“But Dad, I can’t go this year. You know I can’t!” Stiles is sitting on the top bunk against the wall, digging through his hamper in a vain attempt to find just one pair of matching socks. “I’m driving home tomorrow. That was always the plan.”
“I know it was, kiddo, but I told you. Grandma tore me a new one when I told her we’d be skipping it. I heard curse words I didn’t even know existed.”
“So, what, you’re afraid of Grandma?”
“Hell yes I am, and so are you.”
This is completely true, unfortunately, but Stiles has been counting on his dad to be a little more gutsy and face her down for the both of them. “I haven’t seen most of the pack since August,” he whines, feeling something in his chest sink as he says it. “I didn’t come home for fall break because I had all that catching up to do for Bio, and you said we’d do our own Thanksgiving. You promised, in fact, and don’t think I’m not aware of how juvenile I sound right now, but—”
“I get it, Stiles, I do.” His dad sighs wearily into the phone. “She pulled the ‘this could be my last Thanksgiving’ card. What was I supposed to tell her?”
“The truth!” Stiles tugs on the newly-grown tufts of his hair in agitation. “What’s so complicated about that?”
“Aha. The truth. Which is that you’ve spent the past three years of your life insinuating yourself into a ragtag pack of werewolves, and now you feel anxious whenever you’re away from them for too long—which sounds completely healthy, let me tell you.”
“Oh my god,” Stiles groans, “we are not having this conversation again. It’s not nearly as creepy as you make it sound!”
“Believe me, I tell myself that every night just so I can get to sleep.”
“You love Erica. I know for a fact that she took you and Boyd and Derek to that bar to hustle pool last week. She said you won $500, got drunk, and asked her to be your daughter-in-law.”
“I can neither confirm nor deny that.”
“I’m shocked Boyd didn’t maim you,” Stiles says, and he hates the tenderness that creeps into his voice whenever he talks about them now, it’s humiliating.
“Derek looked like he was thinking about it,” says his dad, chuckling. “He growled at me, and then looked insanely guilty and hid behind a giant blue margarita for twenty minutes.”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “Yeah, he gets protective of the pack bonds. It’s just Alpha weirdness.”
“Oh, of course, that must be it,” his dad mumbles. “You’ve been talking to Derek a lot since you’ve been away?”
“Yeah, actually.” Stiles blushes, glad that his dad can’t see his face. “He likes to keep tabs. Another Alpha thing.”
“Is it an Alpha thing to help freshmen study for their Spanish midterms?”
“Okay, but, that was just one time.” Two straight hours, with Derek talking him patiently through the basic conversation vocabulary and the hardest irregular verbs, his voice warm and reassuring in Stiles’ ear as it wrapped around the rounded vowels. “It’s the least he can do, after all the sleep I lost saving his ass over and over. I got an A, by the way. Plus a few bonus points for pulling in second-year vocab for the essay portion.”
“I know,” his Dad snorts. “Derek told me. He told everyone, in fact. He came into the station to go over some incident reports and he told my deputy.”
“Well, whatever,” Stiles says, feeling warm all over. “He turns out to be a shockingly good teacher, he’s allowed to brag. Okay, listen. I’ll do Thanksgiving in Oregon, on two conditions. Number one, you get to be the one to tell Derek, because he’s gonna be pissed and I so do not feel like dealing with that right now.” Really, it’s just that Stiles doesn’t feel confident that he can stay firm in the face of Derek’s disappointment; he’d only end up promising to come home anyway. ‘“Number two—”
“Now, hang on—”
“Number two, you come get me. I’ve got literally no money left for gas, let alone enough to make it all the way to Ashland.”
“Do me a favor and let me pretend you spent it all on normal college stuff like booze and Pop Tarts instead of that set of leather-bound encyclopedias on the occult I’m told you’ve been eyeing online.”
Stiles glances over at the seventh volume, which is open at the foot of his bed and already filled with notations in three different colors. “Gettin’ drunk and disorderly every Saturday night, Dad, I swear.”
“How depressing is it that I actually wish that were true,” the sheriff sighs wearily. “Be ready to roll by eight tomorrow morning, all right? I’m looking forward to seeing you.”
“Me too,” Stiles says, and he means it more than he ever has before. If he can’t see the pack, Scott or Erica or Isaac or… anyone, then he’s just going to have to hug his dad twice as hard to make up for it. “I’ll get us muffins.”
When the squad car pulls into the dorm parking lot the next morning, Stiles is launching himself at his dad before he’s even all the way out of the car.
“Whoa, hey.” His dad’s voice sounds a little rough as he tightens his arms around Stiles, but neither of them mention it. “I missed you too.”
“Gimme just a second.” Stiles buries his face in his dad’s chest, wishing momentarily that he could just hide there forever. “Whose idea was it for me to go to college, anyway. Completely pointless.”
“Not as pointless as turning down a full ride to Berkeley,” says a familiar voice, and Stiles jumps away from his father as Derek Hale climbs out from the passenger side. “Hey, Stiles.”
“Hey!” Stiles squeaks. He flushes and clears his throat. “Hey. Um.”
“I invited Derek along,” his dad explains, as if it’s perfectly okay that he didn’t even warn Stiles first. “Apparently, Scott and his mom got invited to the Argent’s, Melissa brought Isaac, Erica’s doing a thing with Boyd’s family, and Lydia’s dragged Jackson off on some rampage about refusing to celebrate the barbarism of our ancestors, I don’t know, I think sushi is going to be involved. Derek was going to be on his own.”
“I tried to tell him not to worry about me,” Derek adds, shrugging, and Stiles is sure that’s true. He’s also sure that Derek would have spent the day eating takeout from Delhi Palace on a TV tray, and he’s fiercely grateful to his dad for preventing that.
Even if it means being blindsided by Derek after three months of not seeing his face, or his huge arms, or his dumb spiky hair, and jesus, no, is he actually wearing a sweater, how is Stiles supposed to cope with this.
“You look good,” Derek says, and Stiles accidentally lets out a hysterical bark of laughter because oh god, Derek’s one to talk. The sweater he’s wearing is soft-looking and clingy in all the right places, and it’s a gorgeous shade of green that’s doing unforgivably amazing things to Derek’s eyes. “Your hair’s longer.”
“It sure is,” Stiles agrees, trying to tear his eyes away from the points of Derek’s collarbone. Because the sweater has a v-neck. It’s an extremely evil sweater.
“And it looks like you’re keeping up with your workouts.” Derek’s eyes run over his body, taking stock of him through his unzipped hoodie and track pants—travel clothes—and Stiles freaks out a little bit and forgets what he usually does with his hands.
“Yeah, I mean, I promised you guys I’d stay fighting fit. No backsliding, I swear.” He swallows hard. “There’s a pretty good gym on campus. It’s got rowing machines. I go like four times a week.”
“Yeah, it shows,” Derek says, flicking his glance down to Stiles’ shoulders, and Stiles rubs behind his neck and doesn’t say anything, because he feels like if he tries he’ll just end up giggling like a girl. “So, uh, have you—”
“Look, would it be weird if I hugged you?” Stiles bursts out, and then winces. “I mean, I know we don’t, usually, but, you know.”
“Of course you can,” Derek says, rolling his eyes. “Just—c’mere.”
He steps forward and reels Stiles in by the pockets of his sweatshirt, and suddenly Stiles has a pair of strong arms wrapped around his waist and Derek’s nose up against his throat. He flails for a second, not sure how to work his own arms around Derek’s torso in a non-awkward way—which is how he ends up looping them up around Derek’s shoulders, like they’re slow-dancing.
“You smell like a dorm room,” Derek says, sounding annoyed about it but breathing him in deeply anyway. Stiles goes up on his toes and tightens his arms around his neck, letting Derek take his full weight for just a moment, smelling his shampoo and feeling his heartbeat and wondering how long a friendly reunion hug is allowed to continue before it gets inappropriate.
Stiles surprises himself by mustering the strength to pull away first, just in time to watch Derek’s eyes flutter open.
“Tired, huh? You guys must have been driving since six. Shit, I forgot, I left the coffee and muffins back in my room, let me just—”
“You two stay with the car, I’ll run up and get them,” Derek says, holding his hands out. “#403, right? Keys?”
Stiles hands them over, and Derek jogs up the front steps of Stiles’ building. His sweater is a little hiked up in the back; probably from the hug. Stiles watches the tiny strip of skin until it disappears through the doors.
“Oh boy,” says the sheriff, and Stiles jumps guiltily.
“Yeah, it’s still a little unnerving when he’s nice to me, isn’t it? You’d think I’d be used to it by now.” Stiles is actually used to it, mostly. He’s just trying to diffuse the tension, before his father figures out how much Stiles wants to blow off Thanksgiving and spend his whole vacation kissing the curve of Derek’s lower back.
“He really missed you,” his dad says. “He kept showing up at the house, like he forgot you wouldn’t be there, and then I had to let him in and give him dinner because he just looked so damn pathetic.”
“Oh my god, Dad,” Stiles whines, thinking about the leather jacket in the bottom drawer of his dresser that he borrowed and ‘lost’ just before leaving Beacon Hills. He hopes Derek doesn’t sniff it out, because Stiles cannot think of a single good explanation for having effectively stolen it. “You know you shouldn’t feed strays. Now he’ll never leave. Also, why on earth is he dressed like that?”
His dad snorts. “Oh, yeah, apparently Jackson took him shopping. It was a whole ordeal. I think Derek was waiting for you to notice.”
“Like Jackson needs any more ego-stroking,” Stiles grumbles, adding this outrage to the ever-growing list of Reasons Why Jackson Is The Worst. “There had better obscene amounts of pie when we get to Grandma’s, I swear to god.”
Stiles is prepared for the most awkward five-hour car trip of his entire life, so it’s almost a letdown when the drive ends up being pleasant. Part of that is probably down to Derek offering to take the backseat and then dozing off almost instantly against the window.
“Aw,” Stiles says. “It’s just like when you take a cranky baby on a car ride so you can lull it to sleep with the vibrations.” Derek makes a little noise in his throat, but Stiles is pretty sure he’s just dreaming.
“He’s just not a morning person, I think.” His dad has a fond, indulgent smile on his face that Stiles isn’t used to seeing directed toward anyone besides himself or Scott. It’s kind of freaky. “Didn’t sleep the whole way here, though. Too excited, probably.”
“Derek does have a sort of unholy glee about mashed potatoes,” Stiles agrees. “...what?” he adds when his dad glances at him sideways.
“Nothing,” he says. “You wanna put in a CD, or just find some awful Christmas music on one of the soft rock stations?
“Come on, what do you think?” Stiles turns the knob until he lands in the middle of Taylor Swift’s version of ‘Santa Baby.’ He crows victoriously. “Oh, man, ten bucks says they play ‘The Christmas Shoes’ within the hour.”
“So in this scenario, I’m out ten bucks and I have to listen to ‘The Christmas Shoes?’ This doesn’t sound like an acceptable risk.”
“It’s like you’ve already forgotten the spirit of generosity imparted to us by the sacred teachings of NewSong,” Stiles says sadly.
He could swear he hears a gentle huff of laughter from the backseat, but when he glances back to check, Derek is either still sleeping or doing an extremely convincing imitation of it. His face is soft and young-looking, and his cheeks have a warm, endearing flush to them. Stiles feels a near-uncontrollable urge to reach back and brush Derek’s bangs off his forehead. “When they get around to playing ‘Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer’ we should blast it through the backseat speakers and see if he can sleep through that. It’ll be a Thanksgiving Miracle.”
“You’re diabolical,” his dad says, leaning over quickly to kiss the side of Stiles’ head. “I missed you a hell of a lot, kid.”
“Dad,” Stiles protests, but he can’t stop smiling all the way through ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside.’
It isn’t until they’re walking up to the front door and ringing the doorbell that it occurs to Stiles to ask. “Dad, what did you tell Grandma about Derek? Hasn’t she always been really intense about Thanksgiving being just a family thing?”
“Uh,” says the sheriff. “About that.”
“John!” says his grandma, throwing the door open. “You’re early! No snow on the roads?” She kisses both of his cheeks. “And, oh my goodness, could this be my grandson? You’re getting so handsome, my little Gościsław! John, he’s so tall!” She pulls Stiles into a hug, and he winces into her shoulder.
“Hold on,” says Derek, and Stiles silently says farewell to his dignity forever. “Your name is Gosh… Goss-chee… how do I say that?”
“You don’t,” Stiles tells him, pulling back from the hug to whirl on him threateningly. “Under any circumstances. Ever.”
“Got it,” Derek agrees easily, although the look on his face tells Stiles that he’s storing the information away for later. “Hi,” he says, holding his hand out to Grandma Novak and giving her his most charming smile. “I’m—”
“A complete stranger, showing up unannounced at a private family gathering?” Grandma interrupts. She aims an icy glare at her son-in-law. “John, I’d love to hear your explanation for bringing a strange man to my home without asking my permission first.”
“It was… a bit of a spur-of-the-moment thing?” his dad says. Derek is inching backwards toward the car, like he can escape without anyone noticing; Stiles coughs violently to cover up the nervous laughter that wants to bubble out of his throat. “Derek here—”
“What’s wrong with spending Thanksgiving with your own family, young man?” asks Grandma Novak, and Stiles closes his eyes and waits for the earth to open up and swallow him.
“They’re… dead?” Derek says, like a question. Stiles guesses he’s maybe a little too off-guard and uncomfortable to get really upset about having to say it. It’s okay; Stiles is upset enough for the both of them.
“Grandma, he doesn’t have anywhere else to go! And he’s kind of like family, in an honorary sort of way. Do you want sitting all alone at the IHOP off the highway eating pumpkin pancakes and limp bacon?” Stiles will be lucky if Derek ever forgives him for making him sound so pathetic, but he’s willing to play dirty if that’s what it takes to get through this.
Stiles knows his Grandma is pretty nurturing, deep down, but he’s still surprised when she suddenly wraps Derek up in a firm hug and pats him on the head. “Oh, I’m sorry, honey. Derek, was it? You understand, my Gościsław has never brought a boyfriend before.” She glares at Stiles over Derek’s shoulder. “You had to surprise me like this? I would have fixed him something special. He’s not one of those vegans, is he? Does he like kugel?”
“Like we said, it was kind of last-minute,” Stiles says. “Wait—boyfriend? Derek’s not—we’re not—”
“Please, bubbelah; I know I’m old, but give me some credit. I’ve known about your… preferences since you were seven years old and you told me you were going to marry Aladdin. This is hardly shocking.” She holds Derek at arm’s length and pats his cheek. “Found yourself a handsome one, didn’t you? Look at these cheekbones!”
“Oh my god,” Stiles groans, while Derek looks like he’s stuck somewhere between pleased and mortified. “It’s freezing, can we just—”
“Of course, of course. Why don’t you and your father unload the car; Derek here can help me mash the yams. You don’t mind, do you Derek? Strong thing like you.”
“I’d love to, ma’am,” Derek says warmly, and Stiles swears his grandma actually swoons as she hustles him inside.
“So,” his dad says as they’re pulling giant bags of food out of the trunk. “You never told me you were going to marry Aladdin.”
“Dad, come on.” Stiles avoids his eyes by opening his backpack and sifting through it for a heavier sweatshirt. “I was in the second grade. I wanted to marry Twizzlers.”
“Well, I’m just saying. I know you started your whole Lydia Martin thing not too long after that, so I understand if it just never came up, but if you—” He gestures at Stiles meaningfully. “What I’m saying is, we should probably correct Grandma if she’s under the wrong impression, here.”
Stiles swallows, and turns to face his father, leaning back against the bumper with forced nonchalance. “About Derek, yeah, obviously the wrong impression. About the other thing… not so much.”
“Huh.” They shut the trunk. “Well, quit looking so gloomy about it, jeez. I was just asking. I don’t mind.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I knew you wouldn’t,” Stiles breathes, even though he actually didn’t know that, not for sure. “I mean, I still like girls, too? But, also—”
“Rakishly-handsome street urchins?” his dad says, grinning, and Stiles wonders if there’s a limit to how much humiliation the human body can experience before it just spontaneously combusts.
Stiles’ family has been doing Thanksgiving in Ashland since before he can remember. It’s always been a small affair; his mom never had any brothers or sisters, and nobody on the Stilinski side of the family lives within two thousand miles of the west coast. Ever since Grandpa Novak died a few years back, it’s been just the three of them—Stiles, Dad, and Grandma.
It’s a congregation of the three people in the world who miss Stiles’ mom the most, which made it a horrifyingly depressing celebration for a few years there. They’ve recently started to move past the bitterness, though, and mostly Stiles thinks it’s nice that he doesn’t have to deal with a massive number of aunts and uncles and cousins all at once (and not just because it means he usually gets to eat an entire pecan pie by himself, because he’s the only one who likes it, now).
“I can tell Grandma you’re not my boyfriend, if you want,” Stiles offers quietly. They’re huddled together next to the sink, and he’s peeling potatoes so Derek can mash them. Derek has the sleeves of his sweater pushed up past his elbows, and Stiles tries not to be too obvious about watching the muscles and tendons move in his wrists and forearms. “She’d still let you stay. You’ve already thoroughly charmed her. Don’t take that for granted, by the way, she’s a tough nut to crack.”
“I like her,” Derek says, smiling a little. “And it makes no difference to me. She’s your grandmother. Wouldn’t you rather tell her the truth? Or, you know.” He picks up a potato and peels it expertly with his claws. “Some of the truth.”
Stiles hums contemplatively. “She seems really happy about you, is the thing. She was always asking me why I didn’t date in high school; I think maybe she was starting to worry that I’m too weird to love, or something. I might not have the heart to tell her that my insanely hot potato-mashing boyfriend is a lie.” Derek’s hand slips, and the masher clangs up against the side of the bowl. “Unless you mind, obviously! I mean, I’m not going to force you to play along with this just to convince my grandma that I’m not a lonely social reject. It actually sounds completely insane, now that I’ve said it out loud, so why don’t we just—”
“It’s not a problem,” Derek says, and he sounds like he means it. “It’s just for tonight; it’s not like she’s going to interrogate us.”
“Yeah, well, you don’t know her very well,” Stiles says grimly as his father comes over to rinse the lettuce for the salad. “Be cool, Dad, we’ve decided to con Grandma.”
“I have no idea where I went wrong with you,” his dad sighs. “And keep your voices down, she’s only in the next room. Speaking of: Stiles, why don’t you go help her lay out the silver?”
“Yeah, yeah. Here, take over for me.” He hands the peeler to his dad, and he’s turning around to leave when Derek pulls him back by the arm and kisses his cheek.
“For practice,” he explains, letting Stiles go and returning to the bowl of potatoes. Stiles clears his throat and leaves the kitchen as casually as possible, crashing hard into an open drawer on his way out.
“So, Gościsław. How did you and your young man meet?” Stiles’ grandma passes the cranberries to Derek with a smile that Stiles could almost call flirtatious. “I’m picturing a very cinematic moment. Gazes locking across a crowded room, that sort of thing.”
“He trespassed on my property, actually,” Derek says, nudging Stiles with his shoulder, and Stiles’ dad chokes on his green beans. “You okay, Sheriff?”
“What then?” Grandma Novak says, looking to Stiles to fill out the story. “What did he say?”
“Well, uh.” Stiles pushes a dinner roll through a puddle of gravy, and tries to figure out how much of the truth he can get away with revealing. “He was like, get off my land, right? All fierce and intimidating. But he didn’t know that I actually remembered him, from the public pool one summer—this would have been, let’s see, eight years ago?”
“Yeah,” Derek says, surprise in his voice. “You saw me?”
“Oh yeah,” Stiles sighs. “I was—well, I was young,” he hedges, not wanting to put a number on the obvious age difference, in case his grandma hasn’t noticed. “And you were like, seventeen? I ran into you with my snow cone. You yelled at me, and I cried, and then you suddenly got all sweet and bought me a new one and tried to teach me how to dive.”
“I remember you.” Derek gazes at him wonderingly. “You were hopeless.”
“Well, I had a big giant crush on you,” Stiles says, grinning. “If I’d told you I already knew how to dive, you would have gone back to swimming laps and left me heartbroken and alone.”
“I knew it!” Derek exclaims. “Nobody on earth is that uncoordinated. Wait, did you hit me with the snow cone on purpose, too?”
“...no,” Stiles lies, and and Derek drops his face into his hands and belly-laughs. It might be the best sound Stiles has ever heard.
“I can’t believe this,” Stiles’ dad says, pointing his fork at Stiles accusingly. “You told me you wanted to go to the pool every day because you were thinking about trying out for the middle school team! I bought you a membership!”
“And I appreciated that very much, Dad,” Stiles says seriously. “No, really, especially on the sunbathing days.”
“I’m feeling really retroactively self-conscious right now,” Derek says, smiling down at his plate. “Teenaged-me was as skinny as a beanpole. I had knobby knees and everything. And a really unfortunate haircut, if memory serves.”
“Oh my god, shut up,” Stiles scoffs. “You were already way too gorgeous. I don’t dedicate my summers to stalking just anyone, you know.”
Derek honest-to-god blushes. “What an honor,” he says wryly, reaching over to lace his fingers through Stiles’. He holds their joined hands up to his lips so he can kiss Stiles’ thumb, giving him a soft look through half-lidded eyes, and Stiles’ suddenly can’t breathe through the lump in his throat.
The gesture is so over-the-top with affection that Stiles can’t help but remember—this is supposed to be an act. What in fiery hell could possibly have made him tell the pool story? Stiles has never told anyone the pool story. Even Scott still thinks that Stiles just had a really intense aquatic phase that summer.
“I’m gonna go get more yams,” Stiles announces, because he needs a little space and a lot of comfort carbs.
Of course, Derek has to ruin it by saying “Oh, yeah, me too,” and jumping up to follow Stiles into the kitchen. Stiles sighs, fully recognizing that he’s brought this entirely on himself.
“Stop right there,” his grandma barks as they both reach the doorway. “Yup, I think that just about does it.”
“What?” Stiles follows her gaze up to the top of the entryway, and he makes a horrified noise. “Mistletoe, Grandma? Really? It’s still November!”
“So? Love knows no season,” she says brusquely, waving her hand between them. “Well?”
“Grandma, come on.” Stiles leans back against the doorframe, thoroughly tired of this whole thing. “This is the most cheesy, voyeuristic, baseless tradition—”
“My house, my rules,” she says firmly. “You’re not going to just stand there goggling at each other until dessert, are you?”
“They’re just not huge on PDA, Anelle,” Stiles’ dad tries, bless him; but then Derek is leaning in, bracing his hand against the doorframe behind Stiles’ head.
“Hi,” he says in a low voice, brushing their noses together. Then he catches Stiles under the chin and kisses him on the mouth, soft and warm and sweeter than any kiss has a right to be. Stiles aches with it, all the way through the core of him; he whimpers, grabs a handful of Derek’s sweater and tries to act like he’s not drowning.
“There, was that so difficult?” Stiles’ grandma says when they break apart. “You young people, you need to learn to take advantage of the little moments. No regrets. Isn’t that right, John?”
“Good advice,” Stiles’ dad says as Stiles wrenches himself out of Derek’s arms and escapes into the kitchen. “It’s always the little things that stay with you.”
Well, fantastic. Stiles already knows he’s going to remember the look on Derek’s face as he pulled away from that kiss—tense, awkward, regretful, biting his lip and looking at Stiles with apologetic eyes—for the rest of his life. And it’s going to absolutely suck.
Stiles isn’t sure how he manages it, but he convinces his grandma to let him go to bed early and escapes to the sanctuary of the smallest guest bedroom. He can only muster a little bit of guilt for leaving Derek down there without him; Grandma Novak obviously loves him, and he’s clearly able to handle the whole relationship act a lot better than Stiles can.
He’s lying on his back with his head dangling over the edge of the bed, staring at the ceiling and feeling sorry for himself, when he hears a gentle knock on the door.
“I’m sleeping,” he calls out.
“Well, I guess you can’t eat this piece of pie if you’re asleep,” says his dad, pushing the door open anyway. “I’ll just leave it on your dresser. Derek likes pecan, too, as it turns out; I had to rescue your share before he swallowed it whole.” He shudders. “Man, I always forget how much they can eat.”
“Scott once ate two whole chickens in ten minutes,” Stiles says, smiling fondly at the memory. “It was really gross.”
His dad comes over and sits on the bed. “So, you want to maybe—”
“No,” says Stiles. “I want to never talk about it, thanks.”
“You didn’t even finish your kugel. Grandma thinks you’re deathly ill.”
“I’m just tired from finals.”
“I’m pretty sure Derek thinks he did something wrong,” his dad continues, and Stiles groans and sits up.
“Yeah, well, he did,” Stiles says viciously. “He went way overboard, and he knows it. You’d think after all these years, he’d be done messing with me. But no.”
“There was no reason for him to—he knows I’ve never even ki—” Stiles takes a deep breath, flushing. “Why did he have to push it that far?”
Stiles loves his dad, and trusts him more than he trusts any other human on the planet. He can count on him to be in Stiles’ corner, no matter what. And so it’s pretty severely surprising when he says: “Stiles, you know that you’re being unfair.”
“What.” Stiles blinks at him, betrayed. “I’m sorry, explain yourself, because it sounds like you’re siding with Were-Casanova over your own son.”
“Well, you’re the one being insensitive,” his dad says, stern. “You had to know going into this that it would be hard for Derek. Considering his feelings for you.”
“Dad, no, that’s…” Stiles forces a laugh. “Absolutely not. I don’t know what you think you know, but. No.”
“Oh, for—you already know about this!” His dad stands up and folds his arms, glaring down at Stiles incredulously. “We talk about it all the time!”
“We do not. Are we even talking about the same Derek?” Stiles squints at him. “Are you really my father? Is this a dream?”
His dad throws up his hands. “All right, fine, we don’t talk about it, exactly. I’ve been mentioning to you, though. For months, now. The pining, and the moping around, and the bragging about you to the cashier at the grocery store—I told you all of this!”
“But…” Stiles can’t breathe. “That’s not. That’s just.”
“You always just get really uncomfortable and change the subject, when I bring it up,” his dad says, shrugging helplessly. “I just assumed you knew, but you didn’t like talking about it.”
“Why would I ever…” Stiles gestures wildly. “Seriously, why? Why would I not want to talk about Derek Hale being into me? Of course I want to talk about that. I want to talk about that all day.”
“...I also assumed his feelings were one-sided,” says his dad after peering at him for a moment. “Though now I’m sensing that’s not exactly the case.”
“I told the pool story, Dad!” Stiles cries, twitchy with too many conflicting emotions. “You had to upgrade my cell plan so I could call him every night. His abs look like those CGI body effects in 300. I don’t understand how this could possibly be a surprise to anyone!”
“I think you’re better at playing your cards close to the vest than you give yourself credit for.” His dad coughs. “I mean, until the pool story. That was, admittedly, pretty blatant.”
“Thank you!” Stiles flops back onto the bed. “God.”
“It wasn’t blatant enough for Derek, though. Judging by the big dramatic sad-eyes all the way through dessert, I mean.”
“That’s because Derek was raised by wolves, Dad,” Stiles says. “Literally. Wolves. He’s terrible at this stuff. He was probably waiting for me to roll on my back and bare my throat.”
“Yes. Well.” His dad pats his knee consolingly. “Let’s both pretend I never heard you say that.”
“Right,” Stiles agrees, covering his face. “Thanks.”
“Derek’s camped on the couch downstairs. If you want to talk.”
“No sex of any kind in my mother-in-law’s house.”
It takes a long time for Stiles to drum up the courage to go back downstairs (the pie helps). It’s already after midnight, and everything is dark except for the flames burning themselves out in the living room fireplace.
Stiles shuffles slowly over to the couch, still unsure whether he’s actually going to wake Derek up or not. Turns out, he doesn’t have a choice—Derek is wide awake, lying on his back with one arm behind his head. He looks up when Stiles gets close, and his eyes glow a weird orange-red as they reflect the light from the fire.
“Hey,” he says, sitting up and pushing off his blankets. He’s dressed for bed, wearing a thin t-shirt and a pair of long flannel pants, and for some reason Stiles can’t stop looking at the vulnerable arches of his bare feet.
“I’ve never seen you in pajamas,” Stiles points out, inanely. “I don’t think any of us have, actually. I think I just assumed you slept fully-dressed. Like a vampire.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Derek tells him. “You’re ridiculous. And I can hear every conversation that happens in this house, Stiles.”
Whoops. Stiles’ stomach lurches, because apparently the whole heartfelt confession he’s been working himself up to has been rendered unnecessary. “Well,” he says, swallowing hard. “That’s that, I suppose.”
“I guess so,” Derek agrees, his jaw tensing.
“Yeah,” Stiles says. “Wait, hold on. Why is this still terrifying? I already know you like me!”
“I don’t know,” Derek says, shifting nervously. “Maybe… because we’re friends?”
“Are you saying we’re not going to do anything about our matching gigantic crushes on each other because we’re friends?” Stiles flails angrily at him. “That’s not fair!”
“Stiles, look.” Derek’s got one of his hands fisted in the fabric of the couch, and Stiles can see where the material is starting to tear a little bit. “Maybe we should just take it slow?”
“Okay,” says Stiles, and then he throws himself onto Derek’s lap and bites him on the neck.
“Okay,” Derek sighs, letting his head roll back and catching Stiles’ hips to pull him in tighter. “Ah, Stiles.”
“Yes?” Stiles answers breathlessly, kissing along Derek’s jaw to the corner of his mouth. “Oh, I’m sorry, was that rhetorical, or—”
“How is making out with you even more obnoxious than I imagined?” Derek slides both hands slowly up the back of Stiles’ shirt and kisses him deep and slow, groaning softly when Stiles pulls at his hair. “It really shouldn’t be possible.”
“You imagined it?” Stiles is delighted by this, and he rewards Derek by rolling their hips together. “Mm. Wait, though—you imagined me being obnoxious?”
“I like to fantasize realistically,” Derek explains, and oh, that’s actually kind of awesome.
“We can’t have sex in my grandma’s house,” Stiles apologizes, gasping as Derek drags his nails across the small of his back. “Yeah, fuck, but we can just—”
“Do this for a while?” Derek finishes, biting his chin. “Yeah, let’s just—”
“Pants are staying on,” Stiles warns, and quickly gets rid of both their shirts.
“And no orgasms.”
Stiles comes in his pants ten minutes later, riding Derek’s thigh and burying a moan against his bare shoulder. After that, he figures it’s not technically breaking the rules if he reaches into Derek’s pajamas and jerks him off, hungrily watching his face in the firelight as it goes slack with pleasure.
Afterwards, they tiptoe into the kitchen, snickering like schoolboys and barely able to stop pawing at each other long enough to clean up. Then, together, they finish the entire pecan pie.
“You look well-rested,” says his dad the next morning as they’re loading the leftovers into the car.
“Thanks,” Stiles beams, eyes drifting to where Derek is helping his grandma hang a giant wreath on the door.
“No, I mean, you look very relaxed,” his dad continues, narrowing his eyes. “And cheerful. Suspiciously so.”
“Can’t it just be our early Christmas presents to each other that I pretend I have no idea what you’re talking about, and you let me off the hook?” Stiles can’t even work up a healthy amount of embarrassment over this; he feels too good, about Derek and Oregon and fireplaces and his dad and life in general.
“Ah, yes, willful ignorance,” says the sheriff. “The gift that keeps on giving.”
“You’re awesome, Dad,” Stiles says, hugging him. “I’m really happy. And I don’t just mean because of the—”
“Willful ignorance!” his dad interrupts. “And I’m glad. That you’re happy, I mean. Now go pry your werewolf out of Grandma’s clutches, we’re not gonna beat the traffic at this rate.”
“Yeah, we are,” Stiles insists. “Today is a blessed day. I feel very certain that nothing could possibly ruin it.”
“Hey, Gościsław, come hold this nail for me,” Derek calls out, perfect pronunciation and everything, oh fucking hell.
“Well, almost nothing,” his dad amends with a smug grin, and Stiles drops his head against the roof of the car with a world-weary sigh. “Hey, cheer up, kid. There’s still some pecan pie left, isn’t there?”
“Ugh,” Stiles says, smiling helplessly as Derek continues to laugh at him from the porch. “Worst Thanksgiving ever.”