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When Scott says, “What, you could, like, hack the NSA?” Stiles is 99% sure it’s supposed to be a joke. But Stiles has never met a challenge that he didn’t take head on—getting Lydia to love him, getting his dad to eat right, getting Coach to quote anything other than Independence Day.

(We’re not going to mention when he forgot to study for his calc final, so he wrote a paper on the history of boxer-briefs instead. Or when Scott said let’s try out for lacrosse and Stiles just laughed and then ended up spending his entire high school career as a bench warmer. Or when Mrs. Wilson from the apartment across the hall said I threw out my back, can you help me move my couch? and Stiles had feigned a terrible illness and spent three days hiding in his apartment, fake coughing so hard that he lost his voice for a week.)

(We are also not going to talk about how Lydia only ever saw Stiles as a friend. How his dad still sneaks bacon sandwiches when he thinks Stiles isn’t looking. How coach will never, ever change.)

 

***

 

There was this thing in high school, and Stiles may or may not have bribed someone into teaching him how to hack into cell phone records. It may or may not have been the start of what Stiles refuses to call His Life’s Calling, but really, it sort of is. Stiles is pretty sure his dad thinks he suffered from an internet porn addiction junior and senior year, he spent so much time in his room religiously deleting his internet history.

Long story short, turns out you can make a pretty decent career for yourself hacking. Or programming. Or consulting or whatever. He doesn’t really stick to one thing too much, jumping from job to job and coding in his own time. It is, in his opinion, pretty sweet.

 

***

 

Okay, so Stiles didn’t actually think he could hack the NSA. But, uh, he sort of does. Son of a sheriff through and through, and Stiles is backtracking so fast he’s surprised he doesn’t break the internet.

 

***

 

“So, um, you know that thing you were telling me about,” Stiles begins one day, at lunch with Scott.

Scott is better at people than he is at facts. Scott is also better at being a decent human being than he is at math, but, you know, whatever. “Allison’s new shampoo?” Scott asks hopefully. They both know that’s not it, but Scott lives in hope that someday someone will love to listen to him wax poetic about his eternal on-again-off-again love.

(Stiles has yet to point out when that day happens that Scott, pacifist to the core Scott, is going to go fucking apeshit. He’s not sure if this makes him a good friend or a bad friend, but he resolves not to worry about it.)

“No, about the thing.” Stiles knows that he has to derail the conversation from Allison fast if he wants to get anywhere with Scott. “With the agency that I’m kind of scared is going to find me. Let’s call them the, uh, Naked Scuba Association.”

Scott stares at Stiles blearily across the table. “What?”

Naked. Scuba. Association,” Stiles grits out. “Think about it. Not, like, actual naked scuba. Urgh.”

Scott stares for a minute more, obviously going down the dangerous rabbit hole of what naked scuba would actually involve. Stiles kicks him gently under the table before Scott gets to wondering if naked scuba would involve Allison.

“Wait,” Scott says, startling out of whatever dark place his mind took him too. “Did you actually hack the Naked Scuba Association?”

“I plead the fifth,” Stiles tells him. “But I might need an alibi and a plane ticket to a country without an extradition treaty.”

Scott, because he is a terrible friend, just laughs

 

***

 

In the end, since Scott is absolutely no help, Stiles does his best to act cool, which is sort of hard to do when he goes out and buys himself a brand new computer. In cash. He hasn’t felt that judged since he asked Lydia to their sophomore year winter formal. Yikes.

 

***

 

There is a guy in Stiles’s coffee shop. Not, like, one he owns, but the one he frequents. Not that it matters because there is this guy and he is amazingly, indescribably hot. Just tight pants and broad shoulders and stubble and eyebrows for days.

“Hey,” Stiles says, unable to keep quiet when it counts. “You come here often?”

Hotty McScruff gives Stiles some seriously impressive eyebrows. “No.”

Undeterred, Stiles barrels on. “Oh, well, I didn’t think so. I haven’t seen you here before. Not that I come here a lot, or anything. I am definitely not fostering a secret caffeine addiction. But, anyways, I didn’t think I recognized you and I just thought I’d say hey.” He does this awkward little wave thing when he says ‘hey’ but Stiles refuses to let his crushing humiliation be the end of him.

If Stiles didn’t know any better (and, seriously, he doesn’t know this guy from Adam), he’d say that Mr. Hotty With A Body looks amused. What even. There is something Stiles seriously wants to call a twinkle in this guy’s eyes.

“Derek,” he says, voice softer than Stiles would have expected, now that he’s over the initial adrenaline rush of attraction enough to actually pay attention.

“Um,” says Stiles, because he’s pretty sure he missed a part of their conversation. “What?”

“My name,” says the dude who is apparently named Derek. He definitely seems amused, though. There’s a smile playing at the corner of his lips and Stiles suddenly has a burning desire to see if he can make Derek actually show off those pearly whites. Stiles wonders if the corners of his eyes would crinkle. He’s not sure if his heart could take it. “I’m Derek.”

Never in Stiles’s whole life has someone this hot ever given Stiles the time of day. “Stiles,” he says, running on autopilot now. “I’m Stiles.”

Derek holds out his hand to shake and, seriously, this has to be the Twilight Zone or something.

“So,” Derek asks, seemingly okay with Stiles and all of his social awkwardness, “do you come here often?”

“Sadly, yes. Yes. I do,” Stiles says, opting for the truth, just to see where it gets him. To his delight, it gets him Derek, who wants to know his opinions on the cupcakes here and how to get to the Preserve.

Best. Day. Ever.

 

***

 

Much to Stiles’s eternal surprise, Derek actually likes him. Not that Stiles is suffering from any sort of self-esteem issues, but he’s gangly and hyper and kind of an asshole more often than he means to be. And Derek, well, Derek’s sort of mean and sort of moody, but he’s also stupidly romantic and knows how to use a gun.

The sex is also better than it has any right to be. Stiles never wants to get out of bed again, not if Derek’s there.

 

***

 

What this means, really, is that Stiles sort of forgets to be paranoid about illegally hacking the United State’s largest intelligence agency.

 

***

 

“So does Derek actually do anything?” Scott asks one day, probably realizing that he’s spent so much time talking to Stiles about Allison, it’s only fair that he takes one for the team and actually asks Stiles about his suddenly existent personal life.

“He makes animal pancakes,” Stiles answers honestly. “Well, no, mostly they’re dog or wolf themed pancakes. But they’re still animals and they’re delicious. It’s not like I’m not going to turn down free pancakes, dude.”

Scott makes a face at him and Stiles wants to be like remember that time I had to play go between with you and Allison and you tried to kiss me? because, seriously, high school wasn’t hard enough without their extra drama. Scott can stand to hear about Stiles and Derek’s everlasting pancake love.

“No, dude, I mean as a job,” Scott clarifies, because of course he’s actually a decent human being who wants to know shit about the guy Stiles is currently head over heels for.

“Oh, he’s an analyst for the DoD or something.” Stiles doesn’t really ask about it because Derek doesn’t really talk about it. Also, the one time he did resulted in some of the worst role-play of Stiles’s life, where Derek got oddly technical about certain forms that needed to be filled out and refused to handcuff Stiles to anything in his apartment.

“Oh my god,” Scott gapes, a look of blind horror on his face. “Naked Scuba.”

Stiles stops shoveling curly fries into his mouth just long enough to realize exactly what Scott’s saying. “Oh, shit.”

 

***

 

Casual. Stiles can totally do casual. His boyfriend might not work for the NSA. Whom Stiles may or may not have hacked. At least when he goes to jail he’ll have someone to make sure he goes to the cushy prison with all the white collar dudes and not the one filled with murderers and Russian gangsters.

“So, what do you actually do?” Stiles asks, casual as you please. It’s Sunday morning and they’re lying naked in Derek’s bed. Stiles knows that if he plays his cards right, there are animal pancakes in his future.

Derek doesn’t pull out a gun and start demanding who Stiles is working for, so that’s a good sign. His sigh is sort of par for the course. “Analyze data, mostly. Find patterns. That sort of thing.”

Stiles has seen Derek play connect four. It has now been officially banned from date-night because Derek’s sort of a sore loser and Stiles sort of likes to gloat. Jigsaw puzzles have been similarly dismissed. Derek is not so great with patterns. Stiles laughs so hard that he rolls off the side of the bed, bruising his knee on the way down. Totally worth it.

 

***

 

“It’s not like what you do makes any more sense,” Derek argues later, carefully flipping pancakes. He’s wearing an apron. Stiles is having a hard time taking him seriously.

“I develop software projects that use the Git revision control system,” Stiles explains. Again. “You know, version control systems, software configuration management. All in the same family.”

Derek looks at Stiles like he just started speaking in rapid Portuguese. “You spent six hours playing World of Warcraft yesterday.”

“Well, yeah,” Stiles agrees. “I can’t let the guys down.”

The fact that Derek hasn’t hurt himself rolling his eyes to hard is really, really impressive.

 

***

 

Overall, Stiles would rate Operation Does My Boyfriend Enjoy The Occasional Nude Aquatic Dip And Is He Going To Arrest Me? zero out of ten. No forward progress. No gold stars. Do not pass go; do not collect two hundred dollars.

“I’m sure they’d make someone else arrest you,” Scott reassures Stiles, the worst person at reassuring ever.

“They scuba naked,” Stiles reminds him. “They let their goodies just hang out with the sharks and shit.”

Scott pats Stiles on the arm. “I think you’ve taken the whole Naked Scuba thing a little too far, bro.”

Stiles doesn’t even know why he’s talking to Scott about this. Scott’s now on-again girlfriend is a professional archery badass and Scott’s a vet. Scott knows nothing.

 

***

 

There is obviously only one thing to do. Stiles goes straight to the source. Again.

He only feels a little guilty about that. Mostly, he just feels paranoid.

 

***

 

Because Stiles lives badly, Allison is at Scott’s house when he rolls up at three o’clock in the afternoon, convinced that his life is over. Of course she’s there. Where else would she be?

“Wait, what?” Allison demands, unfazed by Stiles sudden arrival but apparently taken aback by him when he holes up on Scott’s couch and starts to complain that Derek is going to get the bends or decompression sickness or something because he can never be fucked to actually have a little patience and think things through.

“The bends and decompression sickness are the same thing,” Scott unhelpfully informs Stiles before being the worst bro in the history of brodom and filling in Allison on all the details of Stiles’s life of crime and quickly deteriorating love life.

 

***

 

Allison and Derek, surprisingly, do not get along.

“He looks like a serial killer,” Allison had hissed when Derek excused himself to the bathroom during what Stiles had thought, up until that point, was a pretty nice meet-the-friends lunch.

“He just has a tragic backstory,” Stiles assured her. “Don’t worry. He’s mostly over it.”

(Later, when pressed about what he thinks of Allison, Derek only volunteered that she’d reminded him of an ex-girlfriend. Stiles knew enough to let that sleeping dog lie just a little bit longer.)

In the face of Stiles hacking into the largest intelligence gathering organization in the United States to find out if his boyfriend works for them, and then discovering that said boyfriend does, in fact, work for them, Allison is surprisingly helpful and nonjudgmental.

“You just need to talk to him Stiles,” she tells him reasonably. “If this comes out later it’s going to be so much worse for the both of you. Besides, he really likes you.”

Scott nods along with Allison. “It’s true, dude. He is, like, super into you. It’ll be fine.”

Stiles decides that they are both the worst.

 

***

 

Maybe Scott isn’t the worst bro in the history of brodom because he’s totally cool with it when Stiles pull out the bottle of Jack he brought with him and gets soundly drunk on Scott’s couch, just like freshman year of college all over again.

 

***

 

Stiles takes it back. Scott is the actual worst.

“Come on, lightweight. I’m not going to carry you,” Derek says, appearing out of nowhere and helping Stiles off the couch. “Thanks for calling me.”

“I didn’t call you,” Stiles tells him, confused and attempting to coordinate all of his limbs and finding it surprisingly difficult. He’s not that drunk that he wouldn’t remember calling Derek. Stiles has a very good memory for all Derek-related activities.

Derek manages to get Stiles upright and Scott holds the front door open for them. “Not a problem, dude,” Scott, the Worst Person Ever, says, ruffling Stiles hair as he passes by. “Just looking after my buddy.”

“Ugh, you’re the worst,” Stiles tells him, heartfelt, as Derek drags him out to the car. Derek’s not quite fast enough to cover Stiles’s mouth with his hand before he yells, “Traitor!” into the night. Stiles gives him props for even trying though. It’s impressive.

Safely inside his house where no federal offences have been committed, Scott laughs.

 

***

 

“I did a bad thing,” Stiles admits. His head is spinning and Derek’s placing a bottle of water and a bottle of aspirin on the bedside table. He already helped Stiles out of his clothes and into bed when they got home. “Hey, conjugal visits. Is that, like, every prison?”

“Do I even want to know?” Derek asks, and Stiles doesn’t even need to open his eyes to know what Derek’s eyebrows are doing. Something moody and impressive, for sure. Stiles wonders if had to take classes. Like, super secret naked scuba classes on how to use eyebrows like semaphore flags.

Stiles reaches out and grabs Derek’s hand. “I’m going to miss you when I walk the plank,” he tells Derek seriously. “Do I have to be naked though? Or is that only for the scuba divers? Does it cut down on chafing, cutting out the wetsuits?”

Because Derek is, by now, well acquainted with the many ways Stiles’s ADD likes to present itself in his adult life, he just kisses Stiles’s forehead and says, “Get some sleep. I’ll cook you real bacon in the morning if you’re good.”

And, overwhelmed with the guilt of Derek being the most perfect and wonderful person ever, Stiles blurts out, “There’s a chance Scott dared me to hack the Naked Scuba Association and maybe I know that you have a really adorable ID photo.”

From the doorway, Derek stands perfectly still. His eyebrows convey confusion and concern. Stiles can’t tell if he’s angry, but that’s only because Derek is always projecting this, like, baseline of anger, even when they’re cuddling and shit.

“Get some sleep,” Derek says again, at last, closing the door behind him.

The only reason Stiles gets any shuteye is because he drank half a bottle of Jack and he’s not, like, a wizard or anything.

 

***

 

There is bacon in the morning. Stiles is pretty certain it’s a trap. But, then again, Derek’s also really terrible at the kind of forethought that creating a bacon trap would require. Either way, Stiles is hungover and he wants bacon. Beggars can’t be choosers.

“So,” Derek says, putting down a cup of coffee and a plate of bacon and eggs in front of Stiles. “Do we need to talk about this?’’

This is a terrible sign, Stiles decides. Derek hates talking about things. “About how the amount of bacon you consume is going to lead straight to heart disease?” Stiles asks hopefully.

Derek frowns, but it’s his standard frown. Stiles worries a little less. “You spent the entire car ride home last night asking me if I’d ever found Nemo, and then you told me that I shouldn’t show Disney characters my wang.”

The fact that Derek says all of this with a straight face is perhaps more attractive to Stiles than it should be. “That’s good advice, dude. You shouldn’t.”

“Stiles,” Derek sighs, sounding all kinds of aggravated and uncomfortable and suddenly Stiles feels like the world’s biggest jerk.

“I might have hacked into the NSA’s website. Just a little.” Stiles admits, deflating. His bacon tastes like delicious, salty, fatty regret. “But I just wanted to see if you worked for them! So you wouldn’t arrest me. For that time I hacked them to prove a point to Scott.”

Now, Stiles is expecting one of several things to happen. He expects Derek to yell, or, well, growl, in Derek’s case. It’s weird, but it really does things for Stiles so he’s usually not complaining. Although this is bad, this is really bad, so maybe Derek will actually yell. There’s also a chance he’ll turn completely silent, his eyebrows so furrowed that Stiles is worried he might pull something. Stiles is pretty damn worried that he’s going to jail. It sort of seems like the inevitable punch line to all this.

What he does not expect, not in a million years, is for Derek to dump some more bacon onto Stiles plate and say, “You could have just told me that,” like he’s a totally reasonable person, which Stiles knows is not, in fact, true.

Never one to hedge his bets, he asks, “So you’re not mad?”

“That you discovered a potentially devastating crack in the NSA’s firewall and alerted us before it could be used against the United States?”

Oh, well, when Derek puts it like that, it seems totally fine. “Pssh, I knew that,” Stiles says, shoveling some more bacon into his mouth. Bacon is wonderful, he decides. Arteries be damned.

Derek just rolls his eyes and Stiles thinks he might just be a little bit in love.

 

***

 

Derek does ask what the hell the Nemo thing was for, eventually. It’s not a conversation Stiles ever really wants to relive, but after he kind of likes the way the top of Derek’s ears go red when he says to Scott, “Oh, me and Derek? We went deep sea fishing all afternoon.”

It’s kind of super adorable, watching a super secret Naked Scuba Agent blush. Stiles is never going to let him go.

(He is, however, giving up on his hacking career.)

(Unless Scott dares him too. Or Derek asks. Or, okay, if he needs to update Finnstock’s LinkedIn for him. Needs to. Wants to. Whatever.)