kyrene_writes: (TW: bb sterek)
[personal profile] kyrene_writes
Title: I Can Read You Like a Book (One That's Written in Another Language)
Author: [personal profile] kyrenekyorl
Pairings/Characters: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski, Talia Hale, Laura Hale, Cora Hale, Claudia Stilinski, Isaac Lahey, Jackson Whittemore, mentions of other TW characters
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 16,127
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: This story begins with a little boy asking an older boy to read him a book in the library, but that’s not where it ends.

Derek stared down at the little face lifted up to meet his gaze. This kid had Cora all beat in the so-cute-you-wanted-to-pinch-their-rosy-cheeks sweepstakes, and Derek discovered to his distress that he was helpless in the face of his heart-felt request.

”Okay,” he grunted, with an eye roll so that the boy knew this was putting him out. “Just this one book, though.”



"I Can Read You Like a Book (One That's Written in Another Language)"
by kyrene



The good thing about the Hale family owning a library was that growing up, Derek had never had to wonder whether he'd have a job. The bad thing about the Hale family owning a library was that Derek had never had to wonder what to do with his free time.

What was free time, after all, when there were books to check in and shelve, corners to dust, plants to water, and patrons to direct?

Derek knew that most libraries were city funded, but the Hales had one of the largest privately owned book collections in the state. And while they didn't listen to any of the -- frankly somewhat ridiculous -- suggestions that they donate their books to the beleaguered Beacon Hills Public Library, they did make their own collection available to the public.

Derek didn't understand how unusual this was as he was growing up; to him it was just something that the family did. His father loved reading and his mother loved his father and they both loved Beacon Hills, so they ran a library that was open to the populace of Beacon Hills. And Derek and his sisters helped out there after school and on Saturdays.

The Hales weren't religious, but the library was closed on Sundays. A fact for which Derek, Laura, and Cora were all immensely grateful. It was nice to have one day of the week to act like a normal kid.

Most of the time Derek didn't mind working at the library. His Mom made sure her kids didn't spend too much of their time there, she made sure they did their homework and that the entire family ate at least half their meals seated around their dining room table at home all at the same time. And truth be told, Derek actually kind of liked working at the library.

It was quiet and it smelled like books. He could lose himself in the stacks, only occasionally bothered by a lost patron who didn't seem to understand how numbers worked. Maybe it was because he'd been raised in the place, but Derek just didn't get how people could have so much trouble finding things using the Dewey Decimal System. The numbers went up one way and down the other. Numbers didn't move around, hopping from shelf to shelf. It ought to have been easy.

He'd complained about it, once, when he was in sixth grade, and his mother had ruffled his hair and given him her proud smile and said, "Well, sweetie, not everyone is as smart as you."

Derek had felt a little pandered to, to be honest, but he privately thought that she was right. And even though Laura had scoffed, she'd then started nodding. So maybe Mom was knew what she was talking about. It still annoyed Derek that someone could have the call number in their hand, on the little paper slips provided, and still need him to find the book in the stacks. Always right where it was supposed to be, no less.

Overall, though, people tended to ask the adults for help more than they asked the kid who was out there shelving, even though he obviously knew what he was doing. And Derek was fine with that. Let them bother his parents and Laura and the volunteers who weren't family. Derek had important things to be doing. After all, the patrons wouldn't find the books they wanted if Derek didn't get them shelved, right?

So, yeah, there were some drawbacks to working in the Hale Library, but Derek didn't have a lot of friends that he'd rather be running around with anyway, and he liked reading. And since he was family and only got paid an allowance, not a salary, it didn't matter if he paused while shelving, flipped open a book, and got lost in it for anywhere from a couple of minutes to a half hour.

It actually came as a surprise to Derek sometimes that other kids his age didn't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System. But it certainly came in handy when he was looking for things in the school library.

To be honest, the school library was pretty pathetic compared to his family's library; especially the elementary school collection. Derek usually checked out Hale books. Once he reached junior high, he was basically ignoring the school library in favor of his own. It was possible that things would be better once he reached high school, but Derek didn't really care, because he just took what he needed while he was at work.

Maybe it wasn't normal to prefer wandering through the stacks alone over running around outside with a skateboard and friends... but Derek did sports at school and he did have friends. He just... he preferred the library.

Who needed free time when they had books, right? And in a manner of speaking, Derek had all the books in the library.

####

Derek didn't really like shelving in the Children's Area. It smelled funny and things were sometimes sticky, and when there were a lot of kids there it could get awfully noisy. He didn't even know why the Hale Library had a separate section for kids. It wasn't like they were a city-funded library that needed to court Beacon Hills families with small children....

But here it was, filled with the books that Derek had grown up paging through and reading, and he sometimes even saw an old favorite that he'd outgrown, kicking around in the collection. That was a weird feeling. Like maybe Derek should have held onto it and not let strangers paw at it and take it home... but he had all his real favorites still on his own bookshelf at home and his Mom wasn't going to ask for those, so he just shrugged it off and let it be.

Sometimes Mom let Cora hang out in the Children's Area without her, but whenever she did she made sure that either Derek or Laura was scheduled there, to sort of keep an eye on their baby sister.

Cora could get rowdy, especially while playing with other kids her age, but if there was no one else there she was easily enough distracted by a stack of books from her authors of choice. It was the other kids who could be annoying; the strangers.

Derek was putting away Eric Carle books, annoyed by the fact that some of them stuck out further from the shelf than others, when he felt a tug at his shirt hem.

He expected it to be Cora, asking him for a snack or whining about being bored, but instead he turned to find himself glaring down at a face he'd never seen before.

It was a little boy, about Cora's age, with the biggest, brownest eyes and the roundest cheeks that Derek had ever seen. And he was Cora's big brother, so that was really saying something!

"Will you read me a story?" the little boy asked in his high, piping voice, thrusting a Maurice Sendak book at Derek with one of the most entreating expressions Derek had ever seen.

"Where's your parent?" Derek asked, trying to tone down his frown a little. Laura said it made babies cry, but Laura was a jerkface who was just trying to make him feel bad, and besides, it had only been the one time.

"My Mom is right there, in the grown-up section," the kid said, pointing toward Adult Fiction, which was directly outside the Children's Area. Derek could see a tall, willowy woman who had pretty brown hair caught up in a high ponytail and the same upturned nose as this kid had. She was positioned so that no one could enter or leave the Children's Area without her seeing them, and Derek thought that was pretty smart of her. The Hales didn't like it when patrons left their kids unsupervised, but the Children's Area was sort of supposed to be a safe place, with a Hale family member or a trusted volunteer always nearby, even if it wasn't actually a daycare or anything.

"I don't want to bother her," the kid said, staring up at Derek, his red lips puckering, "But I don't know all the words in this book and I wanna know what's going on. You're growed up enough to read this, right? So I want you to read it to me."

Derek stared down at the little face lifted up to meet his gaze. This kid had Cora all beat in the so-cute-you-wanted-to-pinch-their-rosy-cheeks sweepstakes, and Derek discovered to his distress that he was helpless in the face of his heart-felt request.

"Okay," he grunted, with an eye roll so that the boy knew this was putting him out. "Just this one book, though."

The kid let out a little cheer and did a weird shimmy, then darted over to claim one of the beanbag chairs liberally littering the open floor of the Children's Area. Cora looked up from her own book, raised an eyebrow at Derek as he sighed and joined the little boy, then returned to her own reading.

Just the one book turned into three, before the kid's mother came to claim him, but Derek found that for some reason he didn't mind. Normally he didn't like being close to people who weren't family members, but something about having the little body curled up against his in the cradle of the beanbag, warm and softly breathing, fidgeting until Derek started reading and then holding still while he did... it made Derek feel protective, the way he'd only ever felt about Cora before.

"Stiles, I hope you aren't bothering Derek," the kid's mother said as she walked into the Children's Area, and what kind of name was Stiles? Derek was more concerned over that weirdness than he was over the fact that this woman knew his own name. It wasn't really so strange that she knew him; there were lots of Beacon Hills residents who knew all of the Hales by name, even if Derek had never actually talked to them himself.

"No!" Stiles said stridently. "Nuh-uh, I wasn't a bother!"

He'd had to pull his thumb out of his mouth to speak, and he smelled like sugar and shampoo, and Derek actually felt a little bereft when he bounced up out of the beanbag and over to his mother.

"Thank you for reading to him," the woman said, giving Derek a wide smile, her dark brown eyes twinkling. "Stiles, what do you say?"

The little boy turned when his Mom prodded him with the hand not carrying her loaded book bag. "Thank you for reading to me," he said. Then, for all his boldness in making his request in the first place, he cast his gaze shyly down and popped his thumb in his mouth again.

"You shouldn't put your hand in your mouth when you're in a library," his mother chided, and Derek thought that she had a point. They kept the library itself pretty clean, but the books were by their nature pretty germy. Especially picture books in the children's collection. Derek's Mom always made him wash his hands when he returned to the workroom after shelving there, and Derek didn't mind doing it.

"Did you want to check these out?" Derek asked, rising from the beanbag and hefting the books the kid had chosen for him to read.

"No, I know how they end now," Stiles said, giving Derek an intent look.

"Okay, I'll re-shelve them, then," Derek grumbled, even though he wasn't really that put out.

"Thank you, Derek," Stiles' mother said again, petting her son's head absently while she gave Derek another sweet smile. She was really pretty; almost as pretty as Derek's mother.

"Well, it's my job," Derek shrugged, walking over to the section where the authors whose names began with "S" were. Stiles had chosen two Sendak books, so that was a good place to start.

"And we really appreciate everything that the Hales do for the town," Stiles' mother said, still smiling. Derek liked that she was complimenting him and his family, but he wasn't sure how to talk to someone who was a grown-up and not a kid.

Shrugging and then hunching his shoulders uncomfortably probably wasn't the best response, but Derek found himself doing it anyway.

"Stiles, if you want some books, you'd better get some now," the brown-haired woman said, mercifully turning her attention away from Derek. "We still need to go take your Dad his dinner."

"Okay!"

Derek watched, somewhat appalled, as Stiles ran over and grabbed some books at random off one of the shelves. Just taking whatever? How could he do that?

"We'll see you later," Stiles' mother said, taking the books from her son and heading toward the check-out desk. "Good-bye, Derek."

"Bye," he grunted, smirking while Stiles whined that he wanted to carry his own books. The kid was so spindly that he wondered about that last statement, only slightly facetiously.

He watched until Stiles and his pretty mother were out of sight, and then turned back to his work.

Cora was staring at him.

"What?" Derek snapped, glowering at his younger sister. Now that he thought about it, that Stiles kid was probably a year or two younger than her. Cora was still tiny, but Stiles was even more tiny.

Cora snickered. "You're so smooth," she told him.

"Shut up." Derek grabbed another armful of books off the shelving cart and stamped over to the pertinent section of the shelves. "It was just a one-time thing. And don't expect me to read you any books."

Cora wrinkled her nose at him. "I don't need you to," she declared, waving around the picture book she had been buried in. "I can read all of this by myself!"

Privately, Derek thought that she was exaggerating. Cora was reading at an advanced level, like all the Hales, but he was pretty sure she was just guessing at some of the words in some of her books. She wasn't that much older than Stiles had been.

"I'm not a babysitter," Derek mumbled, mostly to himself, since Cora had stopped paying him any attention. "Just did it the once. Not doing it again."

He turned out to be wrong. So wrong. Because the very next time he got stuck in the Children's Area, there was Stiles, and somehow Derek got talked into reading him more books, both of them curled together in one of the beanbags again.

Derek wasn't quite sure how, but it became a semi-regular occurrence. And he didn't really think he minded. Stiles was kind of cute when he wasn't being annoying, and Derek might have had something of a mild crush on Stiles' mother.

He kept that part of it to himself, though, because he knew Laura and Cora would tease him mercilessly if they found out, and his Mom and Dad would smile at him but be laughing inside.

Derek found out that Stiles' last name was Stilinski, and that his father was a deputy with the Beacon Hills Police Department. So Mrs. Stilinski was definitely spoken for. Not that Derek was stupid enough to think it was more than a small crush that he had.

He just... liked to watch Mrs. Stilinski move. She was as graceful as her son was clumsy. And she wore colorful skirts that swayed around her legs with her movements. And she smelled like vanilla and strawberries. And her hair was so smooth and glossy, whether she wore it loose or up in a perky ponytail.

Derek just liked to see her, okay? And anyway, it was Stiles who cuddled with him in the beanbag and shared his body warmth and sometimes complimented Derek on his reading.

And somehow years passed in this way, nothing much changing except that sometimes it was Stiles who read to Derek, and all of a sudden Stiles and his mother stopped coming in to the library.

Then Derek's mother was crying in the kitchen one morning, and she told Derek that Mrs. Stilinski had died. Derek's stomach plunged down painfully and he almost cried himself.

Even though he hadn't ever really gotten to know Mrs. Stilinski very well, she was nice and she liked Derek, and he liked her a lot. And it seemed wrong, so incredibly wrong that someone so full of life and love had been taken completely away from the world she'd enjoyed so much. A world that had been so much brighter for her presence.

But even more than he felt the loss of Mrs. Stilinski's vibrancy, Derek hurt because Stiles had lost his Mom. Derek could only imagine how awful that would be, and he didn't even like to imagine it. Stiles had loved his mother so much and she had so clearly loved her son so much, and now she was just gone and Stiles was left without his mother, forever.

Derek didn't expect to see Stiles back in the library after his mother's death, but he was proved wrong, yet again, just a couple of weeks later.

He didn't see Stiles in the Children's Area anymore. Even though Stiles was only eight, he took to wandering around the Adult Fiction, fingertips running over the spines of the books his mother had enjoyed reading. He sometimes pulled one off the shelf and looked at it but he never checked any out. When he did take out books they were mostly nonfiction. And mostly from the health section, though he never checked out when Derek was at the desk, so he didn't know for sure which titles Stiles was getting.

Derek wanted to go to Stiles and say something. The kid looked so forlorn, with his big brown eyes red from crying and his generous mouth dragging down at the corners. But Derek couldn't think of what to say. It seemed like forever ago that they'd sat in the beanbags together, and Stiles was hurting so much. Derek couldn't fix it, and he didn't want to make things worse.

His Mom did go to Stiles the first time she saw him in the library after they got the news, hugging the little boy close, and Derek ached when he saw it. Because he wanted to hug Stiles, because he was happy to share his mother with Stiles, because he knew that it wasn't really sharing and that nothing could make Stiles feel better, and because Mrs. Stilinski was gone. It had ripped a big enough hole in his own life; how much unbearably worse must it be for Stiles and his Dad?

Derek retreated before he could see whether Stiles started crying in his Mom's arms, pretty sure that if he saw Stiles cry he'd start crying himself. He wanted... he wanted so badly to hold Stiles and keep him safe, but he just couldn't.

Derek was just some older boy who'd used to read Stiles stories when he'd been tiny. Now they were... not quite strangers, but not friends.

He felt like it was a little weird that he wished it could be different. He did, though. It was just too bad that he didn't know how to make it happen.

####

By the time Derek graduated high school and was on the verge of starting college Laura decided that she didn't like working in the Teen Section anymore. And evidently Derek was the next one down the list to get stuck with the position.

"I don't see why we even have a Teen Section," Derek grumped, glaring at Cora who was outright laughing at him. "Just lump them in with the Children's Area. Give them their own corner there if you have to, like Children's Fiction."

His mother sighed and squeezed his shoulder. "Come on, Derek," she said in that calm and reasonable way that made him feel like grimacing but made a grimace seem incredibly immature. "It wasn't that long ago that you were a teenager. Would you have liked being lumped in with younger children at that age?"

Derek sighed heavily, but she did have a point.

"I'd hire someone to do it," his Mom continued, a tiny frown line between her brows. "But we can't afford it this year. Maybe next year, okay?"

"Well, yeah," Derek mumbled, hunching his shoulders and feeling guilty. "I'll be neck-deep in college coursework by then, right? So I should probably concentrate on that."

He felt like a total dick saying it, but that didn't make it not true. He loved his Mom and he loved the family library, but his schooling was important and college was even more important than high school had been.

"The Teen Section isn't very busy," Cora piped up, and she would know, being a teenager now. Well, technically she was a teenager, having just recently turned fourteen, but she was still as slim and straight as a board and looked like she could sneak back into elementary school if she had to do so for some reason.

"I don't mind if you do your homework while you're working," Derek's Mom said, giving him a warm smile. "Just don't ignore the patrons if they need you."

Derek nodded glumly.

"It's not going to be forever," he was promised. But a year and a half later he sure felt like he had been working in the Teen Section forever.

To be fair, Derek didn't hate this position. The Teen Section was tucked away in its own corner of the building, with colorful walls and low chairs, and Derek had his own desk to sit at. He could do his homework when it was quiet, he could shelve when needed, and he was in charge of what books got put on display on a weekly basis.

The only thing Derek didn't really like about the Teen Section was the teenagers.

Like today, for example. There was a group of teens huddled in the 600s area of the nonfiction -- human growth and development -- all of them giggling.

Derek rolled his eyes because he knew what they were looking at. Namely, human growth and development; meaning books about puberty and sexuality.

In his second year of college, Derek felt far removed from his days of junior high and high school, and as far as he was concerned, these kids all looked far too young to even be thinking about sex. Not that Derek was a prude or anything. But if a kid was still immature enough to giggle shrilly over a book about something as natural and universal as puberty, then that kid was still essentially a child. Even if said kid was in the throes of puberty themselves.

This group was new, Derek thought, glancing up from the text book he'd been trying to read and glaring. There were a couple of girls, one with long red hair, the other dark-haired with dimples, and some boys.

Derek blinked, recognizing one of the boys immediately.

He hadn't seen Stiles in something like three years. Either they kept missing each other or Stiles had stopped visiting the library entirely. Derek had missed him, but they'd never been very close, despite all the books Derek had read Stiles when he'd been tiny.

Now, though, seeing Stiles with long legs and arms, his face gone angular where his cheeks weren't still round, and his hair buzzed down close to his head, Derek realized that he'd really, really missed seeing the boy. A lot. For some bizarre reason.

There was another boy, about as scrawny as Stiles, with dark skin and a shaggy mop of black hair, who jostled up right next to Stiles, sharing space so easily that they must be close friends. And near them but standing apart was a blond kid who looked too symmetrical to be real, his pretty face curled in an unattractive sneer, who had an arm wrapped around the red-haired girl with a possessiveness that almost seemed desperate. Derek disliked him on sight, and not just because he saw him punch Stiles in the upper arm way too hard to just be playful.

Derek was pondering whether or not he should tell the group of teens to quiet down, when they split into two; the blond boy preparing to leave with the red-haired girl in tow, and the pretty brunette trailing behind.

"Hey!" Stiles called after them, and Derek scowled. He'd missed Stiles, but he didn't approve of anyone yelling in the Hale Library. It just wasn't done.

Stiles was... he was waving a copy of "It's Perfectly Normal" around like it was a bold flag illustrated with drawings of kids going through puberty and people engaged in sexual acts. Derek fought the urge to smack himself in the forehead, because really?

"Don't worry, Jackson," Stiles yelled after the blond boy, who was beating a quick retreat, dragging the petite red-head with him. "I'm sure someday the other one will drop!"

Before Derek could get on Stiles' case for using his outside voice in the library, this Jackson kid made a U-turn and....

Well. Suffice it to say that this was the first time Derek had ever had to act as a bouncer in his own library.

Unfortunately for Derek's peace of mind it wouldn't end up being the last. And it was usually Stiles and Jackson who were involved.

Okay, it was always Stiles and Jackson.

Which was annoying enough. But when Derek had descended upon the tussling boys, breaking it up and handling Jackson a little more roughly than was maybe warranted, Stiles hadn't acknowledged that they knew one another, instead treating Derek like he was nothing but a member of the Library staff.

Maybe that shouldn't have stung as much as it did, but Derek remembered the small boy who had curled up next to him and hung on his every word as he read through picture book after picture book. He remembered the empathetic pain he had felt when Stiles' mother had died. And he remembered missing Stiles once the boy had stopped coming to the library, for whatever reason he had stopped.

And now... it was like none of that had happened.

Derek felt stupid, like he was letting this affect him more than it should have. Stiles was just some kid, right? It had been sad when he'd lost his mother, and Derek still felt awful about that, but Stiles had stopped visiting the library, he didn't recognize Derek, and he was loud, spastic, and kind of a pain in the ass.

It wasn't like they'd been friends, or had anything special. Obviously, or Stiles wouldn't act like Derek was just another adult. One who got after him because of his noise, and who had to kick him out several times for clashing with Jackson.

Derek really couldn't figure out was why Jackson came to the library, but it seemed to be because he couldn't let his red-haired girlfriend out of his sight and she was an avid reader, even though she tried to disguise this fact.

Stiles appeared to have a huge crush on the girl -- Lydia Martin, Derek discovered one day when he checked out her books for her, not that he cared -- and it made Derek feel even worse. He tried not to think about why it bothered him.

Stiles was still only fourteen. He was getting taller, but he was skinny and clumsy. He was loud and occasionally rude. He was dorky, nerdy, and... and he was smart. He was perceptive. He was sweet and attentive to those that he cared about, like the kid with the mop of dark hair and puppy eyes. Stiles was growing into his looks, and Derek found him as much awkwardly charming as he was just plain awkward....

But Derek was in college, while Stiles was still in junior high. And anyway, Stiles didn't acknowledge Derek, didn't remember him, and the only time they interacted was when Stiles was being a brat and Derek had to get after him for it.

Not the best basis for building... a relationship? Could Derek even call it that? He wasn't romantically interested in Stiles; that would be perverted. But he wanted to get to know him all over again. Wished that they could become something like friends.

And that was bizarre enough, right? Derek was in college and Stiles hadn't even started high school yet. The age difference was too extreme.

Then finally, finally Derek's mother found someone to take over the position in the Teen Section, and this allowed Derek to reduce his work hours in order to spend more time on his coursework. Which was good, because college was kicking his ass. It might not have been so hard if Derek hadn't been so determined to do as well as he could and better than that, but he wasn't about to do anything by halves.

Just because his parents owned a library and he knew he'd always have a job there, that didn't mean Derek wasn't going to do his absolute fucking best. He'd had never done anything less than his best, and he wasn't about to start now.

Once he changed his schedule, Derek saw Stiles around the library from time to time -- looking more awkward and coltish with every inch he gained -- but he really was limited in the time he spent there as he graduated and began studying for his Masters.

Derek had important things to be doing. If he wanted to have a job, a real job at his parents' library, then he was going to work his ass off to get it. He didn't have time to nurse a strange fixation on a junior high, then high school student. That was just the plain truth of the matter.

Even though... he really kind of missed Stiles, and hoped he wasn't getting beat up by Jackson without Derek there to defend him.

####

Once Derek got his Masters in Library Sciences he made the move to working full time at the Reference desk in the Hale Library. He could probably have worked there before then, since his parents knew his capability, but he'd insisted on doing it right, and they'd both had backed him up on that. Cora laughed at him, but Derek thought that Laura was proud.

It had been a lot of hard work, but it had been worth it. Especially since Derek knew he'd be able to get a job at any other library if he chose. He wasn't here simply because his parents owned the place anymore. He'd earned his position.

Derek didn't expect that things would be a lot different now that he was behind the Reference desk. Even though he was answering questions and directing patrons, placing holds, and answering the phone, instead of out there shelving or back in the workroom checking things in.

Most of the phone calls were people asking about the Library's hours, but Derek once found himself earnestly trying to explain what exactly a "high-five" was to an elderly lady who seemed very confused, while Cora snickered at him from the check-out desk.

Cora liked to tease Derek that he in no way fit the stereotype of the Reference librarian, but his response to that was to growl, "Good." Then she told him he should wear glasses despite his perfect vision, and she even went so far as to buy him a knitted cardigan for his birthday. Derek wore it on his next shift, just to spite her, and was amused when she then complained about all the female patrons and some of the male patrons who spent the day "draped over his desk, drooling," as she put it.

Derek didn't really care about whether some people with a weird "hot librarian" fetish found him attractive. He had a job to do and he did it well. And he knew that his parents were incredibly proud of his accomplishments. So were his sisters, even if they had a funny way of showing it.

The only thing that really made an impression on Derek, that really made him feel like things were different, was that once he started working at the Reference desk he began seeing Stiles again.

Evidently Stiles was advanced enough now that he'd graduated from the Teen Section to the regular adult collection, even though he was still in high school. Well, Derek remembered those days himself. He'd read at an advanced level ever since he'd started reading, and he could tell Stiles was the same from his choices in materials.

It was kind of... startling, looking up from his computer and seeing Stiles leaning over his desk so enthusiastically that he was nearly in Derek's lap. Stiles was smiling broadly at him, his cheeks blotchy with a bright flush, his eyes fixed on Derek's face.

"Hey, eyebrows," he greeted, using his favorite nickname for Derek. Derek missed the days when Stiles' mother had called him by name.... But he supposed he should just be grateful that Stiles wasn't calling him "Mr. Hale" because that would just be weird. Mr. Hale was Derek's father, as far as he was concerned. And sometimes his uncle, but Peter tended not to set foot outside the workroom, not liking to deal with the public.

"What do you want?" Derek asked. Normally he was more polite to the patrons, but normally he wasn't being called "eyebrows".

"I... um...." Stiles bit at his lower lip, leaning back out of Derek's space and shifting restlessly where he was still lounging against the desktop. "Could you direct me to the section on... um, human sexuality? Most specifically... homosexuality?"

Derek stared at Stiles for a moment, even though he tried to never react no matter what a patron was looking for. He was just a little nonplussed.

"You should know where that is," he said before he thought. "Didn't you used to haunt those shelves in the Teen Section?"

Stiles turned even more red. "I didn't... pay attention... I mean, I don't remember what the call number was."

"Right." Derek cleared his throat, recalling his professionalism. "Let me look that up for you." Even though he knew the call number Stiles needed by heart, it might look a little weird if he just rattled it off without at least pretending to check his computer first. Derek had most of the Dewey Decimal System memorized, but he felt like Stiles would judge him for knowing right where the books he had requested were.

Though, to be honest, when had Stiles ever judged him? Not once that Derek could think of.

"Thanks," Stiles mumbled, chewing on his lower lip. Derek tried not to look, tried not to notice how much of a cupid's bow the kid's plush mouth curved in, but he could see it out the corner of his eye.

Once he'd sent Stiles on his way, Derek relaxed onto his chair. He should probably have known better. Because the next thing he knew, Stiles was back at his desk again, this time with a different question.

"Hey, so, are there any books in this library about the history of male circumcision?"

Derek very narrow avoided slamming his head into his computer screen. Then he got Stiles the call number he needed for that as well. Because Derek was professional.

####

Derek would have been the first to say that Stiles was as much a pain in his ass now as he had been when they'd both been in the Teen Section of the library. He'd have complained about the esoteric books that the kid made him look up, how he monopolized Derek's time, and how Stiles was too loud and enthusiastic, if it wouldn't have been terribly unprofessional to talk about a patron that way.

So why exactly did it feel as though Derek's world had come to a screeching halt when Stiles suddenly stopped coming in?

It wasn't like last time, when Derek had sort of just not seen Stiles wandering around the stacks anymore. Stiles was a regular at Derek's desk. He came in at least twice a week, at random hours, asking for the strangest things. He made Derek look up books that he could have just as easily found himself using the card catalog. Stiles was smart, Derek was well aware. And yet he'd kept asking, and Derek never suggested Stiles go and find something himself; had always dropped everything to help Stiles find what he was looking for.

And then... no more Stiles.

It kind of sucked. It felt like a betrayal, as ridiculous as that was. The library seemed too quiet and too boring without Stiles there.

Derek didn't know when things had changed, but he knew he didn't like it. Most especially because he missed Stiles. All over again, after he'd almost managed to convince himself he didn't care.

That had been a lie of epic proportions.

And yet what could Derek do? He could hardly track Stiles down and beg him to come back to the library. If Stiles was staying away, he had his reasons.

Derek had a job and he was damned good it, and he wasn't going to pine. Especially not over a boy who had annoyed him almost as much as he had interested him. He told himself that over and over again, and tried to ignore the way it felt so much like a lie.

Stiles was the one who had left, he was the one who didn't come in to the library anymore. Derek was the one who was still here.

So life went on, and Derek fought boredom. He got his own apartment. He began taking ASL classes and read some of the books Stiles had checked out in the past. He knew that his parents worried about him, because his Mom wasn't quiet about it and his Dad's eyebrows got all wrinkly whenever Derek came home for a family dinner. Cora teased him over his lack of a life, and Laura kept trying to set him up on blind dates. Derek was happy being alone though, no matter what his sisters thought, and he was enjoying his job even more than he had expected to.

Then Laura took some of the heat off of him by breaking away from the library and opening her own coffee shop in the downtown area of Beacon Hills. Now their parents were more worried about her than they were about Derek's lack of what conventional people called a life, and Derek found that to be a welcome reprieve.

The coffee shop did well, defying all their parents' concerns, and Laura had already hired a couple of college kids to help her run it. Derek stopped by more often than he'd ever visited any other coffee place, but that was because Laura made amazing pastries. Laura wasn't going to complain about her younger brother spending his coin there, and it wasn't charity or anything, because he was getting food and drinks for his money.

Life went on and somehow without Derek realizing it autumn had well and truly arrived and Thanksgiving was fast approaching.

The air was cold and crisp as Derek left the library at the end of his Friday shift, and he was going to indulge in a seasonal coffee beverage on his way home, even though it meant going out of his way and potentially standing in line. Queuing would be worth it once he had his pumpkin spice latte in hand, he firmly told himself. And it was a good way to start his weekend.

As a family member he got both Saturday and Sunday off, which he deeply appreciated. Derek was amused that as a paid employee he had better hours than he'd ever had while he'd been growing up. Yet another reason he was glad he'd gotten his Masters.

Laura's coffee shop was actually pretty empty when Derek entered it, which was a little surprising. But it was almost seven o'clock in the evening. He gave Laura a small smile and a wave where he could see her in her office, through the cracked door. She waved back, but seemed distracted. Probably with paperwork, so Derek didn't intend to bother her.

He was happy for his older sister, that she'd found what she wanted to do. She'd never really hated working in the library, but she hadn't been truly happy there. Here in this coffee place she had founded and was running, she was cheerful and upbeat and Derek could just tell that she'd found her niche.

Laura had always liked being the queen of her domain, doing her best to boss her younger siblings around. That had been hard when it had been their mother who'd always been the driving force behind the running of the library, but now Laura was the one who was in charge here in her own establishment. With her own employees, one of whom greeted Derek as he neared the counter.

"Hey, Derek, what can I get you?"

"A pumpkin latte," Derek ordered, giving Isaac a small smile, because he genuinely liked the kid. He wasn't sure where Laura had found him, but he preferred Isaac's mild snarkiness to Erica's bold flirting or Boyd's stoic silence. "With extra cinnamon, please."

Isaac nodded, running Derek's credit card and then moving to prepare his drink. Derek shoved a ten dollar bill in the tip jar, then turned to lean against the counter, surveying the shop while he waited.

Laura had recently replaced the generic posters she'd had when she'd opened the place with some intriguing works by local artists. The green plants in the corners were new, and Derek made a private mental bet with himself over how long it would be before they died. Unless they were fake; it was hard to tell from where he was. The tables were moved regularly, keeping things interesting, and Derek saw a new set of comfy chairs in the corner by the restroom door.

As he ran his gaze through the coffee shop, thinking how well his older sister had done for herself, Derek froze, his eyes going wide when he caught sight of a lean figure seated near the window; Laura's lone customer on this chilly evening.

Hunched over a small table strewn with textbooks and papers, an empty cup at his elbow, a plate with a few crumbs on it... was Stiles.

Derek stared. He couldn't help himself.

Stiles' hair was grown out, standing up in a manner that looked more as though he'd been running his fingers through it than it being deliberately styled. His legs were endless where they curled around the legs of his chair, encased in tight denim. His shoulders were insanely broad under the plaid flannel he was wearing, and he had very definitely grown into the potential his lanky limbs had always contained.

Stiles looked amazing, and suddenly Derek realized exactly why he didn't see the boy anymore.

It was because Stiles was no longer a boy; he was a young man. A young man who was undoubtedly going to college, the same as Cora was. Possibly in another state, which would explain why he was no longer doing his studying at the Hale Library.

Derek felt incredibly stupid for only just now having had this realization.

But in his mind Stiles was still that tiny little boy with the huge brown eyes that had asked Derek to read him picture books. He was a gangly kid giving Derek sass after getting in trouble. He was a dorky teenager who took a little too much delight in asking for books about circumcision and polygamy.

Stiles wasn't this. This incredibly good looking youth who was probably closer to nineteen than eighteen, his fingers long and lean where they toyed with a pen, white teeth chewing on his red lower lip, lashes spread thick over his pink cheeks as he stared down at whatever he was reading.

"Hey, Isaac," Derek said as Isaac handed him his latte. "Can you get me another one of whatever he had?" He nodded to indicated Stiles.

Isaac quirked a brow, but did as directed. When Derek made to pay, Isaac held up a hand.

"Forget it. It's worth the price of the drink to see you go over there and give that to him," he smirked.

Derek scowled. "If you go running to the office to tell Laura as soon as my back is turned...."

He fumbled for an effective threat, but Isaac was already shaking his head. "Relax. I wouldn't," he assured Derek. "Although if you take too long here at the counter she's gonna wonder what's going on."

Derek grimaced, then grabbed the new drink in his free hand. As he started across the coffee shop, he could see that he and Isaac had evidently managed to attract Stiles' attention even though he'd tried to keep his voice down. Stiles had raised his head and was staring at Derek, eyes round, a pen cap falling from where it had been between his lips as his mouth dropped open.

God, he looked edible. Derek was pretty fluid in his sexuality, and he was comfortable with that fact. Just because he didn't really date much, that didn't mean he was blind. And Stiles had grown up very nicely.

The walk toward Stiles' table was too short and yet felt like it took forever. But Derek persevered. Not taking advantage of this opportunity would be worse in the long-run than any anxiety he might be feeling right now.

Derek sat down opposite Stiles at the small table, glared at him, and asked, "Where the hell have you been?" before he could think of all the reasons this was a really horrible idea.

Stiles stared at him some more, his mouth still hanging open in the way that Derek remembered, and Derek took a moment to set down Stiles' drink and slide it toward him. He didn't even know what it was, but that wasn't important. What was important was that he was here, and Stiles was here, and it had been entirely too long since the last time they had talked.

"I...." Stiles firmed his jaw, licked his lips, and then his gaze flickered down to the cup. "What?"

Derek took a moment to run his gaze over Stiles' features. Familiar but different. His cheekbones were sharper and more pronounced than Derek remembered. All his moles were in the same places, of course. His nose was still upturned and adorable, but the overall effect of his delicate features and thickly-lashed, large brown eyes struck Derek more as beautiful than cute.

"Are you home for Thanksgiving?" Derek asked, deciding to rein in his tone of entitlement. He had no claim over Stiles, no matter how much he might wish he did.

"Yeah." Stiles nodded, reaching automatically for his drink, then staring at it in confusion.

"That's for you," Derek clarified.

"Thank you." Stiles raised his eyes, the brown warm and deep, with amber highlights in the warm illumination filling Laura's coffee shop. "I... I'm just back from studying aboard for a while. I'll be doing the rest of my schooling locally, but I spent the last while in Spain." He blinked, his lashes impossibly thick, his expression uncertain. "I'm not sure...."

"Sorry," Derek said gruffly, knowing he sounded grouchy, but unable to help himself. "I just... you never told me you were going away."

"Oh." Stiles plush lips curved in an open circle that Derek wanted to breach with his tongue. And Stiles had to be legal by now, so it wasn't wrong to lust after him, right?

When Stiles didn't say something right away, Derek forged onward.

"I missed you," he confessed, even though it felt terrifying to lay all his cards on the table like that. But for all he tended to be called a fuddy-duddy and stick-in-the-mud by his sisters, Derek could be as impulsive and brash as anyone else from time to time. And he really had missed Stiles. Why not let him know?

"I'm sorry." Now it was Stiles' turn to apologize. He wrapped his hands around his drink. "I'm sorry, Derek. I guess I should've, but.... Well, I thought I was just some annoying kid that you'd be glad to see the last of."

Derek scowled. He distinctly recalled their witty banter, and while he had usually put on an annoyed front, he'd always given Stiles as much time and attention as the boy had asked for every time he had seen him.

"Sorry about that," Derek said for a second time, because evidently they were taking turns apologizing. Then he allowed a bit of wry humor to creep into his voice. "I didn't realize you ever took me seriously."

Stiles stared at him for a moment, then his lips curved up at the corners, and he let out a loud, joyous bark of laughter, his mouth opening insanely wide, his eyes crinkling with delight.

"Oh my God," he hooted. "I forgot. I forgot that you actually have a sense of humor."

Derek rolled his eyes, smirking in sympathy with Stiles' amusement. "Just don't tell anyone," he retorted dryly. "I'd hate to lose my street cred."

"Your street cred as a bad-ass Reference Librarian?" Stiles asked, giving Derek the head to toe as well as he could when Derek was seated. Derek smiled smugly as he saw Stiles' gaze lingering on his five o'clock shadow and the leather jacket he was wearing.

He shrugged carelessly, watching in fascination as Stiles bit his lower lip again. "I am pretty bad-ass," Derek admitted. Because what other Reference Librarian in charge of a collection like the Hale family shared could bench lift as much as he did, or drove a sleek black Camaro?

"Very bad-ass," Stiles crooned in agreement, flags of red coloring his cheeks. Derek felt himself flush a little as well, and he dipped his head, suddenly shy for all he had approached Stiles and indulged in flirting with him so boldly up to this point. To be honest, Derek was out of practice flirting, and had never expected to find himself flirting with Stiles, of all people.

Silence descended on their little table momentarily, and Derek sipped his nearly forgotten latte. It was delicious, as always, and he hoped that whatever he'd had Isaac make for Stiles was good as well. At least he hadn't had to pay for it, though he was painfully aware that Isaac was probably watching them right now while he fumbled his way through this conversation.

Creeper.

"Do you..." Stiles toyed with his cup, twisting it between long, lean fingers, watching it turn, then raising wide brown eyes to Derek's face. "Do you remember how... a really long time ago... you used to read books to me while we sat in the beanbags in the Children's Area?"

Derek stared at Stiles blankly. "Yeah," he replied choppily as Stiles glanced at him anxiously. "Yeah, I remember. But I thought you didn't."

Stiles bobbed his head and took a bracing sip of his drink. His lips were red and Derek wanted to plaster his own over top of them, to an extent that made him feel a little guilty.

"Well, I didn't at first," Stiles confessed, giving Derek a smile that was caught somewhere between coy and sheepish. "You really blossomed in college. Not that you didn't look good before," he hastened to add, as though Derek was going to be offended, and wasn't sitting here in shock, trying to restructure his world view. "But the muscles kind of threw me. I wasn't expecting that."

Derek blinked, unsure of what to say. He'd been thinking pretty much the same things about Stiles just now, but it was weird to know that Stiles had ever felt that way about him.

"I should have recognized the eyebrows," Stiles continued, evidently not needing Derek to contribute to the conversation in order to keep it going. "But I was kind of distracted by the stubble and the biceps and the sexy growling."

Derek blinked again.

"You did call me 'eyebrows' sometimes, even though I told you not to," he reminded Stiles.

Stiles let out his boisterous laugh again, and Derek wanted to keep him laughing. He wanted to keep him talking. He wanted to know where Stiles was going to college now, and what he was doing for Thanksgiving, and whether he really was flirting with Derek right now or if it was just a matter of Stiles being Stiles....

"Sorry," Stiles murmured, smiling at Derek over the top of his cup. "I was kind of a little douche."

"Not so much," Derek assured him.

"Thanks, but I know that I was," Stiles laughed, then took a long swig of his drink before establishing and maintaining some very intense eyes contact. Derek didn't look away.

"You know," Stiles said slowly, setting his drink down and licking his lips. Whatever he'd gotten was milky, and Derek felt a wave of heat rush through him as Stiles' pink tongue swept up a slick of pale white off the swell of his lower lip. "I've been thinking lately that the Hale Library did so much for me while I was growing up... now that I'm back in town, I should probably volunteer some of my precious free time there. You know, to give something back."

Derek's heart leapt, and he hurried to pounce on that opening.

"Well, since my sister Laura deserted us for this place," Derek said, lifting a hand to indicate the coffee shop they were sitting in, "We don't have anyone to do the preschool story-time."

Stiles nodded, his eyes wide and his expression ridiculously and adorably solemn. "I could do that. I could do story-time. I'm great with kids."

Derek grinned, feeling a surge of triumph and hope for the future. They were both on the same wavelength now. And even though he could see in his peripheral that Laura had emerged from her office and was standing behind the counter with Isaac, both of them unabashedly watching the show, he couldn't bring himself to care. All of his attention was focused on Stiles now.

"And maybe you could give me some pointers," Stiles was saying slyly, glancing at Derek though thick lashes, his rich mouth curling up at one corner. "Since you're such an expert at reading aloud to twitchy, fidgety kids...."

"It was really just the one kid," Derek replied, allowing himself to smirk back, allowing his eyes to express the heat he was feeling well up in his chest... and, to be honest, at points lower south.

"Still." Stiles turned the full intensity of his stare on Derek, holding him captive the way he had done since that first moment he had tugged on Derek's shirt in the Children's Area. "It would be remiss of me not to pick your brains. Shouldn't we discuss this over dinner or something?"

Derek couldn't believe that he was being propositioned by a college student. He was being propositioned by Stiles. And he couldn't believe Stiles had asked him out before he'd had a chance to ask Stiles out!

Well, Derek hadn't made the first move, but the next move was definitely up to him, and there was no way he was missing this opportunity. Not to mention he wasn't going to leave Stiles hanging.

"We can definitely do dinner," he replied and wasn't even embarrassed by how eager he sounded. "Are you free now?"

Stiles glanced down at his papers, then raised an arm to indicate the plaid flannel he had on. "Well, I'm not exactly dressed for a nice meal...."

Derek could have said that Stiles looked fine as he was. He could have suggested that they just get fast food. But he had a better idea.

"I have enough ingredients at home to make stir fry for two," he suggested, and Stiles' eyes and tempting wet mouth went round again. "I'd love to cook for you."

Stiles knocked his drink off the table in his enthusiasm to pack up. Laura was laughing her ass off behind the counter and sent Isaac out to mop up the spill. Derek was annoyed at Laura, amused by Stiles' babbled apologies, and he thought it served Isaac right, but mostly he was looking forward to taking Stiles back to his place.

To hell with taking things slow. His own latte was unscathed but rapidly cooling, so Derek saluted Laura with it, finished it off, then dragged Stiles out of the coffee shop, leaving Isaac to his mopping and his grumbling.

Derek didn't even care that he could see Laura on her phone as he exited, no doubt texting Cora, and possibly their parents as well. Let his family have their fun; Derek was going home with Stiles.

####

Derek had always been the sort of person to take things slowly -- at a glacial pace, Cora would say, and Derek was not comfortable with his baby sister knowing so much about his dating life, much less feeling that she could comment on it -- and so it was something of a surprise to find himself crowding Stiles up against his kitchen counter pretty much the moment they were through eating dinner and had carried their plates to the sink.

He hadn't meant to be so eager, or so forceful. But Stiles didn't seem to mind, from the way he slid his arms around Derek's shoulders and clung to him, his mouth opening readily to Derek's questing tongue.

How they had gone from chopping vegetables together, to talking over dinner like old friends, to this was something that confused Derek... but he wasn't going to spend too long dwelling on it. Not when Stiles' tongue was rolling around his between their close-pressed mouths, as nimble at kissing as it was quick to sarcasm and snark.

Derek sank his fingers into Stiles' hair instead of grabbing his ass, though he suspected Stiles wouldn't have minded if he'd indulged in the latter. It was thick and just as soft as it looked, and while Derek had never minded the buzz-cut he was glad that Stiles had grown it back out.

Stiles was evidently feeling more bold than Derek was, because suddenly there were fingers sliding up under the hem of Derek's shirt, pads smooth against the burning skin of Derek's sides just above his waistband.

"What kind of Librarian wears jeans anyway?" Stiles murmured as he broke their kiss, though his face remained so close that Derek couldn't focus on his features without going cross-eyed.

"The kind of Librarian whose parents own the library," Derek replied, and since Stiles was feeling him up, he moved his own embrace down. He didn't grab Stiles' ass, but he let his fingers flirt dangerously close to doing just that, clasping his waist and lower back, feeling out Stiles' belt loops through the thin material of the teeshirt he was wearing. Stiles had taken his plaid flannel off shortly after entering Derek's well-heated apartment, and Derek had been more than a little fixated on the flex of muscles in Stiles' wiry forearms while they'd been making and eating dinner.

"Mm." Stiles pressed a soft kiss to the corner of Derek's lip, then moved away again when Derek turned his head to pursue that tempting mouth. "But you could get a job at any library you wanted to work at, don't think I don't know that."

Derek wondered just how Stiles knew that, and not for the first time it crossed his mind how little he and Stiles really knew about each other.

"This is crazy," he groaned, not wanting to break the mood, but feeling the overwhelming need to point out, "I don't really know you. You don't really know me."

"Dude," Stiles said breathlessly, nuzzling Derek's cheek. "I know you. I do know you. You're the older boy read me 'Where the Wild Things Are' when I asked. You're the librarian who helped me through it when I realized I liked guys as well as girls. Hell, you were the hot-ass reason I realized I liked guys as well as girls!"

"Don't call me dude," Derek replied automatically, not for the first time, but he wasn't dismissing the things that Stiles had said. They were a little simplistic, but they weren't untrue.

"I didn't do anything to help you," he added belatedly.

"Three-o-six, point seven sixty-six," Stiles whispered, and Derek had to pause a moment to think, before he grinned and chuckled.

"You memorized the call number?"

Stiles pulled further back and stuck his tongue out at Derek. "I spent a lot of time there when I was fifteen and sixteen," he informed Derek. "And you were the one who first told me how to find that section."

"You know, you could have looked it up in the card catalogue at any time," Derek said, allowing Stiles to back off far enough that he could focus on his mobile features, though he wasn't about to let go of the beautiful, intelligent, vibrant young man in his arms.

"Yeah, I could have," Stiles replied, rolling his eyes. "But I didn't want to. I wanted you to give me the call number and you did. And you never judged me or teased me, so I felt like it was all right."

Derek felt his smile soften, even though it made him feel a little uncomfortable to recall that he had been an adult when Stiles had still been a teenager figuring out his sexuality.

"There was nothing to judge you for," he told Stiles softly, leaning in to press a light kiss to those soft lips. Stiles' mouth tasted like stir fry sauce, but so did Derek's; he certainly didn't have any problem with this fact. "And I never would have teased you."

"I can think of a few ways you could tease me now," Stiles said archly, wiggling his brows in a manner that was the exact opposite of seductive. Despite this, Derek still felt incredibly turned on, knowing that Stiles was practically throwing himself at him.

"Do you like being teased?" he husked, raising his own brows but not wiggling them.

Stiles shook his head immediately. "Hell no," he blurted. "I just thought it sounded sexy, you know? I'm not... I'm not very good at this whole getting laid thing."

Derek winced and took a step back. Stiles let out a small sound of distress and followed him.

"Here." Derek took Stiles' hand and twined their fingers together. "Let's go into the living room and sit for a while. I don't want to rush things."

"You could rush it a little," Stiles said forlornly, staring at Derek like he'd just threatened to take away his favorite toy.

"Is that more of you trying to sound sexy?" Derek asked, tilting his head and meeting Stiles' gaze steadily. He hoped.... But he needed to be sure, not make any assumptions.

"No," Stiles said with a decisiveness that set Derek's mind at ease. "That's me saying that I'd rather go into the bedroom and make out." Then he paused, looked distraught. "Not that I'm pressuring you! If you want to take things slow, I'm fine with taking it slow!"

"Liar," Derek smirked.

Stiles pulled a face. "Well."

Derek thought about his bed, and how long it had been since he'd had anyone else in it. He thought about Stiles, and how much he had missed him even when he hadn't really known him. He thought about how much and how little he knew about Stiles, and how he was really, really looking forward to learning more.

This could all blow up in his face, Derek was well aware. He'd had some disastrous relationships in his time. But....

But he'd known Stiles since he'd been a tiny boy shoving a Maurice Sendak book at him. They'd seen each other on and off for years, in the one place where Derek felt at home outside his actual home. And they'd just had a good meal together in Derek's apartment, a meal that they'd prepared and cooked together, both of them moving around his kitchen as smoothly as though Stiles belonged there.

If things blew up in Derek's face he would deal with it when it happened. Right now he just knew that if he didn't take Stiles to his bed and share with him how much he liked guys himself, he'd regret that forever.

"Come on," he directed, tugging at Stiles' hand and guiding him out of the kitchen, through the living area of his apartment, and then to his bedroom.

"You're sure?" Stiles asked anxiously, as Derek came to a stop next to his bed and pulled Stiles close. "I'm not pressuring you or anything?"

"If you're sure, I'm sure," Derek said, clasping Stiles' waist again and stepping close enough to brush the tips of their noses together. "I'm not feeling any pressure. Are you?"

"Only at the front of my jeans," Stiles answered candidly, and Derek let his head fall down against one of those broad shoulders, his own shoulders shaking with laughter.

"Not sexy?" Stiles asked mournfully.

"It's... evocative," Derek said, raising his head and grinning at Stiles. "Takes care of most of my doubts." And before he could second guess the move, he reached down and cupped Stiles' crotch.

"Whoa!" Stiles startled, but he leaned into the touch rather than away from it, his arms ringing Derek's neck and shoulders, his lips blindly seeking Derek's.

Derek obligingly claimed and plundered Stiles' hungry mouth, flexing his fingers around Stiles' hard cock, then rubbing at it as best he could considering the awkward angle at which he had his wrist twisted. Stiles whined into their kiss, his hips moving restlessly, and Derek reluctantly retrieved his hand.

"No, wait, what was that?" Stiles clutched at Derek desperately. "Don't let go!"

"I don't want to move too fast," Derek replied, as soothingly as he was able when his skin was prickly with heat and arousal, his heart pounding against his breastbone, his throat tight with want.

"I'm fine with too fast, honest!" Stiles said, his eyes bright and expression earnest. "I'm great with too fast!"

Derek smiled fondly, then took a step back and stripped off his shirt.

"Um." Stiles licked his lips, his eyes fixed on Derek's exposed chest. "Or slow... slow can be good too. I mean, if slow get me a view like this...."

"Your turn," Derek said, reaching for the hem of Stiles' teeshirt. As far as he was concerned getting half naked this soon was taking things fast, not slow. But Stiles was young and impulsive, and probably had different ideas of foreplay than Derek had.

He looked forward to finding out what sort of foreplay Stiles liked, and he also looked forward to showing Stiles what he himself liked, in a very hands-on fashion.

"I'm not--" Stiles voice was muffled as Derek stripped his teeshirt off, then he shifted where he stood, biting his lip and looking uncomfortable, hands clenching and unclenching beside his thighs. "I'm not as nice to look at as you are," he finished softly.

Derek raised his brows, giving Stiles what he knew was an incredulous look. Maybe Stiles wasn't as bulked up as Derek was, true, but there was nothing to be ashamed of in the slender young body standing before him.

Stiles had smooth muscles under even smoother skin, and his well defined pectorals were tipped by delicious looking nipples. He didn't have a lot of chest hair, but there was a light dusting between his pectorals, and Derek could see a thick trail leading down from Stiles' navel into his jeans that his fingers itched to follow under the waistband.

"I think it's a very nice view," he murmured, reaching before he realized. He fitted his spread fingers to the lines of Stiles' ribs under his arms, his thumbs moving unerringly to tease at Stiles' nipples. They were perky and puffy and pink as a woman's, not flat, tawny coins like Derek's were, and Stiles sucked in a sharp breath as Derek tweaked them until they were taut and tight, standing out from his chest.

"Oh my God," Stiles gasped, scrabbling at Derek's biceps, clinging to him as his knees seemed to go weak.

A little concerned that Stiles was going to keel over, Derek withdrew his hands. "We should get on the bed," he said, throwing back the covers.

"That's pretty fast," Stiles murmured, staring at the sheets with a strange expression on his face.

"You okay?" Derek asked, suddenly concerned about the level of Stiles' experienced with sex. Sure, Stiles kissed like he knew what he was doing, but he could have just spent time making out with other kids his own age, might not have gone further. Or if he had, maybe not all the way. If Stiles was still a virgin, Derek needed to know.

He was so far gone that this probably wouldn't stop him, Derek was honest enough to admit to himself, but he'd slow down and be more gentle if Stiles was new to this.

"I'm fine," Stiles answered, shaking himself and turning wide eyes on Derek that reminded him of the tiny boy who had pulled at his shirt and asked him to read a book.

Derek wasn't going to be crass and outright ask if Stiles had ever had sex before; he decided on the fly. He would just slow down and be gentle anyway. Because whether he was a virgin or not, Stiles deserved that. And also because Derek wanted to savor the fact that he had Stiles in his bed.

Figuratively rather than literally, at the moment. The bed was right next to their knees, ready to go, but Derek had just decided not to rush things. They'd get there eventually.

"Come here," Derek murmured, tugging Stiles close and wrapping his arms around him. Their bare torsos pressed close, warm, and Stiles' fingers spread over Derek's upper back; over his triskelion tattoo, though Derek was pretty sure that Stiles had no way of knowing it was there.

Stiles seemed to be about to say something, but Derek couldn't wait to hear what it was, pushing his mouth up against Stiles' plump lips, then licking his way inside. He reached down and groped Stiles through the material of his jeans, holding and squeezing his ass. He'd already grabbed his cock, so he didn't feel this was too bold a move.

Stiles let out a little whine into their kiss, his tongue spearing into Derek's mouth in turn, as hungry and eager as Derek had been, and Derek let him in.

Those clever fingers were tracing restless patterns over the muscles of Derek's back, and Derek flexed his own fingers, digging into the meat of Stiles' ass cheeks until he whined more loudly and squirmed where he was pressed up against Derek's muscle-hard body. Derek could feel Stiles' erection through both their jeans, butting up against his own, hot and demanding, and he abruptly experienced the need to divest them of the rest of their clothing.

"Here," he rasped, turning them both and then pushing Stiles down onto his back on the bed. Stiles clung to him, making it hard to pull away, but Derek managed it and then he unfastened the button and zipper at the front of Stiles' jeans with fingers that only fumbled a little.

"You too," Stiles gasped, arching his hips up helpfully as Derek stripped his pants off, revealing long, lean, pale legs and a pair of black boxers that were stretched to capacity in the front. "Naked!"

"Of course," Derek gritted out, tossing Stiles' jeans aside and wrenching at his own fly. His cock was aching, leaking in his underwear, and he needed to be as bare as Stiles was, immediately.

"Aw, yeah," Stiles moaned out, his lips curling up at the corners, his eyes bright as he watched Derek strip, and it should have sounded ridiculous, but Derek didn't think Stiles could do anything that didn't turn him on right now.

"Take off your boxers," Derek instructed, nodding at the article of clothing in question. "I want to see all of you."

Stiles' already flushed cheeks turned a bright, blotchy red and he lowered his gaze almost shyly. But lowering his gaze meant that he was staring at Derek's erect cock, and once he seemed to realize that fact, Stiles' brown eyes went heated and sharp. He licked his lips involuntarily and moved to whip off his underwear as directed.

"Has anyone ever told you that you were... gifted?" he asked Derek, with meaning clear to read in his voice. He lounged back on his elbows, one leg raised, knee crooked, not really trying to hide his own arousal but obviously still a little self conscious about it.

He made an insanely pretty, insanely tempting picture, whether he knew it or not, and Derek allowed his eyes to rake over that amazing young body and adorable face before he pulled himself together enough to answer the question.

"Yes," he replied with blunt honesty. "Many times. But I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that was supposed to be a sexy euphemism?"

Stiles glanced up at him and then blushed, grinning mischievously. "What I meant was that you're hung like a stallion," he told Derek with no shame. "And if I weren't pretty well gifted myself, I'd probably be feeling more than a little inadequate right now."

"But not intimidated, right?" Derek purred, crawling over top of Stiles where he was sprawled on his back, knowing that he was coming off as kind of predatory but not really able to temper his reaction to Stiles' words. All this sex talk was winding him up, and, well, the fact that Stiles so obviously liked what he saw....

Stiles shook his head. "Naw, I'm good," he declared, flopping down and reaching up for Derek. "Not intimidated, just excited."

"Good," Derek growled, and then despite his better judgment, he let himself move to claim what he wanted.

He had meant to take things slow and careful, he honestly had. But when Stiles reached up and tugged, Derek allowed himself to settle into the open cradle of the young man's spread thighs, their hard cocks sandwiched side by side between their bellies. Derek propped himself on his elbows so that Stiles could still breathe but otherwise allowed his full weight to rest on the more slender body beneath his, and the he bent to kiss Stiles again, as deep and hungry as he felt.

Stiles was slim but he was sturdy, and so Derek wasn't actually worried about squashing him. It felt too good to blanket Stiles' body with his own, gripping Stiles' shoulders and moving his hips rhythmically so that their throbbing erections slid against each other within the tight space between their close-pressed groins.

"Oh, my God," Stiles choked out, breaking their kiss to throw his head back into Derek's pillow, and Derek took the opportunity to plaster his mouth against the pale, vulnerable line of Stiles' throat. He licked and sucked a mark in that tender skin as he frotted against Stiles, bringing them both closer and closer to climax. He knew he was likely going to leave a bruise there, was pleased by the thought of it, and he suspected he was giving Stiles some light stubble-burn in the area as well, but he didn't care. Stiles felt good and tasted better, and Derek wasn't strong enough to stop now.

Especially not when Stiles was clinging to him, blunt nails digging into the tense muscles of Derek's back, his legs locked tightly around Derek's flexing hips, words and incoherent sounds of encouragement spilling from his kiss-bruised lips.

Seriously, though, Derek did mean to pull away, maybe offer to blow Stiles, coax his orgasm out of him with care and determination.... But the next thing he knew he was tensing, fingers tightening where they were hooked over Stiles' shoulders, and he grunted as his own climax hit him, almost like being punched; decidedly less painful but just as abrupt and surprising.

Stiles let out a low sound as blood-hot semen flooded the non-space between their bellies, and the next thing Derek knew, Stiles was coming as well.

That was a little disappointing because Derek really had wanted to get his mouth on that gorgeous young cock, long and straight and not quite as thick as his own.... And yet he also felt satisfied and proud that he'd gotten Stiles off, and even though he'd just climaxed he found it sexy that their jizz was mingled and mixing between them.

Derek rolled onto his side, holding on and taking Stiles with him, because he didn't want to crush the younger man when his pleasure-sapped limbs gave out on him. He knew that they'd have to move soon, before their pubes got glued together with drying jizz, but for a moment he just held on, petting heavily at Stiles' thick, sweat-damp hair and his loose upper back, nosing at Stiles' flushed hot cheek until he found his open, panting mouth and claimed several wet, sloppy kisses.

Stiles was limp and sated in Derek's embrace, but he kissed back, his own hands moving clumsily over Derek's back and shoulders, and he rolled a little further, so that he was pressed even more closely to Derek's body.

"That was nice," Stiles sighed, and his fingers sank into Derek's hair, massaging his scalp. Derek shivered a little. He'd just come and wasn't going to get too turned on for at least a while, but that didn't mean he couldn't take a sensual pleasure in their closeness.

"I meant to make it last longer," Derek muttered, shifting so that it was his thigh over top of Stiles' instead of the other way around, and running his hand through the thin layer of perspiration covering the soft skin of Stiles' back. "But you just had to go and be so sexy."

Stiles snickered, nuzzling up under Derek's jaw, pressing little kisses to his throat. "This was just taking the edge off," he declared easily, and Derek shuddered as Stiles licked his neck, hot and damp. "So we can go longer the second time."

Derek was tempted to point out that he wasn't eighteen anymore, like Stiles probably was, but he wasn't that much older than Stiles, and he had a feeling that it wasn't going to take him all that long to get back into the mood. Especially not if Stiles kept doing what he was doing.

On the other hand, Derek had his pride, and he wasn't about to let Stiles do all the work. "Let's go and shower," he suggested, grabbing Stiles' ass and then caressing it instead of squeezing, enjoying the suddenly taut muscles covered in silken skin that felt amazing under his palm. "I'll eat you out, then blow you."

Stiles pulled back as though he had been shocked, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open, cheeks a blotchy crimson.

"You can't just say things like that!" he said, breathless yet strident at the same time, because what was Stiles if he wasn't contradictory?

Derek arched a brow and smirked. "Why not, when that's what I intend to do?" he asked.

"Oh my God," Stiles groaned, falling back onto the mattress. "You're going to kill me."

"That's not the plan," Derek chuckled, and he peeled himself away from Stiles before manhandling him up off the bed. "Not unless you mean the little death."

Stiles laughed. "A literary reference from a Reference Librarian; should I have expected anything else?"

"Nope," Derek answered, smiling broadly, feeling too damned good to try to hide his emotions. He knew they'd be safe with Stiles, anyway. "Now, come on."

Stiles tottered a little on his colt-like legs, then smiled goofily back at Derek and twined their fingers together as Derek tugged him toward the bathroom.

Derek had made Stiles some grand promises, and he intended to make good on all of them. As much for his own sake as for Stiles'. It was a little silly to think it, but Derek felt like they had a lot of catching up to do. And he was going to make sure that Stiles never regretted coming to his apartment.

He just didn't know how he was ever supposed to let Stiles leave his apartment. But that could wait for a few hours and at least two more orgasms.

####

By the time they were done, Derek had brought Stiles off three times in total and he'd finally allowed himself to let go and come a second time, all over Stiles' chin and chest because Stiles had been giving him a very inelegant but very effective blowjob when his orgasm had hit.

Then they curled up in bed together, enjoying the afterglow, and Stiles dozed off, falling asleep on Derek's chest. It was close to ten-thirty when Derek managed to drag himself out of bed and into the kitchen to brew some coffee. He was actually surprised that it was still so early, and he dreaded the evening coming to an end.

He couldn't stand the thought of Stiles walking out his apartment door, even though he knew it was an inevitability.

Derek leaned against the counter as his coffee machine burbled and rumbled away, yawning and scratching at his stomach. He felt a little weird leaving Stiles sleeping in his bed, but it wasn't because he barely knew Stiles. No, it was because he wasn't ready to just walk away, even though he had only been going into his own kitchen.

He'd pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms and a teeshirt, and had vague ideas of offering Stiles some dessert and coffee before he left, even though all he wanted was to beg Stiles to stay the whole night through. And then tomorrow... and the day after... and the day after....

Derek was still trying to get his needy, possessive urges under control, stirring some cream into his coffee, when Stiles padded into the kitchen on bare feet. He had on one of Derek's shirts, Derek could see out the corner of his eye as he watched his coffee swirl rich golden-brown in his mug, and nothing else.

Derek wasn't ashamed of the fact that his cock twitched in his pajama bottoms. It would take a man made of sterner stuff than he was to remain unaffected by seeing someone as gorgeous as Stiles draped in his own clothing and yet still half naked.

Stiles' bare legs seemed to go on forever, and the only hope in hell Derek had of not pouncing him right now and taking him over the kitchen table was to keep his gaze averted and not look directly at the beautiful young man who had joined him in the kitchen.

"Hey."

Derek felt a hand tug at the hem of his shirt and against his better judgment he turned. He didn't have to look down, because Stiles was almost the same height as him, but he recalled those bright brown eyes so clearly that for half a moment he saw the tiny boy he had first met superimposed over the handsome features of the young man he had just finished thoroughly debauching.

"Will you read me this story?" Stiles asked, his voice husky, meeting Derek's gaze dead-on, his expression earnest as he shoved Derek's copy of "Where the Wild Things Are" toward him.

He must have found it on the bottom shelf of Derek's home collection of favorite books, and seeing it in Stiles' lean, capable hand did something to Derek's heart, like those same fingers had reached into his chest and squeezed it momentarily.

Derek took the book from Stiles, and glanced down at the cover. "I dunno," he murmured, allowing himself to reach over and draw Stiles in close with his free arm. "Aren't you old enough to read it yourself?"

Stiles readily reclaimed the book. "All right, then," he said, and sounded perfectly happy, not put out in the slightest. He leaned into Derek and nuzzled his cheek with the tip of his upturned nose. "Let me read it to you," he offered huskily.

Derek nodded and grabbed his coffee mug with the hand not holding tightly onto the fiercely intelligent, independent, occasionally infuriating young man that Derek had somehow been lucky enough to watch grow from a child into someone who was willing to roll around naked with him.

"I don't have a beanbag," Derek said ruefully, carefully keeping Stiles close. "So we'll have to make do with the sofa."

"Or we could go back to bed," Stiles suggested, and as if that hadn't been enough of a temptation, his next words filled Derek with a flood of overwhelming arousal. "I've already texted my Dad to let him know I won't be home tonight."

"Oh, really?" Derek licked his lips, and palmed the slender waist he was holding captive. "And what did your Dad say to that?" he asked. Because Stiles might be legal now but he was the only son of the town Sheriff, and Derek could well imagine how precious Stiles was to his father. There was no way Derek wanted to get on the wrong side of that, especially since he was a responsible, respectable Reference Librarian. One who just happened to wear leather jackets and take home college students on the first date.

Though, to be fair, it had been Stiles. And Derek felt as though he'd known Stiles forever.

Stiles snickered, not seeming at all concerned. "He said to be safe."

Derek nodded sagely, relieved, putting his half-full mug of coffee in the sink because he didn't have the patience to finish it or to offer Stiles some, even though that would have been the polite thing to do.

Polite kind of went out the window when he'd had his tongue in Stiles' ass not even an hour ago.

"Well," Derek said, perfectly seriously. "I've got condoms in my bedroom."

Then he wiggled his eyebrows in a suggestive manner.

Stiles stared for a long moment, mouth hanging open, and then his delighted laughter rang out through Derek's apartment, filling it up with what had to be the sweetest sound Derek had ever heard.

Swooping in and kissing Stiles, Derek's mouth tasted like coffee and Stiles' held the tang of toothpaste, but it was still perfect, like coming home.

"Read me a story," Derek whispered, drawing Stiles after him into the bedroom, nodding to indicate the picture book that Stiles was still holding onto.

"Okay," Stiles grinned, just as breathless as Derek felt, then they tumbled to the mattress, still twined together. "Just this one book, though."

Derek huffed a little laugh, and cradled Stiles close. "Because then sex, right?"

"Dude, do you even need to ask?" Stiles wondered.

"Don't call me dude," Derek instructed, and Stiles laughed aloud again, then they were kissing, locked in one another's arms, and the book fell to the floor beside the bed, to be forgotten.

Until the next morning, that was, when Stiles plucked it up with a reverence that tugged at Derek's heart, and insisted on reading it to Derek, every single word, with his hair a wild mess of bed-head and his lids drooping heavy over sleepy eyes.

Derek wrapped his arms around Stiles and listened closely, promising himself that he wasn't ever going to let go.

####

Six months later, when Stiles took a part-time position at the Circulation Desk in the Hale Library, where he and Derek could smirk at each other across the way and then leave for home together after the library closed, Derek knew that holding on tight had been the best decision he had ever made.

He was just grateful that Stiles agreed. The Hale family welcomed Stiles with open arms, and made sure that he knew he had the assurance of a full-time job if he wanted it after graduating college.

Stiles was fairly certain he wanted to go into some form of law enforcement. Derek intended to support him in whatever career he chose.

The Sheriff vetted Derek and evidently found him acceptable as his only child's chosen partner. Derek felt a little sad, sometimes, wishing that Stiles' mother was still alive to give her approval as well, but it made him feel a little better to think that she surely would have been pleased for both of them, and it eased his ache to see her beauty and zest for life echoed so perfectly in her son....

Stiles definitely hadn't inherited his mother's grace, but he had her brown hair and eyes, her upturned nose, her sweetly curving mouth, and her generous nature. And it only felt a little weird to be in a relationship with the son of the woman who had essentially been Derek's first crush.

This was different, though. He'd barely been pubescent at the time, and had simply enjoyed watching Mrs. Stilinski move about in the library. With Stiles.... With Stiles, Derek knew he had the greatest prize he would ever gain in his life, and he made sure that he did all he could to retain it and to let Stiles know how much he was valued. They might argue from time to time, but then they were even closer once they made up, and Derek would have worried a little if they had never clashed.

Derek had given Stiles a key to his apartment within a week of their reunion evening of stir-fry and sex, and he hadn't felt he was rushing things, no matter what Laura had said. Stiles had been delighted rather than frightened off by Derek's intensity, and within a month he'd essentially moved out of his father's house and now lived with Derek, even though no one had made any kind of actual announcement. It had just happened and Derek was so okay with that.

Derek had thought he'd been happy when he'd gotten his Masters and started working at the Reference Desk, but that was nothing to compare to the level of quiet joy he experienced living and working with Stiles. And if that was moving too quickly... well, it hadn't proved to be a bad thing yet.

Derek sincerely doubted it ever would. This was a choice he was never going to regret.

Six months to the day after he'd taken Stiles home for dinner and laid claim to him, Derek was headed down to the break room for his lunch, after being relieved at his desk by his reluctant Uncle Peter.

Once he reached the bottom of the stairs, though, Derek paused. The nonfiction overflowed into a small room in the basement, opposite the break room and the storage area, and Derek knew for a fact that Stiles was shelving biographies because he'd seen him push the cart past his desk with a cheeky wink not ten minutes before, headed for the tiny elevator.

Well, Derek couldn't let his boyfriend down, could he? He more than half suspected that Stiles had known Derek's break had been coming up and had chosen that area to shelve specifically. Most especially since the 900s were so quiet that Stiles generally tried to avoid them.

With a small smirk curling his lips, Derek stalked into the small room full of bookshelves. There was no one else here, just Stiles with his cart, head bowed over a thick book that he'd flipped open and was perusing. The cart was still mostly full, and Derek wasn't surprised. Without someone around to keep him on track Stiles could get lost in the stacks for hours.

He cleared his throat, his grin widening when Stiles jumped and slapped the book he'd been holding closed.

"Excuse me," Derek said, stepping closer, "But I was wondering if you could help me find something."

Stiles dumped the book on his cart and turned to look at him with bright eyes. "Well," he murmured, keeping his voice low for practically one of the first times since he'd started visiting the library as a child, "We do have a Reference Desk upstairs. They might be better equipped to help you than I am."

Derek tilted his head to the side, still smiling broadly. "See, the thing about that," he said, moving smoothly into Stiles' personal space, "Is that there's a guy manning the desk who isn't even a real Librarian. He does all right, but he can't find me what I need."

"No?" Stiles glanced up shyly at Derek through his lashes, playing coy as though he hadn't just gone to his knees for Derek in the shower that morning. "What is it that you're looking for, then?"

"Oh," Derek sighed, raising a hand a little above eye-level, "He's about yea-high, has a snub-nose and a smattering of moles, especially on his left cheek, and for some reason he's shelving in the ass of the Library even though I know he doesn't like it."

Stiles was snickering quietly by the time Derek finished speaking. "Let me tell you," he said, reaching out and wrapping his long fingers in the front of Derek's cardigan, tugging lightly, "As a student of criminology, there's very little chance you'll find who you're looking for with that description."

Derek raised his brows. "Really? Because I suspect that you know exactly who I meant."

Stiles laughed outright as Derek grabbed his waist and reeled him in. "I might have a good idea," he bantered, wrapping his arms around Derek's neck and allowing Derek to crowd him back against the shelves beside his cart. "But I'm smarter and more well informed than the average Reference Librarian."

"Oh, really?" Derek queried, brows winching up even higher.

Stiles laughed again and kissed Derek's mouth quickly. "I said the average Reference Librarian," he soothed warmly, reaching up and running one hand through Derek's hair. "There's nothing average about you, Derek. You are well above average."

Derek relaxed and nodded. "Must be why I was able to find what I was looking for so easily," he murmured, leaning in and claiming Stiles' mouth with his own.

If Stiles had anything to add to that, Derek made sure he didn't get a chance to articulate it. He was going to miss eating his lunch but that didn't bother him in the slightest. It was a little embarrassing, though, when about two minutes later Cora screeched from the end of the aisle;

"Oh my God, Derek, Mom told you, no having sex in the stacks!"

"It's not sex if we both still have our pants on," Stiles informed Cora cheerfully, definitely not using his library voice.

"Yuck, you guys are gross!"

Derek dissolved into laughter as his sister beat a hasty retreat, but she did have a point. This section was usually pretty deserted, but who knew when a patron might come down the stairs.

"Do you want to take this into the employee restroom?" he suggested, wiggling his eyebrows at Stiles suggestively.

"Oh, Derek, you say the sweetest things," Stiles gushed, laughing brightly, but he was the one who grabbed Derek's hand and dragged him across the hall.

Derek had a nice evening planned at home, with stir-fry and lots of condoms, in order to celebrate the six months he and Stiles had been together. But for now he had Stiles in his arms and he wasn't about to let go. Even though Peter was going to be pissed when he returned late from his break and Stiles was going to spend the rest of his work-day with messy sex-hair and a reddened mouth.

At least, he would if Derek had anything to say in the matter.

Hey, maybe if they were obnoxious enough about it, Mom would send them home early. Then they could stop off for a couple of pumpkin spice lattes in Laura's coffee shop on their way.

But all of that was in the future. Right now Derek had Stiles in his arms and that was more than good enough for him. He'd kept Stiles close for half a year now, and he intended to do so for the rest of forever.

And best of all, better than Derek could ever have hoped for, he knew that Stiles felt the same way about him in turn. And there was nothing more that Derek could ever have asked for.

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