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We're Burning One Hell of a Something

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Derek’s roommate has already moved in by the time he shows up.  And he’s taken up both sides of the room.  Some quickfire, lanky, pacing thing that spares half a glance when the door opens, not enough to catalogue so much as a single feature of the dude moving in with him and then he’s talking.

Derek kind of doubts he’s ever going to stop.

“Okay, yes, I know I’ve metaphorically planted my flag on, like, both sides of the room and the desk and the mini fridge and that spot of carpet because I flip-flopped.  I’m a flip-flopper.  Like, that bed’s closer to the window and gets good light but that bed’s next to the mini fridge, right?  And if I come in drunk, I tend to veer left but when I get up in the morning, I don’t open my eyes and this side of the room has fewer obstacles and this was a thousand times more intense a choice than I thought originally when I willy-nilly dropped my bag on that bed.”  He points to said bed.

Derek raises one caterpillar-like, dark, bushy eyebrow and says, “Do you want to get high?”

His roommate’s name is Stiles.  He has ADHD.  He hasn’t gotten high in three years but he manages not to cough on his first inhale.  He really never stops talking.  He has pornographic hands.  Derek tells him so and his whole face turns ballet shoe pink.  He stutters out a confused, “T-thanks,” and Derek can tell he’s one of those guys who didn’t get any in high school and now has no idea how hot he is.

They go to a party before classes start that this girl who was, like, perfectly put together invited Derek to during the campus tour.  Her name’s Lydia and he hopes he never runs into her again.  She’d looked like she might bite his dick off.

Stiles drinks but doesn’t get drunk.  Gets hit on a lot.  It only takes watching it happen twice for Derek to realize he doesn’t want Stiles not coming back to their room that night.  Or any night.  He walks up to him in the middle of the third performance of ‘Stiles’ awkward serial killer smile and his too-enthusiastic laugh,’ doesn’t bother to learn the girl’s name, turns his back to her and looks straight into Stiles’ face.  “Wanna get out of here?” 

Stiles nods rapidly.

He’s not uninterested, clearly.  He just needs time to recalibrate.  He’s been living under the delusion that he was homely for the past four years and he still half-believes this is all some big wind up.

“That was—” Stiles starts, looking shaky, closing the door to their dorm room behind him.

Derek shakes his bag of contraband in front of Stiles’ too-innocent face and says, “Smoke?” 

Stiles’ expression collapses into something beyond gratitude and Derek smirks.  They sit on Derek’s bed.  (Stiles finally picked the right.)  The window’s open, fan on, but Stiles still sometimes gets paranoid.  Derek has a solution for the way he’s gauging every line of smoke.  He shrugs, says nonchalantly, “We can shotgun if you want?”

Stiles’ eyes widen and he looks a bit pink again.  “I don’t know what that means,” he admits, voice small, ducking his head some after he inhales.

He’s fucking precious and Derek has no idea what to do with him.  Wants to kiss the tip of his nose, his moles.  Learn the curve at the small of his back, the arch of his spine.  Bracket his hips, feel those large, capable hands on his waist, his chest, his balls.  He’s never been so irrepressibly turned on by someone before.  It makes his voice hoarse and low when he murmurs, “Lemme show you.”

Stiles’ eyes are big and Bambi-ish and Derek wants to wreck him.

“I’m gonna take the smoke first.  You breathe in when I breathe out,” he tells him.

Stiles looks like he’s in class, trying hard to retain everything—already partially baked—because he knows he’s going to be quizzed on it later.  He nods gamely.

Derek takes a heavy hit off the joint, already hard, and leans over, the wall cold against his shoulder.  He turns and digs his thumb into Stiles’ jaw until he hesitantly opens his mouth and Derek breathes out.  Stiles’ eyelashes are long and they look soft and Derek wants to brush his fingerpads over them.  His skin is smooth and he’s warm and they share air for a half-second, Stiles already looking blissed out, before Derek seals their mouths together. 

He’d barely held out for thirty seconds. 

Stiles makes an ‘mmph’ sound and the smoke gets caught between them and Derek can tell he wants to cough but he manfully resists.  He feeds Stiles his tongue and Stiles scrabbles at his shoulders and then he’s moving Stiles away from the wall, pushing him down onto the bed, getting his hand in Stiles’ pants.

He comes before Derek even gets the zipper all the way down.  He blushes red rather than pink and says, “Sorry, I—I haven’t—This is all—”

“I don’t care,” Derek says and gets himself off against Stiles’ hip and Stiles holds him tight, forearms piled one over the other on his back, while Derek shakes through it. 

They clean themselves with whomever’s shirt is on the floor next to the leg of Derek’s bed and Derek kisses Stiles’ cheek and Stiles sits up and squints.  He clears his throat.  “So… boyfriends?”  He only sounds slightly nervous. 

Derek nods, picks up the roach where it’s burned a hole into his sheet and singed his mattress.  He relights it and agrees, “Boyfriends.”

Stiles says something about ‘shitting where he eats’ but Derek isn’t listening.  He’s counting the moles on his back.  It’s hot in their room and there’s sweat beading on the down slope of his torso and Derek can just barely make out the nubs of his spine when he’s laying like this.  It’s getting him ready to go again even though he just came against Stiles’ stomach.  (And licked it off.)

Which has Derek thinking about the skinny trail of hair under his navel again.

“You are fucking beautiful,” Derek tells him.  He means it.  Stiles moves like he’s all skin and bones, flailing and gangly, but he’s muscle and grace and capable.  And fucking beautiful.

Stiles grins, hides his face in the crook of his elbow, cheeks pink.

Derek loves that look on him.  He sucks a mark into the small of his back.  Stiles tastes like salt and clean skin and Derek pulls the sheet down off his waist and kisses each new strip of skin revealed.  Stiles squirms and buries his face in his pillow and lets out throaty little moans and exhalations of, “Derek,” that sound worshipful.

Derek makes sure he earns every one of them.

By the time they have their floor meeting the week after classes start, he and Stiles have already fucked a half dozen times.  They show up twenty minutes late, linger after.  There’s only one other guy who does the same, idly flicking through the channels on the communal TV.

Stiles sits next to The Guy on the couch and Derek takes the armchair closest to him.  They’re finishing up the last of the free food.  Oatmeal raisin cookies that are crumbly and dry and cardboard-flavored Teddy Grahams (that are misleadingly labeled ‘Cinnamon’).  The Guy looks over, smiles lazily.  “Hey, I’m Scott.”

He looks vaguely Spanish, has white teeth and a big grin, floppy dark hair.  He kind of reminds Derek of a dumb puppy.  Stiles smiles back.  He seems kind of starved for people and he’s clearly already decided this one’s a keeper.  “I’m Stiles,” he jerks a thumb over his shoulder, “that’s my roommate Derek.”

Derek gives him a salute with his first two fingers and then goes back to staring at the TV.  He’s not good at people.  Stiles is an exception and that’s simply because Derek’s never wanted anyone as much as he did Stiles.

Stiles shares a glance with Derek and Derek tips his head and he knows he’s just agreed to having Scott in their room basically whenever they are, provided they’re not having sex. 

He gives Scott another once over, makes sure he didn’t just do something he’s going to regret.  He catches Stiles in the assessment and he figures, yeah, he could definitely do worse.

He and Stiles still smoke on Derek’s bed but Scott takes Stiles’ and they have the deep and meaningful conversations only three very stoned college boys can.

He and Stiles discuss pushing their beds together but they don’t want the RA to notice, in case she ever actually does those checks she keeps promising.  They end up sleeping in Stiles’ and studying/smoking in Derek’s.  It works.  Scott asks, pushing books out of his way as he settles on Derek’s bed so he can pass the bowl between them easier, “You clear this shit off every night?”

Stiles shakes his head, grins.

With Scott comes Isaac.  Isaac, who looks terrified by everything.  He went to college out of state, doesn’t know anyone and is intensely shy.  Scott had zeroed in on him effortlessly and immediately taken him under his wing.  Isaac’s never smoked before and he coughs almost every time.  Derek’s not his sister Laura, so he doesn’t give him shit about it.  (Though the temptation’s there.)

He’s got curly hair and he looks easily breakable and Derek weirdly wants to take care of him.

They sort of take over the common area since Scott pretty much lives in it.  Derek half-wonders if he even goes to classes.  It’s a couch and two chairs that are impressively uncomfortable and a big box TV that’s pixel-y but it’s theirs.  They watch Teen Mom and Below Deck and House Hunters International and Say Yes to the Dress because Stiles has ADHD and having multiple stories helps him stay invested.  (Still no one really pays attention.)  That’s how they meet Erica.

Erica, who sits in the armchair opposite Derek in baggy sweats.  Her frizzy hair is tied up, face kind of greasy, and she bites her lip so she won’t smile at any of Scott or Stiles’ antics.  Like she doesn’t want them to think she’s eavesdropping.  But they’re in the same room.  Feet away from each other.  That’s kind of all the giveaway they need.

Scott asks her, voice in super slo-mo because they’ve just smoked, “So, uh, do you do anything… recreational?”  He laughs at nothing.  Stiles rolls his eyes.  Derek ignores them as best he can.

She perks both brows, head bobbing forward, hair like a wavy wall behind her.  “Like?” she says judgmentally.  Derek thinks it might be a cover, trying to seem cooler than she is by pretending not to care, to be above it.  But they’re not those guys.  Those guys who mention something just to rub in someone’s face that they’ve never heard of it or experienced it.

“Pot,” Scott says matter-of-factly.  “You smoke it?”

She shakes her head and she no longer looks like she’s trying to out-mean them. Likely because she’s realized what you can’t help but realize about Scott – he’s a puppy.  The friendliest one.

Scott grins, slow-mo with that too.  “You want to?”

The answer is yes.  And that’s how they get Erica.

Boyd comes along with Erica.  She meets him in her Intro Bio class and he’s nineteen and has braces and smoking pot at college is how he plans to get back at his parents for that epically horrible timing.  He’s built like a house and he looks at Erica like he doesn’t see the baggy clothes, acne or frizzy hair.

Derek thinks it’s almost how he looks at Stiles.  He knows all of them—except maybe Scott, because he’s baked out of his head as often as he can get away with it—find Stiles obnoxious at some point or another.

Derek doesn’t.  He’s still the most beautiful thing Derek’s ever seen and he looks at Derek like he thinks the same thing.  He’s perfect and Derek knows he isn’t but there’s not one thing about him he would change.


Same difference.

They go to classes more often than not and none of them are bad students. Scott uses a recorder on his computer so he can listen to the lecture multiple times.  Isaac is a diligent note-taker, his handwriting cramped but legible and neat in its own way.  Erica likes to read in a quiet corner of the library and Boyd likes to hang out with Erica and knows how to be quiet probably better than any of them so Boyd reads too.  Stiles finds some way to make the neurons all fire together in his brain by relating it to random information he’s learned years ago.  (Derek doesn’t get it.  He doesn’t think anyone but Stiles can.)  Derek makes note cards before each exam and Stiles quizzes him.

They do all right.  Though Stiles does vow to make a more stoner-friendly schedule next semester.  He decrees it, ‘no more 8ams’ and then writes it on their whiteboard because he’s read The Secret and he’s sending out positive energy or whatever.

Derek can get behind that.  He hates waking up in bed without Stiles, not being able to bring him to consciousness with his mouth and hands and cock and make him smile that fucking gorgeous smile that says he’s never been so happy to open his eyes.

At the beginning of their second semester, Derek starts looking at apartments close to campus.  They’ll have to get parking passes, which will practically bankrupt the lot of them but even a small place could work as they’re all on top of each other anyway.  Scott’s practically moved in and Isaac’s imprinted on him like a baby duckling so, wherever Scott is, there’s a good chance Isaac’s there too.  Erica lives on the same floor and spends more time in their room than her own.

(Her roommate’s freakishly religious and only seems to sleep about three hours a night.  Otherwise she’s awake and peppy and smiling at her. She does crafts. There’s glitter. Erica thinks she might be possessed by something truly evil.)

Boyd spends pretty much all his time with Erica and lives in dorms that are on the other side of campus where basically none of the freshman buildings are.  They speculate about the two of them when they’re not around.  Stiles and Derek think they’re screwing, Isaac thinks they’re in love and Scott thinks they’re just friends.  No one asks.  Boyd and Erica will tell them what they need to know.

Derek floats the idea the next time they’re all smoking together.  He thinks they should get a three bedroom and, hopefully, split six ways and not too close to campus, it won’t be an impossible expense.

Boyd works at the movie theater, Stiles got a job on campus in the cafeteria that he doesn’t mind too much, Scott’s on scholarship, Isaac’s dad is paying for everything with him, Erica and Derek’s parents are supporting the two of them.  Scott might be stuck but he promises to find out, see what he can swing, Isaac knows his dad would be happy he made friends so he’s in, Erica and Derek can both say with quite a bit of certainty that their parents will pay for it.  Boyd says it’ll depend on the rent and Stiles echoes him.

No one says it’s a ridiculous plan, Stiles doesn’t say it’s too soon, Boyd doesn’t say they don’t really know each other that well.  In fact, there’s nothing but grins around the room.

It becomes something they talk about more than anything else.  A good future to hide in when their present is so hectic and mid-terms are making them all nuts.  Stiles and Boyd get crazily fastidious about saving money and won’t even splurge for fast food and Scott’s made up some bull for the Admissions Office about needing to live off campus.  (Derek thinks he heard something about a developmentally disabled nephew—he doesn’t want to know.  Really.) And Isaac and Erica had called their parents that night in case they had to work on them for a while.

Derek waits until the end of the week.  Asks his mom.  That’s a five-minute conversation and an easy one.  Stiles takes another two hours and Derek isn’t sure he’s grinned that much talking to his family since he was a kid.  Everyone’s happy for him, even Laura, and Derek promises to text her a picture of Stiles as soon as they’re off the phone.

He keeps to it.  Sends a photo he snapped with the shit camera on his phone a few mornings ago.  Stiles is asleep in it, hair mussed, back naked and dotted with moles, mouth open, he looks warm and safe and Derek wants to ravish him through the screen. 

Laura responds immediately with two words, an emoticon and an attachment:

No fair :(

The picture attached is of her first college boyfriend.  And Derek remembers him being nerdy but he definitely never saw this picture of him. (Because he never would have let Laura live it down if he had.) He’s wearing suspenders with dinosaur bones on them unironically and white and black Oxfords. Derek snorts before he can catch it and Stiles wanders over curiously at the sound, already smiling because Derek is.

Derek shows him the photo.  Stiles doesn’t stop laughing for a long time.

Derek texts her another picture of Stiles’ arm slung around his shoulder, the both of them grinning, and captions it with the word:


It means a lot of things and he thinks she knows every one of them.

Derek finds a place and Scott’s mom agrees to let him move out of the dorms if he gets a job.  Five days later he’s the newest employee at the local head shop.  No one’s surprised.  The rent’s beyond reasonable split six ways and Stiles and Boyd happily give their ‘okay’s.  Isaac and Erica have both gotten confirmation that their parents support the move. 

They all go look together and it’s spacious and only slightly ragtag – but the way a college student’s first apartment should be, in that ‘rite of passage’ kind of way – and they start planning out their furniture situation.  Scott and Isaac are going to share a room.  It comes with a mattress and bed frame and they agree to go looking for a futon for Scott.  It’ll be a tight fit but it’s workable.  Boyd and Erica shrug simultaneously, say they’re going to get something bigger than a twin and leave it at that.

Derek and Stiles share a look.  He doesn’t give a shit about their bed so long as Stiles always wants to be in it.

Everybody gets through their first year of college with acceptable or even good grades.  They go to a party to celebrate.  Stiles gets hit on, Derek gets annoyed and wants a toke so they only end up spending a little over two hours with other, normal college kids.  They smoke back in Stiles and Derek’s dorm room and bid their own ritualistic and heartfelt goodbyes to the room that was home for all of them at one point or another.

(A month or so later, Derek totally gets billed for the singe-mark.  He looks over at a snuffling Stiles who is asleep on his arm and decides it’s the least of what he would pay.)

None of them leave for more than two weeks at a time during the summer break, coming back early to go thrift shopping for furniture.  Stiles is one of the ones who goes for two weeks.  Derek’s never missed anyone so much.

They have enthusiastic, loud sex on the bed Derek bought for them when he gets back.  No one else is there so they have sex quite a few other places too.  Including the shower that they and Boyd and Erica will share, which is deceptively roomy.

They do a practice run to see how long it will take them to walk to campus and they agree to get two parking passes, just in case they’re ever running late.  Most of them, sans Isaac and Erica, have cars but they can carpool if necessary.

The apartment actually comes together.  Isaac is a pretty good decorator given his forty dollar budget (which everyone has chipped in for) and they get all the necessities—couch that folds out, dressers, coffee table, badass TV, Star Wars Edition X-Box.  Stiles doesn’t have a class before 11am this semester and Derek gets to wake up with him every morning.

Which means that every morning, when he wakes up, it’s with a huge grin.

He meets Stiles’ dad over Skype by accident.  He’s a sheriff and he looks a lot like Stiles and he takes one look at them, Derek leaning over Stiles’ shoulder to say hello, and Derek can tell he just knows.  The cadence of his questions changes, as does the content of them, and Stiles is getting increasingly more uncomfortable, like he’s afraid his dad is going to run Derek off.

Which is just stupid.  Derek’s already decided he’s not looking anymore, or hopefully ever again.

He stares into the sheriff’s eyes and says, “I’ll take really good care of your son.”  He holds his gaze before adding, “And Stiles has made great friends here, the lifelong kind, and they’ll make sure I do because they intend to do the same.”

The sheriff sighs, doesn’t quite smile but no longer looks angry, and his gaze shifts to Stiles.  He says genuinely, “That’s really good to hear.”

Stiles makes love to Derek afterwards.  Takes his time, maps his body with the hands Derek was so enamored by—the first thing he noticed that made him want—and when he fucks Derek, he does it like he means it.

Derek thinks he’s not the only one who’s decided he’s done looking.

Erica has a seizure around them for the first time at the new apartment.  None of them panic because they all know what to do.  They’d gone to a class together one town over as soon as Erica told them what the pills were for.  Stiles and Boyd had arranged it over a weekend and they’d stayed over in a single motel room and gone to the craptastic town gem mine the next day and laughed like idiots.  Erica’d been embarrassed and they threw the creepy, faceless CPR doll heads at her until she laughed and started throwing them back.

When it’s over, her face is red and she looks like she might cry and Boyd hugs her and Stiles asks if she always looks like she’s mid-exorcism during those things.  Erica grins, worn around the edges, and leans most of her weight against Boyd and the anxiety drains out of her that easy.

Life goes on and they’re all a little closer for it.

It’s rarer when they can all sync up their schedules to get together and smoke.  Every single one of them has a job now.  Derek works as a lifeguard at the school, Erica in a Wiccan bookstore and Isaac at an ice cream parlor where he has to dress like he’s the fourth member of a barbershop quartet.  He gets a lot of shit for that but he doesn’t simply take it anymore, now he bites back and no one but Scott had any idea how funny he was for a long time.

Boyd’s sitting on one of the armchairs, Erica half in his lap/half on the arm, Derek and Stiles have the couch, Isaac’s on the floor and leaning his head back against it next to Stiles’ knee rather than squeezing on it with them.  Scott’s in the armchair across from Erica, one thigh up on an arm and his back leaning against the other.  None of it matches.  All of it’s comfortable.

Scott loudly, and in slo-mo, laments the fact that none of them have gone grocery shopping in weeks.

Which sucks, because now they have the money but not the time or inclination.

When Derek remembers the Little Debbie brownies he hid in the oven no one ever uses.  Scott will eat and has eaten everything and Derek’s been saving them for exactly this occasion.

He grins. It spreads across his face slowly.  “I have brownies,” he proclaims, like it’s awe-worthy.  From the looks on everyone’s faces, it is.

Stiles glances over at him, his nose wrinkling like it does when he’s high.  It gets perpetually itchy for some reason.  Sure enough, he swipes at it with the knuckle of his sleeve-covered thumb and smiles.  “I knew there was a reason I kept you around.”

Derek gives him a grotesquely fond look and catches his mouth in a slow kiss, reminds him there are a few other reasons they’re always in each other’s space, and then he’s off to the kitchen and his hiding place.  The brownies are still there, shoved into the back of the oven and in a pack of six.

He’s opening them on the coffee table when Scott says, voice dragging, “Whoa.”

Derek looks up to find everyone’s staring at them.  Erica and Boyd have both straightened up, wide-eyed, Isaac’s turned to look at them open-mouthed and Scott’s stiffened into an upright position and doesn’t look like he means to blink ever again.

Derek blinks at Stiles.  Stiles blinks at Derek.  Derek shrugs, says, “Um.  What?”

What?” Erica repeats, voice odd and high-pitched.

Stiles and Derek blink at each other some more, look down at themselves, at Derek’s hands opening the brownie package.  They’re going to share them.  There are six for a reason.  They know that, right?  They have to.  They all always share everything.  That can’t be it.  “What?”

Everyone starts at the same time but they all end up in the same place: “Since when have—Since when did—How long have—When did you guys start—What’s with the kissing?”

Derek blinks, hard.

Stiles’ voice is somewhat strangled.  “What, really?”

Scott finally blinks back.  “What-what really?”

Derek shares another look with Stiles, says, “We’ve been dating.”

What?” Isaac gets out.

“And you didn’t tell us?” Erica demands and it’s slightly hurt and wholly incredulous.

Derek can’t believe this.

Stiles bursts out, “We share a bedroom—we kind of didn’t think we had to!  We thought you all knew.”

Boyd shrugs.  “We thought you guys were both just, like, really chill best buds, that you’d rather have a big bed you shared than two small ones.” 

Scott sits up further.  “Wait.  Wait, wait, wait, how long have you guys been together?”

Derek sits back against the couch, appetite gone.  He rubs at his eyes, says, “Since before we met any of you.  Close to… two years.”  He glances at Stiles.  “Since three days after we met?”  It’s odd that that’s all it’s been; it feels like they’ve known each other forever. 

He looks to Stiles for confirmation and Stiles nods tightly. 

Scott wags a finger between the two of them.  “You mean this whole time, you two—” he smacks himself in the forehead with his palm, “All the books on Derek’s bed!  I mean, I figured you guys were sharing one twin but I thought you were just, you know, close and not really bothered by sharing.”

Derek’s throat feels tight but he makes himself ask, “You really had no idea we were—”  He can’t finish.

Erica pops her mouth but she no longer looks put out.  She shakes her head.  “No idea,” she reiterates.  Everyone seems to have finally settled with the information and they’re back to passing the bowl around and fighting over which brownie’s the biggest and Stiles snorts and calls them all idiots and mumbles about how, ‘even my dad knows, God,’ and Isaac pats Stiles’ knee and looks between them and says sincerely, “I’m really happy for you.”

But Derek feels like something inside him has shriveled and died.  He always thought his affection for Stiles was the most obvious thing about him.  That if there was anything someone was going to know about him, it was how perfectly Stiles fit him, and—if no one else knows—what if Stiles doesn’t know how deep this goes?  What if what Derek thought was understood between them somehow isn’t and Stiles has no idea how cemented this is for him?

Derek looks over at him rubbing at his nose again and feels his heart sink.

He’s never really dated anyone before.  Fooled around with a few people because he had the looks to go after whatever caught his eye, but never anything like what he has with Stiles. He’s never wanted to be with somebody.  To be in somebody or near somebody but not with them, through every part of every day no matter the situation. Because whatever it is, it’s better than being without them.  That’s all new and eye-opening and good.

The only examples he has are rom-coms and the relationships around him.

He’s done it all backwards though.  He has no idea what he’s supposed to do now that he and Stiles already live together.  He can’t show up at his door in nice clothes and ask him out.  He does the best he can though.  He gets flowers and a shirt that needs fancy, silver wolf cufflinks (Derek thinks Stiles will like them) and makes a reservation and he tries to be a normal person about this so Stiles will know how extraordinary the feelings are.

He knocks on their bedroom door and hears a crash.

He opens it himself, flowers behind his back, and finds Stiles has tripped over their rolling desk chair of doom while hopping around trying to pull his sneaker on.

He grins up at Derek but his expression goes confused when he notices how spiffed up he looks.  He rolls over and pops back up, shoe still not all the way on, and squints.  “You cheating on me?  If your other boyfriend demands this kind of effort everyday then I think you should ditch him and run away with me.”  His hands end up on Derek’s hips and he’s grinning again and he’s at a weird height because the heel of one of his shoes is balled up under his foot and he’s so stupidly perfect in that way that isn’t perfect but is.

Derek swallows, sweeps the flowers out from behind him and presents them to Stiles.  He’d picked out what he liked, what he thought Stiles would like—sprawling flowers, ones that looked like they had mouths or claws, bright red-orange monstrosities, big ones that took up so much space that they were all piled on top of each other.  It had made Derek think of their apartment and their friends in addition to just the two of them and even though the woman behind the counter had given him a judgmental look for the bonkers arrangement, Derek wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Which is mostly why it reminds him of Stiles.

Stiles looks down at the flowers and then up at him.  He frowns, presses his thumb into the arch of one of Derek’s eyebrows and follows it out to the end.  He has a thing about Derek’s eyebrows.  “You okay?” he asks softly.

Derek nods, swallows.  He feels like the flowers should be wilting right along with him.  “Do you not like it?”

Stiles smiles at him, lips curving easily, and he says, “I love it,” and Derek can tell he means it and he buoys a bit, “I just don’t understand the why behind it.”  He perks an eyebrow.  “The gym bag’s only full of laundry, I’m not incrementally packing so I can bolt in the night.” 

Derek grins, says, “Shut up,” and kisses him because, for some reason, Stiles thinks he’s good enough to.

Stiles pushes him back, grabs the flowers, skips out of the room and fishes an old Big Gulp plastic cup out of the trash to use as a vase—they’re college kids after all, they don’t have vases lying around—and sets them on the counter.  Then he comes back and lets Derek make love to him.

The nice shirt ends up under their bed, forgotten.  They don’t make their reservation either.

(Derek finds the wolf cufflinks on their dresser over a week later on top of a note from Stiles that just has a crude drawing of a werewolf on it. Derek shoves it in his underwear drawer with a snort.  The shirt stays missing.)

Boyd has dragged them to every horror movie that’s come out since they met. He’s even made them drive whole towns over when they’re not playing at the local movie theater. They seem to get progressively worse, Derek notices, but Boyd can get them in for free now – sans junk food, but they stock up at the gas station on the corner and then try not to crinkle too much when they walk in – so no one complains.  (Anymore.)

Within the first fifteen minutes, Derek reaches over, picks up Stiles’ hand and notches their fingers together.

It’s what he’s supposed to do, he’s sure of it.  Stiles doesn’t seem to think so though.

He frowns instantly, turns to look at him with a furrowed brow and whispers, “Is this your way of saying I’m hogging the popcorn?”  He weakly tugs his hand to show how he can’t get at the popcorn with both hands now—the way he prefers.

Derek grins, shakes his head, squeezes.

Five minutes later, Stiles whines quietly, “Your hands are sweaty, and now so are mine.  This is gross.  If you want to hold onto the tub, just say so.”  He plops it in Derek’s lap and goes back to judgmentally staring at the screen and scoffing about it quietly with Isaac.  (They both think Mars Attacks! is one of the best movies ever made though. So no one takes them seriously—themselves included.)

Derek feels failure curdle in his gut and he spends the rest of the movie staring at Stiles’ unencumbered hand.

The next time they can all smoke together, Stiles is coming around the couch when Derek catches him, pulls him down into his lap.  People do this. Erica and Boyd do this, sort of. Stiles glares around at all of them and says, “All right, who complained to Derek about us always getting the couch?”  No one owns up to it, holding up their hands to indicate their innocence and Stiles growls, “Damn straight,” and slips down off Derek’s lap and takes the cushion next to him.

This time he notices Derek’s disappointment.

He waits until everyone’s either at class or work or napping to corner Derek in the kitchen.  He doesn’t even have to ask, just frowns and says, voice bowed out with sincerity, “Derek, I know how you feel about me.  I don’t care if they’re all oblivious—what do you expect living with a bunch of stoners?  This is it for me and I know it’s it for you.  How could you think I would doubt that?”

He’s raw and blunt and Derek’s never felt like this about anyone before.  Believes with all his heart that he never will again.  And he knows Stiles feels the same.  His throat feels tight but he makes himself explain. “I didn’t think you would until no one knew and I—I panicked that you didn’t know either and you have to know, Stiles, this part of my future doesn’t change.  You’re, you know, a fixed point.”

Stiles looks at him, slightly bemused but wholly happy and his face is pink and that will never not be Derek’s favorite look on him.  “I know, idiot.  So stop trying to make us into something boring and normal and not us.”  He looks slightly exasperated, thumbs Derek’s nose and pouts.  “Can we go have sex now?  The apartment’s as good as empty and you still have pants on.”