“Something’s bothering him, but he’s refusing to talk to me about it.”
“And you think he’ll talk to me?” Derek arches a brow and looks at Scott curiously. “You’re his best friend, Scott. Sure, he and I talk, but I’d think he’d be more likely to tell you something than me.”
“Which is probably why he isn’t talking to me,” Scott points out. “You’re his unlabeled whatever, and you can’t tell me he doesn’t tell you everything because Stiles isn’t exactly closed off and unresponsive when he’s in a relationship.” He smiles wryly. “You really do need to talk to him and admit how you feel because he’s not a wolf. He has no idea that you reek of happiness and contentment when you’re around him. He needs words, Derek.”
“I’m his boyfriend. Not his unlabeled whatever,” Derek mutters, feeling warmth spreading across his ears and high on his cheekbones when Scott grins. “We talked about it the other day, and we decided labels might be applicable, after all. There’s only so long we can pretend it’s just casual.” He groans. “God, stop grinning like that. You look demented.”
“That’s great.” Scott sounds so sincere that it makes Derek feel slightly guilty for keeping the news private. Stiles had been ready to go tell random strangers on the street, according to him, but Derek had been selfish and wanted it to be their secret for a while, so they didn’t have to deal with the pack meddling in their relationship. Scott squeezes Derek’s shoulder. “You’re good for each other.”
“I hope so.” Derek sometimes wonders what Stiles sees in him, but then Stiles will make some self-deprecating comment that forces Derek to acknowledge that they’re both insecure. Oddly enough, it helps him realize that maybe he does deserve nice things, and he thinks Stiles is starting to feel the same way about himself. They just slip up sometimes because years of emotional doubts can’t just go away because they’re in love now.
“I know so,” Scott tells him in a matter-of-fact tone. “I’ve had to watch your awkward courtship for years, you know? Before either of you even noticed there was something romantic there, I was waiting for it to happen.” His smile is crooked. “I’m not as unaware and stupid as some people seem to believe.”
“I’ve never…” Derek trails off before he shrugs. “Alright, maybe when we first met, especially when you went through those phases of using me without telling me your plans, I thought you were gullible and stupid, but that was years ago.”
“I made some mistakes,” Scott admits quietly. “I’m glad you were willing to give me several second chances. Anyway, will you go talk to Stiles? I know he’s got something on his mind because he let his curly fries get cold and didn’t even do a celebratory dance when he beat me at COD last night.”
“Huh. That does sound serious.” Derek frowns. He can’t think of any reason Stiles would be upset, though. They’ve been really good lately, even better than usual since they actually used words and communicated about their relationship. They started dating nearly six months ago, a few months after Stiles moved back from college. They work together at the Sheriff’s Department now, and there’s also pack stuff that brought them into contact. They kept it casual at first, but feelings started getting involved rather quickly, so it’s definitely serious now. Their relationship is great, Stiles is doing well at work, and there haven’t even been any major supernatural fiascos in recent months. He can’t think what might be bothering Stiles.
“Exactly.” Scott nods. “That’s why I’m concerned enough to come to you. Since you two finally started dating, he’ll tell you stuff he might not tell me. I mean, if I thought it was something really terrible or awful, I’d just whine and puppy dog eye him until he breaks, but I’m not getting an anxious vibe, necessarily. Just a serious thoughtful Stiles, which can be worrying.”
“I’ll stop by and talk to him,” Derek promises, trying not to let his nerves get the best of him. Stiles loves him. He knows that without a doubt based on the way Stiles looks at him and touches him and how he smells, even if they’d never actually said the words yet. Derek knows Stiles is happy with him, which means it’s foolish to worry that maybe Stiles wants to break up.
“Great. Text me after?” Scott stands up. “Not with details, since Stiles can tell me if he wants me to know those, and I wouldn’t want you to have to betray his trust or whatever. Just text me that he’s okay?”
“I can do that.” Derek puts his trash into the bag and stands up, too. “Thanks for lunch. It was nice catching up. Tell Lydia hello.”
Scott blushes and shifts awkwardly. “I, uh, yeah. I will,” he mumbles, dragging his fingers through his hair. “Don’t look so smug. I’ll start mentioning every single time you and Stiles acted like morons with your heads up your asses, and my, uh, thing with Lydia won’t even compare.”
“Please don’t. I’m not really into humiliation,” Derek says with a slight grimace. “I believe that you were observant enough to realize Stiles and I had complicated feelings for each other for years before we did anything about it. However, I’ll just say pot, kettle, considering your own complicated relationship with Lydia.”
“It wasn’t really humiliating as much as frustrating yet adorable, depending on the specific circumstance,” Scott confides. “And I’m leaving before you decide to punch me because then I’d have to do the whole ‘I’m your Alpha’ thing, which I hate, and Stiles would probably be mad that I punched you back.”
“You should get back to work anyway.” Derek shakes his head before tossing the bag into the trash can. They just grabbed burgers at a fast food place near the station, so it’s a short walk back. During his walk, he tries not to worry about Stiles being upset over something. He just had breakfast with him this morning before they were due at work, and he seemed fine. Maybe a little distracted, but not in a bad way. Since Stiles has been helping to create the special investigations unit at the station, he’s always busy and works hard, so he’s often thinking about ways to streamline or open cases anyway.
Actually, now that he’s thinking about it, it’s probably something work related on his mind, after all. That would explain him zoning out during Bro Game Night™ that he and Scott do weekly despite the fact they’re twenty-four now. Feeling a little more relaxed, he finishes the walk to the station and gets back to work. There are several calls for minor issues, and the afternoon passes quickly. Since Stiles is working in the field today, Derek isn’t sure when he’s actually getting off work. His car isn’t in the parking lot when Derek goes back to the station, so he assumes Stiles is already gone.
Derek decides to stop by the loft to change clothes before going to Stiles’ apartment. However, when he gets home, he sees Stiles’ car already there. Derek thinks back and can’t remember them agreeing to meet at his place. Not that he minds, of course, but he thought they were planning to veg out on Stiles’ sofa and watch some movies he owns. The loft is definitely an improvement over Stiles’ small apartment, though, so Derek’s not complaining.
“You’re late,” Stiles says as soon as Derek enters the loft. He’s wearing an old pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt with some faded saying that Derek can’t quite make out on the front.
He looks gorgeous, all tousled hair and bare feet and comfy clothes, and Derek aches for a moment, the way he always does whenever he sees Stiles. It’s like his heart just stops momentarily, he can’t breathe, and his skin tingles, and it’s been like this since he returned to Beacon Hills five years ago. With Stiles away for college down in San Francisco, Derek hadn’t focused on his reaction at the time. Of course, Stiles eventually did move back home, and it was impossible to ignore how he felt then.
“Derek? You in there?” Stiles looks amused yet possibly a little concerned. “Was it a rough day at the office?”
“No, it was pretty dull. I ran into Parrish as I was leaving, though, and we talked briefly, which is why I’m late.” Derek shakes his head slightly. “Sorry. You just look beautiful. I lost my train of thought for a moment.”
“Oh.” Stiles ducks his head, splotches of red slowly appearing on his face and neck. “Damn it. Now I lost my train of thought. You can’t just show up looking all hot and attractive in your uniform and tell me I’m beautiful, like I can even compare with you.”
“You’re totally right,” Derek agrees. When Stiles looks up at him, he slowly smiles. “I mean, you’re definitely way prettier than I am, so there isn’t much of a comparison.”
“Someone’s feeling sassy today,” Stiles teases, walking over to him. “I like it.”
“You would.” Derek tugs Stiles’ closer and leans down to nuzzle Stiles’ neck. He breathes in his scent as he wraps his arms around him, stroking Stiles’ back as he brushes soft kisses against his neck. “So, I had lunch with Scott today. His treat. I might have mentioned that we’ve got labels now.”
“Scott bought you lunch? Is someone dying?” Stiles asks. He brushes his fingers through Derek’s hair, tilting his head so Derek has better access to his neck. Derek continues kissing his way along Stiles’ neck, listening to his heartbeat and smelling his scent, which is happyarousedcontent without any aroma of anxiety or turmoil lingering to it. “Wait. You told him we’re official now?”
“I did. He called me your unlabeled whatever, so I had to set him straight,” Derek admits, ears warming at his confession because Stiles will totally realize it’s a possessive thing. Judging by the soft laugh Stiles doesn’t try to hide, he definitely knows. “By the way, no one is dying. He just wanted to do his alpha thing by catching up, I guess.”
“That’s good. I’m glad you’re both mature enough to get along now,” Stiles tells him, rubbing his scalp in a way that makes Derek’s leg want to twitch happily. Obviously, he resists that impulse because dog jokes are the worst, and Stiles loves them. “Are you finished mauling my neck?”
“Never.” Derek kisses a few more times just to be an ass before he reluctantly straightens up. “I should shower and change into something more comfortable.”
“Yep.” Stiles nods. “Hope you don’t mind that I crashed your place, but my new neighbor is horrible, and I don’t even want to be home right now. I just brought the DVDs with me so we can watch here.”
“The neighbor upstairs or next door?” Derek asks, knowing both apartments have been vacant for the last month.
“Next door. It’s some skeevy dude in his fifties who keeps making innuendoes every time he sees me,” Stiles mutters, grimacing as he shudders. “I mean, he knows I’m a cop, and he doesn’t get physical, but he’s just creepy. He also plays porn very loud at all hours of the night. He’s only been there a week, so I was trying to give him a chance, but I already can’t stand him.”
“Well, that explains why you’ve wanted to spend the night here this week.” Derek figures that also explains why Stiles was distracted with Scott last night. Nothing bad at all. Well, bad, but not bad. He traces the curve of Stiles’ jaw with his fingers and stares into those pretty brown eyes. “Your lease is up next month, isn’t it?”
“Thank God.” Stiles leans in and kisses Derek’s jaw, rubbing his face against Derek’s beard until his skin is pink. “I’m going to request a new unit because I can’t stand obsessive porn perv for another year.”
Derek strokes Stiles’ back before resting his hands on Stiles’ hips. “Or you could, uh, if you wanted, I mean, well. You’re here a lot of the time anyway, and I know it’s only been like six months since we started our relationship, but I think we’ve had feelings beyond just friendly for years, haven’t we?”
Stiles pulls back and blinks at him. “Derek, are you asking me to move in with you?”
“Maybe?” Derek clears his throat, fully aware that he’s blushing because he can feel the heat on his cheeks and ears. “No pressure, alright? I just…I like coming home to you and waking up beside you and having you around all the time. So, yeah, I’m asking if you’d like to move in with me, Stiles.”
“Wow.” Stiles licks his lips, and Derek listens intently, hearing his pulse race as his scent changes. It’s still happyarousedcontent but it’s also excitedscarednervous now. “Yeah, it’s been years for me, too. I ignored it for a long time, thought it was unrequited and all, but, uh, it was definitely years.” He drags his bottom lip into his mouth, biting down as he stares at Derek. “Are you sure? This is a big step. A real big step. What if you get annoyed having me around all the time? What if I leave wet towels on the floor and you get irritated?”
“I won’t get annoyed, but wet towels will likely irritate me. I’m sure there are habits I have that will piss you off, too, so we’ll just make an effort to communicate. It’ll be fine.” Derek moves his right hand off Stiles’ waist and lightly grips his chin. “I care about you a lot, Stiles. I see my future with you, and I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to. Sure, I hadn’t planned on moving this fast, but, if we’re ready, there really isn’t any such thing as too fast.”
“Me too.” Stiles smiles, the nervousness still evident in his scent but the fear fading away. “I care about you so much. You know I love you, and I’d be happy to live with you. Like ridiculously happy.”
“I know you do, just like you know I love you,” Derek murmurs, happy to actually hear the word from someone who means it and isn’t just trying to use him. He appreciates the fact that Stiles realizes it’s not something Derek necessarily likes to hear, preferring to be shown in ways that no one ever has before, but it sounds good when Stiles says it. One day, maybe he’ll be able to hear it often enough that only good memories are attached to it in his mind. With Stiles in his life, it’s more of a definite than a maybe. “It’d make me happy, too, having you here with me. Building a home with you.”
“You’re starting to get sappy,” Stiles warns as he leans in to kiss Derek’s neck. “Thank you for saying the words. Know it’s difficult for you, so, yeah, it’s nice hearing you feel the same way even if I’ve known for months.” His words are so quiet, not even a whisper against Derek’s skin. He squeezes Derek’s shoulder before stepping back. There’s a smile on his face as he rubs the back of his neck. “So, I won’t renew my lease, and obsessive porn perv can torment someone else because I’m going to be living with my hunky boyfriend.”
“I didn’t ask you to move in just because of the creepy neighbor,” Derek tells him honestly. “That might have inspired me to ask, but I’ve thought about it before.”
“I know.” Stiles ruffles his hair and kisses his nose. “It’s going to be good, us living together, taking that next step. I wouldn’t agree if I didn’t believe it would be the right choice for us, you know?”
“Yeah, you’re too cautious for that despite your spontaneity in other areas of your life.” Derek hugs Stiles, kissing his way from his neck to his mouth before letting go. “Alright. I’ll go shower and change, then we’ll watch movies. Why don’t you order some food? I think we should celebrate.”
“Sounds great. I’ll order Italian,” Stiles decides. “If you want to go total sappy on me, I’ll even order spaghetti and meatballs so we can do the lady and the tramp thing.”
“Being romantic isn’t always sappy,” Derek mutters, tickling Stiles’ until he’s laughing and pleading for mercy. “But, no, we can refrain from the spaghetti thing. I’m thinking maybe ziti or the three meat ravioli so get me both. I can take whatever I don’t finish for lunch tomorrow.”
“I never said sappy was a bad thing,” Stiles points out, stealing a kiss before slapping Derek’s ass. “Now go shower while I order our food. I’m also going to text my dad and Scott to tell them that we’re going to be living in sin together since we aren’t really keeping our relationship so private anymore. Not that Dad didn’t already know, but Scott’s aware now, which means the whole pack probably already knows. He’s more gossipy than old ladies who stay at the knitting shop all the time.”
Derek huffs a laugh. “That’s definitely true. You’d better text Lydia, too, then, because she’ll be mad if she finds out secondhand. Neither of us want to deal with that,” he says, shuddering in an exaggerated way that makes Stiles laugh. It’s true, though, because a pissed off Lydia is more terrifying than most things they’ve ever had to face, supernatural or otherwise.
Stiles’ eyes widen and he grabs his phone out of his back pocket. “Yes, God. I’ll do that now, in fact. Before food. Scott better not have run to tell her already or I’m getting a new platonic best friend,” Stiles grumbles, sitting back on the sofa and concentrating on his phone.
The fact that Stiles considers Derek his best friend and actually now specifies Scott as the platonic one makes him feel just a little smug. It’s silly, of course, but it still thrills him and his wolf to know their relationship is grounded by that strong friendship. He watches Stiles text for a moment before he heads upstairs to the bedroom. He’s going to grab his own comfy clothes and take a quick shower, then they can celebrate Stiles moving in with good food and bad movies and probably more than a little making out. It’s a perfect night, in Derek’s opinion, and now he’s going to have more of them after Stiles moves in with him.