verity: a girl, fully dressed, descends the steps into a pool (I know what I'm doing)
[personal profile] verity
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Pairings: Derek/Stiles
Characters: Stiles Stilinski, Derek Hale, Alan Deaton
Rating: Teen & Up
Contains: rituals, shoulder rubs, bathtubs, magic, humor
Warnings: none
Word count: 1800
Notes: [ profile] halffizzbin wanted Stiles rubbing Derek's shoulders; I obliged. Thanks to [ profile] billtheradish for her beta-reading wizardry and to [ profile] fleete & [personal profile] jlh for cheerleading!
Summary: "Hey," Stiles says as he opens the front door. "Let's get you ritualed up."

can't say no

"I'm—Peter might be making it up." Derek says, looking a little wild around the eyes. Stiles can't really blame him.

On the other side of the desk, Deaton is already shaking his head. "No, it's real enough. I was the one who performed the ritual with your mother when your grandmother passed. Did Laura not—"

"We didn't have any other pack members," Derek says. "So, no."

"I see." Deaton steeples his fingers. "Well, yes, the role of officiant would fall to you, Stiles, as the pack's human and its magus. Traditionally—"

"Yeah, Peter said—" Stiles chokes on the words, because otherwise he'll start laughing and he won't be able to stop. "I have to design the ceremony? With—things of personal significance? So he hopes Derek likes World of Warcraft?"

"I'm sure you'll be able to think of something," Deaton says. "Now, you must excuse me—I have to get back to Mr. Wiggles."

The transition rite is observed when the power passes to a new alpha within a pack. Apparently, it'll make Derek stop being so much of a douchebag and help the pack feel more—pack-y. Packlike. Right.

Stiles is supposed to make Derek feel relaxed and safe (which is pretty laughable with the alpha pack nipping at their heels) and Derek has to focus on integrating the alpha mantle (ha freaking ha). Very enter cocoon, exit butterfly. Also, they’re going to do this at Stiles's house while his dad is on an overnight shift, because there was definitely something in the notes Peter gave them about ritual bathing and Derek only has a shower in his apartment.

"Hey," Stiles says as he opens the front door. It's strange, Derek coming in through the front door, but Stiles is no magical slouch—he knows all about the power of thresholds. "Let's get you ritualed up."

"'Ritualed up'?" Derek doesn't meet Stiles's eyes. He waits for Stiles to move aside before he enters, waits for Stiles to lock the door before he follows Stiles upstairs. The staircase seems longer than usual, which might be nerves, or it might be Stiles's weird, wild magic—Stiles himself doesn't know.

They come to a stop in front of the bathroom. Stiles clears his throat. "So, um, you're going to go in and put on the swim trunks on the counter, and then I'll come in and run you a bath."

Derek makes a weird face, like he's about to do one of his full-body eye rolls but aborted mid-head tilt. "Seriously?"

"This is my ceremony." Stiles squares his shoulders. "And, so help me God, you're going to relax."

Salt has purifying properties, so, bath salts in the ritual bath; dim light, but no candles or incense, because smoke and flame are probably the opposite of soothing for Derek; Stiles’s old swim trunks, because if Stiles has to be blinded by something he’d rather it not be Derek’s majestic werewolf junk; and a story, because Stiles has to work in this transition shit somewhere. While Stiles plugs in the lamp he took from the living room and draped with a red tablecloth, Derek sits on the closed toilet and watches the water swirl in the tub. "That smells terrible," he says, wrinkling his nose.

"The bath salts are apple pear," Stiles says sharply. He can smell it, too, with his human nose, the chemical sharpness. They were his mom's, part of a gift basket a co-worker gave her when she left her job and came home to die. Stiles doesn't want Derek to die. He wants— "Deal with it."

The water is hot enough that Derek hisses when he puts his foot in. "Are you trying to boil me alive?"

Stiles sighs. "You have to—go slowly. Let your body adjust to the temperature. It'll hurt and you'll get sweaty and then it will feel great."

"Fine," Derek says.

It takes two or three minutes, one foot, then the other, Derek sitting on the edge of the tub, pale back warmed by the heat and the red-tinted lamplight. Stiles can't help looking, watching the sweat bead on Derek's forehead, the hair at the nape of his neck go damp and dark. Derek's skin would be salty if Stiles put his tongue there, licked up the arc of Derek's throat. "I'm going to—" Stiles has to clear his throat before he can go on. "I'm going to read to you, okay?"

Derek's still settling his hips into the tub, knees bent and poking up from the water. The bathtub isn't really designed for full immersion. "What is it?"

"I put a lot of thought into this," Stiles says instead of answering. He pulls a small flashlight out of his pocket, wedges it between neck and shoulder as he bends down to pull The Very Hungry Caterpillar out of the magazine rack. "You're going to have to trust me."

"I was afraid of that," Derek says.

"On Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie—"

When Stiles glances over to Derek, his body is still all rigid lines beneath his muscled curves, sweat glistening on his brow, eyes closed, lips pressed tight together. Derek looks like Greek sculpture crammed into day-glo orange swim trunks and a bathtub, because, well, but Derek doesn't feel like—that potential, that forward stretch that Stiles sensed at the foot of the stairs earlier is gone.

"This isn't working," Stiles says, halting the caterpillar mid-feast. "What's wrong?"

There's a long pause which gives Stiles enough time to accept that maybe this isn't possible, maybe he isn't—or Derek isn't—before Derek speaks. "That was N—my brother Nathan's favorite book."

"Shit," Stiles says.

Derek sighs, rubs a wet hand over his face. "Maybe I can't—look, I know you, you tried, you—would this even work for you?"

Stiles closes the book, thinks about that for a minute.

While Derek dries off and puts his clothes back on, Stiles fills the kettle and heats the water. He's never done this for anyone before, and it's been a long time since anyone did it for him. Chamomile tea, yeah, his favorite mug—the Star Trek one, the one that had been Mom's, the one she always complained about him stealing—and his second-favorite, the one from Roswell that was a gift from his great-aunt Neecy five years ago. Humanity and space, that's liminal enough.

Derek looms from behind him; Stiles doesn't even startle anymore. "Tea?"

"So, we're going to watch, uh, my favorite thing from when I was a kid." Stiles turns off the burner when the kettle whistles. He lets Derek take over, pour the hot water over the tea bags and the honey Stiles has already added to the mugs. "It's a documentary? My mom worked at the library, so—we watched a lot of those."

"I'm not sure—" Derek takes the mug Stiles hands him. "I'm not good at this."

"Drinking tea?" Stiles says, deliberately misunderstanding him. "I mean, I can walk you through that one. You're holding some right now, that's a good start—"

Derek stares into the mug like maybe it might have better instructions. "It's—you shouldn't have to do this for me," he says. "I'm supposed to—it shouldn't be this hard, right? I've been the alpha for months, and Laura was, for—years."

Stiles takes Derek's free arm and gently tugs. "Come on. Try it."

"Okay," Derek says, giving in.

"I've seen this," Derek says, holding up the pebbled plastic case. "A long time ago, I think. The library—"

"—yeah, this was the library's copy." Stiles pushes the tape into the VCR. "I stole it."

As soon as Lost Kingdoms of the Maya starts up, Stiles is already centering, measuring his breaths without even thinking: Pavlov's overblown narration, Pavlov's melodramatic score. He waits for a minute before he pushes up off his knees, looks over to Derek on the couch. Derek's hair is drying into messy waves, and his shirt is wet at the neck. He isn't looking at the TV.

The tension's back, curling in Stiles's gut, hungry and knowing. He meets Derek's gaze, waits him out. "You're supposed to watch the Mayans, not me," Stiles says.

"Tell me what this is about," Derek says. "What's it—what does it mean to you?"

"Turn a little." Stiles sits next to Derek, shoves Derek over with his hip. "Your back to me."

He can feel the power pooling in his hands, weighing them down. The strength to lift them up and place them on Derek's shoulders doesn't come from his arms but from that nugget of certainty at his core. The werewolves can drain pain away, siphon it in black waves into their bodies where it vanishes or transforms, draw it out like the moon tugging at the tide; Stiles pushes, instead. Digs his thumbs into the tight muscle of Derek's shoulders, moves his fingers up the sides of Derek's throat and up into his scalp, rubs right at the base of Derek's skull, believing, believing.

"What—" Derek slurs, head listing to one side. "What are you—"

"I used to watch this when I was sick," Stiles says. "And after my mom—I got, I had—sometimes I had panic attacks. My dad would put this on, after, and he'd—rub my shoulders, make Mom's tea. It made me feel safer."

The spark in him burns, pulsing through his fingers into Derek, getting in deep. "Safer?" Derek says.

"It wasn't magic," Stiles says.

Beneath his hands, Derek's shoulders are loose like taffy, slack; he tips his head back and Stiles catches him with one hand. "You are," he says. "Stiles."

There's a few minutes there where they're kind of cuddling, and then Derek sits up and presses Stiles back into the couch, and oh, there's kissing—Stiles didn't plan for kissing.

"Mmm," he says into Derek's mouth, assessing: Derek's lips on his, light but sure, Derek's hand on his hip, the documentary still droning on behind them.

Derek pulls back, looks—surprised? and then uncertain. "Is this—I didn't mean—"

"Give me a moment," Stiles says, flexing his fingers. He puts his hands on Derek's shoulders again. It's different, touching with intent but without intent, touching just to touch. Stiles leans forward and puts his lips against Derek's, sighs into Derek's mouth when Derek starts kissing back. Derek's pliant, eager, a little sloppy, nothing like Stiles expects; this is Derek underneath all this alpha bullshit, underneath—oh. Huh.

"So, uh," Stiles says to Deaton during the extremely awkward and carefully vague post-mortem. "What did you do, when you were—doing this ritual thing with Derek's mom?"

Derek stares at the floor.

"Talia and I went for a swim," Deaton says. "Then we rented some of Meg Ryan's films and watched them at my apartment, so we wouldn't be interrupted by young Derek and his siblings. I believe we ate two tubes of cookie dough."

"Cookie dough," Stiles repeats.

"Chocolate chip," Deaton says, scratching the tabby on his desk under her chin.

"If you make any jokes about your magic dick—" Derek says, crowding Stiles up against the Jeep in Deaton's parking lot.

"They won't be jokes," Stiles says, reeling Derek in.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-11 09:14 pm (UTC)
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)
From: [personal profile] tiferet
that was very sweet!

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-13 01:59 pm (UTC)
fred_mouse: crystal mouse, looking straight out at the viewer (Default)
From: [personal profile] fred_mouse

I was particularly struck by the reading of the Hungry Caterpillar, and how that was just making a fraught situation worse.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-03-15 09:25 am (UTC)
amber: ⌠ ART ⊹ Panda&Girl ⌡ (Default)
From: [personal profile] amber
Derek's pliant, eager, a little sloppy, nothing like Stiles expects; this is Derek underneath all this alpha bullshit, underneath—oh. Huh.

yes. good. very good.


verity: buffy peeks between the blinds (Default)

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