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It was all Erica’s fault.

Looking back at how it all started, that’s what Derek would conclude, and the excuse he would give. It all began when Erica stormed into his apartment, face red and eyes flashing gold as she fumed.

“Fuck Boyd,” she’d growled, and her fangs were starting to peek out, as well. “He can go fuck himself, the fucking fucker.”

“You don’t mean that,” Derek said blandly, giving her a bored stare from where he was sitting on his sofa, book splayed open across his lap. “You’re getting married in a few months. You two are so sweet on each other that you give everyone diabetes.”

She casually flipped him off as she walked past him and to the TV. “We’re going to marathon Scattered Kingdom until I feel less homicidal.”

“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about. If it’s some sort of show, just go watch it with Stiles or someone. You know I hate watching things.”

“You’ll like it. Besides, he’s seen it all already.”

“All the more reason for you to choose him.” Derek rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh, but he bookmarked the page and set the book aside. Secretly, he was delighted that Erica would choose to come to him for comfort and support. Hell, he would be delighted if any of his pack would do that.

Erica glanced at him over her shoulder as she clicked over to Hulu, a smirk threatening to ruin the angry down-turn of her lips. “It’s way more fun to watch a newbie get sucked in. Trust me, you’ll love this.”

He stared back at her with an expression filled with skepticism. When the opening credits showed some type of sci-fi series, his look shifted to one of harsh judgement. “You know I’m only watching this because you’re my beta and I’m obligated to take care of you.”

Grinning, Erica plopped down next to Derek and leaned against him, her head on his shoulder. “I know.”

------

Andi tossed her head back and laughed, teeth flashing in the light of the overhead display. “That’s rich!” she cackled. “A suit like you thinks he can keep up with the likes of us!”

Tiernan paused in the doorway, his hand gripping the cold metal of the frame. “You have no idea what I’m capable of,” he answered low and dark. It made the grin slip a bit from her lips, but he said nothing more before stepping out into the dim hall.

(Excerpt from “We Are the Damned” by dontcallmejar)

------

Two episodes in, and Derek was begrudgingly starting to get into it. He particularly liked the character of the spaceship captain, Jarrett Pilier, for some reason. Something about him just really drew Derek, and he enjoyed watching every scene with the smart-mouthed young man who was cunning and underestimated and lithe and had a really nice smirk.

He also kind of liked the guy who he supposed was supposed to be the primary main character, Tiernan Sandulf. Of all the characters, Derek felt he could relate to that guy the most, since Tiernan had lost his entire family after being tricked by a spy for something called the Confederate Colonies for Free Space, aka the CCFS. Evidently Tiernan used to be a prince of an entire planet, until the CCFS decided that hierarchies were too archaic, and solved the problem by assassinating the entire royal family and “liberating” the planet. Only Tiernan, his younger sister, and his uncle made it out with their lives. Okay, so similarities between Derek and the character were actually a little creepy.

By the end of the first season, Derek was at the point where he yelled at the screen and got so frustrated with some of the characters that he had to stop for a while and go make food as a distraction. Erica watched on in amusement as he puttered about the kitchen, grumbling and cursing and asking her things then ordering her not to answer because he didn’t want to be spoiled.

“I knew you’d like it,” she said with a wide, smug smirk.

“It’s not half bad,” he lied. It was fucking amazing. The character development was so well-done, and the characters themselves all had such depth, and the world was so fleshed-out and vibrant. He was totally, completely hooked.

------

”I can’t do this!” Tiernan cried, fingers slipping as he scrabbled to cling to the wet rock. “Jarrett, just go!”

“Not likely, boss!” the captain shouted back, and Tiernan’s heart stopped when he saw the younger man double back towards him. “You can’t be rid of me that easy!” One of Jarrett’s boots slipped on the rocks, and for a dizzying second Tiernan was sure he was about to watch him tumble into the rapids. By some miracle, however, Jarrett was suddenly there beside him, the long fingers of a warm hand wrapping around his arm and pulling him out of the freezing, raging waters.

(Excerpt from “Weighed Down” by dontcallmejar)

------

They stopped watching around midnight, then picked right back up marathoning it after breakfast the next day. Two-thirds through the second season, Derek waved emphatically at the screen and demanded, “When are those two just going to fucking fuck, already!”

Erica snorted and playfully kicked his thigh with her foot from where she was sprawled out along the couch. “You see it, too?”

“See what? The eye-fucking? The way Tiernan keeps getting distracted by Jarrett’s lips when he talks? The way Jarrett watches Tiernan’s ass when he walks away? The way that they constantly run into danger to save the other, even though they both complain about it and insist they hate each other? It’s so disgustingly obvious. Why is the show dragging it out so long?”

She shrugged, grinning broadly. “Not everyone sees it. The fandom’s kind of split on it, actually. There are the Jarnan fans and the non-Jarnan fans. Which I guess are now called the Murnan fans?”

“I honestly have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.”

“Don’t worry,” she assured, patting her toes on Derek’s thigh, “you will. You will.”

------

She smiled at him sweetly, and Jarrett never wanted to punch a lady until that moment. “Has he told you all his secrets yet?” she purred. “Told you who he really is, what he’s really doing?” There was a cruelty to her tone, a sharp taunting that reminded Jarrett of schoolyard bullies. For someone so beautiful, he wondered how it was possible for her to be so ugly.

“He’ll tell me when he’s ready,” Jarrett replied calmly. She wanted to ruffle his feathers, but he wasn’t going to let her. Instead, he felt inclined to ruffle hers. Tilting his head, he let a cold smirk stretch his lips. “It’s interesting that you think he’d tell you a lick of truth.”

“He loves me,” she insisted, tilting her chin up and standing her ground.

“Sure he does,” he mockingly consoled. “That’s why he paid me to monitor your movement. I’m sure it was just loving concern.”

(Excerpt from “The Truth in All These Lies” by justaspacebusinessman)

------

Derek did learn, and he was honestly rather pissed. Partway into the third (and most recent) season, a woman named Muriel started popping up everywhere, flirting with Tiernan. “Bullshit!” he exploded, startling Erica awake from where she was curled up on the other end of the couch. It was nearing three in the morning, but Derek couldn’t stop watching.

“Wha?” She lifted her head and blinked over at him. “Oh, my god,” groaned Erica groggily, “I’ve created a monster.” With that, she flopped back down and pulled the blanket she’d commandeered from Derek’s bed up over her head. “Go the fuck to sleep.”

“Why the hell is Tiernan flirting back!” he cried incredulously. He watched on in horror as Tiernan smiled and flirted and leaned in close to the veritable stranger that was Muriel. Just on the edge of the screen could be spotted Jarrett, looking stone-faced and falsely calm. Derek wanted to punch something. “He doesn’t know her!” he went on to fume, waving his hand at the screen in a fashion that spoke of too much time around Stiles. “Tiernan has fucking trust issues! He’s not going to just start blindly trusting someone because they bat their pretty eyes at him. If that was the case, he’d already be admitting to trusting Jarrett, and they’d be fucking like space rabbits.”

“Jarrett never batted his eyes at Tiernan,” grumbled Erica from beneath the blanket.

“No, he just leered at him and made suggestive jokes,” Derek snarked back.

Sighing, Erica flipped the blanket back and glared at her alpha. “Well, maybe that makes it so Tiernan doesn’t trust that Jarrett actually wants him, or that he wants Tiernan for anything more than a fuck. Maybe Muriel comes across to him as being interested in all of him, not just his dick.”

Derek stared at her as if she’d just announced she was Kate Argent’s long lost kid sister. “Are you fucking kidding me? Jarrett is the only person on this entire show who has taken the time to get to know who Tiernan is as a person. He’s the only one who keeps giving Tiernan the benefit of a doubt, who keeps supporting him, even as they both claim they can’t stand each other. Jarrett is the one Tiernan turns to when he needs someone he can trust. I don’t even know who this Muriel character is, so why should I assume Tiernan would trust her?”

Erica let out a thoughtful hum, large eyes darting between the glowing TV and Derek’s face. “You know, this show reminds me of something,” she mumbled.

He opened his mouth to ask, but then snapped his jaw shut. To be honest, he knew exactly what she was talking about, since he’d realized it, too, towards the end of the second season. There were times he associated himself with Tiernan a bit too much, just as he’d also started associating Jarrett with someone. Someone just as brilliant and cunning and broken, hiding it all behind sarcasm and snark. Derek hadn’t told anyone about his feelings for Stiles, but he always suspected that Erica knew. She’d often glance between the two of them and smirk, or try to arrange it so they’d be thrown together for something or “accidentally” left alone together.

She yawned and stretched, pulling her hands over her head and arching her back until it popped. “How much more do you have left to watch?” she asked as she settled back down into the cushions.

“That was the most recent episode,” he confessed, frowning at the end credits.

Erica gave him a confused look and glanced again at the time. “But, it would have been on hours ago.”

“Found a place that was streaming it,” he explained, motioning towards the laptop he’d plugged into his TV. Which Stiles had shown him how to do, had taken him shopping for the proper cord, and knelt close to him while plugging everything in and teaching him how to change the screen output.

Christ, it was late if Derek was getting all sentimental about fucking computers and output cables. He rubbed at his eyes and allowed himself a jaw-popping yawn. “I’m going to take a nap,” he announced, rising to his feet.

Snorting, Erica stretched out her legs to take up the space he’d just vacated. “A nap? What are you, five?”

He shot her a playful glare and headed to the bathroom to brush his teeth. “I’m getting up in a few hours to meet with Isaac for breakfast. So, I’d consider what I’m about to do more of a nap than anything.”

“You sound like Stiles,” she said teasingly, grin obvious in her voice.

“Shut up or you won’t be invited to join us. And it’s that place you really like with the homemade waffles.”

Her delighted laughter followed him into the bathroom, and he caught himself smiling a little when he looked in the mirror.

------

The Lion was a tall, imposing man, but his eyes were always warm and his rare smiles brilliant. Jarrett was amused, however, the first time he watched Tiernan try to deal with the man. They were both rather stoic when confronted with strangers, so the stilted conversation was both painful and hilarious to witness.

“That’s cruel!” laughed Andi, dancing around Jarrett to saunter over towards the two men. “I’m gonna go tell The Lion that Tiernan’s on the level.”

“But this is far more fun,” objected Jarrett, sharing a grin with Sommers and Merth.

Colletta just rolled her eyes and pushed past them to join Andi. “Men.”

“You know you love me, Colletta!”

“Kindly stick it up your ass, Captain,” she sing-songed back.

(Excerpt from “Nebula” by dontcallmejar)

------

Boyd was at breakfast, which resulted in a few moments of tense awkwardness before something just broke and suddenly he and Erica were apologizing and kissing and then Derek and Isaac were experiencing a different kind of awkwardness. It was good, though, to see everything sorted and put to rights. It was also good to have most of his pack together like that. Derek wondered if maybe he should start having weekly breakfasts with all of them.

Erica let slip what she and Derek had been watching non-stop for the past couple days, and suddenly Derek found himself swept up in animated conversation with his betas about the show. Isaac was evidently a pretty huge fan, with his favorite character being the ship’s first mate, Merth. Boyd was the most subdued, but it was obvious even he was really into it, as he leaned forward on his elbows to make a serious point about why he didn’t trust Tiernan’s uncle.

By the time Derek was home, he felt the best he’d had in years, despite having barely slept. It was a great morning with his betas talking about his new favorite show, and everyone had really enjoyed themselves. But, when he went to retrieve his laptop from beside the TV, he remembered the last episode, and a frown tugged at his lips.

Instead of getting more sleep, like he knew he probably should, he spent the day on his computer, reading articles about the show and about how the pairing of Jarnan (Erica’s words were starting to make way more sense) had won a few online polls. Then, he’d discovered fanfiction. It was a bit surprising, since he’d no idea it was a thing people did.

Soon he’d read most of the archives at a place dubbed AO3, and had discovered a few things: he had some kinks he hadn’t even known about, some people should never write porn, some people were made for writing porn, the person going by dontcallmejar was his new favorite author for anything ever, and he really wanted to try his hand at writing his own story. Several of the things he read gave him ideas for a few works of his own, inspiring him to fix problems he saw with the characterizations or to elaborate on a point briefly mentioned.

Most of his favorite authors had tumblr accounts, so Derek created his own account in order to follow them and keep track of updates. He immediately screwed up and got into a bit of an argument with his favorite author, over a couple of fucking marketing promo images. Lips pressed into a firm line, he glared at the screen and wondered why his social skills had to suck so horribly. Everyone had been telling him that he’d been doing much better! Stiles even cracked a smile at his jokes sometimes. That had to mean something, right?

Luckily, he was able to win dontcallmejar over by commiserating with him over the Murnan bullshit. Soon enough they were messaging back and forth, discussing anything from fic recs to most loathed tropes. The author even joked about writing a fic inspired by their conversation, and Derek found himself grinning like an idiot. He couldn’t help it, really. This guy, this dontcallmejar, was really funny and entertaining, and honestly reminded him a bit of Stiles. They had similar ways of speaking and reacting, and it was easy to picture him looking like Stiles, too. Admittedly, part of this mental projecting was also probably due to the fact that dontcallmejar wrote Jarrett the most in-character from everything Derek had read, but with a slight...something...that made Jarrett seem even more like Stiles in Derek’s head.

Shaking himself, Derek closed out the browser to take a break from chatting with dontcallmejar. Instead, he focused on writing one of the storeis that was rolling around in his brain. He had theories about Muriel, about who she really was and what she was really up to. So, he used writing as a way of organizing those theories, and to reconcile how Tiernan could be flirting with her when he so obviously wanted Jarrett.

Despite getting so caught up in writing he forgot to eat lunch, it was a successful exercise. It had been years since he’d written anything, though, so he was a little nervous when he posted it up on AO3 and put the link and summary up on his blog. Not like he even expected anyone to read it, but still he worried that some random person might stumble upon it and tell him flat out just how shitty it was.

Finally giving in to his stomach’s demands, he got up to go fix himself some food and try to forget about anything to do with fanfiction or Scattered Kingdom for a while.

------

He watched Jarrett’s hands move over the controls, and let himself want. It was fine, he rationalized, to allow it in that moment. No one was looking. No one would know.

Jarrett’s movements were mesmerizing, and the fool didn’t even know it. It made Tiernan itch to move, to reach out and touch and grab and pull until Jarrett was moving against him. He wanted to feel all that lithe muscle flex beneath his wandering hands, hear that cocky voice shattered and begging.

(Excerpt from “The Truth in All These Lies” by justaspacebusinesman)

------

When he sat back down at his computer later, it was to find a flood of messages on his blog, all of them telling him how much they liked his story. What was even more startling was seeing that dontcallmejar had reblogged and recommended it. Derek honestly had no idea what to do or how to respond. None of the reactions he was seeing made sense. He’d just written a fantasy-fulfilling, rather pornographic story about two fictional characters while imaging himself and Stiles in their places, and people liked it. Why?

Someone named mynuet had told him that his ”Tiernan voice is perfect,” which was a little disturbing since he’d pretty much just had Tiernan act and talk like Derek would have in his place. He even confessed in a reply to another message, by someone called livingflame, that he felt he related strongly with Tiernan. It wasn’t a full confession to being the hack he felt himself to be, but it was almost enough to ease his conscious.

Then, dontcallmejar replied to that post, and somehow everything escalated until Derek found himself fake engaged. He was laughing by the end of the thread, his cheeks hurting a bit as he gazed fondly at his computer screen. This guy was ridiculous and charming in his own strange way. Derek couldn’t help but be ridiculous right back at him, going along with his jokes and offering some up of his own. It reminded him of the last 4th of July, when he and Stiles had kept trading barbs and trying not to crack up, until they found themselves sitting away from everyone else and having a conversation made of nothing but insults and exaggerated innuendo.

“I’m gonna marry SB and we’re gonna live in a cute little house with a yard and a white picket fence and adopt 2.5 kids and have a puppy and watch fun shows all day and have sex all night long. And sometimes in the mornings and/or the middle of the afternoon.” dontcallmejar went on to post, which in turn launched a whole new thread of back-and-forths between them. It was fun, this play flirting, and Derek was suddenly as addicted to it as he was to the Scattered Kingdom series.

Over the course of the next few days, he kept checking the tumblr app on his phone wherever he went, replying to things dontcallmejar said and not even trying to keep the grin off his face. Sometimes, the conversation would veer dangerously towards serious relationship talk, but mostly it was just lighthearted flirting. He tried not to let it mean too much to him, though, because dontcallmejar had made it pretty clear that there was someone he was already in love with (albeit unrequited). It had often been referenced in tags, and sometimes outright stated, and Derek called himself an idiot anytime he felt it start to bother him. He didn’t know this guy. Just because dontcallmejar reminded him of Stiles, it didn’t matter. He wasn’t Stiles. He was just some stranger on a blog site who shared some common interests with him. That was it.

Besides, he had the real Stiles. Which, okay, no, perhaps “had” was the wrong word. The real Stiles was someone he could actually speak with face-to-face if he wanted. Granted, the real Stiles didn’t usually look too thrilled at the idea, but it was still an option.

It was just as he was starting to feel his mood slip from surprisingly happy to his typical resigned frustration, that an anonymous ask popped into his inbox. He stared at it for a moment before responding.

“You said you understand dontcallmejar in having a perfect person. Can you tell us more about him/her?” it asked.

Tell them about Stiles? He’d never talked to anyone about Stiles, about how he viewed the man or how he made Derek feel. Could he talk about him? Could he find the right words to describe just how incredible he found Stiles? He wasn’t sure, but he’d try.

“He is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” typed Derek, feeling his gut tighten and twist. “He will literally sacrifice his own wants to help others. Even if he didn’t really like someone, he wouldn’t hesitate to jump in and save them if they really needed it. He’ll bitch and snark the whole time, but he’ll do what has to be done. Also, he’s ridiculously brave. One of the bravest people I know, if not THE bravest person.

“And he’s so smart it’s scary. Before I’ve had a chance to put all the pieces together, he’s already got the answer and is halfway done with coming up with a plan for the solution.

“He’s one of the very few people I would trust with my life. I know he’ll always be there, will always have my back.

“But, he doesn’t see me as anything more than a friend. It took us years to get even to that point, actually. Sometimes I think he still kind of hates me. I’m not sure he actually really likes me all that much, to be honest.”

Derek stared at the words after he posted them, wondering if he should have put that last part. There was something disconcerting about seeing his own insecurities look back at him in crisp, digital letters. How many years had he tried to get over Stiles, knowing it was a stupidly lost cause? Too many. Too much time wasted hoping that Stiles would eventually see him as something more than a freak to be barely tolerated. Sure, Stiles had saved his life multiple times, and he always came along willingly whenever called, but... But, Stiles would sometimes not even look at him, or purposefully keep his distance, and it fucking hurt. Derek had had things literally impaling him through the chest before, and that pain was tolerable compared to Stiles dodging his glances and avoiding his proximity.

Though, none of it ever compared to the times he’d have to watch Stiles try to date someone. It’d been nearly impossible not to snarl and lash out at something every time Stiles smelled like someone else or talked about how great his boyfriend or girlfriend was or what they planned to do later. And, Derek knew, okay? He knew he wasn’t the best catch, that Stiles deserved better, but that didn’t make it any better.

------

”This here is my darling sweetheart,” insisted Jarrett, arm wrapped tightly around Tiernan’s tense shoulders. “We are totally in love.”

“Completely,” agreed Tiernan with an emphatic nod. “And we are absolutely married,” he went on to say. Jarrett tried not to cringe at just how shit Tiernan was at lying. He was starting to have some serious doubts about them making out of this with their heads.

(Excerpt from “Unexpected Turbulence” by dontcallmejar)

------

To distract himself from such depressing thoughts, Derek threw himself back into flirting with dontcallmejar, replying to his posts and teasing him. Soon enough people were commenting on how they were shipping them now, instead of just Jarrett and Tiernan. Derek smiled a little, and placed himself amongst the lot of those doing the shipping.

”If you keep saying things like ‘who says it won’t work,’ they’re going to believe you!” dontcallmejar said in response to an instance of Derek encouraging the idea of them as a pairing.

It made Derek pause, and he considered his words, thinking back to the past week of flirting and chatting and teasing. Why couldn’t it work, he wondered. They got along. They seemed to really enjoy each other, actually, if the way dontcallmejar kept responding was any indication. Honestly, for the first time ever he’d met someone who made him feel nearly the same way he felt when around Stiles. He could totally see it working.

“Why shouldn’t they?” he finally responded.

Almost instantly, dontcallmejar was responding back with “BECAUSE OF THAT LAST POST YOU MADE. Dude, you are obviously in love with someone else already.”

Derek frowned. “Someone who has zero interest in me,” he typed out in reply. “But if you are seriously uncomfortable, I’ll stop.” He had really enjoyed all the banter, but was more than willing to back off if that’s what dontcallmejar wanted.

“No. No, it’s fine. You don’t have to stop. It’s just the line seemed to be blurring, and I’m not really sure what that means.” Derek stared at dontcallmejar’s reply, turning the words over and wondering exactly what he was implying. The lines were blurring? Did that mean that Derek wasn’t the only one who started to see their fake flirting as not so...well...fake?

Taking a deep breath, Derek typed: “That depends. What do you want it to mean?”

“Dude. Loaded question is loaded.” The guy even used too many “dudes” like Stiles. Derek felt his lips twitch in a smile before shaking his head and trying to banish the thought. If he did want to make something work with this guy, he’d need to stop comparing him with Stiles. It was something he’d done with every other potential partner since he’d realized what he felt, and it never ended well.

“I thought it was pretty straightforward, actually.”

The response from dontcallmejar was a bit longer than expected. “You can’t just…

“Look, I’m not that guy you wrote that really touching post about. I will never be that guy. How do you expect me to compete with that?

“We have fun joking around, but why would you think that’s basis enough for an actual relationship? We don’t even know each other, not really. We’re just strangers in cyberspace bonding over fan-written porn for a ridiculous scifi series.”

Derek wasn’t sure he agreed with that. “It’s not a competition,” he typed guiltily, knowing full well where his thoughts had been straying. “Why should trying out a relationship after ‘bonding over fan-written porn for a ridiculous scifi series’ be any less valid than people entering relationships after flirting at a bar?"

“Dude, we don’t even know each other’s names!”

Well, if that was the only obstacle... “That’s an easy enough fix. My name is Derek. What’s yours?”

He waited, but dontcallmejar didn’t reblog that thread with a response. Nothing popped into his ask box providing a more private revelation of a name. Nothing happened at all, actually. Knee bouncing, Derek kept refreshing his dashboard, waiting for a reply. When dontcallmejar finally posted something, it wasn’t what Derek expected. It led to a very strange and confusing conversation between them that resulted in dontcallmejar signing off in a panic, accusing Derek of not caring, and asking him to stop.

What had he done?

Clicking back through all their recent conversations, he couldn’t find anything to set dontcallmejar off like that. But there had to be something. Something to piss him off and freak him out, and Derek was practically pulling his hair out in frustration because he was so totally lost.

After waiting around for another hour, he thought “Fuck it,” and logged off to go to bed.

------

”There’s a lot of nothin’ in space,” Andi said almost conversationally as she stepped up beside Tiernan at a portal. They both peered out at the wide vastness of the universe. “Damn near impossible to find a single little object out there. Like, oh, say, a dead body.”

Tiernan gave her a confused glance, but otherwise continued watching the stars. “I’m not sure I follow.”

“I’m just sayin’. You hurt him, and you might find yourself havin’ a bit of trouble with one of the airlocks.”

(Excerpt from “Nebula” by dontcallmejar)

------

He had been sleeping for maybe about two hours before the angry knocking started. Before he could even pull himself out of bed, Erica was letting herself into his apartment and storming in just like she had the week prior. Derek stood there squinting at her in confusion as she marched up to him with eyes again glowing and teeth looking much sharper than they had before.

“You fucking asshole,” she seethed, jabbing a clawed finger at his chest. He frowned down at the tiny wound as it closed up, then turned his frown onto her. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? You think this is funny? Did it amuse you? You sorry sack of shit! If you weren’t my alpha, I would throw you out that goddamn window right now and piss on your mangled corpse! You’re sick! Fucking sick! And I--” She stopped short and took a good look at him, anger slowly draining away.

“What were you doing just now?” she asked, voice significantly softer, but with a lingering edge.

“Sleeping,” he grunted, mind still reeling from the random tirade as he scrambled to figure out what he’d done to earn her ire.

“Sleeping. It’s, like, seven.”

“I guess.” He had no idea what time it was, and frankly didn’t care. After his last discussion with dontcallmejar, he was completely drained.

“When did you go to sleep?”

He shrugged. “Couple hours ago?”

Erica bit her lip, her shoulders sinking. “Oh. Oh, you poor baby, you didn’t know.”

“Know what?”

“Nothing,” she whispered with a motherly voice that was just far too surreal coming from her mouth. “Nothing, sweetie, don’t worry about it. Come here.” Before he could object, Erica was drawing him into her arms and petting his hair while she rocked him gently. As if he was some baby needing to be burped.

“Erica. What are you doing?”

“You look sad,” she cooed. “I’m comforting you.”

“Thanks, but that’s not really necessary.”

“Shut up and let me love you,” she snapped.

Giving up, he went lax in her arms and let her carry on. It wasn’t really that bad. Rather nice, actually. He wasn’t going to tell her that, though.

------

His hands had made their way to Tiernan's shoulders, and he was gripping with such a surprising strength that it nearly hurt. “Why?” asked Tiernan with barely any voice. “Is it because of who I am?” He studied Jarrett’s eyes and wondered, not for the first time, if he had imagined lingering looks and warm smiles and a thick tension beneath all their words.

Eyebrows crushing together in something like pained frustration, Jarrett opened his mouth as if to reply, but Tiernan let impulse override rationality and leaned forward to kiss him. For a brief flash of a moment, Tiernan felt Jarrett kiss back, but then the hands on his shoulders were pushing him back until they were forced apart. “Tiernan,” Jarrett rasped, his voice raw and bleeding as he tried to make it sound strong. His eyes kept glancing down at Tiernan’s lips. “No.”

(Excerpt from “The Final Piece” by justaspacebusinessman)

------

The next day, he signed onto tumblr with a bit of trepidation, only to find his inbox again filled, this time with words of comfort and encouragement. It was the strangest thing, and he sat there with his fingers hovering above the keyboard, unsure of how to respond to them. These were complete strangers, and they were offering words of support. Something in him ached at it, even as he tried to tell himself that none of really meant anything. They didn’t really know him. The words were empty.

There was one message, however, from an anonymous person accusing him of playing the ”Offended Nice Guy routine.” He knew it was stupid of him to be baited by the jackass, but he couldn’t help typing out a heated rebuttal. This wasn’t his fucking fault. It couldn’t be. He’d done nothing dontcallmejar hadn’t said he’d wanted.

Still, despite that anon’s random bit of hate, many other people chimed in with even more kind words. It didn’t stop the anon from messaging him a few more times, though.

Finally Derek had to take a break from tumblr and write to work out his aggravation. This time, it wasn’t a wish fulfillment piece. There was no happy ending where Tiernan and Jarrett fell into bed together and fucked like their lives depended on it.

Instead, it reflected how utterly alone Derek felt. No one wanted him. No one ever would want him. He was starting to get that. Part of him had long ago already suspected it.

And, maybe he was being overdramatic, being so down just because some random guy online whom he’d never even met rejected him. It felt like more, though. Like a confirmation of something.

After posting the fic to his blog, he sighed and leaned back in his chair. His phone was set beside his laptop, and he stared at it for a long while, wondering if he should text or call Stiles. It had been a couple weeks since they’d last spoken, and he missed him. Fingers idly stroking the phone’s glass screen, he tried to imagine how the conversation would go. Would Stiles be happy to hear from him? Probably not. Usually Stiles assumed that a call from Derek meant trouble was coming and Stiles’ skills were needed. Derek never called just to chat.

Maybe he should change that.

Stiles didn’t answer. It went straight to voicemail as if he had his phone turned off. Maybe it was for the best. Without leaving an answer, Derek hung up and set the phone back down.

He checked back on his blog, to see that his latest fic was unfathomably popular. The story was shitty and depressing as fuck, so he had no clue why those people were even reading it, let alone flooding his inbox with words of adoration.

There was a message from dontcallmejar. “No one's abandoning you, Derek.”

He wanted to laugh. Of course they weren’t, because they weren’t there to begin with. You can’t abandon something that you won’t even go near.

A touch of bitterness flavored his words as he replied with, “I never said they were. That was a story about Tiernan and Jarrett, just in case you didn’t catch that from the repeated use of their names.”

Feeling like a masochist, Derek clicked over to dontcallmejar’s blog to see what he’d posted so far that day. He found a message explaining away his odd behavior the night before:

“So, guys, sorry for freaking out yesterday. I had just learned that the guy I’ve been gone on for years is equally as gone on someone else. Like, hardcore, could write sonnets, thinks that person hung the fucking moon. And so I was kind of, well, freaking out.”

Derek frowned. He supposed that made some sort of sense, then, as to why dontcallmejar would suddenly have been upset. It didn’t explain everything, though, since it didn’t explain why he seemed particularly upset with Derek.

“And I’m sorry if I upset you, justaspacebusinessman,” dontcallmejar continued on in the post. “But as great as you are, it couldn’t work between us. It really couldn’t. I know for a fact that it couldn’t. So can we just be buds? Like, still chat about the show and stuff, just maybe tone it down on the sexy banter? We cool?”

Slightly mollified that it was just dontcallmejar’s mystery guy who upset him, instead of something Derek did, he figured he’d better send a message to say they were fine. He’d miss swapping sexual innuendos and cheeky flirtations, but it was a harmless sacrifice if it meant getting to keep a friend. It would have been fine, he could have tried to pretend it was all finished and done with, except that dontcallmejar replied to someone else’s thread in a way that confused the fuck out of Derek.

starmorgs: Concerning a certain SK author whose URL has the word jar in it. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE???

factorielle: idk, it started out reading like an unhappy collision between RL and fandom, and then it turned personal against SB? I genuinely have no idea.

dontcallmejar: No, guys, no! Something personal against SB?? It’s nothing personal, guys, ok?!? I just had a sort of freak out moment because I learned something very upsetting. SB is great. He’s fucking amazing. And too perfect for fucking words. Like, words have yet to be invented to accurately describe how totally great he is. Ok?

This guy made no fucking sense. One minute he was going on about how he and Derek could never work, then the next he was rambling about how perfect and wonderful Derek was. Derek was going to get whiplash.

“So you think I’m great, amazing, perfect, just not date-able. Because I’m not some moron you’re in love with who is in love with someone else. That makes complete sense. Thanks for clearing that up for me,” Derek responded, fingers hitting the keyboard so hard he worried for a second he might break something.

And the fucking response? “It’s not you, it’s me…?” Derek wished he hadn’t already sent the message stating they were fine. Because this? This was bullshit.

Dontcallmejar must have picked up on his aggravation, because when he replied to Derek’s message, it was with a “Why don’t I believe you?”

“I don’t know. Why?” he snapped back in response.

The resulting thread had them both drawn into conversation, much like their usual, except with a great deal less lighthearted flirting. Dontcallmejar even tried to give Derek advice on how to woo the guy he was in love with. Derek found himself laughing again, but this time it was dark and cold. This guy had no idea. None. Yeah, Derek knew that Stiles found him attractive, but dontcallmejar was out of his mind if he thought that would be enough to make Stiles his. Derek wanted more than someone to fuck, when it came to Stiles. He wanted Stiles.

After his last comment on the thread, Derek noticed he had another message in his inbox, so he opened it up to give it a look. He found a question from wordswrittenovercoffee, whom he’d gotten an ask from before. Her previous question hadn’t been so much of a question as just adding her support during all the shit going down between him and dontcallmejar. This time, however, it was a real question, and it was one that gave him pause.

“Positive question time!” it read. “What's your fondest memory of the past five years? It can be funny, embarrassing-but-we-laugh-about-it, bittersweet, something you like to think about when things get shitty... ANYTHING. I bet you have one coming to mind right now, don't you?”

Of all the times to ask him something like that, it would have to be while he was sitting there feeling cut open and exposed. Stiles was already filling his mind, overflowing and dripping scalding hot down his nerves. Did he have one fond memory come to mind? Thinking about Stiles, he had countless. The realization choked him, and he was tempted to log out and ignore the ask. Instead, he found his fingers typing out a response.

“Our friends Boyd and Erica had just announced their engagement, and somehow someone got champagne (must have been Allison, because she was the only one besides me able to purchase it). He (my guy, as we are calling him) got rather tipsy and insisted that he had to dance with the bride to “bless the union." We tried to tell him she wasn’t a bride yet, but he waved us off and shouldered Boyd out of the way, and proceeded to dance with Erica. There was no music. He just danced some drunk approximation of a waltz with her, obviously stepping on her toes most of the time. They were both laughing so much. Everyone was laughing. They all looked so happy. I wanted them to always be that happy.”

It was a moment that was pure in its happiness, unblemished by any looming shadows of mysterious threats. Just a normal day, where they could all pretend to be normal people. For just a moment, everything had clicked just right and they were all happy. They were everything he’d ever wanted them to be. Everything he fought and bled for. He’d die a thousand deaths to keep them that happy.

He answered a few more asks before he noticed that dontcallmejar had replied to that post. “Sooooo,” he posted. “Well then. Ok. Huh. Alright. Derek, if you’re still online, Check my blog in like 15 minutes, ok? Ok."

Intrigued, Derek clicked back over to dontcallmejar’s blog and waited. It was more like twenty-something minutes later, but finally a post appeared.

For a long moment, Derek wasn’t sure he was actually breathing or that his heart was still beating. More overdramatics, but this time completely warranted. He read and re-read the post several times before clicking the reblog button and typing out the first thing that could come to his shaken mind: “Your freaking out on me makes sense now, actually. I’m coming over.”

Dontcallmejar--no, no Stiles--promptly responded, “You aren’t pissed? I expected raging. Why aren’t you raging? Wait, are you coming over to rage at me? If so, I’m sure the raging can wait until tomorrow morning? Or afternoon, rather. After I’ve had my coffee and have fully awakened and can brace myself for the raging.”

A laugh bubbled out of Derek’s mouth, and he grinned fondly at the computer, trying to ignore how the words were looking a little blurry and his eyes felt a little damp. “Mostly I’m being impressed with our ability to fall for each other twice. But if you’d rather I rage…?”

His grin grew as he continued typing, “Also, you aren’t ‘that kid who tags along’ to me. I’ve evidently been complete shit at letting you know how much I like having you near me. I’m sorry you ever felt that way, and will do what I can to fix it. Maybe if you stayed over for a few nights? Would that work?”

He refreshed and saw Stiles’ quick response. “Maaaaaaaaybe. I dunno, man, it might take a LOT of nights of me staying over to fully convince me that you want me around. Like, a whole lot.”

“I’m sure we can work something out. Now get off your computer and clear off the piles of unfolded clothes I just know you have on your bed. When I get there, I’d rather not wait for you to put them away. So, unless you want to have to rewash them…” After clicking the button to post it, Derek got up and looked around for his keys. He grabbed some clothes, stuffed them in a pillowcase, and ran out the door.

------

”We should really talk about--”

“Later,” rumbled Tiernan as he sank to his knees. His dark hands ran up the insides of Jarrett’s thighs, burning hot even through the thick fabric. When he gave a gentle push, Jarrett complied, spreading his legs wider.

Sinking further down in his chair, Jarrett dared to reach out and bury his long fingers in Tiernan’s dark curls. “Later’s good,” he agreed, watching raptly as Tiernan leaned forward to press parted lips against his fly.

(Excerpt from “We Are the Damned” by dontcallmejar)

------

Stiles must not have anticipated him arriving so soon, because Derek heard him curse from deep within his apartment and loudly stumble over something after Derek knocked. When he finally swung open the door, his cheeks were flushed and his eyes were wide, as if he hadn’t quite believed it was true and Derek was coming. He licked his lips, an action that Derek watched hungrily (as always), and offered a tilted smile. “Hey.”

Derek responded by swooping in to kiss those moistened lips, running his own tongue over them until Stiles was gasping and Derek was pressing inside. They shuffled through the doorway, and Derek kicked the door closed behind him, makeshift overnight bag dropped negligently just inside the door. Stiles’ hands were suddenly on him, clawing at his clothes, hiking his shirt up in order to run possessively along skin.

“You’ve no idea,” Derek husked against Stiles’ mouth, “just how long--”

“Shhh,” Stiles interrupted. “Unless you were going to finish that sentence with ‘my dick is,’ I don’t want to hear it right now. I don’t want to hear anything right now except your voice moaning my name.”

Derek snorted and buried his face against Stiles’ neck. “You’re so smooth.”

“You’re just jealous of my sweet, sweet seductive skillz.”

Trying not to grin, Derek gave Stiles’ neck a playful little nip. “Oh yeah, so skilled. I particularly like the part where you freaked out on me online and couldn’t tell me the truth about why.”

“Dude, I totally told you the truth.”

“Nope.” Derek licked a broad stripe up Stiles’ neck, delighting in the way it made the younger man shiver. “You said that the guy you were in love with was in love with someone else.”

Stiles made a sound of protest deep in his throat, even as his fingers slid down past the waistband of Derek’s pants. “I thought you were.”

“Idiot.” Derek rocked them together, practically purring at the feel of Stiles’ dick pressing hard against his hip. “Who could that post have been talking about, besides you? Who else has always been there for me?”

“You said he hated you. I don’t hate you.” Stiles’ long-fingered hands felt like they were made for grabbing Derek’s ass, the perfect size to cup each cheek and squeeze. “Obviously.”

“You always try to avoid me.” He tried to guide them blindly towards Stiles’ bedroom, using scent and memory to lead the way since he didn’t want to look up from where he was kissing and nibbling Stiles’ neck.

The tip of a finger brushed against Derek’s hole, and he jerked his hips back in silent demand for more. It made Stiles curse softly before he tried to compose himself enough to respond. “Not always. I totally try to get you to hang out with me a lot. But...sometimes I know if I’m too close to you, you’ll be able to tell how much I want you.”

They bumped up against the wall outside Stiles’ room, and Derek took a moment to rock their hips together for some delicious friction. “I could already tell. But that just meant you wanted to fuck me.” He almost laughed as he realized their current state wasn’t exactly suggesting otherwise.

“I thought we weren’t talking about all this right now,” Stiles practically whined, pressing his finger more insistently as a potential distraction. “I already poured my heart out online, for you and all my buddies to see.”

“You said you’re in love with me.” Derek tried to still his hips and calm himself so he could pull away just enough to look into Stiles’ eyes.

Stiles bit his lip when he did that, and he glanced away with a mild groan before steeling himself to meet Derek’s gaze. “Yeah,” he said. “I did.”

“So why can’t I tell you how I feel?”

“I already know. That post, man... Christ, I was so goddamn jealous once I found out SB was you, and that there was someone you cared about that much.”

Derek ran a hand down along Stiles’ cheek, his thumb brushing against those amazing lips. “This is your last chance to back out,” Derek whispered. “If we go in there, if we do this, then I’m not ever letting you go. Understand?”

Stiles grinned, then parted his lips to draw Derek’s thumb inside, sucking on it obscenely. As he watched Derek start to pant and groan, Stiles slowly pulled back to release the digit. “Goes both ways. You’re not going to tease me with what I want, just to take it back later when you change your mind.”

“I’m not,” Derek assured, leaning in to replace his thumb with his tongue, fucking inside Stiles’ mouth. “Christ.”

They nearly stumbled on their way to the bed (which was thankfully free of clothes). He didn’t remember how they got their clothes off, but somehow they were naked and pressed flush against each other. Stiles released a rumbling laugh as he arched his back with such a sinuous grace that Derek was left stunned, his cock aching. “How do you want it?” asked Stiles, and fuck but his voice was deep and perfectly suited for sex.

“I thought you liked having Tiernan bottom,” Derek replied against Stiles’ ear, breathing the words more than speaking them.

“Oh, my god,” Stiles gasped as he arched again, rubbing against Derek in all the right ways. “Yes. We are doing that. Yes. Absolutely. Fuck, you’re perfect.”

That startled a laugh out of Derek, and he rolled them so that Stiles was on top. “Get the lube,” he ordered, even as he parted his legs to allow Stiles to slot himself between them.

Stiles tried to comply while remaining where he was, which resulted in some ridiculous stretching and really wonderful wriggling. Finally his hand came back triumphant, and his pleased grin had Derek melting. This man, he thought, was going to be the death of him, and it was going to be worth it.

“Can I ride you?” Derek heard himself ask, watched as his own hand went up to run fingertips along stiles’ jaw and down his neck. “I want to see you.”

Above him, Stiles made a sound like a dying orca and collapsed on top of him. “If this turns out to be just another really amazing sex dream about you, I am going to be so fucking pissed.”

“And can you finger me open while I’m on my hands and knees? It feels really good that way.”

Stiles let out some painfully choked noise and thrust his hips against Derek’s. “Shut up, or I am going to come right now, and there will be nothing for you to ride.”

“Wouldn’t want that,” agreed Derek, running his hands up and down along Stiles’ spine and over his pert ass. Christ, that ass. Derek salivated at the thought of everything he was going to do with that ass, now that he was allowed.

Once he was calmed down enough, Stiles managed to pull himself away and encourage Derek to turn over. “Tell me if it’s uncomfortable, or you need me to do anything differently,” he murmured against the base of Derek’s spine, one of his hands idly stroking Derek’s heavy cock. He kissed his way down one cheek and to the top of Derek’s thigh, before drawing back and removing his hand. There was the distinctive click of a plastic cap, and then cool, slick fingers were pressing at him.

Derek let out a little grunt and tried to press back onto them, spreading his thighs further apart. He heard Stiles let out a stream of curses as he slid one of his fingers in. It was good, but not enough. “More.”

“Fuck. Yeah, okay. Okay. More.” The finger withdrew enough to allow another one to slide in alongside it, and Stiles groaned louder than Derek as they both slid home. “How is this actually my life now?” Stiles whispered in disbelief, fingers working steadily, expertly. Derek tried not to think of how they obtained their expertise.

It wasn’t long until Stiles had three fingers in him, fucking him with perfect rhythm and stretching him just right. “Stiles,” Derek said, not even caring that it came out sounding like a plea.

The fingers left him, as did the heat of Stiles at his back. Instead, Stiles was laying down beside him, rubbing lube onto his flushed, hard cock and watching Derek with eyes that practically glowed like a wolf’s. “Come on, then,” Stiles summoned, a taunting lilt to his voice. Derek watched his hand move slowly up and down his dick. He didn’t know it was possible to want someone so much as he wanted Stiles. In every way imaginable.

He moved to straddle Stiles, lining himself up perfectly with that blunt, slick head. As Derek sank down, Stiles dug stubby fingernails into Derek’s hip. They were both making short, needy sounds that stumbled into stuttering groans. “Yeah,” Stiles said once Derek was fully seated, but his voice was little more than a gasp. He rubbed soothing palms over the marks he’d made on Derek’s flesh, even though they were quickly fading away like smoke.

Derek tried to stick to what he’d said about why he wanted to ride Stiles. He tried to watch the young man beneath him, tried to keep his eyes open to capture and memorize every expression and gasp and straining muscle. Stiles was gorgeous, and it was almost too much to watch him while feeling Stiles’ cock fucking up into him. Derek had found just the right angle, just the right tilt of his body as he moved himself up and down on Stiles’ lap, that the pleasure was almost unbearable in its consistency.

Giving up, he tossed his head back and rode as hard and fast as he could, knowing it wouldn’t take much more to send him over the edge. Stiles couldn’t stay quiet, words tumbling from his parted lips in nonsensical waves. Those amazing hands of his were all over Derek, as if they needed to touch every inch or else they’d fall off. Derek managed to open his eyes again as he came, needing to look at Stiles, at the man who was finally his.

Stiles gasped as he watched Derek come completely undone on top of him. He groaned and fucked up as hard as he could when Derek tightened around his dick and came all over his chest. Words like “perfect” and “mine” and “god” slurred together on Stiles’ tongue. A few more thrusts and he was shuddering his release deep inside Derek.

They kissed as they crashed down from the high of sex. First it was heated and messy, but it slowly melted into gentle and relaxed. Derek reluctantly lifted his hips enough for Stiles to slip out of him, and he slid down to lay beside Stiles on the bed.

“That just happened,” Stiles whispered, voice a little hoarse. He was smiling softly and dancing fingers along Derek’s chest.

“In a few minutes, it can happen again,” Derek replied with a smirk and playful leer.

Letting out a little hum, Stiles wriggled closer and wrapped himself around Derek. They were both sticky with sweat and cum, but neither of them seemed to care. “Maybe with the roles reversed?”

“That’s doable.”

“So am I.” Stiles waggled his brows at him, and Derek couldn’t help but laugh and pull him closer for a kiss.

------

”No regrets?” Jarrett whispered into the starlight-softened darkness of his room. Next to him, he felt Tiernan shift, and then there was a comforting warmth pressed all along his side.

“None at all.”

(Excerpt from “See You, Space Cowboy” by dontcallmejar)

------

deciduousness asked:
....OH MY GOD. DID THAT... DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?

dontcallmejar: Multiple times. ;)

“Stiles!” Derek yelled, getting up from his seat at Stiles’ computer in order to storm back to his bedroom. “Stop telling people online about our sex life!”

Stiles was splayed out over the bed, still completely naked, as he typed away at the screen of his phone. Without even looking up at Derek, he offered the man a challenging grin. “Come make me.”

Needless to say, when Derek dove onto the bed to retrieve the phone, his mission got a bit sidetracked.

------

”Hey, boss?”

“Yes, Captain?”

“I never liked the feeling of when I finish a book.”

“How do you mean?”

“That sense of something ending. Don’t like it. Never have.”

“Well then, I suppose we best keep this story going.”

“Guess we best.”

(Scattered Kingdom, final episode: “The Long Haul”)