The Sheriff sighs, deep and long suffering: Stiles has his mother's flare for dramatics. As if to prove a point, the boy sniffles pathetically, swiping at his eyes and nose with a sleeve. His shoulders are set high up around his ears, defensive, and he's tense all over.
He's still. Stiles is rarely still.He's obviously more cut up about this than John first thought.
So he puts a hand on the boy's shoulder; a silent plea to stop, to remember. Sure enough, Stiles looks up and meets his eyes. Just. His thigh twitches. "It's not the end of the world, son." John says simply, eyebrow raised, mouth a thin line. It's the face he uses when Stiles is being...difficult. The boy is strong, but he has to be pulled by the ear out of his fear first.
"Feels like." the boy replies, petulant, yet his leg begins to jitter all the same. He knows there's some sort of lecture coming on, is well accustomed, and God knows John himself is particularly fluent in these sort of talks.
"Well, if it is, I don't think I mind." he shrugs, jostling Stiles a little where they've been pressed together shoulder to knee to ankle for a little over twenty minutes.
"What do you mean?" Stiles' brow furrows as he twists his upper body to face his father head on, confronting. But his body betrays his nervousness, right leg twitching again, and not for the first time this month does John think they should do something about that. Claudia isn't so sure. She likes his differences even if Stiles himself - and admittedly his father too - sees them as somewhat of a hindrance. She got all spiritual about it. It was a whole big thing. The supernatural world still feels brand new to him, so what.
"Well, the sun is still shining isn't it?" he forces himself to go on, fighting through the urge to just pull his son into him and never let him go again, never ever let him hurt. But he knows that wouldn't be right: he can't be protected forever. If anything, John is awed by the kid's resilience, his ability to keep going. He's so much stronger than he believes.
"Yeah? So?" And there again is the petulant child, slamming his previous point home. He's so young, has got so much ahead of him.
John stifles a laugh at the expression on his face.
It drives him nuts that there could be two of them in the world at the same time: both so passionate and at times a little petty and naive, but always so ready, so willing to give away their love.
"And the birds are still singing?" John continues, sensing he's losing his point, losing Stiles, his body bubbling and betraying his anxiousness to be anywhere but here, right here where his father is pulling him from a slump that could otherwise last days. Maybe weeks. It's been known to happen.
John raises an eyebrow again, daring, and Stiles' mouth clamps shut. Probably, definitely, not for good. "And we're all still breathing." he states, leaving no room for back chat.
Stiles brow furrows and he nods once, curt, and John thinks maybe- "Course. But-" Figures. Stiles has an answer for everything and he's never said no to a dare.
"But nothing, Stiles. Nothing at all. Scott may be your first love, heck he may even be your true love, but as long as the world is still turning, you'll get a second chance."
"At true love?" And he's suddenly so hopeful, all the pouting stopped, his face smoothing out into something John can handle a little better.
"Kid, you're fourteen years old. Just give it time." John says, and Stiles almost looks forlorn again, smile weakening, and how does his face do that? Jesus. Hormones.
"You really think so?"
"I know so, kid." he replies, smiling, pulls his boy's head to his shoulder and ruffles his hair.
Stiles is still for all of a millisecond, drinking in the comfort before he shoots up abruptly, barely avoids cracking John in the damn jaw.
"Are you saying you don't love Mom anymore?"
"Wha-Stiles! I thought you were supposed to be smart," and at Stiles' accusatory eyebrow - seriously, if this kid is Claudia's clone, he is John's mirror - "That's a story for another day."
Stiles just splutters, throws his arms out and stands up, loses his balance and falls back down, only to stand up again. "Dad!"
They turn in unison to face the source of the new, calmer voice, her steps having been so light they hadn't noticed until she was two feet away.
Claudia closes the gap, puts a hand on John's shoulder and a kiss on Stiles' forehead. "Kochanie, I thought you might wanna help me bake the cookies for the party later." she says into his hair. And that. That gets Stiles' undivided attention. His eyes widen and his mouth drops open.
"Mom! You're baking? dobry Boże," and he's off into the kitchen like a shot, babbling and rambling and berating, all in Polish, arms windmilling. Claudia giggles, grips John by the chin and kisses him square on the mouth before going to join Stiles, shouting "Przepraszam! Talia asked me and you know I can never say no to a Hale!", throwing a wink and a kiss over her shoulder as she goes.
That makes two of you, John thinks, grinning and settling back into the couch, the various indignant squawks and tongue lashings and howls of laughter -as is customary for them whenever Claudia attempts anything in the kitchen - music to his ears.
He doesn't even have the sense to be embarrassed anymore as he carefully applies one last little blob of icing to the cookie, having long since passed that stage with his mother. And his father? Sensibly, he has steered well clear of the shenanigans. He did appear in the doorway once, intrigued by the smell of the resin Stiles was using to make The Best Present Ever. But otherwise, nothing.
His mother however, has been insufferable since he suggested that maybe his dad might have been right. He heavily emphasised the maybe but that didn't stop her from squirming and squealing in glee.
He's making it his new mission to get over Scott McCall and his mother is...well. Right now, she's hovering, Cheshire Cat grin plastered all over her face, practically buzzing. She had told him that he wasn't in love with Scott, but someone else, someone not as close to home. She was being very cryptic, very Romanov fortune teller. But he figured it out. And he had realised she was probably right. She had a knack for those things, after all.
So now this.
"Sorry. Sorry, it's just so cute!" He narrows his eyes at her over his shoulder, and she snakes her arms around his middle for a squeeze before she backs off, grinning impossibly wider.
He's hyper aware of her as he surveys both the cookie and the other present, checking for imperfections, swiping a finger through a stray piece of icing on the counter. She's bumbling round, humming along to Van Morrison, when he sees her suddenly stop, evidently having found what she was looking for up on a shelf.
She squeals again before composing herself and spinning to face him, handing him a plain white wooden box and a navy blue ribbon. On the lid, in indigo ink and speckled with white glitter to look like stars, is a name in a pretty cursive calligraphy. When he opens it, it is lined with velvet in the same colour as the ribbon, with a shallow, latched compartment built into the lid.
In short, it's brilliant.
"So this is what you snuck off to do earlier!" She shares a look with him; a perfectly manicured hand coming to his jaw, her thumb stroking over the apple of his cheek, her smile softer and warmer now. He bites his lip before delving into his back pocket for the note he wrote out while she was gone, and places it in the little compartment. He places the paperweight (a.k.a The Best Present Ever) in the box, and takes a moment to admire their joint handiwork before putting the cookie in a gift bag and looking over to her.
Just as fast as the manic smile had gone, it reappears and his mother lets out another little squeal under her breath, hands clamped tight over her mouth as he ties the ribbon around the box. And he can only smirk at her, "Mom!" he's just as excited after all.
"Oh baby, he'll love it."
"I hope so." She reaches out for his arm and bodily pulls him to her chest, sighing happily, stroking through his hair.
"If I know Derek Hale, he'll about burst when he sees it."
The party is...well. To say they had a house full would probably be an understatement. Like of the entire century. And Derek wouldn't usually mind, it's just that. It's just that he hasn't seen Stiles. He's seen Melissa and Scott and Lydia and Danny and Isaac and his entire extended family and everybody else except the one person he wants to see. He's a little agitated. A Lot Agitated. With capitals.
Stiles is here though. Somewhere. The overpowering smell of anxiety singes his nostrils, but it's soothed with the tangy raspberry and warm honey that sits just underneath, undeniably Stiles. He's here, he's close. Derek's nose twitches and the ears of his wolf prick up, listening, zeroing in. The scent gets stronger and Derek's own nerves lessen a little.
He's busy sifting through the multitudes of heartbeats and voices, navigating through various friends and family members, getting pulled into hugs and kisses and coos from all directions, so he doesn't really notice until it's a little too late. Until he's sprawled out in the dead centre of the room, chest to chest with Stiles.
First class fucking idiot, Derek Orion Hale, everybody.
"You're not an idiot. But you are heavy." When he looks at Stiles, he is squinting and his face is a little pink. And now his hands are on his chest and they are pushing him o-
"Oh. Right, yeah. Sorry." Derek scrambles up, dusts himself off, looking down at Stiles who is still lying on the floor. The little shit. Derek holds out a hand with a put upon sigh, wrapping his fingers firmly around Stiles' wrist. Stiles has the audacity to smirk before Derek yanks him up so powerfully that the two collide again, Derek's hand coming to the small of Stiles' back to steady them. For a moment, they stare at each other.
"Derek! At least take him to your bedroom before you jump him!" Theron shouts, cackling as he comes to stand beside them. Without so much as a glance away, Derek shoves him and he stumbles. But of course-
"Yeah dude!" Quinn says with a curt nod, arm wrapping around his twin's shoulder, effectively saving him from falling. "Behave!" he exclaims, echoing their mother when Derek had pinned them both down earlier in this very spot. Purposefully.
They were attempting to make a scene then, and they're doing it again now.
Nobody seems to take any notice, aside from a few amused side-eyes, thank God. But then Laura is sauntering over, shit eating grin plastered all over her face like some creepy, weird, serial killer parody.
"Oh Der," she says simply, shaking her head as she ushers the twins away with a hand on each of their shoulders. Quinn turns and winks, Theron clicks his tongue and finger guns. They are ridiculous and Derek hates them. His face is now officially hotter than the sun.
It's quiet again for a second as he watches his three siblings trying to escape the grasps of various older family members and largely failing. Cora, he notices, sitting on a worktop swinging her legs, had been more successful.
Stiles? Oh. And with that he's pulled right back to why he's so embarrassed in the first place. "Oh. Right." He scrambles back, letting go of Stiles and standing a respectable distance, plastering a grin on his face. "Hey." Stiles grins back, rubs his shoulder a little with a wince.
"You totally took me down dude." he says, snorting at Derek's expression of concern before he waves it off and continues. "I missed you at school today." Stiles flushes all the way down his throat and Derek has to look away.
"Yeah. Sorry about- and I stayed home to help decorate. I uh - I made the banners." he responds, referring to the crudely cut out hearts that are stringed along all four walls, shoving his hands in his pockets, not trusting them to not reach out and just...touch.
"Really?" He asks, "They're cool."
"Thanks." Now it's Derek's turn to blush. He can hear the twins sniggering in the corner, their mother scolding them, and he looks up just in time to see her cuff the two of them around the head before leading them outside by their heads. Great. So everybody knows? He's so in for it later.
"So-" Stiles breaks through Derek's internal meltdown, just his voice enough to pull his eyes right back to him and lock on. Stiles' heartbeat stutters and he must know it happens because he mutters an almost silent "Shit," before looking at his feet.
"You first." he gestures, biting his lip, and God damn, Derek, get your shit together.
"Kay. I got you something." Derek laces his fingers behind his back, wrings them a little nervously. His father, who has been standing nearby the whole time - seriously when will his family give him a break - saunters over coolly, passing behind Derek and sneakily handing him the card he made earlier. On the front is a large, silvery full moon and a howling black wolf. It's not hearts and cherubs and glitter, it's not stereotypically romantic, but it means something for them. Derek hadn't bothered with an envelope and it only now occurs to him that his dad has probably been showing everybody who even so much as glanced at him.
"Moon of my life, my sun and stars," Stiles reads, a look of awe flashing across his face before he giggles coyly. "Dude that's. So I'm the Khaleesi to your Drogo? That's super cheesy, Der."
"Also handmade? Yeah. I got that. The quote though? God," He scoffs. Derek feels his ears burn. "I love it." And he's so sincere that Derek almost, almost, bursts.
"Well. Open it."
"Dude. There's more?" Derek grins, nods, shuffles his feet as Stiles cautiously opens the card. "Wha-Mets tickets? What the-dude!" And not one to miss a beat, "Wait-why is there four tickets in here?"
"We have a coupla escorts. It's in New York, so." Derek shrugs, Stiles steps minutely closer.
"It's really not-"
"It really is Derek. I got you a-shit! MOM! I'm going to a Mets game!" Derek looks over to where their moms are standing, a little way away, and they grin in unison, thick as thieves. "Holy- Derek."
"Less of the language, Stiles!" Talia berates, signature Hale brow arching up dangerously.
"Sorry Mrs Hale," replies Stiles, thoroughly chastised, "And thanks for the tickets," Then he turns back to Derek, all doe eyed and almost forlorn. "Uhm. Here. It feels kinda lame now." And he produces a white wooden box from behind his back that Derek hadn't noticed he'd been holding.
On closer inspection, the box seems to be some sort of spruce. Underneath the ammonia and the faint smell of Stiles, is pine and fresh earth. It must be newly made. It's definitely solid, and on the lid is his name in bold ink, painted to look like the night sky. There's even a crescent moon tucked away in the top corner of the first letter.
"Stiles this-" he begins, not knowing quite what to expect. Stiles is usually creative in his gift giving.
"I didn't d-uh-"
"Shut up, Stiles. Shut up? Just this once?" Derek runs his fingers over the edges, traces the letters. It's definitely going to be thoughtful, if the frickin box is this great. Right?
As if on cue, his thoughts are interrupted. "Okay but first open i-"
"I was getting to that." He huffs out, laughing a little at Stiles bouncing on the balls of his feet. He's antsy. Is it-is it meaningful too?
Derek can't drag this out any longer. He flicks the latch and lets the lid fall open.
There, nestled in blue velvet, is a paperweight. It's made of clear resin, polished to perfection, no air bubbles in sight. Suspended in the centre of the paperweight, is a large wolf, black as night, eyes glowing gold. Just above and ahead of the wolf, is a raven. It is so clearly meant to represent the two of them that Derek feels his eyes burning.
"So?" comes Stiles' voice, small and unsure. "I mean I know wolves and ravens are typically friends and I-"
"Shut up," Derek snaps, perhaps a little harsh. But he's trying to think, and he can't do that with Stiles babbling. "Stop talking." he resumes, softer. Stiles takes a breath before Derek yanks him by the bottom of his teeshirt into a rib crushing hug. He eases up a little as he nuzzles into Stiles' neck. Stiles turns easily, like he does this all the time, like him baring his neck to Derek is nothing. And God. If he knew.
Derek inhales once more before he forces himself to pull away, grips Stiles around the wrist instead, begins leading him to his bedroom. "Come on," he whispers, "Help me find a spot for it."