Off at college, Stiles was close enough to "home" for that designation to migrate with him with ease, but far enough that there were things he greeted with more warmth than usual upon his return on holiday weekends like free laundry and water pressure. When "home" moved for Stiles, it did for others, too. When Derek came back home, it wasn't to Beacon Hills, but to Stiles.
The revelation of this was simple: an impromptu meeting at a local sandwich shop where Stiles squeezed his sandwich hard enough at the sight of Derek's profile that the scent of the banana peppers and mustard made his eyes water for surely no other bit of it could be sparking that reaction. Still, the scent of his tears made Derek look up and he took a seat across from Stiles with a grin, foregoing his place in line. "I wondered why something in here smelled good."
Stiles wiped his face with a napkin and took a sip of his drink before responding. "Because I stopped wearing Axe?"
"Because you're here." Derek grabbed a chip from the open bag next to Stile's hand and took a bite, bunny teeth glinting in the fluorescent light.
"That sounds a lot like flirting, dude. You sure you're meaning to do that or is it just the hunger getting to you? You are stealing my chips, after all." He still turned the opening of the bag slightly toward Derek, though.
Derek smirked and grabbed another chip. "Something was drawing me here. And I'm not surprised to find it was you. Is that flirting? I don't know. But, I do know that I wouldn't mind doing this on purpose with you."
Stiles snorted, sitting back in his chair. "Doing what? Meeting for sandwiches?"
"I think other people might call it a date." Derek grabbed for Stiles' drink and took a sip. "We could do something other than dinner if you'd rather, too."
"Bowling." Stiles shrugged as he grabbed one of the chips for himself. "You should take me bowling."
Derek gave Stiles a grin tinged with so many things he couldn't quite parse. "Name a time and a place to pick you up."
Emboldened, Stiles gestured to the table. "Here and now?" He laughed at the lift of Derek's eyebrows. "What? I'm out of class for the day, I have no homework, no classes until 2 tomorrow, and I'm insanely curious about how you're here without me even knowing anything about it until I saw your stubble and eyebrows."
"That's easy enough. I was headed back to Beacon Hills and just... stopped. I thought about it and realized that all of the things I would be going back for weren't there anymore. I got a hotel room and decided to wander around town and see where my senses took me. They brought me here. And I think maybe they were bringing me here all along." He looked down at the table for a moment, then back up to meet Stiles' gaze. "I missed you."
Feeling almost lightheaded, Stiles reached up to press one set of fingertips to his temple while his elbow pressed against the tabletop. "Yeah. I missed you, too. Probably would've done that a little less if you'd kept in touch."
"I..." Derek was no longer smiling. "I was there. In Mexico. I was dying and already half in love with you and I-"
"Half in love?" Stiles let his other hand come up to his head. "That's..."
"No. Don't act like we haven't been through enough for that to be the case. You looked back at me there, and I saw something in your eyes that said you could get there, but you weren't there yet. So I left for a lot of reasons, but one of them was because I hoped you'd think of me and be ready for this when I could come back because I was there but I couldn't just stay there without you." Derek's eyes were wide as he spoke: voice powerful and words decisive. "But, the thing is, I trusted you. I trusted you to get there. Did you?"
His breath hitching, Stiles let his arms drop back in front of him. "Of course I fucking did, you asshole." He picked up a chip and then threw it right back into the bag with a nervous laugh. "At Senior Scribe, I saw the letters D.H. on a shelf and I smiled because of you. They probably weren't even yours, but a combination of two of the 26 alphabetical characters conjured up in my head this stupid plethora of memories from all of the shit we've gone through and it's like... like we were forged to be something and I spent a while there not even sure who I was supposed to be because you weren't there and Scott wasn't and just... I have friends. Really remarkable friends. Pack! And in that moment, I was a lonely, but I was still smiling because of you. And who does that to a person, Derek? Who makes someone else feel that way?"
Reaching across the table with one hand, Derek let his fingers curl around Stiles'. "No one makes you feel any way."
"Nah. It's like making someone a werewolf. The right person can do it to the right person in the right conditions. And we had it so right and got it so wrong." Stiles squeezed Derek's fingers gently, not quite making eye contact.
Derek huffed out a short, sharp burst of laughter and shook his head. "But remember Jackson?"
"Why am I remembering that dick?" Stiles frowned, the expression looking forced.
"Because, sure, he went wrong in the beginning. But love cured him and made things right again." Derek winced. "Fuck, that was kind of saccharine, wasn't it?"
Stiles nodded, a grin coming back to his lips. "Yeah. That... that's not natural for us. But, being with you? That could be. So, sure. To go ahead and make all of the dick jokes and innuendos at once, drive your Jeep into me and show me your key. Promise I'll fall to my knees and rise up again or something."
"There's a problem with that, though." Derek licked his bottom lip as he looked at Stiles. "It was your Jeep." He shrugged. "Well, not really a problem so much as a miscast of roles?"
Taking a deep breath, Stiles looked Derek up and down and then shook his head as he exhaled. "And now you want to go bowling where I'm going to have to spend hours watching your thighs and your ass in those jeans as you just intimidate the pins into all falling down."
"You suggested bowling. I was a little intrigued to see how you'd be handling the balls. But, that's half the point of a first date, isn't it? Building up to see if you want a second one?" Derek shrugged.
With a roll of his eyes, Stiles pushed the bag of chips toward Derek and picked up his sandwich again. "This. This is the first date. Bowling is the second one that I'm already looking forward to, just not as much as I am the third date."
"Breakfast tomorrow?" Derek picked up another chip with a grin. "You bought dinner, so I could hardly refuse."
His fingers squeezing the sandwich once more, Stiles nodded once with a grin. "You're getting bowling, too. I haven't forgotten you're loaded."
Derek smiled slowly. "Let's do some other things you won't forget."
"If I start to, remind me." Stiles plucked a mustard-covered banana pepper from the edge of his sandwich and shoved in it his mouth to chew. After he swallowed, he shrugged. "And don't worry. I'll remind you, too."