* * *
Evil wizards roll into town one summer, right after everyone comes back home from their first year of college. It's sort of a mess.
By the time they figure out what's going on, the wizard gang (group? alliance? coven? not pack, surely) have managed to gather enough power to cast a massive binding spell over their werewolf friends. Scott, Isaac, Derek, Cora, and the creepy uncle they wouldn't call a friend are all under the wizards' power, and it becomes pretty obvious that phase two of the wizards' plan involves using their mind-controlled werewolves for nefarious purposes.
They can't kill the wizards through any traditional means—not for lack of trying, of course. Allison in particular tries like hell, empties her arsenal against them and half her dad's arsenal too, but they're just too powerful and most of the time they can't even be seen, just felt. Their magic whispers around them like some impenetrable smog, protecting them and draining their friends plus Peter.
They burn through days not sleeping, barely eating, spending every moment researching and forcing Deaton to help them. Eventually they figure out the directions to an archaic counter-spell, a bind breaker so powerful that it'll repel the wizards right the fuck outta Dodge while freeing the werewolves.
"This is dangerous," Deaton warns, apparently forgetting that he's there to guide them, not tell them the obvious.
"I mean, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong," Stiles says, hands waving and eyes wild from lack of sleep and way too much caffeine, "but I think it's probably slightly more dangerous to let evil wizards have a pack of zombie werewolves at their personal disposal. We're running out of time here, we don't have a choice."
None of them are skilled mages. Or even unskilled ones, really. Stiles argues that Lydia would be the best candidate to work the spell, since she's...something. They don't know what she is, but she is definitely something, and that makes her the least incompetent person for the job.
"I know I'm the least incompetent person here," Lydia states simply, "but I'm not doing it."
"But why not?"
"No matter how many times you try to make me one, I'm not a medium, I'm not a psychic, I'm not clairvoyant, and hey, guess what? I'm not a witch."
"But our friends are going to die! We're all going to die!" Stiles points out.
"Get Danny to do it," Lydia says, and it feels like déjà vu.
"He's the second least incompetent person here."
"Hey—" Allison starts to protest, but stops when she realizes she doesn't want to be the chosen vessel for ancient magic they don't fully understand.
All eyes turn to Danny, and he sighs. Someone has to do it.
So Danny gets to be the one who'll be doused in a magical mixture of herbs and spices and the ash of five different kinds of wood, the one who'll actually say the Anglo-Saxon words and channel their hopefully prodigious energy. But before they can go through with it, Deaton breaks the bad news: there's a pretty good chance the counter-spell will kill Danny.
"The magic load is much too large for a single inexperienced mortal to take," Deaton says. "The only way he'll survive it is if someone shares it with him."
"Okay, so we'll share it with him," Stiles says, rolling his sleeves up.
"It's not quite that simple. This spell can only be jointly performed if the spell casters are bonded."
"Bonded, bonded like how? Like conjoined twins? Siblings? Business partners? Strangers tied together really tightly with rope?" Stiles is starting to get a little bit agitated here, because his best friend's life is on the line and they need to hurry this the hell up.
"Like married," Deaton said. "Only not in the conventional sense. A magical bonding ritual that binds the two souls together."
There's silence and a whole lot of meaningful eye contact, but every second they waste means another second some creepy old wizard is using Scott like a meat marionette and Stiles can't stand it, so he says, "Fuck it, let's get soul-married."
Deaton and Danny look like they have about a billion objections, but then a roaring mind-controlled Derek comes crashing through the safety barricades they've hastily erected around Deaton's office, and the mountain ash they've scattered around them looks like it might not even keep him back for long, because he's glowing an unnatural green and looking like he has zero recognition in his eyes. Nice timing on the universe's behalf, as though they really needed to be reminded just how urgent the situation is.
"Fine, fine, let's do this," Danny says.
And so, under the glower of a senseless werewolf being piloted by malevolent wizards, with Allison and Lydia as witnesses and Deaton as officiant, Stiles and Danny are wed.
* * *
It takes them a while to figure out the bonding ritual can't be reversed.
They're busy dealing with the fallout from the whole wizard fiasco, and then they're busy enjoying their summers, catching up with friends they haven't seen for months and parents they won't admit they missed. Even though they're still a pack, will always be a pack and will always feel like a pack, all of them have managed to land themselves in different universities except for Stiles, who knew he couldn't make himself sit still and pay attention for four more years, and enrolled himself in trade school as soon as he decided he would be an awesome mechanic. It's already August by the time he and Danny even remember that they're magically married, and it's two days later when Deaton informs them that there's no such thing as magically divorced.
Stiles' face does its best impression of a goldfish out of water.
Danny, as usual, looks too chill for life.
"Wha—wait, wait, when you say it can't be undone," Stiles says, "do you mean like it'll wear off over time, or?"
"I mean it'll wear off once one of you passes away, maybe," Deaton says.
Danny looks at Stiles. "Should we get rings, or do you want people to keep thinking you're single?"
"How are you so okay with this?!" Stiles gapes. "Apparently we are soul-bonded for life! Why are you not freaking out right now?"
Danny shrugs. "What's done is done, so what's the point of freaking out? We can look for a way to fix it, but in the meantime, we're married. So. Do you prefer rings or not?"
Stiles is about to inform Danny that freaking out doesn't need to have a point, it's just a thing one does, and he is very good at it so he will continue to freak out for as long as he pleases, because they're married, like more married than the average married person is by law, but then he stops to really think about it and it's Danny. Holy shit, it's Danny. Danny is hot, and smart, insanely handy with a computer, compulsively nice to people who don't deserve it, hilariously sarcastic, and so fucking hot. Danny is pretty much the most marriageable person in the county, possibly the world. So what is the point of freaking out? If he has to be stuck in this predicament, there's no one else better to be stuck with.
"I like rings," Stiles mumbles.
"Good," Danny says, flashing his dimples.
They're really nice dimples. Marriage material dimples. Things are probably going to be okay.
* * *
Stiles' dad is really confused. Stiles doesn't blame him, because it's not every day that your presumed-to-be-straight and single son comes home married to a guy without any warning. But that's life, and life can be unpredictable.
("But that's life, and life can be unpredictable" is one of the lines from the twelve-minute speech that he gives his dad to explain why he's now married to Danny Mahealani from the lacrosse team back in high school. Other lines include "when you know it's the one, why wait," "it was a whirlwind romance over long distance," and "someday, we'll look back on this and laugh." His dad doesn't look entirely convinced, but he also doesn't look like he's going to blow a gasket so Stiles chalks it up as a successful father-son talk.)
Danny's parents are less bewildered. In fact, they're bewilderingly not bewildered. They invite Stiles over for dinner and ask him questions about his plans for moving in with Danny, which he wasn't aware he had.
"We met when we were sixteen and got married as soon as we both turned eighteen, and we've been together ever since," Mrs. Mahealani says fondly, laying a hand on her husband's arm. "So we understand."
Well. That goes a little way toward explaining why Danny is so unfazed by their own nuptials, at least.
"I think I'll head out to Berkeley with Danny in September and stay in his dorm while we look for better couples housing," Stiles finds himself saying. "It isn't that hard to transfer credits for technical programs, and as long as there are people with cars I'll be able to find work there. It should be a pretty simple move."
Danny raises his eyebrows at him. Stiles looks back steadily and doesn't back down from the eye contact.
Things pretty much happen exactly as Stiles predicts. His credits transfer without a hitch and he feels no deep emotional void leaving most of his personal things in boxes at his dad's house. By the first week of September he's settled into Danny's tiny, built-for-one dorm room. They register as domestic partners with the school and are told they can live together in the tiny, built-for-one dorm room until they either get through the extremely long waiting list for a couples' dorm or find a place themselves, whichever comes first. Stiles is combing the classifieds for a new place by the second day, after he's tripped over Danny's legs for about the seventeenth time just walking from one side of the room to the other.
Danny offers to sleep on the floor the first night, offers Stiles the single bed like the gentleman he is.
"Don't be ridiculous, I'm not kicking you out of your own bed!"
"It's your bed too, now," Danny says with a shrug. He's taking Stiles moving in with him much like he takes everything else: much too well.
"Okay, then we'll share it," Stiles says.
As far as ideas go, it's pretty terrible. Not as bad as the one that got them magically soul-bonded to each other in the first place, but probably right up there on the list. The bed is already small for Danny's tall, muscular frame, but add a Stiles and it's pretty much impossible to sleep. Stiles spends that first night holding himself as still as possible, stiff as a plank, practically wedged into the space between the bed and the wall, trying not to so much as breathe in case he disturbs Danny. Danny still wakes up the next morning with a sore back, cramped from curling around to give Stiles more room. He tries to hide the way he winces every time he sits up straight, but Stiles still notices.
On the second night, Stiles makes Danny get in bed first and forces him to stretch out as he normally does, "So I can see what negative space I'm working with here," he explains.
Danny rolls his eyes and does as he's told, splaying out a bit exaggeratedly like he's asking Stiles to paint him like one of his French girls. Stiles licks his lips and has to pretend it's because they're dry, not because he's looking at Danny.
There's basically no room left, with Danny's limbs everywhere and his broad shoulders practically the whole width of the bed, but Stiles climbs over him and interlocks himself into little bed surface is left, one leg going between Danny's knees and the other against the wall, one shoulder tucked in Danny's armpit, head on Danny's shoulder. It's actually quite comfortable once he's settled. For him, at least. "Sorry, am I squishing you? Can you breathe?"
"I can breathe," Danny murmurs, and Stiles can feel his warm whisper flit across the skin of his neck. He hopes Danny doesn't find it awkward, because it's really, really nice and he doesn't want to move. Maybe ever.
They fall asleep with no trouble and, without further discussion, they come to a mutual agreement that it's how they'll sleep from now on.
* * *
The un-discussed nature of their agreement comes back to bite them in the ass one month later, when they find a nice two-bedroom unit on the top floor of an old but sturdy house at a rate they can afford.
It seems normal for Stiles to move into one bedroom while Danny moves into the other. They have two beds, Stiles' old single and a new queen sized bed courtesy of Danny's parents, who are apparently the sort of people who derive joy from the thought of buying their only son his...~*marriage bed*~. They set up both beds and sleep apart for the first time in over thirty days. It would be a lie to say it's uncomfortable, because it's not—in fact, it's quite nice to loll around languorously, not afraid to hit Danny in the face with a flailing arm, not afraid to keep him up with the light of his phone while he plays way too much Candy Crush before falling asleep, not being woken up at the crack of dawn by Danny sliding out of bed to go for his morning run.
But Stiles misses those little annoyances, because he also misses the way Danny never fails to sleepily mumble "good night" right before he drops off to sleep, the way sometimes Danny will crawl over him instead of get up to walk around the bed, his solid weight settling briefly on Stiles' thighs.
He says "good morning" to Danny over their coffee and cereal one morning, and he doesn't know if it's because they're soul-bonded now or if Danny is just that attentive, but something in his voice apparently gives him away.
"What's wrong?" Danny asks.
"Uh, nothing?" It's not even a lie. Everything is fine and he is kind of loving life right now. Not being used to a change in his sleeping routine doesn't count as something wrong.
"Okay," Danny says mildly. Danny is always mild and mellow, doubly so in the morning. It's nice. He sips his coffee and flicks through his newspaper and hands over the comics to Stiles without being asked.
Later at night, while Stiles brushes his teeth, Danny leans against the door frame and watches him speculatively. It isn't as off-putting as it sounds.
He waits for Stiles to rinse and spit before he asks, "Do you want to sleep in my room tonight?"
"What, like, switcheroo? I sleep in yours and you sleep in mine? Why, does your window not catch a good breeze or something? We can trade if you need to."
"No, I meant..." Danny pauses. "In my room while I'm also in my room."
Which is not the least convoluted way of asking someone if they want to sleep with you, but Stiles isn't in a position to take off style points. He would very much like to sleep in Danny's room while he is also in his room.
The new queen size is nice, a bit firmer than Stiles likes it but so much larger than the dorm room bed they used to share. There's absolutely no need for them to sleep with Stiles half on top of Danny. They do anyway.
It helps their cover story, Stiles tells himself, when eventually most of his clothes migrate into Danny's closet and the second bedroom turns into more of an office space with an extra bed for guests. When Danny has classmates over for group projects, they look just like a normal married couple, with a shared dresser and a laundry hamper that Danny yells at Stiles about failing to use when he comes home from the machine shop and leaves his greasy coveralls on the floor.
Stiles fixes the aforementioned classmates drinks and midnight snacks when they come over to work on a big midterm project worth a third of their grade, and it becomes apparent that they'd need to work on it all night.
Danny says, "Thanks, babe," when Stiles hands him his coffee with a splash of whiskey, and Stiles can't tell if it was for the benefit of anyone listening in, because it's murmured so softly that he doubts anyone else even heard.
Stiles stays up for a little while, but when he heads to bed they still look nowhere near done. He says goodnight to everyone, then leans down to kiss Danny on the cheek because it feels natural. "Hurry up, I'll miss you in that big, empty bed," he says, only half teasing. Danny shoots him an amused look in return
Stiles does, in fact, miss him in that big, empty bed.
* * *
Danny's parents send other housewarming gifts. So do his aunts and uncles and cousins. Unexpectedly, so do Scott's mom and Stiles' dad.
"Why do we need good china?" Stiles asks as he cuts open the box Scott's mom has lovingly packed with foam peanuts and bubble wrap. A set of eight plates, eight saucers, and eight teacups, all in that classic blue on white pattern that looks nothing like anything he or Danny would pick out. It must've been expensive, which just makes it even more confusing.
Stiles' dad sends them wrought iron candlesticks. "When would we ever...?"
But Danny just takes them from his hands, wipes them down with a soft cloth, and stores them away in a high cabinet alongside Melissa McCall's bone china and Uncle Kinimaka's fancy wine glasses.
Stiles insists he doesn't see the point, but then Thanksgiving rolls around and Danny invites people over for their first hosted dinner as a married couple. Danny's parents, Stiles' dad, Scott and Allison, and Scott's mom, all crammed into their small but cozy living room. Danny makes a point of using all of the gifts they had received, and watching his dad smile and nod at the sight of his candlesticks in the middle of the table makes Stiles think he can almost understand.
They call it a potluck dinner, which is a fairly transparent ploy to get Melissa McCall to bring all the desserts they aren't good at making. Allison brings a casserole, Stiles' dad brings sweet potatoes, and Scott brings so much more wine than is strictly necessary. All Stiles and Danny have to make is salad and turkey, and salad is easy.
Turkey is a bit harder.
"Is that really how you stuff it?" Stiles asks, blushing.
"I don't know, I've never done a turkey before," Danny answers without looking up, the tip of his tongue poking out in concentration. He's not using his whole hand to stuff the bird, just three fingers, and he's sort of gingerly inserting them with little bits of stuffing on the tips and wiping them into the sides of the bird. His fingers are really long. It's disturbingly...erotic.
"Why don't you just get a big spoonful and just really get your hands in there? It'll be faster." And less sexy.
"It's slimy," Danny replies, making a face.
After a few months of living together, Stiles has found that Danny can be surprisingly squeamish. He makes Stiles take out the trash because he doesn't like touching the bag, and he cleans the bathtub more than Stiles thought humanly possible because he doesn't like to remember the existence of soap scum. And now he's gently fingerbanging a turkey because he doesn't want to touch the stuffing too much. They should've gotten him some gloves.
Stiles sighs but he doesn't complain further, because it's not like he'd be able to do a much better job himself. He lets Danny get on with it in his own special way, and turns the oven on to pre-heat when it looks like he's about ready.
The turkey turns out a little dry and a little burnt on top, but it tastes good enough. Stiles' dad carves it while Danny passes him plates to fill, and there's a twinkle in his dad's eye that makes Stiles' heart clench over the fact that he's technically lying to him. He and Danny are married, but it's a magical marriage of convenience, and his dad is so happy for him but he doesn't have any idea.
After everyone's done eating, they all settle onto the sofa and various chairs, drinks in hand. Scott tilts his head at Stiles, a signal to meet him in the kitchen, and they pick up some plates for the sake of pretending they're clearing the table so they can have some privacy.
"Are you okay?" Scott asks, straight to the point. Anyone else would've washed a few dishes first, maybe uttered a few meaningless pleasantries before getting into it. Scott's heart lives way too low on his sleeve for anything like that, always has. "Is this weird for you? Do you want to talk about it?"
"I'm okay," Stiles replies. "I'm more than okay. Danny lets me pick what we watch on Netflix and he actually likes cooking and cleaning. When he gets home from school I feel like my whole day just got better. The only weird thing is how not weird it feels."
Scott smiles at him. Stiles knows each and every one of Scott's smiles inside and out, better than he knows his own emotions, and yet he's still not totally sure what this smile means. "That's good. That's really, really good," Scott says.
"I'm married, Scott. Like, before you and Allison even. I'm married to Danny."
"You really are," Scott agrees. He claps Stiles on the back and clinks his wine glass against Stiles' mostly empty one.
* * *
Danny is mostly happy to let Stiles do whatever he wants, but sometimes he goes on self-improvement kicks and drags Stiles along. 'Drags' is perhaps a little unfair, because he mostly just asks quietly with a soft smile. He might as well drag though, for all the ability Stiles has to say no to him when he asks like that.
Which is how Stiles finds himself one month into a gym membership and still going twice a week, tagging along with Danny on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
It's exactly the kind of gym Danny would go to, full of people who aren't going there to get fit, but to stay fit. Buff, beautiful bodies that make Stiles stock up on long-sleeved workout shirts so he can feel covered up and slightly less awkward.
He mostly just runs on the elliptical while Danny does reps of complicated lifts. Sometimes he catches Danny looking at the other gym goers speculatively. Or maybe appreciatively. Danny has a type. It's short hair, forearms with visible lines of muscle, and wide, wide shoulders. It's not Stiles.
They go get smoothies after the gym to round off their fitness routine (to "rehydrate and replenish on carbs, proteins, and electrolytes," is what Danny says) and Stiles kicks Danny's foot under the table at the smoothie place.
"Do you ever want to see other people?" Stiles asks.
Danny makes an indecipherable face that involves only one dimple but both eyebrows. "What do you mean? I see other people every day."
"No, like, see see. Like date. Or hook up. Because you can if you want to. I know this whole marriage thing was just dropped on you and you shouldn't feel like it's holding you back, if there's someone you like the look of. Like, guys at the gym, or at school, or wherever."
Again with the face. "Did you meet someone? Are you asking if it's okay for you to be with someone else?"
"What? No! Not even close. You are as good as it gets, Danny, I'm never gonna meet anyone who can compare, there's no point trying because something more perfect than perfection doesn't exist."
Another face, but this time Stiles knows it's the what-you-just-said-was-so-incredibly-cheesy-that-I-can't-believe-I-haven't-walked-away face. He knows that face well, sees it pretty much daily.
"You can meet other people if you want," Danny says. "I'm not, like, a weirdo possessive jail keeper. But from my end, I take marriage seriously, and being committed to this marriage makes me happy. So. I personally won't be seeing anyone outside of it. But I promise I won't be mad if you do."
Stiles gapes at Danny. "Did you, like, somehow miss every word I just said to you? Do we need to get your hearing checked? We're registered domestic partners, you can get a hearing test through my insurance. We can book it tomorrow."
Danny blows the paper wrapper from his straw at Stiles' face.
A wiser man would leave the conversation at that, but Stiles didn't get himself accidentally soul-bonded by being a wiser man. "What about sex?" he blurts, unable to help himself.
"What about it?"
"Am I keeping you from having it?"
"Like, currently, or...?"
"No, I mean like...it's not some big secret that you were way more popular than me before we got hitched. It's not exactly that much of a downgrade for me, to go from having sex extremely infrequently to being in a sexless marriage. But for you, it must be a serious comedown from having loads of sex to none at all."
"What are you...did you just..." Danny looks like he's trying very hard to decide if he should dump the remains of his smoothie on Stiles' head. Stiles would be the first to admit he probably should, because wow, would he ever deserve it. Stiles would help him.
"In some universe where I'm giving you all the benefit of the doubt, I'm going to assume you didn't mean to imply that I was some kind of turbo cockslut before all this and now you're worried that I'll die if I don't have my usual amount of sex," Danny says. "But in this universe, I'm going to walk away now." So saying, he gets up and walks away.
"No, wait, come on!" Stiles trots to catch up with Danny. "You know that's not what I meant. I was just trying to be considerate! I was just saying that if you have some very normal, healthy needs for a man your age, you shouldn't feel like I would judge you for that or get in your way! It's so uncharacteristically unselfish of me to think of others like that! Right? Right?"
Danny speed-walks to the parking lot and gets into the passenger side of the jeep. He hates driving.
"I don't even understand why you're mad!" Stiles gets in behind the wheel, panting because he's slightly out of breath. Danny can walk really, really fast. "I wasn't just being considerate, I was being practical! Isn't it better to talk about it now than to have a surprise crisis if you suddenly meet a super hot guy you want to bang?"
"I don't want talk about this with you," Danny says tightly.
"It's just weird, okay? I don't like hearing you call it a 'sexless marriage' and it feels weird to negotiate how we're going to have sex with other people when we sleep in the same bed every night."
Stiles clears his throat and skims his hands over the wheel and the gearshift and all along the dashboard, like he's forgotten what a vehicle is and how to operate one. He hasn't felt this tongue-tied in a long while; it reminds him of middle school, and not in a nice, nostalgic way. "Are you, um, are you hinting you want to have sex with me?"
"No!" Danny's reply comes quickly, almost before Stiles has even finished asking the question. "Just drive, okay? Let's go home and never have this conversation ever again."
Stiles does as he's told. Except for the never talking about it part, because talking's kind of his thing and he can't help bringing it up not even fifteen minutes later.
"Hey, was that our first real fight as a married couple? It totally was, wasn't it?" he asks.
Danny just harrumphs and shifts to face the passenger window, back turned toward Stiles.
"Hey, it's a major milestone, don't ignore me!" Stiles says.
Danny ignores him all the way home.
The next day, Stiles comes home to work to find an apology bouquet of cake-pops shaped like flowers on the dining table, and that's the end of that.
* * *
Eleven months into their marriage, Stiles goes grocery shopping without a list and automatically knows what his husband would want him to pick up. He knows Danny's favourite fruit and veggies, he knows the few kinds of junk food Danny will tolerate, and he knows that Danny's running out of shampoo even though Danny probably doesn't know it himself yet. He notices there's a 2-for-1 sale on the kind of deodorant Danny prefers and gets some even though he's not running low on those, because it's a good deal and deodorant can keep for a while.
Eleven months into their marriage, the school year starts winding down. Danny gets invited to a lot of end of term parties because Danny is Danny and everybody loves him, even in college. One of them is a semi-formal function involving faculty members and actual champagne in crystal glasses, and Danny asks Stiles if he wants to go with him.
"What, as your plus one?"
"It says on the invitation 'partners welcome,'" Danny says.
"Does it say 'partners welcome,' or does it say 'fellow recipients of irreversible soul-bonding magic welcome'?"
"There wasn't enough room on the notecard to type all of that out," Danny deadpans, "but I'm sure they meant that too."
"I don't have a suit jacket," Stiles warns. "Or a tie."
"I don't really care, but you can borrow one of my ties if you want. Or you can show up in jeans and a t-shirt—computing science majors aren't really that bothered about dress codes."
So Stiles goes to Danny's party as his plus one (as his arm candy, Stiles insisted on repeating multiple times en route), and nods and smiles and shakes hands with a lot of people who control whether Danny gets to graduate. He's so nervous that he forgets to eat anything on his little plate of hors d'oeuvres, but he keeps picking up more because his hands need something to do. He accumulates a small mountain of bite-sized toasts and he's afraid Danny will get kicked out on the grounds that his husband is too awkward to endure.
A woman Stiles vaguely recognizes as someone important ends up standing next to him, drink in hand and no one for the moment vying for her attention, and so she turns to him with a friendly smile and proceeds to make small talk.
"So, how did you two meet?" she asks, when they get around to the subject of Stiles being Danny's plus one. His husband.
Oh god, he's going to blow it. He's going to say something irredeemable to this lady who's the chair of the department or an essential donor or an employer in the co-op program or something, and it'll ruin Danny's future, and it'll be all his fault for being Stiles. Stiles feels like he can only be convincing if he tells the truth here, so he says, "We went to high school together. I had a crush on him the second I saw him."
Danny's not very far away, but he's talking to a different group of people and it's impossible to tell if he heard. Stiles finds himself not really minding either way. It's just the truth, whether Danny knows or not.
Later, not much later but when the currents of conversation have shifted slightly and Stiles is no longer talking to the terrifyingly important woman, the professor Danny is talking to asks him if Stiles is "the one" in a joking, paternal manner.
Danny shrugs. "Eh, close enough," he says, voice impassive.
Everyone in his circle roars with laughter. Classic Danny, with his deadpan jokes. He meets Stiles' eyes over the top of his professor's eye, and they share a smile no one else notices.
It is close enough.
* * *
A week before their one-year anniversary, Danny comes down with a cold or something. He's tired and achy enough to skip his morning run for three days in a row, which Stiles has never seen before, and he tells him to go to the doctor but Danny insists there's no cure for the cold anyway so going to a clinic would just be needlessly spreading his germs around. He's always annoyingly thoughtful and right, even when he's sick.
At least Stiles finally manages to convince him to take a day off from school, when he's still not getting any better by the third day and having trouble getting out of bed.
He really should've checked on him during the day, came home over lunch or called home to see if he was alright, at least. That's what Stiles' mind keeps repeating to him as he mentally berates himself next to Danny's hospital bed.
Danny has been in the hospital for two days now, and no medical professional is any closer to figuring out what's wrong with him. And Stiles knows they won't, because it's so obviously a magic issue. Danny's emitting a glow, his life force is dissipating into the air like his body's actively trying to shed it, and the doctors have no capacity in their worldviews to admit that.
Berkeley isn't Beacon Hills, and there's no Mrs. McCall around to be understanding and sneak visitors in after hours, so Stiles has to keep breaking in. He's very good at it. Nobody can catch him. That's what he tells Danny when he wakes up for long enough to worry.
"But Stiles, you're gonna get in trouble," Danny says, voice small and scratchy, eyes half-closed.
"Yeah, well, I'm not ever letting you out of my sight ever again, so if I get in trouble for sticking to you like a human barnacle, then so be it." Stiles crawls into the bed with Danny just to make his point.
"I can't help it," Stiles says, tucking their limbs until they're interlocked like velcro, like they're at home, like the only way he feels comfortable laying down anymore. "Imagine if you came home to see me unconscious on the floor, only feeling even worse than that because I had to see you, and I spent a whole thirty seconds thinking you were dead, okay?"
"Okay, okay, sorry for scaring you," Danny says. He acquiesces way faster than he normally would, without an argument and even that makes Stiles' stomach clench. He doesn't know what's wrong, why someone would put a curse on Danny, much less who, and he doesn't know how to stop it or what to do next or how to make it better. He just wants Danny to be better.
It's a small consolation that Danny assures him it doesn't hurt. It just feels like he's tired all the time, and sore, like pulling an all-nighter and then going for a workout on an empty stomach. It's a shitty, tiny consolation, because Danny also confesses that it feels like he's fading away, like eventually his energy will run out completely and then that's it.
Stiles does the only thing he can do and calls Deaton and Lydia and Allison and Derek for help. (He calls Scott too, but more for moral support than for help—Scott never did get any better at the whole research thing, but he's great at calming Stiles down, even over the phone. And he brings Allison endless coffees and neck massages while she does research, so in his own way he's helping.)
And now they have to wait, trust their friends and see what they dig up. Stiles has never found it hard to trust his friends, but waiting is excruciating. Especially when the third day rolls around and Danny looks no better.
"I say this with perfect awareness of how laughable it is that a schlub like me is saying this to you, Danny Mahealani, but you look really shitty," Stiles whispers hot into Danny's neck, telling himself he isn't going to cry. Danny looks like a black and white movie, like he's been drained of colour and might start turning transparent soon. Stiles has crawled into the hospital bed again.
"Mahealani-Stilinski," Danny murmurs, even though they never officially had a name change. He grabs at Stiles' face with weak hands, adjusts him until he's satisfied with their position, and then presses their lips together.
Thank god, Stiles is coherent enough to think, because even though he has all the faith in the world in his friends and in Danny, there's a tiny part of him that's still terrified Danny might die, and that part was also terrified that he would never know what it was like to kiss Danny. But he didn't want to pressure him when he was feeling sick, so he just kept his mouth shut for once in his life, and now Danny's kissing him and they're idiots for not doing this sooner, because if just a kiss feels this good then he doesn't know how he's going to handle the fingers undoing his jeans and reaching in through the flap in his boxers and oh god oh god.
* * *
Of course Danny wakes up absolutely fine the next day.
It's awkward for about three seconds, because desperate you-might-die-soon frottage has a different emotional weight than we're-both-fine-and-have-all-the-time-in-the-world-to-talk-about-what-it-meant sex. But Danny is alive, he's fine and they have all the time in the world to talk about what it meant, so Stiles just wraps him up in a hug and has to literally be dragged off by a nurse who wants to take Danny's vitals.
"Okay, okay, I'm leaving, I'm going!" he promises the nurse. "Just hold on one second, just let me—" He tilts Danny's chin and crushes their mouths together, fierce and life-affirming, and long enough for the nurse to grab him by the back of the shirt collar and physically push him out of the door.
Scott shows up just minutes later, sucking in air like he sprinted all the way here from Beacon Hills.
"It's the bonding spell!" he pants, gripping Stiles hard by the shoulders, chest heaving. "You can't be fake married! You have to be real! Consummate!"
Stiles blushes and looks around the busy hospital hallway to see if anyone has noticed his crazy best friend yelling at him to fornicate.
"Hey, Scott, it's okay," he says, much more quietly. "Danny's okay. We kind of..."
Scott's quicker on the uptake than usual, eyes bulging as he realizes what Stiles is implying. Before he can say anything though, the nurse exits Danny's room and informs then they can go in now—if they behave. (The last bit is of course directed only at Stiles. Scott has an effect on nurses, maybe because his mom is one. Every nurse acts like they're his mom. Even the male nurses.)
Stiles and Scott bounce into Danny's room and share a terrible group hug half-in and half-out of the bed.
"I have bona fide magical healing cock!" Stiles announces when they pull apart. "My dick is a real life TV Trope!"
Danny groans and covers his face. "I'm never going to hear the end of this, am I? Ever."
"Nope," Stiles confirms with a wide grin that threatens to give him a face hernia. He's never going to stop smiling.
"We still haven't fully figured out the details of that bonding spell yet," Scott tells them. "Lydia and Allison are trying to figure out all the ambiguous connotations and double meanings in a language no one speaks anymore, so it's tricky. We don't know if you just needed to consummate your bond just this once before a year was up, or if you need to do it on every anniversary, or..." he trails off, finally realizing that it's a little mortifying to have Scott McCall prescribe you sex like he's a doctor and fucking is medicine. Well, maybe he realizes it's mortifying for them—he's still smiling without looking the least bit uncomfortable. Stiles can relate, though, because he can't stop smiling either.
"I don't think it's really going to be problem," Stiles says, taking Danny's hand, "since we're definitely going to be doing it more than once a year from now on."
Danny rolls his eyes. "Not if you bring up your magical healing cock more than once a year," he says, but Stiles has spent a whole year learning all the shades of Danny's deadpan tone, and he knows for sure that this one is fond. So fond.
He can't decide what he wants to do first when Danny's finally discharged with a clean bill of health: get Danny home to properly try out their marriage bed for the first time, or get to the law courts to get the necessary forms to change their names to Mahealani-Stilinski.