Derek stares at the the place on the shelf where his regular hair gel should be. He stares for longer than is strictly necessary, probably. The little sticker doesn’t say ‘out of stock’. The little sticker says ‘this line has been discontinued’. Derek flexes his hand into a fist and reminds himself that destroying the shelf is an inappropriate reaction. His shoulders slump and he lets out a breath.
“So, boss,” Erica is the first one to say something, of course. “Trying something new with the hair?”
Derek resists the urge to run his fingers through his hair in an effort to style it up again. He already knows that won’t work.
“Not that it doesn’t look great,” Isaac says, waving hand. “It’s just. A lot flatter than usual.”
“They don’t make my gel any more,” Derek says, willing down the ridiculous anger he feels over that.
“Oh,” Isaac blinks. “You could – use mine?”
Isaac uses something that’s good for curly hair – it’s what tames it into more manageable waves. It would be entirely inappropriate for Derek’s hair.
“No,” Derek says, trying to focus on the book Stiles loaned him. Something about demi-gods. He’s surprising himself by enjoying it.
“Are you – are you actually mad about this?” Erica asks and there’s that tone Derek hates – the one that means she’s about to start teasing. Derek’s not going to rise to the bait.
“It took me years to find one I liked,” Derek says. Rising to the bait. A little laugh curls out of Erica before she can stop it and Derek glares at her over his book.
“You’re pissed,” Boyd says suddenly, looking up from the game he’d been playing. “I can smell it.”
“Didn’t you once tell Jackson that nobody cared about his ‘perfect’ hair?” Isaac asks. His tone is the perfect match of Erica’s. Sometimes Derek thinks they were separated at birth.
“Where did you hear that?” Derek asks, fingers tightening on the book.
“Um, he told us?” Erica says, rolling her eyes at him. “All he did before he left was complain about everything you ever said to him.”
“If I remember correctly the exact sentence was something like: ‘he bitches about my hair and you can tell he spends an hour making his look exactly right’,” Isaac says. Derek doesn’t have to look to know Isaac is smirking.
It only takes Derek fifteen minutes. Sometimes more if he thinks he might run into Stiles. He doesn’t think about what that means. Much.
“Yeah, Derek,” Erica says, not disguising her laughter anymore. “You can’t really talk. Not with all the time you spend on that just-fucked look.”
The spine of the book creaks and Derek has to force himself to relax. Stiles had spent a good ten minutes explaining to Derek how the book was first edition and signed by the author and bought for him by his mother. Derek’s not going to destroy it.
“I’m going to bed,” he says, closing the book carefully and standing up. “Make sure you lock the door on the way out.”
“Aww, come on Derek,” Isaac says. “You said I could crash on the couch tonight.”
“You’ve been here every night for a week,” Derek says, pausing at the foot of the stairs. “Have your foster parents even seen you since you got back?”
Derek doesn’t bother to hang around for the complaining and whining about him being a hardass. He cuts them a lot more slack than his parents ever cut the young betas. They’re lucky. He stretches out on his bed and starts reading again, one ear out for them leaving.
His phone beeps at him about five minutes after the door shuts behind Isaac – always the last to leave – Derek knows who it’s going to be before he even checks. Stiles.
Heard you kicked the kids out.
Word travels fast.
Isaac complained to Scott and Scott copied me in because he thinks I think it’s as funny as he does when they complain about you.
Once Derek’s untangled that sentence he snorts and drops the phone on his chest. He gets another five minutes of peace before it goes off again.
Want to talk about it? You normally don’t let them out of your sight for a whole week when they get back from college.
Pretty close to the truth, man, and you know it.
Derek taps the phone against his chin then lets out a sigh. He doesn’t know why he keeps pretending he doesn’t want to tell Stiles these things. He’s got message threads going back months.
They were teasing me.
I’m going to guess you’re not going to tell me what about.
You know you brought this on yourself when you bit a bunch of teenagers.
Really? Shit, I didn’t even think of that.
Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, you know.
You should know, I guess.
Touché. Well. If they’re teasing you you should just get them back. It’s the only thing Erica and Isaac listen to.
Derek knows this. He’s engaged in Stiles inspired prank wars with his pack before. That was while they were still in high school, though. They’re all twenty, now, they should be more mature.
Derek snorts at himself this time. His phone beeps before he can reply.
If you’re thinking you guys are too old for prank wars you’ve got another thing coming. Scott still thinks it’s funny to put itching powder in my boxers. I had to go commando to over half my lectures this year.
That is a really dangerous thing to think of so Derek hastily brushes it aside.
Too much information Stiles.
I mean, admittedly I started it when I dropped that stink bomb in his room. But he brought it on himself by having noisy sex three nights in a row. Some of us were trying to study for finals.
Sorry. I was still texting when yours came in. So: pfft, we went past TMI when that pixie asshole locked us naked together in that closet.
Thought we weren’t supposed to talk about that.
Only because I knew Jackson would somehow hear about it and leave douchey closet jokes all over my Facebook. Like everyone hasn’t known I was also into dudes since I was sixteen.
Derek doesn’t think about how that age coincides with his return to Beacon Hills. He doesn’t.
I thought his best friend was Danny?
Yeah. But there’s different rules for me and Danny as far as Jackson’s concerned. Ugh. Such a dick.
Derek wonders sometimes if Stiles and Jackson would have so many problems with each other if Jackson had stuck around after his transformation. Stiles seems to bear grudges for life. Derek’s probably lucky Stiles still speaks to him after some of the shit Derek did while Stiles was in high school.
Dude, totally. They won’t know what’s hit them.
Derek reads for another half hour before making his mind up. He knows exactly what to do.
“So I’m guessing that backfired on you,” Stiles says when Derek answers his phone.
Derek releases a loud sigh.
“It was meant to look terrible,” he says, rubbing two fingers against his temple. Werewolves don’t get headaches the way humans do but sometimes he swears that’s what’s happening to him.
“I mean. I guess it’s not your fault that you have a gift? But this time I do actually find this hilarious.”
Derek had sneaked into Erica and Isaac’s rooms while they slept (and he was going to lecture them about awareness later) and restyled their hair to look as awful as possible. Only he hadn’t done that at all, apparently, because a week later Erica was still styling her hair in the same way and Isaac had talked loudly about all the compliments he received.
As revenge went it hadn’t worked. Especially when Isaac off-handedly mentioned the girl who’d asked him out after saying how good his hair looked.
Maybe Derek really does have a gift.
“Oh, Derek,” Stiles’ voice is impossibly fond given the minutes of dead air Derek’s just exposed him to. “Let me in when I get there, I’ve got a present for you.”
Something flutters in Derek’s heart at Stiles’ tone and he makes a face at himself in the bathroom mirror.
“No promises,” he says into the phone. He hangs up on Stiles’ laughter.
He messes about with his hair, trying another gel, but nothing works right and everything smells wrong. He puts his head under the faucet and rinses off the latest unsuccessful batch. He knocks the gel into the wastebasket and then wet styles it as best as he can. He mostly happy with the way it’s lying when Stiles knocks on the door.
“Wow,” Stiles says when Derek opens the door. “They weren’t kidding. It really does take inches off your height.”
“Stiles,” Derek wants to growl but it comes out more fond than anything. Stiles flashes him a smile and pushes past into the house. Derek follows him and leans against the back of the couch as Stiles wanders aimlessly around the room.
It’s actually been a couple of months since they saw each other, Derek realises with a start. He forgets because they talk or text almost every day. Stiles’ hair is even longer than it normally is – he must’ve had no time at all during finals – and it’s got vertical height the likes of which even Derek has never achieved. It’s a good distraction from the width of Stiles’ shoulders and the way his long legs look in the jeans he’s wearing.
Derek clears his throat.
“You said you had something to give me,” Derek says, watching as Stiles walks easily over to him and leans against the couch beside him. The last time Derek had seen Stiles there’d been a limp – from a completely ordinary injury during a pick-up game of lacrosse – but he’s healed now.
He smells just as good as he always does and Derek has to resist the urge to lean over and bury his face in Stiles’ neck. That’s bad manners.
“Yeah, here,” Stiles tugs a tube of gel out of his pocket and presses it into Derek’s hands.
Derek turns it over and sees that it’s the same gel Stiles uses in his hair, the smell rising into his nose now, and he lifts his head to raise an eyebrow at Stiles. Stiles shrugs.
“You said you didn’t hate the smell,” Stiles says. Yeah. That had been during the closet thing they don’t talk about. “Thought it would do until you find something new you like.”
“I -” Derek stops, taps the tube against his hand. “Thanks.”
“Any time,” Stiles shrugs again. “But, I don’t know, you should maybe consider leaving it like that for a while. It, um, it looks pretty good. Actually.”
Derek stares at Stiles, watches the flush rise slowly up his neck and into his cheeks, and shivers very slightly. The little box at the back of his mind, the one labelled ‘Stiles’ and ‘Do Not Open Ever’, collapses completely as Stiles turns to return Derek’s stare.
There it is.
Derek’s mouth parts on a breath and moments later Stiles is leaning into his space and kissing him, one hand lifting to run through Derek’s hair.
“Sorry if you didn’t -” Stiles says when he pulls back. Derek makes a soft noise and leans into Stiles’ space to kiss him back, kiss him harder.
Derek moves in between Stiles’ legs, legs that fall open easily to let Derek in, and he kisses and kisses and kisses Stiles. His hands are on Stiles’ hips and Stiles’ hands are in his hair and it’s pretty much everything Derek’s been looking for since the packs left for college.
“Okay,” Stiles says when Derek lets him up for air. “Not being sorry. Got it.”
“Your gel,” Derek says, running his hands absently up and down Stiles’ sides. “There’s a note in it that smells like – like my Mom’s perfume.”
“Um,” Stiles says, finger stilling where they were tracing patterns into Derek’s nape. “Thanks? But – that’s a weird thing to say after kissing me.”
“No, I meant -” Derek huffs out a breath. Stiles legs tighten briefly on either side of his. “That smell. It’s always reminded me of home.”
“Oh,” Stiles says, fingers pressing in for a second. “That’s. Okay.”
Stiles kisses him again and the easy way he does tells Derek that he knows what Derek’s trying to say.
Erica wears the new hairstyle for a month before switching to something she saw Jennifer Lawrence wear at an awards show. Isaac’s date turns out to be an incredibly angry werecat out to take out as many werewolves as she can. Boyd never suffers revenge because Derek secretly likes him best.
And Stiles. Stiles finds the warehouse where the discontinued gel is being stored before being dumped and convinces Scott to break in and help him steal a crate of it. Derek stops taking so much time to style his hair when he’s seeing Stiles because Stiles delights in destroying the style as soon as he can.
(Erica never mentions the just-fucked look again. Mostly because now when Derek’s hair is like that he has just fucked.)
For reference: Derek manages to get his hair to look roughly like this.
ETA: idea/prompt sourced from dearest Lozenger8.