Stiles has heard stories of brides going half-insane as their weddings approach, turning all bridezilla on their friends and families and making what's supposed to be the most joyous day of their lives into a nightmare for pretty much everybody.
He has more than the tiniest inkling of how that sort of thing happens, now.
Not that he's a bridezilla or anything—or even technically a bride—but there is a lot of last-minute wedding shit to take care of, even when the event is as low-key as his and Derek's is.
And he may be losing his shit, a little tiny bit at a time.
* * *
"Stop fidgeting," she hisses once the tailor leaves the room to grab the vest, tie, and shoes Stiles also has to try on. "Or I'm going to tell him to jab you with pins whenever you move around."
He snorts at her, earning one lifted eyebrow that screams judgment and irritation. "I'm pretty sure you missed your chance for that at the last fitting. Because I think this time, we're just making sure everything actually fits." He's been tugged at and turned this way and that so many times he's nearly dizzy, but Stiles has yet to catch sight of any straight pins. He fiddles with the basic stainless-steel cufflinks one of the employees fetched from somewhere, as a momentary fill-in for the ones Stiles will actually be wearing later this week. Those are at Derek's place, because Stiles somehow managed to leave them behind on his way out the door. "Also, you know, this would be a lot easier if you just let me rent the same damn thing I wore for prom, which was only, what, four months ago?"
Lydia's eyebrow goes up again. "For your wedding? Oh, Stiles, sweetheart, just when I start to think you aren't totally hopeless."
"What?" Stiles says, snapping the question a bit more than he means to. "You said it was perfectly fine! You allowed yourself to be seen with me as your date when I wore it!"
"It was fine for prom," she says with a sigh, stepping closer to do something with his collar. "It matched my dress and everything. But this is your wedding. Think of how many pictures you're going to have of this day."
Stiles snorts again. "Probably none. Seriously. Derek's eyes went all flashy during the pictures in Vegas. Even if he remembers to control that this time around, and all the other wolves do, by some massive miracle, I guarantee you pretty much every picture of me will feature facial expressions that could comprise a 'Top Thirty Derp Faces of the Century' article on BuzzFeed or something."
"Stop it." Great, now he's got Lydia snapping back at him. And also pinching him in the side, which makes him let out a squeak that is definitely less than manly. "You're going to suck it up and get through the rest of this fitting, you're going to look amazing at your wedding, with a coordinating six-foot piece of supernatural eye-candy on your arm, and you are going to have photographic evidence of the whole thing. And if you stop your whining, I'll have Jackson sneakily take a couple of photos of Derek during his fitting tomorrow and send them to me to share with you."
This time, Stiles's snort is more amusement than irritation. "All right, deal. And not just because I think it'll be fun to see if Jackson actually pulls it off without Derek catching him and tossing his phone into the street."
* * *
"What do you mean, there's a problem with the caterer?"
He's wrapped in a towel, dripping onto the linoleum of the bathroom, listening to Derek's equally exasperated voice on the other end of the line, while Allison says something in the background that Stiles can't make out. All he'd wanted was a nice long shower, but apparently that was too much to ask. Derek had shoved him towards the master bathroom in the Stilinski house after a brief kiss and an assurance that he and Allison could take care of the final details with the caterer they'd hired. And yet, not thirty minutes later, Stiles picks up the phone to hear those cheerful words.
"I don't know," Derek says, obviously irritated. He'd been so mellow when he'd left the house, too. "That's all the girl at the desk could really tell us. There's a bright pink post-it note on our folder, but she yanked it away before I could see what it said. Hold on." There's a lot of muffled noise all of a sudden, and Stiles is pretty sure Derek's shifted the phone, pressed it against his shoulder or something while he talks to Allison or the receptionist or maybe someone who has a damned idea what is actually wrong. After a few moments of hearing the rumble of Derek's voice from the phone being squished against his chest (because apparently Derek is unaware his phone has a mute function; Stiles will have to teach him that one later), Derek's voice comes through clearly, though from further away: "Is that all? Seriously? Oh, for fuck's sake."
"What? What's wrong? What's the problem?" Stiles asks, wiping at the water that trickles into his eye. He hadn't even been in the shower long enough for the bathroom to be hot and steamy, and he's starting to get cold.
"Hey, Stiles?" It's not Derek's voice that answers him after another moment of scrambling sounds, but Allison's. "I think we've got it all worked out."
The small knot of worry that had been tightening his chest, hidden underneath the irritation at having his shower interrupted—and he probably would have just ignored his phone, if it hadn't been Derek's ringtone playing—loosens. "What the hell was wrong, anyway? Was there an issue with them delivering to our venue? Because I thought we worked all of that out. I mean, it's not like we even need them to have a full staff to set up and then serve. There aren't even employees staying to work the bar, since we don't actually have a bar. It's really not that complicated, is it?"
"Yeah, no, I know," Allison says soothingly. In the background, Derek's voice fades, and Stiles figures Allison's walking away for more privacy, or Derek's dismissed her or something. "It was a problem with your credit card." At Stiles's indignant squawk, she keeps talking, voice going right over his, which is probably good, because he hasn't quite figured out which words are the appropriate ones yet. "No, sorry, that's not quite it. It's not declined or anything. Sorry to make you panic. I guess the problem was that it was under your name, and they suspected you were underage, as far as the order for the champagne went. They were worried about getting busted for providing alcohol to a minor."
"Seriously?" They totally should have just gone with Melissa's suggestion and bought a case of it at the liquor store.
Stiles can practically hear Allison shrug over the phone. "Apparently. But Derek's taking care of it. Hold on." There are a few long moments of absolute silence, because Allison knows how to use the mute function on Derek's phone, and then her voice cuts back in, mid-giggle. "Okay, yeah, it's all taken care of. Derek explained the situation and told the woman she could call your dad at the station and verify that everything's all right, if she really thought it was necessary. And she actually did it. I think she thought she was calling his bluff."
"I'm pretty sure I could have just put it on my credit card and been done with it," Derek says from somewhere close enough the speaker can pick him up. "But that was more fun." There are more shuffling noises, and then Derek's voice is clear again. "We're making one more stop. Florist, per Melissa's request." There's a pause, and Derek's next words make Stiles realize just how chilled he's becoming, standing here with a towel clutched at his waist and a small puddle forming under his bare feet. "You're still in the bathroom. I can hear the echo, and you left the shower dripping."
"Yeah, well, I heard your ringtone, so I—"
"Did you get to finish that shower?"
"Not even close, dude. Hadn't even made it to the shampoo or soap stage."
"Think you can hold tight for another, oh, forty minutes? Because if you can, we could always do that thing—" There's a cough in the background—a rather pointed, feminine one—and one side of Stiles's mouth twitches up in a grin as Derek clears his throat and tries again. "If you can, you might have some company?"
This time, Stiles can hear Allison flat-out groan in the background. "Yeah, I think I can wait, on those conditions." He manages something closer to a full grin, picturing her face. "Also, tell her tit for tat, dude. Do you even know how many hundreds of times Scott's said shit like that or worse to her over the phone or on Skype while I'm in the room?" He guesses Allison's near enough to the phone to hear what he's said, by the indignant way she sort of shrieks Scott's name. Hell, if Scott's anywhere within a two-mile radius of her, he probably heard it, too. He drops his voice. "But seriously, yeah, I'll be waiting. Eagerly."
"Good." Stiles hears the car's engine rev, and Allison's surprised protest and request that Derek maybe at least keep somewhere remotely close to the speed limit is drowned out by Derek's next words: "Make that thirty-five minutes. Actually, just thirty."
Stiles snorts a small laugh. "Drive safely, and I'll break out the good body wash you bought last week. We can find some off-label uses for it, I bet."
"Tease," Derek says, and Stiles can easily picture the look on his face, the one that goes along with the slightest of rasps in his voice.
"You're only a tease if you don't plan to make good on it."
"Fuck, Stiles," Derek mutters into the phone, and Stiles smirks at his own reflection in the bathroom mirror. His shiver has only a little to do with the cool temperature in the room on his damp skin.
"Yep. That was kind of the idea." The only response he gets to that is a noise that might or might not be a low, soft growl, and then the call ends from Derek's side.
Stiles notes the time and pulls the towel tighter around himself. It's probably too much to ask that all wedding-related problems end on this kind of note, but a guy can hope, right?
* * *
Also, he's drunk.
There are a bunch of them at the club, and Stiles really wishes he had a larger group of peers that could get drunk along with him. Although, he supposes, allowing Cora to drag him out onto the dance floor, having a number of perpetually sober friends means there's basically a ready pool of designated drivers.
They're over an hour outside of Beacon Hills, maybe twenty miles outside of Beacon County, somewhere his fake ID has a chance at getting some traction, and definitely out of his dad's jurisdiction. Because Cora's smart like that. And pretty. And even though he's had his mouth all up on hers that one time (which, okay, it was rescue breathing, but still), he's totally over her. Because he's in love. It seems like a really important point he needs to make.
"I'm totally good with seeing just your brother's dick for the rest of my life," he says earnestly as Cora turns to face him once she finds a good spot on the dance floor.
"That's... nice." She wrinkles her nose, though, when she says it, and Stiles thinks it's kind of rude she's not more enthusiastic about how devoted of a spouse Derek's getting. And then he replays what he's just said and flushes even hotter than the alcohol already has him.
"Wait. That... that came out wrong," he says, flailing his hands a little and trying to find a better way to express what he means. "What I mean is, I'm not going to be looking for anyone else. Because he's the best. I am totally okay with not sleeping with anyone else for the rest of my life."
"Seriously. Not like I can do any better, anyway. No one even wants me." Which is okay, it really is. When the hottest person you know, who also happens to have a solid sarcastic streak and a surprisingly sweet side, decides they're okay being in a relationship with you, there's not really a need to be drooled over.
Cora gestures off to Stiles's left. "That guy does." She lifts her chin to indicate someone else, someone a little behind Stiles. "And that girl does, too."
"Bullshit. How would you even know that?"
"Really, Stiles? I can hear them, you dork. That girl's currently talking to her friend about whether or not we're a couple, and what her chances are. And I saw the way that guy about gave himself whiplash checking you out when you walked by him on our way over here."
"I thought he was checking you out." It had seemed the logical assumption. Cora's good-looking, and her short skirt and tall boots—which had just about given Derek a facial tic earlier—are the kind that turn heads like it's a gravitational issue.
"I'm pretty sure I'm not who he meant when he muttered 'I'd let him do me up against the wall' when you were out of earshot."
Huh. That's maybe sort of flattering. Still, though. "He doesn't even have expressive eyebrows or bunny teeth or cute little ears."
Cora huffs something that might be "oh my God", but Stiles can't tell for sure, over the music. She takes his hands in hers and pulls him closer. It reminds him just a little of his dance lessons with Derek, and he almost asks her if she wants to lead, because he's gotten a lot better at the steps for following, and then remembers this is a club, and all he has to do is move mostly in time to the rhythm. "What say we just focus on dancing and having a good time for right now, and save the other stuff for later?"
He nods vigorously, which makes his head spin a bit. He can see Allison and Lydia approaching them, sort of dancing their way over. "I can do that." They'd left him with Cora when she arrived, taking Danny with them to get drinks. Which, apparently, they've either been denied, or have already consumed, because they're both empty-handed. They've all already had at least two drinks, and Stiles had just been finishing his third while arguing against wearing the sparkly tiara Allison had in her purse, when Cora had shown up.
"Are you sure the others are coming soon?" he asks her a while later. He's hot and sweaty and kind of tired of dancing, really. It's not that his friends aren't fun, or that the club sucks or anything, but he hasn't seen Derek or Scott in what feels like several hours, and the plan had been that they all meet up before the end of the night, after going separate ways right after dinner. Also, he kiiiiiiind of has a big day tomorrow, and sleep is probably a good idea, at some point.
Danny and Lydia share a look and Cora rolls her eyes, pulling out her phone and tapping a message. It lights up with an answer within seconds, and she slides it back down into the side of her boot after reading the response. "Isaac says they're almost here. They finished up half an hour ago."
"What took them so long?" He has only the very vaguest of ideas what Derek's group has been up to, and why it includes his best friend, and Jackson, and Peter, and some of Derek's New York friends, among others.
Cora dips her head forward so her hair hides most of her face and flashes her fangs at him, quick and playful. "Secret wolf stuff."
"Then why aren't you still out with them?"
"Because the last part of it was secret guy wolf stuff."
"Oh." He thinks Derek might've told him something like that already, but his head's kind of fuzzy right now. "Hey, d'you think it might be time to find a table or something?"
Cora shakes her head, but it isn't a no. "I forgot how little stamina you humans have," she sighs, and Stiles huffs.
"Hey! Derek's never complained, thank you very much!" he says, glaring, at the same time Danny raises his eyebrows and says something that sounds like "funny, I think I wore Ethan out, half the time."
Stiles looks over at Danny, to make sure. "Really?" Danny only shrugs, as if to say it's no big deal. After a moment of blinking, Stiles grins widely and holds his hand up. Danny, God bless him, doesn't leave him hanging, and high-fives Stiles, dimples on display. Cora mutters something, but at least she starts making her way over to where the booths and tables are.
The room feels like the floor is tilting just a little when Stiles finally parks his ass on a bar stool. Danny's prowling around a nearby booth, waiting for it to clear the rest of the way out so he can snag it for their group, when someone comes up behind Stiles and trails their hand down between his shoulder blades. Stiles is pretty sure it's Derek, just from the pattern of movement, but turns around anyway, just in case it's someone else—someone who should probably be told that one, Stiles isn't interested, and two, they're probably going to end up beaten to a bloody pulp by at least one member of the Hale family and their makeshift pack, if they do that again.
"Your husband's drunk," Cora says, before Stiles can fully get turned around. He's almost got it, but wobbles when everything shifts a little quicker than he expected, and suddenly finds Derek's hands firmly on his hips and his chest pressed against Stiles's back, keeping him seated and upright.
"You don't say," Derek deadpans, close to Stiles's ear, and Stiles giggles.
"I love your sarcastic voice," Stiles says, swaying as he tries tilting his head up to look Derek in the face. He's only mildly successful, in that all he really gets a view of is Derek's chin, and maybe his nostrils. "And also that you didn't let me hit the floor."
Derek huffs something that might be amusement. Or, hopefully, not pure irritation, at the very least. "Just how drunk are you, right now?"
Stiles thinks about it. "...More than a little buzzed? But not, like, fall-on-my-ass, ready-to-puke drunk? I think I'd be a lot better if it weren't so fucking hot in here." Derek hums skeptically in response, but then ducks his head and nuzzles behind Stiles's ear. "Dude. Are you scentmarking me, or sniffing to see how much liquor you can smell in my system?"
"Both, shut up," Derek murmurs into his neck. "Dual purpose, all right?"
"Aw, you're multi-tasking, I love it. Hey, where's the rest of the pack? I thought Jackson was driving one of the cars. What, rental car not go as fast as his old Porsche?"
"Not hardly," Jackson gripes, pulling a face as he approaches from the left. Behind him, Scott, Isaac, and three people Stiles has only met tonight—Marcus, Daniel, and Nolan—push steadily through the crowd. Stiles can't remember exactly how Derek knows the three guys, but he'll have to ask again tomorrow, when his head's clearer and he doesn't have to shout over music.
"Aw, poor baby," Stiles coos, earning another glare from Jackson. It's just so damn easy, sometimes. They've basically fallen back into old habits since Jackson got into town almost a week ago, but there's just a little less bite to it now, and a hint more good humor. Stiles isn't sure if that's because Jackson's mellowed out since his move to London, if it's because Stiles isn't fawning over Lydia while Jackson's dating her, or if it's due to some werewolf dynamic thing because Derek was once technically Jackson's alpha, and Stiles is now Derek's spouse...mate...person.
Either way, it's still fun to harass him.
Stiles is just gearing up for a bit more of such fun, in fact, when Derek's teeth nip at Stiles's ear. "Behave." And before he can protest, Derek nips again, more gently, and his voice is even softer. "Come on, let's go outside for a minute."
"For making out?" Stiles asks hopefully, Derek's hand steady at the small of his back as they head toward the exit sign.
"For sobering up."
"Oh." That doesn't sound nearly as fun. Still, outside sounds better than sitting in the club right now, because seriously, Stiles is kind of sweaty, and not so much in the fun way. The combination of alcohol and dancing have made him feel overheated and a little dizzy, and he's still not entirely sure how he got talked into going clubbing for his not-exactly-a-bachelor bachelor party.
The cool air feels fantastic on his skin the second they step out the back door, even with the scent of cigarettes hanging around. Derek makes what Stiles thinks of as his Second-Hand Smoke face, with the wrinkled nose and furrowed brow, and leads Stiles around the corner, where the air is clearer and fewer people are loitering around. "Here, drink this," he says, reaching into his jacket and pulling out a bottle of water. It's the stuff they sell in the club, and it's still blissfully cold.
"You dooooo love me," Stiles says, sagging dramatically against Derek as he twists the plastic cap open.
Derek, quite rewardingly, blushes. When Stiles has drained nearly half the bottle, Derek leans against the brick wall at their backs, one arm curling around Stiles and resting lightly on his hip. Stiles leans in, his head resting on Derek's shoulder, and closes his eyes, just relishing the feel of the light breeze across his face and arms and the way Derek's stubble catches just a little on Stiles's hair when he dips his head and places a small kiss on Stiles's forehead. It makes Stiles think of the way Derek had let him sprawl on him when he'd had that headache, post-shower, before they checked out of their hotel room back in Vegas, and the way Derek had settled into the big spoon position and wrapped his arms around Stiles after they finally got back to Beacon Hills and Derek had carried him to bed.
It makes him feel safe. And loved. And it suddenly occurs to Stiles that these probably aren't anomalies, rare occurrences that will stop happening by tomorrow night, like the charm that wore off of Cinderella's pumpkin at midnight. He might actually get to spend the rest of his life with moments like these, knowing this feeling of contentment says things neither of them could ever really adequately say with words, no matter how hard they try.
"Love you," Stiles murmurs anyway, voice muffled against Derek's skin, and noses at Derek's neck and jaw.
There's a long pause, and Stiles can feel Derek's throat work, his Adam's apple bob a couple of times before he speaks in a voice that sounds thicker than usual. "You too."
They stand there together like that for almost twenty more minutes, according to the time display on Derek's phone and the increasing number of text messages that come through—mostly from Scott—before Derek noses at him again, sniffing at Stiles in a way that's still sort of amusing. Especially because Stiles knows it's not like twenty or thirty minutes is enough for his blood alcohol level to drop that significantly, and he's sure Derek knows it, too. "You ready to go back in?"
The thing is, Stiles is more than happy to stay out here like this for the rest of the night. It's hot inside, and crowded, and loud as hell, and he's comfortable out here, with this nice little oasis of quiet with Derek. He doesn't actually want to do this whole bachelor party thing, which really isn't a bachelor party, because he's already married. And the whole point of these things is that it's supposed to be one last night of craziness, or shoving all the fun the groom-to-be will no longer be able to have directly in his face. Stiles, though, has had enough craziness in his life already, even if most of that comes from supernatural threats to his life. And there's no one better for him, more tempting, than Derek, anyway.
But he knows their friends intended tonight to be fun for both of them, and it's rare that Derek gets to spend time with people he knows who don't live in Beacon Hills. Also, it's hard to annoy Jackson from out here. And if he's completely honest with himself, he wants to have the experience of spending more time out with Derek and all of their friends before they leave for Los Angeles in under a month, and everyone else is scattered to wherever the hell they're all going to be.
He stands up straight, feeling noticeably less wobbly than he had when they got out here. He doesn't feel sober, really, but this is more like a nice, light, actually pleasant buzz. And most of his favorite people (and Jackson) are inside, waiting for him and Derek. "Yeah. I'm good."
Derek grins. "Good. Because I know we're dancing together tomorrow, but I was kind of looking forward to this kind of dancing, with you, tonight." When Stiles's eyebrows shoot up in surprise (because Derek? Being into clubbing? And wanting to dance with Stiles, out in front of God and everyone?), Derek laughs. "I'm serious."
"Yeah. Come on. Let's dance for a while, and then I'll take you home." He holds out his hand, still smiling, and Stiles grins a little dopily and takes it, following Derek back inside.
He doesn't need a bachelor party, because he's not losing anything, really. But a little bit of fun, dancing with his husband and their friends? That sounds all right.
* * *
He's full of excess energy and jittery, not entirely unlike that day he had way too many energy drinks on top of a higher-than-usual dose of Adderall and, somehow, Scott's keeping it all together.
"Have you seen—?"
"Small black box, on your night stand," Scott calls from downstairs, where he and Stiles's dad are going over driving logistics or something. Stiles basically dives across his bed for the box in question and, sure enough, those are his cufflinks, safe and sound.
"Oh thank God." Stiles lets out a sigh of relief. He'd had a moment where he'd been sure he'd taken them downstairs for some reason, and then hadn't remembered where he'd set them. He almost slides the box into his pocket, then remembers he won't be wearing these jeans to the ceremony, and puts it hastily back where it was.
"Dude," Scott says, eyebrows raised, walking back into the bedroom. "Chill out, or I'm going to ask Lydia to slip you a Xanax or something. Your heart rate's, like, somewhere between rabbit and hummingbird right now."
"Chill out. Right. Yeah, I can do that," Stiles mutters to himself, flapping his hands before he catches himself at it. "We still have an hour before we even have to leave, and all I have to do is get dressed. No problem." Oh, shit. Wait. "Wait. Do I have—?"
"Yes." Scott's tone is exasperated, but the look on his face is still good-natured. Stiles isn't sure how, since he's pretty sure basically anyone else on the planet would have strangled him by now to shut him up.
"How do you even know what I was—?"
"Stiles. It's me, dude. I know, all right? You were going to ask about dress socks, right?"
Okay, that's a little creepy. Still, he's not wrong. "Yeah?"
"They're in that garment bag in your closet, I swear to you, along with all your accessories. And before you ask, your shoes are in a box, directly under that bag. You're all set. Now, do us all a favor and go shower before you get dressed. You reek of nerves and uncertainty, and it's really off-putting. Pretty sure Derek doesn't want to have to smell that all night."
Stiles nods. Scott's right. Plus, the hot water might actually loosen his shoulders up a little. "Yeah, okay."
Scott grins crookedly. "Oh, wait, hold up. One thing first." He's out the door again faster than Stiles can really follow, and then there's a thud from downstairs and his father's accompanying shout of "Scott! Stairs! We've talked about this!" in an exasperated tone, which makes Stiles grin, at least. He's tried to tell his dad that getting werewolves to use the stairs for their actual purpose instead of just leaping down to the bottom or vaulting over the railing, especially when they're in a hurry, is a lost cause. Scott calls back an apology as he skids into Stiles's room, not even looking winded. "Here. Eat this," he says, tossing something at Stiles.
Miraculously, Stiles catches it before it hits him in the face. "A granola bar?"
"What? You want to pass out during your vows because you were too busy to remember to eat something?"
Huh. Stiles totally would have forgotten to eat. He doesn't usually, but sometimes Adderall cuts off his appetite so that he doesn't even realize he hasn't had food since the day before, and he gets queasy when he eats when he's nervous. But a granola bar, he can do. "Thanks, man."
"No problem. Now eat and go shower."
Stiles tosses his best friend a salute and goes, already devouring the snack (the chewy kind with chocolate chips is his favorite; he knows Scott remembers him always trading for it instead of the peanut butter kind, when they were kids) as he heads down the hall to the bathroom. By the time he emerges from the shower, there's a clean white undershirt and a pair of underwear on the counter, which Stiles is pretty sure weren't there when he went in. Still, he just shrugs and puts them on. Scott's seen him in the lacrosse shower countless times by now, if it was his doing, and the only other person in the house who would have come in is his dad. He's... almost positive... that Melissa wouldn't have come in while he was showering. Hopes so, anyway.
"Dude. Silk underwear? Possibly the best thing ever," Stiles says, doing a little hip-wiggle as he walks back into the bedroom, teeth brushed and the rest of him freshly showered.
"You can thank Jackson for that," Scott says, taking a swig from a bottle of Gatorade. There's another bottle, unopened, sitting on Stiles's bed. It's not his favorite kind, but it is clear, which is probably the smarter option, so Stiles doesn't end up with a nice blue or red streak down his rented white shirt. Points to his dad on that one, because he knows that's who brought these home.
"Ugh, dude, Jackson bought me underwear? I feel... I dunno... violated?"
Scott snorts. "He didn't buy them, technically. Lydia was making the girls all go through their checklists of last-minute and emergency stuff this morning, and said we ought to have that sort of thing, too. That Marcus guy said his brother actually forgot his underwear during his wedding, and didn't realize it until he found a hole in his suit pants, right before the ceremony. So I made Jackson swing by the mall really quick to get a pack. He bitched at first, but then said that if we were getting you all set up and everything, then we should do it right. Something about how every man should have an actual good pair of underwear on his wedding night. So I got those."
Stiles raises his eyebrows. "Huh. Okay. Well...thanks to both of you, then." He supposes that's less creepy. After all, Stiles once had to swing by Scott's place to find his cup, since Scott was pretty adamant that super-healing abilities did not equate to being impervious to sticks, knees, elbows, and lacrosse balls to the junk. "What are best friends for, really, if they won't pamper your dick?"
Scott nearly chokes on his Gatorade. "Not sure what that whole thought process was there, dude, but that probably sounded better in your head than it did out loud."
Blushing, Stiles shrugs. He actually hadn't realized that had been aloud.
Despite all the extra bits of clothing involved in his outfit, it doesn't take that long for Stiles to get dressed. His dad actually is the one to help, since Scott's busy getting ready in the bathroom.
"You look great, kiddo," his dad finally says, stepping back to look at the whole picture after adjusting Stiles's tie. "You clean up good, just like your old man."
Stiles grins. "Stilinski genes prevail again." He tries not to think about what his mom might have said to that, or how she might've helped him with his cufflinks, or made sure his hair didn't look stupid. His face must show something, though, because the grin fades from his dad's face, too.
"She would have been so happy for you," his dad says softly, and if his eyes look a little damp for a moment before he blinks it away, Stiles will never tell. "She always called you her little man, you know. Now you look it, even if you're not so little."
"I remember," Stiles says, hearing the waver in his own voice. He feels the wetness of tears spill down his cheek before he can stop himself. He's not sure if he moves first, or if his dad does, but he's suddenly got arms wrapped around him in a bone-crushing hug. He gives himself a minute, then pulls away and clears his throat. "Dick move, Dad," he says, trying to force a lightness into his voice that he doesn't quite feel. "Making a guy cry on his wedding day."
His dad chuckles a little and scrubs a fist across his face. "Yeah, well, someone's gotta join me. Now what do you say I check on Scott and make sure he's got his tie sorted without strangling himself, and we blow this popsicle stand and head out to get you hitched. Re-hitched. Extra-hitched. Whatever."
Stiles nods. "Sounds good to me."
They make it to the Beacon Hills Historical Society with plenty of time to finish getting everything ready, but Stiles almost wishes they hadn't, because no one will really let him do anything, and that means he's just kind of... hanging out in his own head while everyone else flits back and forth. There are a couple of small cottages not far from the old estate house, and they have the use of all three buildings, plus the private garden, which is where the ceremony itself will be held. And for whatever reason, he and Derek agreed to be sequestered in separate cottages until it's time for the ceremony, so he hasn't actually seen Derek since he left after kissing Stiles good night out on the porch last night, telling him to drink plenty of water and to get some sleep. He hasn't even been able to text him, because Scott's handling phone duties, and Cora supposedly has Derek's, anyway.
Stupidest decision ever. And he can't even remember who the hell made it.
Twenty-five minutes before the ceremony's supposed to begin, Stiles is somehow, inexplicably, alone. He knows his dad is outside, trying to greet the few family members they have in attendance. Scott is out doing something in relation to his alpha status, and basically acting in the role of someone giving Stiles away, or whatever the werewolf equivalent is. Lydia is... somewhere, doing something Stiles is fairly sure needs her attention. But regardless, that means he's alone, stuck with only his own thoughts for company, and he's already moved from looking out the front window of the cottage, spying on the guests as they trickle in, to reading the wall plaques about notable families in Beacon Hills's history. Some of this stuff feels a little familiar, facts he probably learned back in elementary school, but it's really not holding his attention. Which is why he knows exactly how long it is until he'll be let out of this cottage, because he's checked the grandfather clock approximately seventy times in the last few minutes.
There's a knock at the door twenty-three minutes before the ceremony, and Stiles is just so glad for the company that he doesn't even mind that it's Allison who pops her head in, instead of his best man or his... best woman/co-maid-of-honor, or whatever other title fits Lydia's role. "Mind if I come in?"
Stiles gestures for her to enter as he sinks onto one of the old-fashioned-looking benches against one of the walls, just grateful to have someone to distract him for a few minutes. "How's it going out there, anyway?"
Allison shrugs and sits next to Stiles. "Everything's fine. I think?"
"You think?" Way to inspire confidence, Allison.
She blushes a little. "I've... uh... honestly, I'm sort of hiding for a moment? Not that I'm not checking to make sure you're okay! It's just that, well, there are some people here..."
Stiles gets it, suddenly. Derek's friends, from other semi-local packs, and the other wolves he knew from his time in New York. "Not everyone's used to seeing someone from a family like yours at a werewolf's wedding?"
"Or knowingly dating a wolf in a long-term capacity. Especially not a 'true alpha'," she mutters, making the air quotes and everything. "I think I make some of them nervous. And others are... maybe not being murderously hostile, but only because it's a wedding? Let's just say there's a reason my dad's not attending tonight, and that it's nothing against you or Derek."
Stiles nods, then clears his throat. "So, uh, your dad's... understanding, about this whole situation?"
Allison raises her eyebrows. "It's not like Derek's bitten you, right? And he'd never do it without you agreeing to it first. I mean, yeah, it took us both a while to get over the thing with my mom, but Derek seems to not be holding our past actions against us, and... look, let's not rehash that right now. This is a happy day, right? We're celebrating."
It's a one-word answer, but it has Allison squinting at him. "You doing okay?" she asks after a second, looking genuinely concerned.
Honestly, Stiles isn't even sure what to tell her. It's not even the reminder that they've got a hunter (of sorts) in their pack, and a collection of werewolves who don't know the details of how many times and how extensively they've all saved each other's asses over the last two-plus years hanging out in close proximity to her. He feels a little on edge, and can't really even tell her why. "Yeah, I'm great."
The look on her face clearly says she wants to call bullshit, but then it smooths out. "Good. Tell you what: Lydia should be about done fixing the thing with the cake—"
"There's a problem with the cake?" Oh good, at least that gives him something concrete to focus on, instead of what he thinks is going on in his head. "What's wrong? Did they drop it? Is it someone else's cake? Is the icing melting off? Are there blueberries in it? Because I'm allerg—"
"Stiles, calm down. It's so minor it's not even worth mentioning. Not even an actual problem. Forget I said anything. Besides, Lydia's handling it."
"The problem that's not a problem?"
"Yes. That. So relax, okay? Just enjoy your day." She leans over and kisses his cheek. "You'll look back on it and wonder why you were stressed out over nothing, really."
Stiles raises his eyebrows. How would she know? Still, she's sweet and, reluctant as he was to really embrace Allison in the past, given that it felt like she was taking his best friend away from him (and then that whole thing when she went a little vigilant on the hunter thing for a brief time), he does value her friendship and her willingness to be here for him. "Yeah. Okay."
She grins at him as she stands up and makes her way to the doorway. "Oh, and Stiles?" she says, halfway outside already.
"You really do look nice in that tux."
Stiles can feel himself blush, but he does mumble a thank you before the door closes shut behind her. Suddenly, it's too quiet in the cottage, and he's too alone. There's nothing to do in here, nothing to occupy him—no TV, no radio, no books that feel like he can pick them up and flip through them without getting into trouble—and so he just sits on the bench that's too hard to be comfortable, bounces his knee up and down until he's driving even himself nuts, and thinks. About how the hell he ended up here. About what he's doing tonight. About what he's doing next month, with school, and what he's doing for the next four years, and what he might do after that.
About what the hell he's doing, period. Because he really doesn't know, and that's becoming more and more clear.
Thankfully, it's only a couple of minutes later before there's another knock that Stiles recognizes easily, even without looking, and then Scott's basically falling through the door. "Dude. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to bail on you like that. There were just these other alphas, and these older ladies from a pack Derek and Laura were apparently linked up with, out in New York, and I had a hard time escaping. But I'm here now, and totally yours for the next... seventeen minutes. Shit. That took way too long." He pauses, and the tone of his voice says he's not unaware that maybe Stiles shouldn't have been left to himself for the last half-hour, even as he moves carefully closer. "Stiles? What's wrong?"
Stiles lifts his head out of his hands, even though a cold wave of panic is trying to wash over him, and finally voices the worry that's been haunting him, getting louder as the day goes on, moving from ignorable whisper to something meaner with teeth and an insistent buzz. "What if—What if he doesn't want to marry me?"
Scott's hand comes to rest on Stiles shoulder. "Dude," he says, squeezing firmly. "You're already married. This is just a formality."
Stiles blinks for a moment, looks at Scott's earnest face. "Oh. Right. Thanks." It doesn't fix whatever's wrong with his head right now, but it does quiet it down a bit—a lot, actually. Because Scott's right about those facts. And even though there's still some place within Stiles where the old, familiar insecurity's managed to hide, reminding him that Derek can still decide he doesn't want to do this anymore, that they can always break up, get annulled, get divorced, even, Scott is so steadfastly sure in his declaration that Stiles feels just the tiniest bit stupid for letting those thoughts in.
He's about to open his mouth, wondering if Scott's seen Lydia or his dad, before the door opens up again and Lydia strides in, looking both beautiful and fierce in her blue dress with its silver sash. She and Cora match, as do Scott and Isaac, and Stiles is glad he got out of basically all fashion-related decisions, in the end. Derek had stepped up there, made pretty much all of the decisions Lydia had insisted they make, and let Stiles have veto power he didn't feel the need to exercise. All in all, it worked out well, because Stiles feels like he actually does look pretty decent. And, though he hasn't seen Derek yet (there were no photos from Jackson during Derek's final fitting, because apparently there were threats to body parts Jackson wants to keep hold of), he's pretty sure Derek looks even more amazing. Because he's Derek, and could look good in... in... parachute pants and a fishnet shirt.
Well, okay, maybe that's pushing it, even for him.
"Hate me for a minute now," Lydia says, looking at least a little like she knows she should have been here, calming Stiles down, too, "but love me forever later when you see your cake."
"Is it awesome?"
She grins at him, steps close and does something to his hair. "Absolutely." She cocks her head, does something else to his hair, and nods. "There. Now we've got about ten minutes before we need to be outside in our respective places, and I have—"
Whatever she has, though, is drowned out when the door to the cottage flies open and Cora bursts in, looking seriously irritated. She's got a phone up to her head and dress shoes clutched in her hand and, in lieu of greeting, she just glares at her phone. "There. I fucking told you. He didn't run away. Fucking chill, okay?" she snaps, and Stiles is pretty sure he, Scott, and Lydia have matching expressions of "what the fuck?" on their faces. Cora ignores them for another moment as she listens to whoever's on the other end of the line, rolls her eyes, and sniffs loudly. "Nervous as hell, apparently. Now I'm coming back, and I want you acting like a rational, sane person. I know it'll be hard for you, but come on, if Peter can pull it off sometimes, so can you." And without so much as a goodbye, or even direct acknowledgement, she's back out the door.
"Well," is all Lydia says, eyebrows up about as high at Stiles has ever seen them.
He kind of agrees with her. "What the fuck—?"
Scott shakes his head and snorts. "Dude. That was Derek on the other end. Apparently that thought you had a few minutes ago hit him, too, but the other way around. You guys are idiots."
A little more of that panicky tightness loosens up, and Stiles manages something almost like a grin. "Yeah, maybe."
"Oh, there's no maybe about it," Lydia huffs. "But you two make it work. Now, as I was trying to say, before Cora stomped in, we have to be in place soon, but I've got some last-minute things for you." She reaches into the tiny purse she's been carrying and pulls out a roll of peppermint-flavored Life Savers. "First of all, here, take these."
Lydia thinks of everything. He pops one in his mouth gratefully before stuffing the rest of the roll into his pocket, because that's at least one last-minute fear she's managed to thwart. "What else?"
She pulls a small silver satin drawstring bag out next. "Scott, this is technically for you."
Scott nods like he was expecting it and looks at Stiles. "You too, dude."
"Your ring? I kind of have to have it, so I can give it to Derek to put on your finger."
"Oh, shit, right." Stiles slips his own ring off and hands it over, rubbing at the now-bare spot on his left hand while he watches Scott put the ring inside the small pouch and tuck that into his pocket. It's only been a couple of months, really, but it feels weird not to have the ring on. It had taken him a full week to adjust to wearing it in the first place, but now it's apparently the opposite.
"Okay, now, turn around so I can check you," Lydia instructs, brandishing a tiny little lint roller at him. "We're not having pictures ruined by something so stupid as stray bits of lint or hair." Once that's done and both he and Scott are deemed acceptable, Lydia gives herself a quick once-over, touches up her lipstick, and huffs in a way that sounds entirely too final for Stiles. "Well, that's it. We're ready. Stiles, you okay?"
Stiles nods. "Yep. Totally okay. Absolutely terrific."
Both Scott and Lydia exchange looks. "You'll be fine, man," Scott says, hand on Stiles's shoulder as they step outside and onto the small porch of the cottage. "Just don't lock your knees during your vows, okay?"
Stiles nods again, tries to remember to breathe like a normal human being as they walk to the spot in front of the estate house where the path into the garden begins. He and Derek are supposed to meet here just before the ceremony officially begins. The hardest part of the planning of today's ceremony was, stupidly enough, in the logistics of the wedding procession. There's no traditional father-daughter pairing to walk up the aisle last, and Derek has very little family left to take a similar position. Cora's Derek's best woman or co-maid-of-honor, or whatever they're calling them, and Isaac's standing up with him, as the last of Derek's original betas. Peter... well, neither of them had felt especially comfortable having him in any sort of role of power, and Derek had just about clawed a chunk of kitchen counter off when someone suggested he could be the one to essentially give Derek away. That had pretty much been understood as a 'no'. In the end, they'd set everything up in sort of a Y-formation, where everyone else would walk in on the sides to meet in the middle, and Derek and Stiles would walk up the long way, straight through the middle, side-by-side.
Which of course means that Stiles is left standing on his own again as Lydia and Scott take their places after Lydia kisses his cheek and tells him to relax. Even his dad is up towards the altar, his own aunt and Stiles's mom's mother each on one of his arms, the oldest (and really, some of the only remaining) family members left that Stiles has ever met all set to be walked down one of the two side aisles and shown to their seats.
Stiles is, in fact, so focused on watching Danny and Jackson escort the last of their guests to their seats and keeping an eye on his tiny great-aunt Beatrycze, who looks like a stiff breeze will blow her away, that he jumps when Derek's soft, hesitant "hey" comes from somewhere behind him.
He whirls around to see Derek covering the last few feet between them, his hands shoved in his pockets and his head ducked just a little as he approaches. And suddenly, Stiles sort of wants to cry. Because it's real, it's happening, even though it's happened before, and this is all just for appearances, but it feels so different from the way it did in Vegas, everything intensified and magnified to an impossible degree, for reasons Stiles can't even name. "Oh, thank God, you're here."
Derek's face does this complex sequence of expressions, the most noticeable of which include his Up-High Eyebrows of Significant Surprise. "Of course I am."
And Stiles can't explain that he'd had this stupid panicky thing in his head about Derek not showing up after all, or launch himself at Derek and wrap his arms around him just to prove to himself that he's real, or anything like that. So instead he just reaches out his hand, so, so grateful when Derek takes it and laces their fingers together, moving the rest of the way in and ducking his head to rub his nose behind Stiles's ear. "I know it was less than twenty-four hours," Stiles says instead, "but I really missed you."
Every bit of tension, every speck of uncertainty in Derek seems to evaporate to a degree where Stiles can feel it. Derek hums softly, nuzzles behind Stiles's ear once more. "I missed you, too." He pulls back, and Stiles can see what look like the palest of blue-purple circles under Derek's eyes. "It was a stupid idea not to keep our phones on us, by the way."
Stiles grins, and it feels totally natural for the first time in hours. "Seriously stupid." He gestures with his chin, just a little. "You okay? You look... I don't know. Like you're getting sick? Is that even a thing, for you, regular illness?" There's something about him that looks off, but it's definitely not the outfit. Stiles was right about that, at least, because Derek looks like he just stepped out of a fashion magazine.
Derek shakes his head. "Just a little tired. I'll be fine in a minute. I just..." He trails off, then shrugs and looks sheepish. "I couldn't sleep. You weren't there. And I kept having the craziest dreams, when I did doze off. Nightmares. That you weren't you. Or we weren't actually together. That something happened before we even got down this aisle. Stuff like that."
Stiles raises his eyebrows, almost wants to laugh, but he can't. Because he knows that kind of feeling. He gives Derek's hand a squeeze. "Nightmares suck, dude." And there's more to it than that surface statement, and the look on Derek's face says he knows, he remembers the nights after the Nemeton sacrifice fiasco when Stiles would keep himself awake with someone from the pack around, all the times he'd show up at Derek's and babble at him about comics or movies or school shit until he couldn't keep his eyes open anymore, and even those times where he lost the battle against sleep and woke up screaming, or mid-panic attack, thankful beyond words to find he was somewhere where Derek or Scott or anyone else could talk him down, reassure him that he was safe, that whatever he'd just been through was all in his head—his dad was okay, the rest of the pack was fine, the majority of the images weren't real.
Derek nods, squeezes back. Already the circles under his eyes look better than they did just a minute ago. Stiles kind of envies that ability, because he looks like shit for hours or even days after a night of no or little sleep.
The air fills with the sound of music then, and both Stiles and Derek turn to look towards the altar to watch the procession begin. Peter and a woman Stiles knows is an alpha from a pack in New York walk down one side and take their seats in the front, just before Stiles's dad, grandmother, and great-aunt do. And then it's Scott and Cora who split and flank the altar, followed by Lydia and Isaac. Nice and short and not a lot of fuss, which is honestly just fine with Stiles.
"Ready?" Derek murmurs as the music hits a particular point, the orchestral arrangement swelling up a little as their guests turn to look behind them, down the path where they're waiting to walk in.
Derek grins at him—just a little, just enough to show off his adorable little bunny teeth—and rubs his thumb over the back of Stiles's as they both turn completely to face the front, feet in step as they approach the altar and Deaton behind it.
It's so much different walking up the aisle this way, instead of how they'd done it in Vegas. Back there, they'd just sort of casually wandered most of the way towards the altar in a small group with their coordinator, before Lisa had dragged Stiles off to help guide the officiant through the Polish Name-Pronouncing Gauntlet (and the guy had still gotten both of them wrong, thank you very much, parental units). There had been no procession, no eyes on either of them, no feeling of stage fright or awareness that now would be when he would trip and fall on his face. And yeah, some of that had been because they just hadn't had guests, but it was mostly because it still hadn't been something Stiles—either of them, really—had considered real. There had been a few nerves, maybe, but those had been from that weird feeling that it hadn't felt like the joke they'd been telling themselves it was.
And now everyone they're close to is sitting there, watching them, waiting for them to commit to each other for the rest of their lives.
Which, honestly, that thought actually makes Stiles feel a little bit better, because he's absolutely ready to do that—again—and he's not hiding it from anyone, be they human, werewolf, or anything else.
They turn to face each other at Deaton's gesture, and Stiles is only half-listening to the opening greeting Deaton begins. All he sees in front of him is Derek, everyone else in the garden just the faintest of shadows and colors behind him and to the side. Derek and his less-scruffy-than-usual face, and his multi-hued eyes that defy any label of particular color. He, though, looks nervous as hell. Not uncertain, no, but sort of... stage-fright-y. Stiles raises his eyebrows just a fraction as he gives Derek's hand a squeeze, because he can't just stop Deaton mid-sentence and ask Derek what's wrong, if he's okay, or if he's having a weird-ass werewolf dynamic issue at having a handful of alphas in such close proximity, especially given all the shit that went down the last time that was a thing in Beacon Hills. Derek, however, squeezes his hands back in response, looking at first surprised that Stiles has apparently noticed something's wrong, before he gives him this absolutely fucking adorable nervous smile, the one that says something like 'I might fuck up my lines here on stage, but I earned my right to be in this role, and no one can take that from me.' And that's it, that stupid, nervous grin is what does Stiles in. He hasn't even the slightest hope of stopping the high-wattage smile that spreads across his face. He could light up fucking cities with it, he can feel it, and the widening, genuine grin that comes over Derek says it's a welcome expression.
The reading they’ve selected as the precursor to their actual vows is familiar, the same words Stiles and Derek had heard read back in Las Vegas, with a few subtle additions. Not everyone here is in the know about werewolves, but there are indications here and there, things cleverly and subtly phrased to appease those from other packs, werewolves with more traditional sensibilities, and nods to the things the remaining Hales deemed most important.
Stiles didn’t even suggest any overtly werewolf, pop-culture related jokes when it came to the reading and the vows. Because despite what basically everyone who knows him thinks, he does know there are some things that are a little too important to fuck around with so casually.
Once Deaton leads them into their vows, asking Derek to go first, Stiles actually holds his breath for a second. Because there’s no turning back now, not that he even remotely wants to. But this is it, this is when Derek will tell everyone else why in the hell he’s decided to pick Stiles to be with for the rest of their lives. Because, as open as they try to be with each other about things, these days, it’s not like Derek goes around telling Stiles exactly why he made the decision he did, and Stiles hasn’t exactly spelled it out for him, either. And now not only will Stiles hear it, but so will virtually everyone else that matters in their lives.
And because they thought it might carry a bit more weight, they’d agreed not to share their vows until the actual ceremony. Stiles is pretty confident in his, because he’d had pretty much the sappiest person on the planet—Scott, of course—to listen in when Stiles started freaking out a little, and he thinks he’s going to be able to convey what he wants Derek to really hear, to know. But Derek had made such a big deal, two weeks ago, about not being great with words, that Stiles honestly doesn’t know what to expect, here. He’d told Derek that whatever he said, if he meant it, would be more than okay. And he’d meant it honestly. Still, he’s not entirely sure what to anticipate, other than possibly some brevity.
Derek closes his eyes for a moment when Deaton turns it over to him, takes a deep breath, and finally looks Stiles square in the eyes. His own eyes are so, so bright it’s just shy of a werewolf glow, and it makes Stiles swallow hard. He pauses for a moment more, clears his throat, and starts speaking, his voice firm and strong.
"Stiles. You know me better than anyone else in this world, and somehow still you manage to love me. I take you as you are, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become. I vow to love you, trust you, and respect you. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and to accept your support. I’ll always be your partner in crime." He cracks a grin over the last few words, looks over at Stiles’s dad, and calls out "metaphorical crime, that is!" to the laughter of more than half of their guests and earning himself an amused response from his new father-in-law, before sobering and looking at Stiles again, a soft smile still playing at the corners of his mouth when he resumes, and Stiles feels even more appreciation for Derek than he’s already had. "I promise to learn how to perfectly pronounce your full name, and also to never, ever tell anyone what it is unless you want me to," he says, making even Stiles laugh, and keeps going, because Derek’s apparently either figured out his writer’s block, or found someone awesome to talk things over with. "I promise to take away any pain I can, for the rest of our lives. I will be with you in good times and in bad, and I will do everything in my power to make sure you always retain your spark."
Stiles is really, really glad Deaton sort of gives them a moment of pause right there, because his mind is sort of whirling at the list of things Derek has just promised him, the jokes about his name and the partner in crime thing, the subtle references to the supernatural, about taking away pain and Stiles’s spark (recited with the subtlest of smirks), and all the more serious stuff in the beginning, the stuff that was probably meant to sound traditional, but Stiles knows was chosen so deliberately—promises to try and grow emotionally, together, to continue this give-and-take thing they’ve somehow developed. His brain keeps looping back to how Derek had started it all off: you know me better than anyone else in this world and somehow still you manage to love me.
It’s all Stiles can do not to cut Deaton off a little when he leads Stiles into his half of the vow exchange, because he thinks they probably both could have stopped after each of their first lines—and Stiles is sure as fuck going to address Derek’s first line later, when they’re in private, and in a safe space—because if there’s anything that indicates maybe they work together all right, it’s those, paired together.
So he makes sure Derek’s focused, really, actually focused, when he starts to speak, because maybe this means more than anyone else around them knows, and that’s okay. "Derek," he says, his voice not as loud as Derek’s had been, but just as firm. "I’ve seen the best of you, and the worst of you, and I choose both." And yeah, Derek’s listening, not just to the words, but probably also to Stiles’s heartbeat and whatever the timbre of his voice says, whatever sort of scent he’s giving off indicates, because he lets out this tiny punched-out breath, an expression of almost disbelief and a handful of other things flitting over his face, and Stiles will focus on and analyze them later, when he’s not trying to remember the rest of his words, so he doesn’t fuck them up.
"I will love you unconditionally, support you in your goals, honor and respect you—without too much sass." He hears a snort from where his dad is sitting, and can’t help raising his eyebrows in the way Derek has said makes him look a little like an asshole, sometimes, because yeah, fine, these people are his friends and family, and they know what he’s like well enough. And also, two can play to the crowd, not just Derek. "I promise to never run from danger, even when you order me to. I will always be your backup, and you never even need to ask. I promise to keep you afloat—" that gets a slightly-strangled laugh from Derek, "—and I will love you with every sunrise and sunset, through every cycle of the moon." He takes a deep breath, tries to ignore the pleased-sounding murmurs from some of the New York werewolves sitting in a cluster not far away, and wraps it up, thankful he’s remembered everything he wanted to say. "I vow to help you love life."
Derek's face is… doing something complicated, like he's a malfunctioning android having actual emotions or something and can't quite figure out what's going on, but he gets it together when Deaton asks them to take the rings from Scott and recite the little line about what they mean, as a symbol of their love and all, and he looks much better, more himself, the second Stiles slips the blue and silver band back where it belongs. And Stiles knows that feeling, at least, because when Derek slides the other ring onto Stiles's left hand and it rests in place, he feels like it's easier to breathe, like everything's right and the way it should be. Stiles takes a second to look at the ring back on his finger, grinning at it. And then he looks up, at Derek's face, and swallows hard.
The expression Derek's got going on, looking at Stiles and apparently only half-listening as Deaton pronounces them married, quite clearly says one thing. And that thing is MINE.
It's probably a good thing there's a kiss written into this part of the ceremony, because Stiles has a hunch that there'd be one coming, regardless.
Derek surprises him, though. Despite the hungry, eager look that's not-so-subtly bordering on possessive, he leans forward slowly, raises his hands to rest on Stiles's elbows, pulling him in without being rough about it, and kisses him in a way that's tender, but not entirely chaste. And what it feels like is a promise and a thank you, all at once, and Stiles almost regrets that there are enough werewolves around to hear the soft, high-pitched noise he makes in the back of his throat, because that was seriously involuntary.
They head back down the aisle after a few more words from Deaton, accompanied by instrumental music as they go, and Stiles takes a moment to glance at more of their guests. Stiles knows a good number of them, friends from growing up in Beacon Hills, a few of the people his dad's worked with over the years, and some assorted people he's met through Derek and their general supernatural shenanigans over the last two or so years. But there are a fair number of faces Stiles doesn't recognize at all, and he starts to wonder just how many wolves are here today, and what they think about… well, everything.
Also, he totally gets credit for not making a stupid face at Jackson, as he walks by. Although, Stiles does suppose he sort of owes him a little thank-you for the silk boxers suggestion, because they are kind of his favorite bit of what he's wearing.
Their photographer—someone Deaton's known for over a decade, who is thankfully in the know about potential eye-flashy problems in their pictures—manages to somehow keep all of their guests at bay while he does his thing. Stiles knows Danny and Jackson have helped herd most of the guests to the main building, where they're holding the actual reception, and he's definitely grateful, because he's really not a fan of having to stand around, too formal, and pose for photographs. Thankfully, the guy behind the camera gets that, and he's surprisingly efficient, guiding them through all the requisite poses and arrangements of people before basically turning them loose so he can go take photos of their guests enjoying themselves or whatever else they're paying him for, for a while. They don't have an official wedding coordinator, in that they're not paying someone specifically for the task, but Lydia's stepped right up to the plate on that one, and Stiles is going to have to buy her something even nicer than what he and Derek already got her as her wedding party gift, because she's amazing, as always.
"Reception line," she says, popping up behind them again, one hand on each of their backs, guiding them to a point in the grand foyer of the main estate. Stiles swears he last saw her not ninety seconds ago, talking to Jackson not far from where he and Derek had left the photographer, but here she is. "Don't want to go pissing off the wolves from other packs, do you?" she murmurs in Stiles's ear, before he can complain. "Or you, with Stiles's family?" Both Stiles and Derek exchange quick looks, and Lydia smirks just a little. "Didn't think so. Come on, you two."
The reception line is relatively painless, people starting to drift over pretty much instantly. Behind the crowd, Stiles can see others settling at tables, and just catches a glimpse of the table at the front of the room where he and Derek will be sitting.
And of their cake. Which, holy shit.
The cake, unfortunately, has to wait. It's really not terrible to stand there and shake hands a bunch of times and hug people he doesn't really know all that well, thanking them when they offer their congratulations and good wishes. He thinks he gets sniffed at least a half-dozen times by werewolves he hasn't even met before just now, and he's going to have to ask Derek or Cora what the hell that's about later. He gets a full-on bro-hug from Daniel, whom Stiles had learned was a pretty cool guy last night, out at the club, even if he is older even than Derek and has a wife and kid. Daniel's younger cousin—Jordy, if Stiles's memory isn't totally failing him—looks embarrassed to be related to him, but is polite enough to Stiles anyway. A handful of other wolves tell him in quiet voices that they appreciated the nods to Derek's not-quite-human side in his vows, and Stiles is totally going to hold that over someone at some point, that he can be sensitive and do things right.
The end of the reception line seems to be mostly Stiles's family. His dad's still leading both his aunt and his mother-in-law around, and it's kind of adorable. Stiles honestly can't remember the last time he saw either member of his extended family. His babcia used to visit more often when his mother was alive, but since she'd fallen and landed in the hospital the year after, Stiles doesn't think she's traveled much. And it's been maybe five years since he and his dad drove out to see Aunt Beatrycze, who's been very happily living in Michigan, if her random postcards and greeting cards (some of which are delightfully inappropriate; neither Stiles nor his father know for sure if that's deliberate or not, but Stiles's money is on yes) are anything to go by.
His great-aunt gets to them first, standing up on her tip-toes to be able to kiss each of them on the cheek, and even that requires both of them to lean over a little, because Aunt Beatrycze is ridiculously tiny. Stiles introduces Derek, who smiles that absolutely winningly charming smile of his, and she grabs one of each of their hands and gives them a squeeze. "Życzę Wam wszystkiego najlepszego na nowej drodze życia."
Stiles has the vaguest notion that what she's said is some sort of traditional Polish thing, but he's never really understood more than a couple handfuls of words and phrases, no matter how much anyone's tried to teach him. So when Derek responds with a warm ""Dziękuję," with a pronunciation that might even be better than his own, Stiles basically just gapes at him while Aunt Beatrycze's face lights up.
"Since when do you speak Polish?" Stiles demands, making his dad snort.
"That's… one of maybe three words I actually know," Derek admits. "But I figured it was the right response to well-wishes?" When he sees Stiles still staring, he laughs a little. "I may have utilized Google Translate recently. Just in case."
"Clever one you've found," Beatrycze says, still delighted. She pats Derek's cheek. "Just like my favorite grand-nephew. And handsome, to boot. I hope you'll save me a dance this evening."
Derek blushes a little, which Stiles finds both endearing and gratifying, but he agrees—thankfully in English, or Stiles would have to grumble at him later for making himself more of a favorite of his relatives than he is.
"Such a lovely wedding," his grandmother says after his great-aunt steps away. "My wnuk, all grown up."
Stiles hasn't heard this much Polish in half a decade, but he's thankful neither family member, from either side of the family, has felt the need to use his legal name where people he knows can hear it, especially since he'd convinced Deaton not to use it in the ceremony. Grandson, he can take. "Babcia," he greets her, giving her a hug. He feels bad that he hasn't actually seen anyone in his mother's family since around her funeral, but he's glad she's here.
"Have you two been together long?" his grandmother asks, leaning in to give Derek his own hug. "I don't recall your name being on the last Christmas card."
They share a glance, and Stiles can feel himself blush a little. "No, not that long. We were just friends, first."
His grandmother raises her eyebrows, and then leans a little closer to Derek. She's probably trying to be quiet, sort of whispering, but Stiles hears her next question anyway. "And have you told him about you?" When Derek's eyebrows knit together, she sighs. "You know, about your monthly situation?" Derek goes a little pale, and even Stiles feels like he's been tackled. "It's nothing to be ashamed of, you know, but you really should be open about that, if you're married."
"No, I know about his…situation," Stiles says, after a moment, just barely remembering to keep his voice quiet. "How do you know about his situation?"
His grandmother sighs. "I'm old, wnuk, not senile. And not stupid. My older cousin almost married one of his kind, you know. Poor fellow went missing one day. I don't think some of the new hunters in the village took kindly to what he was. What a shame it was, too. He was the loveliest man. Always nice to me and my brothers. And my cousin was heartbroken. Never did marry, after all." She gives them both a reassuring look. "But you two are careful with the wrong people, yes?"
Stiles can't help but look over at Allison, who's tucked under Scott's arm and looking uncomfortable as she tries to smile at one of the New York werewolf women he's talking to. "Yeah. We're careful."
"That's a good boy."
They exchange a few more words, hug some more, and then there are only a couple people after that in line to get through before they're introduced to the main reception room and it's time for food. It's all buffet-style, because that was easier and cheaper, but there are still a few servers working tonight. Stiles figures that's how he and Derek find plates with food waiting for them at their cozy table for two when they finally get there, and he has a brief moment where his mind's more in line with Game of Thrones than he'll admit to Derek. But it doesn't really matter in the end, because Stiles gets maybe two bites of food down before they're interrupted a few more times by well-wishing guests... and then suddenly Scott's standing up with a microphone Deaton's handed off to him after a few words of introduction, and Stiles has a moment to realize that this is speech time, Scott hasn't given him any sort of indication as to what sort of toast he's going to give, and, most importantly, his best friend has a shitload of embarrassing stories at his disposal because, well, this is Stiles we're talking about, here.
He can't even look anywhere for help, because Scott usually is the help. Lord knows Lydia has enough embarrassing stories in her arsenal as well, Cora probably (hopefully?) has something of her own cooked up regarding Derek and her own toast, Isaac is probably going to be the first to give him a hard time about whatever Scott says (well, maybe second, after Jackson), and Peter… well, if Peter were even sitting at the table with the rest of their bridal party (which is a stupid term, Stiles realizes, still eyeing Scott a little worriedly, since there's technically no bride), instead of occupying a table with some other werewolves Stiles has only just met, and apparently flirting his ass off, he's the last person Stiles expects (or wants) help from, on this matter.
So instead, he just looks at Derek, like he'll be able to flash his eyes at Scott and make him behave, like Scott's not an alpha or anything. Derek just kind of smiles and shrugs, and Stiles really hopes Scott isn't going to tell the Batman underwear story from seventh grade, or the one about Scott babysitting him after he got drunk as shit after being dumped right before the SATs, and especially not the one that involved their punishment for cleaning up the team bus after a Gatorade bottle full of… not Gatorade… got spilled after a stupidly long away lacrosse trip that didn't include a bathroom stop, junior year. But whatever's coming, he's just going to have to bear it.
"Right, so, like Deaton said, I'm Scott. I've been best friends with Stiles since we met in elementary school, when he told off some bully with words I didn't learn the meaning of until I was studying for the SATs. I think that introduction says a lot about who he was, and who he is—a little bit mouthy, a lot smarter than is probably good for him, but especially that he's always been ready to come to someone's rescue, in ways both big and small. We've had a lot of adventures together over the years, and a lot of life lessons. And I can honestly say that I don't think I'd have survived high school here in Beacon Hills if it weren't for Stiles."
Stiles snorts softly, unable to help smirking just a little as he shoots Scott a thumbs-up, to the amusement of a few guests. Yeah, a lot of people can say that about their best friend or whoever put up with their teenaged angsting over whether or not the person they liked would ever like them back, or help them get through breakups and bad test scores, but Stiles knows Scott means that, plus all the times they managed to avoid getting shot, mauled, beaten, poisoned, and all of the other shit that's tried to do them in over the last few years. Scott grins and returns the gesture.
"I actually happened to be there when Stiles and Derek met for the first time. Some best men get to talk about how they knew from the way the couple looked at each other the first time that it was love at first sight, or that there was clearly some chemistry between them, but... well... let's just say that wasn't quite the case with Stiles and Derek. It probably didn't help that we sort of got Derek arrested—for something he was absolutely innocent of!—a short time later. Um. Sorry again for that, Derek." Scott grins the sheepish, goofy grin he's sort of perfected over the years, and Derek just shakes his head, a small smile visible at the corner of his mouth, and waves Scott on.
"So, yeah, definitely not love at first sight. There was a lot more bickering and arguing and smart-assed threats of bodily harm on both sides than terms of endearment or kind words. But through that back-and-forth sarcasm they were so good at, they seemed to develop this perfect sort of way to challenge each other and build trust and a level of intimacy. It was sort of a slow thing, and I can think of a few incidents that helped strengthen it especially well. But, over the last few years, a lot of us who know them both began to see how well they fit together—long before either of them did, I think. For whatever reason, Stiles and Derek were pretty much the last people to realize how good they were for each other. Stiles has basically been family for a long time, as far as I'm concerned, and we sort of built something like an extended family with some of the others gathered here today, with everything we've been through, but...." Scott kind of shrugs, and Stiles has to give him props for the nod to their pack, without actually using the word. "I'm really glad to see my best friend happy, starting his life and family in another, more traditional sense. I wouldn't have said it a couple of years ago, but both Stiles and Derek will always be like family to several of us, and I can't think of anyone more perfect together, to face life and whatever sort of challenges and blessings it hands them. Congratulations, both of you."
Scott raises his glass of champagne towards them, and Stiles and Derek raise theirs back. Stiles is really glad he's not supposed to say anything right here, because his throat's actually just a little bit tight. Total kudos to Scott for being sentimental but not too mushy, and for dancing around the specifics of their little pack, while acknowledging it at the same time.
Also, he didn't tell any of the approximately three million hideously embarrassing stories that he could have, and Stiles totally loves him for it. He's absolutely going to keep that in mind if Scott ever gets off his ass and proposes to Allison and Stiles gets a damned turn as best man.
When Cora finally takes the microphone from Scott, after he introduces her, there's this sort of... gleam, maybe, in her eye, and Stiles feels Derek tense, might even hear him swallow hard next to him. Ha, his turn on the chopping block. Still, Stiles can empathize, since he'd had a similar sort of panic not three minutes ago. He sees Cora take a deep breath and finds Derek's hand underneath the table, lacing their fingers together. Derek looks a little grateful, but also still seriously apprehensive.
"Scott and I talked about our speeches a little bit before tonight, laid out some rules, that sort of thing," Cora says, looking utterly at home with a microphone in front of her, like this is no different from the dozen or so times she's shown some of them up at karaoke over the last couple years. "I told him I'd promised Derek I wouldn't talk about how he came to me for pop culture advice one night after Stiles schooled him on some things, or about his favorite stuffed animal he kept through high school, and Scott told me he'd decided not to tell the story about the underwear, or about the time he and Stiles accidentally blew up the Sheriff's CB radio—"
"Okay, that's enough out of Cora," Scott says loudly, reaching for the microphone even as he looks guiltily at Stiles's dad and Melissa, both of whom are wearing nearly identical parental looks of we're going to be having a talk later about this new information. Stiles sees the expressions, because he is trying to be a man about this curveball, and not hide behind his better-muscled husband like he's some sort of physical shield, because, let's face it, Derek doesn't look any less worried, especially since the words "stuffed animal" left his sister's lips.
Cora somehow manages to hold Scott off with ease, despite Scott's size and alpha advantage. "Right," she says, looking appropriately apologetic. Stiles doesn't buy it for a second, and even the quickest glance at Derek's face says he's even less fooled. Scott, the softie, actually relents. Still, okay, maybe the rest of the speech won't be as bad. "Sorry, guys. My bad. Anyway. When he was younger, my brother was really cocky. I mean, don't get me wrong, he still kind of is, but I'm talking a whole other level of teenage-boy cockiness. I didn't think anything would ever put him in his place, and I had no idea how anyone ever put up with him. Not that he was a bad big brother or anything, but you know how siblings are.
"When I came back to Beacon Hills a couple of years ago, I hadn't seen Derek in a really long time. I'd sort of missed being around when life had been hitting him the hardest, and when I was able to come back, I also got to meet Stiles and Scott and everyone else who's been part of our extended family. And like Scott said, there wasn't exactly a lot of love lost between Stiles and Derek, back then. But even though that was more than a year before they figured things out between them, I could already see that Derek was different around Stiles. Yeah, he was even more of a smartass than usual, but he was also more passionate about everything, every choice, every decision, every plan. More stubborn, too, but he and Stiles definitely had that in common. It was actually kind of fascinating to watch the way they'd interact, the way they were always pushing and pulling at the other, bringing out the best in each other even as you could tell they were driving the other one nuts. I think the first time I put it together, about how they fit better together than they each realized, is when I saw Derek laugh at some stupid joke Stiles made, and I thought about how I hadn't seen him laugh like that since I was a little kid. I can't remember the joke—sorry, Stiles—but I'll never forget the way Derek laughed, and the look on his face. I think he said something sarcastic back right after, and they went back to arguing about a plan, but that moment had been there."
Stiles... isn't sure he remembers anything like that. Yeah, he remembers feeling victorious a couple of times when he could get Derek to laugh at something he said, or even just kind of look less sad on the days he could tell Derek was having an especially grumpy or depressed day, for whatever reason. He does wonder what things would be like if he'd realized what Cora did, way back then, and gives Derek's hand another squeeze, unable to help smiling just a little when Derek squeezes back.
"Fast forward to more than a year later. I get this series of voicemails from Derek, while I'm out of the country. In the aftermath of the news he broke during that call, we had a chance to have a late-night chat about some of the bigger developments in his life. He asked what I really thought about the chance he and Stiles had together. I told him to tell me first why he thought they might actually make it, what made him want to try. He said there was a night, not that long before, where Stiles had given him some little personalized gift, a total surprise. And while that had made him think, just a little, he'd looked closer and seen that there was a message on it. It was just a few words, but it was an excerpt of a quote that held a lot of personal meaning. Back when we were younger, the Hales used to all sit down for dinner as often as we could, around this giant table our grandfather had made. He'd engraved this line from a work of literature all the way around the skirt of it, and we'd all grown up hearing it, like a family motto of sorts. I think it resonates with the whole family, in a few different ways. And when Derek saw that Stiles had—totally unknowingly—chosen a bit of that motto for something that was just supposed to be a trinket, or reminder of their weird sort of years-long friendship, he knew what he'd only just begun to suspect in a concrete way: that he loved him."
Stiles can honestly only stare at Cora. Not because he can't believe her or anything, but because if he fucking blinks right now, he might actually cry, and fuck him if the photographer catches that. He's not even sure he can risk looking at Derek right now, because he can hear Derek's watery-sounding sort of careful breathing, like he's also trying to not get caught in a less-than-manly moment. It's totally okay. He and Derek can totally be manly about this. He might sob a little later, watching a video of this, but he can do that in relative privacy, okay?
"So I told Derek that, given what he'd just told me, and what I'd seen of them together, even before I'd left Beacon Hills months before that, yeah, I was pretty positive they'd make it together. I still am. And seriously, seeing them together tonight, I just wanted to let them know that. We've all seen the way you've been looking at each other all night. And Stiles, I just want to thank you for working your own special brand of magic and making my brother happy again. Some of us worried for a while he wouldn't get to have that. But seeing you two together is amazing, and I'm glad to get to share this night with you, and welcome you into our family in an official way." She raises her glass, and Stiles is at least gratified to see that she also looks a little emotional. "So here's to Stiles, and to Derek, and the way they so clearly are meant for each other. Congratulations. Now just kiss each other already. Do the photographer a favor."
They lean in to kiss each other, to a bunch of applause and camera flashes, and when they break apart they're both grinning. Stiles doesn't even care that he never really gets to turn back to his plate of food, because then Scott's there giving him a giant hug, and then it's Lydia draped over his back for her own while Isaac's over on Derek's side punching his arm and saying something that sounds pretty typically smartass, for him.
Everything ends up a blur pretty quickly, but the whole time, Stiles is very aware of Derek at his side, and the way he just feels happy and gets the same impression from Derek. He doesn't even panic when their DJ tells everyone it's time for their first dance, even though it means he actually has to stand in front of everyone and show that he can totally do something that requires coordination.
"Ready?" Derek murmurs as they take their places at the center of the dance floor.
"As I'll ever be," Stiles says with a nod. He can feel a bit of nervous energy surge through him, but it's not like they haven't practiced this. He's probably never going to win any sort of dance competition, but they've had awesome, patient instructors, and he's pretty sure he can do this without fucking it up completely.
"You've got this," Derek says, moving close, and then the music starts, and they're moving.
Stiles isn't sure anyone will believe him if he tells them it was Derek who's selected their first dance song. They begin to move, stepping in time to the music, and he catches Derek's smirk when a couple of people nearby laugh as Frank Sinatra sings the line fly me to the moon, and then he can't help but grin, himself. He'd thought, back when Derek had suggested the song to their dance instructors, that he'd just sort of been kidding about it. But when Derek had pulled him close later and told him that he'd always associate the song with the moments right after they'd made the decision to actually give the marriage a try, Stiles had sort of flushed a deep red and agreed. He's not sure they have an official song, like, in a couple-y sort of capacity, but this might be it, if they did, even if it was a different song playing for their most important kiss, fifteen minutes before this one had started playing for the Bellagio fountain show. That one had been slow and romantic-sounding and in Italian, which had seemed to fit in tone, even if Stiles had no idea what the lyrics were saying. The Sinatra, though, had been sort of in the middle of sex-anticipation.
Which. Also good. But maybe not something they'll ever tell anyone else.
It's open season on dancing once all the applause dies down and Stiles and Derek part with a small, chaste kiss as their ending flourish, playing to all of their guests. There's more mingling with their guests, more dancing with each other and whoever else happens to approach them on the dance floor, and the occasional pause in everything to take more photos. Stiles doesn't think he'll be able to put together a comprehensive timeline of the night by the time morning comes around, but it's all still nice. And Derek only makes fun of him a little when they're asked to pose together in front of their cake, and Stiles can barely keep from bouncing up and down.
"But look at it," he whispers to Derek, gesturing to it unnecessarily, like Derek's oblivious to its existence. "If it tastes even half as good as it looks, I'm—"
"Going to make completely inappropriate noises?"
"No! Well, okay, maybe. But seriously, dude, this thing is awesome." It is, too. There are three tiers, though the cake itself isn't huge. The whole thing is done in hues of dark blue that match their wedding colors, but there's actual design to it, definitely more than Stiles was expecting. The bottom layer has this sort of forest silhouette thing going, just black, shadowy trees against the navy sky, and there are tiny silver stars scattered across the rest of the cake. But what completes the scene is the full moon on the side of the top layer, apparently hand-painted or some shit like that, and it's amazing. So amazing, in fact, that Stiles is going to feel bad for cutting into it for a few seconds between doing it and eating it. Even Derek looks in awe as they get closer for photos, right up until he jerks to a halt, his eyes wide.
"What?" Stiles asks him, when Derek just continues to stare. "Did they fuck something up? Someone said something about there being a thing with the cake, right? Is that side all mangled or something? Derek? Hello?" He waves a hand sort of in Derek's face, laughing, even as he has the sudden worry that something's really wrong, because he's now not actually sure Derek's even breathing. "Seriously, dude, what the hell—?" he asks, coming around to where Derek's standing on the other side of the cake, eyes still locked on it.
And then he sees.
On the other side of the cake, directly across from where the moon is painted, is an elegant, curling triskele.
It's a familiar enough symbol, and Stiles gets what it means to Derek and the rest of the Hales. He's just not sure why it's seemed to knock all the breath out of Derek. "Dude. Kudos to the baker, right?"
Derek shakes his head, which is the first time he's moved at all in the last thirty seconds, at least. "You don't get it," he says, and his voice is rough. "You've seen my tattoo."
Seen it? Hell, Stiles has traced the pattern across Derek's back a hundred times or more in the last couple of months. He knows it intimately, could draw it with his eyes closed, knows every detail of the curves, the length of each spiral, the width of each line. The one on their cake isn't quite the same—it's delicate in a way Derek's broad, bold one isn't—but it's similar enough that it's not like anyone could say the cake decorator got something wrong. "Um. Yeah?"
"This…" Derek says, voice still sounding a little raspy, "this was what my mother's looked like."
And oh. Okay, then.
"I went with Lydia to the bakery when she ordered it," Cora says practically into Stiles's ear, and he jumps and clutches at his chest, because she seriously came out of nowhere.
"Swear to God, I'm going to make all of you wear bells around your necks," he mutters as he glares at her, trying to get his heart rate back to normal. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see at least three different werewolves shoot him dirty looks. "Shit, sorry, kidding!" he says to the room at large, hands up at shoulder-level, palms out in surrender, earning him weird looks from the few humans close enough to hear him. "Just kidding, I swear." One of the wolves—one of the New York alphas—rolls her eyes but smirks a little, and Stiles feels a little better about his chances of not getting his throat ripped out.
"Sorry, I didn't mean for it to be the bad kind of surprise," Cora says softly, now at Derek's side. "I just thought…"
"It's perfect," he murmurs, bending down just a little to kiss the top of her head, and Stiles lets them have their moment without ruining it by opening his mouth and saying the wrong thing. He knows Derek can get a little gut-punched over family stuff, and it's not like he can blame him for the fact that reminders of pack and family hit him so hard. Fuck, if someone says the right thing about mothers, Stiles has been known to tear up, himself. "Thank you. But seriously, if you've bet someone you can make me cry tonight so you can get pictures, I'll get you back later." Cora snorts, but gives him another hug and moves aside as Lydia makes subtle gestures at the pearl-handled cake server sitting next to Derek's right hand.
After a few more photos of them with their intact cake of awesomeness, they cut into the bottom layer, and holy shit, it's moist and Stiles can smell the chocolate in it even before Derek lifts a fork with the first bite up for him to taste. It's seriously the sort of cake Stiles has dreamt about, and he has to sternly tell himself that moaning like he's in a porno is not the thing to do right now, in front of God and his relatives and more than a handful of werewolves.
It's a close thing, though.
He feeds Derek his own bite, and Stiles feels totally justified when Derek's eyes widen as he tastes the glory that is this perfect work of art. He is absolutely going to write the most glowing review of this bakery the world has ever seen. It's a shame—a travesty, in fact—that they don't get any more than the one bite apiece, because then someone (quite possibly Danny) calls out for them to kiss, and then it's a blur of more photos, which leads to more dancing, and then talking to a bunch of guests. Time passes at a weird sort of pace until the DJ is saying something about a final dance, and then Derek's taking his hand and leading him onto the dance floor one final time, the same slow, pretty song with Italian lyrics playing all around them that played that night outside the fountains of the Bellagio, and Stiles can't feel anything but happy.
* * *
Tiredness hits maybe a little more forcefully than Stiles anticipated. He absolutely appreciates everyone that helped them come out to celebrate, and helped this whole evening happen, period, but they can really all go home now.
"So, what does this make me?" Stiles asks Jackson, as innocently as he can manage, just to annoy him a bit and see if that'll get him to leave. "Am I your step-alpha?"
Jackson rolls his eyes. "One, Stilinski, I have an alpha, back in London. Two, Derek's not an alpha anymore. Three, you're not my step-anything. This just sort of officially puts you on the list of people I will actively try not to maul, even when you deserve it—out of respect for Derek, since he was the one who turned me. And also maybe because your dad's still sheriff, and I really don't feel like spending any more time cuffed or in the back of that stupid police van you guys locked me in back in high school."
Stiles smirks just a little. "Ah, your murderous lizard phase. Good times."
Jackson snorts and mutters something not loud enough for Stiles to hear, though both Scott and Isaac quickly try to smother grins. But he still doesn’t look any more inclined to leave the premises. Maybe it's time to step it up a notch.
"So, Lydia," he tries, turning to her as she's looking through her purse for something. Stiles has no idea what it could possibly be and how she can't find it, since he's not even sure he could get a full fist inside a purse that small. Seriously, how is that supposed to be useful? That thing can't hold more than a pack of gum and one of those little makeup mirrors. That's not the same bag that held the mini lint roller and mints and lipstick and all from earlier, is it? Maybe she's figured out some Harry Potter or Doctor Who-type shit to make it bigger on the inside. He should ask later. "Is Jackson taking you home in his rental car tonight?"
"Hm?" She apparently gives up on trying to locate whatever could be hiding in her bag and looks up at him. "Why would I let him do that?" Jackson makes kind of an offended face, like it hasn't been obvious enough he's trying to get and keep Lydia's attention all night. It's probably not as sad and pathetic as Stiles's past attempts at the same thing have been, but it's... yeah. Not entirely dignified.
"Oh, I just figured, you two seemed to be sort of getting along really well, and maybe he'd be doing the chivalrous thing and driving you home, so you didn't have to risk your life again, riding with Cora."
He maybe deserves the elbow Cora digs into his side for that, but seriously, apparently all Hales have lead feet. Not that Jackson was much better, from what Stiles remembers, and that was even before he had the stupid excuse of being a werewolf with supernatural reflexes to rely on.
Lydia raises her eyebrows, then glances at Jackson, who looks both a little wounded and hopeful, all at once. "I suppose I could take back my no from earlier, if he still wants to offer." It's actually kind of comical how eager Jackson looks at that, like a puppy that might get the treat that's been waved in front of his nose, if he performs correctly at a given command, before he nods and offers again. "All right."
Okay. Now he and Jackson are even for the silk boxers thing. Stiles no longer owes him one.
But everyone is still freaking standing around. Everyone except for Derek, that is, who is helping Stiles's great-aunt into the passenger's side of Stiles's dad's car.
Ugh, he's totally going to be Stiles's family's favorite, it's not even fair.
Stiles's dad follows Derek back to where the rest of the pack is standing, and Melissa comes from somewhere to stand between him and Scott just as Stiles is wondering if faking a yawn might work to get everyone moving towards their homes, so he and Derek can climb into the Camaro and get out of here themselves. He's pretty sure Cora and Peter will be staying somewhere that's not Derek's place tonight. At least, he hopes so.
He's just about to try it when half of the people standing around, blocking their exit, look at a particular point in the distance. Stiles looks behind him on reflex, but doesn't see anything. So he turns to Derek, who just looks puzzled. Cora and Isaac appear pleased about something, Scott seems relieved, and Jackson's expression says whatever he's feeling might be summed up by a huffed finally. It's all suspicious enough that Stiles turns back around, like he can somehow see around the curved drive outside the estate house part of the property. When something does come around the corner, he just kind of stares at it for a moment. And then he blinks a few times and wonders how tired he is that he's seeing shit.
It's a limo.
"You're seeing this shit, right?" Stiles murmurs to Derek as the vehicle drives even closer. Derek sort of squints a little, like his eyesight isn't a hundred times better than Stiles's is, anyway, and nods. All right, then. The limo's totally there. He turns to look at everyone, trying to figure out whose doing this was. What ends up coming out of his mouth, instead of the flood of thank-yous he means as he processes this development, is, "okay, who's responsible for this?" He hears how that sounds, even if he hadn't caught Derek's facepalm next to him, and backtracks. "No, I mean, okay, who do we thank here?"
Scott clears his throat. "This was kind of... all of us. I mean, we all chipped in, and it's not just the limo. That's just sort of the first part?"
"First part?" Derek asks, looking a little like he can't quite figure out how to react. Stiles sort of flails his agreement with that general sentiment, because he was just about to ask the same thing.
"Yeah. We were all sort of talking about how we probably shouldn't load you guys up with a lot of stuff you'll just have to pack up and move when you head to L.A. in a couple of weeks, so it seemed like the best option for wedding gifts was more something you could do, instead. So, we got the limo for right now, and it'll take you to the next part."
"Next part?" Stiles asks, as Derek opens his mouth, probably to say the same thing. Totally in sync. Stiles loves it.
"Kind of a surprise, dude," Scott says with a grin. Like Stiles hasn't been able to wheedle information out of him for years when he wants it. "Just go with it."
Stiles glances again at Derek, who looks torn between being apprehensive and intrigued, and is definitely curious. Stiles totally gets the apprehension. Surprises haven't exactly turned out in his favor for most of his past. If these weren't their closest friends and family, Stiles would also be considering this some sort of sketchy ambush scenario. After a moment, Derek nods sort of decisively, and Stiles figures, hey, what the hell. "All right."
They get more or less sort of herded towards the limo, where the chauffeur's now waiting with the door open for them, and Stiles is trying his damnedest to discern any clues, despite the whole "surprise" angle. But apparently this is what everyone was waiting for, because it looks like they're all finally doing their last goodbyes for the evening, hugs going all around, along with thanks from both Stiles and Derek with every hug and handshake and kiss on the cheek. Lydia shoves some small, bulky envelope into Derek's hand and, before Stiles can ask what that is, his dad takes him just a little bit to the side and looks at him for a long moment. Normally, it's the sort of thing that would have Stiles shifting from foot to foot at the scrutiny, but the look on his dad's face keeps him from feeling that sort of guilt and nervousness.
"Look, kiddo. I know this is a surprise and all, but I also know you're likely to drive Derek absolutely bonkers with speculation until the reveal, so I'll just say a couple of things. This next part is my gift to you two. I couldn't pay for everything, like a parent is supposed to—"
"Oh my God," Stiles says, groaning a little. "Why does everyone keep treating me like the bride? Also, Dad, seriously, parents don't necessarily have to—"
"You gonna let me finish, son? Trying to have a moment, here."
"Oh, yeah, all right, sorry." He looks sheepishly at his dad, who is probably at least used to him by now. "Go ahead." He mimes zipping his lips.
"Right. Anyway. I couldn't pay for everything, like I'd have liked to. You're my only kid, I'd kind of hoped one day I could give you some big shindig celebration for one of the biggest days of your life. So, since I couldn't quite do that, just know what what's been arranged for you is to show you—both of you—that I really do approve of this marriage, and that I want you and Derek to be as happy together as your mom and I were. Okay?"
Stiles opens his mouth a few times to answer, only nothing comes out. He knows his dad had had a bit of a hard time accepting the news that he and Derek had just up and gotten married in Vegas, especially since they hadn't actually been together before that point, and that had been a little to do with the whole werewolf thing, and the rash decision thing, and the you're-only-eighteen-don't-you-think-you're-a-little-young-to-know-what-you-really-want-from-a-partner thing, and definitely the marriage-is-not-a-game thing. Plus maybe a little bit of the Derek-Hale-of-all-people thing. And while Stiles has more or less figured his dad has accepted the whole situation, he didn't quite think his dad would be so... so... fiercely supportive.
"Jesus, Dad," he finally manages. "Trying to get me to cry twice in one day?"
The grin his dad gives is a little lopsided as he drags Stiles into a hug. "Yeah. Caught me. We've got a pool going."
Stiles recalls Derek saying something to Cora near the cake earlier and snorts. Normally, he'd assume his dad is kidding, but now... fuck, hell if he knows. Most of the pack had been betting on how he and Derek would get together for months before they'd actually gone and done it. He can't totally put it past everyone to try to see how many touching, emotional buttons they can push over the course of the afternoon and evening.
Or maybe this is just how weddings go, when you're really fucking happy to be doing this whole thing with the person at your side.
They climb into the backseat of the limo, and it's Stiles's second time being in one, but it's no less cool than it was in Vegas. And this time, there's no awkwardness regarding how close he and Derek can comfortably sit, or if they should even sit next to each other instead of across. He wiggles around on the leather seat that faces forward and raises his eyebrows. Pretty comfy. As Derek slides in next to him, Stiles notices the things on the far bench—two glasses, a bottle of champagne, and another small envelope. Inside is a small mp3 player, but no headphones. "What the hell?" he mutters, powering it on so he can scan the songs stored on it.
He's barely gotten it to load when Scott pops his head in and sees Stiles is already messing with what was in the envelope. "Isaac thought you guys could use that, since you'll be in here for three hours."
"Three hours?" He pauses fiddling with the thing to look at Scott incredulously. "Where the hell are we going that's three hours away?" He figures that's a lot more likely than driving around Beacon Hills for that long, for whatever reason.
"Thought we covered the whole 'it's a surprise' thing, dude," Scott laughs. "Anyway, seriously, relax. There's champagne, and there should be snacks around here somewhere, and there's even a TV." He looks at Derek. "You got the thing Lydia had?"
Derek holds up the small envelope still in his hand. "The one she told me I couldn't open until we were at least ten minutes away?"
"That's the one. Okay. Then you two should be set. Have a good time, guys. And seriously, congratulations. But we don't want to hear from you again until you get back." And with that, he slams the door shut, leaving Stiles and Derek to just sort of look at each other, eyebrows raised.
The limo's only been moving for about thirty seconds, during which Stiles has been trying to figure out where to dock the MP3 player or otherwise plug it in, since the songs are only labeled numerically, when Derek sighs. "All right. We're out of earshot. If anyone thinks I'm willing or able to keep you from driving at least one of us nuts for that full ten minute period, they don't know either of us very well."
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?" Stiles asks, huffing. "I'm not that annoying, am I?"
Derek plucks the MP3 player out of his hands, brushing a quick kiss against Stiles's mouth. "I just meant that I'm a lot more likely to give in to your demands or requests these days. And also, you're not the only one who wants to know what the fuck our friends and family are up to." He puts the envelope into Stiles's hands. "Here. Go for it."
Stiles has the best husband.
The envelope is only just barely sealed, popping open easily when Stiles slides his index finger under the flap. He shakes out the contents into his lap, finding two items had been fit inside. He looks at the main one for a moment, then holds it up for Derek to see. "A key?"
There's only a small leather fob attached to it, with the number three stamped upon it. "I'd normally say maybe a locker or some sort of safety deposit box," Derek says slowly, "but it looks heavier than that. Like an old-fashioned door key. What else was in there? Is that a note?" He plucks it from Stiles's lap and unfolds the small slip of paper. "'Four nights, three full days. Make the most of them.'" He looks back up at Stiles, his eyebrows high, and hands the paper over. "That's all it says."
Stiles squints at it in the low light. It's Lydia's handwriting, which he supposes makes sense. "Huh." He means to say something else, maybe to ask Derek how well he knows the geography of any place about three hours from Beacon Hills, but what comes out instead is a huge yawn.
Derek rearranges himself just a little on the seat, tugging Stiles closer until he's got one arm around Stiles's shoulder. "We've got three hours," he says quietly into Stiles's ear. "You can sneak in a nap."
Stiles wants to protest, because, seriously, this is only his second limo ride ever, and he wants to figure out where they're going, and also they have champagne and a TV and whatever else back here, but he finds himself turning his face further into Derek's shoulder, nuzzling at the fabric of his jacket just a little as his eyes slip shut without his full permission. "Just a few minutes," he mumbles. "Don't let me sleep the whole time."
He can feel Derek's other arm shift, and then there's music—presumably whatever was on the MP3 player—playing softly and Derek rubs his nose against Stiles's hairline. "I won't."
"I'm serious," Stiles says, and that's the last thing he manages before the rocking of the vehicle and sound of Derek's humming along to the music pull him under.
* * *
Derek shakes his head. "No. But we're headed north, it looks like."
"Huh. Interesting." Stiles sits up a little more, trying to get himself situated for another two and a half hours or so of car ride. They're just on the freeway at the moment, given what his glance out the window shows him, but it's late enough that the traffic's not too bad at all. He looks around at the stuff Scott had pointed out, some of which he'd noticed already when he'd climbed inside. "How do you feel about cracking open that bottle of champagne?"
"I think it'd be a shame to let it go to waste," Derek says with a grin, sitting up and reaching for the bottle and the opener sitting just beside it.
"I think you're right." Stiles holds up the first glass for Derek to fill, and then the other, handing one off once the bottle's been set down. "So, cheers?"
"Cheers," Derek agrees, clinking the rims of their champagne flutes together before they each take a sip. Stiles isn't exactly huge on champagne and wine and that sort of thing, but this is kind of light and sweet, and not bad at all.
"You know I mean what I said earlier, right?" Stiles asks after another couple of swallows, playing a bit with the glass. He isn't quite sure how or when might be the best time for this, but this feels like a safe enough moment. He swallows the remaining champagne in his glass and sets it back down in the cupholder that keeps it safe.
"'I do'?" Derek says, eyebrows raised, and takes another sip of his own drink. "Yeah, especially since this was technically the second time."
"No, the other part. About how I've seen both the best and worst of you, and that I choose both. I choose all of you. You said something about how I'm the person that knows you best, and how I still manage to love you anyway. And I just want you to know that I absolutely do."
For a moment, Derek just flat-out stares at him. Stiles wonders if that was sort of an awkward thing to say, maybe something he should have eased into, when they were talking about the wedding already, before Derek's set his glass down and is reaching over, cupping Stiles's cheek and chin in his hand, guiding him in for a kiss that tastes like tartness and bubbles and seems to last forever.
"I know you meant it," Derek murmurs when they finally pull apart. "But that doesn't mean it means any less, hearing it again." Before Stiles can even reply, Derek's leaning forward again for another kiss, pressing him up against the leather of the seat, and between the actual kissing and the thing where he's being sort of pinned under Derek's weight, Stiles is suddenly very, very awake. He works a hand up under Derek's shirts, running his fingertips over the warm skin of Derek's waist, loving the way Derek inhales sharply and nips at Stiles's lower lip, soothing it with his tongue just after.
He has no idea how long they make out like that, Stiles with one hand roaming over all the skin he can touch, trapped between Derek's body and the layers of fabric of his outfit, and Derek carefully using his size advantage to keep Stiles pressed against the wide backseat, undoing him a little at a time with varied kisses and bites to his mouth and neck. At some point, Derek pulls back, looking almost as flushed as Stiles feels. "Much as I am really, really tempted right now, we probably shouldn't have sex in the backseat of this limo."
Stiles blinks at him. "While I can see some logic in that, I have to tell you, I can think of a few reasons we should." He gestures at his lap, where his dick is very obviously interested in changing Derek's mind. He's not one-hundred percent certain he has enough blood to operate both his dick and his brain well enough to make a persuasive argument, but damn it, he can try.
Derek's raised eyebrows, while telling of his amusement, also indicate pretty clearly that he's not likely to change his mind, whatever argument Stiles can come up with. "Not on our wedding night—second wedding night," he amends when Stiles opens his mouth to make that point. "But I promise to make it good when we do go further, sometime before we call it a night."
Well, okay, that's a pretty solid conciliatory statement, all things considered. He can put up with a case of blue balls for a few hours. Besides, there is the whole logistics issue, here. He doesn't have a condom or lube on his person at the moment, and he doubts Derek does either. And he is sure as hell not prepared to have to explain to Scott or anyone else who might be officially footing the limo bill tonight why there was an extra charge for cleanup or anything else along those lines. He does have some shame. Sort of. Now and then.
"Make it good, huh?"
Derek's grin is sharp in a way that makes Stiles feel a little hot and tingly. "You have no idea."
Oh. Okay, then. He can totally wait.
The next couple of hours pass a little faster than Stiles would have expected. They don't utilize the television set, content enough with the playlist Isaac's thrown together. He's got some of Stiles's favorite songs on there, and a few Stiles knows are ones Derek's especially fond of. There's nothing terrible on the list, though there are a few songs neither of them know. It's sort of a nice mix of upbeat stuff and slower, relaxing ones, stuff that's easy enough to let wash over them as they sit leaning up against each other, just enjoying the company and chance to unwind after the excitement of the evening. But Stiles's favorite moments are when Derek relaxes enough to hum along, his fingers laced through Stiles's or his thumb stroking either the back of Stiles's hand or his palm.
They've got to be at a point where they're not far from wherever they're headed when Jason Mraz starts singing, and Stiles is hit with a memory of their time in Vegas, unable to keep himself from grinning like an idiot. He remembers pretty clearly that he'd been working himself up into something bordering on a panic attack while they were getting changed for the wedding ceremony, unable to really get out of his own head for a minute or two since he'd started thinking maybe he had some serious feelings for Derek he should have perhaps addressed before that particular moment...and that Derek had chosen that exact moment to sing along to the song playing overhead. It had been such an unexpected thing that Stiles had been startled out of his own thoughts, wanting to laugh at Derek singing along to something sort of cheesy, out of nowhere. It hit him later, of course—much later—that it was almost certainly a deliberate sort of distraction on Derek's part, since he'd have been able to hear Stiles's heart rate climbing and his breathing going a little weird, not to mention whatever freaked-out shit he'd been babbling to himself in his half-panic.
Still grinning over the memory of that moment—and the one right after, when Stiles had belted out the chorus to that old Foreigner song and made Derek choke on laughter, only to join in on the next repetition and get into it enough that neither of them had noticed their wedding coordinator had walked into the room until she'd said something—Stiles gives Derek's hand a squeeze. Derek looks back at him, smiling in a way that tells Stiles he's thinking of the same damned thing, and it's sort of a miracle Stiles's heart doesn't burst with all the love and shit he's feeling right now.
"I love you," Stiles says, the exact same moment Derek does, knowing he should say it more often, because Derek deserves to hear it all the time. Derek chuckles softly at their identically-timed proclamation, and Stiles thinks that, were the world to end right this moment, that would almost be okay with him.
* * *
They're in a small parking lot with only one other car present, next to a very small one-room building. Stiles can see that the other car has that glass chalk stuff all over the windows, the words "JUST MARRIED" and "STEPHEN + MAGGIE" visible from where he's standing. He's just noticed that there's a light on in the little building and someone sitting inside, right behind a tiny neon "OPEN" sign, when the driver goes to the backside of the limo, opens up the trunk, and unloads a suitcase and a small Styrofoam box.
"You're supposed to check-in there," the driver says with a nod in that direction, handing the small box to Stiles as Derek reaches for the suitcase handle. "You gentlemen enjoy the rest of your evening, and congratulations." Derek starts to say something about being sorry he doesn't have cash on him at the moment, but he's waved off with a smile and the assurance that someone's already taken care of that detail before the driver slides back into his seat and restarts the engine.
"I guess we should do as instructed," Derek says with a shrug, lifting the suitcase easily. Stiles isn't sure if that means there's very little packed inside, or if it's just Derek's superhuman strength coming into play. He hopes there's at least one outfit for each of them, because he doesn't exactly feel like having to wear his wedding outfit everywhere. He's not James Bond, he can't pull off wearing a tux or suit for every occasion.
Stiles nods and adjusts his grip on the box, following after Derek.
The guy sitting inside the small office looks up from his computer as they enter, looking as if he's been expecting them and isn't at all annoyed by how late they're arriving, and even the welcome he gives is warm. It takes less than two minutes for him to add an electronic key to the metal one they're already in possession of, and he's up and leading them to their room a moment later, talking quietly about how they'll absolutely have privacy for the duration of their stay, though they are of course welcome to use the shared facilities he gestures to as they walk further along a path Stiles hadn't noticed when they'd arrived. "You'll find more details in the book in your room," he tells them as they step up to the front door of a little bungalow of sorts and he unlocks the room with a keycard of his own that Stiles can see the word "STAFF" written on in thick black letters. "But I imagine you've had a long day and are ready for bed. The office will reopen at 7 in the morning, but feel free to dial zero if you need anything before then. Have a good night." And with that he walks back the way they all came, leaving Stiles and Derek to just shrug at each other and walk inside.
Derek hits the light switch as he steps through the door, illuminating an area much bigger than Stiles was expecting. The place looks little from the outside, but it's deceptive out in the dark. The place isn't wide, by any means, but it's long in a way you can't see from outside—Stiles sees a kitchenette on one side of the main living room, an open door that looks like it leads to a bathroom on the other, and a door at the very end of the place that he hopes is the bedroom. He makes straight for that door, moving past Derek, who's sort of drifted towards the kitchen area, and stops dead when he flips on the room light.
There's a sliding glass door at the far end of the room, and Stiles can't help but stare at the small deck outside that gives way to sand and the ocean beyond. "Holy shit," he breathes. Coming up behind him, Derek makes a noise of agreement and noses at the spot behind Stiles's ear and jaw, making Stiles break out in goosebumps. "You're not starting shit you can't finish, right?" Stiles asks, the view of the ocean nearly forgotten as Derek nuzzles the same spot behind Stiles's other ear. He turns his head just enough to get a look at the bed on one side of the room, pleased to note that it looks exceptionally comfortable, and big enough to support some fun activities.
"Definitely not," Derek murmurs, nipping lightly at Stiles's earlobe, making Stiles shiver in earnest. He plucks the box out of Stiles's hands, then turns around and heads out of the bedroom, chuckling when Stiles makes an annoyed noise and calls a "hey!" after him. "Trust me, if this is what I think it is, you're going to want it kept safe," he calls from somewhere else in the cottage. There's the sound of movement and then of a door of some sort opening and closing, and then he's back, kissing Stiles as he walks them backwards—not towards the bed, but towards the sliding glass door. "I was right. It was the top layer of cake. It's safe, I promise. But we should probably take care of this," he says, one hand at the small of Stiles's back even as he reaches up and draws the full-length blinds shut over the door, blocking out the rest of the world. "There. Now I can make good on that promise."
"Fuck yeah," Stiles agrees, sighing as Derek tugs him closer and begins undoing the buttons of Stiles's vest. He's been patient enough, and is quite happy Derek's not going to make him wait much longer. Normally, Stiles would be all about exploring this place a bit, maybe reading through that book the guy from the office said had more information about where they were, but he's got another priority right now. It's his goddamned wedding night, and there are certain activities to be enjoyed.
Stiles remembers their night in Vegas clearly, the antsy sort of hormone-heavy anticipation of sex on the way back to the hotel, the way he sort of felt he might vibrate out of his skin. This doesn't feel quite like that. There's not quite the same sensation of rushing, of desperate need, swirling through him. Derek takes his time in stripping Stiles of his clothes, pausing partway through to remove his own, piece by piece. It's... it's sort of sensual this time, like they both know they can take their time to thoroughly enjoy it, knowing there's no hurry. Derek's completely naked by the time he gets Stiles down to his socks and underwear, and he steps back a little, eyebrows raised. "Silk underwear?"
"Tell me they're not awesome," Stiles challenges, managing to remove his socks without having to bend down and yank them off.
Derek hums and moves closer. Stiles isn't hard or anything yet, but that changes a little when Derek presses close and runs one hand up over Stiles's ass, cupping it for a moment before trailing his hand up over the front panel, teasing his dick with that small bit of friction. When he does it a second time, tilting his head down to suck gently at the place where Stiles's neck and shoulder meet while rubbing the heel of his hand gently against the head of Stiles's dick, Stiles can feel blood rushing to the area. He knows Derek can tell he's aroused, not just by the feel of what's under his hand, but by the way his nostrils flare just a little bit. Stiles may not have the benefit of werewolf senses at his disposal, but Derek does, and Stiles knows enough to see little signs from Derek and interpret what a lot of them mean. He's gotten Derek to admit to certain things over the last couple of months, including some of the things his senses can pick up. While Stiles doesn't like to think that other wolves can likely tell when he's feeling a little turned on, he does like knowing Derek can, and likes even more that it gets Derek going, too. It's a fun little feedback loop of sorts, sometimes.
"Yeah, all right, they're a little awesome," Derek allows after another moment, dropping his hand and pressing himself up against Stiles. It sort of pins Stiles to the wall in a way he's really come to like. He presses his hips against Stiles's, and Stiles can feel Derek's dick firm up as he does sort of a wiggling little move that Stiles probably couldn't pull off without falling over. "Maybe more than a little, even." He slides two fingers of his right hand between the elastic and Stiles's skin, letting the band snap back gently. "But I'd rather see them off."
"Oh you would, hm?" Stiles smirks, like he's not so very into being completely naked with Derek sometime in the next ten seconds.
"Yeah," Derek says, against Stiles's mouth, and then he's got Stiles's lower lip between his teeth, sucking and biting it in turns, almost enough to distract Stiles from the sound of ripping fabric.
"Aw, dude, those were my new favorite underwear," he huffs, looking down to see them sliding down his legs, one small strand of frayed silk caught on Derek's single extended claw.
"I'll buy you more," Derek promises, finger already normal as he brings it up to tilt Stiles's jaw upwards. "A dozen of them, even."
Well, he's not going to argue with that. "Deal," Stiles agrees, before he wraps his hand lightly around Derek's erection, loving the way he inhales sharply at the touch. "Hey, what do you say we test the structural integrity of that bed?"
"Read my mind." And with that, Stiles finds himself up and in Derek's grasp like he weighs nothing. He wraps his legs around Derek's waist, even though it's obvious Derek doesn't really need the help in supporting his weight as he walks them over to the bed, dropping Stiles down onto the mattress when they get there. "Seem sturdy?" he asks, looking cocky as Stiles bounces once or twice.
"Enough," Stiles allows. "But we should probably run a few more exhaustive tests, to be sure."
"Exhaustive, huh?" Derek smirks. He doesn't immediately pounce on the bed, like Stiles is sort of hoping for, but when he opens the suitcase and starts to look around, Stiles can hardly blame him.
Also, he's pretty sure neither of them want to know who actually packed the lube and condoms sitting on top of the clothes. Or the few toys Derek uncovers, underneath a pair of his jeans.
At least everything is brand new, and in original packaging. There's even a pack of batteries taped to the box one of the toys comes in.
"Tomorrow," Derek says after a brief moment of consideration. Stiles isn't sure if it's consideration for which toys might be most fun to experiment with, or if it's just him deciding not to picture anyone they know making these purchases on their behalf.
"Four nights, right?" Stiles says, reaching out until Derek joins him atop the bed. "Weren't we supposed to make the most of them? I'm pretty sure we can handle it, aren't you?"
Derek grins at him, maneuvering them both so that they're lying next to each other. "Yeah," he says, dragging one hand up Stiles's side, sliding it over so that he can graze one of Stiles's nipples with his thumb. "I think we can do that."
It's a slow, easy thing to be in bed like this, taking their time. They kiss until Stiles is pretty sure his mouth is swollen with it, no more words between them in the interim, instead communicating through small gasps and hums and moans. He loves the moments when Derek's breath hitches, when his rhythm falters for a brief second, when he swears under his breath when Stiles switches things up a bit with the way they touch.
Derek's kneeling above him, holding one of Stiles's wrists up above his head, against the mattress, and it's so fucking good, even without anyone's dick going into anyone else yet, just lube and hands with dexterous fingers, and the occasional tease from lips and tongue and teeth. Still. He's just about to say something to progress things along when Derek pulls back, breathing hard. His hair is all sorts of messed up, his cheeks are pink, and he's almost as sweaty as Stiles is.
He's fucking gorgeous.
"Ready?" he asks, flicking his eyes over to the night stand, where the open bottle of lube sits next to the condom he'd snagged before jumping into bed with Stiles.
"Yeah, definitely," Stiles says, taking the opportunity to catch his breath for just a moment. Jesus, he wouldn't be surprised if he's burning nearly as many calories in bed with Derek as he used to for lacrosse practice. "Facing, maybe?" he suggests as Derek settles himself on the mattress, squatting back on his heels to get the condom on. Stiles has been the one on top a handful of times, and it's always good with Derek, but he loves the feeling of Derek filling him up, knowing he's tempering his stupid amounts of strength with trying to be gentle or at least considerate. And while being fucked into the mattress is also good (so, so good, sometimes), tonight he wants that intimacy, maybe even the little bit of sentimental throwback to that night in Vegas.
"You on your back or me on mine?" Derek takes suggestions (and the occasional order) from Stiles easily, when they're sex-related. Outside the bedroom, they're still working on that from both ends, but they've got something good there, too. Stiles is still trying to get Derek to a point where they can have a night where Derek just takes whatever the fuck he wants, a few basic rules worked out beforehand. Maybe tomorrow, if things go well. Because he's got a feeling that would be super hot.
"Like our first time," Stiles says, and Derek swallows hard, nodding before he gets himself positioned on his back. It's like the best kind of small flashback, to see the way Derek basically stares at him in something like wonder as Stiles takes his dick and positions it just right so he can slide slowly down on it, adjusting at his own pace.
He takes his time with it, slow, small rocking motions once he's ready to move, loving the way Derek's hands grip at his hips and the swell of his ass, like he's not exactly sure where to touch but can't help doing it anyway. Stiles gets a rhythm going, rolling his hips in a way he's figured out works for them both, before he slicks up his own hand and starts stroking himself in time. He doesn't think this is going to be one of the nights where he lasts a while. That heavy, hot feeling is steadily building low within him, and he just hopes he has enough energy afterwards to get Derek off just as well as he can already tell he's going to go.
"Fuck, Stiles," Derek moans just as Stiles bears down on him a bit, and Stiles opens his eyes, realizes he's got his lower lip between his own teeth in a way Derek's told him he loves. "I'm close."
"Good." He slows down, more for his own stamina than Derek's, and feels a grin stretch over his face. "One more suggestion?" When Derek nods, digging his thumbs just a little into the flesh of Stiles's thighs, Stiles waits until he catches Derek's eyes to speak again. "Mark me?"
The blue flash of Derek's eyes is one of the best payoffs Stiles has found, in this sort of situation. It's pretty much an instant step up in his arousal.
It's only a moment before Stiles is the one on his back, Derek now straddling his thighs. He sees Derek toss the condom somewhere (he hopes it actually hits a trash can or something, because he really doesn't want to be the one to find it by stepping on it later) before taking himself in hand and stroking in earnest. Jesus fuck, that's hot. He bares his throat, knowing Derek will absolutely read the invitation in it, and is rewarded with a mouth on it within seconds, Derek's tongue pressing into the best spot before he moves a little lower, nipping and sucking at Stiles's shoulder and collarbone, areas a little easier to conceal the next few days. Derek's mouth is a thing of fucking wonder; he manages to hit every damned nerve Stiles has in a way that drives him crazy, from earlobe to neck to chest and back again. "Shit, I'm gonna—" he gasps after only a minute or two, unable to really slow the impending orgasm and giving up trying, letting his hand speed up on his own dick.
"Do it," Derek grunts, and then he's shuddering above Stiles, his own release striping Stiles's stomach and chest and neck, just before Stiles comes all over his own hand, managing to hit Derek's thigh and the lowest part of his abs as he spasms in his ecstasy.
"Fuck. Yeah," Stiles says after a few moments, when he's come back to himself enough to form actual words. Collapsed at his side, facedown on the mattress, Derek laughs.
"Agreed." He rolls onto his side, nips lightly at Stiles's shoulder. "Shower?"
Stiles snorts. "I'm not even sure I can move just yet."
Derek just grins at him, getting up on his knees and somehow managing to slide out of bed gracefully. "It's okay. I think I can manage to get us there."
"My big strong hero," Stiles sighs, still feeling boneless.
Laughing, Derek hauls him up out of bed, not even minding the mess. "Come on. Let's clean up. And then you can tell me how you want to fill the next few days, until we fall asleep."
Stiles honestly can't think of a better end to the night.