It’s nearly at the scene when Frodo volunteers to take the ring, and the fellowship is actually formed. That’s definitely the best part of the movie, in Stiles’ opinion, but he rates Fellowship of the Ring last out of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so he’s probably biased. Mostly, he’s glad the action is about to pick up a little more because things feel slightly awkward right now. He isn’t entirely sure why, since Derek’s the one who suggested a trilogy marathon as a great way to spend the first day of their vacation. They’ve both got a week off work, the first real time off Stiles has scheduled since becoming a deputy two years ago, and his only plans are being lazy, eating junk food, and spending time with Derek.
Their romantic relationship is still relatively new, after all, and they don’t get to see each other as often as he’d like because their days off don’t always overlap. That’s what happens with a rookie deputy dates a paramedic who works the overnight shift. In Stiles’ case, he seems to get stuck working mid-shift most often because all of the deputies with tenure prefer day or overnight compared to that awful shift that doesn’t really mean either a day or night off in many ways. He and Derek can usually get together for a late breakfast in the morning when Stiles is working, and that’s about the only option they have unless Derek arranges to meet him for a quick dinner, which is dependent on Stiles’ caseload for the night. Fortunately, Derek does twelve hour shifts, so he has extra days off. Well, he would if not for the fact that he always picks up OT shifts because he loves his job and likes being able to help out.
This week, they both arranged to take vacation time together. Originally, there had been talk about possibly trying to go somewhere, doing the whole trip together thing. But they were both pretty exhausted due to working so much, and traveling didn’t sound very relaxing. Besides, they’d decided to take time off work because they wanted to spend time together without getting called in for a shift or having to try to fit in couples’ time around their busy schedules. So they decided to save travel plans for a future vacation, possibly to visit Cora down in South America next year, though they haven’t decided for sure yet.
Their relationship only progressed from friends to lovers about five months ago, so staying home and just enjoying each other’s company really is the best idea. Stiles is glad Derek suggested it since he might not have, especially if he thought Derek wanted to get out of town. Derek came back to Beacon Hills about two years ago, shortly after Stiles had finished at the academy and started working at the Sheriff’s department. Derek had spent years traveling, finding himself, in a way, and working through his issues until he was in a much better place mentally. Stiles isn’t exactly sure why Derek decided to return to Beacon Hills, since it’s not somewhere that holds good memories for him at all, but he’s not complaining about it because they became friends when Derek moved back and put the paramedic license he’d got in New York to good use.
Then they gradually became more than friends when they realized they were spending all their free time together and practically dating already. There had been a lot of sexual tension prior to that revelation, of course, near kisses and lingering looks that had finally convinced Stiles to take a chance by asking Derek out on an official ‘let’s try this romance thing’ date. Looking back, Stiles thinks that maybe he’s been half in love with Derek since they spent a summer together searching for Boyd and Erica, but he’s glad he didn’t realize that’s what it was back then because it hadn’t been the right time. He’d had to grow up and figure out who he is, and Derek had needed time to heal and to accept that he did deserve nice things. They both still have baggage, Derek’s guilt over Kate and his family and his betas, and Stiles’ guilt over the Nogitsune’s actions and Allison and the blood on his hands since then, but they aren’t weighed down by it. Not anymore.
The plans for this week are pretty loose. The goal is to spend time together, talk about whatever they want and hang out in a way that isn’t so possible with work always interrupting, and to just have a great staycation with junk food, good movies, and, hopefully, some amazingly hot and passionate sex. However, it’s only day one, they aren’t even halfway through the first movie in their marathon yet, it’s not noon yet, and Derek’s already acting really weird. There’s a tension in the air that just gradually developed since they started watching the movie, and Stiles doesn’t understand what’s causing it. When he showed up with donuts and his overnight bag earlier, Derek had been happy to see him. There had been making out in the kitchen and sappy smiles that they’d both totally deny making and just a general happiness he always feels around Derek.
Now, though, Derek’s sitting on the other side of the sofa with his hands on his knees, staring at the television like it’s offending him, and, yeah, okay, Fellowship is the weakest of the trilogy, but it’s still better than any of the Hobbit movies, so it doesn’t deserve such intense glaring. The worst bit is that Derek’s jaw is tense, a vein in his neck throbbing as if he’s grinding his teeth, and Stiles isn’t sure what happened to make him change from happy to see him to being withdrawn and stressed. By the time Aragorn kneels to pledge his allegiance to Frodo, he can’t keep his mouth shut any longer because it’s making him nervous.
“Did I do something wrong?” Stiles asks, not looking away from the television even as Derek turns his head to stare at him. When he watches the other people step up to join the Fellowship, he doesn’t even feel his usual excitement that happens no matter how many times he watches the trilogy. Instead, he’s trying to stay calm and not imagine all the worst case scenarios that could happen right now. He’s picking at a loose thread on the hem of his t-shirt, wrapping it around his pointer finger as he focuses on breathing evenly.
“What?” Derek sounds confused, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. While it shouldn’t be surprising that Stiles is willing to confront the tension head-on instead of pretending it’s not there, Derek probably thought he’d be too caught up in the movie to even notice yet. Maybe if they’d started with Two Towers, since it’s probably his favorite, but he’s definitely not that focused on Fellowship, so he’s fully aware of Derek going into broody withdrawn mode.
“You’re sitting as far away from me as you can get without actually moving off the sofa, you’re glaring at the movie and this is one of the best parts, and you’re grinding your teeth.” Stiles licks his lips and starts winding the thread the opposite way on his finger. “Don’t even deny it. I can see your neck vein tensing like it does when you get teeth grindy.”
“Teeth grindy?” Derek repeats slowly, a faint hint of amusement actually doing wonders to calm some of Stiles’ nerves because Derek’s not likely to be amused if he’s thinking about breaking up. Right? “You smell anxious, Stiles. Whatever you’re thinking, stop. I promise it’s nothing like any of the things currently running through your brilliant mind.”
“That’s not a promise you can make, Der. Not unless you’ve suddenly acquired the ability to read minds, in which case, all you’d have read in mine is how boring the first part of Fellowship is and me being a sap by thinking back over our relationship the last few months,” he says, drumming the fingers of his left hand against his thigh while he continues picking at the loose thread of his shirt.
“You’re always a sap, even if you try to pretend you’re too cool to be romantic and sentimental. Hard cynical shell but soft gooey sappy middle. I know the truth, even if hardly anyone else realizes it.” Derek’s voice definitely sounds fond, not ‘this isn’t working so we should just be friends’, but Stiles is still worried because there’s tension. Tension he doesn’t understand. Derek sighs before he scoots across the sofa until he’s right beside Stiles. When he moves his hand over Stiles’ and threads their fingers together, Stiles finally looks away from the television to focus on his face. “I can’t read minds, Stiles, but I know you. You’re probably already making lists of worst case scenarios, but none of them apply to us. Okay?”
“Don’t be so smug. If it weren’t for my habit of thinking up plans A to Z, we’d have been in some deep supernatural shit over the years. Well, deeper than what we’ve been, at least.” Stiles looks into Derek’s pretty eyes and wishes for a moment that he could read minds so he’d know what Derek was thinking about right now. No, change that. He’s seen that episode of Buffy when she could read minds, and it didn’t look like any fun at all. It’d drive him crazy, no doubt. Still, Derek has an unfair advantage in their relationship because of the werewolfy senses that let him know what Stiles is feeling.
“I’m not being smug,” Derek says, dragging his thumb over Stiles’ palm in a circular pattern. Not circles. An infinity pattern. Ha! And he calls Stiles a sap? Takes one to know one, obviously. Derek reaches for the remote with his free hand and pauses the movie right on Legolas’ face, which is definitely not a bad view. “We need to talk.”
“Oh God. That’s an ominous statement, Derek. You can’t say shit like that when you know I’m already anxious,” Stiles points out, knowing he’d be flailing if Derek didn’t have a good grip on his left hand. That doesn’t stop him from waving around his right hand as he talks, though, until Derek takes it, too, and squeezes. Looking at him, he tries to calm down and stop imagining horrible break-up talks. “That’s like the cliché relationship ending phrase, you know?”
“No, I didn’t know.” Derek shifts on the sofa so he’s sitting sideways, and he tugs on Stiles until he moves into a similar position so they’re facing each other. “How else am I supposed to tell you that we need to talk then?”
“I don’t know?” Stiles rolls his eyes. “I’m not really a relationship expert, and most of what I do know is learned from pop culture and romance movies, wherein the phrase ‘we need to talk’ usually means breaking up followed by the standard ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ clarification.”
“Real life isn’t a romance movie.” Derek shakes his head, lips quirking slightly as he looks at Stiles’ face. “You can’t use fictional formulaic Hollywood nonsense as the basis for relationship comparison or it’s setting yourself up for disappointment.” When Stiles opens his mouth, Derek narrows his eyes. “I’m not going to stand outside your window playing a radio or perform some complicated dance routine at a crowded party with back-up dancers behind me.”
“See, that’s just not right. You can’t ruin all my dreams like that, Derek. My Dirty Dancing fantasy is fucking killer,” Stiles says, giving Derek an exaggeratedly disappointed look. “Though it tends to focus on the sexy private dance with rain beating against the window because you know me and my dislike of attention from crowds, so it might happen one day.”
Derek just stares at him for a moment, giving him a look that makes Stiles feel like he’s the best and most beautiful person that Derek’s ever seen. It’s an intense stare, making him flush for some reason, and Derek tightens his grip on Stiles’ hands. “I think I’m in love with you, and I’m terrified.”
It takes Stiles a moment to realize what Derek’s said because he speaks so quickly, like the words spill from his lips without any say from him. Then it’s Stiles’ turn to stare, mouth hanging open as he blinks at Derek, noticing the red flush on the top of his ears and the way Derek does look absolutely terrified at the moment. “I think I’m in love with you, too,” Stiles whispers, figuring there’s no reward without risk so why not admit how he feels. Especially when Derek’s just dropped his own confession. “But I’m not scared.”
“God, I wish I wasn’t,” Derek admits softly, ducking his head before looking back up. “I wasn’t sure how to tell you, how to bring it up, if I should even tell you. I’ve never felt like this before, Stiles. I didn’t plan on saying anything today. But when I opened the door earlier and saw you standing there, I just couldn’t ignore it anymore, couldn’t tell myself it was too soon or that I needed to pull back before it was too late because, fuck, it already is too late.”
“Wow. That’s…” Stiles stops and thinks for a moment before he snorts. “That’s totally unromantic, dude. Like, you’re talking about it being too late, like loving me is some kind of bad thing, and I get it. I really do understand that you’re scared about feeling this way about someone, about being vulnerable and putting yourself in a position to lose someone you love again, but it’s me. You know you can tell me anything, and it’s not like I’m an expert at being in love or even being loved because no one else has ever really wanted me like that.”
“Everyone else is stupid,” Derek says, letting go of Stiles’ right hand so he can reach up and stroke his fingers along the curve of Stiles’ jaw. “As for unromantic, well, it goes back to this being real life versus a movie. I was tense because I knew I wanted to tell you, that it was time to actually say the words, but I was focused on how to do it, when the perfect time would be, and then I got scared that you didn’t feel the same, that you’d think it was too fast, and…”
“Then you started brooding and grinding your teeth because you probably decided you weren’t good enough for me or some other stupid shit like that,” Stiles finishes, arching a brow as he looks at Derek. “I didn’t mean you telling me you’re in love with me was unromantic, Derek. I meant following it up with the whole ‘it’s too late’ thing probably wouldn’t go over well with most people. You’re damn lucky that I’m not post people, though, and I understand your difficulties when it comes to talking about emotions.”
“It’s too late because I’m already in deep. I like making you happy, like having you in my space, like holding you, like the way you smell and taste and the noises you make when we’re cuddling or having sex and I love the way you look at me.” Derek strokes his thumb over Stiles’ cheekbone. “I love you, Stiles. I want to go to sleep every day with you in my arms and wake up every night with you beside me. I want to plan a life with you, talk about a future, buy a house, get some dogs, raise a family, and grow old together. So, yeah, I’m pretty fucking terrified to be feeling like this after just a few months of dating, and maybe I don’t say the right words or fit the whole romantic cliché you’ve got in your head, but that doesn’t change the fact that I love you.”
Instead of saying anything, Stiles just leans forward to kiss him, moving his fingers into Derek’s hair and pulling him closer. If he’s blinking away tears, well, no one is around to see them so maybe they aren’t really there. He deepens the kiss, letting every stroke of his tongue tell Derek that he feels the same way. Sure, Stiles could tell him everything he feels, but Derek’s had a lifetime of pretty words followed by terrible things happening. He just doesn’t put much weight into them, not after Kate, Jennifer, and even Peter, so Stiles knows better than to waste his time and breath. No, Derek needs action, needs to know how Stiles feels by the way he kisses him, the way he touches him, the way he smells, the sound of his heartbeat, and Stiles understands that and is able to give him everything he needs.
When Derek returns the kiss, touching Stiles’ back and pulling him onto his lap, he knows Derek understands everything he’s telling him and feels the same way. Eventually, Stiles will use his words, will whisper everything he’s promising with these kisses against Derek’s bare skin because Derek deserves to hear the words as well as feel them. But that’ll be later, when they’re lying in bed with damp sheets around them, sated and sleepy, holding each other tight because neither of them plans on ever letting go now.