Dylan O’Brien for Teen Vogue (September 2014)
[here, have some ranch owner!derek and cowboy!stiles.]
Derek’s stepping out onto the porch with their coffee cups just as Stiles exits the barn, a half-asleep looking Barney ambling after him, the horse’s head hanging low. It’s only September but the air has a bite to it already and a shiver works its way through Derek despite his sweater; five months in, and he’s still more used to California than Wyoming. Setting Stiles’ cup down on the porch railing, Derek shoves his free hand into his pocket and takes a sip from his own cup to warm up.
"Morning," Stiles says, winding the reins around the railing twice before picking up his cup, and Derek grunts in acknowledgement, keeps his eyes away from Stiles. Watching Blue do his routine morning sniff around the outdoor buildings feels a lot safer right now than meeting Stiles’ eyes.
Twenty minutes ago he woke up still remembering Stiles’ touch, his body feeling sore and used in the best way. But he was alone, the other side of the bed already gone cold. When Stiles had kissed him last night, things had felt easy, the mess of feelings Derek’s carried or weeks finally smoothing out. But now he’s not so sure anymore. They didn’t really talk, didn’t make any promises, and Derek doesn’t know what’s going to happen now. If it was just a one time thing for Stiles. At least it looks like they’re both committed to following the routine they’ve carved out since Derek took over the ranch, and maybe that’s enough, for now. The ranch has been more of an hobby than a business for decades now, but there are still enough animals around that Derek would be fucked if Stiles decided to just give his notice and move on. Derek tries, but Stiles is the expert here.
“I uh, I need to go check the fence back out on the west pasture, look in on the cows there, too,” Stiles says and Derek glances at him, catches Stiles running a hand through his hair. It looks like he skipped the comb again this morning, and Derek’s eyes catch on the hickey high on Stiles’ throat for a long second before he ducks his head.
“You packed lunch?” he asked. It’s over two hours to that part of the property by horse, and Stiles picked the perfect job for today if he wants some times away from Derek.
“Yeah,” Stiles says and empties his cup in one go. “But don’t worry, I’ll be back before dinner, feed the horses.”
“Okay,” Derek says, watching Stiles’ hands as he sets the cup down and loosens the reins. Stiles goes to check the cinch before swinging himself onto the horse’s back with a practiced ease that Derek still lacks. When Derek got the news that Herbert, a cousin twice removed, had left him his ranch, Derek hadn’t expected it to come with quite so much emotional upheaval. But he hadn’t accounted for Stiles.
“And uh,” Stiles says, bracing a forearm on the saddle horn and leaning forwards, “maybe we could talk? When I get back?”
Derek studies him for a moment. “If you want to.”
“Alternatively, we could just go to bed again and I could show you,” Stiles says, grinning, and Derek’s stomach swoops, his mouth pulling down as he tries to keep his answering smile in. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I like you a hell of a lot. And, um, we’ve been living out here alone for all this time without killing each other, so I think we’ve got a chance at least at making this work.”
“That,” Derek says and clears his throat. “You just want to sleep in a warm bed when the snow comes.”
Stiles urges Barney closer to the porch, ducks down until he can brush his mouth over Derek’s. “You’re plenty hot, dude, but your cooking skills are more important to me.”
“Oh, fuck off,” Derek says, rolling his eyes. Stiles laughs and turns Barney towards the gate, nudges him into a trot.
“Tonight,” Stiles calls back over his shoulder, “talking, then making out with an option for more, deal?”
“Deal,” Derek says, and Stiles whistles for Blue a second later, the dog barking up a storm as he races after Stiles, and Derek cradles his cup in both hands, watches them go.