It's not a sudden realization, or even a realization at all. That's not the right word.
It's an acceptance, an adventure, a newfound sense of himself, and Stiles is actually kind of excited.
He lives in a town full of werewolves and lizard monsters and people with crossbows in their remarkably large basement arsenals, but it's still weird to know he's different.
It's weirdly empowering, too.
Beacon Hills is an unusually accepting community, and now that Stiles knows who he is, he knows what that age-old "be yourself" advice entails. And suddenly, by being himself, Stiles is a whole lot more popular with the ladies.
Of course, he's still Stiles, so that happens at the worst possible time, when he's just gotten over Lydia and decided his flickering interest in Erica was outweighed by sheer terror. He has his heart set on a certain guy instead, these days.
He's uncomfortable after his dad's declaration that he's definitely not gay.
He was lying, of course. He's pretty sure.
But he's sixteen! He is willing to acknowledge that there is a very real chance that he could be and just not have figured it out yet! That happens, you know. How would his dad know?
And maybe he's not, but he could be, and if his dad didn't believe him, well, where does that leave him?
Because sometimes, he just…notices. Stuff that he doesn't think most straight guys notice, like Jackson's eyes and Danny's lips. Scott doesn't do much of anything for him, but that's because Scott might as well be his brother. And it doesn't mean he doesn't see his shoulders.
So Stiles might, maybe, be kind of bicurious. That's a thing, right? It happens. And it doesn't mean he's gay, not necessarily. The gay bar was diving a little deeper than he thinks he's ready for, but he's willing to wade.
Maybe he'll talk to Danny.
"Stiles, I want to help you, I really do, but…is this you trying to hit on me? Because I don't want to be an experiment, ok? That's not for me." Danny says it gently, leaning against his locker with a puzzled expression. "You know, I thought you were so into Lydia."
"I'm not hitting on you, pinky swear. And I am," says Stiles. "Seriously, I know I'm into girls. I mean, I'm pretty sure, at least, because I've never actually gotten as far as first base to check, but I want to. I'm, like, ninety-seven percent sure I like girls."
"But you think you might be bi?"
"Yes!" says Stiles, because finally, someone gets it. He gets it. "I just need to know how you figured it out. That, you know. You. Dudes. You and dudes."
"It's not something I can really explain, Stiles." He looks apologetic, which Stiles hates. "It was easier for me, because I wasn't interested in women, but it still wasn't that straightforward. It wasn't…I guess it wasn't until I fell for a guy that I really knew for sure. I'm sorry, Stiles. I wish I could help."
Danny claps him on the shoulder with a hopeful smile.
"Thanks anyway, dude," Stiles sighs, and rests his forehead against a locker when Danny leaves.
"What's up?" Scott asks cheerfully when he rounds the corner. He sees Stiles' face and falters. "Dude, you okay?"
"I have no idea what I am," Stiles grumbles, and shuffles his backpack to his other shoulder as he follows Scott through the hall.
He follows Derek's sightlines as Isaac and Erica leave, and yep, he's definitely looking at Isaac's ass. Which, considering that Isaac is his sixteen-year-old beta, should be creepy, but the look on his face is more happy puppy than hungry wolf, so it's more confusing instead.
Derek likes girls. Derek is a girl magnet, or would be if he didn't spend all his time lurking in shadowy corners. Why the hell is he looking at Isaac's ass?
When it hits him, he feels like an idiot, because duh, Stiles. You like girls. But he's kind of new to the bi thing, okay, and he's definitely never thought of Derek as a possible dude-who-likes-dudes.
He's so not going to ask him about it, because it's Derek, but it's intriguing.
Maybe…maybe a little too intriguing, he admits, because he can't stop thinking about it three days later, lying in bed and trying to picture himself with another guy. Just, you know, kissing. He's not really ready to think about the rest yet, though it doesn't totally freak him out, which he thinks is a pretty clear sign.
His options as fantasies go are unfortunately limited. Not Scott, never Scott. Not Danny, because Danny's a nice guy and all, but he doesn't want to make out with him, and not Jackson, because that's just weird. He tries to think back to the guys in the club, ones who caught his eye, maybe, but their faces are blank, and it feels more wrong to think about a stranger than a friend.
Or a not-really-friend-but-mostly-not-enemy. Someone he knows, anyway.
And Derek, as it turns out, is the ideal subject, because Stiles thinks he might be bi, he knows him, and he's…extremely hot.
Oh. Crap. Stiles has, like, zero problem picturing himself kissing Derek.
And making out with Derek.
Shoving Derek against a wall like Derek keeps doing to him and unzipping Derek's pants and putting his hand in them and ohhhhhh man.
It wasn't until I fell for a guy that I really knew, Danny repeats in his head.
Stiles is bi. Stiles is so bi. He is, like, super bi. The most bi. He just knows, suddenly, but it doesn't feel sudden at all.
He is bi, and he maybe kind of wants to make out with Derek Hale, and only the second thought makes him squirm.
"Dude, that's awesome! Twice as many people to…you know." Scott says, which is not precisely the reaction Stiles expected, but not far from it either.
"Not, like, exactly twice," he says, downplaying the smile he feels down to his gut. "But yeah."
Scott looks concerned. "You're still hung up on Lydia, though, aren't you?"
"Yeah," Stiles says. "Yeah."
It's not a lie. He still thinks about her. He still wants to touch her hair every time he sees her toss it in class.
Is it possible to have two crushes at the same time?
Possible or not, he doesn't tell Scott about the other one. It's not that important, he thinks.
You know. Probably.
Mercifully, when he sees Derek again, nothing happens.
Well, plenty of things happen, including bloodstains on the passenger seat of his Jeep, an arrow nearly missing Stiles' neck, and Erica trying to snack on a squirrel because she "wondered what it would taste like."
And maybe Stiles watches him a little more closely than usual. He definitely notices how tight his shirt is under his leather jacket. He might even entertain a fantasy or two.
But Stiles doesn't horribly embarrass himself, which is a step in the right direction, and he manages not to give away his attraction to even the wolves, who he thinks could theoretically smell it. They might be caught up in battle, but they're not clueless, and he prides himself a little on his newfound subtlety.
Of course, it doesn't last when it's Lydia.
"Stiles," she begins, after cornering him in an empty classroom. He was on his way to try to sneak a message to Scott, who's stuck in detention after breaking a sink in the bathroom. The teachers weren't sure it was possible, but he was the only one at the scene, and he confessed.
"Stiles, I am never going to date you. Ever. It's not going to happen."
"That's a little harsh," Stiles squeaks, because she's all up in his space and it's Lydia, so it's scary. Still somewhat arousing, but mostly scary.
"I'm trying to be nice here. You've been pathetic about me for years now, and I just want you to know that it's not on the table. Ever. You can give up. Please give up," she pleads, and he thinks he understands.
Some part of Lydia is capable of pity. He knew he was annoying. He didn't know she felt…does she feel guilty?
She shouldn't. It's not…he should apologize, and she's doing as close to that as Lydia Martin does.
"Okay," he says, and tries to imbue it with meaning. He holds out a hand for her to shake. "Deal."
She looks stunned, glossy lips parted, and wow, she's so pretty.
But he's done.
"Hey, Lydia," he says, quieter. He lowers his hand. "Can I actually…ask your advice about something?"
She nods, he spills, and five minutes later, Stiles is out to two whole people. Maybe two and a half, since he never did follow up with Danny.
It feels really good.
Derek and Stiles are not friends. Derek tolerates him at best, and even with a crush, Stiles finds Derek mostly insufferable.
They do have a habit of saving each other's lives, though, and for better or worse, that means they get stuck together a lot.
A lot. A surprising amount, really, given that they don't get along.
But Stiles slowly realizes that they kind of do. After a year of being thrown together, they've started volunteering for it. Derek takes rides in the Jeep instead of driving himself, and Stiles offers to talk to Derek when Scott's too busy with Allison. They even make small talk, for God's sake, which is maybe the most ridiculous thing he's ever heard of.
He guesses you can only be paralyzed together so many times before you start to become bros.
The realization just makes his crush expand in his chest like his heart is pumped with helium, but he nurses it quietly, because he really doesn't want to ruin this thing that's forming, a friendship or alliance or at least a grudging respect.
"You know, you're not actually awful," he tells him one day, out of nowhere, because he decides he really wants him to know.
Derek almost smiles when he grunts something like agreement.
Derek is not his first boyfriend.
Stiles' first boyfriend is a guy named Jake, who breaks up with him because he thinks he's either still in love with Lydia or falling in love with Scott, and before Jake he dates a girl named Sasha, whose button nose crinkles when he tells her he likes guys, and that's the end of that.
At least he can say he's made out with two people, has proof for anyone who needs it that he swings both ways, but of course, it's still awful when someone acts like he needs proof, like he needs their permission.
Sasha has blonde hair and wears jewelry like armor, so many necklaces that giving her a hickey is pretty much a war. Jake is quiet and cute, with an asymmetrical haircut and a tendency to bite his nails when he speaks.
They are nothing like Derek, and Stiles doesn't want them to be, but he tries to convince himself he does want them.
He does find out he's right, that Derek likes dudes, but he finds out on a date with Jake, when they go to find an isolated spot in the woods and stumble on Derek and Boyd having already found one.
He thinks Boyd leaves Derek because he thinks he's high maintenance. Derek doesn't say anything, but Stiles is more perceptive than people give him credit for. He sees the way Derek flinches sometimes when his pack complains about him. It's awful to watch, and Stiles wonders, not why Boyd but why Derek, because Boyd should have been smart enough to know better.
Stiles reaches eighteen with his virginity unquestionably intact and a lot of resentment and confusion towards that entire concept, because what exactly is he supposed to count, and with whom? He figures he'll know when it happens, but it seems more than doubly complicated.
It gets more complicated when Derek comes to his window after midnight.
It's not like it's a rare occurrence, but Stiles never did learn to expect it. Derek perches silently on the roof and taps at the glass, and Stiles leans out instead of letting him in.
"Hey," he says, because it's officially his birthday, and he's not in the mood for the sarcasm and the squabbling. "What can I do for you?"
"You're eighteen this year."
"Uh, yeah." Stiles looks around him. The bookshelf is packed with haphazard stacks, nothing lined up like it should be. His desk is littered with pens and empty soda cans. "Might not be the prime example of adulthood, but I am totally a part of it now. Mostly."
Derek just watches him, and Stiles starts to babble, which he'd done such a good job of not doing lately.
"I can vote now, I guess. Slowly kill myself with cigarettes. All that stuff every kid dreams about."
"You're an adult," Derek repeats, slowly.
"Still can't drink, though," Stiles offers, and quiets, because Derek is scratching the back of his neck and staring at his feet.
"Stiles, do you," Derek looks pained. "Never mind."
"Do you want to come in?" Stiles asks. Moving away from the window, he gestures to the rest of the room. "Probably more comfortable."
Derek's gaze flickers to Stiles' bed, and yeah, Stiles was right.
Stiles has always known that Derek's known. It only bothered him a little. Less as time went on and he started to suspect that there was more to it.
Stiles knows exactly what is happening here, and he is going to play totally innocent until Derek snaps.
At least, that's the plan, but as soon as Derek gets through the window to stand around with his hands in his pockets, Stiles says, "Seriously? You were waiting till I was eighteen?"
Derek doesn't even falter. "Might I remind you that your father," he says, "is the Sheriff."
"Yeah, yeah, and you were a murder suspect that one time, I get it," says Stiles, and he can't help but grin.
Derek glares, but it doesn't sting. "I'm too old for you," he says.
"Nope." Stiles twists his mouth into a probably unattractive expression, but it's his birthday, Derek Hale is in his bedroom, and he will make silly faces if he wants to. "You were still in school when you left town. I remembered you. You're young enough."
"I should go," says Derek, turning toward the window. "I'm not…I shouldn't have come. Sorry."
"Hey, whoa, no." Stiles strides forward and stops him with a hand on his bicep. The guy has really nice biceps. "Derek…"
"Stiles…" he says, looking toward the sky.
"Derek, you were the reason I knew."
"Hey," he snaps. "You're the one who showed up in the first place."
"No, you know what? No more rationalizing." Stiles is a little surprised himself when he grabs Derek's arm and drags him, pushes at his shoulders till he's seated on the bed. "You came to my room in the middle of the night to tell me now that it's legal, you kind of like me, and you know what? I'd better get to make out with you, or you are so not invited to my party."
Derek looks up at him, corners of his mouth twitching, and Stiles is really just fed up.
"Am I getting birthday kissage or no, Derek?"
"Yeah," Derek says. He shakes his head, but he's laughing, just a little. "Actually, I think I can do better than that."
"Now that's what I like to hear," Stiles huffs, as exasperated as he is excited, because holy shit, this is happening.
Derek stands up slowly and slides his hand under the edge of Stiles' t-shirt, brushing his fingers against his hip, and Stiles waits, patiently, until he leans down and kisses him softly.
Then he pushes Derek back on the bed and pretty much attacks him, but their kisses are still slow, if not careful, and Derek's hand cradles his neck.
Stiles nudges at Derek's shirt, and he takes the hint and removes it, lying back on the pillow as Stiles nuzzles at his chest.
"God, you're hot," says Stiles, and he nibbles at Derek's collarbone, one hand struggling to fit under his waistband.
"Would it just," Derek breathes, "be easier if we got rid of the clothes altogether?"
"Mm," Stiles hums against his neck, but he gets up and strips to his underwear.
"Those too, Stiles," Derek points out, and Stiles steps out of them, blushing.
"Can I just, like, have a minute to stare at your ass?" he asks Derek. "Because it is kind of magnificent."
"Your birthday." He shrugs and rolls over, and God. Stiles traces the spirals of his tattoo with two fingers as he stares and verbally extols the virtues of Derek's ass, and finally Derek grabs him, pulls him under him, and kisses him silent.
It's quicker and quieter than he thought it would be, Stiles afraid to wake his dad and Derek never able to completely let go of the brooding thing, but they both laugh, and they both gasp, and Stiles wouldn't want it any other way.
"You gotta leave," he murmurs into Derek's shoulder, slumped across him and marveling at how he's allowed now to touch Derek, to kiss him, to lace their fingers and grip his hand. "Don't want you to, but Dad."
"Go to sleep," Derek answers. "I'll leave, I promise."
"Are you, like, my boyfriend now?" Stiles muses aloud, and he honestly isn't sure what Derek's going to say.
Derek groans. "Can we not talk about it? I mean, yes, but can we not do the whole…high school thing?"
"I'm in high school," Stiles says, "And I am putting it on Facebook whether you like it or not."
"Fine. Go to sleep."
Stiles does, and when he wakes up, the world looks the same.
He goes to school, and amidst the happy birthdays, he finds out Scott knows. Scott knows, which means Allison knows, which means Lydia knows, which means Jackson knows, which means Danny knows, which means…hell, everyone he cares about knows.
Except, you know, his dad, but…he'll get to that eventually.
So when Derek shows up to the "surprise party" that Scott managed to give away two months ago, Stiles grabs him for a kiss, and no one is surprised. Stiles kisses Derek, and Isaac and Erica push past them with identical grimaces. Stiles kisses Derek, and no one seems to care.
And Stiles is just really happy.