I blame tumblr, and the 10 things au that exists. I posted most of this there on my account and, uh, this version mostly just adds some tragic to the end to complete it.
"That guy? I heard he ate a live duck once."
"Everything but the beak and the feet. Clearly he's a solid investment."
"Did you really eat a live duck?"
Derek bares his teeth, a smirk teasing the corners of his mouth, and asks, "Are you sure you want to know?"
And Stiles is not stupid, okay, he knows that Derek has never eaten a live duck—or, well, he's fairly certain that Derek's never eaten a live duck (if only because, hey, it wouldn't be alive once he started biting it, right? or would it? oh god ew) though really, when you think about it, who makes up rumours like that? it's weird, and not kinda-cool-weird, just flat out creepy-wrong-weird and…anyway!
He thinks that Derek's never eaten a live duck (and if he has, Stiles doesn't actually want to know), but what Stiles really wants to ask, what he's really, truly dying to know, probably isn't going to be received that well.
Because he wants to ask where Derek went last year. He knows Derek now, sort of, and Derek isn't the guy he lets everyone think he is, so Stiles doesn't think Derek spent last year in juvie jail or living wild in a forest until he got picked up by rangers and brought home. Derek doesn't talk about it though; he doesn't talk about much of anything—which works for Stiles mostly! Stiles is good at talking and Stiles likes talking and, now, he likes talking to Derek! But Derek has this wry, bullyingly childish sense of humour that Stiles is starting to love to bits, and every now and then he forgets whatever his issues are and says these things, these clever, happy things, and smiles in a way that makes Stiles' heart skip a beat, that makes Stiles want more, want everything.
Stiles shoves him, on principle, and then, because sometimes he is the worst person and because Derek laughs and Derek's laugh makes Stiles' brain-to-mouth filter just disintegrate in the most embarrassing ways, says, "Why'd you leave last year?"
The silence that follows is painful. Like, actually, physically painful, so Stiles adds, "You weren't, like, running wild with wolves, right? 'Cause I've heard all the stories and so far that's my favourite."
It relaxes the tight lines around Derek's mouth and brow, but he just stares at Stiles' knee and picks at a hole starting to develop in the denim there with his fingernail, looking sad.
Stiles bats his hand away—not everyone looks all manly and tough with a hole in their jeans, okay, some people just look like a little kid who's scraped his knee. "You don't have to tell me," he says, "but, you know, if you want?"
It's not meant to be a question, but since when has any part of Stiles' body ever done exactly what he wanted?
"My uncle—there was a fire," Derek says, looking determined and sad and scared. "My uncle's house burnt down. They—electrical faults, something, I don't know, but it killed—everyone. He was at work and it just—my aunt, my cousins." He pauses, his voice gone dry, and takes a deep breath through his nose. "He wasn't—isn't coping. We went to stay with him last year, and it seemed to help at first, having us all around. But he—I don't know what happened, but he snapped and he hurt Laura—my sister. He didn't know what he was doing, but she's. We don't know if she'll get better yet."
"That sucks," Stiles breathes, and, even though it's not enough, it's never enough, "I'm so sorry."
Derek frowns at Stiles' knee some more, but he isn't running and that's something.
"I used to get panic attacks after my mum died," Stiles says. Derek had just bared himself to Stiles, had just shared something no one but his own family knows, and Stiles needs to even their playing field a little, give something back. He hasn't told anyone this before, not even Scott. "I still—forget sometimes, you know? Like, I'll come home from school and remember she's not going to be waiting there for me, and it's like I've lost her all over again."
Their faces are so close together now. Stiles didn't realise he'd moved, didn't realise Derek was looking at him again until he pulls his eyes away from his own shoelaces.
Stiles can see a smear of blue paint across Derek's cheekbone that had escaped their post-paint war cleanup that had left the bathroom a little more colourful but worse for wear. "Can I—do you mind?" he asks, his hand already inching toward the spot. "You've got a little—"
But Derek's eyes are flickering to his mouth and, instead, he's surging up to press their lips together, licking his way inside Stiles' ever-open mouth.
And this moment. Stiles can't get this moment out of his head later, when he finds out that Scott let him be fucking humiliated so he could get in Allison's pants, when he finds out Derek's been collecting a fifty for every date. When he stands up in class and reads his poem and can't stop staring at Derek as he does it.
Because nothing can make him believe that Derek lied to him, and he knows like breathing that no amount of money is worth their secrets, so this moment, maybe up to and including that kiss, was real. And that's why, no matter how hard he tries, he can't hate Derek.
Not even close. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.