Stiles had once thought that he would never live to graduate high school. With bad guys popping up out of the woodwork every time they put the previous bad guy down, he figured that he was going to be cut down before he had that chance. He had thought that he would die a painful death in the dark caverns of Eichen House, the Nogitsune or Theo or the Beast finally taking his will to live away. He had thought that there was no way that he got to live happily ever after, not after the life they had led since sophomore year of high school. He had thought that he didn’t deserve to. He was the reason that Scott had been bitten, and the reason that Erica, Boyd, Allison were dead. If they hadn’t gone out that night into the Preserve looking for Laura Hale’s body, it wouldn’t have led to so much evil flocking to Beacon Hills.
Without all that, though, he wouldn’t be where he was, 25 years old with a Master’s degree and a steady job working in his field, living with his boyfriend and their dog in a nice apartment together. He might have been happy, graduating high school with only Scott as a friend, moving to college and whatever came after that. But the life that he had led had led him to Derek Hale.
He never would have met and fallen in love with the surly sour wolf if he hadn’t dragged Scott out that night.
“Honey, I’m home,” Stiles called, shutting the door to their apartment and dropping his work bag onto the desk beside it. “Derek?”
Nacho was his only response as the dog came tearing through the living room at him, jumping up to set his big paws right on Stiles’ chest.
“Hey bud. Where’s your other dad, huh? He should be home by now.”
He scratched behind Nacho’s ridiculously large ears. Nacho was a pit bull-Saint Bernard mix that had been brought to Deaton and Scott’s clinic after being rescued about a year before. He had been extremely dehydrated, malnourished, and clearly had been beaten and neglected in his life. After they had cleared him of any health issues, they decided to put him up for adoption. Except, they didn’t have the facilities at the time to keep him at the clinic. Derek and Stiles had agreed to take Nacho home to foster him while Scott tried to find him a home, and after about three months of waiting for a forever home, Stiles had convinced Derek to adopt him.
“You’re such a good boy. Come on, I think it’s dinner time for you.”
He pushed Nacho to the ground gently and kicked off his shoes underneath the desk by the door. They lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment in the downtown of Beacon Hills, all of their stuff crammed into the small space. It was their own, though, small or not.
He led Nacho into the kitchen and laughed.
Derek, his big, scary, scruffy werewolf of a boyfriend, was covered in flour as he kneaded bread dough by hand. There was flour in his beard, and all over his signature Henley.
“Oh my god,” he said, pressing a hand into his stomach as he giggled. “You are so cute.”
“You weren’t supposed to be home yet,” Derek said in defense, holding up doughy hands. “I was gonna-”
“You’re making me a surprise dinner.”
Stiles strode around the counter and took his boyfriend by his floury beard, pulling him into a kiss. His lips tasted like sharp cheddar cheese.
“You’re making mac and cheese,” Stiles crowed. “You never make mac and cheese. You’re always so-”
“It clogs your arteries,” Derek replied. “But it’s a special occasion.”
“What is? Today?”
“Mmmm,” he hummed. “Go get changed. I think there’s a Mets game on.”
“What is this all about?”
“You’ll see,” Derek muttered. He turned Stiles with his floury hands, pushed him away, and smacked his ass playfully. “Go relax. We’ll talk when dinner’s done.”
Stiles retreated into the living room, shrugging off his coat while Nacho followed, butt wiggling excitedly as he expected to be pet. He led them into the bedroom where he peeled off his dress shirt and slacks, tossing them into their hamper. He changed into a pair of Derek’s sweatpants- which he knew drove Derek crazy- and an old lacrosse warm-up, before heading out into the living room again. He flopped on their couch, switched the television on, and found the Mets game.
This was unexpected, coming home to Derek making Stiles’ favorite meal and being diverted to the living room for a Mets game.
Stiles was deliriously happy, though.
It was just all out of nowhere, although not unwelcome. He didn’t know Derek to be the surprise date kind of boyfriend, which was okay. Stiles didn’t need big romantic gestures, not when Derek crawled into bed with him every night. He got Derek Hale, the hottest, softest man in all of Beacon Hills, to come home to.
The Mets were, unsurprisingly, down by two in the bottom of the eighth when Derek came swinging out of the kitchen with two bowls of steaming mac and cheese and a glass of wine for each of them.
“Oh, and you broke into the wine,” Stiles cooed as Derek set the bowls on the coffee table in front of Stiles. “It must be a special occasion.”
“Do I have to have a reason to break out the wine for my favorite person?”
“No,” Stiles said. “But I suspect you have an ulterior motive anyway.”
Derek grinned, and Stiles’ heart melted.
“I would never,” he murmured, moving in to kiss Stiles gently. “Now come down here and eat with me.”
“I’ll eat something, alright,” Stiles replied, sliding into the spot between the table and the couch next to Derek.
“I’m joking. Partially.”
“Eat your food, you dork.”
Stiles picked up his fork and bumped into Derek playfully. He took a bite and moaned around it. Mac and cheese was something his mother used to make when he was little, when Stiles was upset, when the Sheriff- then just a deputy- was working too long hours and Stiles was missing his father. It was comforting, and it made an easy meal to make and to eat when he was working with a new family or before he had graduated and he was studying late into the night. Stiles remembered sitting at the kitchen table, watching his mother hum as she chopped the cheese and stirred the boiling pasta. Every time he had mac and cheese, really good mac and cheese, it transported him back to that seat while he watched his mother cook. He’d been trying to perfect her recipe since she had died, but it was never quite right.
“How did you figure it out?” he asked after finishing his first bite. “This is exactly-”
“I did what you didn’t think to do.”
“I asked your dad.”
“So it’s good?”
“It’s perfect. It’s more than perfect. This is exactly how Mom used to make it.”
Derek tried to hide a pleased smile by taking a bite, but Stiles could see the small blush in his cheeks and the crinkle in his eyes. They’d been together long enough that Derek couldn’t hide from Stiles.
“So, what is my favorite bottle of wine and my favorite meal leading to? Are you- Are you going to propose? Is that what this is?”
“Do you want me to propose?” Derek asked, eyes down. He flicked his gaze cautiously to Stiles.
“I don’t- Are you?”
“Only if you say yes.”
“Stiles, I love you. I want to live the rest of my life with you. I want to adopt dogs with you and live in a big house with all of you. I want to have dinner ready for you when you get home, and I want to surprise you when you’ve had a long week. I don’t want to be away from you. I want to be here for you to come home to, and if that includes you agreeing to marry me, then yes, I am asking you to marry me. But we don’t have to get married to be happy together. I’m only asking if you want i-”
Derek’s eyebrows expressed the surprise that the rest of his face didn’t.
Stiles pushed the coffee table away and then climbed up into his lap. He pressed his hands flat against Derek’s cheeks, pursing his lips as Stiles kissed him.
“I absolutely want all of that. I want to adopt every dog and have a big house with you and have dinners with you and, and, just all of it. I want you, whatever way you will let me have you.”
Derek kissed him back, pushing Stiles’ hands of his cheeks and moving them down into their laps.
“There’s a ring, right?” Stiles asked, pulling away.
“Yeah, it’s,” Derek paused to wriggle his hand into his jeans and then back out. He opened his palm up and showed Stiles a sleek, silver band. “It’s not much. I didn’t want to get you anything flashy.”
“It’s perfect,” Stiles mumbled. “You had better put that ring on my finger right now.”
Derek grinned and took Stiles’ left hand, and slid the ring down his finger. It fit perfectly. Stiles admired it, turning it so it caught the light in all the right ways.
“Wait,” Stiles said, looking up. “You asked my dad for the recipe.”
“Did you tell him what you needed the recipe for?”
“Derek Hale, did you ask my dad for permission to marry me? I am not some maiden, you know!”
He hit Derek in the chest.
“I know, it’s just tradition.”
“Werewolves, you know, territorial creatures. They like to stake a claim on what’s theirs, and if you intend on taking someone else’s family as your own family, you need to ask their permission.”
“I know. It’s just a thing. I’m sorry if it offends you.”
Stiles laughed, using Derek’s shoulders as an anchor.
“It doesn’t offend me, Derek. It’s cute as fuck. You and your werewolf manners, you’re such a gentleman. Meanwhile, I am fully human and I was raised by wolves.”
He laughed, tossing his chin up as he thought about it.
“I never would’ve thought about asking your family for their permission to take your hand in marriage, not once.”
“Well, I don’t have a lot of family to ask.”
“Who would I ask?”
“I have to ask Scott to marry you?” Stiles asked. “He’s going to laugh in my face.”
“Stiles, you don’t have to ask anyone-”
“I am going to, you know I am.”
“Stiles Stilinski, you will not.”
“Oh, now it’s a challenge.”
Derek picked Stiles up easily from his lap and dumped him onto the floor.
“Eat your food. There’s dessert waiting for you.”
“Is the dessert you in bed? If not, can we add that to the menu?”
“I’m sure the chef wouldn’t mind,” Derek grinned. “Eat your mac and cheese, Stiles.”