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When Derek awakes, his face is pressed into the back of Stiles’ neck. His skin is smooth and he smells like safety. Derek closes his eyes again, drinking in the solid warmth of Stiles along his front, his soft, even breathing rising and falling with the beat of his heart.
Stiles doesn’t stir for over an hour. Derek doesn’t leave, though. Stiles needs the sleep, and Derek needs to be near him - to touch him beneath his palms and feel the weight of his existence.
"Hey," Stiles murmurs when he eventually starts to stir awake, and he turns in Derek’s arms so they’re face to face. He’s smiling, and Derek feels his lips stretch helplessly.
"Good morning," Derek whispers into Stiles’ forehead.
They lie in bed together and idly chat for a while, relaxed and peaceful. Derek can’t remember the last time he let his guard down for so long, for someone else. Cora, probably, but even that’s difficult sometimes. They didn’t grow up together after the fire, but most of all, she’s his baby sister; he always feels a perpetual urge to protect her.
"What’s wrong?" Stiles asks, when Derek’s been silent for too long, staring at the ceiling and a thumb gently caressing Stiles’ hip through his top.
Derek considers brushing it to one side, sweep it under the rug and ignore his thoughts, as he tends to do. But yesterday, he’d watch Stiles rip his heart open and let every wall he’d ever built crumble to dust, to save Scott, to save Derek.
Stiles is in love with Derek, and Derek doesn’t understand why.
"Why me?" Derek asks out loud, still refusing to meet Stiles’ eyes.
He can feel Stiles choking on indignation, and suddenly he’s climbing on top of Derek, straddling his lap and glaring down at him to force their eyes together. “You,” he declares heatedly, “do not get to do that. You don’t— Jeez. Derek, you’re…” Stiles runs both of his hands through his wild pillow hair, and any other time it would be distracting, but Derek can only stare at the angry clench of Stiles’ jaw, the constellations of moles. “You’re a survivor,” Stiles says at last, eyes intensely hot and molten in the morning light. “You take shit, you’re always taking shit, for yourself, or for other people, but you always come back. You fight. You don’t give a shit about anything or anyone else, because you do what you need to do, and sometimes that makes me want to punch you in the face, but you have the biggest heart hidden underneath layers of leather and stubble and muscles, and you also have leather and stubble and muscles, which helps, but I don’t care about that.”
Stiles pauses, taking a deep breath. He’s not looking Derek in the eyes anymore, choosing to fixate on the hollow of Derek’s throat instead, where one of Stiles’ hands has come to rest, the pad of his thumb brushing his skin.
"I fell… in love with you,” Stiles says, swallowing hard, “because you’re funny. You’re sarcastic. You get me. You don’t take my crap, you throw it back in my face. You never stop challenging me, and you don’t hold what I do and say against me. You forgive me, even though you can hold one hell of a grudge. You’re crazy violent and a massive douchebag, but you know it; and you’re loyal and caring, but you don’t know it.” He laughs, his nail scraping Derek’s skin. “You drive me insane. But it doesn’t matter, because you know what it’s like to lose everything, you know how hard that is, and you’re there for me. You care about me, and I want you because I care about you too.”
Derek stares at Stiles, eyes wide and vulnerable, but Stiles won’t meet his gaze.
"I thought you were so hard to read," Derek finally says, breaking the silence. It startles Stiles into looking at him, at last, and Derek holds onto that with a fierce, desperate need. "I’ve known you since you were 16, and I realised that… beyond the sarcastic little shithead who went looking for trouble and always stepped into danger without any second thoughts, because you’re brave and a complete moron, I didn’t know you. I couldn’t read you. I didn’t get you, because I’d never tried. I hadn’t tried to look deeper, because to me, you were that clumsy, mouthy kid who always got in my way.” The words are probably hurtful to Stiles, but they’re the truth, and Derek knows Stiles would prefer that to sugarcoated lies. “You were like… this puzzle I couldn’t solve. You’re clever and smart, things I’m not and never will be, and when I realised I wanted you, I thought…” Derek closes his eyes, briefly, remembering the perennial dull ache that lived in his chest for the years he’d wanted to lay his hands on Stiles. “I could never have you,” he says. “I wasn’t good enough for you, because I don’t have what it takes to solve you.”
"Derek," Stiles blurts out, a hysterical laugh caught in the back of his throat, "I’m not a fucking Rubik’s cube, there’s nothing to ‘solve’. You get me. You’ve always got me in a way no one else has.” He leans down and forces Derek’s eyes to flutter open again.
"I love you," Derek whispers, breathing against Stiles’ mouth. His heart is thrumming like a taut wire underneath Stiles’ palm, and Derek’s afraid.
"I’m holding you to that, big guy," Stiles says shakily. He kisses whimpers out of Derek, until Derek can’t tell where he begins and where Stiles ends.
in the course of like 3 years dylan o’brien has gone from “haha, aw” to “holy shit you are so fucking hot i want to climb you like a goddamn tree” and thats the main reason i cry at night
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