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The only respectable thing about the name Stiles Stilinski is the dichotomy it inspires in those who hear it - it either makes you laugh or it makes you sick.

Derek’s beginning his fourth year at Berkeley on a baseball scholarship, majoring in biology. He has yet to see Stiles aside from the shattered glimpses of wild nights encased in the fog of a hangover. His name has circulated the campus for the past year, but Derek hasn’t seen him entering or exiting lecture halls. He hasn’t seen him at the coffee shop on the corner of the quad. He doesn’t see him around the building of professors’ offices, or at the library, or even at the free tutoring sessions offered by grad students for community service hours. It’s almost as if he doesn’t attend the school at all, only showing up to shotgun smoke at frat parties and dance shamelessly on tabletops to ear-splitting bubblegum pop. As far as Derek can tell, perhaps that is the truth. But, what does he know? He isn’t certain he could pick the guy out in a lineup, having heard more of him than he’s physically seen.

In all honesty, Derek isn’t sure he wants to meet Stiles. From the word of fellow Berkeley attendees, it’s either a blessing or a curse to be acquainted with him. Stiles is both ends of two extremes, offering no middle ground and taking no prisoners. He heard from his dormmate Jackson that the guy is a total train wreck. He put it like this: All you need to know about Stilinski are the three S’s: spastic, stoner, slut.

He overhears Erica Reyes, though, in his Intro to Microbiology lecture, telling her partner, “Everyone thinks Stilinski’s a total basket case. They all say he is this or he is that. Truth is, I’ve never met anyone like him. I can’t tell if that’s good or bad, but it definitely fucking counts for something.”

It’s confusing, creating an image of someone he doesn’t even know. He supposes it’s not fair, holding Stiles accountable for how others view him. Derek wonders what that says about himself.

 

 

Tonight, Jackson invited him to a house party being thrown by Alpha Delta Phi. Frat parties are where you go to get drunk, laid, or fought. Derek isn’t too invested in any of those options, but he caved just to make Jackson shut the fuck up so he could sleep.

That’s how he finds himself banished to the wall, standing a little awkwardly with a solo cup of god-knows-what swishing around in his hand. The music is so loud it leaves much to be desired, he overhears several people yelling at each other just to be heard. The overhead bulbs are dimmed but various party lights cast colorful beams throughout the first floor. It’s the physical embodiment of a headache, and Derek wants to cover his ears and die.

He takes a cautious sip of whatever he is holding, trying not to wince at the god-awful hybrid of what seems to be vodka and pineapple rum. Frat guys are nothing if not classy. He is on his third forced swig when someone comes to stand beside him. He wants to scowl in their face for having the audacity to infringe on his venture into becoming one with this suspiciously stained wall. His mental tirade freezes when he gets a look at the person beside him. He is attractive, decently tall, desirably lithe, with long lashes that shift shadows across his cheeks as the rays of color scatter over his face. He can’t be but nineteen or twenty, fresh off the cusp of jailbait. Derek looks further down, surveying his outfit. His top is tight, clinging to his shoulders, short enough to leave about two inches of visible ivory skin atop the waist of his pants. He has a hot pink feather boa wrapped loosely around his neck, circled around his elbows. There is a cheap plastic tiara nestled in his hair, refracting the party lights in a halo around his head. His jeans are black, clinging to every soft curve he has to offer. He looks eccentric, he looks good, and he is paying no attention at all to Derek.

The kid’s eyes are surveying the room like he is looking for someone. He is holding a can of some popular sparkling fruity alcohol with a straw, he nibbles at it absently. Derek rolls his eyes, what kind of pretentious asshole drinks alcohol with a straw at a frat party. His gaze continues traveling the room, tracking sideways until finally, he seems to notice Derek.

Derek’s never been hit in the stomach with a baseball bat, but this is probably the closest he will ever feel to it. He finds himself faced with doe eyes that he certainly did not expect from a guy exuding so much promiscuity. They shine like fucking stars and crackle like fire, reflecting the beams of color dancing sporadically across the room. His nose is turned up slightly at the end, leading to a plush mouth rubbed red from the plastic straw. The kid’s eyes change quickly, switching gears to glimmer lecherously rather than brim with wide-eyed boyishness. His lips tug up in a small smirk as he raises an eyebrow.

“Wouldn’t have pegged you for a wall surfer,” he says, words dragging out lazy and unbothered through his lips like they could be anywhere in the world right now instead of huddled along a dirty wall at a nauseating party.

“Wouldn’t have pegged you for a frat guy,” he snipes back, unsure of what to say.

The boy scoffs. “As if. I’m just here cause frat guys can’t get enough of me.” He offers Derek a filthy wink that shoots tingles down his spine.

“I can’t imagine that to be true,” he replies, trying to cover up the fact that his mouth feels dry and his face feels hot.

“Hm. I do suppose I make people imagine quite a lot of different things.” He shoots Derek a coy look, tongue darting out to tug his straw between his lips, taking a long sip.

He gestures to the tiara and boa combo. “What’s with the theatrics?”

“Oh, this old thing,” the boy tugs lightly on the boa with a sharp smile. “I’m queen of the night.”

Derek doesn’t know what to say to that. When he goes to parties or The Jungle, his hookups do the conversational heavy lifting for him. Usually, though, there isn’t much talking.

The kid must sense Derek’s dilemma, offering him some pity. “I’m surprised to see you sitting out, actually.”

Derek raises an eyebrow. “Really?”

The kid nods. “Yeah. There’s this sociologist, Erving Goffman, he says life is like a never-ending play in which people are actors.” He takes another sip from his straw. “Our socialization helps us learn how to play our assigned roles. The front stage is where you deliver your lines and perform, the back stage is where you retreat out of the public eye to be who you really are.”

Derek doesn’t really know what he is trying to say. “Is there a point to this, or do you just like spewing mindless bullshit to people you don’t know?”

The guy fixes him with a look. “What I’m saying is - you’re popular. You're a baseball player with a pretty good social standing drinking toilet water at a frat party.” He tilts his head to the cup Derek is holding loosely. “I am just saying that I figured you’d be on the front stage, not glued to the wall like you don’t belong here.”

Derek scoffs. “Oh yeah? And what about you?” He purposefully drags his eyes along the kid’s body, pointedly slowing down along the artificial feathers, stopping at the slip of skin peeking out from under his shirt. “What are you doing on the wall when your role seems to be far more…center stage.”

The boy rolls his eyes. “Your socialization makes you think that because I am wearing stereotypically feminine party garb and my shirt is revealing and my jeans are tight, I should be heating up a bed. They’re just clothes. I happen to have it on good authority that I look ravishing in them.”

Derek raises his eyebrows. “On good authority? I’m guessing I could ask any guy in here about you and they’d have stellar reviews?”

The kid takes another lazy sip. “You say that as if you can’t believe I’d make a lasting impression.”

“I find it hard to picture you lasting anything.”

“If you want to know how long I last, all you have to do is ask." The kid smirks. “Nicely.”

Derek scoffs again. The guy grins. “Or are you more…touch and see? I imagine you to be a very hands-on learner.” 

“So are you acting for the front stage right now or the back stage?”

“Wow, I’m impressed. You are an exceptionally quick learner.” He taps his chin, acting as though he is considering the question. “If you must know, I am acting for neither.”

“No?”

“No. I am actually directing. This whole conversation is heavily choreographed, and I have you right where I want you.”

“Is that so? I figured right where you want me would have been more private. With a bed and a door that locks.”

The kid laughs. “You see, that is where you are wrong. I don’t want to sleep with you.”

“I see. Hard to get? Thrill of the chase?”

The guy tilts his head, eyes dancing. “You have entirely too much confidence in yourself. You thought you were going to get lucky?”

Derek sighs, fighting off a grin of his own. “God, you are hard work. That outfit doesn’t indicate the half of it.”

“You thought I’d be easy?”

“Easier than this.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I prefer my interests hard.”

Derek groans and the guy just smiles, turning his eyes back to the crowd.

“You want to come with me outside?” His lips are still tugged up, he lifts a hand to mimic holding a joint. 

Derek nods and his grin seems to increase tenfold before he is tugging Derek through sweaty bodies and grinding hips and wandering hands until they reach the back door. Going outside feels like breaching the surface of water, trading out overwhelmingly muffled white noise for unwavering clarity. Derek feels like he can breathe.

The kid collapses unceremoniously down on the grass, curling his legs to sit criss-cross. He tilts his head back to look at Derek, gesturing slightly to signal that he should do the same. His eyes glitter under the moonlight and his smile has traveled to smaller territory. He is cute.

Derek narrows his eyes but ultimately sinks down to sit beside him. He beams and digs in his pocket, retrieving a slightly beaten up joint. He sets his can down, stretches one leg out, and shimmies his free hand into his opposite pocket, coming back with his fingers curled around a white lighter.

“Aren’t those supposed to be bad luck?” Derek waves a hand at the lighter.

The kid huffs a laugh. “Your luck can’t get much worse seeing as to how you are sitting here with me, so I figure if it is, then it must cancel out. You know, double negatives and whatnot.”  He shrugs a bony shoulder, tucking the joint into the corner of his mouth that isn’t staggered into a smile, cupping his hand around it while he flicks the lighter, lapping up the twisted end in flame.

He inhales, long and slow, and Derek hears the crackle of it and the hitch in his breath. He exhales, tendrils of smoke curling from his nostrils and out from the gap in his lips. It is much hotter than it really has any right to be.

He casts a sidelong glance to Derek, offering it to him.

“I don’t really smoke that much,” he admits, a little sheepishly. He doesn’t want to seem inexperienced. Even after all of their sexually charged banter.

The boy smiles, but it’s a little rough around the edges, wicked. “You could shotgun if you want.”

Derek swallows, and his eyes flicker involuntarily down to the guy’s mouth. He just nods.

The kid shakes his head, grinning. “You’re cute.”

He turns to angle his body toward Derek so they’re face to face instead of side by side. He takes a long drag from the joint, before propping it carefully on top of his drink and turning to Derek. He brings his hands up, one curling into the hair at Derek’s nape and the other cupping his chin, bringing his thumb to pull at Derek’s lower lip. His mouth drops open obediently and the kid leans in, opening his mouth and exhaling the smoke into Derek’s, their lips lightly brushing.

Derek inhales it, closing his eyes against the subtle sting. When he opens them the kid hasn’t moved, he is in the same spot, staring at Derek with those eyes. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?” He whispers teasingly, irises sparkling. His hand is still curled in Derek’s hair and his thumb is still resting below his lips. Fuck it. Derek fists a hand in the front of the kid’s shirt, tugging him the rest of the way, slotting their mouths together. He brings his other hand to cup his jaw, tilting his head for better access, the boa tickling at his fingers. He sucks the guy’s lower lip between his teeth, soothing it with a swipe of his tongue. He grins against him, nipping and sucking at Derek, sliding his tongue hot and wet into his mouth. He tastes like weed and cherry and a bit of whatever he was drinking. It’s lazy and a little sloppy, but neither of them seems to care. When they pull away, they’re both slightly struggling to regain their breath.

“Goddamn,” the kid breathes, eyes glazed.

His cheeks are flushed and his lips are glistening, he looks a little unreal and Derek feels like none of this is really happening. The blinding pink feathers contrast against his pale skin, making him look smoother and brighter. The tiara is skewed a little crooked. Derek feels like he isn’t outside on the grass with a beautiful stranger while Billboard’s Top 40 shakes the ground with muffled bass. Like he didn’t just have one of the best kisses he’s experienced in months. His head feels like it’s been submerged in lukewarm water.

“You really shouldn’t look at me like that,” the kid scolds softly.

“Why not?”

“I’ve got a bit of a reputation,” he shrugs. “No one wants to look at me like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like I’m worth a damn,” he says with a scathing grin. Derek shifts, a little uncomfortable.

He’s thinking of how to reply when the back door opens, spilling out obnoxious music and the smell of alcohol. A guy with curly hair and a huge smile steps out, eyes zeroing in on the boy beside him. His shoulders visibly slump with relief.

“Stiles! There you are, dude, I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Allison’s here to pick us up.”

What.

The kid beside him smiles that same unbothered smile, slowly standing up from the ground, retrieving his drink and snuffing the joint on the sole of his shoe. “That’s my cue,” he says, glancing at Derek and offering him a playful salute, joint tucked between his fingers while the rest hold tight to the lip of the can. He turns to go, but he hesitates and quickly swivels back to face Derek before leaning down, tugging his shirt to bring him forward, and planting another searing kiss on his lips. “I hope I see you around, Hale,” he chirps with a wink before disappearing with his friend behind the door.

All Derek can think is fuck.

 

 

 

Back in their dorm, he confides in Jackson.

“I think I made out with Stiles Stilinski tonight,” he confesses. Jackson scoffs, shooting him a bored look. “I wouldn’t say that too loudly, it’s not impressive to make out with the resident slut.”

Derek nods, but something about that irks him. Stiles didn’t seem like a slut. He thinks about his eyes, how they were wide and innocent and boyish before they morphed into something darker, sultrier. He thinks about what he said to him before he left. He seemed nice, a little odd, different. And smart. For the past three hours, Derek couldn’t stop thinking about him. His eyes, his lips, how he tasted. Every time he closes his eyes he sees the quivering flame of a lighter illuminating blazing copper. Smoke tendrils billowing out of pink lips. A tinkling laugh huffed out over a sly smile. It is equal parts intoxicating and infuriating. Who cares if he sleeps around or doesn’t? He is extremely attractive. If he appeals to guys and wants to sleep with them, well, Derek guesses that’s his prerogative. If liking sex made you a slut, hell, everyone Derek knew would be a fucking slut. It’s hypocritical and aggravating, but instead of saying as much to Jackson, he just stays quiet.

 

 

 

He sees Stiles all over campus after that. He sees him at the café, in the cafeteria, the hangar, on the sidewalk in between classes. A prime example of the Baader-Meinhof effect. He’s usually with the curly-headed boy from the party and a cute girl with deep dimples and soft eyes, always wearing different unconventional outfits.

He watches how they interact, how the other guy makes Stiles laugh with his whole body, all teeth and squinted eyes. Derek can’t stop staring when he sees him. He is always smiling, giggling, bumping shoulders with the other guy, playfully jabbing elbows. It’s so normal and boyish and cute. As far as he can tell, no one makes a big deal out of what he is wearing. Which he guesses is fine. Like Stiles said at the party, they’re just clothes. Derek thinks back to Jackson saying he fucked most of the baseball team. He thinks of how Jackson says Stiles is not good for anything but warming a bed. It makes his stomach twist up uncomfortably, makes him avert his eyes to avoid looking at Stiles for too long.

He notices how Stiles closes off around Jackson and some of the other players on the team, as well as a few guys who play basketball. His whole demeanor changes into something colder, crueler. All scowls and glares and biting words.

He can’t help but wonder who he really is.

 

 

 

He’s at baseball practice when a body in the bleachers distracts him. It’s Stiles. His hair is mussed up a little from the wind, and his eyes are bleary like he is tired. He’s wearing a faded graphic t-shirt with a few rips in the collar and light jeans that sport a hole in one knee. He’s got scuffed up high tops disappear under the cuff of his pant legs. He looks good. Different from the party and from what Derek’s seen him in around campus, but still a little breathtaking.

They’re taking a break, a couple of the guys roughing up with each other, others gulping water, the rest sitting down and catching their breath. He sees the moment Jackson catches sight of Stiles, watches his smirk stretch out while he recaps his water bottle before walking toward the bleachers.

“What’s up, Triple S? Scoping out your options?”

Stiles gives him a bored look, picking at his nails. “You offering, Jackson?”

He scoffs. “You wish. I’m probably the only one on the team who hasn’t been balls-deep in you, Stilinski.”

“I know, it’s really ruining my credibility. I was hoping I could come here and convince you. Perhaps beg a bit, if you’d prefer.” He drawls it out, tone disinterested, like Jackson isn’t calling him a slut in front of a whole team of people. It makes Derek’s chest feel like something heavy is compressing it.

“I’d rather fucking die,” Jackson sneers.

Stiles shrugs with a solemn sigh. “It was worth a shot, I suppose.”

They don’t say anything else, a few guys on the team are laughing quietly at them, but otherwise no one offers any further commentary. Derek casts a quick glance at Stiles, only to see him already staring back. Derek gulps and looks away guiltily. The coach calls out the end of the break and Derek stands, looking over one last time. Stiles still hasn’t looked away, but his eyes blaze like they know everything about Derek there is to know. It’s a little alarming, and it shoots a shock through his body. He just ducks his head and picks up his glove.

 

 

 

He goes to the next party Jackson invites him to, hoping to catch a glimpse of Stiles.

He does.

Derek’s leaning on the wall again, trying to disguise how he is blatantly scouring the crowd for someone when he finally spots him. He’s in the mass of dancing bodies, swaying beside the curly-headed guy. He isn’t grinding or doing anything provocative, he’s…doing the macarena? The other guy is egging him on, laughing and pushing at him. Stiles is grinning back, moving his eyebrows suggestively when he gets to the end of the dance, raising his arms and swirling his hips before taking a half step in the other direction to start again.

It’s so fucking weird and Derek is a little shell shocked at how endearing he finds it. He feels himself smiling and immediately looks away, clearing his throat and taking a sip of his drink. He lets his eyes wander over the rim of his cup, training them back on Stiles. He’s wearing a bright red spaghetti-strap with clinging black jeans. He stands tall in a pair of sparkling heels that look like they’re from a party store but somehow just fit with everything else. He never looks ridiculous or too much, everything he wears always has this aura of Stiles about it. He genuinely looks really fucking good. Sinfully attractive. It makes Derek swallow. Hard.

He watches him clap the other guy on the shoulder, leaning in to say something before making his way to the kitchen. Derek pushes himself off the wall and makes a path through the bodies to follow him. When he gets there, Stiles is at the cooler, reaching down and retrieving a bottle of water. Derek watches with rapt attention at how his Adam’s apple bobs with each gulp, the jump in the tendon. He pushes down whatever he was about to think before he moves to stand beside him.

“Hey,” he says lamely.

Stiles shoots him a sidelong glance and raises his eyebrows. “Hey, if it isn’t the best shotgun recipient on this side of the Mississippi.”

Stiles gives him a goofy smile and Derek’s overwhelmed with the startling thought that he wants to know everything about him.

“I’m insulted you didn’t say nation.”

Stiles shrugs. “I’m sure there is someone in Florida who is better than you.”

Derek feels his lips quirk, conceding, “That’s fair.”

“Damn right it is.”

He takes a few more gulps of water before twisting the cap back on and setting it on the counter. Derek struggles with finding something else to say, all he can think of is Stiles’ tongue in his mouth and the taste of smoke on his breath.

Stiles raises an eyebrow like he knows exactly what Derek is thinking about. He rubs his neck. “I was wondering if you’d want to go outside with me?”

Stiles smirks and clutches at his heart mockingly. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were trying to get me alone with you.”

He rolls his eyes and fights a blush. “Maybe I’m just tired of trying to hear you over Rihanna.”

Stiles gasps. “Rihanna is a national treasure.”

“Well right now she is a pain in my ass.”

“Did Derek Hale just make a joke? I never thought I’d see the day.”

“I make jokes.”

“I’m sure you do, bud.”

“Don’t call me bud.”

“Sure thing, bucko.”

Derek sighs. “Do you want to go outside or not?”

Stiles pauses, as though he is considering it. “I suppose I could go outside for a minute.”

Which is how they find themselves side by side on the grass again, the same position as the last party, except Stiles is lying on his back with his heels strewn about next to him.

“Some girl with a glowstick crown offered me some molly,” he says offhandedly and Derek just stares at him, quiet.

Stiles rolls his head to face him, peering up at him from the ground. “I told her I didn’t need it. I’m pretty good at producing ecstasy on my own.” He winks slow and teasing at Derek. He swallows, suddenly feeling hot all over.

“So, what are we out here for, Mr. Hale?”

Derek fights the urge to blush at being called out. “I wanted to be somewhere quiet with you.”

He still hears the music blaring from the house, even if it’s muffled. Stiles cracks a smile. “Yeah, I must say, it is almost dead silent out here.”

Derek huffs. “You don’t have to be an asshole.”

Stiles lays a gentle hand on his leg, curling it below his knee. “Hey, I wasn’t trying to be mean. It’s sweet.”

He notices for the first time an odd geometric tattoo on the front of Stiles’ shoulder. He is overcome with the urge to lick it. Derek’s ears feel warm.

Stiles reaches in his pocket, resurfacing with a joint. “I rolled this one with mango paper, so maybe you will like the taste better.”

Derek clenches his fists and then unclenches them, trying to fight off his nerves. “We don’t have to smoke. I mean, unless you want to.”

Stiles casts him a curious look, Derek feels bare. Embarrassed. Finally, he just smiles. “Sure, of course. Sorry. I wasn’t trying to pressure you or anything. I thought you brought me out here so you could smoke.”

Derek looks at him, surprised. “I didn’t even smoke last time. Why would I do that?”

Stiles shrugs. “I can’t think of anything else you’d want me out here for. Well, maybe one thing, but that’s not usually done outdoors.”

“Oh. No, I just—” Derek isn’t sure what to say. Now he feels like an asshole, like he is using Stiles. He feels a little ashamed. “I just didn’t know if you’d want to kiss again or something.”

Stiles studies him with that same smile. “Or something?”

Derek ducks his head. “Yeah.”

“You are so cute,” he declares again, like last time, and Derek wonders idly if it’s a bad thing. If Stiles is trying to tell him he is weird.

He sits up, though, his shirt bunched a little so Derek can see the start of his happy trail below his belly button. Derek swallows as Stiles shifts to face him, bringing his hands up to cradle his jaw, sliding his fingers through the hair above his ears. He releases a small breath before tilting forward and kissing Derek. It’s gentle and nice. He doesn’t push his tongue, just sucking on Derek’s bottom lip, tilting his head so their noses aren’t pressed together. Derek sinks in, bringing one hand to rest on the juncture between his shoulder and neck, curling the other at his nape like Stiles did last time. He runs his tongue along the seam of Stiles’ lips, pushing through when Stiles grins against him. It’s a little terrifying how much Derek likes it. This is only the second time they’ve kissed, but it’s different from anything else Derek’s ever had. There is no impending promise of sex or anything more, they’re just kissing. And it feels good. He doesn’t even know Stiles. But, he’s beginning to think he’d like to.

Stiles pulls back and drags his thumb across his bottom lip. Slowly. Derek watches how it rolls under the pressure, turning red under his touch. How is that so fucking hot.

“How was that?” He asks cheekily like he can see right through Derek.

“It was good.”

Stiles laughs and lies back down on the ground, closing his eyes. He looks almost angelic, bathed in moonlight, rosy-cheeked, grinning with swollen lips. “I’m glad you think so.”

Derek looks down at him and his heart sort of seizes a little. He looks young. It’s a little jarring to think that people like Jackson call him Triple S and treat him like he‘s worth nothing. It’s not right.

“Hey,” he starts, not sure how to broach the topic.

Stiles squints one eye open at him. “Hi.”

“I just wanted to say that, you know,” he gestures a vague hand, looking for the words. “Jackson doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Stiles’ grin turns sour, he looks away, eyes trained on the sky. “Doesn’t he?”

Derek shakes his head. “No.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“I don’t know. It’s just - I’ve seen you around. And you aren’t - you don’t seem like that.”

“Ah, yes, making out with virtual strangers at parties really goes against the grain of my reputation. I am thrilled that you see the real me.”

Derek bristles a little at Stiles’ mocking tone. “I didn’t mean it like that. I wasn’t trying to act like I know you - I just see you sometimes. With your friends. And when I do, what the other people say just doesn’t fit.”

Stiles turns his head to him again. “Have you heard of Plato’s cave allegory?”

Derek shakes his head. “No, I don’t think so.”

Stiles gestures an all-encompassing hand. “He uses it to explain the unreliability of human perception. The knowledge that you gain through your senses is synonymous with opinion.”

He drops his arm by his side and looks to Derek as if asking permission to continue. Derek just nods his head.

“There are these prisoners, and the only thing they’ve ever seen is their own shadows on the cave wall as well as the passing shadows of other people or animals. They take turns guessing what the shadows are, and they all praise the guy who gets it right.”

He pauses, seeming to think of how to explain it. “Well, one day, a prisoner escapes. He sees the outside world, what it really is, and realizes that his view of reality was tainted and inaccurate. So, he goes back to tell the other prisoners what he saw, and they get angry with him. They don’t believe him, they threaten to kill him when he offers to set them free.”

“Why would they be angry with him for telling them the truth? Wasn’t he just trying to help them?”

Stiles looks over at him with a slight tug of his lips, and shrugs one shoulder. “He challenged their comfortable view of reality. The cave is the only thing they’ve ever known, so they trust in the perceived entity of shadows. They’ve never experienced what the other guy saw, so it’s hard to believe in something when you have never seen it for yourself. Which makes perception subjective and unreliable.”

Derek nods, not really sure how that factors into anything. “So, what does that have to do with me and you?”

Stiles turns his head away, looking at the stars. “What I’m saying is - the people here, the people like Jackson, they’ve only ever seen the shadows. You can’t be angry with them for not seeing things as you see them just because you think you’ve discovered reality. In actuality, everything we see is a shadow of the real thing.”

Derek blinks, feeling completely out of his element and unsure of how to respond. So they just sit there. He isn’t sure how much time goes by. They just sit in silence until Stiles’ phone buzzes and Like a Virgin blares around them. He lifts his hips off the ground to reach in his back pocket. Derek turns away, mouth a little dry while that image ingrains itself in his brain. He answers.

“What’s up, Scotty?”

Stiles chews his lip, nodding his head absently at whatever Scotty is saying. He checks his nails, then scratches at his neck, then wiggles his leg like he can’t sit still.

“Yeah, cool. Alright. Yeah, I’m coming. Alright, dude. Yep, I’m on my way. Yes, Scott, for Christ’s sake I’m hanging up.”

He gives Derek an apologetic look, picking his shoes up by the heels. “Sorry to cut our frat party rendezvous short, but my chariot awaits.”

Derek stands, feeling a little awkward. “Do you want me to…walk you out?”

Stiles smiles and pats him on the shoulder. “Literally so sweet. No, it’s okay. Thank you for offering, though.”

Derek nods and follows him into the house. He watches Stiles hesitate. He turns around and heads into the kitchen. Derek watches him grab his water bottle off of the counter and throw it away before making a beeline to the door. Huh.

 

 

 

Derek begins to think seriously about what the name Stiles Stilinski stirs in him. He can see how others categorize him in extremes. He is extremely alluring, extremely sarcastic, and extremely fucking intelligent. He makes Derek feel like he’s grasping at straws to keep up whenever they speak. Derek’s never had the highest grade point average, he’s only landed honor roll a handful of times, and his vocabulary isn’t nearly as collegiate as it could be. Stiles makes him want to get better. Makes him want to know random things about Plato and sociology so he can apply them to the world like Stiles does. It makes him want to have applicable theories on hand to explain situations and understand problems.

This is how he finds himself in the library browsing the nonfiction section. He picks up The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life as well as The Social Construction of Reality. He’s flipping through the corner section of books detailing European history when he sees Stiles. He’s sitting at one of the many study tables with a thick textbook splayed out in front of him. He has a yellow highlighter dangling from his mouth, twirling a pen around in his fingers that he uses to vigorously scribble notes. He is wearing a t-shirt that says Ask Me About My Past Life with a red zip-up jacket hanging loosely off of his shoulders. It’s so weirdly normal, it almost doesn’t seem like Stiles. Derek wonders if he should go over and sit with him. He looks down at the books in his hands, feeling a little embarrassed. He glances back up, catching sight of Jackson and Theo walking over. Fuck.

Theo brings a hand up and squeezes Stiles’ cheeks between his fingers, causing his lips to pucker out. Stiles pushes his arm away and Theo just laughs. “It’s weird seeing you without a cock in your mouth, Stilinski.”

“It’s weird seeing you in a library, Theo. Are you lost?”

“You should probably stick to sleeping around, you aren’t very good at comedy.”

“I happen to think I’m hilarious.”

Theo sneers and brings a hand to close Stiles’ textbook. Stiles shoots him a disinterested look. “Really, Theo? I didn’t realize we were in middle school.”

“Watch it, Triple S, looks like you’ve got leftovers dribbling right here,” Jackson spits, bringing a thumb up to swipe at the corner of Stiles’ mouth.

“I’d do the same for you, Jackson, but I don’t think you’d appreciate me reaching into your pants.” He gestures to Jackson’s gym shorts.

“I’ll fucking kill you,” he hisses.

“Yes, I quiver in fear awaiting you in the dark.” Stiles rolls his eyes and opens his textbook, flipping back to his previous page.

Jackson scowls and Theo bumps shoulders with him. “Come on, man. Let’s go.”

Derek watches them leave and feels a little like there is a serpent curled around his chest, holding a vice grip on his heart. He is working up the courage to walk over when he sees Stiles release a shaky breath, rolling his shoulders back before closing his textbook with trembling hands. He packs up his stuff quickly, throwing one backpack strap over his shoulder. He grabs his phone off the table and heads toward the opposite exit.

Derek feels a little like he witnessed Stiles on the back stage.

 

 

 

Derek is the last one in the locker room, toweling off his hair while he packs his practice gear back into his duffel bag. He drapes the towel around his neck when he’s finished, hoisting the strap over his shoulder and shutting his locker. He flicks off the lights and opens the door, heart lurching in his chest when he sees Stiles leaning against the wall. He remains silent, waiting for Stiles to make the first move.

“What’s wrong, Hale? Cat got your tongue?”

He blinks and clears his throat. “What are you doing here?”

Stiles shoots him a wry look. “What kind of fool would I be to pass up watching nine sweaty men throw balls and swing phallic-shaped objects?”

It doesn’t sound genuine. Derek wonders why he tries so hard to play the part.

“Did you need something?”

He looks a little sheepish then, only for a moment, before he sports a shark smile and looks Derek in the eye. “I was wondering if you’d like to hang out with me?”

Derek gapes.

“I have all of the Star Wars movies. I didn’t know if maybe you’d want to watch a couple of them this weekend?”

Derek winces. He’s pretty sure he has plans with Boyd this weekend. They aren’t set in stone, but he knows he agreed to hang out.

“I, uh—” he says lamely. “I have plans this weekend.”

Stiles’ expression closes off. “Oh. Really?”

“Yeah, I, uh, I think I told Boyd I would hang out with him and Isaac.”

“You think?”

Derek nods and Stiles’ eyes crackle.

“You don’t have to lie, I can take a fucking hint. Good enough to make out with at parties and for nothing else. Trust me, you aren’t the first.” He laughs but it’s a mean, bitter thing. Derek doesn’t know how this went wrong so quickly.

“I—”

“You just wanted a turn with Triple S. Did I live up to your expectations?”

“Stiles,”

“Maybe at the next party we can fuck, so you can really get the full range of my worth.”

“Stiles, that’s not—”

“Or maybe I can suck your dick, you can fuck my mouth and tell everyone how I begged for it.”

Stiles.”

The other boy’s chest is heaving and his cheeks are flushed crimson.

“I have plans this weekend, but I’d still like to hang out with you. Maybe we could watch a movie or something one day after practice next week?”

Stiles blinks, apparently caught off guard. For some reason it makes Derek feel sad.

“Really?” He asks, tone filled with doubt.

Derek sighs. “Yeah, we can watch Star Wars or something.”

Stiles cracks a small smile. “Or something.”

“Yeah.”

Stiles keeps smiling and Derek feels weirdly like he just did something important.

 

 

 

He gets Stiles’ number off the curly-headed guy when he sees him one day on the sidewalk after practice. It’s like pulling teeth.

“What do you need it for?” He asks him, eyes narrowed with skepticism.

Derek shrugs. “We talked about hanging out next week, but I don’t have his dorm or phone number.”

The guy looks him up and down. “Stiles agreed to hang out with you?”

Derek bristles. “Yes. He said he owns Star Wars.”

The guy blinks and recognition floods his face. “Wait, are you Derek Hale?”

He nods. “The one and only.”

The guy smiles. “Oh, my bad. I’m Scott.” He reaches a hand out and Derek shakes it.

“Stiles is, like, my best friend in the world. Sorry if I came off too guard doggish, he doesn’t usually get along well with guys in jerseys.” He gestures to Derek’s top and he remembers he’s still in his baseball shirt.

He clears his throat. “Right.”

Scott reaches for his phone but looks back at Derek before unlocking it. “Stiles is a good person.”

Derek blinks. “Okay.”

“Probably the best person I know,” he continues. “It’s a privilege to know someone like him. So, I hope I don’t have to warn you against treating him otherwise.”

Derek blinks again. “We’re just watching Star Wars,” he says helplessly.

Scott tilts his head. “Does Stiles know that?”

“Know what?”

“That you just want to watch Star Wars.”

Derek gapes, a little exasperated. “He’s the one who invited me.”

Scott nods. “It’s just, there’s - there are certain implications that come with Stiles regarding that kind of thing.”

“What kind of thing?”

“Hanging out.”

It must be obvious that Derek isn’t connecting the dots, so Scott sighs. “Stiles’ idea of hanging out and others’ idea of hanging out with Stiles are two different things. I’m just saying that if you want him to think you’re different, tell him. Give him a reason to.”

With that, he slides his phone to Derek with Stiles’ contact open. Derek nods and copies it quickly, handing it back to Scott with a quiet thank you. He turns to leave and Scott calls out, “Just tell him.”

His phone feels like it’s on fire, burning through his back pocket.

 



When he gets to his dorm, he drafts and deletes several texts to Stiles. Unsure of what to say. Finally, he decides to just keep it simple.

Hey it’s Derek Hale

He sets his phone on his desk, expecting to wait for a response. His phone buzzes almost immediately.

Hey there, Derek Hale. How’d you get my number?

Scott

Oh. He didn’t tell me that.

Derek’s not sure how to reply. He huffs a laugh at how formal Stiles texts. It’s not surprising. 

Sorry

Don’t be. Is there something you needed to tell me?

What?

I didn’t mean to make that sound so ominous. I just meant is there a reason you needed my number?

Yea I just wanted to set a day and time for us to hang out 

He takes a second to think and sends another text.

I don’t know where you live 

Oh, sorry. I’m off on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and most weekends. I’m in the sophomore dorm, room 321.

Well, that explains why Derek’s never seen him around the senior residence hall. They aren’t even in the same year.

I have practice on Tues but I’m free Thurs also

I didn’t know you were a sophomore

Yeah. Sorry if that’s weird.

It’s not weird I just didn’t know

There’s a lot of things you don’t know about me (;

Derek swallows, thinking back to what Scott said.

I just want to hang out

What?

I’m not expecting anything

I just want to watch a movie

Oh. Okay. That’s fine.

Sorry

No, it’s no problem.

Alright

See you at your dorm Thursday?

See you Thursday.

Derek leaves it at that.  

 

 

 

On Thursday he feels disproportionately nervous about hanging out with Stiles. He’s only really interacted with him at parties, he doesn’t actually know Stiles as much as know of him. He finds himself a little sweaty by the time he comes to stand outside of room three-twenty-one, wiping his palms on the thighs of his jeans. He knocks twice and waits.

When Stiles answers, Derek’s got to say he is surprised. He is in sweatpants and a faded t-shirt with the Batman symbol on it. His hair is rustled and he has no shoes, feet clad in mismatched socks. He looks soft and comfortable. It’s completely opposite from every other way he’s ever seen him.

“Come in,” he says with a small smile, stepping aside to let Derek through the door.

“I’ve got the movie all queued up, I’m just going to get the popcorn out of the microwave,” he announces with a smile, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.

While Stiles is in rummaging around in the kitchenette, Derek surveys what he has on his side of the dorm. On his desk, there is a laptop covered in an array of different stickers - ranging from band names, popular brands, and various obscure quotes and characters that he doesn’t understand. There’s a framed drawing of a play-doh container with the words love is a serious mental disease scrawled under it that looks like it was doodled by a first-grader. Next to it is a stack of books; an Introduction to Ethics textbook as well as an Abnormal Psychology one. Beneath that is The Ego and the Id. By itself is Dante’s Inferno which has a small silver grinder sitting atop it.

There’s a desk lamp on the corner with a high school science fair medal hanging from it, engraved with the words District Winner. The red hoodie he wore in the library is hanging over the back of the chair. Derek looks down at the bed, stepping over to sit on the edge. The sheets are gray and the duvet is navy blue with thin white stripes. There’s a book on the nightstand next to a small digital clock. He reaches and grabs it, turning it over to read the title. The Iliad. Stiles’ place is marked with a crumpled piece of rolling paper. He’s still holding the book when Stiles re-emerges.

He holds it up. “Is this any good?”

Stiles holds his palm out and shakes it in a so-so gesture. “It’s fifty-fifty. On the one hand, it’s interesting to read as far as understanding mythological epics goes, but sometimes it’s hard to get through.”

“What makes it interesting?”

Stiles scratches at his neck. “Well, Homer challenges the masculine notion that war is glorious by showing both sides of it. As a reader, you’re forced to see that each side of the fight regards the other as the enemy; each side believes they are genuinely doing the right thing.” He waves around the bowl of popcorn, gesticulating to make his point. “It shows that war is tragic and gruesome rather than the glorious, wonderful thing it had previously been showcased as.”

“Wow,” Derek says dumbly.

Stiles shoots him a shark smile, raising his eyebrows playfully. “Also, Achilles was totally gay.” He winks and grabs for his remote. Derek’s mouth feels a little dry. He came to terms with his bisexuality in high school, and it’s obvious that Stiles isn’t straight if making out at parties is anything to go by. But the flirting still feels weirdly normal and intimate, it makes Derek’s skin itch.

“Sorry our TV is so small,” Stiles says, gesturing at it with the remote. “Scott and I work part-time and most of that is drained into this pesky thing called paying for college.”

“It’s fine.”

“Also, I know we are just watching Star Wars, but are you going to be weirded out if I sit next to you on the bed?”

Derek shakes his head. “No. It’s fine,” he repeats. 

Stiles beams and sinks onto the mattress beside him, setting the bowl of popcorn between their legs. He hits play and Derek realizes that they are watching the last movie in the prequel trilogy. He almost wants to roll his eyes. He shouldn’t have expected any different, Stiles is as weirdly unconventional as they come.

He quotes lines and boos characters and talks about how hot Anakin and Obi-Wan are. He goes on to say that if he had a lightsaber, it would be red, not as a testament to his Sith lordiness but because it’s his favorite color. He clutches a firm hand to his heart and speaks with mock pain along with the movie. “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.”

Every time Derek glances at him, he’s smiling. It makes his chest ache.

Darth Vader rises and Palpatine tells him he killed Padmé. The screen cuts to the credits and Stiles shoots him a sidelong glance. “Pretty good, huh.”

Derek rolls his eyes but grins. “Yeah.”

He scans the room for something to look at other than Stiles’ smile and his eyes land on a beat-up acoustic guitar he didn’t notice earlier.

“I didn’t know you play guitar.”

“That’s because I didn’t tell you.”

“Why not?”

“You didn’t ask.”

“Are you any good?”

“I’d like to think so.”

He rolls his head to look back at Stiles. “Would you play something for me?”

“I can’t divulge all of my secrets,” he laughs lightly. “Maybe another time."

Derek nods and gets to his feet. Stiles stands alongside him.

“Thank you for coming over to just watch a movie. I had fun.”

Derek clears his throat while Stiles walks him to the door. “Me too.”

He steps out into the hall and hesitates, turning back to Stiles. “Would you want to get dinner with me?”

Just dinner?” He asks, smiling, his irises twinkling dangerously.

Derek rolls his eyes. “We could go after practice on Monday, if that works for you.”

Stiles nods. “I get out of class around five on Mondays. Would you want me to meet you at the locker room?”

“Sure.”

“Alright.” With that, he leans forward and pecks Derek on the cheek. “Thank you for coming.” Derek feels his face flush and Stiles laughs again as he disappears behind the door.

 

 

 

He goes to another party on Saturday. Scott finds him almost immediately.

“Hey, dude! We need one more for beer pong, you in?”

He shrugs, nodding, and Scott gives him a mega-watt smile. He grabs him by the arm, leading him to the table.

“Thanks, man, you’re a lifesaver! You’re about to learn why they call me the Infamous Beer Pong Champion.”

They come to a stop and Stiles’ wry voice pops up from beside him. “Actually, that would be me. Scotty here is Second-in-Command to the Infamous Beer Pong Champion.”

He is wearing a thin white top, cropped just below his belly button. His jeans are a little looser than usual, ripped in both knees, he’s wearing the cherry high tops.

Scott frowns. “Hey, no fair, man! Did you seriously just demote me?”

Stiles shoots Scott a teasing grin. “Demote you? Scotty, I built you from the ground up. I endowed you with all of my knowledge on spectacular beer-pongery and you have the audacity to believe that I relegated—”

Scott smacks him on the chest, laughing. “God, Stiles, you are such an asshole.”

“Real recognize real,” Stiles quips. It’s odd seeing their easy camaraderie up close. It’s obvious they really care about each other. Derek feels ridiculously like a third wheel. As if he can hear his thoughts, Stiles’ eyes snap to him. “Hey there, Hale. You here for my title?”

Derek shrugs. “I hope you don’t fear learning you are beneath me.”

Stiles’ eyes light up, his grin sharpening. “Trust me, I’d have no problem being beneath you.”

Derek blushes and Scott groans. “Stiles, can you not flirt with him for like ten seconds.”

Stiles sighs. “Fine. But only for ten seconds.”

Stiles is frighteningly good at beer pong. He doesn’t think there is anything Stiles is bad at.  Derek has to concentrate harder than usual because Stiles sinks virtually every shot. He can see how Scott ranks second, missing every other toss with a good-natured giggle.

Each team is down to one cup, and it’s Stiles versus Derek. Derek misses Stiles’ cup, whereas Stiles easily lands his. Derek sighs at the defeat while the rest of his team groans, and lifts the cup, taking a long sip instead of chugging it.

Stiles comes to stand beside him. “Do you mind if I have a taste?” He points a finger to the cup and Derek gives him the go-ahead. Stiles grins and fists a hand in Derek’s shirt, tugging him forward and pressing his mouth hot into his. His tongue quickly swipes at Derek’s lips and he opens them involuntarily. A couple of the guys around them whoop obnoxiously and it’s over nearly as quickly as it started.

Stiles makes a face. “God, that beer is terrible.” He steps away and Derek feels breathless.

“Wanna taste mine, Stilinski?” Derek turns his head and watches as Theo comes to stand across from them. “I promise it’ll taste better,” he pouts, batting his eyes.

“I’d rather chug bleach,” Stiles says sweetly and Theo just smiles, all cocky and self-assured.

“There’s no need to be hostile.”

“You’d know if I were being hostile.”

Theo sidles up next to him, runs a suggestive hand along Stiles’ side. “Would I?”

Stiles pushes at his chest and huffs. “I promise,” he grits out. Theo steps up to him again and Derek cuts him off. “That’s enough.”

Theo tuts. “You ruin all the fun.”

Stiles shoots him a glare and Derek reiterates, “Leave him alone.”

“Sorry, Derek, I didn’t realize Triple S was warming your dick tonight. I was under the impression he’d beg for two, though, if you’d want to share.”

Derek shoves at him, gearing up for a fight. He hates that he knows these people, hates that Stiles has to know them. He remembers hearing the rumors, laughing with Jackson about someone he didn’t even know. He remembers meeting Stiles, the casually defeated slump in his shoulders when he told Derek that no one gave a damn about him. It makes something white hot bubble up around his sternum. “His name is Stiles. Get the fuck out of here before I beat the shit out of you.”

“Derek, stop it, what are you doing,” Stiles hisses in his ear, but Derek ignores him.

Theo laughs and shoves back at his chest. “Woah, Hale, you wouldn’t want to start something you can’t finish.”

Derek rolls his shoulders but Stiles pulls him hard by the arm, enough to stagger him. He looks deadly serious in a way Derek isn’t used to seeing. “Derek, let it go.”

Derek goes to look back at Theo, but Stiles rests a gentle hand on his cheek, keeping him there and holding eye contact. “You could lose your scholarship, Derek. Just let it go.” He hears Theo laugh and say something that sounds like pussy whipped but he can’t really focus on anything other than Stiles’ eyes boring into his own. “It’s okay, just breathe. Theo only sees the shadows, remember?”

Derek feels his shoulders sag and Stiles’ fingers curl against his cheek, the tips of his nails scratching into the stubble. He smiles a little sadly and steps away, dropping his hand from Derek’s face to circle his wrist. “Do you want to go with me outside?” Derek nods and Stiles mimics him, tugging him gently through the crowd to the back door.

They step out and the haze clears. “You shouldn’t have stopped me,” he fumes, blood still pulsing hot and angry beneath his skin.

Stiles sits down in the grass. “I know you think it would have made you feel better, but it wouldn’t have.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Do you know that?” he returns, and Derek has nothing to say, so he just shakes his head and joins Stiles on the ground.

Stiles rests a careful hand on his shoulder. “Thank you for defending me. That was sweet of you.”

“It wasn’t sweet,” Derek grits out, frustrated. “I wish you’d stop thanking me for being a decent person.”

Stiles shrugs. “Good people are hard to find these days.”

“Well, I don’t want you to thank me for it.”

“Can I thank you for being a good friend?”

Derek turns to him and he’s smiling. Derek deflates. “Sure.”

He beams. “Alright. Thank you, Derek Hale, for being a good friend.” He pauses, seeming to think before adding on, “and for letting me demolish you in beer pong.”

“Hey,” Derek defends, “it was a close call.”

Stiles laughs and looks around them. “Well, this is usually the part where we make out. But, if you are still all shot up on testosterone, I suppose we could reschedule.”

Derek feels something uncomfortable curl around his abdomen, it feels like shame. He wants Stiles to know that isn’t what this is. Has never really been what this is. “I like kissing you,” he starts, and Stiles grins. “Well, I sure hope so.”

He cuts him a dry look and Stiles closes his mouth and pretends to zip his lips, dramatically throwing away the key. “But, I don’t only want to kiss you. I just - I don’t want you to think that all I want from you is something sexual. I hate that it always seems like I’m using you.”

Stiles rests a hand over his in the grass while he snorts. “I know that, you big oaf. You sat in my dorm and watched a movie with a very respectable, middle-school-approved seven inches of space between us. Also, we are going to dinner on Monday.”

Derek feels relief course through him, his lips quirk up with it. “Good. I just wanted to make sure.”

Stiles squeezes his shoulder. “We’re okay. I got a ride here with Scott, do you want to drop me off at my dorm?”

Derek nods his head and Stiles stands up, dusting grass off his jeans before offering a hand to help Derek up. He takes it.

 

 

 

They drive to Stiles’ dorm and Derek tries to fight a smile at how Stiles shamelessly belts along with lyrics from the 80s rock station, doing air guitar and air drums, pretending to bow for a roaring crowd whenever the host comes back on air. He’s just cute and real and unapologetically himself in a way that so many people are scared to replicate. In a way that Derek has always been scared to replicate. He feels disappointed when they finally pull up in front of the dorm’s entrance.

“Thank you for the ride.”

Stiles opens the door and makes to get out when Derek finally grows a fucking backbone.

“Stiles,”

He turns back. “Yeah—”

Derek leans across the console and kisses him, short and sweet. He goes to pull away when Stiles grins against him, bringing his hands to Derek’s shoulders to hold him still. He tilts his head and bites playfully at Derek’s lips before he leans back, laughing like he knows that he just short circuited something within Derek, engulfed his brain in a haze that leaves him only capable of forming thoughts around StilesStilesStiles. “I’ll see you at the locker room on Monday.”

“Okay,” Derek agrees, a little breathless. The door slams shut and the radio announces, “Here’s Def Leppard’s Love Bites.” He pulls away after he sees Stiles disappear through the double doors.

Are you wild and willing, or is it just for show?

Derek reaches his hand out and turns the volume dial all the way to the left, blanketing the car in silence. All he can think on the ride back to his dorm is that he is completely and utterly fucked. For some reason, the thought makes him smile. 

 



Derek steps through his door and goes to toe off his shoes when Jackson pipes up from where he is scrolling through his phone, lounging back on his bed. 

“Heard you almost got into it with Theo tonight.”

Derek refuses to look at him while he shrugs. “Not really.”

“I just don’t want you to let Triple S come between you and the team. I’m sure he’s not that good of a fuck.”

Derek bristles. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Jackson raises his eyebrows, unimpressed. “Don’t I?” When Derek’s nostrils flare, he just smirks. “All I am saying is - don’t shit where you eat, Hale. It’s not a good look for you.”

He says nothing, just grabs his keys from the hook and heads right back out the door.

 

 

 

By the time he finds himself standing in front of room three-twenty-one, he’s lost his nerve. He knocks anyway.

“Long time, no see. I was beginning to miss y—”

He surges forward past Stiles into the dorm. “Sure, Derek, of course you can come in. Thank you for asking, you are quite the gentleman.” Stiles shakes his head and clicks the door shut behind him.

“Are you okay?”

“Jackson’s an ass.”

“Wow, looks like someone’s got eyes and ears.”

He shoots Stiles a look. “Okay, okay,” he placates, throwing his hands up in surrender. “Scott’s with Allison tonight. You can crash in his bed if you want.”

Derek tries to smile. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Stiles reassures before waving a hand to his desk. “Do you mind if I smoke?”

He shakes his head. “No, it’s fine.”

Stiles shoots him a thumbs up before plopping down in his desk chair, picking up where he supposedly left off. He twists the top of the grinder a few times before opening it and removing the sifter. He slides the chamber over on the desk while he prepares the rolling paper. He pulls what looks like a business card from a side drawer, ripping a corner off and twirling it into a tube, before placing it near the end of the slip. Satisfied, he picks up the chamber and gently taps the ground bud onto the thin sheet. Derek watches him slip a small pocket knife out of his pants, flicking it and using the flat end to scrape the excess that fell on the desk back into place. He picks it up gently, rolling it with nimble fingers before darting his tongue out to lick across the seam and seal it shut.

It’s probably one of the top five hottest things Derek has ever seen. He doesn’t even smoke for fuck’s sake. 

He clears his throat. “You’re good at that.”

“I’ve had a lot of practice.”

“I’ve never really…smoked,” Derek confesses. “My mom was really strict.”

Stiles shoots him a cheeky grin, nodding like he understands. “My dad’s the sheriff of my hometown.”

Derek smiles back at him. “You must have been very sneaky.”

Stiles dips his head solemnly. “Guilty as charged.”

Derek feels his heart clench thinking of his own father. He and his mom had undergone a nasty divorce when Derek was a kid. He was never really around much after that.

“My dad was pretty absent while I was growing up,” he admits, his chest feeling heavy and hollow simultaneously, he’s purging information he has never really told anyone else. 

Stiles gives him a knowing look. “Aren’t all fathers absent in some way?”

Derek shrugs and Stiles peers at him through his lashes, levels him with that all-knowing look he always has, offset by his mouth which is still staggered sideways. “You know, some Freudians argue that an absent father gives his son a predisposition to homosexuality.”

Derek raises an eyebrow. “Is that so?”

Stiles dips his chin in confirmation. “It kind of, like, gears you toward the maternal psyche, I guess. In the absence of your father, you bond closer to your mother, therefore exhibiting a higher amount of stereotypically feminine behavior - such as an attraction to masculine figures.”

He hums thoughtfully, causing Stiles to glance up at him. “How was your mom?”

Stiles grins but it’s weighed down. “She died when I was a kid. Frontotemporal dementia.”

“I’m sorry,” Derek says softly.

“It’s okay. You didn’t know. She’d hate everyone just sitting around feeling sorry when they think of her. She was great in every way a person can be great. I’ll never know anyone else like her.”

I’ll never know anyone else like you, Derek thinks. But he can’t bring himself to say it.

“I read The Social Construction of Reality,” he confesses. Stiles’ eyebrows shoot up in surprise as he sits up straighter, more alert. “Really? Did you like it?”

Derek shrugs. “Some of it didn’t really make sense. But, other parts of it helped me understand what you meant about the cave and the stuff Goffman said.”

Stiles nods, waving a hand indicating for him to continue. “How so?”

Derek clears his throat, semi-embarrassed. “Well, Berger said that he is aware that his perception of the common world isn’t identical to that of others. His here is their there, and his now doesn’t overlap with the one other people are experiencing.” 

Stiles smiles indulgently, eyes blown wide. “And what do you conclude from that?”

“What I got from it is that we basically have corresponding views of what things mean, even though none of us think the exact same things. We all share a common sense of reality.”

“Exactly,” Stiles says softly. “You know, you really are something else.” 

Derek blushes and Stiles swivels in his chair, reaching across his desk for his lighter before igniting the end of his joint. He pinches it tight between his lips, leaning forward to prop open the window. He drags and exhales. Drags and exhales. Drags and exhales. It smells like fruit.

“It’s blueberry,” Stiles tells him, fanning the smoke with his hand. He gestures toward Derek with it. “You wanna taste?” Derek nods lamely and Stiles drops one eye in a wink. “Then come over here and get one.”

He gets up from the bed on shaky legs and walks over to Stiles, bending down. Stiles cups his chin with one hand, squeezing to puff Derek’s lips out, and leans forward, exhaling blistering blueberry into his mouth. He inhales it, his eyes watering a little. Stiles pats him lightly on the cheek before scooting back to spin idly back and forth in his desk chair. When he’s done he coughs and Stiles grins that sharp, all-knowing grin. “That’s cute.”

Derek blushes, grumbling though he’s secretly pleased.

“Wanna watch another Star Wars movie until we fall asleep?”

“Sure.”

He makes it about thirty minutes in, watching Luke, R2-D2, and C3PO fight with the Jawas before his eyes slip shut.

 

 

 

When he wakes, Stiles is gone. There’s a bright green post-it stuck to his phone.

Sorry, I had plans with Scott. I didn’t want to wake you, you looked so comfy. Text me later if you want (:

He finds himself smiling, he pockets the note and puts his shoes on. He slips out of Stiles’ dorm, making sure the door locks behind him.

 

 

 

He’s repacking his duffel after practice on Monday with shaky hands. He took longer than usual so he could look presentable for dinner. He hopes he isn’t reading too much into it. He shoulders open the door and finds Stiles there waiting for him. He looks terrible.

“Stiles, are you okay?” He steps closer and gets a closer look at the maroon dusting his cheekbone and the faint purple fingerprints staining his chin, the area around his jaw. He slowly sets his duffel on the ground next to his feet. He tries to take a deep breath to quell the immediate anger, he doesn’t want Stiles to think he is upset with him. He lifts a gentle hand to curve around Stiles’ jaw, tilting his head to get a better look at the bruise on his cheek, ghosting a thumb over the marks on his chin. He looks up to look in Stiles’ eyes, but he avoids Derek’s gaze.

“Stiles,” his voice comes out a little shaky, he takes another breath. “Who did this to you?”

He shakes his head. “Don’t worry about it.”

Derek blinks, his mouth dropping in disbelief. “Don’t worry about it?” he repeats, spitting the words. They leave a bitter taste on his tongue. “Of course I’m going to fucking worry about it. Who did this?”

Stiles shakes his head again. “I’m not telling you.”

“Why the fuck not?”

“Because you’ll try to do something about it. I can handle myself.”

Derek scoffs. “Yeah, it sure looks like you handled it. What happened?”

Stiles shrugs. “People get angry when a slut won’t put out.”

Derek carefully drags his thumb under Stiles’ cheekbone to give his himself something gentle to do, to keep him from curling his hands into fists. “You’re not a slut, Stiles.”

He laughs a hurt laugh. “Aren’t I?”

Derek shakes his head, frustrated. “Stiles, you are a person.”

Stiles blinks at him in surprise, wide-eyed.

Derek continues. “You’re not Triple S, or some - some cheap trick that people can use whenever they want to get off. You are a person, and I am taking you on a goddamn date.”

Stiles looks at him like no one’s ever even said the word date to him. It’s kind of fucking heartbreaking.

“Okay,” he breathes out.

“Okay?”

Stiles nods. “Okay, Derek Hale. Take me on a goddamn date.”

 

 

 

They’re at Pizza Hut.

“When I said I wanted to take you to dinner, I figured you would take advantage of choosing where we go.”

Stiles crosses his arms defensively. “What? Pizza Hut is delicious.”

“Pizza Hut is for when you are drunk off your ass and can’t cook anything.”

“Agree to disagree.”

“I am not agreeing to disagree, Stiles.”

“Agree to not agree to disagreeing.”

Derek’s mouth falls open, exasperated. “I’m sure that made sense to you.”

Stiles shrugs and shoots him a cheeky grin. “They have good pasta. But, if you want to go somewhere else, it’s up to you. I’ve never really dated before, so.”

Derek wonders if Stiles playing up the guilt so he will cave. Regardless, it works.

“Fucking fine.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

He wrenches his door open a little more harshly than strictly necessary before walking over to Stiles’ side and opening his for him.

He gapes. “Wow, you really just did that. Like in the movies.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “If you don’t get out I am going to shut it right back and make you open it yourself.”

Stiles flails for a moment before surging out of the car. “Don’t be sour.”

“I thought you said I was sweet.”

“Well, congratulations, your range knows no bounds.”

Derek groans. “Alright, smartass. Let’s go eat.”

 

 

 

Derek orders a large pepperoni pizza and Stiles gets the fettucine alfredo. He pulls a small pink tablet out of his pocket and Derek looks at it questioningly.

“Adderall,” Stiles clarifies. “I’ve got ADHD like a motherfucker.” He dry swallows it and goes back to eating.

Derek huffs a small laugh. Stiles’ bruising appears even worse in the terrible lighting. He feels his heart sink looking at it.

“How can you let them treat you like that? It’s not—” he isn’t sure what he wants to say. It’s not fair? It’s not right? He doesn’t know how to tell Stiles that the thought of someone hurting him makes him feel sick. He leaves it hanging. 

Stiles sighs and puts his fork down. “There’s not a lot I can do about it. It’s really not a big deal.”

“It feels like a big deal. I don’t understand how you can just be okay with it.” He doesn’t understand why Stiles won’t tell him who it was so he can use his baseball bat. 

Stiles chews his lip and looks at Derek thoughtfully. “Have you ever heard of the Theory of Forms?”

Derek shakes his head.

“Well, basically, it’s the theory that everything we see is an imitation of its perfect self. For instance, this table,” he taps it a couple of times, “exists as we see it. But, it exists far beyond objectification. In another world, it exists perfectly. This table imitates the idea of that table.”

Derek knows he must look lost. He always feels lost around him. Stiles just smiles and continues, “So, as bad as I may have it here, in another world, I am living far beyond this capacity. I don’t know,” he shrugs, blushing, “it’s just, like, a weird coping mechanism for me. I like to think of how I am existing perfectly, what exactly that entails.”

“What do you think you are doing, in that perfect world?”

Stiles laughs. “Well, for one, I am not in a pathetically codependent relationship with cannabis.” His smile dims down. “But, all jokes aside, I’m most likely at home with my mom and my dad. Probably enrolled in some really prestigious law school - I always wanted to be a lawyer. Everything is okay and nothing hurts. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I think about it. How he is doing and if he ever thinks of me.” He laughs again. “Super meta, I know. But, it’s…comforting? Sorry if I’m just spouting nonsense.”

Derek shakes his head. “No, it makes sense.”

“So tell me, Derek Hale, what would your perfect form be doing?”

He thinks about it. If he were in a perfect world, he would have had the courage to ask Stiles out at the first party. Or maybe he would have sought him out before that, found Stiles after he first heard of him instead of letting rumors dissuade him. His parents would still be married. He would be able to talk to his dad, about his dad, without feeling bitter. His roommate wouldn’t be Jackson. But, even after all of that, he isn’t sure what perfect is.

“I don’t really know,” he admits with a shrug.

“Well, for what it’s worth,” Stiles offers with a grin, “I think you are doing a great job of imitating perfection.”

He blushes and busies himself by grabbing another slice of pizza. Stiles takes another bite of his pasta before fixing Derek with another look. “If someone asked me, I would say ash is our purest form. Fire symbolizes cleansing - you take a person who has experienced the full extent of life, and you just burn it to the ground. Start over with ash. The essence of a life that has been lived.”

Derek laughs. “Okay Socrates, shut up and eat your dinner.”

 

 

 

Stiles is in the bleachers at practice the next day. He’s wearing sweatpants and a well-worn white shirt that dips below his collarbones. Derek doesn’t think he’ll ever get tired of looking at him.

“Hey, Triple S, nice shiner,” Jackson calls, twirling his bat.

Derek’s blood boils and Stiles rolls his eyes. “I’d hate for you to see the other guy.”

“That’s some big talk, Stilinski. We all know your hands are only good for stroking dick.”

Stiles quirks a brow. “Are you propositioning me?”

“In your fucking dreams, faggot.”

Derek stands to walk over to them but Stiles raises a hand, signaling him to sit down. He turns his eyes back to Jackson. “You’re right. It truly comforts me to know you are just a daydream away at all times.”

Jackson turns to see what Stiles was looking at, smirking when his eyes catch on Derek.

“Oh, that’s right. I almost forgot you were keeping Hale’s bed nice and cozy.”

Stiles shakes his head. “He prefers my bed, actually.”

Derek ducks his head and blushes, fighting a smile. He hears Jackson scoff.

“Just fuck off, Stilinski, we wouldn’t want you to have an unfortunate encounter with my bat after practice.”

Stiles narrows his eyes and tilts his head. “Is that what they’re calling it nowadays?”

Derek laughs when Jackson actually sputters a little, his cheeks tinting red. He just grumbles and stomps back to the dugout. Derek brings his own bat up to lay across his shoulders, resting his arms over it, and walks over to the fence by the bleachers. He stops, leaning on the chainlink, squinting against the sun.

Stiles smiles up at him. “Hey there, handsome.”

Derek smiles back. “Hey.”

“I know you are a talker, but goddamn could you please give me a chance to speak,” he demands, faux exasperated, still grinning.

Derek laughs again. He likes this. He feels lighter than he has in a long time. Stiles makes him feel happy. Stiles makes him ponder the metaphorical implications of everyday life. Encourages him to seek out the subtext. Makes him think critically and question things, demand to know why the world is the way it is instead of just accepting it. It’s terrifying and maddening and absolutely fucking intoxicating. Derek has never met anyone like him, and he can’t really imagine a life devoid of Stiles now that he’s experienced what it’s like with him.

 

 

 

He’s in Stiles’ dorm, playing Mario Kart with Scott while Stiles is in class.

He asks Scott lots of questions - like how Stiles was when he was little, what his mom was like, if his dad is a good man, how he likes his eggs cooked, what his plans for the future are. Scott laughs through anecdotes of candid moments sprinkled throughout decades of friendship.

“I swear,” Scott exclaims with a smile, “I have never met anyone more drastically aware of their own attractiveness than Stiles. He is one sick bastard.”

Derek laughs with him. Scott slaps his arm with the back of his hand, still staring at the screen. “And he’s fucking smart to boot, too. Didn’t I tell you?”

Derek nods. “You did.”

“Like, talk about being humbled. I never feel more idiotic than I do when I’m around Stiles. And he doesn’t even mean to be like that. He just is. He is a goddamn menace.”

Derek concentrates on avoiding the banana peel Yoshi dropped in front of him, smiling. “He really is one of a kind.”

Scott nods in agreement. “We’re lucky to know him, you know.”

He does. God, he really does. Derek dips his chin in confirmation, even though Scott isn’t looking at him. “I know.”

 

 

 

Derek’s known Stiles for bordering three months, but it feels like he has spent years with him. A lifetime of Plato’s theories, of scouring the library for books to read so he can impress him, of shoulder checking Jackson and Theo. He feels like he has known Stiles forever, and that’s fucking scary.

Derek is lounging on Scott’s bed while Stiles reads The Iliad, sprawled out over his own.

Derek rolls over to face him and whispers, “Stiles.”

Stiles shoots him a sidelong glance and whispers back, “What?”

Derek swallows. “Do you think it’s weird to think you might love someone you barely know?”

He smiles and shakes his head. “Your definition of barely know might not directly correspond with my meaning of it. I thought you were the Berger expert.”

Derek blushes. “I’m being serious.”

“So am I.”

Stiles must feel Derek’s eyes burning into his face, he sighs and sets his book down over his chest, turning his head to look at Derek.

“I know that you’re a better baseball player than you let people give you credit for, sports scholarships aren’t just passed around like candy, you know. I know that you love your mom and that the absence of your father impacted you, but you think it makes you a worse person than you actually are. You complain about your sisters, but you’d rather die than see them hurt. I know that you think you aren’t smart, even though you are one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. I know you try really hard to understand others if your name in the library logs is any indication. You try to appear unapproachable, but you really have a huge heart, one of the best I’ve seen.”

Derek knows his jaw is on the floor, his face feels like it is on fire. Stiles takes a breath, and smiles, his cheeks blossoming pink. “I know that you treat me better than anyone else. Sometimes even better than Scott.” He gives Derek a long look. “Do I barely know you?”

He tries not to feel like his soul just got laid bare.

Stiles laughs and rolls his eyes. “All I’m saying is, we know each other. Time isn’t the gatekeeper of love.”

He picks his book back up but Derek’s veins feel like they’ve been doused in gasoline and ignited. He pushes up off the bed and crosses the room to Stiles. He peeks over the edge of his book and raises an eyebrow. “Yes, how may I help you, Mr. Hale?”

Derek reaches out and plucks the book from his hands, setting it gently on the nightstand, face-down and open to keep his place. He swings one leg over Stiles’ body, lifting the other to rest on his other side, straddling him. Stiles’ cheeks bloom. “Oh?”

Derek brings his hands to cradle his face before leaning down to kiss him. It’s soft, and Derek’s heart feels like it’s about to fucking explode or something. He curls his fingers into the sides of Stiles’ neck, tilting his head for an easier angle. He breaks away and attaches his lips to Stiles’ jaw before kissing down to his pulse and gently scraping his teeth over it. Stiles arches up under him, angling his throat for better access. Derek grins and sits back to pull his shirt off. Stiles blinks up at him with those doe eyes Derek saw the first night he met him.

“You’re gorgeous,” Stiles breathes, running his hands across Derek’s abdomen. He shivers under the touch, leaning down to curl his hand around the hem of Stiles’ shirt, gently tugging. Stiles lifts up off the mattress to help him take it off. Derek sits back and takes a minute to just look. Stiles is nothing but ivory skin pulled taut around delicate curves of bone. His chest rises and falls with soft ridges of rib. He is dotted with freckles and moles, clustered together into constellations. He is perfect. Derek thinks of the Theory of Forms. He doesn’t think Stiles can get more perfect than he is now.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Stiles jokes, but it sounds breathless. Derek knows the feeling. He just smiles and leans down to bite at his collarbones, soothing the abrasions with swipes of his tongue. He nips and sucks blood to the surface of Stiles’ skin, painting a path of reds and purples in his wake. He runs his tongue over Stiles’ tattoo like he wanted to that night with the water bottle. He grazes his stubble against it and Stiles shivers. He wonders if it tickles. He thinks back idly to Stiles’ boa brushing along his fingers. Stiles is whimpering and releasing scalding pants of air against Derek’s skin, arching into every touch. It’s heady and inebriating. It’s making Derek feel like his head is submerged in water.

When he lifts up to look at Stiles, his face is stained crimson and his eyes are glassy. Derek lays his palms flat over Stiles’ ribs, dragging them slowly down to the waist of his sweatpants. Stiles follows them, curling his hands over Derek’s.

“I’m clean,” he breathes and Derek nods. He goes back to tug them down but Stiles’ hands tighten, he looks up to meet his eyes. “I’ve only slept with three people in my whole life,” Stiles whispers like it’s a dirty secret and Derek leans down to kiss him. “Stiles, I don’t care if you’ve slept with a hundred people. It doesn’t change how I feel.”

“I know,” he admits. “I just wanted you to know that I’m not a slut.”

“Stiles, those people don’t know you. There’s nothing wrong with being a ‘slut’, there’s no shame in having sex.”

“Other people would disagree with that.”

Derek grins. “Well then, I guess my definition of wrong doesn’t correspond with their definition of wrong.”

Stiles smiles with sparkling eyes and releases Derek’s hands, granting him permission. He drags the soft cotton down his hips and over his thighs, taking a moment to laugh because Stiles’ boxers have the fucking Cat in the Hat printed all over them. Derek doesn’t think he’s ever seen Dr. Suess underwear before in his life, and it makes his chest tighten because it’s so Stiles. Stiles huffs and smacks lightly at his chest. “Yeah, okay, laugh it up.” Derek just shakes his head and slips Stiles’ sweatpants the rest of the way off, tossing them on the floor. He traces the path of moles leading from his knee to the inside of his thigh, trailing careful fingertips over them. Stiles shudders and reaches his hands to the waist of Derek’s jeans. “Your turn.” He lets Stiles pop the button and pull the zipper before he stands to step out of them. His boxers are just black and he feels a little embarrassed about it. He feels boring. Stiles exists in extremes. He lives unapologetically and dresses eccentrically and everything he says means something.

But Stiles is looking at him like he is worth it. Worth everything. He imagines his face looks the same.

“Well, I’d like you to return to bed before I am eighty and—”

Stiles cuts off with a yelp as Derek rolls his eyes and crawls back over him. He tilts his head to kiss him before easing down the mattress to mouth at the side of his knee, trailing up his thigh, biting lightly and running his tongue over the indentions. Stiles sighs and shivers and moans and Derek feels every noise vibrate through him, blood pumping straight to his dick. He wonders idly if this is what love does - gets you hard from doing absolutely nothing. Stiles has one hand tangled in Derek’s hair, the other is fisted in the sheet. Derek feels electricity crackle through his spine every time Stiles tugs on the strands or wrinkles the linen under his grip. He feels dizzy.

“We need to get these off,” he pants, tapping lightly on Stiles’ boxer-clad hip. Stiles bobs his head, nodding enthusiastically. “I agree.”

He crooks his fingers into either side of the band and pulls. His heart beats hard against his ribs and he feels all of the totally cliché butterflies in his stomach when Stiles flushes red all over, finally freed from where he was straining against the fabric.

“God, you’re beautiful,” Derek says, dipping down to lick a stripe along Stiles’ shaft, groaning at the low whine Stiles buries into the back of the hand he has his teeth embedded in. Derek brings one hand to grip his base, stretching the other along Stiles’ abdomen, bringing his palm to rest on the soft flesh of his stomach, feeling the muscles contract beneath his fingertips. He takes his time, licking and kissing and sucking until Stiles is blubbering and sobbing and begging.

Please, Derek.”

Derek doesn’t know what he’s begging for - but it doesn’t matter. Derek wants to give him everything.

He shushes Stiles gently, stroking his fingers soothingly along his stomach, ghosting through his happy trail. “You’re so good for me. It’s okay.”

Stiles preens at that, back arching. Oh. Derek thinks he might understand a little.

“You like that?” He asks, dipping the point of his tongue into his slit. Stiles nods, squeezing his eyes closed. “You are so good for me, Stiles. I love feeling you arch under my touch.” Stiles moans and Derek keeps going. “You are so smart,” he punctuates it with another teasing swipe of his tongue. “And, god, don’t even get me started on how fucking attractive you are.” Stiles groans and Derek envelopes him in his mouth one more time, ducking down until his throat squeezes around Stiles’ tip, before releasing him with a pop that feels like it echoes throughout the room.

Stiles blinks his eyes open and he looks down at Derek, pupils blown and lips parted. He curls over and reaches for Derek’s boxers. “Your turn,” he demands, breathless. “Roll over.”

Derek obeys, twisting over Stiles’ side to rest on his back, letting his head fall against the pillow. Stiles swings around to straddle his shins, working Derek’s boxers off his hips with slow intensity. Derek throws his head back and groans when he finally juts out from his underwear, bobbing against his stomach.

“I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” Stiles confesses, staring down at Derek with half-lidded eyes. Derek swallows, he has too. He wonders how long Stiles has wanted it. He thinks he manages to ask him through the haze.

“Since you read Berger for me,” he pants, tugging Derek’s boxers the rest of the way off, discarding them to the side. Derek growls. “We could have been doing this weeks ago.” Stiles nods erratically. “One of life’s gravest disappointments.” 

He leans down, apparently tired of talking, and swallows Derek nearly to the hilt like it’s as easy as breathing. “Fuck,” he grits out, hissing through his teeth. He feels Stiles smile a little, the bastard.

He claws at the sheets and bites hard on his lower lip, groaning and panting like a teenager who has never had his dick touched. He feels a little like that with Stiles, like he is experiencing everything for the first time.

Eventually he works up the strength to urge Stiles off of him so he doesn’t spill down his throat and ruin the fun. He barely registers Stiles reaching around to his nightstand, coming back with lube. Derek goes to take it, but he insists I can do it. Which is how Derek finds himself struggling not to come from the image of Stiles alone, rising up and down on his fingers while he moans and whines Derek’s name like it’s the only word he knows. This is probably the best sexual experience he has ever had. Probably will ever have.

“Okay, okay, I’m ready - ah - please.”

Derek flips them over, settling Stiles down on his back, curling his hands on his shins and pushing them up to raise his hips at a higher angle. He kisses up his legs again, trailing up over his hipbones and along his abdomen, finishing on his neck as he lines up, pushing against him. Stiles nods, whining low in his throat and Derek sinks in, watching Stiles screw his eyes shut and suck his lip behind his teeth as he bottoms out.

Fuck,” he breathes and Stiles brings his hands up to grip white-knuckled at Derek’s shoulders, his fingernails biting into the skin. He starts out with slow, easy snaps of his hips until he angles Stiles just so, making him gasp and cry with every thrust. He has his head thrown back, and Derek can see the long stretch of his throat, how it ripples with every moan. He can see the delicate spikes of Stiles’ tear-soaked eyelashes, shining in the tendrils of sunlight sinking in through the blinds. Derek feels like he is experiencing this outside of himself, watching Stiles writhe and beg and whimper from a million different angles.

Stiles is clenching hot and tight around him, scraping his nails along his back, between his shoulder blades. Derek has one hand curled around Stiles’ hip, holding him in place, the other is stretched out over his ribs, feeling the juts of bone trembling as he draws ragged breaths. This is probably the most intimate he has ever felt during sex, every other encounter he has had dulls significantly in comparison to this.

His mouth drops open in awe when Stiles seizes up, screaming through clenched teeth, shaking and twisting and whining.

Derek’s hips keep stuttering forward as an afterthought, his mind wrapped up in a fog of StilesStilesStilesStiles. After a moment Stiles finally lifts his head up to look at Derek, and his hips snap forward one last time while he loses every thought to glimmering pools of honey.

Derek rolls off of him reluctantly, coming to rest pressed directly into Stiles’ side. The younger boy tilts his head toward Derek, lacing their fingers together.

After their heavy breathing levels out, Stiles opens his eyes and Derek can see the barely contained mirth sparkling in them. “So, does my definition of that was fucking awesome correspond with yours, or.”

Derek laughs, swatting at him, soaking in the afterglow.

 

 

 

He’s at the library with Stiles, who has already loaded him up with works from Plato, Virgil, Freud, and a few others he hasn’t heard of. He is babbling about something related to Descartes and acknowledging the shaky foundations of intellectual comprehension. He gestures wildly with bright eyes and rosy cheeks. He makes Derek’s heart feel warm and heavy.

Stiles thinks ash is the purest form. Derek thinks Stiles is as pure as it gets.