Derek loves Christmas. He’s always loved the holiday, picking out presents for everyone and spoiling them as best he could, filling his home with the scent of his mother’s pumpkin pie, fresh evergreen scent filling the living room, bright and merry and just… it’s full of love.
Derek used to make a big fuss as a kid, especially as his birthday fell right on Christmas Day. His mom always took the time to make him feel special, and Derek did, especially when the Hales would bundle up and start delivering presents around the neighborhood and the local hospitals and then carol all afternoon in the December chill and then head home.
It took a long time for the fond memories that Derek had of Christmas— and his family— to feel fond again; he still misses them, of course, but it’s not the same raw aching pain he had when he first came back to Beacon Hills. More than a decade later, Derek’s started to let himself enjoy Christmas again, and he’s lucky enough that he has people he loves to share it with.
The thing is… Stiles also loves Christmas. And that’s not a problem, really. Well. It’s just that Stiles is great at finding the perfect gift for everyone. He starts as early as in the summer, planning and plotting and finding something that’s just the right combination of sentimental or useful or beautiful and Derek really can’t compete. And besides the fact that Stiles will get Derek a Christmas gift and a birthday gift as well, ever since they started dating the presents have just been perfect and Derek doesn’t know what to do.
Last year Stiles somehow wheedled his way through a bunch of old evidence and found Laura’s necklace. It had been Derek’s grandmother’s, before it was Laura’s. Stiles had gotten it cleaned and polished until it sparkled, and returned it to him, lovingly wrapped. It had been incredibly thoughtful.
And Derek just wants one Christmas where he can do for Stiles what Stiles does for so many people— just go above and beyond.
In October the Jeep had gotten totaled during a fight with a troll. Stiles had cried about it; the engine was completely destroyed, the body mangled beyond recognition. It was supposed to go to a scrap yard, but Derek convinced John to let him take it. He spent the last two months slowly using his werewolf strength to bend the metal back and working with a mechanic to get the Jeep running again. John even told him where all the original scratches and dents were so he got those back too.
Derek had a new key made; now all he has to do is wrap it.
The apartment’s been decorated since after Thanksgiving; Stiles loves the smell of fresh evergreen, can’t get enough of it, and their home is filled with that sweet scent of pine and lit with soft lights. The tree is covered in ornaments made by the pack; that had been a fun night, getting everyone together.
Derek’s got all the presents he wants to give to everyone set up on the dining table, along with what wrapping paper he’s found leftover from last year.
Erica bursts through the door, a flurry of fresh snow blowing inside, holding a bunch of shopping bags.
“I thought I said I had wrapping paper,” Derek says.
Erica sets down her bags and kicks the door shut before Derek can close it. She walks over to the table, poking at the rolls of paper. “Derek, these are all smooshed and from like, three years ago. It’s going to look awful. This is why I’m here to help.”
Derek nods, admitting that the wrapping paper he’d found was kind of scratched up and ripped, having lived in the closet with all their coats and things. He busies himself in the kitchen, getting hot chocolate ready for the two of them. This at least, he’s good at.
It’s become something of a Derek-and-Erica tradition, where they wrap presents together every year. It had started because Erica had made fun of one of Derek’s attempts at bows, and apparently Boyd’s gift one year was too big for one person to wrap so they just ended up doing it together. It’s nice, having time set specifically for Erica that she doesn’t have to share with any of his other betas. Derek always goes out to pick Christmas trees with Boyd and he puts up lights with Isaac; it’s become routine over the years but no less fond as time goes by.
Erica takes a deep sip. “Oh man, this recipe is always amazing. One of these days I’m gonna get it off you.”
“It’s a Stilinski secret,” Derek says. “Family thing, I couldn’t possibly.”
“Oh? Practically married, you two,” Erica says, teasing.
“Well,” Derek says, blushing.
He’s thought about it. Seriously. Stiles and he have been together for so long and yet they still haven’t decided when their actual anniversary is. Stiles wants to count it from the moment he saw Derek in the preserve, while Derek thinks first meeting isn’t the same as when they started dating, but apparently it holds weight in Stiles’ mind.
“I knew you would be important,” Stiles said firmly, a light in his eyes, and Derek was rather overwhelmed with that declaration so he couldn’t help kissing Stiles then, and then one thing led to another and the whole anniversary discussion was forgotten.
In the end their lives are peppered with random anniversaries; the first time they kissed, the first time they ate at a particular diner, the first time they had makeup sex (“I’m not celebrating our first fight, Stiles,” Derek had said when Stiles insisted it was a milestone), when they moved in together, the first time Derek falls asleep on their couch because their new bed didn’t smell like them yet.
When Derek thinks about his future Stiles is always a part of it; he looks forward to making more memories, more little anniversaries.
And maybe one big one.
Marriage is something Stiles and he had talked about, they both liked the idea of it, but the timing wasn’t right at first; Stiles wanted to go to grad school and there was that time of uncertainty of where he’d go for school, if they had to do long distance while Derek worked at the Sheriff’s Department. It’d worked out for the few years Stiles was in San Francisco getting his master’s that Derek transferred to the local SFPD so they could still live closeby, but they’re all back in Beacon Hills now, Stiles writing his thesis and teaching at the local community college.
And now aside from the occasional supernatural shenanigans, life is… peaceful. It’s a good of a time as any, and Derek actually took his grandfather’s wedding band out of the vault and took it to get resized this afternoon.
“Well, what?” Erica says delightedly. “Are you going to do it? You’re going to propose?”
“Yeah, I am,” Derek says dreamily.
Erica squeals and lunges over the table at him to seize him in a hug, scattering rolls of wrapping paper and things of tape to the floor.
They talk for awhile as they wrap their gifts, and more than once Derek has to laugh and thwart Erica from wanting to plan (“A spring wedding sounds lovely, Derek,”) because Stiles hasn’t even said yes yet.
Derek manages to distract her for by talking about how he wants to wrap his gifts, in particular Stiles’ gift. “I want to really surprise him, and it’s just the key to his Jeep, but I don’t want it to look like that,” Derek says, pushing the square black velvet box across the table. “So I was thinking like… this box, in a bigger box?”
“Oooh, perfect,” Erica says. “I have like, five boxes. Stiles is going to be delighted.”
They wrap until evening, and they’re almost done. Derek is finishing up another batch of hot chocolate when he gets a call from the jeweler’s saying they’re finished resizing the rings.
“Go on, go get it, if you wait until tomorrow you’re just going to be antsy today.”
“I just want to be able to hide it before Stiles gets home from work,” Derek says.
“I will hold down the fort,” Erica says, gesturing at the pile of unwrapped presents.
Derek makes it to the jeweler’s and back in a record thirty minutes even though it’s downtown, and the box is burning a hole in his pocket. He makes it back and sets it on the table after showing Erica and after a few minutes of excitement they get back to wrapping presents.
“I’m going to go pick up Stiles from work, you about done?”
“No worries, I just have mine for Boyd and yours for Stiles to finish, and I can do that and stick them under the tree for you and leave so you can do your thing,” Erica says, winking.
Derek kisses her affectionately on the cheek and rushes out. He makes it to the community college just in time; the parking is horrendous there and they charge a ridiculous amount, even for the staff.
Stiles waves at him and clambers into the car, greeting Derek with a fond kiss. “Oh man, I hate grading so much,” he says. “How was your day?”
“Quiet. I only had a morning shift, took the afternoon off to hang out with Erica.”
“Ah, cool. You already got Boyd and Isaac this week, I figured she’d be next. You guys do your presents thing again?”
Derek nods. “Yeah, she’s a lot better at the bows than I am.”
“Christmas Eve is cutting it a bit close, isn’t it?”
“Well, we’re not going to the party and giving the gifts until tomorrow, I think we’re fine,” Derek says, rolling his eyes. “The important thing was that I got your gift wrapped so we can do our tradition tonight.” It’s something they started when they first moved in together; they pick one present to open on Christmas Eve. It isn’t always from the other— there was a year when Stiles opened Scott’s gift and that time Derek opened Cora’s, it’s just something nice to do to take the edge off all the anticipation of the next day.
“Yes! Presents!” Stiles pumps the air, whooping wildly and then transitions to some sort of lawn-sprinkler dance move.
“Please tell me you don’t do that dance move in front of your students.”
“Oh, I do. And they love it. I am hip. I am cool. I am with it,” Stiles says, sticking his tongue out.
Derek can’t help the grin that spreads on his face. He loves this man. He wants to marry this man.
Erica’s gone by the time they get back, and the dining room table has been cleared everything, no wrapping paper or tape or anything in sight. Derek can see all of his presents now under the tree, joining the gifts already there. And he can see the huge box wrapped in Star Wars paper front and center. Oh, Stiles’ gift is going to be great. He’s going to have so much fun just unwrapping it tonight.
Stiles enters the house like a whirlwind, dropping his keys in the bowl on the kitchen counter, his messenger bag on the floor, jacket gets on thrown on the couch and Stiles himself flopped upside down on the couch.
Derek laughs, playfully squeezing Stiles’ ass wiggling in the air.
“Aw, come back, I want more,” Stiles teases when Derek heads to the kitchen.
Derek turns back and looks at the dining room table— and it registers on him now that there’s nothing on it. The ring box is gone. His grandfather’s ring. Stiles’ ring. For when Derek was going to propose to him tomorrow after Christmas dinner with everyone.
“No, no, no,” Derek mutters under his breath.
“Uh, what?” Stiles sits upright on the couch. “Are you okay? I was just joking around, I didn’t mean we have to have sex right now…”
“No, that’s not it,” Derek says in alarm, looking underneath the table and scanning the living room.
“Are you sure? You look really worried.” Stiles stands up.
“It’s fine, can you check on the pot roast and set up for dinner?”
Stiles nods, and Derek rushes off to the bedroom. He pulls out his phone, grateful that Stiles doesn’t have werewolf hearing. Erica’s line rings and rings and finally she picks up.
“Yo, what’s up,” Erica says.
“The ring! I can’t find the ring, did you put it somewhere?”
“No, I thought you put it back in your pocket! Boyd carried mine around for like a week. Didn’t want to lose it, you know…” Erica sighs, wistfully in that tone that’s reserved just for Boyd.
Did Derek put it in his pocket? He must have. Both his jacket pockets are empty when he checks, though. It’s possible it could have fallen out in the car?
“Erica, you sure you didn’t see it?”
“Yup. I wrapped up all the gifts, and did Stiles’ special like you asked, and then put the leftover wrapping stuff away,” Erica says.
“Derek!” Stiles calls.
“Gotta go,” Derek sighs.
Dinner is tense, and it’s difficult because Stiles knows him so well he keeps trying to figure out what’s wrong. Finally Derek just makes something up about paperwork from work, which mollifies Stiles a little, and then they get wrapped up in conversation about Stiles’ students, but Derek still catches him giving him a worried look every now and then.
“This was delicious, thanks,” Stiles says appreciatively, mopping up a bit of gravy from his plate with a bread roll. “Melissa’s recipe?”
“Yeah,” Derek says.
“I have figured it out,” Stiles says with a grin.
“What?” There’s no way. Derek has been incredibly secretive about this proposal thing. He swore everyone in the pack to not tell about the elaborate plan he had after Christmas dinner— he and Stiles were going to take a walk through the park and with a gentle snow falling, they would pass by the string quartet he hired and then—
“You are super nervous about whether or not I’ll like my Christmas present,” Stiles says, triumphant.
“Yes. That. I um, I worked really hard on it,” Derek says. He knows Stiles will love having the Jeep back and is looking forward to the surprise, but at the moment that’s a small comfort knowing that his engagement plans are going awry.
Stiles relaxes, and they laugh and joke and do the dishes together and finally Derek manages to sneak out to the car. He looks everywhere: between the seat cushions, under the seat, by the pedals— there’s no ring box anywhere to be found. Derek slams the car door shut, cursing as he mentally tries to retrace everything he’s done since he got the ring. Pocket...pick up Stiles from work… but he didn’t get out of the car? It’s either in the car or in the driveway somewhere.
“Derek, I made you a hot chocolate,” Stiles calls from the porch. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Derek says, taking a deep breath.
Stiles is wearing a blanket draped over his shoulders, he smiles that smile that is reserved for Derek— eyes shining with affection as he watches Derek. He’s backlit by the warm glow from inside the house, the house they chose together, their home. Stiles is wearing his pajamas and standing in his bare feet, looking up at the light snowfall. “Well, come back inside. It’s Christmas Eve. Whatever you’re doing can wait.”
It’s the smile and Stiles’ calm that relaxes him. It’ll be fine. Derek’s not going to ruin Stiles’ Christmas Eve by making a big fuss about the disappearance of the ring right now. He can find it after Stiles falls asleep.
Inside, Stiles has lit the fireplace and it’s crackling merrily. He’s sitting on the rug, holding out a cup of hot chocolate for Derek, the giant gift in front of him. “This looks awesome, I love it already,” Stiles says. “You’re gonna open mine, right? I mean, I saw this and I couldn’t resist, it’s only right if we open each other’s tonight.”
Derek nods, finding the package that appeared under the tree the first— a medium sized box that rattles when it moves. He takes a sip of his hot chocolate and sits down next to Stiles, kissing him on the cheek.
Stiles laughs, wiping at the chocolate smear on his face. “Alright, you first!”
Derek unwraps the parcel carefully; a nondescript cardboard box is inside. He shifts a claw to tear the tape on it neatly, and then peers inside.
“Seed packets?” Derek asks, picking one up. Chrysanthemum, daisies, forget-me-nots…
“So I talked to Mrs. Reichester, who was friends with your mom, and I know she used have this garden, but you only remembered like two of the flowers? And you said you wanted to start one, so I asked her exactly which flowers were in the garden, and she helped me find all the right seeds. We can start in the spring, if you want.”
“Stiles…” Derek doesn’t know what to say, so he just pulls Stiles into a hug, holds him close. “Thank you,” he manages, and presses a soft kiss to Stiles’ cheek.
“You’re welcome,” Stiles says happily. “And now it’s my turn!”
Derek sits back, sipping his hot chocolate and enjoys Stiles tearing through the wrapping. Stiles goes from excited to confused to thrilled to frustrated all at once as the boxes get smaller and smaller and the pile of wrapping next to them gets larger.
Finally Stiles holds the little velvet box and he looks hesitantly at Derek.
“There might be one more box, you have to open it to see,” Derek teases.
Stiles flicks open the lid and his eyes widen. “Derek, is this… a…”
“Yeah,” Derek says proudly. He knows it’s not the exact same key, but it’s still a Jeep key. He then realizes that Stiles might think that he bought him a whole new Jeep, and that’s not the case, but when he opens his mouth to explain, Stiles has already launched himself at Derek in a fierce hug.
The hot chocolate spills to the floor and Derek pats Stiles back in surprise. “I’m glad you like it,” he says.
“Yes, yes, yes, oh my God, I can’t believe you— on Christmas Eve! I just—” Stiles is saying, but now he’s incoherently babbling into Derek’s neck.
“I love you too,” Derek says fondly.
Stiles beams at him and kisses him, slow and sweet, climbing into his lap. Derek groans in appreciation when Stiles starts doing that thing with his tongue, but he manages to pull away before things get too heated. They’re sitting on spilled hot chocolate, after all, and the last time they had sex by the Christmas tree they’d woken up later surrounded by broken ornaments.
“Do you wanna go see it?” Derek asks, a little breathless.
“See what?” Stiles asks, confused.
“Your gift!” Derek exclaims. “I thought at first it would be a risk leaving it in the backyard but your Dad told me it’d be fine.”
Stiles seems to visibly deflate, his mouth flattening into a grim line. “So you’re not proposing to me? It was some kind of mistake?” He stands up and faces Derek, turning the little velvet box around and that’s when Derek sees it.
The engagement ring, gleaming in the firelight.
“No,” is the first thing out of Derek’s mouth, because it’s the truth, but he immediately knows it’s the wrong thing to say. Stiles’ hurt and disappointment is immediate on his face and Derek backtracks immediately. “Yes, it’s a ring, I mean, but it’s not your Christmas present,” he says, reaching for it.
“But, yes, it’s a ring… like you are proposing to me? Accidentally?”
“No! I mean yes! I mean no—” ugh, this is all going so, so wrong and the worst part is that Stiles looks so hurt and confused. “It’s supposed to be your Jeep!”
Stiles looks into the little box in his hand, eyebrows knitting together. “You wanted to get me like, a bejeweled Jeep pin?”
Derek takes a deep breath. “No, your Jeep, I got it fixed for you and that was supposed to be your Christmas gift—”
“In… a ring box? What’s this then?”
Derek closes the box and takes it, putting it back in his pocket. He then takes Stiles by the hands, tuggings him to his feet and leading him out of the house and into the backyard. Snow crunches under their feet as Derek takes Stiles behind the shed, where Stiles never goes. There, badly camouflaged underneath some stray branches and a dusting of snow, is a huge tarp covered—
“How did I not know this is here,” Stiles gapes. “You have a secret car? You bought another car and hid it here—”
“You’ve been working a lot, plus you never go in this part of the yard, you say it’s where I store all my junk,” Derek says.
“Yeah, but that’s— ROSCOE!!!” The gasp is immediate when Derek pulls off the tarp to reveal the Jeep, gleaming and blue and looking exactly as it had before the troll decimated it. “Derek?” Stiles reaches out to touch the hood hesitantly, as if he can’t believe it’s real.
“Yeah, I had it restored. It took a long while, all the mechanics figured it wasn’t worth the time and money but I know how much this means to you and—”
Stiles throws his arms around Derek’s neck and kisses him soundly. “Thank you, thank you!” he cries out, hugging Derek and— sniffling. Yeah, those are tears of joy. Stiles wipes at his eyes and then lunges for the car, splaying himself out on the hood, patting it fondly. “My baby, you’re alive,” Stiles croons.
Derek watches fondly, just enjoying the moment. It isn’t until Stiles wants to unlock the Jeep and turn on the engine when he realizes he doesn’t have the key. “Oh, yeah, that was supposed to be in the box,” Derek says sadly.
Stiles blinks and turns to Derek. “But there’s a ring in the box. You still haven’t explained why there is a ring in the box instead.”
Derek sighs. “I had this great plan to propose to you tomorrow after Christmas dinner, and I had the ring resized today but I guess it got mixed up with the key to the Jeep when we were wrapping the presents.”
Stiles grins. “So you really did mean to propose to me?”
Derek can feel the heat rising in his cheeks. “Yeah, tomorrow.”
Stiles grabs him pulls him close until the two of them are pressed up against the Jeep. “Well, I’m saying yes today,” he says, reaching into Derek’s pocket and taking the ringbox out.
“I—” Derek had a whole speech prepared for this. There was supposed to be a string quartet. He was going to tell Stiles how much he loved him and wanted to spend the rest of his life with him, and he went through at least three drafts of the speech before he was satisfied with how it went. He’d practiced it too, but Derek can’t remember a word of it now.
Stiles opens the box and takes out the ring, putting it in Derek’s hand and then giving him his own hand, smiling at him.
It’s nothing like Derek imagined but he slides the ring onto Stiles’ finger and his heart fills with joy all the same.
They find the key to the Jeep in the closet with all the wrapping paper paraphernalia when Stiles is looking to wrap a last minute present for Melissa, and Stiles cries (again).
Derek pretends to be hurt, even though he knows Stiles is just really attached to the Jeep. “You didn’t cry when you saw the ring,” he teases.
Stiles huffs. “It’s not like I haven’t been working on proposal plans of my own, you just beat me to it. And we’ve talked about it before, so it’s not like, a huge surprise. It’s still amazing and I love you and your face when you thought it was going all wrong was just precious, you know. But the thing is you and me, it’s a sure thing. I know if you weren’t going to pop the question I would, but like, I thought I’d never see Roscoe again. And you made it happen,” Stiles sighs happily. “This is the best Christmas ever.”
Derek kisses him, content.
Wait, how is he going to top this next year?