Epilogue: Part the First
It takes a week, a shitload of frustration, and a lot of late-night phone calls to Dr. Deaton before Stiles finally gets enough… enough power? Magic? He gets enough of something, is the point, to lob a banana at Derek’s head without touching it.
The moment is priceless, both because magic, Stiles has it—or at least he has it for sure until the wolves run out of power—and because when it happens, Derek looks like he trying to figure out if he should be angry, or amused and slightly proud.
Either way, there’s a lot of eyebrow in that expression, and then Scott and Laura, who have been watching Stiles practice at the kitchen counter, start laughing, and Derek snarls at them with electric blue eyes and a flash of teeth, and throws the banana back so it hits Stiles in the chest.
It’s an immature thing to do, Stiles thinks, but hey, Derek’s an immature guy.
“Do it again,” Derek says. “Really, I’m serious.” It’s a threat, probably, but Derek’s threats have never worked on Stiles. For a lot of reasons, but today it’s not working because all Stiles can think about are the noises Derek makes when Stiles has his cock in his mouth, the way Derek kind of arches up into it and—
“Dude,” Scott says, sounding put-upon. “Think about… Mr. Harris back in high school. Global warming. Internet outages. Power outages. Anything but—”
“What?” Stiles interrupts, remembering he’s in a room full of werewolves even as he says it. He sighs. “That’s blaming the victim.”
“It is blaming the victim,” Laura agrees before either Derek or Scott can protest.
“It’s—” Derek starts.
“I feel like this conversation has gotten away from what’s important,” Stiles points out before Derek can say something that will either piss him off or make Stiles want to jump his bones. Lately he’s realized the line between the two is so thin it’s practically nonexistent. He picks up the banana on the floor and tosses it back on the counter, next to the blue wolf he brought from his room to practice with. “And that is, guys, that I just used magic?”
“Hasn’t that been established?” Laura asks. She gestures at the air. “You made us levitate last week with the big relationship drama, so…”
“Big relationship drama?” Derek asks from the sofa. “You flew here to get away from your problems, Laura.”
“Defending the boyfriend, Derek?” Laura hisses back. Stiles grins at her, shoves his hands in his pockets, and tries not to preen too much. It doesn’t seem to be working, though, because Scott groans and walks out of the kitchen and towards his bedroom.
Stiles takes the answering silence from Derek as a yes. Satisfied, he leans his elbows on the kitchen counter, bending until he’s at eye level with the banana.
The pain—that incessant buzzing, the feeling of a thousand needles pricking at his skin, in his skin, at his bones and his muscles—that was initially part of the whole power thing isn’t so much pain now as much as… awareness. Stiles doesn’t want to call it pleasure, but there’s something that happens now when he touches the two wolves or gets angry, or even slightly annoyed. It’s the buzzing, yes, but it’s something more; something heady that can’t be described, except to say that it’s… well, it’s something.
It’s taken him a week to be able to do this, and he’s pretty sure if he keeps trying, starts buying the shit he’s been looking up on the Internet—mahogany and elder and birch and plants he’s never heard of before, even in high school, when he went research crazy for a year or two after Scott got turned—and if he starts believing what he’s been reading in the shit Deaton’s sent him—confusing texts about belief and wards and corruptibility—he could maybe at least know more about it the next time a focus item comes through Alf’s.
Or, you know, rule the world. Whichever comes first.
And the concentration needed for this kind of thing—because really, it’s like grasping something that’s not there, except with your mind—has started making it easier to concentrate everywhere else. Not that he’s been having problems with it before; it’s just that the switch from it not helping his concentration in the least to helping it is one that is very much welcomed.
Because Stiles has a thesis to write, classes to pass, and a master’s degree to finish, and he really can’t do it when he feels like jumping out of his skin the entire time.
So he concentrates. He narrows his eyes, drowns out the sounds of Derek and Laura sniping at each other over work and school and who’s going to be the first to wolf out at the annual summer Hale barbeque, and stares at the banana until it starts shaking. Vibrating, really, but the idea of a vibrating banana is just too easy to make into an innuendo, so Stiles is going to keep describing it as shaking.
The stuff he’s been reading says this kind of thing isn’t the norm—the levitation and the door-forming and feelings-realizing. The norm is spells made for luck and wards for protection, not weird shit like this. Deaton says it’s because Stiles is not technically magic, just… susceptible to it.
Stiles doesn’t care about the details; not yet.
The banana lifts off the counter, hovers for a second or two, and throws itself at Derek’s head. It’s super hilarious.
Derek wakes up lying on his stomach, his face smashed into his pillow and someone—Stiles, of course, because Stiles is in his bed, has been there since last night—tracing spirals into the skin between his shoulder blades with a finger.
“What are you doing?” he asks, even though he knows what Stiles is doing—the triskelion on his back is practically buzzing, tingling even, and maybe this is what Stiles feels when he messes around with those fucking wolves—he just… no one’s ever really done something like this. The gesture is intimate and heady and Derek doesn’t want it to stop.
“Feeling you up,” Stiles says. He sounds half-asleep, his heartbeat slow and steady. Derek turns his head to face Stiles, not wanting to expend the energy it would take to switch positions completely—he’s comfortable, it’s a Saturday, Laura is nowhere to be heard, and Derek has always been the laziest Hale—and grins when he sees Stiles’s face. It matches his voice.
A spike of arousal hits him—his own, not Stiles’s—and Derek wonders just how screwed he is if this does it for him, because Stiles has morning breath, and there’s crust at the corners of his eyes, and he’s not even trying to be sexy, it’s just… fuck, yeah, Derek’s screwed.
It’s punishment. Cosmic punishment.
“Great,” Derek says.
“How’d you get it, anyway?” Stiles asks, tapping at the center of the tattoo.
“Wolfsbane,” Derek says, wincing at the memory, “and my cousin. Henry, the tattoo artist, he was at—”
“—Yeah, I know Henry,” Stiles interrupts. “Makes sense, I guess. But seriously, wolfsbane? Didn’t that hurt?”
Fuck yes. A lot. “Enough,” he says instead. Stiles snorts and starts tracing at the spiral again, and Derek watches Stiles’s eyes as they follow the movement of his finger, wondering if he should say something else, or… “It’s a Hale thing,” he says, “the triskelion. A werewolf thing.”
Stiles grins. “Yup, I have been to the Hale house, dude. Your mom’s got them on everything.”
“Right,” Derek says. He’s pitifully glad Stiles hasn’t asked if it has some sort of meaning. It… it does, sure, but it’s more of a reminder. A depressing reminder of what he almost lost, but also just… a reminder they’re still alive.
Not that getting it made him any more well adjusted. At the time it was punishment—the pain, the reminder—but in recent years it’s gotten better. Right now he’s pitifully glad he has it, only because he never realized how nice it feels to have someone touching it.
Derek turns his head again, fumbles around for his phone, and looks at the time. It’s eight in the morning, and he wonders what he’ll have to do to get back to sleep, stay in bed for just a little longer.
Or… Stiles smells like arousal now, actually, and the spicy, heated scent is enough to get Derek to look back, to say something stupid to get Stiles’s cheeks to turn red, maybe kiss Stiles until he tastes like Derek and not like the poptart he apparently ate before brushing his teeth, but even before he turns Stiles is already moving, kissing a trail up the back of his arm, his triceps—slow, searching, chaste kisses—his fingers still rubbing at Derek’s tattoo, and Derek forgets how to think.
He swallows hard even as he lets himself sink into the mattress, wondering if it’s normal to be completely terrified and yet utterly ecstatic at the same time. Maybe the odd thing is that it’s Stiles.
“What are you doing?” Derek asks again.
Stiles grins against his skin and moves up from his arm to trail kisses across his shoulder, shifting to move closer until he’s flush up against Derek, his hand resting over Derek’s tattoo. “Dude, what do you think I’m doing?” he asks, and Derek sighs.
“It’s eight in the morning, dude,”—Derek has no idea how Stiles says “dude” all the time and gets away with it; whenever Derek tries, he has to tamp down on the urge to wince—“can’t this wait?”
“I can stop…” Stiles says, pressing an open-mouthed kiss to the nape of Derek’s neck. It sends a shiver down Derek’s spine, and Stiles’s grin widens. “If you want me to.”
Derek sighs. “You’re an asshole.” Don’t stop, he adds, but only in his head.
“Yeah,” Stiles breathes, and then he licks Derek’s tattoo. Licks it, and Derek freezes, surprised by how much that affects him. He wasn’t expecting such a visceral reaction, but his cock thickens in his briefs where it’s pressed against the mattress, his skin tingles, his heartbeat gets noticeably quicker, and he just wants Stiles to do it again.
“Fuck,” Stiles hisses, mouthing at the same spot, biting at it, moving so Derek can feel Stiles’s dick, half-hard against the back of his thigh. “Is this okay? Derek?”
“Keep going,” Derek croaks. He pushes his hips up, presses into Stiles’s dick, grinning at the string of expletives that comes out of Stiles’s mouth when he does. Suddenly the sheets are off—shoved to the bottom of the bed—and Stiles is straddling his thighs, trailing hot, open-mouthed kisses down Derek’s spine until he gets to Derek’s briefs and pulls them down to his knees.
“You think I should turn some music on?” Stiles asks, voice deceptively casual even though Derek can hear how quick his heart is going. “Get you in the mood?”
Derek turns his head, glares up at him.
“So no music then?” Stiles asks after a bit, bending down and scraping his teeth against the skin at Derek’s tailbone.
“I hate you,” Derek says
“Feeling’s mutual, bud,” Stiles says, stretching until his mouth is over Derek’s tattoo again, tongue laving over the spirals.
He stays there for… fuck, Derek doesn’t know how long. Until he’s hard and humping against Derek’s thigh—Derek doesn’t even think Stiles is aware he’s doing it, because his movements are too jerky, too instinctive—biting at Derek’s shoulder and mouthing at the skin behind his ear. His hands are running up Derek’s sides, but every time Derek tries to reach back, just to… just to touch, to anchor himself, Stiles pushes them back down to grip at the mattress.
It’s fucking frustrating.
“Are you going to fuck me or are you just going to hump my leg?” Derek snarls eventually. That gets Stiles to pause, and this time it’s his forehead that Derek feels against his skin—skin that’s already sweaty and sensitive, and fuck, how did Stiles get so good at this—and then a puff of air as he laughs.
“Well, I mean, if you wanted not-so-little Stiles earlier, you could’ve just said so,” he says. “Communication, dude, it’s important.”
“Are you—did you just call your dick not-so-little Stiles?” Derek asks, amazed his cock is still hard even after that. He’s broken; he finds Stiles’s sense of humor hilarious, and he’s broken. Oh god.
“I feel like it’s an accurate depiction, fucker—” There’s a pause, and then Stiles snorts, “Or should I say fuckee?”
Stiles laughs at his own joke for a good minute, and all the while Derek is telling himself to just get out of bed and willing his dick to get less hard, but neither of those thing happens, and then Stiles reaches over him to get the lube from Derek’s nightstand, still laughing, and it’s not like Derek can go anywhere now.
“Assume the downward dog position, Der,” Stiles says, slapping Derek’s ass in an attempt to get him to lift his hips, cracking up again. Derek snarls and twists until he’s glaring up at Stiles, his teeth elongated and his eyes flashing blue because they won’t scare Stiles, but maybe they’ll turn him on enough that he’ll stop trying to make this funny.
“Fine, fine.” Stiles holds his hands out in surrender, still chortling. “No more jokes. Just… on your knees… please.”
“You’re five,” Derek says, even as he gets up on his knees, tilts his hips up, and finally, fucking finally, gets a hand around his dick. “I can’t believe I’m—fuck.” He finishes on a grunt when Stiles gets a finger in him, starts opening him up, going silent.
That’s a thing, Derek thinks; the last time they did this, Stiles went silent, too, his heart rate ratcheting up to dizzying levels, little moans coming out of his mouth. He’s doing it again, and Derek wants to pay attention to Stiles—to the way his dick brushes up against the inside of Derek’s thigh, and the way his other hand strokes down Derek’s side; he wants to look back and see Stiles’s expression raw and open—but he’s too preoccupied with the buzzing under his skin and the heat pooling in his balls and low in his stomach.
“I’m a little more than five,” Stiles says, pressing a kiss to Derek’s spine.
“Was that—” Derek grits out, only because he’s having a hard time speaking without his voice getting high and needy. “Was that a—”
“A size joke? Yes, yes it was,” Stiles says. Derek sighs, unable to really say anything in response—his brain is short-circuiting and it’s so intense he’s not even bothered this is turning out to be the most ridiculous sex he’s ever had—and undulates back into Stiles as he works him open, biting at the pillow just so he has something to concentrate on rather than the hot, pleasurable friction working its way up from his dick, traveling up his spine to spread out over his chest and lungs.
Stiles is still knuckle-deep in him when Derek hears the front door open, followed by the sound of Laura kicking off her shoes. He jerks up, starts to say something, but Stiles… Stiles twists his fingers until Derek bites of a moan and leans forward until his face is next to Derek’s hip, speaks in a low voice probably meant to seduce.
“Please tell me the door is locked,” he murmurs, and Derek pushes back onto his fingers until he hears a sharp intake of breath.
Derek hears the sound of a lube bottle opening, then a vulgar noise as Stiles squeezes the last of it into his palm. He hears slick skin against slick skin, glances back just as Stiles pulls his fingers out to see. When Stiles lines himself up and pushes in, Derek keeps his eyes open and on Stiles’s face. He watches his eyelashes flutter and his teeth worry at his bottom lip, watches the way he lets out a loud, almost desperate breath of air when he’s all the way in, the sound so high and needy it’s almost a gasp.
“Yeah, that’s awesome,” Stiles whispers. He slides his hands up Derek’s thighs, runs them over his back, leans forward until he’s draped over Derek, just breathing on his skin.
Maybe he’s being funny one minute and terrifyingly intimate the next just to fuck with Derek’s head. It’s working, if that’s what Stiles is doing, because Derek is suddenly unable to do anything but close his eyes and take a deep inhale, pulling on his dick almost as an afterthought. He doesn’t even care that Laura is obviously home; that if he makes a noise—if either of them makes a noise, and fuck, she’s going to hear Stiles, because he’s never quiet—she’ll know what’s happening.
Stiles starts moving—slow and languid, and yeah, Stiles is definitely drawing this out on purpose, playing with him, the fucker—sucking hickeys on his skin, working his way up until his mouth is hovering over Derek’s tattoo again, hot breath ghosting over the spirals.
Derek groans into the pillow he’s shoved his face against, grabs at Stiles’s hip with one hand until he starts moving faster, and starts tugging on his own dick with the other. He pushes back into Stiles’s thrusts, cants his hips up until the angle sends intense sparks of friction up his spine, and when Stiles bites at the center of his tattoo, he has a second where everything is too much—the friction, the warmth, the pleasure, the buzzing that makes his skin too feel small for his body—and then he’s coming with a snarl and a mouthful of feathers as his teeth rip the pillow.
He’s not sure exactly when, because he’s still coming down from it, but Stiles comes soon after that, collapsing completely on top of him, not moving even when his dick slips out of Derek, his breaths hitting the ticklish spot right above Derek’s jugular.
“Holy fuck,” Stiles finally says, and Derek lets himself preen at the reverence in Stiles’s voice.
“Are you saying I’m a religious experience?” Derek asks, and that has Stiles pausing, then rolling to lay on his back next to Derek, punching him in the shoulder as he starts laughing.
“I really am fucking rubbing off on you, dude,” he says, and the comment brings Derek back to two weeks ago.
“Your breath smells like poptarts,” Derek says instead of something like he’s terrified he’s become addicted to everything Stiles. “Maybe go brush your fucking teeth.”
“Morning breath gets you off, Der, don’t lie.” Stiles stretches, and the movement has Derek wanting to get his teeth on that skin. He does, leaning over and biting at Stiles’s shoulder, just hard enough to make a mark.
“I never lie,” Derek mumbles against his skin, biting again when he finishes.
“Sure,” Stiles says, patting him on the back of the head. “I guess the whole tattoo thing isn’t a turn on either.”
“Fuck you,” Derek says, biting harder this time.
“Fuck you, too,” Stiles says, and Derek can’t help but think there’s something more to that sentence.
Laura leaves a week after that.
She rents a car this time. Stiles thinks it’s more so she can fit the crap she’s been buying—a lamp from Alf’s in the shape of an Irish Setter, and clothes, lots of clothes, so many clothes—in the back seat than her wanting to, as she says it, “save money.”
Okay, anyway, Laura leaves a week later. She punches Stiles in the shoulder—hard—and somehow gets Derek in a full-body hold (Stiles takes pictures, saves the only one without lens flare as his phone’s background), gives Scott a kiss on the cheek, and pulls out of guest parking with a grin on her face.
“Is she coming up to Beacon Hills next month?” Scott asks as soon as they can’t see the car anymore.
“I think so,” Derek grunts. He’s standing next to Stiles, hands in his pockets, looking at where Laura turned the corner with a suspicious expression on his face. It’s adorable.
Actually, Stiles is still in that phase where everything Derek does and says is adorable. He hopes it passes soon, because it’s getting kind of ridiculous. He can’t even come up with good insults because he gets distracted by the crinkles at the corners of Derek’s eyes, or the soft way he laughs when he’s amused, or how whenever he’s half asleep he starts mumbling flattering things about Stiles’s eyes and his moles and… other things.
“I’m going upstairs,” Stiles says before he does something stupid, like running a hand over Derek’s jaw—he likes it when Stiles does that, fucking nuzzles into it, the bastard—and turns around to walk back towards the elevators. He’s stepping into one when Derek and Scott catch up, and he only briefly thinks about how great it would have been if they had been slower so he could close the door in their faces. Only briefly, though.
It’s kind of hilarious, when he thinks about it, that none of them even say anything when Derek bypasses his floor and comes up to Scott and Stiles’s apartment with them, because it’s just the norm now. Hilarious, and kind of scary, and kind of—no, really awesome.
Because Stiles has a Derek now. Because the last couple of weeks have been… nice. Like, really nice. Full of… well, sex, and Stiles saying corny shit he hopes Derek is too embarrassed to repeat… ever. Full of awkward glances that turn into bickering, full of realizations of how lucky Stiles is. Because for once, he’s got the guy, and he’s understanding more and more how much he wants to keep this one.
… like he said, this is a phase, and it’s probably going to take a while to grow out of. He’s never done this with anyone else, though, never been this fucking gone on someone else before, so he doesn’t know how long it’ll take to grow out of. Maybe next month. Maybe never.
He still gets freaked out that it’s Derek he’s so gone on, but that’s getting harder and harder to pay attention to when all he thinks about when he sees Derek are the good things.
There are, surprisingly, a lot of good things about Derek.
… or maybe Stiles is just biased, and Derek really is the annoying douchebag Stiles was convinced of for the last seven years.
Back in the apartment, Stiles grabs his laptop from the kitchen bar and plops down in the couch. He’s got three essays to write, e-mails to respond to, academic journals to read, and if the way Derek is plopping down next to him and pulling his laptop out of his bag (which apparently was sitting on the coffee table… Stiles doesn’t even know how it got there), he’s going to be working with Derek at his side.
The domesticity of that is gag-worthy, and Stiles is about to say something, except Scott beats him to it. Stiles can’t see him, but from the sound of it, he’s raiding the fridge for post-Laura food.
“You two should be ashamed,” he says. “This is… are you two work-dating, or something? Bonding over essays and e-mails and… because really? Even I’m not this bad.”
“If only your love was this amazing,” Stiles manages, even though he’s equally disgusted. Next to him, Derek nods, almost as if he’s in complete, serious agreement. He’s not; Stiles knows what those raised eyebrows mean.
“We should do what Scott does, Stiles, because he’s perfect,” Derek says. “Maybe eat dinner together over Skype tonight.”
“Skype sex after that,” Stiles offers.
“Sexting,” Derek says with a nod. Scott makes an unimpressed noise.
“You know what sexting is?” Stiles raises his eyebrows to mirror Derek’s expression. “Intriguing, dude.”
“We could write long e-mails about each other’s cheekbones,” Derek continues, ignoring Stiles. He’s typing while he talks, and when Stiles leans over, he sees a wall of text that looks academic. And… historical. Intimidating. Derek minimizes the document and starts opening up all sorts of academic journals and harsh-looking data sheets and… Stiles quickly turns back to his own screen.
“Care packages that—”
“Fine, fine,” Scott interrupts. “I’ll be in my room—”
“—talking to Allison?” Stiles interrupts. “On Skype? So romantic, Scott.”
“Both of you are assholes and deserve each other,” Scott snarls, and then he’s gone. Stiles shrugs, because it’s kind of true.
Epilogue: Part the Second
One month, two weeks later
“So…” Cora is taller than she was at Christmas. She cut her hair, too, in some sort of asymmetrical bob thing that makes her look older than fifteen. Derek doesn’t like it. “On a scale of prenuptial agreement to growing old together in a nursing home for werewolves, how serious is this thing with Stiles?”
For the last week she’s been ambushing him at the weirdest moments with these questions—like now, when he’s looking through the fridge, trying to find something to drink—probably in the hopes of catching Derek off-guard so he actually answers them. It doesn’t help that Laura got back yesterday and started doing it, too, or that Stiles isn’t here yet—he had to stay back in Davis for a meeting with his advisor, and he’s on the plane now, set to land in… fuck, in thirty minutes.
In the last week alone, Derek has been pulled over by the Sheriff twice, has been cornered by Mom and given the feelings talk, and has gotten slapped on the back by Dad so many times he’s pretty sure there’s some kind of Morse-code message behind it. He’s tried complaining to Stiles over the phone, but all he does is laugh and laugh and… and it’s not that funny, actually.
“Prenuptial agreement?” Derek asks despite himself, grabbing a bottle of water and walking past her. She’s slurping—loudly, because Cora knows it annoys him—at a can of coconut water, and follows him when he heads upstairs to his room. Or the guest room that used to be his room.
“Yeah, for when you inevitably divorce,” Cora explains. “Is it like a Kardashian kind of thing, or is it more The Notebook?”
Derek wonders, idly, why he’s surrounded by people who communicate mainly in references to movies and pop culture. “No idea what you’re talking about,” he says, and attempts to close the door in her face, but she wiggles through and plops down on the desk’s chair.
“Come on, big bro,” she says, “Laura got to make fun of you guys for like, weeks, and here I am, woefully behind. Give me something.”
“Like?” Derek sighs.
“Prenup or retirement community?” Cora asks gleefully.
“I don’t know, Cora, we’ve only been dating for—” Two months? But only Laura, Scott, and Dr. Deaton know that...
“—almost five months,” Cora finishes for him, and Derek is glad no one else is home—Laura and Dad are grocery shopping for dinner tonight, Mom is… somewhere, probably running around the preserve—because he’s pretty sure he would hear cackling if they were.
“Laura told me that you have a crush on someone,” Derek says, instead of answering, and finally feels like he has the upper hand when Cora’s face goes red and her grip on the can of coconut water tightens, her heartbeat getting erratic and loud.
“She didn’t,” Coraa says. “She wasn’t suppo—damn it.”
Derek goes over and grabs his laptop from the desk, just in case she gets curious and turns it on, then sits on the bed. It’s too small for him—has been for the past five years—and the whole room doesn’t smell right, even after he’s been here a week, but he’s been sleeping… okay, considering.
“Leave me alone about the whole Stiles thing—”
“Stiles thing? You mean your undying love for your boyfriend, Derek, is that what you mean?”
“Leave me alone, and I won’t tell Mom and Dad it’s time you had The Talk,” Derek says, and watches as Cora’s face goes through a myriad of expressions; confusion, understanding, horror, disgust, fear, anger, and then finally resignation. He doesn’t know why he hasn’t done this before, but maybe it’s good he does it now, so she won’t harass him and Stiles later.
“One thing,” Cora says, looking mulish. The expression is familiar because Derek does it way too often. She leans back in the chair like the movement will make it harder for Derek to pick her up and throw her out of his room, if he so wanted to, and her eyes narrow. “One thing, and I’ll be so perfect you won’t even recognize me tonight.”
Derek doesn’t need to listen to her heartbeat to know that’s bullshit, but he sighs anyway. “One thing, and not the prenup or retirement community thing, fuck.”
“Is what Laura said true?” she asks, and Derek’s stomach drops until she adds, “was your first date froyo?”
Fucking Laura, he thinks.
“It was Stiles’s idea,” he says, and she starts laughing, doesn’t stop until she’s walked into her room and starts typing something on her computer.
Derek tries to concentrate after that, even though he has nothing, really, to concentrate on; no grading because he’s not teaching any summer courses, and no writing because he refuses to work on his thesis during vacation.
In the end, after ten minutes of gnashing his teeth together, he changes into a pair of running shorts and goes for a run around the preserve. He’s gone for an hour and a half, sprinting deep into the woods, letting himself get lost in the sound of his heartbeat and the feel of his lungs working in his chest.
He gets back to the house knowing that Stiles is here—not here here, but here in Beacon Hills, and not because he can smell him or anything, but because the airport is a twenty-minute drive away, so he should be here, since his plane should have landed soon after Derek left for his run—and bypasses Laura and Cora in the kitchen (he can hear Mom watching something in the living room, and Dad in the bathroom) to check his phone.
Three missed calls, and he’s dialing Stiles’s number before he even checks them.
“Dude,” Stiles answers on the first ring. “Taking a nap?”
There’s rustling Derek interprets as Stiles either unpacking or undressing. He doesn’t know which one is better, except that knowing Stiles is here makes him decidedly… happier.
“So you’re here?” Derek asks.
“No, I’m still in Davis, asshole. Yes, I’m here. Why, where were you?”
“On a run.” Derek sits on the bed, ignores the sound of Mom hushing Laura and Dad downstairs; she doesn’t even try to be subtle about eavesdropping anymore.
“So you’re like hot and sweaty right now?” Stiles asks. “That’s—” Stiles sighs. “Tonight’s going to be awkward as fuck, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Derek says, thinking back to how the Sheriff keeps smirking at him. There’s silence, and Derek is fine with listening to the random background noises—Stiles’s breathing and rustling clothes, mostly—until Stiles mumbles something Derek doesn’t quite catch.
“What?” Derek asks. “I didn’t—”
“Missed you,” Stiles mutters, then coughs awkwardly after he says it, and Derek smiles before he can stop himself. “Nice to know we’re, uh, in the same town.”
Laura and Mom are hanging on to every word he’s saying, probably dictating to Dad what’s happening, so Derek knows he’s never going to live this down, but fuck it. “You too,” he says. “Missed you.”
He can hear the quickly hushed squeal from downstairs, followed by someone whispering, then Dad’s laughter, but all he’s concentrating on is the way Stiles lets out a long, almost relieved breath.
“See you in a couple of hours?” Stiles says.
“Yeah,” Derek agrees. “See you.”
Stiles tries not to freak out too much when he and Derek hang up. It’s just… that’s normal, right? Missing someone. A lot. A whole fucking lot. Talking to them on the phone and texting them and e-mailing them pictures of you putting their furniture in precarious positions for the last week and realizing it’s not enough.
They’ve probably gotten too dependent on each other, is what it is.
Stiles has no idea how Scott does it. He’s almost asked him at least a thousand times during the last week, even on the plane ride here, how he manages not to go nuts and buy a ticket to… wherever the fuck Allison is, and just stay there until she comes back. The only thing that stopped him is the knowledge that Scott would never let him live it down. Would probably bring it up in front of Derek and then neither of them would let him live it down. But hey, Stiles is a tactile dude, and he knows Derek is, too, and it kind of sucks not being… not being tactile together. If his advisor hadn’t sprung a last-minute progress meeting on him, he would’ve been here last week with Derek, but, uh… she did. And that left Stiles alone. With Scott.
It was a strange week, is what Stiles is saying here.
He finishes unpacking—or really, finding something that doesn’t stink like airplane to wear and then shoving everything back in his backpack—and takes a shower. When he walks downstairs, Dad is flipping the channels looking for something to watch, and Stiles plops down next to him.
“You smell better,” is the first thing out of dad’s mouth.
“Yeah,” Stiles says. “I swear there was something dead on that airplane, Dad.”
“Right. When are you going to the Hales’?”
“Thirty minutes?” Stiles says. “I feel like getting there too early is going to result in bodily harm.”
“Oh, come on, kid, it’s not like you didn’t have this coming.” Dad clamps a hand down on Stiles’s shoulder and grins. “Just think of it as a rite of passage. I’ve been pulling Derek over all—”
“—week, yes, I know. He’s told me,” Stiles finishes. “And what, now Mrs. Hale’s going to growl and slash at me with her claws? And Mr. Hale is going to do that… stare thing he does.” Mr. Hale’s glare is truly fucking terrifying.
“Talia is over the moon—no, pun not intended, don’t give me that look, Stiles—you two finally have your heads out of your asses.” Dad clears his throat. “And it’s not like I’ve been giving Derek tickets, Stiles. We’ve had a chat or two, is all, when I saw him driving in town.”
Dad looks slightly guilty, so Stiles lets it pass and turns his head to watch some guy try to sell a mop on QVC. “Why are we watching infomercials?” he asks.
“I… I don’t know,” dad says, and starts turning the channels again. “How was your meeting?”
“Good,” Stiles says. “Thesis is going good. I’m actually ahead of schedule, so, you know…”
“Good, good. Although—” Dad frowns, glances at him, “—that’s actually kind of surprising. Since when the hell do you not procrastinate?”
“Hey!” Stiles is offended. Even if he’s finished a lot of his research and writing in the last months while sitting next to Derek on the couch while he works on his. “I’m a good student!”
“Never said otherwise,” Dad says. “Just… that’s good, Stiles. Really good. I’m proud of you, son.”
“It’s talks like this that really cement how great of a relationship we have,” Stiles says, faking a sniff or two until his dad looks at him, obviously unimpressed.
“You’re an idiot,” Dad says, and turns back to the TV. Eventually, once they’ve gone through every channel twice, he switches it to Netflix and starts watching Arrested Development. Stiles doesn’t even know why they still have cable.
“So it’s good then?” Dad asks twenty minutes later, just as Stiles has gotten comfortable. “With Derek? No one is… pressuring anyone? No… werewolf problems?”
Stiles doesn’t know how to react for a bit, then he just figures to go with the truth. “It’s good,” he says. “Strangely enough, it’s good, Dad. And I have no fucking clue what you mean by ‘pressuring’.”
“… Yeah, me neither,” Dad sighs. “Just don’t… do anything stupid.”
Stiles doesn’t know what he means. “Like?”
“Like… I don’t know, son,” Dad says. “I suck at this.”
“Yeah,” Stiles says, and then, after a minute or so of silence, “I’m going to go ahead and go. To the Hales’. Because—”
“Go,” Dad says, and Stiles leaves.
He takes Dad’s truck because his Jeep is still in Davis, and he’s so amazed by how smooth the drive is and how easy automatic cars are to drive that he’s five minutes from Derek’s house before it occurs to him he should probably call, maybe warn someone of his arrival. Warn Derek; get him to come out and act as a shield between Stiles and the rest of his family.
“Stiles?” Derek answers on the first ring.
“I’m five minutes from your place,” Stiles says. “Sorry, forgot to warn you soo—”
“No, I’ll be outside,” Derek says, and then hangs up, making Stiles wonder if he needed to call in the first place. Someone would’ve probably heard him, anyway.
The next five minutes are… somewhat smooth, because the road to the Hale house isn’t so much of a road as a dirt path, and even with all that fancy suspension, the truck still reacts to every dip and uneven patch.
He turns the final bend, and the Hale house is as large as usual, all understated elegant architecture and little details that make it very… Hale-like. Derek is standing at the bottom of the porch steps, one hand in his pocket and the other raised in a wave, and Stiles has to remind himself, as he parks to the side, that he’s not a movie heroine, and he can’t—because of a slew of reasons, key among them he doesn’t want to embarrass himself—jump out of the truck and tackle Derek to the ground.
So instead he climbs out, only remembering the wine he brought as a gift—read: bribe—after he’s already locked the door, and has to unlock it and reach into the space behind the passenger seat to get it.
“What are you doing?” Derek asks… from right behind him, and Stiles doesn’t jump. Maybe flinches a bit.
“Wine,” he says, grabbing the bottle and slithering back down to the ground. When he closes the door and turns, Derek is right there, grinning at him.
“Is that a bribe?”
“I—it’s a gift. For dinner? Because that’s what people with manners do, Derek?” Stiles explains, even though yes, it is a bribe.
“Of course,” Derek says, and steps closer, both hands in his pockets now. Stiles is hit, as his eyes rove over Derek’s face, with just how much he’s missed him. Which is… yeah, Stiles knew he missed Derek, but now, seeing him, being here, it’s different. It’s a palpable feeling of relief, one large enough that Stiles doesn’t really care that the rest of the Hales are either watching from a window or listening in, and leans in to wrap his arms around Derek’s shoulders.
“Hi,” he says, and then Derek laughs—a happy, corny, ridiculous laugh—and pulls him in until they’re flush against each other. Stiles may relax into it, may hide his face in Derek’s neck and squeeze tighter, and Derek definitely starts rubbing the hairs at the nape of Stiles’s neck, nuzzling the side of Stiles’s head with his, sliding his other hand under Stiles’s shirt and rubbing the skin over his tailbone. It’s all very dramatic—considering that, fuck, they’ve only been apart for a week, and even then they’ve been calling and Skyping and probably talking way more than they do when they’re actually in one place—and over-the-top, and Stiles is not embarrassed in the least.
“Hi,” Derek says.
When Laura was little, she was obsessed with space. She still is, but to a lesser degree. It wasn’t… it wasn’t a moon thing that started it off. Or at least it wasn’t just a moon thing. It was a universe thing. It was a fascination with stars and planets, with dark matter and antimatter and the pull of gravity on objects so large their size is incomprehensible to the human (or werewolf) mind. She had—still has—books on everything. On galaxies and planets and their moons, on interstellar phenomena and the history of human space travel.
She had a telescope—it was a toy, nothing like the piece of equipment she has back in San Francisco at the house she ended up buying a month ago; the one she uses to take pictures of Jupiter and watch meteor showers and try to catch glimpses of the space station—when she was little, and the first time she focused it on the moon, looked through the little eye lens, she had to physically fight down the sudden insatiable need to howl.
Laura wanted to be Captain Kathyrn Janeway of the U.S.S. Voyager; still wants it, judging by the way watching Star Trek never fails to make her feel better. She wanted out there; walking the moon, hurtling away from the planet in a box made out of metal and wires headed towards planets and places unknown. She wanted to know what the pull of the moon would feel like when it was under her feet, wanted to take a piece of it home with her to see if it was just as powerful when it was a rock in her living room and not an omnipresent satellite in the sky.
For a few brief months, Laura wanted to be an astronaut. Then someone—she thinks it was one of her teachers, trying to be supportive—told her about the physical tests they have to go through—the medical ones—and she realized it could never happen. Because there are some things even born werewolves can’t hide from medically trained professionals.
… that makes it sound like Laura feels some sense of loss. She doesn’t. There’s a visceral satisfaction that comes with winning a case, with being able to use her senses to know, beyond a doubt, when someone is lying and then, slowly, thoroughly, make them squirm until they either get caught or confess. Laura loves being a lawyer, probably too much for it to be completely healthy. What she’s saying is she’s still obsessed with space, because it’s a useful way to look at life, thinking about celestial objects and orbiting satellites and, above all else, gravity.
Laura isn’t going to compare Derek and Stiles to any celestial body, because the comparison would take too much work, too much brain power, and she would probably never get the picture of Derek and Stiles as planets, or even better, stars in a binary star system, out of her head, but there’s something intensely satisfying in the way they’ve finally stopped circling each other—stopped orbiting—and just… collided.
At the moment, literally, because they’re flush against each other in front of the truck Stiles drove up in, almost like they were pulled by an invisible force, by gravity, by the natural attraction that occurs between two objects in space, in any space.
It’s far too poetic for Laura’s liking, but she just can’t seem to look away, even as Cora makes a noise at the back of her throat where she’s crowded next to Laura at the window they’re all watching from, like she’s just seen a piglet or a mini horse in a costume, and Mom and Dad both let out similar sighs of contentment.
“This is so embarrassing,” Cora whispers from next to her. “When did Derek get… all… needy?”
“Since he started getting—” Laura cuts herself off when Mom steps on her foot, then clears her throat. “Since Stiles,” she amends.
“It really is a shame to make them feel awkward,” Dad says, scratching at his chin and adjusting his glasses. “I mean, Talia, we could just… forego the whole intimidation thing. Just have a nice dinner.”
“Rob, it’s not like I’m going to ask Stiles if he plans to burn the house down anytime soon,” Mom whispers back, and Laura has to snort at that. “They’re probably expecting it.”
“He brought wine,” Dad points out. “And we’ve known him for years, Talia. They’re obviously in—”
“Shh,” Cora interrupts. “They’re coming, and—oh god, Derek is smiling, mom, dad, help, Derek is smiling… I can’t…”
“Try living with that for a month,” Laura says. “I practically got diabetes.”
“That’s cute, hon,” Mom says in a voice that means it’s not cute at all.
Laura watches—Mom and Dad argue in increasingly lower whispers about whether or not they should at least embarrass Stiles on principle, and Cora makes wheezing noises and tries to take pictures out the window—as Derek and Stiles walk up the porch steps. Their shoulders are brushing, their sides knocking, their faces are turned towards each other since Stiles is speaking and Derek is listening—something about what Scott said on the plane—and Laura doesn’t want to be corny or nostalgic, and she really hates it when things get bittersweet, but she may have to amend her earlier analogy.
Maybe it’s not gravity pulling them towards each other; maybe it’s something stronger.