Stiles knows he's a weird kid. What with his dad being sheriff of Halloween Town and his mother the fairest Christmas snow angel in all of Holiday Land. They apparently met when The Pumpkin King went on a holiday bender and stole Christmas. Though it doesn't help him now as he runs through the graveyard and up the spiral hill. Jackson and his vampire groupies hot at his heels.
"Come Stilinski! Sing us a carol!" one of them hoots with malicious delight as Stiles stumbles on an upturned rock. They're closing in on him even as the mountain unfurls to the pumpkin patch below. Once he hits the ground he falls backwards, narrowly missing a sharp vine. He shuffles backwards; resigned to his fate and silently wishes he'd stuck with Scott and Allison at the fountain after the annual Halloween award ceremony. Being the awkward third wheel was better than this.
But almost as if by magic, the horde of vampires stops at the outskirts of the field where a faded wooden sign swings eerily in the wind. Jackson's teeth withdraw and he almost looks scared, his eyes darting to the far forest behind the patch.
"We're leaving," says Jackson looking less ominous than when they descended upon Stiles after he left the safety of the town revelry. Jackson wraps his red lined cape against himself, his face ashen.
"Come on, Jackson," cajoles Greenberg, stepping forward, only to have Jackson throw him back, his head making a sickening crack on an old tombstone.
"I said we're leaving," Jackson growls and shoots a hunted look at the woods again. "Let the half-breed take his chances."
With a swirl of his cape he's fluttering off into the night sky.
"Yeah, you better run!" says Stiles as the rest follow Jackson's lead. He gets up with a groan and dusts off his coat. "This shit would never happen in Christmas Town."
He looks back at the darkening forest and notices the absence of everything. No noise. No ghostly howls. No murder of crows or even an unkindness of ravens. Nothing. There is a bright blue flash of light and Stiles rubs his eyes and it's not there. He blinks warily and turns around to make the long walk home.
A warm hand lands on his shoulder. And so help him, he shrieks in a very unmanly way.
"Shit!" His arms pinwheel before the hand on his shoulder drops and he's staring up into a wall of muscle.
He stumbles back and stares with his mouth wide open in shock. There is a guy, not even three feet away, clad in the darkest leather jacket ever with hair that seems to defy the laws of Holiday Land.
"You're trespassing," he growls. The guy has sharper teeth than a vampire.
"Oh yeah? Well who made you king of the pumpkin patch?"
His false bravado wilts as the guy moves forward causing Stiles to stumble back in case he attacks but the guy just kicks at the worn sign by his feet. Hale Farms is etched into the wood, as if by claws.
"Derek Hale," he says, stuffing his hands into his leather jacket.
"Oh," Stiles says, frowning, his cheeks going ruddy with embarrassment. "Sorry. Fleeing for my life really knocks my sense of direction."
Already a month in town and he can cross trespassing off his bucket list. No one was ever this uptight in Christmas Town. He used to have to turn down offers of cookies and sledding invites.
Derek scents the air and his eyes pierce Stiles, freezing him to the ground. "You smell like Christmas," he frowns, looking perplexed.
He moves closer and Stiles backs up. "Look, I said I was sorry. How 'bout a batch of sugar cookies and we'll call it even?" he babbles as Derek inhales closer near Stiles' throat, his teeth getting sharper. Stiles slips backwards on the wet ground and out from under Derek's shadow. Derek shakes his head and takes a deep breath. Stiles stares at him with his mouth half-open, Derek looks like he wants to eat him.
That's enough to get Stiles' heart racing. Derek quirks his left eyebrow before nodding. Stiles takes that as his exit and turns to run back through the cemetery.
And surprisingly Derek lets him go, a faint smile lingering on his face.
Stiles gets in just shy of his curfew. It took longer getting back because he half expected Derek to appear out of every shadow. His skin still prickles at the thought. It's not surprising his dad is waiting up. Halloween's not really a busy night for the sheriff's office; the Pumpkin King keeps most of the revelers in line.
"Stiles?" his dad calls and Stiles cringes, he was hoping to sneak by. His clothes are still pretty grimy and his hands are scraped up from running from Jackson's goons. He was hoping to slip in and lick his wounds without his dad being the wiser. It serves him right to try pulling anything past a ghoul. They're worse than vampires when it comes to sniffing out an injury.
Stiles trudges into the kitchen where his dad is nursing a glass of whiskey.
"Hey dad," he grins but his dad just frowns.
"Oh, nothing just your usual holiday fun," he shrugs sitting across from his father.
His dad gives him a once over and his frown deepens. "Let me get the kit." He leverages himself up and shuffles to the bathroom. "I shouldn't have uprooted you from everything, I regret-"
Stiles waves down his dad's protest when he comes back to the kitchen holding the first aid kit. Christmas Town wasn't the same without his mom. All that joy and cheer was suffocating his dad. It was actually nice to stomp around a cemetery and not have anyone break out into carols.
"No worries pop, it's growing on me. Like those cobwebs in the corner." He winces when his dad cleans a deep cut. "I can handle it."
"You have to tell me who's giving you trouble," his dad says.
"Hey, I handled it," Stiles says, trying to ignore how his heart stutters at the thought of Derek Hale. "And I have Scott. Besides, I can't hide behind you all the time."
His dad sighs. "Scott's a good ghoul."
"I know you worry," says Stiles as his dad finishes wrapping up his hands. "So do I, so no more pumpkin pie."
His dad lets out a bark of laughter and Stiles grins.
During daylight hours he can pretty much avoid Jackson unless it's a particularly cloudy day. Which seems to be the average norm for Halloween Town. Stiles isn't sure who's more surprised to see him, Jackson or Greenberg. But they both give him a wider berth in the town square. And that suits Stiles just fine throwing them both a glare. His hands are still smarting. Though it's his own fault for not paying attention to his surroundings when he bumps into another person and careens backwards.
"We got to stop meeting like this," says a familiar voice, arms steadying Stiles. Stiles looks up and sees the defined torso of Derek Hale, clad in the same leather jacket.
"It's not like I'm doing it on purpose," Stiles grumbles, biting his lips. Derek's eyes linger on his reddened lips for a moment too long causing Stiles to flush. "I swear."
Derek shifts on the balls of his feet with grace that Stiles envies.
"I was wondering why I had to track you down for my payment," he says, flashing his teeth.
Stiles' hands ache when he flexes them and he winces as one of the scabs bleeds. "Payment?"
Derek frowns, inhaling the mid morning air, his expression souring as he looks at Stiles' hands. "I believe you promised me a batch of cookies as retribution for trespassing."
Stiles blinks. Out of all the things he expected Derek to say, that wasn't even in the top ten. Usually no one takes him seriously. He looks around the town square and notices that everyone is gone. Even the sunbathing cats.
"Oh," he says, his voice cracking. "Yeah, I can do that."
Derek nods; looking mollified, and is gone before Stiles can blink.
He meets Scott after his friend crawls out of his tomb, leaves still sticking to his hair. Scott's the first kid in town to actually talk to him, which Stiles is eternally grateful for. Scott isn't bothered by Stiles' background. His mom is dating a cupid.
"What's up? I didn't see you last night," Scott asks, cracking his jaw as he yawns.
Stiles shrugs and Scott frowns.
"I handled it," cuts in Stiles.
Scott deflates. "Next time let me. I've been itching to take that blood sucker down a peg."
His grin is all teeth.
"Yeah? You and what army?" asks Stiles, poking at his friend's arm.
"Hey! I'm getting muscles! Allison said I looked toned," says Scott, waggling his eyebrows.
"Well if Allison said so," says Stiles with a grin. Scott growls and wrestles his friend to the side of the road. "No, no! I'm sure we'll all be buying tickets to the gun show."
The Argents live on the same crooked street as the Pumpkin King, their house spirals upwards ominously with barbed wire and thorny hedges making an impenetrable fortress. Stiles would be afraid to go further except Allison is waiting for them at the door, waving, her smile is bright as the autumn's day.
Stiles and Scott inch into the house, more of a castle really. Allison just breezes through. Everything looks pretty dank and creepy. The animal heads mounted to the wall are a not so subtle reminder of who Allison's father is. Though Stiles was initially put out that the Headless Horseman was a misnomer. Mr. Argent's head seems to be fully attached.
"I'm so glad you both came!" Allison smiles, breaking Stiles and Scott's gaze from the mounted boar on the living room's wall. Scott's expression becomes even goofier.
"Yeah, our place is pretty bare - haven't had time to unpack yet," says Stiles as they enter the kitchen which is the only part of the house that radiates warmth. It kind of reminds Stiles of his mom's kitchen, well except for the pentagrams, hex bags and caldrons.
"I didn't know you baked, Stiles."
Stiles scratches the back of his head. "I used to with my mom. Plus where I come from everyone had to at least make a decent gingerbread house."
Allison claps her hands in glee. "Oh, you'll have to show me! I've read about them. They look positively ghastly. Is candy corn a good substitute for candy canes?"
Scott's already helping himself to the frog's breath soup on the stove. Allison's stitched smile is dimpled in delight.
"Not really, I mean it's peppermint."
Allison frowns before smacking Scott's hand. "Don't spoil your dinner," she scolds. "Your mom's making black lagoon stew."
Scott pulls a face but relents in favor of giving his girlfriend a kiss.
"Hmmm, well. Christmas baking has always been a flop for me. But it does look horribly fun," she grins. "What's the occasion?"
"I have to make cookies for Derek Hale," says Stiles, grabbing a bowl from over the stove. When he turns around, Scott and Allison are both staring at him in shock. "What?"
"Derek Hale, as in the Hale werewolves?" gapes Scott.
Stiles kind of hates the fact that he's half winter nymph. Other than being resistant to the cold which is always a plus for spending days sledding, he always has rosy cheeks and his blush is quite lethal to his complexion, which his mother used to find adorable.
"I'm not surprised," says Allison, blithely. Stiles raises his eyebrows, his tongue sticking out as his measures the right amount of flour. "You smell like sugar, spice and everything nice," she giggles.
Stiles sniffs his armpit with a frown, he doesn't smell any different. Then again, a lot of town's people smell like the swamp or dank mausoleums. He misses the icy chill and warm cider smell of Christmas Town at times.
Scott seems to snap back into the conversation. "Werewolves! You don't want to be running with them," he says. "They're more vicious than the Boogeyman!"
Allison snorts. "Oh go easy on Stiles. He's new. Besides, Derek Hale is a big softie."
Stiles chokes on the icing sugar as he squeezes the bag too hard. "What?"
"No one's crossed a Hale and lived to tell the tale!" Scott says.
"Well that makes no sense," snorts Stiles. "Where do the stories come from?"
Allison and Stiles both look at Scott.
"I don't know! People!" Scott flails, flinging his arms in the air.
"I'm sure Scott," Allison hugs her boyfriend. "Now do you think we'll have time to make a gingerbread house?"
"That depends," Stiles says, rubbing his chin. "How much do you value structural integrity?"
Stiles will readily admit that he totally chickens out and leaves the Christmas tin of sugar cookies at the edge of the cemetery. Scott's stories got to him a bit, besides, the Hale forest is pretty foreboding. So he hightails it for home without looking back.
Stiles congratulates himself on a job well done. And thinks it'll be the last he'll see of Derek Hale.
He was sorely mistaken.
It's been three days since he hightailed it from Hale Farms and he's pretty confident that everything is square until he runs into Derek on his way back from school.
Stiles squints at Derek in confusion. "Patch," he says slowly. Derek gives out a low growl and Stiles backs up with his hands in front of him.
"What? I thought we were doing word association," Stiles shrugs. "Okay, okay, jeeze, I picked the wrong town to hone my sense of humor."
Derek looks uncomfortable for a moment before cramming his fists into his leather jacket.
"Can you make more?" Derek finally asks. Though Stiles doesn't think it's a question by the glint in Derek's eyes. "Pumpkin this time."
Stiles' jaw drops in bewilderment.
"You want more?"
Derek looks irritated. And Stiles worries that he'll be a werewolf chew toy.
"Sure, I guess," he shrugs. Derek relaxes minutely. He's only ever cooked for his family, and his dad never complained just happy someone was helping to fill the void his mother left when she died. "I don't really have pumpkins."
Derek snorts. "I'll take care of it."
And he's gone, leaving Stiles with more questions than answers.
A giant pumpkin appears by the kitchen door the next day along with a large sack of flour with the Hale family crest stamped onto it. Stiles doesn't know if he should be worried that Derek knows where he lives or happy that he doesn't have to finance the baking. With his mind warring with those two thoughts, he yawns, jaw cracking, and drags the bag of flour into the house, it's too early to over think it.
After making his normal breakfast of Cheerios, a delicacy hard to come by in Halloween Town, and spiced coffee with enough whipped cream for a sugar coma, he assesses the kitchen. He knows Allison and Scott are going to Haunted Hallow for a date so raiding the Argents' kitchen isn't an option never mind Allison's open invitation to use it. Her aunt is the wickedest witch he's ever met and is always waltzing around the house.
So he decides it's high time to start unpacking the house, starting with the kitchen. Mrs. Claus was nice enough to label everything so it doesn't take a long time to dig up the boxes marked kitchen. The bright colors liven up the kitchen and remind Stiles of his mom, her impish smile comes to mind when he takes out the cookie cutters. She used to love Christmas baking. They used to ice them together. His dad getting icing everywhere.
He shakes himself out of that memory and looks back to the kitchen. It looks a bit more alive with the dishtowels, mixer and toaster out on the counter. The final box he drags into the kitchen looks unfamiliar but his jaw drops when he opens it.
To my sweet Genim,
May you take Christmas everywhere you go.
- Mrs. Claus
It's a veritable mountain of spices, candy and sugars straight from Mrs. Claus' kitchens.
"Well played Mrs. Claus," he whistles, pulling out boxes of candy canes. He'll have no trouble baking now. Or for the next three years.
Stiles is pulling out the final batch of pumpkin cookies from the oven when Derek appears at the kitchen door.
"Oh my God!" yelps Stiles when he turns away from the stove to see Derek leaning against the door jam. "You scared me half to death."
Derek just raises his left eyebrow. "Then you shouldn't leave your doors unlocked."
Stiles snorts. "Yeah, like that will stop you."
Derek just grins and grabs a cookie from the cooling rack. "You should ice these."
"Oh and you're suddenly Mother Hubbard?"
Derek just bares his teeth before grabbing another cookie. "She did have a dog."
Stiles smacks his hand with the spatula he'd been using to transfer the cookies. "They're not ready."
Derek scowls before shrugging off his jacket and sprawls in one of the rickety kitchen chairs.
"Wait, you're staying?"
"You said they weren't ready," Derek says, his voice spiking into irritated territory. "So I'm waiting."
Stiles ignores the instinctive urge to beat his head against the cabinet and turns back to the oven. "Thank you Captain Obvious," he mutters. "You can at least help with the dishes."
Derek surprises him by getting up, the chair shrieking across the linoleum. Stiles frantically looks for a weapon more imposing than the spatula to fend off the werewolf but Derek makes no move to throw him through a wall. He simply rolls up his sleeves and starts running the tap over the dirty dishes.
Maybe Allison was right. Derek Hale is a softie.
Stiles went the whole holiday season without seeing Derek Hale and now he's everywhere. Lounging on the bleachers like a cat, in the cemetery, outside the candy store or by the old wishing well. He seems to be everywhere Stiles is except before him. So Stiles can't call him on it. Doesn't help that the townspeople give Derek a wide berth so it's usually just him and Stiles.
And Derek even comes over. Either barrels into the kitchen or is waiting in Stiles' room. It seems he gets a kick out of surprising Stiles. Ninjas make more noise than Derek Hale. Though he usually just scowls until Stiles bakes something. It makes Stiles feel safer when Derek's teeth are occupied rather than barred at Stiles like he's a Christmas treat.
Derek actually surprises him by unpacking the remaining boxes around the house when Stiles is busy making espresso brownies. Stiles tries not to laugh when he walks in on Derek popping bubble wrap with a grin of pure delight.
It's come to a point where Derek's around the house so often that his dad barely blinks. He just asks Derek about his folks and the autumn harvest.
Over supper, after Derek's stomped off to who knows where, Stiles' dad claps his hand on his shoulder.
"I'm glad you're making friends, son."
Stiles nearly chokes on his glass of milk. "Friends?"
His dad shoots him a considering look. "Oh. Well, he's a nice enough wolf."
Stiles is just more confused than ever.
A crate of fresh eggs, two bags of sugar and another bag of flour appear at his door the next morning. Stiles nearly stumbles over them when opening the door. A small card with the silhouette of a wolf is tucked into the crate of eggs.
Trick or Treat
Give me something sweet
Derek's neat chicken scratch handwriting is as terse as the werewolf. Laconic even. Stiles was thankful it wasn't written in blood. Halloween Town was weird that way.
It doesn't help that Scott is busy with Allison. If he didn't know any better, he'd say she stitched them together. Except Allison's been pretty sweet at letting him raid her kitchen to make Christmas cookies - though pumpkin spice is growing on him. So he can't fault Scott for being preoccupied.
Though it leaves him little excuse from not talking to Derek. He can’t help it. Everyone in Christmas Town was outgoing and talkative, from the elves to the polar bears. Stiles never was without someone's ear to bend. So he’s been word vomiting to Derek, despite Scott's warning about the Hales being the scariest family since Oogie Boogie. Stiles snorts, Lydia's far more terrifying. Especially when you catch her making hex bags. Derek's all bark and no bite. Or maybe Stiles is a pushover. Who likes to bake. Yeah, he’ll go with that.
On the plus side, Jackson avoids him at school and even around town. Last week when they were forced to pair up for group work in Potions, he looked like the air around Stiles was rancid and leaned away from him when Stiles reached over for an extra caldron.
At lunch, Allison assures him he smelled as sweet as ever. With an elbow jab to her boyfriend, Scott agrees with her but adds on that he has an undertone of ozone and leather, which causes Allison to giggle into her poison apple. Stiles figures Scott isn't messing with him since he says Allison smells like autumn leaves and fresh rain with a dopey grin on his face.
"You shouldn't worry Stiles," Allison says before heading to her afternoon class. "Vampires just loathe werewolves. Jackson won't be bugging you anymore."
Stiles lifts his arm, but all he smells is his soap and sweat. Weird.
When he comes home on Friday, Derek is lounging on his couch sucking on a candy cane. Stiles knows he hid those under his bed.
"This has got to stop," says Stiles, tossing his book bag on the floor. "I'm baking more now than I ever did in Christmas Town. Did you know we took an entire month off from baking? January was just spent sledding and playing ice hockey."
Derek raises his eyebrows.
"Not that I mind, but I do have homework," Stiles deflates, collapsing in the chair next to the couch, and kicks his feet up on the coffee table. He closes his eyes.
Derek's stomach rumbles and Stiles cracks one eye open and rolls his head in Derek's direction.
"Argh, fine," he pulls himself up. "Good thing I have frozen cookie dough."
Derek lazily sits upright. "I can help you with the homework."
Stiles shoots him a suspicious look.
"Wasn't that ages ago?"
"Try three years. And I bet Harris hasn't changed a thing," snorts Derek, pushing Stiles into the kitchen. "He's a predictable goblin."
"Well, don't think that will get you out of doing the dishes."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Derek replies, dryly.
With Derek's help, Stiles made better headway in his homework than he thought. They didn't have Potions at his old school. He has his work spread out on the coffee table and Derek built a fire in the ancient fireplace before lounging on the couch again, looking over Stiles' shoulder.
"Where does it all go?" Stiles asks, sitting on the floor. He bites on his highlighter, watching Derek as he demolishes another cookie, chocolate chip this time. "I mean, there's not an inch of flab on you."
Derek just dunks another cookie into his glass of milk.
"I run," he smirks.
Stiles glares at Derek and contemplates throwing a pen at his face.
"Shove over, my legs are cramping up," says Stiles grabbing his notebook from the table and nudging Derek's legs. Derek makes room for him, only to sprawl his legs over Stiles' knees after Stiles sits down.
"Seriously?" Stiles tosses his highlighter but Derek lazily catches it and tucks it behind his ear.
"Do your homework."
"Just try not to eat all of them this time. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a cookie monster."
Derek just grins toothily at him.
It's on Monday that everything comes to a head. Stiles should really thank Lydia for giving him the epiphany.
"You smell like wet dog," she sniffs when he slides in next to her in Runes class.
And he spends the rest of the class ignoring the teacher in lieu of internally freaking out that he may be dating Derek Hale. He stresses on the may. His lips are chapped by the end of the day from worrying them between his teeth. He walks home on autopilot, replaying the past few weeks in his head. Derek is a constant, more so than Scott, and aside from missing out on actual public displays of affection, unless he counts Derek using him as a pillow, then they've been dating for almost a month. Stiles pales at the thought and stomps off to sulk in the graveyard near his house. He feels embarrassed and can't block the idea from his mind. Or how his heart quickens at the thought. Maybe he's reading too much into it. He could be way off base. He's been wrong before. The sun is setting before he knows it and the moon shines brightly overhead.
It's not surprising that Derek finds him in the graveyard.
"Where have you been?"
Stiles looks up startled. Derek frowns and breathes out, watching Stiles' cheeks redden, a bright red flush blossom down his neck despite the autumn weather.
"Here, nowhere, I mean, what's it to you?" he babbles, looking anywhere but at Derek. "It's not like I need to tell you my life's schedule."
Derek uncrosses his arms and sniffs the air again. His eyes light up which causes Stiles' heart to quicken. He has the urge to run but his feet feel like lead. Derek leans in, one large hand cupping Stiles' face. His thumb just rests at the right corner of Stiles' chapped lips while his left palm brushes over Stiles' chest causing Stiles to arch into his touch.
"So are we going steady," Stiles' quips, tugging at his bright scarf, and tries to ignore Derek's penetrating gaze. He feels like he's walking on uneven ground. Derek's a perfect black hole of conversation. His eyes flash bright blue in the moonlight and he crowds Stiles making him stumble back into the hard granite of the mausoleum.
"Oh please don't rip my face off, I didn't mean it, forget it, never mind, I can just go back to hanging out in graveyards and you can go do whatever you do, terrorize the pumpkin patch."
"You talk too much," he breathes hoarsely against Stiles' skin.
"I can't help it," Stiles stutters looking up into Derek's warm eyes.
"I like it."
Derek makes a pleased noise and noses the hollow between Stiles' shirt and scarf, exposing his pale neck. Stiles shivers at the hot breath ghosting over his skin before Derek worries the flesh between his teeth. Stiles leans his head back against the mausoleum with a dopey grin. He looks up at the night sky just as it starts to snow. Maybe Halloween Town is home after all. Derek lets out a low growl before claiming Stiles' mouth for a kiss.