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Gravity's Got Nothing on You

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Stiles doesn't know how he feels about surprises. On one hand, the idea of something new and exciting is kind of tempting. On the other, all of the surprises that Stiles has experienced in his twenty-three years of existence have been decidedly… wanting.

Like that time in third grade when his parents, surprise, hired a clown for his birthday party.

Yeah, not a good surprise. Actually kind of a terrifying surprise.

Or that time in seventh grade, when his dad came home early, and, surprise, barged into his room just as he was engaging in some much needed (and very healthy) self-love.

Not a good surprise at all. Horrifyingly embarrassing, more like. The kind of surprise that comes back to haunt you late at night, when you're trying to sleep.

Or there was that time in tenth grade, when Scott, surprise, got bitten by a fucking rogue werewolf. That one was actually a two-for-one deal. Because, surprise, werewolves exist, and surprise, now your best friend is one.

Or maybe it was a three-for-one, because not only did werewolves exist, but it turned out that Beacon Hills had a sizeable population. Otherwise known as the Hale pack.

It had been fun letting his dad in on that surprise.

A fricken' joy, actually.

Anyway, surprises.

Stiles is… surprised, right now. It's a different kind of surprise than he's used to. Usually, at least, he knows how to react to surprises. You know, by screaming and crying, or floundering to cover his dick up while his dad stares at him from his bedroom door, frozen in place, or just recognizing that his best friend turns furry sometimes, and then letting it go.

But this time Stiles is kind of… confused? Confused and surprised? Flabbergasted? Speechless? He really can't think of a word that correctly describes his state of mind, right now, because Derek Hale (werewolf, his brain supplies, former captain of the swim team, all around douchebag, perennial hang-on ever since Scott got the bite) is standing in front of him, gripping at the counter of Alf's Antiques, Stiles's place of employment, with a look on his face that lets Stiles knows he wishes he was anywhere other than where he is right now.

"Um," Stiles says. "What?"

"Oh come on." Derek pushes away from the counter, grabs at his hair. "Stiles, you heard me."

"Yeah, I heard you, but I didn't… understand you?" Stiles should be used to that, he realizes, even as he says it, because Derek is… Derek is unique. Aside from the whole werewolf shebang, he seems not to have inherited the famous Hale personality—outgoing, a little vindictive, sarcastic, overwhelming, but overall pleasant. No, Derek is… a jackass. A douchebag. Broody. Sometimes downright creepy.

He also likes leather way too much.

The only reason they know each other—he can't really say they're friends, but, then again, they know each other too well to just be acquaintances—is because when Scott got bitten, Derek was the one who grabbed him the next day after school, slammed him against Stiles's jeep, and demanded to know who his Alpha was.

So… yeah. Stiles has known the guy for seven years, and he doesn't exactly know what's happening now? Because twenty seconds ago, Derek had burst in through the front door and yelled some garbled words at him, and is now staring at him expectantly.

"I need you," Derek speaks slowly, mockingly, and accompanies his words with exaggerated hand gestures, which is rude, because Stiles is pretty sure he's asking for a favor, "to date me."

"Uhh, no?" Stiles says, looking around for… something. Back-up, maybe. A witness, possibly. Which is asking for a lot, because Alf's Antiques gets, on average, about three customers a day.

"Not, for fuck's sake, Stiles, not for real." Derek rubs the palms of his hands into his eyes. "Just… Laura's coming to visit."

"Oh." Stiles perks up at that. He likes Laura. At least, more than he likes Derek. "When? Why?"

"She didn't tell me why," Derek seethes.

"A-huh." Stiles glances down, at where Derek's hands had been previously. He blinks when he sees dents that weren't there before, runs his hand over the wood, and… yup. "You dented the counter."

"I—that's not important, right now, Stiles."

"Damn right it's important, fucker." Stiles points at the marks. "This, this right here? This is fucking mahogany. Not just any fucking mahogany, jackass. This is a one hundred year old saloon bar made of mahogany that is even older than that."

"Stiles, could we just… could we stay on subject here?" Derek whines, resting his elbows on the counter and putting his head in his hands.

Oh, Stiles has never heard Derek whine before. It makes him feel strangely… good.

… which, really, that says a lot about Stiles as a person, doesn't it?

"Continue," Stiles says, trying to disguise his sudden glee.

"You know how Laura gets," Derek says.

Stiles does know how Laura gets. Mostly because Laura is what would happen if Stiles was a 31 year old werewolf badass who happens to be a civil rights lawyer.

… what he's saying is that they think alike. Sometimes.

"Yes," Stiles says.

"Once she gets an idea in her head it stays there." Derek isn't looking at him anymore. Instead, he's fiddling with the ceramic figurines Stiles keeps lined up by the register. Because while Alf's Antiques looks like someone vomited kitsch all over the place, he has a soft place for ceramic figurines.

"Oh god, could you just get to the point already?" Stiles wishes Scott were here for this. He would be howling with laughter. Stiles is, already, internally, because, one, he's not a nice guy, and two, this is funny.

"I may have told Laura that I've been… dating," Derek winces as he says the word, like Stiles winces whenever someone uses the word moist or thrust or clown in a sentence. Maybe the two things aren't comparable; Derek's not so good with dating ever since Kate Argent seduced him and than almost burnt down the Hale house, while Stiles just gets very visceral and uncomfortable reactions to some words. "She wants to meet them."

"So…" Stiles squints, tries to connect the dots. It's a thing you do, when you're in a conversation with Derek. He tends to leave a lot of shit—a lot of important shit—out when he talks. "So you need a fake significant other to… fake date you. And this has to be me because…?"

"Because I don't know who else to ask?" Derek snarls. "Because you're the only one here that knows about us." Derek takes a moment to look around conspiratorially, then continues. "She'll smell it if I lie, Stiles. And if she finds out it's a lie, she's going to tell everyone else. And they'll start asking questions, and… fuck, I'm almost done with my degree I don't need them breathing down my neck, all right?"

"So, why can't your best bro-friend do this?" Stiles asks. When Derek just looks at him, unimpressed, Stiles sighs. "Scott, idiot. Scott knows?"

"Scott has a girlfriend," Derek says, face pinched like it always does when something even remotely related to the Argents comes up. Or maybe he's just thinking that Stiles is an idiot. He does that a lot. The fucker. "And Scott's like a brother to me."

Stiles should probably be insulted at that, since Derek is implying that Stiles isn't like a brother to him, even though Stiles has known him just as long as Scott.

"I don't want to," Stiles says.

"Oh, come on." Derek grabs at his hair again, his expression pained. "It'll be for… for a couple of weeks. Until Laura leaves. She already thinks we've been dating for two months, so if we break up after she leaves, it'll be fine."

"Still don't want to, buddy." Stiles shrugs, choosing to ignore that Derek has been lying to his sister for two months. "I mean, I don't even think I could pull it off. Don't you remember the whole," --Stiles taps at his chest with one finger-- "lie detection thing?"

"We won't have to lie, per se, we'll just…" Derek looks like he's searching for an answer in the plates Stiles hung from the rafters above the counter a couple of months ago. He only picked the weirdest ones, of course. Alf lets him do shit like that—decorate, install wi-fi, use his entire shift to work on his master's thesis—and Stiles loves him for it. "We'll just bend the truth."

"Huh," Stiles says.

"Three weeks," Derek says.

"Still don't want to," Stiles says.

"I'll pay you," Derek says, and that… that has Stiles interested. Alf's Antique's may be a great job, but it's not a high-paying job, and half of Stiles's tuition is coming from financial aid, so…

"How much," Stiles asks, "are we talking here? Because I know your family, dude. And it'll be kind of awkward after."

"My family thinks you're some sort of fucking gift to the world," Derek seethes, like he's jealous, "they'll probably be pissed at me when we break it off, so don't worry about that. Five hundred bucks."

"A thousand," Stiles says, because screw ethics. Also, the Hale family is loaded. Derek can deal.

Derek glares at him for a couple of minutes. It's a specific glare, the one where his nostrils flare out and his mouth gets pinched and he gets a slight tick in his left eye.

"Five hundred up front," Derek says, eventually, his words clipped. "Five hundred after six weeks if we pull this off."

"Six hundred up front," Stiles says, because he's, like, eighty percent sure they're not going to pull this off. "The rest after our untimely demise as a couple."

"Fine," Derek spits out.

"Oh man." Stiles rests his elbows on the counter. "This is gonna be hilarious."

"I swear if I could use someone else I would," Derek snarls.

"Or you could, just, you know, tell big sister you were lying." Stiles grins. Suddenly, he's excited. Stiles's life has been… surprisingly boring, for a dude who hangs out, primarily, with werewolves. Sure, for the first six months of Scott's werewolfdom, there were some… rough spots. But after the rogue Alpha was found, fixed, and then chased off of Hale territory, everything kind of… just went back to normal.

Well, more like a new level of normal was invented. One in which Scott and Stiles were now followed around town by Derek and his werewolf cronies.

So, this is exciting. There's intrigue. There's suspense. There's the danger of being caught in a lie. Well, not that Stiles is in any danger, but it's as close to it as he's been in a long while.

"Or you could, you know," Derek mocks in a high falsetto. God, the guy is, like, eight. "Just do as you're told."

"Healthy relationships are about compromise, sweetums," Stiles says, then gets distracted when the front door opens, and an elderly couple walks in. Holy fuck, he thinks, customers. Good timing.

"I'll—" Derek grunts, eyeing the couple suspiciously. "We need to talk about this more, tonight."

"Yeah, fine," Stiles says. Derek lives in the apartment underneath the one that Scott and Stiles share. Actually, Derek was the one who told them about the place. Or, well, he told Scott, because they're brothers (even though Scott doesn't necessarily like Derek), and Stiles just tagged along. As he is wont to do. "I have class from five to seven."

"Come down at nine, then," Derek grunts, and then he's walking away.

"See you tonight, babe!" Stiles calls, just loud enough that the couple—currently perusing the antique teacup section—will hear. "Don't forget to stop by the bank!"

Derek bares his teeth at him, then he's gone, and Stiles is left wondering, first, what the hell did he just get himself into, and second, who should he blame for the dents in the counter? Maybe he can tell Alf a couple of teenagers came in or something.

Alf will buy it, mostly because Alf is a nice dude.


Derek hates surprises.

Hates them. Loathes them. Feels like the world would be a better place if people just completely stopped surprising other people.

Which is why, ever since Laura called this morning and, surprise, told him to pick her up at the airport next Monday, his day had gone to shit. Derek relies on an arsenal of self-discipline, breathing techniques, and begrudging affection when it comes to dealing with his older sister.

Also distance.

And apparently lies.

But now Laura is flying up from San Francisco, and Derek is screwed.

Derek is screwed because two months ago, he got tired of Laura telling him that relationships aren't that scary, that all people aren't like Kate, that having one night stand after one night stand is not a viable plan for the future, that if he doesn't stop feeling guilty about something that never happened, he's going to end up a crotchety old werewolf with bowel problems. So, in a fit of idiocy, he had interrupted and told her that he was, in fact, seeing someone, and then refused to say anything else.

It had been going great—mystery significant other and him were taking it slow; they went on a date last weekend to the movies, went hiking a month ago, talked about the books they were reading over coffee, and a thousand other fake scenarios that made them both sound like the perfect couple—until today. Until this morning. When Laura had called, and Derek realized just how deep of a hole he had dug himself into.

The only smart thing Derek did, in the last two months, was refuse to tell Laura anything else. Like, for instance, the name of his significant other. Or if said significant other was male or female.

Which brings him to why he's still screwed. Because he may have averted one disaster (and embarrassment, and, more terrifying, the rest of the pack getting involved), but he's pretty sure he's just walked right into another one.

That disaster being Stiles Stilinski, proverbial thorn in his fucking side for the last seven years.

"Stop by the bank," Derek can't help mimicking, suddenly pissed. He grips at the pen he's holding, clenches his fist over his laptop's keyboard. On screen, his thesis is staring back at him. Mocking him. Judging him.

Because, apparently, he's not even safe in his own apartment.

Damn it, Derek is a twenty-seven year old werewolf. He can lie to his sister if he wants to. And if that lie involves hiring the annoying kid that lives above him? He can deal.

At least for the next month.

If there had been anyone else that could possibly have helped him, Derek would never have even told Stiles. The kid is a dick. It's like he delights in other people's discomfort.

But there had been no one else. Because Stiles is single, and he knows about werewolves, and, for some reason, the rest of the Hale pack is infatuated with the kid. They think of him as some kind of honorary werewolf.

It's stupid. They're stupid. And Stiles is an idiot.

And Derek is now realizing he sounds like a ten-year-old boy, instead of a twenty-seven year old werewolf who is mere months away from completing his doctoral thesis in history.

He glances at his laptop, wondering if he should just call it quits for the night. It's eight-thirty; Stiles is due to be here soon. He's written a page, which is more than he did yesterday.

Derek snarls in frustration, lets his claws grow just to use the slight twinge of pain as a distraction. When that doesn't work, he gets up from the couch and starts pacing.

He shouldn't have to do this. He has classes to teach, papers to grade, his own thesis to write. He has a life, despite what everyone in his family seems to think. He has hang-ups, yeah, sure, he does, but isn't that to be expected?

Kate had seduced him so she could get close to his family in order to kill them. Actually, considering what could have happened, Derek thinks he's grown up to be a fairly normal, fairly in control guy. It's only late at night when he lets himself think about what could have happened, if Kate had actually succeeded, if she had burned down the Hale house with everyone inside. With his parents inside, with his uncles, with his aunts, with his little sister.

Derek knows Laura just wants him to be happy. That she connotes being in a relationship with happiness but… Derek doesn't want it. And if he has to deal with Stiles until Laura leaves, then he figures it'll be fine.

Stiles isn't all that bad; he thinks quickly, he's strangely perceptive. Laura likes him, so maybe she'll be so surprised that the mystery boyfriend is Stiles that she won't pay too much attention to how they interact with each other. As in, she won't smell them, or focus on their heartbeats too much, or…or other equally terrifying scenarios that Derek has yet to think of.

When his phone rings, Derek is still pacing.

"What," he answers, when he sees that it's Stiles, "you're not backing out, or I swear, Stiles, I will—"

"Calm down, asshole," Stiles says, cheerfully, the fucker. "I'm upstairs. Do you want me to bring anything down with me?"

Derek blinks, clutches the phone a little harder. "Clothes," he grits out. "Toiletries? Things that smell like you."

"Yeah, fine," Stiles draws out that last word on a sigh, "but I meant more along the lines of food? Because I haven't eaten yet."

"You—" Derek sighs. "Yeah, fine. Just, eat here. We need to talk about… the arrangement."

"Yeah, great, sounds good," Stiles says, and then hangs up.

If he concentrates, Derek can hear Stiles moving around upstairs, the shuffling of bare feet against wood floors, the occasional bang when he inevitably bumps up against something, and the muffled sounds of Scott talking about how he helped fit a cow for a prosthetic leg today.

Derek looks around, realizes that his apartment is a mess, then realizes he doesn't give a shit, and sits back down at the bar to stare (glare) at his laptop screen. He uses the ten minutes it takes for Stiles to knock on his door to respond to some of his students' e-mails.

"I brought nachos," --Stiles holds the bag up when Derek opens the door-- "and dip. Also dirty laundry."

Derek can understand the nachos and the dip but… "is dirty laundry a metaphor?"

"No." Stiles pushes past him, dragging a duffle bag on the floor behind. Derek sniffs, wrinkles his nose at the smell. "I need to do laundry. Figured it would help if I used your laundry detergent."

"That… that's… yeah," Derek says, oddly impressed. He closes the door as Stiles sets the nachos and dip down on the bar, walks over to it as Stiles drags the duffle bag down the hallway and opens the closet that holds the washer and dryer.

"All right, wolf-man," Stiles says, adjusting the dials. "Details. I'm going to bed before midnight tonight, because I feel like crap, so this needs to be quick and dirty."

"How do you turn everything into an innuendo?" Derek remembers why he usually doesn't talk directly to Stiles. Well, one of the reasons. It's like… it's like walking into a maze that's constantly changing. He never knows how to deal with him.

It's frustrating.

"What do you mean an innue—" Stiles stops, grins wide. "Hah, I didn't even realize. Good job, buddy."

"Not your buddy." Derek opens the bag of chips, grabs a handful and starts eating.

"I think we kind of have to be buddies for this to work," Stiles says, raising his voice over the sound of the washer filling up, grabbing his clothes and dropping them in. "I made a list during class that—" Stiles stops, looks around and scrunches his nose. "Crap, didn't bring my laptop."

"Doesn't matter," Derek says through a mouthful of nachos. "She gets here Monday. We have a week to prepare."

"Yeah, but dude." Stiles slams the washer shut, and the sound is loud enough to make Derek flinch. "We've got dates to memorize, inside jokes to make up, movie preferences to go over, arguments to flesh out…"

"I thought you didn't want to do this," Derek interrupts, opening the dip. Spicy cheddar. He can work with that. "You seem excited."

"I'm getting paid for my efforts," --Stiles kicks the duffle bag out of the way and walks over-- "also this is kind of hilarious."

Derek glares. "I'm so glad you can find humor in my pain, Stiles, really."

"Oh come on, Derek." Stiles punches him in the shoulder. Sometimes Derek thinks Stiles forgets that Derek is a werewolf and could, if he so wanted to, rip him apart. Or maybe he never forgets. Maybe he's just fucking nuts. "This is like the set-up to some Harlequin ultra-romance novel. All it needs is for you to be the billionaire playboy philanthropist, and me to be your virginal but hard-working personal assistant." Stiles pauses, contemplating something. "With glasses. And big boobs."

"You're right," Derek says, nodding.

"I am?" Stiles looks surprised.

"Yeah," Derek says. "I should've just asked Scott."

"I want my money, fucker." Stiles points at him, eyes narrowed. "We are going to be the most adorable fucking couple Laura has ever seen. You will smell so much like me it won't even be funny."

Derek… Derek doesn't know what to say to that. To be honest, he's a little terrified.

"We don't have to talk about all of it tonight," Derek says after a bit, almost mindlessly grabbing chips, along with Stiles, and shoving them in his mouth. "Just… I need you to understand what it means."

"All right," Stiles says, "but I'm writing up a contract before she gets here, just to let you know."

"That's stupid," Derek says.

"It's necessary," Stiles says, "and you're stupid."

Derek sneers, lets his canines sharpen just enough that Stiles will notice them. It irks him a little more than he thought it would when Stiles just rolls his eyes.

"Oh no," Stiles says, monotone, "the wolf, it's going to eat me. What do I do? Please, someone, save me."

"You're a fucking idiot," Derek ends up snarling.

"Who you need so you can convince your family that you are not, in fact, a recluse shut in with a guilty conscience and trust issues." Stiles says, and there it is again, that fucking perceptiveness that scares the fuck out of Derek.

"Fuck you," Derek grunts.

"I don't know," Stiles says. "I don't think we're in that stage of our relationship, yet."

"Oh god damn it." Derek regrets this decision. He regrets it so much. But he can't… he can't back out of it. Because as horrible as Stiles can get, as annoyingly smug as Stiles is right now, as horrifically unmerciful, the face Laura would give him if he told her the truth… that would be worse.

So, he can do this. He has to do this.


Stiles hasn't had this much fun in months. Not since Allison left for the Peace Corps and Scott stayed on the couch for a week, eating ice cream and watching rom-coms (all right, he may have done other stuff, Stiles just prefers to remember it like that). He is perfectly aware that Derek is suffering right now. He is perfectly aware that he is being a grade A douchebag.

But, okay, Stiles and Derek have a history. A long and storied history, actually, of trading barbs and picking at each other's weaknesses and then avoiding the other for weeks on end. So, really, Stiles is doing what Derek would be doing if their positions were reversed.

"All right, all right"--Stiles grabs a chip, chews as he thinks--"can I take notes on your laptop?"

"No." Derek eyes his fingers, which have crumbs all over them and only a couple splatters of cheese dip. "I will."

Stiles shrugs, licks the cheese off while Derek situates himself across from him at the bar.

"How's the thesis going?" he asks, mostly as a way to make Derek less…tense.

"Fine," Derek says. Ahh, so maybe that made him more tense.

"All right," Stiles says, watches for a bit while Derek types something, then frowns, and types something else, then clicks a few times.

Objectively, Stiles knows Derek is handsome. He's got the whole permanent five o'clock shadow and sharp cheekbones and the kind of eyes that probably make the students in the undergrad classes Derek teaches go weak at the knees. Stiles knows all of this, but he kind of forgets it, usually, because he knows Derek too well, despite his best efforts at staying away from the guy. Knows that behind those intense eyebrows is a childish, annoying, lazy, baby brother who would rather lie than tell his big sister to just back off. Also, he's a werewolf. Who likes to flash his eyes and teeth and claws to intimidate people. Well, usually only Stiles, because Stiles is the only human Derek knows who knows.

"What?" Derek glares at him after a few minutes of silence.

"You're the werewolf," Stiles says, "you need to tell me what to do so we can convince your sister—a fellow werewolf—that we are madly in love."

"Smell like each other," Derek says, bluntly.

"And how are we going to do this?" Stiles asks. "You said clothes on the phone? I'm doing my laundry here. I can bring more stuff, I guess?"

"We need to touch each other," Derek grunts out, after a moment of looking like someone kicked him in the balls, "if that's not enough…"

"We can't just share clothes?" Stiles asks.

"We should do that, too," Derek says, but eyes Stiles's chest like he's not sure if anything of Stiles will fit him, "but if that's not enough, we need to… rub off on each other."

"Fuck you," Stiles says, suddenly angry because… he doesn't know why, actually.

"No, not…" Derek grunts, looking frustrated. "I mean… sit together. Just… smell like each other."

"All right," Stiles says, slowly, "so when does that have to start?"

"As soon as possible," Derek says, wincing. "She's here in a week."

"So, you're doing this because," Stiles says, "Laura has been bugging you about the… the Kate thing, right?"

"Yes," Derek says, clenching his jaw.

Stiles could pester for more details, but he's pretty sure he knows what's happening. The Hales, for all their furriness, are surprisingly predictable when it comes to the issues they have with each other.

Laura, like the horribly obtrusive older sister that she is, wants Derek to be happy. And she thinks that because she's in a relationship (Stiles hasn't met him, but, judging from the pictures on Facebook, he's the type of guy who raises his own chickens and goes foraging for mushrooms), and is happy, Derek will be happy when he has the same thing. Derek, meanwhile, as the broody, pig-headed, self-loathing asshole that he is, wants Laura to a) get off his back, and b) think that he's not as screwed up as he actually is.

"All right," Stiles says. While he's been thinking, Derek's face has gotten even more pinched, to the point where Stiles wonders if it could just… collapse in on itself. That would be gruesome. And awesome. Also horrible. "So, I'll go grab some stuff, come back, we can talk about how we started dating."

"What?" Derek asks.

"Uh, we've known each other for seven years?" Stiles says. For the guy who was so desperate he pretty much hired Stiles to do this, Derek is kind of amazingly clueless about how involved this shit is going to be. "It's the whole friends-to-boyfriends scenario. Or, well, semi-friends. You know, a tipping point? One day you saw me walk out of the shower and were like, I wanna tap that? Or vice versa, whatever."

"Huh," Derek says.

"I told Scott, by the way." Stiles shakes the bag to see if there are any more acceptably-sized chips inside. When he sees one, he grabs it, shoves it in his mouth before Derek can take it.

"I figured." Derek eyes something on his laptop. "So, notes."

"You want to do that now? Or want me to get my stuff?"

"Let's get this over with," Derek says. "I have an early class tomorrow."

"Oh, wow," Stiles rolls his eyes. "Poor Derek."

"Yes poor Derek," Derek snarls. "Derek didn't need this right now."

"Derek should stop talking about himself in the third person," Stiles says.

"We started dating," Derek snarls, and his eyes flash blue. It would be slightly more intimidating if Stiles didn't know he was doing it on purpose, "two and a half months ago."

"Fine," Stiles says.

"I think I told her something about a… a coffee shop," Derek says. "We met at a coffee shop."

"We didn't meet at a coffee shop," Stiles points out.

"Yeah, well, I didn't know that this was going to happen when I said that," Derek growls. He looks… Derek looks pissed off and embarrassed and frazzled, and Stiles only lets himself feel bad for a couple of seconds before he responds.

"You saw me on a date at the coffee shop—"

"Stiles, I swear—"

"—and realized you had feelings for me," Stiles continues, on a roll. "You chased the dude away with your broody-wolf routine, and declared your intentions."

"I hate you, you know that, right?"

"All right." Stiles looks up at the ceiling, thinking. "You saw me at the coffee shop with a guy that looks just like you, leather jacket and all, and realized you had feelings for me."

"Why am I always the one realizing I have the feelings?" Derek looks like he's been eating moldy bread.

"Because—" Stiles sighs. "Fine. I saw you on a date at the coffee shop with someone who looks just like me—"

"I wouldn't be on a date with someone who looks just like you," Derek says. "That doesn't even make sense."

"All right, I saw you talking with one of your students at the coffee shop, mistook it for a date, and got jealous." Stiles thinks these ideas are pretty good, all right? He doesn't know why Derek keeps looking at him like he's nuts. He's not nuts.

"Laura will call bullshit," Derek says, after a bit.

"Oh my god." Stiles runs his hands through his hair, hits his head against the counter a couple of times. "You know I'm doing this out of the goodness of my—"

"You're doing this for a thousand bucks," Derek interrupts.

"Fine—oh!" Stiles hits the counter with the palm of his hand. "We lied!"

"I don't…"

"We didn't want to tell your family, because it's me, right?" Stiles is on a roll now. This is brilliant. "So you lied and said you met someone at the coffee shop, but really we just… I don't know, did something more us. The shower thing. I liked that idea"

Stiles can see Derek struggling to find something wrong with that. "... not the shower thing, " he says, finally. "What about the dates?"

"Pick and choose, dude," Stiles says. "List 'em down. I'm going up to get more stuff."

"Fine," Derek says.

Stiles snorts as he walks out, leaving the door unlocked behind him so he doesn't have to knock again.

Scott is sitting on the sofa when he reaches the apartment, talking to Allison on Skype. Which is… pretty much what he does every day.

"Stiles!" Scott greets. "That was quick. I thought you'd be a couple of hours, at least."

"I forgot my computer. Staying there tonight, because apparently—" Stiles freezes, glances down at the back of Scott's computer. "Did you tell Allison?"

"That you're helping Derek with a thing?" Scott supplies. "Yeah, why wouldn't I?"

And that's why Stiles loves Scott, because as much as he loves Allison, he knows this little… arrangement should be kept as private as possible.

"No reason, dude." Stiles leans over Scott's computer, waves at Allison. "You look tanned, Allison."

"Right!?" Allison says. Her voice is grainy, and so is the video for the matter, but Stiles can tell she's happy. Which is good, because Allison's refusal to follow the family, ah, business was kind of a sore spot throughout most of high school. "How's life, Stiles?"

"Fine." Stiles glances up at Scott. "Writing a paper on deviant behavior in public bathrooms, if you want to—"

"No, Stiles, I don't want to," Allison says, laughing.

"Fine, fine," Stiles stands up. "See you tomorrow, probably."

He ends up with a bag full of shampoo bottles, unopened soap, and his toothbrush, and more (dirty) clothes, because if he's going to stay the night and, like, roll in things, he's going to do the rest of his laundry at Derek's expense. He says bye to Scott, who waves back, then carries everything back downstairs.

Derek is still at the counter, typing away, his expression focused, so Stiles puts the stuff in the washer in the dryer, and puts the dirty clothes in his bag in the washer.

Ahh, laundry. Stiles detests laundry.

"You should sleep in one of my shirts," Derek says, just as Stiles is closing the washer.

"Can't that start… later?" Stiles scrunches his nose up. He knows that the whole senses thing is important when you're in a relationship with werewolves. Scott had explained it to him, a while back. Well, semi-explained, and then Stiles had filled in the blanks.

The whole mixing-scent thing… that's a big deal. At least for Scott. And it sounds kind of creepy, to be honest.

"It needs to seem like we've been doing… this," Derek grunts, "for a while."

That… "that makes sense," Stiles says.

"I know," Derek says, then, "I'm sending you a list of what I said to Laura."

"You remembered?" Stiles is impressed.

"Some of it," Derek says.


Today's one of those days that Derek wishes he could get drunk. Just… drown his sorrows and frustrations out by getting shitfaced. He can't though, get drunk. He doesn't even think that he would get drunk if he were human and it were actually possible.

He's too much of a control freak. He would be too scared of what could happen to him while he was drunk. He'd say stuff, maybe. Or attack someone. Or just collapse in a heap of shame and embarrassment and guilt and start weeping.

So, yeah, maybe not drunk, but it would be nice to find a way—some way—to just make everything seem… better for a bit. Not that things aren't good, it's just that Derek hates surprises, and even though it's been more than twelve hours since this particular surprise, Derek is not over it.

He'll get over it, soon enough, but by that time, Laura will actually be here, and he'll have an entirely new and probably more horrifying set of problems to worry about.

"You told her we went to the zoo?" Stiles says. He's been going over the list Derek compiled—the one he had somehow remembered through his blind fear and desperation—for the last five minutes, scoffing at every single little thing.

"Yes," Derek says. He closes his laptop and looks around. The bag of chips from an hour ago is still on the counter, as is the dip. The hallway is a mess, the washer and dryer are driving him crazy, and Stiles is mumbling something under his breath."I'm going to take a shower."

"Fine," Stiles says. "Oh man, you told her we kissed?! How the fuck did that conversation come up?"

"The way conversations usually come up with Laura," Derek walks past the couch, then thinks, fuck it, and walks back. He grabs Stiles's laptop with one hand, pushes Stiles off the couch with the other, and when Stiles squeaks, and his face morphs into this comical version of itself as he drops to the floor, Derek finally, finally, feels less panicked and more… like himself. "She just pesters me until I say something to shut her up."

"That was unnecessary," Stiles says. He doesn't get up off the floor, though, and Derek leans over to see him staring, owlishly, at the ceiling.

"It was necessary, though," Derek says, putting Stiles's laptop down on the sofa cushions and walking towards the bathroom.

Yeah, he feels better.

There's always been something calming about getting in the last word over Stiles. It's probably Derek's sense of inferiority coming into play, because the guy just infuriates him. For the past seven years, he's just been this constant buzzing in the periphery. Always there with a sarcastic comment or a fucking joke made at Derek's expense, treating Derek like he's younger one.

The water pressure is crap when Derek takes a shower, because the washer is on and the building's plumbing is practically ancient, but he doesn't care.

The apartment is already starting to smell, slightly, like Stiles. Like… like… like fuck, what does Stiles smell like? The body wash he uses is on the bathroom counter, and smells like lemon verbena and green tea. But Stiles himself? Derek has never really paid attention to what Stiles smells like.

It's not until he's finished in the shower, and is dressed in his boxers and an old t-shirt, leaning over the sofa to sniff at Stiles (who's still on the floor, which… isn't that surprising), that he realizes what it is.

"Allspice," Derek says, and watches, maybe a little too proud of himself, as Stiles flails and cracks his elbow on the coffee table. "Coffee. Sugar? Barley."

"Dude, what the fuck," Stiles says.

"What you smell like," Derek says. "Allspice and sugar."

"What the fuck, dude," Stiles says, eyes going wide. "That's… kind of invasive."

"Stiles," Derek says, slowly, "this entire thing is necessary because Laura is going to be sensing you. She's going to... she's going to smell things, because she's a nosy ass, and she's going to watch us, and she's going to listen to our heartbeats and… and it's going to suck."

"Oh," Stiles says. "Crap, right. Just… no need to announce your findings to the world, dude. Scott never does that."

Fuck Scott, Derek thinks, for some reason. He grins, though. "Why? Are you uncomfortable?"

"Doesn't it make you uncomfortable!?" Stiles says while he picks himself up off the floor.

"No," Derek says, truthfully. It had been uncomfortable when he had lived at home; when he couldn't even think about jacking off without either Laura or Peter or god, sometimes mom and dad, sniffing the air and then grinning at him, but now it's not.

"Have I said you're an asshole, and that I'm going to use this to blackmail you for a long, long, long time?" Stiles asks.

Derek chooses to ignore that, for now. "You're sleeping on the couch, tonight. I'll get you sheets."

"Oh, so kind," Stiles says.

"Wait, so," Stiles calls out just as Derek opens the linen closet. "I'm doing this so the couch smells like me, right? What happens when she's here?"

"What do you mean?" Derek grabs a couple of blankets, glances at the dryer when it dings, then walks back out and throws the bundle at Stiles.

"Uh, am I going to need to make your bed smell like me?" Stiles asks, setting the blankets on the couch next to him.

Derek… crap, Derek didn't think about that. His bed, though… Derek's bed is his. It's not anything territoria—okay, it is, fuck it. Derek likes his bed because it doesn't smell, doesn't feel like anyone else.

"I, uh…" he says. "Crap."

"This is going to suck, isn't it?" Stiles sighs on his way to the dryer.

"Yeah," Derek says, "it's going to suck."

Chapter Text

Stiles has lived above Derek for four years, has known him for seven, and it's only now that he finds out that Derek, horror of horrors, is a morning person.

Granted, Derek being a morning person just means that he isn't any more of a douche than per usual, but Stiles had been expecting him to be… violent. So, waking up to see Derek standing over him, wearing professor clothes, with a travel mug in one hand and his laptop bag in the other, his expression surprisingly… neutral, is an interesting experience.

"Whazzit?" Stiles yawns, stretching until he hears his back crack.

"It's eight-ten," Derek says, sipping his coffee all casual-like. It takes a minute for that information to process, because Stiles is not a morning person, and then Stiles is jumping up from the sofa, and tripping over something on his way to the bathroom, ripping off his shirt and stumbling out of his pants on the way there.

Stiles has an eight-thirty class, and the UC Davis campus is a ten minute brisk walk away.

Maybe Derek isn't a morning person. Maybe his hatred of mornings manifests itself vindictively, rather than violently.

He hears Derek laughing while he grabs a pair of jeans from the top of the dryer—folded, smelling like Derek's expensive laundry detergent—and shoves his legs into them, then runs to the bathroom to pee, wash his face, and brush his teeth.

Derek is already gone when he gets out, so he grabs his laptop and locks the door behind him.

The day goes by… normally, actually. Stiles gets to his eight-thirty class at exactly eight-thirty. He takes notes, starts a class discussion on childhood trauma that gets him a look of approval from Professor Nguyen. He stays on campus for a couple of hours to study, then heads to work at around one, a sandwich and coffee from the place next to Alf's in hand.

The first two customers that Stiles gets, at around five, are a young couple who stand in front of the cabinet that holds Alf's collection of antique jewelry for thirty minutes, then end up buying a cookie jar shaped like a flower pot.

The second customer is Mr. Alvaro, who comes in every Tuesday and tries to sell Stiles (or whoever is there during the late afternoon shift) whatever he's found that week at local thrift shops. Alf gave Stiles a crash course in buying antiques when he started, so, while he's not an expert, he can tell that half the crap Mr. Alvaro brings in is... crap.

Today, though, Mr. Alvaro seems different. His eyes are downcast, his mustache is, literally, drooping, and the cravat he usually shoves under the collar of his tweed three-piece is nowhere to be found.

"Are you sick or something?" Stiles asks, pretty much as soon as Mr. Alvaro walks up to the counter.

"I'm seventy years old," Mr. Alvaro says. "I'm allowed to have bad days, Mr. Stilinski."

That—that makes sense.

"I've got a few trinkets Alf might enjoy, though," Mr. Alvaro says, sniffing pointedly. He opens the tote he always carries and starts setting down objects wrapped in packing paper. He always does this. Wraps whatever he brings, if they're small enough. Stiles thinks it's because he has a flair for the dramatics and likes unwrapping them in front of him.

Stiles moves his laptop out of the way and leans his elbows on the counter, because if he's being honest with himself, Mr. Alvaro is entertaining as fuck.

He watches as Mr. Alvaro unveils a stack of plates—most of them chipped—some bracelets, a wolf figurine, and a… well, Stiles doesn't know what that is. It seems… organic.

"I don't know what it is, either," Mr. Alvaro says when he sees Stiles looking, "but that's not important. Look at these plates—Homer Laughlin, and this, it's chipped but it's a Royal Doulton, I'm sure, and my daughter told me these bracelets say Tiffany & Co."

Stiles doesn't know why Mr. Alvaro does this. He'd be much luckier if he actually came in when Alf was here—usually on Saturdays. Alf is a pushover. The dude is sixty, has the body of a professional body builder (most of it covered in tattoos), and cries whenever he watches anything remotely sentimental. He also does floristry as a hobby.

Stiles, meanwhile, knows next to shit about antiques, and, most of the time, has to tell Mr. Alvaro that he can't buy any of his stuff. Which makes him feel like an asshole.

Today, though… today Mr. Alvaro is looking at him with bloodshot eyes. He's hunched over and his fucking cravat is missing, and he just looks… tired. Stiles isn't completely heartless.

He looks down, turns over the plates. He picks up the wolf figurine—it's sleek and black, mouth curled up into a snarl, and it reminds him of Derek. He tests the weight of the… okay, Stiles still doesn't know what the mystery object is. It's like… it's kind of so horribly ugly it's indescribable. Maybe it's an art piece. Something post-modernistic or art deco.

"Alf will want the plates," Stiles says. Alf loves a good rose pattern, and Stiles is pretty sure he's seen dishes that look exactly like this somewhere. In one of the antique cabinets that they use for storage, maybe. He eyes the wolf. "I'll buy the wolf."

"The—the wolf?" Mr. Alvaro blinks, looks down at the counter. "Oh, right, the wolf. Of course. You like wolves, Mr. Stilinski?"

"Meh," Stiles says with a shrug. "Some of them are all right."

Stiles buys the three dishes for Alf and the wolf for himself, and Mr. Alvaro walks out of the store with a grin on his face and a kick in his step.

The rest of Stiles's shift is spent finishing his essay, starting on another essay, reviewing his class notes, and then, for the last thirty minutes, trying to think of various ways to fuck with Derek when Laura comes to town next week.

He doesn't really like any of the ideas he's coming up with, since they all end in bodily harm, so he figures, as he's closing up shop, that he should just let the genius come to him as situations present themselves.

Those will probably end in bodily harm, too, actually. Or, well, Derek's never really done anything except slam him up against a couple of surfaces and point his stupid finger in Stiles's face, so maybe he's worrying for nothing.

Or maybe he's just being a dickhead, and should stop actively trying to make Derek's life harder.

… nah, that sounds boring.


Derek is fine with teaching undergrad classes. It pays… it pays shit, but mom had threatened him with pain if he didn't let her help him with tuition, so it's not like he's desperate for cash. The students are... well, typical undergrad students. Some of them are actually interested in history, and some are… not.

Some of them are more interested in him than anything academic, actually. He doesn't even have to smell it to notice the flushed cheeks, the gazes that are a smidge shy of too intense, the quick heartbeats. There's a small part of him that gets an ego boost from it, and another part, a much larger part, that just kind of feels sick.

In spite of all of that, Derek doesn't mind teaching undergrad classes because it gives him something to focus on rather than his doctoral thesis and his own sad attempts at living a respectable life (one in which he doesn't have to resort to lying to his sister to get her off his back).

So, his morning class goes well. It actually goes by pretty damn smoothly, considering it was just yesterday he was facing certain doom. His lunch meeting with his advisor goes better than planned, and he walks back to the office he shares with Jenna or Gemma or Gemma or… the other doctoral candidate feeling good.

And then Laura calls, and everything goes to shit again.

"Hey loser," Laura greets as soon as he presses the accept button, "how long were you staring at your phone debating whether to ignore me?"

"I wasn't," Derek lies.

"Lies, Derek, lies," Laura says.

"It wasn't a lie," Derek lies again. "What do you want?"

"Just checking in with my favorite little brother," Laura says. "Making sure you know where to pick me up—"

"I already know where to pick you up," Derek says. "Why are you calling?"

"It's almost like you don't want me there, Derrie," Laura says. "Why? You want some more alone time with your mystery guy before we meet?"

"How—" Derek knows that if he were a human, he'd be getting a headache right now. "I didn't say it was a guy, how did you-"

"--oh my god, it is?" Laura squeals, which Derek doesn't really think is necessary. It's not like he's kept his bisexuality a secret. "I know who it is. I knew it. Fuck, I've gotta tell mom and dad. Cora is going to freak. Fucking finally, you two got your shit together."

Derek is confused.

"What?" he asks.

"You and Stiles!" Laura practically screams, and his stomach drops. His pen too, from where it's been in his hand. His mind goes… terrifyingly blank. "No more sexual tension. No more flirting thinly discussed as teasing. No more… wait, it is Stiles, isn't it? Your boyfriend."

"Oh god," Derek manages to say. He doesn't know what just happened, but he's pretty sure it's going to make all of this more difficult than it already is.

"Derek?" Laura says, quieter. "You still there?"

"Y-yeah, yeah I'm here," Derek says, glad that she can't hear his claws digging into the wood of his desk. He tries to let what Laura is saying sink in for a bit, then realizes he just… doesn't understand. "What do you mean, finally?"

"Oh, Derrie," Laura coos. "Don't play coy with me."

Derek really hates her, sometimes.

"I'm not playing coy, Laura," he grounds out, then realizes, maybe, that it might seem weird that he's so angry about this. He clears his throat, counts to ten. "I mean… I'm just not sure what you mean."

"A-huh," is all Laura says, and then there's a long, long, long stretch of silence.

During which about a million things fly through Derek's head. Like what the hell Laura means, because he's never felt anything but derision, and, okay, maybe begrudging affection, for Stiles. Or whether he should just tell Laura now that he's been lying to her for two months. And if he does tell her, does that mean she's not coming?

Derek doesn't even know why she's coming. They saw each other when Derek went back to Beacon Hills for Christmas four months ago, and it's not like Laura is the clingy type. So…

"Did you get fired?" Derek blurts out. It's a possibility.

"We're not changing the subject!" Laura snarls. "Come on, I want the details, Derek."

"There are no details," Derek says. "Are you in trouble? Were there… are there hunters?"

"No, Derek, I can't just want to come up there and see how my baby bro is doing?"

"No," Derek says, "we saw each other four months ago. We e-mail. We call. You know how I'm doing. What happened?"

Laura sighs at that, and there's another long silence.

Derek goes back to freaking out, because why would anyone assume he liked Stiles, of all people. Sure, objectively, the kid is good-looking. He's got those lips and those eyes and this morning, Derek had gotten a good look at the muscles he's packed on since high school, but he's so… he's Stiles. He's an annoying dickhead who finds some sort of sick gratification in making Derek's life difficult. The only reason he's helping Derek is because of money. And, Derek adds, fodder for blackmail.

"We broke up," Laura says, suddenly, in a small voice that doesn't sound like her. Derek forgets about Stiles.

"I'm coming up there," he says. Snarls, actually. Laura is… Laura is special, as much as he complains about her inability to give him privacy. She never forgave him for getting the house almost burned down, for almost killing their entire family, because she never blamed him in the first place. She blamed Argent. She blamed Argent a whole lot. Enough to get her put away for arson and multiple counts of attempted murder. But she never blamed Derek, even though he deserved it—even though he still deserves it.

So he doesn't like it when her voice gets broken and unsure. And he's not above using violence to make whoever made it that way regret it.

"No, Derek," Laura sighs. "Come on, don't be like that. It was… it was amicable."

"You're never amicable about anything!" Derek snarls. "What did he do?"

Derek's never met Laura's boyfriend. Correction; her ex-boyfriend. He doesn't even remember his name. He just knows he hates him, and that whatever happened was his fault.

"It—" Laura sighs, again. "I told him. About us. I got permission and everything, but--"

"Laura." Derek can't really say anything to that. If she told him, she loved him. Or, at least, thought she loved him. And now Derek hates him, loathes him, even more. "I'm going to kill him, I swear—"

"I don't think that's a good idea," Laura says, her voice cracking. Crap. "I just… it's better, right? That we break up now?"

"Damn right it is," Derek says. He bends to pick up the pen he had dropped previously, throwing it across the room with a little too much force. It embeds itself in the wall and… Derek can't find it in himself to care.

"So, that's why I'm coming up." Laura sniffs. "Most of my stuff is in storage, and—"

"Did you talk to anyone else about this?" Derek interrupts, and then, "Did you move out? For fuck's sake Laura, the apartment's yours!"

Derek looks around for something to crush.

"No, I didn't move out!" Laura growls. "I just don't want to live there anymore. And no, I didn't tell anyone else. Not about... not about the apartment. Because you're my favorite. Just like I didn't tell anyone about Stiles… yet."

"… you just found out about Stiles," Derek snarls. He doesn't know how this conversation got back to that. Now that Laura is broken up… now that he knows why she's coming to visit. Fuck, he doesn't know whether the lying is a good thing, so that she sees him (pretending to be) happy, or a bad thing, because she's going to see him (pretending to be) happy.

"I've had my suspicions," Laura says, almost imperiously.

"I don't want to know," Derek says.

"Hey," Laura says, voice quiet, "if you don't want me to tell the others, I'll understand. It's just… it's good that you're happy."

Derek wonders if it's possible to die from guilt.


Stiles loves Scott, and he loves Allison, but he really wonders, sometimes, if they're maybe just a little bit too dependent on each other.

All right, sure, they had a rocky beginning, broke up and then got back together about five million times in high school alone, and then there's the whole star-crossed lovers thing. So Stiles gets why they might still be slightly more than enthusiastic in making a long distance relationship work than the typical couple. There are some things, however, that are just too much.

Like when he comes home, and Scott is eating sushi at the table, and Allison is (on the laptop screen) across from him, eating… she's eating sushi. Like they're on a sushi-date. Ugh.

"Oh my god." Stiles isn't envious. He's no—okay, he is. Because Scott is just so nice that shit like this—weird-ass romances that should end up as tragedies but don't—make sense with him. Stiles, meanwhile, has never dated anyone for longer than three months. Well, he was obsessed with Lydia Martin from third grade until junior year of high school, but obsession isn't the same as a long-term relationship.

"Stiles!" Scott says, then blinks. "Why are you holding a ceramic wolf?"

Stiles looks down, shrugs. "Bought it off Mr. Alvaro," he says. "Seemed appropriate."

"Well, that's sweet," Allison says.

"I'm a sweet gu.," Stiles grins when both Scott and Allison snort in disbelief, and goes to his bedroom to give the couple some (undeserved) privacy, taking his wolf along with him.

Stiles got his job at Alf's Antiques two years ago, and ever since then has been slowly (not purposefully, really) filling his bedroom with slightly-damaged and unsellable objects. There's the oak desk that has nasty scratch running down the center, and the vintage baker's cooling rack that Stiles uses as a bookshelf, and the wine barrel he switched his old nightstand out for a couple of weeks ago. Then there are the antique toys and weird-ass (slightly politically incorrect) figurines and shit that Alf seems to pawn off on him whenever he feels like it.

Stiles doesn't know when Derek gets back from…whatever he does —hell, he doesn't even know if Derek wants him down there again until Laura comes, or if sleeping on his couch last night (and, okay, slobbering all over his throw pillows) made the apartment smell enough like him. He does know, however, that he wants, maybe, ten minutes of quiet in his own room, before he has to go deal with the ass. He likes his room—loves it—even though the door sometimes sticks and there's a suspicious stain on the wall opposite his bed that he had to cover with the vintage Creature of the Black Lagoon poster Alf gave him last year.

God, Stiles can't believe that he's doing this. But hey, it's a thousand bucks. He'll buy Derek a semi-expensive gift to make him feel better about taking the money, and then use the rest for food. Glorious, glorious, food.

He sets the wolf down on his desk, fiddling with it until the head is toward the door, snarling at anyone who enters. Not that anyone ever comes into his room, anymore, because Stiles has been having a dry spell for the last six months.

Fuck, it's more like a goddamned fucking drought.

And now he's gone and let himself be talked into (hah, all right, he's let himself be bought) recreating every fake boyfriend romantic comedy that has ever been written and/or acted out.

Oh joy.

He has to do all the stuff he doesn't want to do, like… like, for instance, playing nice with Derek, without getting to do any of the stuff he does want to do. Like sex.

… although, fuck, not with Derek. Ew, no. The dude is probably as annoying and holier-than-thou in bed as he is out of it. Maybe more so. He's probably the type of guy who makes you work for it. Who makes you beg and whimper and… and Stiles is going to stop thinking about Derek and sex, now, before something he regrets happens.

Stiles should, as a master's student and all, use the rest of the night to finish his assignments.

He doesn't.

Instead, he fucks around on the Internet for a while, opens his essay on psychosis and stares at the last sentence for a minute or two, closes it, fucks around on the internet some more, then puts an end to his self-imposed exile by going to the kitchen to get a coke.

Scott is… Scott is nowhere to be seen. Which means he's in his room. Which means there is a really good chance that he's having video sex.

Damn it.

Stiles trudges back to his room, and is just about to sit down when his phone rings. And of course, because as much as Stiles likes to ignore things, life keeps finding ways of shoving his faults in his face, it's Derek.

"Laura called," is all Derek says. Stiles waits for a good minute, minute and a half, before he realizes that's all he's going to get.

"Yes," Stiles says, "she did."

"No," Derek snarls. "She called again, today. You need to get down here."

"Yeah, fine, I left most of my clothes down there anyway. Can I take a shower in your bathroom? I know you said to leave my toiletries there, but if I can't, could I at least bring them back up here to--"

"Just, get down here, Stiles," Derek growls, then hangs up.

Just to spite him, Stiles cleans his room—wipes the bookshelf and his desk with multi-surface wipes, straightens up the rug dad sent him a couple of months ago for no reason whatsoever, and makes his bed—before taking the stairs down to Derek's.

… who is standing at the door, waiting for him with a particularly murderous look in his eye. Or is that embarrassment? Stiles can never distinguish between the two.

"Hey honey," Stiles greets, and that… that replaces the anger/embarrassment with confusion for about a second, and then disgust. "What's the problem?"

"Laura knows it's you," Derek grunts. "She knows that you're my... my… the boyfriend."

"That was quick," Stiles says, scrunching his nose up. Now that Laura knows, it's… official. "Why'd you tell her?"

Derek pauses, then, and blinks at him. His face… Stiles can't describe it any other way except that his face goes sour. Like, it just kind of slowly collapses in on itself, and then Derek is turning, stomping towards the couch, and collapsing with a sigh. Like Stiles just asked him to sacrifice himself, or stop wearing leather, or something equally horrifying.

"I did—I mean…" Derek grimaces. "She just got it out of me."

Stiles walks into the apartment and closes the door behind him. "Okay, well, is she angry? Is Operation Fake Boyfriends a failure?"

"Operation Fake Boyfriends?" Derek's lip curls up. "Couldn't you come up with something… better?"

"I'll put it on my to-do list," Stiles says. "But is it?"

"No," Derek snarls, "she's happy."

"Fuck," Stiles says, but then, "so when are you going to pay me?"

"When she gets here," Derek says, after just staring at him for a minute. Stiles could argue, but the look on Derek's face means it would be like punching a brick wall. Useless, and, in the end, painful.

"Fine," Stiles says, putting his backpack next to the coffee table. Derek's apartment looks… clean. Cleaner than it did this morning. "Monday."

"You need to stay over tonight," Derek says, and the words sound they're being ripped from his throat. "You should probably stay over until she gets here. It doesn't… it doesn't smell right. It doesn't seem… enough."

"Fine," Stiles walks around the coffee table, plops down on the other side of the sofa. "If I get back problems I'm sending you my hospital bill."

"No," Derek says..

"What about when she's here?" Stiles asks.

"I don't know." Derek leans forward, runs his hands through his hair. When he pulls them out, his hair is sticking out in all directions, and he looks…he looks wrecked. And kind of like a demented hedgehog, but Stiles is pretty sure now is not the time for jokes.

"Hey, buddy," Stiles says awkwardly, so awkwardly, and punches Derek in the shoulder, "it'll be fine. I know I joke a lot, but if Laura knows who your… your… who the boyfriend is, and she didn't immediately call bullshit, then we have a chance to make this work."

Derek looks at him, then looks at where his hand is clutching at Derek's shoulder, then back at him.

"So it's going to be awkward, yeah, and it's kind of amazing the amount of trouble you're willing to go through just to get your sister off your back, yeah, and we're going to have to—" Stiles freezes, pulls his hand off of Derek's shoulder and clutches it in his lap. He may have just realized that they're going to have to engage in at least some minor PDA, and he may be having a slight internal freak-out. "Fuck."

"We're screwed," Derek says.

"Yeah," Stiles agrees.


Finally, Laura had said. What the fuck does that even mean? Finally.

Derek has been running it through his head for the better part of five hours, and he still doesn't know. He thought maybe seeing Stiles would do something. Jog his memory, maybe, but no, now he's even more confused.

Because Stiles is just… he's Stiles.

"All right," Stiles says, getting up off the couch, where he's been siting next to Derek, staring at the ceiling, his eyes wide and panicked, smelling like fear. "I'm taking a shower."

"Fine," Derek says, watching as Stiles walks to the bathroom.

Finally, she had said.

Derek picks up his laptop when, after three minutes of glaring at the opposite wall, he still doesn't understand what she meant. Or maybe he doesn't want to understand…

No, that's going into scary territory. Derek just… he just doesn't understand.

He starts grading papers for his Friday class, and forces himself to not think about anything else. Stiles walks out of the bathroom thirty minutes later, smelling so much like him that Derek doesn't even register his presence until he hears the fridge open.

It's disconcerting, having his apartment smell like Stiles and him. It still smells, still looks, still feels, like Derek is the only one that lives here. But there are these pockets that make Derek feel like his territory is being invaded. The bathroom for one. The sofa, for another. It's like Stiles is leaking, slowly, into everything.

It's not enough, yet, to convince Laura, but it's already making Derek feel caged and dirty. Like he needs to get the bleach out and wipe everything down, start over so that his apartment only smells like him. It's not even that the smell is unpleasant. It's not; it just smells like Stiles, and Derek, and Derek and Stiles.

Derek is pretty sure it's the connotation behind the new smell that's making his instincts less than happy. It's an incursion of his territory, of the apartment that he's gotten so used to being just his space that any change is bound to make him feel uncomfortable. And with Stiles, everything is twitches and movement and bright, peppery distractions.

Derek doesn't like distractions. They're distracting.

Like right now, he can hear the sound of Stiles at the kitchen counter, typing on his laptop. He can hear the sound of his leg bouncing up and down, and when he clacks his teeth together in what Derek assumes is frustration. It's always like this. Stiles has always been so fucking annoying, and it's even worse when he's in Derek's apartment.

"Will you—" Derek finally snarls, when he can't even concentrate on grading anymore. "Will you just stop moving?"

"Dude, I'm not moving," Stiles says. "You're the one exuding gloom and doom so thick I can see it."

"I'm not exuding doom." Derek turns around, snarls when he sees that Stiles has a pen in his mouth, and now that he's seen it, he can hear the dull gnawing sound that accompanies it.

"You are," Stiles says.

"It's my apartment," Derek tries to reason, only it comes out sounding like he's whining, so he turns back to his laptop with a huff.

"Well, I can always—"

"Stop talking," Derek says.

"I can always leave," Stiles says over him, "and you can brood alone."

"Don't leave, just stop moving, and shut up," Derek grounds out. "Do… aren't you doing your master's in psych? Work on that."

"Wow, what a good idea," Stiles keeps talking. Why does he keep talking. "Why didn't I think of that? I mean, that's not what I was doing over here, anyway. I was just… moving, apparently."

Derek shouldn't give in to sarcasm. Especially when it's coming from Stiles, but he can't help himself. "I will bite you, Stiles. And it won't even turn you, it'll just hurt."

"Liar." Stiles sounds like he's having fun. Derek turns around again, snarls and shifts his features. All he gets is an unimpressed look. "Bite me and you'll have to explain it to Laura. And Scott. And the Argents. And my dad."

"I hate you so much," Derek says.

"No you don't," Stiles grins. "I'm the only one that can help you with this. At the very least we're… involuntary allies. You get peace and quiet from your sister about being in a relationship; I get food money. It's an awesome deal."

"You're going to spend a thousand dollars on food," Derek says.

"Yes." Stiles turns back to his laptop, which, for some reason, grates at Derek. "Since food is a priority."

Derek blinks. "Don't both of you work?"

"Both of us?" Stiles starts typing again.

"Scott and you," Derek says.

"It sounds like we're married when you say 'both of us.'" Derek can hear Stiles grinning. "We're working. It's just… more money is always good, right?"

"I…" Derek deflates, suddenly feeling… guilty. As much as Scott likes to say that he's not pack, that he's his own, that he's independent, Derek still feels responsible for him. It's not that he's not friendly with the two of them, it's just that their lives are so different that Derek, maybe, sees Scott and Stiles a couple of times a month.

More when they're back in Beacon Hills, but when they're here, it's enough for Derek that there's pack (or semi-pack) close by. He doesn't need to see them. He feels guilty because he's down here, working only because his degree requires it, and they're up there, working because they need the money to buy food and pay rent.

"You didn't tell me you two needed money," Derek says. It comes out sounding angrier than he would have liked.

"We don't." Stiles turns around again, looks at Derek like he's trying to figure him out. "Are you feeling guilty because you ignore us most of the time?"

"I don't ignore you most of the time," Derek says. "You're impossible to ignore."

Stiles grins, leans his elbows back against the counter-top. "I have a feeling we're going to be better friends after this, though. Fake-boyfriends buds, or something."

"No," is all Derek can say to that. He turns back to his computer and manages, somehow, to focus on work, rather than the way he can hear Stiles trying to contain his laughter.

Ten minutes later, Stiles sits down next to him, and when Derek looks at him, confused, he freezes.

"Am I not allowed on the couch yet?" he asks, and Derek instantly feels like an asshole.

"I didn't say that."

"Good." Stiles leans back and puts his laptop in his lap, rests his legs on the coffee table. "Those stools make my ass hurt."

"Thank you for sharing," Derek says

"Also," Stiles says, maybe five minutes later. "I just got an e-mail from Laura."

Fuck. Of course Laura would have Stiles's e-mail. Derek has Stiles's e-mail and he doesn't even know how he got it in the first place.

"What?" Derek asks. "Why did you—"

"No," Stiles says. "I just got it."

"What does it say?" Derek tries to keep his voice patient and fails.

"If you hurt him I will get mom to turn you into a werewolf, string you up in our basement, and rip your guts out over the course of a couple of months," Stiles reads, his voice cracking somewhere in the middle, "and that's it."

"She wouldn't do that," Derek says, quickly.

"If she finds out that we're lying, dude," Stiles looks over at him. "I think we're both fucked."

"She's not going to find out we're lying," Derek says, carefully.

"I suck at lying under pressure, Derek," Stiles whines.

"We'll just bend the truth," Derek says, because Stiles is right.

"You'll just bend the truth," Stiles says, "this is your idea. So you have to do most of the lying."

"Relationships are about compromise, sweetums," Derek says, as sweetly as possible.


Wednesday is uneventful. Stiles doesn't respond to Laura's e-mail—because he doesn't want to, and because Derek tells him it's not necessary. He goes to work in the morning, then goes to class in the afternoon. Scott finagles him into paying for dinner at the Thai place that night, and they do the bro thing.

While they eat, Scott keeps looking at him with this weird expression, like he wants to say something, or ask something, or do something, until Stiles gets him talking about vet school, and then the look is forgotten. Or, well, this is Scott, and he's unnervingly shrewd when you least expect or want it, so maybe the look is forgotten for now.

On Thursday, Derek gets it in his head that they need to start touching, because while the apartment is, in his words, 'getting there,' Derek still smells like Derek, and Stiles still smells like Stiles, and there's not enough 'mixing.' Stiles doesn't make fun of Derek for it, because he looks just as uncomfortable about the situation as Stiles feels, and Stiles isn't that mean.

Okay, maybe he is, but he might just be saving it for later, when they have company. Company that will think it strange if Derek suddenly wolfs out and attacks his supposed-boyfriend.

(Stiles realizes he may be over-playing the Derek Hale is unpredictable and may got violent at any moment card, but he thinks it's better to be safe than sorry. At least in this case.)

So, they start touching. And it's as strange and ultra-weird as it sounds.

When Stiles is sitting on the couch—his couch, because he feels a connection with it now; they've shared dreams and nightmares and drool—Derek sits with him. Sits right next to him, with their sides touching, grunting his anger whenever Stiles dares asks him to turn the air conditioner up because the dude is hot, temperature wise.

Derek wears his clothes, and vice versa.

Derek starts wiping his hands over Stiles's face, randomly. Stiles maybe thinks he does it because Stiles is too surprised and uncomfortable afterwards to keep talking. All right, and it probably has something to do with the scent thing. But really, his face?

He brushes up against Stiles when they walk next to each other, puts a hand on his shoulder when they're standing. He looks like a badger crawled up his ass while he does it though, so Stiles finds it more hilarious than uncomfortable and bad-touchy.

Friday, Stiles is on campus all day. All fucking day, because he has two seminars, has to meet with his group for a statistics presentation, and has a progress meeting with his advisor. He goes home at nine feeling like shit, and almost immediately falls asleep in his bed.

He has a dream, he knows that much, but all he remembers is the tinkling of ceramics and sleek black over electric blue, so it doesn't matter. He wakes up feeling better, though.

No, not just better. Fantastic. He would chalk it up to sleeping in his bed—or, actually in a ny bed—for the first time since Monday, but he doesn't think he's actually felt this good before then. He feels… energetic. Rejuvenated. Relaxed.

And then Derek walks in, just as he's thinking about getting up and getting something to eat, tells him he smells weird, then herds him downstairs, where, yeah, there's a takeout container from Joe's Diner waiting, but he's still expected to sleep on the sofa, damn it.

The sofa was a novelty on Monday; now he hates it. Despises it.

On Saturday, Stiles works in the afternoon, so he sleeps until noon, wakes up to see Derek glaring at him, mumbles something about it being his fault in the first place, then stumbles off to the bathroom to pee.

Alf comes in, like he usually does on Saturdays, and, at around four, so does Mr. Alvaro, which is something that does not usually happen.

"Mr. Alvaro," Stiles says, glancing at the back of shop where Alf is trying to sell a woman a lamp. Granted, it's a pretty lamp, "it's not Tuesday."

"I'm aware," Mr. Alvaro says, then digs around in his pocket and holds up a… a wolf figurine. This one, though, is blue, cracked in places, and where the last one was sleek and black and glazed, this one seems earthy. Dull, almost, without any glaze. "Found this at the thrift store. Thought of you."

Is that creepy? Stiles isn't sure if that's creepy or not. Or if he even wants the wolf, which he's sure is the reason Mr. Alvaro is here today.

"That's… that's nice," Stiles says.

"Five bucks, because it's cracked," Mr. Alvaro says, and he holds out the wolf until Stiles takes it. It's heavier than he expects, and there's something calming about rubbing his thumb down it's flank.

"Yeah, fine," Stiles says. "Five bucks. Anything for Alf today? He's in the back if you need him."

"No." Mr. Alvaro grins. "This is a special delivery."

Stiles doesn't know what to say to that, so he grabs a five dollar bill out of his wallet, makes the transaction, and then watches Mr. Alvaro walk out the door whistling.

That night, he goes back to his room and puts both wolf figurines on his bookshelf, facing the door, and somehow it feels right. Which should freak Stiles out, because he's usually not one for contemplating the right-ness of his decorating choices, but it doesn't. He's decidedly un-freaked out.

Then Derek calls.

"Pictures," he says, when Stiles answers, and his voice is high and panicked. "Stiles, get down here."

"Wait, what pictures?" Stiles though, is already shouldering his backpack, giving his bed a mournful look, and closing his bedroom door behind him as he walks out.

"Just," Derek says. "Just get down here."

Stiles 'gets down there' to find Derek sitting in the middle of the sofa, staring wide-eyed at his hands, which are gripping his knees. There are rips in the denim from where Stiles assumes Derek's claws punctured through.

"Pictures?" Stiles asks.

"Pictures," Derek says. "I was on Facebook—"

"You have a Facebook?"

"Yes, I have a Facebook, not important. I don't go on it." Derek waves his hand in the air, like he's physically pushing the question away. "Laura has pictures of her and her ex—"

"Her ex?" Stiles drops his backpack by the coffee table, plops down next to Derek. Eventually, he knows, Derek will get to the point. He may have to guide him there, but it'll happen.

"Will you stop interrupting me?" Derek snarls. "Laura is coming because she broke up with her boyfriend, that's why she—"

"You could've told me this sooner," Stiles interrupts.

"That's not the point." Derek leans forward and moves his hand over the touchpad of his computer until it wakes up. "Pictures, Stiles. Concentrate."

"I'm concentrating," Stiles says, leans back and rests his legs up next to Derek's computer, wiggling his toes because it's kind of fascinating.

"Couples take… pictures," Derek says, then shoves his laptop on Stiles's lap, open to an album of Laura and… dreadlock dude. Who is apparently her ex. Who apparently broke up with her. Which apparently made her emotionally fragile enough to want to visit her brother.

Fuck.

"We need to take pictures," Stiles says, when he finally gets it.

"Lots of pictures," Derek says, glaring at his laptop like it was the one that started this whole clusterfuck in the first place, "too many fucking pictures. Laura is coming on Monday, Stiles."

"We do them all tonight and tomorrow," Stiles nudges Derek's leg with his knee, excited now. "We can do wardrobe changes. Go get coffee, go to the zoo, do… couply shit."

"Wardrobe changes?" Derek sounds… intrigued by that.

"Yeah!" Stiles puts the laptop back on the coffee table. "Bring like, five different shirts and just change them out at different places so it looks like we've been taking pictures for two months."

"So we actually have to go on fake-dates." Derek sounds… defeated. Stiles resists the temptation to give him the middle finger. The last week has been, surprisingly, pretty okay. Derek isn't as horrible as he had previously thought. Stiles won't admit this out loud, but it's actually been kind of… fun. So, no middle finger for Derek today.

Not unless he does something really shitty.

"Hey," Stiles says, instead. "I'm slightly better at this shit than you."

"Slightly better?" Derek sneers. "Neither of us remembered we needed to take pictures, Stiles, I think both of us suck at this shit."

"I've actually been in relationships, dude. You do the one night stand thing."

"Your longest relationship lasted three months," Derek says. Stiles is surprised that Derek even knows that much. "And don't they always say it's you, not them?"

"How the fuck did you know that?" Stiles is pretty sure he's never had this conversation with Derek.

"Eavesdropping."Derek points up at the ceiling, a shit-eating grin on his face. "You were drunk and loud and Scott was singing about Allison in the shower."

"You're a douchebag, also creepy," Stiles says. "but—just… keep that grin on your face. Hold that pose."

His phone is still in his pocket from when he answered Derek's call, so he arches up off the couch and grabs it, then scoots over until he's pressed against Derek's side.

"What are you—"

"I said keep the goddamned smile." Stiles opens his camera app, pulls Derek's arm around his shoulders, and then checks to make sure Derek is grinning. He's not. "Grin, Derek, come on."

Derek snarls, pulls him closer, pushes Stiles's head into his shoulder with unnecessary force (really, it's just immature) and then grins. It's a terrifying grin, more of a sneer, really. But it'll do. Stiles takes the picture, and it… okay, it's actually not that bad.

It's actually kind of cute.

"All right," Stiles says, shoving his phone in Derek's face. "I call that one "Saturday Night Repose."

Derek fakes a laugh, pushing Stiles's face off his shoulder. "So fucking funny, Stiles."

"Next? Wardrobe change and…" Stiles scoots back to his side of the sofa, looks around the apartment for inspiration. "We should go get dinner."

"It's nine at night," Derek says. "I already ate."

"We should go pretend to eat dinner?" Stiles asks. "Go for dessert or something. You can take pictures of me with whipped cream all of my face or something."

"… is that…?"

"No, it's not an innuendo, fuck," Stiles scowls because, for some reason, he's… embarrassed. Embarrassed enough that his cheeks are turning suspiciously hot. "The thing that couples do, take cute pictures of each other."

"Impossible," Derek says. "You're not cute."

Stiles glares and pushes himself up off the couch. "Like you're all cotton candy and fucking rainbows, dude. Get your jacket and your camera, we're going out for froyo, fucker."

Chapter Text

"Look less like you want to die," Stiles says, angling the camera so it gets both of them in the shot. "You're with the dude you thought you'd never land. Your soulmate. You're happy about this, remember, Derek?"

Derek bares his teeth, Stiles takes the picture, and then shoves his phone in Derek's face.

"You look deranged," Stiles says. "Congratulations."

"You look like an idiot," Derek grumbles, because, at the moment, he can't really think of a good comeback. He's gotten used to Stiles being… plastered all over him, but it's still weird. Still distracting. It shouldn't be. It's been a week, and, already, Derek feels like he's swimming in Stiles's scent. It's on his clothes and his couch and fucking everywhere else. Still, though, he hasn't gotten used to how it feels to just sit close to someone. At least, someone who's not family.

"At least you didn't forget to control your eye-flare this time," Stiles mutters, flicking through the pictures on his phone, sounding disappointed.

It's almost midnight, and they're sitting in a booth at Joe's Diner, the only place that's open twenty-fours and is within walking distance of the apartment building. They've been sitting here for thirty minutes, drinking bad coffee and pointedly ignoring the glares of their waitress, and Stiles has already taken what seems like millions of pictures. He's deleted half of those though, because… Derek doesn't know why.

Okay, Derek may be making this harder than he should be, considering that he's the one that needs the pictures to come out looking authentic, but he's never understood the whole picture thing. He didn't understand it when, in a fit of anger and boredom, he went on Laura's Facebook to see if there was any conceivable way of getting even with the ex. He didn't see it when he stumbled onto their photo albums—of them at the beach, at a museum, sitting next to each other at restaurants and looking smug and happy and cloyingly sweet. He still doesn't see it now, watching Stiles flick through picture after picture of them in pretty much the same pose, only with slightly different expressions.

He is, though, a little bit too entertained by how, with each picture he deletes, Stiles's face morphs into a comical version of frustration and disgust.

"That one's good," Derek says, grabs Stiles's phone when he sees one he likes. Stiles's eyes are half closed, and he looks high, and Derek actually looks normal, for once. "I'm sending this to myself."

"Wow." Stiles looks at him. "So now you're taking it seriously."

"I've always taken this seriously," Derek says.

"You messed up every picture at the froyo place," Stiles says. His expression reminds Derek of how the Sheriff sometimes looks. Like he's just waiting for Derek to mess up so he can put him in his place.

It's a terrifying expression.

"I was distracted," Derek says, "by the froyo."

It's the truth, kind of. He was more distracted with how Stiles ate the fucking froyo. Because, of course, this is Stiles, and he can't eat anything normally. No, he has to lick the spoon and make… noises.

"You were—wow," Stiles leans back against the booth seat, glances at the waitress that's sitting at the bar, folding napkins and sporadically glaring over at them. "You're in charge of the camera tomorrow, dude."

"Right." Derek sends the picture to his phone, then sets it as his wallpaper. Laura has a thing for stealing his phone whenever she sees it, so he tells himself that it's necessary.

Also, Stiles's expression is hilarious.

"Are you—" Stiles grabs his phone, looks down at the picture in horror. "That's rude."

"It's my phone." Derek grabs it back, holds it out of reach when Stiles stretches his arm out for it. "Laura will think it's cute, that I have your picture as my wallpaper."

Stiles eyes the phone, then eyes him. "I'm forgiving you because it's late and you make a good point, but," and then he leans over his phone, angling the screen away while he does something that, apparently, is so difficult he needs to stick his stupid tongue out of his stupid mouth while he does it.

Derek has learned, over the last week, that Stiles's oral fixation is more like a fucking oral obsession. His mouth is just like the rest of him—distracting. Annoying. Frustrating. Derek's gotten used to it, somewhat. More than he was before, at least.

"Genius," Stiles says, then turns his phone around, and Derek snarls at the picture. His mouth is pursed, one of his eyes is half open, the other is closed, and he looks…stupid. And stoned. Damn it.

"Fuck you," Derek grunts.

"No, fuck you." Stiles sets his phone on the table, picks up his coffee and scrunches his nose up at it.

"Said it first," Derek can't help saying back. He looks at his phone. "Should we be leaving? We've got enough."

"Enough?"

"Pictures," Derek says.

"Right," Stiles says, looks around, and when he turns back, he's grinning. "Or we could stay and annoy Betsy over there."

"Betsy?" Derek looks back, sees the waitress, and squints his eyes until he can make out her name-tag, which is… yes, it's Betsy. "You want to annoy our waitress? Are you twelve?"

"Mentally, I'm around sixteen," Stiles says, expression serious. Derek snorts.

"You're paying for the coffee, since I paid for yogurt," he says, then pushes Stiles off the bench with his foot. Stiles walks over to the waitress at the counter muttering something about Derek being a ten year old, and instead of rising to the bait, Derek gets up and walks out of the diner to wait for him outside.

It's cool outside. Or, well, Derek knows that, in theory, it's cool, but he doesn't feel it like humans do. The moon is a waning crescent, hidden partially behind clouds, Derek's gaze is drawn to it, and he suddenly wants to howl.

He wonders, sometimes, what it would be like to be human. To not feel the pull of the moon, the familiar rush under his skin as it gets fuller and fuller. He wonders, usually late at night, when he can't sleep, what it would be like to not be him. What it would be like to not be able to smell fear and happiness, to not hear the slight uptick in the heartbeat of a liar, to get the flu, and headaches, and get tired after a ten-mile hike.

He wonders, but he doesn't want. Kate made him hate a lot of things, including himself, but she never made him want to be anything other than what he was born as. Which, when Derek thinks about it, is strange, because she was going to kill his entire family just because of what they-

"Are you philosophizing?" Stiles asks, and Derek doesn't jump at the noise. He looks to see Stiles standing next to him, staring up at the moon.

"No," Derek lies, shoves his hands in his pockets, and starts walking back towards the apartment.


Stiles wakes up on Sunday because Derek is sitting on his legs. It's more the weight of Derek's glare, though, that makes him open his eyes.

"Why?" Stiles manages to groan, trying to kick his legs out from under Derek's ass. "Stop. Too much. It's too early."

"It's 9:00," Derek says. "We have dates to go on."

"Yeah, but..." Stiles gets one leg free, manages to pull the blanket he's deemed his up enough to cover his face. "Dates are supposed to be fun. This isn't a good start—all right, I'm up, I'm up, fuck!" Stiles yelps when Derek grabs his ankle, starts pulling him off the couch, and manages to get free only by falling to the floor.

Which is probably what Derek wanted.

"You were the one that made the list," Derek says.

Stiles sits up. "You've got a weird obsession with pushing me off the couch, dude."

"And?" Derek sneers down at him. Stiles gives him the finger, then uses the coffee table to push himself up, and limps to the bathroom.

Stiles is pitifully glad that Laura is coming tomorrow, only because it means that he doesn't have to sleep on the couch any more. Tomorrow night it's back to his beautiful, beautiful bed. And sure, he'll have to play nice with Derek, but he actually thinks that's going to be kind of entertaining. Uncomfortable, yes, but also entertaining.

And plus, who else can say they've gotten paid to be a fake significant other?

… other than professional escorts, that is.

Although Stiles hasn't actually gotten around to writing up a contract yet, and he doesn't even know how long Laura is going to be here, or how long their relationship is going to be… uh, a relationship, so there's nothing really professional about it.

The whole thing is sort of the opposite of professional. Like, it's all very immature.

But then again, maturity is so fuckin' overrated.

Stiles washes his face, brushes his teeth, and then grabs a pair of jeans and t-shirt from the (shrinking) stack on top of the dryer, ignoring Derek's scowl when he walks out of the bathroom in his batman boxers.

Fuck Derek. Stiles has seen the Calvin Klein briefs he throws in the dirty laundry basket. It's not like those are any less embarrassing.

Speaking of laundry, he should probably do some tonight, then bring his clothes back up to his room. Doesn't want to, and he knows that he's going to be exhausted by the time they get back, but he'll probably end up doing it just to annoy Derek.

And get rid of any evidence of desperate smell-transferring, that is.

When he's dressed, he grabs a couple of t-shirts and shoves them in his backpack, then goes to get water from the fridge, because getting ready under pressure always makes him thirsty.

Derek leaves the room for a second, comes back with a couple of his own t-shirts, and shoves them in with Stiles.'

"Coffee first," Derek says, zipping up the bag. Stiles nods in agreement—they went over this last night, after they got back from the diner. Stiles has a list somewhere. Or wait, it was written on the back of a disposable napkin, so it's probably in the trash.

It's going to be coffee, then the zoo, then the museum, then a bookstore, then a 'hike' (or, enough of a hike so it looks like they actually went on a hike), and then dinner… and then grocery shopping.

Because Derek needs to 'get ready for dinner with Laura." To Stiles, that sounds like the set-up to a horror movie—dinner with Laura, that is—so he hopes it happens while he's in class. Actually, since class is from five to seven on Mondays…it might.

"Coffee first," Stiles says. "Are we taking your car or mine?"

"What do you think, idiot?" Derek asks, holding his keys up.

"Your car it is, then." Stiles shoulders his bag and follows Derek out the door.

The drive to the coffee shop isn't long. Actually, the entire coffee shop experience isn't long because all they do is get their drinks—grande americano for Derek, and grande caffe latte for Stiles—take a couple of quick pictures in front of one of the display cases that hold branded mugs and travel cups, and then leave.

It's relatively quick and painless.

"One down," Stiles says, flicking through the pictures on Derek's camera, "how many to go?"

"Zoo, museum, hike, dinner or lunch, depending on how fast we can get through this," Derek grunts out after taking a sip of his coffee. "Then you're free. I need to go grocery sho—"

"For Laura, yeah, I remember," Stiles interrupts. "Is it time for a wardrobe change? I didn't think this would be so quick."

"What, you think we're going to linger?" Derek snorts.

"No," Stiles… okay, Stiles may have thought they were going to linger. "Well, not at the coffee shop. But I'm not fucking paying an entrance fee for the zoo and then not seeing some animals, dude. At least, I don't know, the monkeys."

"I'll pay," Derek says, "then you don't need to worry about it."

"I still want to see the monkeys," Stiles says. "Come on, isn't your doctoral thesis about historical relations between animals and humans or something? Isn't this right up your alley?"

"You know what my thesis is on?" Derek sounds surprised.

"Yes," Stiles says, although he doesn't really know why he knows, "and doesn't it talk about zoos?"

"I—yes," Derek grumbles, "but, I mean, we have other shit to do."

"Am I seriously going to have to convince you to enjoy the zoo, Derek?" Stiles asks. "It's ten in the morning, dude. We have all day. We're going to be with each other all day. We need to actually make this enjoyable so we don't kill each other."

"Zoos are enjoyable?" Derek asks. All right, now he's just being difficult.

"Museums are enjoyable?" Stiles retorts.

"Fine," Derek says, eventually. Stiles takes a sip of his drink and bites the inside of his cheek to stop from looking too smug.

"We can do a wardrobe change before we get there, then another halfway through," Stiles says. "So it'll look like we came here more than once."

"… we should've started doing this on Tuesday," Derek grumbles five minutes later. "Why didn't we think about this on Tuesday?"

"I don't know, dude," Stiles shrugs. "Too preoccupied with the werewolf side of it, maybe? I mean, I'm pretty sure your place reeks of me, so at least that's done with."

"Got that right," Derek mutters, his expression going dark. Stiles resists the urge to snort.

"Which is what Laura will really pay attention to…" --Stiles scrunches his nose up-- "hopefully, that is. And we're covering the, uh, human side right now."

"Right," Derek doesn't sound convinced. "I don't know what your thesis is on."

"… was that just a random observation or were you making a point?"

"Tell me what your thesis is on," Derek says, then adds, when Stiles just raises an eyebrow at him, "please."

"Serial killers," Stiles says. "I'm looking at how different cultures profile serial killers."

"That… huh," Derek says. "That sounds interesting."

"It is," Stiles says. "Back to the important shit. We spend an hour at the zoo, thirty minutes at the museum—"

"If we stay at the zoo for an hour, we stay at the museum for an hour," Derek says.

"Fine," Stiles says, "then we do a semi-hike, then dinner, then shopping. And then it'll be, like, sixish, and you can go panic in your cave, and I can go hang out with Scott for a bit. Sound good?"

"You're not going to be panicking?" Derek asks, instead of agreeing.

"No, I'm going to hang out with Scott," Stiles says. He sees Derek squint his eyes, glance at his chest. "Are you… were you just checking if I was lying?"

"No," Derek says.

"Right," Stiles slouches in his seat, rolls his eyes. "I believe you."

Stiles doesn't believe him.

"Asshole," Derek says, and then for the rest of the drive he's silent. Stiles hopes he's not brooding.

When they get to the zoo, it takes ten minutes to find a parking space, because Derek has to park the Camaro in just the right spot. It can't be too big, or too little, or have too much shade, or too little shade, or be next to a car that is bigger than a fucking mini. By the time he actually parks, having bypassed at least ten open spaces, Stiles is gnashing his teeth he's so irritated, and Derek is grinning like a fucking loon.

Like… like he gets off on getting Stiles pissed off or something. Which probably isn't far from the truth, if Stiles thinks about it.

Stiles changes shirts while Derek gets out and puts coins in the meter, and then they buy their tickets and…and well they're in a zoo.

Stiles is in a zoo with Derek and it may just be the weirdest fucking thing he's ever done in his life. He really can't complain, though, because he was the one that pushed for it.

They start walking, and once Stiles gets over that Derek is silently judging everyone and everything from next to him, he actually… he actually has fun. Or, as much fun as you can have in a zoo. With Derek.

The animals are cool, at least. And by the time they see the reptile house, watch the flamingos do…nothing, and meander their way over to the jaguar enclosure, Derek is actually voluntarily taking pictures.

Of the animals, that is, but hey, it's proof, right?

They — the animals – react to Derek differently than they do everyone else. They treat him like a threat, which is entertaining for Stiles (and, from the size of the grin on his face, Derek too), and confusing and terrifying for the rest of the visitors. The lions, for instance, start pacing and snarling in front of the glass. The lemurs start screaming and swinging around their enclosure. The anteater hides.

So, yeah, it's an interesting zoo experience, to say the least. Stiles leaves after buying a giraffe plushie for himself (evidence, he tells himself, but really, he also just wants it) and a lion mug for Derek (because it was on clearance, and also the look on Derek face when he gives it to him is priceless).

Then they get in the car, and go to the museum.

Nothing at all interesting happens.


Stiles almost gets them kicked out of the museum. He nudges a fifth century Nepalese statue, somehow, the alarm goes off, the guards come running, and Derek is put in charge of damage control because Stiles is too busy trying to not crack up.

Derek can see him biting the inside of his cheek, turning his face away from the guards so they think he's ashamed or something. He's not. He thinks it's hilarious. Derek can practically feel the satisfaction…or, or something similar to it, at least, oozing off of him.

"You're an asshole," Derek says, when they walk outside. They weren't officially kicked out, but the guards kept an eye on them for the entire ten minutes they stayed after the incident.

"I know, I know," Stiles says. "I am sorry, kind of."

"Kind of," Derek says.

"You've gotta admit it was pretty fuckin' funny, dude."

Derek raises an eyebrow.

"Kind of funny?"

"No."

"Slightly funny? The guards, dude, they came running." Stiles makes a sweeping motion, nudges Derek's side with his elbow.

"You're an idiot," Derek says, instead of agreeing with him.

The bookstore is better, only because they walk in, Stiles makes him pick up a photography book about wolves and take a picture with it, then, somehow, finds the one erotic book in the store that has two werewolves making out on the cover, and takes a picture of himself, a smarmy expression on his face. They leave after that, even though Derek has to grab the book and put it back after Stiles opens it and starts reading out loud.

The hike is… is not a hike, because all they do is walk ten minutes up the easiest trail in Sacramento, take a couple of pictures, and then walk back down.

Lunch, because it's only one in the afternoon, is pizza.

Derek is so relieved that they're done for the day that it takes him until his second slice (and Stiles's third) for him to realize that it actually hasn't been that bad.

… the zoo was fun, at least.

And, maybe, Stiles wasn't as horrible as Derek imagined him being. Maybe he was good company. Maybe he made Derek forget, a couple of times, that this was a forced outing, and not two friends hanging out on a Sunday.

Derek doesn't have a lot of human friends. At least, not a lot that he would trust with something like this. He may… he may say that he doesn't like Stiles, may have long internal debates with himself about Stiles's many faults and/or strengths, but there's no denying that Derek trusts him.

He doesn't trust him just because Scott trusts him, he trusts him because he's known him for seven years, and he is nothing if not loyal.

Derek isn't saying that Stiles is a nice person. Hell no. Stiles is an asshole and a dickface. He's annoying and frustrating and distracting. He eats like he's never going to eat again, and, for some reason, feels the needs to just sprawl everywhere. He's not nice, or pleasant. He is a good person, though.

"We going shopping next?" Stiles asks.

Derek shrugs. "I was planning on it. I have the whole day, though, so I can drop you off back at the apartment."

"Nah, I'll go with," Stiles says, then pauses. "I mean, if that's okay with you."

"It's fine," Derek says, picking up a slice of pizza. It's good pizza, even though the place they're eating in is a hole in the wall, and it smells like… people. Too many people in a room that's too small. Also, tomatoes. He takes a bite, chews, and swallows, takes another, watches Stiles attempt to drink from a straw. "Thank you," he says.

"For what?" Stiles bites down on the straw, and his tongue comes out to run along the edge.

"For doing this," Derek says. For some reason, he can't look away as Stiles's lips purse when he finally, finally, manages to get the straw in his mouth and start drinking. "The… pictures. And the whole thing."

"I'm getting paid," Stiles points out.

"Right," Derek says, tilting his head and wondering how Stiles manages to drink with his tongue outside of his mouth. "Nevermind, then."

"Ha, ha ha ha," Stiles pushes his drink away, thank fuck, only to pick up another piece of pizza and start chasing the cheese dripping off the sides with his tongue. Derek… Derek doesn't know why he can't look away. "So am I expected for dinner with Laura tomorrow night?"

"I—" Derek winces. "I'm pretty sure."

"I have class from five to seven."

"Right," Derek winces again. "It'll be a late dinner, maybe?"

"So this is you officially introducing me to the fams?"

"Yes," Derek says.

Stiles chews for a bit, watching him with an expression that Derek can't place. "What are we having?"

"I don't know." Derek grabs his coke and starts drinking, if only to distract himself from the way Stiles is licking his fingers. Derek should be used to this by now—he's seen Stiles eat before, and every time it's equal parts fascinating and horrifying—but he's not. He's really, really, not.

"Pasta?" Stiles asks. Derek gets an image of Stiles slurping down spaghetti, and shakes his head.

"No, something… else."

"Dude, this is Laura." Stiles looks at him, one eyebrow cocked. "It's not like you need to roll out the red carpet."

"She needs to be distracted," Derek says, "as much as possible."

"So you're going to distract her with… food and--" --Stiles cracks up-- "wait, wait, lemme guess, the good brother routine? That's why you're doing the dinner thing?"

"No," Derek lies.

"Oh, right, like that won't make her suspicious." Stiles grabs the last slice of pizza, which Derek minds. He minds a lot. Not because it should've been his, but because now he has to watch Stiles eat it.

"Then what do I do, Stiles?" Derek grounds out, looking at the faded posters on the wall instead of at the way Stiles is licking cheese and grease off his lips.

He swears, they weren't this bad before this whole thing started. Stiles's eating habits, that is. He doesn't remember them being so blatantly fucking… fucking what? They're distracting. Annoying. Sexual. Pizza should not be sexual.

Then again, he's spent the last week immersed in Stiles. He's been wearing his clothes, and now the apartment smells like Stiles, and it looks like Stiles has been there, because he keeps leaving random shit around for Derek to clean up, and he's so in tune to the way Stiles does things that he's bound to notice more now.

It's what Derek does, notice things. At least, now. He thrives on noticing things, because the one time he didn't pay attention, didn't notice what was happening, was with Kate, and he's not going to let that happen again.

Not that he's comparing Stiles to Kate. He's just…he's gotten used to noticing things, and now, it's kind of hard to turn it off, even with Stiles. Especially with Stiles.

"Not do that," Stiles says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world. "Be the sassy, broody, spoiled baby bro that you usually are."

Derek ignores the insult. "And that will make her less suspicious?"

"Is she suspicious?" Stiles asks. "It doesn't seem like it. Seems like she's already buying it. She already did the whole death threat thing."

Because, Derek thinks, she thinks we've liked each other for years. She thinks this is something bigger than it is. Stiles doesn't need to know that, though. "No," he admits. "She didn't seem suspicious. She seems… happy."

"Because you have a boyfriend, finally," Stiles asks, "or because that boyfriend is me?"

"Both?" Derek tries.

"Huh," Stiles says. He leans back in his chair, chews at his straw for a little bit. "Interesting."

When they leave, Derek can't stop thinking about Laura and Stiles, and how Laura thinks there's something there, and about how, for some reason, Derek can't build up the nerve to tell Stiles that it was Laura that guessed his 'boyfriend' was Stiles in the first place. Maybe because he still doesn't know what that means. Still doesn't want to know what that means.

He… Derek knows that this whole thing—the fake boyfriends and the lying and the inability to trust anyone without them practically forcing him to do it—is immature. Dangerous, too. And he gets that Kate was twelve years ago. Gets that the Argents disowned her, helped prosecute her and her father. Hell, even though he hates the Argents, hates every single fucking hunter that exists, he gets that not all of them are like that.

But Derek is a werewolf. And he's not going to do what Laura does—he's not going to put himself out there and then get hurt because someone can't handle what he is, what he was born as. So if it takes lying to make her feel better, that's fine.

And it's not like the last week has been horrible. Stiles is easier to handle than Derek had originally thought he would be. His apartment doesn't…it's not unpleasant being surrounded by Stiles's scent. Or opening the fridge and finding food that's not his in there. Or having someone to joke around with that knows he's a werewolf. It's new. At least, new to the life that Derek has gotten used to since he got the apartment. It's like being back home, again. Being in a pack—being with family—again.

Derek trusts him, and maybe, he's kind of glad that he has someone in Davis who's a friend. Scott doesn't count, because Derek is pretty sure Scott kind of begrudgingly accepts his existence, and that's it.

At the store, he ends up buying ingredients for pasta and a salad. Stiles disappears for ten minutes and comes back with a basket full of fruit and vegetables and two bottles of that body soap that smells like lemon verbena.

Then they go back to the apartment. It's three in the afternoon, Laura isn't due in until noonish tomorrow, and Derek has the rest of the day to…to do nothing.

He goes to the gym, like he does every day. He ignores the sounds of Stiles and Scot upstairs when he gets back, and, by the time the sun sets, he's managed to write ten pages of his thesis.


"You know you reek of Derek, right?" Scott always saves important conversations for when they're playing Halo together. It's predictable, and kind of hilarious.

"Yes," Stiles says, eyes on the screen in front of them. "I'm aware. You've told me that every day since Monday."

"Because it's true, maybe?" Scott makes a kill, laughs evilly.

"Does it smell like we've been dating for two and a half months?" Stiles asks.

"Dude, you know it's not just a smell thin—" Scott turns to Stiles. "I've explained this to you, right?"

"Badly." Stiles makes a kill. It's super awesome.

"It's more than smell—"

"Then don't use the word reek, because that's a word you use when something smells," Stiles explains.

"Okay, but you do smell like him, but it's more, it's like… it's a like a feeling. A complete sensory experience."

"Dude, that's awesome," Stiles says, just to be a dick. "Is it enough to convince Laura that we've been dating for two and a half months, though?"

"Yes." Scott sighs, like he's in pain.

"Can't you control your sense of smell, Scott?" Stiles asks. "Smell what you want to when you want to?"

"Yeah, why—"

"Then, if you don't want to smell me, then don't smell me," Stiles snarls. "I already have Derek sniffing whenever he walks near me and then announcing whether or not it smells, or no, I'm sorry, feels, like I'm a regular presence at casa de Hale. Don't need you to add your two cents."

Derek's been doing that every day. It's one of a few things that makes Stiles still find him irking.

"Harsh, Stiles," Scott says.

"Life is harsh, Scott," Stiles says.

Scott laughs at that, and then starts talking about how one of his professors at vet school does interpretative dance in his spare time, and that he's actually really really good. And then Stiles starts talking about sociopathic tendencies—which, really, it doesn't take long for him to start talking about sociopathic tendencies because they're fascinating—until Scott says that he's hungry and looks at Stiles plaintively, because, of the two of them, Stiles is the one that doesn't mess up boiling water. He came close, once, but he doesn't mention that to anyone.

He makes sandwiches, because he can sort of cook, yeah, but right now he doesn't want to.

Stiles goes on a run around eight, goes a good seven miles because as easy as today was, he has all this energy. Nervous energy, maybe, but also something else. Something that's been irking him, that's been chipping away at him, since Monday, and that still, even after the run, won't go away. Like a… like a buzzing under his skin.

It's like he has all this energy that just won't go away. Won't realize itself, or something.

It's been making it hard to concentrate, making his ADHD present in new ways.

Like the museum debacle. Stiles hadn't been touching it. The statue. He hadn't. At least, he doesn't remember touching it. It's only now, when he's not trying to focus on annoying and/or joking around with Derek, that he realizes just how not his fault the whole museum debacle was.

So, Stiles gets back from his run, and he still feels like he's going to jump out of his skin.

Which means he's hot and sweaty, and really not appreciative when the door to his room decides that now is a good time to stick. Scott is in his bedroom with Allison, so Stiles just tries pushing his way in, since that usually works.

It doesn't, this time.

Then he tries kicking the door and jiggling the doorknob. No dice.

Then he goes and finds a paperclip (which takes way too fucking long, because neither Scott nor Stiles have any talent for organization) to try and pick the lock. And that just… just no.

He tries jiggling the doorknob one more time, and when that doesn't do it, he lets out a snarl, all of his previously activated endorphins effectively proven mute under the sheer weight of his sudden and unexplainable rage.

"Open the fuck up!" Stiles kicks the door, hard, and snarls and… and suddenly it's flying off it's hinges, smacking Stiles in the hip and then twisting, crashing, to land hard on his foot. Above all else, what Stiles feels is… pain, lots and lots of pain. But also confusion.

He's more interested in the pain, now, though. Or, at least more interested in making it go away, so he flails, tries to grab at his hip and his foot at the same time, and ends up on the floor, his leg trapped underneath the door itself.

Maybe the door is evil, he thinks idly.

He's pushing himself up, leaning back on his elbows, when Scott throws open his own door and runs in, snarling and half wolfed-out. Then Derek slams open the front door, and Stiles's mortification is complete.

"Ow," he says.

"You—" Scott's eyes stop glowing as he looks from the door to Stiles, then back. "Did you just get attacked by a door?"

"No." Stiles stands up, glances over at Derek to see him rolling his eyes. "You got here quick."

"I heard noises," Derek grunts out, walks in when the elevator dings down the hall, closes the door behind him. He looks around once, sniffs pointedly, and then scrunches his face up in displeasure.

"What? Too much McCall smell for you?" Stiles eyes the door as Scott picks it up, leans it against the wall.

"What happened?" Scott asks.

"I—uh," Derek blinks, opens his mouth once or twice, then goes and sits down, hard, on the sofa, his back facing them.

"The door attacked me." Stiles glares at the door, choosing to ignore Derek's sudden revelation. "It wouldn't open, and then I kicked it, and it attacked me."

"Or you just pulled it off it's hinges?" Scott asks. "I could put it back—"

"No!" Stiles shakes his head hard enough that he gets dizzy. "No, we can just… we can just replace it. With a better door. A less evil door."

"Stiles, doors aren't evil," Scott says, patiently.

"That door" --Stiles points at said door--"is evil."

"So we're getting a new door." Scott sounds resigned. Behind them, Derek huffs. Whether it's because he's paying attention to their conversation and finds it funny, or because he finds his own internal monologue funny, Stiles doesn't know.

"Yeah," Stiles takes a step towards it, winces at the twinge in his hip, and pulls up his shirt—it clings, because he's still sweaty—to glare at the angry bruise already forming over his hipbone. "I'll get the measurements and go tomorrow. Just… keep that thing away from me."

"The door."

"Yes, the door." Stiles pokes at his hip, because that's what you do when you get a bruise. You poke at it.

"Do you need the first aid kit—oh, do you need first aid?" Scott practically throws the door against the kitchen counter, takes an eager step towards him. Stiles takes a step back, clutches at his hip protectively.

"They're just bruises," Derek says from behind him, "they'll go away."

"Yeah, but they'll hurt like a bitch for a while," Scott says, almost gleefully. Stiles backs up, closer to Derek, because for now, he's the safe choice. "I remember bruises. Especially ones over the bone. Man, those suck."

"It's not that bad." Stiles looks down, pokes at the bruise again, winces. Okay, it may be that bad.

It's better, he thinks, to focus on the pain, and not the confusion. Because doors don't fly out at you when you kick them. That's, like, physics.

"Maybe if you stop poking at it so hard," Derek says, sighing, "it won't hurt."

"Derek, babe." Stiles uses the pet-name just to see Derek blink and Scott go red. "No dirty talk in front of Scott."

"Oh god," Scott says.

"I'm leaving," Derek says.

Satisfied, and in a much better mood, Stiles goes and takes a shower.

Chapter Text

"Laura," Derek says. "How many suitcases did you bring?"

"Lots," Laura says with relish, shoving the most recent one in the backseat of the car. She stops, looks back at him. "I was in a hotel, remember?"

Crap. "Right," Derek says, doesn't realize he's taken a step back until Laura turns and grins at him.

"Feeling guilty, baby bro?" she asks, and grabs another suitcase. There are three more left, so Derek grabs one too and walks around to the driver's side to put it in the backseat.

"About what?"

"Oh." Laura picks up the last suitcase, still grinning. She seems strange. Like Laura, still, of course; there's the smell of the jasmine perfume she uses and the familiar scent of old books and rooibos, but underneath that is the sense, the smell of lingering sadness. Reminds him of mold and wet wool. Her eyes look tired. "I don't know. What could there be to feel guilty about?"

"I…" Derek doesn't like where this is going. "I don't know?"

"How about keeping me in the dark for two months that you've been dating Stiles?" Laura shoves the last suitcase in the car, grabs her purse from the luggage cart and throws it in the passenger seat. "While poor old me was in the process of getting dumped?

"Could we not do this now?" Derek whines. He's aware that he's whining, he just really doesn't want to do this now. At the airport. Without Stiles there to save him when he inevitably puts his foot in his mouth.

Not that Stiles never puts his foot in his mouth, it's just that when he does, he can think of something to say quick enough to negate doing it.

"Not do what?" Laura says, looks at him with wide innocent eyes, then leaves to put the luggage cart back with the others before he can answer. Or attack her. More so the latter, actually.

"We could talk about you not telling me that you were going to tell your bo-him," Derek says, after she comes back. She blinks, winces, and then gets in the passenger seat. He regrets being harsh for only a second, then remembers that this is Laura, who is going to make his life unnecessarily uncomfortable for however long it is she's staying, and doesn't feel as bad. He climbs in the driver's seat, turns the car on and starts easing it into street traffic, and smiles at her. "Or do you want to do that later?"

Score for Derek, he thinks.

"Let's talk about this later," Laura agrees, primly, and turns on Derek's iPod. The Beastie Boys start screaming about sabotage, and Derek lets it make the silence less palpable. Less tension-filled. Less… heavy. It works for Laura, judging by the way she starts slouching in her seat as they reach the freeway, how her fingers start tapping out the rhythm on her knee, and how the lines in her forehead smooth out.

It doesn't work for Derek, mostly because he's been filling pent up and caged all day, and even the Beastie Boys aren't going to make him feel less nervous about this.

"So, how's the thesis going?" she asks, still looking out the window. Small talk. Good. Derek can do small talk.

"Good," Derek says. "I got in ten pages last night."

There's a five second pause as Laura just stares at him, then she snorts, huffs out a couple breaths, then gives up and starts laughing. "That's not…" she gets out between gasps, "all you got in last night."

"Oh, come on," Derek groans, "not you too. And… and no. Just no."

"Oh, so you were the one that was…" Laura waggles her eyebrows at him and he answers by glaring and turning the volume up. Which she promptly turns back down. "It's obvious, Der-Der. You don't even smell like you anymore. No need to be embarrassed. "

Derek has a moment where he's ecstatic and guilty and terrified and irked all at the same time. It's so overwhelming that it takes a second or two for him to get his expression under control. Too slow to hide from Laura, and she bursts out laughing again.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she says, holds her hands up in surrender. "I just—you know it's my job, right, as older sister, to make you as uncomfortable about this as possible?"

"No," Derek grunts out. "I don't. And it's not. You really don't need to."

"Oh, but I do. I do," Laura says, then turns the music back up.

The rest of the drive is silent save for the music, thankfully.

It only takes them one trip to get Laura's luggage out of the car and up to the apartment, and, luckily, no one is in in the elevator to ask how they're carrying five suitcases each. They're not light, the suitcases, either. Laura must've shoved her entire closet inside.

Which bodes ill for Derek, because he still doesn't know how long Laura is planning on staying. And asking her would be like giving her a time limit. Laura isn't good with time limits. She gets cranky.

"Holy fuck," Laura says, once Derek manages to get his door open. No one is home upstairs—Stiles is at work, Scott is in class—so the place is silent. Not calm, though. "Did Stiles move in with you? I would've stayed in a hotel if I knew."

Derek blinks, turns to see Laura with her head tilted up, taking in deep breathes through her nose. He does the same, and doesn't smell anything amiss. It smells like… like Stiles. And Derek. Like it has for the past week.

Strangely, Derek has gotten used to it. Maybe even doesn't mind it.

Actually, after last night's door debacle, he knows that not only does he not mind it, he prefers it to the smell of Scott and Stiles together. Smelling Stiles's bright, fizzy sugar scent and Scott's grounded, spicy, baked bread scent made him unnecessarily angry, which is something he doesn't want to explore ever, if possible.

"No," Derek says, confused. "He's over here a lot, but—"

"A lot?" Laura snorts, walks to the guest bedroom sniffing pointedly and eyeing things the whole way. "It's like he's rubbed himself over everything after you rubbed yourself all over him."

Derek gets a visual of that, and suddenly he wants to claw something. Wants to claw something because imagining all that skin—smooth, velvety, warm, sprinkled with moles that would act like a map for his tongue—under his makes heat pool low in his stomach and travel, quick and dirty, to the rest of him.

Because, objectively, he tells himself, when Laura sniffs, looks back at him with a grin, Stiles is hot. That's all. He's been in close quarters with him for a week, and it's natural to want to know what it would be like to…to do a lot of stuff.

Derek's a twenty-seven year old male werewolf. He has needs. So it's not too much of a surprise that he's finding it harder and harder to be objective about anything concerning Stiles.

"I, uh—" Derek says, eloquently. "Well, we're going out, so…"

"Right, would never have guessed it," Laura says, all smiles, and then she disappears into the guest bedroom, leaving the door open so Derek can trudge inside with the rest of the suitcases. "At least you stayed out of here."

"Yeah," Derek says, dropping the luggage on the bed and backing up to lean against the doorframe. He watches Laura as she throws herself on the bed, bounces a couple of times, sighs up at the ceiling. On the surface, she seems happier than she was at the airport, but if he concentrates, inhales deeply and squints his eyes, he can still smell the distress, still see the telltale ticks of depression, still hear the self-deprecating lilt to her voice. "You wanna take a shower, get that airplane smell off?"

"God, yes," Laura groans, lifting her head and flashing a pair of elongated canines at him just for kicks. He snaps his, just because it's expected—just because this is what they do when they're together. "I hate airplanes, Der."

"I know," Derek says. "Why didn't you just drive up here? San Francisco is an hour and a half away."

"Sold the car," Laura says with a shrug. "Haven't got a new one yet. I'm thinking one of those smart cars? The small ones?"

"A huh," Derek says. "Interesting."

"I hate humans, too," Laura sighs. "Not all of them. Just… some of them can be real assholes, you know?"

"Yeah," Derek says. "They can."

"Not that Stiles is an asshole," Laura explains, "but Jake, he was an asshole. Is an asshole."

"Jake?" Derek, sensing that this is going to get very involved very quickly, goes and sits on the rickety chair he had shoved in here a couple of years ago and never got around to fixing.

"Jake," Laura says, her voice catching. "The guy who dumped me because he couldn't 'handle it.'"

Oh crap. Crap. Fuck. Also, fuck Jake.

"Fuck him," Derek snarls, putting his feet up on the bed and watching his toes. Stiles does that—watches his toes. Fuck, this isn't supposed to be about Stiles.

"Fuck him with a fucking claw," Laura snarls back, and, even though he hates the guy, wants to eviscerate him, Derek can't help but wince at the visual. "Three years, Derek. Three fucking years, Derek. And he suddenly doesn't want me anymore."

"Asshole," Derek snarls. Laura nods.

"Kind of wish it didn't take a keg of vodka to get us drunk," she says. "I feel like getting drunk."

"I know the feeling." Derek sinks back as much as he can in his chair, leans his head back. The panic and nervousness of the last week, of this morning, even, is being replaced (quickly) with anger and depression. Derek isn't sure which feeling he hates more.

"Hey," Laura says, pushes herself up, lightning quick, to rest on her elbows. "Sorry for just… springing this on you, all of a sudden."

Derek shrugs.

"You're supposed to say 'anything for you, Laura,'" Laura mimics his voice, narrowing her eyes at him. "Or, 'what are little bros for, Laura?' Not shrug like you know it's a hardship but you're willing to deal with it."

Derek feels the side of his mouth tilt upwards, shrugs again, slow and exaggerated, so Laura won't miss it.

"I should've told you," Laura sighs, flops back down on the bed, sighs again, "that I was going to tell him. I mean, mom told me to tell you. It's just—I was so sure, Derek. So sure. I was going to tell you afterwards, maybe convince you to come down and meet him."

"Humans are assholes," is all Derek can say to that. Laura chuffs in agreement.

"Stiles isn't an asshole," Laura says, after maybe a minute.

"He kind of is," Derek grunts.

"True," Laura hedges, "but he's not the kind of asshole Jake is. Or…" --she hesitates-- "or Kate."

"He's more of douchey frat boy type of asshole," Derek says, in hopes of getting Laura off of that particular topic of conversation. It doesn't work.

"He's good for you," Laura says. "I mean, that you've gotten over the Kate thing. That you're putting yourself out there. That's good for you. But Stiles is good for you too."

He's good for him? How the hell had she—had anyone —come to that conclusion? All they've ever done is snipe at each other and compete for Scott's friendship. Derek is… Derek lost that last one, yeah.

"He's… yeah," Derek says, and it's not a lie, because he's just saying it to say something, not to agree with her.

"Is he coming over tonight?" Laura sits up again, suddenly excited. "Am I going to be able to do the big-sister intimidation thing? Did he tell you that I e-mailed him a—"

"He has class from five to seven," Derek remembers out loud. He hesitates, then adds. "We could wait? I got stuff for pasta."

"Are you… are you going to introduce me to your boyfriend over a late dinner, Derek?" Laura sounds delighted. Her smile is all-teeth. "That… that's just adorable."

Derek smirks. He knew it was a good idea.


Stiles can't concentrate in class because all he wants to do is just run. Or do… do something else that expends energy. As much energy as possible.

He thinks it's part nerves for tonight—Derek texted him while he was still at work about coming over for dinner with Laura—and part…part something else. Not his ADHD. It's not that kind of inability to concentrate. It's something different. Maybe Professor Hilson is just being more mind-numbingly dull today than he is every other day. Maybe it's all nerves.

Maybe he can't concentrate because the bruises on his hip and foot, the ones that had already started to turn black and blue before he even stepped in the shower last night, are now nowhere to be seen.

Nowhere.

This morning he had woken up—after sleeping in his bed, which, holy fuck, amazing—had pulled off the t-shirt he had slept in, and found… nothing. No discoloration. No sting or ache or pain. Just… nothing. The only reason that Stiles knows that the door debacle actually happened was because said door was still leaning up against the kitchen counter.

Is still leaning there, because Stiles is pretty sure Scott hasn't touched it since Stiles left this morning.

He went and priced doors today (which is really something he never thought he would have to do, like, ever) at home depot, and they're not bad—a couple of hundred bucks for the door itself plus installation. Once Derek gives him the money (today!? Maybe?!) he'll be able to buy it, then make an installation appointment.

And then maybe he won't be as nervous.

Instead of taking notes, he does a million other things—checks his e-mail, writes a sentence or two of his thesis, writes a paragraph for his stats paper, checks his e-mail again, browses reddit, browses tumblr, goes on Facebook and changes his profile picture, contemplates actually writing up the contract that he threatened Derek with a week ago, then realizes it's a stupid idea anyway, and abandons it completely, organizes his calendar, makes a couple of new playlists on iTunes, checks his e-mail again...

It's not that he usually pays attention in class, or even takes good notes. It's just that today he feels frantic. And it sucks.

So, by the time class is over, he feels like he wants to claw his own skin off. Probably one-handed while doing a million other things at the same time.

The walk to his apartment helps. The six miles he runs as soon as he gets in and changes into running gear helps more, even though, by the time he gets back, it's 8:24, and he's supposed to be downstairs for dinner with Laura in six minutes.

"Dude," Scott says from where he's standing in the kitchen, eating a carrot. "I can hear Derek pacing from up here."

"Dude," Stiles mimics. "I'll be ready in five minutes. I'm just going to take a shower and then—have you seen uh," Stiles points down, mouths the word Laura, because if anyone eavesdrops, it's her. Scott grins and nods, swipes at the air with extended claws like he's pretending to be a cat.

"What does that even mean?" Stiles asks. His phone rings, and he doesn't bother to answer when he sees that it's Derek. Scott, for some reason, is laughing. Silently. He's laughing silently. But he's still laughing. "Just—is Derek listening to us?"

"Yeah," Scott says. Stiles nods, walks to his bedroom to get his clothes.

"I'll be down in five minutes," he says, loud enough so that Derek will know he's talking to him. Stiles finds it ridiculous that shit like this is normal to him. Scott laughs at something in the kitchen again, this time not bothering to make it silent.

Stiles ignores him and, maybe, slams the door to the bathroom closed a little too hard.

Which is weird, because he hadn't meant to, but considering how the last few days have gone… he's not all that surprised.

Still freaked out, but not surprised.

Derek is waiting for him outside his apartment when, after taking the quickest shower ever, Stiles rushes down the stairwell to Derek's floor, his arms crossed and his eyebrows furrowed.

"Late," he gets out before Derek can say anything. "I know, I know. Sorry. Where's Laura?"

"Inside," Derek says, gives him a meaningful look. One that Stiles takes to mean as an invitation—no, not an invitation, more like a command—for him to start acting lovey-dovey.

"Cool," He grins, shoves past Derek to open the door. Underneath the nerves, he'll admit to being a little happy—he likes Laura. He hadn't talked to the Hales at Christmas, so the last time he saw her was…was probably last Halloween, when Scott and Stiles had driven down to SF for the weekend, and somehow she had found out and made them take her out to Korean BBQ.

"Stiles," she says, from where she's leaning up against the kitchen counter, all smiles.

Stiles is always amazed, when he sees Laura and Derek together, by how similar they look. Dark, black hair. Strong cheekbones. Sharp nose. Eyes that are…kind of fucking mesmerizing, if Stiles is being honest. But where Derek is all brood and dickish melancholy, Laura is sarcasm and jokes and sincerity.

"Laura," he says, glancing over his shoulder at Derek when he inhales long and deep behind him and then makes a face.

"You smell weird," Derek says.

"Stiles," Laura says, and then, "Really Derek? Does he do this a lot?" She grins, looks at Stiles.

"Does what?" he asks.

"The smell thing. He was always big on smelling," she says, "like a dog, kind of."

"I just took a shower," Stiles says, instead of answering that. Derek takes a step closer, sniffs again.

"Still smell weird," Derek says.

"You would know," Laura says. "Stiles, did you get my e-mail?"

Derek's hand comes up to rest at the nape of his neck, and he looks back, only Derek is looking at Laura. Right. They're acting, now, because Laura is here. Great.

"The one where you threatened to kill me?" Stiles backs up a step, brings his forearm to rest on Derek's shoulder. It's a friendly gesture, one he does with Scott all the time, but it's weird doing it under the guise of a relationship. Suddenly he realizes how intimate it is, how the movement plasters his side and leg against Derek's, and how close their faces are, close enough that if he turned, his nose would brush up against Derek's ear. It feels like an embrace when he does it with Derek. Feels intimate.

Feels weird.

Stiles shifts when Derek's hand moves, and his thumb starts idly rubbing circles right where Stiles's hair ends. "Yeah, I got it."

Laura looks between them, and Stiles tries his best to look like this happens all the time. "Right," she says. "That one."

"You didn't need to send that," Derek says, right when Stiles opens his mouth to make a joke. He doesn't know which one, just knows he needs to start talking to get rid of the strange atmosphere between everyone.

"No, I don't think I did," Laura smiles, walks over to sit at the kitchen table, which, when Stiles looks at it, is already set for dinner.

"I don't think that's possible anyway, me hurting Derek," Stiles says, "dude's built like a brick shit house. And then there's, the, you know, claws and teeth."

He knows that the hurt Laura had been talking about was more emotional than physical, but, again, this is a situation that calls for jokes. Even horrible, badly-planned jokes.

"So, is it cool that I'm here for dinner?" He asks, when all he gets are twin expressions of derision from Laura and Derek. "You just got here, and Derek said you're planning on staying for a couple of weeks, at the least, so, I mean—"

"This is our official introduction as sister-of-boyfriend and boyfriend-of-brother," Laura says. Stiles snorts, untangles himself from Derek and sits down across from Laura, taking a gulp of water. "Derek's idea."

"I told him it was stupid," Stiles says.

"I think it's cute," Laura all but coos.

Derek just grunts and serves himself from the bowl in the middle of the table.

It's all very domestic and terrifying, in Stiles's opinion.

Dinner conversation drifts from safe topic to safer topic; Laura's work, Stiles's thesis, Derek's thesis, werewolf crap, Scott (but not Allison), politics. No one mentions Laura's reason for being here — Stiles knows it's private, knows that it's best that he leave Laura to deal with it — or their 'relationship.' Laura doesn't interrogate them, which is what Stiles had been expecting since this whole thing began. Had, admittedly, not been prepared for.

It's strange, to see how happy and not happy she is. Even he can pick up the signs of distress - the bags under her eyes, the obvious avoidance of any discussion involving relationships, the way she sometimes laughs too much at a stupid joke — so it must suck for Derek.

"Hey," she says when they're cleaning up, looking at him strangely, "are you nervous?"

"Why?" Stiles asks, bringing plates to the kitchen.

"You seem more fidgety than usual. And Derek is right; you do smell weird."

"I really think all of you should wear nose plugs or something," Stiles grouches. Laura just keeps looking at him, and he can feel Derek staring at him from where he's standing at the kitchen sink. "I'm… I may be coming down with something? I don't know. Feeling extra jittery."

It's best to be honest with werewolves, he's found out.

"You didn't tell me," Derek says.

"None of your business?" Stiles smiles at him, all teeth, and puts the plates down on the counter next to the sink with a clatter. "It's fine. I'm good. Plus, I'm not allowed to be nervous? You threatened me with death, Laura."

"Aw." Laura grabs him in a headlock, ruffles his hair. "You know I'm playing. You two are practically meant for each other."

Stiles's stomach drops at the same time Derek loses his grip on a plate, and it falls into the sink with a loud thud. At least it's unbreakable.

"Huh?" Stiles asks, his voice somewhat of a squeak.

"Don't do the huh thing!" Laura releases him and grabs the tablecloth, shaking it out next to Derek at the sink. "Derek did the same thing when I guessed that it was you."

"You guessed?" Stiles didn't know his voice could get that high. "Derek told me he told you."

"Well, he told me after I guessed?" Laura looks from him to Derek, grins as she walks backwards to the dirty laundry hamper. "You're going to deny this as much as Derek did, aren't you?"

"Laura—" Derek sighs. Stiles catches the look Laura sends him, catches the way her eyes snap to Derek's chest, then back up to his face.

"What? In denial about what? We've been…" he hides a wince. "We've been going out for two…two and a half months. There's nothing to hide?"

"All right," Laura shrugs, drops the tablecloth and napkins, and walks back. "Whatever you say. It's not like I'm a werewolf and can smell when you lie."

"But I'm not—"

"We're not lying," Derek interrupts in a snarl.

Well, they are lying. Just… not about what Laura thinks they're lying about.

"You two,"--she points at each of them, and Stiles can only describe the gesture as dangerous-- "have been lusting after each other for as long as I can remember. I'm just saying—"

"You're not saying anything," Derek grunts.

"I'm just saying," Laura continues over him, "that, as your older sister, I'm very happy for you."

Stiles doesn't understand what's happening. He does understand, though, that he's finding it hard to breathe. It's not a panic attack, but it's not exactly normal either.

Then again, how do you react, when the sister of the guy you're fake dating tells you that you two are meant to be?

He's going to go with guilty, for one. Very guilty. Ashamed; a little. Surprised, because, again, Stiles finds Derek objectively hot. There is no subjectivity there at all. None whatsoever. He is a—all right there may be some subjectivity, but for fuck's sake, it's Derek.

"Huh," he gets out. Derek didn't tell him this. From the way he's furiously scrubbing dishes, though, he knew about it. Which means… which means. What does that mean? Stiles doesn't know.

"Right, huh," Laura mocks.

"Well," Stiles grabs some Tupperware to start putting the leftovers away. "I mean, now we are… together, that is. Totally together."

"Right," Derek says, and when Laura looks at them strangely, Stiles realizes just how weird they're acting.

"So." Stiles searches for a way to distract her while he starts putting the dishes Derek has already rinsed off in the dishwasher. "I hear Derek told you we met in a coffee shop?


"I told you," Derek hisses, ten minutes later, when Laura goes to take the trash out, "not to use the shower thing!"

"She ate it up!" Stiles hisses back.

"I don't care," Derek snarls. "Just… couldn't you have used something else?"

"We didn't talk about anything else," Stiles says and that… that's sort of true. But, in his defense, Derek hasn't been himself for the last week. He's been distracted. And, he's had to deal with making his apartment smell like Stiles.

Which, now that Laura is here, he realizes he many have gone a little overboard. It does smell like Stiles lives here now. Like he stays over. Laura had made…a lot of innuendos today. A lot.

Not the point, though. The point is that Stiles is acting weird. He's a horrible liar—if Laura hadn't already thought they were destined to be together, and been focusing on the dinner, rather than Stiles, he's pretty sure she would notice that Stiles smells like nerves and lying.

Also, lemon verbena, which reminds Derek…

"And," he snarls, "you were late!"

"I—" Stiles winces, gets a strange, almost confused, look on his face. "I went on a run."

"Yes, I got that." Derek hears Laura coming back from the trash chute down the hall, takes a step closer to Stiles and lowers his voice to a whisper. "Why the fuck did you decide to go on a run?"

"Well--" Stiles's grin is all teeth. "--I mean, I've gotta retain the bod, right? For you? Sweetums."

"Call me sweetums, again, I dare you," Derek says, just as Laura opens the door. She freezes when she sees them, blinks, and a smile spreads across her face nice and slow.

"Already at the whispered arguments phase?" Laura says, closing the door behind her. "I think it's love."

"We're not arguing," Derek says.

"It's love," Stiles jokes, at the same time.

"You know"--Laura plops down on one of the living room chairs-- "If you want to stay over, Stiles, I have noise-cancelling earphones."

"Wouldn't work," Stiles says. "Derek's a screamer."

"I am not a screamer," Derek says loudly, over Laura's laughter. He hates Stiles. Hates him.

And, also, is grateful, because suddenly Laura is all smiles and jokes and teasing.

Damn it.

"Fine, fine, it's more of a howl, anyway." Stiles goes and sits on the couch—the one that reeks of Stiles, more so than it smells like it's Derek's, actually—and Derek follows him.

"Man, I forgot how much I missed you two," Laura gasps out, still laughing.

Stiles grunts at that, stretches out until his legs are up on the coffee table and his forearm is, again, on Derek's shoulder.

"We watching a movie?" he asks. "Or are you guys going out? Brother-sister bonding? Run in the woods or something? Because I can always lea—"

"Naah." Laura dismisses the question with a wave of her hand. "I'm up for a movie. We can run in the woods another day. Tomorrow, maybe."

"I've got an early class tomorrow," Derek says. It's been a while since he went on a run—a proper run, with pack, wolfed out—and the idea is a good one. "Maybe after that."

"Stiles can entertain me tomorrow," Laura says.

"Blegh," Stiles says. "Can't. Work. Class. Maybe tomorrow night?"

"Well that sucks," Laura says.

"You can come annoy me at work, if you want." Stiles shrugs. "Alf's pretty cool."

"I see enough antiques when I go back to Beacon Hills, no thanks," Laura says with a shiver.

Derek snorts. "You say that because every time we go back home, you break one of mom's tea cups."

"She has too many knick-knacks, Derek." Laura points at him, and her voice gets high and squeaky. "It's not natural to have that many fucking knick-knacks. Especially when you're a werewolf."

"Were you the one that broke the cup I brought her last Christmas?" Stiles asks. Derek hadn't even known that Stiles brought his mom gifts.

It's actually not that surprising, if he thinks about it. The Hales treat Stiles like an honorary Hale.

Derek wonders, now, how much of that is because of what Laura said. How much is because everyone thinks that Stiles and him are more than friends.

"You can't prove anything," Laura says. "Movie?"

"Netflix," Stiles says, pokes Derek's jaw with his thumb when he points at him. "He has it."

"Star Trek: Voyager, then. I need me some Captain Kathryn Janeway," Laura says, leaving no room for discussion as she turns on the TV and searches through sci-fi tv series.

"This isn't so awkward," Stiles whispers in his ear. Derek looks at him, then looks at Laura, because Stiles isn't stupid, he should know Laura is listening in… unless, oh, unless he knows and wants Laura to hear.

Then again, Laura probably knows that Stiles knows, so… fuck, who cares.

"I'm not a screamer," Derek whispers back. This is what couples do, right? They banter and tease and flirt? He remembers fifteen year-old him doing that with Kate.

He also remembers that Kate had laughed, had called him pretty boy and dumbo ears, ran her manicured nails down his sides and made him so confused and turned on that there wasn't really anything he wouldn't do to get in her pants.

Nowadays, when he wants a fuck, he goes to a bar, finds someone, smiles and pretends to laugh for a bit, goes to their place, and leaves right after.

Never his place. His place is his. And, well, now it's Stiles. At least for the next couple of weeks.

And then Derek swears the bleach is coming out, even if he has gotten used to the way his scent and Stiles's mix. Even if the resulting smell has kind of grown on him, all sugar and wintergreen and allspice and earth.

"Fine," Stiles says after a beat. His smell goes strange, gets sharper, and Derek can't place what it is (or maybe he can, but he just doesn't want to). Doesn't even know why he's so tuned in to how Stiles smells all the fucking time. "More of a whiner, then."

"You're the whiner," Derek grumbles, sinks into the cushions and turns from where he's been staring at Stiles's knees to see Laura smiling at both of them.

It's not a grin. It's a smile. A happy smile.

It makes him feel horrible and guilty, of course, but only for a second, because as nosy, as difficult, as strange, as his big sister is, he prefers her happy and harping at him more than her sad and bemoaning the state of the world.

"You guys are so cute," she says, and completely ruins the moment.

"Derek says I'm not cute," Stiles says, eyes on the TV. Derek gnashes his teeth.

"It's true," he snarls.

"You're cute," Stiles says, grinning at him. Derek isn't paying attention to Stiles's heartbeat to hear it stutter when he lies, so he hopes that Laura isn't either. "When you try."

"When I try?"

"All right," Laura says, "this is all very cute, and usually I would approve, but if you could just… keep your flirting to a whisper? I want to watch this."

Then she curls up in the chair, turns her body completely towards the TV, and goes silent.

"When I try?" Derek whispers in Stiles's ear.

"Dude." Stiles rears back, cups his hand over his ear, then seems to remember Laura, and leans back in. "What? You suck at this, seriously."

"I—" Derek grits his teeth, closes his eyes, and counts to ten. "I know, just—"

Stiles shuts him up by clapping a hand over his mouth and giving him a shit eating grin. When he talks, he doesn't bother whispering. "Shut up, Derek."

"Shut up both of you," Laura says.

So Derek shuts up.

He falls asleep, maybe an hour later, and when he wakes up, Stiles is gone, he's lying on the sofa, face turned towards the back, and Laura is poking him on the forehead with a clawed nail.

"Lover-boy left," she greets, flicks him on the nose until he growls, grabs at her hand to stop her. Before Derek can say anything, she cocks her head, looks up at the ceiling. "He's grumbling something about essays. I don't get it."

"Fine," Derek says, turns his face back towards the cushion to go back to sleep. Only Laura pulls him off the sofa and onto the floor.

"Have I mentioned I'm glad you're happy?" she says, putting her foot on his chest to keep him from getting up. Her head cocks, and her eyes glow an electric blue. Derek snarls up at her, pushes up, even though he knows it's impossible, knows she's stronger than him. "Little bro. Honey pie."

"Too many times," he snarls out. "Laura, let me up."

"You seem like more fun when you're around him," Laura continues, not even flinching when Derek's claws come out. "I know it was sudden, me coming up, so if you wanna sleep up there toni—"

"No!" Derek snarls out, then realizes he's too angry when Laura stops, blinks down at him with wide eyes. "I mean, you're here. I see Stiles all the time. We only, uh, get together at, uh—"

"I won't listen in," she continues, her grin back. "Much."

"Are you pimping me out?" Derek brings his legs up, wraps them around Laura's, twists until she hits the floor with a thud, and he scrambles to sit on her stomach.

He would feel bad for the people who live under him, but they play crappy techno music every Wednesday at 7am, so they can deal with some noise.

"Maybe I want some alone time of my own." She grins. "I've got this big apartment to myself, and I—"

"Your apartment is—or was—bigger."

"I got a raise last month, so my next one will be even bigger." She starts struggling, and Derek grunts as he tries to stay where he is, hisses when she starts clawing at his arms. "I'm thinking twelve foot ceilings, door man, luxury spa type of deal."

He's thrown across the room and into one of the living room chairs, and, thankfully, she doesn't follow.

"Go say goodnight to your man, dude," she says. "He was weird today. Weirder than usual. I'm going to bed."


"Your room smells weird," someone says—Derek says—from behind him, and Stiles sighs and turns around to see him sitting on his bed, wrinkling his nose.

"How'd you get in?"

"Scott," Derek says. "I'm surprised you didn't hear him laughing at me."

Stiles maybe heard Scott laughing, like, ten minutes ago, but he's not sure because he's been concentrating on his essay on H.H. Holmes.

Strangely enough, he's written six pages in thirty minutes. Usually, he writes six pages over the course of three days, so, it's strange. Awesome, but strange, like his brain is uber-concentrating to make up for his inability to do so the for entire day.

"Huh," he says. "Wasn't that a while ago?"

"I was waiting for you to notice," Derek says, giving him a bitchy smile. "You didn't."

"Did Laura send you up here?" he asks.

"She's…" Derek narrows his eyes. "She's not asleep, yet."

"That—that's relevant, I guess."

"She did," Derek says. "Send me up here."

"Weird." Stiles scrunches his nose up. "Your sister is pimping you out."

"I don't think it counts when we're already--" Derek's face does not match his words, at all. He sounds flirty, he looks… like he just bit down on a lemon. "--together."

"Still weird," Stiles says. "So, she wants you to, like, bid me goodnight, or something? Or is she hoping we sleep together so she can listen in?"

Stiles hears Scott start laughing from his room, and from the way Derek looks downstairs, he's pretty sure Laura is eavesdropping as well.

It's kind of horrible, knowing so many werewolves.

"It would be great," he says, "to have soundproof walls. Really amazing, actually. Maybe a door, too."

"We could learn a different language," Derek jokes, and this time, Stiles can see that he's genuine. "Laura knows French, though."

"Scott knows Spanish," Stiles says. "How about Korean? We could even write love notes and they wouldn't even be able to read them."

"Laura would learn," Derek says, darkly.

"Elvish," Stiles offers. When Derek just looks at him, Stiles sighs. "I'm going to finish this essay. You should stay."

"Yeah." Derek sounds resigned. Stiles hears rustling, and glances back to see Derek lying down on his bed, staring at the ceiling.

"Yeah, sure." He leans back in his chair until it creaks. "Just take the bed."

"Where the hell else am I going to sit?" Derek glares at him. "On your lap?"

Stiles gets a mental picture of that and it's not pretty—okay, wait, it's very pretty. And wrong. Very wrong. Because Derek is more straddling him than sitting on him, and his hands are sliding up his neck and jaw, and he's grinding down and—and yeah.

Stiles clears his throat and turns back to his computer before Derek smells something on him. That… that is not just for Derek. It's a natural reaction. The arousal. Stiles hasn't gotten laid in way too long.

He needs to get laid, is what he needs.

Like, really needs to get laid. Stiles always knows he's gone too long without getting laid when he starts fantasizing about Derek.

Sadly, with Laura here, he's pretty sure he's going to have blue balls for at least a couple of weeks. And then there's the problem of Stiles's inability to sleep with complete strangers, so he'll actually have to get to know someone, and then…

Guh.

He forces himself to clear his head by reading over the last paragraph of his essay over and over again until he remembers where he was going with it. Then he starts writing, and it's easy, amazingly easy, to keep going. He writes, and he writes, and he kind of feels like he's in the writing version of arunner's high, because his fingers keep moving and he can actually concentrate.

Stiles has long come to terms with never really understanding how his own head works, but today it's been stranger than usual. First he can't concentrate, feels like he wants to jump out of his own skin, and now it's like he's (a more realistic version of) Bradley Cooper in Limitless and has unlocked the key to the human mind.

He's cool with it, though. Maybe he should work on his thesis, too, while it lasts. Maybe tomorrow it'll back to the usual—a couple of pages here, a couple of pages there, and then an hour fucking around on the Internet.

"Stiles," Derek says, maybe twenty minutes later, his voice slow and careful and maybe a little rough from sleep.

"A huh," Stiles says, eyes still on his computer screen. He's just got a couple more paragraphs to go and then he can start proof-reading.

"Where did you get those wolves?"

"What wolves?" Stiles keeps typing, doesn't bother looking around.

"The ceramic wolves on your bookshelf," Derek says, voice still slow. Stiles sees him sit up out of the corner of his eye.

"Uh, some dude at Alf's sold them to me. Mr. Alvaro? Have I ever told you about him? Why?" Stiles glances up as Derek stands.

"They're glowing," Derek says, and that gets Stiles's attention. He looks around, confused at first, to his bookshelf, and then his confusion turns into, uh, a multitude of things actually.

Surprise.

Disbelief.

A little fear.

The wolves—both of them—are glowing. Shimmering, more like it. Vibrating like those spring doorstops that he used to be fascinated with as a kid. The bookshelf starts vibrating with them just as Stiles turns to look, his books and the rest of the crap Alf has pawned off on him sliding and hitting against each other.

It sounds kind of like an earthquake.

"Huh," Stiles says. Derek jumps up off the bed, wolfing out as he backs up to get closer to Stiles. Then he starts pushing Stiles—still in the chair—towards the opposite end of the room. Away from the doorless entrance. Stiles wonders if Scott is sleeping or just ignoring them purposefully.

"That's the smell," Derek snarls. "Get out of here, Sti—"

"Let's go, let's go." Stiles gets up and starts pushing Derek in front of him towards the door. "Maybe if we just walk pas—holy fuck, Derek, look at the—look at the door."

There's a shimmering, faint, barely there, almost holographic, door where there wasn't one mere seconds ago. Sties doesn't know whether to push through it or run back to the other corner of the room or cower under the bed or—

"Stiles, I can't fucking hear anything," Derek snarls, starts pushing him towards the door/not-door. When Stiles touches it, a jolt of electricity—of energy—jolts up his arm and down his spine, and he goes flying backwards, toppling over Derek until they land, hard, on the floor.

The walls start vibrating. The fucking floor starts vibrating. And Stiles can't breathe.

He's—he's shimmering. He can see his arm flickering in and out of focus, and he can't move. The only thing that's working properly are his eyes, and he looks around, sees the entire room is vibrating. The furniture is scraping up against the floor, and he can see outside into the hallway through the door that is slowly solidifying. His computer screen is flickering, going dark one second and then pixelated the next.

As he watches, his bookshelf starts rocking back and forth. Books start falling to the floor, then the other stuff he keeps there—the Gundam model Scott had gotten him for his birthday, a picture of his dad and him, a chipped bird figurine.

He can't fucking move because it hurts. Everything. His body is just one big fucking hurt. He registers that Derek has, somehow, gotten to his knees, is scrambling over to him and snarling something about fucking antiques and their fucking curses, but he can't move because he feels like he's being overwhelmed. With energy. With electricity. With something that stings at his insides and smells— smells like ozone and burnt hair and clay.

He doesn't know how long it lasts, but the room eventually just… stops. Stops vibrating. Stops shimmering. Stops glowing. Stops fucking moving. Sometime during the…whatever it was he had curled in on himself, despite Derek yelling at him and pawing at his face, probably in hopes of eliciting some kind of response from him.

The pain goes away as quickly as it started, and then he's just lying there. He's breathing hard, shivering from adrenaline and maybe a little shock, and his blood is rushing in his ears so he can't hear what Derek is saying, even though he knows Derek is saying something.

"Holy fuck," he gets out, and his tongue feels heavy, swollen. He uncurls, stares up at where Derek is crouched over him, wolfed out and eyebrowless (god, he's never really understood that part). "That was… kind of awesome."

"Are you okay?" Derek asks. Stiles brings a hand up and rubs at his eyes. He makes a noncommittal noise, tries to sit up, and fails miserably. His muscles feel tenderized.

"I have no fucking clue," Stiles says, laughing, maybe a bit hysterically. "I have a door now, though."

Derek looks up at where there's a door—it looks kind of exactly like Stiles's last door, actually—where there wasn't a door before. He gets up, hesitates with his hand over the doorknob for just a bit, and then snarls, pulls it open, and—

Nothing happens. It just opens.

"Scott," Derek snarls, coming back to pick Stiles up and throw him over one shoulder. Stiles eyes the figurines as Derek strides past them and out the door. "Scott!" He snarls again.

"What?" Scott calls from somewhere in the apartment. Voice casual, like Stiles and Derek weren't just temporarily imprisoned and electrified and…whatever.

"Get out here!" Derek yells. "You didn't hear any of that!?"

"Chill out, dude," Scott says, just as Derek puts Stiles down on the sofa, crouches in front of him and looks up at his face, sniffing suspiciously. "What the fuck do you—what are you doing?"

"You didn't hear that?" Stiles looks up at him. "My room just got, like, electrified. I think I got electrocuted."

"You only get electrocuted if you die from being shocked," Scott murmurs, looking at them strangely. "I don't—"

"Wolf figurines." Derek leans in closer, sniffs. "They don't smell possessed. They're something different."

"I have a door, now," Stiles says, stupidly. He blinks, looks up at Scott, then at Derek, then down the hall. "Holy fuck," he says, again.

"What?"

"I've got a door," he says. "And Scott didn't hear any of that. Almost like my room is soundproof."

Derek blinks, then rocks back on his heels. "I'm going to go get Laura," he says, eventually.

Chapter Text

"Your room is soundproof," Laura says from the hallway. "Your creepy wolf-thingies made your room soundproof."

"And it made him a door," Scott points out, perched on the coffee table in front of Stiles. "Smells like a normal door."

"Have you ever met Mr. Alvaro?" Derek asks Scott.

"Yeah, cool dude. Definitely not anything supernatural."

"He got them from a thrift store. The wolves," Stiles says, shaking his hands out, again. They're still tingling. "I bought the first one on a whim, and the second because… because…"--he frowns-- "I don't know why I bought the second one."

"Fuck," Laura says, walking back into the living room. "This is so cool. Magic ceramic fucking wolves, guys, how appropriate is that?"

"No, it's really not," Derek says. He's not wolfed out anymore—at least, not like he was. His ears are still pointy, and his teeth are slightly sharper than a human's, but there's none of that rearranging shit going on in his face.

"It is kind of cool," Stiles says. "I mean, if they're not possessed—we're in agreement that the wolves are the cause, right?" He pauses to look around, and everyone nods. "If they're not possessed than they're… what?"

"Magic," Laura says with a shrug. "They smell like magic."

"So cool," Scott says under his breath, and kicks Stiles's leg.

"So we should talk to someone who knows about magic," Stiles says, kicking Scott back.

"Mom would know," Laura says after a bit. "And if she doesn't than I'm pretty sure Alan would know."

"We're getting Dr. Deaton involved?" Scott perks up. "I haven't talked to him in years."

"You mean a year," Stiles says. "You saw him last summer when we went back to Beacon Hills."

"Oh, yeah," Scott nods. "Right."

"I don't think they're going to be awake, though," Laura says. "It's two in the morning. Mom will probably fly down here just to smack us if we bother her."

"She would?" Stiles asks.

"Hyperbole, Stiles, hyperbole," Laura says. "But I'm not going to call her. Or Deaton. Not tonight."

"Tomorrow, then?" Derek asks, leaning his head back on the sofa and looking up at the ceiling. "Tomorrow we find out what the idiot bought—"

"Hey." Stiles kicks him, harder than he kicked Scott. "I'm sorry for not realizing I bought a magic fucking figure—oh."

Stiles is having a lot of revelations tonight. It's enlightening. Suddenly he has an explanation for the nerves that have been steadily growing ever since he bought the two wolves, and the museum thing on Sunday, and why his door had blown off in his face last night, and why, when he woke up this morning, he had no bruises.

"Oh, what?" Derek asks.

"The museum!" Stiles says. "On Sunday. I didn't touch the statue, Derek. I know I didn't."

"Museum?" Laura plops down on the floor and leans her elbows on the coffee table. She looks tired, which is understandable, because Derek had gone down and literally dragged her out of bed twenty minutes ago.

"The…" Stiles looks at Derek. "We went to the museum yesterday, and uh, almost got kicked out because they thought I touched a statue, but I didn't."

"You were cracking up about it." Derek glares at him. "You should've told me."

"That I didn't touch the statue when the alarm went off? I thought maybe I just didn't remember, or something."

"You guys went to a museum?" Laura seems fixated. "That's adorable." She turns to Scott. "Did you know they went to a museum?"

"Uh…" Scott, wide-eyed, looks between Stiles and Derek. Stiles, mentally, tries to will him to lie. "Yeah, they told me."

"That's so—"

"Not important," Derek interrupts.

"Well, kind of, but not…" Stiles trails off when Derek just glares at him. "I'm just saying that ever since I bought those things I've been feeling… jittery. I mean, I was late to dinner because I had to go on a run to feel normal, and—"

"So, are they possessing you?" Scott asks. Derek grumbles at that.

"No, doesn't smell like possession," Laura says.

"What does possession smell like?" Stiles asks. "Also, how the fuck do you know what possession smells like?"

"Dad had a friend--" Laura waves the question away. "Not important. I say we do this tomorrow. It'll be, like, a project."

"A project." Derek leans forward, sighs, and puts his head in his hands.

"Yeah, while I'm here." Laura grins. "Might as well be useful, hey, Der-bear?"

"So," Stiles says, tries not to sound too unwilling. "I mean, that's fine. Yeah."

"The door last night," Scott says, suddenly, point at Stiles. "That was them, too!"

"Yeah," Stiles nods, "and this morning when I woke up the bruises were gone, so I'm thinking that's related."

"They… healed you?" Derek asks.

"Deaton is going to devour this," Laura says through a yawn. "You two should probably sleep downstairs with us while we take care of it. "

"Or we could just throw the wolves away," Derek snarls.

"You want to touch them, baby bro?" Laura gives him a look.

"No," Derek answers and goes sullen.

"I get the couch," Scott says.

Well, fuck, Stiles thinks.

"Wait, no…" Stiles trails off when Laura raises an eyebrow at him, looks over at Derek to see him still sullen, staring into space. "I mean, I could always just make Derek's room soundproof too."

"Because you're a screamer?" Derek smiles, shark-like, at him.

"Well, I mean, you would know, right?" Stiles tries not to preen too much at how Derek's expression falters at that.

"I definitely get the couch," Scott says, and when Stiles looks at him, he's biting the inside of his cheek to stop from laughing.

"It's not like it's a big deal or anything," Laura mumbles. "You two are the ones that are making it that way…"

"We're not," Derek bites out. He pauses, and Stiles can almost see the gears turning in his head. "It's just, fuck, not pleasant having this be the brunt of some big-ass joke."

"Aww," Laura says, sleepily. "So serious. Must be love."

"Stop livi—" Derek starts, and then stops, like he just realizes what he was going to say, and decided it was a bad idea. "Just, nevermind."


"This is all your fault," Stiles says. He's lying next to Derek in bed, glaring up at the same ceiling that Derek is glaring up at.

"How the fuck," Derek says, "is this my fault? I wasn't the one that bought a cursed figurine."

"You don't know if it's cursed," Stiles points out. "And you know why this is your fault."

Laura is asleep—it's three in the morning, of course she's asleep—but Derek concentrates, makes sure that she's breathing slow and even, before he responds. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Stiles sits up suddenly, glares down at him. "Oh really, babe, you have no idea what I'm talking about?"

Derek keeps his face neutral, shakes his head. "Nope."

Which is a lie, but Stiles doesn't know that.

"So," --and suddenly, Stiles is leaning to whisper in his ear, voice soft and venomous, and Derek can't stop the heat that curls, low and uninvited, in his stomach. He can stop himself, though, from leaning towards Stiles's mouth, even though he kind of… wants to-- "if we weren't in this little arrangement I would still be sleeping in your fucking bed, Hale?"

For some reason, Stiles calling him by his last name gets to Derek more than any of the petnames he's been using on him recently. Maybe it's the way he expels air out when he pronounces the H.

Derek suddenly realizes that he's in way over his head.

"I'm a nice guy." Derek goes for nonchalant, shrugging and turning his face to look at Stiles. Which is the wrong fucking decision, because suddenly their faces are millimeters apart, and Derek can't help noticing how Stiles's lips are slightly wet, slightly shiny. "I would've probably complained about it, but I dunno, maybe?"

Stiles glares at him for a bit, but Derek can't help but notice that his pupils are dilated, and maybe his skin is slightly more flushed than it usually is. Derek grins, nice and easy, before he really thinks about it.

He keeps his expression casual, even as he hears Stiles's heart stutter, even as he watches Stiles's throat bob up and down as he swallows, even as Stiles's smell get sharpers, gets… hotter. Holy fuck. It gets hotter.

"Jackass," Stiles snarls, and before Derek can do something he'll regret, Stiles throws himself back down and turns on his side, his back towards Derek.

Stiles's heartbeat is quick, faster than it had been, Derek knows that much. Derek's heartbeat is the same. He can hear it in his chest thudding away, and he can smell his own arousal, feel it in his fucking bones.

And… and he doesn't know what to do, so he lies there until Stiles's heartbeat gets slower, and his breathing evens out. He lies there, staring at the ceiling, wondering how the fuck he hadn't realized that he was attracted to Stiles before all of this, until his eyelids get heavy, and his heart stops beating so hard, and, eventually, he falls asleep.

He wakes up the next morning, and the first thing he realizes is that there's an arm slung over his chest and someone breathing, slow and even, on his neck. The second thing he realizes is that it's Stiles, the person who's half on top of him, and that it's Stiles's hair that's tickling his nose.

Then he realizes that Laura is standing in the doorway, arms crossed, eyebrows raised, staring at them, and he has a second, maybe two, of sleep-frazzled confusion, before he realizes that the sun is too high for him to not be late.

At least he's not hard.

"Laura," he manages, pushing Stiles back to his side of the bed with one hand and searching blindly for his phone with the other. "Doors are usually closed for a reason."

"It's nine," Laura says. "I've been standing here for literally ten seconds trying to wake you up because you said you had an early class."

"Right." Derek sits up, blinks and watches Stiles as he moans, grabs the covers, and pulls them over his head. "Guess I'm late, then."

Derek has never overslept, ever. He's not sure why he's not more frantic about it. He's also not sure why he's not freaked out about the whole involuntary cuddling situation he just, literally, untangled himself from.

"Guess so," Laura says, walking away. He hears her, when she gets to the kitchen, mutter something about pictures and blackmail and difficult brothers, and he really hopes she's joking.

Derek gets up, and watches, not really sure how to feel about it, as Stiles rolls himself in his sheets.

"Stiles," Derek says. "Get up."

No response, so he walks around, grabs Stiles's ankle, and pulls him off the bed.

"I hate you," Stiles mumbles, from the floor, his face still underneath the covers because they had been pulled off with him.

"It's nine. We're late," Derek says.

Stiles sits up at that, albeit slowly. "I can just e-mail the professor," he says, stretches and grabs his laptop from Derek's dresser, sets it on his lap, and turns it on.

"You're not even getting up?" Derek asks, goes over to grab a pair of jeans and a shirt, plus his cell phone so he can call his department and tell them he's out sick today.

"No point," Stiles says, mournfully, typing something—probably the e-mail to his professor. "I would call in sick for work, but depending on what your mom says…"

"I'm going with you," Derek says. "I mean, we're going with you, to see Mr. Alvaro."

"What. You're going to throw him up against the wall? Demand to know his allegiances?" Stiles grins.

"No," Derek snarls. "We're going to see if he sold you those wolves for a reason." Then he walks out, ignoring Laura in the kitchen and Scott… who's still sleeping on the sofa, as he locks himself in the bathroom.

When he gets out, having washed up and called in sick, Stiles is sitting on top of Scott, who's still asleep, and Laura is sitting at the kitchen counter, drinking coffee.

Derek wonders how the fuck his apartment went from being his territory to being… not his territory.

"I'm not calling Mom," Laura says, when she sees him, wrinkles her nose as she takes a sip of coffee. "I already called her with bad news. Your turn."

Oh, right, it's all Derek's fault, that his apartment isn't his any more. Because he wanted privacy, so he lied to his sister. And now… now he has no privacy, whatso-fucking-ever, and Stiles bought a couple of magic statues, and Scott is here because what doesn't he get himself involved in.

"When you roll your eyes like that you look like Uncle Peter," Laura comments, and Stiles nearly falls off of Scott he starts laughing so hard.

"Fuck you," Derek says, but he gets his cell phone out of his pocket anyway.

Mom answers on the second ring


"Hey," Derek says, wincing where he's standing over by the counter. Stiles concentrates on staying on top of Scott, who's awake now, and is sleepily trying to fight his way out of the cocoon of blankets he's wrapped himself in.

"Get off," Scott grumbles.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm good I was just—" Derek is pacing, scratching the back of his head with his free hand, looking like he wants to be anywhere but here. It's hilarious.

"Put her on speaker!" Laura grabs the phone out of Derek's hand, turns speaker on, and sets it on the counter. "Hi mom."

"Laura?" Mrs. Hale sounds the same as she always does; slightly amused, a bit wary.

"Hey mom, we've got a problem," Laura greets, grinning. "Or, well, Stiles does."

There's a long pause, during which Scott pushes Stiles off of him, realizes the time, and rushes upstairs to get ready for the class he has in twenty minutes.

"What did you do, Derek--" Mrs. Hale's voice gets dangerous, and Stiles looks to see Derek staring at the phone with wide eyes. "--to Stiles?"

"I didn't do anything!" Derek glares at Laura when she starts laughing. "Stiles, get over here. You were the one that bought the stupid things."

"Stiles is there?" Mrs. Hale sounds happy now. Stiles jumps up to join them at the counter, sitting at one of the stools and smiling at Derek when he glowers at him.

"Hey Mrs. Hale," he greets. "How are you?"

"Stiles!" Mrs. Hale says. "What did Derek do?"

"I didn't do anything," Derek grunts, goes and sits next to Laura at the counter. "Stiles bought a pair of possessed—"

"You said they didn't smell possessed," Stiles interrupts. "Cursed. Or magic. I don't know."

"Stiles bought a pair of magic figurines," Derek continues, "and we don't know how to deal with them."

"Interesting," Mrs. Hale says, after a bit, drawing the word out. "How do you know they're magic?"

"They made my door blow off its hinges when I kicked it," Stiles says, "because it wouldn't open. And then they healed my bruises. And when—"

"They made a magic door to replace that door," Laura says. "And when Stiles said he wanted soundproof walls, they made the walls of his room soundproof."

"There was also the pain," Derek points out. "I feel like that's the most important part? Stiles was in pain because the figurines attacked him."

"We don't know if they attacked me," Stiles says. "They could've been protecting me because you were pushing me out the door."

"You were whimpering," Derek says. "I had to carry you out of your room when it was over because when you touched the door it shocked you."

"I'm not defending them," Stiles says. "I'm just saying that—"

"Shut up, both of you," Mrs. Hale interrupts on a sigh. Laura just starts laughing. "Could you, possibly, tell me that again, although this time more coherently, Stiles?"

So Stiles tells her, and he thinks he does a pretty good job, even though Derek spends the entire explanation with his head in his hands, muttering shit under his breath. Laura cackles at odd moments, even as she goes and gets her second cup of coffee.

"So," Mrs. Hale says when he's done, "you were with Derek at the museum on Sunday, and he was with you last night in your room?"

Stiles freezes. Derek's head comes up, and he stares, wide-eyed, at him.

He doesn't know why he didn't realize this is what would happen. Fuck, he doesn't know why Derek wasn't paying more attention. Derek should've stopped Stiles. Or distracted Laura, so that Stiles could, maybe, like, lie. Or…or something. Fuck.

Laura starts cackling again.

Stiles realizes that he may have just fucked up. Fucked up really bad. Fucked up enough that the thing between them is going to turn into more of a thing. He opens and closes his mouth, looking at Derek for an answer. Derek, who's gripping at his hair now, his face scrunched up in panic.

"Stiles," Mrs. Hale says, when he's been silent for too long, her voice sounding odd. "Are you… are you dating my son?"

"I… uh," Stiles says, gives Derek a pleading look. "We… uh…"

If they tell Mrs. Hale she's going to tell Mr. Hale, and then Cora's going to find out, and from there it's only a matter of time before the entire fucking town knows they're dating.

Even though they're not, in fact, fucking dating.

"Stiles." Mrs. Hale's voice gets dangerous.

"We were… uh…"

"Mom," Derek finally says, and then he seems to lose his nerve, because he opens his mouth, and then closes it with an audible click, goes back to holding his head in his hands.

"You should see their faces, mom, it's precious," Laura says.

"You knew, Laura?" Mrs. Hale sounds happier than Stiles expected she would. "You knew and you didn't tell me?"

"I only found out a week ago," Laura says, grinning and clapping Derek on the shoulder.

Stiles, meanwhile, is in shock.

"How long?" Mrs. Hale asks.

"Two, three months, I think," Laura says, glances at Stiles and snorts out a laugh. "Mom, just, hold on, I'm going to send you—" She takes a picture of them with her phone before either Derek or Stiles can do anything. That seems to get Derek out of his trance, because he jumps over the counter trying to reach her, even though it doesn't work.

"Sent, check your e-mail, mom," Laura says, glances at Stiles, then back at Derek. "You two are overreacting, you know."

They're really not, Stiles thinks. Maybe if they actually were dating they would be overreacting. But they're not dating, and now Mrs. Hale thinks they are dating and… and it's only a matter of time before they start asking questions that Derek and Stiles won't be able to answer.

And then not only will Derek be in trouble. Stiles will be in trouble with him.

Actually, trouble is too nice of a word. Trouble sounds like what you're in when you steal the last cookie or something. They're going to be fucked. Fucked sideways with a… with something large and painful, Stiles knows that much.

"You really are, Derek," Mrs. Hale says, and then, ten seconds later, she starts cackling. "Your faces. You look like someone died."

"Maybe we should concentrate on the figurines?" Derek grounds out. Stiles nods a little too frantically. "I don't know, that just seems like the more pressing issue here."

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Yeah that would be great."

"Aww, honey," Mrs. Hale says. "I'm happy for you two. There's no need to be embarrassed about anything."

"There is a need," Derek mutters. "A very big need."

"What's wrong with Stiles?" Mrs. Hale's voice gets hard. "Stop being difficult, Derek."

"I'm not being diffi—"

"Uh, Mrs. Hale?" Stiles interrupts, before Derek throws the phone or something. "Do you know what they are? The figurines?"

"No, hun, no clue," Mrs. Hale says. Stiles can almost hear her shrugging. "Sounds like magic. Alan will know, though. Do you still have his number, Laura? Derek?"

"I do," Laura says. She starts doing something on her phone, and Stiles assumes she's going through her contacts. "Yeah, I've got it, right here."

"Well then, there you go," Mrs. Hale says. "I'm sure he'll come up with something."

"Yeah," Stiles squeaks out. "Thanks for the help Mrs. Hale."

"You sound mortified, love," Mrs. Hale clucks. "Would you rather I not tell the Sheriff about the figurines?"

"Right, that would be great," Stiles says. "At least until we take care of it."

"At least," Mrs. Hale agrees. There's a pause, and Stiles watches as Laura goes and puts her empty coffee mug in the sink, then disappears to the bathroom. Derek is still sitting, the heels of his hands digging into his eyes.

Stiles kind of wants to crawl into a hole.

"Keep me updated, though," Mrs. Hale continues. She pauses. "And you know I love you both?"

Stiles feels a familiar tightness in his chest that he only gets when someone reminds him of his mother's death, but it passes fairly quickly. Derek, though, lifts his head up and looks at him all knowingly.

Stiles makes a mental note to tell Derek to stop smelling him, and then clears his throat. "Yeah, yeah, thank you, Mrs. Hale. We'll call or e-mail if Dr. Deaton tells us anything."

"Is Laura still there?" Mrs. Hale asks.

"No," Derek says. "She just walked in the bathroom."

"Treat her nicely, Derek," Mrs. Hale says, not even bothering to lower her voice.

"I am, mom," Derek says. Stiles scoffs at that, because Derek doesn't treat anyone nicely. Or, scratch that. Derek only treats people he wants to bang nicely, and even then, it's only until they're actually in bed with him.

"Love you," Mrs. Hale says, and then she hangs up.

"Stiles," Derek hisses out, just as Stiles hears the shower being turned on. "What the fuck was that?"

"I don't fucking know, Derek," Stiles hisses right back. "I didn't think, all right? Neither did you. So don't blame me."

"Don't blame you?" Derek leans, jabs his finger in Stiles's face. "Who the fuck else was on the phone? Who the fuck else bought fucking magic figurines?"

"It wasn't me"--Stiles pushes Derek's finger out of his face, ignores as Derek sharpens his canines in some sort of half-assed threat-- "who started lying to their sister in the first place, fucker. Maybe if you weren't such a self-imposed fucking martyr none of this would've happened."

"Martyr?" Derek huffs out a laugh. "How about this? You know the thousand bucks I haven't given to you yet? You're not getting it until this shit is over. How's that for martyr?"

Stiles should've seen that coming.

It's not like he needs the cash. And it is weird getting paid to pretend to be in a relationship. It was fine when only Laura knew, but now… now it's weird. It's the principle of the thing, though, that makes him angry. Because suddenly this is turning into something that is really involved. Complicated. Unnecessarily terrifying.

Fucking ridiculous.

"Fine," Stiles snarls. "I'm going upstairs to get ready, honey. In the meantime, go fuck yourself on a cactus."


Derek can feel the anger coming off of Stiles in waves.

He doesn't give a shit.

Okay, he does give a shit, because when Laura finally gets out of the shower—five minutes after Stiles comes back down from his apartment—she keeps looking at both of them with a half amused, half concerned expression. Derek just doesn't give a shit that Stiles is angry, because he's just as fucking angry.

At Stiles, because the fucker hadn't been thinking. Had made this whole shitty situation bigger than it should be. At himself because he didn't do anything to stop it, because he started it in the first place.

He's also, slightly, angry at Laura, but it's not like he can tell her why.

"Did you call Deaton yet?" Laura directs her question at Stiles, who's sitting at the table they ate dinner at last night, doing something on his computer.

"No," Stiles grunts. "We were waiting for you."

"Right." Laura blinks, looks over at Derek where he's drinking coffee leaning against the fridge. "I guess I'll call?"

"Your phone," Derek grunts. "That would make sense."

"Touchy, touchy." Laura sticks her tongue out at Stiles, but he doesn't see it, then she sticks her tongue out at Derek, who does, and bares his teeth, growls, until she holds her hands up in surrender and walks over to her phone.

"Oh, watch out Laura, Derek's sensitive today," Stiles snarls, eyes still on his computer. Derek narrows his eyes at him.

"What the fuck," he asks, "is that supposed to mean?"

"Uh, guys?" Laura winces. "Should I not have told—"

"No, you shouldn't have," Derek can't help saying. He doesn't even care that it might be suspicious to be so angry.

"Well," Laura says right back, voice getting hard. "I did."

"Because, as usual, you've got to find someway," Derek snarls, turning back to her, "to butt into my life."

"I'm going to go upstairs and call Deaton" Laura says, after just glaring at him for a bit, then glaring over at Stiles, who's looking at his computer with too much intensity, then back at him, "and you two can be dickheads down here, okay?"

"I'm not letting you near tho—"

"You're not letting me?" Laura asks, her eyes flashing a warning and her face shifting. "Derek, baby bro, Derrie, who ranks higher here, wolf-wise?"

"That's not—"

"—what you meant? Don't give a shit," Laura smiles, her teeth all white, sharp, and gleaming dangerously. Derek holds back a snarl, tamps down the instinct to curl in on himself. "We'll talk about… about that, about what you just said, later, but right now, I'm going upstairs, I'm calling Deaton, and you two—"

"I could come with," Stiles says, "since it's my room."

"You two," Laura continues, "are staying down here. I don't give a shit if you talk it out or not, I just don't want to hear your bickering while I'm trying to do something. Okay?"

Derek grunts in response, and goes to grab something—anything really, just so he doesn't have to look at Stiles or Laura—from the fridge. He ends up not getting anything, just staring at leftovers and what is probably a carton of milk that is two months old until he walks over to the counter to turn on his laptop.

"You're such a fucking dickbag," Stiles snarls, five minutes later. Derek can't hear Laura anymore—he heard her muttering her way up the stairs, then walking in the apartment—so he's assuming she's in Stiles's room. "And I think those figurines might be focus items."

"Fuck you," Derek says as he turns around, and then, "what?"

"Go fuck yourself," Stiles gives him the finger, and, for some reason, Derek is caught up in noticing how big his hands and how long his fingers are instead of what he should do in retaliation. "And maybe get a hearing aid."

"Focus items are for witches," Derek says, getting up and walking to see what Stiles is looking at. "Are you a witch? How do you even know that?"

"The Internet is a wonderful tool, dickbag," Stiles says, pointing to the page he has open. "Magic stays in focus items."

"Still doesn't explain why it's reacting to you." Derek leans over Stiles's shoulder to scroll down the page.

"Yeah, but it's somethi—" Stiles stops talking, and Derek looks from his computer screen to his face to see that it's frozen in an expression that would be funny, if it wasn't accompanied by the sudden overwhelming smell of ozone and clay and burning

"Stiles?" he asks, his voice high to his own ears.

"I think, uh," Stiles croaks out, grimacing as he tries to get out the words. Derek smells, underneath the magic, pain and fear and something else, something earthier, but mostly pain. He reaches a hand out, grasps Stiles's shoulder, starts taking the pain away, glancing back the table where Stiles's fingernails are digging deep grooves into the wood. "I think, uh, Laura pissed them off?"

"Focus items don't—" Then the words sink in, and Derek is out of the apartment before he even thinks about it, pounding up the stairs to the floor above.

The door to Stiles's bedroom is open when he runs through the living room and down the hall, and he sees Laura in Beta form, crouched, defensively, against the opposite wall, her mouth pressed into a thin line. She's holding her phone out in front of her, and at first, he thinks she's panicking, and is using it as some kind of shield, but then he sees that Deaton is on-screen, looking perturbed. She has him on a video call, watching the two wolves as they… they do something. He can't tell, though, because he can't hear anything.

Derek rushes in the open door, and the sounds are grating after the relative silence of outside. The room is vibrating, like it did last night, but this seems different. Seems less… magical. The wolves are glowing, shimmering in and out of focus and moving so much they're making the thing that Stiles dares to call a bookshelf rock back and forth on it's rickety wheels.

"Laura," Derek says. The smell is strong here, as strong as it was downstairs, when Derek had smelled it on Stiles. The air though, is heavier. "What did you do?"

"Derek," Dr. Deaton says from the phone, smiling a greeting at him, "seems you're having an exciting week."

"Seems so," Derek snipes back, turns to Laura with raised eyebrows. "Well?"

"I didn't do anything," Laura snarls. "A couple of minutes ago they just started vibrating, feeling… angry and I put Deaton on video."

"That long? Laura, you idiot, they could be dangerous!" Derek moves to push Laura out of the room, but she pushes him away.

"They're only going to harm you if you touch them," Dr. Deaton says. Laura turns the phone so he's facing them. "They're—"

"Focus items?" Derek asks, and maybe gets a secret thrill out of the pleased look on Dr. Deaton's face. "Stiles found something on the Internet after you came upstairs, so if we could…"

The figurines make him nervous. He wants out. He wants Laura out.

"Yes, focus items," Dr. Deaton says. Laura lets Derek pull her out of the room, and just as they cross the threshold of the door, the walls stop shimmering and the wolves stop glowing.

"Is Stiles a witch?" Laura asks.

"The focus items aren't his," Dr. Deaton says. "You said he got them from an antique dealer? My best guess is that they belonged to a witch. There's still magic in them, and that magic is reacting to his presence."

"Because he's a witch?" Laura asks, confused. Derek pushes her down the hall and through the living room.

"I've never been sure," Deaton says, and Derek sees his eyebrows furrow even with the phone held in Laura's hand at an odd angle, "but the focus items are volatile in their own right, especially without an owner. It's strange, though, doesn't make sense that they react to him now of all times."

"I don't get it," Laura says, shifting her features back to human. Derek gets her out of the apartment and closes the door behind him.

"All that energy can't stay in a figurine—or two," Deaton says. Derek is about to steer them towards the stairs when Laura holds up her phone and points to the elevators.

"Stairs don't get reception," Laura says, then walks off. Derek sighs and follows.

"So there's power leaking out," Laura says, "of the figurines."

"Power that needs to realize itself in some way, and these focus items have latched on to Stiles as their new… I suppose master is an appropriate word."

"So is it going to stop?" Derek asks.

"Eventually, when the power that was stored in those focus items is all used up, yes, but I have no idea how long that's going to take," Deaton says.

"And until then, we can't touch them."

"No, I would advise against it, you've done well so far, not touching them," Deaton says, nodding. He frowns, though, just as they reach the elevators and Laura presses the down button. "It's, but… it's odd that they're reacting so… powerfully."

"What do you mean?" Laura looks down at him, scrunches her nose.

"In rare cases, many focus items have been mistaken for poltergeists," Deaton talks over her, turned away slightly, his face lit up by a computer screen, "when the magic-users who use them die, and they're given or sold or bought and people don't understand what they are. But I've never heard of one obeying an entirely new individual, let alone one that has shown only minimal evidence of being a practitioner before then…"

"Minimal? You've thought Stiles could be a witch? How the fuck hasn't he, like, started hissing at snakes in zoos or accidentally blowing people up?" Laura asks, just as the elevator door opens and they get in. Derek hates elevators. They take too long. This whole thing is taking too long. He should—fuck, he left Stiles down in the apartment.

"Fuck," he says. "I left Stiles—"

"What happened to Stiles?" Laura and Deaton both ask.

"I left him when I came up to get Laura," Derek tells Deaton. "He was… affected, I guess. That's how I knew that something was happening."

"Idiot," Laura snarls. She sprints out as soon as the doors open, Derek right behind her, and when they get to the apartment, Stiles is slumped in the same seat, glaring up at the ceiling.

"Ow," Stiles says, when Laura scrambles up to him, turns his head to her and starts sniffing. Derek hovers behind her, not really sure what to do. "Oh god stop sniffing. You fucking werewolves and your fucking sniffing."

"Sounds fine to me," Derek hears Deaton say from where Laura is clutching her phone in one fist.

"Dr. Deaton?" Stiles asks. Laura holds up the phone and smiles.

"Stiles," Deaton says. "Are you feeling lightheaded? Shocked? Is your skin sensitive to the touch? Feels like pins and needles everywhere?"

"Yeah," Stiles says, slowly, with a shrug. "Sluggish, too."

"Interesting," Deaton says. "Let me do some research, and then I'll get back to you."

"Alan," Laura turns the phone's screen to her. Derek watches as one of her hands slides up from where it's been clutching at Stiles's shoulder to his neck, and he's disturbed at how annoyed that makes him, even if her veins are turning black from the pain she's taking away. "We were going to go with Stiles to work to take look at the guy who sold them to him, do you think-?"

"Sounds safe enough, to me," Deaton says.

"Cool, great, awesome," Stiles says, sighing and pushing his neck into Laura's hand. Something about that movement digs at Derek until he gives in, moving forward to pry Laura away and replace her hand with his.

Stiles's heart stutters at the contact, and Derek ignores what that means. He can feel Laura smirking at the back of his head, though, which makes it harder.

The skin of Stiles's neck underneath his hand is warm to the touch and smooth, and as he leeches away the pain, feels it as thousands of needles pricking at his skin, he ignores how much he wants to touch more than Stiles's neck with more than just his hand to do more than just take away his pain.

He realizes that he's looking into Stiles's eyes, trying to find something there, maybe, and also ignoring how Stiles's heartbeat is getting quicker, not slower, the longer Derek's hand stays where it is, and he angles his head down, watches the veins in his arm go dark, clears his throat because he suddenly feels warm.

"Thanks Deaton," Laura says, laughing. "We'll tell you if anything comes up."

Chapter Text

So, Stiles is attracted to Derek. He should've, really, seen that one coming. Stick two people in a fake relationship and force them to be together enough, and there's bound to be some curiosity. It's natural that he wants to know how it feels to have Derek over him, under him, sliding his hands along Stiles's skin and moaning when he slides his against Derek's.

He didn't see it coming, though.

It was a surprise. Like, surprise, the guy you're angry at and kind of hate right now has his hand at your jugular, is leeching away pain like it's a normal thing, and all you can think of is how you want that hand to be his tongue.

Stiles bets Derek knows how to use his tongue. Knows how to lave it over sensitive skin and use it to sooth the bites that Stiles is assuming he's into giving. Biting has to be a werewolf sex thing. It has to. Or maybe he wants it to be a werewolf sex thing…

But no, no, Stiles hates Derek. He's a snob, an asshole, a dickface. He… he's immature. More immature than Stiles, and that's saying something. Stiles would never lie to anyone about having a boyfr—oh wait, he's going to lie to his dad about having a boyfriend. He's going to lie to everyone about having a boyfriend, because… because… Stiles doesn't really know why he doesn't just tell everyone that Derek is lying. It's not like Derek would lie for him.

Okay, so maybe both of them are at the same maturity level. Derek just hides his under scruff and cheekbones and muscle.

"—so Dr. Deaton was saying that it's rare for focus items to attach themselves to someone, so—Stiles?" Laura looks back at him from the passenger seat of Derek's Camaro, eyes narrowed. "You okay?"

"No, I'm hearing voices in my head," Stiles deadpans, rolling his eyes.

"Funny," Laura says, the expression on her face saying that it's not funny at all. "Like I was saying—"

"You explained this to me back at the apartment, and the page I was looking at had more on it," Stiles interrupts, because if he doesn't Laura is just going to keep going. "The wolves are focus items. They're fixating on me for some reason, acting stranger than usual. Which means that they were either cursed or I'm magic. Got it."

"Right." Laura looks proud. "And there was something else, something about intensity, but Deaton didn't know what it was, so he's doing some—"

"Research, yes," Stiles interrupts. "While it's 'take your werewolves to work' day for me. Oh joy."

"We could just let you take care of this on your own," Derek says, looking in the rear view mirror for a second, then putting his eyes back on the road.

"You know, if someone listened to you, Derek, they would think that we didn't have sex twenty times last week," Stiles says, picking a number off the top of his head. "Or that you like to cuddle after."

"Vicious, Stiles," Laura chokes out, and he turns to see that her face is red and she's biting the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. He wonders if she can tell that it's a lie.

"He's a sucky boyfriend, Laura." Stiles claps his hand on Derek's shoulder, who tenses under him, glaring. "Which is why we really didn't want this to be a big deal. More of a sex buddy thing, actually."

"Sex buddies don't go on dates," Laura points out.

"That's the buddies part," Stiles explains. "Just two dudes, going to the zoo together, getting kicked out of the museum together, studying at Starbucks together. We went to froyo on Su—last week." Stiles takes out his phone, flips to a picture he had taken of Derek at the froyo place. His mouth is open, spoon halfway to his mouth, and he's scowling at the camera. "See?"

"Pictures?" Laura grabs his phone. "You have pictures? Oh man, this is…" She trails off as she goes through the album he named 'Not Dates.' "This is perfection."

Derek is openly snarling at him in the mirror now. Stiles leans back in his seat, shrugs, and gives Derek the widest grin he can.

"You have him as your wallpaper," Laura coos, a couple of minutes later.

"Adorable, right?" Stiles asks, still grinning at Derek.

"You're not as embarrassed about this as Derek is, are you?" Laura looks back at him, and he shrugs.

"Not so embarrassed that I can't have fun embarrassing Derek," he says.

Derek grunts at that, turns into the strip mall that holds Alf's Antiques, and parks in a stall right in front of the shop. It's ten minutes until his shifts starts, which means Henry, Alf's other worker, will still be there, manning the front desk.

Stiles doesn't necessarily hate Henry, but he doesn't like him either.

The dude's skeevy.

"So," Laura says, throwing Stiles's phone over her shoulder at him, looking at the dusty windows of the shop,"we go in there and just… wait?"

"Mr. Alvaro usually comes in around five thirty?" Stiles says. "Right before I close up."

"… So we have to stay here for five hours?" Derek asks.

"You were the one that wouldn't let me drive, fucker. There's a coffee shop." Stiles points at it. "They've got good sandwiches, and free wi-fi. Hang out there, or, I don't know, go back home? I'll call you when he comes in."

"Fun," Derek says. Stiles grins.

"Only the best for you, sweet cheeks," Stiles says, climbing out of the car after Laura gets out and pushes her seat forward for him.

He grabs his laptop bag, waves a goodbye at Laura, and enters Alf's just as Henry is walking out from behind the counter, his ratty backpack slung over his shoulder.

"Stiles," he says. "Long time no see."

"Henry," Stiles greets, walks past him. "Anything interesting happen?"

"Nothing much," Henry has a tendency to stare at people when they talk to him, unblinking and a little too intense. It doesn't really scare customers off, for some reason, but it does tend to freak Stiles out.

Thankfully, Henry doesn't stay and chat, just says goodbye and leaves.

And Stiles is alone. Which is… nice, because the last forty-eight hours have been intense. Stiles is by no means an introvert, but sometimes it's good to just be alone. And, maybe, not think about certain issues with certain ceramic figurines at all.

His first customer is an old woman carrying a shivering Chihuahua, who buys an antique spinning wheel and requests that it be delivered that weekend at promptly noon.

His second customer is a young dude in skinny jeans and an ironic t-shirt who buys a carved Buddha hand Alf had shipped in from Indonesia a couple of weeks ago.

Stiles uses the time in between customers to finish up a couple of essays, including the one he had almost finished last night, and do some much needed reading for his stats class. He's not feeling as frantic as he was yesterday, which is probably because of the thing that happened this morning. The thing that he's not mentioning to himse—oh, fuck it. He'll mention it.

The episode this morning, or whatever it was, has kind of exhausted him. He actually likes the exhaustion compared to how he felt yesterday, when he couldn't even sit still for a minute without wanting to rip something up. Maybe a piece of paper. Maybe his skin.

He should be more freaked out about it—the magic, the implication that he might be magic, the whole fucking shebang—but he's really not. He kind of thinks that part, actually, is cool. And exciting. Okay, it's fucking awesome.

Because seriously, magic.

What he doesn't like, however, is how the magic affects him. Because it hurts. It hurt less today than it did yesterday, but still… pain. Not a good thing, in Stiles's book. Kind of the opposite, actually.

So, he's not really freaked out about the magic, per se—he's surrounded by werewolves… who are pretty much magical creatures—but he is freaked out about his attraction to Derek.

There are too many variables that make that whole thing strange. Stranger than the magic thing. Like how he's known Derek for seven years. Like how he's pretending to be in a relationship with him just so Derek doesn't have to be in a relationship. It's all very weird and confusing and odd.

Although, again, Stiles shouldn't be surprised. If anyone's into weird and confusing and odd, it's him.

Stiles isn't blind. He's seen the way Derek has started to look at him. The way Derek watches his mouth, his hands, fuck, sometimes even his neck. He knows what it means when Derek's pupils dilate, what it means when he just stares at Stiles with wide eyes, like he's just as freaked out about being attracted to Stiles as Stiles is about being attracted to him.

Stiles doesn't know what to do about that. The… the attraction bit, that, apparently, is mutual. Has been mutual for who knows how long. He hadn't even known that was possible, so he has no plan whatsoever. No strategy. No idea what to do about it.

Laura seems to think—the whole fucking Hale family seems to think—that Derek and him are something more than they are, and Stiles wonders if he's really been ignoring and repressing feelings of love for Derek, or if Laura telling him that everyone thinks they like each other has made him curious.

It's all very frustrating.

He doesn't know if he should just continue ignoring it. Or, well, ignoring it now is impossible. Once Stiles has had a good sit-down with himself, the option of ignorance just goes out the window. He can pretend to ignore it, though. Or he can repress it. Or just not act on it.

Or he can just shove Derek up against a wall, kiss him, and see what happens.

That… now that Stiles has that image in his head, it's kind of hard to get out. There would be a lot of teeth. A lot of heat, and Derek would turn them, maybe pin him up against the wall and start devouring his mouth, start kneading those hands into his—

"Fuck!" Stiles yelps when his phone starts vibrating in his pocket, jumps clear off the stool he's been sitting in for who knows how long and knocks his elbow against the hard mahogany of the counter.

For a second, he thinks it's not the phone, but another… episode of whatever those figurines are doing to him, and wonders whether he should just curl up now or wait to collapse, wait for the pain. Then the phone buzzes again, and he's glad he's alone.

Except for the security cameras, but Stiles is in charge of those too.

He pulls the phone out, sees that it's Scott, and answers it while he situates himself back on the stool, tapping a couple of keys on his laptop to wake it back up.

"Scotty, my man," he says. "Hola."

"Stiles, I didn't-why do you always pronounce the H?" Scott asks.

"Because I know it annoys you," Stiles says. "What's up?"

When Scott hesitates, Stiles can feel him cringing over the line. His stomach plummets.

"Scott, dude, what's up?" he asks again.

"I, uh, I didn't tell her, I swear," Scott starts. Stiles's stomach, if possible, plummets even more.

"Tell who what?" Stiles asks.

"Allison," Scott says. "Allison called me and asked why Lydia is talking about you and Derek on Facebook."

"Lydia!?" Stiles screeches, almost falls off his stool again. "What did it say? Scott, what did she say?"

"I don't know how it leaked, man!" Scott cries. "I swear. She just told me to tell you congratulations, and then said something about Facebook and relationship statuses and I don't know!"

"Oh god," Stiles moans, pushing his laptop out of the way to bang his head, repeatedly, on the counter in front of him. "I knew it was going to get out, but I didn't know it would be this fucking fast."

"Yeah, dude, how?" Scott asks.

"We called Mrs. Hale, remember, we said we were going to last night?" Stiles mutters. "I may have let it slip that Derek and I were on a date, and he was in my room when things… happened."

"But you weren't on a date," Scott says.

"I know I wasn't on a date. It wasn't even a pretend date it was for… photographic evidence, but Mrs. Hale, and Laura, and… no one else knows that!"

"… so Mrs. Hale told…"

"Someone else," Stiles groans. "Who told someone else, who told…"

"Someone else?" Scott supplies, and Stiles can hear him laughing now.

"This is…"

"Kind of funny dude, admit it," Scott says. "You're always comparing shit to movies, this is, like… a small lie that spirals out of control and turns into this gargantuan clusterfuck. It's hilarious."

"Good use of the word gargantuan," Stiles says. "Everything else you said sucks."

"You should probably tell Derek," Scott suggests.

"You think, Scott?" Stiles hisses. "Fuck, the dude's already pissed at me as it is."

"What was he expecting? His mom not to tell everyone who'll listen? Dude's in denial, if you ask me."

Stiles grunts in response, skimming his finger along the smooth wood in a circle, rubbing his thumb in the dents that Derek had made a week ago.

"You should probably check Facebook before you tell Derek," Scott says. "Where are you, anyway?"

"Work," Stiles mutters. "Waiting for Mr. Alvaro. Derek and Laura are at that coffee shop."

"The one with the sandwiches? Awesome," Scott says. There's a pause, and Stiles hears muffled voices from Scott's side. "I gotta go, dude, and uh… good luck? Check Facebook."

Then he hangs up.

Stiles doesn't check Facebook. He just stays where he is, every once and a while hitting his head against the counter, rubbing circles into the wood with his fingers.

Maybe if he ignores everything it will all just stop.


"We've been here for three hours," Laura says, sitting across from him at the too-small table, "and you haven't said five words, Derek."

"I'm researching," Derek says, and it's only half a lie. He's researching, yes, but he's also avoiding the way that Laura is looking at him. Like she wants to talk.

Derek doesn't want to talk. About a lot of things.

"You're avoiding," Laura argues.

"I'm not avoiding anything," Derek says. "I took off work to take care of this. If I was avoiding, I wou—"

"I'm not going to make you talk, asshole," Laura says, grinning at him. "You don't have to get all defensive."

"Good," Derek says, goes back to researching.

Everything he's reading online—the stuff that's reputable, at least—is saying that focus items eventually run out of energy. That you just have to wait for them to become regular items again, and then your supernatural troubles are over. Derek doesn't want that, because from what he's seen the last two days, he's going to bet that these particular focus items have a lot of energy still in them, so they're going to take a while to run out of said energy.

He already has to deal with a fake boyfriend and a sister, he doesn't want to have the added stress of magic to the mix.

Sad thing is, though, he's probably going to have to. Whenever people try to touch them with the intention of getting rid of them before they've run out of energy, bad things happen. Bad, violent, horrible, bloody things.

He's not sure if being a werewolf would make it worse, and he really doesn't want to find out. Derek is averse to risk, in most situations. In a lot of situations. He has a history that makes risks bad ideas.

"This is a nice change of pace," Laura says, a little bit later. Derek grunts, in the middle of reading up on a suspected poltergeist that had turned out to be an out of control focus item. Seems worse than the one they're dealing with. At least theirs listens to Stiles.

Actually that might turn out bad.

"I said, this is a nice change of pace," Laura tries again, a little later. Derek looks up, sees her looking at him with a dangerous expression.

"From what?"

"From the usual," Laura shrugs. "I mean the last time I was involved in something weird was when Aunt Fiona pissed off that witch and got cursed, so…"

"You were three when that happened," Derek points out. "And we're…"--he looks around, lowers his voice and leans forward-- "werewolves, Laura, so we're kind of weird."

"I was there, though," Laura says, "so it counts. And the werewolf thing doesn't. That's who we are."

"There was Kate," Derek says, and maybe his voice is a little harsh and his words a little rushed, so what.

"That's humans being dickheads, not weird," Laura says, although her smile is gone now. "And the pack is strong. It's organized. It's under control. Shit like that doesn't happen to packs like ours."

"Almost did," Derek can't help saying.

"Der." Laura sighs. "I was just gonna say that this is a good distraction. From my relationship problems, not yours."

"Not good enough if you're still talking about it." Derek grins at her when she sticks her tongue out.

"Don't worry, I won't get my feelings all over you, Der-bear," she says. "Just an observation I felt like sharing."

Derek nods, goes back to looking at his computer screen.

"You can, if you want," he says, ten minutes later. "Get your… feelings all over me."

"That sounds wrong, so wrong." Laura gives him a look. "But the thought is nice. Maybe later, when we're not in a coffee shop, waiting to see if the dude who sold your boyfriend an antique wolf figurine is evil."

"Yeah," Derek says, wondering, for maybe the millionth time in two days, what's going to happen if Laura finds out that Stiles is not his boyfriend. Is not anything other than a friend. Maybe even an involuntary friend.

He can see himself telling her in a couple of years, if it doesn't get too messy, and if she doesn't find out on her own. They could laugh over it. Laura will probably punch him. Tackle him. If they're at home, chase him around Beacon Hills Preserve until he has his tail between his legs.

Right now, though, he thinks that if he tells her, it's going to end in tears and slammed doors and overly dramatic phone calls.

The thought doesn't make him feel any less guilty, but it does make it easier not to tell her.

"Did you find anything on focus items?" Laura asks, later, just as she comes back with her third slice of cheesecake.

"No," Derek says. "Nothing that we don't know. Should I call Deaton again? It's been a couple of hours."

"Ugh, no." Laura leans back in her chair. "Might as well wait until we check out Mr. Alvarez or Alfaro or—"

"Mr. Alvaro," Derek corrects.

"Right, Mr. Alvaro." Laura nods. She cocks her head. "You think we should go over and bother Stiles until then? It's four-thirty so we'll be there for an hour…"

"Am I that boring?" Derek asks. His mind goes back to the car, and sex, and Stiles's hand on his shoulder, squeezing, and he wonders what it would feel like to not have a fucking t-shirt in between, to feel that—damn it. No.

This isn't… Derek isn't supposed to be thinking about Stiles and sex in the same sentence.

"You smell like you miss him," Laura says, her voice matching her smug expression.

"You know he works in an antique shop, right?" Derek hisses. "As in you going in there is like a bull in a tea cup shop?"

Laura eats her slice of cheesecake slowly, eyeing him the entire time, one eyebrow raised. "Is that how the phrase goes?" she finally asks when she puts her fork down and pushes her plate towards the middle of the table. "Or is it bull in a china shop?"

"I… yes," Derek sighs when she just grins, closes his laptop and starts putting it in it's case. "Fine, let's go."

Derek has been listening in on Stiles sporadically for the past three hours, and all he's heard are muffled conversations between him and someone with a Chihuahua, and then another between him and someone on the phone. Probably Scott, although he hadn't actually been able to make out any words.

A bell jingles when they walk in Alf's Antiques, and Derek is instantly bombarded with the smell of old. The last time he had been in here, he had been distracted. Had been frantic, actually, and panicked, so he hadn't paid surroundings. But now, he's almost choking on the heavy scent of lemon oil and orange oil and silver polish and the smell of wood.

To a lesser degree, the Hale house smells like orange oil, but nothing like this. The wooden surfaces of… Derek doesn't even know what to call most of the stuff he's looking at (desks and tables and cabinets filled to the brim with stuff) are glistening.

It's kind of overwhelming, now that he has a chance to notice it all. Even without the scent, the place is packed full of antiques, and they all feel very old. Very delicate.

"Stiles?" Laura asks, which gets Derek's attention. He leans to the side to look around her, and sees Stiles with his head on the counter. Or, what had he called it? The mahogany saloon bar?

"Did they kick you out or something?" Stiles asks, sitting up. He looks exhausted and kind of pissed.

"No, we got bored." Laura gives Derek a look over her shoulder that he chooses not to interpret, then walks, carefully, past an antique spinning wheel with a large, red 'sold' tag hanging from it's spindle, to lean over the counter. "Thought we could wait here."

"You mean you got bored, and Derek was pulled along?" Stiles asks, looking between them.

"Did you have another attack?" Derek asks, sniffing at the air, even though all he can really smell is orange oil and wood. Kind of pisses him off, actually, that he can't smell Stiles.

Stiles cringes, and Derek can't miss the way his heart speeds up. Not in a good way, in a bad way, a panicked way.

"So, seems like," Stiles starts, "your mom is the town gossip."

"Oh?" Laura suddenly sounds delighted. "What happened?"

"Our, uh," --Stiles scratches the back of his head, and the movement causes his t-shirt to ride up to the edge of his jeans-- "secret relationship, dude, isn't so secret any more?"

That gets Derek's attention. He looks up to see Stiles wincing. "What?"

"Scott got a call from Allison," Stiles says, "who saw Lydia—you remember Lydia, right?—talking about us on Facebook. So, uh… yeah."

"Wasn't Lydia your crush in high school?" Laura asks.

"First two and a half years of it," Stiles mutters, looking at his hands. He sighs, looks up again. "Scott said to check Facebook."

Derek pushes past Laura and grabs Stiles's computer, opens Facebook before Stiles can start whining about privacy or something.

He has messages; ten of them. Before Derek can click, though, on the icon, Stiles steals the laptop back, and keeps it out of reach so he can't grab it.

"I'll look," he says. "No need to get fucking grabby about it."

"You didn't look before?" Derek asks. "Scott called you two hours ago."

"How the fuck do you know that?" Stiles sputters out, then narrows his eyes. "You were eavesdropping?"

"He was worried about you." Laura leans against the counter, grins at the both of them. "You two are fucking ridiculous. Just check Facebook, Stiles, it's not like it's the end of the world."

"It kind of is," Stiles mutters under his breath. Laura laughs at that, and Derek… Derek walks behind the counter and leans over Stiles's shoulder to look at the screen. Only to look at the screen, and not to take a deep inhale of Stiles, to replace the orange oil and wood that's clogging his nose.

"Everyone is just saying congratulations and/or making fun of me," Stiles mutters a minute later. Derek tilts the screen up, leans in closer.

"How the fuck did this many people find out this quickly?" There are least fifty messages from… from people Derek has never met. He recognizes Danny, and Erica. Isaac, Boyd, even Lydia. Stiles and Scott have mentioned them before, and he's pretty sure that Cora hangs out with all of them. But everyone else… no idea.

"I can't believe you fuckers didn't tell me," Derek reads Cora's post—his little fucking sister's post—out loud. "Mom and I are planning your demise."

"Was that Cora?" Laura hurries back to join them, laughs when she sees the post, and takes out her phone. "She could've just called me…"

"She's in school, Laura," Derek reminds her.

"Oh." Laura puts her phone away, leans over Stiles's other shoulder. "Has the Sheriff found out yet?"

"Oh god," Stiles says, whipping around to stare at Laura. Derek assumes he's staring at her wide-eyed, even though Stiles's back is turned towards him, because he suddenly smells like panic and fear. He snorts, uses the distraction to grab Stiles's laptop, sets it down on the counter, and goes through his Facebook page.

Derek might be past the point of panic, now, actually. All he can think of is how hilarious it all is. The one time he lies—okay, the one time he lies about something big—it turns into this. This fucking… fucking clusterfuck.

It's not like he can do anything about it now except give in. It's not like being angry is going to make it easier.

And, a little part of his mind adds, is it really such a hardship being so close to Stiles? Is it really so hard to be able to watch the way he chews on his pen when he's studying, or look at him when he, inevitably, walks out of the bathroom in his boxers, and not be embarrassed when Derek smells like want?

"Boyd owes me twenty bucks," Derek reads out loud, clearing his throat. "That one's from Erica."

"I need to… I need to tell my dad before he finds out." Stiles still smells panicked, sounds shell-shocked. "Just, uh, I need to—"

"Go on." Laura makes a shooing motion. "We'll watch the front. Maybe Mr. Alfo—maybe the guy will come in and we can scare him off."

"Mr. Alvaro," Stiles corrects. He jumps off his stool, then turns back and slams his laptop shut, grinning at Derek when he glares. "Use your own fucking laptop, dude."

Then he walks outside. Derek stares at his back—not his ass, he definitely doesn't stare at his ass-- until the door closes behind him, then opens it back up.

"I think he's pissed at you," Laura finds it necessary to point out the obvious.

Derek grunts. "Yeah," he says.

"You should go help him," Laura says. She hesitates, and even though he's concentrating on scrolling down Stiles's Facebook wall—someone named Greenberg calls Stiles a 'stud' and tells him to post pics of the 'unlucky dude'… Derek doesn't like Greenberg—he can hear her biting her lip.

"What?" he finally asks, when he can't take it any more.

"Maybe he's pissed," Laura says, "because you're acting like you're embarrassed."

Derek is embarrassed. This entire fucking debacle is embarrassing. Derek is pretty sure Stiles is embarrassed as well.

"Maybe," Laura continues, suddenly fascinated by her own nails, "you should forget that I'm here for just a second, stop with the petulant teenager attitude, go out there, and actually act like a fucking boyfriend who appreciates that Stiles deals with your shit."

"I…" Derek doesn't know what to say to that. "Yeah, okay. Will you be okay if, uh, Mr. Alvaro comes in?"

"No." Laura rolls her eyes. "I've never had to deal with old people before, Derek. I don't think I can handle it."

"Great," Derek says, and then he gets up and walks out from behind the counter, through the store, and outside to join Stiles.

… who is leaning against Derek's car, looking down at his cell phone like it's sprouted a tentacle or two. Maybe a pair of horns.

"Stiles," Derek says.

"He already knew," Stiles mutters.

"As in…"

"As in, "Stiles sighs, "he already knew because Mrs. Hale told him, and"--he changes his voice to what Derek guesses is an impression of the Sheriff-- "I knew that Hale kid had a thing for you, I knew it. You two practically pull each other's pigtails every time you're together."

"Pull each other's…?" Derek is trying to imagine Stiles with pigtails.

"Pig tails, it's an expression that means we flirt with each other," Stiles explains, exasperated.

"I know what it means, idiot," Derek says, goes and leans next to Stiles on his car. "Laura said I'm being a bad boyfriend."

"Oh my god, dude, you—" Stiles turns to him. "You would be, and I know this is harsh, but dude, it's true, you would be a horrible boyfriend. You suck at pretending to be one, so I don't even know how…"

"We both suck," Derek points out.

"Okay, yeah, but you need to act—" Stiles stops, glances back at the store. "Is she listening in?"

"Laura?" Derek asks, then shakes his head. "No, walls are too thick. I couldn't really hear you when we were in the coffee shop, not without shifting. And out here there's traffic noise."

"Okay." Stiles's voice gets lower, though, and Derek finds himself taking a step closer. So he can hear him, and only because of that, he tells himself. "You need to act like you actually like me, dude. Physical affection, and, maybe not being a dick 95 percent of the time? It's not just you that's in this anymore—my dad… he'll give me the look if he finds out I'm lying."

"You call it the look?" Derek snorts.

"The 'I'm the Sheriff and I'm disappointed in you' look!" Stiles hisses.

They're close now, their shoes touching, and Derek doesn't even try to stop from focusing on the way Stiles is biting his bottom lip in frustration.

"Physical affection," he hears himself say. "I can do that."

Stiles snorts, rolls his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, we all know you can do that, dude, just be, I don't know, convincing about it. And I'll…"--Stiles sighs, shrugs-- "do the same, I guess?"

"Aren't we still angry at each other?" Derek asks, but he's not really paying attention to what he's saying. He's just… caught up. In how Stiles moves, in how he looks, how he smells. In Stiles.

"Yeah, you're still a major fuckhead, dude, nothing's going to change that," Stiles mutters. "And I'm going to hold this, and the thousand bucks you still owe me, over your head for a while, but Laura is giving me looks. Like she's trying to figure something out but doesn't know what it is yet. And now that dad knows, and… and probably every single fucking citizen of Beacon Hills, it would just be… it would be social suicide to call it off now."

"You're still a little shit," Derek says, inhaling deep and long. He holds his breath for a split second, meeting Stiles eyes that, at first, are confused, and then surprised, and then just suspicious, and grins. "We should practice."

"Are you…" Stiles tilts his head to the side, slouches against the car and crosses his arms over his chest. "Are you doing the flirt thing right now?"

Derek grins, leaning forward even more, because… fuck he doesn't why know, really. He knows this is a bad idea, a really fucking bad idea, but he doesn't really give a shit. Stiles's scent changes, gets spicier, gets aroused, and damn it, this is a really bad idea.

"You're playing attraction chicken," Stiles says, or croaks, maybe, and licks his lips. Derek may or may not groan. "This isn't funny, dude."

"This whole scenario is hilarious," Derek says, his voice cracking. He grabs at Stiles's belt loops, pulls him in closer. "Laura is watching us. She can't hear us, but I know she's watching us."

Stiles's heartbeat is quick, the smell of arousal is fucking overwhelming, and all Derek can feel is heat—more intense than anything, really, he's felt in a long time. Except maybe frustration and annoyance, and that was because of Stiles, too.

He's not too surprised, then, when Stiles mutters something about being no one's chicken, pulls him in, and kisses him.


This is a bad idea. A really bad idea. Stiles doesn't need Derek to keep fucking muttering it for him to know that. He gets it.

This is also a fucking awesome idea, because kissing Derek is, uh, hot.

There's lots of tongue, and Derek groans after a second or two, grips at Stiles's hair and pulls him in closer, tilts his head to the right so that everything gets filthy and open-mouthed and, well, loud (Stiles swears he's not the only one making little breathy noises in the back of his throat, he swears).

Stiles doesn't… there's not enough of him to concentrate on both kissing Derek and thinking about how many things are wrong with kissing Derek. He decides, then, about five seconds into it, when his brain is still short-circuiting and his hands are clutching at air because he doesn't know what else to do with them, to just fucking go with it.

Going with it turns out to be an interesting decision, because it means that the kiss gets hotter, sloppier, wetter, and his skin gets flushed and sensitive, especially where Derek's stubble is rasping along his neck and jaw, and he just kind of… forgets.

That this is Derek. That this is strange. That they're in a fucking parking lot, for fuck's sake, making out against a car in the late afternoon.

He forgets for a while, actually, long enough that his dick starts getting hard and his hands are warm from where they've, sometime since the kiss started, buried themselves in Derek's hair, until someone clears their throat right next to them. Derek jumps at the sound, throws himself back hard against the car next to them, his eyes glowing electric blue for a second, his teeth and claws out.

Idly, Stiles realizes that Derek kind of has an adorable terrified face.

"Boys," Laura says. She's trying hard not to grin, but it's not working. Stiles clears his throat, opens his mouth to say something, but she beats him to it. "I'm going to go bleach my eyes out, but Mr. Alvaro walked by you three minutes ago. He's waiting for you at the counter, Stiles."

"O… okay?" Stiles says. His voice is squeaky, which is not sexy. Although, he doesn't even know why he wants it to be sexy.

"He's human, so fricken' human, and he has something he wants you to look at," Laura continues, turning to Derek. If possible, her grin gets even wider. "Really stylish, too. Cravats usually don't work, but on him… kind of looks classic."

Stiles realizes that Laura is trying to make them feel less…embarrassed. Which confuses him, because ever since she got here, she's been trying to embarrass them at every possible moment. It's nice, too, though, and kind of indicative of why Stiles likes Laura.

Because she can read into the situation. Like now, with how she's ignoring that he had just been making out with her brother in public. The brother that he isn't looking at now. That he's refusing to look at.

Although they had just made out for the express purpose of her seeing them make out, so, really, that just fucks up the entire situation.

"I'm just gonna… you can leave, if you want?" Stiles straightens his t-shirt, adjusts his jeans as subtly as possible, and takes the couple of steps that bring him to the sidewalk.

"You're done with work in, like, thirty minutes." Laura furrows her eyebrows at him. "Why would we leave now?"

"I don't know." Because Stiles doesn't want to be in the same car with Derek. Because if he looks at Derek he's probably going to see swollen lips and messed up hair, and that's not… something he wants to see? Right, sure. "Because he's human, right? No magic? No evil intent? You don't need to, uh, interrogate him, is what I'm saying."

"How're you going to get home, then?" Laura asks. "Just go, idiot, we'll wait."

"Okay then," Stiles says, and then quickly slides past her and into Alf's Antiques. His face feels hot, and slightly painful, which is probably from Derek's stubble.

He wonders how that stubble would feel against his chest… or his stomach... or, well, anywhere, really. Because with Derek's stubble comes his mouth and Stiles kind of wants that mouth… everywhere.

Damn it. It's not like he likes Derek as a person. Okay, Derek as a person is somewhat likeable. It's just not the like-like kind of like.

Yet, his asshole mind provides.

Fuck.

"Mr. Stilinski." Mr. Alvaro eyes him from where he's looking at a Victorian era chamber pot, tote bag resting against his leg on the floor, when Stiles walks in the shop. "Took a late lunch break?"

"Hey Mr. Alvaro," Stiles grins. He's glad that it only took a second for Laura to see—smell, hear, feel?—that Mr. Alvaro was human. And uninvolved. Or, uninvolved enough that Laura deemed him unsuspicious. "Anything for me today?

"For you? No, but for Alf, yes," Mr. Alvaro says, and follows him over the counter, where he attempts to pawn off a chipped vase, a wooden box that smells like marijuana, and silverware. Lots and lots of fucking silverware. Stiles can't buy any of it, especially the silverware, because there are suspicious stains, and Mr. Alvaro leaves looking dejected.

Stiles manages to kind of forget about the kiss—the fucking kiss—until after he's closed up shop, and sees that Laura and Derek are waiting for him in the Camaro.

He wonders if they've been there for the last thirty minutes, or if they were in the coffee shop waiting.

He also wonders how much more complicated his life can get in the span of a week.

Maybe they'll be a murder. Wouldn't that just be fucking fantastic.

"Hey," he says. Laura is sitting in the backseat this time, and Stiles doesn't know if it's more or less awkward sitting next to Derek rather than having to meet his gaze in the rear-view mirror every couple of minutes.

"That was a waste of time," Derek says.

"Not for me." Stiles buckles his seatbelt, slams the door closed as Derek revs the engine. Show off. "I got paid."

"It's not like I have anything better to do," Laura points out. "This was fun. We had brother-sister bonding time, Der-Der."

"I have better things to do." Derek backs out of the parking space. "Like work. School."

"You woke up late, you weren't going to go anyway," Stiles says. It's easier being snarky when he doesn't glance out of the side of his eye at Derek's profile. And his lips, which, on closer inspection, are still a little red and… swollen. Damn it. "And I could've driven myself."

"You could've had an accident!" Laura punches him the shoulder. "Say thank you."

"Thank you," Stiles monotones. "Did Deaton call you back with anything?"

"No." Laura grins, shakes her head. "He's probably preparing a presentation or something."

"What?" Derek asks.

"You think he's that mysterious and vague off the top of his head?" Laura snorts. "I swear he has to think about how to tell us something more than what to tell us, half the time. The dude lives to be an enigma."

"And," Laura adds, when Stiles can't think of anything to say to dispute or support that, and Derek just grunts. "I feel like today has been a good day. We don't want to rush him into giving us wrong information. Or, even worse, right information that makes us feel like shit."

"But you just said that he probably already knows—" Stiles starts.

"I'm saying that we know that your… little wolves are harmless—"

"They're not harmless," Derek snarls before Stiles can say the same thing.

"Somewhat harmless, then. And everything that Derek found online says that the only way to get rid of them is to let them run out of power—"

"What? You didn't tell me that." Stiles looks at Derek, can't help but focus on his lips, again, and his chin and where his hair is still a little messy from where Stiles had grabbed at it.

"I… uh," Derek looks at him, his eyes dropping to Stiles's mouth, then clears his throat, looks back at the road. "We were dealing with other shit."

Stiles turns to look out the window so that it will be less obvious that his face is red. They can probably still smell it, though, the arousal. Hell, if Stiles was a werewolf he would probably smell it coming from Derek.

That… Stiles doesn't know what to do about that.

"Right," he says. "Cool, so…"

"Unless Deaton finds something in his"--Laura waggles her fingers, makes a noise that Stiles assumes is her trying to be a ghost--"hoodoo voodoo magic books—"

"Is that the official term?" Derek asks, changing lanes to get out from behind a slow ass Toyota.

"Stop interrupting. Unless he finds something, you're probably just going to have to learn to deal with them until they've gone back to being normal ceramic wolves."

"So comforting," Stiles groans, leans his head against the seat. "But that doesn't explain why they're actually listening to me, or, I don't know, a billion other things."

"Strange," Laura agrees. "You should probably ask him. Maybe if you bug him enough he'll give you like, a semi-answer."

"Ugh," Stiles says. "Ugh."

Chapter Text

"Magic, Stiles," Deaton explains, "energy, power, whatever you want to call it, is about change."

Stiles nods, then remembers Deaton can't see him on the phone, and clears his throat. "A-huh," he says. Across from where he's sitting at the dinner table, his laptop and notebooks spread out in front of him, Derek is half-concentrating on his own work and half-listening to Deaton.

Laura is… Laura is watching some reality TV show on Netflix.

"To… to be magic," Deaton continues, "something needs to change, something needs to start a reaction. There needs to be a catalyst. A spark, we call it. You said you bought these two figurines a week ago?"

"Last Tuesday," Stiles says, "is when I bought the first one. I bought the second one… Saturday."

"Did anything… change last week? Something that would be significant enough to be considered a catalyst, a spark, for something else?"

The pen Derek is holding in his hand makes an ominous cracking noise, and Stiles watches as ink leaks down his fingers and onto the essay he's been grading.

"Uh." Stiles feels his face grow hot, leans back in his chair to run a hand through his hair. He glances back at Laura, who's looking at them now, resting her chin on the back of the sofa. "N-not really?"

Nothing he can say in front of Laura, at least. Nothing he wants to think about. Because what does it mean, that agreeing to be Derek's pretend boyfriend is apparently significant enough to be considered a catalyst?

"Nothing at all?" Deaton asks. Stiles glances over at Derek, sees him looking from the phone on the table to Laura, to Stiles, then back, his eyebrows high on his forehead.

"Uh," Stiles says again, wondering why it's always him who's forced to think quickly. All Derek has done is… is kiss him, fuck. And that wasn't even to prove anything. That was, uh, something else. But that's not the point. Stiles is panicking, is the point.

"Maybe something—" Deaton clears his throat, "—of an intimate nature?"

"What…" Stiles starts, because he doesn't know what that's supposed to mean… And then he gets it, and he realizes there is a specific form of mortification reserved for when you get asked about your sex life because it may have been a catalyst for magic. "Oh."

"We…" Derek looks over at Laura, then looks at Stiles, and mouths an apology. "That might be it."

Laura clears her throat, collapses back on the sofa, but Stiles can hear her trying to laugh silently. It doesn't help, doesn't help at all.

"Well," Deaton says, "sex, love, powerful emotions like that, powerful experiences, are definitely significant when it comes to magic."

Please, Stiles thinks, let me die a quick death.

"I was confused because from what you've described, and from the display I saw in Stiles's bedroom"—Deaton's voice is all business again—"the focus items were displaying an inordinate amount of power. Especially with Stiles, who's never shown an aptitude for natural power before this."

"So…"

"So, the… the change makes it less confusing," Deaton says. "I can't say for certain until Stiles comes to see me—"

"I'm coming back for a couple of weeks during the summer," Stiles interrupts.

"Of course," Deaton says, and Stiles imagines he's nodding. "I can't say for certain, but maybe the uniqueness of this… situation isn't because of the focus items themselves, but because of Stiles."

"So…" Laura clears her throat, leans her chin on the back of the sofa again. "So Stiles is magic?"

"He's more susceptible to magic than I originally believed, but that's not to say that he is a witch, or magic himself, just merely… more susceptible," Deaton says after a pause. "But for all I know I'm wrong, and those wolves were simply the focus items of an incredibly powerful practitioner."

"Huh," Stiles says. He's really not sure how he feels about that. Or how he feels about his apparent magic being a dickhead and never showing itself until now, when he's out of high school and is too busy to actually have fun with it.

"I really don't know if this incredibly awkward," Laura says, "or incredibly fucking hilarious."

"The former," Derek mutters.

"So what made me buy the wolves?" Stiles asks, because as much as Deaton is explaining, he still is just… confused.

"Magic has a way of finding things," Deaton says, "that will give it a purpose."

Wow, that's not at all vague and unhelpful.

"And," Stiles says, "they'll just keep doing things until they run out of juice? And I'll keep getting affected?"

"The pain you've been feeling is common to novice practitioners and people who are not used to experiencing supernatural events," Deaton says. "Your body is simply not used to the excess energy. It will get better and less painful."

"There's just…" Derek rubs at his temples with his pointer finger and thumb. "There's no way to just get rid of them?"

"No," Deaton says. "You can touch them, of course, maybe move them to a more secure location, when you're ready, but if they sense that you have ill intent they will… defend themselves."

"Cool," Stiles says. Mortification aside, everything else aside, the idea he might be something not quite human, that he might be… useful when it comes to the supernatural, is just really fricken' cool.

… The rest of it sucks, but the idea itself is cool.

"Mom is gonna get a kick out of this," Laura says.

"No!" Derek and Stiles yell at the same time.

"Really, Laura," Deaton says. "It's unnecessary. I'll tell her that there's nothing to worry about, but some things really are better left private."

"We're werewolves," Laura says. "Nothing is private. You're not staying here, Deaton, everything smells like—"

"—even so," Deaton interrupts, clearing his throat.

"Yeah, Laura," Derek sounds like a five-year-old. "Even so."

"If there are any more updates," Deaton says, and he sounds like he's smiling, "make sure to tell me."

Then he hangs up.

"We should've just gone to him in the first place," Stiles says, when, after about a minute or two of silence, Laura turns back to the TV.

"We're both idiots," Derek agrees, then lowers his voice. "Also, sorry about, uh… that."

Stiles looks at him, and just like every other time he's attempted to look at Derek since the kiss five hours ago, he finds himself getting caught up in how Derek's skin, underneath his scruff, is soft like his lips, and how hot he is, temperature-wise. "Yeah," he says, clears his throat. "I mean, there wasn't any other way of—"

"—finding out what was happening," Derek finishes for him between clenched teeth, gesturing with his chin towards Laura.

"Yeah, right." Stiles nods. He clears his throat again, looks down at the table.

"So," Laura says, still turned towards the TV, "is that all the excitement we're going to see? Or is there going to be a body in the stairwell next? A caper for us to solve? Maybe zombies."

"Well apparently," Stiles says, "we're just going to have to get used to, uh, weird shit happening? That's what I got from Deaton, at least. And it'll just… peter off, eventually."

"Focus items—normal ones—are supposed to respond to emotions," Derek says.

"They did," Laura snorts. "They responded to the power of true love."

Stiles gnashes his teeth together and risks a glance at Derek to see that he's doing the same.

"They respond to emotion," Derek continues. "So maybe try not to get… emotional."

"Then try," Stiles snarls, a little insulted at the implication that he gets emotional, "to not piss me the fuck off." He doesn't get emotional; Stiles is, a majority of the time, pleasantly sarcastic and entertained and on an even keel of fucking emotion. It's only with Derek that he gets pissed off.

"Then stop"—Derek's eyes narrow, and he leans forward over the table—"being an idiot."

Stiles glares at him, then wonders what angry sex with Derek would be like, and just gives up. He groans and rests his head on the table in front of him.

"You should change your relationship status," Laura says suddenly, "on Facebook."

"Whatever." Stiles can't dredge up the energy to argue with her.

"You too, Der," Laura says.

"Yeah," Derek sighs.

There's silence, and then, "Maybe upload a picture as proof."

"Don't make fun of our unique love," Stiles manages weakly. Derek's leg pushes up against his under the table, and Stiles is left to wonder if it's intentional or not when Derek freezes, then just… keeps it there.


When Stiles leaves to go upstairs, saying something about hanging out with Scott all the while avoiding looking directly at Derek, Derek manages to finish the essays he's been struggling to grade for the last week, and replies to more than half the e-mails in his inbox.

He doesn't work on his thesis, though.

He goes on Facebook and looks at the sudden influx of friend requests, messages, and wall posts from Cora that, collectively, amount to a horror story.

About lying. A horror story about lying.

He doesn't accept any of the friend requests.

He ignores Cora's messages. She's going to call him eventually, when she's stopped texting Laura enough to bug him.

He changes his relationship status, and it feels like the final nail being hammered into the coffin that is his life.

He probably deserves this. Whatever this is. Some kind of cosmic punishment for lying to his emotionally fragile sister to make his life easier, probably.

Derek should've just told her he's not interested. In… a lot of things. In having what she had, in going through what she went through. In comparing everything anyone does to Kate. Kate, who fucking ruined him for life.

How does Laura expect him to forget about her? What fucking idiot in their right mind would ever try… something—anything—again after the first person they really thought they were in love with turned out to be a lie? Turned out to be a huge fucking lie with a big cherry on top called arson and attempted murder.

It happened twelve years ago, yeah, and Kate is still gone, and the Argents and Hales are still at peace, if you can call mutual distrust and merely tolerating each other's existence peace, but that doesn't mean Derek hasn't imagined all the ways in which his life—his blissfully normal, mundane, safe, life—could turn into a nightmare.

He didn't imagine this, though. Never in a thousand years imagined he would ever do something this stupid. This immature. This fucking human.

"Little bro." Laura is sitting across from him at the table, where Stiles had been sitting before he left.

Derek has no idea how she got there.

"Laura," he says.

"You've been glaring at your computer for the past five minutes," she says, and takes a swig of coke from the can in her hand, which Derek assumes is what she got up off the couch for.

"I haven't been glaring."

"You smell like contemplation." Laura grins at that, takes an exaggerated sniff, then another swig.

"Contemplation doesn't have a smell, idiot," he can't help saying, then blinks when her grin gets even wider.

"You call a lot of people idiot, little bro?" She asks. "Or just the ones you can't help liking?"

"Last time I checked," Derek says, after he realizes what she's saying and tamps down on the sheer panic her words cause, "you have a Juris doctorate, and not a PhD in psychology."

"That's not psychology, that's the Hale skill of noticing things, Derek," Laura says. She gets up from the table, saunters back over to the couch, and plops down. "I'm officially calling dibs on you tomorrow, by the way, since Stiles's drama is all over."

"I have wor—"

"Half a day." Laura rests her chin on the back of the sofa, pins him with that wide-eyed look he can never say no to. "Go to work in the morning, skip your afternoon classes, if you have any, and hang out with me. We never hang out. You never even come down to see me. Come on, it's only tomorrow, and then I'll entertain myself for the next week."

"Fine," Derek says, because it'll get her off his back quicker. "We could go on a run, if you wanted."

"That would be… awesome," Laura sighs. "I haven't gotten in a good shift since Christmas."

"Me either." Derek feels a familiar pull under his skin that reminds him of home and pack, of feeling the wind against his face and howling just because he can. Of being something more than human.

"Sounds fun." Laura smiles, turns back to the TV, and Derek takes that as a dismissal. He looks back at his computer screen, moving his finger over the touchpad because it's dimmed since he was last active

The grades for all his classes have been inputted. All the e-mails in his inbox have been answered. He doesn't feel like writing his thesis or, really, doing anything that requires thinking. Whatever Laura is watching on TV looks stupid.

Derek, for reasons he would rather deny for a little—just a little—bit longer, concentrates, tries to hear what Scott and Stiles are doing upstairs. It's purely for logical reasons that he's eavesdropping. It's not that, suddenly, he's missing the way Stiles sighs when he's frustrated, or hums songs Derek somewhat recognizes while he writes, or does whatever the fuck he does on his computer, or the way Stiles is always just there. It's not that he's slightly jealous that Scott and Stiles are inseparable, and that Derek has never had that with anyone, platonic or otherwise.

At least, no one that's not family.

He stops feeling sorry for himself when he realizes he can hear Scott—in his room, murmuring in a cloyingly sweet voice and making noises that make Derek stop listening in fast—but not Stiles.

Which means Stiles is in his room. With the fucking wolves.

"Fucking idiot," he mutters before he can stop himself. He might snarl at himself for that, Laura's words ringing in his ears, and then he gets up, closes his laptop, and shoves the papers he's already organized and put in their corresponding folders in his bag.

"I'll be upstairs," he says and gets a grunt in response from Laura.

When he gets to Scott and Stiles's apartment, the front door is locked—which is a new development, because they never lock their door—so he knocks, and waits for someone to open it.

Scott comes to the door eventually, looking flushed and harried, avoiding Derek's eyes.

"Derek," Scott laughs uncomfortably, and rubs his hands together. His zipper is down, and he smells like—Derek stops himself before he can sniff, realizing he really doesn't want to know. "Didn't expect you up here, uh, tonight."

"Your zipper's down." Derek walks past him into the apartment, bites the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning when Scott curses and turns away to zip himself up, while Derek shakes off the slippers he put on to walk up the stairs. "Is Stiles in his room?"

"Uh, yeah." Scott closes the door, clears his throat. "He, uh, briefed me on what happened. Said it was pretty much safe. So…"

"Right." Derek turns his head to look at him, grins. "I'll let you get back to whatever you were doing."

"Ugh, fuck off, dude." Scott rolls his eyes and pushes past him to stalk back to his room, bypassing Stiles's closed door as he does so.

Of course the idiot would close his door.

When Derek opens it, Stiles is at his desk, typing away on his computer, earphones in, even though his room is fucking soundproof. He's muttering something about someone named Sagawa Issei and cannibalism when Derek steps inside.

Derek glances at the wolves—still on the bookshelf, thankfully looking completely normal, at the moment—then sits on his bed, and waits for Stiles to notice him.

Or he doesn't wait; he watches. There's a kind of weird magnetism to Stiles when he's like this. When he's just being… him. When he's not concentrating on making Derek's life difficult, or trying to piss him off, or turning him on, or confusing the ever-loving crap out of him. He's magnetic, and maybe all the stuff Stiles does when he's with Derek is him being Stiles too, but here, watching Stiles like this, it feels… different.

More relaxed, maybe, even though Derek is feet away from the wolf figurines and can smell them in the air, although the scent of clay and ozone is somewhat dulled by the scent of Stiles.

Then again, his eyes keep coming back to where Stiles is rubbing at the back of his neck with his hand, and where he keeps muttering half-realized sentences and then biting his lip, sticking his tongue out as he types, so maybe it's not relaxed as much as… fascinated.

Derek always feels antsy when he watches Stiles, but lately it hasn't been that he just feels antsy; he feels like he should be chasing, should be touching, should be taking deep breaths in and out with his face smashed against Stiles's neck, or anywhere, really.

"Oh my god," Stiles says when he finally, maybe five minutes after Derek sits down, turns around in his chair, squeaks, and flails enough that his earphones disconnect from his laptop, and the sound of Muse screaming about hysteria fills the room. "Couldn't you have just fucking told me you were here?"

"No." Derek's grin may be slightly more dangerous than usual, but only because he can't help himself, loves it when Stiles's heartbeat gets fast around him. He doesn't know when that happened. Sometime during the last week, probably. "No fun that way."

Stiles sighs and pauses the music, glancing at the wolf figurines as he does so, then at Derek.

"You okay, dude?" he asks after just looking at him for a while. "I mean, with everything just kind of blowing up in our faces like that."

Derek shrugs. "It's not like we can do anything about it now, Stiles."

"Yeah." Stiles sinks back into his chair, scratches at his forehead. "You could just tell her, you know."

"Tell her what?" Derek snorts.

"The truth." When Stiles says it, it sounds so simple. So uncomplicated.

"It's not that simple," Derek says. "It…" He pauses, wonders if he's going to reveal too much, then just thinks, Fuck it, because Stiles is already giving him that look like he knows exactly what Derek is thinking. "They're all happy, Stiles, for me…"

"Because of Kate," Stiles prompts, when Derek just trails off, "because they think you're better, and you think it's just easier to lie to them, let them be happy that you're happy."

"I…" Derek winces. Sounds worse when Stiles says it. He ends up nodding in response.

"Huh," Stiles says. "Well, that's bullshit."

"Of course it's bullshit, all of this is bullshit," Derek snarls.

"No, not that," Stiles says. "You being a martyr is bullshit, Derek."

"I'm not being a fucking martyr," Derek snaps.

"You are," Stiles pushes, then he just stops. He opens his mouth a couple of times, closes it, scrunches his nose up, and bites at his lip.

"Just spit it out," Derek sighs when he can't stand it anymore.

"You didn't lose anyone," Stiles finally says. "Nothing happened, Derek. I read my dad's file—"

"You what?" Derek chokes out.

"I read my dad's file, no biggie, I do it all the time, not the point." Stiles shrugs. "I read it, and Kate didn't burn anything, Derek, didn't even finish doing that whole mountain ash thing before you found her, you stopped her. Your family is here. Your sisters, your parents, your uncles, aunts, all those fucking cousins and family friends who half the time I think you guys hire just to fuck with me, but anyway." He pauses, and his fingers start tapping a nervous rhythm on his thigh. "They're still here. You didn't lose anyone."

"Is this supposed to make me feel better?"

"You're so busy beating yourself up about something that never happened." Stiles keeps talking over him, and now his voice is… different. Derek doesn't know whether to describe it as animated or panicked or nervous, or something else. Maybe Stiles is afraid if he doesn't talk quickly enough, he won't say anything at all. "That you keep forgetting they're all here, dude, that they don't really need you to protect them from… whatever the fuck you think you're protecting them from. You and feelings, or something, because apparently that's explosive."

"And…?" Derek inhales deeply through his nose, smells sadness and maybe a bit of embarrassment, clay and ozone mixing behind everything, and idly thinks about comparing his sense of smell to how wine experts taste wine, with notes of this and hints of that.

"Losing someone that you love," Stiles says, his words slow, like he's forcing them out, "sucks, dude, and it never stops sucking. Any way it happens—quick, violent, fucking slow and numbing, so that you have to wake up every day and know that today might be the—" Stiles clears his throat, looks down at his lap, and Derek chokes on sadness and guilt and—and fuck, how did this conversation become about Stiles's mother?

"Stiles," he says.

"Just saying, Derek, your family is alive. They're healthy, they're alive, and you haven't lost anyone. So this whole"—Stiles gestures at him—"guilt trip thing is just... I don't get it. Not that I think you're going to stop, I mean, you're kind of an asshole even without it, so maybe no one will even want to date you anyway, but—"

"Fine," Derek says, because all he wants is to stop drowning in sadness and heaviness that's not even his. "Fine," he says again, quieter.

The room is silent after that, and Stiles turns back to his computer after a couple minutes, plugs his earphones into his laptop, and turns his music back on. Derek watches him, because he can't do anything else now, and doesn't really want to.

Derek lies down on Stiles's bed and stares at the ceiling, ignores it when one of the wolves—the blue one—rattles around for a second or two, its eyes glowing brightly, and then stops with a hiccup.

"Is this like a once-in-a-lifetime thing—you being helpful and mature?" Derek jokes, mainly to himself, but Stiles, of course, because this is Stiles, hears him, kicks the bed, and grins.

"I'm good at this amateur counseling shit, dude," he says, taking one earphone out, leaning so far back in his chair it creaks. "Got a lot of practice in during Allison-gate sophomore year."

"Allison-gate?" Derek can't help smiling at that.

"Hey, don't smile, you were a pretty big fucking part of that whole controversy," Stiles snorts. "Or was it someone else who called Scott a child?"

Derek winces. "I was—"

"—projecting?" Stiles laughs when Derek glares at him. "Fine, fine, dude, I'm done, I'm done. No more poking at your weaknesses." He holds up his hands in surrender.

It should terrify Derek that Stiles knows about so many of his fucking weaknesses. Fuck, it should surprise him that Stiles knows about so many of his weaknesses. It doesn't do either. It feels nice, maybe, if he's being honest with himself.

He glances over, sees that Stiles is still staring at him, a weird expression on his face as he looks from his computer to Derek.

"What, Stilinski," he grits out, bracing himself for something idiotic. "Just say it."

"Did you know, Hale—" Stiles turns back to his computer, so that all Derek can see from his vantage point on the bed is his profile. The way Stiles says his last name makes Derek's stomach clench, makes him have to tamp down on the need to pounce and make Stiles gasp it out. "—that in 1981, Sagawa Issei murdered and then cannibalized a woman? He's been living as a free man since 1986 because the Japanese government couldn't legally hold him. He's kind of a celebrity there."

"That's… okay," Derek isn't sure what else to say to that.

"Hah, right," Stiles says, glancing at him, then back at the computer. "And did you know that in 1968, a day before her eleventh birthday, Mary Bell strangled a four-year-old boy? And then two months later, she killed a three-year-old?"

"Stiles, where are you going—"

"Humans, Derek, are sometimes the monsters," Stiles says, scratching the back of his head. "I mean, of course, there are psychological issues to look at, and environmental circumstances, but humanity is fucking terrifying sometimes."

"I don't—"

"Kate was a monster," Stiles talks over him, "is a monster, is what I'm saying. You're just an annoying dickhead who turns furry sometimes."

Derek doesn't know what to say to that.


Stiles doesn't know what to do when he says that. The thing about the monsters. He can't really take it back, though, and maybe Derek will dismiss it as him taking advantage of the weird atmosphere they have going here, the one of… of intimacy, brought on by soundproof walls and the ridiculous situation they've gotten themselves into.

So after an awkward couple minutes of not meeting Derek's eyes, he turns back to his computer and turns his music up so he won't hear anything Derek may or may not say in response.

He misses when Derek falls asleep because he's formatting his works cited. He's finished, though—or, well, not finished, he's never finished with anything, really—but he's finished for the night, and is browsing YouTube when he sees Derek roll over onto his stomach out of the side of his eye, grab one of his pillows, and shove his face in it.

The asshole starts drooling a couple of minutes later—fucking drooling—and Stiles doesn't know what to do when that happens either.

Like, what's the etiquette for kicking your fake boyfriend out of your bed so you can go to sleep?

Or should he even kick Derek out of his bed? Would it be too weird if he just slipped into the space left between Derek and the wall? Maybe Derek will wake up later, leave without waking him up?

Does the kiss make this even weirder?

Stiles hears the sound of ceramics against wood, and glances at the bookshelf to see the two wolves vibrating, their eyes—just their fucking eyes, and that's new and terrifying—glowing a bright, almost white yellow.

"Fuck it," he mutters, turns his computer off, climbs over Derek, and plops down on the mattress, slipping one of his pillows from under Derek's head and putting it under his own. He doesn't think about the kiss, doesn't think about how it would be kind of awesome kissing a trail down the back of Derek's neck to his shoulders, and he doesn't think about how weird it is he did this instead of waking Derek up.

He falls asleep, even though he's definitely not thinking about all of those things, only because he's fucking exhausted.

When he wakes up, his face is inches from Derek's. It takes maybe a good minute or two for Stiles to get awake enough to realize that's not necessarily something that normally happens, and by then he's realized that their legs are tangled together, Derek's eyes are open, wide and surprised, and his arm is strewn over Stiles's side and his hand is splayed, way too fucking casually, in between Stiles's shoulder blades.

Stiles is hard, his dick twitching every time Derek's breath ghosts over his neck. He doesn't know about Derek, though, because he can't tear his eyes away from Derek's to glance at his crotch. Not that he wants to—okay, he fucking wants to.

"Fuck," he squeaks, rearing back, his head connecting with the wall behind him. "Fucking crap," he hisses out again, brings his hand up to rub at the back of his head, only to hit up against Derek's hand, because he's doing the same thing. "Dude," he says, because Derek isn't saying anything. All he's doing is staring, his lips slightly parted and his eyes wide and surprised, and if Stiles was a werewolf he knows the smell of arousal would be ridiculously hard to ignore. He just doesn't know what to fucking do about it. The room is soundproof, and it's making everything quiet, so quiet, quiet enough that all Stiles can concentrate on is the sound of the both of them breathing and the rustle of fabric against fabric, and the dull sound of ceramic scraping over wood. "Uh…"

"What," Derek finally croaks, clears his throat to get it sounding normal, and slowly, almost, if Stiles wanted to read into it, begrudgingly, pulls his arm back from where he had been holding Stiles's head in his hand, and slides back, maybe a fraction of an inch. "What time is it?"

Stiles sits up, winces when he brings his knee up to hide his boner from Derek, and his jeans rub up against his dick. Derek has to know he has a boner. He has to.

"Uh, my phone's on the…" Stiles points to his nightstand, and Derek blinks, turns over, and stretches—because there's a lot of space on that side of the bed, just saying—to grab the phone, look at the time.

"I'm going in for half a day," Derek says, clearing his throat again as he sits up, swings his legs over the side, and oh fuck, he's hard. Half hard, maybe, yeah, half hard, but still hard enough that Stiles can see the outline of his dick through his jeans.

It's natural, he thinks. Just two dudes accidentally getting morning wood while sleeping in the same bed. Right, totally natural.

"… and then Laura and I are going for a run, so, if you need us—"

"I'm fine," Stiles says. He looks over at his bookshelf when the wolf figurines rattle, watches as they slide just a little to the left, and then back to the right. "I swear those things are fucking playing with me."

"I'll call you," Derek says, not looking at him, voice stilted and awkward, throaty even, "or text you, when we get back, I guess."

"Cool, great," Stiles nods. "I've uh, got work, and then class, and I think tonight I'm hanging with Scott, so, uh, if the wolves do anything weird I'll definitely tell you."

"Yeah." Derek starts slinking towards the door. "Do that."

Then he's gone, the door slamming closed behind him. Stiles contemplates it for a minute, wondering why the hell he's not more freaked out that his room now has a magic door, then groans, collapses back down on the bed, and presses the heels of his hands to his eyes.

He stays like that until he can move without his dick chafing against his jeans—last time he wears jeans to bed—and then gets up, ignoring the way the wolf figurines jump, once, as he shifts through his drawers trying to find something to wear, pushing all thoughts of magical doors and magical figurines and magical boner-inducing sleeping buddies out of his head.

He finds something eventually, even though his search is waylaid because he keeps stopping and replaying the last couple of days, fuck, the last week, in his head. He doesn't know why, maybe he's just confused as to how they got from being frenemies, to not being able to be in the same room together without insulting each other, to being this. Which… Stiles doesn't know what they are right now, actually. Friends with boners for each other is the most apt description that comes to mind at the moment.

Not like that's going to change anything, though. Derek is still in "woe-is-me" mode, and Stiles… Stiles has no fucking clue why he kissed Derek yesterday, just that it seemed like the right thing to do.

Other than that… yeah, no idea.

He's pulling his shirt over his head when the door opens, and Derek stutters to a stop just inside the room.

"I, uh." He's still in the clothes he wore last night, which is understandable, because it's only been five minutes since he slammed out the door, and his hair is… oh god, he has bed hair. From Stiles's bed. From sleeping with Stiles. "I think my phone dropped out of my pocket."

Stiles pulls his shirt back down, looks at the bed that's still wrinkled, and sure enough, Derek's phone is next to the pillow nearest Stiles's desk.

"Right," Stiles says. Derek walks over, grabs it, and then starts fiddling with it as he looks awkwardly around the room. "Anything else, dude?"

"No," Derek says, then looks at him, narrows his eyes, before shaking his head. "No."

"Okay," Stiles says, draws out the word because Derek has that expression on his face that means he wants to say something, but doesn't know how to say it.

"I didn't say, uh," Derek starts, eyes on his phone, fiddling with something. From the looks of it, he's checking to see if he has any missed calls. "Thank you, last night. So, thank you."

Stiles blinks, eyes the door. It's ten feet away, and Derek is closer, so his escape, if he attempts it, is going to have to be stealthy. He grabs the T-shirt and pair of jeans he managed to pull out of his drawer and starts edging towards the door.

"No problem, dude." He waves his hands in the air. Nerves always make him flail. "I mean, everyone needs a pep talk once in a while. I'm good for pep talks. Ask Scott."

"Yesterday." Derek is watching him, and Stiles can see it in his eyes that he knows Stiles is trying to escape. "Yesterday, in the parking lot…"

"No idea, dude," Stiles says, before Derek even finishes, scratching at the back of his head because it's true. He doesn't know why he kissed him, he doesn't know why Derek kissed him back. He just… doesn't know. Didn't it have something to do with Laura and looking like a couple and other perfectly valid reasons? "I mean, really, I don't know. Worked though, right, with Laura?"

"Yeah." Derek nods. "She wouldn't shut up about it."

"Cool, that's cool." Stiles edges past the bed, points at the open door. "I'm going to get ready, so…"

Derek stares at him for a second, and it's only when he nods that Stiles's feet start moving.

He makes a detour—or, really, he walks completely past the bathroom—to go to the kitchen and chug down some water, and he's just shoving the bottle back in the fridge when he hears Derek walking down the hallway.

"Hey," Derek says, and Stiles resists the temptation to roll his eyes, because seriously, he's pretty sure his desire to avoid and not talk about either yesterday or today is pretty fucking clear, but suddenly Derek is Mister Fucking Talkative.

Stiles wishes Scott were here, but Scott always leaves for an early class on Wednesdays, so he's alone.

"Yup?" Stiles closes the fridge, attempts to walk past Derek to get to the bathroom. For real this time.

"Just…" Derek makes a noise, of frustration, of defeat, of something, and then he's standing in front of him, looking down at his lips like he… he… oh. "Laura's coming up, so…" he whispers.

"Okay?" Stiles asks, pretending he doesn't know where this is going.

"I'm going to, uh." Derek points at Stiles's lips, winces.

"Fine," Stiles says, taking a step towards Derek, then eyeing the door, ignoring the way his heart is suddenly pounding against his rib cage. "We're doing this because?"

"I don't know, throw Laura off the scent or something." Derek shrugs, sounding perfectly reasonable even though he's not being reasonable, nothing about this is reasonable. Then it doesn't really matter if anyone is being reasonable at all because Derek's kissing him.

One hand is in Stiles's hair, the other is splayed over his shoulder. Derek's lips are dry and soft, tentative and probably a little begrudging, until Stiles opens his mouth to mutter that he's not forcing Derek to do this, he doesn't have to be so put out about it, and then Derek's tongue is in his mouth, and suddenly there is a lot more enthusiasm, and he forgets what words are.

Laura walks in the apartment, because apparently knocking is old school and so are locked doors, and Stiles notices her, he does, but Derek is too busy kissing him for Stiles to really do anything about it except keep kissing him back.

Because it has to look genuine, right?

Right.

Derek only stops kissing him, and really, Stiles only stops kissing Derek, when Laura clears her throat loudly.

"Guys," she says, "things are levitating."

That gets Stiles's attention, and he pulls back from Derek even though he really doesn't want to, and looks around.

And yes, Laura is correct. Things are levitating.

The sofa is levitating a foot off the ground. The stools at the kitchen bar a mere three feet away from them are levitating, knocking into each other and making dull thudding noises. The fucking dining table is spinning in circles an inch off the ground.

The coffee table is level with Laura's head, and the magazines and controllers and all the other crap Scott and Stiles never put away are orbiting around it.

"Huh," Stiles says, at the same time Derek starts muttering curses.

"You think if I sit on the sofa it will keep floating?" Laura asks, eyeing it.

"I think I'm going to work." Derek's voice is strangled.

"Yeah," Stiles says, because he gets it, is just as overwhelmed and tired of this shit as Derek is. "Me too."

"Your love makes things levitate, guys, and you're not going to take advantage of this?" Laura asks, snorting like she's disappointed in them. "I can't believe you two."

Chapter Text

Derek runs.

There's always been something cathartic about running. Something about the pounding of his heart in his chest and the inane thoughts that run through his head as he sprints through dirt and jumps over fallen logs, pushes himself up hills and throws himself down valleys until even his not-quite-human lungs are burning with every inhale and exhale.

It's nice, is what it is. Whether he's running on two legs or four, it's nice.

He hasn't run since Christmas, and back then it was cold everyone else was running with him through the preserve, Laura far up ahead, slightly behind mom and Uncle Peter and the Alpha from Sedona. Now, though, now he's running with Laura, just running, and the forest around him is green, the air is only slightly nippy, and no one is around for miles.

It's nice. To get away from the city, to get away from the problems, to get away, just for a little while, from Stiles.

"Derek!" Laura is maybe half a mile ahead of him—she's always been the faster one—standing at the top of the ridge they've been sprinting up for the better part of an hour. "Get your slow ass up here!"

Derek grumbles, shifts into something a little more wolflike so he can go faster, and relishes in the way his muscles strain and his chest burns as he pushes himself the rest of the way up the incline.

"I always forget how pretty it is up here." Laura looks like she's posing for some goddamned outdoor magazine, with her hands on her hips and her face shifted back to its human features, grinning at him while he jogs the last ten feet between them. "Nothing like getting lost in deep wilderness for a couple of hours, right, Derrie?"

Derek doesn't bother responding to the nickname. "Yeah," he says, instead, because there is nothing like it, because finally, for the first time in weeks, his head feels clear, there's not some weird, scratchy, panicky feeling in his chest, and he can just breathe. "Nothing like it."

He stretches out, shifting his features back to human.

They're not particularly high up, but they're a good twenty miles from the nearest trail entrance, and everything around them is green and brown and, off in the distance, blue from the river winding through the valley. Most importantly of all, though, everything around them is distinctly not human.

It doesn't even smell remotely of human up here save for him and Laura, because not many hikers ever actually go this far away from civilization. Not unless they're camping. Instead of human, it smells like the trees they're standing under, dirt, animals, and not much else.

If Laura weren't carrying a ridiculously overstuffed hiking backpack, Derek would feel better and less embarrassed about the whole thing, because as he tried to explain to her before they left the apartment, werewolves don't need wilderness supplies. She ignored him, had still run faster than him even while carrying it on her shoulders, and now she 's handing him half her energy bar. He accepts it, if only because she's pushing it at him with a dangerous glint in her eye.

"Hey, so," Laura starts, and he looks at her from where he's watching a bird swoop overhead. His instincts tell him to chase it, stalk it to see if it's on the hunt, but Laura would just make fun of him for, as she calls it, giving in to the wolf. "You and Stiles."

"Oh, come on." Derek chokes through the chunk of energy bar he's chewing, ignoring the crumbs that spew onto the ground as he does so. "We're doing this to get away from it all, bond, so can't you just… not?"

Laura eyes him for a bit, and Derek can't really parse the expression on her face. Contemplative, definitely. Maybe a little fond? She smiles before he can grasp it, and holds her hands up in mock surrender. "Fine, fine. No Stiles. I don't know who that is. What the fuck is a Stiles, anyway?"

"No fucking idea," Derek grunts, shoving the rest of the energy bar in his mouth and turning to look the other way while he chews.

He should've brought his camera. The afternoon sun is hitting the mountains opposite them, making the trees throw out detailed shadows and the valley below look darker than usual, almost mysterious.

"Jake used to like hiking," Laura says. Derek turns around, raises an eyebrow because he can't really think of anything else to do or say, in response to that. She points at the bag at her feet. "It's why I have a hiking pack."

"Fuck him," Derek grunts, wondering if this is the part where he has to be the supportive younger brother. He'd expected this, of course, because Laura is in Davis because she's hurting, because she needs someone, and apparently Derek was her first pick, but it still doesn't make him any more enthusiastic about it. He's never been good with… that. With feelings.

They tend to terrify him.

"Yeah." Laura sighs, sits down next to her pack and crosses her legs under her, looking out at the hills and valleys around them. He wonders, idly, if Laura is doing this here—in the middle of the forest—because, like almost every other Hale, she has a penchant for the dramatic, or if the view has really just inspired the need to share. Maybe it's a combination of the two.

Derek walks over and sits down next to her. Down in the valley, if he concentrates, Derek can hear the sounds of something relatively large and four-legged moving around. A mountain lion, maybe.

"Have I told you it's really awesome that you're letting me stay here?" He looks over to see Laura smiling at him. "I know you like your space, Der, but you can be a good little brother when you try."

"You didn't give me a choice," Derek reminds her, "about you staying here."

"Humble, too!" Laura punches him in the shoulder, maybe a little harder than necessary, then rustles around in her backpack until she brings out a large bottle of water and shoves it in his face until he takes it and starts drinking.

"Very," Derek agrees. He fiddles with the bright-pink cap of the water bottle and glances up when, in the distance, he hears the sharp cry of a raptor. "Why didn't you tell me?" he asks finally, figuring it's better to approach this now then wait for her to say something.

"Didn't tell you what?" Laura looks over at him.

"That you were going to tell… him," he answers.

"Him?" She snorts. "Just because we broke up doesn't mean saying his name is going to make me cry, Derek."

"Jake," he relents. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to tell Jake?"

"You never met him," Laura says after a bit, instead of answering him. "Mom did; dad did. Even Cora, when we went back to Beacon Hills last summer, but you never met him, Derek."

That's… true. "Okay," he says.

"He liked everyone; everyone like—okay, dad tolerated him. Fuck, I waited three years because I was trying to gauge if he could handle it. Handle us."

"He couldn't handle it," Derek points out, and knows it's not the nicest thing to say even before she snarls at him, eyes flashing blue.

"You think?" she asks. "He told me—" She clears her throat, makes her voice high-pitched and whiny. "—I can't be with you. I still love you, but I can't be with you. What the hell does that even mean?"

"That he's not worth it?" Derek offers.

Laura snorts. "Three years on that fucker, wasted." She stops, looks over at him again. "I didn't tell you because I knew what you would say—I mean, you know what you would say."

"Yeah," Derek agrees. "I do."

"I mean,"—Laura keeps talking over him—"we all know relationships are a touchy issue with you."

"They are," Derek grinds out, wondering how this got from being about Laura's problems to his, "but we're not talking about me, we're talking about—"

"—me, okay, okay," Laura interrupts. "I'm actually handling it better here. Being here is helping. A change of pace, new scenery, and you know I've been looking for apartments. So I figure, take a month off, get some perspective, maybe go back home and have mom and dad fawn over me for a couple of weeks after this, and then I'm going to be fine."

"Cora will be there," Derek points out. As always, Laura is more sane, more well-adjusted, and just better at life than him.

"Cora is currently in the throes of an epic crush on an older boy," Laura snorts, "so I'm pretty sure she won't be too horrible to deal with."

"What? Crush? Who?" Derek hadn't heard about any crush, and Cora is notoriously open about way too many things. Although maybe that's part of being a human in a family of werewolves. Both dad and Cora tend to overshare just so no one calls them on their lies.

"That's what happens when you stay out of the loop, little bro." Laura clucks her tongue at him, then grins. "Your fault."

"I'm not out of the loop," Derek mutters. Laura snorts but doesn't say anything to that, maybe because both of them know he's lying. They sit there for a while. Derek doesn't know for how long. His phone, on silent, is in his pocket, and he could check the time, but he doesn't want to. It's enough, at least for him, to just sit here next to Laura and breathe it all in.

He's hoping maybe it helps Laura, the watching, because it always helps him to get away from things. To just sit on the top of a somewhat-tall ridge in the middle of the wilderness and forget.

Or, well, not, because he's trying, but he can't really forget the problems he'll have to go back to. None of them, really, have been solved. He's still taking his sister back to his apartment, and she'll still be invasive and slightly annoying; there are still magic wolf figurines wreaking havoc in the apartment above him, and he's still going back to Stiles, who presents an entirely new and ridiculously complicated set of problems.

Like how Derek wants him. It's kind of idiotic to deny it now, especially after he's kissed him two times when there wasn't any need to. Especially after he woke up this morning from a dream that starred Stiles and skin and more skin and he'd been hard, had found himself leaning in towards Stiles's neck and inhaling deep.

(And of course, of course, Derek would get addicted to the way he fucking smells. It's punishment for his initial hang-ups about having his apartment smell like someone other than him.)

Like how Derek wonders if Stiles is right, and maybe he is being a martyr, if he is making life unnecessarily hard for himself.

Like how Derek is afraid the more they pretend at this, the more it'll turn into something that's not pretending at all. Something that's real and terrifying.

"I'm not—" he blurts out, looks over to see Laura grinning down at her phone, and stops himself. "You can get reception out here?"

She looks at him, her grin gets wider, and she holds the phone up so he can see the screen. It's a picture of Scott, sitting on top of what looks like the dining room table, his head brushing up against the ceiling because everything is, apparently, still levitating. He's biting into an apple, grinning like an idiot. Derek doesn't resist the temptation to roll his eyes.

"I've got better coverage," Laura explains as Derek takes his phone out, scoffs at the lack of bars. Not that he wants reception, because this is about being one with nature and getting away from it all, just that he wants to—

Fuck, he doesn't know, check in on Stiles or something, see if he's not dead?

"We should probably head back," Laura says, eyeing him, her voice tinged with humor, and worse, understanding. "Do you want to call—" she pauses, tilts her heads, and grins, "—lover boy before we start down, or should we just surprise them?"

Derek doesn't like the way she says that. The lover boy thing; the words themselves are problematic, but the tone is downright intimidating. He stands, brushing off the pair of running shorts he changed into before they left, and shifts into beta form, stretching out the kinks in his neck and running his tongue over his suddenly sharp canines.

"If you want to call…" He shrugs, changes the subject. "Do you want me to carry the pack on the way down?"

"No, you'll be fucking glacial with it on. Like an old man." Laura jumps up, shifts in one smooth movement, and gets the backpack over her shoulders in another. "I'm kind of hoping something is still levitating by the time we get back."

Derek sighs. "Why?"

"Because that looks fun, Derek." Laura swings her arms in circles, jumping in place and gnashing her teeth together. When she glances at him, her eyes flash blue. "You do know what fun is, right?"

"No," Derek drawls, "no fuckin' idea."

Laura grins, shakes her fingers out, and then she's gone, sprinting down the ridge, jumping over rocks and dodging trees, yelling something about tag and slowasses over her shoulder.

Derek sighs, deeply, takes one last big inhale, and sprints after her.


"So I may," Scott says, "have told Allison that you and Derek are deeply in love with each other."

Stiles looks over at him. Scott is still on top of the dining room table—the only piece of furniture that's still levitating—sprawled out with his hands and feet hanging over the edges, staring up at the ceiling. Stiles, meanwhile, is about to go on a run.

The nerves are back. Or they're not really nerves, are they? It's the figurines. The fucking magic that's making him so goddamned jittery. He needs to remember to tell Deaton about it, although, knowing him, he'll just say there's nothing that can be done, that he needs to ride out the excess energy just like he needs to ride out the existence of two magical ceramic wolves in his bedroom.

Heh. Too bad he can't be expending said energy in other ways. More horizontal ways. More pleasurable ways.

… sex, that is. Stiles is thinking about sex. Normally that would be fucking hilarious, but now, with the whole Derek thing and the kiss this morning, and the kiss yesterday, it's kind of like he's asking for trouble.

Two hundred plus pounds of hot, naked, werewolf-muscled trouble.

"I thought we already had this conversation," Stiles says. "On the phone? Yesterday?"

"Yeah, nah," Scott waves his hand. "I mean today. This morning. We talked on Skype and she kind of…"

"Cornered you?" Stiles pulls up his socks and shoves his feet into his running shoes.

"I told her you wanted to keep it secret because—" Scott pauses, and even though Stiles isn't looking at him, he can practically feel him wince. "—you two didn't want to jinx it."

"Right." Stiles kicks his toes into the wood underneath him to get his feet all the way in, and clips his iPod shuffle onto the top of his shorts. "And you told her we were sickeningly adorable and affectionate, and that Derek is the worst boyfriend ever."

"You know me too well, dude." Scott sighs, lifts his head up to look down at him. "I think if you leave the table's going to stop levitating, so—"

Stiles snorts, shoves his earphones into his ears. "—so maybe you should get off it?"

"You still haven't told me how they started levitating in the first place," Scott says. Stiles clears his throat, stretches out his arms, and ignores the way his face is suddenly hot.

"Derek was being a jackass," he tries. Technically it's not a lie. The kiss was a jackass thing to do. "I got emotional."

"You levitate things when you get angry now?" Scott sounds impressed. Impressed with him. That's… okay, that's a cool feeling.

"I'm not levitating anything," Stiles says. It wasn't anger that caused them to levitate. It was… fuck, a lot of things. Arousal. Heat. More arousal. Other things Stiles can't name, but knows he should, because a lot of what's happening is, apparently, tied to emotion.

That's what Deaton had said, at least, in so many words. That something—no one knows what, and oh, isn't that just fucking peachy—is tying him to those two wolves, and that something responds to him. Maybe not necessarily intense emotion (there had been nothing intense about him wanting a soundproof room and a new door), but emotion nonetheless.

"Someone's levitating something," Scott argues, "and it's not me."

"I'm going on a run," Stiles says. "If the Hales get back—"

"—oh, the Hales?" Scott snorts. "Why don't you just call him 'lover' and her 'honorable sister-in-law'?

"Not cool, buddy, not cool," Stiles sighs. "I'll be back in a couple hours."

"Is this the weird energy thing?" Scott waves a hand at him. "The running?"

"Yeah." Stiles shrugs when Scott sits up, narrows his eyes down at him. "I'll be fine, dude."

"Derek's going to sigh." Scott jumps off the table, walks toward him. "Audibly, Stiles. He does that eye-roll thing, and he's probably going to run after you or something, use the distance from Laura to be more of a dick than he usually is."

"They're doing the wolf thing in the wilderness, Scott. Getting in touch with their inner animal." Stiles walks to the door, Scott at his heels. "It takes at least thirty minutes to drive there, and—"

"Yeah, right, go." Scott shoos him out the door. "Just so you know, your life choices are starting to become questionable."

"Believe me," Stiles mutters under his breath, "I know."

He runs long. Fifteen miles, and through it all he barely registers he's outside, on the sidewalk, dodging pedestrians and waiting at intersections when the lights are red, avoiding cracks and dips in the concrete. He's more concerned with the constant buzzing in his head; the buzzing that, even as his legs start to tire and his chest starts to burn, won't go away.

It's worrying, because yesterday he only felt exhaustion after the wolves did their thing. Today, though, it won't go away. The buzzing. It hasn't gone away. Not once since the levitation thing this morning, since the kiss. Through work, and class, and even now, running, his skin, his body, feels too small.

He should call Deaton, or e-mail him or something, probably, tell him about the levitation, maybe ask him to send some information on how to maybe get used to it.

At the very least, Stiles needs to get used to it, because he can't go on like this for much longer. ADHD had made his high school years an exercise in discipline and self-medication, but he had grown out of it, gotten better. Now, though, this is worse than high school.

It's fucking annoying.

It would be less annoying, if maybe Stiles could control said energy, make it do something he wants it to do, but he can't, at least not right now.

So until something happens, until anything happens to make him feel more… normal, he needs to find ways to cope. And running has been a way for Stiles to cope with excess energy for a while, so it's only natural, really, that he uses it to calm himself down after everything that's happened.

The kissing. The kissing is more worrying than the magic. The kissing is making it harder to calm down, he thinks. It's like they're both caught in this grey area, kind of a will-he-or-won't-he thing, where Stiles doesn't know whether it'll keep being this—if Derek will just using Laura as an excuse to kiss him—or if it's even possible to have it be something more.

The irony of wanting to be in a relationship—okay, not wanting to be, thinking in a totally objective sense—with the guy he's currently in a fake relationship with is not lost on Stiles. The ridiculousness of suddenly finding himself attracted to one of the most frustrating people he's ever met is not lost on him either.

All Stiles wants, all he needs, he figures, is to bone Derek once. Just to see what it's like. Maybe they'll keep doing it after that, maybe they won't.

Maybe he should say something about how easy it would be if, maybe instead of pretending to be in a relationship for Laura, they actually try to be in a relationship. Not the weird-ass, lovey-dovey, saccharine sweet and oh-so-unrealistic story Derek wove for her, but something… real.

Something involving sex.

Stiles bets having copious amounts of sex with Derek would expend energy and make him less nervous. Although, since apparently sex is powerful, magic-wise, maybe that's not the best idea. Maybe that would add to their ever-growing list of problems and psychological hang-ups.

When he gets back to the apartment, the sun is setting, he's sweaty, his skin is only slightly buzzing, and none of the furniture is levitating. Scott is sitting on the floor, cross-legged in front of the coffee table, laptop in front of him, books and notes spread out all over the table itself, muttering something about canine allergies and skin conditions.

Stiles takes a shower, retreats to his room, eyeing the wolf figurines as he stalks past them to his desk, and spends the rest of the night studiously ignoring everything and anything relating to Derek and/or magic.

You think it would be hard, but one text to Derek telling him everything is fine and that he doesn't need to come up, should stay with Laura, is all it takes, and Stiles is home free.

Nothing happens that night, nothing happens at all. Stiles does his class work, fucks around on the Internet, and falls asleep after tossing and turning on his bed (the bed that, if he takes a deep whiff, smells faintly of Derek, damn it) for half an hour.

On Thursday, Lydia calls him, then Danny, both of them demanding pictures he doesn't end up sending. Cora texts him about being her brother-in-law. Dad e-mails him about his flight arrangements for his trip home next month. He has class, another class, then work, and he stumbles back to the apartment at ten that night, bypassing Derek and Laura, who, for some reason, are playing CoD with Scott instead of… doing something else. Something not occurring in his apartment.

They mumble out a greeting; he grunts something back. Forty minutes later, he's in his room, falling asleep to blessed silence.

Friday, Stiles wakes up to Derek in his bed again. This time, though, he's still sleeping. His mouth is open, he's drooling on the pillow, and his leg is hooked over Stiles like it's allowed to be there. Which… it's not.

Not yet, his mind provides, and Stiles swears he hears evil cackling.

Stiles's desk chair is balanced on one leg on top of his dresser, and it's spinning around in slow, almost lazy, circles.

He slides off the mattress as silently as possible, so he doesn't wake Derek up, and gets ready in the bathroom.

He's held up all day at school because his stats group panics and makes Stiles stay in one of the library's study rooms to go over their presentation for the entire morning. After that there's the lunch interview he made weeks ago with one of the psychology professors about his thesis. Then there's actual class, and work after that.

He's still buzzing, though, when he gets home at six, so he goes on another long run, takes a shower, and lets Laura and Scott—Derek's at some dinner with his thesis advisors—drag him to the bar down the street.

He gets hit on by a guy, which is fucking annoying, because now he's not even interested in being hit on. The dude's hot, just not… not what he's looking for right now.

And what he's looking for is Derek, naked, in his bed, in either bed, really, doing things to him. Things. Sexy things.

Saturday morning, he wakes up to find that his bed, sometime during the night, has slid to the middle of the room, with him still in it, and finally gets around to e-mailing Deaton about whether or not he's found out anything else. Or if he could, maybe, possibly, send Stiles some info on how to control the magic, use it for things that actually make sense, instead of just having his furniture randomly start levitating and arranging itself into precarious positions and towers.

Saturday night, Laura drags all of them over to Sacramento to some new nightclub, and for some reason the bouncer lets all of them cut in line to get in.

The bouncer's eyes look a little dazed, though, and Stiles swears he hears the sound of ceramic scraping up against wood as he walks past him and through the doors. Derek whispers something in his ear about clay and burnt ozone and Stiles walks over to the bar and orders a beer.

There's something to be said, he thinks, as he hands his I.D. card to the douchebag of a bartender, for things being awesome in theory, and being really fucking annoying in reality.


"So… " Stiles is on his fourth beer, and if Derek takes a whiff, he can smell the way it's affecting his body chemistry. He's sweating more, although that could just be because the amount of body heat generated in this club is ridiculous, he's loopy, his limbs relaxed and loose, and he smells like alcohol. It's not an unpleasant scent, because, underneath everything else, there's still Stiles. "We're here because why?"

Derek doesn't care that he's fine with thinking things like that. He's tried to stop from sniffing the air as soon as Stiles enters the room, but it hasn't worked, so he's fine with it.

"Because Laura." Derek gestures with his chin at Laura at the other end of the bar, grinning and pretending to listen as some asshole falls over himself trying to impress her. "Why else?"

"I'm the only one that can actually get drunk, though." Stiles is pressed up next to him, close, and Derek figures it's partly the alcohol loosening up his inhibitions, partly because the music here is loud enough that humans need to strain to hear any conversations they're holding over it, and partly—mostly, actually—because there's no room at the bar to leave any space between them. "And Scott is miserable."

"I don't know why Scott's here," Derek agrees. The entire ride to Sacramento was filled with Scott whining about studying and Allison and more studying and more Allison… and coffee, for some reason, but Derek hadn't paid attention to that part. Stiles was silent, has been silent, suspiciously so, for the last couple days.

He smells like exhaustion, weariness, and more and more like clay and burnt ozone.

"Scott doesn't know why Scott's here," Stiles says, somehow pressing himself closer to Derek, looping his arm around Derek's shoulder and just kind of… collapsing on him.

"Laura's up to something." Derek leans against the bar, takes a swig of Stiles's beer, and ignores the gaggle of college girls leering at them from across the dance floor. He's not sure if they're leering at him or at Stiles, but either way, he figures the best strategy is to ignore them. Or, if they come too close, glare at them. "She was suspiciously insistent about us coming with her."

"I spelled the bouncer into letting us in," Stiles moans dramatically, either choosing to ignore Derek or not hearing him. The couple sipping martinis next to them turns, eyes Stiles for a bit, and then start edging away. "His eyes, Derek, they were glazed. And Deaton keeps ignori—"

Derek rests his arm over Stiles's shoulder when he tries to move away from him, into the space left behind by the couple, then leans in and steals another sip of beer. He figures if he drinks enough of it, Stiles won't be as shit-faced drunk when they eventually go home.

Derek has only seen Stiles blackout drunk once, at Scott's graduation party, and it wasn't exactly pretty.

"—he keeps ignoring me, and I just want it to stop," Stiles whines, knocking his forehead repeatedly against the side of Derek's head. Out of the corner of his eye, Derek sees Laura grinning at them. Not at the asshole in front of her, at them.

She's up to something. She's been up to something since the hike. Maybe even before that, actually, but it's only after the hike, after Derek had cleared his head a little bit, that he noticed how strange she's been.

He can't pin it down yet because she hasn't doneanything except give him these increasingly mysterious looks, but he hopes it has nothing to do with Jake.

Or Stiles.

Or anyone else.

Actually, Derek would prefer Laura's strangeness be a figment of his imagination, brought on by stress and… other stuff.

"I don't think he's ignoring you," Derek says. "I think he just hasn't managed to get back to you. He's busy."

"And suddenly you're the epitome of patience and logic," Stiles spits out, grabbing his beer back from Derek's hand and taking a large gulp. Derek watches his throat bob up and down and has to pull his hand back when it comes up to trace a line down Stiles's jugular. "Maybe she wants us to get jealous, or something. That sounds like Laura."

"She brought us to a club"—Derek figures maybe it will make more sense if he says it out loud— "because she wants to see us get jealous of someone… hitting on us?"

"Sounds like Laura." Stiles shrugs, takes another swig of his beer. "Someone hit on me yesterday and she started fucking cackling."

"Someone hit on you?" Derek keeps his voice calm, maybe even adds a bit of disbelief in there, but damn it if the thought of that doesn't make him feel like a five-year-old who doesn't want to share his toys.

"No, someone didn't hit me, someone hit on me," Stiles says, raising his voice. Derek squints at him until he remembers the music—it's gotten louder, actually, and sounds like what would happen if Skrillex and Black Sabbath had a baby—is affecting Stiles's ability to hold a conversation more than it's affecting him.

"Right." Derek nods. "I got that. Why would she want us to get jealous?"

Stiles leans back, his movements exaggerated, his tongue sticking out of his mouth—fucker—to glance at Laura down the bar. "You think she can hear us?" he asks.

"If she wants to," Derek says, leaning closer. Across the club, he spots Scott sitting next to three women, showing them his wallet. No, that doesn't make sense. Maybe he has a picture in his wallet. Of Allison. That makes more sense.

"Well." Stiles draws out the word, licks at his lips. "Aren't boyfriends supposed to get jealous?"

"That doesn't… oh." Derek sighs, drinks the rest of Stiles's beer, and glares when some guy in a V-neck shirt brushes past Stiles to get to the bartender. So Laura wants to see them jealous. Or Stiles—drunk Stiles—is assuming Laura wants to see them jealous.

It makes sense, except Derek has to wonder why Laura wants to see them get jealous. She's seen them kiss, she knows they're together, so if this entire thing is a setup, then Derek is… confused.

Unless Laura suspects something.

Fuck. What if Laura suspects something?

Derek's heart picks up at that, fast and panicked, and he's pathetically grateful for the thumping bass and loud music to disguise the sound of it, just in case. He glances around a little wildly, trying to look back on the past two days—on the past week, really—to see if there could be any reason for Laura to suspect something. Anything.

Horrifyingly, there are many reasons. So many reasons.

"You wanna dance?" Derek asks, his voice high and panicky.

"No." Stiles looks at him like he's an idiot. "Why the fuck would I want to dance? I'm supposed to be getting drunk here. It worked yesterday."

Derek sighs, leans in close so he's speaking into Stiles's ear. "Just fucking go with it."

"I went with it when you kissed me, and that wasn't even necessary."

"You kissed me." Derek hates it that Stiles knows him so well.

"First time," Stiles points out. "Second time was you. Don't worry, dude, it was hot."

"This isn't about the fucking ki—" Derek hisses. They have bigger shit to worry about other than… other than that. Like Laura. Mostly Laura.

"It is." Stiles nods. Dramatically, if that's even possible, his head falling forward and then tipping all the way back, the look of outrage on his face comical. "It is about the kiss, Derek. Everything"—he waves his hand around, eyes wide, voice lowered in a conspiratorial whisper— "is connected."

"You're drunk," Derek says.

"Wow, you think?" Stiles looks at him, eyebrows raised, mouth upturned into a lopsided grin, and something in Derek's chest stutters, something that feels suspiciously like affection.

It makes the panic clenching at his throat worse.

"I—uh," he says intelligently. He watches, stunned at himself, at the situation, but mostly at himself, as Stiles looks down the neck of his beer bottle, shakes it to hear if there's any liquid inside. "She would only want us to get jealous," Derek says slowly, inching forward until his lips are millimeters from Stiles's ear, "if she suspected something."

It takes a while for Stiles to get it, but when he does, he freezes, rears back to look at Derek with wide eyes.

"You think she does?" he asks.

"I—" Derek shrugs.

"We've kissed in front of her," Stiles points out, clearing his throat. He looks behind him, waves down the bartender before Derek can stop him, but only orders a bottle of water.

"I know," Derek grits out.

"Like, two times," Stiles continues.

"I remember."

"Why would she be suspicious?" Stiles opens his water when he gets it, takes a large swallow.

"I don't know," Derek snarls, and it's not his imagination that Stiles shivers. "She's just been… acting strange. She's practically leering at us right now."

Stiles looks at him then, cocks his head to the side and gets this expression on his face like he's trying to understand some complicated theorem. "Would it be so bad?" he asks finally, just as there's a lull in the music.

Derek glances over at Laura, sees her talking to another asshole, and looks back at Stiles. "Would what be so bad?"

"Her knowing." Stiles waits until the music has started up again to respond.

Derek sighs. "Seriously, Stiles?"

"Well, if she suspects something, she's acting pretty chill about it. Maybe she thinks it's funny." Stiles shrugs, takes another swallow of water. He's drunk—Derek can smell it—but when Stiles looks at him, his eyes are focused and… knowing.

"Huh," Derek says.

"Yeah, huh."

"You're an asshole when you're drunk," Derek grunts.

"I'm an asshole all the time, dude." Stiles grins wide, nudges him in the ribs with his elbow. "You are too, though, so it's cool."

"I'm not an—"

"A likeable asshole," Stiles continues. "Kind of cute when you're not trying, if you're into that kind of thing."

Derek freezes. "Are you into that kind of thing?"

He's not flirting. It's just that suddenly, getting the answer to that question is more important than figuring out whether or not Laura is just strangely invested in their relationship or knows they're not actually involved.

"Apparently," Stiles mutters, snorting and taking another swallow of water. He looks away, towards Scott, and Derek uses the break in conversation to lean in closer—he doesn't even know how that's possible, since they're already pretty much plastered against each other, but it is—and inhale deeply.

He smells Stiles, alcohol, sweat, and arousal. He hears Stiles's heartbeat as it thumps, slightly faster than usual, but with no stuttering. He realizes, as he closes his eyes, slides his arm up to rest over Stiles's shoulders, that this isn't good.

This is what happened with Kate. This is what happens when he wants something more than sex. He starts obsessing; over their smell, over their heartbeat, over every little thing they say or do.

"So." Stiles crosses his arms over his chest, grins back at Derek. "Which one of these idiots do you think will hit on me?"

"No one's going to hit on you." The words are out of Derek's mouth before he can make them sound slightly less guttural—less emotional—but Stiles only laughs, elbows him in the ribs again.

"Okay, which one of these idiots is going to hit on you?"

"No one." Derek looks around, though, as he says it. He winces as the music changes again to something high and screechy and—"How do people listen to this?"

"What?" Stiles looks at him, blinks a couple of times, and cracks up. "Oh god, I know, right? It's horrible."

Derek grumbles, turns to look at anything other than Stiles's face. "Laura definitely suspects something," he says a little later, once Stiles is finished with his bottle of water and Derek has glared down anyone who's even dared look their way.

"Why don't you just ask her? Make it… subtle, if you can," Stiles suggests. He shrugs off Derek's arm, points at Scott. "I'm going to see what he's up to. Go scare the fucker off that's trying to impress her."

And then he's gone, because he doesn't seem to understand that the only way Laura is going to stop suspecting something is if they stay plastered together for the rest of the night.

Derek thinks about following him for a second, remembers that Scott is missing Allison more than usual today, and decides against it. So instead, he turns around, orders a beer, and sneaks surreptitious glances over at Laura every couple of minutes. He can't hear what she's saying to the man she's talking to over the sound of the music and the crowd and… everything, but whatever it is has him bent over at the waist laughing his ass off.

At least she's having a good time.

Stiles is right; Derek should talk to her. He was going to, on Wednesday, on their run, but she showed him that picture of Scott and it hadn't been the right time. He knows he should tell her. He knows this—whatever this thing is with Stiles—isn't helping anything at all.

Derek is being selfish, though, because if he tells her, everything goes back to the way it was. Stiles goes back to being that guy who hangs around Scott. Laura goes back to giving him knowing, pitying, empathetic looks and not-so-subtle tidbits of dating advice. Derek goes back to… doing what he usually does.

Derek doesn't want that.

Derek wants something more.

He just doesn't know if Stiles wants it, or if the arousal he keeps smelling on him is just that—arousal. And this, he realizes, is why he doesn't do relationships, because as heightened as his senses are, they're never enough. They're never—

"You here with someone?"

Derek glances over, sighs, long and self-suffering, at the woman—tall, skinny, great boobs and a predatory smile—standing next to him, some sort of fruity drink in her perfectly manicured hand.

Of course, he thinks. Of course.

"Yeah," he grunts, eyes searching for Stiles—for someone, actually, anyone—in the crowd. Stiles is sitting with Scott, but his gaze is turned this way, and Derek isn't sure if he looks more amused or angry.

"You sure?" the woman asks, stepping closer. "You want another drink? Dancing always leaves me parched."

"I'm sure." Derek smiles at her. If he were here alone—if he hadn't just, not even ten minutes ago, come to the realization that, somehow in the last week, he's gotten hung up over Stiles, of all the fucking people to get hung up over—he would probably already be flirting. Already be skimming a hand down her arm and grinning, wide and insincere, inhaling deep and choking on perfume and arousal and nothing much else. Instead of doing that, though, he glances over and sees Stiles making his way towards them, a disbelieving grin on his face.

If Laura weren't still flirting on the other side of the bar, Derek would think she'd sent the woman over as some sort of test.

He's not being paranoid. He's being realistic.

"So, no drink," the woman says, smiling and pushing her hair out of her face.

"No drink," Derek says. She looks at him for a moment, cocks her head to the side, and he just keeps smiling until she leaves. He glances over at Laura after, and she's looking at him, eyes focused and calculative.

"I feel like she could've at least stayed long enough for me to declare you mine," Stiles greets, voice loud over the music as he pushes past a couple gyrating all over each other on the dance floor, squeezes in to lean his elbows on the counter, close enough that their shoulders and hips touch.

"I think Laura's just as disappointed," Derek says back.

"She was hot," Stiles says, looking after the woman, who has taken her fruity drink to another corner of the bar and is talking with a gaggle of other women, all of whom are glancing back at them now.

Derek drapes his arm over Stiles's shoulders, only partly to show her that he is, indeed, here with someone. "Not my type," he says.

"You've got a type?" Stiles raises an eyebrow at him.

"Apparently." Derek grins when the lights suddenly start flickering, then turn off completely. When he inhales, he smells the now-familiar scent of clay and burning ozone. The music stops, and suddenly the club is full of nervous laughter, lit only by cell phones, the atmosphere almost… intimate. Derek glances over at Stiles when he hears him sigh, long and dejected and exhausted.

"I feel like they're just playing pranks on me now," Stiles mutters.

"The wolves?"

"No, the voices in my head. Of course the fucking wolves, Derek," Stiles grouches, banging his head against the bar. Derek glances over, manages to find Laura—eyes glowing blue in the dark—walking towards them through the crowd. Across the dance floor, Scott is still sitting, grinning over at them.

"Laura's coming over," Derek says.

"Does that mean we're leaving?" Stiles asks hopefully, his head still on the bar top.

"I think they respond to you the most when we're together," Derek points out. "The wolves."

"Brilliant theory, Derek, really." Stiles pushes himself away from the bar, glances over when the DJ starts talking about technical malfunctions and emergency generators. Derek ignores him in favor of leering at Stiles, knowing his eyes have adjusted to the dark when he stares back at him suspiciously.

"You're not going to—dude, last time that happened things levitated." Stiles takes a step closer to him though, eyes on his lips, and Derek feels himself drawn forward.

"It's been a couple of days, maybe they've stopped reacting so much. It's an experiment?" he offers. "And Laura's coming over," he adds as an afterthought.

Stiles licks his lips again, seems to think it over for a bit, then shrugs, and pulls him in.

The kiss is hot and sloppy, Stiles tastes like cheap beer and whatever spicy thing he had for dinner, and it's, in more ways than one, explosive.


"The lights, guys, they exploded."

Stiles looks over at Scott, who's sitting next to him in the backseat of Derek's Camaro wearing his unimpressed face, and grins. "I thought it was awesome."

"People started screaming," Scott says.

"Awesomely," Laura says from the driver's seat. Derek grunts in agreement, and when Stiles looks at him in the rearview mirror, he catches the small smile that's been on Derek's face for… a while. He doesn't know what it means.

He doesn't know what a lot of this means.

He thinks, though, that Derek might… that he might have confessed something to him, back at the club?

And he thinks that he may have confessed something back?

He's not drunk—was slightly drunk, but it's since worn off—so he's pretty sure something like that happened.

Scott nudges him just as Laura starts talking about the lawyer she was flirting with before the lights went out, and gives him a pointed look, glancing up at Derek before glancing back at him.

Stiles shrugs and then does his best to avoid Scott's increasingly incessant attempts at getting his attention until they're back at the apartment. Even then, he's saved by Scott's sudden interest in the situation—the Derek situation, not the wolf situation—by Laura and Derek completely bypassing their floor on the elevator ride up and plopping themselves down on his couch like they're invited. Stiles doesn't join them, because Derek keeps giving him these looks—slightly confused, slightly terrified, slightly disbelieving looks—and Scott keeps giving them looks, and Laura just keeps leering over their heads.

So there's lots of looking going on, and it's all very strange and awkward, so Stiles escapes into his room, saying something on the way about being exhausted (which isn't exactly a lie, but it's not the whole truth either) and seeing them later.

The wolves aren't glowing when he opens his door, nor is any of his furniture levitating, which is great, because as cool as the exploding lights were back at the club, the furniture shit is getting… old.

Stiles goes through his usual routine after he closes his door behind him—he throws his wallet on the bedside table, plugs his phone into its charger, and wakes his computer up. He's checking his e-mail when the door opens, and Derek walks in and plops down, headfirst, on his bed.

Not even five minutes of alone time, he thinks. That has to be some kind of record.

"You know this isn't your room, right?" Stiles asks. Deaton still hasn't e-mailed him back. He should probably just call. He's tried to do research online, but everything he's found is redundant; focus items, power sources, catalysts, and nothing at all that would explain why, a week after this shit started happening, it's still happening.

"It's quiet in here," Derek groans. "Just let me stay. Ten minutes."

"Remember when you couldn't stand me?" Stiles asks. "And had never stepped foot in my room?'

Derek's silent for a bit, and when he looks up at Stiles, his face is tense and closed off. "I can go, if you want," he says.

"That's not what I meant, asshole," Stiles says. "Hanging out with you is fun. It's just kind of ridiculous that we spent so many years hating each other when we could've been making Scott jealous this entire time."

"Scott's jealous?" Derek sounds way too happy with that information.

"He kept giving me the concerned older-brother look in the car," Stiles says. Derek snorts out a laugh, puts his head back down on Stiles's pillow.

Stiles could, if he were smarter, turn back to his computer, wait until Derek is asleep, and then climb in after him. But he's still slightly drunk, and there's been a pattern forming over the last couple weeks, and Stiles is way too curious for his own good.

"What is this?" he asks. Derek looks up at him, confused. "This… thing between us."

Derek sits up at that, and Stiles turns his chair away from the desk and towards the bed, sensing a serious discussion, that, you know, requires face-to-face interaction. Derek's silent for a while, his eyes searching Stiles's face like he's going to find an answer there, and he shrugs.

"I don't know," he says.

"It's not pretend anymore," Stiles says.

"No," Derek responds, stilted and awkward, after a beat.

Stiles has always been good at repressing things. At ignoring what he doesn't want to be true or what he doesn't want to think about until it either blows up in his face or goes away. He doesn't know what's happening here, but he does know that something about Derek—something other than the way he turns furry, something other than the way he can be a complete dick—is intriguing. Something that makes him think about all the times he needed help and Derek delivered, or how this whole pretend-boyfriend scenario is just Derek trying to do the right thing, or how Derek has always tried to do the right thing.

He's always known Derek is attractive—it's another thing that, usually, he can pretty much ignore—but lately it's been hard not to pay attention to the way he looks. There are the obvious things, like his muscles, his cheekbones, and that mouth, but there are the more unique things, too, that Stiles has started to notice, like how his ears somehow seem… wrong, seem almost kidlike compared to the rest of him, or how his two front teeth are noticeably larger than the others, or how his eyes change color way too much.

And Stiles knows all of this—the weird hitch he feels everywhere whenever Derek is in the room, or when Derek looks at him, or when he says something Stiles not-so-surprisingly agrees with—is just a precursor. He's gone through it before, with Lydia, with Danny, with Erica, even, for a bit.

He's starting, he realizes with a jolt, to feel for the dude. And isn't that shit the weirdest fucking shit ever.

"Huh," Stiles says, "well, that makes this… I don't know, depending on how you see it either more or less complicated."

"How do you figure?" Derek snorts.

"Either we pretend it's still pretend, or we don't." Stiles shrugs, going for casual. Derek goes still, his eyebrows furrowing and his expression turning carefully blank.

"You're kind of… calm about this," Derek says finally, clearing his throat.

"Dude, you can hear my fucking heartbeat, I'm not," Stiles sighs, scrubs his hands over his head, knowing full well the movement messes up his hair and not caring in the least. "I mean, fuck, it would be kind of nice, I think?"

"Nice," Derek says, his eyes dropping down to Stiles's chest for a second, then back up to his mouth.

"Fun?" Stiles tries. It was easier thinking about this on his runs than to actually say it. "I mean, you've had to have smelled the attraction on me, and those kisses… those weren't fake."

"No, they weren't," Derek concedes after a pause, eyes narrowed, and then, when Stiles doesn't say anything to that, adds, "This is a bad idea."

"It's not an idea, it's a…"

"A what?"

"An offer?" Stiles says.

Derek's lips twitch. "An offer I shouldn't refuse?"

Stiles leans back in his chair at that, laughing a little too much at the reference because he's suddenly nervous. "Yeah." He nods, scratches at the back of his neck, and looks at anywhere but Derek's face. "An offer you shouldn't refuse."

"If I say yes, I won't be a martyr anymore," Derek points out, and okay, now the fucker is just playing with him.

"You're not a—okay, you are a martyr, but shit, it's not like my opinion is professional or anything. You can—"

"Fine," Derek interrupts, and Stiles doesn't say anything about the way Derek's hands are gripping at his knees, hard enough that his knuckles have gone white.

"Fine… what?"

"Fine, I'm getting sick of finding fucking excuses to touch you," Derek says.

"I—well, the fake boyfriend thing was a pretty blanket excuse," Stiles gets out, even though, suddenly, all the playfulness is out of Derek's voice, and he just looks… hungry.

Stiles doesn't know which one of them moves first—maybe it's Derek who grabs his arm, maybe it's Stiles who pushes Derek down on the bed—but suddenly he's straddling Derek's thighs, hands cupping Derek's jaw while he licks into Derek's mouth. There are hot hands grabbing, pushing, kneading at his hips and lower back, skimming up underneath his shirt and dipping just below the waistband of his jeans. His dick is already getting hard, and he can feel Derek's getting thicker and heavier underneath him.

Stiles hears something clink, opens his eyes and looks up as he sucks a frenzied line of hickeys down Derek's throat. The wolves are glowing, their eyes a piercing white light, but Stiles can't find it in himself to really care.

Short of the bed levitating, he's not going anywhere.

Derek makes a low sound deep in his throat, starts canting his hips into Stiles's, and Stiles can't help the low hum he lets out or the way he skims his hands down until they're under Derek's shirt, running over muscles that are clenching and unclenching every time Derek moves his hips.

"Fuck," Stiles moans, already out of breath. He tries to pull away, to at least, maybe, gulp in some air, but Derek's hand grabs at the back of his head and he leans up to chase Stiles's mouth, biting at his bottom lip and pressing his dick—hard now, god, so hard and hot and straining up against the zipper of his jeans—against him. Something rattles next to him, and Stiles glances over to see that the barrel he uses as a bedside table is rocking back and forth, and his desk chair is spinning in circles so quickly it's a blur. "The wol—" he starts.

"Ignore them. Don't jinx it," Derek snarls into his mouth, and starts to undo the fly of Stiles's jeans. Stiles laughs at that, laughs harder when Derek grins against his mouth.

"Yeah, okay," he breathes out, sucking a line of hickeys—or attempting to suck a line of hickeys—down Derek's jaw, bringing his hand down to palm at the bulge in Derek's jeans. "If something explodes, though, or starts levitating, or…?"

"I'm fine with it." Derek's hips buck up, almost involuntarily, and his hands clench at the air. Stiles gets the button of Derek's jeans free, pushes his zipper down, just as Derek shoves Stiles's jeans down his hips.

"Good that we're on the same page," Stiles says in a dazed voice, watching as Derek skims his hands over his hipbone, palms him through his briefs.

"Fucking… get my jeans off," Derek snarls. Stiles leans back, looks down, and panics for maybe a split second, because this is Derek under him, Derek with his eyes at half mast and his pupils blown wide, Derek with his lips red and wet and swollen, Derek looking at him in frustration and arousal and something else that's too scary to name.

He gets over it quickly enough, though, and grins even as Derek rears up and pulls his T-shirt up over his head.

"Demanding," Stiles says. "I like it."

Chapter Text

Derek is used to being aware of a lot of things at once. He's used to having them nag at the back of his head—smells and textures and dull, almost-not-there sounds. Right now, he's aware of the spinning desk chair, the set of drawers, bedside table, and the bookshelf that are rocking back and forth around Stiles's room, the wolves glowing and vibrating. He's aware that, in the ten seconds since he pulled Stiles's shirt off, that the rug on the floor has started flopping up and down like a fucking fish out of water.

He's aware, of course—he can't help it—but he doesn't care.

Because fuck, Stiles's shirt is off, his jeans are halfway down his thighs, and there's precome already staining his briefs over the bulge of his dick. Stiles is leering down at him with a mouth that's swollen and red, and his eyes are glazed and… and fuck, Derek really doesn't care.

"Stiles," he croaks out before he can really stop himself. "Could you just…?"

He doesn't wait for an answer, because honestly, he doesn't know what he's asking for. Instead, he lifts his hips off the bed and shoves his briefs down his thighs, letting out a sound of relief—it's not a sigh, whatever anyone says—when his dick pops out.

"Well, fuck," Stiles lets out succinctly, looking down at where Derek's dick is hard and red and leaking. His leer has turned into an open-mouthed pant, and Derek snorts, rears up to pull Stiles into another kiss.

It's kind of pitiful that Derek can't remember when he last kissed someone like this. He's desperate for Stiles's tongue, desperate for his hands, for the porn-worthy hums he lets out every couple seconds. He's wrapped up in the smell of Stiles, sex, and arousal, and it's only because he's desperate for more that he doesn't get lost in kissing him, in feeling his skin—hot and soft over hard muscles—underneath his hands, and somehow manages to get enough coordination to tug Stiles's briefs down his thighs.

There's some flailing, and Stiles nails Derek in the eye with his elbow, but somehow their jeans end up across the room, and Stiles pulls Derek's shirt over his head, and the bookshelf starts rattling so hard Derek almost expects it to topple over.

But it doesn't, so he doesn't care.

"I really fucking hope the door's locked," Stiles mutters, trailing wet kisses across Derek's collarbone. Derek snarls at that, because he didn't lock the door when he came in. Shit, when he came in, all he wanted was to sleep without thinking about Laura, without thinking about anything other than that, maybe, when he woke up, Stiles would be sleeping next to him.

Derek is aware of how pitiful that sounds, and that this is all too fast, too desperate, for what he's thinking to be completely natural, but it's kind of late to have a heart-to-heart with Stiles when his dick is out and his skin is buzzing just shy of unpleasantly.

Instead of doing the smart thing and getting up to lock the door or, even worse, letting Stiles get up to lock the door, he grips at Stiles's arms and turns them until Stiles is on his back and Derek is on top of him, holding himself up on his forearms and nipping at Stiles's chin.

"If Laura comes in," he grunts, bringing his hips down and shuddering when his dick, hard and sensitive—fuck, he hasn't even fucking touched it yet, neither of them have—slides against Stiles's, "she'll see we're not pretending."

"That is so fucking wrong," Stiles moans, and suddenly there is a hand around Derek's dick, around both of their dicks. He looks down, sees Stiles's long fingers wrapping around both of them, squeezing and tugging, and has to drop his head to Stiles's shoulder and bite the inside of his cheek to keep from coming. "On so many levels, dude."

Usually Derek doesn't have any problems wolfing out during sex. It's second nature to him to control the shift; as easy as walking or talking or, well, not shifting the rest of the time he's awake, or asleep, for that matter. But now his teeth are sharpening as he kisses and licks and sucks at Stiles's mouth, his claws are pricking into his palms where his hands are fisted on either side of Stiles's head, and his eyes, when he manages to keep them open for long enough, keep focusing on the minute details of Stiles's skin, zooming out to what a human would see, then back in.

He's so focused on Stiles it would terrify him if he weren't so fucking enthralled by all of it. When he inhales through his nose, all he smells is Stiles and sex and precome and hot, dirty, spicy things. When he takes in a deep breath through his mouth, panting for more air, he swears he can taste Stiles on his tongue. Stiles's skin against his is hot and velvet smooth, and he's shuddering, canting his hips up against Derek's, squeezing both their cocks and running his hand up and down their lengths without any fucking finesse whatsoever. Derek can hear the little hiccups at the back of Stiles's throat, and the frenzied thumping of Stiles's heart would probably drown out any outside noise if the room weren't already soundproof.

"Overwhelming" is putting it lightly.

"Fucking hell, Derek," Stiles hisses. "Stop daydreaming."

Derek laughs at that. "Demanding," he jokes, licking down Stiles's chest, tasting sweat and arousal and the faintest hint of alcohol. "I like it."

Idly, he notices the desk chair has somehow traveled to sit on top of Stiles's dresser, and the wolf figurines are now vibrating so hard they appear to be see through. Derek doesn't know why they're not reacting more—he had assumed the more they did together, the more severe the magical reaction—but he's fine with it. More than fine.

"What do you want?" Derek asks, scraping his teeth down Stiles's neck, rocking his hips against Stiles's once, twice, then again. He makes his voice low, seductive, even though he can barely think straight, and holds himself up with one hand while he reaches down, runs the other up from Stiles's balls to the head of his cock, scraping his fingernails over Stiles's fingers as he does so.

"You, you fuckwad," Stiles gets out, his voice breaking halfway through, the sound of it sending shivers down Derek's spine.

"How?" Derek asks. Stiles snarls, frustrated, and instead of answering rolls them so they're both on their sides, facing each other, legs tangled, and hips somehow aligned so their dicks—already slick, wet, and so hot they're almost burning—slide against each other.

Derek thinks about pinning Stiles back under him and taking, making him fall apart until he's begging, until he can't do anything with that mouth except pant out "yes" and "please" and "more", but then Stiles gets his hand around both of them again, and Derek becomes distracted watching how Stiles is leaking all over him. He watches, muttering out curses, using his free hand to rake his claws down Stiles's flank and chasing the red lines they leave behind with his mouth, unable to look away from the give and take of their dicks against each other.

"Fuck." Stiles knocks his forehead against Derek's chest, bites at the skin over his sternum. "I'm, uh—"

Derek wraps his hand around Stiles's and starts pumping. The heat that's been growing, spreading out from his toes, up his limbs to his spine, gets brighter, gets more intense. Stiles freezes and he lets out a choked out sound—maybe it's a word, maybe not—and then he's coming, pulsing all over both their stomachs. Derek keeps working his hand up and down the both of them, more concerned with his own orgasm now that Stiles is shuddering, clenching in around himself like he doesn't know if what he's feeling is pain or pleasure.

"Fucking—" Stiles breathes out, mouth hot and open against Derek's chest. Somehow they've moved again, and Stiles is half on top of him, half on the mattress. "Just… too sensitive."

Derek lets go of Stiles's dick, starts fucking into their hands. He hears Stiles curse under his breath, and then there's a mouth peppering frantic kisses down his stomach.

"Are you…"

Derek doesn't finish the question, because Stiles's mouth is around his dick, cheeks hollowed out, lips red and obscene, and his tongue drags up the underside of Derek's cock. Everything is too hot and too wet and he grabs at Stiles's hair, meaning to pull him off before he comes, but Stiles glares at him, latches on, and… and fuck, Derek can't stop the whine at the back of his throat at that. He comes, vision fizzling into white, his everything fizzling into white, hot, satisfying pleasure.

Dimly he hears Stiles moan, hears the sound of ceramic against wood and then something larger and heavier—not a crash, but almost—come from the other side of the room.

"Holy fuck," Stiles says just as Derek starts thinking straight again. He glances down at Stiles resting his head against the inside of Derek's thigh, eyes closed like he's trying to concentrate on breathing and nothing else. "That was intense."

Derek sits up. The movement brings them face to face, and he tamps down, hard, on the temptation to press a kiss to Stiles's mouth. Only… Stiles does it for him, and Derek watches, amused, as Stiles's cheeks turn red even as he leers at him.

He looks around them, then, because suddenly he's thinking words like "cute" and "adorable" and "happy," and as much as he's realized this—whatever's between them—won't be stopped, it's too early to say something like that. Too early to think it.

Stiles's room is in chaos. The desk chair is in pieces in the middle of the floor. The bookshelf has been stripped of everything save the two wolf figurines, both of which are suddenly inert, and Derek can only hope all the books and other shit Stiles had on there is underneath the pile of clothes—the pile of clothes that wasn't there when he came in—in the corner by the dresser.

There are motes in the air, little specks of white, bright light zooming around the room in circles and wide spirals and, sometimes, smashing into each other and raining down smaller bits of light. Above them, bits and pieces of things are bumping up against the ceiling, almost like they're trying to escape; spare change and ceramic figures, what looks like a Gundam model, a couple socks, Stiles's phone and wallet, a mug in the shape of Boba Fett's head.

"Your room's a mess," Derek says finally. None of it bothers him, but that's probably just because his brains were sucked out of his dick. Stiles laughs, rocks back to sit on his heels, and looks around.

"Actually," he says, still laughing, "I was expecting worse."

Derek leans back on his hands, letting his gaze travel down from the stubble burn on Stiles's chin and around his mouth to the hickeys going from his neck to his shoulders, to the way he's still breathing hard to the come on his stomach, thighs, and dick.

"Maybe they knew you wanted to get off." Derek grins when Stiles's dick—flaccid, but still red and hot and wet—twitches. He looks back up, and Stiles's blush has spread down to his neck and upper chest. Maybe it's a post-coital thing, like after-sex awkwardness, that's making him turn red now. He wasn't red—at least, not from blushing—before.

"Do you think?" Stiles looks around, finds a shirt—Derek's—and cleans himself off. Something in Derek wants to growl, satisfied at that. Something in him wants to pull at Stiles and lick him clean, maybe snuffle into his neck and try to inhale as much of them as he can. "Do you think they're really… I don't know, connected to me?"

Derek shrugs, grabs at the shirt before Stiles is done with it, and wipes at the come on his dick and stomach. He doesn't think about why he's doing it, almost begrudgingly. That's for later. "Connected, as in…?"

"As in it's been how long and they're still doing shit like this?" Stiles gestures wildly at the floating motes and the general clusterfuck around them. "I mean, is it really me who's doing this?"

"Deaton said it was the wolves," Derek remembers. He throws the dirtied shirt off the bed and takes another look around. "I think that the only way for you to find that out is to go to Deaton, or wait until they… run out of power."

He gets up, grinning back at Stiles when he hears his heartbeat pick up, and catches him staring at his ass. Derek walks over to the door and… it's locked. Triple-locked.

"How many locks did this door have originally?" he asks, touching the doorknob with a clawed finger and pulling it away when a zap of something—electricity, magic, power, whatever—makes his entire left side tingle.

"I don't know, the standard amount." Stiles is lying on his back now, looking up at the spare change floating right above the bed. "The quarter's acting like the sun," he says, "and the pennies are floating around it."

"Physics, I guess."

Derek abandons the door, walks back to the bed, and looks down at Stiles practically laid out in front of him. Tomorrow, he thinks, it might get awkward, but right now he just wants… more.

"Move over," he says.

Stiles scoffs but slides over to make room for him. "So how many locks does the door have now?"

"Three," Derek says. He glances at Stiles, then back up at the ceiling, then back at Stiles.

"What, dude?" Stiles finally sputters. "Do I have come on my face or—"

"We could try and see if we could make it have more," Derek interrupts with a sad attempt at flirting.

"More locks?" Stiles says, and he comes up on one elbow, looks down at Derek like he wants to laugh but isn't sure he should. "On the door?"

"Yeah." Derek gestures at the room at large. "Maybe see if we could get the bed to levitate? I mean, since you may or may not be magic, at least temporarily, we could—"

Stiles starts kissing him then, slow and not quite sweet but getting there, and Derek groans, bringing a hand up to the side of Stiles's face.

"Yeah," Stiles breathes out between kisses. "I'm betting we could at least get the lights to start flickering."


Stiles, for all the number of times it's happened over the last week, still isn't used to waking up with Derek next to him. The sex they had last night—that first initial frenzy and the blowjob after that, and the handjob after that, and the kisses that went from hard and fast and sloppy and desperate to slow and lazy and comfortable as the night passed—didn't really do anything to Stiles's bad habit of overreacting when surprised. So when he wakes up and Derek is sleeping next to him, face slack and unaware and so achingly open, he rears back and promptly tumbles off the bed and onto the floor.

The floor that's riddled with spare change and clothes and broken bits of chair and what seems like the entire contents of his desk and drawers and bookshelf.

He's not naked, at least, or still covered in jizz. Sometime around three in the morning, Derek had unlocked all three locks on the door, and both of them ventured outside in briefs and nothing else to brush their teeth and wash up in the bathroom.

Stiles had expected chaos when he walked out. He expected Laura and Scott out in the hallway, ready to pounce on them, or to find the rest of the furniture in the apartment hovering or blown into bits like his poor desk chair. He expected something… more.

He didn't get more. When Stiles pushed past Derek to peer out into the living room and kitchen area, all he saw in the dark was the sofa turned on its side and the fruit from the fruit bowl orbiting above the kitchen bar. For the wolves, it was tame. When he'd walked back to the bathroom, Derek said something about Scott being asleep in his room and Laura being asleep downstairs, and that was that.

No middle-of-the-night unnecessary heroics. No awkward conversations. No Scott wrinkling his nose and giving the both of them pointed looks. Stiles washed his face, brushed his teeth, and then they went back to bed. Stiles's bed. The both of them.

He still doesn't know if Derek grinning like a goddamned idiot the entire time actually happened, or if Stiles edited that part in there.

He hopes it's the former, because the Derek last night was… was a lot of things. In bed he was all desperation and intensity and, god, Stiles never thought he would be like that. Afterwards he had just kept… grinning, kept looking at Stiles with furrowed eyebrows and a half smile on his face like he was telling himself this was real.

Last night Stiles had seen Derek be affectionate for the first time—whenever Stiles saw Derek with his family, he was all quiet affection and comfort—but for the first time it was directed at him.

Stiles likes it. Likes it slightly more than is sane at the moment. Likes it enough that, after his initial surprise at waking up to Derek in his bed, then his embarrassment as he runs through what happened last night, then through the pain of something—his phone—digging into his hip, he wants it to keep happening.

"Why are you—" comes from the bed area, and Stiles looks down from the ceiling—the quarter, along with the other coins orbiting around it, are still in the air, even though everything else dropped to the floor sometime last night—to the bed, and Derek is frowning at him, face half-smashed in his pillow, one eye still closed.

There's a clenching in Stiles's chest and a swooping in his gut, and he has to clear his throat before he says anything. "Nothing," he croaks.

"Time is it?" Derek asks. Stiles grabs at his phone, looks at the time.

"Six twenty—" He doesn't even finish and Derek is groaning and turning his head to face the wall.

Well, okay then.

Stiles gets up, rubs at the back of his neck as he looks down at Derek. He doesn't know whether he wants to run away or bite at the triskelion in the middle of Derek's back. He doesn't know if last night happened because it was one of those moments—one of those weak moments—or if it's the start of some—

"Are you going somewhere?" Derek turns his head to look up at Stiles, expression now guarded.

Stiles shakes his head, scratches at his neck. "No, uh…" he says.

"I can leave, then if you—"

"No!" Stiles throws his hands out to stop him, realizing, as he does so, that he's acting like an idiot. He sighs, plops back down on the bed. "I fell on the floor," he explains.

"Got that." His voice is slightly less careful, but Stiles can still feel Derek looking at him.

"I'll just, uh, go back to sleep, then…" Stiles looks over, then freezes when one of Derek's hands come up to rub down his neck. He may or may not shiver when he realizes Derek is running his hand over the hickeys he gave Stiles last night, pressing his finger into the marks like it'll make them stay longer.

"Werewolves don't get drunk," Derek says, and Stiles has to think for a bit before he realizes what that means. He squeezes his eyes shut even as he feels his cheeks and ears and fucking neck turn red.

"Oh," he says. "So—"

"So," Derek says, "was that okay, or—"

"Fuck, yes." Stiles interrupts, clearing his throat when his voice comes out slightly more forceful than he would like. "I mean, I was buzzed, sure, I guess…"

"You were talking conspiracy theories." Derek snorts, and Stiles looks over when he wiggles his fingers. "Everything is connected."

"Oh, fuck you."

Stiles kicks at Derek's thigh. It probably hurts him more than it hurts Derek, but it's the principle of the thing, really. Derek laughs and Stiles laughs and then there's an awkward pause that means both of them have something to say but neither wants to say it first.

"I was buzzed," Stiles finally says. "Maybe slightly drunk, I guess, but enough to know what the fuck I was doing. Just less… inhibited."

Derek clears his throat, and the fingers on the side of Stiles's neck press down harder. Stiles shivers again. "Good," Derek says. "I'm going back to sleep because it's fucking six in the morning, so…"

"Totally, dude," Stiles agrees, nodding emphatically. He fidgets back into the mattress and pulls the covers that fell with him off the bed back up, and wonders, as Derek turns his head the other way, hand still on Stiles's neck, how he got here.

Well, beer, first off. Well-meaning but nosy sisters. Pretend boyfriend schemes. Werewolf-specific problems of the smelling and sensing variety. Money. Although now Stiles doesn't want the money. It would be weird, right? Taking money from Derek after realizing his feelings for the guy might not be that negative after all? Might actually be squarely in the positive end of the spectrum, leaning towards extremely positive?

Eventually Stiles gets back to sleep, but only after he goes over last night about a dozen more fucking times. There was a lot of skin last night. A heady sense of intimacy, of their actions having no consequences, of something else.

Something that feels different. Different from… a lot of things. From his teenage obsession for Lydia Martin (and god, even realizing he had a teenage obsession is fucking embarrassing), from what he had with Erica for three months in senior year, and Danny that one summer break in undergrad, and Kevin, the dude from his calculus seminar, and Simone, the girl from his French class. Something feels more natural about this, which is terrifying in and of itself.

Fuck, last night Stiles didn't even care he was getting naked with Derek, and usually he at least has a second of hesitation before going down on someone.

Maybe it was the beer?

(It wasn't the beer—Stiles and beer usually means he can't even get it up, for fuck's sake.)

So Stiles falls asleep confused and lost and in no way closer to finding nirvana than he was before last night went down, and he wakes up to the sound of his door opening and a sharp, startled, almost pained cry.

Stiles flails until he's sitting up, his elbow jabbing into Derek's sternum as he does so, and opens his eyes to see Scott standing frozen in the doorway with his mouth open, expression one of comical horror. Derek grunts next to him, murmurs something about flailing limbs, then all of a sudden, is sitting, half-shifted, snarling at… at Scott?

"Oh god," Scott says (sobs?), backing up a step. He covers his face with his hands, which Stiles doesn't really understand, because both of them are dressed. "It smells like… like… I thought this was pretend, Stiles!?"

Oh, right.

"Do you always smell my room when you come in?" Stiles asks. "Also I thought the door was locked."

"You forgot to lock it," Derek mutters next to him, and when Stiles looks over, his features are human again.

"Was that a—?"

"Smelled… wrong," Derek grunts, like that explains anything, as he rubs at his temples and looks down at the sheets sullenly.

"That doesn't make any se—oh." Stiles thinks it may be a territory thing. Scott sometimes has tendencies to do weird shit like that, especially when he's with Allison.

"Dudes," Scott cries. He looks out the open doorway, his expression hardening, and he points at Stiles. "You're explaining this outside. It stinks like—"

"Can't," Stiles says. "Laura might hear."

"Then Derek get out—"

"Can't," Derek says, and Stiles looks over to see him grinning like a jackass up at Scott. "Laura will think it's weird."

"That's bullshit," Scott spits out. "She's downstairs asleep. Just, like, go… take a shower in our bathroom or something."

"Are you kicking me out?" Derek asks, sounding amused. Stiles feels like he should be more embarrassed about this. Scott did just walk in on them sleeping half-naked together, and his room obviously smells like sex… but he can't find the energy. To be embarrassed, that is.

… it's not like they need to hide anything. And Stiles has had to deal with Scott's relationship issues since they were both sixteen, so…

"Dude," Stiles says, before Scott or Derek can say anything else, "you're the one that walked in my room."

"Last night the furniture was…" Scott trails off, looks at the both of them in renewed horror. "You two were—"

"A-huh." Stiles makes his grin wide and lopsided. "A billion times. In a billion different positions."

Derek chokes out a laugh next to him, and Stiles thinks it may be a little fun, ganging up against Scott once in a while. Although, he admits, it's a little weird, the two of them sitting up, shirtless, in his bed, with Scott staring down at them like some extremely disappointed parental figure.

Then again, werewolves. Not to mention magic figurines and tremendously flawed fake-boyfriend schemes, so weird is decidedly relative.

"I—" Scott runs a hand through his hair, puts the other on his hip, and then just looks at the two of them for a bit. It makes Stiles uncomfortable, to say the least. "I thought it wasn't real?"

"Can we… can we do this later, dude?" Stiles asks, wincing.

"You're both nuts," Scott snarls. He gives them one last withering look, then leaves, slamming the door closed behind him. Stiles flops back down onto the bed and sighs up at the ceiling.

"You were in charge of locking the door," Derek reminds him. He's moving, sliding down the bed and taking the covers with him. When he stands, Stiles doesn't even bother to pretend he's not watching, because Derek is all hard, rippling muscle and supernatural grace and it's hot, okay?

Especially because, last night, Stiles had that. Under him, and over him, and sliding against his skin, and he had that mouth on his neck, sucking and biting and—

"Oops?" Stiles offers.

"So, Scott's going to—" Derek looks around—stepping over the shit still all over the floor of Stiles's room—for his jeans.

"Give me the talk? I think he is, dude." Stiles brings his arms up under his head. He could ask what Derek is thinking. About… this. About whether it's real or fake or if Derek is going to tell Laura about it and how Stiles sometimes suspects the wolves have made them do… whatever it is they're doing right now. He could, but he doesn't, and instead just watches.

There's something ridiculously hot about someone getting dressed.

"Can I borrow one of your shirts?" Derek asks when he does find his shirt, and there's crusted come all over it. Stiles isn't even embarrassed; fuck, half of it is Derek's.

"Go ahead." Stiles gestures at the pile on the floor. "Are you going to sniff it during the day and think of me?"

"Fuck you." Derek laughs, though, and bends down to start looking for a shirt.

"So…" Stiles clears his throat, makes his voice as casual as he can. Which, really, just makes him sound like he's trying too hard. "What's the plan for today?"

"I'm going to take a shower," Derek says, standing up with Stiles's lone black T-shirt in hand, sniffing at it experimentally. "You're going to get reprimanded by Scott. Laura's going to leer at me…" He trails off and turns to Stiles after he gets the shirt over his head. "You think I should tell her."

It's not a question, which is weird, but Stiles knows what he's talking about. He shrugs, and Derek's eyes travel down from his face to his neck to his chest, lingering over every mark he left last night.

"That's all on you," Stiles says, then winces, because that sounds unsympathetic. He is entirely sympathetic with Derek's situation. Empathetic, even. Fuck, the dude was just trying to get his sister to stop worrying about him with the whole boyfriend thing. And then it turned into this… and Stiles may think it's kind of adorable, the lengths to which Derek will go to make Laura think he's doing fine. It's just that—and Stiles will not admit this out loud—he would rather have Derek actually be fine than concocting an elaborate ruse to make it seem like he's fine. "I mean, the decision to tell her—it's up to you. I'll be there if you do, in case you need protection, is what I'm saying."

"Protection?" Derek's dressed now, in a slightly-too-tight shirt and jeans, staring down at Stiles with one eyebrow raised. "From Laura?"

"I distract her; you run away?" Stiles says. "Or maybe I could do some voodoo and—"

"You don't know voodoo," Derek interrupts.

"I mean, you know,"—Stiles gestures towards the two wolf figurines, both of which are now looking like innocent, slightly scuffed up, ceramic figurines—"those two fuckers. They seemed to be cooperating more last night. Maybe if I try, I can—"

"You should call Deaton before you do that," Derek says. He's staring down at Stiles like he doesn't know if he should leave. Or he's trying to leave and Stiles keeps talking, so he can't.

"Yeah, I should probably call him today. Maybe he'll actually answer if I call instead of e-mail," Stiles says. "Knowing him, though, he'll say something vague and not useful at all. I mean, couldn't he just send me pamphlets or something? Tell if I'm fucking magic or not? Or, I don't—what are you…"

Stiles trails off when Derek walks the three steps that take him to the edge of the bed, and leans down, running a hand up Stiles's neck.

Suddenly Stiles is hyperaware he's been lying around in his briefs, half-naked, skin marked with hickeys, all the while Derek has been getting dressed, and he hasn't even thought about getting a shirt. He's been, like... in repose.

That strikes him as being weirder than the proprietary hand now running over his shoulder, or the way Derek is watching it and not looking at Stiles's face. He's used to at least feeling somewhat strange about being naked and… strewn about in front of people.

The whole thing is weird.

"This is weird," Stiles says before he really thinks about it. The hand now skimming down his ribs stops, and Derek looks up at him. "Not this. This. The entire thing."

"… Yeah, it is," Derek agrees, but his hand doesn't move. Stiles grabs at Derek's hair, pulls him closer, because… he can, and he watches, up close and oh so deliciously personal, as Derek closes his eyes and takes a deep inhale.

There's shit Stiles is ignoring—shit like how he feels about Derek, shit like this being more than physical, so much fucking more, shit like this being terrifying and not just weird—but he figures there's time for that. And that time is later, much later, after they've both, at the very least, gotten to jerk off to what happened last night once.

"I like it, though." Stiles knows it's the truth even as he says it. "It's just… weird, how fucking easy it was to get in your pants."

Derek's mouth is over his, lips brushing against Stiles's as he grins. That's not what Stiles meant to say. He meant to say it's weird how fucking natural this seems. How he still doesn't think this is quite real because this isn't anyone he's suddenly attracted to and having feelings for; this is Derek. Derek Hale. Werewolf, douchebag extraordinaire, and all around thorn in Stiles's side for the last seven years.

Stiles tightens his hold in Derek's hair, pulls him forward, and licks into his mouth, fuck, because he can. He doesn't really care that he's being sloppy, that the angle is weird, that both he and Derek have morning breath. All he cares about, really, is that the kiss is lazy and nice and both of them are grinning like fucking jackasses.

"You're still an idiot," Derek murmurs—murmurs affectionately—leaning forward and putting one knee on the bed to get closer, starts biting a trail up his neck.

"Fuck," Stiles croaks out, wondering how being called an idiot turned into a turn-on. "You could just lock the door again?"

Derek answers with a low hum that sounds like consent, and he presses forward, one hand on the headboard next to Stiles's head, the other running down Stile's front, coming to rest right above his navel. Stiles moans at that, gets his hands under Derek's shirt—Stiles's shirt—and runs them up his smooth skin.

"Oh, by the way, I—oh, come on, guys!"Scott, apparently, opens the door again, and Stiles catches a glimpse of him before he gags and slams it closed… again.

"Locks," Stiles says, and Derek snorts, pulling back and adjusting his jeans over the bulge of his dick. Stiles may or may not lick his lips, and Derek may or may not groan at that.

"Locks," Derek agrees, voice strangled.


When Derek gets back to his apartment Laura is in the bathroom singing some horrible eighties song in the shower, so he heads straight for his room—doesn't smell right, he thinks, when he opens the door, and when he realizes why, he's glad he's alone so no one sees him turn red—and changes into one of his own shirts.

It won't stop him from smelling like sex and Stiles and slightly of magic, but it will maybe make it less obvious. Probably not, but he can hope.

He has no real plans today; there's nothing to grade, and he figures his thesis can do without him for a Sunday. Fuck, if Scott—the asshole—hadn't barged in, Derek would probably still be in Stiles's room. With Stiles. Having sex.

Hot, weirdly intense, strangely fulfilling sex.

When Laura gets out of the bathroom she heads straight for his room, and all he can do is throw Stiles's shirt in his closet and wait for her to open the door.

Which she does. And then she just grins at him.

"Nice night?" she asks, saccharine sweet.

Derek is going to tell her. About Stiles. About him. She deserves it, right? He's going to tell her… just... he doesn't know if now's the right time, or if he should call Stiles, or even if Laura already knows.

"Yeah," he says, and it's the truth. "Did you and Scott—?"

"Watched some bad sci-fi movie, then the couch started acting wonky, and the fruit started levitating, and I figured I was tired anyway, so I came back down," Laura says.

"That's, uh... that's great," Derek says.

"So…" Laura looks him up and down until he wants to cross his arms over his chest, maybe crouch down in the corner and bare his neck. "So are you taking a shower?"

"I was planning on it," Derek says.

"Got any plans for the day?" Laura licks her lips. "Anything big?"

"No." Derek walks past her through the door and down the hall to the bathroom. "You want to go out for dinner tonight? Or another run, maybe?"

Laura shrugs as she follows him, stopping just outside the door he hasn't closed yet. "Nah, I'm good." She stops, then scratches at the side of her nose with her middle finger. "Just wondering if you and Stiles were planning on going on a date or something."

"Stiles wants to call Deaton about the wolves," Derek says. He sniffs the air as subtly as possible and doesn't smell anger, even though the way Laura is holding herself is… awkward. "Why?"

"Oh"—Laura waves her hand, dismissing the question—"nothing. I was just wondering."

Derek nods, looking anywhere but at her face. She suspects something; he just doesn't know what she suspects.

He figures now isn't the right time to tell her. Right now he's going to take a shower, get dressed, eat something, and then… then, maybe… yeah, he'll tell her.

Better to do it today than on a weekday, at least.

Derek showers and is standing in front of the mirror, rubbing his hand over his stubble and contemplating whether he should shave or not, when he hears Stiles turn on the water upstairs. Stiles's bathroom isn't right above Derek's—their apartment floor plans are reversed—but it's close enough that eavesdropping isn't hard at all, if he tries. He freezes, debates whether or not to listen in, and then shifts his ears into pointed tips, tilts his head to the side and up so he can hear more. It's not creepy, he thinks. He's just—

He hears the sound of water sluicing over naked skin, soft, almost choked-off groans, muttered curses, a rhythmic rasping, and realizes, with a snarl, that Stiles is upstairs jerking off. It's soft enough that you wouldn't know it unless you were actively trying to listen for it, but Derek… Derek is listening, and now that he knows, it's like that's all he can concentrate on. The sound of skin against skin, the—fuck—the sound of Stiles's heartbeat getting faster and faster, the sound of his deep inhales and exhales, the little moans that vibrate in his throat.

Derek doesn't bother feeling embarrassed as he unwraps the towel he had tucked around his hips and steps back into the shower, turning the water to just shy of too hot. It's as much to disguise the noises he knows he'll make as it is to not smell like come when he eventually does get dressed. He's already sporting half a boner, and when he grips his dick and starts fondling his balls with his other hand, it doesn't take long at all for him to get hard.

He wonders, inanely, why he never eavesdropped on Stiles before. Then wonders that, if he did, would it be as much of a fucking turn-on as it is now? Because Derek can imagine what Stiles looks like, imagine the way his eyes are closed and how he's biting at his bottom lip, tugging at his dick frantically without any finesse, more focused on getting off as quickly as possible than trying to look good for anyone.

Derek groans, hits his forehead against the tile, squeezing his balls and tugging at his dick in tandem with the sounds of Stiles's increasingly quickening heartbeat. He does it until everything is fizzling tension and his toes curl, his teeth extending into sharp points as he pants against the tile, doing everything he can to stop the desperate groans that threaten to spill out of his mouth.

He comes before Stiles, because of course he fucking does, because apparently Stiles turns him into some desperate fucking teenager, unable to flirt or seduce or hold out, and then he stays there, letting the hot water wash over him, listening as Stiles's heartbeat stutters, and a long, filthy-sounding groan is wrenched from his mouth.

In a daze, Derek washes himself again, purposefully concentrating on the sound of the water so he can't hear anything else. He gets out of the shower for the second time, gets dressed, and walks out to the living room with his hair still wet, heartbeat still elevated because he can't get rid of the thought of pinning Stiles up against the tiles of his shower and making him beg, and sits next to Laura on the sofa.

It's not fake anymore. It's really not.

She glances over at him, one eyebrow raised, then turns back to the episode of Golden Girls she's watching. "Exciting shower, baby bro?" she asks.

"I'm not dating Stiles," he says dully, keeping his eyes on the TV even when Laura turns to him.

She doesn't smell like anger. She smells like victory, and that's probably more terrifying than anything else she could smell like. When Derek glances over out of the side of his eye, she's leering.

"You mean," she says, "you weren't dating Stiles."

Fuck. She knew.

"Damn it, Laura." He leans back, stares at the ceiling, and wishes she could understand without him saying anything. "That's—yeah. I wasn't."

"So, when you told me on the phone when you were dating someone…" Laura leans one elbow on the back of the sofa, pulls one leg up to her chest, and smiles.

"I wasn't. I just—you were going on and on about how I should find someone and how you and Jake were happy and—"

"Obviously we weren't happy enough," Laura points out, her voice soft. Derek winces and looks at where his hands are gripping at his knees, claws out. "So you started lying…"

"You knew, though—you…" Derek sighs. "You're not going to make this easy."

"Hell no, Derrie," Laura says, then leans forward and lets her eyes flash dangerously. "Hell no."

"I started lying, and then you said you were coming up. I panicked, and Stiles was the only one who could help," Derek gets out in a rush, feeling like he's ten again and she just busted him for ripping apart her Barbie dolls.

"And you both concocted this elaborate plan, with the photos and the PDA…" Laura continues.

"Yes," Derek snarls. Laura snarls back, although it's playful. "We did," he finishes, sounding only slightly pathetic.

"Huh," Laura says. "That doesn't really sound healthy."

"I'm fi—"

"Normally," Laura interrupts, "when someone wants someone else to, maybe, back off, they tell them. I'm your sister, Derek, not your keeper. If you didn't want me to keep telling you how amazing it is to… connect with someone, you should've told me."

"I—"

"You wanted me to think you were happy because you're a little shit with the world on his shoulders," Laura says fondly. She ruffles his hair, getting water all over the couch. "You're also kind of an idiot."

Derek deflates. "When did you find out?"

Laura snorts, grabs him, and has him in a headlock before he can even think to shift and defend himself. Instead of struggling, though—he has no room, both metaphorically and literally, to do so—he stays limp. Laura smells like the perfume she wears, like him slightly, like… almost happiness, and while she's not being gentle, she's not choking the life out of him.

"I think," she says, "that since I'm the poor big sister who was lied to, I don't have to tell you. Keep the mystery alive, maybe. Just know that my detective methods are astonishing, and you never had a chance. "

"That's not—" Derek knows he shouldn't push his luck. It's amazing, as it is, that Laura is taking this so well. And fuck, Derek suddenly feels a thousand pounds lighter.

"So what were you planning on doing, if I ever came up here unannounced? Before you roped Stiles into it?" Laura asks, changing the subject.

"You never come up here announced," Derek points out, even though she's, as usual, being the logical one.

"I've been busy," Laura snarls, and squeezes his neck hard enough that he starts coughing.

"I didn't think about it," Derek says.

"… Not the only thing you didn't think about." Laura, sounding satisfied now, leans back to her side of the sofa, grinning.

"What does that mean?" Derek asks.

"The pictures were a nice touch, but you, one, acted intensely uncomfortable with each other, two, overreacted when everyone else 'found out', and three, you kiss like you haven't been dating." She pauses, gets a look of regret on her face. "Kind of a dickish move of me, huh, to let everyone else find out?"

"It's not a problem." Derek doesn't know why he's not more embarrassed. He should be—Laura just told him he's a failure at being a fake boyfriend. What kind of idiot can't pull off the fake boyfriend routine?

"Kind of is, except…" Laura grins wide and wicked. "Except it's not pretend anymore, so why tell them, right? We can keep this between us. "

"It's—" Derek gnashes his teeth together. "Is it true, what you said before? Or were you just fucking with us?"

"About…?"

"Stiles and me," Derek says, slightly desperate. When Laura just smiles, looks at him like she doesn't know what to do with him, he braces himself for the worst.

"I didn't know on the phone," she says. "I guessed it was Stiles because you've been obsessed with the guy since Scott got the bite."

"Obsessed?" Derek doesn't remember the last seven years like that.

"Yes, obsessed, or do you actively search out reasons other people annoy you? You've always complained about how he chews too loud and doesn't know how to use a straw and—nevermind. Do you think you're under a spell or something?" Laura asks.

"The shit with the wolves started pretty much right after I got Stiles to help me," Derek points out, completely ignoring the rest of her statement. "And after that—"

"You started thinking, Damn, he's got a fine ass?" Laura finishes for him, and he only turns slightly red when she starts cackling.

"It would make sense," Derek says, suddenly feeling mulish. He should've waited for Stiles to do this. Stiles would explain it better. Derek can't hear him anymore, upstairs. He can't hear Scott either, so they've either left the apartment completely or are in Stiles's room.

The room, he thinks, grinning just because he gets a sort of sick fascination from it, that reeks of sex.

"Or," Laura says, "this is just because you spent the week before I came here—and I'm just assuming this part—soaking in each other?"

"That—fuck," Derek says, because yes, that's exactly what they had been doing, and from day one it had been him noticing things about Stiles. The annoying—distracting, frustrating, hot—way he did (does) everything, the oral fixation, the uneven sound of his inhales and exhales, the—

When the fuck, he thinks, forcing himself to just stop, did he turn into a fifteen-year-old girl with a crush? Cora has a crush. Derek is twenty-seven years old. He's not—fuck, the last time he fucked someone, he pushed her up against the bedroom door in her apartment across town, had her beg and scream and come so much he felt invincible, and then left while she was asleep.

Hadn't even known her name.

But for some reason, that's not even fucking possible with Stiles. Because Derek does know his name—his real one—and he knows him. And, fuck, he likes Stiles. Every annoying, frustrating, distracting, debilitating characteristic.

And what Laura is trying to tell him, or at least so Derek thinks, is that you can't fucking fake something like that.

"Fuck," Derek says again, collapsing back into the sofa cushions, realizing for the first time, really, how fucked he is. He scrubs a hand over his face, panic clawing at his throat and making his heart beat embarrassingly loud, making him think over the last couple weeks and wonder how the fuck it happened so fast.

"This is actually kind of better," Laura says. When Derek looks at her, confused, Laura grins. "Experiencing the whole thing unfold. Being part of the revelation. Watching you two finally stop fucking circling each other and just"—she slaps her hands together, makes what Derek assumes is what she thinks an explosion sounds like—"collide."

"You're enjoying this?" Derek asks, knowing the answer even before Laura nods enthusiastically.

"I was angry at first," she says, "but that only lasted for a couple minutes. Then I realized I can hold this over you for years."

"That's—" Derek is reminded of Stiles, scarily enough. "That's nice," he says faintly.

"And it's a good distraction from my own relationship woes," she continues. "You know, help a new love grow to replace an old love lost and all that shit."

"It's not—" Derek doesn't even know why he bothers trying to get a word in edgewise with Laura sometimes. Once she's on a roll, she just doesn't stop talking.

"Like Uncle Pete always says, because he's a goddamned fucking Casanova wannabe," she says. "It's the undeniable power of human love."

Derek groans. He hears faint voices from upstairs, tries to focus on them instead of Laura, but she hits him on the side of the head before he can really concentrate.

"Your lover-boy is fine." She grins at him when he glares. "Concentrate on your poor, misinformed, emotionally crippled sister."

"You're about emotionally crippled as a fucking—"

"I'm glad you told me"—Laura's voice is suddenly softer, more sincere, because she knows that reels him in, every time—"this soon. Glad you trusted me enough not to go psycho-werewolf on your ass. I probably will later, when all this is over, but for now… I'm just glad you've gotten slightly less nuts, at least enough to tell me."

"You are getting psycho werewolf on my ass." Derek gestures at the arm she still has around his neck. She sighs, lets him go, and scoots back to the other side of the couch.

"So what made you finally tell me?"

"Guilt," Derek says, and his heart doesn't stutter only because it's partially the truth.

"And?" she presses. He rubs the heels of his hands against his eyes.

"It's not fake anymore," he says, and when he takes his hands away and his vision clears, Laura is beaming at him from her side of the sofa.


"… And you like him?" Scott asks, like he can't believe it. Like he still can't believe, even after Stiles has been explaining the situation to him for the last twenty minutes. "Like, like him like him?"

"Yeah, dude," Stiles says, knowing it's true when his throat clenches up and his palms suddenly feel sweaty.

As fucking weird as it is, as much as it snuck up on him, Stiles realizes whatever's happening with Derek is something more than just physical. It's not an obsession. It's not what he had with anyone else. It's different, and terrifying, and Stiles doesn't even know where to start trying to interpret what he thinks this is.

It's nice. It's weird. A little part of him is still behind on the whole Derek-is-apparently-more-than-okay-with-him thing, but other than that… it strangely just feels right.

Strange as in Stiles is freaked out by how quickly he went from finding the dude objectively hot and delighting in annoying his ass off, to finding the dude so fucking subjectively hot and wanting to get up close and personal with his ass.

It's a nice ass. Firm. Slight bubble butt, actually. Fuck, and the thighs below that, muscled and firm. Stiles thought about those thighs in the shower after Derek left him in his room hard and needy. He's still kind of amazed at how much of a difference it makes when the images you're using to jerk off are actually memories rather than fantasies.

Stiles had got gotten caught up in imagining the way Derek's cock felt in his mouth, wet and hot and heavy, in the way Derek's face was open and raw, something he'd never seen before, in the fucking noises Derek made. He came, leaning back against the cold tiles, one hand gripping his balls, the other his dick, thinking about how Derek had arched his back last night when he came, how his eyes had closed and his muscles had bunched up, his lips parting and a long, needy groan spilling out of his mouth.

It was a pretty intense jerk-off session, is what Stiles is saying here.

"I really don't know whether to warn you off the guy," Scott says, "or tell you to be careful not to hurt him?"

God, Stiles loves it when Scott gets conflicted over Derek. It's fucking hilarious, because his grudge against Derek butts up against his horror at what almost happened to Derek's family, and he just gets this ultra-confused, ultra-begrudging expression on his face, like he gets that Derek is going to be a fixture in his life, but he doesn't necessarily have to like it.

Okay, normally Stiles would find it fucking hilarious, but normally Scott isn't talking about him and Derek together. Now, though, he is, and all Stiles feels is nervous and panicky and resolved and… secretly ecstatic?

"It never seemed like we—" Stiles doesn't know how to broach the question, really. "I don't know, Laura keeps saying we've been circling around each other for years." And, he adds in his head, I'm pretty much convinced she's right.

Scott shrugs from where he's leaning against the sofa's arm, face turning red. "I mean… I thought it was strange, how you two like to annoy each other so much, but dude, if you're just in it for the s-se—yeah, I can't say it."

"Dude, you walked in on us making out and you can't say the word 'sex'? How vanilla is your relationship with Allison?" Stiles knows full well that Scott's relationship with Allison is anything but vanilla.

"That's not—" Scott snarls, his eyes flashing. "He was practically wolfed out, dude. It was scarring."

"He wasn't wolfed out," Stiles says, confused.

"Practically," Scott hisses, looking affronted. Maybe it's because Stiles is suddenly turned on again. Wolfed-out sex seems hot. He's never even thought about it before, but now… yeah, it seems like it would be hot.

Not because of the wolfed-out part, really, but because it would be Derek wolfed out, unable to control himself, snarling and snuffling and—

"Focus, Stiles." Scott interrupts his thoughts, looking, if at all possible, even more affronted.

"I like him," Stiles says with a shrug. "I don't know when it happened, dude. Just… I mean, would it really be so bad?"

"… You're making me feel like your dad," Scott grumbles, collapsing on the sofa next to Stiles with a heavy sigh.

"You are my dad." Stiles kicks him, laughing when Scott snarls and flashes his teeth. "My dad away from home, making sure I don't deflower innocent werewolves. I'm going to tell Derek you were worried about him, and then he's going to start with the Scott, you're in my pack whether you like it or not shit aga—"

Scott tackles him before he can finish, and somehow, three minutes and a bunch of bruises later, Stiles is on his stomach on the floor and Scott is sitting on his back. Stiles can't see him, but he can feel him preening.

"Don't tell him," Scott says, not out of breath at all, even though Stiles swears he put up a good fight.

"I'm telling him," Stiles wheezes out. "I'm telling him you love him. I'm telling him you care-ah-ah-ow, dude!"He starts laughing when Scott snarls and pushes Stiles's face into the floor. "Maybe he already he's so surprised by your—"

"Phone," Scott interrupts, and Stiles feels him tense up. "Yours."

"Well fuck, let me up or get it for me," Stiles says. Scott's weight is suddenly gone, and by the time Stiles turns around to lie on his back, Scott is standing over him, tossing the phone on his stomach.

"Deaton," Scott says. Stiles glances at the screen, sees that it is indeed Deaton, and presses the accept button.

"Dr. Deaton," he greets, wondering why, of all the times to call him, Deaton chooses now. It's like he waits for the most inopportune moments—the moments when Stiles really doesn't want to deal with floating objects and glowing eyes and magic—and then decides he hasn't talked to Stiles in a while, that maybe it's time to catch up.

"Mr. Stilinski," Deaton greets, and Stiles doesn't miss the mocking tone in his voice.

"What's up?" Scott starts nudging his calf with his toe, and Stiles shoos him away, then attempts to get up one-handed and succeeds, but only after looking like an idiot.

"You've been sending me increasingly distressed e-mails," Deaton says. "I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I was taking care of a matter for a friend. Harpies, you see."

"… Harpies."

"Yes."

"Right," Stiles says. Standing now, he walks over to lean on the kitchen bar. "So it's been almost two weeks since I bought the figurines—"

"The focus items," Deaton provides.

"Yeah, those," Stiles says. "And they're not… uh, I don't know, powering down? Last night they trashed my room—" Scott snorts at that, then mouths something Stiles doesn't catch "—and they made me hypnotize a bouncer to let me into a club?" Deaton is silent for a while, and Stiles doesn't say anything only because he can hear the sound of typing.

"Interesting," Deaton finally says. "I'm sending you some information on learning how to control the spark, although I'm still not completely convinced this is because of you."

"Yeah, yeah," Stiles says. "Got it. My magic is a fleeting and temporary experience. Yadda yadda. I'll look at the stuff you sent. Are there ways to… stop them from doing stuff like that?"

"Have you moved them? Since we last talked?" Deaton asks.

"No," Stiles says. "They've moved themselves, but I haven't moved them. Or touched them."

"Huh," Deaton says. Stiles pulls one of the stools out and sits. Scott is frozen, looking down at the floor, expression… contemplative. Stiles snaps his fingers to get his attention, points down at the floor, and shrugs when Scott looks up.

"Nothing," Scott says, and then he high-tails it to the bathroom. Or his room. Stiles can't see from his position at the bar.

"Are you telling me everything, Stiles?" Deaton asks a little later. Stiles winces. Derek hasn't told Laura yet, and Stiles isn't sure…

"Why?" Stiles asks instead.

"Just trying to understand the situation," Deaton says. "I admit I'm lost. I've never come across something that reacts like this. They don't seem to want to harm you or give you any sort of useful powers"—they made his room soundproof; Stiles thinks that's pretty fucking useful when he's surrounded by werewolves, thank you very much—"and I don't know what kind of goal they have in mind, if any."

"Goal?" That gets Stiles's attention.

"All power has a goal," Deaton says. "Something it needs to achieve. With focus items, that's not true, but it doesn't seem like these are… the usual type of focus items. So they must need to achieve something before they become completely inert. "

Stiles gets shivery at that, although he doesn't really understand why yet. "I… I don't really have any goals in mind?"

"They could possibly be reacting to some sort of outside conductor as well," Deaton muses. "A… bridge, if you will, that focuses the energy, makes it into a certain type of energy. It seems to be tied to emotion…" Deaton trails off, and Stiles hears the sound of more typing.

For some reason he feels like he's being diagnosed by a doctor. Like an over-the-phone appointment. Which isn't too far from the case, but it all feels very… clinical to him. Like, in a minute, Deaton will prescribe him medication and a physical therapy regiment, and that's that. He's cured. Except not.

Fuck, it's amazing how fast his life goes from a rom-com to supernatural thriller and then back to fucking rom-com.

"Stiles—" Deaton… strangely enough, sounds excited. Which is terrifying. "All these incidents happen when you're experiencing some sort of emotion, yes?"

Stiles thinks back on it; the gradual increase in weird shit, the levitating objects, the anger, the lust, the strange happiness in the pit of his stomach. All of it is connected with Derek. "Yeah," he says.

"With Derek," Deaton says. Stiles knows he didn't say anything out loud.

"Y-yes," Stiles says.

More typing, and then the unmistakable sound of fingers leafing through old paper. A book, probably. Deaton clears his throat. "What do you know," he asks, "about mahogany, Stiles?"

Chapter Text

"Mahogany," Deaton says, "like many plants, has a myriad of uses."

Stiles is still mostly confused as to how mahogany came into the picture, so he stays silent, running his fingernail along one of the grooves in the kitchen bar and hitting his foot against the cabinet, waiting for something—anything—to make sense.

No, wait, he's not confused as to how mahogany came into the situation—as soon as Deaton made his little reveal, Stiles flashed back to two weeks ago, when Derek had made dents in the mahogany bar back at Alf's Antiques, because fucking of course everything is connected—he's confused as to why mahogany is suddenly special.

It's just… mahogany. For fuck's sake.

"Have you been in contact with any type of mahogany recently, Stiles?" Deaton asks.

"Yes," Stiles says. "A lot of it. I work in an antique shop, Deaton."

"I know," Deaton says. "That's how I came to this conclusion."

"Of course," Stiles says, because not only is Deaton a magic guru and a vet, but he's a detective now, too.

"Did the wolves come into contact with mahogany?"

"Yes," Stiles says. "The counter at where I work—at Alf's—is made of African mahogany."

Deaton makes a noise like he's so ecstatic he can't contain himself, and Stiles prepares for the worst.

"African mahogany, you said?" Deaton asks. "Are you sure?"

"Antique African mahogany," Stiles says. "A hundred-something years old. All the way over from Massachusetts—"

"Massachusetts?" Deaton asks, and Stiles swears he's never heard this much inflection in Deaton's voice before. It's intimidating.

"Yes," Stiles says. "What's significant about mahogany, Deaton? Does it, like, enhance magic or something?"

"Yes," Deaton says. "Yes, it does. In fact, mahogany is known to be one of the most spiritually focused of all the woods. It deals with the non-physical, Stiles. Wiccans use it for guidance, for healing, for growth."

Stiles rubs at his eyes with his pointer finger and thumb. "How interesting," he deadpans.

"The focus items came into contact with the counter," Deaton says, sounding like he's working through it himself. "The counter you said came from Massachusetts. Would you happen to know what area?"

"No, Alf never sa—what, do you think it's from Salem or something? Was that real? The witch… stuff? It's not even old enough to—" Stiles squeaks out. "That can't be it, dude, that's not—"

"It's entirely possible," Deaton says. "The wolves came into contact with the counter—a counter, ostensibly, made from mahogany. They reacted to each other—reacted to you, Stiles—and some sort of goal was created. One focused on you and, apparently, Derek."

"Oh my god," Stiles moans, this time running his free hand over his face. "Are you kiddingme?"

"What?" Scott chooses that moment to come back out into the living room, looking around like he expects someone else to be here.

"The wolves ship us?" Stiles asks.

"I don't know what that means, Stiles," Deaton says, sounding patient.

"They… want Derek and I… together?" Stiles clarifies.

"I assume they want you to be closer. Since they started acting out of sorts after you became more… intima—"

"Uh, yeah, right, sure," Stiles says, going along with it at first. Then he realizes he needs fucking answers. Like, right fucking now. Maybe Laura and Derek are distracted. Maybe Laura isn't listening in? And Deaton can be… discreet. He won't tell anyone. Stiles sighs, giving up. "We weren't dating."

"Excuse me?" Deaton asks.

"There was a whole fake-boyfriend thing, and Laura came up, and Derek asked me to help—he clawed the mahogany counter, does that do anything?—but now we're not faking, and… so the wolves did all of this? The… the feelings?"

Deaton is silent for a while, and Stiles guesses it's only because he's trying to understand what Stiles is saying.

Stiles is trying to understand what Stiles is saying. Because it can't be fake. He doesn't want it to be fucking fake.

Fuck, he only just realized how much he wants it to be real—how much he wants to be with Derek—and he doesn't know how he's going to handle telling Derek they were spelled into having the hots for each other.

Stiles's throat gets heavy and his eyes burn, maybe get a little watery, but he doesn't break down. It's only frustration, he thinks, not just terror and sadness and the unique feeling of being wronged.

"I—" he starts again, ignoring the way Scott is looking at him, the little whines coming from his throat. "It's not real, then?"

"I think you're missing the point here, Stiles," Deaton finally says, slowly.

"The point, Deaton, is that for the last two weeks I've been… pimped out by two magic—"

"Magic can't create what's not already there," Deaton interrupts. "And mahogany promotes growing, Stiles. It promotes emotional clarity and healing. And, if I may remind you, both you and Derek were affected by it."

"Me more so!"

"Does it feel fake?" Deaton asks him instead of responding to that.

No, it doesn't fucking feel fake. It feels like Stiles is falling off a cliff as tall as the Burj Dubai, and it feels like he's enjoying it. Or at least he was, until Deaton decided to ruin everything. It feels—it felt—like he'd been given something interesting. A new toy, a new… a new something. Someone to pick apart and get to know, someone to, maybe, just possibly, start loving.

And now he feels… slightly dirty.

Behind him, he hears a telltale thumping, then the scrape of furniture against wood. Something orange and circular whizzes by his head. His skin buzzes unpleasantly—slightly less painful than the first couple times the wolves did their thing, but still painful, still distracting, still different from what's been happening for the last couple days—and his mind jumps from idea to idea, unable to really concentrate on anything.

"Stiles," Deaton says again. "Does it feel fake?"

"That doesn't mean that—" Stiles snarls, rubbing at the middle of his forehead with his pointer finger in hopes of stopping the headache he already feels coming on.

"The wolves," Deaton continues, and it sounds like it pains him to call the focus items wolves, "are meant to intensify power that already exists, Stiles. Mahogany, especially African mahogany, is meant to guide and heal. They're not… pimping anything. The reaction between the mahogany and the wolves is merely an intensification of feelings. Of... awareness. "

"It still feels wrong," Stiles says, stubbornly holding on to the betrayal and the anger and the guilt.

Scott curses behind him, and Stiles looks towards the living room to see the chairs and sofa banging into each other repeatedly, almost violently. The air, as he looks, gets heavy and thick with panic. Panic that comes back at him, hits him in the throat, and doesn't leave. He tries to calm his breathing, tries to get a handle on whatever's happening—he's pissed, he gets that much, and the figurines are reacting to his anger, but there's something more, something like sadness making it harder to calm down—and somehow manages to focus past the buzzing in his head and on his skin and the weird heaviness in his limbs, to listen to Deaton on the phone.

"What's happening right now, Stiles?" he asks, sounding tired and sad, which is a nice contrast to Scott's panicked yelling and flailing limbs as he tries to dodge furniture and other objects as they zoom past him.

"I'm destroying our apartment," Stiles responds morosely, hitting his head against the kitchen counter.

"You are getting a master's degree in psychology, aren't you, Stiles?" Deaton asks.

"Yes, but I'm focusing on criminal psych, so…" So Stiles doesn't know where this is going.

"You still have to take basic psychology courses, Stiles," Deaton says. "So out of all of us, you should understand what it is you're feeling. Or at least understand the implications."

"Not really," Stiles says, annoyed. "Just because I'm getting a master's doesn't mean I can—"

"You wouldn't be like this if you didn't have feelings for Derek," Deaton sighs. That gets Stiles to pause… for a lot of reasons, really, but mostly because he's suddenly realized he's this distraught over the possibility of not having feelings for Derek. And that… that makes him think.

About the way Derek acts, about all the little things Stiles will never admit (okay, will probably admit) to liking about him, about the sex last night and the intimacy this morning, about everything between them just clicking and clicking… well.

"Fuck," Stiles says. In the kitchen, the fridge starts rattling, scraping ominously back and forth against the tiles. The lights start flickering off and on, and the buzzing in his head and skin gets more intense, more white, but slightly less painful. He's really glad Derek lives below him, because they would have probably gotten complaints by now if he didn't.

Distantly Stiles hears Scott cursing, turns to see everything—including Scott now, wolfed out and snarling—suspended in midair. It's kind of hilarious, kind of awesome, and a little scary.

"Fuck," he says again, just as the door bursts open, and Derek and Laura come through, freezing just inside the threshold.

He looks across at them—okay, he looks across at Derek—and the angsty, bitter terror all just… floats away. It's replaced by hesitation, nervousness, maybe a little dread, and the realization that Stiles should start paying more attention. To himself, yeah, but to Derek, too.

"I'm falling for Derek?" he asks Deaton.

"I'm really not an expert in that kind of thing, Stiles," Deaton sighs. "I would suggest maybe talking to your fath—"

"Don't tell him about this," Stiles interrupts quickly. Derek is staring at him, wide-eyed, frozen in place, even as Laura closes the door and then starts trying to pull Scott out of the air. It's not working, because he just keeps bobbing back up to hit against the ceiling.

Stiles turns around on his stool, stares hard at the fridge, and ignores Laura's chuckles and Scott's begrudging laughter. Most of all, he ignores the sound of Derek's footsteps as he walks closer.

"Does Laura know?" Deaton asks. "Is that why you did this?"

"She doesn't," Stiles says.

"She does," Derek says, standing behind him. Stiles looks around at that, blinks up at him.

"She does?" he asks. Derek nods.

"I told her," he says, clearing his throat and looking just above Stiles's head, "that it wasn't fake anymore."

"Oh." Stiles's cheeks turn red, and the couch sets itself back down on the floor. The fridge stops rattling and the air gets less thick; gets lighter. From the sound of it, though, Scott and most of the furniture is still up in the air.

"So Laura knows?" Deaton asks.

"Yeah," Stiles says. "She does." He clears his throat. "This still doesn't answer anything about why the magic isn't going away. It's getting stronger. I'm sitting in the middle of my apartment, Deaton, and it looks like some kind of fucking supernatural horror story. Like, poltergeist-level shit. Scott is floating… in the air."

"It could be a feedback loop, possibly," Deaton muses. "Going from the wolves to the mahogany—although that's assuming the counter has any magic in it in the first place, and it's not the focus items that are causing it to act that way—to you."

Stiles is confused, and all he keeps thinking about is how his life has turned into a shitload of pop culture references (mahogany, seriously? And untapped power? Seriously?). Derek fidgets next to him, and Stiles looks to see him staring down at where Stiles is scratching his fingernail into the counter. Stiles looks—he really looks—and notices the stiff way Derek is holding himself, the confusion clear on his face, the way his ears are slightly too small for his head, how he didn't shave when he took a shower so he's got the whole manly stubble thing going on, and he has to swallow hard to get past the sudden tightness in his throat.

"Oh," he says.

"I would look at the papers I e-mailed you on control," Deaton continues, "and see if that does anything. I also suggest speaking with Derek."

"But I—" Stiles starts, suddenly panicking again. Next to him, Derek rears back, looks at him with furrowed eyebrows and a frown.

"I think he deserves to know, don't you?" Deaton asks. There's a pause, and then, "Call your father, Stiles."

"Yeah," Stiles says. "Right."

"Good," Deaton says, then hangs up. Stiles gets the distinct impression Deaton is just as fed up with all of this as Stiles—although if he's being completely honest with himself, the magic thing is still fricken' cool. Because magic.

"So," Derek says, "why all the, uh, excitement?"

Stiles turns to him, and since he's not distracted with talking—the floating furniture and Scott plus Laura doesn't count as a distraction—he lets his eyes rove over Derek's face (again). Now, when Stiles looks at Derek, he gets this happy, heavy feeling in his chest, but rewind to three weeks ago and all he felt for the dude was begrudging affection.

Or maybe all he wanted to feel was begrudging affection? Because if Stiles thinks about it, Derek's kind of a catch. There's the looks, yeah, Stiles won't fucking lie about that—dude's fucking smokin'—but there's also the guy behind all that sarcasm and woe-is-me-attitude. The guy that gets desperate in bed and tells humongous white lies and got hurt simply because he fell in love with the wrong person.

"Mahogany," Stiles says. Maybe if he explains it the right way, Derek won't freak out.

Behind them, in the living room, the TV disconnects from the wall and starts hitting up against Scott's leg.


"Mahogany?" Derek asks. Mahogany doesn't explain anything. All he knows is that Stiles is panicking—less so now than before, when Derek could hear his heartbeat from downstairs without every trying, frantic and fast—and the apartment is coming apart around them, that he wants to put an arm around Stiles's shoulders, or rub his hand up the back of Stiles's neck just to calm him down, that… that Stiles had said the words "falling" and "Derek" in the same sentence.

Everything is connected, he muses, and is just about to say it out loud—maybe get Stiles annoyed enough so he's not panicking anymore—when Stiles starts talking.

"Yeah, mahogany," Stiles says, his heartbeat ratcheting up to what are probably dangerous levels. Derek hears him swallow, thick and nervous. "So Deaton called and there's a connection between the focus items and… do you remember the saloon bar? The counter at Alf's?It's apparently magic, although Deaton is just assuming on that one, and—"

"What does the mahogany have to do with… anything?" Derek asks. He gives in and puts a hand on the back of Stiles's neck, rubs his thumb in what he hopes are soothing circles. Stiles suddenly looks even more miserable.

"Guys,"—Scott, floating behind them still, clutching the TV to his chest and looking equal parts annoyed and amused, glares at the both of them—"could you two, oh, I don't know, talk it out so Stiles calms down and I stop fucking floating!?"

"It's kind of amusing, though," Laura says. She's given up on trying to grab him, and is just standing in the middle of the chaos, hands on her hips as she smiles. "Actually, it's really amusing. Stiles, can I borrow your phone? I need a picture of this for Cora, at least."

Everyone watches as Stiles's phone zooms across the room and into Laura's hand, then Stiles groans and rests his head on the counter. Scott grumbles, and Laura murmurs, in an oddly quiet voice, "Accio, phone."

"Maybe if you leave the apartment it will all stop?" Scott suggests, his voice desperate.

"Mahogany," Stiles says, "is some sort of Wiccan power wood—I don't know, don't fucking ask, or someone get me my computer so I can look at the shit Deaton sent me—and it had a reaction to the focus items. And that… somehow created some sort of fucking spell meant to…" He sighs, turning his head to look up at Derek, expression dejected and miserable. "Don't freak out about this?"

"Is it something I should be freaking out about?" Derek asks, keeping his voice calm—calm-ish, at least—even though he suddenly has an acute sense of dread.

"It's meant to be, like"—Stiles waves his hands around above his head—"a spiritual guide? Promotes emotional and personal well-being? Guides you… somewhere, metaphorically speaking."

"And?" Derek presses.

"And it seems like that, combined with the wolves, turned into us realizing our… feelings for each other?" Stiles finishes, tensing up underneath Derek's hand.

Derek doesn't know how it happens, but suddenly he's four feet away from Stiles, hands at his sides, fists clenched, and all he can stare at is the floor while he listens to the way his own heartbeat stutters. He gets what Stiles is saying, but he still…

"Oh, come on," Laura cries, and he looks over to see that she's in the air, too, the back of her head hitting up against the wall, her arms and legs scrabbling for purchase. Stiles makes a noise, gripping at the counter and curling into himself. When Derek sniffs instinctively, he's overwhelmed by the scent of pain and panic and frustration.

For a moment—probably too long a moment—Derek is frozen. He doesn't know what to do. He looks from Laura to Scott to Stiles, thinks about the hard mass of feelings stuck in his throat that make it hard to breathe, and becomes aware he's whining under his breath. Almost-not-there, high-pitched sounds of distress and confusion and… and it's embarrassing.

So he goes over, pulls Stiles up to stand, drags him out of the apartment—maybe gripping a little too hard at his bicep, but only because he wants out, and only because Stiles is muttering under his breath about just going to sleep—and to the stairway door. He picks Stiles up, carries him over his shoulder for the seven floors it takes to get to ground level, sets him down, and starts herding him out of the apartment complex and onto the sidewalk.

It's relatively early—around ten on a Sunday—so they don't pass a lot of walkers, and traffic is minimal. Derek stays silent as he gets Stiles away from the apartment, only thinking about getting some space, not really knowing if it'll work or not, just that it usually works for him. He's aware it may not be his best plan, but he's panicking, trying to parse the good information from the bad, and he just needs to get Stiles away so he doesn't keep smelling pain and panic and Scott. He keeps a hand on Stiles's shoulder, taking as much of the pain away as he can, but it keeps coming back in waves, making Stiles stumble and Derek tighten his grip.

They walk until Stiles isn't shuffling anymore and it isn't necessary for Derek to hold him up, push him forward. They walk until he's breathing normally—not huffing out pained breaths—and he's not clutching at his chest and his stomach anymore. He stays silent, though, which is weird and awkward and only gives Derek space to start overthinking everything and anything.

They end up walking all the way to campus, and Derek leads Stiles to the first empty picnic table he can find, one that's out of the way and under a large tree. He pushes Stiles down to sit, walks over to sit across from him, and lets himself take in a very deep, very long breath through his mouth.

He can't inhale through his nose right now—he already despises the smell of sadness and panic and anger and all the other shit coming off Stiles—so he breathes in and out through his mouth, just watching him,waiting.

Derek doesn't really know why Stiles is so panicked about this; why he's acting like it's the end of the world. No, wait; he does. There had been a moment, back at the apartment, when Derek was angry, enraged even. But that was before he remembered the old adage about magic that someone told him—he can't remember who, exactly, except that she was old and possibly baby-sat him for a couple months; that it can't create something not already there.

Corny. So ridiculously fucking corny. But also true. While the focus items had pushed him and Stiles towards… this, there had to have been something there to work off of. And that's… that's keeping Derek sane right now, keeping him from automatically writing this off as another one of his failed fucking attempts at letting himself fall for someone.

He's still pissed, of course, but not at Stiles—at least, not more so than usual, because seriously, the fucker gets into some weird situations—at the wolves. Because Stiles is in pain, and that's just fucking annoying.

And dramatic. Really fucking overdramatic.

"Fuck," Stiles says eventually, taking a deep breath in and rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands. He looks like he just woke up from an all-night bender; expression dazed and confused, skin sallow and eyes bloodshot.

"You okay?" Derek asks.

"Dude, are you okay?" Stiles narrows his eyes at him. "With the whole…" He waves his arm around vaguely.

Derek shrugs. "Magic can't create what's—"

"Oh my god, really?" Stiles rolls his eyes. "That is the corniest fucking line I've ever—"

"I'm not the one that had a magic panic attack over the possibility of this not being real," Derek points out, because he's pretty sure that's what happened. Stiles snaps his mouth shut at that, turns a dull shade of red, and looks down at the table, picking at the cracked and rotting wood with a fingernail.

"It was good thinking, getting me out of there. It helped," Stiles mutters. "Although the fireman carry down the stairs was a little… much."

"I dislike elevators," Derek says.

"Yeah, well, I dislike your stupid face," Stiles says, then seems to realize it when his heartbeat stutters, and looks even angrier.

Derek chokes out a laugh, and the anger and panic get less intense."That's a lie."

Stiles sighs. "It actually wasn't all me, the… the attack back there. I don't even know what happened. I was fine with telling you, nervous, the fucking usual, and then... god, how are you so calm? I'm not calm."

"I'm not calm," Derek says with slightly more of a snarl than he intended. "I'm not. I just… I'm angry and fucking annoyed, but it's not like there's anything we can do about it."

"Oh, wow, right." Stiles tenses. "Nothing we can do except accept our horrible no good fates and—"

"I told Laura," Derek interrupts instead of rising to the bait—he can be the mature one, sometimes, even if it's fucking hard, "right after I fucking jerked off to you taking a shower."

He says it just to see Stiles's eyes go wide and his jaw drop, and he's not disappointed. "You heard that, huh?" Stiles asks finally, sheepishly.

"And I said," Derek continues, forcing the words out, "that it was fake, but now it's not. And I'm kind of obsessed with you."

Saying it out loud is so much worse than thinking it, although the way Stiles's scent changes—and damn it, Derek started sniffing the air without even realizing it—and gets brighter, happier, and, if possible, even more embarrassed than it was before, makes it somewhat worth it.

"You're obsessed with me?" Stiles asks.

"It's fucking pitiful how obsessed I am," Derek says. "I keep sniffing the air when you come in the room and watching you without even knowing it and fucking thinking all these—" He cuts himself off, because Stiles is biting the inside of his cheek and his eyes have gone even wider. "Fuck," he finishes simply with a shrug.

"This is it," Stiles says after a moment where he just stares at him. "The big confession. The… the big moment. The climax of the rom-com, Derek. Now all we need to do is—"

"Fuck off," Derek grunts, knowing full well he's grinning like a fucking idiot.

"I'm kind of obsessed with you too, I guess?" Stiles says. Derek rolls his eyes, blinking when Stiles gets up, then walks over to straddle the bench next to him. He looks at Derek and lets his eyes rove over Derek's face until both of them are uncomfortable. "Wow, yeah, okay, really obsessed. It's the wolves talking, I swear."

"That's… nice," Derek gets out, suddenly wondering why the fuck he feels like a teenager again. He lets his gaze slide down from Stiles's face to the way his hands grip at the bench, and at the way both of his legs are bouncing up and down with nervous energy.

Like a fucking coiled spring, Derek thinks. There's nervousness still in the air, a slight edge of panic and desperation, but nothing like back at the apartment. He reaches out before he can stop himself and grips at Stiles's wrist.

"We should date," Stiles says, and Derek looks up to see him frowning. "I mean, feelings have been exchanged—numerous times, if we're counting last night—dramatic confessions have been made, extenuating circumstances have been overcome, both of us have clearly embarrassed ourselves in front of best friends and big sisters, so… we should date. I mean, if we're both obsessed with each other, maybe it could—"

"Did you tell Deaton you were falling for me?" Derek asks, just to be a dick. Stiles uses the hand Derek isn't holding to give him the middle finger.

"You're the fuckface obsessed with my"—Stiles makes his voice high and mocking—"scent. Do you stare at me when I'm asleep, Derrie? Count the moles on my face? Trace constellations with your fingers?" Stiles leans closer, and his voice, this time, is low and rough. "Jerk off imagining what I look like in the shower?"

"Pretty much, yeah." Derek shrugs and Stiles blanches, turns even redder.

"Oh," Stiles says, then clears his throat. "Me, too."

"You jerk off imagining what you look like in the shower?" Derek is aware that he's leaning forward into Stiles's space, but it's allowed, right? "Isn't that narcissistic personality disorder?"

"Oh wow, witty." Stiles gives him a look that means it's not witty at all. "I mean that sometimes looking at you is like staring at the sun."

"Poetic," Derek manages, then leans his forehead against Stiles's and starts rubbing his hand up and down Stiles's forearm.

"And, sure," Stiles continues, "personality-wise there's stuff yet to be desired, but we've all got our shit, right? You're a dickhead a lot of time, but you're also pretty cool."

"Also poetic," Derek says. He gets his other hand in Stiles's hair, starts kneading, and watches, fascinated, as Stiles's pupils go wide and dark.

"Are you getting off on me complimenting you?" Stiles murmurs, eyes on Derek's lips.

"Kind of," Derek admits. Stiles glances up to meet Derek's gaze and licks his lips.

"You're surprisingly easy to get along with. You've got a martyr complex a fucking mile wide, although that's not really a compliment, is it? You have the same sense of humor I do, which is awesome, because that's the best sense of humor to have. When you love someone… you really love them. Love them to a fault, actually, and that kind of terrifies and excites me. You like to pretend to hate everything but you don't. When you laugh the edges of your eyes crinkle up and it's adorable," Stiles says slowly, like he's thinking things up as he goes along.

Derek lets out a long, shuddering breath, slightly more emotionally invested in all this than he was prepared for.

"Shit," Derek says succinctly.

"So we're both okay with this?" Stiles asks, and Derek wants to roll his eyes.

"I am," he says instead. "I guess."

"Cool," Stiles says. "So if I'm willing to put up with your woe-is-me shit, does that make me the martyr?"

"It makes you a fucking shitface," Derek says, laughing when Stiles grins and shrugs unapologetically.

"Yeah, but I'm your shitfa—"

Derek kisses him because he's been wanting to ever since he walked into Stiles's apartment and overheard him on the phone with Deaton, and not because he wants to shut him up.


So… Stiles doesn't know what happened back at the apartment. Judging from the last couple weeks, he feels like all of it—the pain, the increased violence and the intensity with which the two wolves started throwing all his furniture around, the inability to breathe past the lump in his throat—had all been part of the plan. Their plan. Because the wolves may not be evil, but fuck if they don't have slightly ambiguous morals.

(And yes, Stiles is aware he is anthropomorphizing two ceramic figurines, but considering what they've put him through, it's only natural.)

They had wanted Derek and Stiles… together, and apparently now they're together. Or maybe wanted is the wrong word to use—makes him feel slighted, a bit, makes him angry just because of the fucking principle of the thing—but encouraged.

Yeah, encouraged. By making shit float. And causing Stiles pain. And… and okay, there's more to this than the wolves, though, isn't there? That's just Stiles's problem. It's Derek that pushed them together in the first place with the whole fake-boyfriend scheme.

God, that had been the most idiotic of all idiotic plans.

So really, all of this is Derek's fault, and he should make it up to Stiles in a multitude of creative ways. Stiles might say that last bit out loud, between biting at Derek's bottom lip and pressing slow, embarrassingly enamored kisses to his mouth, because Derek chuffs out a laugh.

"We're being disgustingly cute," Stiles points out, leaning back as much as Derek's hands—one's splayed out on his neck, the other's still holding his wrist—will let him, watching as Derek licks his lips and raises an eyebrow.

"I'll be an asshole tomorrow to make up for it?" Derek offers. Stiles gets the shivers at that, because it dawns on him—late, of course, Stiles always realizes things late—that this means he and Derek are together-together. That this means dates (maybe? Stiles isn't too big on dates, really, especially the scripted ones; Derek might be though), and fights (definitely), and sex (lots of it).

"I don't know, man," Stiles says, completely giving in, "I don't think you can come back from this. Maybe if you push me off a couple couches? Snarl at me a couple times or something?"

Derek leans back at that, scoots a little ways away from Stiles, and then looks pointedly at the dirt and grass surrounding the picnic table. Stiles narrows his eyes, standing before Derek can do what Stiles thinks he's going to do.

"No," he says, pointing a finger at Derek's face. "Bad dog."

Derek snorts and gets up. "We should probably head back. Laura and Scott might still be hovering. Literally."

"That part was cool," Stiles says, falling in next to Derek so they're walking across the grass side by side, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Derek elbows him hard enough that he loses his balance and has to flail his arms around to get it back. When Stiles glares at him, Derek shrugs. "I figure it's never too early to start making up for… all that back there."

"I'm going to tell Laura all about your many anxiety attacks," Stiles says, grasping for something—anything—to give him the upper hand here. He's distracted, though, when he looks at Derek, and all he can see is that goddamned small smile on his face. Not a grin or a sneer or a leer… just a smile, small and private and for him. Stiles isn't usually prone to melancholy, isn't prone to emotional clarity and all that shit, so the weird, hazy, almost bittersweet happiness seeing that smile inspires makes him feel like he's already gotten in over his head. "And about how you secretly enjoyed yourself at the zoo. How you lurve me something aw—dude, ow!?" Derek shoves him again, and he almost trips over an uneven portion of the sidewalk.

"It's a love shove," Derek deadpans when Stiles glares at him. "I'm flirting with you."

"Ha ha, fucker," Stiles says, making sure his expression says that it's not fucking funny at all.

In movies, they never really go over the part right after the big confession; the big reveal. Never really talk about what happens after two people run towards each other in the middle of a field, or after their eyes meet across a crowded room, or after they start making out while standing in the middle of the road in a fucking rainstorm. It's glossed over; suddenly the couple from the field is sitting at a table, the couple in a crowded room is huddled in a corner, hands all over each other, and the couple from the rainstorm is miraculously dry and curled up in the middle of a couch, musing over their many romantic hijinks.

Those movies never show the interim between those two things because it's kind of fucking awkward, to be honest. It's the cute kind of awkward, though; Derek keeps glancing at Stiles, and Stiles tries, really, to act normal, to act above it all, but he keeps glancing at Derek, too. They're both smiling. Stiles is high on endorphins and happiness and he keeps waxing poetic about Derek's face and the way he's walking with his shoulders slightly hunched, like he's not sure what to do with himself.

It's fucking pathetic, really, but it's not like they can suddenly beam themselves back to the apartment and engage in the emotionally charged, intense sex some movies cut to after the confession, complete with matching soundtrack. Stiles would mix it up, though, and forego the emotional shit to play something appropriately… Stiles-like.

… God, his brain goes weird places when he's nervous.

So the walk back to the apartment is silent and awkward because all of this is still too new and too weird for them to act like it's commonplace.

The awkwardness goes away, though—or really, it's just pushed to the back of Stiles's brain for the moment—when they get out of the elevator on Stiles's floor, and Derek straightens, then looks towards Stiles's apartment with narrowed eyes.

"I don't hear anyone," he says, "or anything."

"Good for you?" Stiles responds, laughing when Derek glares and bares his teeth—human teeth, because they're still in public, mostly—at him. He follows Derek down the hallway and opens up the door enough to peek his head inside.

The furniture is all back where it's supposed to go, even the TV. Nothing's floating, nothing's glowing. Laura and Scott are nowhere to be found, although Stiles was expecting that, with what Derek had said earlier.

All of it is very strange, and even as he opens the door the rest of the way and takes a cautious step inside with Derek at his heels, Stiles is expecting something to happen: for a punch of power to come at him out of nowhere, bring him to his knees, or for the furniture to start levitating again, or the wallpaper to rip of the walls… just something. But nothing happens, because the wolves are a pair of fucking passive-aggressive trolls that think predictability is for squares.

"Hello?" Stiles calls out, aware he's walking around like a turtle with its head out of its shell, stepping lightly and carefully. Behind him, Derek snorts, and he gives him the finger without even looking.

"No one's here, idiot," Derek says.

"They might be in my room, Der-bear," Stiles says, grinning when the nickname elicits a snarl. "Der-Der? Honey buns?"

"Real fuckin' funny," Derek says, and even as Stiles walks down the hallway he can feel Derek rolling his eyes at him.

When he opens his door—thankfully he still has a door—there's no one inside. The room's still a mess, and still, still, the wolves' eyes are glowing, albeit slightly less intensely than Stiles has seen them recently, but no one is here.

It also smells like sex.

"Someone… left a note," Derek calls out from what Stiles assumes is the kitchen. "Laura. Laura left a note. She says, uh… that Scott and her are going on a run and… fuck."

Stiles pokes his head out of the room and watches Derek stalk down the hallway, looking like he's sucked on a lemon. A lemon covered in salt, rolled in glass, and dusted in wolfsbane. He grunts when he reaches Stiles, shoving the piece of paper at his chest before walking past him and into the room, sniffing at the air and looking equal parts blissed-out, embarrassed, and suspicious.

Meanwhile, Stiles looks down at the piece of paper. The note. "'Safe sex is the best kind of sex'?" he reads, then snorts. "Too late for that."

Derek glares at him for a bit, looking mulish. "We should, though… do that."

"Are you seducing me?" Stiles asks, unimpressed, even though he's pretty sure Derek isn't talking about the "sex" part, but the "safe" part. "It's not working. Try something else."

"No, I mean—" Derek cuts himself off with a sigh.

"I've got…" Stiles walks over to his desk and opens the side drawer, pulls out condoms that he hasn't touched in months and a bottle of lube he hasn't even opened yet. When he holds them up, his grin is, admittedly, slightly triumphant. Derek looks… confused for a moment, and then just carefully blank.

"Why are you getting those out?" he asks.

Stiles sighs. "Dude, all of this"—he gestures at the wolves, at them, at everything really—"is confusing and stupid and also, apparently, so embarrassing that it's not even embarrassing anymore. And I figure that, if you wanted to, we could maybe forget about it for at least a couple of fucking hours, lock the door, and, uh…" He finishes by holding up the condoms and bottle of lube with a shrug. "Not like we really need to use them anyway." Derek makes a sound at that, in the back of his throat, and Stiles grins. "It's more of a… it's more of me segueing into getting your clothes off? If you're into it, that is."

Derek takes a step closer, and Stiles doesn't miss the way his posture has changed, has gotten almost predatory, or the way his face has relaxed into a semi-smile, his limbs loose and comfortable. See, Stiles can notice things. "It still smells like sex in here," Derek says.

"That's creepy, dude," Stiles says. It's not really creepy because the room obviously smells like sex, even to his lesser human nose, so to a werewolf it must be… overwhelming. Stiles is just trying (and failing) to be nonchalant, even though he knows Derek can hear the way his heart is beating hard against his chest. Fuck, Derek can probably already smell that his dick is totally fine with getting hard, is actually delighting at the fucking thought of it.

"Aren't werewolves supposed to be creepy?" Derek asks, his mulish, slightly embarrassed face completely gone, replaced by… something else. Something that makes Stiles anticipate. Derek doesn't wait for an answer—not that Stiles is giving one, because suddenly, even though he feels like, if given the chance, Derek could be extra creepy, his mouth has decided to stop functioning like it should—just turns around and closes the door, locking all three locks so slowly it has to be deliberate.

"Okay, so now are you trying to seduce me?" Stiles manages to say, although his voice comes out as more of a croak. Derek beams at him—he beams at him—and Stiles takes that as a yes. "Fuckin'… hell, yes," Stiles says, throwing the condoms and lube on his desk and starting to pull his T-shirt over his head.

"Is this your idea of a striptease?"

"No." Stiles gets his shirt off, throws it… somewhere, and reaches for the button of his jeans. "This is my idea of being efficient. Knowing us, Laura is going to break in just when it's getting good."

Derek snorts, walks over, and smacks Stiles's hands away, replacing them with his own before Stiles can protest.

"This is me seducing you," Derek tells him as he unbuttons Stiles's jeans.

"It's working," Stiles says, staring down at Derek's hands as they skim across his hipbones under the waistband of his boxers, his skin breaking out in goosebumps. "So good job."

Derek chuffs out a laugh, then bites at his mouth as he eases down the zipper to Stiles's jeans. "Thank you. Your feedback means a lot."

Stiles tilts his head to take the kiss deeper, opening his mouth and groaning when Derek licks into it. He kicks off his jeans when Derek pushes them down his legs, reaching out, eyes closed, fumbling for the button of Derek's jeans… only then Derek grabs his hands and starts pushing him backwards until the back of Stiles's knees hit his bed, and he pulls Derek down with him as he falls back.

"Just…" Derek pulls away and throws his shirt off, kneeling in between Stiles's legs, his muscles bunching and tightening, lengthening, as he moves, and Stiles doesn't resist when he feels the urge to touch, get his hands all over Derek's torso—from his abs up to his ribs to his delts. He scoffs when Derek pulls his own jeans and briefs off in one motion, is about to say something about him being a showoff, but gasps instead—it's a manly gasp—when Derek turns his attention back to him, pulls his boxers down achingly slowly, peppering sloppy wet kisses down his stomach as he does so. He may or may not arch into it, lift his hips to make getting them off easier.

"Fuck," he croaks, glancing down and then keeping his gaze there when Derek just stays where he is, leaning back on his heels, staring down at Stiles, chest heaving in and out, kind of lazily palming at his dick. "Fucking… fuck."

"Eloquent," Derek croaks after what seems like eons.

"Yeah, well," Stiles snarks back, "you're not doing anything, so you're just as—"

"What do you want me to do?" Derek kneels over him, lowering himself until he's laid out on top of Stiles. Neither of them comments on the way Derek lets out a long, loud groan at the contact, nor the way Stiles arches up into it, the way his hips start involuntarily thrusting up against Derek's for the added friction.

The question gets a moan out of Stiles, because really? Really? Derek's making him think right now? All he wants to do is… keep doing what they're doing. He wants his skin up against Derek's, he wants more of those long groans rumbling out from Derek's lungs and vibrating against Stiles's chest, he wants to kiss into Derek's mouth until he's not sure whose tongue is whose, he wants…

"I don't know," Stiles breathes out, bucking up against Derek when he starts kissing at the hickeys he left on Stiles's neck last night, teasing at the skin with slightly sharpened teeth, humming at the back of his throat, probably not even listening to what Stiles is saying. "Fuck, I… wanna fuck."

"That's good, considering the circumstances," Derek says, and fuck, isn't he all smooth and witty and shit today? Stiles scratches down Derek's back only a little bit in retaliation, then over his ass cheeks, grabbing both and squeezing until Derek visibly shudders, pushing his hips down hard against Stiles's. "Can I—?" Derek asks, voice hoarse and needy, and Stiles groans as he nods, completely and totally 100 percent for what he's sure Derek is asking for.

"Lube." Stiles reaches out blindly and huffs out a startled laugh when the bottle flies into his hand—he takes a second to glance around, noticing the detritus on his floor has slowly started to rattle—and then shoves it in Derek's face. "Yeah?"

Derek grins and rears back, arranges them until Stiles is half-strewn over his lap, legs spread to either side of him, feet hitting up against Derek's ass. He bends, then licks a long stripe up Stiles's cock, groaning while he does so and sending little zaps of white pleasure up Stiles's spine while his other hand skims up the inside of Stiles's thigh, then travels down to rub against Stiles's hole.

Both of them moan at that, and while Stiles is arching, getting a hand around his dick and grabbing out, blindly, to knead at Derek's thigh, Derek manages to get the bottle open and pour the lube on his hand.

He opens Stiles up slowly, so fucking slowly. It literally (not literally, but Stiles isn't in the mood to deal with semantics) takes fucking centuries, fucking eons, but Stiles, admittedly, can't really think of another way he would want to spend centuries. He closes his eyes at one point, because looking up and seeing Derek—openmouthed panting, slightly elongated teeth, eyes that flash blue every once in a while, chest heaving in and out and cock dripping precome—is making it hard not to come. The finger-fucking doesn't help either, because as frenzied as this is—Stiles is pretty sure neither of them is going to be anything other than frenzied for a long while—Derek is good at it. So good at it. Amazing. Earth-shattering. Awe-inspiring.

Or maybe he's horrible at it, and Stiles is just biased.

So when Derek does finally stop—pulls out, pushes himself back and looks down at Stiles in a question—Stiles is already half gone, muttering curses and insults and making a fucking mockery of himself. Derek isn't much better, it's just that from this angle, everything—including Derek—is large and overwhelming and almost too much.

"Condom?" Derek asks, and Stiles can't stop from snorting, even if it does make Derek's expression look less… wrecked and more embarrassed.

"Dude," he says. "Usually I'm all for it, but uh…" He bares his teeth, makes his hands into claws, and growls by way of explanation. "Unless, I mean, if you're more comfortable with…"

"No," Derek chokes out, then shakes his head, clears his throat. "No," he says again, voice a bit calmer this time. "That… fuck, that sounds good."

"Right!?" Stiles says, awkward because, with Derek's hands not on him (in him), he's startlingly aware of how laid out he is. His legs are spread wide and Derek's kneeling in between them and… yeah, that's pretty much how sex works, sometimes, but still, it gets weird when you think about it instead of just doing it. "How do you, uh—"

"Like this," Derek says, already adjusting his position, pushing Stiles up closer to the headboard and tilting his hips up.

"Yeah, yeah, okay. That's… yes." Stiles grabs at his dick again, working his hand up and down lazily, and scratches the nails of his other hand down Derek's thigh just to anchor himself as Derek grabs the bottle again and squirts lube all over his cock and about half the fucking mattress.

"Shit," Derek hisses, slicking himself up with one hand, grabbing Stiles's hip with the other and just holding. "You're fucking ridiculous."

"That's… cool," Stiles says. He leans up on his elbows, glances past Derek to see the wolves glowing and the room a mess of levitating shit. Doesn't care, though. Is so far from caring it should be illegal. Derek lines himself up and Stiles groans, scrunching his eyes shut and grabbing the base of his dick to stop from coming as everything but the firm pressure against his hole just kind of… fades into unimportance.

Derek pushes in slowly, panting out these delicious high-pitched breaths. Stiles collapses down onto his back again, arching his hips up into it, keeping his eyes closed and palming at his balls and his dick just enough to keep him on edge. Keep him wanting more, because fuck does he want more.

And then Derek's cock is in him, his balls hitting up against Stiles's ass, and both of them take a moment to just… let that soak in. Stiles shudders, opens his eyes to see the entire room a mess of zooming objects and bright lights, focuses on the feel of Derek's hands running up the V of his pelvis, fingernails scratching the skin just enough to leave red marks. He feels Derek take a deep inhale in through his mouth, grinning at the shivers that run up from where they're connected.

"Are you good?" Derek asks, or croaks really, his voice raw and low. That does something to Stiles, makes his chest ache and his throat close up, makes him unable to speak really, so he just nods as emphatically as he can, grunts out a noise that is more a suggestion of a "yes," and laughs breathlessly when Derek starts to move.

Stiles rocks back as Derek grinds into him, grabs blindly until he's got Derek's asscheeks in his hands and is squeezing, pushing him deeper inside. When Derek starts thrusting, collapsing with his forearms on either side of Stiles's head and starts sloppily kissing his way down his chest, the changed angle has Stiles gripping harder, groaning low as the increased friction sends white-hot frizzling sensation up his spine.

"Fuck, Stiles, fuck," Derek snarls, and his thrusts get harder, get deeper, and his kisses get… toothier. Which Stiles is 100 percent fine with. More than, because fuck, that's hot. He starts thrusting up into his hand and rocking back onto Derek's dick, does both until he's panting and his skin is way too fucking sensitive, and he can't do anything but arch his neck, shoving his head into the pillow underneath it, letting out a string of curses that sound more like Klingon before he comes all over his stomach. And the bed, probably. Maybe Derek, too.

When Stiles comes Derek gets silent, stops muttering, stops cursing out Stiles's name and just starts thrusting hard and quick, his hips snapping into Stiles's in deliciously unsympathetic, jerky movements. He mouths at Stiles's chest and shoulders and… and fuck, he bends, licks at a stripe of come just under Stiles's ribcage and growls like a goddamned animal when Stiles manages to shake himself out of his post-orgasm stupor and starts running his hands... everywhere, really. He just wants to feel Derek, is all.

Derek snarls something, pulls out of Stiles with a filthy noise, and kneels over him, then starts jerking his dick hard and vicious, his movements matching the expression on his face and… and at first Stiles is confused, and then he's just… turned on.

"That is so fucking hot," he says, and then Derek's face spasms, and then he's coming on Stiles's abs and lower chest, and… and yeah, that's hot. It's hotter when Derek just kind of collapses on top of him, burying his face in Stiles's neck, their hips still undulating together even though Stiles is pretty sure he came so hard he needs at least a nap before take two.

"Do you fucking reali—" Derek mumbles, his mouth pressed against Stiles's neck and his hands running up and down his arms. "Shit, Stiles."

"Yeah, I'm awesome," Stiles breathes, rubbing at the hairs at the nape of Derek's neck. Derek snorts but doesn't say anything to negate it, which is… also awesome. "You're awesome."

"You said that a couple of times already," Derek says. He shifts, makes it so that he's only half on Stiles, smearing come and sweat and lube everywhere.

"I'm going to have to deep clean my room," Stiles says, ignoring that. "My bed is…"

"Leave it," Derek says, "for now. Fuck, let me enjoy the afterglow."

"I feel like that's something I would say."

"You're rubbing off on me?" Derek replies with a grin, shrugging one shoulder. Stiles blinks at him.

"Okay, now that's something I would say." Stiles is pretty sure that innuendo was purposeful. Derek kisses him then, slow and searching, then leans back and shrugs again.

"Like I said," he says, "you're rubbing off on me."


"… So you're sure you're all right?"

Derek wakes up to the sound of the Sheriff's voice, and he doesn't panic really, because the door to Stiles's room is locked—they had locked it after coming back from taking a shower… a long, long shower—and the Sheriff isn't in Davis in the first place, but he does lift his head up from where he's been sleeping, face first, on Stiles's pillow, confused and slightly annoyed.

"Fine, dad." Stiles is sitting in bed next to him, feet on the floor and back facing Derek, one hand holding his phone to his ear. "Really, I think the wo—the things ran out of power, I'm pretty sure." Derek snorts at the tick in Stiles's heartbeat, raises his eyebrows when Stiles turns at the waist, pins him with a glare. His neck and jaw are still red from Derek's stubble, and there are an obscene amount of hickeys… everywhere. Derek should feel bad, but he doesn't. Something in him wants to press his palms into those marks, bite them so they don't go away. Make more.

"You should've told me about this sooner, Stiles." The Sheriff sounds like he usually does; resigned, tired, and slightly amused. Derek reaches out a hand and traces the four moles at the small of Stiles's back that form a square, grinning when goosebumps break out on his skin.

"I… ah. Well, I mean—" Stiles cuts himself off, slapping Derek's hand away even as he bites the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. Doesn't work, though, because Derek can smell the happiness on him.

"You mean…?" the Sheriff prompts.

"You've got enough on your plate, Dad!" Stiles squawks. "It was nothing, really. Just me buying shit that turned out to be, uh… magic."

"Mrs. Hale and Dr. Deaton knew about it?" the Sheriff asks. Derek rolls over onto his back, stares up at the ceiling, and takes a deep inhale of sex and Stiles and him.

"Yup, called them right when things started happening," Stiles says.

"They didn't feel it was necessary to tell me?"

"No… no?" Stiles says. Derek can feel him wincing and reaches his hand out, then runs it up Stiles's spine to rest between his shoulder blades. Stiles clears his throat and pushes back into the touch. "Not really your jurisdiction, dad."

"All right, I'll talk with them," the Sheriff says. There's a pause, and Derek can hear the Sheriff sighing, and then, "Is Derek with you?"

"N—no," Stiles stutters.

"Right, sure, of course." The Sheriff doesn't sound convinced. Derek isn't sure if he should be nervous, though. He doesn't want to be nervous. He's still coming down from the sex and then the blowjob in the shower and… being nervous would really suck. "Is he listening right now?"

Stiles sighs. "Yes," he says, and sounds so much like a petulant teenager that Derek has to snort.

"Give him the phone."

Fuck. Derek takes the phone from Stiles, who's grinning now, the little shit, and clears his throat. "Sheriff," he says.

"Derek, are the wolves going to be a problem?"

"The focus items?" Derek looks over at where the two figures are standing, inert now but still smelling of ozone and clay. He looks up at Stiles. "They were never a problem," he says. "Completely handled, sir."

"Right," the Sheriff says. Stiles is blinking down at Derek like he's trying to figure something out. "Are you coming back this summer? With Stiles?"

"I—uh, I was planning on it?" Derek winces, then shrugs when Stiles narrows his eyes and leans closer to try to eavesdrop on their conversation.

"Be sure to stop by the house when you do." The Sheriff's voice loses its gruffness and gets an edge to it that means he's trying to stop himself from laughing and only just succeeding. "I figure your dad's going to try to intimidate Stiles for old time's sake, so I feel like I should do my part."

"Wait, what?" Stiles rears back, eyes going wide. "Your dad's going to—?"

Derek clamps a hand over his mouth. "Yeah, thank you, Sheriff. I'll… see you then."

"A-huh," the Sheriff says, and Derek winces, partly because of the Sheriff's tone—all-knowing, although Derek doesn't know what he could… know—and partly because Stiles, being Stiles, is licking his palm. "You don't have to give me back to Stiles—I'm going out for dinner, and if he finds out he's going to give me that look when he comes back."

When the Sheriff hangs up, Derek chucks Stiles's phone off the bed and into the pile of clothes on his floor, then lies back down to stare up at the ceiling.

"Are we… are they actually going to do that, do you think?" Stiles asks, plopping down next to him, scooting closer until their shoulders touch.

"Yes," Derek says. "It's going to be horrible."

He has no fucking idea why he's looking forward to it. Maybe just to see Stiles acting like a fucking idiot.

… It's probably exactly because he's going to see Stiles acting like a fucking idiot, actually.

"Going to be so horrible," Stiles says, and Derek doesn't bother to bring up the tick in Stiles's heartbeat.

"Really fuckin' horrible," Derek agrees.

"We're pathetic," Stiles says. "This is pathetic. It's pathetic I like this so much."

"Not really pathetic." Derek closes his eyes, because it's late afternoon, sure, but he wants to delay going outside and possibly running into either Scott or Laura. They hadn't been home when they went to take a shower, which is why the shower turned into more than a shower, but they might be home now.

Derek doesn't know because the room is soundproof, which is both great and frustrating.

"Fine, it's kind of awesome," Stiles concedes. He's silent for a bit, and Derek cracks one eye open to glance over at him.

"What?"

"When you said 'never a problem' was that some sort of lovesick confession?" Stiles asks. "Because if so… dude, you're so gone on me."

"It was whatever you want it to be." Derek rolls his eyes, officially too tired for this shit. Stiles laughs and pushes himself up on one elbow until his face is hovering over Derek's.

"You're a super cool, super secretly nice, super awesome wolf-dude," he says, and Derek assumes this is some kind of… response. "You're a… you're a puzzle that's constantly changing, and I want to solve you. Also, once I can move my limbs with some kind of finesse, I totally want to fuck your brains out."

"You're the fucking puzzle," Derek mutters, and gets a grip in Stiles's hair and pulls him down until they're kissing slow and… and definitely fucking sweet, damn it. "And yeah, the rest of that sounds good."

"Great."

"Good."

Derek falls asleep pretty much right after that.

Chapter Text

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.

Ridiculous.

“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.

Damn it.

“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.


Laura

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.

 

FIN.