“You’re not going to say goodbye?” Cora asks in surprise as Derek goes to release the parking brake. Derek lets go of the brake and shrugs awkwardly.
“You should say goodbye to him,” Derek hazards, turning his attention from Cora to the house in front of them. “He – he likes you.”
Cora laughs quietly, her nose scrunching up as she shakes her head and for a minute, she’s the spit of Laura. He spends most of his time trying to avoid noticing the similarities between his two sisters; thinking about Laura too much reminds him that she’s dead. He prefers the little world in his head where he can imagine that she’s just somewhere else. Because thinking of Laura dead inevitably leads to thinking of Cora dead, thinking of her dead again and the thought terrifies him.
“Yeah, but he likes you,” Cora says at last. Derek can hear the little spark of jealousy in her voice and it only dawns on him then that Cora might like Stiles a little more than she lets on. He’d rather dwell on that than pay her insinuation that Stiles might not entirely dislike him any attention. She derails his train of thought by punching him lightly in the arm. “Go say goodbye. Ditching town can wait another couple of minutes.”
Derek looks back at her for a minute before as he focuses his hearing, reminding himself that Stiles is alone in the house. He already knows that the sheriff is busy trying to smooth things over with Scott’s father because Isaac has text him asking if he can kill him on the basis that ‘he’s annoying and he’s got a stupid face and he’s upsetting Melissa’. He’s glad Isaac’s found people who’ll love him and look after him, everything Derek couldn’t do for him.
“Go on then,” Cora leans over him and opens the door, pushing at him as he until he slowly climbs out of the car. He scowls at her but walks slowly towards the house anyway, glancing up at Stiles’ bedroom window before heading for the front door. When his knock goes unanswered, he tries the handle and finds it unlocked. He glances over his shoulder at the car, hearing Cora’s muttered ‘get on with it’ as he slips into the quiet house.
He finds Stiles upstairs in his bedroom. Fast asleep.
After watching him for a minute, feeling suddenly bewildered at how still and quiet and not-Stiles-like Stiles seems when he’s asleep, he decides that he doesn’t have the heart to wake him and grabs a composition pad from the jumble on Stiles’ desk, scrawling a quick note.
As an afterthought, he adds an address he hasn’t used in over a year, asking Stiles not to tell anyone else where they’re going and that he’s welcome to write him. If he wants to.
He didn’t even realise where he was planning on going until just then and gently places the notebook beside Stiles, where he’ll see it when he wakes up. He fights back the urge to reach out and touch Stiles, to brush his fingers through his hair or squeeze his shoulder and after taking a deep breath, turns and leaves, walking back down the stairs and thinking that perhaps it was better that Stiles wasn’t awake, couldn’t argue him into staying.
Cora doesn’t ask what happened when he slides back into the car, just smiles softly at him. A smile that turns to an impish grin when he turns the key in the ignition and the obnoxious sound of Carly Rae Jepsen fills the car. Of course she’s retuned his stereo.
He doesn’t change the station. Lets Cora sing along tunelessly, deciding that she deserves the opportunity to be his annoying baby sister for a little while. He doesn’t want to think about how, for a while, he thought she wouldn’t ever get the chance again.
“You’ve got a text from Stiles,” Cora says quietly. Derek frowns at her, wishing he’d thought to leave his cell somewhere other than the center console. Or had at least thought to lock the damn thing. “Want me to read it to you?”
“You never said he wasn’t awake when you said goodbye,” Cora adds as she scrolls through the text.
Derek shrugs and stifles a yawn, thinking idly about getting off the highway and finding a motel for the two of them.
“‘I guess I should be grateful I even got a note, huh? Could have woke me up, you jackass. Stay safe and tell your sister I know she stole my shirt. I’ll...’” Cora reads, curling up in her seat and looking at Derek.
“I’ll what?” He asks impatiently.
“Don’t know. That’s it. Just a load of dots.”
Derek sniffs derisively and grabs his phone from her, wedging it in his jacket pocket as up in the distance, he spots a sign for a motel and speeds up. Anything to stop himself from thinking what Stiles might have intended to end his text message with.
He reads and re-reads it over and over again that night when he can’t sleep, but no matter how many times he stares at it, there aren’t any more words there and he eventually drops off, his cell clutched tightly in his hand.
He doesn’t text Stiles back to find out what words were missing from his message.
Derek doesn’t realise how much he missed New York until he’s fighting his way down the stairs to the subway on dreary October afternoon, Cora chattering away to him about how amazing Brooklyn is. She’s never been to the city before and as the familiar smell of the subway washes over him, he smiles, remembering how enthralled he had been for the first few weeks after he and Laura moved there.
He takes to spending time in Butler Library, reading his way through the books that make up the comparative literature reading list he’d received right before leaving the city last year. One of his former professors spots him one day and tries to encourage him to re-enrol on the course, that he could be caught up in no time. Derek tells her thanks, but no. He might only be eighteen months shy of getting his degree but he’s not ready to go back to that yet.
He aggressively avoids the Lower East Side and a certain club in The Bowery just in case people haven’t forgotten about how he hooked up with Laura’s friend’s boyfriend in the restrooms of the aforementioned club. In his defence, he had no idea who the guy was at the time.
He looks up some of his old friends, goes to the bar with them a couple of times. A girl he recognises from the cafe in one of the local art gallery hits on him and asks him out on a date which he politely declines.
He takes Cora to Coney Island, tells her about how it was Laura’s favourite place to go in the city. Yeah, well, Cora replies as she peels the batter off her corndog, chewing it contemplatively as she throws the sausage to a group of angry looking seagulls, apparently Laura was the tackiest person in the world. Cora’s still appalled by the collection of plastic dinosaurs in the kitchen. Laura’s dinosaurs.
Neither of them hear from Stiles, or anyone else in Beacon Hills.
“Letter for you,” Cora mumbles from where she’s curled up on the couch reading a book. Derek frowns at her, running his hand through his hair as he tries to shake off some of the rainwater. “It smells a bit like Stiles.”
“You smelled my mail?”
“Sure. There’s no return address and I thought you’d get mad if I opened it,” Cora continues. She doesn’t look up but carries on leafing through her book. Derek glances at the cover and rolls his eyes. It’s the same book she’s been reading over and over for the last two months, the one about the girl with cancer. She’s tried to make Derek read it several times. She’s tried to sell it to him in many ways, the most recent being ‘but there’s a character called Isaac in it! We know an Isaac!’.
He grabs the envelope from the shelf in their tiny kitchen, where Cora has propped it up against one of the plastic dinosaurs and heads off to his bedroom to read it.
“Let me read it when you’re done!” Cora calls as he kicks the door shut behind him. Derek pulls a face as he rips open the envelope; he will most definitely not be letting Cora read his letter. He frowns as he starts to read it because, Stiles, yes Cora, it is from Stiles, doesn’t seem to be having the greatest of times.
He folds the letter back up carefully, inhaling deeply as he slides it back into it’s envelope. He’s not deliberately trying to pick up the trace of Stiles’ scent on the paper. It’s just a coincidental deep breath at the same time.
He gets a few more letters after that, mostly full of Stiles complaining about life in Beacon Hills, telling him what everyone else is up to. Derek likes getting mail from Stiles but isn’t sure if he likes hearing about the humdrum dramas of Beacon Hills all the time. It makes him feel like he’s never left, and not in a good way.
Stiles asks him questions in his letters, questions about what he’s been doing since he’s back in Brooklyn, if Cora is doing OK, what his favorite flavor ice cream is. Derek spreads the letters out on his bed and re-reads them all, before picking up a pen and starting to answer all of Stiles’ questions.
From Stiles – 19:37
My life is very dull with no one lurking in the shadows or trying to die on me.
Stiles texts him one day. Derek smiles at the text, earning himself an eye roll and smirk from Cora.
“What are you looking so pleased about?” She asks, sitting up and tucking her blanket more tightly around her feet.
“Hmm. Tell ‘nothing’ hi from me.”
To Stiles – 19:42
From Stiles – 19:42
Yeah, a dull meaningless existence. Thanks Derek, thanks a lot. I thought you cared :(
Derek doesn’t reply to that. He doesn’t really know how.
Stiles keeps writing. Derek generally gets a letter from him every couple of days, sometimes more if Stiles is particularly bored. He still texts as well, never calls, but seems to save his probing, soul searching questions for his letters. Derek likes getting them. He likes the physical evidence of a letter in his hands, likes trying to make sense of Stiles’ scruffy writing, likes the little doodles down the side of the page where his mind obviously wanders. Mostly he likes the little reminder that Stiles is still interested in him, as a person.
Stiles writes to Cora sometimes too. Derek only found that out when he came home one evening to find her sitting out on the fire escape, letter in one hand and a small dinosaur toy in the other.
“Stiles sent it to me,” She had replied when he’d asked about it, not recognising it as one of Laura’s collection. Derek hadn’t said anything to that, but had spent half an hour poking around the apartment after Cora had gone out with her boyfriend, looking for a letter addressed to him and had felt a huge wave of jealousy wash over him when he didn’t find one.
The letter that comes two weeks before his birthday takes him by surprise.
He reads and re-reads it every day for a week, looking for Stiles’ trademark sarcasm, for any hint that he’s making a joke at Derek’s expense. He sends a brief text to Stiles when he finally satisfies himself that his words are genuine.
To Stiles – 23:47
Stiles doesn’t text him back, but Derek is sure he’ll know what he’s thanking him for.
After that, it becomes easier to tell Stiles things. To tell him the things that are bothering him, to ask him, as kindly as he knows how, to stop telling him the ins and outs of life at Beacon Hills High. He finds himself starting to ask Stiles questions too, gripped by a not entirely surprising desire to know more about Stiles. He tries to tell Stiles about his past sometimes, to tell him about Paige, about what Kate did and how it nearly destroyed him. He doesn’t even try to talk to him about Jennifer, or Julia or whoever she was: those wounds are too fresh and new and painful. He tries to tell him about Adam, the guy he fell in love with when he was living in Chicago, who ended things with him when he told him that, but can never quite find the right words and ends up scribbling things out, crossing out the wrong words and saying nothing instead. He never starts his letters over, is quite content to leave whole paragraphs aggressively crossed out at times. That, at least, feels right. Stiles never asks him why half his letters are scribbled out.
Stiles sends two cards on his birthday. One signed by him, and some of Scott’s pack; Isaac, Scott and Allison all leave a little note with their birthday greetings. Lydia just signs her name. There’s a second card, just from Stiles.
Derek rolls his eyes at the fact that he’s been sent two cards designed for children, silencing Cora with an “I know” when she laughs at them. It’s a world away from his last birthday, one of his last few nights with Laura; they’d gone to the Knitting Factory to watch Daedelus with a group of their friends. Nessa and Anton, the only people he’s still really in touch with, call round to see him on his birthday but can’t convince him to go out with them. Cora takes them up on their offer instead and comes back two days later, completely enamoured with Nessa and all the things she’s done.
Cora breaks up with her boyfriend the week before Thanksgiving. She cries in her room for a day before disappearing with her friends for several days.
They go out for Vietnamese food on Thanksgiving at a non-descript little restaurant in Sunset Park. Cora spends the whole time texting someone while slurping down mì bò viên and barely says two words to him. Derek doesn’t look at his phone once all day until it beeps loudly just after he’s gone to bed that night and he fumbles for it, the bright light hurting his eyes in the darkness of his room.
From Stiles – 00:02
Man, even 3000 miles away your sister can still cause a drama!
From Stiles – 00:02
happy (belated now I guess) turkey day, btw. did you overeat and think about the pilgrims?
To Stiles – 00:03
Whats Cora done?
To Stiles – 00:04
We ate out. Our oven is older than me – I don’t trust it.
From Stiles – 00:04
Sounds about right for you ;) You missed an epic thanksgiving meltdown at Casa de McCall. Apparently Cora’s been skyping with Isaac every night for the last two weeks and Allison just found out. Not happy was an understatement. Think they might have broken up. (xoxo gossip stiles!)
To Stiles – 00:07
From Stiles – 00:08
Sorry, forgot you don’t want to hear any of this BH crap. I’ll leave you alone to get some sleep. sorry if I woke you up. Stupid time zones.
To Stiles – 00:09
I don’t mind. I just don’t know what to say to it. Is Isaac ok?
From Stiles – 00:10
Cora can probably fill you in better on that than I can, go ask her!
To Stiles – 00:11
She’s out right now.
From Stiles – 00:12
Isn’t it like midnight there?
To Stiles – 00:12
Not my job to give her a curfew.
From Stiles – 00:13
You really aren’t a very good adult role model.
To Stiles – 00:14
Not trying to be one. never have been.
From Stiles – 00:21
Did you seriously go out for food on thanksgiving?
To Stiles – 00:22
From Stiles – 00:22
What did you eat?
To Stiles – 00:24
You must be bored...
From Stiles – 00:24
To Stiles – 00:25
Are you really that interested in what I ate?
From Stiles – 00:26
Sure. Humor me.
To Stiles – 00:28
From Stiles – 00:29
See that wasn’t so hard :)
To Stiles – 00:32
Can you sleep easy now in the knowledge I spent my day eating pho?
From Stiles – 00:33
Sure. sleep tight captain culture. xx.
Derek smiles at that, dropping his phone on the bed beside him. It takes him a long time to fall asleep, probably because he’s dwelling on what the two kisses on Stiles’ text might mean.
A few days after Thanksgiving, another letter arrives and he holes up in his room to read it.
Derek screws the letter into a tight ball and launches it across the room. He knows he’s overreacting, and badly, that he’s got absolutely no right to be jealous over Stiles having a crush on someone. Just because he’s been entertaining the idea that he might like Stiles as something more doesn’t mean that Stiles feels the same way about him.
He doesn’t get any sleep that night, his mind going into overdrive as he tries to work out who it is Stiles likes. He has a sinking feeling that it’s that Danny kid.
He doesn’t write back and when Stiles texts him a couple of days later, he deletes the messages and doesn’t reply.
“Read this,” Cora tells him, slapping a letter down over the page of his book. Derek pushes it aside the instant he sees Stiles’ chicken scratch writing. “Seriously Derek. Read it.”
Derek glances at the letter she’s shaking in his face; it’s addressed to Cora, but seems to contain a lot of bitching about him. Or presumably him; try as he might, Derek can’t think of anyone else Stiles would be referring to as ‘that huge douchebag you live with’.
“What did you say to him?”
“So why is he so mad at you?”
“How should I know,” Derek replies tersely. “He’s your friend, you can ask him.”
“Fine. Fine, maybe I will,” Cora snaps, heading for her bedroom and returning with her cell clutched tight in her hand. “I’m calling him right now.”
“It’s not even 8am there.”
Before Derek can even think to stop her, she’s dialling Stiles’ number. Derek scrambles off the couch and tries to snatch it from her, but she quickly evades him. He feels an aching twinge in his chest when Stiles answers, a yawning, sleepy hello, and he forces himself not to listen. He doesn’t want to hear what Stiles might have to say about him.
“Hey, I just got – yes, I know what time it is there,” Cora says, rolling her eyes at Derek. “Look, I got your letter and you’re right, he is a dickbag. Here, talk to him about it,” She thrusts her cell out towards Derek and he can’t help but hear Stiles’ grumbling on the other end of the line, telling Cora, in no uncertain terms, that he doesn’t want to talk to Derek, that Derek’s a ‘dickbag’ and a ‘tool’.
“Stiles,” Derek says quietly when he finally raises the phone to his ear.
“Put your sister back on. I don’t want to talk to you.”
“In a minute,” Derek continues, quickly walking away from Cora and slamming his bedroom door before she can follow.
“I’m hanging up now.”
“Why didn’t you reply to my messages?”
“I –” Derek starts, sitting down on his bed and pinching the bridge of his nose. He has no idea how to tell Stiles why he hasn’t been responding to his text messages.
“Are you pissed because I was asking for advice?” Stiles asks, his petulant tone clear down the line. “Because Jesus Christ dude, I thought we were friends. Thought I could ask you stuff like that. Clearly I was wrong.”
“About asking me for advice?”
“About us being friends.”
Before Derek can say anything else, Stiles has ended the call. Derek sighs to himself and flops backwards across his bed, draping his free arm over his face. He hears Cora come in, feels her take her cell back from him without a word before padding back out of the room. As he listens, he hears her climb out onto the fire escape, hears her speaking quietly to someone. He deliberately doesn’t listen in to what she’s saying. He knows that she’ll be calling Stiles back, having inevitably eavesdropped on his brief conversation. After a few minutes of feeling sorry for himself, he sits upright and heads out into the lounge, grabbing Cora’s yellow notepad and taking it back into his room, wondering if he can adequately explain himself to Stiles in a letter.
He’s sitting in some grungy little coffee house with Anton when he a text from Stiles a couple of days later.
From Stiles – 16:31
God, you’re a fucking idiot. You know that right?
From Stiles – 16:32
I mean srsly. You had some pissy little tantrum ‘cause I was asking your for advice about what to do about liking someone? Did you really not realize who I was talking about???
To Stiles – 16:33
You’re talking to me now then?
From Stiles – 16:34
Looks that way.
From Stiles – 16:35
You didn’t answer. Did you honestly not realize who I was talking about???
To Stiles – 16:40
That Danny kid, right? The one you play lacrosse with?
From Stiles – 16:43
Danny?! Srsly?!! Danny?! Oh my god, you’re an even bigger idiot than I thought. Jesus fucking Christ!
From Stiles – 16:44
To Stiles – 16:47
From Stiles – 16:48
Freaking idiot. It’s you. Who I like. Did you not get that?
To Stiles – 16:50
I guess not.
From Stiles – 16:51
Like I said. Freaking idiot :)) x
Derek puts his cell down on the table, suddenly aware that he’s been ignoring Anton for nearly half an hour; he’s also painfully aware that there’s probably a very smug grin playing across his face right now.
Coffee ends up leading to dinner and hitting the bar, something Derek has generally been avoiding since getting hit on repeatedly the last time he went out. Tonight, however, he’s feeling happier than he has in a long time and it’s past one in the morning by the time he gets home. As he finishes up the hotdog he impulsively bought on the way home, his phone chimes.
From Stiles – 01:25
So I hope I didn’t freak you out at all earlier? Your letter kind of freaked me out if it’s any consolation. (sorry if this wakes you up but its normal o clock here, so deal with it!) x
To Stiles – 01:26
I’m awake. & no, you didn’t freak me out.
From Stiles – 01:26
Thank fuck. Still can’t believe you thought I liked danny!! god you’re stupid!
To Stiles – 01:28
So I keep hearing. And I didn’t just think it was Danny. I had a few other ideas of who it might be.
From Stiles – 01:29
Yeah? Like who? x
To Stiles – 01:30
Had this horrible feeling it might have been Cora. (you’re not her type, by the way)
From Stiles – 01:31
Hilarious. Remind me again why I like you?
To Stiles – 01:34
Goodnight Stiles. x
From Stiles – 01:36
“I want to go back,” Cora sighs one morning, leaning over the back of the couch and tearing off a chunk of Derek’s bagel. “To see everyone.”
“So go back,” Derek replies through a yawn, swatting ineffectually at her hand as she goes for another piece of bagel. “I’m not stopping you.”
“You should come too.”
Derek shrugs as he watches her cram heavy text books into her messenger bag; it’s only been two weeks since she started college, but she clearly loves it. Derek’s ridiculously proud of her, even if he doesn’t ever say that to her face. Apparently she knows; presumably because Stiles can’t keep anything Derek tells him to himself.
“Just think about it?” Cora says with a sigh, swinging her bag over her head. “It can be my belated birthday and Christmas presents.”
“I got you presents,” Derek frowns; Cora’s birthday was two months ago, a week after his own. “And we went out for Thai food like you wanted to.”
Cora shrugs, her back to him as she heads for the door. “Yeah, but going back to visit everyone is way more fun than Thai food.” She pause for moment, her hand on the door knob, “And don’t even pretend you don’t want to see Stiles.”
He shrugs in what he hopes is a nonchalant kind of way, chewing the last of his bagel contemplatively as Cora disappears out into the frosty, early morning.
By eleven that morning, he’s booked plane tickets for them both, two weeks from now. He decides not to tell Stiles he’s coming back, wants to surprise him instead.
Derek gets out of the car once Cora is halfway across the parking lot. He didn’t want to, but the air inside tastes stale and smells like countless other people and he hates it. From where he’s leaning on hood, he has a good view of the lacrosse bleachers, can see the excited reaction Cora gets when the group she’s walking towards recognise her. He can see Stiles sitting at the back of the group, only a tiny distance away from everyone, but enough to suggest he’s not entirely happy sitting there with them.
He watches as Isaac bounds down the bleachers to hug Cora first, and even from this distance, can see the aggrieved look on Allison’s face at that. Stiles isn’t far behind him, throwing his arms around Cora’s shoulders and hugging her tightly. He doesn’t have to strain his hearing to catch Stiles asking her where he is, if he’s back in Beacon Hills too. He watches Cora, watches her bad acting skills as she feigns not knowing for a minute before jerking her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the parking lot. Derek watches Stiles as he tugs playfully on her hair and gives her a quick peck on the cheek before finally looking up and over at him.
Derek has forgotten how fast Stiles can move when the mood strikes him, and the speed at which Stiles covers the field and parking lot takes him by surprise. Before he’s even sure what’s happening, Stiles is in front of him, flinging his arms around his neck and hugging him so tightly that it almost hurts. Derek doesn’t even have to think about how to respond, just slides his hands up Stiles’ back, grabbing fistfuls of his hoodie and pulling him closer as he drops his head onto his shoulder and breaths in Stiles’ familiar, comforting scent.
He’s so busy focusing on the sound of Stiles’ heartbeat, on his racing pulse, that he doesn’t even realise the others, Scott and his pack, have disappeared until he finally looks up sometime later. It’s starting to grow dark, which surprises him a little, although he’s not sure why; it had already been late afternoon when he and Cora had got to the school.
“I missed you,” Stiles smiles shyly as he pulls away slightly, his hands moving from the back of Derek’s neck to his shoulders. Derek nods in response, pulling Stiles close and hugging him again, less desperate this time, more of a friendly hug.
When they eventually break apart again, Derek toys with the keys in his pocket, glancing towards the car and shrugging. Stiles seems to take the hint and moves away from him and around to the passenger side door, watching him across the roof, an unreadable expression on his face.
“I feel like I need to say something to you,” Stiles murmurs as they pull out of the parking lot. Derek tenses, watching his own knuckles whiten on the steering wheel as he grips it a little too tightly, anxiously waiting to hear what Stiles has to say.
“This is possibly the ugliest car I’ve seen you driving to date,” Stiles grins, raising an eyebrow at Derek when he notices the way he’s gripping the wheel. “A Honda Accord Derek? Really?”
“It’s a rental,” Derek huffs, loosening his hold on the wheel and glancing over at Stiles.
“Yeah, I gathered that,” Stiles replies, twisting around in his seat until he’s looking directly at Derek. “What did you do? Ask for the ugliest car on the lot? Is it meant to be ironic? Have you completely morphed into a Brooklyn hipster now?”
Derek rolls his eyes half heartedly, relaxing back into his seat as he lets Stiles’ inane chatter and musings about how he’s ‘turned into a total hipster wannabe’ wash over him. He’d be quite content to just drive around all night listening to Stiles talk until he remembers that they’re supposed to be going ‘somewhere’.
“Where do you want to go?” He asks Stiles suddenly, cutting him off mid-sentence.
“I kept telling him – uh, what? I don’t know. This was your idea. Your loft?”
Derek shakes his head hurriedly. It’s only been a few months, but he’s still not ready to go back to the loft, to think about everything that happened there. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be ready to go back now he’s been away from it.
“Um,” Stiles starts, glaring down at his kneecaps as he tugs his layers of hoodie and jacket more tightly around himself. “Uh, where are you guys staying?”
“Motel out on Pine Ridge.”
“You’ve got a separate room from Cora there, right?”
Derek nods, his hands tightening on the wheel again as he wonders if Stiles is actually suggesting what he thinks he might be suggesting.
“Can we go there?” Stiles asks at last, his gaze flicking up to meet Derek’s briefly before he looks away again. In the dim light from the streetlights, he thinks he can just see a blush spreading across Stiles’ cheeks. Derek nods again, short and terse; he doesn’t particularly want to take Stiles back to his motel, doesn’t want to think too much about what Stiles is apparently offering.
“You going to tell me what’s wrong now?” Stiles asks the minute they step through the door, leaning on it and watching Derek as he throws his keys onto the bedside table and shrugs off his jacket.
“Mm hmm. Sure,” Stiles nods, folding his arms across his chest and frowning at Derek. “Tell me.”
“Why did you want to come back here?”
“To your motel? Because my Dad is probably home by now and it might be weird to explain, you know.”
“Uh, you? In the house. God, you’re being really weird. Have I done something to piss you off?”
“No,” Derek sits down on the end of the bed and shoves his hand through his hair, listening to Stiles as he walks across to stand in front of him.
“Sure about that? You look pissed off. I’ll leave if that’s what you want.”
“I don’t want you to go,” Derek huffs, finally looking up at Stiles as he hitches his jeans up slightly and crouches down in front of him so they’re on the same eye level. “But I’m not going to have sex with you either.”
“Um, what?” Stiles asks, stumbling backwards in surprise. “Who the hell said anything about sex?”
Derek swallows uncomfortably, trying to look anywhere but at Stiles as it dawns on him that he might have badly misread the situation. When he finally chances a look at Stiles, the appalled look and the furious blush on his face confirm his suspicions.
“That’s not why I wanted to come back here,” Stiles mumbles, sitting back on his heels and scowling at the floor. “I wanted to talk to you is all.”
Derek watches in horror as Stiles pushes himself to his feet and turns quickly, heading for the door and fumbling with the lock.
“Wait,” Derek manages to get out before Stiles can open the door; getting up, he crosses to where Stiles is standing and tentatively rests his hand on his shoulder, feeling Stiles relax after a moment. “I thought – I just assumed –”
“You’re such a fucking idiot sometimes,” Stiles mutters as he turns around, nervously tugging his sleeves down over his hands. Derek nods in agreement as he slides his hand down Stiles’ bicep and reaches for his hand, surprised when Stiles’ pulls back and shakes his head.
“OK,” Derek murmurs, taking a small step back. He holds his hands up slightly, trying to placate Stiles. “OK.”
Stiles side steps him and heads for the straight backed chair tucked under the desk, pulling it out and turning it around. He toes off his sneakers and props his feet up on the bed, watching Derek as he moves back to where he was sitting. “OK, we can talk?” He finally asks as Derek reaches down to unlace his boots. “OK what?”
“We can talk,” Derek sighs.
“Um,” Stiles starts, staring down at his hands in his lap and fidgeting in the uncomfortable looking chair.
“It was easier when we were writing each other, wasn’t it,” Derek comments, closing his eyes as he leans back against the headboard. He feels the mattress shift as Stiles stands up and takes his feet off the bed, cracking one eye open to see what he’s doing.
“Here,” Stiles grins, proffering a notepad and pen he’d found on the small desk. “You can write shit down instead.”
“Don’t be stupid.”
“I’m not. Look, I’ll start,” Stiles replies, sitting back down in the chair, his tongue poking out slightly as he stares down at the pad in his hand. “Ah!” He grins at Derek before scribbling a quick line across the top of the paper and throwing both it and the pen to Derek.
Derek reads it and raises his eyebrow, opening his mouth to say something but getting rudely shushed by Stiles, who points down at the notepad he’s holding. Derek rolls his eyes and writes a quick reply, passing the notepad back to Stiles.
Derek looks up, feeling a blush creep across his cheeks as he watches Stiles, watches the way he’s nervously licking his lips as he stares down at the bedspread. When Stiles fails to meet his eyes, he moves his leg slightly, nudging Stiles’ right foot with his left; he nods when Stiles finally looks up at him and moves to the edge of the bed.
Stiles wastes no time in moving to where Derek is sitting, curling his hand around the back of his head, fingers twisting into Derek’s hair. They watch each other for what feels like a lifetime to Derek, and he nods again, wondering if Stiles somehow missed it the first time around, and then Stiles is leaning down and gently pressing his lips to Derek’s as he moves his other hand to his shoulder. Derek can’t stop the little whimpering noise that escapes his mouth, screwing his eyes up tight in embarrassment and hoping that Stiles didn’t hear him; as he moves his hands to Stiles’ hips, pushing up and under his hoodie and t-shirts, he feels Stiles smile into their kiss and decides that maybe he doesn’t care about stupid whimpering noises right now.
“So this is one of the more memorable Friday nights I’ve had in a long while,” Stiles murmurs sleepily, as he lazily traces circles on the palm of Derek’s hand with a fingertip. Derek makes a little noise of agreement before yawning hugely and rolling towards Stiles, resting his free hand on his hip. They’ve been lying on top of the covers of Derek’s motel bed for a good two hours now, mostly kissing unhurriedly, occasionally, in Stiles’ case, chattering away about school and Scott and the pack, or in Derek’s case, listening intently while trying not to stare in what has already been referred to as a “freakin’ creepy way”. It’s not his fault he wants to look at Stiles. He’s gone nearly five months without being able to look at Stiles and wants to make the most of it.
“What time’s your curfew?” Derek asks, cringing slightly as he says the word. Stiles groans loudly, turning his head until his face is smushed against the pillow.
“Eleven,” Stiles grumbles, his voice muffled by the pillow. “I, um, Scott might cover for me. You know, if –” He trails off, lifting his head off the pillow and peeking at Derek uncertainly.
Derek nods in understanding, using his grip on Stiles’ hip to pull him close again so he can kiss him; Stiles hums happily as Derek licks into his mouth, lacing their fingers together and shuffling closer until they’re lying flush against each other. It’s only when Stiles’ stomach rumbles loudly that Derek pulls away from him, raising an eyebrow as he takes in Stiles’ flushed cheeks and kiss swollen lips.
“Nothing,” Derek replies, shaking his head to ensure that he doesn’t blurt out something stupid about how gorgeous he thinks Stiles looks right now. “You want to go get some food?”
“Like a date?” Stiles asks in surprise.
“You want it to be a date?”
“Wouldn’t say no.”
They end up in a vaguely divey mom and pop diner not far from the motel. Stiles goes quiet while they wait for their food, unscrewing the cap of the salt shaker and pouring a small amount out onto the table. As Derek watches him, he starts to drag his fingertip through it, tracing the same pattern over and over again, a small frown creasing his forehead.
“What?” Derek asks finally, slapping his hand over Stiles’ to stop him drawing in the salt.
“You’ve gone all quiet.”
“And here was me thinking that was supposed to be a good thing,” Stiles replies with a half smile, looking up from the table top and meeting Derek’s eye.
“S’a bit weird,” Derek tells him, unable to stop the smile that spreads across his face when Stiles turns his hand over and tangles their fingers together again.
They don’t let go of each other, even when their food arrives. Stiles even eats the pickles off his burger for him.
Stiles insists on inspecting the contents of the vending machine outside the motel reception office, rocking it unsuccessfully when he notices a bag of cheetos hanging half out of their metal spiral.
Derek grabs him by the arm and drags him away, keen not to call attention to them. The last thing he wants is to have to start answering questions on why he has a teenage boy in his room.
To his surprise, Stiles pulls his arm back hard, and before Derek is able to react, he’s got his back up against the side of the vending machine and Stiles pressing up against him, hands sliding up and under his jacket and t-shirt as he kisses him. He goes with it but listens out for any approaching footsteps, ready to push Stiles away if he needs to.
“Hey Derek?” Stiles asks quietly as he pulls away.
“Do they not have gyms in Brooklyn?” He gives Derek’s stomach a squeeze and grins at him, evidently very amused with himself. Derek scowls at him, grabbing hold of his wrists and pulling them out from under his clothes. He’s quite happy to admit that his abs are somewhat less defined than they used to be, mostly because he doesn’t have the same urge to work out as much as he used to. At least that’s what he likes to tell himself, and anyone else who asks. It’s also partly because every time he starts working out like he used to, he can hear all the times Jennifer waxed lyrical about how great his body was and is subconsciously rebelling against that.
Stiles doesn’t seem bothered one way or another, and Derek sighs, letting go of his wrists. Stiles immediately works his hands back under his shirt, making happy little noises in his throat as he slides his cold fingertips over Derek’s warm skin. After a few minutes, he grabs hold of Stiles’ upper arms and starts carefully walking him backwards towards his room.
“Scott’s OK covering for you?” Derek asks as they return to his room, sliding the chain into place just in case Cora gets it into her head to try and break into his room later. Not that the flimsy brass chain will do much good against her in the long run but will at least give them some warning.
“Uh, yeah,” Stiles replies, fumbling his phone out of his jacket pocket. “He just doesn’t want to, and I quote, hear all the gory details tomorrow.”
“He seems to think I’ve come back here to have sex with you,” Stiles mutters. He pauses for a minute and looks up from his phone before continuing. “Popular theory tonight, huh?”
Derek scowls at him for a minute. “Is that what you want? Sex?” He hates the way his voice wobbles slightly at the word. There hasn’t been anyone since Jennifer, or Julia, or whoever she really was and he’s perfectly happy with that right now.
“Can I be honest?” Stiles asks, leaning back against the desk and toying with the phone cord.
“I definitely wouldn’t say no. At some point in the future, anyway. Maybe. If that’s, you know, something you want too. Right now though, I’m kind of not really sure what this –” he gestures from himself to Derek “– is and I kind of think sex would just make it too complicated and, uh, I’m guessing from the look on your face the idea of having sex isn’t really a place you’re in right now?”
Derek shakes his head as he crosses the room, coming to a halt in front of Stiles. He likes that Stiles gets it, without him having to try and explain anything to him, likes that they seem to be on the same page right now. He’s not entirely surprised when Stiles reaches for him, grabbing hold of the front of his jacket and using it to pull him closer. He goes with it, happy to be letting Stiles take control of the situation.
“This is OK though, right?”
“Thank God,” Stiles murmurs as he surges forward and kisses Derek, tightening his grip on his jacket. Derek at least manages to keep his embarrassing whimpering noises to himself this time as he slides his hand down Stiles’ forearm and untangles his fingers from where they’re still wrapped in the phone cord. Stiles hums happily, opening his legs wider so Derek can slot in between them; Derek uses the opportunity to slip his hands into the back pockets of Stiles’ jeans, squeezing his ass gently and enjoying the moan that escapes Stiles’ mouth.
“Sure you don’t mind?” Stiles asks from the other side of the bed, his hands stilling on the fly of his jeans, the red ones Derek has always liked on him, or at least a pair very similar.
“Asked you to stay, didn’t I?” Derek replies as he shucks off his own jeans and flops back down on the bed. He’s not sure why Stiles is suddenly acting weird about getting into bed with him, considering how much time they’ve already spent sprawled across the bed together.
“Yeah but, you know, it’s weird. You’ve got legs.”
“I –” Derek starts before falling silent at the absurdity of Stiles’ comment. He rolls over and bats Stiles’ hand away from his pants, flicking the fly open with open hand and tugs them down slightly. “There.”
“Yeah, not really what I was having an issue with,” Stiles grumbles, finally stepping out of his jeans and sliding under the comforter, all the while avoiding Derek’s gaze.
“What are you having an issue with then?” Derek asks quietly as Stiles doesn’t move closer, just lies rigidly on his back and stares up at the ceiling.
“Can you shut the light off?”
“Shut the light off and I might.”
Derek sighs dramatically, just to make sure Stiles realises he’s being ridiculous all of a sudden and rolls over, clicking off the bedside lamp and plunging the room into semi-darkness. The only light source is the flickering blue from the motel sign outside which creates weird shadows on the walls. He turns back onto his side, moving closer to Stiles and groping for his hand beneath the covers; thankfully Stiles lets him lace their fingers together although he can still feel the tension thrumming through him.
“I’m going to make this weird.”
“Make what weird?”
“This,” Stiles hisses, squeezing Derek’s hand for emphasis. “I don’t mean on purpose. I just know that I will.”
“Make it weird how?”
“Ugh. Why do you even need an explanation? Isn’t it obvious?” Stiles fidgets uncomfortably and twists away from Derek slightly.
“Why do I have to spell everything out for you? That’s just embarrassing.”
“Because I have no idea what you’re talking about?” Derek suggests.
“Look, I know I don’t want to, you know, have sex with you tonight,” Stiles mumbles; as Derek watches him, he covers his face with his hand, as thought trying to hide. “And I know you don’t want to have sex, but um, certain parts of my anatomy might have other ideas and that’ll just make everything awkward and weird and then you’ll tell me to leave and do you realise how much that would fucking suck? I’ve been hoping you’d come back to town for months and all this –” he squeezes Derek’s hand again, rubbing his thumb over the knuckle of Derek’s own, “– still doesn’t actually feel real, so I’m sorry if I’m kind of worried about ruining it by popping a boner at the wrong moment.”
“Popping a –” Derek starts, pinching the bridge of his nose as he tries to make sense of the rest of Stiles’ words before quickly giving up. “Why are you only bothered about that now?”
“Let’s just say my jeans were doing a good job of hiding, um, things.”
“Stiles,” Derek says softly, pulling on his hand. “Look at me.”
“Yes.” He pulls on Stiles’ hand again until he reluctantly rolls onto his side and hides his face against the pillow. “I don’t care. I’m not going to kick you out. Look at me.”
Stiles does as he’s told, worrying at his bottom lip with his teeth when he makes eye contact with Derek. He pulls his hand out of Derek’s grip and rubs roughly at his face, making a frustrated sighing noise as he does so. Derek props himself up on one elbow and reaches over, dragging the pad of his thumb along Stiles’ lip. To his surprise, Stiles opens his mouth slightly, sucking at it teasingly, and Derek would be lying if he said he didn’t feel his dick give a little twitch of interest at that.
He distracts himself by leaning down and kissing Stiles, sucking his bottom lip into his mouth and nipping at it, relishing the whimpering noise Stiles makes.
Derek wakes at some point during the night, he’s not sure when and doesn’t care to check, to find Stiles staring at him, his eyes an odd colour in the bluish light from outside.
“Mm hmm. Go back to sleep.”
“Not tired,” Stiles replies; Derek can hear the lie but doesn’t want to challenge it, smiling into the pillow when Stiles moves closer and drapes one arm across the small of his back before pressing a kiss just below his ear.
“I’m going back to sleep.”
“You do that,” Stiles murmurs, snuggling up against him and kissing his neck again.
Derek does that.
The next time he wakes, Stiles is fast asleep, with his thumb in his mouth. Derek watches him for a minute before getting out of bed and padding towards the bathroom. When he returns, Stiles is propped up on his elbow, rubbing at his eyes sleepily.
“You ok?” He asks, inching closer to Derek as he slides back under the comforter and hooks one ankle over Stiles’ own.
Derek nods, extending his arm before Stiles can lie back down; Stiles seems to get the hint and moves closer again, curling into his side and resting his head on his chest. Derek finds himself carding his hand through Stiles’ hair without even realising he’d started doing it, wondering how he’s ever going to be able to sleep on his own again once he gets back to Brooklyn.
“Time is it?” Stiles asks through a yawn, his breath warm against Derek’s chest. Derek shrugs, groping for his cell on the bedside table and squinting at the bright screen.
Stiles yawns again, stretching out and nudging his head up against Derek’s hand. “I’m all wide awake now.”
Derek tugs lightly on his hair; Stiles obligingly tilts his head back, letting Derek lick into his mouth. He pulls Stiles hair again, surprised by the frankly pornographic moan he gets in response before hissing when Stiles nips at his lower lip.
“Is it weird not being an alpha anymore?” Stiles blurts out when they break apart for breath sometime later.
“Yeah, I heard, just wondering why you’re asking me that now,” Derek huffs, nudging up the sleeve of Stiles’ shirt slightly and pinching his upper arm.
“Ow, stop that. Your eyes made me think of it is all.”
Derek tenses, which must be obvious as he feels Stiles stiffen too and tries, and fails, to relax. He hears the little tutting noise Stiles makes, and loosens his grip on his shoulders as he rolls away, scrabbling around on the bedside table and flicking the light on.
“What are you doing now?” Derek sighs, squinting in the sudden brightness.
“You’re not going to talk to me about it, are you?” Stiles says, sitting up and crossing his legs as he scribbles on the notepad they’d been using earlier. “But I figured you talk to me this way –” he waves the pad around for emphasis “ – so, yeah.”
Derek sits up, rearranging the pillows and leaning back against the headboard. He reaches out and runs his finger tips down Stiles’ back, tracing slowly over the bumps of his spine, smiling when Sties shivers and tries to shrug him off.
“I can read what you’re writing you know,” He murmurs when Stiles shuffles back and leans against him. Stiles shrugs and drops the notepad onto his stomach, prodding at him with the pen until he reluctantly takes it from him and starts to write down a response to what Stiles has written.
Derek takes the notepad away from him, kissing him softly as he drops it down by the side of the bed. Stiles hums happily against his lips, tangling one hand into Derek’s hair and tugging lightly on it as their kiss becomes more urgent and hungry.
When he wakes again, it’s nearly 8am and his heart sinks when he realizes he’s alone in the room. He stretches his hand out, running it over the sheets where Stiles had been lying just a few hours earlier. He thinks he can just about feel the warmth on the sheets and shamelessly rolls over, burying his face in the pillow and breathing in Stiles’ familiar scent. As he slides his arms underneath it to hug it closer, his wrist brushes against what feels like several sheets of paper.
He lifts the pillow and finds the notes they’d been writing, smiling at Stiles’ scruffy writing as he reads through them again. When he reaches the bottom of the small stack, he finds an extra note, one with just Stiles’ writing on it.
Derek spends the next two days with Stiles, even if it means having to hang out with Scott’s pack. He doesn’t trust the twins one bit, doesn’t like the way they, or Danny, talk to Stiles and corners one of them, he doesn’t know which one, to tell them as such. He doubts it will make any difference in the long run, but it was worth it for the small, private smile that Stiles gives him when he realizes what he’s done.
None of them ask him why he’s there, or say anything about the fact that he spends most of the weekend clutching Stiles’ hand tightly.
Stiles is in school the day he and Cora are due to fly back; for a few minutes Derek contemplates booking himself onto a later flight and gets as far as taking Cora’s laptop to look up ticket prices. When he finds out it will cost him the best part of five hundred dollars, he gives up on the idea, resigning himself to having to say goodbye to Stiles over the phone.
He’s not entirely happy with the idea, but figures it’s better than nothing. Only, when he does call Stiles, his cell is turned off. And it stays off all day.
In the end, he does the only thing he can think of, breaks into Stiles’ room and leaves a note on his bed saying goodbye.
It’s not really how he wanted to end his trip.
His phone beeps loudly several times when he finally turns it on as they walk through JFK towards the subway.
From Stiles – 21:40
Shit shit shit. My cell got confiscated – only just seen your messages :((
From Stiles – 21:40
You still in town or have you left for the airport already? (btw, its 3:05 right now)
From Stiles – 21:40
just found your note. Can’t believe I missed you :(((
From Stiles – 21:40
I fucking miss you so much already :(
From Stiles – 21:41
Least I got *something* to remind me it happened....
Derek frowns as he opens the picture message Stiles has sent him, a frown that quickly turns to a smile when he realises the picture is of the cluster of hickeys he’d sucked onto the thin skin below Stiles’ collarbone the night before, when he’d shoved Stiles up against the door of his motel room, enjoying the way his pulse had started racing.
“Could you maybe look where you’re going?” Cora sighs when he bumps her at top of the stairs.
“No, you weren’t looking where you were going. Maybe if you paid attention instead of gawping at your cell like an idiot, it wouldn’t be a problem.”
Much to Derek’s annoyance, she’s snatched his cell out of his hand before he even has a chance to argue, wrinkling her nose in distaste when she sees the picture he was looking at.
“Really Derek? Why not just write ‘property of Derek’ across his chest?”
“Shut up. Give that back.”
She rolls her eyes and tuts disapprovingly, but hands his phone back anyway, glancing at him as they make their way onto the platform. “You looked happy, you know. When you were with him.”
“I like him,” Derek shrugs, shoving his cell into his pocket before sitting down on one of the benches to wait for the train.
Stiles doesn’t reply to any of the texts he sends that night. Or the next morning. He wonders if he’s had his cell confiscated again, figures that he’ll reply at some point later in the day.
He doesn’t reply to any messages the day after that either, at which point Derek really starts to worry. After much nagging, Cora texts him, and gets a reply within minutes, telling her that he’s busy studying.
Derek impulsively storms out of the apartment, intending to go to the bar down the street and blow off some steam but instead, finds himself walking all the way to Prospect Park and sitting there for several hours, even though it’s barely even forty five degrees out.
“Maybe he’s just a bit weirded out,” Cora suggests when he finally goes home, leafing ideally through her textbooks and not looking up at him. “You’re kind of intense, you know.”
“He could still answer my messages,” Derek grumbles as he starts to tidy up the mess she’s left all over the coffee table. Cora ignores him and continues highlighting sentences in her book.
When he comes home from the store two days later, the apartment is empty. He pads into the kitchen and spots the message “gone out w Robin” spelled out with alphabet magnets on the fridge. He impetuously pushes them out of place; the alphabet magnets annoy him and every time he goes to get something from the fridge he gets a little more annoyed by them.
Finding nothing of interest in the refrigerator, he sighs to himself and heads for his bedroom, dialling Stiles out of habit as he goes. He’s not surprised when he doesn’t answer and wishes he’d at least let him know what it is he’s done wrong.
He frowns when he spots the off-white envelope sitting in the middle of his unmade bed; he recognises the writing on it immediately and is in two minds about whether or not to open the damn thing.
He doesn’t regret it when he finally caves in and tears it open.
Grabbing his cell from where he dropped it amongst the blankets, he sends a quick text to Stiles.
To Stiles – 16:43
got your letter. Will you answer if I call you now? x
He doesn't wait for a reply, just punches in Stiles number and listens to his own heart pounding in his chest as he waits for Stiles to pick up.