“so I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.”
- Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets
Derek isn’t sure why he buys the house.
He doesn’t need the space, that much is certain. His real estate agent, Joanne, had listened to his preferences, and Derek had talked at length about how efficient the loft was, what he liked about it— the floor-to-ceiling windows, the details on the iron spiral staircase, the little nook in the corner where he had his bookshelf and that ratty little couch. It never really felt like a home, though.
This house. It could be a home.
It’s on the edges of town, close enough to the Preserve where he could shift and go for a run if he wanted to, but it’s in a little cul-de-sac with only two neighbors at the end of street. They have kids and Derek likes hearing them play in the afternoons, the squeaking of the swingset and laughter in the air.
Joanne had showed him a number of apartments and condos and a few places downtown that resembled the loft— and then by chance she needed to swing by this house to pick up some paperwork, and Derek met her there on the way.
It’s a large house with five bedrooms and two bathrooms and lovely backyard that opens out to a huge open field and the woods beyond it. While it’s not as big as the one Derek grew up in, something about the cheerful yellow paint and the wide staircase (with banisters wide enough for children to slide down) draws him in.
Joanne had been surprised but pleased when he made the offer, and Derek found himself moving into the house on a Saturday. Scott and the rest of the pack helped, but he didn’t have many actual things, but it was nice to have them around. Derek pretends to be annoyed when everyone stomps through the house, and Liam and Mason start tossing a football in the backyard, and Kira brings out curtains from her bag and starts hanging them up, but he’s actually really pleased. Scott and Malia are carrying a grill into the backyard, and soon there are steaks grilling.
Lydia nods, stepping through the empty living room, her heels clacking on the hardwood floors. “I like the maple,” she says approvingly before she joins the rest out in the backyard for the— housewarming party, Derek guesses it is.
Stiles lingers in the living room, looking at the fireplace. “Aw, this place is great,” he says.
“You think so?” Derek asks. He’s been wondering if he made the wrong choice ever since he moved in; all his belongings don’t even fill up a single room. He’ll need to get living room furniture, kitchen things, an actual bed— and what is he going to do with all those extra bedrooms? What was he thinking?
Family, something in his heart says, wild and yearning. He tamps the thought away, the desire to have someone to share this cozy den with, make a safe place for their children to grow up in…
“Yeah, I really like these hallways too,” Stiles says with a grin, walking over to the hallway that leads to the bedrooms. He scoots— Derek has no other word for it— himself a few feet into the air, bracing himself with the two walls. He shuffles all the way to the high ceiling and then touches it with a laugh before he jumps back down. “My babcia’s house was like this. When I was a kid I used to pretend I was Spider-Man because climbing these hallways were so easy.”
Derek finds himself smiling at the thought.
“Ah, there he is,” Stiles says. “You would have thought moving into your new place would have been awesome, but you’ve been nervous ever since we all got here. What gives?”
“I— I don’t know,” Derek says.
“What, do you not like it anymore? There’s a takesies backsies period, right?”
“I do like it,” Derek insists. “I just— I may have been over my head. I don’t know. I just— it wasn’t…” he trails off, taking a deep breath. The first scent he gets is of Stiles— warm and bright with a touch of cinnamon, warm with affection— and then it’s of his own scent all over the house, and the comforting scents of his pack. People who care about him, cooking meals and spending time with him.
“My babcia always said your first instinct is usually right,” Stiles says. “You got this house for a reason, you know. Don’t worry about all the empty rooms and how big it is. I mean, you’re loaded, it won’t be a problem.”
And it isn’t. Over the next few months Derek settles in just fine; he goes to work down at the Sheriff’s station, goes out on call, and he helps Scott handle a infestation of pixies, but Beacon Hills is … peaceful now. The Nemeton has gone back to sleep.
Slowly the house gets filled with warm, cozy furniture. Derek’s glad he didn’t pick out all of it himself; he doesn’t want to try to replicate what the old Hale house would look like, didn’t trust himself not to try and find the exact same shade of burgundy rug that was in their old living room, the same squashy couches and the sturdy coffee table.
But Lydia does give him a few printouts as “suggestions” of pieces for the living room, and then Scott and Stiles help him build the deck out back (well, Scott mostly— Stiles hands them things and makes jokes about shirtlessness). Then September rolls around, and everyone goes back to college. Liam and Hayden are both at the local community college, and Mason and Tracy are both at Humboldt State and find their way back every weekend. Somehow the newest pack members end up claiming two of the bedrooms for a home-away-from-home, for studying and to grow a little out from under their parents’ thumbs. Derek doesn’t mind.
Scott’s not too far, at UC Berkeley, and Derek still sees him every other weekend or so, mostly him working with the newer pack members and training them. They usually use the field behind Derek’s house, and Derek doesn’t mind; it’s convenient and none of his few neighbors would be looking in this direction anyway, so supernatural mishaps can happen. He offers his input when he can, but Scott’s doing a good job; Derek’s there for moral support and for the occasional question about what supernatural lore he knows.
A week before Halloween, Derek is on his way to work, adjusting his deputy’s badge and locking his front door when he notices the carved jack-o-lantern on his porch. Derek stares at the bright orange on his step for a moment and then laughs when he picks out the shape of a wolf. He picks up the pumpkin and for some reason, it doesn’t surprise him that it smells like Stiles.
He whistles as he gets into the station, working on some paperwork for awhile until he spots the Sheriff come out of his office. “Stiles back early from the weekend?” Derek asks casually.
John huffs. “Every weekend is a three day weekend because he doesn’t have Friday classes, and this is the first I’ve seen of him all quarter.”
Derek chuckles. “It was a nice surprise to wake up to.”
John’s eyebrows shoot up.
Derek freezes, catching the implication a moment too late. “I mean, um, he left me a jack-o-lantern on the porch, I found it this morning on the way to work,” he says quickly. “Stiles and I aren’t, we aren’t—”
John laughs. “I know you aren’t, son,” he says. “Just playing with you a little bit. You should have seen your face. Didn’t know you could blush like that.”
“Ooh, Derek’s blushing? What for?” Stiles calls from behind him.
Derek turns around stiffly. “Nothing,” he says.
Stiles strides forward, long-limbed and broad-shouldered, smirking. Derek, not for the first time, wonders when he got so tall, or started to fill out his clothes so well.
“So,” he says, sitting on Derek’s desk and picking up his hat and playing with it, spinning it on his hand.
John rolls his eyes and claps Derek on the shoulder. “Good luck,” he says, heading back to his office.
“Good luck with…?” Derek says, alarmed.
“Me!” Stiles says triumphantly. “I have an ethnographic research project and was hoping to interview you for my paper. I already got everyone else in the station,” he says. “Come on, I’ll take you to lunch!”
It is kind of slow this morning, and John’s already waving him off, so it doesn’t look like he’ll mind Derek taking off early for his lunch break. Derek reaches for his hat, but Stiles is already wearing it.
Lunch is nice; Stiles’ project is about different experiences in the workforce for his sociology class and it only takes about fifteen minutes for him do his interview, and the rest of the time is just… conversation.
Derek steals the pickle off Stiles’ plate, munching on it as Stiles takes Derek’s plate and eats the rest of his fries. He hasn’t seen Stiles for a few weeks and they text regularly, but it isn’t the same. Derek realizes with a start how much he’s missed this, how often Stiles came over to the house the summer and just hung out with him, giving him gardening ideas and trying to get him to set up an Xbox in the living room. Stiles’ scent still faintly lingers in the house, but it’s nothing like the source, Stiles here and now, radiating energy and excitement. Stiles still laughs with his whole body and throws his head back, but his face is more angular now, lean muscles in his arms apparent under his shirt, nothing but confidence surrounding him.
Stiles’ foot brushes Derek’s ankle under the table and he doesn’t move it.
A year ago Derek would have frozen, unsure of what to do and then moved away immediately, thinking Stiles probably doesn’t think of him that way, and that Stiles deserves someone better, someone who isn’t broken the way he is.
But Derek’s come a long way since then, and Stiles is smiling at him and Derek wants to hold onto that moment forever. He’s here, he can… he can enjoy this conversation with Stiles and the idea that this might be a date.
“Thanks, big guy,” Stiles says when Derek gets the check. “I’ve got to go type this paper up but we should hang out again before I go back to Berkley!”
Derek gets a hug, and forgets to breathe when Stiles’ warm cheek brushes against his; their bodies align for a brief moment, and then Stiles is stepping back.
He doesn’t see Stiles for a few more weeks. Apparently it's midterms and then school really picks up; Stiles is working on some sort of senior thesis too.
Around Thanksgiving, Melissa McCall invites him over to do Thanksgiving with her and Scott and a few other of the pack members she’s pretty much adopted. Derek’s in the garden trying to get the last of his fall harvest, collecting spinach and chard and cutting broccoli stems for all the vegetables he promised her, when he hears the gate open.
“Whoa, Melissa was right, you do have a farm,” Stiles says.
“Hey,” Derek says, in mock protest, chucking a head of broccoli at him.
Stiles catches it and laughs. “Need any help?”
They spend a good hour harvesting the vegetables, talking about Stiles’ current classes, and Stiles heads right back into the kitchen to wash them, automatically grabbing the colander from cabinet.
Stiles looks good here, bustling about, knowing where everything in Derek’s kitchen is, and maybe this feeling has been building for a long time but it’s become clearer and clearer the past few months.
“What, big guy?” Stiles asks.
Stiles laughs, handing him a bowl of clean vegetables. “I got something on my face? You were staring.” He rubs at his face with his shirtsleeve.
“Yeah,” Derek says helplessly, and he steps closer and picks an imaginary something off Stiles’ nose and flicks it away.
He can hear Stiles’ heartbeat pick up; they’re standing close, something new and intimate building between them— maybe this would be a good time to—
Both their phones go off at once and they leap apart.
“Melissa says we’re late—”
They go to dinner. Thanksgiving is a loud, wonderful affair with the McCalls and the Stilinskis and the Yukimuras, and even a few of the younger pack members show up afterwards bearing dessert. Derek sits back, filled with delicious food and the warm contentment of safety and pack surrounding him. Liam and Mason are playing some sort of video game, somehow corralling Scott into refereeing it. Malia’s brought her new girlfriend over, an omega werewolf named Denise from the Akator pack in Utah who she met in college, and the both of them are in conversation with Lydia about their studies.
“Derek, did you see where the rest of that pecan pie went?” John asks. “I don’t really understand this Go game, and I think pie would help.”
“I think we finished it,” Derek lies. He had just wrapped it up all the leftover pies and put them all in Melissa’s freezer.
John sighs but he returns to the table where Ken has just picked up John’s unfinished game of Go with Noshiko. Derek watches them fondly for a moment, thinking of all the things his family used to do on holidays: the board game nights, the silly arguments and watching the parade together. It’s not the same, and it can’t be, nothing would ever replace the memories he has.
But he can make new ones and love them too.
“Thanks for that,” Stiles says from behind him, a grin on his face.
“He’ll find it eventually,” Derek says. “Melissa will probably bring him some when she finds it.”
“Yeah, but that’s after she brings the extra pie to her work,” Stiles says. “Means he’ll get a slice or two more this week, but that’s it.”
Derek finds himself smiling back; he can’t help it, the warm-happy-contented scent rolling off Stiles right now is infectious with its mood, and he wants nothing more than to make Stiles smell like this all the time.
Stiles leans forward and wraps his arms around Derek, pulling him close. Derek closes his eyes and hugs him back, patting him gently, rubbing his thumb across the fabric of Stiles’ shirt. Derek breathes in Stiles’ scent and holds on, aware of the way Stiles’ nose is rubbing into his neck and he can just feel the warmth of his breath on his skin.
“Stiles—” Derek starts.
“Hey, we’re starting a game of Uno, where are you guys?” Scott calls from the dining room.
Derek doesn’t see Stiles— or Scott or anyone from the pack in college— much for the new few weeks. Apparently schoolwork is picking up and then it’s finals week. Derek replays the moment in his head, over and over, wondering if he’s thinking too much about it, if he’s imagining that lingering touch.
He should just ask Stiles out on a date when he comes back for winter break.
There’s more work to be done around the house; the previous owner hadn’t weather-proofed it much, and with the first snow part of the roof collapses. Derek spends hours after work going to the hardware store, still in his deputy’s uniform, trying to get the right things to fix it, and then up in the rafters until John comes over with his ladder one Saturday and helps him figure it out.
John laughs at him. “I think they fixed it up just enough to look pretty for when you bought the place and left the rest to chance.”
“I wasn’t planning on a house,” Derek says awkwardly. “I told my real estate agent I was looking for more things like the loft— kind of open and airy apartment spaces. Bachelor type deals, you know.”
John hums to himself, holding the ladder. “And you bought this one on a whim.”
“It felt right,” Derek says, unable to explain.
John nods. “You wanted to build a home here. I can understand that.”
They finish fixing the roof, and John makes a joke about Derek coming over to his place next week and fixing the gutters, which Derek agrees to automatically.
John lifts his eyebrows. “Really? I was just teasing you.”
“I don’t mind,” Derek says, pulling two beers out the fridge and handing one to John. “You helped me fix my roof.”
“Son, I brought you my ladder and held it while I told you what to do,” John says, laughing. “But if you want to do the gutters, be my guest.”
They drink in amiable silence for awhile. John is looking around the kitchen, and Derek follows his gaze.
For the most part the kitchen still looks very much the same from when he bought the house earlier this year; what few dishes Derek has is put away; there aren’t any personal decorations anywhere aside from a few Polaroid photos from that pack barbeque over the summer, snapshots from the disposable party favors Lydia had brought, the leftover photos no one had taken home and Derek couldn’t bear to throw away.
There’s a blurry photo of Scott picking up Kira and spinning her, Lydia, Malia and Kira squeezed into frame and smiling, but Lydia’s eyes are closed (Lydia had taken home the one where all of them were looking in the camera), one of Stiles carrying Liam on piggyback and Mason carrying Hayden and Tracy sticking her tongue out behind them. There’s a last one of Stiles that Derek hadn’t been sure Stiles wanted back or not— Stiles had taken it himself, smiling into the camera, face soft with the afternoon sun.
The photos are all stuck to the refrigerator with a set of ugly cat magnets that Stiles had bought. Said they were funny and looked like Derek. (Derek can’t see the resemblance between him and this cat, but Stiles laughs every time he sees the magnets, so they stay.) The images of his friends, his pack are scattered randomly, so no one can claim Derek has a favorite of any of them when they visit.
“So is this place feeling like home yet?” John asks.
Derek takes another sip of his beer. “Getting there,” he says.
Winter in Beacon Hills means lots of wind and snow. Derek’s little cul-de-sac doesn’t get plowed, and he’s got the four-wheel-drive police cruiser so he’s fine. On his way to work he spots the Nguyens at the end of the street struggling to dig their car out.
“Here, I can help,” Derek says.
Bich and Luong don’t speak much English but they’ve been incredibly nice ever since Derek moved in. There aren’t that many people living on the street so their kids— the younger ones at least— have taken to using the entire street as a playground, including everyone’s yard. Derek hadn’t minded, they’re good people.
Derek hasn’t socialized with his neighbors much— there’s Belinda and Mabel, the elderly couple in the blue house, and the Nguyens on the corner, and that’s it for the quiet street. He knows the Nguyens have invited him over for dinner a few times, but he’s always declined, not wanting to intrude. Other than that it’s mostly just been polite nods at his neighbors as he goes to work and returns home.
Apparently Bich and Luong were on their way to work and to drop off their kids at school, grateful as Derek digs out their car. Their teenage daughter eyes Derek and laughs as her parents say something to her in Vietnamese.
“What?” Derek asks.
“Nothing,” Mandy— or Candy?— says, scrolling rapid-quick on her phone, chuckling to herself. “My mom still wants invite you over for Sunday dinner. She thinks you’re lonely since your boyfriend hasn’t come to visit much.”
“My boyfriend?” Derek splutters, almost dropping the shovel.
“The Stilinski kid? He’s in his last year at Berkeley, right? Dude, I wanna go to Berkeley. Can you ask him what he thinks of their pre-law program?”
“Mandy, ask Mr. Derek when we can pick peaches from his tree,” one of the little ones— Derek thinks his name is Joey— says.
“You ask,” Mandy says. “Anyways, I’m thinking pre-law, I really like debate club, but—”
“Stiles isn’t my boyfriend,” Derek says quickly.
“Really,” Mandy says with interest. “He’s over the most of all your friends.”
“Um, your car is ready. Have a good day!”
Derek turns to leave but Luong grabs him by the elbow, a broad smile on his face. “Stiles is a good boy,” he says.
“Yeah,” Derek says. He doesn’t know where this is going.
“You are a good boy too,” Luong continues.
Derek doesn’t know why but he finds himself heating up with pleased embarrassment. “Thank you?”
Luong pats his cheek. “You can bring your boyfriend to Sunday dinner too.”
“I… sorry, Stiles isn’t… I like him a lot but, he’s not, we’re not… I gotta go to work, bye!” Derek nearly trips and falls into a snowbank, but he makes it back to his cruiser and heads to the Sheriff’s Department incredibly flustered.
The town gets transformed this time of year; people break out the lights and decorations in droves and droves, and when the sun sets it’s a sparkling wonderland, every avenue lit up with rosy color against the snow. People come from all over to see Beacon Hill’s famous lights; the townspeople make a competition of it.
Derek remembers it well. His parents used to enlist the help of all their children to put up lights all over the roof, and then inside the home too, lining the hallways with it. Derek struggles with the lights until he’s got a passable string all along the roof, and then he’s exhausted.
He goes back inside his house, heading to the kitchen for a glass of water.
It’s been a few years since Derek was so hypervigilant that his senses were on overdrive all the time; now he can relax and focus those abilities when he wants to, so he doesn’t actively listen for heartbeats anymore on a daily basis. It still takes a lot to sneak up on him, though, so when Derek sees Stiles letting himself in through the kitchen door he’s a little startled (although he’ll never admit it.)
It’s a little funny how long it took him to register the change in scent— but the truth is, Stiles’ scent has permeated his house; it’s a familiar comfort to Derek and even the increased intensity of it isn’t unusual at all (Derek might still have one of Stiles’ hoodies).
“Stiles!” Derek says in surprise.
“I just got back!” Stiles announces. He’s wearing a cozy-looking red sweater with a snowflake motif. There’s still a bit exhaustion around his eyes, but he’s smiling and happy and smells so good.
Derek wants to hug him, wants to sweep him up in his arms, but he nods and smiles instead. “It’s good to see you.”
“Dude, did you just finish putting on lights in a t-shirt?” Stiles teases.
Derek looks down at himself; he’s still wearing the t-shirt he’d gone to sleep in. He’d put on jeans at some point but otherwise he’s not really dressed for the weather. To the casual eye, that is.
“Well, I live at the end of the street, and no one was looking over here to see what I was wearing in the snow, Stiles,” Derek says, rolling his eyes.
Stiles laughs. “Well, I guess it’s not like anyone’s first thought is gonna be like, grr, werewolf! The lights look nice.”
“I’m not done,” Derek says, holding up the rest of the lights. “Still have to do the inside.”
Stiles’ eyes widen in interest. “The inside? Oh, dude, I can help, I am the best light-putter-upper ever.”
Derek snorts, but with Stiles’ help he gets done in half the time, and soon the inside of the living room is framed in lovely lights. There’s still one more string of lights, not enough to line the entire hallway, but Stiles has an idea of crisscrossing them that sounds good. He insists on climbing up the hallway walls instead of using the stepladder to hang the lights, finishing with glee.
“Turn it on, turn it on!” Stiles announces gleefully. He’s still crouched up at the top of the hallway, his back on one wall and feet on the other, Derek looking up at him from where he’s sitting on the floor.
Derek plugs the lights in and watches as the hallway comes to life in a soft focus. It’s a plain white strand, and the warm color of the walls and the lights bouncing off one another and Stiles’ eyes the brightest of them all, looking at everything in awe.
“This is amazing, Derek, oh, that one is falling, hang on…” Stiles trails off, reaching for a drooping strand of light to retape it.
“Stiles, watch out—”
Stiles loses his balance and slips down the wall, bringing the lights with him; Derek brings his legs up just in time to stop him from hitting the floor.
“Oof,” Stiles says, lurching forward, forehead coming to a rest against Derek’s.
“Are you okay?” Derek asks.
Their noses are touching. Derek can feel every breath Stiles takes.
Stiles nods, but he doesn’t say anything, just looks into Derek’s eyes.
Have Stiles’ eyes always been this luminous shade of brown? What is he thinking? Derek can hear Stiles’ heart beat faster and faster, his scent turning sweet with anticipation—
“Derek?” Stiles asks softly.
The rest of the question goes unspoken, but Derek seems to know. Stiles could be asking anything, but Derek wants to give him everything.
“Yes,” Derek says, barely a whisper.
“Oh, thank God,” Stiles breathes, and he leans forward to claim Derek’s lips in a kiss.
Derek’s head is spinning; he barely is aware of his body except for where their mouths meet. He hears a low groan of pleasure and realizes that it’s himself— wrecked and desperate from this one simple kiss.
“Derek,” Stiles is saying.
“Yeah?” Derek is still dazed; they’re still in the same position, Stiles rubbing his nose against his own.
“Do you want to move? I mean, I’m happy to kiss you wherever you want, but unless you want to hold me up like this against this wall forever…”
“Oh, yeah, okay,” Derek says.
Stiles hops off his legs and helps Derek up and throws his arms around him, pulling him close. Derek wraps an arm around his waist, marvelling at how new this is and yet now natural it feels.
“I’ve wanted to do that for so long,” Stiles says, relieved.
“Me too,” Derek says.
“I mean, ever since you got this house and you can’t imagine what it was like watching you fix it up and get all domestic and—”
“Home,” Derek says.
Stiles quirks his eyebrow at him. “What?”
“This place. It’s home when you’re here,” Derek says sincerely.
Stiles’ face softens and he brings Derek in for another kiss. “That’s good to know,” he says breathlessly. “Now let’s go upstairs and I can show you how you can hold me up a wall…”