The gifts started just after Stiles left for college. Derek wasn't really expecting much for his birthday—an ecard from Cora, maybe—so he was surprised to get a small package from some company he didn't recognize. Inside was a shiny silver travel coffee mug that said "World's #1 Alpha" in black letters.
Stiles picked up on the first ring. "Hey birthday boy!" he said. "Come back for more? Because I'm on my way to class but I can give you a rain check."
"No," Derek said, and he could feel his face heating up. They'd had video chat sex earlier in the morning, which was pretty great and really enough of a gift already. "I got your other present."
"Oh! Do you like it?"
"I would if I thought you believed it," he said.
"Well, maybe if it said 'number one cock sucker'."
"If it said that you couldn't use it in public." Stiles paused. "Or around my dad. Or anyone we know."
"Yeah, but I'd believe you meant it and weren't being a dick."
"What? I'm not—" there was a muffled sound for a moment, and then the background was suddenly quieter, and Stiles's voice hushed. "I'm not being a dick."
"Stiles," Derek said. "Scott."
Stiles tsked. "Scott! Scott's an outlier, a once in a hundred years. You can't even put him on the chart without throwing the whole thing out of whack." Derek could almost hear him shaking his head. "Do we need to have that conversation again, about you comparing yourself unfairly to other people?"
"No," Derek said, jaw clenched.
"Are you going to pout now? Would it make you feel better if I meant it as a fake-it-til-you-make-it motivational tool?"
"Maybe," Derek said.
"All right. I have to go to Econ now, but I'm going to call you when I get out of class, and you are not going to pout on your birthday. Okay?"
"Okay," Derek said.
"If you're still pouty I'll just strip for you again."
Derek smiled a little then, because the strip tease, well, he suspected it hadn't gone quite as Stiles had wanted it to. "Don't want you to hurt yourself."
"Jokes at my expense mean you're fine, but I'm still calling you in an hour."
"Fine," Derek said.
"Fine," Stiles said, and hung up.
Derek set his phone down and picked up the mug; it was good quality, heavy in his hand. Fake-it-til-you-make-it had actually been pretty much a disaster the first time he tried it, but he had more help these days, so. Yeah. He could do that, maybe.
The Father's Day present was equally unexpected because he wasn't even a dad. And yet there it was, a dark green t-shirt that said, "I make adorable werewolves."
Erica saw it and was enraged. "I am not adorable, thank you very much!" she said.
"I am," Isaac said.
Derek left them to it and called Stiles, who was back in town, doing some cub reporter thing at the local NPR station. "Father's Day?"
"Why not?" Stiles said.
"Also you insulted Erica."
"Kind of unavoidable. What about Boyd?"
"He hasn't seen it yet."
Stiles paused, then said, "So … will you wear it for me later?"
"I don't see why not. The color isn't bad." Then he thought for a moment, and closed his eyes. "You got the shirt a size too small, didn't you?"
"What would be the point otherwise?" Stiles replied.
After that, it became a thing. Sporadically, on random holidays, Derek would get some kind of weird personalized gift.
One Fourth of July he got a grilling apron that said, "King of the Tiny Werewolf Oven" and had to ask Scott what that even meant.
On Arbor Day he got a thing to hang in the car window with a picture of a tree that said, "I'd rather be running through the woods."
Labor Day one year brought a mouse pad emblazoned with a gold star that said, "You Always Tried" even though Derek owned a laptop with a track pad and didn't even have a mouse. He put it in his home office anyway.
Stiles was actually there with him when he got one of the presents. He'd just traded in the Toyota for a model with a little more off-road capability since the Jeep had finally driven down its last dirt road. Which was fine; it had lasted long enough to bring Stiles back and forth to college for four years and get them out of any number of sticky situations, and the steering wheel had a pride of place in their garage.
It wasn't an actual holiday, was the thing, and yet in the mail was an envelope that Stiles handed to Derek with a little too much ceremony for it not to have come from him.
Inside was a bumper sticker that said, "My Other Car Has Four Paws."
"Yeah?" Stiles asked, eager. "Yeah? Aren't I a genius?"
"Stiles, this doesn't make any sense," Derek said. "My other car is not me. My other car is your car."
"It's a metaphor," Stiles said, scowling. "Your other car is never a car! It's a sailboat, or roller skates, or a Firefly class light transport. Dude, it's like you've never sat in traffic surrounded by other people's dumb bumper stickers."
"I don't really pay attention to them," Derek said. He hated traffic, hated being stuck on 80 coming back from the beach and not being able to just go, and Stiles knew this because he'd always launch into some ridiculous story to distract him. "I'm usually just listening to you talk."
"Well, that's how it works," Stiles said. "So yes, your other car is you."
"It's still weird," Derek said, but he tacked it up to the wall of the garage anyway.
The last gift came on no particular day at all, but a random Tuesday in January. They'd slowed down in the years after Stiles moved in anyway, stopped entirely after they were married. He'd actually forgotten the tell-tale look of the gift packaging from the weird mall kiosk that Stiles favored, and felt a wave of nostalgia for those first gifts, way back when.
This time it was a real ceramic mug, black, that said, "Father of twins, aka, 'Stud'" in dark blue script.
He walked into the kitchen where Stiles was making himself a grilled cheese. "What is this?"
"Looks like a mug," Stiles said, taking it from him. "They did a pretty good job, too, seeing as it was a rush order."
"But … what does that mean?"
Stiles gave him that look, when he wondered how Derek lived in the world. He turned off the stove and put the sandwich on a nearby plate. "It means that I just got the call yesterday morning, so they had less than twenty-four hours to turn it around. You know, a job that is rushed?"
"You got the call?" Derek said, and his mouth went dry. "You mean, a confirmation call?"
"From our doctor?"
"Yep," he said. "I almost got the one that said, 'I ain't shootin' blanks' but given our history with guns it kinda felt wrong."
Derek sat down limply on one of the stools at the kitchen counter.
"Are you all right?" Stiles asked, cocking his head.
He nodded slowly, then realized that he was smiling, no grinning. It wasn't like they hadn't been trying—it was a whole process—but somehow he'd been working so hard not to get his hopes up that he'd lost sight of it entirely. "We're going to be a family," he said.
"That's how it works," Stiles said. He moved into the V of Derek's legs and clasped his arms at the nape of Derek's neck. "So if I told you now that you were the world's number one alpha would you believe me?"
"Yeah," Derek said. "I guess I would."
"Good. By the way, you get me anything that says 'greatest mom' on it and I will cut your balls off."
"Too easy," Derek said. "How about boxers that say 'Kiss Me, I'm Human'?"
"You already do that," Stiles said. "In fact, you probably should be doing it now."
Derek did get him the boxers, and, eventually, a t-shirt that said "Lacrosse Mom." His balls remained intact enough to father a few more kids.