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Derek steels himself, catching sight of his reflection in the polished steel wall that lines the hallways of ALPHA headquarters. He looks good. Beard trimmed perfectly, just enough stubble to look dashing, tailored suit fitting perfectly everywhere, skin tanned golden from his last mission in the Bahamas, he’s the epitome of tall, dark and handsome.

He can do this. Derek’s one of the best field agents the organization has to offer. He’s smart and handsome and knows his way around a gun; he serves his country in a secret organization that operates outside the jurisdiction of the government and has never, not once, revealed to anyone what his actual job entails (Greenberg, to his knowledge, has a near slip up at least once a week).

Derek has completed countless successful missions ensuring the peace of the American public, has faced down a dozen men unarmed, has been kidnapped and tortured and once fought his way out of a firefight with nothing more than a teapot and a paperclip.

Agent Derek Hale is not easily intimidated.

And yet.

He lingers in the hallway, waiting, as the hubbub of agents working at their desks, collecting intel and doing debriefs in the various offices around them. It’s just dinner, he tells himself. He’s going to ask Stiles to dinner, and this time he’ll actually—

“Lurking outside Stilinski’s office again, I see,” a chipper voice says next to him.

“Erica,” Derek hisses indignantly. “I’m not— lurking. I’m standing.”

“You gonna ask him out this time or chicken out again?”

“I’m a grown man. I do not chicken out of anything,” Derek says, a note of annoyance finding its way into his voice. “I make rational and effective judgements about the success of any potential action, and then proceed with the best course possible. Sometimes retreat is necessary. It is by no means ‘chickening out.’”

Erica sighs. “By all means,” she says, walking back towards her department, and gesturing pointedly towards the office door that Derek has pointedly not been eyeing for the last ten minutes.

Derek takes a deep breath, stepping forward. Ask him out. It’s easy, just a few words. Would you like to have dinner with me, Stiles? Or Agent Stilinski? No, too formal, Derek’s earned the right to call him Stiles after that disastrous kidnapping situation back in Prague. It hadn’t been so awful; the men had tied him up with Stiles, and they had been next to each other the entire time. If Derek hadn’t been so worried about getting them free, he might have worked up the courage to say something flirty about being tied up in the future with very different circumstances, but he never got the chance.

Derek and Stiles didn’t used to be paired together for missions— the higher-ups know that their problem solving strategies are incredibly different. Stiles’ spontaneity and out-of-the-box solutions and Derek’s logic and by-the-book preferences clashed a lot on paper, so they were never assigned together. Five years ago Derek was working on dismantling a drug smuggling ring in Buenos Aires and Stiles on the trail of a stolen Dega, and they had found themselves on the same yacht, apparently after the same man.

Derek still remembers that day, how Stiles likened their joint interests and mutual cooperation to a poor gaming analogy. They’d gotten in an argument about completing main quests versus side quests and whether pursuing the painting or the drugs was the better course of action in catching the ringleader.

“I’m just saying, if we pose as buyers for the Dega, he won’t suspect a thing and we can get the info on the drugs, okay, it’s like doing a side quest that gives you extra inside info to finish the main quest!” Stiles exclaimed, gesturing wildly.

“Look, my mission is a class six, yours is a class five, obviously dismantling the drug ring is the priority. And your analogy doesn’t even make sense, side quests are additional and for fun! You do those after you complete the main quest!”

Stiles had gasped at this, completely horrified. “Side quests are an important part of the game experience, how can you… you just do them after? That’s so wrong.”

Derek rubbed his temples. “Let’s not with the critique of my video game habits, Stiles. What do you propose we do then, if we go after the painting and not the drugs?”

“I didn’t say that, I meant one first, so we can get both. Here’s the plan.”

And it had worked. Brilliantly, in fact. By the end of it Derek had found himself simultaneously infuriated and fascinated with Stiles. He’d known him since training, but hadn’t had the opportunity to work in close quarters with him before. ALPHA agents tend to be classed as solo or partnered agents, and both Stiles and Derek had previously been classed as solo. But they were a great team.

Derek has worked with a number of different people over his years at ALPHA, but he’s never felt the same exhilaration and thrill as when working with Stiles. Not only were their different skillsets a complement to each other, Derek was constantly on his toes, if not for the mission than for Stiles’ witty barbs and his gorgeous smile. They ended up solving the case with a week to spare, and ALPHA had to acknowledge that Derek and Stiles were an efficient team.

They’ve been requesting each other on missions for about two years now, and there’s a lot of mutual respect and admiration. Although Erica would probably say something lewd, and she has seen Derek drunkenly crying about how much he wanted to lick Stiles’ moles.

In Derek’s defense, there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to Stiles. It’s the rest of the night that he’s incredibly embarrassed about, that he will never be able to live down. Apparently Erica had said he started lamenting about how much he wanted to do Stiles’ laundry again, just like they did on missions together, so he could fold Stiles’ clothes and see that appreciative smile. (One mission and one impulsive favor is all it took for Stiles to smile like that.) And Derek will forever deny that he’d shouted at the bar, “All I want is to give him nice things and orgasms!”

See, none of that matters, because on a professional level, they’re great together, and it’s normal for ALPHA agents to fraternize if they’re attracted to each other. And Derek’s ready. There’s no one else who challenges him like Stiles does, no one who gets under his skin and calls him out when he needs to be; he just lo—

No, no. Derek is not anywhere near falling for anyone. He just wants to take out his fellow agent who he finds attractive out for dinner, have conversation, enjoy his company, wine and dine him and then have enthusiastic sex with him afterwards.

Great, now Derek’s thinking about sex. And Stiles’ pink mouth, those long fingers, the way Stiles says Derek, all eager—

“Derek!”

Like that.

Derek snaps to attention, blinking at Stiles standing in front of him in the hallway. At some point between Erica leaving and Derek standing here thinking, Stiles must have noticed him and left his office.

Words, words would be good right now. “Yes?” Derek manages finally.

Stiles’ mouth is exceptionally pink today, raw, like he’s been biting it the way he does when he thinks.

“Dude, why are you falling asleep in my hallway?” Stiles asks, raising his eyebrows.

“Nothing, I’m not— I wanted to ask—” Derek stops himself when he spots the standard black mission duffel underneath Stiles’ arm. “Oh, are you going on assignment?” He feels a bit unsettled at this— the last three missions he and Stiles have gone into the field together. Derek had requested one of them, and Stiles had requested the other two, so Derek thought they were, well, kind of unofficial partners now. He likes it more than he could say, and feels a bit dejected that apparently Stiles accepted a mission and didn’t want Derek to come with him.

“Yeah,” Stiles says, shifting. He reaches out to smooth his hair— it’s his tell, he’s so obvious. He’s hiding something, clearly.

“Alright,” Derek says, swallowing. “I mean, I’m also headed out myself, in a bit, I’ve got a class five mission out in Umbria—”

“This is class seven,” Stiles says neatly, and he smirks at Derek, just like he used to do when both of them were fresh out of Quantico and poached away from joining the FBI. Back then, they’d been in constant competition, trying to rise up in the ranks at ALPHA, trying to one-up one another constantly.

“Best of luck to you then,” Derek says. He expects Stiles to say something like “I won’t need it” but instead Stiles looks chagrined, like he’s expecting the worst from— whatever this is.

“Thanks,” Stiles says. “And best of luck to you. Take care, Derek,” and with that, Stiles sweeps past him, heading for the elevators.

 


 

Hacking is not one of Derek’s best skillsets. He knows a well-trained agent has many strengths, but he hasn’t had to do it himself in a long while. He passed all his training, but that was long ago and usually— well, usually he has Stiles with him to do this.

Derek scowls, and finally the screen clears and shows a list of results. Stiles is indeed on a class seven mission. Apparently on his own, and Lydia Martin up at headquarters had refused to tell Derek anything about the mission at all. Derek’s worried, okay? Not that Stiles can’t handle it, but the terror threat level is incredibly high nowadays and depending on where Stiles is going… Derek just knows that a two-person job has a much higher rate of success. It’s for the good of the country, that’s all.

No, Lydia had listened to Derek’s line of questioning and then promptly put him on leave. She called it vacation, but Derek doesn’t do vacation. He’s got his work and that’s it. He likes his job, it keeps him busy.

“It’s the holidays,” Lydia said, exasperated. “Go celebrate with your friends and family. Be grateful it’s incredibly slow right now and I’m giving you this break.”

Derek thinks about the Christmases of his childhood, of feeling warm and safe and content with his parents and all his siblings, in their old house, lazily drinking hot chocolate as they opened presents.

He doesn’t have anyone to celebrate with anymore. His family is long since dead; Lydia should know that, they keep tabs on the personal details of all their agents.

Friends, well. Maybe she was expecting he’d built another life for himself. The other agents all seem to have done that, either with someone else in ALPHA or outside it, but either way everyone seems to be doing the adult thing and being social, but Derek can’t think of anyone this year who he’d willingly spend time with. He’s close with Erica and Boyd, but they just got engaged; Derek doesn’t want to intrude on their time together.

There is Stiles.

Derek huffs, thinking about the date he never got to ask Stiles on, that they never got to start anything and there never was a question of spending the holidays together at all.

Derek scans the screen, reading the quick summary of Stiles’ mission. He hasn’t seen this shorthand code before, but he memorizes it just in case. And that right there is definitely a flight number, and a quick search reveals that Stiles is going to be flying into Redding, California, tomorrow.

And now Derek is too.

 


 

 

Derek manages to get a flight that lands before Stiles’ plane. He packs light, with his standard gear to pass through airport security and has Erica ship him his usual ops gear to a storage facility in Redding.

The flight is fine, but Derek takes the time to do research on any possible number of things Stiles could be working on. This area upstate isn’t that big on crime, but there is a large number of unregistered marijuana farms, so he’s probably investigating some sort of drug ring.

Drug runners can be dangerous, and a single person operation is tricky; what is Stiles thinking?

Derek rents a car and drives to the storage place, stocking up and takes a bit of time to load all his weapons and stash them away in various places in the car, then drives back to the airport.

He parks and heads to arrivals, waiting for Stiles’ flight to land. He gives him the benefit of the doubt; Stiles when he first joined ALPHA was impulsive and headstrong, quick to try and do everything himself. Not that he doesn’t still make rash decisions, but over the years Stiles has grown a lot as an agent, knows how to ask for help.

And recently… Derek’s just gotten used to the idea that it was him that Stiles was relying on.

Derek taps his fingers nervously as he sits in the uncomfortable airport lounge chair. There’s only a few other people waiting at this gate, no one seems to be in any hurry, chatting to one another or reading their paper, like the man sitting next to Derek is.

The flight is on time. The screen behind the flight attendant at the counter says it’s on time. But where is the plane and its passengers? Why aren’t they exiting the plane if it’s on time? Oh no, what if there was an incident in the air and Stiles—

“You alright, son? You look a little nervous.”

“I’m fine,” Derek says. “Thanks. Just thought the plane landed already.”

“Ah, well, these things take awhile. Usually thirty minutes to taxi down the runway and finish all their landing procedures, and then everyone has to get their carry-ons and such and people take their time, you know.” The man smiles; it’s friendly and welcoming and the creases around his eyes deepen. He’s got a reassuring air around him.  “I’m John, by the way.”

“Derek,” Derek says, not bothering to make up a cover identity. He’s only going to be talking to this guy for a few more minutes anyways.

“You waiting for someone special?”

“Yeah,” Derek says honestly. “It’s a surprise,” he adds, surprising himself with the addition and why he feels compelled to share. “I mean, I don’t know if he’ll… um…”

“I’m sure he’ll appreciate you being here if you made the effort,” John says, smiling. “I’m waiting for my son. He doesn’t get time off very often; this is the first time in five years he’s been able to visit during the holidays.”

Derek nods in understanding; if he had any family left he’d want to spend time with them too. He’s still struggling with thinking of something to say back to John when passengers start arriving, heading either to claim their luggage or greet the few people waiting for them at the gate.

Derek spots Stiles and waves awkwardly at him. He’ll probably be a little annoyed that Derek decided to tag along for whatever mission this is, but the face of complete shock throws Derek for a loop. In fact, Stiles freezes mid-step and just kind of stares for a moment in disbelief.

“Stiles!” John calls out joyfully, walking forward.

Derek does a double take and watches as Stiles regains his composure and walks forward, sweeping John—his father?! — in a fierce hug.

“It’s so good to see you,” John says.

“Aw, Dad, it’s great to see you too,” Stiles says, and then glances at Derek, forehead furrowed in worry. “And um…”

John follows Stiles’ gaze and turns back to Derek, raising an amused eyebrow. “You were waiting for my son, Derek? How do you two know each other?”

Stiles and Derek have had at least eleven different cover stories when they’ve worked together, and Derek can’t think of a single one. “I, um—”

“Derek is my— er— give me a second, Dad,” Stiles says, grabbing Derek’s elbow and leading him a few steps away.

“What are you doing here?” Stiles hisses in a sharp whisper— and there it is, the annoyance Derek was expecting.

Stiles is standing close to him, face alight with— not just annoyance, but something else, something Derek hates to see in those warm brown eyes— fear.

“I thought we were partners,” Derek says firmly. “We’ve done so many missions together, and we’re a good team. I don’t see why you felt you had to do this mission alone. I can help. Let me help, Stiles.”

Stiles’ face softens a little bit and he opens his mouth to say something when John approaches them, beaming. “I know what’s really going on here,” he says.

“You… do?” Stiles asks, mouth falling open.

“Stiles, really, you should have just told your old man you wanted to bring your boyfriend home,” John says, smile stretching from ear to ear.  “It was kind of adorable, really, he was really nervous about waiting for you. Derek, you said it was a surprise?”

Derek glances at Stiles, whose mouth is still open.

“My boyfriend. Derek, yes, um, Dad, this is my boyfriend, Derek,” Stiles says, reaching out and taking Derek’s hand, squeezing it.

“Yes,” Derek says.

John wraps them both in a hug.

 


 

Derek eyes the dilapidated blue Jeep with suspicion, and even more so when Stiles runs up to the thing and hugs it.

“My baby Roscoe, how I’ve missed you,” he croons.

John snorts. “Thought it would make a nice present for you to drive back to Beacon Hills in your Jeep, but I didn’t know your boyfriend would be coming into town. You two should ride together, I’ll take Roscoe back and meet you back at the house.”  

“It’s just a rental,” Derek says awkwardly. “I can just… follow you guys. I don’t mind.”

“Nonsense,” John says. “Besides, it looks like you needed to have some sort of conversation about the whole surprise-at-the-airport thing, and believe me, I know my relationships. You should talk. I’ll see you two later.”

He gets in the Jeep and drives off, leaving them both standing there.

 


 

 

It’s about a forty minute drive to Beacon Hills, Stiles’ hometown— his hometown, something that hasn’t quite sunk in yet for Derek. ALPHA agents tend to be incredibly secretive about where they come from and who their loved ones are; it’s a liability.

Stiles is staring adamantly out the passenger window, a stricken look of panic on his face. This is not what Derek was expecting; he’d prepared for an argument of sorts, a why’d-you-follow-me sort of deal that Derek was ready with an explanation. He’d tell Stiles he was worried about him, Stiles would counter back that he could handle it himself, but give Derek that secretly appreciative look that Derek knows means Stiles wants him here, just couldn’t ask him. Then Stiles would tell him about the mission and they would sort out their plan, they would kick ass together and then when it was all over Derek would take Stiles out to a celebratory dinner, woo him spectacularly and then they could have athletic sex after.

But Stiles isn’t even talking to him. There’s no ranting about Derek showing up and he doesn’t even make fun of Derek’s awful attempt at civilian garb (a red turtleneck sweater and faded jeans.)

The silence is unnerving.

“I’m sorry about surprising you here,” Derek blurts out, unable to stand it any longer. “I just— we just have been doing so many missions together that I thought we were, you know, partners, and I just— it’s not that I don’t think you can handle yourself, I just want to help.”

Stiles turns to look at him, an unreadable expression on his face. “Thanks, Derek.”

“So… what’s the situation?”

Stiles snorts. “There is no situation.”

“But you said— and Lydia— this was a class seven—”

“I’m on leave. I’m visiting my dad for the holidays,” Stiles says. “And now he thinks I’ve got a boyfriend who I didn’t want to invite for some reason, and I’m gonna get an earful when I get home about how I’ve never introduced you before and what’s going on between us and oh god, he probably thinks I’m embarrassed of you or something…”

“No, it can totally be my fault,” Derek says, immediately adjusting to the cover story.  “How about I wasn’t sure if I could make it when you invited me, and I told you no, but then I managed to get some stuff rearranged at work and decided to fly out and surprise you. There you go.”

Stiles gives him a strange look. “Honestly, I’m confused why you’re still here when you could just be heading back to headquarters after I told you there’s no mission.”

“I’m driving you,” Derek says, gesturing to the road. “I’m not about to just leave you here to get to your father’s house on your own.” He frowns. “Do you want me to just drop you off and leave?”

The GPS is instructing him to take this freeway exit; Derek follows the road as it climbs up a steep mountain pass, curving along the edge of the mountain. Snow glistens on the trees, glimmering in the afternoon sunlight, and Stiles’ phone buzzes a few times but otherwise the ride is silent, the two of them lost in their thoughts.

Stiles sighs, glances at him quickly and then at his phone. “Well, apparently my dad already loves you. Whatever you said at the airport left an impression. He sent me some excited texts before he left the airport.” He takes a deep breath and turns to look at Derek. “So do you have anything else going on right now? Another mission to get back to soon?”

Derek shakes his head. “Lydia put me on leave. Vacation, or something like that.”

“Okay,” Stiles says, hesitant. Derek’s seen him less nervous that time they infiltrated a mob’s headquarters. “Look, my dad worries about me a lot. He thinks I do IT for some big banking firm on Wall Street, and that I’m super overworked and lonely and he’s always concerned why I don’t visit home and if I’m making friends or dating anyone. And he seemed really happy to meet you, I don’t know. It’s not really a mission, it would be like… a personal favor.”

Derek waits. For a long moment the only sound is the GPS instructing him to turn left onto Beacon Valley Pass and then they’re ambling towards a little town.

“Look, whatever you need, Stiles, you know that I’m here for you. I’ve got your back. Just like in Cairo on Mumbai or Nha Trang, and everything else we’ve done together. Whatever it is, it’s not too much to ask.”

Stiles closes his eyes, and his jaw twitches a little. Derek doesn’t think he’s seen him this nervous before, and that’s saying something for a special agent.

“Will you pretend to be my boyfriend and stay for the holidays? Just till New Year. That’s how long I told my dad I’d be here.”  

“Of course,” Derek says. He’s an expert ALPHA agent who went through all the requisite training on how to create elaborate cover stories and passed with flying colors, and he can do this favor to Stiles out of respect as a fellow agent.

“Look, I know you think you’re a hotshot because we did some acting classes with ALPHA and we have to be able to improv a cover at any time, but this is my dad, okay. He knows me. And I’ve seen you in action, okay, you get really tense when you act, so just don’t think about it like that. Just be yourself, like, if you wanted to date me.”

Derek nods. That won’t be a problem.

They spend the next few minutes hashing out the few details of their relationship— they’re coworkers at Martin Banks, Derek is a financial manager there and they’ve been together eight months.

Derek pulls into the driveway of a cozy-looking suburban home and the porch light comes on. John walks out on the porch, waving at them.

“Oh my God, Derek, you drive so slow,” Stiles fusses.

“It was a mountain road! We were in no rush. I obey the speed limit if there is no danger.”

Stiles laughs. “Alright, honeybun.”

“No nicknames,” Derek says in alarm.

“Come on, we should have them,” Stiles says, hopping out of the car, snow crunching under his feet.

They meet at the back of the rental car, pulling out their luggage. Stiles reaches for one of the duffels Derek had brought from storage and Derek whispers, “Not that one! That’s tactical gear.” They do manage to get Stiles’ luggage and the one duffel full of Derek’s personal items out of the car. “That everything?” Derek asks. He could probably take everything in two trips. Would John be impressed if he did it in one?

“He’s looking at us! Ah, fuck, I’m gonna— I’m gonna kiss you now, okay—” Stiles says urgently, and then grabs Derek by the chin and kisses him quickly. It’s soft and wet and over in a second, but Derek is more than a little dazed.

He wants to kiss Stiles again, but Stiles is already looking back towards the house and breathing out in relief, stepping back.

It’s just a cover. It doesn’t mean anything, Derek realizes, heart sinking.

He grabs all the luggage and follows Stiles into the house.

 


 

 

John is impressed that Derek takes all the luggage in one trip. Derek just nods, preening internally just a little. Maybe not as internally as he thought because Stiles gives him a strange look as John takes them to the guest bedroom.

“Turned your old bedroom into a home gym a little while ago, Stiles, but all your things are still in the garage,” John says.

Stiles makes an affronted look. “Dad, you didn’t touch my collectibles—”

“All your dolls are still in the boxes they were in,” John chuckles.

“Action figures,” Stiles says petulantly, looking at Derek.

“I’ll let you guys unpack,” John says with a wink, leaving the room.

“Action figures,” Derek says, delighted with this piece of information. “What did you collect? I liked to build models, myself. I had a Millennium Falcon I worked on forever when I was a kid.”

Stiles raises his eyebrow. “I am seeing you in an entirely new light, Agent Hale.”

 


 

Stiles is downstairs talking to his dad, and Derek’s just finished unpacking. The guest room is devoid of much personal effects, but there are a few family photos on the wall of John, a much younger Stiles, and a lovely woman who must be Stiles’ mother. The photos continue out into the hallway, and Derek pauses to grin at a toddler Stiles dressed as Batman. There’s another toddler with him, a boy with floppy hair and an uneven jaw, who appears in a few other photos as well, and a few other people— friends and other family, Derek guesses. It kind of makes his heart ache, and Derek thinks about the family photos that used to line the halls of the Hale house.

When the Stiles in the photos is around ten, there aren’t any more pictures with his mother, and Derek realizes with a pang what it means.

He’s close enough to the kitchen where he can hear Stiles and John talking softly, John catching him up about the town.

Stiles is laughing, a warm affectionate laugh that Derek just wants to listen to forever. He stays there quietly in the hallway, listening to Stiles just be himself for a little while, at least until his name comes up.

“Derek seems great,” John says. “You guys get all that sorted out?”

“Yeah, he, um, he thought he wouldn’t be able to make it because of work, but it all turned out okay,” Stiles says, a sheepish tone in his voice.

“I’m happy for you, son. You never really give me much details of your life on our phone calls but I’m glad you have someone. It’s clear how much he adores you.”

“I—what?”

“He looks at you like you’re his world, Stiles,” John says.

There’s an awkward pause, and Derek really wants to know what Stiles is going to say next, except his phone vibrates rather loudly in his pocket. Derek lets out a breath and steps forward into the doorway and waves. “Hey,” he says.

“Derek!” John says warmly. “Get settled in alright?”

“Yes, thank you,” Derek says, a little stiffly. He’d realized belatedly that the guest bedroom had one bed, and he and Stiles would be— they’d be— it’s not that they haven’t shared quarters before, and they were even close that one mission in the Andes where they were stuck in a small pop tent for two weeks together, but this is different. Domestic.

“You boys have plans for the afternoon? I didn’t really make a lot of plans for while Stiles was here, I was just excited to spend time with my boy, but you’ve never been to Beacon Hills before, Stiles, you should take him around.” John nods at Stiles, who scoots closer to Derek.

“Yeah, sure,” Stiles says, his fingers twitching nervously.

Derek takes Stiles’ hand and nods at him, giving him a comforting look, brushing his thumb slowly across the back of Stiles’ hand.

“You know, one of my deputies and I cut this hole in the lake’s ice and it’s been a great spot this winter.” His eyes twinkle mischievously.

Stiles groans. “Dad, not everyone likes to wake up at the crack of dawn to go freeze their balls off, okay?”

“Alright, alright,” John says good naturedly. “We do have a bit of time together, I’ll get you up to the lake with me yet.”

Stiles shifts impatiently and John raises his eyebrows. “I assume you’re itching to go see Scott, so I’ll see you at dinner.”

“Right-o,” Stiles says. “I’ll see you later!”

Stiles bustles them out of the house before Derek can tell John that he loves fishing.

 


 

Derek wants to take a picture. Stiles is is being ridiculous, petting his car and talking to it as if it’s a sentient pet, but it’s so cute right that he’s oddly charmed.

The Jeep is at least thirty years old; Derek’s not sure of the model, but they definitely don’t make these anymore. Stiles croons to the engine, practically singing, and his face is radiantly happy as they pull out of the driveway.

“What?” Stiles says, challenge apparent in his voice.

“Nothing, you just look happy. I’m just used to seeing you so stressed out for work, it’s nice.” Derek smiles.

Stiles narrows his eyes. “Look, there’s no one else here. You don’t have to play happy supportive boyfriend right now.”

“I— okay. Sorry,” Derek says, looking out the window.

They don’t speak for the rest of the ride.

 


 

They pull up to a lovely house in a cul-de-sac, Stiles looking around the neighborhood in interest as they get out of the car.

“You’ve never been here?” Derek asks.

“Scott moved a little while ago,” Stiles says. “I haven’t seen him since the wedding, except through videochat, which sucks, but ALPHA is really demanding, you know.” His fingers linger on the gate. “Heh, white picket fence.”

The house is well-kept, a bright warm yellow with blue shutters. There’s a half finished snowman on the front lawn, a cheerful red scarf wrapped around its neck. The front door is decorated with a lush wreath and a bell that chimes merrily as it opens.

A man rushes out of it, a broad grin on his face. “Stiles!” he shouts jubilantly.

“Scott!” Stiles’ face lights up, and if Derek thought he was happy driving the Jeep, it’s nothing compared to the incandescent smile on his face.

The two men rush towards each other for a hug, but Stiles ends up tackling Scott to the ground and they fall into the snow, laughing and tumbling together.

Derek shifts awkwardly on the sidewalk, and then a woman is in the doorway, and a toddler hiding behind her legs. She steps forward with a warm smile. “Hi there, I’m Kira.”

Derek takes her handshake. “Derek.”

“And this little one is Audrey,” Kira says. “Audrey, say hello.”

The little girl pokes her head out from behind Kira, blinking curiously at Derek.

“Yes! I’m sorry! This is my— my Derek,” Stiles says breathlessly, dusting snow off himself.

Scott turns to Stiles with a meaningful look. “Derek— wait, the D—”

Some kind of wordless conversation is had, and Derek has no idea what’s happening, but finally Scott grins and turns to Derek.  “So good to meet you, man!”

Derek holds out his hand but Scott wraps him in a surprisingly firm hug instead. “Ah, yeah. Good to meet you too.”

Scott and Stiles and Kira all start talking eagerly as they head into the house, and Derek hangs back, unsure of himself. It’s clear that Stiles has known them for a long time, and there’s a long history of affection there, as well as inside jokes and a friendship that Derek really isn’t a part of.

There’s a tugging on Derek’s jeans. “Can I up?” Audrey is looking up at him, swaying back and forth. Her pigtails bobble as she moves.

“Er—” Derek glances at her parents.

Scott chuckles. “Only if you want to, but it’s at your own risk; she didn’t leave the Sheriff alone a month.”

It’s been a long time but Derek still remembers with much fondness his younger cousins, taking care of them and the way their cheeks were round and full, the soft baby smell of them and the weight of them in his arms. He picks Audrey up easily, and she grins delightedly, patting his beard. “Fluffy,” Audrey says, in approval.

“Audrey!” Stiles exclaims, reaching out and making an excited gesture. “Do you remember your Uncle Stiles? You’ve gotten so big!”

“No,” Audrey says, sticking out her tongue and turning away from Stiles.

“But— I brought you presents! All the way from New York!”

“No,” Audrey repeats, this time more firmly, and then she buries her face in Derek’s chest.

Stiles’ mouth falls open and he just looks at Derek in shock.

Audrey ignores Stiles for the rest of the afternoon, despite Stiles’ increasing attempts to get her attention. Stiles’ presents sit in a corner of the living room, unwrapped, and Audrey instead trails after Derek, showing him her toys.

“Don’t worry about it, Stiles,” Kira says. “She’s a kid, they can be really fickle sometimes. Like last week she was really into dinosaurs, this week it’s horses.”

“This is so unfair,” Stiles complains.

Derek pours Audrey another cup of pretend tea. He can still hear the adults conversation on the other side of the room, but he’s actually quite grateful he just has to worry about hanging out with this toddler. Stiles can spend time with his friends, and it’s clear that he’s been enjoying seeing Scott and Kira so it’s all worth it.

Besides, Audrey is a great kid. She’s very perceptive and actually really funny. Derek answers her questions about her stuffed animals and plastic dinosaurs, going along with the game, until he realizes both Scott and Kira are staring at him.

Oh, shit.

It doesn’t happen often— Derek is normally very aware of his surroundings, hypervigilant of what he’s doing and saying, but he was just so caught up in watching Stiles be so relaxed and free across the room, having a conversation with a kid was just a second thought. He must have just automatically responded in the language she was speaking.

“You didn’t say your boyfriend spoke so many different languages!” Kira says excitedly to Stiles. “That’s really cool— did you learn Japanese and Spanish for work? You do a lot of international trade, right?”

“Yes, that’s right,” Derek says smoothly. “Audrey’s quite talented, raising her bilingual— trilingual— must be a challenge.”

Scott laughs. “It’s my mom and Kira’s mom, actually. I think she felt bad she didn’t speak as much Spanish to me growing up, but it’s kinda fun! I’m learning with Audrey too.”

It’s easy then for Derek to turn the conversation to languages, and away from Derek himself. Stiles shoots him a relieved glance once they start setting up for dinner, pulling Derek into the hallway.

“You always forget you do that, dude,” Stiles says.

“What?”

“Automatically switching languages! Sometimes I swear you don’t even know what language you’re talking in. Remember that time we were in Paris you just kept forgetting that I don’t speak French?”

Oh, yes. That had been convenient, as mostly Derek was speaking aloud his frustration about how distractingly beautiful Stiles had been on that trip and they were in this romantic city having completed a mission and had a day to just wander around and explore the sights and eat delicious food, and Derek was who he wanted to be with but Stiles was just passing his time until the next mission.

Stiles pokes Derek in the chest. “I still haven’t figured out what was that word you were calling me. It’s something rude, like slang or something, because I couldn’t find jatem in any dictionary.”

Derek freezes. No, there’s no way he would know.

“Stiles, I—”

The doorbell rings.

 


 

 

Dinner is… different. Derek thought sitting down with Stiles’ family and friends would make him miss his own, and there’s a little bit of that, but mostly, it’s… nice. He meets everyone, Scott’s mother and Kira’s parents and just kind of sits back and enjoys the food and the company. A dozen conversations are happening at once, food is passed around, and Audrey is giggling, having insisted on sitting next to Derek.

It’s all very warm and inviting and Derek feels a strange new warmth blossom in him when John calls him son. He likes Scott, who’s a doctor at the local hospital, and Kira teaches mixed martial arts. Derek’s talking to Kira about backflips when Melissa interrupts him.

“You two are just so sweet together, I’m so happy to see Stiles with someone that makes him happy,” she says.

Derek realizes how close he’s drifted to Stiles subconsciously during dinner; their elbows are touching.

“How did you two meet?” Kira asks.

“Work,” Stiles says, nodding at Derek.

“The first time I saw him, I forgot my own name,” Derek says, honestly. It was true. They’d been training together at Quantico, and it was a defense class. Stiles had just taken down his sparring partner and Derek remembers it clearly; Stiles, face flushed and eyes flashing with determination. “I, um, we had worked together quite a bit over the past few years, but I had to work up my courage to ask him out.”

Stiles raises his eyebrows. “You? Really? You’re like, one of the most confident people I’ve ever met.”

“In some aspects, yes,” Derek says. “In others I… I tend to struggle. Especially with matters of the heart. I’m just happy that I… I did ask him out, and he did say yes, and we’ve been together ever since.” He takes Stiles hand, lacing their fingers together, and Stiles squeezes back.

“Happy ever after, that’s what we are,” Stiles agrees.

 


 

They end up staying a while after dinner; apparently Scott has a tradition of game night, and Derek fondly watches Stiles kick ass at Trivia Pursuit. There aren’t enough spaces to sit, but Stiles stands for most of the game, gesturing wildly.

At one point Stiles does look around for a seat, and somehow with encouragement from Scott, Stiles ends up sitting on Derek’s lap for the rest of the game.

Derek’s imagined this before, always thought it would be wildly erotic, Stiles’ body on his, but it’s just pleasant, the way he can curl his arm around Stiles’ waist and settle into the comforting weight of him. Derek forgets about the game, just breathes in the scent of Stiles’ skin, resisting the urge to bury his face in Stiles’ neck. He’s wants to savor this so he can hold onto the memory when they’re done pretending.

Stiles is chatty on the way back, excitedly talking about his friends. “I guess the only thing that sucked was that I was betrayed by my own flesh and blood, my niece just totally ignored me—”

“I’m sorry,” Derek says.

“You can’t help it, besides, I can’t grow an awesome fluffy beard like you.”

They pull into the Stilinski driveway; John’s apparently already asleep, having left dinner early.

Stiles pulls off his jacket, talking absentmindedly to Derek about his facial hair attempts, tossing it on the bannister and unbuttoning his plaid shirt as he goes. Derek follows him to the guest room, and he realizes it then, that Stiles is undressing and getting ready for bed. In front of him.

It’s not exactly new, but there’s a difference between hunkering down in a safe house for a mission and this soft domesticity, with pictures of Stiles’ childhood on the walls and the obviously handmade quilted blanket on the bed.

“I can take the floor,” Derek says.

“There’s plenty of room, and you know your neck gets all stiff whenever you don’t have proper pillow support,” Stiles says, sitting down on the bed. He’s gotten down to his undershirt, his nipples are standing at attention under the thin tee, and Derek’s throat goes dry when Stiles unbuttons his pants. “Look, dinner went great, my family thinks you’re great, the touching stuff looked cool, but I was thinking back on that kiss, and it was kind of awkward, you know? We shouldn’t be awkward. We’re an official couple, okay.”

“I’m sorry? I can try harder,” Derek says.

Stiles shoves his pants down his thighs and kicks them off, leaving him in just the tee and boxers. “We should practice.” He pats the side of the bed next to him.

“Practice?”

“Kissing. We should look comfortable with each other. Is that cool?”

“Yeah— yeah, we should do that,” Derek says nervously.

“You gonna sleep in that? You should be comfortable.”

Derek nods and strips out of his clothes, feeling oddly in the spotlight with Stiles watching behind him. He pulls a t-shirt out of his duffle bag, struggling to pull it over his shoulders. The shirt is unbearably tight— did he shrink his clothes in the laundry again?

“You okay there, dude?”

“This doesn’t fit.”

“Oh! That’s mine. You must have grabbed my bag by mistake.”

Derek finally gets dressed for bed (with a fitting t-shirt this time) and he makes his way over to the bed, heart pounding nervously. “Alright, how do you want me?”

“We should just figure it out, it’s kissing, not rocket science.” Stiles looks at him expectantly— oh, he’s waiting for Derek to make the first move?

Derek leans forward and kisses Stiles quickly, just a quick press of the lips. He misses and gets Stiles’ cheek instead, but that’s okay, it’s still Stiles and it’s kissing, so.

“What am I, your grandma?” Stiles scoffs. He grabs Derek by the shirt and pulls him forward, crashing their lips together. Stiles’ kiss is wet and clumsy, but it leaves Derek breathless. “See? How was that?”

“That was good, um, do you think we got it, or should we practice more?”

“Practice makes perfect,” Stiles says. “You need to practice taking initiative, if I’m the only one going for kisses it’s going to seem weird.”

Derek takes a deep breath and takes Stiles’ chin, leading him forward. Stiles moves at the last second so he just gets the corner of his mouth, and Stiles starts laughing. “C’mon, kiss me, you—”

Derek doesn’t need to hear the rest of the challenge, and just stops holding back and kisses Stiles like he’s always wanted to. He kisses him like it’s the last thing he’ll ever do, demanding more and more. Their tongues meet, and Stiles kisses back just as furiously. It’s wet and filthy and hot, and Stiles makes a little gasp of surprise, falling backwards onto the bed, pulling Derek with him. Derek chases the taste of Stiles’ lips, the inside of his mouth searing hot against the chilly air. Stiles is a juxtaposition of soft lips and hard body underneath him, and their bodies align, and oh, Derek’s thought about this so much.

Stiles lets out a little groan of pleasure that makes Derek want to tease that sound out of him again, and again. He feels so good in his arms, so right.

Derek’s hips move forward and the sudden friction feels good, pleasure rocking through him. He’s hard, he should move back before he makes it awkward—

Stiles is hard too.

The realization is enough of a surprise for Derek to pull back from the kiss, and they break apart with a soft gasp from Stiles, like he’s aching for more. Stiles’ pupils are blown, dark and wide with want, and he looks up at Derek, an unanswered question hanging in the air.

Derek takes a moment to appreciate how lovely Stiles looks like this; face flushed and eyes a little glazed over, looking right back at Derek in a fond dazedness.

He should say something, tell Stiles he wants this for real, wants to kiss him and touch him and have it all be real—

“Thanks, that was…that was good,” Stiles mutters. “Good practice, Derek. I’m gonna— I’m gonna brush my teeth.”

Stiles scrambles off the bed in a hurry and dashes to the bathroom; the door shuts with a finite thump.

Derek exhales, flopping back on the bed, trying to calm down his racing heart.

What was he thinking? He almost said something that could have ruined their whole partnership. It’s not real. It’s just a cover.

 


 

Derek had already gotten under the covers and pretended to be asleep by the time Stiles finished in the bathroom. He sleeps awkwardly, tense, careful to stay on his side of the bed, listening to Stiles’ breathing. It’s a far cry from how close they were before but surely there’s no need for practice spooning, right?

He’s hyperaware of the heat of Stiles’ body, the way it radiates from his back, and a few times Stiles will shuffle backwards, his ass rubbing up against Derek’s. It’s a wonder Derek manages to sleep at all.

He wakes up well before dawn, getting dressed quickly so he doesn’t have the temptation to linger or watch Stiles sleep.

Derek heads downstairs, intending to quietly make a cup of coffee, and he runs into John in the kitchen.

“Morning,” John says. “I thought you boys would sleep in.”

Derek shakes his head. “I’ve always been early to rise,” he says, accepting the cup of coffee John hands him.

John chuckles. “Must be interesting, then. I remember having to drag Stiles out of bed to get him to school on time.”

“Yeah, we… we make do,” Derek manages. He nods at the tackle box on the table. “You going fishing?”

“Figured I wouldn’t be able to get Stiles to join me out here now that he’s brought his boyfriend, but I wanted to make good use of that hole in the ice,” John says.

“I love fishing,” Derek says. “You guys get rainbow trout up here?”

John beams.

And this is how Derek finds himself sitting in a foldout chair in the chilly morning air, a thermos of hot coffee in his hand, watching a line in the water and having conversation with John. Derek finds himself talking about how he used to fish with his father before he passed, and John pats him gently on the shoulder.

They don’t speak for a long while, but they don’t have to.

 


 

The sun is shining by the time Stiles waddles towards them, bundled up in a fluffy red parka. John and Derek have caught a cooler full of fish, and Derek is laughing about a story about Stiles as a kid. It’s fun to think that the ruthlessly efficient ALPHA agent once ran around dressed as Batman for an entire month, attempting to preserve the neighborhood justice.

It’s incredibly funny now to see Stiles walk towards them, breath billowing out in a cloud in front of him. He tugs his scarf down, and Derek’s amused to see Stiles’ cheeks are almost as red as the parka.

“This isn’t fair,” Stiles says. “You are totally welcome to go freeze at ass-o-clock in the morning, but why did you take Derek with you?”

“I wanted to come,” Derek says. “I like fishing, and your dad has been telling me all these great stories about you, Batman.”

Stiles scowls. “Well, the heat is busted in the house, and I woke up freezing. Thanks a lot.”

John throws up his hands. “I don’t need to be here for this discussion,” he says, grabbing the cooler of fish. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“Fishing, really?” Stiles asks as soon as his dad is out of earshot.

“It’s fun. Relaxing,” Derek says, nodding at the view. The forest stretches out beyond the frozen lake, a quiet sort of beauty.

Stiles throws his hood off his head, staring out at the lake. His cheeks are flushed with exertion, and he’s breathing heavily.

He’s beautiful as well. Derek finds himself appreciating the way snow is melting on Stiles’ eyelashes, hint of the curve of his neck underneath the scarf; he tries to ignore the image in his head of pulling Stiles into his arms to warm him up.  

It wouldn’t do to fantasize about these silly domestic things with Stiles; they’re not together, they’re playing a part for Stiles’ friends and family.

“So, last night,” Stiles says, looking carefully at the lake and not at Derek. “Um, so, we should talk about that. I, um, I got a little—”

Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” starts singing insistently from Stiles’ pocket, and Stiles holds up his hand, going for his phone with the other, yanking off his gloves and thumbing at the screen. “Hello? Scotty?”

“Uncle Stiles!” Derek can hear little Audrey’s voice, resonating loudly through the still forest.

“Oh, hey Audrey, did you ask your dad if you could talk to me? You open your presents finally? You missed me already? I’m your favorite uncle, right? I mean, your mom and dad don’t have any other brothers or sisters and I—”

“I wanna talk to Uncle Derek!”

Stiles glares at Derek and holds out the phone. “It’s for you,” he says tonelessly.

“Uh, hi Audrey,” Derek says, faltering a little under Stiles’ annoyed stare.

“Mr. Fizzles and Mrs. Hufflebottom and me are inviting you for a tea party again,” Audrey says excitedly. Derek can hear talking in the background— Scott, probably. “And grownup lunch. But the tea party is more important. Will you come?”

“Don’t forget to ask Uncle Stiles,” Scott says in the background.

“Uncle Stiles can come too,” Audrey says. “But he doesn’t have a fluffy beard.”

Scott is laughing, and then he takes the phone. “Sorry about that, dude, she’s just really into the fluffy things right now. The two of you are welcome to come over.”

“Why hasn’t she opened my present, Scotty?” Stiles insists, crowding into Derek’s space and speaking into the phone. “You said dinosaurs were cool, I got her this mini-paleontologist kit and a bunch of different toys she just needs to unwrap it, and the wrapping paper is amazing too…”

“She’ll open them! She’s easily distracted, doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you.”

“Your kid hates me,” Stiles whines. “And loves Derek, it’s not fair. Derek isn’t even her uncle!”

“Well, when you guys get married he will be,” Scott says brightly. “Look, just come over. I had to stop by the bank but I’ll be home in a bit. Kira says she made bibimbap, your favorite—  oh, shit, no—”

The sudden change in tone sends chills down Derek’s spine, and Stiles goes rigid. “Scott! Scott? What’s happening? Are you okay?”

“Everyone on the floor, phones in the bag,” a male voice says in the distance, barely audible across the line, but the intention is clear.

“It’s a robbery,” Derek says, horrified. Plan, plan, they need a plan, these are the people that Stiles— and now Derek— cares about. “Did you drive to the trailhead?”

“Yeah, let’s go,” Stiles says, and the two of them set off at a run. Stiles puts the phone on speaker, and there’s a huge scuffling noise, like the phone has hit the floor. It’s still recording, so Derek assumes Scott must have dropped the phone somewhere instead of giving it to the robbers.

“Where’s Scott’s bank?”

“National Trust on Main,” Stiles says. “Give me your phone.” He makes another call, short and succinct. “Dad, there’s an ongoing robbery on Main— yeah, yeah— okay, Scott and Audrey are there— yeah, fuck— no, Dad, I understand it’s a hostage situation and— what? You have an expert coming in? Dad— okay, okay, bye.”

The Jeep is waiting for them, and they head down the road to town immediately. There’s high tension in the car, and Stiles is clearly rattled, more so than Derek has ever seen on any mission. He takes Stiles’ hand and squeezes it. “It’s going to be okay,” Derek says.

Stiles bites his lip and nods.

A gunshot.

It’s very distinctly a gunshot and nothing else, and there’s a huge clamor coming from the phone. Stiles pales.

“Next person to play hero won’t be getting shot in the leg, now stay quiet!” the robber says. A different voice. So at least two men.

“Please, just let me help him, I’m a doctor— I need to stop the bleeding, please—”

Stiles exhales in visible relief, but his grip doesn’t relax at all. If anything, he holds on tighter.

The National Trust parking lot already is filled with a few police cruisers marked with COUNTY SHERIFF. John is pacing in uniform, speaking into a walkie talkie, lines of worry on his face.

“Stiles, I thought I told you to go home, we don’t need more civilians on the scene. We’ve got this handled,” John says crossly.

“Right,” Stiles says, getting out of the car.

Derek follows suit, letting the door slam shut and wastes no time going to the back of the Jeep, where all the unpacked tactical gear is still sitting in the trunk. He digs around in one of his duffel bags until he finds the collection of ID badges— he grabs his FBI one, and breathes a sigh of relief that he’s used to packing for Stiles too because Stiles’ badges are here as well. Derek pulls it out and joins Stiles.

“We have a FBI specialist on hostage situations on their way, look, this is a delicate situation. The suspects have explosives and have already wounded one man—”

“Derek! Great timing,” Stiles says, plucking the badges out of his hand and flipping them open. He hands them to John, who stares at them wordlessly. “I’m your specialist now. This is my scene, and we’re going to handle it and get everyone out of there safe. Now let me see what you’ve got. Ah, Parrish, thank you…”

Stiles walks off with Parrish, looking over blueprints and talking a mile-a-minute about all the information they’ve gathered so far. He’s in planning mode, all focused on the task, eyes glittering with determination.

John hands Derek’s badge back to him, but he lingers on Stiles’. “My boy… an FBI agent,” he says proudly, fingers tracing the name on the badge. “Wrecezionskoski.” There’s a sad smile of recollection on John’s face. “That was my wife’s last name. I’m guessing he has enough clearance to pick what name goes on the badge and he…”

“She’d be honored, sir,” Derek says. “Stiles is the best agent I’ve ever worked with. I’m lucky to have him as a partner.”

“Derek! Need you over here!” Stiles calls.

Derek nods at John and hurries off.

 


 

Stiles’ plan is simple; they get Stiles and Parrish into EMT uniforms, since the suspects have agreed to send out the injured man as well as the children. Derek is on the roof with the strike team, who also happen to be actual FBI agents. They seemed a bit perturbed about Stiles and Derek on the team until Derek flashed another badge at the specialist, a weary looking man named Harris, and mentioned Project ALPHA, and that was all that was needed for their cooperation. For an agency that technically doesn’t exist, they’ve got a lot of pull.

Derek has an earpiece, listening directly to Stiles’ voice as he enters the bank. They’re waiting on the signal by the open sunroof, all anchored in. It’s reassuring to hear Stiles talk, to know he’s okay, and Stiles and Parrish quickly get the injured man on a stretcher, wheeling him outside.

“Alright, little lady, come with me, I’ll make sure you’re safe,” Stiles says.

“What about Daddy?” Audrey wails, her distress coming over the comm line loud and clear.

“We’ll have him right out after we talk to these gentlemen, okay?”

“Please, Uncle Stiles, can’t we all come with you?”

“Uncle, she said uncle—” Derek says, signaling to his team.

He tosses his rope through the open sunroof, and five identical ropes join his, zipping through the air. The rope hasn’t even hit the ground yet before Derek is already rappelling down. In a second he’s unclipped and heading forward with his gun aimed.

The whole thing is over in five minutes; the strike team apprehends all the suspects and no one even fires a weapon— Stiles delivers a roundhouse kick to the ringleader when he attempted to grab Audrey for a shield, and that’s the end of it.  They’re processing all the suspects now, who were after some map of the telluric currents in the vault. Derek has no idea why that’s supposed to be valuable, but collectors are weird. He’s immensely glad there weren’t more injuries.

Audrey is sitting in Stiles’ lap, nodding quietly as they talk to John about the events. The other hostages are being interviewed, and no one has injuries other than mild dehydration and a few cramps from laying on the floor.

Scott is sitting in the back of an ambulance, wearing a shock blanket and talking to the EMTs. “So, you and Stiles are both FBI, huh?” he says casually, raising his eyebrows.

“Yeah,” Derek admits. It’s as close of an answer he’s ready to give, anyways.

Scott laughs quietly, looking over at Stiles, who is letting Audrey play with his badge. “Look like Audrey has a new hero. Guess your fluffy beard isn’t cool enough,” he says with a smile.

“You’re taking the news rather well,” Derek says.

Scott shrugs. “Well, I kinda figured Stiles wasn’t an IT manager awhile ago. He traveled way too much, even for someone who had to train others, and he was always really vague about what he was doing and never seemed up for us to visit him in New York. I was pretty sure he was hand-picked for Quantico right out of college. I’m not too hard pressed about the need to keep it in the dark; after all, it’s a ‘the less we know the safer we are’ kinda deal, isn’t it?”

Derek nods.

They stand in silence for a bit, companionably drinking water, watching people arrive and hug their loved ones. Kira rushes through the crowd, picking up Audrey in a tight embrace and spinning her before setting her down. Stiles points her towards Scott and she rushes forward, kissing Scott with tearful relief.

Derek’s heart aches a little at how much love they’re expressing; he and Stiles have gotten out of many a life threatening situation and all Derek could ever do is awkwardly hug Stiles, but he’s never been able to tell him.

Kira hugs Derek, too, wiping her eyes. “Thank you so much for your help. I’m just glad everyone’s going to be okay. And you’re all still welcome for lunch— well, dinner, now.”

“You and Audrey go on ahead, I’ll follow in a bit,” Scott says, giving her a hug.

They watch as Audrey toddles over to Stiles and hugs him tight around the legs once more before leaving with Kira.

Derek chuckles. “She’s a good kid.”

“You want some of your own?” Scott asks.

Derek exhales. He’s thought about it, yeah, would like it someday, but that someday always coincided with a relationship. A relationship he doesn’t have. “I would like kids one day,” he says honestly. “Family. It… it would be nice.”

Scott nods. “Good to think about. Then again, with what you both do I get why it’s hard to discuss. I mean, the worry alone for your partner, let alone your kid? That must suck. What about your folks? They know what you do?”

The question is kind, just Scott being curious and making conversation, but it hurts Derek all the same.

“They’re all dead,” Derek says softly.

Scott takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry.” He stands up and hugs Derek, a sincere embrace of comfort. “Well, you’ve got us now.” Scott grins as they break apart, and he punches Derek playfully in the shoulder. “Bro-in-law.”

Derek blinks. “Actually, Stiles and I aren’t really dating. I thought he was coming to Beacon Hills for a mission, and as partners I wanted to support him and John mistook us for being in a relationship. I— Stiles didn’t want to disappoint him. I didn’t want to disappoint Stiles. We aren’t together.”

Scott listens to all of this with an increasingly horrified expression. “You aren’t— what— STILES!!”

Stiles ambles over, handing Derek a clipboard. Great, paperwork for later. Stiles looks good, though, happy and relieved the ordeal is over. “Hey, bro. Glad you all are okay.”

“What’s this about you and Derek not being together?!”

Stiles’ mouth drops open. “Dude, really? I thought you’d be mad at me for not telling you about the agent thing, but really?”

Scott pokes Stiles in the chest. “I figured that shit out years ago, bro. What I don’t get is why you’re pretending to date someone that you— “

Stiles makes a high pitched panicked noise, and Scott immediately stops talking. They stare at each other, silent conversation taking place with just eyebrows and lip twitches.

“I was gonna, but—”

“C’mon, bro, you should just—” Scott pleads.

“Fine! I’ll do it!” Stiles exclaims, throwing his hands up.

“I’ll see you both at dinner,” Scott says with a pleased smile, walking off.

“So… what’s happening?”

“C’mon,” Stiles mumbles. “Not doing this here.”

They find themselves back at the Jeep, and Stiles silently starts the engine. They drive in the direction of Scott’s house, and then Stiles makes a sharp turn and heads towards the woods. Stiles drives them up and then parks at a lookout, overviewing the town at the foot of the mountains below. Snow has started falling again, and the whole town looks like a Christmas card.

It is also very romantic and picturesque. The kind of place where people go to make out. Stiles gets out of the Jeep and starts pacing, his footsteps crunching in the snow. Derek has no idea what is going on. Maybe it’s part of that show-Derek-the-town thing. The view is nice, but they can’t be here to… to make out.

Maybe the view is to soften the blow of what Stiles is about to say.

“So I… when I asked you to pretend to be my boyfriend, I thought that it’d be a good idea, because there’d be no way you’d ever be interested in me, and I’ve been in love with you for forever. Probably since training. Am in love with you, but I can work on that.” Stiles wrings his hands together and looks at Derek nervously.

Derek is still trying to process this information. Stiles is in love with him. It seems almost too good to be true, but it is.

Stiles takes Derek’s silence and starts babbling to fill it. “And I’m really sorry about the practice kissing thing, I um, I got excited at the end and I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable. I was gonna tell you earlier today, actually, that we shouldn’t do the fake boyfriend thing anymore, because my feelings were making it weird, and I did think that it was okay at first, like make my dad happy but really I was starting to like it too much, holding your hand and kissing you and everything.”

“I agree,” Derek says abruptly.

“You do?”

“Yeah, we shouldn’t do the fake boyfriend thing anymore. What we should do is tomorrow night, we should go out to dinner.”

Stiles stares at him. “You— you’re asking me out.”

Derek nods. “I’ve been trying to ask you out for a long time, Stiles. You see, I’m rather in love with you too.”

“Oh, good,” Stiles says, grabbing Derek by the shirt and kissing him.

It’s nothing like the chaste quickness of their first kiss or the desperate hunger of their second; this one is measured and slow, the two of them taking their time. Stiles’ mouth is hot against the cold air around him, and Derek just wants to lose himself in it.

They fall backwards into the snow, not even bothering to stop kissing. Stiles is laughing, a bright delighted sound and it’s all for Derek, this sunny infectious joy, and he’s laughing too. There’s snow melting uncomfortably in his collar and his ass is getting cold but he’s in this snowbank with Stiles and nothing else matters.

 


 

Derek lingers in the hallway, adjusting his tie. He’s a little nervous, waiting outside Stiles’ door. He nods at his reflection in the mirror, and he runs a hand through his hair.

“You look great, son,” John says, patting him on the shoulder. “You bring him a corsage?”

“Was I supposed to?” Derek wonders if he has time to run down to the store and get Stiles flowers. Flowers! Why didn’t he think about that before?

John laughs. “Just making fun of you, kid.”

Stiles’ voice follows them down the hallway. “It’s not prom, Dad, please stop teasing Derek.”

Derek turns around and swallows. Stiles looks good, hair slightly gelled back and wearing a ridiculous red suit that looks amazing on him. “Hi,” is all he can manage.

“Hi,” Stiles says back, almost shy.

“Bye,” John says, chuckling.

Stiles rolls his eyes. “Real funny, Dad,” he says, walking past John and eyeing Derek appreciatively.

“Oh, you want funny? I can do that. Derek, I want Stiles home by eleven, and—”

“Dad!”

Stiles nearly all but pushes Derek out the door, and they’re in good spirits when they get in the Jeep. “Home by eleven, really,” Stiles says, snorting. “As if I’m not a grown-ass man who wants to go out and spend quality time with his new boyfriend, and by quality time I mean after dinner we’re gonna go up to Lookout Point and really—”

“I reserved us a hotel room,” Derek says, pulling the key out of his wallet. “Just in case you wanted to, after dinner.”

Stiles’ eyes widen. “Forget dinner, I’m a dessert first kind of guy!”

Derek’s always been the guy with a plan, but he thinks sometimes it’s nice to go a little out of order. “Yeah, me too,” he says with a smile.

Stiles grins. “I can’t believe we took this long to get our act together. Do you remember when we were in Paris? All that romantic scenery and food and hotels we shared and we spent it arguing and you making fun of me in French? Imagine if we were together then, it could have been amazing.”

“I wasn’t making fun of you in French.”

“You were too!” Stiles makes a face. “It was jatem this and jatem that and I had no idea what you were saying but I bet it was about my face. And my hat choices. I stand by that beret, you know.”

“Stiles,” Derek says. “Je t’aime. I love you.”

“Oh. Oh,” Stiles realizes. “That was— that was so long ago, Derek. I can’t believe you, we could have—” he sighs, pulling Derek in close for a kiss.

Derek closes his eyes and relaxes, enjoying the moment.

“Why are you two still in the driveway?” John asks from the window.

They burst into laughter. Stiles turns the engine on and waves. “We’re leaving, we’re leaving. “It’s dessert time,” he says, winking at Derek.

Yeah, going out of order is definitely good.