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Derek nearly drops the ball when he gets a look at who passed it to him.

“Thanks,” he manages after staring for a moment too long.

Stiles gives him a confused quirk of his lip and turns back to whatever it is he was reading before the basketball had soared into his space. Derek takes the cue and turns back to the game, throwing in the ball to Scott on the wing of the outdoor court.

The rest of the game Derek's eyes stray to watch the boy on a bench not too far from the field lines. His gangly limbs are sprawled on his discarded jumper, a flash of red and a bold graphic t-shirt that keeps drawing Derek's eyes no matter how many times he trips over his own feet.

It’s not like this is the first time Derek's seen the younger boy. He’s well known around town as the Sheriff's son. Half of the junior class had walked in after spring break newly presented, no one surprised to find Stiles trailing the light sweetness of omega. The buzz around school had focused more on Aiden, a kid from the year above Derek who hadn’t presented by the time he graduated.

“Yo Hale!”

Derek whips his head away from the soft parting of the clueless omega’s lips and narrowly gets control of the ball before it can slip out of reach, abruptly pulled back into the game.

His team wins. Derek with the first net but feeling pretty useless for the second half, yet they still pat him on the back and cheer his name in the celebratory chanting. A few of the younger kids even call him Alpha and it takes a second to realize they’re referring to him.

Last summer he went through a very undramatic presentation of Alpha, never something he’d been concerned over even before he knew. He’d have been just as happy to be beta or omega as he was when his first rut hit. It’s all over hyped if you ask him, because not a lot changed if he’s honest. If you don’t count his dick.

That did change. That changed a lot.

“Looking for scouts?” Scott ruffles a heavy hand through Derek's sweaty hair as they head towards the locker. The two Alphas tussle until they fall easily in step with each other. “Don’t worry, they’ll be putting your name at the top of the list.”

Derek rolls his eyes and tackles Scott sideways now that he’s off guard and not expecting it. They won’t be able to do this much longer, or so everyone keeps telling them with the two of them being alphas. Not while they learn how to control themselves and the hormone urges that’ll supposedly make them want to tear each other’s throats out. It’s a bit ridiculous to think Derek could ever want to maul his best friend, but also real fucking terrifying to know how possible it is.

Neither can count how many times they’ve heard the warning growls between two upperclassmen who used to be friends echo in the school halls. So after they dust off and Scott throws an arm over his shoulder, Derek leans into it instead of setting off another round of trouble, both of them savouring the touch a little longer than they might have a few months ago. The fear of leaving the simplicity of childhood has made them clingy.

Derek spares a glance over his shoulder at the boy on the bench. He’s right where Derek last saw him, laying haphazardly with a crisp comic glued to his face. It’s too far to see which hero.

 

Derek's still itching to know what comic it was when he’s walking through the hallways the next day, navigating his way to English class. He also wants to know why no one was sitting next to someone like Stiles. The boy seems nice, not that Derek has ever really spoken to him, but something makes him think he must be. No one wearing that shade of red could be introverted.

He’s loitering around the classroom door waiting for his teacher to discuss his extra credit project and the boy himself is there. Right there, hovering around an open locker like it holds the answers to the universe.

At first Derek completely focuses on him, the gentle tap of Stiles' fingers on the metal door and the sassy angle to his hips as he leans on one foot. Movement draws Derek's gaze to a pair of upperclassmen passing. One of them gives Stiles' backside a blatant predatory look before nudging his companion and tilting his head with a wink. The two share shark smiles before rounding the corner.

Stiles' completely oblivious to the entire interaction, his focus still on the inside of his magazine cut-out plastered locker while he searches for something. Derek's fists clench. He wants to shove the two strangers already out of sight, imagines it’d be sickeningly satisfying to pin them down and lecture them about being appropriate.

“Mr. Hale.”

Derek startles at the stern call of his surname. His English teacher stands in the doorway with an impatient tilt to her eyebrows and crossed arms. Derek rubs the back of his neck, embarrassed by the realization his name has been called more than once.

He follows her into the room before he punches something. Or someone.

 

The next time Derek sees him, the boy is studying at an empty table in the library. His feet make the decision for him. Instead of taking his habitual seat by the window, Derek plops down across from the boy. The eyes that glance up are melted honey that knocks the breath right from Derek's chest.

“Hello,” the boy says in a voice deeper than expected.

“Hi,” is all Derek has the ability to say.

He didn’t plan this, and unlike usual, his impulse has left him high and dry. Somehow that doesn’t matter, because Stiles' cheeks stain like strawberry juice and it’s only because those bright eyes return to the book splayed open on the table that Derek realizes he should really open his own. He fumbles through getting a random book from his bag out in a hardcover clatter and flips to a page without looking at it.

He’s too busy studying Stiles.

The delicate curve of his outrageously pink lips like he’s just sucked on sweet candy, the hint of confusion on his expressive face, the scatter of moles dotting his pale skin. There’s more to him than that, Derek knows. Has seen in the halls and on the field as Stiles walks to class or stands in the lunch line. He’s gangly limbs and a goofy laugh and crooked teeth. Not perfect, but beautiful.

Derek watches in rapture as dimples press into the soft corners of Stiles' growing smile until he’s caught, hooked like a fish when Stiles' laughing eyes sparkle at him.

“Your book is upside down.” Stiles nods at Derek's book, his history text now that he sees it.

“I’d rather study you.”

They both blink, startled.

“With you. Study with you,” Derek rushes to say. “Boyd says I’m shit at history, can you help?”

Stiles prods a soft cheek with the backside of his pen in thought. Derek wants to kiss him right where it meets his skin, feel the soft warmth on his lips and- fuck, he’s really messed up if he’s jealous of a fucking pen.

“Okay,” Stiles hums.

They spend the rest of the period hunched over a book and Derek only knows what it’s about because he’d clung to every word Stiles spoke in a rambling voice of his as he walked Derek through medieval history and then some.

Stiles is in the library the next day, and the next. Derek starts learning, both about the feudal system and facts like the name of Stiles' favourite comic is Batman and he ducks his head in humility when Derek doesn’t believe him about his lips being so pink naturally.

 

Derek's thinking about them as he’s on the bus home a week later. He’s in an aisle seat near the back with Scott twisted beside him to joke with their other friends. Stiles is near the front, gazing through the window with an earbud in and a small bob to his head along to whatever he’s listening to.

Derek wants to know what’s in his headphones, what makes Stiles smile so fondly, what makes his body move in such a rhythm. Maybe if Derek knew he could learn a thing or two.

It mystifies him still. How the seat next to Stiles remains empty, when he’s so clearly brighter than the sun with a gravitational force to rival the earth's core.

Scott nudges him and Derek realizes this is his stop. He scrambles up with his bags just in time to spill into the aisle and holler for the driver to keep the doors open. He laughs good naturedly with his friends at his own flail.

“Gonna need a full astronaut suit for the amount of spacing you’re doing,“ Erica calls out.

“Yeah, you're just jealous one of us can moonwalk and it’s not you.“ Derek retorts.

The group laughs and Derek trips backwards until he’s off the bus, so he can keep Stiles in sight until the moment the doors shut and he’s left in the dust.

 

He’s laying on his back on the bleachers the next day at lunch. The clouds overhead are pure white and fluffy as they drift sleepily along the sky above without a care for direction.

He wants to know what music makes Stiles feel, what it makes him think of, if he ever listens to a song and thinks of Derek. It feels like Derek can’t ever stop thinking about Stiles. Not since he saw him by the field, and he can’t think of what’s changed to make his mind latch onto the younger boy but it’s like: he’ll be eating and wonder if Stiles likes pickles, or he’ll see his sister’s flannels laying around and think Stiles might have one just like it, or he’ll be in the shower and… he just can’t stop thinking about him.

The focus of Derek's daydreams appears upside down and backlit by the golden glow of the sun, haloed like a rosy cheeked angel.

“Your fly’s down.”

Derek springs up in a panic. They avoid bonking heads only by the quickness of Stiles' reflexes to pull out of the way, giggling like a maniac as Derek yanks his zipper up. He sits on the bleachers proper, Stiles on the row beneath him leaning on his forearms.

A warm breeze wraps them in the last memories of a summer on its way out. A click goes off in Derek's spine, a piece slotting into a place where he didn’t know something was missing.

“You smell good,” Derek blurts, only the slightest embarrassed about how that might sound.

He doesn’t mean it in the intimate way you see in films between courting couples, you can only really smell someone’s natural scent when you’re up close and personal anyway. Stiles does smell good, even from a few feet away. Something floral and sweet.

“It was my mom’s,” Stiles surmises and Derek intuits he’s talking about perfume.

The image of soft mist gently caressing Stiles' bare skin makes Derek's nails itch. Stiles' mom must have had a similar omega scent, would have picked something that complimented it. Derek's not jealous of everyone who’s had the chance to know what it smells like, but he’s not not jealous.

“Here.”

The crinkly foil of a chocolate bar is shoved into Derek's hands. There’s a small tear in the wrapper and a mouse sized bite taken out of the corner. He looks at Stiles' stained cheeks, the boy's eyes impossible to see given the way Stiles' adamantly looking down at his fussing hands detangling headphones.

“I didn’t like it,” Stiles mumbles.

In bold splashes of colour, affection blooms in Derek's chest like a springtime garden. Paying careful attention he peels back the wrapper and puts his mouth directly over the bite where Stiles' lips had once been. He wonders if Stiles' tongue would melt in his mouth like this.

The moment overwhelms him. Tears prickle Derek's eyes and he realises sometimes something can make you so happy it turns you sad, already nostalgic for a moment that hasn’t ended yet. When Stiles offers him an earbud he takes it mutely. Timeless notes of songs his mother dances to in the kitchen drift through Derek's head, Stiles gently rocking along to the beat, and it fits so well Derek realises there could have never been anything else Stiles would listen to.

Together they sit in the perfect sort of silence, connected by thin white wires and Queen. The clouds drift overhead. The sun heats their skin.

 

They’re still sharing headphones for the bus ride home. Derek sits in the front seat with Stiles a warm comfort beside him as the ripening gold fields pass by in a blur. He misses his stop on purpose so he can walk with Stiles all the way to his doorstep, their sides brushing because of how short the headphone string is but not quite touching with purpose.

Derek looks at Stiles' hand and thinks Stiles would probably let him hold it if he tried. He doesn’t try. Doesn’t want to ask for forgiveness when he could ask permission first, but his tongue won't make the words come out so he settles for the light rub of their biceps with every other step.

 

“You’re the star,” is what Stiles tells him while Derek's out of breath and sweaty.

There’s sweat dripping down his face and gash on his knee he took to catch the ball in the first half, stealing it from an opposing alpha for a righteous pass to Scott, who flew past the defence for an ultimately winning dunk. Derek tousles his hopeless hair to shake as much volume into it as he can so it’s not a slick oil stain on top of his head.

“Nah, it’s all Scott.”

Stiles cocks a hip to the side, squinting at him through the glare of the gym fluoros.

“Why didn’t you say you were the captain?”

Derek shrugs, propping his hands on his hips because fuck, what the fuck is he supposed to do with his hands around pretty omegas?

“Yeah, s’not super serious. The guys put me in cause they didn’t wanna do the extra chores, y’know?” He laughs nervously hoping he’s not coming off as neurotic. There’s so much adrenaline in his veins and it’s not from the game.

Stiles tilts his head and Derek wants to die. It’s too much. Stiles' just too much.

 

They’re in their claimed library table, official with their individual initials carved into their side-by-side chairs and everything, when Derek's notebook falls between them. Stiles is the first to grab it while Derek worries about the zipper that’s just broken on his backpack, the teeth all misaligned.

“Der,” just the sound of his name, this special name, a name he’s been called by countless voices but has never been so special until this particular one spoke it, makes Derek's heart double time it’s beat. He mimics the frown of the other boy when he sees the unhappy face. “You aced it.”

Ah. The notebook in Stiles' hands fell open to his English coursework, the one class Derek's not failing dismally.

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s a hundred and ten percent, you got better than perfect.” Stiles insists, waving the notebook under his nose.

And that’s the silliest thing the most perfect boy Derek's ever met could say, even as he jabs a finger towards the tallied mark at the top of the essay. Derek tugs the journal out of Stiles' hands and flips over to the sums crossed through in red. The stern dressing down he’d gotten from his math teacher about never amounting to anything weighs heavy on his chest and makes it hard to breathe. He manages a weak effort at a smile.

“Still shit at math. C’mon, use that head of yours and walk me through pythagorean again.”

Stiles does walk him through it again, but Derek still loses focus for most of it because Stiles' still wearing that perfume Derek likes so much and every time he points at something on the page Derek's thinking more about what the name of his new comic might be than the thing he’s pointing at. It’s not that Derek doesn’t care what Stiles' saying, cause he does, Christ does he ever, but maths could never tell him the unquantifiable radius of Stiles' iris or the exact coordinates of the beauty mark on his jaw. It wont tell him the rounded sum of times Stiles' listened to the Abba album since Derek recommended it last week and it sure as hell won't tell him the odds of Stiles feeling the same pull in his belly as Derek does every minute they’re together.

 

Stiles answers that for him the next time there’s a home basketball game and Derek loses track of time in the showers. They lost this game, it happens, and even though he’s sour about it now Derek knows his mood has more to do with how rough the Alpha check he’d been paired with was than the actual outcome of the game. That’s why he’s got his comfort songs echoing from the tiny phone speaker.

He stops mid-note when he turns around to see a familiar headful of curls waiting on a bench by the lockers. Hastily Derek whips his towel off the hook and wraps it tight around his middle, thinking with too much effort about how cold and gross the tiles are below his feet to keep anything, anything, else from popping into his mind while he’s in a towel.

“Wasn’t expecting you. I might have hurried,” Derek half-ass apologises as his hurried feet slap on the floor to his locker. It clangs open and he tosses his silenced mobile into his bag before pulling out fresh clothes.

“Were you harmonizing Wonderwall?”

“Wonderwall doesn’t have a harmony,” Derek mumbles while he shakes his hair into place, praying it’s not flat like he hates. The saft poke of Stiles' toe on his calf makes him peer over his shoulder to the devastatingly-soft jumper-wearing boy behind him.

“It sounded good,” Stiles says instead of justifying Derek's attempt at a misleader. “You’ve got a beautiful voice.”

“You’re beautiful.” Is what Derek says. Because he means it like he’s never meant anything more and he can’t stand not telling Stiles every second of every waking day that he is the definition of beauty. So he says it, because he has to say it.

Stiles' been nice to him lately, and holding back the side of himself that wants to gloat with the praise Stiles' given him so frivolously has taken its toll on Derek's control. By now he’s yanked on shorts and a shirt so when he turns around to see Stiles blushing something mad at the ground, it doesn’t feel inappropriate to step forward. He steps right to the edge of Stiles' knees, their toes almost touching. Derek uses the gentlest touch he can manage to tilt Stiles' chin up and even the briefest of contact with Stiles' smooth skin is electrifying.

Bright starlight eyes meet his and Derek loses the ounce of control he’d had. He ducks in close. Their cheeks brush in the most gentle of embraces as Derek's nose tickles with the touch of hair behind Stiles' ear, right where the natural scent of him is strongest. Like his voice, Stiles' scent is deeper than anything Derek's could have expected, something natural and indescribable, incomparable. It’s just the heady scent of Stiles.

Derek's never scented someone outside his family, it’s an intensely intimate thing he’s never even thought of doing with anyone that didn’t share his last name. Tidal waves crest through his veins, his heart glowing with pure elation at the newfound nirvana. Stiles' hand clinging tightly to his waist yanks Derek back into his bones, the reality of his actions crashing upon his head with a severity that makes him pull back to see Stiles' stunned face. Despite Stiles' shock wide eyes, his hand grips tighter to Derek's stretched shirt, his body leaning forward like he’s chasing after something.

“Alpha,” Stiles whispers like it’s something sacred.

It bursts the bubble. Derek abruptly stumbles away until he collides with the lockers while Stiles' hand hangs in the air from where Derek ripped himself out of its hold.

“Don’t,” Derek stutters, begs, “don’t call me that.”

And then he’s grabbed his bag and ripped out of there without a second to spare. His hands fist his bag so tightly the fabric threatens to tear. He can’t erase the image of Stiles beneath him, wide bambi eyes looking up with reverence.

But unlike any time Derek might have had a fever dream about it, the title upon Stiles' lips struck Derek with the force of a torrential cold shower. Stiles is perfection, there was no doubt about it, and the thought of Derek ever trying to be his boyfriend, his Alpha, is absurd.

Surely every Alpha in the school could see how perfect Stiles is, and no doubt they’d want a chance at courting him. As much as it makes Derek's blood curdle, he has to let Stiles have that chance, to stay open for the Alpha who was better at Math and didn’t have sweat stains on their clothes and never had embarrassing moments like leaving their fly down. Those were the types of Alphas Stiles deserved. Derek wouldn’t stand in the way of that.

 

Derek sits on the bleachers all lunch the next day but Stiles doesn’t show up with his tangled headphones and half bitten chocolate like usual. Not that Derek blames him. But then he’s not at the library either, or sitting on the bench like he’s become known to do during basketball practice. Derek still doesn’t blame him, but shit. He misses him.

When Derek gets on the bus Stiles doesn’t peel himself away from his huddle by the window, doesn’t even glance at him. Something ugly and festering takes up residence in Derek gut. He feels queasy the entire bumping ride through the desolate brown field lands, now barren after the harvest. The rotten feeling gets worse when the moonlight paints his curtains pale like Stiles' skin and the sway of the breeze mimics the lull of Stiles' head as he falls asleep on the bus sometimes and all Derek can smell is delicate flowers lingering over the concentrated scent of Stiles for that brief moment they’d been pressed together.

What happened between them was serious. Derek had crossed a line. They’d never talked about stuff like that, never even mentioned how Derek always put himself between Stiles and the road when they walked home and how Stiles always had a bite of the chocolate before handing it over on the bleachers. It was the way of things. And now Derek had screwed it all up by abusing the trust Stiles had innocently given him.

The open look of shock on his face is permanent behind Derek's eyelids, filling him with guilt as he rolls over and groans morosely into his pillow. How stupid, how selfish, how bloody cruel he’d been to take advantage of someone like Stiles. Someone with stars woven through their hair and the cosmos in their eyes. Someone who could never be contained to this single galaxy. How foolish it was, then, for the speck of a seed in Derek's chest to attempt growing something like hope.

 

Their marks get posted in the hallway outside the history classroom. People crowd around to find their numbers and it’s a general crush of shoulders and elbows in soft spots. Derek bristles at every touch, impatient to see his results so he can get the fuck away from everyone. What he sees makes his throat close.

A heavy hand tousles his hair.

“Only an A for this Alpha,” Scott teases.

Derek shoves on instinct. A shocked wave grows through the crowd around them as Scott’s shoulders hit the wall with a heavy thud. The surprise in his friend’s face is quick to be replaced by a tense jaw and narrowed eyes. Both of their fists remain clenched at their sides. People are staring, they’ll be spreading rumours about this later and they won’t know to mention how Derek's heart is shattering under the anger in Scott’s snarl, all they’ll talk about is how they’re the newest pair of alphas that couldn’t remain friends through the shift. The thought just makes Derek angrier.

He’s the worst kind of Alpha. The kind that can’t control himself.

With a frustrated growl he fights against every instinct pressing him forward and turns his back on the lot of them. The only reason he got the score on that test was because of a boy he can’t even look at anymore without suffocating in guilt. He won't be able to look Scott in the eyes for weeks, if ever. He’s not only a shit Alpha, he’s a rubbish human being.

The thought propels him through the halls until he’s burst out onto the field. The fresh air does nothing to help. The sight of Stiles rocking awkwardly on his heels by the bleachers does even less, but Derek's reached his breaking point of self pity for the day and he can’t stand carrying around the ugly monster of his guilt any longer.

He veers off from where he’d been heading towards home and meets Stiles' anxious eyes as he draws near.

“I’m so sorry Stiles,” is the first thing Derek says because he means it no matter how worn those words might sound. His fingers tighten over the shoulder straps of his bag. “I shouldn’t have scented you, I’m- I’m a monster for doing that to you.”

“You’re not a monster,” Stiles says firmly and Derek's heart aches. “You don’t have to be sorry.”

“I do! Because you’re intelligent and funny and addicting to be around and-and we aren’t even courting!”

Stiles' eyes lose their hesitancy as his voice firms with conviction. “I wanted you too.”

“C- courting or scenting?” Derek stutters, tripping over nothing but the severity of being caught off guard.

Stiles' adamancy tints pink to the tips of his ears, shy yet determinedly admitting, “Both.”

“But you can’t!” Derek's mouth drops, a crack in his chest from the seed that’s winding roots around his ribcage even as he tries to deny it. “You’re so fucking special and I…” He’s nothing.

“Why wouldn’t I want you to? You’re the sun, Derek.”

Stiles frowns and tilts his head in contemplation like he does when studying or listening to a song for the first time. Derek clings to his eye contact in a search for answers, watching as Stiles' face morphs into a smile like an answer has just dawned on him.

He shares the revelation before Derek can ask. “You don’t know, but that’s part of what makes you beautiful.”

Derek's chest balloons with the field of wildflowers within, to the point he believes they must be bursting from his ears and growing through his hair. Stiles thinks he’s beautiful. There can be no doubt about it, because Stiles wouldn’t tell a lie which means it must be true. Stiles thinks he’s beautiful and he wants Derek to court him.

It’s the impossible becoming solidified into something tangible.

“Stiles,” Derek licks his lips uncertainly, needing the moment to gain his courage because even if it’s all true, which it is because it must be, well even then he has to do it right and ask. ”May I court you?”

“Depends.” Derek's eyes bulge, his heart wilting at the single word even though Stiles' eyes sparkle with laughter. Stiles could ask him for the moon and at this moment Derek would agree to it. “May I call you Alpha?”

A pained sound leaves Derek's collapsing lungs. Stiles steps into him, wrapping around Derek's waist to hold him steady as Derek's washed over with a crashing wave of everything he’s ever wanted. Every atom of his being urges him forward, to indulge, and yet he still stiffens in Stiles' hold.

“Want you to scent me, Alpha,” Stiles says, because he’s a mind reader and knows the exact words are the perfect key to unlocking Derek's bones.

Derek melts. Unrestrained, his instincts guide him into the crease where nothing exists but Stiles.

 

Epilogue

They’ve been courting for almost a year when it happens. The sticky sweet middle of summer where skin peels off of vinyl chairs and rubber melts into asphalt.

Scott told Derek about this place, although his friend had been more interested in the cute outfits the girls wore to scoop the ice cream he had admitted it would be a good place for Derek to take Stiles. Things are settling between them now that they’ve been freed from the confinement of crowded halls and classrooms. They’re not quite tackling each other on the field like they used to when practising footie, but a playful shove is no longer cause for violent retaliation. It’s progress.

Derek's crunching on a too-big mouthful of waffle cone he had to stuff in his mouth because it was falling apart in his hands. There’s vanilla ice cream all over his hands and he almost starts choking because Stiles' not faring much better with the bottom of his own cone leaking strawberry cream down his wrists as he shoves the last pieces into his bulging cheeks. They snicker over their mouthfuls as much as they can when they catch the mess each other is in, attempting not to choke on the harsh edges of the cones.

He smells it first. Just as he swallows down the last bite he catches the waft of something deep and earthy, something like Stiles. It’s odd to have smelled it when he’s so far away, not pressed close to the hairline where Stiles' strongest. But they are both sweating in the sun, the excuse for their cool sweet treat in the first place, so perhaps the glistening sweat that beads Stiles' forehead and back of his neck is the culprit.

Prickling starts up under Derek's skin. He shrugs his shirt around in an attempt to improve airflow, like it’ll help the rush of heat that’s making him a little dizzy as they walk hand in hand towards Stiles' place.

There are no rules today. No schedule to adhere to, parents gone to work and siblings off on their own daily adventures, leaving Derek and Stiles to be wherever they like together. Or wherever Stiles’ newly inherited Jeep will take them. At first he thinks that must be it. The excitement of having Stiles all to himself for a few more days before school starts up, a house to themselves and a probable repeat of pretending they'll watch Star Wars before falling into a heavy make-out session.

That must be the reason Derek's palms are clammy and his mind can’t focus on the ground in front of him and there are needles along his entire body rubbing his nerves to hyperawareness. Stiles tugs his hand a little, but his knowing smile dips in the corners when Derek struggles to return it, nearly panting in the heat. Fuck. It’s really hot out today. He should have drank more water, is what it is.

By the time they stumble in the doorway of Stiles' house he can barely stand, let alone walk straight. Stiles' frown deepens as he watches Derek lean against the wall for much needed support.

“What’s happening, Der?”

“I think…” Think, god what the fuck does he think. Sweaty palms. Rapid heartbeat. Heightened sense of smell. He’s either Spiderman or - “I think it’s a rut.”

His rut. He’s going into it. And they’re courting, which means…

“Oh.” Stiles' face flushes.

Does he feel it already? How long has Derek felt like this, an hour? Maybe more? Would it have been enough to set off Stiles' heat by now? The thought alone drives Derek mad, his lower stomach clenching in a strong wave of desire. His hand grips the doorway so tightly he’s certain there’ll be indents under his fingers.

“Do you still… ?”

Derek grimaces through the waves of it now. If Stiles says no they’ll have to call his parents, like, now. Already he knows it’ll be too hard to pull himself away on sheer willpower alone, and it’ll be damn embarrassing for his mother to drag him away from humping Stiles' leg, but he’ll do it if Stiles says to.

They spoke about it earlier, once they got settled in their relationship and the newness had worn off into a comfortable trust that allowed them to speak about anything. Everyone learned in health class how an annual heat or rut set off a domino response when a couple were courting or mated, so it was obviously something they were going to have to deal with at some point. They’d both agreed to go through it together, nervous but excited by the idea of being with someone through it for the first time. That was weeks ago. If Stiles has any doubts about it Derek won’t hold it against him, but he needs to know right the fuck now.

It doesn’t seem to be the case because Stiles licks his cherry lips with a hazy glint in his eye Derek recognizes only from an hour into heavy petting sessions that have left them both breathless and aching.

“Yeah, come on, yeah,” he tugs Derek's shirt and shoves him towards the stairs, both of them tripping up in their haste to get to Stiles' bedroom.

Derek's body seems to have realised what’s going to happen and he’s throbbing in tight jeans the instant he crosses the threshold into Stiles' room. He tosses his shirt into a corner, having tugged it off on the journey there, and starts frantically working on his jeans. God shitting fuckity fuck, why are these things so bloody hard to undo when all he needs right now is- yes, Stiles' hands covering his own to take over, working the button and zip open until Derek's jeans are yanked to his ankles and they both groan at the sight of Derek's obscenely tenting his pants.

Stiles tosses his own shirt out of the way, knocking Derek breathless at the miles of smooth skin. They dance awkwardly out of their jeans and socks and pants and then it’s the two of them, flushed and naked and so fucking hard it hurts. There’s no time to be awkward about it, Derek's brain too muddled to hold an ounce of self-consciousness he’s used to having anytime they’ve ever gotten close to something further than kissing.

Stiles is a dream.

He goes pliant beneath Derek's hands, skin fever warm and flushed a delicate pink. He moves fluidly onto the bed as Derek's hands on his waist lead him there and Derek stands at the edge of the mattress between his sprawled legs. The light catches the glint of wetness trailing down Stiles' thighs and Derek's hands smooth up their creamy expanse to meet it. He collects slick on his finger and watches, mesmerised, as Stiles' lips part easily to accept it.

“Good omega,” the words roll unbidden from his lips. Natural. Like the tug in his gut pulling him closer to Stiles, until he’s leaning over him and pressing their chests together so they share the rhythm of each breath.

Derek was wrong before, when he thought his self consciousness had vanished, because now that he’s here between Stiles' legs everything seems so startlingly vibrant the only way a shock of arriving in a moment you weren’t fully prepared for can be. His hands begin to shake. Stiles' gentle fingers smother his, twining together so they’re steady on his skin.

“You’re the sun, Der,” Stiles murmurs with a whine hinting behind his words, his heat no doubt making it hard for him to keep calm beneath Derek, but he does because he’s always been so strong. His lips brush the shell of Derek's ear. “You bring me warmth.”

Stiles' said it so many times over the months they’ve been together, and yet it sounds like the first each time the words come from his mouth. Stiles may not be perfect, but he’s damn well perfect for Derek. If he’s the sun, then Stiles is his moon, and together their bodies discover how to push and pull the tides.