I asked cribbagematch to tell me to write something tiny while I’m deliriously sleep-deprived and she said “Derek helping Stiles with something boring” so this is that. IN THE FUTURE.
“That’s not the right way to stain a deck,” Derek says, and Stiles almost upends the entire paint tray.
“Fucking—” Stiles grabs his chest dramatically. “It’s painting slabs of wood, thank you, Rembrandt, I think I can manage!”
“You think wrong.” Derek climbs the stairs and surprises Stiles by getting down to his level and sitting on the step. He’s wearing basketball shorts. Stiles tries not to stare at his knees. “So. You’re all home for the summer?”
“Yup.” Stiles focuses on the patch of uneven deck that won’t cover no matter how many times he goes over it with the roller. His heart is galloping, which Derek can probably hear. Ugh, gross. “The whole band’s back together. Even the prodigal son, I guess.” He nudges one of Derek’s (naked!) knees with the butt of a paint brush. “Welcome back, Zayn.”
“That means I’m the hot one, right?” Derek says, deadpan. Stiles sputters and throws a spare drop cloth into his face—which just makes him laugh, of all the horrifying things.
Derek’s already tan, even though summer just barely started, and Stiles can’t tear his eyes away from the fine, friendly wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. He looks… soft, like all his edges are rubbed smooth. Jesus christ on a honey graham cracker.
“What is up with you?” Stiles gestures at him with the roller, fighting a hysterical laugh of his own. “You look so… did you go on an Eat Pray Love tour while you were gone? Did you find Enlightenment?”
“I missed—this place, I think.” Derek ducks his head, fiddles a little bit with the edges of the long grass that’s growing next to the stairs. “It’s been a long time since I felt like that. Like I’d rather be here.”
“Well.” Stiles clears his throat, but it still aches. “We actually, kind of, would rather you be here, also.”
“Yeah?” Derek nudges his arm, more gently than he ever has. “You need someone to keep you from screwing up this deck?”
“Oh fuck you!” Stiles yelps, stupidly exhilarated. He throws his roller at Derek, rolling his eyes when he snatches it cleanly out of the air. “Take over, then, if you’re such a freaking deck prodigy. I’ll make some lemonade.”
“Yeah, okay,” Derek says. He crosses his arms at the hem of his tank top and peels it off in a smooth stretch, sighing when the sun hits his skin. “Put strawberries in mine, will you? And maybe tell me about college while I fix that corner you tried to destroy.”
“You’ll get strawberries when you finish the banisters,” Stiles sniffs, before bolting to the kitchen to stuff two handfulls of of ice cubes down the front of his shirt.