of another hug. The Sheriff breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you," he said, voice low as he pulled back, holding Derek at arm's length. "He's all I have left."

Derek nodded in sympathy, understanding.

"Go on in. He's awake now. He's asking for you."

"Sheriff Stilinski."

The Sheriff darted eyes at the man over Derek's shoulder. "Peter Hale?"

Peter just smiled, throwing an arm around the Sheriff. "Come on. You look terrible. Let me buy you some coffee from the cafeteria. I hear it's disgusting."

"Can't be worse than the crap they serve us as the precinct."

Peter just laughed in amusement as the two older men walked down the hall.

Derek watched them go before he made his way into the room where Stiles was recuperating. The boy smiled when Derek came through the door. Derek let out a little sigh of relief. Stiles looked much better than he had a few hours ago. He skin was no longer pallid and his lips were a much healthier-looking red. He raised his arms and Derek instantly complied, rushing over to pull Stiles into a hug; one he felt comfortable with, one he took comfort in.

"How are you?" Derek asked, relieved by the warmth he felt pressed against him.

"Good. I'm good. They want to keep me a little while longer for observation, but I'm good," he pulled back, a grin on his face. "They said I get to keep all ten fingers and ten toes." He wiggled them for effect.

Derek chuckled. "That's good. You need those to make my coffee."

Stiles laughed, the sound like music to Derek's ears. "Almost freeze underwater and the guy's a comedian," he snickered.

Derek couldn't help himself. He pulled Stiles back into his arms. "Don't ever do that again, okay?"

"What? Go for a swim when it's twenty degrees out?" he joked.

"No, Stiles… just… just don't, okay?"

He felt the boy nod against his shoulder as arms wrapped around him once more.

"My dad's taking me home for the week," Stiles said wistfully. "It's not cause he thinks I'm gonna keel over or anything, but I think he just needs me home. Needs to know I'm okay, you know?" Derek nodded in understanding. Stiles chuckled. "He drove over 90 on the freeway with his siren on just to get here under two hours. And he calls me reckless."

'Knew it,' Derek chuckled to himself.

Stiles pulled away and looked Derek in the eye. "Scott's supposed to head back to the house and get my stuff. He decided to come home with me. But, I should be back before the concert. You're still going, right?"

Derek nodded. "Of course. When will you be back? I'll pick you up," he said without hesitation.

Stiles smiled. "Thanks. I should be back on Friday."

Derek frowned. Friday was so far away. He wasn't looking forward to that time away from Stiles. But he didn't exactly have a choice.

"So… how are you? Your shoulder?"

"I'm fine," Derek assured him. "It's bruised, but not broken. They gave me meds so it doesn't even hurt. Also, I get to keep all of my fingers too."

Stiles chuckled. "Good. I don't want to have to go searching for a new shelling squirrel."

Derek snorted at the joke.

It wasn't long after that the rest of the gang came into the room either one-by-one or in pairs.

Lydia came bursting in. "You're an idiot Stiles! There are easier ways to die, you know! If you want, I could just melt your face off with some hydrofluoric acid. That would be a lot easier!"

Once she got the anger and frustration out of her system, she hugged her friend, grateful that he was okay.

After her, Jackson and Danny came in.

"I-I told you your hike was stupid," Jackson muttered, eyes downcast as he drew invisible patterns with the tip of his shoe.

Danny rolled his eyes. "I'm glad you're okay, Stiles. And even though he has a stupid way of showing it, so is Jackson."

Jackson snorted. "You're stupid…" he murmured. He even walked over to Derek, punching him lightly in the chest, although not making eye contact. "You… good job not letting him die." And with that, he fled the room.

Danny shook his head, mumbling about 'emotionally constipated friends' before following Jackson out.

Later, Allison came in with Scott, both hugging Stiles in relief.

"Oh man, you scared us. Remember that one time you fell off my roof and broke your arm?" Scott reminisced.

Allison frowned. "I really wish you'd both take it easy and stop scaring the rest of us."

"Hey, but at least you got a fun and sexy nurse to take care of you," Scott grinned.

Allison shook her head. "Scott, you dressing up in your mom's scrubs and feeding Stiles carrot sticks is neither fun nor sexy."

Isaac also came in and teased Stiles, only to be teased in return.

"Hey Stiles, how was your swim?"

"Hey Isaac, how'd you sleep?"

The boy hid a blush and dropped it.

They all expressed concern for their friends, relief that both Stiles and Derek were all right. Stiles convinced them to carry on with their vacation, assuring them that even though he was going home to Beacon Hills for a while, he'd still be partying it up as best as he could. It was only when they were all assured that he'd be fine that they finally return to the house, though Scott made plans to return with their things. Through all of this, Derek watched over Stiles, finding relief in his proximity. Finding relief in knowing that he was all right, that he was alive. The only time Derek left the room that afternoon was when the Sheriff made his way back in, wanting to give the father and son some privacy.

"Derek," Peter stood as the younger Hale made his way back into the waiting room. "I need to get going if I want to make it back to New York at a decent hour. But if you need me to, I can stay."

"No, no, it's okay," Derek assured him. "Stiles is fine."

"What about you?"

Derek nodded. "I'm fine, too. Thank you, Peter. I know this wasn't exactly your ideal vacation…"

"Please," Peter said with a wave of his hand. "Spending time with my nephew while telling all his new friends about the time he absolutely refused to wear pants is a joy. Best vacation ever."

Derek scowled at his uncle. "You didn't."

The grin on Peter's face said otherwise. "Now before you kill me, let me go say goodbye to Stiles and the Sheriff. And then I'll be on my merry way."

Peter disappeared behind the doors, and after a few minutes came back with a smile on his face. Derek wanted to question him, but was slightly afraid of the answer and so thought better of it. Instead, he just pulled his uncle into a hug, thanking him for coming and promising a good time for their next trip.

It was about an hour later that Stiles was finally released, given strict directions to keep warm and bundled up for the next few days. By then, Scott had returned with their stuff, taking it to the Sheriff's car. The three boys were standing by the entrance as the Sheriff finished off some paperwork.

"So, Friday, right? You're picking me up?" Stiles asked Derek for confirmation.

Derek nodded. "Call me. Let me know when you're getting in."

"What about me, Mr. Hale?" Scott grinned, elbowing the older man. "You gonna pick me up on Tuesday? I'd wait 'til Friday but I have work on Wednesday."

Derek frowned at Scott, swatting the boy's arm away. "You have a girlfriend. And if she can't pick you up, I'm sure Isaac wouldn't mind."

Scott flushed, mouth agape as Stiles snickered. "Wh-what's that's supposed to mean?"

Derek rolled his eyes and pushed Scott towards the door, shoving the Sheriff's keys into his hand. "Go pull the Sheriff's car around."

Scott smiled, easily distracted. "All right, all right."

Derek watched as Scott disappeared out the door. He looked to Stiles, stepping in front of him to adjust the scarf still keeping the boy warm. "Take care of yourself, okay? No hikes."

Stiles grinned in amusement and nodded. "I'll be good."

Derek took another step forward, wrapping his arms around Stiles' shoulders, leaning his head against his. "Stiles… I-"

"Ready to go?" The Sheriff asked, purposefully wedging himself in between the two. Derek stepped aside, immediately missing Stiles' warmth. "Where's Scott?"

"Getting the car," Stiles frowned at his father, rolling his eyes.

The three of them stepped outside just as Scott pulled up, hopping out of the driver's seat to open the passenger door for his friend before climbing into the back, tossing the other set of keys to Derek. He waved to Derek. "Bye Mr. Hale! See you Tuesday! I'll be coming in around 10 at night! Don't be late!" he laughed.

Derek just shook his head.

Stiles paused before getting in, looking to Derek. Sidestepping his father, Stiles rushed back into Derek's arms, holding him tightly. Derek sighed in content, loving the feel of this boy in his arms.

"Thanks, Derek. You were awesome. You're always awesome."

"Even when I'm face-planting in the snow?"

"Especially."

"All right, all right," the Sheriff huffed, getting his son into a headlock to pull him away. "You'll see each other on Friday," he said, pushing Stiles into the car.

"Bye Derek!" Stiles smiled. "I'll miss you!"

Derek felt his heart warm. He opened his mouth to reply, but the cold stare he was getting from the Sheriff made him hold his tongue.

The Sheriff again stepped in between the two, purposefully blocking his son from view as he rested a hand on Derek's shoulder. "Derek, I'm thankful for what you did for my son and I will forever be grateful for it. I just… I want you to know that from now on… I'll keep my shotgun unloaded so you can at least get a running start."

"Dad! Oh my God!"

The Sheriff was unfazed, giving Derek's shoulder a firm squeeze – perhaps too firm – before taking his seat behind the wheel.

Derek gulped down the lump in his throat and waved as the car took off. He watched as Stiles was taken away, continued to watch until he disappeared from view. Finally, Derek sighed, making his way over to where Scott had parked the car. His morning had been way too much excitement for his liking. He was ready to get back to the house and just sleep the rest of the day away.

When Derek arrived back at the house, the remaining friends were being helpful. There was food waiting for him which Derek pretty much inhaled, having missed eating all day. They invited him to go out with them, snowmobiling as they had planned, and understood when he respectfully declined. Derek just wanted to climb onto the futon and sleep. As glad as he was that Stiles was alive and well, he really just wished that the morning hadn't happened. He hoped as he drifted off to sleep that when he woke up, Stiles would be back in his arms, the whole nightmare of the icy waters just a dream.

It was hard waking up to realize it wasn't. It meant the pain in his shoulder was back, full swing. And all the more, it meant that Stiles wasn't sleeping nearby.

The morning was mellow. Isaac went with Derek to settle the matter with the woman whose cabin he broke into. She was understanding, which Derek was grateful for, as she brought in a professional to assess the damage. Derek signed over a check, adding extra for the towels and the blanket and any other damages he might've caused. Once that was done, they returned back to the house, gathering their things to return home.

The train ride back was reserved as well. They all made idle chitchat, making jokes about the fun times on the trip. For the most part, Derek joined their conversations, relishing the fun moments, but in the back of his mind, Derek knew there was just a void in Stiles' place. He missed him. He wanted to see him, to talk to him. He would've found a connecting train that would take him to Beacon Hills, but he wanted to respect the Sheriff's time with his son. So they made it back by nightfall, with no one taking any connecting trains, all tired by the events of the trip itself.

And when Derek got back into his apartment, he simply curled up into his bed, tired and alone, waiting patiently for Friday to arrive.

Chapter Text

Nothing made time go faster than falling back into a routine. Or at least, that's what Derek hoped when he woke up that rainy Tuesday morning. He worked out - careful not to strain his shoulder - he took a shower, and he even made his way to the coffee shop to drink his regular cup of Joe.

It was weird then, to walk in and see Clara, his original barista.

"Hello, sir," the girl greeted with a smile. "Large coffee, with two pumps of hazelnut syrup and one shot low-fat milk. Right?"

Derek smiled softly, nodding in her accuracy. She had been making that same cup for him ever since he first walked into this place. He wasn't surprised that she still remembered it even after a few months of being away.

It felt strange seeing her back behind the counter. It was almost as if she never left. Like maybe the past few months never happened. Like maybe Stiles never happened. It felt like just another day at the coffee shop, just another step in his routine. Hell, even the pain in his shoulder was numbed to a slight stiffness. It felt like he could have just slept on it wrong. It felt like maybe he had been asleep this whole time.

It was unsettling.

Derek paid for the coffee and took a seat in his regular spot. Without even a small sip of his coffee beforehand, Derek took out his phone and opened up his contacts list. Despite how silly it was, he needed reassurance. He knew that his time with Stiles had happened. Simple evidence of it was the entry in his phone: The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D, complete with a picture of a smile Derek had all but memorized. But before he even realized what he was doing, he pressed the call button, needing to hear his voice.

"Mooooorning, Derek!"

He breathed a sigh of relief, a smile spreading across his face. "Good morning, Stiles."

He heard the boy chuckle. "I bet you miss my tasty treats, huh? That's why you're calling? You're probably at the coffee shop now, wishing you had some yummy goodies to go with that coffee."

Derek snickered. "No, you idiot. I'm calling cause I miss you."

"Oh," Stiles paused. "Well, of course. There's that too."

Derek smiled. And so he fell back into his routine. He was at his favorite little coffee shop, drinking his favorite blend, and talking to his favorite person. In the grand scheme of things, it was still a relatively new routine, but Derek found he liked this one the best.

/\/\/\

His week without Stiles was made easier with Stiles. Although Derek would much rather have the boy with him in physical form, he settled with getting to talk to him every morning during coffee, every afternoon while running whatever errand, and every night just before bed. And in the spaces in between, Stiles would sometimes send Derek a random picture of what he was doing or things he saw. It made any anxiety he felt from their separation much easier to deal with, just hearing his voice, and seeing him live and well.

Hell, even receiving a picture of Stiles with Laura was a comforting sight.

Derek jerked upright from where he had been sitting on his couch. 'Laura?' Okay. Maybe it wasn'tall that comforting.

He opened up a new text message.

What are you doing with my sister?

He opened up another message.

What are you doing with my Stiles?

He hit 'send' before he proofread that one.

He placed his phone on the seat next to him, staring at it, urging it to reply. 'What are they doing? I mean, considering how Laura has no shame in embarrassing me, what if she's showing him more disturbing pictures? What if she's telling him more disturbing stories? No, no, no, no,' he groaned, burying his face in his hands while tugging slightly at his hair. 'This is not good. Don't they know they're not allowed to meet without me there to defend myself or run damage control?'

His phone chirped. Derek scrambled to pick it up. It was The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D.

hey! i calld her n said i was back in town n so she INSISTED on takin me to lunch. yay free food!

Derek typed out a reply. So wait. You're not with her now?

nope. she just left to go bck to wrk.

That's a relief.

His phone chirped again, signaling a message from ANSWER THE PHONE DEREK OR I'LL KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP It's Laura.

Your Stiles? Freudian slip, little bro? Cause I know for damn sure after my lunch with him that you STILL HAVE NOT CLAIMED HIM FOR YOUR OWN. P.S. Thanks for not calling me when you were in the hospital, asshole. Cause you know, your own sister doesn't need to know this kind of crap.

Derek winced. Yeah. See? This is why he needed to be there to do damage control.

meant to call you. But I'm fine. I didn't want you to worry.

His phone chirped again. It was Stiles.

now, now. she tld me a delightful lil tale abt a girl who likd to play dress-up w/ her lil bro. she also prmisd pics ;)

Derek wanted to crawl into a heating vent and never come out. His sister was a cruel, cruel woman. He was going to reply with as much when he got another message from Laura.

Well, I'm glad you're both okay. But I'm still not glad that you're still sitting on your ass while Stiles is single and charming up the cute little waiter boy into giving us a friends and family discount.

Derek growled. Like an audible, pure animalistic, frustrated and jealous growl.

He did not! You're lying! He's mine! Why would you let something like that happen?

He had typed his response out and hit 'Send' before realizing he hadn't switched recipients. That last one had gone to the wrong person.

'Wait… no…' Derek shifted in his seat. He looked at his outgoing messages to confirm what he already knew. 'Shit…' The phone chirped in his hand. Derek felt a wave of dread. It was Stiles.

im… confused? let wut happn?

Derek racked his brain, trying to think of a plausible excuse. Somehow, he didn't think 'My sister said you were getting friendly with some guy and I got jealous' would cut it.

Sorry. That was for my sister. She told me Tom threw something of mine out.

Satisfied, Derek was just about to hit send when decided to add more.

By the way… how was your lunch? I mean, besides the whole 'Let's Embarrass Derek' thing you had going on. Was the waiter nice?

He hoped it wasn't as suspicious to Stiles as it was to him. He pressed his palms together, holding them up to his lips as he waited for Stiles' reply. He didn't have to wait long.

i see. and no. the waitress was mean. i brderline believ she spat in my water. but i tld ur sis to tip her anyway. she coulda just had a bad day prolly. customr srvice is hard wrk.

Derek breathed a sigh of relief, relaxing back into the couch.

How considerate of you. You're a good guy, Stiles. Too good to be hanging around my wicked sister. Try not to let it happen again.

He opened up a new message, making sure it was going to the right recipient.

You're a terrible person.

All he got back from both of them was a matching: LOL.

Derek tossed his phone aside. Texting was more trouble that it was worth.

And it was still just Tuesday.

/\/\/\

At around 10 that night, Derek found himself at the train station, just waiting in his car. He was pretty sure that Scott had been joking about picking him up, but Derek just wanted to be sure that if he wasn't joking, he had a ride home.

'In retrospect, I probably should've just called him,' Derek thought. He was just about to do that when a familiar brunette came into sight. 'Yeah. See? There's Allison. Smart move, Hale.'

Derek was just about to start up his car and leave when another familiar person came into sight. Isaac looked drenched despite his large umbrella. 'Did he… walk here? Does Isaac have a car?'

Just as Isaac was making his way to the door, Scott and Allison stepped out, he with his arm slung over her shoulders, she with an arm around his waist. The two were smiling and laughing as they walked out into the rain. Derek glanced over to see Isaac spin around, turning his back to his friends as the pair walked over into the parking lot, holding his umbrella low, probably to obscure him from view.

'What is going on…?' Derek had to wonder. He pulled his keys out of the ignition and hopped out of the car, opening up his own umbrella.

"Hey! Mr. Hale!" Scott smiled, waving at the older boy.

"Hey, Derek. What are you doing here?" Allison asked.

"Well, Scott did say to pick him up."

The boy flushed, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck. "Oh. I didn't think you'd actually do it. But!" he perked up. "It's good that you did come cause I have something for you. From Stiles."

'Something from Stiles?' Derek lips curved upward, pleased and excited.

Scott dug through his pack and pulled out a Tupperware container. "He said there's one for every day so don't go scarfing them down all at once."

'Yeah right. That's not happening,' Derek scoffed, but eagerly took the offered box. "I will thank him when I call him tonight."

"Anyway, thanks for coming man. I appreciate it, even though it seems like it was for nothing."

Derek shrugged. "It wasn't for nothing," he smirked, holding up his treats. "In fact, I think it was kinda worth it."

Both Scott and Allison laughed. She shoved the older boy playfully on the shoulder. "Just get married already. You guys are sickeningly sweet. Bye Derek."

"See ya, Mr. Hale!" The two hurried off to Allison's car as Derek waved goodbye.

Before going back to his car, Derek made his way over to the boy in the shadows, hiding under his umbrella.

"You can come out now, Isaac. They're gone."

Isaac stopped pretending to be interested in the brickwork of the station and turned to look at Derek. "So you saw me."

"Mm-hmm," Derek nodded. "Why are you hiding?"

"I wasn't hiding. I was just… I wanted to make sure he got home all right. I was gonna take a taxi with him in case Allison didn't show up."

Derek was pretty sure he didn't see Isaac come in a taxi. "Did you walk here?"

Isaac didn't respond. He just pretended to be interested in the brickwork once more.

Derek sighed. "Come on, then. Try not to drip on my seats."

They rode on in silence, despite Derek's curiosity wanting to get the best of him. He wanted to ask Isaac what he had already begun to suspect. 'Does Isaac like Scott?' But he wasn't going to push his friend into confessing anything he wasn't ready to. So instead, Derek took Isaac back to his place, threw on a pot of coffee and – reluctantly – shared his treats, trying to distract the boy with idle conversation. He even let Isaac into his toy room, letting him help construct his Lego Death Star.

Isaac snickered. "I can't believe he was telling the truth. I never would have guessed."

"Shut up," Derek scowled. "Hand me that piece over there."

Isaac obliged. "It's just surprising. Stiles likes to exaggerate things so when he said you had a toy room, I thought maybe he just meant you had like an action figure on a bookshelf, not anactual toy room."

Derek huffed. "See if I ever share my muffins with you again," he grumbled under his breath.

Isaac just chuckled and handed Derek another piece. They continued constructing the model, making small talk to pass the time.

"So what classes are you taking next semester?" Isaac asked.

"Ethics, Legal Studies, you know. Just the last few classes more focused on my major."

"You're graduating, right?"

"Once I fill out all that paperwork, yeah. I don't know if I wanna bother with the ceremony though."

"What? You have to. That's like the best part of finishing school. All the important people in your life gathered to cheer you on."

Derek shrugged. "We'll see. I'm more concerned with finding an academy to enroll in."

Isaac sighed. "And in just a few years, I'll be stuck in the same boat. You know, I think Scott's getting a little interested in criminal justice, too."

"Doesn't he already have a major? I thought he was gonna be a vet or something."

"No, that's just his part-time job. He actually doesn't have a major yet."

Derek inwardly groaned. Although he understood that people changed majors constantly, he also thought it was a waste of time and money to take classes that weren't core to their goal. "Wait, that concert thing is for his work, right? How's that coming along?"

"Carols for Kittens?"

Derek nodded, attaching the section he'd been working on to the larger main component.

"Yeah, I think we're coming along pretty well. Scott doesn't think so. He's all about 'practice, practice, practice.' He called me last night to make sure I get some practice in. Hell, I think part of the reason he went with Stiles was to make sure he actually picked up a guitar," he chuckled in amusement. "But I think I'd be freaking out too if I were him. Dr. Deaton is like in love with Scott so I guess he just doesn't wanna let him down."

"So what is it, exactly?"

"Just some charity thing. Apparently the vet does some side work as an animal rescuer so he's trying to raise money to help save abused pets, especially now when some pets get left in the cold during winter and since people are just so giving this time of year. Me, Scott, and Stiles are pretty much just providing some music for atmosphere."

The thought of seeing Stiles on stage with a guitar was… cute. And the fact that he was doing it to help poor, defenseless animals was just icing on the cake. Derek was actually looking forward to it. He pulled out his phone and checked his schedule. Once Stiles was back, it looked like the boys had a whole week of practice before the show. "It's still on Saturday, right?"

"Mm-hmm."

"Is there a specific dress code or anything?"

Isaac hummed. "I don't think so…"

"Good."

"You're coming?"

"I wouldn't miss it for the world."

Isaac chuckled before his expression softened. "You know, I gotta admit. I'm a little envious of you two."

"Hm?"

"You two found each other. And despite the fact that you haven't told him yet, I don't doubt that you will tell him. And then after that… you'll have each other."

Derek smiled at the thought. 'But for Isaac… if he is in love with Scott, telling him might not be so good, especially since Scott is with Allison.' He couldn't help but feel for the boy. 'If Stiles had a girlfriend, would I be able to sit back and watch them together?' He wasn't sure that he could. And for that, Derek sympathized with his friend. He placed a hand on Isaac's shoulder, hoping the gesture would say more than anything his mouth could come up with.

Isaac just smiled in thanks. "I'm not though… you know…"

Derek cocked an eyebrow, letting his hand fall back down to his side.

"In love with him…"

The other eyebrow shot up as Derek gave Isaac a look of pure skepticism.

The blonde ducked his head and twiddled a piece in his hands. "I mean… He's Scott. And he's got Allison. And… they're happy together. And I'm happy for them. So… I don't. Because… I can't."

Derek looked back at the toy in his hands. He was never good with this kind of stuff. "Isaac… I'm not gonna try to pretend I know how you feel cause I don't. I won't tell you to get over Scott cause quite frankly, if it were me, I wouldn't want someone telling me to get over Stiles cause it'snot that easy and it's not like I want to really let him go. So… the best I can tell you… is just… keep doing what you're doing. You're a good guy, a good friend. I know that, he knows that. And I know that it sucks, but if he's happy… who are you to break that?"

He would like to tell Isaac that Scott would eventually leave Allison and fall for him. He wanted to give Isaac some kind of assurance, but what kind of friend would he be if he were to give him that false kind of hope? Quite frankly, he didn't know much about Scott and Allison's relationship. For all he knew, they were probably talking marriage. He didn't want to tell Isaac to hold on to a hope that he couldn't possibly know was or wasn't there.

Derek sighed. "I hope you find happiness, Isaac. Cause like I said, you're a good guy. You deserve it. And if it's with Scott, great, and if it's not, then that's okay too. The point is, you'll find it. And you won't even be looking for it. It'll just hit you… you might find it annoying at first, what with the way it keeps talking while you're trying to study, but…" he smiled to himself, "it'll find you. And everything else… will just fall into place."

Derek took the last piece from Isaac's hands and attached it to the model, both staring at what they had built.

From the corner of his eye, Derek saw Isaac nod slightly. "Thanks Derek. You're a good guy, too." After a second, the boy snickered. "A good guy with a toy room."

Derek rolled his eyes, before shoving Isaac away.

/\/\/\

Later, Derek tossed Isaac some clean clothes, a blanket and a pillow, offering the boy the couch for the night. He had thought of taking him home, but Isaac made no complaints as he changed and crashed on the couch. He was out like a light before Derek could even close the door to his room.

After changing into his own set of pajamas, Derek climbed into bed, curled up on his side and dialed the number he had been wanting to call all evening.

"Derek Jebidiah Hale! Do you know what time it is, young man?"

Derek snorted. "That's not my middle name."

"I'm improvising."

He smiled the way he always did when he talked to Stiles. "I went to pick up Scott. And then found out that I didn't need to."

Stiles laughed. "You should've just called him and asked."

"Well… it's a good thing I showed up anyway because he gave me a very pleasant surprise."

"Ew, Derek, come on. I don't wanna know what you and Scott do together when I'm not around."

Derek gaped. "Do you even understand what you're suggesting? You really think that me and Scott think about each other that way? Touch each other? So intimately? My hands on him, his on m-"

"Okay! I get it! It was a joke! Gosh…"

Derek snickered, counting that as a win for himself.

"So you got the goods, right?"

"Mm-hmm."

"And did you save one per day like I said?"

"No."

"I knew it!"

"But to be fair, I did share with Isaac."

"Isaac?"

"Yeah. He… he seemed like he was having a bit of a rough night. So we hung out. See? I'm a nice guy. I share things."

"That's very kind of you. I'm gonna have to reward you when I get home."

Derek smirked. "I like the sound of that," he replied, voice low.

He heard Stiles gasp. "Mr. Hale, I was referring to a batch of freshly baked cookies!" he said in mock-scandal.

Derek grinned. "Well that's not what I had in mind. Not at all." He could hear the boy sputter over the phone. He counted that as another win. Derek was enjoying this, very much. "Stiles…" he breathed, voice husky, wanting to tease the boy.

Stiles was quiet for a moment. Then, voice equally low, he breathed. "Dere-"

"Stiles! Now is the time for sleeping! Not phone sex!"

Derek was startled to hear the sheriff's voice in the background.

"Dad! I'm not even! What are you-"

"Then why is your hand down your pants?!"

"Dad, oh my God! What's wrong with you?!" He heard the boy groan before switching back to a normal decibel. "Derek? I swear, the man is crazy. My hands are nowhere near-"

"Stiles! Lotion is for moisturizing! Not for-"

"You're eating nothing but soy burgers for the rest of the week old man!" Stiles snarled over the line. "Derek? I'm sorry. There's a cranky father that needs to be put down. I'll call you in the morning."

Derek, although disappointed, just smiled in amusement. "Yeah, okay. Oh, and Stiles?"

"Yeah?"

"I miss you."

He could practically hear the smile over the phone. "I miss you, too, Derek."

Derek just smiled in return.

"Stiles! Tissues are for runny noses! Not for-"

"I'm hanging up now, Dad! Relax!"

Derek just chuckled, hearing Stiles grumbling over the phone.

"I'm not, by the way. Just so you know. My dad is psychotic."

Derek was quiet for a moment. Then, "That's a shame."

"Wait, what?"

Derek smirked. "Good night, Stiles."

He hung up the phone, stuck it on the charger before smiling smugly at the ceiling. He thought the whole call was a success. And while he missed his friend dearly, he was sure he'd survive the week if the rest of their calls went just as smooth.

/\/\/\

On Wednesday, Derek was just in his apartment one afternoon, lying in bed, curled up with Stiles' 'Stud Muffin' t-shirt, just thinking about what had happened on Sunday. At first he had been very concerned about having almost lost Stiles without having been able to tell him how he feels about him. And yes, it was a rather traumatic experience that could have gone terribly, terribly wrong. But Derek's mind began to wander, his thoughts going from concern, to relief, to something else completely.

'He was naked.'

Derek shifted on his bed, hugging the shirt close to him.

'If I had pretended that there weren't any towels, he would have been completely bare on my lap. On my lap when I was nearly naked myself.' The thought gave Derek a heady feeling.

Of course, in the moment, all Derek could think about was keeping Stiles safe and alive. The only time he wasn't thinking about it was during Stiles' moment of modesty, in which Derek chanced a peek at the naked boy. 'Too bad that failed…' he sighed in defeat. 'But… what did he say? I feel like he said something important while I was helping him out of his clothes. Something I should remember…' Again, the only thing he had been really focused on at the time was getting Stiles out of his soaked clothing, rather than the fact that he was actually undressing the object of his affections. There wasn't any time to think about anything sexual. But now that he was bored at home, it seemed that was all Derek could think about.

'This is wrong. Stiles was freezing. His skin was so pale and his lips turned purple. But… there was just so much skin. And his legs were wrapped around me… God… is that what it'd be like if we were having sex? Long limbs wrapped around me, him in my lap, me gripping him…'

Derek rolled over onto his stomach, buried his face in his pillow and let out a long groan. He could feel himself reacting.

'Noooo… he was dying. I can't think about him sexually while he was dying. I can't think about how soft his skin was despite how cold it was. Or about how I just want to nip at every mole on his body. Or how I could've really warmed him up by thrusting-'

Derek jumped off his bed. Although he had taken one earlier after his workout, he figured now was a good time for a cold shower.

And later, when Stiles thought it'd be funny to send Derek a picture of a little howling wolf he drew in the steam of his bathroom mirror, all Derek could seem to focus on was the boy in the cloudy reflection… the half-naked boy in the why-couldn't-this-be-focused-better?!-cloudy reflection. Needless to say, Derek had to take another shower before the day was up.

/\/\/\

On Thursday, Derek was determined not to let his mind wander to Stiles' pale skin and firm chest, lest he really wanted to hike up his water bill.

It was late into the afternoon when Derek got a call from ANSWER THE PHONE DEREK OR I'LL KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP It's Laura. He briefly wondered if perhaps he should change the contact name before brushing the idea off and answering the call.

"What?"

"Is that any way to greet your sister?"

Derek rolled his eyes. "Hi. What?"

He heard her snort over the line. "Even though you're an awful brother, I am still an amazing sister who just thought she'd let you know that I've got myself a little date."

"Laura, your life is your life, but I highly disapprove of you cheating on your fiancé."

She scoffed. "I'm not cheating on Tom, smart ass. I have a date with your little baker friend. He's gonna teach me how to make pumpkin pie. I just wanted to know if you knew what kind of stuff he likes. I wanted to get him a present for this and for the apple pie from before."

Derek frowned. "No. That's not allowed."

"I can't buy a present for your boyfriend?"

Derek straightened up, feeling himself getting defensive. "No, Laura. The pie. You can't make it with him."

"Um, actually, I think I can. I just picked up a good-sized pumpkin for it."

"Well, then bake something else. Because if you two are baking pie, then that means he's making whipped cream. And you can't have whipped cream. Whipped cream is our thing."

"Are you serious right now?"

"Laura, don't make pie with Stiles!" He was being petulant, he knew, but he didn't care. He had Stiles-deprivation and the fact that his sister not only got to spend time with him but also got tobake with him just made him unreasonable, childish, and ridiculously possessive.

"You should hear yourself, really. It's like you have separation anxiety."

'Maybe that's cause I do,' Derek internally quipped. And really, he did. He actually found himself at the train station a few times in the past few days, wanting to buy a ticket, but ultimately thinking it would be too much. And he really didn't want to meet the Sheriff's barrel end of his shotgun by showing up. That didn't sound like fun at all.

"Make cookies," Derek said, peevishly. "Or a tart or something. Just not pie. Nothing that requires whipped cream."

He heard her groan. "You are absurd and borderline pathetic, lil' bro. But because I am anamazing sister, I'll insist on no pies. Okay, brat?"

Despite her harsh words and annoyed tone, Derek breathed a sigh of relief. "You are amazing."

"I know. So? Gift ideas? Maybe I should get him a new scarf. He keeps wearing the same one."

Derek perked up. "You mean the dark grey one with the stringy fringe?"

"Yeah. How'd you know?"

Derek didn't hear her question, too pleased to hear that Stiles was still going around in his scarf.

"Oh hell, it's yours isn't it?" He could actually feel her roll her eyes over the phone. "I take it back. You're both pathetic."

Derek was too pleased to care.

"Ugh," she scoffed. "You know what, you're useless. I'll find a gift myself."

"You're amazing, Laura," Derek grinned. "Remember. No pies."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," she grumbled. "And since I'm giving in to your crazy whims," she added, "that means I'm allowed to tell him about your 'King of the Wild Things' phase, kay? Love you! Bye!"

Derek instantly deflated, eyes going wide. "LESS AMAZING!" he yelled, but she already disconnected. He mentally cursed the lack of amazement when it came to his sister, hoping beyond hope that she'd forget by the time she and Stiles met up. He knew he had no such luck.

But later, when Derek received a photo message from Stiles, he found he couldn't deny her amazingness anymore, pleased that her memory held strong. It was a picture of Stiles in a white knit cap with pointy ears, holding up a cupcake designed to look like one of the wild things, his eyes closed as he pretended to kiss the treat. He had captioned it with the words, 'I'll eat you up, I love you so!'

And while he knew those were a reference to a line in the book, Derek chose to believe the words were for him. Derek was a wild thing, and Stiles was unquestionably his king. He smiled. Laura just might be the most amazing sister he could have, but to him, Stiles was the most incredible person in the world.

/\/\/\

When Derek woke up Friday morning, he was ecstatic. He actually woke up, realized it was Friday, and then jumped off his bed in pure happiness.

He had gone four days without Stiles. Technically, it was just four days without having physically seen or touched or even smelt him, but to Derek, that made all the difference. Seeing him through pictures or hearing his voice over the phone just wasn't enough. He was more than ready to have Stiles back by his side.

'You know, these few days apart is like how it would've been if he had gone on the trip without me…' But then Derek thought about what might've happened if he hadn't gone on the trip and he didn't like where that stream of thought went because it ended with the very possible death of the boy he was longing to see. He refocused himself, finding a giddiness begin to bubble from within.

He proceeded with his morning workout, doing extra of everything because of the surge of energy he felt. He even took extra care in the shower, wanting to be squeaky clean and perfect and pristine when Stiles arrived. And once he was done with his shower, dressed and ready to go, he realized he still had to wait another fifteen hours until that train came in.

With a groan, he collapsed on his couch, anxious and frustrated, wishing that time would skip ahead just this once. He sighed as he stared up at the ceiling. 'What do I do until then?'

Time was practically at a stand still for Derek, choosing not to accelerate at a faster pace like he hoped. He groaned, throwing his arm over his face. Fifteen hours seemed like a century away.

/\/\/\

Derek might've been a little eager to arrive at the train station that night. Stiles wouldn't arrive until about ten, he knew. But that didn't really stop him from leaving his apartment almost two hours early.

'But what if I get a flat tire on the way?' Derek thought. 'Or what if something major happened that cause bumper-to-bumper traffic? The rain eased up over the past two days, but what if it comes full blast tonight? That could cause some delays what with slow drivers and possible hydroplaning.'

But nothing of the sort had happened and that just left Derek with about an hour and a half to kill before Stiles' train arrived. He had taken to staring at his newest picture on his phone, reading the caption over and over again. "I'll eat you up, I love you so," he repeated, feeling his heart swell. He had stared at it so much that he convinced himself that the cupcake in his hands was actually a mild interpretation of himself, what with the bushy eyebrows Stiles had drawn. And nothing would convince him otherwise. 'So in reality, Stiles actually wants to kiss me and not that silly little cupcake,' he mused. He stared at the picture again and couldn't help but smile once more.

So in his head was he that it startled him when the phone started to ring, signaling a call from Careful – He Bites. Derek gathered his wits and answered it.

"Yeah?"

"Hey, Mr. Hale!" came Scott's cheery voice. "How's it going?"

"Not bad," he replied nonchalantly.

"You at home? It's still a little over an hour before you gotta leave."

"Um, yeah," he lied. "Just… killing time before he arrives." At least the second half wasn't false.

"Right on. So, I wanted to say that-um, it's been brought to my attention that maybe you won't bring Stiles home right away. And I get it, you guys wanna hang and all, but I really actually need you to take him home, like right, right away."

"What?" Derek frowned. He didn't like where this was going. "Why?"

"Well, the benefit is fast approaching and me and Stiles and Isaac haven't had a chance to practice all together for almost two weeks now and I really, really can't mess this up! This is for my job Mr. Hale! I need Stiles home immediately so we can get as much practice in before the show."

Derek's frown deepened. He checked the schedule on his phone before replying and cocked an eyebrow. 'The benefit is next week. Why does he need all this time for practice?'

"Mr. Hale?" He heard Scott's tiny voice.

He brought his phone back up to his ear. "Scott, you guys'll have plenty of time to practice. An hour or two won't kill you."

"But it might! Please, Mr. Hale. Every second will help! Mr. Deaton's super chill, but I doubt he'll appreciate us ruining the night due to lack of rehearsal. I need Stiles home. And then after the benefit, I have no problem sharing him with you, fifty-fifty."

'Whoa, whoa, whoa. Fifty-fifty?' Derek scoffed. He didn't like that one bit. "Ninety-ten."

"What? That's so not fair!"

"Eighty-twenty."

"Sixty-forty, and that's only cause I know he'd want the extra ten percent with you."

Derek bit his lip. "Seventy-thirty?"

"Sixty-forty! This isn't negotiable any further, Mr. Hale!"

Derek huffed, rolling his eyes. "Fine," he growled out. However, Derek was totally counting the hours Stiles was asleep as part of Scott's time. The messy-haired boy just didn't need to know that.

"Okay, good. So do we have a deal? Please just bring him home straight away and give us all the practice time we need until show time, okay?"

Derek huffed. He didn't exactly like it. But he knew that this meant a lot to Scott. "Fine," he said again.

"Thanks, Mr. Hale! See ya later! Please don't kill me!" And with that, Scott hung up.

Derek scoffed. 'As if that's even an option.' Although it would ultimately mean he had Stiles all to himself – none of this sixty-forty nonsense – Stiles would be devastated if anything happened to Scott. And although he wouldn't admit out loud, Derek might be a little upset about it too. Scott had slowly – very slowly – been growing on him.

The benefit was obviously important not just to Scott, but to Stiles and Isaac as well. The three together must've worked hard to do well for their show. And while Derek did want to spend as much time with Stiles as he could, he was willing to step aside for a bit, to allow them the time they needed to fulfill the job required of them. The whole sixty-forty thing was nonsense, but Derek understood Scott's need to delegate, to try to get things his way. Sixty-forty was supposed to be Derek's reward for doing as he was told, for giving Scott the time he needed to get his band into shape.

Derek shook his head. 'I'm not a dog. I don't need a reward for doing what he says.' He scoffed. 'Besides… it's eighty-twenty and that's that.'

Eventually, Derek hopped out of his car, feeling anxious, needing to stretch his legs as he waited for the train to arrive. He had taken to pacing up and down the platform, earning many odd looks from the few stragglers also waiting for the train's arrival.

'Okay so maybe I agreed to take him home straight away. But that doesn't mean I have to drive fast. In fact, that'd be reckless. I'm no god. I don't want to tamper with fate. Slow and steady is a surefire safe bet,' he smirked to himself. 'Besides, Scott is freaking out over nothing. A week isplenty of time to prepare. Well... maybe not if Stiles works early. And then Isaac has work in the morning, too. And then of course, Scott has work. And then factoring in mealtimes, they really only have the evenings together. Maybe that's why Scott's freaking out?'

Derek's train of thought was interrupted when he heard the sounds of an actual train approach. His heart jumped, ready to beat out of his chest as a huge grin immediately spread across his face. 'He's here!' The surge of energy he felt in his excitement made him want to run in circles. But he restrained himself, reminding himself that no. He is not a dog.

Derek watched the train approach, trying to catch a glimpse of the boy he had been longing to see through the windows. It had been moving too fast to really see anything, so Derek stood back, waiting for Stiles to get off the train. He saw a handful of passengers climb out and tried to see if any of them were familiar to no avail.

"Derek!"

His heart soared, hearing his voice. Derek's head snapped in the direction from where his name was called and saw him. Stiles was there, waving at him, grinning at him, running towards him. Derek couldn't help it. He grinned too before hurrying to meet him in the middle.

Once they were just a few feet apart, Stiles dropped his bag and jumped into Derek's outstretched arms. They swung around, the force of their embrace so strong. Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles, burying his face in the crook of the boy's neck, feeling both relieved and overjoyed to have him back. Derek was grinning like an idiot, nuzzling Stiles, breathing in his scent. His heart was pounding in his chest and he honestly felt like he couldn't hold him tight enough. In this boy's arms was where he belonged.

"I missed you," Derek sighed, suddenly feeling like he had run a marathon.

"I missed you too."

The voice in his ear was a comfort to his every being. Stiles was back. And Derek never wanted him to go ever again.

Stiles pulled back to look his friend in the eye, his grin matching Derek's. "You're so scruffy," he snickered, running the backs of his fingers along Derek's jaw, scrunching his nose.

Derek couldn't admit that despite all the extra care he took in the shower, this was because his excitement this morning made his hands too unsteady to shave without fear of nicking himself. Instead, he just swatted the boy's hands away before tugging Stiles' hat over his eyes. It was the same white wolf cap he had worn in the picture. "You're still wearing that hat." He glanced down and smirked. "And my scarf."

Stiles fixed his hat. "What? Your sister bought it for me as a thank you gift. I thought it was cute. Besides," he smirked. "I need the proper gear if I'm gonna tame the King of the Wild Things." He ran his hands over Derek's scruff again, snickering to himself.

Derek took those wrists in his hands again, pulling them until they were behind his back, until Stiles' arms were back around him. He ducked his head, and leaned in, whispering softly, "You already have."

When Derek looked back up, Stiles was blushing, a soft smile on his lips. Lips that looked soft, warm, and inviting. Lips that Derek wanted to claim for himself.

But he didn't. Because despite everything – the hugs, the hand holding, the teasing, and the blatant flirting – Stiles still never directly admitted any romantic feelings towards Derek, and that was enough to make Derek still a bit insecure.

Also, kissing Stiles right now at the train station would inevitably mean he wouldn't want to take Stiles home as per Scott's request. He'd more likely toss the boy into his car and drive to a place where no one could find them, where no one could disturb them ever again. Some place with no frozen lakes and all the lemons he could ever want. All he needed as Stiles, and Derek would be fine anywhere.

But Stiles had his friends. And Stiles cared for his friends. So Derek knew hiding him away wasn't really an option. Instead, Derek just sighed again, taking a step back and guiding Stiles' wrists back down to his sides before releasing them. "Come on, then. Let's get you home."

Derek walked over to where Stiles dropped his stuff and picked it up before leading the way to his car.

Stiles skipped over to him, looping their arms with a smile. "So how were things? What'd you do? I mean, other than start on your 'mountain man' look?"

Derek scoffed. "You're just jealous I can actually grow a beard." Stiles laughed, the sound music to Derek's deprived ears. "And things were pretty quiet. Didn't really do much." 'Except wait in anticipation for the next time you called…' he added to himself.

"Well, I had a fun time back home. I mean, except for the whole 'doing chores' bit. You'd think that falling through ice would give me a free pass from the whole thing, but nope! Not for one evil sheriff who absolutely refuses to dust."

Derek pictured Stiles in a French maid's outfit, swinging around a feather duster before deciding that was probably inappropriate.

"But your sister was a delight," Stiles added. "She told me lots of stories."

Derek mentally groaned. He wondered now if it would have been better if he joined Stiles back in Beacon Hills, just to make sure his sister didn't ruin his life. But considering Stiles was still hugging his arm, smiling amusedly to himself, seemed like a good sign. 'At least Laura didn't say anything to scare him away.'

They got into the Camaro, Derek tossing Stiles' bag into the back before taking his seat. Stiles hopped into the passenger seat before turning eagerly to Derek.

"Hey, so I was thinking, it's still pretty early, so maybe we can pick up a movie and-"

Derek frowned. That sounded nice. Taking Stiles back to his place so they could snuggle on the couch in the dark, sharing popcorn. But he shook his head. "Sorry. I told Scott I'd bring you straight home."

"Whaaaat? Lame."

Derek chuckled. "He's convinced you guys need all the practice you can get for the benefit."

Stiles scoffed. "Please. The guy called me every day to make sure I practiced, which I did. So now, I'm gonna hang out with you who I haven't seen all week so now time is Derek time."

Derek inwardly groaned. That sounded really nice. But he held firm. "No, Stiles. Look, I know this is important to Scott. And I know Scott's important to you. So if he wants you home to practice, I'm taking you home to practice."

Stiles slumped in his seat, pouting. "I guess you're right. Stupid Scott and his stupid job," he grumbled half-heartedly, not really meaning it. "But!" He sat up again, smile returning to his face. "After the whole benefit thing is over then it's me and you, okay?"

"Definitely," Derek smiled. As if he'd let it be any other way.

"Hey, how about instead of taking me straight, straight home, we make one teeny-tiny stop?"

"Stiles-"

"Just to your place! I baked you more treats before leaving since you were complaining about how you and Isaac scarfed them down once Scott handed them over even after I told you to only eat one a day."

Derek scoffed. "I didn't complain."

"Sure, sure," Stiles snickered. "And I would have brought some of those pumpkin-pecan cupcakes I made with your sister, but she said I shouldn't spoil you so much." He chuckled in seeing Derek's scowl. "But what I do have, we can just drop them off at your place before you walk me home."

"Oh, so now I'm walking you home."

"Yeah! Come on. I haven't seen you since Sunday and I'll be stuck in my living room with the guys through the foreseeable future so let's hang out just a bit before that. Please?"

The idea was certainly a tempting one, especially if Stiles was right. He, Scott and Isaac would be spending the next week practicing until their fingers fell off, so any time he'd have with the boy was limited. Though it certainly wouldn't please Scott, Derek nodded. "Okay, fine."

"Yay!" Stiles cheered, clapping his hands together in victory.

Derek did as he was told and drove them to his place. Once there, Stiles grabbed his bag from the back and followed the older boy in.

Stiles began to laugh when they went inside. "Yay! My hoarder is back!"

Derek scowled again at his friend. "What are you talking about? It's not that messy." Stiles was being unfair. His clothes were at least either in his room or next to the washer; his old newspapers were on a pile on his dining table, waiting to be recycled; and while he still had a couple of cartons of Chinese take-out and a single solitary pizza box that probably should've seen the inside of a dumpster by now, Derek hardly thought it was that bad. "This is the proper level of mess someone my age would have when living alone. You are the one with the problem."

Stiles just laughed some more before wrapping his arms around Derek's middle, hugging him from behind. "I'm glad I'm back."

Derek smiled, placing a hand on top of Stiles' arm. "Me too."

Stiles unlatched himself and dropped his bag onto the couch, an idea coming to mind. "Hey! You know what would be great?"

'If you confessed your undying love for me right here and now…' Derek thought longingly to himself.

"Hot cocoa!"

Derek inwardly sulked, the fates ignoring his request once more. "Hot cocoa?"

"Yeah! For our walk. It's cold outside." Stiles didn't even wait for a response. He just jumped into the kitchen and searched for the things he needed.

Derek, on the other hand, self-consciously began to gather all his empty food cartons to at least put them in one pile to discard later. Once that was done, he took a seat at the counter and watched Stiles at work, musing over the idea of how natural this felt. He'd love to come home to Stiles, to relax and unwind with him after a long day at work. They would snuggle together on the couch and idly talk about a case they were working on while sharing a cup of hot cocoa. Then he or Stiles would catch something they hadn't spotted before and the case would be solved and then congratulatory kissing would be involved. Derek smiled at the idea.

"Helloooo? Derek?"

Derek snapped out of his thoughts of his future life with Stiles to see the boy waving a hand in front of his eyes. He swatted at it and looked to him. "What?"

Stiles smirked. "I said, 'Do you have any chocolate?' You can't have hot chocolate without the chocolate."

"Uh, yeah. In there," he pointed in the designated cupboard.

"Ah," Stiles noted, opening the door. "Next to the bowls. How ever did I miss that?"

Derek rolled his eyes. His system worked for him. That's all that mattered. At least until Stiles moved in with him. Then he could put the chocolate wherever he pleased. 'Actually, we could get chocolate syrup and leave that in the bedroom... That'd be nice… and messy… and tongues…' His thoughts began to fragment, to make less sense, as the image of licking chocolate off of Stiles flooded his brain.

"Derek!"

Again, the older boy was snapped out of his wayward thoughts as he looked to his friend in the kitchen. "What?"

"My God, man. What are you thinking about? You're so distracted."

"Nothing. Just- chocolate."

"Just chocolate?" Stiles repeated.

'And licking in off your skin, yes.' Derek simply nodded. "Just chocolate."

Stiles chuckled as he chopped up some chocolate pieces before adding them into the saucepan he was working with. "I was saying you could take out your treats from my bag. I mean, if you want them, that is. I'm not entirely sure you do, what with the way you keep zoning out on me."

Derek was already on his feet and making his way over to where Stiles set his stuff down, making the boy laugh once more. He unzipped the bag and lit up when he saw the box of goodies sitting on top.

"And while you're over there, fold that blanket. It's not that hard to fold a blanket after using it, Derek," he chastised.

"Well then tell that to Isaac cause he's the one that used it," he retorted, inwardly charmed at how Stiles already sounded like his nagging spouse.

"Isaac used it?"

"Yeah," Derek replied, picking up the blanket to fold it haphazardly. "He slept over a few days ago."

"Oh. I didn't know that. He asked to?"

Derek tossed the blanket aside and popped open his box to swipe a cookie. "No. It was late and when I gave him a pillow and this blanket, he didn't seem to mind. I didn't mind. Isaac's a good guy."

Stiles merely nodded.

Just then, Derek's phone began to ring. He glanced at the caller ID. "It's Scott."

"Don't answer it!" Stiles hissed.

"I can't not answer it," Derek huffed. Scott was probably just checking in. He hit the 'Talk' button. "Yeah?"

"Where are you guys? You should have been here by now."

"Oh um…" He glanced into the kitchen to see Stiles gesturing with his hands. "We had some… car trouble." Stiles smiled, giving Derek a thumbs up. "Yeah. But it's taken care of and we're on our way now."

"Why do I get the feeling you're lying?"

Derek frowned and opened his mouth to retort, but Scott continued on.

"Just bring him home soon, okay? Sixty-forty Mr. Hale."

Derek scoffed. "Yeah, yeah. We're on our way," he said again before hanging up. He took his box of goodies and walked over to the kitchen to set them down on the counter before looking to Stiles. "You just about ready? I think your keeper might come pounding down my door if you're away much longer."

Stiles snickered. "My keeper… Do you have a Thermos? Or something?"

"Umm…" Derek stepped into the kitchen and rifled through the cabinets, wondering if that was one of the things his sister purchased for him during her little shopping spree. "I only have one," he shrugged, pulling it down from the shelf.

"That's fine," Stiles said, taking the container and quickly rinsing it out. "We can just share." He skillfully poured the hot chocolate into the insulated cup, screwing on the top once it was full. He held out the saucepan to Derek. "Here, try it."

Derek cocked an eyebrow. "Out of the pan?"

The boy smirked. "Why not?"

Derek just shook his head. He took the pan from his friend and sipped the warm liquid. The drink was rich in chocolaty goodness, creamy from the milk, with just a hint of something else. He turned suspicious eyes to Stiles. "Wait. How the hell did you make this from stuff you found in my cupboards? It doesn't seem possible."

Stiles chuckled, taking the pan from Derek to sip some for himself. "There's lots you can make if you just took some time to whip it together. For this, all you need is chocolate, milk, a little bit of salt, and just a sprinkle of cinnamon. Easy!" he grinned. He downed the rest of the drink and placed the pan in the sink before picking up his bag and hiking it over his shoulder. "Ready?"

Derek nodded, following Stiles out the door.

They walked slowly to Stiles' apartment, taking turns to sip at the warm drink, especially delicious in the winter chill.

"Practice, practice, practice," Stiles sighed. "I'll admit that when Scott left, I didn't practice as much as he probably wanted me to, but I did pick up the guitar."

"What'll you guys be playing?"

"Just some Christmas songs. And a few oldies for the oldies," he chuckled.

"Will you be singing?"

"Oh, God no. That's for Scott. He's the singer. And Isaac does back up. I just get to stand there and look pretty."

'That'll be easy enough for you,' Derek thought. But then he wondered about the people going to the charity event. What if they thought so too? They might find Stiles attractive and Derek certainly didn't want anyone to ogle the goods. He frowned. "I think you guys should do the KISS thing and go with full face make-up. And crazy costumes. Be unrecognizable."

Stiles laughed. "Well now there's a thought. Maybe Scott'll go for it. I mean, he still has his Batman costume and I still have my Impulse costume. And the other year, Isaac was the Green Lantern, so I bet he could dig that up again. That'd be pretty funny."

Derek thought about the skin-tight speedsuit Stiles had donned at the costume party. 'No, no, no. Damn it, Derek, if he wears that thing again, that'll give people more reason to look! Don't make things worse!' He cleared his throat. "Actually, no. That's not such a good idea. This is a serious event. So superhero costumes probably won't fit in well."

"Well, I hardly think 'Carols for Kittens' is serious, but I do see your point. Maybe we'll try something more classy. A nicely fitted suit with a skinny tie? We'll be a dapper little lounge act, all dressed the same like the Beatles."

This wasn't good either. Although he had never seen Stiles in such an outfit, he could imagine the outcome. Stiles was probably suave and charming in a nice suit. So no. Stiles needed to look horrible and unapproachable for the event. "Maybe you're right. Just... wear your regular stuff." That seemed like the best option. 'Baggy jeans and a hoodie? Much better than a speedsuit or a tailored suit. Definitely.'

Stiles chuckled again. "Thanks for your input, my lovely little wardrobe consultant," he cooed before taking Derek's hand in his.

Derek rolled his eyes, but sighed in content in feeling Stiles' hand pressed against his own. He intertwined their fingers and drank some more hot chocolate. He hoped that with the drink in his mouth, it might keep him from unintentionally suggesting any other option that would make Stiles look flattering to anyone else. He had been a second away from suggesting they wear nothing at all, but realized quickly that would be a disaster. 'Not like they'd actually do it...' Derek mentally scoffed. But Stiles was a free spirit. You never knew what he'd do. And because of that, Derek held Stiles' hand a little tighter.

Much too soon, they arrived. Derek sighed as Stiles made his way to the apartment door and walked in.

"Ah! Finally!" Scott said, charging at the door to capture Stiles in a hug. "Welcome home, buddy!"

Derek respected their friendship enough to not shove Scott away.

"Hey Stiles. Welcome back," Isaac smiled, making his way over to pull him into a hug as well.

Derek stifled the urge to growl and pull Stiles away by the scruff of the neck. Stiles was allowed to hug people. Really. He was.

"Thank you for bringing him home," Scott said, nodding at Derek. "I mean, you took long enough, but it could've been worse."

"Much worse," Derek admitted, though picking up on Scott's tone. "But wait, are you implying I can't stay?"

Isaac snickered. "He's convinced that it's bad luck to have an outsider listen in during practice."

"Aw, but-"

"No buts, Stiles," Scott silenced his friend. "Deaton is counting on us. He trusts us to make his fundraiser a good event so I don't want to disappoint him."

Stiles scoffed. "Why can't you put this much effort into your schoolwork, huh?" He snagged Scott in a headlock and gave him a noogie.

"Ow! Stiles!"

"All right, all right," Isaac rolled his eyes, pulling his two band mates apart. "Enough. Stiles, say good night to Derek." He pulled Scott away towards the living room where their instruments were set up.

Derek smirked, watching Isaac go, pleased that the blonde had given him and Stiles a few more seconds of alone time. 'I knew there was a reason why I liked him best.' He looked to Stiles who had been watching him carefully. "Looks like this is good night."

Stiles nodded solemnly, handing Derek's Thermos back to him. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Only if your keeper lets you out," Derek teased.

Stiles chuckled before moving forward and wrapping his arms around Derek. Derek instantly mirrored the move, pulling Stiles in an embrace. He relaxed into his arms, feeling content, happy that Stiles was back, safe and sound. And even though he wouldn't get to see Stiles as much as he wanted in the foreseeable future, he was pleased just knowing he was nearby.

"Good night, Stiles."

"Night, Derek. Don't eat all your treats at once."

"I make no guarantees."

Stiles chuckled again before pulling away. "Tomorrow. It'll be fun."

Derek rolled his eyes. 'Tomorrow will not be fun. Not if Scott keeps you locked up.' He just sighed. "We'll see." Derek started walking backwards down the hall. "Practice hard. Then maybe Scott'll let you out early."

"Pffft. I'm practically a professional already," he snorted.

"I can't wait to be the judge of that."

"Then prepare to be awed cause who's got two thumbs and the most talented hands in the world? This guy," he smirked, pointing said thumbs at himself.

Derek just laughed. He paused, smiling at Stiles from where he was at the door. Derek sighed in content. "I'm really glad you're back, Stiles."

Stiles brightened. "Me too."

And with that, Derek finally turned around and headed for the elevator. When the doors closed behind him, his phone chirped, signaling a text from The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D. Derek chuckled. 'What could he possibly need to say when I've only been gone two seconds?' He opened the message, his smile growing across his lips.

miss u alrdy :3

Derek typed out a quick reply.

I miss you, too.

He smiled contently, pressing his phone against his lips before slipping it back into his pocket. He really hoped Stiles practiced hard. But he wouldn't fear getting another bite from a grumpy Scott should the urge to truly kidnap Stiles overcome him.

/\/\/\

It was good that Derek didn't make any promises to keep from eating his treats. He had finished off his cookies that night, downing it with his left over milk. Then, Saturday morning he opened the box again and by Saturday afternoon, all twelve mini lemon bars were gone. Admittedly, those probably weren't the healthiest meal choices he made, but when they were that delicious, Derek found he couldn't much care.

He had spent the day hoping that Stiles would call, saying that Scott was giving them an hour break or something. He had hoped that maybe Stiles wanted to grab a quick lunch together or even a coffee before needing to get back. Hell, he was even hoping that maybe Stiles would revolt against the tyrannical Scott and escape his dastardly clutches to find comfort and protection in the arms of the heroic and cherished Derek, but that didn't happen either. The heavy rain of the evening was beginning to mirror his melancholy mood.

'I thought I was gonna see him today,' Derek pouted. Or it would be a pout if Derek actually admitted to himself that he did, in fact, pout. 'He made it seem like he'd get some free time, but I guess Scott is more demanding than I thought.'

Derek decided that it was only fair that after the week was done and Carols for Kittens was over, he'd get to keep Stiles to himself for a few days. Or a week. A month, probably. Or forever. Whichever.

But, as it was, he had pretty much given up any hope in seeing the boy now that it was already almost ten at night. 'So much for fun...'

But then, his phone began to ring. Derek jumped up off his couch where he had been moping - that is if he admitted to himself that he does, in fact, mope - all day, and grabbed his phone. He frowned seeing it was just The Bossy Redheaded Girl.

"Hello?" He answered glumly.

"Ok, good. So you're not dead."

Derek frowned at his phone. "Excuse me?"

"Where the hell are you? You're supposed to be here."

"Lydia. This is Derek. I think maybe you called the wrong person."

"No, idiot. I'm calling you. You, who is about to be a dead man if you don't get your ass over here within the next half hour."

Derek furrowed his brows in confusion. "What are you talking about? Get where?"

"Um, hello? The benefit? Carols for Kittens? Any of this ringing a bell? You told Stiles you'd be here."

Derek blinked. "Wait, what? That thing's next week."

"No, it's actually right now. And you should see the look on Stiles' face. He keeps looking around like you're gonna magically show up."

"No," Derek said, firmly, in disbelief. "Stiles put it in my phone himself. He set a reminder. I even checked it other day. The fundraiser isn't until next week."

"Derek, as an honorary member of your family, I'm allowed to say what I'm about to say. Shut up. Get out of your stupid apartment and get your ass over here before I come kill you myself for breaking his heart!"

The phone beeped, signaling the end of the connection. Derek stared at his phone. 'No... but... next week...' He tapped through his menu and sure enough, the event was scheduled for next week. 'But if she's right, and he's looking for me...'

"Shit."

He couldn't chance it. Derek sprung into action. He hoped the fundraiser wasn't a formal event because there was no time to change. He was glad, though, that he had steady enough hands to shave that morning. Derek grabbed his jacket, slipped into his sneakers without even bothering with the laces and ran out the door, fumbling with his keys as he tried to hurriedly lock the door behind him. He raced to the parking garage, leapt into his car and tore down the streets to where the event was being held.

'What happened? It's supposed to be next Saturday, not this Saturday. Then why did Lydia say it was tonight? Is she messing with me? What if she's not? Am I too late? What time did it start? What time is it supposed to end?' All of these questions were getting Derek nowhere, only serving to make him more hard-pressed. Derek pushed down on the gas, breaking speed limits galore. He didn't have time to care about '45 MPH' signs. He probably should have, considering the red and blue lights glaring at him in his rear-view mirror.

"Shit. You've got to be kidding me. Why now?" he groaned. He wondered if it would be worth it to start a high-speed chase. But if he had any hope of becoming a detective, that mark would certainly put a blemish on his record. Derek pulled over, hissing in defeat, wishing this would be over soon.

The problem with police officers when they pull over a person for speeding is that they decide to take their sweet, sweet time getting out of their car before handling business. This officer was no exception. Derek growled in frustration as he waited for the officer to come up to his window.

"Sir, do you know how fast you were going?" The woman asked, leaning down to look Derek in the eye. She was certainly not amused by the situation, nor the fact that she was now standing in the rain.

"No, I'm sorry. It's just, there's a be-"

"Sir, I'm gonna need to see your license and registration."

Derek huffed, but did as he was told. The more he complied, the faster this would be over with. Or so he hoped.

"Look," he tried, glancing at the officer's nametag. "Officer Morrell, if you wouldn't mind, there's a benefit I really need to be at-"

"Is getting to this benefit worth risking the lives of passing pedestrians or other citizens drivingwithin the designated speed limit?"

Derek's immediate response would have been 'yes' as it meant getting to Stiles, but thought that would get him in more trouble than he was already in.

"Exactly," she said with a cock of her head.

Derek sighed and stared at the ceiling of his car as the officer began to write him up. "Please tell me these kittens are staying up all night..." he mumbled to himself.

"What was that?"

"I just- the benefit. Carols for Kittens. I was just hoping it wasn't ending any time soon."

"You mean that fundraiser for Dr. Deaton?"

Derek sat up. "You know of it?"

"Yeah. Dr. Deaton is a good friend of mine. Acts as an advisor in some of our cases. He's a good man. This fundraiser is gonna help a lot of animals in need."

"So you'll let me go?" he hoped.

She laughed. "Not a chance, pretty boy." She ripped the page out of her book and handed it to Derek, along with his license and registration. "Be sure to make a nice donation." She straightened up. "Oh, and by the way, Mister…" she glanced at her book before flipping it back closed, "…Hale. Your little event? Ends in about ten minutes. But you better drive safely the rest of the way there."

Derek nodded before starting up his car. As much as he wanted to disregard her warning and just jam it the rest of the way, Derek stayed on the brink of the speed limit, not wanting to chance another situation. He was already incredibly late and wasn't going to do anything else that would make it worse.

'Stiles'll probably be disappointed,' Derek thought, remembering the excitement in his eyes when he told Derek about it. 'And that's probably what he meant about seeing me. He meant he'd see me at the event.' Derek growled. "Damn it!"

As Derek was pulling into the parking lot, he saw many guests making their way out. He inwardly groaned. 'Shit... it's already over...' He jumped out of the car and rushed inside, disregarding the rain falling on him. The food was already being cleared away as decorations were being taken down. Derek scanned the room, looking towards the stage, hoping to see Stiles.

"Mr. Hale?"

Derek spun around. "Scott! Where's Stiles?"

"Dude, why are you so late? It started at five."

"Scott, come on. Where is he?"

"He's pretty bummed you didn't show."

"I didn't know, okay? I didn't know it was tonight. I thought it was next week."

"Next week? Technically, it was next week, but then it got pushed. But if you thought it was next week, then why did you think I wanted Stiles home right away to practice? I may have wanted to get in as much practice as we could, but I'm not a slave-driver, Mr. Hale."

Derek exhaled. This was getting him nowhere. "Scott, please. Where's Stiles?"

Finally, he relented. He pointed over to the bar. Derek spotted Stiles there with Isaac and Jackson, pouring himself a drink. Derek made his way over after thanking Scott for his help.

"Well, well, well," Jackson smirked. "Look who decided to show up."

"Lay off, Jackson," Isaac groaned. "Hey Derek."

"Hey," he nodded. "Stiles-"

"Stiles isn't talking to you, Tardy-for-the-Party," Jackson interrupted. "So you can just get back in your car and try again another day."

"Shut up, Jackson," Isaac frowned, punching his friend in the shoulder.

"Ow! Hey, screw you, Lahey."

Isaac just rolled his eyes before pulling Jackson away by the collar of his blazer. He managed to give Derek one solemn look before walking away.

Derek mentally thanked the blonde, before focusing all his efforts on the boy behind the bar. "Stiles-"

"Well, hello sir. What can I get for you?" he said dryly, an obvious nod to the first time he was upset with Derek.

"Stiles, I didn't know it was tonight," he explained.

The boy snorted in derision.

"I didn't."

"Look, Derek, I get it. Parties aren't your thing. But if you really didn't wanna come, you didn't have to. You didn't have say that you would just to shut me up."

"What are you talking about? Of course I wanted to come! Stiles, I sped the whole way here! I have the speeding ticket to prove it!"

Stiles still looked unconvinced. "Then why are you showing up just now? And don't tell me you didn't know when it was I put it in your phone myself. I set up a reminder and everything."

"Oh, you sure did," Derek defended, pulling out his phone. He held up the schedule to Stiles. "You set it for next week, not tonight. I wouldn't have even known it was tonight if Lydia didn't call me."

Stiles shook his head. "No. It was supposed to be next week, but they moved it up two weeks ago so that it wouldn't conflict with some other benefit the doc's deep-wallet guests were invited to."

"Okay. When did you tell me that? Hm?"

Stiles narrowed his eyes. "I told you." Again, he didn't seem very convinced.

"You didn't."

Stiles glanced at the phone then back at Derek before biting his lip.

"You didn't," Derek said again. "I would have been here, early in fact, if I knew."

Stiles looked at the phone again then back at Derek and back to the phone once more. "I…" he frowned. "I'm sorry. I thought I mentioned it…"

Derek slipped his phone back into his pocket. He sighed. "I would have been here," he repeated softly. "I wouldn't have missed you playing. I was actually looking forward to it."

Stiles dipped his head before peeking back up with a grimace. "I'm sorry."

Derek crossed his arms over his chest. "Sorry's not gonna cut it."

Stiles pouted, raising his head to look Derek square in the eye. "I'll bake for you. If I know you like I think I do, you probably ate all those lemon bars already, right?"

Derek frowned, refusing to admit he had devoured each and every one. He shook his head. "You know what? No. Baking a lemony treat just isn't gonna cut it this time, either."

Stiles gasped. "Whaaat?"

"I was looking forward to this, Stiles. I wanted to see you on stage, enjoying yourself, playing as if you were a rock star-"

"They were just Christmas songs-"

"That's beside the point. I know how much time you put into it and I really wanted to hear you play. But because you declined to inform me of any changes, I missed the entire thing. So now, you're gonna have to play for me."

Stiles frowned. "What, by myself?"

"Yes. You're gonna come back to my place, bake me some lemon snacks, and perform a one-man show as your punishment."

Stiles snorted. "Me playing by myself? Sounds like you're the one getting the punishment…"

"I thought you said you were practically a professional already."

"I may have embellished just a bit," he winced.

"Well, that doesn't matter. I wanted to see you play so now you're going to play. Got it?"

Stiles sighed. "Fine." He walked around the bar and wrapped his arms around Derek, burying his face in a broad shoulder. "I'm sorry," he said, voice muffled in Derek's jacket.

Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles, resting his cheek atop the boy's head. "Stiles, I would never purposely skip spending time with you. I thought you were practicing all day. I was waiting for you to call, all day, hoping that maybe Scott let you take a break. I really wanted to be here."

Stiles looked up. "Did you really get a speeding ticket?"

"At least 300 dollars for going 72 in a 45. I'm lucky I didn't get arrested."

Stiles cringed. "I'll help pay for that."

"Don't worry about it," Derek smiled. "Come on. Grab your guitar and let's go."

"Technically, it's Scott's."

Derek rolled his eyes before taking Stiles' hand in his and leading him over to the stage.

"Oh wait, my drink!" Stiles flailed, reaching for his cup.

"You do one show and you're boozing it up already?"

Stiles snorted. "It's a Coke, smart guy."

Derek took the cup from Stiles' free hand and had a sip, amused to see he was telling the truth and not falling by way of many a former rock star. By the stage, Isaac, Scott and Jackson were finishing loading up Scott's car with the last of their equipment. Lydia was there as well, hands on her hips, watching as Derek and Stiles came over.

"You're lucky you showed, Derek. I was going to stick some ricin in your morning coffee if you didn't get here."

Derek wasn't all too familiar with ricin, but it sounded dangerous if the look she was giving him was anything to go by. He glossed over the assumed threat and nodded at her. "Thanks for calling."

She smirked. "We Hales have to stick together."

"So what happened to you?" Isaac asked.

"It was my fault," Stiles shrank. "I forgot to tell him they pushed up the date."

"Nice one, Stilinski. And after we had to listen to you whine all night," Jackson rolled his eyes.

Derek cocked an eyebrow and looked at Stiles who merely flushed and looked away.

"Oh, and look. Derek. About the whole Tardy-for-the-Party thing…" Jackson said, lowering his voice. "I didn't mean-"

"It's fine," Derek assured. The relationship between Jackson and Stiles was a confusing one, but it was clear to Derek that there was a mutual care there. Jackson was almost as defensive over Stiles as Lydia was, albeit in his own special way. And despite himself, the thought of it made Derek's hold on Stiles' hand grow tighter. "Anyway," Derek said, looking to the rest of the group. "I'm kidnapping him."

"What?" Scott pouted. "We were gonna have a celebratory late dinner. Allison and Danny were gonna try to join us."

"Nope. Not for him. He's in trouble," Derek affirmed. From the corner of his eye, he could see the boy slump in shame. "Let's go."

"I'm gonna need this," Stiles grinned sheepishly before picking up the guitar case. "He's making me play for him."

"Who's the one in trouble?" Jackson snarked.

"That's what I said," Stiles snickered.

"Let's go, Stiles. Say 'bye' to your friends."

"Bye friends!" Stiles waved, picking up the guitar case and following Derek outside. "Ooh, the rain picked up," he frowned, pulling his hood over his head. "And you were speeding through this?"

"It wasn't this bad ten minutes ago," Derek frowned, pulling his jacket tightly around himself. He led the way to his car, opening the door for Stiles so he could put the guitar in the back before taking his seat. Derek walked around to the driver's side and started up the car. "Did you eat already?"

"Yeah. Scott made us eat before we left so we could keep our energy up. By celebratory dinner, he pretty much just means a huge plate of fries and a slice of apple pie."

"You mean that's not an acceptable meal? All I ate for breakfast and lunch were those lemon bars."

"Derek! No," Stiles chastised. "You gotta start eating healthy. Don't make me cut you off."

Derek frowned at the idea. He certainly didn't want that.

He drove to the grocery store where Stiles picked up the ingredients he needed to treat Derek, plus some fresh fruit for Derek to snack on later on instead of whatever unhealthy concoction he planned to cook in his microwave.

"You're in luck. I've been practicing making this particular treat for some time now. I think it's good enough now to try it on you."

"What is it?" Derek asked, cocking an eyebrow in curiosity.

"Ah, ah," Stiles smirked, wagging his finger. "You'll just have to wait and see."

So it was with apt anticipation that Derek watched Stiles in the kitchen once they returned to his apartment.

"Just keep whisking it until I tell you to stop," he directed while stirring a mixture in a saucepan on the stove. "Since you don't have a mixer, you're just gonna have to use your brute strength," he chuckled.

And it was turning into a bit of a workout. Stiles had him whisking until the mixture was turning white and fluffy. "Jesus, is this what people did in the old days? Who needs to lift weights when they can just whisk?" He noted, feeling his muscles begin to strain from the effort.

"Here, let me see," Stiles said, giving Derek reprieve. "Well done," he smirked. "I'm so happy. My squirrel comes with a whisk setting."

Derek just rolled his eyes as Stiles took the bowl and folded the mixture into the pan he was using. It wasn't until Stiles was pouring the blend into two ramekins that he realized what Stiles was probably making. "Soufflé?"

The boy smiled, eyes trained on his work in front of him. "Soufflés can be a little tricky to make..." he said, wiping the rims of the ramekins before walking them to the oven. "The eggs have to be a certain consistency, a certain temperature. And when you're pulling them out of the oven, you have to be careful or it might collapse." He closed the oven door before turning to face Derek. "I wanted to try to make them for you. To maybe make it as good as the one you had after your first home run." He chuckled. "Scott is actually getting pretty sick of them. He's been my guinea pig this whole time."

Derek stared at Stiles. 'He remembered that? And since then, he's been practicing?' It stunned Derek. Baffled him. Made him wonder what he did to deserve such a wonderful person in his life. Made him want to do whatever it was again to make sure he could keep him.

Stiles was moving around the kitchen again, moving things into the sink and rinsing them off. Derek was having a hard time finding his voice and instead just moved in next to Stiles to help him, hoping that through his silence, Stiles would understand how much it meant to him that he would do this and for that reason.

And after about twenty minutes, once the dishes were washed and were set out to dry, Derek had the best lemon soufflé of his life.

"So? What's the verdict?" Stiles said, bracing himself for Derek's reaction. "I think it could use just a tad bit more salt. Like a grain, really."

"It's really good."

"Really? Cause I think maybe it could use a bit more lemon. I mean, you can never really tell just how zesty a lemon is gonna taste just by looking at it. Maybe I could've added just one more squeeze-"

"Stiles," Derek urged, placing his hand over his friend's, giving it a reaffirming squeeze. "It's perfect. I love it." 'Just like how I love you...' he wanted to say.

"Okay, good," Stiles smiled. "Sometimes I get nervous about how you're gonna like things. Cause I think you end up liking a lot of what I make for you so what if I make something you don't like, you know? You've built me up to be this baking god and I just don't wanna disappoint. At this point, it would be a huge blow to my ego if ever I let you down."

Derek glanced down at his empty ramekin before stealing a forkful from Stiles'. "I doubt you could do that. You're a great baker, Stiles. I've loved everything you ever made for me." 'Almost as much as I love you... just say it. Just say it.' Despite the encouraging chant in his brain, the words seemed to stick in his throat.

Stiles scoffed. "I mean, I'm not so modest to say I'm not that great. I know I can bake and bakewell. But sometimes other people think something is too sweet or too salty, just a smidge too much vanilla or not enough chocolate. But with you... you seem to really, genuinely like everything I make."

"Because I do." Derek chuckled. "It was always a thought of mine that you made things specific to my taste buds. Maybe that's innately true."

Stiles laughed. "Maybe. And stop eating my soufflé! You shouldn't have eaten yours so fast."

Derek frowned. "Well maybe you should have made more than just two."

The two stared each other down for a few seconds before Stiles sighed and rolled his eyes. He pushed the ramekin over to Derek in defeat. "Have at it," he said airily with a wave of his fork.

Derek smirked in triumph and finished off the dessert.

"You know, I wasn't mad earlier," Stiles said, voice low, eyes trained to the countertop as he twirled the fork between his fingers. "I was disappointed, yeah, but I was more upset with myself than anything else."

"With yourself? Why?"

"I guess... Sometimes I can't help but feel like... like I force you to do things you don't wanna do. Like go to parties or... take a hike or... make a spare key to your apartment. I mean, I don'tmean to. I just like hanging out with you. But this felt like it was just another thing that I pressured you into. I practically forced you to come. And when you didn't show up, it was like maybe you got sick of me pushing you - burdening you - into doing these things all the time."

Derek put his fork down, placing his hand on top of Stiles so he would do the same. "Stiles. You've never forced me into anything." At his scoff, Derek turned him so they were face-to-face. "Seriously. I may not initially like something, but if I really didn't want to do something I wouldn't do it. I do these things and I go to these places because of you. And no, not because you pressured me to go, but because I like hanging out with you too." Derek looked down, rubbing the back of his neck. "Spending time with you is not a burden for me, Stiles. It's... it's a gift."

Stiles was quiet. Derek chanced a peek at the boy before him, seeing a soft smile playing on his lips.

"That was really, really cheesy," Stiles teased when Derek finally caught his eye. Derek grimaced, but before he could retort or even flee from the scene - which he entirely felt like doing - Stiles continued. "But you don't know how much of a relief it is to hear you say that."

Derek fought back a blush and looked away, clearing his throat. "Um, so... guitar."

Stiles chuckled. "Are you sure you wanna go through with this? I'm warning you now. You are very likely going to be underwhelmed without the assist of the rest of the band."

"I'm sure."

Stiles exhaled and surrendered. He got up and walked over to the guitar case, pulling it out before sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the couch. He plucked at a few strings as Derek made his way over, joining him on the carpet.

"Okay," Stiles said, fidgeting with the guitar in his lap. "Since you're not changing your mind, I guess I'll play you my favorite Christmas song... which also happens to be the one I think I'm best at so brace yourself cause it'll only get worse from here."

Derek chuckled and listened with delight. Stiles strummed out the first few notes of what Derek recognized as 'The Little Drummer Boy.' The younger boy seemed content with just playing it, but eventually he gave in, singing a little bit of the song.

"I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum..." he sang softly, making Derek smile. He wasn't as bad as he made himself to be. He wasn't sure Stiles could win one of those singing competitions on TV on pure voice alone, but he definitely wouldn't end up being one of those that get mocked for being sorely out of tune. "I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum. Rum pum pum pum. Rum pum pum pum..." He looked up from the fingerboard and grinned. "Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum. Me and my drum." He chuckled, finishing the song. "Although, this is a guitar and not a drum."

Derek lightly applauded Stiles' performance. "I think you were setting me up. Pretending that you're bad so that I'm more surprised that you're actually good."

"You, kind sir, are much too kind. But thanks."

Stiles started playing a new song, one that Derek didn't recognize.

"Outside the carolers start to sing

I can't describe the joy they bring

Cause joy is something they don't bring me."

Derek had to laugh. Apparently, the whole song was about getting arrested for assaulting a group of carolers with a baseball bat. It was ridiculous, although Derek couldn't say he never felt the same sentiment.

"You like that one?" Stiles grinned. "Scott made us learn that one for fun. He thought the party-goers might enjoy the laughs."

"And how did it work out for you?"

"Eh, it was hit and miss," Stiles shrugged, chuckling. "Some people actually looked appalled while others got the joke. But it's okay cause the doc was one of the people who laughed so Scott's not gonna get fired."

Derek chuckled. "That's good."

Stiles sat up. "Okay! Your turn!"

Derek frowned. "What? What are you talking about?"

"You. You said you knew how to play."

"I said I barely remember how to play one song I learned a long time ago."

"Come on. Please?" Stiles asked, holding out the guitar and shaking it, urging Derek to try. "I mean, if you really, really don't wanna, I understand. But you could try. I'll enjoy it no matter what. But no pressure."

The hopeful look in the boy's eyes was Derek's demise. "Fine. I'll try."

"Yay!" Stiles cheered.

Derek reached over for the guitar and settled it in his lap. He placed his fingers over the strings, trying to find the chords from muscle memory. He strummed lightly, adjusted his hand, and tried again until it sounded right. He moved his hand over again, trying to find all the proper chords in the song, surprised with himself for remembering it as much as he did despite the lack of practice. When he looked up again, Stiles had his phone out.

"No pictures!" Derek scowled.

"Not even the moving kind?" he tested.

"No."

"Aw, but I won't show it to anyone, I promise! Please, please, please? With lemon zest on top?" He smiled, hopeful.

Derek set his jaw, staring Stiles down firmly. "Not a soul."

Stiles stifled another cheer before holding his phone up again and watching his friend through the screen.

"Just warning you, it's been a very long time since I played this. And the lyrics are... questionable at best."

"Warning acknowledged," Stiles nodded.

"Here goes nothing..." he muttered under his breath. "All my... bags are packed, I'm... ready to go. I'm... sitting - no, standing - here outside your door. I hate to wake you up... to say... 'goodbye?' Yeah," Derek chuckled nervously, moving slowly from chord to chord. "Umm... something, something, something taxi cab and his horn. I'm so lonely I could die..." He grimaced, blanking on the lyrics, hearing Stiles chuckle across from him. Derek glanced up and smiled at Stiles, pausing. "And here's the part everyone knows... the only part of the song that anyone really cares about anyway," he declared, looking back at the fingerboard.

"So kiss me and... smile for me. Tell me that you'll wait for me. Hold me like you'll never let me go…. Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again. Oh babe, I hate to go..." Derek looked back up, watching Stiles watch him through his phone.

"And I definitely don't remember this next part... Ummm... Every place I go... I think of you. Every song I sing, I sing for you," he smirked at the camera, amused by the truth in the lyric. "And when I come back, I'll... give you a wedding ring~? Something like that~?"

Derek looked at Stiles - not at the phone in his hand, but at the boy himself - as he sang the next part, a smile spread across his lips as he serenaded the boy he loved. "So kiss me and smile for me. Tell me that you'll wait for me. Hold me like you'll never let me go..." He glanced back down at the guitar. "Cause I'm-"

Derek froze. He couldn't utter another note... because Stiles' lips were pressed against his.

Stiles had dropped his phone and launched himself at Derek, taking the older boy's face between his hands before kissing him long and hard. Derek was stunned. He couldn't move. His eyes were wide as the rest of his body refused to function.

Suddenly, Stiles' eyes popped open as a gasp escaped his lips. He pulled back as a flurry of emotion crossed his face before he let out a chuckle of nervousness.

"Eh-heh," Stiles stammered, quickly releasing Derek and scooting backwards. "It's-a... it's funny. Cause-cause you said- in the song- to kiss you... and I-I-um, I kissed you." He forced out another laugh, grinning sheepishly and running his hand over his head. "Oh would you look at the time?" Stiles stood up, looking at his wrist at a watch that wasn't there. "It's getting late and you're probably tired. I know I'm fried. Like... an egg... or something. I should go." He pointed to the door and headed towards it. He spun around. "I should take this with me..." he said, scooping his phone back up. "And um. The guitar. I'll- I'll come back for it, yeah. Keep it safe for-for... for now." He laughed one last time. "Night um, Der-ek." And with that, Stiles hurried out the door.

'He... kissed me.' Derek thought dumbly. The guitar was still fixed in his lap, his fingers pressed again the strings in the last chord that he played. 'He kissed me!"

Derek blinked, a little surprised to realize Stiles had left. "Shit."

And with that, Derek tossed aside the guitar and ran out the door.

He ran for the elevator, not even bothering locking the door behind him, not even making sure the door even closed. At the end of the hall, the doors were already shut, the elevator traveling down to the first floor. He jammed on the button, pressing it several times in an irrational hope that it might change directions, but inevitably found it pointless and took to the stairs. Derek scrambled down the steps, running down them halfway before leaping over the rest onto each landing. He needed to get to Stiles. Breaking a leg in the process wasn't ideal, but if it meant reaching him, Derek didn't think it would be too much of a detriment. Jumping down the last set of steps - with his tibias in tact - he rounded the corner to the elevator, only to see it had already dropped off its passenger. He ran for the front entrance and burst through the door, not caring about the rain beating down on him. He looked to his right, down the block in the direction of the boy's apartment and saw the red hoodie nearing the corner.

"Stiles!"

The boy froze. He turned slowly, worried eyes staring at the sidewalk before turning up to look at the one who had called him.

Derek took a breath and began to jog over. 'He has to... he has to. He kissed me... and it can't be because of the song, it just can't be... He kissed me because he's... he just has to be...' He slowed down as he got closer, walking with purpose and intent.

"Derek, I-"

'No excuses.' Derek didn't let him utter another word. He took Stiles' head between his hands and pulled him in for a kiss of his own. He tried to pour every emotion and feeling he had into to it. He wanted it to emote everything he wished he could say with confidence, hoping Stiles would understand like he always did. Derek kissed Stiles on a darkened street corner, getting drenched in the rain, and Stiles finally kissed him back.

He felt the boy's hands tentatively touch his sides before settling on his hips. His lips gently pushed back, shy, but getting bolder with each passing second.

With a final press of lips, Derek had to stop, needing air, needing his mind to return from its haze. He breathed deeply, pressing his forehead against Stiles', hands still gently holding him in place as he caught his breath.

Derek opened his eyes, studying the slightly dazed boy before him. Stiles was unfocused, panting slightly, hands firm against Derek's hips as if they were an anchor, keeping him from falling over.

Derek breathed. "Stiles..." he said, voice barely above a whisper. "Stiles, please. I need to know... do you.. are you...?" He searched the boy's face, hoping he understood.

Stiles' eyes unclouded, finally meeting Derek's head on. With a small intake of air, he nodded.

Derek let out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding, closing his eyes, wrapping his arms around Stiles' neck. "Good."

Despite the winter rains and the cold air, standing there on the sidewalk, Derek never felt warmer, and only felt more so when Stiles' arms finally wrapped around his waist in return.

Derek felt himself smile. He couldn't have stopped it even if he wanted to. He was surprised that the naturally talkative boy hadn't yet uttered a single word. "Stiles..." Derek mused. "Are you speechless?"

"I... I'm... wet," He said simply.

Derek chuckled, reluctantly pulling away, taking a step back. He took Stiles' hand in his, bringing it up to his lips and kissing it before looking him in the eye. "Come on. Let's go back inside. We... we should talk."

Stiles nodded slowly. "Talk... talk is good."

Derek smiled again and led him back towards his apartment building. He called the elevator, and they rode it back up in silence.

'He kissed me,' Derek thought giddily to himself, fighting off the urge to bounce on the balls of his feet. 'And he loves me. Or at least, I think he does. I mean, if he understood what I meant and I understood what his nod meant. Okay, so everything isn't 100% clear, but we're gonna talk it out. Probably even kiss it out,' he finished, smugly, just as the elevator doors opened.

Their hands still connected, Derek led them back down the hall to his apartment where the door had lucky closed behind him. He walked in and just as Stiles stepped through, he couldn't help himself any longer.

Derek spun around and pushed Stiles up against the door before kissing him again. Stiles gasped in surprise, giving Derek access to his mouth. Tentatively, he licked Stiles' lips, before pushing forward, stroking Stiles' tongue with his own. He swarmed into him, arms greedily snaking their way back around the slim waist, his thigh pressing in between Stiles' legs. He felt Stiles' hands latch onto his hair, tugging lightly as he brushed his tongue against Derek's. When his lungs began to burn, Derek pulled back, panting, only to return his efforts to Stiles' neck, tugging down the rain-soaked hoodie to gain access to more skin. He licked a trail from Stiles' ear down to his collarbone, only to kiss his way back up again before sucking a bruise into the pale skin.

Stiles let out a little whimper then, the sound doing crazy things to Derek's head. He returned his lips to Stiles', kissing him like he'd wanted to for so long. Derek hissed when Stiles trailed a hand out of his hair and up his shirt. His fingertips were cold against the warm skin of Derek's back.

Derek pulled away slightly, trying to catch his breath while eyeing Stiles. "You're… you're shivering…" he panted.

Stiles licked his lips and gulped. "I'm... still wet."

It then occurred to Derek that they both were. Kissing in the rain, although a romantic notion at the time, was nothing but a cold mess later on. Derek chuckled. "Then I guess we should just get you out of those clothes."

Stiles cocked an eyebrow, a smirk tugging at his lips. "My, Mr. Hale. You don't waste time at all, do you?"

Derek just rolled his eyes and led Stiles into his bedroom.

"No time at all..." he heard him snicker.

Derek, although amused and very tempted to just shove the boy on the bed and have his way with him, simply shook his head before pulling some dry clothes out for himself and for Stiles. He tossed the garments to the boy before pulling his shirt over his head. He moved to undo his belt, pulling it from out of the loops in one tug.

"Hey, whoa," Stiles mumbled as Derek moved his hands to his jeans, blushing, suddenly shy. "What-um... I guess-I'll just go..." he said, pointing to the door before heading towards it.

Derek watched his retreating back and smirked. "If you want."

Stiles paused, turning slowly to face Derek again. "…That implies that if I don't want... I couldstay..."

Derek gave him a cocky little grin as he undid the button of his jeans. He watched Stiles' eyes follow his hands as Derek slid his zipper down before pushing his jeans down and stepping out of them, kicking them off to the side. Stiles was slack-jawed, eyes taking in the sight before him.

"If. You. Want." Derek smirked again.

When Stiles didn't move, let alone speak, Derek moved his hands to the waistband of his boxer-briefs, preparing to slip out of those as well.

Stiles instantly flushed, stammered, and fled the room, barricading himself in Derek's bathroom.

Derek just chuckled. For all of his bravado, he and Stiles were still just nervous and tense about this new development. Derek was serious about wanting to talk. He wanted to clear the air once and for all, for both his sake and for Stiles'.

Derek changed into dry clothes, picked up his wet ones and carried them out the room over to the washer and dryer. He heard the bathroom door click open from behind him. Glancing over his shoulder, Stiles shyly made his way over to where Derek was loading a pile into the wash. 'He looks good in my clothes,' Derek mused. 'He probably looks better out of them... but that's for another time.'

"Here," he said, holding a hand out to take Stiles' clothes. "I'll wash them."

Stiles just nodded and handed the pile over. He hopped up onto the dryer and watched as Derek poured in some fabric softener. "So..." he gulped.

Derek closed the lid, started the machine, and hopped up onto the washer to sit next to him. "So..."

"So... you kissed me..."

Derek nodded slowly. "Well, you kissed me..." Derek glanced at Stiles from the corner of his eye. "Why... exactly… did you kiss me?" he asked tentatively, although he was nearly very sure of the answer. "Was it really because of the song?"

Stiles let out a heavy sigh. "Yes, it was because of the song." At this, Derek frowned, not exactly expecting that. But Stiles continued. "And it was because of the cookbooks and Sourwolf and all the 'D' names in the world... and because of homemade whipped cream and Oreos and... hikesand for fuck's sake, you saved me… from Jackson… and ice and from little girls who crawl out of TVs and because I'm Stilinator and because lemons and just... everything in between..." He drew his legs up, fidgeting with his fingers. He peeked at Derek sideways before looking back at his hands. "Why... why did you kiss me?"

Derek sighed too then, taking a moment to sort through his thoughts, to sort through everything Stiles had said. Then, finally, he turned his head, looking at the boy beside him, at the boy he had fallen in love with. "Because... you drew me a flower in my coffee when I told you not to draw a heart."

Stiles turned surprised eyes to Derek, finally meeting his gaze.

Derek smiled softly. "It was all downhill from there."

Stiles stopped fidgeting then, easing his legs back down over the dryer, daring to take Derek's hand in his as a smile grew on his lips in realization of the words. "So... you like me?" he asked, words still cautious, eyes studying the hand in his.

"Stiles," Derek breathed, using his free hand to turn the boy's head, to look him in the eye. "I'm in love with you." He leaned forward, kissing Stiles softly, not fervently like before against the door, but with just as much passion and intensity. He smiled gently, trying to show Stiles he meant it with all his heart.

It looked like Stiles was trying to hold back a grin, but he was certainly losing that battle as he cracked a smile. He tugged at the hand still in his, hugging it against his chest, and dipping his head to press his lips against it. He was bouncing now, buzzing with what Derek hoped was happiness and excitement. Finally, he looked back to Derek with a grin. "Good."

Derek snorted. He slid over so that they were thigh-to-thigh before pulling Stiles' hand into his own lap, holding it between his hands, rubbing small circles into it with his thumb. With a sigh, he turned slightly, angling himself to rest his head on Stiles' shoulder. He was in bliss.

Peter had been right. The whole day was a bit of a mess. Derek got a speeding ticket and was almost poisoned by Lydia. He almost missed his chance to hear Stiles play and was almost too stunned to chase Stiles after he had suddenly kissed him. They kissed in the rain, kissed against the front door, and kissed again on top of his washer and dryer. Nothing screamed perfection, but to Derek it was. He was finally able to say what he had longed to, and because Stiles was still here, was still holding his hand, everything became perfect. Derek smiled.

"So, um…" Stiles started, before chewing on his bottom lip. "Um… what now?"

"Now?" Derek exhaled and thought about it. "Now, we get off my washer and dryer… we'll put Scott's guitar away because he was nice enough to let you borrow it… then we'll brush our teeth – don't worry, I have a spare for you since a two-pack is ultimately cheaper than two single and I don't want to catch your cooties-"

Stiles snorted. "Says the guy who had his tongue in my mouth."

Derek just chuckled. "Then… we'll climb into my bed and I'll kiss you over and over again, but that's it cause while I do want to have you naked in my arms, I don't want to rush this and screw this up because I want to be with you not just be in bed with you." He felt Stiles rest his head on his, hand giving a reaffirming squeeze. "And then… we'll fall asleep in each other's arms… and you'll probably steal my blanket-" Stiles vibrated with laughter, "-and then when we wake up,you'll kiss me over and over… and then you'll make me breakfast," at this, Stiles scoffed, "but I'll help, of course."

"My wonderfully, helpful squirrel," Stiles cooed.

"Your wonderfully, helpful…" he gulped, still a bit nervous, but wanting it to be true, "…boyfriend."

"My… boyfriend."

Derek felt himself tense. Maybe he said the 'b' word too soon. Maybe he was rushing this. 'I mean, all we did was kiss. Maybe 'boyfriend' is too much...?'

He heard Stiles sigh. "I like the sound of that."

And just like that, Derek was reassured, relaxed. He brought Stiles' hand to his lips and kissed it. "Yeah… me too."

Eventually, Derek hopped off the washer, stepping between Stiles' legs, running his hands up his thighs before settling his hands on his waist. He pulled Stiles to the edge, pulled him in close as he leaned in and pressed his forehead against Stiles'. He sighed, content, warm, loved. "I love you, Stiles," he breathed again, unafraid of the words in his heart.

Stiles wrapped his arms around Derek, nuzzling the side of his face, before letting out a contented sigh of his own. "I love you, too, Derek."

And Derek had been wrong. The moment before was nothing compared to now. With Stiles finally saying the words he had so longed to hear, Derek knew that this moment… This was true perfection.

Chapter Text

Baking My Way Into Your Heart – Reprieve

Derek fluttered one eye open, squinting against the bright morning light shining through the window. He exhaled deeply, burying his face into his pillow as he stretched his hand out across his bed, trying to find the warm body he had fallen asleep next to. When he felt nothing but a handful of his bed sheets, his heart leapt into his throat.

Derek jerked up into a seated position, eyes sweeping across the empty room. 'What? No! Where's Stiles? It wasn't a dream was it?'

He felt his heart begin to race. What if it was? "Stiles? Stiles?!"

Derek was ready to leap off his bed when he heard footsteps quickly approaching. Stiles swung into the room, almost tripping over himself in his haste. "What is it? What's wrong?"

A wave of relief came over Derek in seeing Stiles in his room, wearing the clothes he had handed him last night. It wasn't just a dream. It was real. It had happened. Derek didn't even want to know what a morning would be like after something like that had only been a fantasy.

As if sensing his distress, Stiles walked over to the side of the bed, arms out. Derek gratefully slid over, legs slipping over the edge, and wrapped his arms around the boy he loved.

"Hey, you okay?" Stiles asked softly. "I can feel your heart racing."

"Yeah, I just... I... I was afraid last night was just a dream..." he confessed, voice low as he nuzzled Stiles' abdomen.

Stiles ran a comforting hand through Derek's hair. "'Fraid not, Mister," he said softly. "You're stuck with me. And no take backs either."

Derek smiled, perfectly fine with that. He nosed Stiles' belly button through his shirt, making the boy chuckle. He sighed. "It's just… it's happened before. I dreamt about kissing you… and when I woke up, it wasn't real. But everything about it just felt so real. And I was afraid that it was the same thing all over again… I was afraid that maybe… maybe you hadn't kissed me and that I hadn't gone after you… and that you and I…"

"Hey, hey," Stiles soothed, taking Derek's head between his hands to make him look into his eyes. "I'm here, okay?" He reached for one of Derek's hands, pressing it against his cheek, nuzzling into the calloused palm. "I'm here."

Derek took the opportunity to pull Stiles down, to kiss him firmly on the lips, taking in the fact that, yes, Stiles is here. That this is real. And that Stiles wasn't going anywhere.

Except that he was.

Derek frowned when Stiles pulled away and tried to slip out of his hold. This only made Derek latch on to the boy's waist once more, holding it tightly, wanting to bury his face in the warm skin.

Stiles snickered. "Who knew my Sourwolf was so cuddly?" Derek only grunted in reply. "Seriously though, I thought you wanted breakfast. There's a carton of eggs waiting to get cracked."

He perked at the thought of food. But no. "I do want breakfast. But I do remember also saying that this part of our morning was reserved for kissing."

"Ohhh," Stiles inhaled, eyes turning to the ceiling. "Yes. Right. That. Well, you were sleeping not too long ago, so I thought I might get an early start on the breakfast bit. But…" Stiles smirked mischievously, climbing on the bed to straddle Derek's lap. "Since you're awake now, we should get things back on track. I know how much you like to keep on schedule..."

A smile spread across Derek's face as he was eased back on to the bed. "My boyfriend is so considerate."

"I try," he smirked, shrugging before leaning down to kiss Derek on the lips. "I'm gonna have to kiss you over and over until you can see the difference between the real me and the dream me."

Derek snorted. "You sure? The dream you was pretty talented. You're gonna have to do a lot of kissing to show me just how much better the real you is."

Stiles bit his lip, considering his task. "It'll be tough, but I think I can manage." He bent down and pressed his lips against Derek's, making the older boy sigh in content.

Derek was in bliss. He loved the feel of Stiles pressed against him, of his lips against his. He loved the feel of his skin under his fingertips and the sounds of tiny moans emitting from him. It was giving Derek a heady feeling.

Derek couldn't help but arch up into the boy, wanting to press against him in every way possible. The moans were getting louder, but he wasn't entirely sure if it was still coming from Stiles of it he was making those sounds himself.

"Okay, okay," Stiles smirked, taking a second to catch his breath before sitting back up. "As much as I would love to keep you in bed all day, there are eggs sitting out on the counter that are just waiting to be scrambled."

Stiles climbed off Derek, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Derek groaned, missing his warmth immediately. He wrapped his arms around Stiles, tossing the retreating boy back onto the bed, making him laugh. Straddling his waist and pinning his wrists down, Derek bent down to kiss Stiles once more. "The eggs can wait."

Just then, a loud grumble came from the younger boy's belly. Stiles chuckled. "It doesn't seem like my stomach can."

Derek sighed. If his boy was hungry, it would be cruel of him to deny him sustenance.

Another loud grumbled filled the room, making Stiles laugh once more. "It seems like yours can't wait either."

Defeated by natural bodily function, and with much reluctance and one last kiss, Derek rolled off of Stiles and let him up.

"Don't look so glum," Stiles teased, hugging Derek from behind. "We have the whole day."

Derek smiled, sighing in content once more. He was looking forward to the rest of his day – for the rest of his life, for all he was concerned – with Stiles.

The younger boy slipped by and made his way back into the kitchen as Derek headed into the bathroom. He came back out to see Stiles chopping up some mushrooms.

"I hope you like omelets."

"I do," he smiled, taking a seat at the counter, watching Stiles.

"Good. So, my lovely boyfriend-squirrel, get cracking on those eggs," the boy smirked.

Derek rolled his eyes but tugged the carton and bowl over to himself. "How many?"

"I'm good with two, and however many you want for yourself."

Derek nodded and got to work, cracking them open and scrambling them with a fork. Once he was done, and assured that Stiles could handle the rest, he slipped out the front door to grab his morning paper and sat down with it at the kitchen table.

"Anything interesting?" He heard Stiles ask from where he was facing the stove.

Derek shrugged noncommittally. "Not in particular."

"You know," Stiles said, quietly. "I read somewhere that it's supposed to be really hard for friends to become more than just friends..." he mumbled, back turned to Derek as he pushed around the omelet with a spatula.

Derek cocked an eyebrow at this. Setting down his paper, he walked into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around Stiles' waist, kissing the boy's neck before resting his chin on his shoulder. "Oh? And why's that?"

"Well..." Stiles said slowly, leaning back against Derek. "It's supposedly awkward. Like... as friends, there were boundaries and rules. But then as a couple, you're crossing over lines that you only thought of crossing before. Like, you don't know if you should hold hands or if it would be appropriate to hug or if they'd be comfortable with a kiss. So... it gets awkward... You think we'll be like that?"

Derek let out a breath through his nose, thinking about it. "Well... do you think this is awkward?" He asked, turning the boy around to face him before slipping his hand into Stiles', intertwining their fingers.

Stiles smiled softly. "No."

The older boy smirked. "Then... do you think this is awkward?" He asked, pulling Stiles by their joined hands, wrapping the boy's arms around his waist as he wrapped his own around Stiles'.

Stiles shook his head, smile growing brighter. "No..."

Derek slipped one hand out and lifted it up to caress Stiles' cheek. "Then..." he breathed softly, pressing his forehead against Stiles', rubbing his nose against the other boy's, "Do you think this," he kissed Stiles gently on the lips, "is awkward?"

Stiles was grinning now, leaning forward to press his lips back against Derek's. "No. Freakin'. Way."

Derek chuckled. "Then there you have it. We won't be one of those awkward couples. Besides," he grinned. "If it means I get to hold you and kiss you as much as I want, I'll cross any boundaries." He pressed a quick kiss to Stiles' lips before taking a step back. "Except your father's. Cause your father scares me."

Stiles laughed and turned his attention back to the pan. "My dad is harmless."

"Easy for you to say. You're not the one who has to worry about getting shot."

"My dad knows how important you are to me. He wouldn't shoot you... unless you hurt me first."

Derek let out an exaggerated sigh of relief, bringing his arms back around Stiles, kissing him on the neck once more. "Well, that's good then. Cause I have no plans on doing that whatsoever."

Stiles smiled. "Good."

Derek inhaled deeply, glancing into the pan. "Mmm," he grunted. "Smells good. Don't burn it." He smirked, nipping at tender skin before sitting back down with his paper.

Stiles tossed Derek a half-annoyed, half-amused glare before sliding the cooked omelet onto a plate, and setting it in front of the other boy. "Here you go, your majesty," he scoffed. "Anything else with that?"

Derek's lips curved into a smile. "No, nothing for the moment. But I like this 'your majesty' thing going on. Keep doing that."

Stiles just laughed before pouring the rest of the mixture into the pan.

They ate breakfast together, chatting like normal. It just felt so easy to Derek, Stiles' doubts unfounded. Perhaps it was because they hadn't been friends for too long. Or perhaps it was because Derek had wanted to be more than just a friend to Stiles early on that there was little awkwardness in the transition. Whatever the reason, Derek felt that this was just right. That he was meant to be with Stiles just as much as Stiles was meant to be with him.

It was later into the morning, just after finishing breakfast, that Stiles got a text from Lydia.

"Tell her, whatever it is, you're too busy and you don't care what she does, you're not leaving my apartment," Derek grumbled, currently nuzzled against Stiles' stomach, using the boy as a pillow as they lounged on the couch.

Stiles snickered, running his hand through Derek's hair, massaging his scalp. "It's nothing. She's just letting me know that grades are in. She's bragging about her 4.0." He paused his ministrations. "Hey, you mind if I check mine on your laptop?"

Derek groaned, not wanting to get up from his comfortable position, nor wanting Stiles to stop what he was doing with his hands.

"Come on, grumpy," Stiles cooed. "You've still got dishes to do, too."

"Dishes can wait. Grades can wait. But your hands... Keep going with the hands..."

Stiles chuckled before tweaking Derek's nose. "Come on, come on. Up, up, up, mister."

Derek swatted the hand away before sighing in defeat. He sat up, letting Stiles make his way over to Derek's desk. Disgruntled from having to give up his comfortable pillow, he trudged into the kitchen to tackle the dishes they had left behind.

He had gotten the sponge nice and soapy when Stiles caught his attention from across the room.

"Hey, Derek, what's this? 'Day one... Stiles and I baked cookies. Day two, I met Stiles at the coffee shop?'"

Derek visibly paled. 'Shit.' Throwing the sponge into the sink and wiping his pants haphazardly on his pants, he ran over to his desk and made to shut the laptop, but Stiles swiftly picked it up and held it out of the way, spinning in the desk chair to keep it out of reach.

"'Day three, Stiles and I went grocery shopping. Day four, Stiles purchased a Lego set?'" He shifted his eyes over to Derek, a curious expression on his face. "What is this?"

Derek held a hand up, as if to calm Stiles and keep him from running away - which, quite frankly, he wouldn't blame him if he did. "It's not what you think..."

"Are you taking notes on me?"

Derek bit his lip. "Okay... it might be a little bit of what you think - but it's not exactly what you might assume."

Stiles slowly placed the laptop back on the desk and skimmed over it again. Then he looked back up at Derek, cocking his head to the side. "Okay. So then... what is it?"

"I just… they're notes… on your behavior." Derek frowned to himself. That didn't sound right either. And going by the look on Stiles' face, he didn't think so either.

"My behavior," he repeated, brows furrowed together. He silently schooled his expression into one Derek couldn't decipher.

'Is he mad? Freaked out? I should have deleted that thing. Hell, I never should have written it.' Stiles was still looking at him, curiously, waiting for an answer. Derek exhaled deeply though his nose. "I… was trying to figure out… if you liked me…" he turned his gaze down to his hands, still covered in a bit of soap.

"By studying me and taking notes like Jane Goodall?"

"I know it sounds crazy, and I'd understand why you'd want to leave me, but Stiles, I-"

"Hey, whoa, whoa," Stiles stood up, taking Derek's face in his hands to make him look in his eyes. Stiles was smiling, amused. "I'm not going anywhere," he assured. He chuckled. "Derek, I paid Danny with a chocolate lava cake to hack into the school's system just so I could find out your first name. I think we're both a little crazy."

Derek felt the tension ease just a bit. "So… you're not upset?"

Stiles let out a breath, dropping his hands to tug at Derek's shirt. "I mean, I guess I'm a little surprised. It's borderline creepy, but I know you. And I trust you… even if your methods are a little… insane." He circled Derek's waist, pulling him in close, chuckling softly.

Derek sighed, resting his forehead against Stiles'. "It's not like I was studying you the whole time like a test subject. It was just after Lydia's party… after I got the idea that maybe you could… like me. I was hoping the notes could show me what I'd been wanting to see."

Stiles seemed to consider this. "Did they?"

Derek frowned, dejectedly. "Not really, no. They showed me how much I didn't know about you and how much I wanted to know more."

Stiles smirked. "Well then, just ask." He pecked Derek on the lips before pulling back. "But only after you finish those dishes."

Derek rolled his eyes, although his lips quirked in amusement. "All right, all right."

Stiles fell back into the desk chair as Derek ambled his way back into the kitchen. "Hey Derek?" he called.

"Yeah?"

"Just to get this out of the way, and I like to think I know the answer to this already, but you can never be too careful-"

"Stiles."

"You're not like a deranged serial killer, are you?"

Derek snorted. "I'm hardly deranged."

Stiles audibly exhaled. "That's good." He was quiet for a second more. Then, "Hey Derek?"

"No, Stiles. I'm not a serial killer."

"Cute. But that's not what I was gonna ask."

"What is it then?"

Stiles paused. "Is it too late to get you to dye your hair red like Stelios?"

Derek gaped, looking incredulously at Stiles from over his shoulder. "There's no way. I come as is," he grunted, picking his sponge back up. "And no take backs, either," he added as an afterthought.

Stiles laughed. "Damn. Well if I knew that, I would've held out a little longer. Imagine… Such shiny… beautiful… strawberry blonde locks…" he lulled, wistfully, hand in the air as if caressing imaginary tresses.

Derek growled. Throwing the sponge back into the sink once more, he tackled Stiles to the floor, and proceeded to kiss him until all thoughts of redheads were long forgotten.

/\/\/\

"So… Do you like cabbage?"

Derek glared at the overly amused smirk coming from the boy sitting across from him.

The two were sitting cross-legged on the couch, facing one another. Once Stiles texted Lydia back, gloating about his own perfect GPA, and Derek finally finished putting his sponge to good use, they had decided it was time to get to know each other even more.

"Like I said," Derek gritted out. "I like them as much as any other person does. I'm not in lovewith them."

Stiles snickered, recalling the memory. "You looked like a kid who got caught stealing cookies."

"I panicked."

"Why? Cause you didn't mean for me to find out that you were stalking me?"

"I wasn't stalking you. I was there for legit reasons!"

"Yes. To buy cabbage."

Derek harrumphed. "This was a stupid idea."

"Just admit it, Derek. You wanted to hang out with me that morning. Ain't no shame in that," he quirked.

Derek rolled his eyes. "Fine. I went to the farmer's market that day to hang out with you. Happy?"

"I knew it!" Stiles cheered. Derek was halfway through another eye roll when Stiles leaned forward for another quick kiss. "You're adorable," he cooed.

Derek was both appalled and charmed to be called such. He shrugged it off. "Were you jealous of Isaac that time we all had lunch together?"

Stiles frowned, as if determining just how he should answer that. "…No."

Derek cocked an eyebrow, fixing a look of skepticism on his face.

"Maybe," he amended. "Just a little."

This time, it was Derek who smirked.

"But you have to understand," Stiles said, quickly. "It took me ages to get you to where we were. You know how many death glares and awkward silences I had to put up with just to get you to reply to anything I said? And then in comes Isaac who can strike up a conversation with you all willy-nilly and next thing you know, you guys are new BFFs and running away to buy drinks together and yeah I was jealous because maybe it just meant you liked him more than you liked me and-"

This time it was Derek who leaned in to kiss Stiles briefly on the lips. "At the time, I was, at best,tolerating your friends. I really just wanted to spend the day with you alone."

"Oh."

Derek sat back, a soft smile playing on his lips.

"Ohhh! So you liked me even back then?" Stiles perked.

Derek opened his mouth, looking for an answer.

"You did!" Stiles cut in, doing a little dance in his seat.

"I didn't- I just-" Derek sputtered.

"Don't lie, Mr. Hale," Stiles chastised.

"I hated your company less than I hated everyone else's. How's that?"

Stiles rolled his eyes. "Whatever," he grumbled. "You liked me."

Derek let out a heavy sigh, leaning back against the armrest of the couch.

"Okay… next question. Where are my shirts?"

Derek's eyebrows went up, not ready for that particular question. He weighed his response. "…In my room," he admitted.

"In your room." Stiles cocked an eyebrow. "Sounds mighty suspicious."

Derek scowled. "What are you talking about? They're just in a drawer. I just forgot to give 'em back is all."

"Oh. So then you won't mind if I take them home with me later."

Derek pursed his lips together, but eventually uttered out, "No." Under Stiles' scrutinizing gaze, he felt himself falter. "Okay, maybe. I like them."

"You like my shirts?"

Derek paused a moment, frowning, unsure if he wanted to elaborate. Eventually, he gave in. "They… smell like you."

This time, Stiles' eyebrows went up. "They smell…" he trailed before doubling over in laughter.

Derek scowled once more. "You know what? Fine! Just take them!"

Stiles held a hand up, shaking his head as he continued to laugh. "No, no. I'm not- It's not that," he breathed out. Stiles got onto his knees and shuffled closer to Derek, taking his head between his hands and kissing him firmly once more. "Derek, I swear. You're perfect for me."

Although he was in no way going to deny that, Derek had to cock an eyebrow in question.

"Your shirt. The one that I kept. It smells like you, too."

At this admittance, Derek had to grin, chuckling through his nose, understanding that Stiles and he were in the same boat. He wrapped his arms around Stiles' waist and pulled him into his lap. He really was perfect for him. They both cared for one another and were both surprisingly crazyfor one another. He buried his face in the crook of Stiles' neck, taking in the scent he found there, mixed with his own faint smell from the shirt Stiles wore. To Derek, it was a perfect blend. He hummed in content. "Can we stay like this… just like this…?"

"With me in your lap and you nosing my neck? Which totally doesn't tickle by the way," he squirmed.

The older boy responded by nosing that very neck some more. "Yes. Just like this."

"We could. But I do have work in the morning. Which reminds me… I need to pick up some stuff for the shop."

Derek frowned, nearly let out a whine in discontent. He didn't mean to remind Stiles of being anywhere but with him.

"Actually," Stiles began to pull away. "What time is it?"

"No time," Derek groaned. "It isn't any time. If anything, it's Derek time," he tried, pulling Stiles back to him.

Stiles merely chuckled and squirmed to get away again. "Seriously, Derek. My boss was understanding enough to give me the week off. And now that I'm back, I've got some duties I need to fulfill if I want to keep this job while I'm still in school."

"You don't need that job," Derek scoffed. "I'll take care of you."

Stiles snorted. "I happen to like my job. It's how I met you, isn't it?"

"True," Derek sighed. He had to agree there. The place had sentimental value. Plus, Stiles was particularly good at his job. "Okay then. I'll buy the coffee shop so you'll only have to work when I want coffee." That sounded like a good idea to Derek.

The boy laughed. "You know, your uncle said the same thing… I mean, not exactly, but along the same lines. He wanted to buy the coffee shop so he could give me more vacation time. Said he wanted to take us to Fiji or something."

"Tahiti," Derek smirked. "He's a good uncle. He spoils me."

"Derek, buying a business just so your nephew's at-the-time friend can go on vacation with the family isn't just spoiling you. It's downright insane."

"Well... too bad. Cause now you're stuck with me, which means you're stuck with my family too. Actually... I should call them..."

"Hm? What for?"

"Oh, you know. Tell them about my grades... and how I finally snatched you up."

Stiles laughed. "Technically speaking, I was the one who made the first move so I'm the one who snatched you up."

Derek scoffed. "You ran out the door a stuttering mess. If I hadn't gone after you, we'd never be here now."

"Yeah, but if I hadn't kissed you in the first place, you wouldn't have-"

Derek stalled the argument by putting Stiles' lips to better use. He brought a hand to the boy's face, caressing it before pulling him in closer to kiss him deeper. When they were sufficiently out of breath, Derek finally let up, sighing against Stiles' neck.

"Nuh... no," Stiles panted. "That... that won't work. I made the first move," he continued. "Ev… even in the greater scheme of things, it was my awesome coffee-making skills that first caught your attention."

Derek rolled his eyes. There was no winning this. And he knew from experience with his sister to pick and choose his battles. "Fine. You snatched me."

"Woo! And I must say," Stiles smirked smugly, "You are one mighty fine catch, Mr. Hale. My dad would be proud."

Derek shook his head with a chuckle. Looking up into the smug face and feeling his body pressed against his, Derek couldn't help but think that his own catch was mighty fine all its own.

"Okay, come on," Stiles said, finally, wriggling off of Derek and sitting back on the couch. "Go check your grades and call your family. I will call the shop and ask about the inventory."

Derek frowned, but ultimately agreed. He walked over to his desk and logged in to the school's site, clicking on the link to view his grades. Despite his confidence in having done the best he possibly could do in all of his classes, he couldn't help but feel a bit nervous. What if he had bombed those finals? It would certainly hinder his progress. But then Derek realized his mind was stalling so he scrolled down.

"All right… moment of truth…" he murmured to himself, finally glancing over his results. He breathed a sigh of relief. He had maintained his A's and had even managed to bring his B in Mythology up to an A-.

"Good news?" Stiles asked from across the room, watching him with inquisitive eyes, his phone up to his ear.

Derek nodded with a smile.

Stiles gave him a thumbs up before his attention went back to his phone.

Derek made his way into his bedroom where his own phone was charging on the nightstand. He hopped onto his bed, leaning against the headboard, scrolling through his contacts to call his sister.

"Hey bro, what's up?" came Laura's voice at the other end after a few rings.

"Hang on. Let me conference Peter." Without waiting for a response, he tapped through his phone again and found his uncles's number. After it rang a few times, Peter finally answered as well.

"Ugh, what time is it?"

Derek frowned. "It's ten here. Which means it's one in the afternoon in New York."

"Then call back in four hours," Peter groaned.

He half-expected his uncle to just hang up, but he could still hear his muffled breathing. Derek just rolled his eyes. "I've got Laura on the other line. Hang on," he tapped his phone to connect the lines, "okay. Laura?"

"Yeah?"

"Okay good. Peter's half-asleep. Probably has a hangover."

Peter merely mumbled something unintelligible into the line.

"I see," Laura said, solemnly. Then, "Good morning, Peter! How are you on this fine, bright, sunny day?"

Derek snickered, even as he had to pull the phone away from his ear.

"You kids are evil…"

"Yeah, but we love you," Laura replied fondly. "So what's up? What's going on?"

"I'm just calling to let you know my grades are in. A's across the board."

"Well done, baby bro! I'm proud of you."

"Excellent. We'll definitely celebrate next time I'm in town," Peter replied, sounding a little more awake.

Although it might be silly to others, Derek was grateful for the words of encouragement from his family. For years, there was a time that he felt he only disappointed them, so their pride and support was a huge relief. He held his phone a little tighter. "Thanks guys. And..."

"What is it?" his sister asked.

"There's… there's something else…" Derek bit his lip, not really sure he wanted to tell them about Stiles just yet. He could just imagine their reactions and none of them were good - at least not for his dignity.

Stiles took that moment to pop his head in. "Derek?" He grimaced when he realized the older boy was on the phone. "Oh, sorry," he whispered.

"No, it's fine," Derek shook his head, waving him in. Derek put his phone on speaker as Stiles climbed on the bed to crawl in between Derek's legs.

"What's going on? Who's that? Who's with you?" Laura asked.

Stiles rested his chin on Derek's lower abdomen. "Hey Laura," he answered.

"Is that Stiles?" It was Peter who asked.

"Of course it's Stiles. Who else would it be? Derek has no other friends."

"That's not true," Derek scowled, as the boy leaning against him chuckled.

"Yes it's Stiles," the younger boy grinned. "And yes, you're right. I'm his only friend."

Derek responded by pinching the boy's nose.

"So did you tell them?" Stiles asked, smacking the hand away.

"Tell them what? What are you telling us?"

Derek opened his mouth to answer his sister, but Stiles took his hand and pulled the phone closer to him.

"We're getting married!" he exclaimed.

"What?"

"What?"

"What?"

Stiles burst into laughter at the collective Hales' incredulous tones. He rolled over in his amusement, holding his stomach.

"It's about friggin' time, Derek," came Laura.

"Seriously," Peter agreed, sounding wide-awake.

"We're not getting married," Derek amended, pushing Stiles off the bed where he landed with a loud thump. "We're officially dating… although I may have to reconsider that decision considering his behavior."

Stiles' head popped up from the side of the bed with a comical pout on his face. Despite it, it looked as if the boy was still fighting off the urge to snicker.

Derek just rolled his eyes at him but couldn't help the small smile tugging on his lips.

Laura scoffed on her end of the line. "As if. You are beyond smitten with that boy. He's not goinganywhere."

At this, Derek could see Stiles perk up from the corner of his eye before the boy clambered back up onto the bed. "Smitten..." he chuckled to himself. He sat cross-legged, facing Derek, picking up the older boy's free hand and playing with it.

"So how'd you do it, Stiles?" Peter asked. "Because I know Derek couldn't have possibly made the first move."

"Hey," Derek frowned. "Just for that, don't tell him. They don't need to know anyway."

"It was actually quite romantic," Stiles swooned.

"Now you have to tell," Laura demanded.

"No," Derek scowled. "I just called to let you know about my grades and about me and Stiles and that's all you get to know. Say 'bye', Stiles."

"Hey that's not fair!" Laura whined.

"You can't just not tell us," Peter added.

"I'll tell you guys all about it later," Stiles whispered, leaning towards to phone and cupping his free hand around his mouth, even though Derek could hear every syllable. Stiles just smiled and sat back up. "Bye guys. It was nice talking to you!"

"I want details, Stiles!" Laura squeezed in.

"And conference me i-"

Derek hung up the phone, cutting off his uncle mid-sentence.

Stiles just looked at him, amused. "You know, they won't stop bugging either of us until they hear the story."

Derek shrugged. "I know. But," he smiled slyly, entwining their fingers before pulling Stiles to him, making the younger boy sit on his lap. "I have you here. All to myself. We're on my bed. And I can think of a few things we could be doing instead of talking to my family on the phone." He tossed his phone off to the side before placing his hands on Stiles' hips, thumbs sliding under the hem of his shirt to rub small circles against warm skin.

Stiles grinned. He placed his hands over Derek's chest before leaning down for a lazy kiss. "This is nice," he murmured. "I like being able to kiss you."

"Mmm," Derek hummed. "I'm not entirely opposed to it either."

"That's good," Stiles chuckled. "I like my sexual partners willing. Pliant. Wanton."

"Stiles."

"What?"

"Shut up."

/\/\/\

Morning soon turned to afternoon with both boys content with just lazing about, stealing kisses, caresses and glances. So it was with more than just a little discontent that Derek watched Stiles slip out of his borrowed clothing and back into the clothes he originally wore.

Stiles patted down his pockets. "I have my phone, my keys, my wallet… That's everything." He glanced up at the surly boy on the bed. "Don't look at me like that."

"I'm not looking at you like anything," Derek snarked, petulant. He didn't want Stiles to go. But it's not like he wanted to force him to stay, either.

"I told you, I'll be back. I just need to pick up a few things, drop them off at the shop and that's it. You swear I'm going off to war or something. Relax Pouty-face," Stiles smirked, walking over.

"I'm not-"

Stiles shut him up with a brief kiss. "Besides," he shrugged. "I never said you couldn't come with." The boy quirked an eyebrow in suggestion before heading out of Derek's bedroom.

Derek didn't need to be told twice. He leapt off his bed and scrambled to get ready, ignoring the laugh he heard from the other room.

/\/\/\

It was drizzling out so Derek decided to take his car to run Stiles' errands. They got the necessary ingredients from the market and dropped them off at the coffee shop, where Stiles took an extra few minutes to whip something up for both he and Derek before they took off. Derek drove to Stiles' apartment. They were going to drop off Scott's guitar, but Derek hoped he might be able to convince Stiles to grab a few things – or everything if he were willing – to take back to Derek's apartment so that he could stay the night… or indefinitely. Whichever.

"I'm just saying, four is a lot. I can understand having two, where one is a back up, but four?"

Derek rolled his eyes. "It's not like they're all the same. They're four different jackets."

"Leather jackets. And come on. They all look pretty similar."

"I'm not having this conversation with a guy who probably has a different flannel for every day of the month."

Stiles scoffed. "Twenty-six days, tops."

As Stiles opened the door to his apartment, Derek spotted Scott and Allison on the couch. They looked a little tense, but they both smiled and greeted the pair.

"Hey guys," Allison waved.

"Hey buddy, welcome home!" Scott grinned. "How's it going Mr. Hale?"

Derek just nodded in greeting to the both of them.

"Hey," Stiles smiled. "We came to bring this back," he said, holding up the guitar case.

"Ah, that's right. I heard Derek got a solo performance. Lucky," she smirked, slyly.

"He's very lucky," Stiles smiled back at Derek, placing a hand on his arm.

Derek just smiled softly in return.

"Hey, what's that?" Scott pointed at the pair. "What's going on?"

Both looked back at the messy-haired boy, confused.

"What are you talking about?" Stiles asked.

"Something happened, huh?" he said, looking between the both of them as a smile slowly stretched across his face. "You're looking at each other all googily-eyed and secret smiles and junk. And either my eyes are playing tricks on me or I'm actually seeing a bruise on Stiles' neck. And since I don't think he tripped and fell in that particular spot, I'm betting that's a hickey." Stiles slapped a hand over the telltale mark, belatedly. "Did something happen?" Scott continued. "Did you two finally get together?"

"What? No," Allison gaped, looking from the grinning Scott to the two still standing by the door. "Did you?"

"Well…" Stiles started.

"Yes!" Scott clapped before collapsing back on to the couch, only to bounce back up again. "Yes!"

Allison sighed. "Damn it, Derek. You couldn't wait another few weeks?"

Derek blinked. "Um, what?"

"Are we missing something?"

"Call Lydia," Scott cheered. "Call Jackson. Call everyone. Tell them all the good news! Tell them that I won!"

"Excuse me? Won what?" Stiles frowned.

Allison couldn't help but chuckle at her boyfriend's excitement. "We all made bets on when you two would get together. Lydia had Christmas, I had New Year's and Scott was convinced it would be after the show."

"No one can resist a rock star," Scott shrugged proudly.

Derek rolled his eyes. "Unbelievable."

"Jackson was convinced you two wouldn't even make a move." Allison laughed.

"I am shocked," Stiles gaped, placing a hand over his chest. "You guys were placing bets on my love life? That is-"

"I'll treat you to dinner with my winnings," Scott offered, cutting in.

"-amazing. You guys must really care about me. And Derek," he applauded.

"I fail to see how them placing bets equals caring," Derek drawled.

"Shh!" Stiles snipped. "Free dinner," he hissed. "We'll make him take us to some fancy place."

"I can hear you," Scott called.

"Good." Stiles topped it off by blowing a raspberry at his long time friend.

"Well," Scott said, standing up and brushing off his pants. He moseyed on over to where Derek was. "I think it's just about time that you and I have this conversation."

Derek cocked an eyebrow as Scott squeezed himself in between him and Stiles, before placing a hand on the older boy's shoulder.

"Mr. Hale, I'm pretty sure you're a good guy and all and I'm glad that Stiles is glad and that it's you that's making him glad. But!" He said, pointing a finger in Derek's face. "If you ever hurt my best friend, I'm gonna have to hurt you. Like, with ridiculous, massive amounts of pain." He stretched his arms out as if to demonstrate how much pain Derek would be in for.

Derek just rolled his eyes, looking crossly at the boy. "As if I would," he started, but then realized what he said. "I mean, as if you could! As if… you…"

But by then, all three faces were sporting grins. Derek shook his head before ducking it down in embarrassment.

"It's okay, Scott. He won't hurt me. He's smitten," Stiles said smugly.

"Good." Scott smiled, patting Derek on the shoulder.

"Like, he didn't want me to get dressed earlier kind of smitten."

The hand was quickly dropped back down to his side. Scott frowned. "Dude, TMI."

"That's not-" Derek started.

"Dude, no," Scott turned back towards Derek and shook his head. "Whatever you guys did, keep that to yourselves."

Derek just groaned as Allison giggled from her place on the couch. "I'm so calling Lydia."

Apparently the redhead had surmised that conveniently placed mistletoe was going to be Derek's undoing, whilst Allison had thought it would be a nicely timed New Year's kiss. Jackson was still in disbelief and demanded proof to which Stiles quickly quipped that Jackson was just a voyeur and if really wanted to, he could pay for a front seat to his and Derek's inevitable love-making. At this, Derek was quick to snatch the phone away from his impish boyfriend, growl into the phone that Jackson didn't have to believe it to be true, and hand the phone back to Allison who at this point was rolling on the couch, laughing while Scott had his hands over his eyes, murmuring something about 'mental images.' Derek glared at Stiles, who only smiled coyly in response.

"What?" he shrugged. "He wanted proof. What better proof than you and me rolling around nak-"

"Stiles!" Scott lunged at his best friend, clamping a hand over his mouth and wrestling him to the ground. "No one wants to hear about your sick fantasies-"

"Sexy fantasies," Stiles amended, managing to slip away from Scott's hand for a second. "Have you seen Der-"

Derek just buried his face in his hands, wondering what he really got himself into.

Eventually the two wore each other down while Derek and Allison ignored them in favor of some light conversation. Her final project for Art History – Derek's Spartan costume – had apparently been the boost she needed to get her grade to the A she had been striving for. He congratulated her and gifted her with a shortened version of what happened the night before.

And although Derek really just wanted to take Stiles and lock him up in his apartment for the foreseeable future, the four of them eventually sat down on the couch to watch some program on TV. With Derek comfortable against the armrest and with Stiles leaning against him, he figured sharing him with his friends wasn't so bad.

Later, as Stiles was grabbing a change of clothes for work in the morning, Scott took a second to pull Derek to the side, leaving his place beside Allison on the couch.

"Hey, Mr. Hale, I wanna be serious with you for a sec."

Derek just nodded curtly.

"I really am happy that you two finally stepped up and got together already and that because of your guys' perfect timing, I basically get free lunch for a week." Derek rolled his eyes at this, but Scott carried on. "Stiles is my best friend and I want nothing but good things for him. So, really dude, if you hurt him-"

"I have no intention of hurting him, Scott. I really... care about him."

Scott just grinned, breathing a sigh of relief before smacking Derek heartily on the shoulder. "Good. Oh, and remember our deal. Sixty-forty, Mr. Hale."

This time it was Derek's turn to sigh. "Look, I get it. You wanna make sure nothing changes between you and Stiles now that I'm officially in the picture. But Stiles is spontaneous and wild and free. It's part of what I love about him. So I'm not gonna limit my time with him because of sixty-forty." Scott opened his mouth to interrupt, but Derek plowed through. "But know this. I have nothing but complete respect for the friendship you two have and there's no way I'd want to come between it or devalue it in any way. I'm not trying to take him away from you, Scott. Just like I hope you won't do anything to keep him away from me. I just… I care about him. And I wanna be with him. For as long as he'll have me. And if that means more than sixty, I'm gonna take it because every moment with him is precious to me."

Scott looked pensive for a moment, mulling over the older boy's words. Finally, he nodded slowly before letting out a grin. "You really are smitten, aren't you Mr. Hale?"

Derek just snorted, but smiled softly in agreement. He eyed Scott for a second. "You know… you don't have to keep calling me that."

Though it didn't seem possible, Scott's grin grew. "You're a pretty cool dude… Derek. And I promise I won't cut into your precious time with him as long as you don't cut into mine."

Derek nodded. "Deal."

"Hey, ready to go?" Stiles asked, walking up to the pair with his backpack slung over his shoulder, Sourwolf's head poking out.

Derek just nodded and took Stiles' hand in his. "Ready."

"See ya later, guys," Stiles waved to Scott and Allison as he led the way to the door.

"Have fun, you two," Allison smirked as she waved back.

"Try not to defile my friend too much," Scott snickered.

Derek glared at the messy-haired boy. "Not that it's really any of your business, I plan to. Many times. In several different positions."

Scott blanched as Stiles cackled with laughter. "Dude, Derek…"

"And actually, you know what? I take it back. You can keep calling me Mr. Hale. I like the sound of it better."

"Ah-wha-?" He sputtered, mouth agape. Derek just smirked at Scott and watched as his face went from shock to amused understanding and relief. "Keep your defiling to yourself, Mr. Hale." Scott scoffed in return.

Derek just nodded and closed the door behind him.

Stiles punched Derek lightly on the shoulder. "Hey, don't be mean to my Scotty," he said firmly, but with no malice.

"Relax," Derek smiled, bringing their joined hands up to his lips to kiss the back of Stiles' hand as they entered the elevator. "Scott and I have an understanding. We have an agreement, you know," he said matter-of-factly.

"Do you, now?"

"Mm-hmm. He was worried I was gonna steal you away."

"Ah," Stiles said, throwing his head back. "I can see why that would be a concern. I'm awesome."

Derek snorted, but didn't contest it. "But I assured him I wouldn't even if I have thought about it."

"Sharing is caring, Derek."

He conceded. "You're right. Although I refuse to share our first night together with some voyeur with a front row ticket."

"Okay. Fair enough," Stiles nodded in agreement just as the elevator doors opened, reaching the ground floor. Stiles looked over his shoulder at him, face open and full of innocence. "So… second night, then?"

Derek responded by chasing his imp in disguise out the door.

/\/\/\

On Thursday afternoon, Stiles came over after work to spend time with Derek, much to the latter's content. But he wasn't so content when he found out the boy had plans for later in the evening.

"Sorry," Stiles pouted, walking over to straddle Derek's lap where the older boy had been sitting on the couch. "I already made these plans a few days ago. I didn't know you would want to hang out tonight."

Derek sighed. "It's okay. But," he said, running his hands up and down Stiles' thighs, "for future reference, just know that I want to hang out with you every night."

Stiles laughed. "Ah, you sure about that? I have been known to get pretty annoying. You may live to regret those words."

Derek feinted deep contemplation, bringing one hand up to stroke his jaw. "You may be right... I take it back."

Stiles gasped and looked affronted. "Derek, as my boyfriend, you're supposed to say junk like 'No, babe, I could never get tired of you.'" He mimicked Derek's tone, as well as his constant scowl.

Derek scoffed. "Well, as your friend, I am still obligated to tell you the truth. And really?" He asked, cocking an eyebrow. "'Babe?'"

Stiles smiled and shrugged. "We'll work on the pet names some other time, my friend." He bent down and gave Derek a little peck on the lips. "I should go if I don't want to be late." He hopped off Derek's lap and grabbed his shoes to slip them on. "I'll call you later, okay?"

Derek walked Stiles to the door, leaning heavily on its frame and nodded with a sigh. Stiles gave Derek one last kiss, a long and full one that just about took his breath away before walking down the hall with a wave.

Begrudgingly, Derek watched him go and closed the door only once he was out of sight. He frowned.

'Who does he have plans with?' he wondered with a bit of jealousy. Derek slumped back onto the couch and tried to distract himself with some TV, whilst pointedly not counting the minutes until Stiles called.

It was after an approximate 278 minutes that Derek was distracted not by his TV or his phone, but by a knock on the door. He frowned, not expecting anyone, but got up and opened it. He was surprised to see Stiles standing there.

He tilted his head in confusion. "Not that I'm complaining, but I thought you had plans?"

Stiles grinned. "I do. I'm taking my sexy boyfriend out on a date," he said, wiggling his eyebrows.

Derek snorted, but found himself uncharacteristically giddy. "This was your plan?"

"Mm-hmm," Stiles nodded. "And don't try to fake me out with the blank looks. I know you're excited. If you had a tail right now, my Sexy Wolfman, it'd be wagging."

"Is that another pet name you're trying out?"

"Go change, would ya?" Stiles pointed to Derek's bedroom, giving him a withering look.

Derek just smirked as he made his way over to get ready. Once he was in his room, he began to wonder just where Stiles might be planning on taking him. Did he need to dress fancy? Was this just a casual outing? Unsure, Derek chanced a peek outside his door back at Stiles who was standing in the living room, straightening his shirt. The boy was dressed casually with his trademark hoodie. It made Derek cross off the idea of a fancy restaurant with a romantic setting, but he filed the idea away for a later date.

Derek got dressed in his usual attire, glanced at himself in the mirror and tried to make due with his hair. He hadn't expected Stiles, but he found that he wished he had so that he could have had more time to get ready. He didn't want to keep the boy waiting, and had to settle with its messy state. He grabbed his phone, keys, and wallet and headed back to where Stiles was waiting.

Stiles smiled. "You ready?"

Derek nodded. "Where're we going?"

"Ah-ah," the boy stopped him, wagging his finger. "It's a surprise. And this is my date, soooo…" he walked over to Derek, wrapped his arms around his waist and slipped his hands into the back pockets of his jeans, making Derek swallow hard. Stiles just smirked cheekily, pecking Derek on the lips before pulling the older boy's wallet out from one pocket, while giving the empty one a little squeeze. Derek had to bite back a groan. Once his hands were free, Stiles rummaged through the wallet and pulled out Derek's ID. "Just in case," he shrugged before tossing the rest of it onto the counter and slipping the ID into Derek's breast pocket. "Let's go."

"Stiles, are you sure-"

"Yes, yes," he said with a wave. "Tonight, I'm going to take care of you. I like to buy my honey bunny pretty things," he snickered.

"I think we might need to rethink this whole pet name thing."

Stiles just answered him with another brief kiss before pulling him out the door.

When they slipped out of the building, Derek was surprised to see Scott's car out front. Stiles really did have a plan. It made Derek a little anxious not knowing where they were headed, especially in a car that looked like it probably had seen better days - years even. But he trusted Stiles, and found himself looking forward to wherever it was they were going.

After about fifteen minutes of driving, and not feeling like an eager puppy after every turn, Stiles finally parked the car. Derek looked out the window and blinked.

"Ice skating?"

Stiles grinned. "You know how, right?"

Derek blanked. "Um."

"Oh my God, this is going to be even better than I expected," he clapped before hopping out the door and scurrying to the other side to open Derek's. "After you, milady."

Derek scowled. "That's not even an option, Stiles."

The boy just chuckled and locked the door behind them, taking Derek's hand in his before leading him over to the rink.

"This is man-made, right?" Derek thought to ask. He didn't want even the slightest chance of Stiles falling through to ever happen ever again.

Stiles smiled. "You have nothing to worry about. There's no lake under here. Just paved concrete."

Though it was a relief to hear that, it didn't stop Derek from pulling Stiles in close and wrapping his arm around his waist as they made their way to the admissions and skate rental. As they walked up, Derek recognized the boy behind the counter as Erica's boyfriend.

"Hey Boyd," Stiles greeted.

Derek cocked an eyebrow. When did those two become friends?

"Hey Stiles," Boyd smiled, clapping Stiles' hand as if they had their own secret handshake. Didthey have their own secret handshake? Why didn't Stiles have a secret handshake with Derek? Boyd glanced in his direction. "You're… Derek, right?"

Derek just nodded, prominently not frowning at the boy.

After getting their shoe sizes, Boyd retrieved the skates and handed them over. "And hey," he called out to Stiles. "Erica loved the shortbread. And she says if you get lucky tonight, she's expecting you to make her some almond biscotti."

"Deal," Stiles grinned before winking at Derek who merely shook his head in dismay.

"You and Boyd are friends?" Derek asked as they took a seat on a bench to lace up their skates.

"Eh, not friends per se. I may have mentioned wanting to take you out on a date to Erica during a conversation and she may have mentioned that Boyd worked at the rink. So… I may have worked out some free admission plus skate rentals for a batch of shortbread," he grinned, shrugging. "Anything for my sweetums," he leaned in, kissing Derek on the cheek.

Despite the cold in the air, Derek was warmed by the brief touch, although he admittedly might be slightly jealous in not having been able to eat any of the baked goods.

"Don't fret, schnookie. I saved you a few," Stiles teased, pinching Derek on the same cheek before standing up.

'He knows me too well,' Derek mused. "Stiles… About these names…"

"Forget it. I won't stop. Ever," Stiles grinned, pulling Derek up to his feet and leading him to the ice.

It was a little weird walking in the skates and Derek felt himself wobble just a bit here and there, but the hand in his was a great source of stability. Stiles stepped out on the ice first with ease, as if he'd done this a hundred times before.

"Just take it easy," Stiles assured. "Take small steps. But instead of picking your feet up, just push yourself on your toe and slide over," he finished by showing Derek just what he meant before coming back to his side.

Derek did as he was instructed, holding Stiles' hands as he led them further out towards the middle where there were less people circling. It wasn't so bad.

"See? You're a natural," Stiles smiled, easing his hands out of Derek's, to try to let the boy stand on his own. He skated backwards and encouraged Derek to follow with a gentle nod.

As Derek grew more and more comfortable on the ice, Stiles returned to his side, linking their fingers together and merging into the crowd circling the rink. They orbited the rink several times, going at an easy pace. Derek was quite enjoying himself. He liked the feeling of Stiles' hand in his. He liked trying new things with Stiles to help him through it. It made him want to tryeverything with Stiles by his side.

Derek pulled Stiles to him and kissed him gently on the lips, savoring the taste of him, and loving the way his heart skipped a beat at the contact. He sighed contently.

"I take it you're enjoying yourself," Stiles grinned smugly.

"I am," he smiled in return.

Unfortunately, it was at that moment that someone crashed into them, sending all three bodies crashing down onto the ice.

"Oh shit! Sorry! Don't mind me," the intruder said, ducking his head as he stood up and bent down to help Stiles up.

Derek glared at the hands reaching for what was his and promptly shoved them away to help Stiles up himself.

"Danny?" Stiles said, quirking an eyebrow.

"No! No Danny here!" The boy said, who was now scrambling to get off the ice. Derek followed him with his eyes as the boy – who was now undoubtedly Danny Mahealani – ducked out of sight. After a few seconds, his head popped back into sight, but was startled in realizing he was still being watched and disappeared once more.

"That was… strange." Stiles commentated.

Still watching the spot, another head popped out. This time it was a curly-headed blonde.

"Is that Isaac?" Derek asked.

A third head popped out before ducking back, this time a messy-haired brunette.

"Scott?" Stiles said incredulously. "They followed us!"

Stiles took Derek's hand and led him over to where the trio was hiding.

"Shhh! Why did you have to look, Scott? Stiles could recognize you in a crowd!"

"I wanted to see if they were still looking. And it's not my fault you crashed into them, Danny."

"They just stopped in the middle! Who does that?"

"Um, guys?"

"What is it, Isaac?"

"They found us."

All three boys grinned sheepishly at the pair. Derek made sure to give them his most intimidating glare. "What are you guys doing here?"

"Um, skating?" Danny tried.

"Scott, I told you where I was going so that you would know, not so you could follow," Stiles growled. Derek made a mental note of what it sounded like, wanting to see if he could make that same sound come out of him again. But then he remembered that now was neither the time nor the place for such thoughts and he resumed his stare down of the intruders.

"It wasn't my idea, it was Danny's!" he defended.

"Way to throw me under the bus, McCall," the Hawaiian boy frowned, punching Scott on the arm.

"Hey!"

"What about you," Derek nodded at Isaac. "What are you doing here?"

Isaac shrugged. "I actually really did want to come here to ice skate. Then Scott mentioned that Stiles was taking you here and then Danny thought it would be better to watch you two than Christmas movie re-runs."

Danny snorted. "I was right though," he murmured under his breath. "They're ridiculously adorable."

Stiles responded by pushing Danny roughly on the shoulder. "Our date night is not for your viewing pleasure. Luckily, I have more planned and was just about to leave with Derek anyway."

Okay, seriously. Derek shouldn't find a disgruntled Stiles as hot as he does, but he was strangely turned on by his boyfriend's behavior. He didn't realize he was smiling until he caught Isaac's curious gaze. Derek reeled it in, going back to his neutral expression.

"Come on, Derek. Time to go."

Even if he wanted to stay, he doubted he could with the way Stiles manhandled him back to where their shoes were. He had to continually remind himself that now was not the time to get excited… in his pants.

Derek unlaced his skates and slipped back into his shoes, following Stiles to the counter to return them. After thanking Boyd and bidding him a farewell – as well as a promise to keep Erica updated on that biscotti – Stiles led Derek back to the car, opening the door for him before making his way to the driver's seat.

"Sorry about them. They're nosy and have no li-"

Derek grabbed Stiles' head between his hands and pulled him in for a heated kiss. Stiles gasped in surprise, giving Derek access to his tongue as he stroked it with his own. He felt rather than heard Stiles moan against him, making Derek plunge in further until his lungs were screaming for air. With one last peck, he sat back in his seat, clicked his seatbelt shut and looked to his dazed boyfriend. "Where to now?" he smirked as if nothing had happened.

"You… I…" Stiles swallowed, a movement that had Derek wanting to lick across the boy's Adam's apple. "Food..." he finally breathed. It took Stiles a few more seconds to collect himself before he grinned at Derek. "You, sir, are saucy."

Derek just snorted as Stiles started the car.

Stiles drove them to a quaint little restaurant, swearing that they had the best apple pie. Derek doubted it, considering he thought Stiles' own version was pretty delightful all its own, but allowed the boy his disillusions. They were led to a booth and handed menus to skim through.

"You also need to try their lemon chicken. Cause I know about your lemon fetish. I even came here yesterday to try it to make sure it would be up to par."

Derek shook his head. "It's not a fetish."

"It's cute that you think so, Boo-Boo Bear."

Even Derek had to laugh at that one. It was ridiculous. When he looked up, it was up into eyes shining with mirth. Stiles seemed to enjoy the effect he had on Derek almost as much as Derek himself enjoyed it.

Their waitress returned and took their orders. Derek went with Stiles' suggestion, glad that he did once the chicken reached his lips. He knew he loved the zesty citrus flavor, but a fetish? The only way he thought he could develop a fetish for it was if he were licking lemon-flavored body paint off of Stiles' chest. But with this in mind, it seemed like a real possibility.

The two were loving each other's company, tasting each other's food while maintaining light conversation. They were off in their own little world, until one voice managed to pierce through their little bubble.

"I don't care if I have to pass them. I have to pee."

Derek could see the look of aggravation cross over Stiles' face. The boy huffed before darting his eyes at something over Derek's shoulder. Or in this case, someone.

"Jackson." He growled.

"'Sup losers," the blonde nodded before sweeping past them over towards the restrooms.

Stiles sat upright in his seat, trying to locate something behind Derek. Once he found what he was looking for, he frowned once more before getting to his feet. Not wanting to miss this, Derek followed closely behind.

Stiles led him to a table where Isaac was currently seated with Lydia, although there were suspiciously four other plates scattered around. "Scott, get out from under the table, you jerk. I know you're there."

Unable to stop his hand from wanting to touch, Derek slipped his hand onto the small of Stiles' back. It might seem like he was trying to support his boyfriend in the move, but really, it was to satiate his need for contact when Stiles displayed such aggressive behavior. He didn't exactly understand why such behavior excited him in this way, but he wasn't exactly going to complain about it either.

Meanwhile, as Derek was trying to control his wayward thoughts, Scott slipped back up onto the seat, as did Danny and even Allison.

"This was Scott's fault," Danny quickly supplied.

This time Scott punched Danny in the arm. "Shut up, Danny!"

Lydia placed an elbow on the table as she leaned against her hand, looking bored. "Allison called Scott and asked if he wanted to go out to dinner. Danny mentioned coming here and Scott blurted out that you two were coming here."

"Damn it, Scott. I'm never telling you where I'm going ever again," Stiles hissed.

"It just came out! I'm sorry!"

"So," Lydia continued, looking a bit miffed at being interrupted. "I decided to tag along to see the show. Didn't realize it was for G audiences." She rolled her eyes.

Danny snorted. "At least the ice rink was a PG," he muttered.

"I'm sorry," Allison smiled apologetically. "I really did just want food."

"Me too," Isaac said, raising his hand, nodding.

Stiles glared at his friends. "This isn't a show, guys."

"You're telling me," Lydia grumbled, picking at her nails.

"We're leaving. And none of you are following," he ordered, pointing at them before taking Derek's hand in his and heading towards the door. "Oh," he said, turning around to face them once more. "And you're paying for our meal." And with that, Stiles walked back to the table, tossed a tip down while informing the waitress of the plan, before taking Derek's hand back in his and leading him out the door.

Again, they got into the car as Stiles grumbled about an unwanted audience and so-called 'friends.' Derek had to restrain himself from wanting to defile Scott's back seat – or the passenger seat, for that matter – and instead chuckled at Stiles' intensity. He took the boy's hand in his, stroking his thumb across the back of it. The small motion seemed enough to calm his irritated boyfriend.

Stiles took them to a frozen yogurt place. He still looked a little miffed as he took the keys out of the ignition. "I know it's cold out, but I planned on sharing a slice of pie with you back at the restaurant before I realized they followed us."

Derek smiled softly, trying to catch Stiles' eye. "It's fine. It doesn't get too bad here. That's the good thing about living in this part of California. Besides," Derek assured. "If I do get cold, youcan keep me warm."

This seemed enough to brighten the boy's mood considerably before he got out of the car once more. This time, as he opened Derek's door, he pressed again the older boy, wrapping his arms around his waist and giving him a languid kiss. Derek just smiled into it.

They went inside and created their own concoctions. Derek played it healthy by choosing a raspberry base with a variety of fruit mix-ins. Stiles on the other hand decided to satiate his sweet tooth. He paid for their desserts and the two stepped outside to stroll underneath the promenade, lit by streetlamps and holiday string lights.

Stiles hopped up onto a railing, swinging his legs lazily as Derek chose to keep standing, finding a place between Stiles' long limbs.

The younger boy sighed, popping one last spoonful of yogurt into his mouth before pushing the empty bowl aside. "This wasn't how this was supposed to go," he pouted.

Derek finished off his bowl before setting it aside with Stiles'. He wrapped his arms around the boy's waist, slipping them underneath the boy's jacket to soak in his warmth. "How was this supposed to go, exactly?" he asked, cocking an eyebrow.

"We were supposed to have fun ice skating together, hand-in-hand while listening to Christmas songs playing in the background. And then we're supposed to have a nice dinner where you order the lemon chicken and I order the fish before sharing some nice, warm apple pie for dessert. And then I was gonna take you home and kiss you good night and promise to call you, but wait three days before I do so I don't seem desperate," at this, Derek snorted, "but all of that's messed up now." Stiles frowned, tilting his head down to stare at his lap.

Derek bit his lip, thinking over what Stiles had said. "How was it messed up?"

He scoffed. "Come on," he groaned, throwing his hands up in defeat. "Scott and Danny and Lydia and all of them were following us and watching us and ruining everything. I wanted a nice romantic date with you and they ruined everything."

Again, Derek paused before continuing on. "But… we did have fun together ice skating – although I'm not entirely sure if there was Christmas music playing in the background as I was too distracted by trying not to fall." He kissed Stiles' collarbone, gently. "And we did have a nice dinner, despite not getting apple pie. But I got frozen yogurt with apple pieces and yours had a sort of graham cracker crumble on top, which – no – isn't the same as pie crust but we can overlook that small detail." He placed another kiss just under Stiles' jaw. "All in all," he said, pressing his forehead against Stiles', "I think our date was perfectly romantic. And I'm pretty sure you're gonna get that kiss when you walk me to my door, so no worries there either," he added with a smile.

Stiles sighed, draping one arm over Derek's shoulder, while slipping one hand down the collar of his shirt, rubbing the skin he found there, before kissing Derek on the forehead repeatedly. "You're perfect, you know that? The best boyfriend ever."

Derek smirked. "I don't know… you're not doing so bad yourself."

Stiles sighed, slipping his hand back out to wrap his arms loosely around Derek before burying his face in his neck. "I love you, Derek," he murmured.

Derek smiled, wondering if he'll ever get used to hearing those words coming from Stiles' lips. He turned his head slightly to kiss the skin just behind Stiles' ear. "I love you, too, Stiles."

They stayed there for a while more, before the cool winter air was getting to be too much despite the warmth they drew from one another. They picked up their empty bowls and found a garbage can to dispose of them before strolling lazily back to the car, not really in any hurry to end the night just yet.

Stiles drove Derek home, all the while Derek's hand a comfort in his own. Derek even managed to find a radio station that played non-stop holiday music, much to Stiles' delight. And when they pulled up to Derek's building, Stiles, the true gentleman, walked Derek to his door.

"I'll call you," Stiles breathed, pressing Derek against his apartment door, eyes closed as he touched his forehead to his.

"In three days?" Derek smirked.

"Mmm," the boy hummed. "Well… maybe two. If you're lucky."

Derek chuckled. "'Til then, I eagerly await your call."

Stiles grinned. Finally he opened his eyes, only to close them once more as he leaned in against Derek to kiss him firmly and tenderly on the lips. Derek melted into the touch, relishing in the feeling of Stiles pressed against him, of Stiles' lips against his. He left Derek breathless and wanting more. Derek chased those lips, stealing a handful more kisses before finally letting Stiles go.

"You sure you can't stay?" Derek suggested. He was borderline ready to beg him to.

Stiles hummed once more. "I want to. I really, really want to. But…" he bit his lip. "Tomorrow night. I promise."

Derek sighed in defeat, but accepted his answer. "Tomorrow then."

"I'll bake you something really delicious at the shop in the morning," Stiles vowed, kissing him lightly. "Night, Derek."

Derek stole one last kiss before leaning back against his door, willing himself not to rush forward and cling to his boyfriend. "Night, Stiles."

Stiles walked backwards down the hall towards the elevator. "Best. Date. Ever," he grinned, clicking his tongue and winking at the older boy.

Derek just chuckled and watched as Stiles spun around and disappeared around the corner. Finally, he pushed up off the door and let himself in. He found himself chuckling again as he picked his wallet up off the counter and replaced his ID from where Stiles had pulled it out. Stiles didn't even need to spend much to get Derek to have a good time with him. The only thing he ended up paying for was the yogurt and the tip for the waitress. Had it been Derek, he probably would have over thought everything purchased a helicopter ride over the city. Or maybe just a helicopter itself if Stiles so desired.

Derek made his way into his bathroom to freshen up just before heading to bed when his phone started to ring. It was The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D. Derek, although a little confused considering he just saw the boy, smiled and answered it.

"Hello?"

"Hey Derek, my friend," Stiles said wistfully. "I just had a date with the most amazing guy. I think he just might be the one."

"Is that so?" Derek grinned, slipping his jacket off and tossing it on the bed.

"Mm-hmm," Stiles hummed. "He was a real gentleman tonight. Plus, he's got a really nice, firm ass."

Derek laughed. "Sounds like a real keeper." He paused. "Hey wait. You're not talking to me while driving, are you?"

"What? No way. That's dangerous."

"Okay, good. Just making sure."

"Besides," Stiles added. "I'm not even in a car."

Derek cocked an eyebrow at that. "What?"

"Yeah, you know, even though I had a really great date, I just wanted to spend the night at myfriend's apartment. I hope my date doesn't mind."

Derek's heart raced at the implication. Was Stiles coming back to stay the night?

Derek jerked his head at the sound of knock on his front door. He hurried over to the door, swinging it open to see Stiles there with his backpack slung over his shoulder and his phone up to his ear.

"You think he'll mind?" he grinned.

"Not one bit," Derek breathed before dropping his phone to pull Stiles back into his arms to kiss him once more.

Derek had just enough rational thought left to really appreciate how much thought Stiles put into their evening together, how much he planned and considered tiny details, before Stiles took care of that too, turning his brain to mush with perfectly angled kisses and adventurous hands.

And when Stiles pulled out a bag of shortbread cookies from his backpack, Derek deemed it hisduty to show Stiles just how much his effort was truly appreciated.

Chapter Text

It had been nearly two weeks of pure bliss since Derek and Stiles shared that fateful kiss in the rain and he couldn't have been happier. Being allowed to touch Stiles was perfection. He loved being able to take his hand, to wrap an arm around his waist, to hug and kiss him like no tomorrow. And better yet was when Stiles would initiate and reciprocate contact all his own. It made Derek feel like Stiles wanted him just as much as he wanted Stiles. Yes, touching Stiles and being touched by him was absolute heaven.

But…

If Derek were forced to find one flaw, one concern about their relationship - and really, it was no big deal, just a minor afterthought really - it would be the fact that for all their touchy-feely, borderline groping that they did, that's as far as it would go. Over the past few days, whenever things got heated between them and their short breaths escalated to heavy panting and feather-soft grazes turned to pure desire for more, they would just… stop.

For instance, the night of Stiles' surprise date, though fun in its own right, led to nothing more than an intense make-out session and some very heavy petting. They had made it all the way to Derek's bed, his hands finding their way under the hem of the boy's shirt. Things were progressing nicely, when right in the heat of it, right at the moment where the tiniest of nudges would have sent them spiraling on, they paused.

Derek never really figured out who paused first, not this time nor any time before or after, but when they did, they'd catch each other's eyes for a moment. And it was in these moments where it felt like something was decided out of Derek's own control - the choice to stop and slow it down. And so they would. They'd catch their breath, firm touches would return to soft caresses, and the kisses they shared would be gentle instead of the desperate ones of before. It often left Derek wondering if perhaps he had done something wrong.

'Maybe he's holding back,' Derek thought. 'For whatever reason, he doesn't want to rush into things. And… I'm okay with that. I'll wait until he's ready. I want my first time with Stiles to be something he wants just as much as I do.'

And yes, while all this sounded good in his head, Derek was faced with a little predicament one Tuesday afternoon. Well, it was less of a predicament and more of a moral dilemma.

Derek had run out to the local convenience store, wanting to pick up some laundry detergent and a few snacks that Stiles would probably chide him for later. But, on his way to the snack section, his eye caught something in an aisle he had merely meant to pass through. Once he spotted it, his brisk walk came to stop. He took a few seconds to think through a flood of thoughts that came to mind before he decided to backtrack a little until he was standing in front of the items on display.

Condoms.

Yes, Derek Hale was perusing the condom selection.

Derek bit his lip, shifting the handle of the laundry detergent in his hand. 'I mean, it's not like we're doing it. I don't need them if we're not doing it,' he rationalized. He turned to walk away, but only went a few paces before backing up once more. 'But… when we finally do… do it… it'd be good to have. I mean, I would hate to be in the moment and find that neither of us are prepared. It couldn't hurt just to have them ready.'

Convinced, Derek picked up a box, and carried on. Again, he only got a few paces before he hurried to put the box back on the hook with the others. 'No. I'm being presumptuous. If I get these, I'll know they're in the nightstand and I'll feel like I'm pressuring him even though I'm not actually pressuring him and- just- no.'

Satisfied, Derek gave a little nod before walking away. He walked down the snack aisle, picking up a bag, putting it back, picking it back up only to put it back down. And it wasn't as if there was anything wrong with the bag. His head was just elsewhere. Finally, he grabbed a bag of chips before briskly making his way back to the aisle with the condoms.

Unfortunately, there was a woman there, moseying along, glancing at the feminine products on the opposite shelf. Surprised, and feeling like the woman might think him a sexual deviant for storming over to the prophylactics, Derek whirled around to pretend to look at whatever it was on the shelf in front of him. He could feel heat flood his face and up his ears when he realized he was now pretending to be shopping for adult diapers. He could almost feel the woman's eyes on him before she walked along, minding her own business.

Derek wanted the ground to split open and bury him in his shame and embarrassment. He had half a mind to just leave his detergent and snacks and run out the door so he could hide in his apartment where he would never have to run into that woman ever again. But he realized he was being ridiculous and told himself to get away from the adult diapers and to – for God's sake – pick up the damn condoms and go home already. 'Seriously, Derek, you're making too much of a big deal about this. Just grab them and go,' he mentally quipped. Resolutely, but with his head down, Derek quickly grabbed the box he had put back earlier and stuck it under his arm in a feeble attempt to hide it from any curious eyes.

He made his way to the registers and got in line, picking up a few chocolate bars and bags of candy while there, thinking belatedly that he probably should've just picked up a basket on his way in.

"I told you. We can't get that kind. We need the capsule kind."

"What difference does it make?"

"Damn it, Jackson, just trust me, okay? You can't pour liquid dish soap into the dishwasher."

Derek closed his eyes, hoping beyond all hope that he was invisible in this moment.

"Oh, hey look. It's Derek."

He had no such luck.

'Maybe if I ignore them, they'll just go away,' he thought, wishfully.

"Hey Derek," Danny stepped around the older boy, catching his eye.

Again, luck was certainly not on Derek's side.

"Hey Danny," he merely nodded, hoping that would be the end of it.

It was not the end of it.

"Sup Derek," Jackson greeted from behind. "Is that a box of condoms under your arm?"

Derek shifted slightly, hoping belatedly to block the blonde boy's view.

He heard him snort. "Magnums."

"Ah," Danny smirked. "You and Stiles already emptied out your last box, eh?" He quirked his eyebrow suggestively, elbowing the older boy.

To Derek, what he and Stiles did – or in this case, didn't do - on their own time was none of their business. So he didn't exactly understand why he felt it necessary to respond, "Actually… no."

Immediately, he felt a hand on his shoulder, turning him. He glared at Jackson for the manhandling, but the blonde was unfazed.

"You mean you two have been together for the past five months and haven't even done anything?"

Derek frowned. "We haven't been together for five months…"

Danny rolled his eyes. "He's referring to the fact that you two have known and pretty much had the hots for each other since you met five months ago."

Derek opened his mouth to retort but Jackson cut him off.

"You mean in all this time, there hasn't even been a 'friends with benefits' thing going on? No mutual groping? No handy-j's?"

For the second time today, Derek shut his eyes, wishing the ground would open up and swallow him whole. This just wasn't a conversation he wanted to have with anyone, especially not in the middle of your friendly neighborhood convenience store. But when he opened his eyes again and looked into the face of the inquisitive blonde, he merely trained his expression into one of annoyance. "That's none of your business."

Again, Jackson just snorted.

"So this is gonna be for yours and Stiles' first time?" Danny continued.

And again, Derek wanted to tell him it was still none of his business, but again, Jackson cut him off, grabbing him by the arm and turning him around completely.

"Hey," Derek growled out. He would have shoved Jackson's arm off of him if his arms hadn't been full.

Jackson wasn't even paying attention to the death glare aimed in his direction. He was too busy scanning Derek's arms. "Dude," he frowned at Derek, face in all seriousness. "Forgetting something?"

Derek let out an exasperated sigh, wishing he had gone to the store four blocks away in the other direction instead of this particular one. He just stared at Jackson, face blank.

Jackson stared at him as if whatever it was he was getting at should be obvious. After a few seconds of nothing, Jackson finally blinked. "Lube?"

And for what felt like the hundredth time in an alarmingly short amount of time, Derek wished he could be invisible.

"Danny," Jackson said, jerking his head to the side. "Go grab a bottle."

With a smirk of amusement, the Hawaiian boy did as directed.

"Trust me," Jackson said smugly, placing his hand back on Derek's shoulder. "You'll thank me in the morning."

Derek just glared from the hand on his shoulder to the boy attached to it and back. Seemingly finally aware of the great annoyance on Derek's face, the smile slowly slipped away as he snatched his hand back as if he had been burned.

'Much better,' Derek inwardly relaxed.

"Next," the clerk behind the register called.

Derek turned around and realized the line had dwindled down. She had been calling to him. Dipping his head a bit, but refusing to be embarrassed by his purchases, Derek dumped everything on the counter, ready to get out of this godforsaken store.

"Did you find everything you needed?" She asked politely.

Derek just plastered on a fake smile and nodded.

"And would you like to purchase a bag for ten cents?"

Again, Derek nodded. "Yes, thank you."

"Wait, wait, wait! Don't forget the lube!"

'There is someone out to get me. I know it,' Derek thought lamely as Danny ran up and added the bottle to the pile.

Danny just patted Derek on the shoulder and smiled. "That's my favorite brand. It's a bit pricier but it works won…" He could see now how Danny and Jackson were best friends. Neither understood discretion. But at least Danny was clever enough to know when to quit. "…ders," Danny murmured, trailing off. He cleared his throat and took his place back at Jackson's side. Neither boy said anything more after that.

"Would you like to add this, too?" the clerk asked, still friendly as ever, even as she held up the bottle.

Derek paused, aware of the eyes on him, and finally nodded minutely. He silently thanked any powers that be that the woman didn't need to call for a price-check on the item. That would just about kill him.

But then he wondered what the big deal was. He was a grown man with a wonderful boyfriend. Of course he wanted to have sex with him. And the condoms and lube were nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it showed that he was a responsible and mature adult. That he cared for the well being of his partner. And the two boys behind him, ultimately, were just trying to help. So, with a deep inhale, Derek smiled at the clerk and paused her from finishing ringing him up.

"You know what, can you add their stuff as well? They're… friends," he said, nodding his head in their direction. From the corner of his eye, he could see both boys loosen up and grin, as they shoved their purchases onto the counter in front of the woman with no hesitation whatsoever. He also saw how Jackson grabbed a bunch of candy bars off the rack and threw it in as well.

"Jackson," Danny hissed. "Put those back."

"What? He's paying."

"But-"

Derek shook his head. "It's fine."

"See?"

Danny just rolled his eyes. "You shouldn't encourage this kind of behavior."

Again, Jackson just snorted.

Finally, when everything was rung up and paid for, Derek grabbed the paper bag full of his purchases and was ready to flee to the sanctuary of his home. He was ready to put this whole shopping trip debacle behind him.

"Hey Derek!" Jackson yelled, once they were out on the street. "Enjoy the sex!"

"Jackson, shut up! You're such an asshole."

Derek didn't even look back.

Within fifteen minutes, Derek was back in the sacred confines of his apartment where he needn't worry about judgmental eyes and sly smirks. The only thing he needed to be concerned about was the mouth-watering scent of baked goods wafting through the air as he walked in the door.

"Ah! Good! You're home!"

Derek immediately smiled seeing Stiles leap over the couch and make his way over. With one hand on a controller, Stiles placed his free hand on Derek's chest and bent forward to give him a brief kiss on the lips.

"Mm," Derek hummed. "What're you doing here?"

"You and I are going to marathon this Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 because every time I try it with Scott, he keeps skipping on into the next room while I'm still trying to collect all the coins so I can be a 'True Wizard.'"

Derek frowned. "None of that made any sense."

Stiles snorted. "Just sit down, my love muffin, and kick back. We're playing video games for the foreseeable future and I've got some cinnamon sugar cookies fresh from the oven cooling on the counter to bribe you into submission."

"Ah. Well someone certainly knows how to get what he wants."

The younger boy chuckled. "That I do, sweet cheeks," he winked smugly at Derek. "Here," he said, trading the controller in his hand for the bag in Derek's arm. "Finish setting up, get acquainted with the controls, and I will go check on those cookies."

Derek momentarily panicked. He didn't exactly want Stiles to see his few choice purchases, so he tried to take the bag back from his boyfriend. "Oh wait," Derek tried feebly. "Let me just put those away…"

"Pfffft, nonsense," Stiles said, rolling his eyes and swatting Derek's hand away. "I can do it. Knowing you, it's just more junk food right? A King sized box of Lemonheads for my yummy Lemony Snicket?"

Derek really should stop trying to make sense of most of the things that came out of Stiles' mouth. He just shook his head. "It's not just junk food, smart guy. I also bought detergent."

"So I'll put that away too," Stiles said nonchalantly, spinning around with the bag still in his arms as he headed for the kitchen.

"No, Stiles, just let me-" Derek started, getting a hand on the bag.

"It's really not a big deal, Derek. Your chocolate goes by your bowls, your laundry detergent under the sink. I know to put everything in the most illogical of places and-"

With Derek's hand still on it while Stiles continued to walk towards the kitchen, the paper bag gave way, ripping in the younger boy's arm, its contents spilling to the floor.

"Aw Derek, see what you made me do?"

Derek was too panicked to even register what Stiles had said, eyes scanning the floor for a certain box and bottle that had fallen. He spotted the box near his boyfriend and quickly stooped down to try to pick it up discreetly, whilst simultaneously picking up his fallen candy.

Stiles stooped down as well, helping Derek pick up the contents. He chuckled. "At least it wasn't flour this ti… oh." With a Snickers in one hand, Stiles' other hand hovered precariously over the box before he eventually picked it up to examine it.

"Those are- I can explain those," Derek said quickly.

Stiles just looked up, head cocked in question.

"Those aren't for you- I mean- they are. But not right now. I mean we don't have to use them right now. Just, whenever you're ready- no pressure- but when- if- if you want to use them- we have them. For me. Or for you- if you want- if that's what you want. Because I'm okay with that. I'm okay with it if that's what you want because I wanna be with you and that doesn't mean I have to be in yo- No! Wait! I didn't- that sounds so- just- just forget that…" Derek tore his eyes away and ran a hand through his hair. 'Oh my God, why are you still talking?!' Derek mentally screamed. 'Just shut up, you idiot!' He tore his eyes away from the stupid box he wish he'd never picked up and stared at the carpet. "I'll just go… return them…" he mumbled, finally, holding a hand out for the box, too embarrassed to meet the other boy's eyes.

"Derek, my love…" Stiles started. "I… I don't actually think you can return condoms."

With a sigh of defeat, Derek dropped his hand down to his side before sitting back and slowly lying himself down on the carpet, burying his face under his arms.

'Why is he with me?' Derek thought, self-deprecatingly. 'I'm an idiot who says idiotic things. He probably thinks that's all I want now. Thinks that now we have to have sex because I'm expecting us to. That I'm a sex-crazed idiot who wants-'

"Derek."

Derek's arms were moved forcefully from his face, but he was determined to keep his eyes shut. If he couldn't see Stiles, then maybe, just maybe, Stiles couldn't see him.

It really wasn't one of Derek's finest moments.

"C'mon," Stiles tried. "Talk to me."

"I think… I think I said enough," he said simply. He vowed never to speak again because apparently all that came out of his lips was a slew of word vomit that was destined to make him sound like a fool.

Stiles released his hold on Derek's arms and straddled his hips instead. "You bought condoms. So what? What's the big deal? You have a very sexy and very attractive boyfriend. Quite frankly, I don't think you bought enough."

Derek snorted, but cracked his eyes open, though still refused to look up at his very sexy and very attractive boyfriend.

"And hey," Stiles continued. "It makes me happy that you even needed to. Not only does it mean that you want to – with me of all people – but it also means you've been having sex like crazy behind my back and needed to restock."

Derek jerked his head up, scandalized. "I haven't!"

"Ah!" Stiles grinned, leaning down to lay a brief kiss on the tip of Derek's nose. "Got you to look up, didn't I?"

Derek let out a tired sigh. "I just… I don't want you to think that I got them because we have to have sex. I got them so that just in case we decide to… we'd already have them…"

"And I get that!" Stiles said enthusiastically, scooting backward into Derek's lap as he pulled the other boy up into a seated position.

Derek allowed himself to be moved, hands coming to rest on Stiles' hips as he buried his face in the crook of the boy's neck.

"You don't have to be embarrassed, Derek. I want to, you know? And it makes me happy that you want to, too. That you've actually thought about it."

"Of course I've thought about it, Stiles," Derek said, voice muffled against the younger boy's shirt. How often he'd thought about it was just another thing that Derek felt embarrassed about. "You're… you… and your arms… and stupid smile, and… moles." He was glad he could put his attraction to Stiles in such eloquent words.

He heard Stiles snicker. "You've thought about my moles?"

Derek nodded, turning his head slightly so that he was nosing the crook of the boy's neck. "I've thought about kissing… and licking… every. One." He demonstrated his desire by doing just that on one he found just below the boy's jaw. Stiles breathed deeply, as Derek could feel the heightened pulse under the skin against his lips.

"So… so what's been stopping you? And please don't say it's 'my virtue' because that's a ship that's long since sailed."

Derek paused. He didn't want to hear that. He wanted to hear nothing of the sort. The mere thought of Stiles having been with someone else made Derek feel insanely jealous. 'There's someone out there right now that's been with Stiles. That's touched him in ways I've only fantasized about." It was a thought most distressing.

Derek pulled back some to look at the flushed boy. 'But… he's mine now. And I'm going to make sure that no one else touches him like that again.' Of course, he would only do so when Stiles was willing and ready.

"I don't want to rush you into anything you aren't ready for," Derek finally admitted.

Stiles snickered in amusement. "I'm ready. I've been ready. In fact, I've been waiting for you to be ready."

"Wait, what?" Derek frowned in confusion.

"Yeah," Stiles affirmed. "Whenever we got into things, it just… there'd be a point where it kinda felt like you were holding back for whatever reason. And I'm crazy about you, Derek, so if you wanted to wait, I'd wait. Until you're ready."

Derek blinked, head shaking slightly. "No… no, those are my lines. You're the one who'd stop and slow things down."

Stiles also shook his head. "No, I'm pretty sure it was you."

"Are you saying that this whole time- this whole entire time- we could've…?"

As his words trailed off and realization hit the both of them, Derek let out a groan while the boy in his arms simply laughed. The whole time he was trying to be a good a noble boyfriend, he could have been a good and noble boyfriend in bed. The realization and the consideration of the time wasted left Derek feeling frustrated in more ways than one. Stiles, on the other hand, was simply amused as he continued to laugh at their collective expense. He was still laughing when the phone in Derek's pocket began to ring.

"Are you gonna answer that?" Stiles managed to ask between chuckles.

Derek slipped his hand in his pocket and pulled out his cell. He frowned at the number, not recognizing it.

"Hm? That's Danny's number," Stiles said, reading the phone upside-down.

Derek just quirked an eyebrow, but tapped to answer it, putting it on speaker. "Yeah?"

"Hey Derek, it's Danny. There was a mix-up at the store," he said, cutting to the chase. "I think you grabbed Jackson's body wash instead of the lube."

There was a moment of silence that passed through. It was probably dedicated to the loss of Derek's dignity.

"Derek?" came Danny's tinny voice over the mobile.

Once again, Stiles burst into laughter as Derek tossed his phone aside before lying back down on the carpet and covering his face under his arms. 'I'm dead,' he thought. 'I am dead and this is my own little purgatory. Doomed to forever make a fool of myself in front of the one I love.'

He felt Stiles move from where he was still seated on his lap, laughter dying down. "Danny?"

"Oh shit. Stiles?"

"Haha yeah," he chuckled once more. "Derek's not feeling too well right now," he said, as Derek felt Stiles pat his chest comfortingly. "I'll swing by later and switch them out."

"O-Okay. Good," Danny chuckled nervously. "You know how Jackson is. Umm… Derek's not gonna kill me, right?"

"I'm pretty sure he's too busy hiding from embarrassment to bother killing you," he reassured.

"Oh," Danny replied, not sounding reassured at all.

"Don't worry," Stiles said again. "You're fine, we're fine, everything's fine. Later, Danny."

'Everything is not fine,' Derek inwardly grumbled. He felt Stiles move again. He crawled off of Derek, only to lie down on the carpet next to him, wrapping an arm around his waist and draping a leg over the older boy's. He didn't say anything more this time around, although Derek could feel him chuckle from time to time.

Eventually, Derek decided to face the world once more, letting one arm slip around his boyfriend as the other moved to hold the one around his waist. He finally opened his eyes, training them on the ceiling as he set his jaw. "I… bought lube, too."

In his periphery he could see Stiles grin. "I heard." They were quiet for a beat, Derek partly at a loss for words, partly afraid of any words that might find their way out of him. He knew he had no real reason to be embarrassed. Stiles certainly didn't think any less of him for his purchases. And he certainly didn't think him a sex fiend for them either. So, with a sigh, Derek rolled onto his side, finally looking Stiles in the eye.

"Hi," Stiles smiled gently, eyes twinkling with mirth.

"Hi," Derek replied.

Stiles brought his hand up, pressing the tip of his finger lightly to the slight furrow of Derek's brow. "Whatever you're thinking, just know that I love you…" he said, running his finger down the bridge of Derek's nose to his lips before edging forward to give him a firm kiss. "…No matter what you buy," he added with a smirk. He didn't realize how important the affirmation was until he felt the flood of release overcome him with his words.

With a final sigh, Derek sat up slowly. Stiles followed, getting to his feet before helping Derek stand as well.

"Now," Stiles said, looking around, hands on his hips. "I will take this," he stooped down and picked up the bottle of body wash, "and return it. And Mr. Hale," he smirked, slipping one arm through Derek's jacket to pull him in for another brief kiss, "try not to eat all the cookies while I'm gone."

"I make no guarantees."

Stiles just snorted leaning in for another languorous kiss. "Love you."

Derek pressed his forehead against Stiles' and closed his eyes, just feeling him there as the simple words warmed him over. "I love you, too," he murmured softly.

"I'll be right back," Stiles said, pulling away and heading for the door, "so don't use that," he pointed to the game console on the floor, "or that," he winked as he pointed to the half-forgotten box of condoms, "without me." And with that, Derek's cheeky little boyfriend hurried out the door.

Once he got his blush under control, Derek set about picking up the fallen items and putting them away in places that made well enough sense to him. He munched on a cookie while finishing setting up the console, and munched on four more while waiting for Stiles' return. By the time Derek was reaching for the last one, Stiles finally came back, grinning to himself.

"Honey, I'm home!"

Derek just rolled his eyes, but was pleased nonetheless. He could certainly get used to that.

"Jackson was grumpy, as predicted, because how dare I suggest he use a regular bar of soap if he needed to shower so badly because apparently only peasants use bars of soap," he snorted. "Anyway… hey, where's your phone?"

Derek quirked an eyebrow at this. "In my pocket. Why?"

Stiles made his way over, slipping his free hand into Derek's jeans.

Again, Derek rolled his eyes. "You know, you could just ask."

"Yeah, but this way," Stiles smirked, "I get to cop a feel." He pulled out the phone and twirled it in his hand, simultaneously pulling a bottle out of the pocket of his jacket. "This, I believe, is yours."

Determined not to be embarrassed further by it, but unable to stop the faint blush, Derek quickly snatched the bottle of lube out of Stiles' hand. He watched curiously as Stiles typed away on his phone. "What are you doing?"

Stiles just flipped the phone around, showing Derek a new entry into his calendar: 'Sexytimes with Stiles ;D'.

"There," Stiles smiled. "Now it's in your calendar and there's no turning back."

Derek frowned at the date, wondering why put off tomorrow what you can do today. "But… Tomorrow?"

"Ah, anxious are we?" Stiles grinned slyly.

Derek wasn't going to admit it out loud, but now that he knew he was allowed to, he was eager to just take Stiles to his room and never let him out again, except for when he wanted some good coffee – but even then, he figured he could accept a cup made by Isaac if it meant keeping Stiles all to himself.

Stiles' expression softened. "Just… no pressure, okay? Tonight, let's relax. Let's just be us with no condoms or lube or sex hanging over our heads. Just… us."

Derek regarded Stiles carefully. "You just want to finish your video game, don't you?"

"I mean, I'm so close to 100%. It's literally killing me on the inside knowing I'm almost done with it."

A smile spread across Derek's face. His boyfriend was incredible. "All right," he agreed. "No pressure. Just… Legos."

Stiles grinned. "Us and Legos." He leaned forward, slipping Derek's phone back into his pocket, the older boy emitting a soft gasp as Stiles copped yet another feel before hopping over to the couch, smug smile on his lips.

Right. Wednesday couldn't come soon enough.

But then Derek glanced at the boy on the couch, heart warming just at the sight of him. He smiled to himself, knowing Stiles would definitely be worth the wait. And with that in mind, Derek grabbed the last cookie and took his place next to Stiles.

/\/\/\

Stiles had gone home that night as he had a roommate who believed a plate of pizza rolls was a satisfactory dinner. So, with a bit of reluctance, Derek watched him leave, but remained excited for what tomorrow promised.

But the thing about schedules, you see, despite their meticulous planning, they can always been changed.

Derek was just about to head out to the coffee shop when he got a call from The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D.

"Hey Stiles," Derek answered, slipping on his jacket as he cradled his phone on his shoulder.

"Hey Derek," Stiles said cheerfully. "Just a head's up. I know you're probably just on your way out, but Isaac's gonna be helping you out today."

Derek frowned. "Is everything all right?"

"Yeah, no. Everything's good. Just… I think I caught a 24-hour bug or something. Just a stomach flu. Probably something I ate considering I left Scott unattended last night while he was prepping some stuff for dinner."

That certainly put a damper on their plans. "Oh. Well, then I'll come by. Bring you some tea or something to help settle your stomach."

"Oh, no, no. That's pretty awesome of you, but I'm here puking out my guts. It's not attractive at all."

Derek rolled his eyes. "Stiles, I don't care about that. I want you to get better. I'll come by and bring you some soup-"

"No, really Derek. I'll be fine, I promise. Tomorrow- for sure- you and I are gonna spend allllll afternoon and night together until it's you who's sick of me."

Derek snorted. "No, babe. I could never get sick of you," he drawled. "Right? That's what I'm supposed to say?"

Stiles barked out a laugh over the line. "I've taught you well. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

"Mm-hmm. Feel better. I love you."

"Love you, too."

Derek paused, phone still up to his ear. He waited a good minute or so, just listening. Finally, "Are you gonna hang up?"

"I was waiting for you to hang up."

Derek pinched the bridge of his nose. "Stiles, we're not gonna be one of those couples. So hang up."

"No, you hang up."

He could sense the tease in his voice. "Fine, I'm hanging up." He didn't hang up. He waited some more, waiting to see what Stiles would do.

"…Derek?"

Derek just sighed. They had become one of those couples.

"You didn't hang up," Stiles noted, sounding overly amused.

"I should."

"So why don't yo-"

"Oh my God, you guys! It's too early for this shit! Hang up the damn phone!"

"Ow! Scott! You assho-"

Derek just stared at his phone as the line disconnected. Half of him was concerned that his boyfriend might've just been mauled by a monster with bedhead, but the other half didn't really care to face the beast himself. Instead, he made his way over to the door, slipped on his sneakers and headed on out.

When Derek stepped into the shop, Isaac was seated at the register, his head resting on his hand, eyes closed.

'Is he sleeping?' Derek wondered, approaching slowly. Once he was at the counter, Isaac not stirring even the slightest, Derek took a deep breath.

"ISAAC!" He yelled, slamming his hands on the counter as hard as he could.

The blonde boy leapt out of his seat, effectively tumbling to the floor, a string of curse words escaping his lips. Derek merely grinned smugly to himself. He bent over the counter, looking down at the barista. "Morning."

"You sure got a mean streak," Isaac frowned, glaring at the older boy.

Derek was kind enough to dial it down a bit, extending out a hand to help the boy up. "To be fair, you really shouldn't fall asleep at the counter."

"Well, then maybe your stupid boyfriend should come to work like he's supposed to and not call me at five in the morning," he snipped back, accepting Derek's help.

Derek sighed. He didn't exactly appreciate Isaac calling Stiles 'stupid' but he could sympathize with the boy.

Isaac slumped back into his seat. "At least I'm making tons of overtime working his shifts. What's wrong with him anyway? He was very vague when he called. I was also half-awake so I may have missed a few details…"

"Stiles said he has the stomach flu. Or food poisoning or something. Pretty much that his stomach was bothering him so I guess he just wanted a day to rest."

Isaac merely sighed before hopping off his seat and getting to work on Derek's order. "I bet that put a damper on your plans, huh?" He asked, back to Derek as he twisted various nozzles to get the milk to froth.

"Excuse me?"

The tall blonde glanced over his shoulder. "You know? The sex? You guys were gonna do it today, right?"

Derek scowled. "I don't see how that's any of your business."

Isaac was unfazed. He snorted and turned his attention back to the machine. "You can deny it, but Danny already told me that him and Jackson ran into you yesterday. Even told me that Stiles had to drop by and pick up the lube you left behind."

"I did not-" Derek just growled in frustration, shutting his eyes, and huffing in dismay. These kids were just too comfortable with one another. He'd have to talk to Stiles about privacy, although part of him didn't actually believe it would matter in the end. Once he felt calm enough not to threaten Isaac into secrecy, he looked him squarely in the eye. "Yes, fine. We had planned on it, but this is just postponing it a day."

Isaac reached over and dropped a stir stick into the mug, handing the finished drink over to Derek. He shrugged. "Well, I guess that gives you some time to get the place all fancy."

Derek quirked an eyebrow, brining his drink up to his lips and blowing on it lightly. "What do you mean?"

"This is gonna be your first time together. Any candlelight? Mood music? Maybe even some chocolate-dipped strawberries to get things going? They are a known aphrodisiac, you know."

'Huh.' Derek frowned in contemplation. He hadn't thought of that. "You think that kind of stuff matters?"

"I mean… it couldn't hurt."

Derek stored the idea away for further contemplation. It was certainly something to look into. But for now, as he took a sip from his mug, he was more concerned about Isaac's heavy-hand with the hazelnut.

/\/\/\

Derek decided that maybe the best sort of guidance he could get on this particular subject was from someone who had more than enough experience with it.

"It's good that you called, baby boy. I have this technique that'll leave your little baker boyfriend begging for more. You just need an inflatable-"

"Jesus Christ, Peter, no. Just- no. That's not what I'm calling about."

"You sure? I know, it sounds a little strange at first, but if you just try it-"

"No thank you," Derek huffed out. Whatever his crazy uncle's kinks were, Derek wasn't sure he wanted to venture there. At least not now in the beginning of his sexual exploits with Stiles. "I just… it's gonna be our first time and… I hadn't really thought about setting the right mood or anything like that… but then when I think about it like that, it sounds like some giant stage production and it's not supposed to be, but maybe it should be because this is supposed to be special and I just- I don't-"

"Okay, okay, take it easy, Derek," Peter soothed, audibly taking a deep breath over the line, urging Derek to do the same. "Wow… I don't think I've ever heard you get so worked up over something like that…"

"Well, this is important to me…" he said truthfully. "Stiles is important to me…"

"Okay, so then what exactly are you calling me for?"

"I don't know. I thought maybe you'd have some tips on the more… romantic stuff. I know you've had your fair share of partners. I figure you of all people would know how to make a night… special."

"Okay, let me cut you off right there. It's not the ambiance that makes it special, it's the fact that you two are coming together - no pun intended – in the most intimate way possible, that makes it special."

"Yeah of course," Derek frowned. He understood that completely.

"In fact, there was a time with this really lovely woman from Ontario in an office supply closet that was quite special in its own wa-"

"Peter," Derek sighed. "That's not what I meant. I know it's not all the little details that matter in the end, but I just… I'd like those details to be… romantic. That it's not just about us two bodies being together, but about the entire thing. Ugh," he groaned. "Maybe that doesn't make sense…"

"No, no," Peter assured. "I get it. And it makes me happy that you've found someone you care enough about to put in the effort."

The sentiment made Derek smile warmly to himself.

"Okay… I have a few ideas. Knowing you and what your place must be like, you'll probably have to pick up a few things… You know what?" Peter said, coming to a decision. "There isn't much I can do from over here. And there are also a few things I have to prepare before your sister flies in on Friday, so let me make a phone call. I'll send you some help with some stuff, mmkay?" He didn't even wait for an answer.

"Call me with all the dirty details! Bye!"

"Wait, what?" Derek started. "What do you mean 'you'll send help'?"

But Derek never got his answer as the line disconnected. He stared at his phone in an irrational hope that it would make his uncle's words make sense. When it offered nothing but a blank screen, Derek tossed the device to the side and tried to think of what to do next.

/\/\/\

"You really are hopeless, aren't you?"

Derek glared daggers into the back of the redhead's skull, but she was undeterred as she made her way through the aisles with the older boy following her wake. Apparently, Peter's idea of sending help was to call Lydia and explain to her how hopeless his nephew actually was. The next thing he knew, he was getting a call from The Bossy Redhead, telling him to pick her up so they could do some shopping. He glanced over to the other girl walking alongside her friend.

"Did he ask for your assistance, also?" He asked, looking at Allison as she smiled apologetically at him.

"No… but it's all very sweet how much you want to impress Stiles. I just wanted to help."

"Besides," Lydia cut in. "He and Scott are practically the same person. Allison could probably offer a bit of insight into their… unique brand of romance." She scrunched her nose at the word 'unique' as if it left a foul stench in the air.

Allison rolled her eyes. "Not everyone can afford a pair of diamond earrings just because like Jackson can," she retorted. "And anyway, Scott is romantic in his own way."

Derek didn't really want to listen to their boyfriends' interpretations of romance, although he didn't think a pair of diamond earrings would be half bad – that is, if Stiles ever wanted pierced ears. Maybe he could buy him another piece of jewelry instead? Maybe a new watch? A necklace? A ring, even?

"Ooh, here we go," Lydia said, making her way over to the linen section. She gave Derek a once over. "I'm guessing you're the type to have… some boring blue and white plaid, no?" She didn't even wait for a response, reaching out for a set of satin sheets in red. "Toss those things aside and line your bed with this. It's soft and sensual and red, like the color of passion."

"Or," Allison said, reaching over to grab a different set. "You could go with white. Pure. Like the purity of your love for one another," she said with a shy smile.

Lydia just rolled her eyes.

Somewhat belatedly, Derek realized he was supposed to choose between them. 'Red for passion… or white for purity…?' Setting his jaw, Derek reached a hand out and pulled a whole different set from off the shelf. Both girls gaped at his choice, as if rejecting their suggestions was personal. He simply tucked the sheets under his arm, decision final. "Black. Cause I like the color."

Both girls rolled their eyes before putting their selections back and walking off to the next thing.

Derek had no reason to tell them that picturing Stiles' pale skin in contrast to the dark sheets was another reason for his choice. He was imagining what it'd be like to take in the expanse of his naked flesh against the soft linens. The way the skin would flush at their exertion, or how the milky substance of their combined ejac-

"Derek!"

Somewhere along the line, the older boy had forgotten to follow, too lost in his mind's fantasies. He fought off a blush that dared to kiss his cheeks as he closed the distance between him and the girls. Lydia was tapping her foot, while Allison seemed to be fighting off an amused smirk.

"Scented candles? For mood lighting?" The strawberry blonde said with a wave of her hand, showing off the huge display of varying scents and colors.

Derek shook his head. "No candles."

"Then… how about this?" Allison said, lighting up as she picked up a box of Christmas lights. She didn't wait for Derek's opinion. She just tucked the box under his other arm in a very Lydia-esque fashion and smiled. It made him wonder if maybe Lydia had rubbed off on her or if Allison could be authoritative in her own way when she wanted to be. "It's soft lighting and it'll reflect the season. I bet Stiles would get a kick out of it," she explained. "Just hang them up over your bed and there you go. Instant, playful mood setter."

It sounded reasonable enough.

The girls led the way towards another area as Derek thought about the stuff in his arms. 'I've got the sheets, I've got lighting…' "Music?" he wondered aloud.

"No." Both girls shook their heads firmly.

"Mood music hardly ever sets the right mood," Lydia explained.

"Most of the time it's cheesy and repetitive."

"And when there's music playing in the background, you'll inevitably end up trying to stay in beat with the music which is just…" the girl simply shook her head. "And it's not like you're going to want to listen to the music anyway. I mean, I'm sure you'd much rather listen to Stiles' moaning as he screams out your name."

Derek had the decency to blush, although Lydia didn't seem to care that they were in the middle of a store where anyone could hear her. Allison also looked a bit embarrassed as she breathed out a light chuckle before tucking her hair behind her ear.

"Okay," Derek growled lowly. "No music. That's all you had to say."

Lydia just smirked at him before continuing on.

"Oh look! Rose petals!" Allison smiled, hurrying over to grab a box and hold it up.

Lydia groaned. "You can't be serious."

"What?" The brunette frowned, dropping her arms back down. "They're the silk kind."

"They're the cheesy kind," Lydia retorted.

"I think they're very romantic. What do you think, Derek?"

Derek looked between the girls and found himself having to choose between them once more. He bit his lip. "They are a little cheesy…"

Allison groaned, looking up at the ceiling as Lydia gave her a look that said 'I told you so' before taking Derek by the arm and leading him towards the registers.

Then she began a tangent of all the dos and don'ts. Do let him know that this is more than just sex. It's about being together in the most intimate of ways. Don't just jump right in. People like to be wooed. Do try a bit of man-scaping down there. No one wants to get lost in a jungle. Don't say something stupid like 'Boom goes the dynamite!' when you finally come. Just… no.

At this point, Derek thought maybe shopping with Lydia was worse than unintentionally shopping with Jackson and Danny. At least Allison wasn't so blunt with her opinions. Her own little blush let Derek know he wasn't alone in his awkwardness.

As he escorted the girls back to the car, holding the door open for them, they gave him a few more ideas for tomorrow.

"We all know how crazy you get over Stiles' baking," Lydia said. "Why not try making for something for him for a change?"

"Yeah, definitely," Allison agreed. "Even if it's something simple, I'll bet he'd really appreciate it."

"And oh my God, Derek. If I hear that you played that stupid 'I Just Had Sex' song after it's over, I will personally castrate you so you can never have sex again."

Derek eye the girl carefully, unsure of how to respond to that. One, he didn't even know what that song was. And two, she looked like she meant business.

Allison gasped. "He didn't."

The other girl scoffed. "I shut him out for two weeks after that stunt."

"So that's why…"

"Quite frankly, I think it was your little boyfriend who dared him to do it," Lydia said, eying Derek sideways. "I swear, those two… idiots." She rolled her eyes.

Derek drove the girls back to their place, and as he pulled up, he saw Jackson amble his way over to the car, opening the door for his girlfriend.

"You keep him well trained," Allison giggled, waiting to get out.

Jackson scowled. "It's called manners," he said as Derek got out to let Allison out on his side of the car.

"Thank you," she smiled as he helped her out. Derek just nodded. Jackson wasn't the only one with good manners.

"Ew, Jackson, what is that smell?" Lydia frowned.

The blonde boy immediately paled. "It's nothing."

It wasn't nothing. Now that she had mentioned it, Derek could smell a strangely pungent scent coming from the other boy. But before anything more could be said, Jackson was leading Lydia back towards the apartment, murmuring a hasty goodbye to Derek. Lydia, face still scrunched in distaste, also waved a goodbye as well as a 'good luck.'

Allison hung back a little bit, pausing to turn to Derek. "I know we said a lot of stuff about what to do and what not to do, but everyone's different. Just keep in mind that Stiles likes you. So whatever you choose to do is gonna be great because it's coming from you."

Derek smiled softly, taking in her words. "Thanks."

She smiled in return and nodded before walking towards the door. She spun around, but continued walking backwards. "But seriously though, don't play that song," she said, face serious as she jabbed the air with a finger.

Derek shrugged. "I don't even know it."

Allison tilted her head thoughtfully. "Then… in that case… don't be surprised if he plays the song." And with that, Allison hurried back into her apartment, waving at Derek before closing the door behind her.

/\/\/\

Derek returned home, bringing his purchases along with him. Along the way home, he had thought about something the girls had said, about him maybe making something for Stiles for once. And while he knew he wasn't going to try something as ambitious as baking, he figured he could try something quick and easy and something even he as an amateur couldn't mess up. Looking up a recipe on his phone, he stopped by the grocery store, picking up a few things before heading to his apartment to put everything away. He pulled out his new sheets, wanting to wash them once before spreading them over his bed to get that new, plastic-y smell off of them. Then he crashed onto his couch to watch some TV while waiting.

It wasn't long before Derek stopped paying attention to the show before finding himself lying on the couch, his legs draped over the armrest as he stared at the ceiling. His mind was elsewhere, wondering at what level of euphoria he'd be in had things run on time and Stiles had been feeling well. Derek frowned. He knew he needn't worry considering it was just an upset stomach, but Derek was concerned nonetheless. He didn't like the idea of Stiles being sick, even the slightest. So, with a newfound determination – and also mostly just because he missed the boy – Derek swung his legs back onto the floor, shut off the TV and headed out the door.

He stopped by a nearby restaurant, taking an order of hearty chicken soup to go. He hoped it was light enough to make Stiles feel better, rather than upset his stomach further. He was making his way to Stiles' apartment, soup in tow, when he heard someone call out to him.

"Hey! Mr. Hale! Derek!"

He glanced over to see Scott jogging up to him, a tote slung over his shoulder. He held the door open for the younger boy, nodding in greeting.

"Thanks," Scott grinned.

Derek eyed Scott carefully as he followed him towards the elevator. He didn't seem to be afflicted with any sort of virus. "How's Stiles?"

Scott snickered. "I guess you could say he's feeling a little blue. Plus, he's been in a foul mood towards me since this morning," he finished with a groan. Then, suddenly, he straightened up, looking Derek in the eye. "Hey, actually, what are you doing here? I thought he said not to come by?"

Derek dismissed the comment with a wave. "Stiles isn't feeling well and yeah, while he said not to, I still want to drop by and make sure he's okay. Brought him some soup," he said, holding up the bag to show it off.

"Aw," Scott whined. "Lucky." He leaned over and sniffed the bag, earning himself a strange look from the older boy who merely let his arm fall back to his side before pushing Scott's face away with his free hand. The boy was unfazed. "Smells good!"

As they approached the door to the apartment, Scott slowed down, his key in his hand.

"Something wrong?" Derek asked.

Scott merely cocked his head in thought. It reminded Derek of a puppy. All Scott needed was a pair of floppy ears.

"No… it's just…" he bit his lip before sliding the bag down his arm and holding it in his hands. He moved towards Derek, and before he knew what Scott was doing, Derek had the bag slung over his shoulder.

"What?"

"He's mad at me. Cause you know," he glanced around, lowering his voice and bringing his hand up to cup his mouth, "the whole 'sex with you' thing."

Derek just let out a deep breath, refusing to be perturbed by his business being everyone else's business.

Scott continued, finally moving to unlock the door. "So I think you should give him those," he said, nodding at the bag, "and make him feel better and less like he wants to kill me." He opened the door, letting Derek in. "Stiles! I got the stuff!" he yelled. "Bye, Derek," Scott quickly waved before shutting the door behind him.

Derek stared at the door in confusion, but his attention was grabbed by the sound of his boyfriend coming down the hall.

"Jesus Christ, Scott, finally. I thought-"

The only word Derek could thing of to describe the noise that came out of Stiles' throat after that would be a squawk. Stiles let out a horrendous squawk before darting back into his room, slamming the door behind him.

Derek could only stare wide-eyed at the spot his boyfriend once occupied. 'What… he… what?' Dropping the soup off as he passed the kitchen counter, he made his way over to the door where he could hear faint grumblings through the door, consisting of 'oh my God' and 'kill Scott.'

"Stiles."

At this, all grumblings stopped.

He had to know. Derek was perplexed and he needed answers. So, leaning against the doorframe, he asked. "Stiles. Why are you blue?"

There was a moment of silence, a deep pause, before Derek heard shuffling within. The door clicked open and standing in front of him was a downtrodden, defeated, blue Stiles. Derek had to blink a couple of times, trying to make sure what he was seeing was real. But there was no doubt about it. Stiles was covered in large splotches of pale blue.

"It's all Jackson's fault," Stiles mumbled, finally looking up to timidly meet Derek's confused gaze. "He came over yesterday while I was at your place and stupid Scott didn't think anything of it. He poured blue dye into my body wash so when I took a shower this morning…" he trailed off, gesturing with his arms, displaying the result of his sometimes-friend, sometimes-enemy's prank.

Derek pursed his lips together, fighting off the grin that dared to break through. It was a losing battle. A few chuckles escaped, making Stiles glare at the older boy.

"Derek, it's not funny!" Stiles growled, brushing past him and making his way into the living room. He slumped onto the couch, folding his arms over his chest. "What are you even doing here? I told you not to come."

Derek rolled his eyes before finally sliding the tote off his shoulder, laying it next to the couch before dropping to crouch in front of his boy. "Oh, you mean when you lied to me and said you had an upset stomach?" he replied, cheekily.

Stiles had the decency to look a little guilty. "I… didn't want you to see me like this…" He flopped his arms uselessly against the couch.

Derek draped an arm over Stiles' knees, resting his chin on it and looking up at the blue boy. "You said you weren't feeling well, so I brought you some soup. And yes, I know you said not to bother, but it was also just an excuse to see you. I… missed you," he finished, quietly. Honestly.

Stiles covered his face in his hands and groaned, throwing his head back. "You're making me feel even more guilty about lying by being so fucking noble. I hate you."

Derek snorted at his boyfriend's dramatics. "Stiles." When he didn't reply, Derek moved to sit next to him, wrapping an arm around his waist. "Stiles, come on."

Stiles turned, slipping his arms around Derek, burying his face in the older boy's neck. "Today was supposed to awesome and sexy and it's all ruined because I'm fucking blue. I'm gonna kill Jackson."

Then Derek remembered seeing the boy earlier, the strange smell wafting about him. Suddenly, a few things clicked into place. "Is it really Jackson's fault?"

Stiles paused at that.

"I saw him earlier today," Derek continued. "Or smelt him, I should say."

Stiles burst into laughter, frame shaking against Derek. "Oh my God, please tell me he couldn't get the smell out."

"He smelled like… fish sauce."

This time Stiles had to pull away from Derek, clutching his stomach in laughter as he tumbled back onto the couch.

He should have known Stiles had something to do with it. Thinking about it now, it was probably a really bad idea to leave his mischievous mate alone with a bottle of the blonde's body wash. It was probably why Stiles had been so damn smug when he returned.

Derek glanced at Stiles before moving to pin him against the couch, making the boy open his eyes, startled.

"So," Derek breathed, leaning in close. "It seems it's your own fault that you're like this, hm?"

Stiles could only lick his lips, anticipating Derek's next move.

Derek just rolled his eyes before flicking Stiles on the forehead. "Idiot."

"Hey! Ow!" He whined, rubbing the affected area.

Derek sat up, letting out a sigh of defeat. He reached over for the tote bag and pulled it into his lap. "So what'd you make Scott buy for you?"

"Hm?" Stiles glanced over, pulling the bag open. "Well, I needed more body wash, obviously. I think maybe one or two more scrubs, and I'll back at a somewhat human color. I had to wait, though, cause if I scrubbed any harder, I'd turn red."

"You mean purple."

Stiles glowered as Derek smiled at his own joke.

"Tust me, it was a lot worse this morning. It was just a mess. And I didn't even realize it right away. I was scrubbing and scrubbing wondering why the soap wasn't washing off and then I finally realized what it was but by then it was already too late. It got everywhere and stained practically as soon as it touched my skin."

"Hm," Derek hummed, anything but the picture of sympathetic. He was more concerned with the blue trails streaking his boyfriend's neck.

"Derek, are you even listening?" Stiles whined.

The older boy's eyes travelled down the expanse of skin before it disappeared underneath the collar of his shirt. Oddly enough, it made Derek feel a little disappointed. He finally glanced back up into half-annoyed, half-amused eyes before realizing he needed to respond. "Yeah, it looks… bad," he supplied, hoping it was enough. Judging by the look on Stiles' face, it wasn't. Derek pushed on though, wanting to distract the distraught boy from his lack of attentiveness. "So… it's like, all over?" He asked, waving his hand in a circular motion.

Stiles groaned. "Unfortunately." He lazily got up off the couch, grabbing the fresh - and hopefully, un-tampered - bottle of body wash from the bag. "I'm gonna try another wash. Maybe I'll get less of a sky blue and more of a baby blue," he snorted. "Heat up the soup for me, wouldja?" He asked sweetly, leaning back down for a kiss.

Derek brought a hand up to caress his cheek before sliding it across the short hairs on his head, deepening the kiss with a slight pull. They kissed languidly, but eventually, Stiles pulled away with a smile.

"I'll be right out," he said, heading towards the bathroom.

Derek watched him go, eyes catching on a streak of blue trailing along one of Stiles' arms before disappearing into the sleeve of his shirt. Intrigued, Derek hopped off the couch, ignoring the soup on the counter before following after Stiles.

"Hey wha-?" Stiles sputtered, in the middle of taking off his shirt when Derek barged right in.

Derek leaned back against the doorframe, arms crossing over his chest as he raked his eyes over the newly revealed skin. Stiles hadn't been exaggerating when he said it had gotten all over. There were long trails of blue running down the boy's back. "I was curious," he finally answered, explaining the lack of privacy he was affording his love. "Wanted to see just how… blue you are."

Stiles sighed in defeat, letting his shirt drop to the floor as he slowly turned around to show Derek the full extent of Jackson's revenge. "It even stained the tub," he pouted, pulling back the shower curtain to show Derek the mess. "Luckily, Scott insisted on putting this non-slip whale mat on the floor of the tub so it caught most of the mess. It went from being a killer whale to, well, a blue whale," he chuckled.

Derek would have rolled his eyes at the joke if his eyes hadn't already been trained elsewhere. The boy he was in love with was standing half-naked within arm's reach, covered in little blue trails that disappeared enticingly down the waistband of the boy's shorts. 'Is Stiles wearing underwear?' he found himself wondering, finding the answer to that as intriguing as those tiny blue streaks.

"Derek!"

The older boy snapped to attention, wondering if he had missed something important.

"You okay?" Stiles asked, concern in his voice. "You keep spacing out on me."

"Yeah, I'm fine. I just uh… I um- uh…" He was trying to focus, he really was, but it was hard to do when he glanced at his boyfriend's chest and saw the small patch of brown curls there. It's not like he hadn't seen it before, but that was before he was allowed to touch. Before it was his to touch. So now, all he could think about was running his fingertips over it. And furthermore, Derek hadn't thought the temperature of the apartment was chilly, but he supposed the fact that Stiles' shirt was just a heap of fabric on the bathroom floor was reason enough for his nipples to be so… pert. Subconsciously, Derek wet his lips, wondering longingly what it'd be like to tease one of them with his tongue.

"Oh my God, is this like a thing for you?" Stiles gaped, looking scandalized. "You actually like the blue?"

It really had nothing to do with the blue, but more to do with the abundance of skin the blue had touched. The way the color streaked down, kissing down every curve and valley of his boyfriend's skin, well… it was enough to make Derek unreasonably jealous that the dye dare go where he'd never been. And all of this was what Derek would have explained quite eloquently to the younger boy, had he not been preoccupied by kissing him possessively against the bathroom sink.

Derek grabbed at Stiles' hips, pulling the boy to him, fingers slinking at the edge of his shorts. He crushed his lips against his, making their teeth clink in a way that would have been funny if Derek were any less focused on touching Stiles - on claiming him.

Stiles broke the kiss, gasping for air as Derek merely moved down the boy's neck. "I nev- hnnnn- never should have… made you wa-tch Avatar… huh?" He panted.

Derek had to snort at that. He paused his pursuit in order to clarify. "Stiles, I don't care about the blue. I care about the fact that you're standing in front of me with your shirt off and - I'm pretty sure - without anything on under these shorts," he said, hand rubbing over the thin cloth. "The blue is not a thing. You are my thing."

Stiles blushed at the declaration, mouth opening and closing, as if he were struggling to find a response. Derek opted not to wait any longer and moved to place his lips back where they belonged. Unfortunately, Stiles had other plans as he broke their kiss yet again. "Okay, okay, I get it. You don't care about the blue."

"Now that that's settled," Derek harrumphed, leaning back in, only to be stopped once more.

"But I do," Stiles said, firmly. "Derek, I swear, any other time and I would find this hilarious, you know that. But I just… I can't be blue our first time."

Derek eased back slightly, taking in the boy in front of him, at the look of frustration in his eyes. He could tell Stiles wanted this just as much as Derek, but he could also tell that the dye was seriously bothering him. And it made him think about all the little things he bought and everything he planned to set up just to make their night perfect. He didn't want anything to ruin their night together, and he realized that to Stiles, the blue was enough to ruin it, despite how much Derek could argue it wouldn't. He sighed, defeated yet understanding. "All right. I'll behave," he finally conceded, releasing his hold on Stiles' hips and taking a few steps back.

"Good," Stiles smiled. He watched Derek, eyes expectant, but when the older boy made no other move, Stiles huffed. "Well?"

Derek simply cocked an eyebrow, raising it slowly as he fixed Stiles with a steady gaze. "Well?" he repeated, petulant.

Stiles scoffed. "Aren't you gonna go?"

Derek made a show of thinking about it, but eventually shook his head. "I can help you reach your back."

Stiles' mouth fell open. "I- I think I can manage to-"

Derek took a step forward, trapping Stiles against the sink once more. With feather-light touches, he traced one of the blue trails down the boy's back through the reflection on the mirror. "It's darker over here," Derek pointed out. "Clearly, you can't manage to."

"Wha-? I-" Stiles looked over his shoulder to try to catch his reflection.

Derek tried to conceal his smirk, seeing the younger boy's yielding expression. "I'll behave," he reaffirmed, though in a low voice as his breath brushed against the boy's ear. "I promise."

He felt Stiles shudder against him – could practically hear his resolution crumbling. Finally, "All right. Just… just my back."

"Just your back," he agreed, stepping away once more.

Stiles eyed Derek carefully, as if any sudden movement would make the older boy retract his statement and make him attack. In all honesty, Derek thought about doing just that, but ultimately remained put like the good boyfriend he wanted to prove himself to be.

Tentatively, Stiles moved to the tub, opening the water tap and flicking the switch for the shower. He glanced over his shoulder, as if to make sure Derek was still staying put. Then, the younger boy thumbed the waistband of his shorts, hesitating just a moment before shoving them down. Much to Derek's delight, he had been right - Stiles had been going commando. He smiled to himself, enjoying the view - at least for the brief amount of time that it lasted. Stiles didn't waste another second. He hurried into the tub and yanked the curtain closed. "Shit- that's cold!" Derek heard him hiss, making the older boy chuckle.

Derek slipped his jacket off, anticipating his task to come. He tossed it haphazardly on the toilet seat, waiting for Stiles' cue.

"Okay," Stiles said slowly, peeking from behind the curtain. His back was already to Derek before he tugged at the barrier between them. He had adjusted the showerhead to aim elsewhere, to keep the splashing to a minimum.

Derek took another second to fully appreciate his boyfriend's backside. His eyes followed the trails of blue over the curve of a tight butt down to where they streaked firm thighs. It was all Derek could do to stop from pawing at the skin, to finally touch what had eluded him thus far. Instead, he took a step forward, until the toes of his sneakers were pressed up against the side of the tub, as close as he was allowed in their current situation. Derek brought a hand up to lay it tenderly on Stiles' hip, drawing small circles with his thumb.

"Mmm… Derek…"

The sound gave Derek a heady feeling. Unable to resist, he leaned into Stiles, the front of his shirt growing damp from pressing against the wet skin. He nuzzled the back of Stiles' neck, following the firm muscle down to the boy's shoulder, leaving a trail of kisses in his wake. He heard another little moan escape Stiles' mouth as he titled his head in the opposite direction, exposing more skin to the hungry man. Derek accepted his gift gratefully, nibbling at it before licking it softly.

"My… my back… Derek…"

With a determined restraint he wasn't aware he had, Derek forced himself to pull back, but only just. With his free hand, he placed it on Stiles' shoulder, trailing down the boy's arm to the soapy loofa in his grasp, all the while planting gentle kisses down the boy's neck. He took the loofa from Stiles, sparing a second to entwine their fingers before releasing his hold and setting to work.

Delicately at first, Derek ran the sponge over the expanse of Stiles' back, before pressing more firmly in swooping circles, doing his best to remove the blue trails. They seemed to bleed off the pale skin, disappearing in sudsy swirls down the drain. Derek attacked the more stubborn stains, hoping his touch was firm but not too abrasive.

Stiles' breathing had gone heavy, and although Derek couldn't exactly see from where he was standing, he knew without a doubt in his mind what sort of state his boyfriend must be in. Just touching Stiles like this was already making Derek's jeans feel a bit too tight. Satisfied with his work, he placed both his hands back on Stiles' hips, leaning back against the boy, undisturbed by the soap marring his shirt.

"You know," Derek breathed into the boy's ear. "This might've been a lot easier if you just asked me to join you…" He made the fatalistic move of breathing in Stiles' fresh scent as the boy shuddered against him. This new body wash, he mused… "It's citrus."

Without another moment's hesitation, Derek's lips were back on Stiles' neck. He dropped the loofa onto the floor of the tub, freeing his hands to explore the expanse of Stiles' chest. He trailed him all over- one had sweeping across the boy's stomach, the other grazing up to play with the hairs that had taunted him minutes ago before moving to thumb over a hard nipple. He stroked over it a few times before pinching it lightly between his fingers, making Stiles gasp. Derek took the opportunity to turn the boy's head as best he could in a sloppy kiss. His hands moved down the water-slick skin, down the lean chest, over the flat stomach, teasing the happy trail further down as it led to Derek's ultimate goal. He could practically feel the heat emanating from what was sure to be Stiles' erection the closer he came to his goal. He wanted to touch it. Wanted to feel its weight in his hand. Wanted to stroke it in all manners –fast and rough, slow and gentle – until Stiles was groaning out his name in pure ecstasy. Derek wanted Stiles.

Just as Derek was going to make the final move to grasp what he felt was truly his, Stiles let out another gasp, pulling himself forward and out of Derek's hold. "You- you said you'd behave," Stiles growled out, though his voice was tinged with desperation. He quickly grabbed a towel on the rack and wrapped it around his waist before pushing Derek towards the door. "You're evil and now I'm fucking horny and it's all your fault and I'm not gonna do this while I'm blue, damn it, despite whatever fetish you have for smurfs! We're gonna do this tomorrow like we said and my God Derek, your hands should be illegal, and now I'm blue for a different reason and fuck! I'm gonna KILL Jackson! This isn'tfair-"

Anything else Stiles said after his rant was cut off as the younger boy pushed Derek out the apartment door, shutting the door firmly behind him.

Derek grinned against the door, pressing his forehead against the hard wood, trying to catch his breath. "Stiles," he called, firmly, sure the boy was still standing on the other side.

It was quiet for a beat. Then, "yeah?"

Derek smiled. "I can't wait for tomorrow."

He could also see Stiles' smile in return. "Me neither."

"Finish your shower. Get every bit of it off," he commanded. He doubted he could wait another day to touch the boy he had fallen head over heels in love with, blue or no blue. "And Stiles," he paused.

"Yeah?"

"Don't touch it. It's mine now."

"Evil!"

Derek just grinned again and headed for the elevator. He was vaguely aware of any neighbors that might've eavesdropped just then, but he found he couldn't bring himself to care. His shirt was a mess and he'd left his jacket in the bathroom, but he didn't mind that either. He figured the chilled air of winter would help his own heated self calm down as he walked home, feeling smug and eager.

Tomorrow couldn't come soon enough.

Chapter Text

When Derek arrived home, there were a few things off his mental checklist that he wanted to get done before the day was up. He kicked his shoes off and stripped out of his shirt in favor of finding one that wasn't cold and damp. Once that was done, he walked over to the washer and transferred the new sheets to the dryer before making his way into the kitchen to find something he could eat while also preparing the ingredients he needed for his surprise treat for Stiles. He settled for a frozen burrito, but followed it up with a fresh orange, knowing that Stiles would be proud of his (semi) healthy choice. He checked his phone again for the recipe he had found earlier and followed it meticulously, wanting it to be perfect for tomorrow. And after placing the finished product in his refrigerator to cool, he crashed on his couch, wanting to unwind after his fairly busy day.

He must've dozed off a little bit because when he woke up to the sound of his phone ringing, it was already dark outside. Derek pulled out his phone and smiled. He pushed the 'Answer' button and held the device to his ear.

"Did you touch it?"

He heard Stiles sputter over the phone line. "Wha- no! I have more self control than that."

Derek snorted, but his smile stayed firmly in place. "Good." He glanced around, trying to figure out what time it was. "What's up? Still blue?"

"Fortunately, most of it washed out. But I'm calling about something else."

Derek sat up, not sure what to expect. "Something wrong?"

"He's horny!"

Derek blinked at his phone.

"Scott! Shut up!" Stiles growled at his friend who sounded like he was sitting fairly close by.

"Then move! This is a community area. I'm allowed to be here."

He heard one of them blow a raspberry. Considering how childish the both of them were, there was no way of finding out which one it was.

"He isn't wrong, though," Stiles said, attention returning to his phone. "It's your fault, what with the hands and the groping."

"Seriously, Stiles? Don't you think this is a conversation better had in your own room?" Scott complained.

Derek just shook his head in dismay. "So…? What's going on?"

"I mean, I figure- I know it's your- our, really-"

"Stiles."

"-Routine to go to the coffee shop in the morning, but considering everything, I thought maybe, just for the morning, you might, I mean you should- that is-"

Derek tried to predict his boyfriend's ramblings and found the conclusion himself. "You're banning me?"

"I'm not banning you-"

"He's banning you," Scott answered plainly.

"But for a good reason!"

Derek heard a thump.

"Ow!"

"Shut up, Scott," Stiles warned again. "Anyway… as I was saying… if you think about it, considering the state I'm in- the state you put me in, you evil, sexy menace- I don't think it'd be wise to leave me alone with you at my place of work. I mean, think of all the surfaces we could throw each other up agai-"

"I eat there! Come on, man!"

"-It's not surprising when you think of it," Stiles continued, unfazed. "The moment you walk through the door, I'll want to rip your clothes off and ravish you next to the register, plain and simple."

The image that presented sounded promising to Derek, although it seemed Scott would have to disagree. He heard a groan from the boy and had half a mind to wonder why Stiles didn't take this conversation to his room. 'Maybe he wants to make Scott squirm? A bit of payback maybe?' It sounded like something Stiles might do. And with that in mind, Derek decided to oblige him. "So… you're saying I should stay home or risk being attacked by a horny barista," he said, finally.

"Precisely."

Again, Derek snorted and flopped over to lie on the couch. "I don't see a problem with that."

Stiles balked. "Derek! I need this job! I'm pretty sure sexing up one of the regulars is a big no-no, even if it's not directly stated in the employee handbook."

Derek sighed. "Fine. But you're coming over right after your shift, right?"

"Right. Then I'm all yours."

He smirked, seeing his chance. "Good. Because I have every intention of touching every inch of your body that was blue…"

"Oh," Stiles gasped softly.

"I want to feel you pressed against me, Stiles… feel how much you want me. I want you hard for m-"

"You're on speaker! Oh my God, Stiles! Go to your room!"

He heard a bit of shuffling before the line was cut. Derek smirked to himself and considered it a job well done. It grew into a smile when his phone began to ring, The Awesome Cool Guy Stiles :D appearing on the ID once more.

"You dastardly, evil, wonderful minx," Stiles laughed over the line.

"I take it he didn't much care for our topic of conversation?"

"No," the boy snickered, "it doesn't seem like he did."

Derek grinned. "So did you go to your room?"

"He went to his. He shoved me off the couch first, but it was all worth it just to see the look on his face."

Derek mentally patted himself on the back. He had a feeling that that was what Stiles had intended, and it felt good to know he knew his boyfriend well enough to decipher that.

"In all seriousness though, about the coffee shop-"

"It's okay, Stiles. I get it. I'll stay home. But only if you bring me some coffee after your shift."

"Ah, cause you want the extra energy, eh old man?"

Derek rolled his eyes. "I'm not that much older than you, brat."

Stiles just laughed.

"You know…" Derek said, quietly, his free hand playing with the hem of his shirt. "I wouldn't object if you called in sick for work again… just a thought…"

"Temptress…" he mumbled, the word making Derek scoff. "I would… I want to… but I shouldn't. I really do need this job. Besides, Isaac would probably kill me. Which, by the way I should add, as hilarious it might be to startle him, you really shouldn't anger the guy who handles your coffee."

"He told you about that, huh?"

"Please. I know everything about everyone's business."

"Actually… now that you mention it, I realize it was fun for you to mess with Scott just now, but why does everyone else know what's happening?"

This time it was Stiles who scoffed. "I should ask you the same question."

"What?" Derek frowned, confused.

"Yeah, you! You're the one going shopping for condoms with Jackson and Danny-"

"I didn- they just happened to be there-"

"Then how come Peter texted me earlier about an inflatable raft?"

"Oh God…" Derek groaned.

"And Lydia threatened to destroy me in a rather unpleasant way if she found out I played a certain song – which, by the way, I wouldn't have despite how hilarious it might've been and oh my God, Jackson really did play it that one time. I thought he might've been bullshitting me, but then Lydia was giving him the cold shoulder for a while after it happened and-"

Derek had lost track of his boyfriend's ramblings after that. He was too busy wondering if maybe it was mostly his fault that their business seemed to be everyone else's business. It hadn't been intentional, but somehow it did seem like he played a big part in their involvement.

"Derek? You still there?"

"Yeah… just… just debating on whether or not to talk to any of these people ever again."

Stiles laughed. "It just shows they care."

"I wouldn't mind if they cared maybe just a little less."

He laughed again, the sound of it making Derek smile in return. Stiles sighed. "I miss you. I can't wait to see you. Naked."

A sly smile spread across Derek's lips. "Are you sure you want to start this conversation?" he asked, voice low.

Stiles just groaned in frustration. "I'm going to scrub myself down with bleach if I have to. And I'm going to end this phone call now before you get all sex voice on me, making me want to pull my hair out and not letting me touch cause you're evil and a tease and-"

"I love you, too, Stiles." Derek grinned.

"I'll see you tomorrow, for sure for sure for sure. Good night, my cuppy cake."

Derek snorted at the name. "Good night…" Despite himself, he paused, phone still pressed to his ear, waiting, not exactly wanting to hang up just yet. He stayed quiet, waiting for Stiles to hang up first.

But even after a while, the line hadn't disconnected, though it was quiet on the other end as if Stiles were waiting for the same thing. Then, finally, "Is this a thing? Is this gonna be a thing for us now?"

Derek sighed. "Probably." In all honesty, Derek just couldn't seem to bring himself to hang up the phone. As pathetic as it sounded, he liked the idea of having a connection to Stiles while they were apart, even if they weren't talking to each other. Just knowing that Stiles was there, that he was listening, that he'd be there if Derek finally found words to say, was comforting. He could probably fall asleep with his phone still pressed to his ear, assured in knowing that Stiles was with him even when he wasn't physically there.

"…My 'end call' button is broken."

"You're a terrible liar."

"I'm… wearing gloves."

Derek snorted. Unlike his boyfriend, he tried for something a bit more honest. "I don't exactly want to let you go. Not if I can help it."

Stiles paused for a moment. "Samesies…"

Derek let out a breathy chuckle. "That's not even a word."

"You know what? This can be a thing. I don't mind it being a thing. I like… whatever this thing is. And if that makes us one of those couples, then that's perfectly fine with me. Because if any of those couples feel for each other what I feel for you, then… nothing else matters. Who cares what anyone else thinks? And if me loving you makes me annoying – or at least more annoying that I tend to be – then so be it. You're my baby cakes and they ain't takin' you away from me."

"Baby cakes…" Derek laughed, shaking his head, amused with by the name, while warmed by Stiles' sentiment. "Well good," he said, finally. "Samesies," he added, getting his desired effect when he heard Stiles laugh in return.

Stiles sighed again. "Well then what do we do in the mean time? Just… keep our phones attached to our ears until either our phones die or we get buried under insane phone bills?"

"You could always get Scott to tackle you again."

"Oh ha, ha," Stiles drawled. "We can do this. It's like ripping off a bandage. Just… push the end button."

"Okay. Then do it."

"Well why don't you do it?"

"See, this is our problem. This is why it's a thing."

He heard Stiles sigh again. Then, finally, "Scott!"

They'd work on it. Eventually.

Once the line was officially disconnected – thanks to the incredibly obliging Scott ('Seriously, guys?') – he hugged his phone to himself as if it could transfer the action to its intended recipient. He stayed like that for a while, grown man lying on the couch, hugging his phone until eventually, he managed to roll off the sofa and change into pajamas, mindlessly leaving his phone on the kitchen counter as he passed by.

It wasn't until he was in his room that he remembered his new sheets were still in the dryer. He was just about to retrieve them when he paused just at the door of his room. He gave the place a quick once over.

'If I move my bed over there, I can hang up those Christmas lights over that wall so the cord won't have to stretch as far… There'd also be more room in front of my closet. Why didn't I think of this before?'

Still awake from the energy he'd stored from his power nap, Derek set about rearranging the furniture in his room. He also grabbed his stepladder so he could hang the lights over the bed.

'Wait… would it look better hanging up along the ceiling? Or just strung along the headboard?'

He cocked his head to the side trying to envision the whole picture. In the end, the image of the soft lights twinkling in Stiles' eyes where they hung by the bed won out. Derek went to grab the bag to set everything up when he spotted another box in the bag that he hadn't noticed before. He pulled it out, sighing in exasperation once he realized what they were. During their excursion – probably while Lydia was listing off her dos and don'ts – Allison had snuck the box of silk red rose petals in with everything else. Shaking his head, Derek tossed the box back into the bag and stuffed it into his closet. He'd return them in the morning.

Satisfied with how everything was arranged, Derek finally stretched his new linens over his mattress. Just picturing Stiles spread across them, Stiles tossing his head from side to side in ecstasy, Stiles screaming out his name was enough to consider it money well spent. To actually have him there, that would just be icing on the cake.

Derek was just about ready to call it a night when he noticed that there were little particles of dirt on the floor where his bed used to be.

'A quick vacuuming wouldn't hurt,' Derek shrugged. 'I'm sure Stiles would appreciate it,' he smiled to himself, decision final. He quickly vacuumed the space, but then decided he might as well vacuum the whole room. Afterward, he figured why not vacuum the whole apartment for that matter? He was just about to do that when he spotted his sneakers lying haphazardly on the floor. Turning off the vacuum, he picked them up and put them away properly. And then he saw the shirt he had stripped off earlier lying on the floor. He picked that up too, tossing it into his laundry hamper where he should have put it in the first place.

Derek went all over his apartment, picking up lazily discarded clothing and tucking them away. He tossed leftover candy wrappers and food cartons before deciding to take out the trash as well. Derek got so in the groove of cleaning up, knowing that Stiles would be pleased to see the apartment in such a nice condition, that before he knew it, he was dusting.

'I just don't want him thinking in the back of his mind about how messy this place is,' he rationalized as he reorganized the things on his desk. 'I want him focused on us. On me.' And with that in mind, Derek found himself scrubbing the countertops. And once he finished that, he vacuumed once more, just in case he had missed a spot before.

He hadn't been aware of the time, nor did he find himself concerned with the pale light of day peeking through his window once Derek was finally satisfied with the state of his apartment. All the dishes were washed and put away. He had washed and folded and was now putting away the laundry that had formally been in his hamper. Even the pillows on his bed and couch had been fluffed twice over. And it wasn't until he turned his focus off that exhaustion took over. And when Derek fell back onto the couch, hugging one blessedly fluffy pillow to himself, it was only then that he thought that maybe he had gone a little overboard. But the worry soon left him as sleep dragged him away.

/\/\/\

When Derek woke up, he was aware of a few things. One, his TV had been turned on as there were strange voices permeating through his sleep-addled mind. Two, he felt incredibly warm and comfy. And three, two was only made possible by the fact that there was someone lying on top of him.

Derek popped his eyes open, startled at that last thought. Glancing down, he spotted a familiar shorn head, one that brought a smile to his face as he hugged the boy tighter to him.

"Stiles…" Derek breathed deeply, stretching a bit. "What are you doing here? You decide to call in sick again?"

Stiles shifted his attention from the television, resting his chin on his arm where he'd used it as a pillow against Derek's chest. He smiled fondly at Derek. "No, my Sleeping Beauty. I didn't."

Derek frowned in confusion. "Then what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at work?"

Stiles grinned, amused. "I was at work. My shift ended. Now I'm here."

Derek blinked, his sleepiness making him feel sluggish as his mind tried to make sense of the words. He sat up, looking around. The sky outside was bright, despite a few clouds. He looked to Stiles once more. "What? What time is it?"

"Mmm… nearly three-thirty, I'd say?"

"Three?" Derek sat all the way up, nearly toppling Stiles in the process as he looked at his clock. Sure enough, it was about five minutes until three-thirty, just as Stiles had said. Derek had slept the morning and most of the afternoon away.

"Why didn't you wake me?" Derek frowned, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

"I tried at first," Stiles admitted. "But you were so out of it. And I can see why. Derek, did you clean for me?" He smiled, kneeling on the couch in front of the older boy.

Derek flushed, eyes falling to his lap.

"Don't be shy," Stiles hummed, moving forward, trying to get Derek to meet his gaze. "I think it's sweet," he added, punctuating it with a chaste kiss.

"I didn't- I just… I wanted it to be perfect…"

Stiles simply responded by pulling Derek into a hug.

"I… may have overdone it… a bit…" he admitted, sheepishly.

"A bit," Stiles snorted. "You rearranged the furniture in your bedroom."

Derek sighed. "You saw that."

"I did."

The older boy dropped his head back onto the armrest of the couch, staring at the ceiling, only to have Stiles take the opportunity and kiss along the exposed neck.

"The sheets are a nice touch," Stiles murmured between pecks. "We should christen them."

"Mm," Derek hummed, bringing his head back up to give his boyfriend a good and proper kiss.

"But first," Stiles said, pulling back a bit. "A late lunch, maybe? You skipped breakfast. And I was waiting for you to wake up so we could get something to eat."

Derek sighed, realizing his plans would have to be postponed yet again, but ultimately agreed once the mention of food reminded his stomach of the meals he had skipped.

"Come on," Stiles said, stretching his long limbs and climbing off the couch, taking Derek's hand in his to help him up. "I'll make you some coffee."

Derek frowned again, standing up, but keeping hold of the hand in his. "You were supposed to bring some from your work."

"I did," Stiles bit back, playfully. "But since you were sleeping, I drank it so it wouldn't go to waste. Shame too," he moped. "You should've seen my masterpiece, Derek. My best foam drawing yet."

Derek cocked an eyebrow, intrigued. "Of what?"

"The most glorious sight the world's ever seen. A tribute... to your derrière." Stiles sighed in reverence.

Derek paused. "You did what now?"

He just grinned, proud of himself. "I mean, have you seen that thing? I bet people would make pilgrimages just to bask in its glory."

Derek snorted, a comment about his boyfriend's childishness on his lips, only to be squelched as Stiles took a step towards him to cup said derriere in his free hand.

Stiles smirked. "You've got yourself one fine ass, Mr. Hale," he said, voice low, biting his bottom lip before leaning in for a quick kiss. "I'm the envy of the ball because only I get to touch it."

Again, any reply Derek might've come up with simply fell off his lips the way Stiles was squeezing. But then he gave it a light smack, smile spreading across his face in impishness.

"Go order us some pizza," he said, releasing his hold on Derek before making his way into the kitchen. "And make it extra large. We'll need the extra energy," he winked suggestively, tossing his phone to the older boy. "Oh, and also," Stiles started. He opened Derek's refrigerator, grabbing something from inside before closing the space between them once more. "Some sweets for my sweetums," he said, placing two lollies in Derek's free hand, kissing him on the cheek before making his way back into the kitchen.

Derek glanced at what Stiles had given him. They were individually wrapped cake pops, dipped in chocolate, decorated sparingly with tiny round sprinkles. Derek was impressed. "You made these at work?"

"Mm-hmm," Stiles nodded, grabbing a mug for Derek's coffee. "You'd be surprised by how much I can get done when I don't have a sexy customer distracting me with his pouty lips and glorious ass."

The older boy scoffed. "You have a one-track mind."

"Derek, I just handed you a pair of balls. I think that fact's been made abundantly clear."

Derek laughed, moving to unwrap one of his treats.

"Ah-ah!" Stiles snapped. "Order our pizza first."

Derek didn't pout. His face was absolutely neutral as he turned his attention to Stiles' phone in his hand. So there was absolutely no reason for Stiles to murmur "pouty lips indeed" as he watched Derek from across the space.

After placing the order, Derek munched merrily on his treats, the vanilla flavor of the first one and the mocha flavor of the second one doing sinful things to his taste buds as he washed them down with a swig of his delectable coffee. If these were the kinds of treats Stiles made while Derek stayed home, maybe Derek should consider staying home more often. And then Derek realized that was just a stupid idea because he'd rather spend time with Stiles when he could instead of tasting the product of their time spent apart.

The pizza soon arrived and Stiles and Derek ate their fill while catching some reruns of a show they both enjoyed. They settled onto the couch, relaxing, just enjoying being together.

Derek placed an arm over Stiles' shoulders, pulling the boy against him as Stiles rested his head on a firm shoulder. And despite the interesting goings-on of the TV program, Derek's attention soon wavered to the boy curled up next to him. Resting his head on his hand, Derek turned his gaze on Stiles who was watching with apt attention to the TV.

And while the plan for the day was supposed to involve fewer clothes and more touching, Derek found he really couldn't complain. Sitting on the couch with Stiles pressed against him while they watched some mindless TV show was more than enough for him. Just being with Stiles, loving Stiles, was all he needed to be content. As long as Derek had Stiles, was allowed to love him, to keep him, he'd be satisfied with his fill. Anything more was just a gift.

Stiles chuckled at something on the TV. "Man, that lady got swindled," he commented, amused eyes glancing at Derek. He turned his eyes back to the TV before doubling back to Derek once more. He smiled at him, quirking an eyebrow. "What?"

Derek shook his head. "Nothing… I'm just… I'm happy."

The smile on Stiles' face grew fond, and after a moment of just gazing into one another's eyes, he finally moved, reaching over for the remote. Derek watched his every move as Stiles shut off the TV before moving to straddle Derek's lap. Derek let out a contented sigh as Stiles ran his hands over his chest before slinking his arms around Derek's neck and leaning down for a full, firm kiss.

Instantly, Derek's hands moved to Stiles' hips, squeezing them lightly before caressing up his sides and down his thighs. He slipped his hands under the boy's shirt, feeling the warmth emanating from his skin. He moaned into his mouth when Stiles tentatively licked across his lips before brushing his tongue against Derek's. He groaned loudly when Stiles began to rock forward, pressing his groin against Derek's at every pass. He could feel Stiles' growing interest, his own mirroring its hardening state.

"God… Stiles," Derek panted.

Stiles just continued his ministrations, fingers laced in Derek's hair, tugging ever so slightly while he trailed a line of wet kisses down Derek's throat, licking and nipping as he went. Its effect on Derek was maddening.

Stiles let out a breathy chuckle. "Just-ah… just so you know, I might not… not last long," he panted out. "Con-considering how you left me yes-terday…"

"If I remember correctly – and I'm pretty sure I do," Derek started, planting kisses along Stiles' jaw between every few words, "you kicked me out."

"You were misbehaving!" Stiles growled, managing to pause only for a moment to glare at the older boy, but the rasp of his voice only added to Derek's heightened arousal.

"Can you really blame me? Flaunting yourself in front of me like that," he huffed, accentuating his point by sliding his hands down Stiles' backside and giving it a firm squeeze.

"I wasn't-ah! Flaunting," he defended lamely.

Derek hummed. "Mm, no, I suppose not. I guess I just couldn't help myself…"

"Derek…"

They were gasping now, rocking against one another in long rolling motions. No longer content and wanting more, Derek took a firm hold of Stiles' thighs before standing up, easing the boy down to find his footing. Derek led them to his bedroom, eyes closed, lips nearly never parting. He pressed Stiles against the door, the younger boy's hand stretching out as he reached blindly for the handle, nearly tumbling them to the floor once he'd found it. Once Derek felt the mattress against his shins, he lifted Stiles again, hugging him close before toppling them onto the bed. However, as they settled into it, Derek was surprised to see little red pieces of fabric fly up around them.

"What?" he blinked, breaking their kiss. He picked up the one that landed on the hollow of Stiles' throat and realized a little belatedly in his hazy state that the rose petals that he had thought were safely hidden away in a sealed box in his closet were now spread randomly over his sheets.

Stiles laughed from where he was pinned under the older boy. "I found them in your closet when I went to hang up the jacket you left at my place yesterday. What happened there, hm? You have second thoughts about buying them?" he asked, amused.

Derek shook his head. "I was going to return it – and for the record, it wasn't even my idea to buy them. Allison snuck them in at the register while I wasn't looking. I thought they were cheesy."

"Oh they are," Stiles nodded, wrapping his arms back around Derek's neck as he leaned up to tease a sensitive ear. "In fact, they're so cheesy that they become awesomely cheesy. Which is exactly why I had to open the box."

Derek didn't have a moment to try to figure out his boyfriend's rationale because the next thing he knew, two long legs were wrapping themselves around his waist as his ear became trapped between the soft nibbling of dangerous teeth. He groaned as Stiles rocked his hips, pressing up against Derek over and over again.

"Mm, Derek," Stiles moaned, breath ghosting over Derek's ear. "I… I want-"

Stiles didn't need to say more because Derek wanted just as much. It occurred to him that his first experience with Stiles was about to boil down to a fevered groping session that would last an embarrassingly short amount of time considering how good it felt every time Stiles ground up into him. He couldn't find it in him to care.

He slid a hand down Stiles' chest, fingers pressing against warm skin where his shirt had ridden up. Without breaking their kiss, Derek undid the button of Stiles' jeans before undoing the zipper. He reached a hand into the opened fly, rubbing against Stiles' already straining erection, causing the boy beneath him to gasp and lean into the touch. Derek took the opportunity to lick across his Adam's apple, feeling it bob as Stiles gulped for air. Without further delay, he finally slipped his hand under the waistband of the boy's boxers, fingertips running through the hair there before finding and taking hold of Stiles' erection, eliciting yet another sinful groan from the body beneath him.

"Derek… Derek…" Stiles panted, the sound of it only making Derek desperate to hear more.

He sat up, grabbing Stiles by the hips and pulling him as close as their groins could come before he returned his hand to Stiles' cock, flushed and leaking, as Derek ran his thumb over the head. He sat up once more, taking in the sight in front of him.

Stiles' shirt had bunched up just below his armpits, abs flexing with every breath. His eyes were heavy-lidded, his head tossed to the side in absolute bliss. He was sure his own expression was just about the same. Needing more, Derek quickly hooked his pajamas and briefs and shoved them down haphazardly, exposing his hardness to the cool air. He pressed it against Stiles', rubbing them together before taking both in his hands and stroking them simultaneously. The effect was achingly good.

He felt fingers cover his own as Stiles reached out to touch. A fresh wave of pleasure washed over Derek as Stiles began to stroke him, loose grip turning firm. Derek thrust into the hand, feeling himself coming undone under his boyfriend's touch. But he wanted more as an insistent urge to taste began to overwhelm him.

Releasing the hold he had on Stiles, he lifted him easily and hiked him further up onto the bed, making more silly little rose petals fly up in the air. He yanked Stiles' jeans and boxers down the boy's thighs before surging forward, yearning to feel the weight of him in his mouth.

"Wa-wa-wa-wait!" Stiles said in a flurry, holding one hand up while pushing himself up off the bed with his free arm.

Derek was salivating, mouth open and ready to take as much of Stiles as he can, and just barely managed to pause to give his boyfriend a questioning look.

"I'm just- I'm," Stiles fumbled, trying to sort through the sex-filled haze evident in his eyes. "I'm still all funky from sweating at work and- oh my God!" He collapsed back onto the bed, his moan muffled as he bit his wrist, eyes rolling up and hips rolling forward.

Derek could care less. He was pretty sure he wasn't in top shape either after his unplanned workout from all the cleaning he had done the night before. He stored the idea of a mutual shower in the back of his mind. He had other things to focus on at the moment.

Derek took Stiles into his mouth, going as far down as he could, sucking tightly on his way back up, releasing the hard cock with a loud 'pop'. He licked the head, swirling his tongue around it before wrapping his lips around it once more.

He sucked hungrily, enjoying himself and the way Stiles was falling apart in front of him, because of him. The boy was thrusting shallowly into Derek's warm mouth, eager for more contact, for more of Derek's tongue. His arm was draped over his face as he moaned into the pit of his elbow, his other hand fisting the soft sheets until his knuckles turned white.

Derek took a second to reach up and pull Stiles' arm away from his face, wanting to hear the sweet sounds escaping his lips. Instead, he guided it to his hair, wanting to feel Stiles' fingers lacing through it, his cock twitching in interest at the thought of him tugging on it. So maybe he was a little masochistic in that way, but the idea of Stiles owning him was such a turn on, Derek thought he could possibly come on that thought alone.

Spurned on by his new thoughts, he returned his attention back to the leaking hardness in front of him, desperate to taste Stiles, anticipating stream after stream of come sliding down his throat. He bobbed up and down the shaft, stroking the base with one hand while fondling his balls with the other, squeezing and rubbing them alternatively.

"Derek- I'm comin- I'm gonna-!"

This only served to spur Derek on, taking as much of Stiles' cock down his throat as he could. Stiles gripped Derek's hair hard as he came, calling out his name as spurt after spurt filled Derek's mouth. He did his best to swallow it down, lips still wrapped around Stiles' cock, until he heard the boy whine in his overly sensitized state. Derek wiped at the corner of his mouth where a bit of Stiles' come had dribbled out, only to lick that down too. He heard Stiles groan, and saw him watching Derek with interested but hazy eyes.

"That… you… your tongue…" Stiles panted, unable to form a coherent thought. "Just… just gimme a-a… a minute…"

Derek smirked. "Now who's the old man?" he teased. "I thought one of the perks of having a younger boyfriend was getting to skip these moments."

"Well, after a blow job like that, I doubt anyone young or old would be that quick to bounce back…" he defended, bringing his hand up to rub across his stomach.

Derek smiled, taking that as a compliment before his eyes grew transfixed on the nimble fingers playing across pale skin. He watched them, suddenly reminded of his neglected erection as the desire to have that hand wrapped around his cock overwhelmed him. "Stiles…" he very nearly whined. "I…"

"Oh my God! You didn't even-! I'm so sorry!" He blurted out, eyes going wide as he tried to sit up.

"No, just…" Derek shook his head. He was already so close. He shifted on the bed so that he was straddling Stiles. He reached for Stiles' hand, the same one that had him transfixed with its motions just a second ago, and wrapped it around his hard cock, wanting to feel those fingers at work. He moaned as a warmth spread over him, his erection finally getting the attention it had been aching for.

Stiles immediately took control, hand working deftly as it pumped Derek's length, alternating between long and loose strokes and short and firm ones. Derek was panting. He leaned over, needing to brace himself against the bed as to not crush the boy underneath him.

Energy restored, Stiles pulled his jeans back up so that he could push up against the bed and take control, flipping them over so that Derek was on his back and Stiles was sitting over his legs. He bent down, kissing Derek sloppily as he continued stroking him below. With his free hand, he pushed up Derek's shirt, rubbing a strong hand over his bared chest, pausing to tease a nipple with his thumb. Stiles kissed a line down Derek's body, short puffs of breath brushing against his heated skin. He licked across Derek's other nipple, before teasing it between the tips of his teeth. The slight pain of it made Derek groan as he thrust into Stiles' hand insistently. Stiles continued his way down, licking along the dips and curves of Derek's abs. He placed gentle kisses along Derek's thighs, teasing the sensitive skin.

Derek was caught in between a world of frustration and pleasure. The things Stiles was doing with his hand was driving him crazy, but with his lips playfully pressing feather-soft touches across his length, Derek was just about ready to go insane. He wanted Stiles to take him into his mouth, to show him if his tongue was just as talented as those skillful hands.

He pictured it, seeing Stiles' lips, red and swollen from their kissing, stretch around the tip of his erection. He anticipated the heat of his mouth enveloping him, as Derek strained to keep it together, to refrain from thrusting up into Stiles' eager mouth.

But his Stiles was impish, dangerously so. He continued to lay soft kisses over the tip, trailing them down before moving back up again. And when he peeked up, eyes catching with Derek's lust-filled ones, Derek knew. Stiles was teasing him on purpose. Derek let out a groan in realization, but this only spurred Stiles in the wrong direction, lips pulling away into a devastating smirk as he chuckled to himself. Derek could feel the short breaths brush against his erection, as Stiles' strokes grew agonizingly slow.

"You're leaking…" Stiles commented as easily as if he were describing the weather, though his voice was rough and low. "Do you want it that bad?"

He did. He wanted Stiles to put better use to his mouth, but he couldn't find the words for it and all that came out was a strained sound that was most certainly not a whimper. He was struggling to hang on, but it grew more and more difficult, despite Stiles' deliberate pace. He was so on edge that when Stiles finally bent forward to give an experimental lick to the head of Derek's cock, Derek couldn't take it anymore and almost immediately found himself coming hard. He groaned in ecstasy, thrusting lightly as he rode out his orgasm, feeling himself shoot as a surprised gasp reached his ears.

Eventually, he managed to glance down to see streaks of his come splattered over Stiles' face, the younger boy swiping at it with the back of his hand. The sight of it was perhaps a little more enticing than Derek ever thought it could be. But then Derek frowned, realizing he hadn't given Stiles any sort of warning. "Shit," he murmured, sitting up on his elbows. "I... I should've warned…" Words managed to fail him as he watched Stiles swipe at the last bit of come on his face before sucking his finger into his mouth, cheeks hollowing out. Derek's spent cock managed to twitch in interest, leaving him wondering just which of the two of them was supposed to have the libido of a teenager. He couldn't find it in him to care much, not when just watching Stiles was getting him aroused.

Stiles smirked as if he could read Derek's thoughts, as if he knew exactly the effect he was having on Derek. He crawled back up, straddling Derek's thighs once more before he slowly pulled off his own shirt. He wiped his hands on the fabric, wiped his face before tossing it aside and leaning down to cover Derek's body with his own. "You are incredibly sexy when you come," he remarked, slowly, pressing his lips against Derek's in a languid kiss. "You know, I read this thing once that I've always been curious about," he continued, moving back down, peppering kisses along Derek's exposed abdomen. "Apparently, consuming plenty of fruit juice, including lemon," he smirked, licking a stripe across Derek's navel, "is supposed to make… well, you… taste good."

Derek had no response to that. In the back of his mind, he was curious, wanting to ask whether or not Stiles found it to be true. But the rest of his mind was basically useless. The only things coming out of his mouth were the heavy pants of him trying to catch his breath – a difficult feat considering the sort of stimulation Stiles was providing.

But if Stiles was expecting some sort of response, he didn't wait for one. Instead, he found himself back down at the foot of the bed, face nuzzling Derek's exposed thigh before taking him back in hand and slipping his mouth over the sensitive head, sucking on it, trying to taste every bit of it Derek had to offer. This time Derek had to cry out in his overly sensitive state, reaching feebly to still his eager love.

Stiles easily complied, releasing the spent cock, smiling thoughtfully. "Well, fancy that… They were right." Stiles gave Derek one last playful stroke – earning him a hiss in response – before crawling back up the bed. He sighed in content, lying back down, using Derek as a pillow and hugging him sideways. "This was fun. We should definitely do this more often," he said plainly, trailing open-mouthed kisses along Derek's collar.

Agreeing with the idea, Derek managed to utter a feeble "Yeah" as he modestly reached down to straighten his pants before turning to his side to hold Stiles fully in his arms.

Stiles chuckled happily, burying his face in the crook of Derek's neck. Derek rubbed his hands up and down Stiles' back, enjoying the feel of warm skin against his palms. He kissed him on the forehead before settling in.

"Mmm," Stiles hummed. "This is nice. Nice and comfy."

Again, Derek had to agree with that, closing his eyes as the sounds of Stiles' soft breathing were trying to lull him into a blissed out state. He felt Stiles shift slightly as fingertips trailed over his features. When one skimmed over his lips, he bit at it, earning a little yelp of surprise, followed by a soft chuckle.

"Hey…" Stiles chided.

Derek only smirked and released the finger from its trap. He pulled Stiles back in, practically squeezing him in his embrace, loving how their bodies slotted together. He breathed deeply, feeling utterly content.

"You're not falling asleep, are you?"

Derek didn't immediately reply. It sounded like a great idea. "…Maybe," he eventually replied.

"Nope. Come on," Stiles said, finally pulling away. Derek felt him climb off the bed. "Get up, lazy butt," he tried again, smacking Derek's backside.

Derek just groaned, not wanting to get out of his comfy bed. But he heard Stiles' footsteps pad out of the room, and not long after, he heard the sound of running water coming from across the hall. Curiosity and intrigue getting the best of him, Derek finally cracked an eye open.

"Stiles?" he called.

"In here!"

Bidding farewell to any chance of a quick doze, Derek sat up, stretching his arms over his head, figuring Stiles must be up to something. Following the sound into his bathroom, he rubbed his eyes, trying to wake himself up as he watched curiously as Stiles crouched next to the bathtub, testing the water flowing from the tap.

Stiles glanced over his shoulder and smiled in seeing Derek. "Ah good," he said, standing. "Come here," he moved over, motioning to the tub. "Make sure it's not too hot for you."

With Stiles standing in front of him without a shirt on and his jeans slung low on his hips, Derek was one hundred percent positive that it wasn't the water that was going to be too hot for him. "You drew a bath for me?"

"For us," Stiles clarified.

"Oh," he breathed, eyeing the tub. Liking the prospect of bathing together, Derek did as was asked of him and bent over the tub, sticking his hand under the flowing tap. He adjusted it a tiny bit to his liking and flipped he switch to plug the drain before standing back up, only to see Stiles ogling his backside with great interest.

Derek shook his head, amused. He smirked, cocking his head to the side as the sound of running water splashed behind him. Slowly, playfully, he trailed his hands to the hem of his shirt, pulling it up over his head and tossing it lazily to the floor. He enjoyed the way Stiles' eyes roamed freely across his bared skin, felt excited in seeing the desire there. Derek hooked his thumbs under the waistband of his pajamas, pushing them down until gravity did its job, pooling the fabric around his ankles. Derek kicked them aside towards the vicinity of his discarded shirt. He was clad only in his boxer-briefs, loving Stiles' intense scrutiny. He watched as Stiles' eyes trailed down, letting him get a good look this time, opposed to the frantic groping earlier on the bed. Finally, he thumbed his briefs, peeling them off and tossing them aside, standing in front of Stiles completely nude. The tongue that ran over the boy's lips made Derek smile.

"Stiles," he said finally, voice low, seductive. "This isn't a museum, you know. You're allowed to touch."

A small smile spread across the younger boy's face, a playful glint in his eyes.

"In fact," Derek continued, feeling emboldened, bringing a hand up to trail slowly across his abdomen. "Touching... is very much encouraged."

The grin that broke out over Stiles' face was, in a word, stunning. It was the last thing Derek saw before the younger boy suddenly pounced on him, their lips crashing together in an almost painful way. Derek's reflexes were fast enough for him to be able to catch the shower door, but the sudden weight was still too much to keep him and Stiles upright. He felt his back hit the wall before he quickly slid down into the water with a heavy splash with Stiles still clinging to him.

Stiles gasped in surprise before he started laughing. "Sorry," he managed to heave out, although he didn't seem the least bit. And although Derek was charmed by Stiles' enthusiasm, he could have done without the sudden attack, as well as the rather large puddle on his bathroom floor.

"Sorry," Stiles tried again, this time putting in a better effort, but still unable to hide his smile. He leaned over and kissed Derek on the lips, and suddenly, everything was better.

The younger boy stood and reached for a towel to mop up the mess he created as Derek swung his legs from over the edge of the tub and into the bath. Once the puddle was gone, Stiles tossed the towel into the hamper before turning his attention back to his awaiting boyfriend. He smirked at Derek before humming an unknown ditty, swaying his hips from side to side.

Derek chuckled, a bit confused by Stiles' antics, but amused nonetheless. "What are you doing?"

Stiles paused with a little scoff, looking at Derek as if affronted that he didn't know. "Isn't it obvious? I'm giving you a little show," he explained, breaking out into a grin before picking up where he left off.

Derek watched in pleasure as Stiles slid his hands over his body to the music in his head. He undid the button and zipper of slightly soaked jeans before hooking his thumbs to inch them down just a bit. "Not too much," Stiles commentated, biting his lip enticingly. "Gotta make him wait a bit," he winked, "to make him want it more…"

Derek very poorly stifled a laugh. "You're such a goof."

And again, Stiles scoffed, affronted expression making its way back. "Here I am, trying to be sexy for you and you don't even appreciate-"

"Oh I appreciate. I appreciate very much," Derek defended, moving onto his knees and reaching over to pull Stiles towards him, sliding his hands over the boy's thighs. "I'd appreciate it more," he said, taking matters in his own hands by tugging at the fabric, pulling them down, exposing sharp hips, "if you got in here so I can show you just," he kissed Stiles' navel, "how much," he kissed along his trail, "I appreciate."

Glancing back up, Derek was met with glossy eyes as Stiles looked down at him in reverence. He tugged Stiles' jeans and boxers the rest of the way down, his shoulders used as support as Stiles kicked them aside.

Derek took the opportunity to drink in the sight of Stiles, finally getting to see him fully bared. His eyes drew invisible lines between the various moles as he connected them down the length of Stiles' body. Involuntarily, he licked his lips, seeing Stiles' half-hard cock, remembering the taste of it and wanting it back in his mouth. "You're…"

"Scrawny?" Stiles blushed, ducking his head, rubbing the back of it while subtly trying to cover himself.

"Stunning," Derek finished, making the other boy blush a little more. He reached his hands out, inviting Stiles into the bath. The younger boy complied, tentatively stepping in before he quickly sat down in a slight attempt to hide himself from further scrutiny. But Derek was having none of that.

"You're gorgeous," he reiterated, pulling Stiles to him so that he was practically in his lap. He could idly feel where their cocks rubbed against each other under the warm water. Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles' waist, kissing him on the nose and all along his jaw. "You're gorgeous," he whispered into his ear before kissing that too.

"You're the gorgeous one," Stiles said with a shudder, hands roaming over Derek's chest. "Me? I'm-"

"Perfect," Derek finished. Stiles opened his mouth to say more, but Derek cut him off. "Perfect for me," he said, looking at Stiles in all sincerity.

Stiles smiled shyly at Derek before wrapping his arms around his neck and pulling him into a kiss. They kissed unhurriedly, letting their lips taste and tongues explore, only parting so Derek could reach over and shut the tap off, tub nearly full to the brim with two adult males pressed together inside. As he sat back, he rearranged them, choosing to sit behind Stiles. The younger boy smiled as Derek hugged him from behind. He relaxed against him, leaning on him, resting his head on Derek's shoulder.

"Mm, this is nice too," Stiles hummed, running his hands up and down Derek's legs.

Derek planted light kisses down the line of Stiles' neck by way of agreeing.

"Next time, we should get bubbles," he snickered. "I'll make you a crown."

Again, Derek made no answer except to run his hands lazily over Stiles' chest, continuing his kissing down the boy's shoulder.

"Actually- that reminds me!" Stiles said, sitting up suddenly. He flipped around, kissing Derek briefly before standing up and climbing out. "I brought the thing," he said lamely, words failing him as he reached for another towel.

Derek frowned at the sudden loss, but nonetheless enjoyed watching Stiles towel himself off before he rehung it on the rack. "Brought bubbles?" He offered, resting his arms along the edge of the tub, leaning on them.

Stiles scoffed before darting out of the bathroom, only to come back a few seconds later with a bottle of body wash in one hand and a loofa in the other. Derek's interest perked in seeing the bottle.

"Is that the one from yesterday?"

"Well, it's not like I could let it go to waste… it's not what I normally use, but it'll do," Stiles explained as he climbed back in, grabbing Derek's bottle of wash along with him. He knelt down and began shuffling around, limbs knocking into Derek.

"Stiles, what-" he balked, trying to figure out his boyfriend's movements.

"I just wanna- move over Derek," he growled half-heartedly, sounding more amused than annoyed. Once he was comfortably behind the older boy, Stiles finally settled down. "I wanna wash your back," he said, finally, wrapping his legs loosely around Derek's waist.

"You could have just said so," Derek said, matter-of-factly.

"Well, where's the fun in that?"

Derek just chuckled, allowing Stiles to pamper him. He heard the bottle crack open, followed by some light splashing before he felt the sudsy mesh brush against his skin. Stiles' hands were magic as they expertly trailed across Derek's skin, one hand scrubbing with the loofa, the other massaging tense muscles.

He felt Stiles trail his fingers over his tattoo. "Past," the younger boy murmured, placing a soft kiss in the center of one of the branches. "Present," he murmured again, placing another kiss. "Future," he finished with one last kiss before nosing the inked skin and wrapping his arms around Derek's waist.

Then, Stiles grew uncharacteristically silent, concerning Derek a bit. "You okay?" he asked, trying to catch his eye over his shoulder.

"Yeah," Stiles nodded, his forehead still pressed against Derek's back. "I was just thinking."

Derek rubbed the arms wrapped firmly around him. "Thinking of what?"

"Of how much this guy whose past, present and future is helping him become the man he is today is just so… incredibly…"

"Psychotic?" Derek supplied. "Pretentious? Arrogant?"

"Amazing." Stiles squeezed him tightly briefly. "Perfectly perfect for me."

Derek smiled in content, taking one of Stiles' hands into his own and bringing it to his lips.

Soon, Stiles' hands continued moving, continued massaging the tense muscles of Derek's back. The older boy closed his eyes, head lolling around as Stiles kneaded against him. He was half aware of the tiny moans escaping him, but found he couldn't care when everything felt this good. Stiles worked his way down Derek's arms, moving him, shifting him, Derek putty in capable hands. He felt so good, so relaxed in Stiles' arms, enjoying the palms running all over his skin. He was already half hard by the time Stiles moved down to his legs, rubbing them under the water as far as he could reach.

"What about here?" Stiles teased, speaking lowly into Derek's ear as his hands travelled back up Derek's thighs. "Should I wash you here too?" He asked, squeezing along Derek's thighs, purposefully avoiding touching the older boy anywhere else, much to his dismay.

"Stiles," Derek moaned, pressing against him, leaning back and shifting his hips, trying to rub against the teasing palms. A chuckle vibrated against him, as Stiles easily evaded Derek's squirms.

"Already hard for me, hm?" Stiles continued, trailing one forefinger down Derek's length, earning a rumble of frustration in return. "You really are a dirty boy," he teased, unfazed by the torture he was putting Derek through.

Had he had a fully functioning brain, Derek might've said something about the hardness pressing into his back. Had he had a semi-functioning brain, he might've commented on how cheesy that line had been. However, his brain was, in fact, mush and therefore he was speechless as he yearned for more of Stiles' touch.

But if Stiles was anything, he was most certainly mischievous, a fact making itself clear as he withdrew his hands from under the water and back up Derek's arms. Derek could have growled, wanting to take the wandering hands into his own to direct them to the place he wanted them to be. But when long fingers weaved their way into dark locks and began to massage Derek's scalp, any signs of frustrations that might've been uttered simply died on his lips. The things Stiles was doing with his fingers was just plain heavenly.

Again, Derek felt Stiles chuckle against him. "You're practically purring."

"Your hands… feel good," was all he could utter in response. And while he felt like he could be content just doing this forever, he wanted Stiles to feel good too. He wanted Stiles to melt against him, the way Derek felt he did against Stiles. So, with much resolve, Derek reached a hand up, entwining his fingers with Stiles' to still them. He pulled the hand forward, kissed it down his arm before finally sitting up and turning around.

Stiles simply smiled, but quirked his eyebrow in question.

"Your turn," Derek said, twirling his finger, motioning to Stiles to turn around.

Stiles complied as Derek reached over for the floating loofa and for the citrus-scented body wash. Just squeezing the mesh to get it sudsy was enough to get a good whiff of the aroma, reminding Derek of all the treats Stiles had baked before the two of them even got to this point. He smiled fondly as he brought the loofa to Stiles' skin, taking care of him the way Stiles had cared for Derek moments ago.

Derek had considered asking Stiles to keep the scent, but ultimately decided that was a bad idea. He already had a tough time keeping his hands to himself, but if Stiles smelled as enticing as his baked goods, Derek knew it would be his doom. He did his best to scrub without scratching, leaving trails of bubbles up and down Stiles' skin. Once that was done, he tossed the loofa aside, wanting to try his own hand at a massage, wanting to ease any tension Stiles might have wound up. He squeezed shoulders lightly at first before pressing his thumbs in with a little more force. It was perhaps a bit too much force considering the way Stiles' shoulders hiked up.

"Easy, easy," Stiles winced.

Derek lightened his touch, but it seemed it was still too much for Stiles.

"Ow, Derek, I'm a person, not a stress ball. Go lightly."

"I am going lightly," he frowned, easing up even more.

"When was the last time you gave someone a massage?"

"Uh…" Derek actually thought about it. He couldn't exactly say he'd had that kind of intimacy before.

Stiles snickered. "Okay, okay, my broody brute. Here," he said, reaching for the loofa once more and handing it back to Derek. "You have gentle hands when you scrub me. We can work on your massage technique some other day."

Again, Derek frowned. He took the loofa once more, and this time, purposefully scrubbed down Stiles' back with a little more force than necessary.

"Hey!" Stiles whined.

Getting his desired effect, Derek tossed the loofa over his shoulder, turned Stiles' head towards his and proceeded to silence any oncoming complaints with his tongue. The act finally got Stiles to melt against him as Derek trailed one hand up to tease a pert nipple and the other down to rub teasingly against Stiles' thigh.

"Mmm," the younger boy moaned, hips rocking forward. He broke the kiss only to spin around and face Derek, wrapping his arms around his neck, lips meeting once again.

Derek's hands roamed freely and eagerly, one traveling up the broad expanse of shoulder, the other moving boldly down over Stiles' backside, giving one cheek a firm squeeze. He found a desire for more, wanting to touch Stiles in the most intimate of ways. He grazed his fingers along Stiles' cleft, finding the puckered hole there, teasing as he rubbed against it.

"Ah!" Stiles moaned, back arching slightly as he pressed against Derek's hand. But Stiles had something else in mind, taking control of the situation. Derek could only oblige as Stiles maneuvered him around, pushing him until Derek was up on his knees. It was then that Stiles got down on all fours, taking Derek's length into his mouth.

"Ugh, Stiles," Derek groaned, one hand moving to the back of Stiles' head as the other held firm against the edge of the tub. Stiles' mouth was much warmer than the water that surrounded them as he bobbed his head up and down, going deeper with each turn.

Stiles shifted his weight onto one hand, reaching up with his free hand to squeeze Derek's balls, massaging them as he licked along underside of Derek's cock. The dual sensation was driving Derek wild, pushing him closer and closer to the edge. He had to fight to keep himself from thrusting too much, not wanting to gag his boyfriend. He let out a groan of frustration when Stiles pulled back, getting up off his hand, smirking at him, teasing him. Stiles kissed Derek, one hand stroking lazily up and down Derek's cock.

"You're… such a…" Derek panted.

Stiles just chuckled and moved again. He sat down, stretched his legs out in front of him, and pulled Derek's hips toward him. He returned his lips to Derek's erection, one hand stroking the base as the other wrapped around Derek's thigh to rub and squeeze his ass. Derek placed his hands on Stiles' shoulders, needing to touch him.

Derek thrust shallowly again as Stiles licked him up and down, both hands now playing and spreading his cheeks. Stiles ran his fingers along the center, teasing Derek's hole as he rubbed against it. Derek moaned loudly, hips rocking forward into Stiles' mouth, rocking backward to press against Stiles' hand. When Stiles worked a finger in, Derek was borderline ready to come undone. Stiles pushed his finger back and forth into Derek, moving faster and faster, swirling his tongue over the head of his cock all the while.

"Stiles, I'm… I'm coming…" Derek groaned. Stiles just hummed in response, moving faster still until Derek came into his mouth. Stiles swallowed him down as much as he could, as wave after wave of euphoria came over the older boy.

Feeling tired and spent, Derek sat back, catching his breath.

"Good, yes?" Stiles smirked, swiping at the corner of his mouth.

Derek responded by pulling him forward into a kiss.

"Your turn," Derek said once again as they pulled apart, twirling his finger, motioning to Stiles to turn around.

And again, Stiles quirked his eyebrow in question, but smiled, intrigued.

Derek moved Stiles until he was on his knees, bent over, hands braced against the brim of the tub. Derek edged forward, wrapping an arm around Stiles' waist before taking his length back into his hand and stroking it slowly, making the younger boy groan in pleasure.

He removed his hand, only to spread Stiles' cheeks, using his thumb to rub against Stiles' hole. Then, Derek leaned forward, giving in a tentative lick.

"Oh, God Derek…" Stiles called out, throwing his head back.

Derek ran his tongue over it again as Stiles rocked backward, trying to feel more of Derek against him. He licked Stiles from bottom to top, before circling his tongue around the rim and peppering it with kisses. Stiles moaned, rocking further back, wanting even more. Derek obliged, pressing his tongue into Stiles, trying to edge his way into the tight hole. He drew back, trying the same with his thumb this time as he reached between Stiles' legs with his other hand to stroke the neglected erection. Alternating between fingers and tongue, Derek continued to please Stiles, the younger boy's moans getting louder in the small space as he thrust into the circle of Derek's palm. Derek pushed in two fingers, trying to find that special spot, while simultaneously stretching the fairly tight hole. When he finally reached it, rubbed against it with his finger, Stiles cried out, fucking himself on Derek's hand, fucking himself into Derek's hand as spurt after spurt shot out of his cock and landing half into the water and half against the tiles of the shower wall.

Unable to support himself anymore, Stiles fell back into the water, leaning heavily against Derek, who welcomed him with open arms. Derek took the opportunity to finish washing his boyfriend, reaching for the discarded loofa, as Stiles closed his eyes, panting, body pliant as Derek scrubbed gently all around, careful not to touch any sensitive areas that would cause over-stimulation. Once he was done, he put the loofa aside, and sank back against the tub, pulling Stiles against him, one arm wrapped around his waist while the other searched for the boy's hand to entwine their fingers under the warm water.

Derek was comfortable, content as they sat in the afterglow. He knew that the water would soon chill and they would have to get out and dry off, but until then, he was happy to relax with his love. In fact, he couldn't be sure from this angle, but he wouldn't be surprised if Stiles had fallen asleep. In case he had, Derek resisted moving too much, and settled with planting feather-soft kisses along the crook of his neck.

He didn't exactly want to – so comfortable he was with Stiles pressed against him – but eventually, Derek shifted in the cooling water, ready to pick Stiles up and carry him to bed if need be. But the movement made the younger boy groan.

"No…" Stiles whined. "No moving… I can't move. I am unable to move. Just leave me here." And despite his claim, Stiles did move, rolling around to face Derek, wrapping his arms around Derek's waist.

Derek snorted. "I thought you might've fallen asleep."

He sighed. "Thought about it. Tempted to," he said, nuzzling the pillow of Derek's chest. "You're invited to stay in here with me, too, if you want."

Derek chuckled softly and kissed the top of Stiles' head. "So what do you propose we do, hm? You wanna spend the rest of our lives in my bathtub?"

He felt the grin against his chest as Stiles smiled in amusement. "As tempting an offer as that is, it's not exactly a practical one. We're already pruny," he said, lifting his hand up to examine the water wrinkles of his skin. "Actually, I read recently that when your skin gets like this, it's not because of overexposure to water, but actually just a way for your skin to adapt to its wet surroundings. Pruny skin equals better grip," Stiles grinned self-satisfactorily, showing Derek how good his grip was by taking hold of him underwater.

Derek let out a heavy breath, torn between wanting to let Stiles have his way with him again or stopping him before he could get started. Considering how overly sensitive he felt under the lazy stroke, Derek chose the latter, taking Stiles' wrist in his hand and kissing the soaked fingertips. "As fascinating as all of this is, I think we'll have to test your findings on another day."

Stiles smiled and snuggled against his boyfriend and nodded. "Okay then. Let's get out of here," he said, although made no move to do just that.

Derek climbed out first, releasing the stopper before helping Stiles up. He reached for a towel and wrapped it around Stiles, embracing him from behind while inhaling his fresh citrus scent. He kissed him gently on the back of his head, earning a soft chuckle and a fond caress as Stiles brought a hand up to run it through Derek's damp hair.

"I love you," Derek murmured into his ear.

"Good. Mission complete," the boy smirked. At Derek's prodding, he sighed. "Yes, yes," he smiled, turning around kissing Derek firmly. "I love you, too."

"Come on, you," Derek huffed with nothing but fondness in his eyes. He grinned before leading them back into his bedroom.

Derek toweled off haphazardly, pulling out and slipping into a fresh pair of boxer-briefs from his dresser. He walked over to Stiles who was slipping into his own boxers he had pulled from his backpack in the closet, hopping precariously on one foot as one hand tried to pull up the shorts and the other tried to towel dry his hair. Derek chuckled at the display, moving over to help him out.

"Oh?" Stiles breathed in surprise as the towel was pulled out of his hand, only to return draped over his face.

Derek smiled to himself as he ran his hands firmly, yet