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"Derek, look! Look at what Mama got me!" Audrey's voice was masked in laughter as she bounced up and down next to Derek's waist. Her arms were stretched out, clutching a tiny pink purse with a gold lock and key chain, "She says I can bring it to school wiff' me!"

Derek grinned down at the little girl before he reached out and lifted her up, light brown curly pig tails swaying as he hoisted her onto his hip, "You're so big! Do you feel six yet?" He pressed a kiss against her forehead and she growled playfully, nipping at his cheeks and squirming restlessly in his arms. She shook her head shyly and giggled, tiny legs kicking at Derek's thighs until he let her back down.

Erica smirked when her daughter ran out of the backyard and into the living room to dive onto the couch where Scott and Allison were seated. "She's growing up so fast," the woman sighed and nuzzled her cheek into Derek's shoulder, "Can you believe it's been six years?" Her voice was soft and she whined, glancing up to the alpha who shook his head and rolled his bottom lip between his teeth.

"Her first day's next week isn't it?" Derek blinked and Erica huffed a breath before nodding.

"Yeah," she answered quietly, "I just... I don't know, do you think she'll be okay? Do you think she's ready?"

"I think she'll be just fine, Erica," the alpha smoothed his hand across her back and chuckled, "She'll make friends and play with the other kids, do projects, sing the alphabet. It's first grade and she did great in kindergarten; stop worrying about everything." He bumped his shoulder against her cheek and she growled playfully, swinging her hip into his before Lydia peeked her head around the sliding glass door.

"Hey," pastel pink lips spread into a smile, "Stiles just got here and I finished the candles, you ready?"

"Where's Peter?" Erica narrowed her eyes and Lydia gestured to the floor where he sat with Lucas, a pink party hat strapped to his head and a paper party horn pressed between his lips. The toddler clapped his hands and squealed before the older Hale flopped back on the ground and arched his brows.

"Is it time?" he tilted his head and Derek nodded in response. He opened his mouth to tell his uncle to get up and help Lydia with the cake but a familiar scent stole his attention.

Soil. Chai. Sunflowers. Peppermint. Rosemary.

Lean arms wrapped around Derek's waist and the wolf hummed as Stiles pressed himself flush against his back, "Did I miss much?" his voice was warm against the side of his neck.

Derek tilted his head slightly, "Just lunch but there's left overs. Are you hungry?"

The alpha turned and let one of his hands rest comfortably on the angle of Stiles' hip, the other pressed gently against his throat, thumb stroking across the line of his jaw.

It had been three years and Stiles was still strikingly beautiful every time Derek laid his eyes on him. From the pout of his bottom lip to the curve of his nose, the light stipple of freckles that dabbed at his skin to the way he styled his hair, spiked on end, messy and perfect.

Stiles nodded, pushing a breath out over his lips, "The shop was busy today- I was gonna try and close up early but-"

"Stiles!" Audrey's voice squeaked up from between him as the little wolf ran around his legs, hugging herself against his thigh.

Derek took a step back and watched as Stiles gave an open mouthed grin, crouching down to wrap his arms around her, "Birthday girl! Aw, baby, I'm sorry I'm late, did you get good stuff?" He let himself fall back on his rear when she scrambled to crawl into his lap and shove the pink purse against his nose.

"Mama got me dis! Chris and Alli and Scott got me dolls and Isaac got me a teddy and Peter got me a sweater and Daddy got me a dollhouse and Lydia and Jacks' got me nail polish and Melissa made me yummy cookies and you and Der-Der got me new shoes and a lunchbox!" The words all ran into each other and Stiles couldn't help but chuckle through most of them, nodding enthusiastically with each and every gift the child blurted out.

Stiles gasped and playfully shook her shoulders, "I'm jealous!"

Audrey couldn't stay still for long but she did lean up to press tiny lips against the smooth skin of Stiles' cheek and piped a 'thank you' before running over to Peter and leaping on his chest.

Derek offered Stiles his hand and tugged him up on to his feet, an arm wrapped snugly around the man's waist. The alpha rumbled a smooth growl as he pressed a kiss against Stiles' mouth, relishing in the comfortable cushion of his lips, warm and welcoming against his own.

"Okay everyone," Lydia's sing-song voice was loud as she set the white frosted cake down on the dining room table and clicked the kitchen light off. Audrey stumbled to run over and Boyd lifted her into his arms.

They sang happy birthday and Audrey's eyes flashed gold as she excitedly blew out her candles.

Stiles smudged frosting on Derek's nose and smirked when the alpha narrowed his eyes.

It was August and he was twenty-nine.

--

Derek laid his head on Stiles' chest that night as long fingers scraped across his scalp.

"She's nervous about Audrey going to school?" Stiles mumbled through a yawn, toes curling under the sheets.

The wolf tightened his arm around his mid-section and rubbed the coarse hair on his cheek against Stiles' sternum, causing him to squirm and hiss.

"Yeah," Derek chuckled, "But I think she'll be fine."

Stiles nodded, shifting down to curl himself around Derek, which the wolf didn't mind. Over the past three years he had become more than adjusted to the way Stiles slept. To his constant shifting, his nuzzling, his purring snores that were hardly noticeable.

He had learned about every joint and ligament, about the scar on Stiles' elbow and the soft spot behind his knee that he was embarrassed about.

Derek had spent three years getting to know him inside and out, yet Stiles still surprised him every single day.

It was dark and a breeze drifted through the open window ghosting delicately over the two bodies pressed against mattress.

Derek hummed when Stiles pushed his knee between his legs and he stroked across the bare skin of his back as he listened to the steady beat of a usually erratic heart start to slow.

Three years.

The alpha inhaled through his nose and pressed his forehead under Stiles' chin.

"Goodnight," the alpha yawned.

"Night, babe," Stiles mumbled, already half asleep as the clock flashed to 11:14 p.m.

--

Derek didn't even notice the fourth tree on the right and when he turned the wheel and drove around it nor was he greeted by the smell of wood rot and ash when he set his eyes on the old Hale property.

Dandelions. Lilies. Lavender. Roses. Sunflowers. Birds of paradise.

He smiled when he stepped out of the Camaro and walked towards the vine covered house. Green ferns twisted around the old pillars, blossoms decorated the curled leaves hanging from the shingles on the roof and rose bushes crawled like weeds up the left side of the old burnt home. A few potted plants sat patiently on the porch, waiting for Derek to find them hearty enough to take root in the soil and the greenhouse still stood sturdy a few feet away. It was packed with herbs and exotic blends, marigold, bamboo palms, yellow bromeliads.

The pads of his fingertips brushed over the bulb of an unopened lily and Derek looked down as he passed by the now lush bush flocked with white roses.

His first batch had been stubborn but they had never stopped growing.

"Hey," Peter stepped out from behind the greenhouse, dusting his palms against the front of his pants, "I hope you don't mind, I was just checking on those tomatoes I planted."

Derek shrugged and shook his head, "It's a free space, Peter, you don't have to get my permission to come out here."

"Yeah, well it was a big deal to you and you like-" he waved his hands around the now overgrown house, "treasure it, so," he shook his head and the alpha sighed through the curve of a pleased smile.

It was true, he did treasure it. He treasured the way the vines choked the smell of smoke out of the old wood, the way the petals soothed the echo of screams that splintered the floorboards, the way the he could feel the ghosts of his past settle deep into the roots of each flower and just... sleep.

"The lunar eclipse is tomorrow," Peter inched, setting the small rake and clippers on the table and chairs outside the wooden door of the greenhouse. He tapped on the back of the chair, felt across where it had chipped from years of use, "Stiles will be with you, right?"

The alpha nodded shyly. Of course he would be.

"You'll be okay?" his uncle pressed gently and Derek nodded again before he cleared his throat.

"I'll be fine. It's only supposed to last twelve minutes so it won't be too bad, I just-"

"I know," Peter jutted in, stumbling over his words, "I-" he inhaled a sharp breath, "I hate feeling powerless."

Derek bit down on the inside of his lip and knelt down to play with the strong stem of a sunflower, "You won't be alone will you?" He knew that Peter would be fine, he was strong and he was seasoned but that didn't exactly mean that he deserved to be by himself when the moon was ripped from him. It wasn't just a momentary lapse in power, it was draining. Like unclogging a sink full of water. Breaking open a dam.

Steel blue eyes softened at the sincerity of his nephews words and Peter's lips curled up, "Oh, no, Chris invited Isaac and I to stay at his place with Scott and Allison. We'll be fine."

"Good, good," Derek breathed, fingertips still leisurely brushing across the opaque yellow of each limb on the sunflower.

--

Derek paced in the living room.

He straightened the books on the shelf above the fireplace, groaned and rolled his eyes as he threw Stiles' dirty socks into the laundry room.

The wolf fluffed the pillows on the couch, re-folded the blanket Stiles had bought him for his birthday last year and lit a stick of incense to try and relax.

The sky glowed red and Derek stared eagerly at the clock.

"Fuck," he cursed under his breath and scratched nervously at the stubble on his chin.

He hoisted himself onto the kitchen counter top, squirmed, got back down. He sat on the edge of the couch, tapped against the leather, huffed, stood back up. It was constant movement. Unfurled anxiety and Derek couldn't stand it.

Not until a key twisted in the lock and the door swung open.

Oh thank god.

Cardamom. Cloves. Cigarette smoke. Vanilla. Burberry cologne.

Stiles stumbled through the doorway, kicking the door shut on his way in. His glasses sat crooked on his nose, a bundle of fresh flowers piled in his arms with a couple bags of groceries tucked under his elbows.

Amber eyes blinked at the wolf who stood, shifting on his feet and twiddling his fingers together.

"Oh my god, you're totally freaking out aren't you?" Stiles tilted his head to the side as he set the bags down and shoved the flowers quickly into a vase next to the couch before he turned to see Derek peeking up at him from under his lashes, fingers still twitching and tapping together.

He whined when Stiles wrapped his arms around him and growled when the man chuckled against his ear.

"Come on," Stiles' voice was like silk against sand paper, "where do you want to be? In here? In bed? Tell me, talk to me."

The alpha nudged his chin towards the bedroom and clumsily dragged his feet against the tile as Stiles pulled him inside.

"Der, c'mon, we've been through this before, it'll be fine- just breathe and-"

"Twelve minutes," Derek hissed, "It's going to last twelve fucking minutes, Stiles."

Curious doe eyes blinked from behind the lenses of his glasses before Stiles took them off and set them on the nightstand next to an empty wine glass from last night and the new book Derek had started reading.

Stiles stripped off his shirt.

Derek kicked off his pants and his eyes flashed red in the dimly lit bedroom.

Long limbs crawled backwards over the crumbled sheets before Stiles swatted the space next to him. Derek complied, heart pounding feverishly against his ribs as he laid down next to the man he had come to share his life with. The stranger he had never thought would be anything more than just that, a stranger.

Derek had never been so wrong about anything like he had been wrong about Stiles.

And no one had ever been so right for Derek like the sarcastic young man from San Diego was right for Derek.

"Hey," Stiles whispered and deep crimson eyes blinked up towards him, "so... twelve minutes of humanity, huh? You'll lose it all-"

"Don't remind me," Derek snapped bitterly.

"There's no need to talk to me like that," Stiles leaned down to gust warm breath across his lips, causing the wolf to swallow dryly through an uneven attempt at an inhale, "Just relax," the smooth skin of his palm stroked down Derek's abdomen, "I'm here and you're safe."

He closed his eyes because in the end Stiles was right.

He was safe.

No one was going to bust through his door and try to hurt them.

Boyd wasn't going to call and say a group of hunters abducted Audrey.

Isaac wasn't going to call and tell him that Scott had an asthma attack.

Erica wasn't going to have a seizure.

Lydia wasn't going to scream.

"Stop."

Derek pulled his thoughts back when Stiles swung a leg over his lap and hovered above him.

"Stay with me, right here, in our bed, don't think about anything else."

Stiles' voice was like a distant symphony. An orchestra playing on a stage in a locked auditorium. A concert at the Hollywood Bowl while he stood in the parking lot.

"Put your hands on me," Stiles' lips were against his throat and Derek choked on the breath he was about to take because it felt like someone had sucker punched him in the chest. The wind was knocked out of him. The energy bundled where his wolf prowled suddenly dispersed and Derek could feel him- could feel his wolf disintegrate. His limbs were suddenly heavy, pupils dilated. His hands began shake and he felt a familiar sting against his now very green eyes.

Because no matter how many of these he had gone through a lunar eclipse always hurt.

Losing his wolf for any matter of time was like losing himself.

Strong arms bracketed around him and he finally took in a breath, sharp and desperate through his nose when Stiles kissed him. Greedy. Impulsive.

"Are you okay?" he spoke between Derek's trembling lips and the alpha nodded, tilting his head to accommodate to the prying mouth that refused to let him speak. "You," Stiles was rough, grabbing at his hips, his ribcage, causing all sorts of foreign and very fleeting sensations to spike into the space above Derek's tail bone, "I have-" he swallowed and Derek tried to shift but Stiles pressed down harder, "eight minutes left to enjoy you as a human."

Derek cursed at him and his eyes widened when Stiles gripped his wrists and slammed them above his head, "Does it bother you?" Stiles' voice was murmured as he bit down on the angle of the wolfs jaw, "Does this-"

"No," he shook, twisted, flexed against him, "D-do," god, Derek couldn't even talk and his cheeks heated, "Do whatever you-"

Stiles crushed their lips together again, fingers curling tighter around his wrists before he grinded down between Derek's legs.

He didn't like the lack of power. He despised the loss of his wolf and he wondered where it is they went- their wolves. Were they lost? Were they torn out by the energy of the moon and the sun? Did they get caught somewhere between the mingled forces?

Derek didn't know. No one knew. But what he did know was that he liked the way Stiles felt holding him down. He liked being able to resist- really resist and know that Stiles still had him anchored.

Derek's wolf would have been howling at this, clawing and snarling and begging but all he heard was silence. All he felt was the prang of want low in his belly.

The alpha bucked his hips but Stiles was there to press them back into the mattress and rub himself between Derek's spread thighs, earning a low whine to spill over his lips.

"Are you okay?" Stiles asked again and Derek blushed because he didn't need to ask anymore and the fact that he did reminded him so fondly that Derek hardly deserved him.

Stiles' name was sighed as an answer and his breath hitched when his hands were suddenly freed. Derek's fingers twitched and he sucked in another rushed breath because Stiles had his arms curled under his back and was hoisting him up into his lap, a hand splayed across the space just beneath his tattoo.

It wasn't normal. The inability to hold himself up. The exhaustion. The emptiness. But Stiles was there to hold him and Stiles was there to fill the void.

"Hold on to me," Stiles sank his teeth into Derek's throat as his hand wrapped around the alpha's cock and Derek tried to resist dragging his nails down the stairs of Stiles' spine, but he couldn't. He clawed and gripped and felt completely vulnerable in a way that sent his heart sputtering out only to be kick-started by the touch of warm lips against his collar bone and talented fingers below his belly button.

Twelve minutes shouldn't have felt so long but it did. It dragged on and even as Derek writhed and moaned in Stiles' lap he still couldn't shake the anxiety, the nervous fear that his wolf wouldn't find his way back home.

Stiles kissed him, mouth hot and controlled against Derek's lips. He kissed him and just like always the alpha fell into it without any finesse. He let Stiles ground him, he let Stiles have him even at his weakest.

Derek shook, choked on his name as he tried to roll his hips in time with Stiles' hand pumping around him, "I- s-stop, I-"

A strangled gasp left the alpha when his wolf came running through him.

It lept inside him with all four paws crashing against his lungs, his stomach, his kidneys. It kicked and fell and stumbled, snarled and snapped as Derek tried to reign himself back together. His body swarmed with energy, sparked and twitched as the comfortable wash of his status fell back into place.

Stiles didn't let go of him, he just jerked his head back and watched as Derek's lips pulled back to expose long fangs, eyes narrowed, deep and red and feral against the darkness. He felt solid again, heavy and burdened but whole. "A-are you- are you okay?" Stiles stammered, words all broken and worried as they graced the silent room.

Derek felt his wolf slam itself against his ribs and he growled, claws digging into Stiles' hips as he tried to catch his breath. Tried to regain some kind of composure.

Long fingers moved up to run through his hair, nails scratching gently against the alpha's scalp, "You're okay," he heard Stiles' voice coo, "You're alright."

It was hard to control it, to keep himself from sinking his teeth down into the supple flesh of Stiles' shoulder, to just hold on and not let his claws push just a little harder, pierce and tear.

"Derek-" Stiles gripped his face and the wolf closed his eyes, "breathe."

So he did. He buried his head right where Stiles' neck met his shoulder and he inhaled long and steady.

Lemon. Salad dressing. Full bodied black tea. Fig. Salt.

He pushed his lips back over his teeth, trailed his hands up the length of Stiles back and trembled when Stiles' arms wrapped tighter around his neck.

"I-" Derek's voice came out raspy and worn, "I'm okay."

"You scared me for a minute there," Stiles mumbled softly and Derek grasped his shoulders, moving him back so he could look at him. Wide eyes examined his chest, his abdomen before the wolf whined softly.

"I didn't hurt you did-"

"No," Stiles rolled his eyes, "No, god, no. You did not hurt me. It just seems painful when you regain everything, you seem like your waging war up here-" Stiles tapped on Derek's forehead.

How the fuck could someone like Stiles even fathom sticking around for as long as he had.

Derek swallowed and laid back on the comforter before he stretched his arm towards the night stand and growled, fumbling awkwardly for his phone. Stiles wasn't one for allowing personal space and the alpha didn't particularly mind when the lean body laid down on top of him.

Group MMS: Erica Reyes, Issac Lahey, Peter Hale, Chris Argent, Scott McCall, Jackson Whittemore
Is everyone okay?

Derek typed out the words as Stiles peppered his lips across the expanse of his chest.

He closed his eyes, ran his hand through the hair on the back of the florists neck until his phone started buzzing again.

Chris Argent: September 3 2016, 8:06 p.m
Everyones okay over here.

Vernon Boyd: September 3 2016, 8:07 p.m
were good, audrey lost a tooth

Derek chuckled.

Jackson Whittemore: September 3 2016, 8:10 p.m
we're fine

"Everyone okay?" Stiles sat up with his legs on either side of Derek's torso. The alpha nodded and set his phone down, eyes shifting up to the man hovering above him.

"Thank you," Derek whispered, hands settling over the top of Stiles' hips.

Stiles' nose wrinkled and he arched a brow, "Why are you thanking me?" he tilted his head to the side and Derek sat up on his elbows.

"Because I have no idea how I ever got through these before I met you."

Stiles smirked, "With your pack. Which, speaking of them, do they have any idea how badly you flip out when it comes to-" he waved his hand towards the window where the moon sat high in the sky, "all this."

The wolf growled and shook his head, heat rising to his face to frost the tops of his cheeks, "No," he breathed, "they don't need to know that their alpha has anxiety over these types of things."

"I think they'd understand," Stiles laughed through the words, "it doesn't make you some weak puppy-"

Stiles' back hit the bed and he couldn't help but bark out a laugh when Derek pressed him down into the mattress, biting down on his shoulder, "No dog jokes," he grumbled low against the man's ear.

There was another short laugh before Stiles whispered a playful 'woof' up at the alpha who rolled his eyes and leaned down, pressing his lips firmly against the smart mouth he had come to cherish.

--

Apothecary hadn't changed much but Stiles had added another small refrigerated section and brought in some gardening tools to sell as merchandise. He now had a quaint area filled with hallmark cards and a few choices of balloons to choose from as well.

It was still the misty little shop off 1st and Oakheart, though. And it was still run by the quirky twenty-six year old who was no longer an out-of-towner when it came to the people of Beacon Hills.

Honestly, he was known more frequently as Derek Hale' boyfriend which thankfully didn't bother him.

Derek brought him coffee during the week and every Thursday the wolf would pick him up from the shop and they'd drive to his father's house for dinner.

John was getting older and Stiles had to constantly remind him to take his blood pressure medication and scolded him whenever he found empty ice cream containers in the trash can.

"Dad, you know better," Stiles laughed as he held up an empty Ben & Jerry's pint, "you know you can only eat this shit once in a while."

John blinked and shrugged, "I have no idea how that got there."

Stiles rolled his eyes and Derek smirked softly to himself as he dumped a batch of chopped onions into the bubbling chili cooking on the stove. The more time he spent with the retired Sheriff, the more he realized exactly where Stiles got his sarcasm.

"Yes you do, old man. You went out, you bought that ice cream, you sat down and turned on football and you ate the entire thing in one sitting. I lived with you for twenty-three years, I know your habits."

John arched a brow, skin wrinkling next to his eyes when he grinned, "I may or may not have done that."

Stiles continued to jabber on about his father's bad habits and Derek stayed quiet, listening to them shoot remarks back and forth to each other until John finally snorted, "Tall-dark-and-handsome doesn't think I should face this life without my daily dose of ice cream, do you Derek?"

The wolf grinned, eyes pointed over his shoulder to where Stiles stood with his arms crossed over his chest and his eyebrows rose. His father looked between the two of them before he smirked, "Sorry, kid, shouldn't have asked. I forgot that if you answer honestly my son might make you sleep on the couch-"

"Outside. On the porch," Stiles corrected, "like a dog."

Derek bristled.

They pulled over on the way home that night and Derek lifted Stiles roughly into his lap, scolding him again for the dog jokes.

Stiles could hardly breathe but he managed to stutter out that he was astonished by Derek's form of punishment and told him that if he wanted him to stop making jokes like that he might want to reconsider angry hate-sex afterwards.

"Not hate-sex," Derek bit down on his throat, "It's..." his voice trailed off and he huffed because he had no good explanation for it.

The alpha laughed right along with Stiles when he leaned down and brushed his lips across his temple, "You're always so technical," he whispered, hips rolling down against Derek's lap, "I know it's not hate-sex but sometimes," fingernails dug into the side of Derek's head, raked down across his throat, hard and deep, "I like to make you mad."

Derek felt his breath catch in his throat.

The things Stiles did to him should have been deemed illegal years ago.

"The other night," Derek was having trouble talking, "You-" he lost his words when Stiles bit down behind his ear, "you said you wanted to enjoy me as a human."

The warmth of Stiles' mouth retracted and Derek listened to heart beat accelerate, flutter and jump nervously.

Stiles didn't say anything he just nodded, hands moving down to rest at his sides, sitting with his back against the steering wheel.

"Is..." Derek looked away, blinked down at his lap, "Do you have a problem with me being- I mean, I would understand if you-"

"Derek," Stiles' voice was firm and his wolf paced within him, "I don't have a problem with- hey, look at me," he reached down to lift the alpha's face, cradling it in his hands, "I don't have a problem with you being what you are. I just... I never get the chance to really feel what it's like to have you-" he tried to fish through the air for the right word but Derek interjected.

"Vulnerable."

Stiles inhaled a deep breath, "Yes, I guess vulnerable works. That doesn't mean I-"

"I liked it, Stiles. I just didn't know if you were..." Derek swallowed as his cheeks started to darken. No matter how many years they've dated, how many times they fucked, how comfortable he was with Stiles, any conversation revolving around their sex life made him shy and withdrawn.

A long finger poked him in the chest and Derek bit down on the inside of his cheek.

"Satisfied with me," the wolf offered quietly.

Wide amber eyes narrowed and Derek winced at the expression now crawling across Stiles' face. He was somewhere between angry and mortified which caused Derek to immediately regret bringing any of it up.

"The eclipse was last week and you're just now talking to me about it?" Stiles bit.

Anger. It was anger.

Derek tried to look down but Stiles held his face firmly between his hands.

"We should go home," he breathed into the stagnant air of the car and as much as Derek wanted to say something, to hold onto him when he tried to climb back over into the passenger’s seat, he didn't.

He just turned the key in the ignition and tried to dissect the silence by filling it with the sound of Stiles' heartbeat, steady and quick against his chest. He listened to him breathe, glanced over to see him gnawing on his fingertips.

Derek would have normally reached over and taken his hand, told him not to bite his nails and pressed a kiss against his knuckles.

But he didn't.

He just gripped the steering wheel and repeated every word of the apology he had planned out again and again in his head.

--

Stiles threw his jacket onto the couch when they got inside. He kicked off his shoes, loosened the white tie around his neck and Derek watched him as he set his keys down on the counter top in the kitchen.

He watched him lean against the back of the couch. Watched him tap his fingers against the black leather and had absolutely no idea what to say. He had no idea what to do.

"I'm sorry," the words came out rushed and Derek snapped his teeth together to try to keep himself from blurting out more because everything inside him advised him quite sternly to be quiet.

Somewhere behind everything that Derek believed was a small voice that told him Stiles would leave some day.

"What-" Stiles' face wrinkled into an expression riddled with confusion, "What the fuck-"

Derek's lips pursed into a thin line but he didn't say anything because Stiles was striding towards him and before he had the chance to get the rest of the weak apology out of his mouth, two hands were wrapping tightly around his wrists.

Stiles didn't take his eyes off of him, just pulled and walked backwards, the same strangely uncomfortable expression masking the crooked smile that Derek was used to.

He swallowed, "Stiles-"

"Shut the fuck up, Derek," his words shattered like glass and Derek felt his stomach clench, his spine ache. He turned, slammed Stiles' back into the wall in front of the doors of their bedroom as a deep growl bubbled up out of his throat, red eyes narrowed dangerously in the darkness. He could hear his own heart beat more prominently than Stiles' and the wolf gasped when very human but very strong open palms crashed against his chest and sent him stumbling back to hit the opposite wall.

In three years Derek had never seen Stiles as angry or hurt as he was now and in three years Derek had never been as scared of Stiles walking out the door and not coming back like he was now.

The alpha snarled and Stiles opened his arms in mock surrender, huffed out a sigh and it almost sounded for a moment like he was about to laugh, "What's next, Der? Three years and you still think I'm not happy with you? Really? Seriously? Three fucking- three years and you think you don't satisfy me?"

What could he say? Where the fuck were the words that he so desperately needed? Derek pushed off the wall and shook his head, he opened his mouth but nothing came out, took a step forward but swayed.

He had never been able to satisfy anyone for a long period of time.

Not once.

Never in Derek's life had he stumbled across something like he had stumbled across Stiles.

Never in Derek's life had he given someone every single key to every box in his closet of skeletons and trusted them not to use it.

And never in Derek's life had he cared for someone’s satisfaction like he cared for Stiles'.

"Please," it was all he could say. It was all he could ever say.

And just like always he couldn't put a finger on where it started. Where the kiss came from, how it began, where it ended. All he could manage to comprehend was the press of Stiles' tongue between his lips, its desperate strokes and the eager hum that left his mouth as Stiles wound his fingers into Derek's hair and pulled him closer.

He didn't know how they ended up stumbling through the door of the bedroom, how his back hit the comforter or how it was that Stiles got him out of his clothes so quickly.

"Don't ever-" Stiles swallowed a shaky breath and Derek heard his voice tremble, "Don't you ever think you don't give me exactly what I need, Derek Hale."

Derek didn't say anything. He couldn't say anything. He just pulled Stiles back down into his space, closed his eyes and pressed his mouth over Stiles' lips.

Hands were everywhere, running down the smooth skin of Stiles' back, gripping his ass, pulling his hips down to meet the slow roll of Derek's waist as he arched off the bed. He could feel the soft pout of Stiles' mouth dragging across his throat, teeth sinking down below his collar bone as long fingers scorched across the wolf's abdomen and wrapped around the back of his thighs.

Stiles left watermarks across his chest, imprints over his stomach, shadowed bruises along the bones of Derek's hips before he curled his lips over his cock and circled his tongue wet and slow around him. The alpha sucked in air, hands fisted in the sheets as he tried to keep his mind in the present. Tried to keep himself there, in their bed, with the man he had made exceedingly angry just by doubting himself. The thought of it made him keen. The sheer idea that Stiles was pissed at Derek over his lack of faith in himself was beautifully new.

No one had ever cared enough to notice if Derek believed in himself or not.

Stiles hummed, swallowed him down, and the alpha gasped at the stroke of his tongue against the underside of his cock. "I- Stiles," Derek choked, head thrown back against the mess of pillows by the headboard, "I'm-" it was the only thing he could croak out before the heat at the base of his spine released and his stomach clenched.

The alpha growled softly, whimpering when Stiles kept mouthing at him until he finally hissed, squirming from beneath him. "Stop," his voice was barely above a whisper and he could hear Stiles catch his breath, watched him wipe his mouth with the back of his hand.

He had always been so fucking gorgeous.

Derek's eyes trailed across him, dipped low where his hips curved up to a strong stomach and a pale milky chest dusted lightly with freckles. His shoulders were broad, neck long to match the rest of his limbs. He blinked down at the wolf before sliding off the bed and walking towards the door where he reached over and flicked on the lights.

The lamps on the nightstands next to the bed illuminated and Derek's lips parted, confusion pulling across his face as he sat up on his elbows, "Stiles..." his voice was tender, "what are you-"

"Why would you ever think you didn't satisfy me?" Stiles pulled something out of the nightstand before he crawled up the length of Derek's body, lips dragging across the top of his knee, over his thigh to the space below his ribcage until he reached the alpha's shoulder.

Derek was embarrassed more than anything and he tipped his head when Stiles pressed his lips against the base of his throat, "Tell me," the human whispered softly against his ear.

The cap of a bottle clicked open and Derek closed his eyes.

"I just-" a strangled gasp broke his sentence as Stiles pushed a slick finger between his thighs. It was slow, curling and pressing inside him, causing short brisk shocks to shoot down his legs.

"You just?" Stiles breathed against his throat.

"I don't know," Derek whined, unable to process anything good enough that would explain.

Stiles twisted two fingers, pushed deeper and the wolf arched, bucking helplessly into the heated touch.

"Tell me," the words were gentle but the action between his legs wasn't. Stiles crooked his fingers, curled them cruelly until Derek was falling apart, panting and squeezing his eyes shut, "I need you to tell me."

"I don't-" a deep growl rumbled off into the echo of a moan, "fuck, I can't-"

Stiles kissed him. Hungry, messy, wild.

He kissed him and Derek felt his heart like a hammer beating against the walls of his chest, felt himself concave, felt his muscles stretch and tighten all at the same time. It had never stopped burning, the fire that Stiles set underneath his skin. It smoldered, cracked, popped, seared along every patch of flesh that those long nimble fingers danced across.

It was never the same but it was always steady- the feeling of being completely occupied by Stiles. The way his hips felt flush against Derek's, the way he fit between the wolfs legs and stuttered on his breath when the alpha clenched around him.

They both stopped talking. Stiles stopped asking questions and Derek stopped trying to answer them. Instead, Derek arched his back and rolled his hips against Stiles who fell into a slow pace, long drawn out thrusts that left them both stumbling to catch their breath.

Stiles watched him, pressed his mouth down over Derek's and stole wet open-mouthed kisses from him as he grinded himself deeper into the wolf plastered to the mattress. The alpha reached up to grip the back of Stiles' neck as he felt heat start to knot at the base of his abdomen once again. He bit down on his bottom lip, writhed and whined and bared his throat open wide for blunt human teeth to sink into. Derek said his name, clawed at his back and panted out something along the lines of 'faster' or 'harder' god, he didn't know but he was babbling, verging on begging, and Stiles obliged.

The slow love-making they had started with ended in deep strangled movements from both of them, Stiles sucking Derek's tongue heatedly into his mouth and plunging into him again and again while Derek tried to control the moans and soft whimpers falling from between his lips.

"C'mon, babe," Stiles breathed against his ear as he gave a couple firm tugs to Derek's cock.

It was all he needed to trip over the edge, to come sputtering Stiles' name like the broken chorus of a well-known love song, hips twitching, toes curling, muscles tightening. Stiles graced him with his own release just moments after, rhythm coming undone, breath cracked into short pants before ending in a gasped moan that sent chills down Derek's back and into his legs, all the way to his toes which were curled into the sheets.

He could feel Stiles' heartbeat, felt his chest rise and fall when he let his weight settle atop the trembling body below him. Derek closed his eyes, bumped his forehead against Stiles' cheek and swallowed as warm swollen lips brushed beside his ear, "How could you ever think you don't satisfy me?" his voice was splintered with the attempt to catch his breath.

Derek blushed.

"You're..." Stiles lifted his head, eyes demanding Derek's attention as he set his forehead down against the wolfs, "so-" he laughed quietly and Derek couldn't help but smile, "infuriating and beautiful."

"Still?" Derek's voice shook.

After all this time.

Stiles' throat closed and Derek could hear it, could hear the tension in his chest as he nuzzled his face against the smooth skin on Stiles' shoulder.

"Of course, Derek," slender fingers slid across his arm and laced between the slots in Derek's hand, "of course."

--

Derek told Stiles that he loved him four times before he left for work the next morning.

He pressed his lips against every inch of bare skin that he could get to and Stiles was gentle when he smiled and took his time tracing the line of Derek's jaw as he whispered the words back.

--

September came like a passing wind, gusted against the trees and coaxed their leaves to start changing color.

October brought the cold and it settled deep into the bones of Beacon Hills.

November, however, brought Derek to his knees behind the fence of the preserve as Dahlia whined up at him from the dirt.

"What's wrong, girl..." Derek's voice was soft and he smoothed his hand down the length of her spine, wincing when he saw her lips curl back into a pained snarl.

Cedric was taller than almost all the other wolves and he waved his tail, ears folded down against his skull as he stood next to the alpha, eyes pointed at the older female resting patiently on the ground.

"I wish you could tell me," his words faltered and fell out. He bit down on his bottom lip before a wet nose nudged against his shoulder and he heard the maned wolf whimper from beside him.

Dahlia had been their very first rescue and they had never gone through losing a wolf before.

"Derek!" Peter's voice was worried as he trotted up to the gate and swung it open, walking forward to join his nephew on the ground, "Oh, no... Dolly, what's going on?" The older Hale reached out to touch just behind her ear, eyes flashing up to Derek who studied the wolf at their feet.

"Isaac and Deaton are on their way to pick her up," Derek swallowed and sat back on his heels.

Gabriel pressed himself against Peter and whined, tail pushed between his legs, up against his belly. "She's almost fifteen, Der-"

"I know," the alpha barked, eyes falling closed as he inhaled through his nose, "I know," he repeated again, quietly, hardly even an acknowledgement of the fact that Dahlia had lived a long, healthy life. Because in all honesty, he wasn't ready for her to pass away. She had wandered into his life all those years ago and practically created the preserve.

He remembered seeing the ad in the paper. Someone had found her chained to a tree outside an abandoned cabin in the woods not far from Beacon Hills. Derek didn't know what he'd been doing when he got in his car that day or why he felt the need to go to her rescue, but he did. The alpha bathed her. Fed her. He tried to do the right thing and called a local shelter but it just didn't seem right.

So. The Hale Preserve was born out of Derek's inability to let go of an Eastern wolf. Peter did some research, found out exactly what they needed to do to legally keep her and they did just that. They made a home for her.

A wolf sanctuary. A home for wayward wolves. A lost and found for misfit canines.

Dahlia had been the start of something that seemed to save Derek time and time again.

It wasn't long before Deaton and Isaac showed up in the van and when they walked through the fence holding the large crate Derek couldn't help but feel a lump start to gather in his throat.

"Hello Derek," Deaton offered something of a smile and the alpha nodded.

"Ah, Dahlia, come here baby," Isaac leaned down to lift her up but she yelped, lips pulling back to expose her teeth. Derek's eyes flashed red, fangs of his own snapping together through a deep growl.

Peter's hand shot up to press against his chest, "They've gotta move her, Derek."

Isaac put his head down, shying to his alpha and nodded calmly, "I'll be as careful as I can be."

The expression on Derek's face was far more than pained when Dahlia squirmed and whimpered, Isaac tried to hush her and took a heavy bite on his hand when she got spooked half-way in the crate. Deaton set his hand on Derek's shoulder as Isaac took her to the van, "Meet us at the clinic?"

Derek nodded again, "I'm sorry- I just... Thank you, this isn't-" he was stumbling over his words and huffed, "I'm trying to prepare myself because I know... I can smell it, I know-"

"We'll do some X-rays and run some tests to be sure," the veterinarian gave Derek's shoulder another soft squeeze before he turned to follow Isaac.

He heard the car start. Watched them drive away and Derek leaned down to pat Cedric affectionately on the head. Peter swallowed, "You can smell it too?" he exhaled a deep breath and Derek nodded, eyes turned towards the ground as he shifted, feet scraping against the dirt and gravel.

"Will you drive with me?" Derek glanced at Peter and his uncle closed his eyes, a sigh drifting over his lips.

"Yeah, I'll drive with you," he patted the alpha on the back, "We'll take the truck."

dahlia's sick

Derek typed out a message and hit send as he climbed into the passenger’s seat and within seconds his phone was ringing.

"What happened?" Stiles' voice sounded through the speaker and Derek looked out the window when Peter started the car.

"She's-" Derek bit down on the inside of his cheek and tried to catch the breath that seemed to shake itself out of his lungs, "I think she has-"

"I can lock up," Stiles was fumbling with something in the background and Derek closed his eyes, shaking his head as he pressed the phone closer to his ear, "I can be there-"

"No, no... Stiles, stay at work. I'll call you and let you know what happens, just keep your phone close," he swallowed again and could practically hear Stiles' apprehension on the other end of the line.

"I will," his voice was mumbled and Derek sighed out an 'i love you' before hanging up.

--

It was exactly what Derek thought it was.

"Her kidneys are failing," Alan took his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose, "it looks like she's had a couple of tumors in her stomach, there's no way you could have known."

Derek had his hands on her as she laid calmly against the cold metal table in the all-too familiar clinic.

"What should we do?" the alpha's voice was hardly audible.

"She's in a lot of pain," Deaton shrugged and shook his head, "She won't make it the next couple of days, professionally speaking I would advise you to put her down, Derek."

Derek went rigid and Peter leaned his shoulder into the alpha's as they hovered over the canine.

He wouldn't argue. He couldn't argue. Big brown eyes stared up at him and Dahlia's tail thumped against the table, causing a low whine to spill over the cushion of Derek's bottom lip. Peter heaved a sigh and Isaac walked over to stand behind Derek, setting his forehead gently against the middle of his back.

"Okay," Derek breathed, "Just-" he could hardly speak and it was horrifying to be so emotional in front of members of his pack. He closed his eyes when they started to burn and set his hands on the middle of Dahlia's belly, gritting his teeth when his veins bulged and darkened. Derek could feel her start to relax, "She won't feel anything, right? She-"

His words were cut short due to his throat closing.

Isaac rubbed his shoulder; Peter leaned against him and stretched his hand out to set it on Dahlia's back.

"No, she won't feel a thing, I promise," Deaton checked the syringe and Derek nodded, moving down to his knees before he took Dahlia's face in his arm. A wet tongue smoothed across the stubble on his face and Derek simply curled his fingers into the fur around her neck, cooed and whimpered at her as the effects of the shot started to show.

Peter and Isaac held their hands on her and were sure to keep her pain away as she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

The three wolves could hear her heart stop beating and Derek let himself sniffle through the few tears that managed to make their way down his cheeks.

"I'll bring her ashes to you," Alan assured and patted Isaac on the back when he left the room.

When Derek smelt Peter's tears it made it a little easier to raise his eyes and look up at his betas.

"Do you want a ride back to your car?" Peter let his hand brush over Dahlia's back a few more times and Derek shook his head.

"Would you mind just dropping me off at home?" the alpha pawed at his face with the back of his hand and Peter nodded.

Isaac smoothed his palm across Derek's shoulder, "I'll make sure she gets cremated tonight."

Derek stuttered out another heavy sigh and stood, pulling out his phone to type out another message.

kidney failure, we put her down. i'll see you at home.

He was expecting a phone call but instead received a text as he walked out into the parking lot.

Stiles Stilinski: Nov 6 2016, 3:34 p.m
:( i'm closing up in a half hour, be there soon

"I'm gonna miss her," Peter mused quietly in the car.

Derek nodded silently, "Thank you for driving me."

His uncle arched a brow, amused with the idea of Derek thinking it was a chore, "You don't have to thank me, Derek. You'll be at Boyd and Erica's on Saturday right?"

The alpha gave another nod before Peter put the car in park in front of his apartment complex.

"You okay?" deep blue eyes blinked over at the passenger seat as Derek hopped out of the truck.

"Yeah, I'm just gonna start dinner," he mumbled, lips twisting into a frown accompanied by a half-hearted shrug.

It wasn't some deep, dark depression that Derek had gone crashing into. He wasn't at risk of hugging a pillow and crying himself to sleep or drinking three bottles of wine to himself. But he was sad. He was sad and it hurt and he wished that life didn't have to be so short for some creatures.

"Thanks again," he waved two fingers to Peter and trudged upstairs.

--

The apartment was filled with the scent of lemon cake baking in the oven, crisp herbs tossed into a pot of boiling water brimming with pasta noodles and another smaller pot bubbling with white alfredo sauce.

Derek liked to cook. It kept his mind off of things like death and how completely unavoidable it was.

He had never lost a pet, had never had one to begin with and the wolves on the preserve were not by any means domesticated animals but they were the closest things he had to something like that and losing one of them felt like he had always imagined it would. He stuck a finger in the pot of sauce and tasted it before adding a pinch more minced garlic and a few fresh basil leaves, which he was rather proud of, seeing as he had grown them himself in the green house.

The wolf could hear Stiles at the door and opened the oven to check on the cake as he walked inside.

He smelt it before he saw it.

Or heard it.

Derek turned, wide eyed and blinked at Stiles who grinned at him as he set a bag down next to the breakfast bar.

"Okay, don't freak out-" his words were soft and amber eyes watched him carefully from over the black rim of his glasses as he shifted something from under the confines of the black leather jacket thrown over his shoulders.

He did not. He wouldn't. There was no possible way.

"I knew you would be sad and that nice girl Caroline? You know Caroline- she always gets flowers for her mom from me, works at that little pet shop down off second so," he moved slowly and Derek couldn't help the soft smile that tugged at the side of his lips when Stiles pulled the tiny mewling kitten out from under his jacket, "I brought you something."

He did.

Green eyes blinked and Derek tilted his head to the side, letting out a timid laugh when he heard it meow and watched it yawn tiredly in the palm of Stiles' hand.

"It's tiny," the alpha took a couple long strides forward and reached out to hesitantly scratch behind the kitten's ear.

"She is tiny," Stiles corrected pleasantly, "and to be honest I am-" he laughed, arching a brow, "kind of really fucking surprised that you're taking this so well. I thought you were, uh, I dunno actually- I have no idea what I was expecting."

Derek narrowed his eyes and wrinkled his nose, cooing down at the squirming ball of long white fur in his boyfriends hands, "What, Stiles? Did you think I was going to bark and chase her around the house?" His grin was crooked when he looked up to the florist who rolled his eyes and mumbled something about 'dog jokes.'

He took her carefully in his hands, lifted her up and smirked when she hissed down at him, "Don't be mean to me," Derek mumbled, setting the soft animal just below his chin.

Stiles' hands rested on his waist and Derek smiled fondly as he leaned in closer, pressing his hips flush against the wolf's, "I know this doesn't make up for what happened today, I'm- I'm really sorry about Dahlia, she was your baby," he pushed his thumbs under Derek's shirt and rubbed small circles into the warm flesh.

All those wolves were his babies.

But he was far too prideful to say that.

The kitten meowed and Stiles leaned forward to kiss Derek gently on the mouth.

"Thank you," the alpha mumbled against his lips as he felt Stiles smile.

They ate dinner on the porch even though it was cold. The little cat roamed around the house until she found the TV stand and hid behind it for two hours. Derek had to drag Stiles to bed because he was worried she would get stuck if they left her there. The wolf assured him that she was fine and was just getting accustomed to the new living space.

It was two in the morning when Derek felt something hop onto his chest.

Stiles snorted a tired laugh and the wolf huffed, reaching up to pet the small feline as it curled up and went to sleep between his collar bones.

--

A week went by and the kitten made herself right at home.

Stiles exclaimed that her feet looked like beans and Derek almost choked to death on his toast because of how hard he laughed.

So they named her Beanie.

"Bean feet, bean feet," Stiles poked at her stubby legs when she walked by on the couch and Derek rolled his eyes through a wide smile.

"You'll be there at five, right?" Derek let his fingers brush across Stiles' shoulders as he walked behind the couch. The florist nodded as he slid on his shoes and glanced up to the wolf who was bagging up the potatoes out of the fridge.

Long arms snaked around the alpha's torso and his lips curved up into a smile, "Yeah," Stiles turned his head, brushing his nose against Derek's cheek until the wolf craned his head back and accepted the light press of lips against his own.

"I'll see you at five," Stiles' voice was soft and Derek noticed his heart skip and flutter over itself. Green eyes narrowed before he turned to face the man who wore a faint blush over the tops of his cheeks.

"Is everything okay-"

"Yes!" Stiles blurted, wide eyes blinking repeatedly, "No, everything’s good- great, fine. Okay, I'm gonna," he almost tripped trying to grab his keys off the counter top and Derek's eyebrows pulled together, head cocked to the side as he watched him stumble about.

"You're being weird," Derek mumbled, lips twitching into a half-smile when Stiles fumbled with his glasses and set them on the bridge of his nose.

"No- no, no," Stiles held up his index finger, "I am not being weird, I'm just gonna go to work and I'll see you at five-"

His heart pulsed out of rhythm again.

"Stiles," Derek's playful curiosity was slowly draining and morphing into concern, "You just lied to me, what is-"

"Ah!" Stiles held up a finger again and licked across his bottom lip as an irritated sigh was exhaled through his nose, "Just- don't... Trust me! Just trust me, okay? I'm just gonna- okay, alright-"

The alpha took another step forward but Stiles shut the door behind him and left Derek to blink at the doorknob.

What the fuck was that.

Derek's eyes turned down to his hands and he shifted uncomfortably, searching through the past couple weeks, sifting through next few days to see if he had been missing something. If something made sense, if there was anything solid that would explain exactly why Stiles was acting so incredibly odd.

But there was nothing.

Dahlia had been put down.

Derek whined.

Stiles brought home Beanie.

Thanksgiving was two weeks away.

Their anniversary wasn't until January.

A small meow pulled his attention to the floor and Derek sighed before he reached down and gathered her into his arms. "What's wrong with him, Beans?"

She purred and rubbed her face against the coarse hair on his cheeks, wide clear blue eyes blinking back at him. He patted her affectionately, pressed his knuckle behind her ear and rubbed.

He was probably over-reacting. Derek was known for that, he was good at it. After everything that had happened all those years ago it still seemed to come as second nature.

Stiles asked Derek to trust him.

The alpha swallowed dryly and set the kitten down on the back of the couch. He grabbed the bag of potatoes and the bottle of barbecue sauce and set his wallet between his teeth, growling when he couldn't remember which pocket he put he his keys in.

Stiles asked Derek to trust him, so he would.

--

"Derek!" Audrey tugged on his pant legs and the alpha glanced down at her as he brushed sauce over a rack of ribs in the kitchen. Erica was fixing a salad, Boyd was prepping the barbecue outside, Chris had Lucas on the couch with Scott and Allison watching re-runs of Buffy. Jackson and Lydia were on their way and Isaac had unfortunately been called in to help Deaton at the clinic.

It was a normal Saturday and Derek smirked down at the little wolf still struggling to get his attention, "Yes, Audrey?"

"Did you know that the moon isn't actually a planet?"

Derek couldn't help but grin and arched a brow, "Really?" he cooed playfully, "That's nonsense, the moon has to be a planet."

He heard Erica start to laugh and Audrey bounced excitedly, "It isn't! It isn't! It's just a big piece of rock! If that's it- if it's just a, a rock then why do we sing to it?"

The alpha stopped what he was doing and glanced to Erica who nodded, letting him know that she was aware of her daughters rapidly growing curiosities. He had to admit that it was normal. He had been the same way when he was her age, wondering, desperate to find his identity when his shadow took the form of a wolf. It wasn't easy and it wasn't something that could be explained away, it was a life experience, a journey, a fight.

"We sing to it because it's beautiful," he murmured, kneeling down to look her in the eye, "and because it lights our way home when we get lost," he smiled gently, head tilting to the side, "let's us know we're alive."

Wiry blonde curls fell passed her shoulders and Audrey nodded, the faint splotch of freckles dotting the deep caramel color on her cheeks, "My wolf-" she paused and Derek could see Scott start to look over his shoulder from the living room, Erica paused while cutting tomatoes, "she got lost." A frown curved her mouth downwards and Derek sighed softly before he reached out to set his hand on her shoulder.

"No, she didn't and even if she did, she found her way back didn't she?"

Audrey swayed on her feet and nodded, reaching up to bite nervously on her thumb nail.

"Stop that," Derek hissed, swatting gently at her hand, "Go watch TV with Lucas and uncle Chris-" he pushed against her back and she laughed when he prodded at her ribs before running over to climb onto the couch and nestle between Allison and her father.

Erica sighed softly and the alpha reached out to smooth his hand across her back, "It's normal," he whispered.

The woman nodded calmly and went back to cutting the tomatoes.

--

The day went by soundly. Scott napped lazily on the couch with Audrey draped over his chest. Allison helped Erica in the kitchen until Lydia got there. Peter, Chris and Jackson stood outside with Boyd and Derek after they put Lucas down to sleep and everyone seemed to be as calm as could be.

There was a brisk chill in the air. Clear skies. Good food. Family.

It was everything that Derek should have been used to by now yet every weekend it seemed to surprise him all over again.

The normalcy.

And he wondered if life had granted them the chance to live out their lives in peace after sacrificing the vital years of their youth to torture. Green eyes trailed over each of their faces as Derek pushed at the rack of ribs settled over the flames of the barbecue and he shifted slightly, letting a comfortable sigh drift over his lips.

It was funny how everyone always thought it was the alpha who did the saving because in the end each and every one of the people surrounding him had seemed to save him multiple times.

Especially the one currently walking through the door.

Whose heart beat was still erratic.

Derek's eyes narrowed and he glanced to Peter first who looked equally startled to hear Stiles' heart beat so out of sync. Jackson blinked and shook his head, Boyd put a hand on Derek's shoulder and shrugged, "He's nervous over something, man."

He nodded in agreeance, listened to the sound of his wavering voice when he greeted the girls in the kitchen.

"You okay?" Erica's voice was low when she asked him and Derek focused on the sound of Stiles Adams apple bobbing when he tried to swallow, the shake in his voice when he said 'yes' and the uneven pace of what seemed like an all-too startled heart.

"Can you-" Derek waved his hand absently over the food that had been cooking and Boyd nodded as his alpha stalked away towards the sliding glass door that led to the kitchen.

Stiles looked scared. Nervous. Apprehensive.

But he walked forward with a smile on his face, eyes bright behind the lenses of his glasses, "Hey," he greeted the wolf warmly who arched a brow and chewed on the flesh of his bottom lip. Stiles knew Derek could tell something was wrong but it was obvious that he wasn't going to admit that.

Fertilizer. Pistachio. Wax polish.

Derek narrowed his eyes and his nostrils flared.

Acetone. Silver.

"You smell weird," Derek growled quietly, watching as Stiles shied away and huffed a sigh. A blush brimmed over the bridge of his nose and onto his cheeks, "Like- metal and-" his nose wrinkled and he growled when Stiles rolled his eyes.

"I smell fine," the florist mumbled, stepping in to steal a quick kiss from the alpha before walking outside the greet the rest of the pack.

Derek bristled. His heart raced and anger bubbled in the confines of his stomach, twisted and turned and flipped like shards of glass. He didn't like secrets. He didn't like being lied to. And he most certainly didn't like being avoided.

"Hi, love bug!" Stiles hoisted Audrey into his arms and spun her around in the backyard.

Use the child as an escape. How wonderful.

Erica nudged Derek with her elbow and he acknowledged her with a soft growl.

"Don't be stupid," she hissed, stepping purposefully on his foot when she moved in front of him to wash her hands in the sink, "just talk to him about it-"

"I know," Derek grumbled hotly.

"No, you don't," Erica scoffed, "I know you. You'll let this go until it eats at you so badly that you implode and have a breakdown." She stomped on his foot again and he snapped his teeth at her when she flipped her hair in his face, carrying the large serving bowl full of salad outside.

"He's nervous, Derek. It's not like he killed someone," the words were hushed over her shoulder.

She was right. She was always right.

As much as Derek was torn between stewing or exploding he knew neither were the right option and besides this was Stiles. His Stiles. His boyfriend. Who had asked Derek to trust him.

"Fucking..." the wolf cursed under his breath, "god dammit."

"Derek! Quarter!" Audrey's voice sounded loudly from the backyard and he heaved a sigh.

--

Dinner was awkward.

Stiles couldn't keep a hold of his heart beat and the betas couldn't keep themselves from showing their concern.

Scott shied away from Derek.

Jackson and Peter just stayed quiet.

Erica tried to make polite conversation.

Boyd chatted with Chris about his new rifle.

"What's wrong?"

The whole table tensed and Stiles blinked down to Audrey who looked up at him with wide dark eyes, "What's a matter, Stiles?"

Derek's jaw clenched.

"Nothing," he purred through a soft grin and if it weren't for his heightened hearing, Derek might have bought it.

The little girls eyes flashed gold and she opened her mouth to protest but Boyd's voice interrupted.

"Leave it," he was stern and she squeezed out a 'but' before he raised his brows and she settled.

It was silent and Derek could only focus on the pounding of Stiles heart.

--

The tension in the apartment was palpable.

Stiles got there first and when Derek walked inside he saw him pacing in the living room, fingertips brushing over the back of the couch every time he passed it.

His nerves were even worse, heart beat like a train wreck.

And the smell- like rotten lemon peels. Oranges. Citrus. Fear.

It was hard for Derek to swallow, for him to set his keys down on the counter, shrug his jacket off, inhale. It was hard for him to even stand.

"Stiles-"

"Okay- okay, just, hold on. Please, like- I can't... I didn't want to do this, I didn't-" he waved his arms and tried to catch his breath, fingers rubbing together like they always did when his nerves got the best of him, eyes all over the place, body trembling.

And Derek felt his heart sink.

"Please," the wolf croaked, trying to convince his legs to move, desperate to lift his feet. But he couldn't, "if you're-" the alpha almost choked, "if this is you trying to break up with me then-"

"What?" Stiles laughed, eyes squeezed shut with one of his hands shoved in his pocket and the other moving to rake through his hair, "Are you- what? Der, no, why... Oh my god, why would you even jump to that conclusion? I don't get it-"

"You lied to me and you never lie to me," Derek bit, finally taking a step forward, a hand resting on the back of a tall chair shoved against the breakfast bar, "I don't know what's wrong with you and you've been like this all day, you smell like chemicals and you're all over the place, Stiles, what else am I supposed to think, I-"

"Can you just stop, Derek, I'm not- I'm trying to-"

"What, Stiles?" Derek tilted his head to the side and rolled his eyes, chest tight with anxiety, legs trembling under the weight of whatever he was feeling, whether it was anger or angst or worry or fear he didn't know and he didn't care because-

"I'm trying to ask you to marry me!"

Derek had never heard words as clearly as he had heard those ones being spat from Stiles' mouth. He said them like they were something dangerous, a curse he was relieved to break, a secret he had been dying to brush off his lips. The clock above the fireplace ticked timidly. Derek heard his own heart almost stop and start again, blood like lava burning itself into the arteries of the thumping muscle he was desperately trying to control.

He had to remind himself to breathe because- because... had he? Was it?

Green eyes blinked once, twice, three times before he caught himself from swaying again on his feet. His wolf even stood still.

Stiles looked scared. Like an animal caught in a trap. A tiger in a cage. Something strong suddenly completely stripped of all its armor.

It was when Stiles made a noise like he was about to cry that Derek inhaled sharply, "What...?"

Stiles took in a breath, one of those stuttered breaths that gave it all away, laid it all out and he withdrew a shaky hand from his pocket to set a simple black box on the bar in front of the wolf.

"Y-yeah," he answered through the shadow of a nod, "I was gonna wait- I was gonna just pick up the rings and then- fuck, I don't know... Your stupid werewolf powers made it impossible and I just- it's been three years! And I'm in love with you, so, so in love with you, Derek, and I- I don't know, I want to marry you, I want to have babies with you and call you my husband and do it all. I just... Please, say- Say something, say anything- just, yeah, I... I love you, p-please just-"

Derek didn't know what got his legs moving, how he lifted his feet off the ground or how he didn't crush Stiles when he grabbed him by the face and slammed their mouths together. It was inevitable- the force. Like two planets colliding, a car crash, an explosion, an eruption. Stiles gasped between his lips, fell into the back of the couch and reached out with one hand to catch himself while the other wrapped around the alphas waist, spine arching to push and press against his torso.

"God, Derek, say-" his mouth was covered again and he hummed heatedly into the kiss, "say yes. Please, will you marry me? Say-" the wolf rolled his hips and tilted his head to the side, hands gripping Stiles' cheeks even harder, eyes opening only a fraction to take in the sight of his pale skin blotched red, swollen lips still dragging against his own, glasses set crooked and hardly hanging on to the tip of his nose.

"Yes," it came out of him rushed through the echo of a soft bewildered laugh, breath ghosting into Stiles' mouth like a promise. It was a promise. A destination. A home.

He could feel the relief fall off of Stiles, the soft whimper that shied itself into a laugh and the curt nod, "Good, yeah- okay, we're gonna-" he swallowed a shaky breath, moved the hand that had been holding himself up against the couch to the curve of Derek's throat, "we're doing this."

Derek just nodded. He nodded and slotted their mouths together again because feeling Stiles was all he could think about. The soft thump of his heartbeat, the tremble in his hands when they tightened around him, the unbelievably tender way he kissed Derek. It was slow and long and the wolf let his hands card back into Stiles' hair when he leaned forward and sucked his bottom lip between his teeth. Stiles bit down, eyes cracking open as Derek let his arms fall, hands sliding up underneath his thighs.

"Of course," Stiles mumbled playfully against his mouth, arms moving around Derek's shoulders, legs clumsily wrapping around his waist when the alpha picked him up.

They barely made it to the hallway before Derek had him pressed against the wall, mouths slick and hot against one another. Stiles' long legs slid down to the ground, stumbling for a moment before the wolf grinded harder against him, "Bedroom- Derek, let's-" Stiles was laughing against his mouth, pushing back against him.

They were trying to get out of their clothes, tripping this way, falling that way until Stiles yelped and had to catch him, "Watch the kitty! Don't step on Beanie-" he gripped Derek's shoulders and whirled him back to hit the door to their bedroom so they could avoid crushing the curious feline darting down the hall.

Derek barked a laugh, eyes squeezed shut when he tried to catch himself from falling with Stiles still tangled around him, biting marks onto his throat and trying not to squirm out any laughter of his own.

"I was gonna-" Stiles hummed into another kiss when Derek backed him against the edge of the bed, "I was gonna wake up and make you breakfast, do the whole cliché down on one knee shit-" Derek smirked against his lips before he pushed him down on to the comforter.

"I had it all planned out but you and your god damn wolf powers-" Stiles sighed when Derek caged his arms around him and craned his neck to let the alpha kiss sloppily down the expanse of his throat, "made it impossible. I was gonna, fuck-"

Derek heard him try to catch his breath, the small hitch, the desperate attempt to control the soft moan that fell into his words, "tell you that I had never been in love before I met you."

He paused, lips smeared against the milky skin just below Stiles' collarbone. Mossy green eyes opened and the wolf rose up to trace the bow of his lips, the blotched red patches on his cheeks and to let himself listen. To absorb the words that so perfectly and so clumsily fumbled themselves out of Stiles' mouth and into the air between them.

Stiles swallowed, "I was gonna tell you that I fell in love with you the night you took me to the preserve for the first time," the palm of his hand was soft when it brushed over the hair on Derek's face, "that I've loved you every moment since then and that I want to live the rest of my life loving you."

It felt like Stiles had sliced him open and cauterized the wounds, hollowed him out and poured himself into the space left behind. The young man strangled his insides with roots and thorns and bloomed life into the darkest parts of him.

Derek leaned down and stole his lips in a fluid kiss, swallowed the end of his sentence and slid his hand down to drift between Stiles' thighs. He didn't waver, just focused on the way Stiles gasped when he pressed his finger against the heated ring of muscle and felt his stomach kick and drop when Stiles' eyes lidded and his lips shook as the wolf pushed in.

He took his time, curled and twisted, pusher another digit in besides the first and tried to resist smiling when Stiles choked on a sob. "Fuck, Derek- I'm good, just-" Stiles writhed and panted, legs twitching further apart, "come here."

It was devastatingly drawn out and Derek loved it that way. He loved tip-toeing Stiles right to the edge and then easing back, reveled in the brief erratic tilt of his hips when the florist bucked every so often; he could write symphonies to the sound of Stiles calling his name, muffled into the curve of his neck and shoulder.

It wasn't like a punch to his lower back, it wasn't a black-out kind of orgasm that romance novels seemed to adore, nor was it some mind-blowing out-of-body experience. Because he was there, in his body, listening to Stiles chew on whimpers and whines, feeling him sink his teeth into the space below his ear and drag his nails down his spine. Derek was there, reaching out to grab one of Stiles' hands and lace their fingers together, lifting his hips with the other and watching Stiles' eyebrows knit together when he threw his head back and pulsed hot and steady underneath him.

Derek was there and he enjoyed every moment. Even when he had to close his eyes because his toes were starting to curl and even when he heard Stiles pleading with him to come and hissing into his ear.

It was a brief release. A satisfying stretch. A vibration that made its way all the way down the length of his body and he stilled, hips flush against Stiles' when the wolf gasped and dropped his forehead down onto the slick shoulder below him.

The quiet seemed to cradle the sound of them breathing, the rustle of the sheets when Derek laid down next to him and wasn't bothered by mess they hadn't rushed to clean when Stiles pressed himself against the wolf's torso. They stayed like that. Catching their breath. Eyes closed. Hands absently feeling along each other’s shoulders, sides, until Stiles brushed his fingertips against Derek's lips and let out a shaky breath.

"You said yes, right?" His voice was mumbled and the alpha's eyes squeezed shut against the stretch of his grin and the huff of unmistakable laughter.

"Yes, Stiles. I said yes," Derek opened his eyes and there they were.

Big doe eyes. Like the rings around Saturn. Caramel sea salt ice cream. Flecked with gold towards the center- they looked back at him from under a fan of long eyelashes and Derek had never been so transfixed by a pair of eyes like he was transfixed by those.

Stiles rested a hand on his cheek, rubbed his thumb across the coarse hair on the alpha's face and pressed his lips gingerly against his mouth.

Derek inhaled.

He inhaled Stiles. The tea he always drank. The clove cigarettes he smoked every so often. The permanent imprint of exotic flowers and pollen that settled right into his bones. His cheap rose shampoo that he swore worked better than any name brand.
Burberry cologne.

He said 'I love you' and it dusted along Derek's face and fell chastely against his ear drum.

The wolf whispered the words back.

It was a chilly night in November, the seventeenth to be exact. A Saturday. And Derek wasn't alone.

--

The rings were white gold.

Simple bands. No jewels. No glitz. No dramatic statement. Just a profound weight on his hand that made Derek feel more alive than he had felt in twenty-nine years.

Stiles still made him breakfast and smeared whipped cream from their waffles all over Derek's face.

Beanie swatted at their feet when they drank their coffee in bed and the wolf blushed when Stiles used the word 'fiancé' for the first time.

Derek had never expected this. To fall in love. To indulge in the permanence of someone.

He had never expected to be found.

--

Erica was the first one he told. Obviously.

It was two days later and he stood in her kitchen as she rambled on about Boyd and the kids, about back to school night and how many friends Audrey had made in her first couple of months. She made coffee, handed him a cup and grabbed a pear from the bowl off the kitchen table, taking a bite out of it.

"So," she chewed and watched Derek set his elbows up on the bar with his hands pressed together in front of his mouth, "is everything okay with you and Stiles? What happened?"

He smiled, turned his hand slightly and Erica raised a brow, unaware of the gesture he was trying to make.

She took another bite.

He tapped his fingers together.

Her eyes narrowed but the blonde inhaled a gasp so deep that Derek thought she might choke on it when she finally did notice the dainty band circling the second to last finger on his left hand. She scrambled, dropped the pear, whines and whimpers sliding over her lips as she grabbed for his wrist.

"What the fuck?! He proposed?" Erica's voice was strained and she smiled, open-mouthed and wide when she tugged on his hand and examined the jewelry now permanently decorating the space below his knuckle.

Derek nodded, lips twisted up into a smile of his own.

She threw her arms around his neck, cooed and held on to him like he would break if she let him go. "God, Derek, you're engaged," her words were a whisper and she pulled back to look at him, eyes filled with salt water that brimmed against the edge of her mascara, "I'm so- I'm so happy for you."

The alpha tilted his head to the side, nuzzled his cheek into the palm of her hand, "Why are you crying?" his voice was smooth and soft, rivaling the powdery light that pillowed onto the counter top through the window.

Erica scoffed and sniffled, reached up to dab at her eyes with the side of her index finger, "Because," she sighed and shook her head, "now I don't have to worry about you being alone."

It was a quiet statement. A shy truth. And Derek nodded calmly when her bottom lip trembled.

"You never had to worry, Erica," he swayed her shoulders and she rolled her eyes.

"Yes, I did," her voice shook and it hurt, god it hurt, "but now you have Stiles and I know he'll take care of you if-"

"Shut up," his voice was a growl and she bared her teeth at him, eyes glowing gold.

"Don't tell me to shut up," she muttered through a laugh, swatting him playfully when he wrinkled his nose, eyes fading into a deep crimson.

His second in command. His very brave, all-too wise, and fiercely loyal second in command.

"Now I know that you won't be alone," she nodded and Derek could tell that she wanted to say more, to tell him that it was peaceful knowing that her alpha wouldn't die alone, that she wouldn't have to worry about making sure someone was there to take care of him when she couldn't.

"I'm going to take care of him too, you know," Derek bit, eyebrows raised on his forehead.

Erica laughed and shoved his shoulder again, enjoying the comfortability between them.

The knowing. The settlement.

"I know," she whispered.

Derek hugged her back into his chest and she gripped on to him like she had that first night in the hospital so many years ago. Vulnerable and small and feminine. The parts of her that his bite had buried. The secrets she left inside him, locked away and kept at bay. The sickness. The torment. The weakness.

"You're my girl," his words were pressed into the side of her head, against the smooth sunlight of her hair.

"And you're my alpha," she breathed into the silent kitchen.

--

The pack found out within hours after Derek told Erica.

Scott called Stiles first.

Jackson called Derek.

Allison and Lydia rushed over to Erica's after work and Derek could hardly get out two words before they calmed down enough to listen.

Peter met Derek at the preserve in the late afternoon and grinned when he greeted his nephew with a warm hug.

"It's about time," the older Hale sighed, giving Derek's shoulder a squeeze.

The alpha rolled his eyes and reached down to stroke across one of the wolves crowding around his legs.

"The private school a few towns over is doing a field trip here next week, it's a big group so we'll have to split them up into separate tours. Do you want morning or afternoon?"

Derek received a sloppy lick to his cheek when Cedric set his paws on the man’s shoulder and wagged his tail happily. Peter raised a brow, snorting a laugh, "Wow, you haven't blatantly ignored something I've said so smoothly since that time I told Chris you got him a prostitute for his birthday."

"It's has nothing to do with time," Derek sighed, "but I'm excited if that's what you're asking."

"You ready for a commitment like that?" Peter blinked and leaned down to fill up a large bowl with water, "marriage isn't just words on paper it's-"

"Yes," the alpha glanced over and shrugged, "I've been ready since he almost spilled coffee on me three years ago-"

"Fucking sap," Peter was laughing and Derek smirked before he kicked at the back of his uncles knees and watched him bounce on one foot to try and get away.

"I am happy for you, Derek. Your mom- everyone, everyone would be- is. Everyone is," Peter closed his eyes when he corrected himself, "proud of you and happy for you."

It was quiet for a moment as Derek buried his face into the thick fur around Gabriel's neck and continued to smooth his hand down Cedric's back.

"Yeah," he breathed softly into the air and didn't move when Peter swatted him between his shoulder blades.

His uncle offered to take the afternoon tour.

Derek couldn't help but imagine how much Talia would have loved Stiles.

How much they all would have loved him.

--

John Stilinski seemed to have the best reaction out of any one.

"Did ya do it, son?"

The retired sheriff sat on the couch munching on caramel popcorn in front of the TV.

Derek smiled when he saw Stiles' cheeks heat.

"Yes, father," he called from the kitchen, "I did."

"Did ya say yes, big guy?"

Derek almost couldn't control the laughter threatening to spill over his lips.

"I did, sir."

"Well thank fucking god because Stiles nearly had a panic attack over it," John shoved another fist full of popcorn into his mouth.

Stiles' forehead hit the cabinet.

The wolf stopped stirring the boiling pot of vegetables on the stove so he could let himself laugh.

"Nice to have you in the family, Derek."

It was all he said and Derek felt Stiles brush his fingertips against his lower back when he stepped past him to wash the lettuce off in the sink.

It was tragic how simple everything was in such a profoundly beautiful way.

--

They spent Thanksgiving at John's until dinner and then met up with everyone at Erica and Boyd's.

Chris made sure to congratulate both of them and Melissa patted Stiles on the cheek when she told him how happy she was for the pair.

Lydia set the table. Peter played with Lucas and Audrey bothered Isaac with questions about what it was like to help animals all day.

Dinner was full of laughter, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, baked yams, spicy green beans and honey glazed turkey.

"So," Allison covered her mouth as she chewed on a mouthful of cranberry, "have you two set a date?"

Derek blinked at Stiles who shrugged and pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose, "Spring, probably March."

The women at the table gasped. Every single one of them.

"That's in-" Lydia's jaw was slack, "that's in three months. Three months!"

Derek and Stiles glanced at each other before Derek's eyebrow rose and he nodded, "Yeah."

"But-" Erica looked to Melissa who shook her head and set her hands in front of her chest in mock defense before the blonde turned her eyes back to the couple, "But you haven't even sent out invitations and what about an engagement party-"

"It's not gonna be a big thing," Stiles interjected, "we want something small. I figured we'd just text you guys when we actually figured out when in March."

Derek nodded his agreement.

It was quiet for a moment and the alpha tried his best to ignore the searing glare from Erica who sat across from him. Allison's eyebrows were pulled together and Lydia wasn't shy about showing her concern. The red-head hissed, "That is not how weddings work."

Jackson rolled his eyes, "The only thing they don't have a choice in is the bachelor parties."

Scott grinned.

Peter sighed.

Even Chris started laughing.

Isaac bit down on his lip to keep from smiling.

"I second that," Boyd chuckled from his place next to Erica.

The alpha placed his hand gently on Stiles' thigh under the table.

Derek had no preference to where or when. He didn't care what they wore, who showed up, if there was cake or if there wasn't. The wolf wasn't partial to any special restaurant and he didn't mind if Stiles wanted to get married in a church or in the woods, in a court house or over the fucking internet.

Just as long as they did.

The group ate pie, drank wine and apple cider and when Derek and Stiles got home the florist lit the fire place and laid down in Derek's lap while he read a book on the couch.

"My mom-" Stiles' voice was quiet and Derek lowered the paperback, "she would have made a big deal out of all this. She would have demanded a catering service, a huge reception," he smirked and rubbed his cheek against the alpha's thigh, "she would have loved you."

The words he wanted to say got caught somewhere past his voice box and Derek decided it would be best just to stay quiet, to smooth his hand over Stiles' hair and down his side, to let him reach up and grab the wolfs knuckles. To agree silently as the wood popped and cracked from the fireplace and to listen to Stiles breathe easily.

Beanie hopped up onto the couch and laid down in front of Stiles, pawed gently at his nose.

"Talia would have loved you," Derek ventured softly as the kitten started to pur, "Laura too."

Stiles nodded.

It was quiet after that as Stiles held on to Derek's hand.

The kitten mewled and he smiled when Stiles cooed gently at her.

It was Thanksgiving and they weren't alone.

--

“Eastern wolves are a breed of timber wolves and live in Canada where-“

“Sir!”

A small voice interrupted Derek and the alpha blinked down towards the crowd of children. A little boy had his head tilted to the side and was looking behind the werewolf towards the large long-limbed and all-too clumsy animal flopped on top of a crate.

Green eyes flicked towards Cedric who whined and rolled on to his back.

“Why’s that one so weird?”

Derek smirked to himself, hands moving to smooth through the thick scruff around his neck, “He’s not weird,” he purred, hoisting the wolf into his arms. The class took a step back behind their teacher who had seemed permanently flushed since being met by the owner of the preserve a few hours ago.

“He’s just-“ the maned wolf yowled, due to being much too large to be picked up, at Derek who set him on his hind legs and continued to play with his front two paws, “different. Cedric is a maned wolf.”

“Did you name him?” the teacher spoke up as she knelt down next to a few of the third grade students who stood wearily by her side.

“No, my fiancé did,” his voice was soft and he offered a smile.

“Where do your kids go to school?” one of the children blurted from the crowd.

Kids.

It hadn’t occurred to him until then. Until right then- as two dozen pairs of wide eyes stared at him- that he was on his way to having a family. It was so strange that wearing a ring on his left hand suddenly threw him into that category. Into Dad material.

Children. Him. A father.

The alpha didn’t end up answering. He put Cedric down and opted to walk them towards the clearing where some of the other wolves were rough-housing instead and tried to keep his thoughts wrapped around the tour.

Marriage was enough of a hurdle, enough of a concept- but children..?

I want to have babies with you

Stiles’ voice echoed between his ears, bounced around his skull and vibrated against his temples.

It wasn’t that Derek didn’t want to have a family. God, he did. More than anything he’d ever wanted but… would he-

“Have you ever had a litter born here?” the teacher was looking at him and tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

“We, uh-“ he stammered, “no, no, we haven’t actually,” deep breath, “we did adopt quite a few of the wolves when they were pups though.”

He tried to smile and nodded when a few of the children asked if they could touch one of the wolves.

Would he- could he even…

Derek swallowed.

Would he make a good father?

--

Christmas shopping was hell.

Especially when he was with Lydia and Allison. How he managed to get himself into that situation was absolutely beyond him.

“Der-“ Allison looked over her shoulder, holding a charcoal grey sweatshirt up, “would Stiles like this?”

His eyes narrowed and he took a step forward, “Does it have a-“ he pushed at her hand to turn it and the nodded quickly, “yeah, it has a hood. Yes, he’d like that.”

They ended up eating lunch at a café in the mall, talking about Lydia’s idea for a wedding cake and discussing the next week or so before Christmas.

Lydia bought more than she planned.

Allison crossed off every item on her list.

Derek ended up eyeing a few things, purchasing very little, and keeping a lot of ideas in mind. He’d never been particularly fond of shopping in a group, especially for gifts and everyone knew exactly how he felt about the hustle and bustle of the holiday crowds. As much as he enjoyed the holidays, they never did bring him the joy that they seemed to bring everyone else. Perhaps it was the lack of Talia’s old stove-top cooking, or the arguments with Laura over who got to snap the wishbone that his Dad pulled out of the turkey. Maybe it was just that he wasn’t used to watching Audrey and Lucas grow up, that he still wasn’t used to constant rather than fleeting.

That even though it had been seven years since the last time they went to war, Derek wasn’t accustomed to standing still because his legs were used to running.

Maybe Derek loved the idea of home but hadn’t really embraced it yet.

“Your phone,” Lydia nudged him with her hip as they stood inside a local coffee shop and waited for their orders.

The alpha fished into his pocket and smirked when he opened up the message.

Stiles Stilinski: Dec 10 2016, 5:16 p.m
chinese?

He typed a quick reply and reached out to grab the black coffee from the counter top before he added three packs of rock sugar.

Family. Home. Kids. Engaged.

He wanted it all to make sense, he did. More than anything.

Derek wanted to fall into it headfirst, to feel it engulf him, surround him, bury him.

He wanted to experience it.

--

Three days later Erica looked at him from across the small wicker table in her backyard and shook her head.

“You’re scared,” she whispered.

“No,” Derek hissed.

He was. He was terrified.

“It’s okay,” there was laughter in her voice and it made a blush frost the tops of his cheeks, “I was scared, everyone gets scared.”

What the fuck was there to be scared of?

“I almost cracked right before the music started playing at our wedding. I almost ran right the fuck out of there, into the woods- anywhere else,” she pressed her mouth over the edge of her wine glass and took a sip, “we were so young. Fuck, we’re still so young but… it was Boyd and Boyd… Boyd’s it for me.”

Derek’s eyes lifted.

“It’s okay to be scared, Der,” long nails tapped against the side of the glass in her hand, “and it’s okay to question things-“

“I don’t question him, I know,” Derek paused through a frustrated huff, “it’s us- I could never see myself with anyone else but-“

“But nothing,” Erica shook her head, long strands of sunshine hair framing the fullness of her cheeks when she smiled, “stop being such an alpha and let him love you, Derek.”

A cold breeze sent the tree that dipped over the back fence into a frenzy of trembles and Derek stared absently at his lap.

“Hey,” her voice was sharp against the silence.

The wolf looked up when she leaned forward and set her elbows against the tops of her knees.

“It’s time,” she nodded and laid her hand open, palm up.

He set his hand in hers and she gripped.

--

Every winter the flowers slept and Derek sat out by the green house and watched them dream.

He used to wonder about things- like his pack. Like the way Lydia’s smile still beamed with life even though death brushed across her heels on a daily basis. Or Isaac’s gentleness after years of being handled like he was something that couldn’t break- like he was made of stone only to prove in his adulthood that he was soft and unyielding. Erica was a lot like gravity and Boyd was a sense of reason. Scott was the brother that he never had, thrown into his life at the wrong time to remind the alpha of what exactly he needed. Scott was the beginning of his revival. Even Jackson and Peter, through the darkness of their wrong doing had risen to become men that Derek was proud to call pack. Family.

And Derek often thought about what his life would be like if he had never found Scott or been desperate to turn his betas. If they hadn’t been brave enough to accept the bite. If he hadn’t gone back for Lydia, if he would have never forgiven Allison. If they would have never forgiven him.

But they did. They got through it.

And then there was always Stiles creeping in the back of his mind. Cinders warming the bottom of a fire place. Embers sparking fiercely against the joints in his elbows, the knots behind his knee caps- reminding him that he had a heart beat and coaxing it to jump just a little out of pace.

But tonight he didn’t think of Stiles’ hips or the smirk he wore so well.

Tonight he rolled the stem of baby’s breath between his fingertips and thought of what it’d be like years from now, waking up to Stiles at his side complaining about his aching limbs and demanding back rubs- which he frequently did anyways. He thought of them arguing over who did what in the kitchen, thought of Stiles leaving his socks in the living room and his wet towels on the floor.

Derek thought of Stiles’ skin bunching up around his eyes as he aged because of how wide he smiled when he laughed and he thought of the house they would grow old in.

It’d be two-stories, he guessed. Four bedroom, maybe. A backyard and a big kitchen, a fireplace and a deep bathtub. Wood floors adorned with big fluffy rugs since Stiles was a floor-dweller, as he called it, and enjoyed reading or watching TV lounged next to the coffee table.

There would be flowers everywhere, in vases, in pots outside. Fresh herbs in jars on the counter top.

The alpha closed his eyes.

Erica was right.

It was time.

--

“Do not! No, Stiles, I’m not- get them, no-“ the venomous words were spat from Derek as he wrestled with Stiles on the couch. He craned his neck back and held the young man’s arms away when he squirmed, laughing and writhing with his legs swung over the alpha’s lap.

“Let me!” Stiles growled through another laugh, eyes narrowed playfully as he tugged his wrists back until one broke free and left Derek scrambling to get a hold of him again.

“Would you stop fighting and just-“ Stiles hissed as he leaned forward and got his arms around the wolf’s shoulders.

Derek’s hands fell by his sides and he stared at the ceiling, an aggravated huff blowing past his lips.

The headband fit snugly behind his ears.

It jingled.

“See?” Stiles’ lips twisted when he tried not to laugh and he sat back on Derek’s thighs, “you’re a reindeer.”

The red reindeer horns were covered in glitter and had bells attached to the tops.

“I am not a reindeer, Stiles.”

“Santa’s reindeer,” Stiles cooed, leaning forward to press his lips against Derek’s mouth.

“No,” the alpha bit, “not a reindeer.”

“Pretty reindeer,” the florist’s words were muffled by Derek’s lips again and he smirked, lifting up to press back down, coaxing Derek to lean his head back to where Stiles was hovering over him.

Strong hands wrapped around the back of Stiles’ thighs, holding him steady when he leaned down and grazed his mouth against Derek’s.

The fire cracked and popped from underneath the TV on the wall where some Christmas special was playing.

It was slow, warm presses, the mild drag of Derek’s tongue across Stiles’ bottom lip, incomplete little sounds that each of them swallowed out of the others mouth. Stiles’ glasses sat crooked where Derek’s nose kept bumping into them but neither man was bothered by it and the wolf hummed pleasantly when he felt long arms tighten around his neck and pull him forward.

“Merry Christmas,” Stiles hummed, low and sultry against the cushion of Derek’s lips.

The headband got thrown somewhere behind the couch and Beanie swatted at it playfully.

“Christmas Eve,” Derek corrected softly, ducking down to dust his mouth across the strong line of Stiles’ throat.

Pine needles. Maple syrup. Smoke. Matcha. Almond milk.

--

Christmas dinner was just as intimate as it always was.

Chris helped Derek make one of his father’s old Pheasant recipes while Stiles frosted cookies with Audrey in the living room.

Erica pestered them both about the wedding; Lydia cooed about the cake she was going to bake and asked if they were going to have anyone cater the reception.

"Melissa offered us the cabin," Derek mused, "We were thinking about doing the wedding up there, just getting away. We can all do dinner after, have a few drinks. I don't think a huge reception is all that necessary."

There was really nothing anyone could say, if they wanted secluded and earthy then by god- those two would get what they wanted.

Derek poked at the bird roasting over the fire and sighed softly when Chris arched a brow, "Nothing big, huh? Just a ceremony and a get together?" The argent asked through a smile, "I figured those girls in there would never let you get away with something so dainty.”

The alpha smirked and glanced inside to where Stiles was laying on his stomach shaking sprinkles on to a tree shaped cookie.

"We don't really need anything big," Derek shrugged, "just want everyone there."

Chris nodded, a strong hand clasped over the wolfs shoulder, "We all will be," he gripped, "there's no doubt about that."

--

It was mid-January when Derek found his way to Deaton's clinic on the out-skirts of town.

The wise emissary was inside with Isaac, a parrot on his shoulder and a large Akita sitting by his feet.

"Hello, Derek," Deaton offered a smile as he reached up to feed the bird a piece of fruit, "how are you?"

The alpha shrugged and touched Isaac gently on the shoulder as he walked by, mouth suddenly a bit dry as he leaned against the metal surgical table and rested his hand on the top of the canine's head, scratching idly behind her ears.

"I wanted to ask you something," Derek tilted his head to the side and Deaton nodded, eyebrows raised, "I wanted to know if you would-" he bit down on his lip through the shadow of a smile, "do the invocations for Stiles and I."

Isaac tilted his head, obviously confused by the statement, but Deaton's lips twisted into a fond smile and he sighed, "You're performing a handfasting?"

Derek nodded and wrinkled his nose when he felt blood rush to the tops of his cheeks.

"I'd be honored, Derek," Alan patted the bottom of his shoulder, "more than honored. March, correct?"

"Yeah, the tenth," the wolf replied.

The veterinarian laughed softly and reached up to pet the exotic bird swaying playfully on his shoulder, "I'll be there."

When Derek walked out of the clinic and slid back into the driver’s seat of his car he flipped open his phone and typed out a quick message.

Deaton said yes

Stiles Stilinski: January 17 2016, 3:07 p.m
good :) i'll be home in a little bit, can you pick up cat food?

The alpha smiled, eyes rolling in their sockets.

Yeah

Oh, the life.

--

"So I was thinking," Stiles shoved a spoon full of ice cream between his lips and maneuvered his feet under the sheets on their bed.

Derek arched a brow as he stripped off the sweater he had been wearing all day and walked into the attached bathroom, "Yes?" He glanced over his shoulder to the man laying underneath the comforter before he started to scrub his teeth with the hard bristles of his tooth brush.

"Well," Stiles sighed, "I was thinking about your last name."

The wolf leaned against the entryway that led into the bathroom and arched a brow. His heart stuttered, lungs started to burn. Yes, his last name. Hale. The name that was almost snuffed out completely, the name that was cursed with ashes.
"Wha' abou' it?" Derek's lips sloppily tried to form words as he mumbled around the toothbrush before he held up a finger and padded back to the sink and washed his mouth out.

"I think I want it."

Stiles had said the words quietly, quiet enough that if Derek wasn't what he was he may not of heard them. He stared at himself in the mirror, dissected his reflection and tried his best not to look as wide-eyed and completely in shock as he truly was.
The florist was watching him when he walked back out and the wolf was hesitant, taking slow steps towards the bed until he sat down on the edge of it, swallowing a soft breath, "We go pick up our marriage license tomorrow... is that- my name, is that something you really want?"

Molten caramel eyes blinked over at him and Stiles sighed, setting his glasses on the night stand along with the near empty pint of peanut butter chocolate ice cream.

His hands danced over Derek's shoulders when he lifted up and pressed against his back, lips feather light across the nape of the alpha's neck. The wolf hummed, eyes falling closed as Stiles graced the flesh just below his ear with a warm kiss, "It is," he purred, "Stiles Hale."

Derek couldn't help the small smile that pulled at the corner of his lips.

Stiles felt like the sun warming his skin on a cold day and hearing him say something so... permanent made Derek's skin crawl with internal heat.

"Okay," Derek whispered, turning to capture the pout of Stiles' mouth with his own, "okay."

He inhaled.

Cashmere. Old Spice. Peanut. Lavender tea.

--

Time seemed to speed up after that.

They picked up their marriage license and didn't even make it half-way home before Stiles pulled the Jeep over and crawled across the center console and into Derek's lap. It was the middle of the day and Derek was perfectly fine with the rest of the world seeing them make out like teenagers, gushing and laughing and fondling each other on the side of the road.

Two weeks later Boyd had Derek trying on suits in a small shop downtown. They had decided not to be too formal and were going to wear black slacks- Derek with a white shirt, Stiles with a black. Opposing black tie for Derek and white for Stiles. It would be simple, not overly manufactured or in-your-face blatantly outrageous.

Derek looked at himself in the mirror, sighed and ran his hands through his hair as Boyd chuckled to himself, "Remember when we did this for me all those years ago?" the beta was sitting on a bench tying up one of the dress shoes he had tried on, "God, and Erica... you remember that dress, right?"

The alpha grinned and rolled his eyes, "Yes, I remember her dress."

"She looked so good," Boyd laughed to himself, "so damn good."

"Her accent color was-"

"Red," Boyd hummed the word, looking towards the ceiling like he was re-living the memory all over again, "blood red."

Derek tilted his head to the side as he tugged at the skinny black tie around his neck and Boyd glanced over to him before he stood, "here," he offered a hand, "there, look at you. All handsome."

Boyd's words earned him a soft growl and another roll of Derek's forest green eyes.

But Derek did look good. It was foreign to see himself- older, content, calm. He wasn't beaten and bruised, in mourning or about to wage war. He was in a shop full of dress clothes with one of his best friends and he was shopping for his wedding day.

A deep exhale was pushed through his nostrils and he smiled when Boyd leaned into his shoulder and grinned, "I'm happy for you, Derek," he slung his arm around the older man’s shoulders and laughed, "and I'm even happier for your bachelor party."

"Nothing crazy," the alpha hissed, "no night club, no keg stands and for the love of god tell Jackson no strippers."

Boyd was doubled over laughing as Derek loosened the tie back up and arched a brow, laughing quietly to himself, "I'm serious," the wolf strained, trying to control the smile that threatened to spread across his face, "you guys know I'm not-"

"Don't worry!" the beta shook his head, "it'll be Peter, Jackson, Erica and I with you, you really think my wife's gonna want strippers?"

Derek arched a brow when he looked over his shoulder, a wry smile twisting his lips upwards.

Dark eyes rolled and Boyd sighed, "You're right, I'll tell her and Jackson no."

The alpha sighed his appreciation and was momentarily occupied by the tailor who suggested hemming his suit pants an inch or two, to which Derek agreed.

Deep clear eyes stared back at him from the reflection and Derek tried to control the tremble in his breathing, the acceleration in his heart beat.

He was getting married.

Derek Hale was getting married.

--

Stiles writhed against the hard floor of the hallway, his back arched, eyes squeezed shut as Derek busied his mouth between the man’s legs.

It was late- probably midnight, maybe even later. They had shared a bottle of some expensive wine and tried to get through watching a movie, which did not happen. Derek sometimes wondered why they even tried- he also wondered if things would ever change. If Stiles would get tired of him- tired of the surprise sex, the morning sex, the kitchen sex, the sex in general.

It worried him more than it should have seeing as Stiles was straining against the tile, teeth buried in his bottom lip with one hand pressed against the wall, the other finding purchase in the short strands of the alpha's hair. The florist bucked his hips only to profusely apologize and try to catch his breath; Derek didn't even bother stopping, just kept mouthing at him, tongue stroking and prodding, hands gripped around the sides of his thighs.

The wolf didn't know how they had ended up like this- they had been trying to get to the bedroom like always, but instead ended up tangled together on the floor.

It wasn't the first time.

The bottom of Stiles right foot slid up towards Derek's shoulder as he tried to breathe through his the shaking but it was nothing but short little gasps and trembling limbs. The alpha hummed around him, fingers kneading into the soft flesh of his upper thighs.

"Fuck," Stiles rasped, "come here- Der, come up-" he tugged at the collar of Derek's button up shirt and pulled the wolf up to his lips, pressing them eagerly against his mouth. The tile was cold and hard against his knees and the palms of his hands but Derek didn't mind.

He didn't mind when Stiles pressed up against him, demanded that he lose his clothes. He didn't mind when he pushed Derek's chest playfully and knocked him onto his back where the chilled floor attacked his skin like pin point needles. He didn't mind at all.
Not until he had his eyes closed, lips parted as Stiles trailed his lips down to the curve of his naval and felt a very warm and very familiar tail fall over the bridge of his nose.

Beanie meowed. She yawned quietly and blinked at them from her place just to the left of Derek's head. The kitten had grown into quite a beautiful cat, all long white fur and big pointed ears but that certainly did not stop the wolf from being immediately irritated.

"Seriously, cat?" Derek hissed, because now was obviously not the time, "We're a little busy."

It was Stiles' laughter that coaxed a grin to curve up Derek's face. The florist could hardly talk, fits of laughter and chuckles filling the air between them. Beanie flicked her tail, shifting it to drag over Derek's cheeks and down to his chin.

"Beans, what the fuck?" Stiles laughed through his words as he sat up on his knees, shaking his head and wiping at watering eyes, "You literally have the worst timing."

The cat yawned again and licked lazily at her paw while Derek swatted her tail away from him and sat up on his elbows.

"God, we should probably get used to getting interrupted since kids are in our future."

Derek didn't want to seem so tense but his jaw hardened and he swallowed, fingers digging into the tile. Stiles tilted his head to the side and sighed, "Unless you don't see babies-"

"No," Derek interjected, reaching carelessly for any part of the man that he could find, "I do- I mean," he bit down on his bottom lip.

Stiles swung one of his legs across the alpha's hips, "It's not a big deal-"

"It is," the wolf mumbled, a warm, perplexed stare gracing the green of his eyes, "It's... it's absolutely everything I want if..." his teeth sank back into his bottom lip.

The florist leaned forward, breath like honey against Derek's jaw, "If what?"

There was something so electrifying- the way Stiles was fearless, the way he conducted himself in situations that would scare the shit out of Derek, an alpha of a pack of werewolves. That Stiles, a human who had been through hell could be as exquisite as he was. Could open Pandora's Box and enjoy the chaos.

That he would want that chaos.

"If you think I'd make a good father," the words stumbled out of Derek's mouth and were swallowed by the pressure of Stiles' lips against his own.

The kiss was long. Fluid movements that left Derek breathless and aching to lean forward when Stiles pulled back and moved his hands to wrap around the wolfs cheeks.

"You will make an amazing dad," the words sank into him like gasoline, "and our babies will be beautiful and reckless- just like you and just like me," and when Stiles kissed him again it was like a match igniting against his skin. It burned and charred and mangled in a way that made him crave the flames. Made Derek love the taste of fire.

Somewhere between Derek picking Stiles up and stumbling through the door of their bedroom was a rushed 'i love you' and somewhere tangled in the sheets of their bed was the promise of a future that Derek never thought he would be graced with.

A life he never imagined living.

A life.

--

Erica Reyes: February 28 2016, 5:16 p.m
come over for din din

Derek wrinkled his nose when he looked down at his phone, eyebrow arched high on his forehead.

"Erica wants us to come over for dinner," he glanced over to Stiles who was curled up on the other end of the couch with Beanie in his lap and his tablet in his hands. Caramel eyes blinked up and he looked to Derek from over the rim of his glasses and god- Derek couldn't get over that look.

"Okay? I mean, we haven't eaten so I don't mind- you had a long day though so it's up to you," Stiles offered a crooked smile and shrugged, setting the tablet down on the coffee table next to the chipped tea cup he had been drinking from. The cat purred, stretched her paws and kneaded at the leather cushion.

"We can," Derek nodded, "let me just-" his eyes flicked down to the bare skin of his chest and the sweatpants clinging to his hips, "throw clothes on."

Stiles gnawed crudely on his lip and nodded softly, "You do that."

They didn't leave the house for another hour at best and the alpha hardly minded.

--

It hit him as soon as they pulled into the driveway.

Derek's pupils dilated, his nostrils flared and his heart kicked against his ribcage. His wolf yipped, ran, crashed against him again and again. That smell. That scent.
It wasn't the herb crusted chicken that Erica had cooked, or Lydia's far too strong perfume. It wasn't Parmesan cheese or red wine.

"Holy shit- babe, Der, hey wait! What the hell is going on-" Stiles couldn't keep up when the alpha slammed the car door shut and almost tripped over his own feet as he practically ran up the stairs to Erica and Boyd's front door.
Stiles was at his heels before he pushed the door open and stumbled inside.

There she was.

A low whine pulled itself from deep in Derek's chest and he near sobbed when the dark haired woman smiled softly from the dining room.

"Cora," Derek's voice cracked, his eyes watered, chest heaved and before he knew it his sister had her arms and legs wrapped around him, clutching at his shoulders, nuzzling her cheek into the space just above his shoulder, "jesus, Cora," he could hardly get the words out before she started laughing, pressing a kiss against his cheek.

He squeezed her, inhaled deep and exhaled deeper.

Erica had her hand set across the grin decorating her face and Scott stood with Allison next to the couch. Boyd was holding Lucas, Jackson and Lydia were bickering in the kitchen and Derek couldn't wrap his head around any of it. Not around the surprise of his sister, not around how different she looked or how amazing it felt to have her near.

"You're here," Derek didn't quite know he had said anything until she threw her head back and laughed, swatting him playfully on the shoulder.

"Of course I'm here! My brother's getting married!"

"I didn't-" he stammered, "I didn't think you could come- you just, you just got that job at the firm and-"

"Oh for fuck's sake, Derek," she slapped her palm against his cheek, "I would never miss this."

It was quiet for a moment, eyes centered on the two Hales with their arms around each other- until Cora peeked up from her brothers shoulder and settled her gaze on the lanky man with a scarf wrapped around his neck still standing in the door way.

Stiles smiled- soft, like he always did when he met someone new, with his hands shoved in the front pockets of his khakis and his lips pursed into a thin line.

"Stiles," the way she said his name made it seem like something so incredible, "you're the florist who convinced my brother to start gardening?"

Derek looked over his shoulder and the warmth in his smile was unfathomable.

Because everything seemed warm. Everything seemed right.

"Among other things," Stiles mused coyly, "you must be Cora?"

The woman nodded, letting her hand fall from its place on Derek's arm as she walked towards him. She had a stride just like Derek's, all strength and no fear, her shoulders square and poised. A burgundy coat was draped over her torso, a black pencil skirt wrapped delicately around her waist.

"I am," she sighed, dark brown eyes fading into a deep gold, "and I am extremely pleased to meet you."

--

The night was spent next to the fireplace with glasses of wine.

Derek listened intently when Cora spoke- he listened to her ramble about law school and the job she had acquired at a firm in New Orleans. He listened to her talk about the pack she was in for a short period of time- a subject that made his insides twist and turn. There was something unnatural about his sister running with wolves that weren't them, having an alpha that wasn't him, making a home anywhere that wasn't near the pack.

But it was her life and all Derek wanted was her happiness.

The thoughts were fleeting and suffocated by the sheer impact of her presence, of her smile and the grace she had grown into after so many years.

Stiles told her about himself, they talked about how he and Derek met, even though Derek had told her over the phone several times about Stiles, about his influence on his life and more importantly the influence he had on Derek's heart.

The alpha almost choked on the amount of annoying embarrassment he had for the mess of a puddle that Stiles seemed to melt him into. But that was what love did- apparently. It changed him. Completed a part of him that he assumed would forever stay vacant and hollow.

Stiles just crawled right into the cesspit that Derek kept hidden behind his ribs and made a god damn home.

The door opened and shut. Feet scuffled against the wood floors.

"Hey, sorry I'm late, I-" Isaac stopped mid-sentence, eyes wide and jaw slack before Cora tilted her head to the side and lifted her wine glass to her lips, "...Cora?"

"It's been a while," she purred, "like five years."

Derek rolled his eyes and stifled a small laugh, "You guys didn't tell Isaac either?"

Erica grinned, shifting on Boyd's lap, "Surprise!"

"Get up," Isaac hissed, dropping the messenger bag slung over his shoulder to the ground, "and come here."

The hug was unnecessarily long, Derek thought, and Stiles smoothed his hand across the alpha's wrist, "Stop," he whispered quietly against the wolfs ear, pressing further into Derek's back which was settled into the florist's chest, "she's all grown up."

And Stiles was right.

Cora was all grown up with a degree in law and on her way to becoming a well-known lawyer. Peter nudged Derek's shoulder with his elbow and the alpha growled out something of a 'yeah yeah' before Cora unraveled herself from Isaac's tight embrace.

"It's so good to see you," the beta nodded and she nodded back, "you hear your big brother's tying the knot?"

There was a gentle laugh before she whipped her head, long dark hair swinging past her elbows, "Yes, I'm well aware. Speaking of which," she raised her glass, "to my brother," the pack reached for their glasses and tipped them, "and to Stiles," she watched the human carefully as he set his chin down against Derek's shoulder.

"May the sun be your shelter," Derek's throat swelled, his eyes burned, but he said nothing, "and may the moon guide you."

It was quiet and Stiles reached for Derek's hand which he didn't want to admit was shaking.

They took a drink.

Cora walked over and pressed her lips against Stiles' cheek and then down to Derek's.

"Those were-"

She set her index finger against his lips, a tender nod answering his question.

So Derek stayed quiet and looked at her like she might be home and laced his fingers between the slots in Stiles' hand because he was home.

Derek was finally home.

--

"What did that mean?" Stiles whispered against Derek's neck, tangled in sheets and arms and legs as they breathed together in the safety of their bedroom.

"What did what mean?" the alpha mumbled, nosing himself into the top of Stiles' hair.

"What Cora said earlier tonight- the toast, it meant something, if you don't want to tell me I understand, I just-"

Derek cleared his throat, "It was the blessing my Aunt gave to my parents on their wedding day," he whispered, tightening his arms around Stiles when he felt his heart skip.

Stiles didn't say anything, just pressed his lips between Derek's collarbones and whispered that he loved him.

There was nothing else that needed to be said.

The wolf breathed.

Cabernet. Clove cigarettes. Cookie dough. Clinique aftershave.

--

Mahogany eyes stared out across the Hale property, flabbergasted, muted by the sight before them. Cora's fingertips twitched and she inhaled deep, a palm moving up to settle across the top of her chest like perhaps the wind had been knocked out of her. Her lungs shook, lips curved into a bewildered smile, "You did this?"

She turned to Derek who was spinning a daisy between his fingers from his seat next to the green house. The alpha nodded, glancing towards the property covered in roses and wild flowers, "Most of it, Peter has a vegetable garden back here," he nudged his jaw over his shoulder behind the green house, "and Stiles helped me with some of the more exotic breeds."

Cora walked forward, heeled boots crunching through the dirt until she found herself next to the porch, her fingertips dragging across the top of the bushel of white roses- the first.

"It's beautiful," she sighed, looking back over to her brother who offered a small smile, "Mom would have been thrilled to see you now," her voice trembled but Cora was far more collected than even Derek was for the most part. She had a way about herself that he envied.

The silence was next. All even breathing and gentle acceptance; acceptance of a future for the two of them that didn't include shadows haunting their every move, didn't include their family being slaughtered or their loves ones falling helpless at their feet.

A future that was spelled out in blooming buds and fragrant petals.

Derek moved slowly, wrapped his arm snugly around her waist and prodded playfully at his sisters ribs. Cora squirmed and growled, "I'm proud of you," she hissed, swatting his hand away before she turned to face him, "I'm so proud of you."

Her words seemed exhausted, like perhaps she had waited to say them for so many years- years that they had lost in mourning and distance, in fire and nightmares.

The alpha nodded.

Acceptance.

It felt incredible.

--

It was later that evening that they all prepared for the bachelor parties the pack had planned for both Stiles and Derek.

Stiles was getting dressed, shuffling himself into a pair of tight chestnut pants and running his fingers through messy damp locks. Derek was watching him from the bathroom, a coy smile warming the edges of his lips, "Did Scott tell you what they had planned?"

The florist scoffed, "Of course not, though I highly doubt it'll be a strip club seeing as if you smelt even the slightest hint of another man's cologne on me you'd-"

Derek had his arms pinned to the mirrored closet before he could finish the sentence, nose pressed into the groove of his neck, "I'd what?" the wolf bit, lips closing around the tendon flexing against the flesh of Stiles' throat.

There was a skip when Stiles tried to breathe, pressed his hips forward and strained his wrists in Derek's grasp, "You'd-" his answer was clipped as the alpha gripped harder, "god, Derek, you'd kill them and-"

"And?"

Stiles swallowed, cheeks flushed, heart beating steady but hard in his chest.

Derek's wolf snarled at the sheer thought of someone’s hands on him.

"And y-you'd-" a gasp, "jesus, I love it when you're possessive," Stiles groaned against the words, turning his head to coax Derek's lips to his own. It wasn't a soft kiss and it implied that they would probably be late to meet up with the group at Jackson and Lydia's, but Derek didn't care. Especially when Stiles ripped one of his hands free and closed it tightly around the wolfs throat.

That was new.

So new.

He squeezed, "And if they take you to a strip club do you know what I'll do?" Stiles hissed the words into Derek's mouth, gave another tight squeeze, enticing Derek's hips to press forward and grind between his legs.

"What?" Derek's heart raced and his fingertips trembled when Stiles stroked his thumb across the pillow of his bottom lip.

"I'll-" Stiles chewed on the inside of his own cheek, tried to keep from smiling but failed, "I don't," Derek chuckled, "I don't know, okay! But- but I'll do something that will," the wolf barked out a laugh against his lips when Stiles started to stumble into laughter himself, "probably involve killing you, so-"

The wolf pressed his mouth into Stiles' fumbling words, catching him when Stiles tried to whine about how bad he was at being sexy.

His heart sounded like a train rumbling across old wooden tracks in Derek's ears.

They were, in fact, an hour late.

--

"Told ya they'd be late," Jackson huffed as they stood outside on the porch.

Scott shrugged and bumped his hip into Jackson's bony side, "We all knew they would be."

Derek and Stiles took the Jeep and when they pulled up in front of the house the pack started pouring out of the front door.

Green eyes turned to Stiles who was watching Derek carefully from the drivers seat, "Have fun, alright?" Derek murmured, leaning over to press a quick kiss to Stiles' lips.

Stiles rolled his eyes, "You too."

"Get out!" Erica hollered from the side walk, a sleek red dress clinging to her torso, "time to fucking go!"

Two cabs idled in front of the house.

Derek's eyes rolled in their sockets but he sighed, pressing another kiss to Stiles' lips before they finally clambered out of the car. Scott was at Stiles' side in an instant, tugging on his arms, hooting and hollering about shots and champagne.

Peter and Cora collected Derek, Cora swinging her hip into his as they danced him annoyingly towards one of the cabs.

"Time to drink, time to drink, time to drink," she chirped again and again, coaxing a grin to spread over Derek's face. His uncle shoved him playfully, "When exactly is the last time we went bar hopping, Derek?"

The alpha didn't answer, just sighed and let them push him into the back of the taxi next to Erica and Boyd. Jackson piled in after them and directed the driver to the strip a few towns away that was well known for its district of bars.

It was unconventional- like the rest of their lives. Derek knew that traditionally a bachelor party meant staying in a hotel and not going back home to a waiting fiancé, but nothing about his and Stiles' relationship was conventional so the idea that perhaps they were fucking up the steps of marriage didn't quite bother him.

Stiles got into the other taxi with Scott, Lydia, Allison and Isaac.

Derek had absolutely no idea what his friends had planned but a very large part of him knew it would end up in an aggressive hang over.

--

Oh dear god.

Derek's head was swimming by the time they hit the third bar.

"C'mon, alpha," Jackson had his arm slung around his shoulders, "tequila, baby. We're doing it."

Derek tried to protest but ended up laughing instead.

Cora and Erica were stumbling into each other in their heels. Peter just kept shaking his head. Boyd couldn't stop laughing.

"Hey!" Jackson hollered through the crowded bar, "My best fucking friend is getting hitched!"

He didn't know who bought him the next couple of drinks.

He didn't know exactly how much alcohol he had consumed- but he did know that Erica was pressing a sloppy kiss against his cheek and Cora was cackling about how little it took to get Derek drunk.

Derek argued vehemently against that statement with slurred words and toothy smiles.

Was this normalcy? He thought absently as Erica sipped on something frozen and fruity, while Peter caught Cora when she almost stumbled into a bar stool and Jackson slapped a hand on Boyd's back through a fit of howling laughter.

Perhaps it was.

--

"Holy fuck," Derek chuckled when they pulled up in front of his apartment hours later. His mind was numb, tongue loose, eyes lazy as he received a few hugs and poked a passed out Erica in the forehead, "you bitch, you didn't even stay up-"
"I am up, asshole," the blonde mumbled through a crooked grin, eyes still very much closed.

The alpha nearly tripped out of the taxi, giving a half-hearted wave to his friends when they drove off to their appropriate homes. He groaned- eyes heavy as he trudged up the stairs and dug into his pockets for his keys. Drinking had never been Derek's forte, but it sure had been a good time. From Jackson dancing on a table to Cora trying to out drink one of the regulars at the last bar they went to- it had been an entertaining evening.

Derek almost missed the keyhole when he jabbed his house key into the slot and twisted far too roughly, "God dammit," he hissed when the key got stuck, closing the door behind him and blinking against the light in the living room, "Stiles? Are you ho-"

It wasn't even worth it to try and contain the laughter spilling over Derek's lips.

He nearly buckled when he saw Stiles sitting with his knees on the cushions of the couch and his elbows set neatly on the top, head cradled in his hands.

"Lydia made me wear it all night," even Stiles was laughing, almost crying laughing, "like all night."

A bright pink boa was wrapped around his neck, a tiara decorating the crown of his head.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Derek caught himself on the breakfast bar; eyes squeezed shut through the choked sobbing laughter that he couldn't control.

"No, I am not!" Stiles barked, moving far too quickly from the couch to bracket himself around Derek who stumbled back, catching them both when they fell into their front door.

The two of them were far too drunk for this and things were going to get broken, Derek was well aware of that.

The wolf hummed, inhaling the spicy scent of Bourbon off Stiles' tongue, "Well you look very pretty," he cooed, playful sarcasm dripping from every syllable.

Stiles smirked, gracing Derek with that playful grin that he had fallen in love with all those years ago in the shop off first and Oakheart.

He wrapped the boa around Derek's shoulders and hauled him backwards, mumbling things about his night out which included far too much alcohol and too many eighties songs that he unashamedly sang to at the top of his lungs.

Derek wasn't surprised when they didn't even make it to the couch.

--

"Never again," Stiles grumbled bitterly into Derek's shoulder when they woke up on the ground across from the couch with a broken lamp next to them and a very judgmental cat watching from on top of the bar, "I'm never drinking again."

Derek agreed.

--

Melissa McCall: March 3 2016, 10:13 a.m
the cabin is fully furnished and i just heard from the care taker, he said its ready for guests so i'm taking cora and isaac up there a day early to start setting everything up

Derek blinked down at his phone.

okay, thank you again mel

Melissa McCall: March 3 2016, 10:16 a.m
anytime! it looks like peter, chris and i are driving the kids back after the ceremony and everyone else is staying at a hotel in town

"Everything okay?" Cora tapped on his calf from her seat in the dirt on the Preserve. A few wolves lapped at her cheeks, Cedric was flopped across her lap, Gabriel had his snout laid over her shoulder.

The alpha stared at his phone, heart fluttering anxiously.

He wanted to say 'yes', to assure his sister that he was perfectly alright and that he wasn't completely terrified. But that was something he couldn't possibly hide from her anyways.

She stood, combat boots scraping across the dirt as she rose to her feet and reached out to grip his hand, "Hey," Cora's voice hadn't been that soft since she was young, "don't be scared."

Life had shaped Derek into something cold and it hadn't prepared him for a life of being completely defrosted by a man he never expected to meet in a shop he never thought he'd walk into in a town he tried not to hate.

--

"Ready?"

Stiles' voice was soft and his eyes were softer. He gazed at Derek from the open door of their bedroom with a duffle bag at his feet.

God, it all came so fast.

So fucking fast.

It was eleven o'clock in the morning on March ninth and Derek was getting married tomorrow.

Ready?

What an easy word.

His heart was beating faster than it ever had and as he looked across the living room to the man smiling back at him he realized.

Yes.

He was ready.

--

They arrived at the cabin some sixty miles away from Beacon Hills with a caravan of cars already parked in front. Derek had driven the Camaro and Stiles was in the passenger seat with bright eyes and flushed cheeks because the sight before them was far more beyond anything beautiful.

The property was set deep in the trees pressed together in the shadow of shrubbery and forestry. Leaves still decorated the ground from winters unrelenting grasp and sunlight dripped through the angry arms of every elderly oak that stood sturdy with their roots gripped deep in the earth. It was a two story cabin- large, with a porch and a bright white wood door. There was a set of tables and chairs, an old rocking chair, some vines crawling up across the fence. The roof was shingled and mature, the windows old and frosted from the chilly afternoon air that surrounded them.

Stiles looked over to Derek, a playful smile decorating the angles of his face, "C'mon, everyone’s waiting," he mumbled, wise to the apprehension pinched between the alphas brows.

Derek swallowed and it felt like he might have tried to inhale rusty nails.

"Yeah, okay," he sighed, all shaky breath and fatigued confidence.

Warm breath ghosted across his jaw and the wolf turned into Stiles mouth, taking the kiss and reveling in it. The florist worked his lips like he always did, pulling Derek back to the ground and wrapping him in comfort. Soothing him with familiarity. Reminding him that fear was something of the past and that Stiles was his future.

The curve of his hips. The bow in his spine. The echo of his laughter. Passion in his eyes. Tenderness in his hands.

"Let's go," he whispered against Derek's lips, cheek brushing over the coarse hair on his face before he sank back and opened the passenger door to slide out into the clear mountain air.

It didn't take long, only a moment and a deep breath, and then Derek was locking the car and walking with him towards the door.

When Stiles turned the knob and pushed it open they were graced with loud pitter patter of feet against the hard wood floor and Audrey flinging her arms around Derek's waist. Erica was settled on the couch with Lucas in her lap, bouncing him lazily next to Boyd. Allison was with Lydia and Chris, Melissa stood in the kitchen around the corner with Jackson, Scott and Peter. Deaton was poking a stick into the old brick fire place with Isaac at his side, Cora curled up next to him on what looked to be a fur rug.

"Dad?" Stiles laughed out the word when the old Sheriff walked out from the around the corner and offered a grin, "That would be me," his father answered, plopping down in a recliner set just in front of the fireplace, "What, you'd think I'd miss the rehearsal dinner, kid? C'mon, now."

Derek chuckled quietly, gave Stiles' hand a small squeeze and only let his fingertips go so he could reach down and prod Audrey playfully in the ribs, "Hi, baby, do you like the woods?"

"It smells weird," she whined, "There aren't any other wolves up-"

"Hey, wow! Dad, so let's uh, cigarette! Yes, one of those, come outside, let's uh," Stiles blinked, cheeks flushed when Derek clasped a hand over Audrey's mouth and bit down on his bottom lip, shooting a very apologetic look up to his fiancé, "I'm in need of nicotine, come, yeah, up! Get up, let's go enjoy the fresh air!"

John arched a brow, looking far from curious about what the little girl had let slip from between her lips and shrugged, "Alright, I'll go out with you. By the way, whatever Mrs. McCall is cooking over there in the kitchen smells amazing-"

"Miss!" the woman corrected from the open door as she rifled into the cupboards.

"Oh," John immediately tried to walk towards the kitchen, "Oh, well in that case-"

"Father!" Stiles hissed, hauling him towards the sliding glass door that led to the backyard, "Come on, old man. Outside."

The alpha hoisted Audrey into his arms and walked with her through the expanse of the lovely little cabin. The living room was spacious with big bay windows, a flat screen TV on the wall with a large brick fire place underneath it. There were shelves with old books lined between the windows that faced into the dining room. A large wooden table was set with white and gold placements, a vase full of lilies in the middle. Hints of white roses peeked out from under the full bodied petals of each lily and a few tails of lavender flushed the bouquet with a pastel blush.

He could hear everyone in the kitchen laughing and rattling around. He set the little girl down and pushed through the door, glancing around to Melissa and Jackson who were glazing a lamb with some kind of cranberry sauce. "Hey, bro," Scott grinned over his shoulder and held up a bottle of white wine, "dinner won't be ready for like three hours but-"

"I didn't know we were doing this," Derek murmured, lips curved up into something of a small smile, "a rehearsal dinner."

"My idea," Melissa sighed, pausing to tie the loose curls falling around her face into a pony tail.

"Thank you," Derek nodded and gestured to the bottle of wine in Scott's hand with another nod before he walked past them and towards the staircase which led up to the four rooms, two were open with a few bags next to each bed which he assumed was where some of the pack were staying. However, two double doors were closed towards the end of the hall. The wolf tilted his head to the side and took a few steps forward before flinching at the far too loud, 'no' being called from more than one wolf downstairs.

"Can't go in there," it was Erica's voice shouting up the stairs, "Not until tomorrow night."

Derek huffed, eyes tracing the chipped outline of the door, analyzing the old door knob and the small chaste flower tied around it.

He wasn't going to argue.

He was far too nervous to argue about anything at this point.

Minutes turned into hours, one glass of wine turned into four and by the time the clock struck five fifteen the whole group was settled around the dinner table, laughing and smiling at one another. Chris had showed up just before dinner started and cleared his throat as they all just began to slice into the beautiful meal that Melissa and the rest of them had been working on all day.

"So," his voice was low and warm as he rested his eyes on the pair across from him seated in the middle of the table, "it's been a long, tough road for a lot of us- especially," he jutted his chin towards the alpha, "our Derek."

Our Derek.

"I just wanted to say that from the very beginning I knew you were different and from the very start I believed that perhaps protecting those that couldn't protect themselves was something I could learn to embrace. I want to thank you for being a part of that lesson- a lesson I would have never thought someone like you could teach me. I offer you an Argent's blessing and the blessing from a friend, that you and Stiles live a long a healthy life together."

It was quiet at the table as the hunter spoke, his glass dangling softly against the palm of his hand, "Love is peace."

He lifted his glass, followed by the rest of the guests at the table and took a sip.

Stiles' hand slid warmly across Derek's thigh and he could hear the gentle murmur of his heart skipping. Could feel the dry heat radiating from his fingertips to the spot just behind his knee that always ached.

It was an intimate start to an intimate meal, a string of words that left Derek completely silent because not once in his life had he ever expected a group of people, so diverse and so complete, to stay intact for so long. This was his family. His pack. His everything.

They were here, with him, with Stiles, seeing them off into a life that was rich with promise, riddled in surprises that didn't include destruction, that wavered from the haunted past the wolf so desperately wished to escape. He knew more than anything that Stiles could never be that escape- that wasn't what Derek was looking for. He was just looking for a future.

And he thanked god- whoever that might be, that Stiles was what he found when he hadn't even known he'd been searching in the first place.

The dinner was long, filled with stories and toasts, smiles and thankfully no tears. Derek didn't know if he could have handled that- seeing anyone cry over his happiness. He wanted to believe that perhaps his happiness wasn't such a strange concept but hell, it wasn't anymore.

A strong hand moved over to poke at Stiles wrist, which he laid open on his thigh for Derek to hold as Erica said some short words and Audrey pushed her food around her plate.

There wasn't any drawn out over the top statements made by the pack or heart-wrenching words spoken from Stiles' father, just a dinner with family, a celebration of what was to come and when it ended Derek didn't feel empty.

He hadn't felt empty for a very long time.

--

"Alright, boys," Lydia was leaning against Allison's shoulder and pointed to the stairs, "Derek, you're in the room to the left, Stiles, room across the hall."

The two men blinked at each other before turning to the rest of the on-lookers. Derek arched a brow, Stiles shook his head through the shadow of a grin, "Really?" the alpha mumbled, "You’re making us sleep in separate rooms?"

"Yes!" Allison hissed playfully, "it's the eve of your wedding, no-," she waved her hands between the two of them, "touching until tomorrow!"

Stiles' cheeks heated immediately and he threw his head back to smile bashfully at the ceiling while Derek rolled his eyes and huffed out a breath, "Fine."

There wasn't any need to argue, it would only end up in them losing the battle anyways. If the pack wanted some kind of tradition then they could give it to them.

--

Stiles had his hands settled around Derek's neck as they stood by the stairs, his glasses set crooked on the tip of his nose, "You gonna be okay?"

The wolf sighed and leaned forward to press his lips against Stiles', "Yeah, I'll be alright," his words were a whisper against the plump pout of his fiancé’s mouth.

The florist hummed and nodded, dipped his tongue between Derek's lips and smoothed it against the roof of his mouth, poured himself into the alpha like expensive wine that the wolf drank down without a moment of hesitation. He tasted like Chardonnay, smelt like clove cigarettes and lemon peels.

Stiles pulled away just as Derek's hands started to smooth up the length of his back, "No-" he hissed, cheeks blotched red when he tore his mouth away and bit down on his own lip, "nope. I'm just-" he pushed an aggravated breath out through his nose, "gonna go to bed. Yes, bed, no, Der," he whined when the wolf leaned forward and latched his mouth down on the base of his neck to give a deliberate nip to the pale flesh.

"Hey!"

Boyd's voice was a growl from the other room, "I can hear both your heartbeats, upstairs, separate rooms."

The alpha's eyes rolled painfully when Stiles squirmed out of his arms, leaning forward once more to press a closed mouth kiss to his lips, "Goodnight."

"Night," Derek breathed; letting Stiles' fingertips leave his grasp as he almost tripped trying to walk up the stairs.

Derek huffed when he turned and saw his pack watching him with careful eyes, Erica was smiling as she leaned into Boyd, Jackson had his arms around Lydia and Scott was with Peter and Isaac with his hands settled over Audrey's shoulders.

"My mom's taking Mr. Stilinski to the hotel with Chris and Lucas," Scott piped, tilting his head to the side, "time for bed."

The alpha arched a brow dangerously high on his forehead. He hadn't expected it but he should have.

--

"You're heavy," Derek hissed when Jackson flopped across his mid-section, "get off."

It was all play. All werewolf play.

And all werewolf in itself.

They had done this for Erica and Boyd as well as for Jackson and Lydia. The pack had to give them off somehow and usually it was just a goodbye nuzzle or some kind of pile up on the couch, but he was their alpha. This was different.

The wolves all curled up in the king sized bed, Jackson lying across Derek's middle, Audrey in Erica's arms as she lay on Boyd's chest who was pressed into Derek's thigh with Peter at his back. Scott and Isaac were on his other side, Jackson's head pillowed in Isaac's lap with Scott's head resting on Derek's shoulder.

This was their blessing. A pack of wolves all coming together the night before their alpha would be married and breathing each other’s air, smoothing their faces into Derek's skin. Scenting him. Reminding him. Assuring and comforting him.

As much as Derek wanted to just stare at the ceiling and panic about what exactly was going to happen in the next twenty-four hours, he couldn't. All he could do was let his betas purr and hum in a sleepy mess on top of him until he let their content heart beats lull him to sleep.

--

"Der," it was Erica's voice, "Derek, get up."

The alpha swatted at her hand, rolled over onto his side and pulled the comforter up over his head. No, waking up was not the answer. Sleeping was the answer. That's what he kept telling himself- even as he heard commotion coming from down stairs, the yapping of Allison and Lydia as they argued about how they should face the chairs and whether the cake would look better in the dining room or outside on the table in the backyard.

"Oh dear god, Derek!" the blonde slapped his arm, "it's your fucking wedding day, get out of bed!"

Green eyes peeled open. Lips parted. Heart raced.

The date hadn't crawled up on him like he expected, hadn't eased itself onto him like he wanted it to. It was like a train had plowed into him leaving the wolf wrecked and anxious and completely-

"Hey, whoa," Erica whined, tugging at his arm until he turned to face her, "I can smell that and you're lucky Stiles can't because you reek like fear and that isn't-"

"I'm not scared of being with him," Derek whimpered tiredly, eyelashes fanned out under his brows, "I just don't want him to regret this."

Erica's smile was tender and filled with more compassion than he needed. She leaned forward, forehead pressed against his with a hand settled across his cheek, "He loves you," she whispered, "stop being ridiculous."

It was quiet, the sound of trees rustling against the early spring breeze crept in through his window and he took in a breath, and then another when Erica repeated again that everything would be okay.

This was Stiles.

This was the man that had dug Derek out of piles of ashes and brought him back to life.

This was their first kiss- heated and wet and cold by the lake. Their first Christmas, second anniversary, third Valentine’s Day.

This was waking up to the smell of tea and a warm spot in the bed next to him, home cooked dinners and lazy Chinese takeout.

This was everything.

Derek inhaled. He exhaled. And then he sat up and nodded to Erica who pointed to the bathroom where the shower was, "Cora wants to bring you something to eat so take a shower and start getting ready."

The alpha swallowed and didn't say a word, just nodded and gripped her hand.

It was Derek's wedding day and he wasn't alone.

--

The shower was scolding hot on his back.

He was getting married.

Derek Hale was getting married.

Today.

In a couple hours.

Ninety minutes.

Marriage.

He turned the knob on the shower and the temperature spiked even higher but the wolf didn’t flinch.

--

“Hey,” Cora’s voice broke the tension clogging up the air of the cabin bed room, “I brought you a muffin.”

Derek tried to smile but his hands were shaking and his legs were shaking. Everything was shaking.

“It’s okay, he’s flipping his shit too, don’t worry,” Cora took a sip off the glass of orange juice she had brought up for her brother before stretching it out and offering it to him.

Derek took it and sighed, “Is he okay?”

“He’s fine,” Cora scoffed, running a hand through lengthy brunette locks and crossing her leg up over her thigh as she sat on the edge of the bed, “both of you are fine. You guys are just being normal blushing brides.”

The alpha’s nose wrinkled and he narrowed his eyes, “Shut up,” he grumbled, huffing out a breath before he stepped into the tailored suit pants that had been laid out for him.

Cora helped him with his tie, tapped him on the nose, “It’s beautiful down there,” deep brown eyes flicked up to where Derek was chewing on his bottom lip, “the whole cabin idea was good, I think. Personal.”

Was it insensitive for him to want to get it over with, to just do it and halt the flood of nerves currently making a home in his lungs and in his back and in his legs? Derek didn’t know. All he knew was that he could hardly taste the muffin Cora had brought him, that the sun was shining through the trees outside his window and he could smell champagne from downstairs.

His wolf wanted to run, run to Stiles, run to the woods, run anywhere.

There was a knock at the door and Peter peeked around the corner when he cracked it open, “May I?”

His uncle didn’t wait for an answer, just walked in and shut the door behind him.

“Well don’t you look nice,” he mused, all teeth when he smiled as he walked forward and set his hand on Derek’s shoulder, “you excited?”

“That among other things,” Derek admitted, growling when Cora slapped his hand away from his tie and walked over to fix it again.

“Well, you’ve got like thirty minutes to collect yourself before you guys head outside so,” the eldest Hale tightened his grip on the alpha’s shoulder, “just relax.”

That didn’t help. Not one bit.

But it didn’t matter, not in the long run. Because Stiles was across the hall pacing- Derek could hear his footsteps, and Scott was trying to talk him up just like Cora and Peter were trying to talk Derek up. As much as they had discussed, told each other that none of it would be a big deal, that a wedding wouldn’t matter in the long run- the thought still ate at him.

Stupid things.

What if he fucked up the very few words he had to say?

What if he looked ridiculous in a suit shirt and pants?

What if he embarrassed himself in front of his new father in-law?

The what if

It just ate at him.

“Hey,” it was Allison this time, a wide smile spread across her face, “Erica and Scott are walking you two, right?”

Derek nodded.

“Alright then, you guys,” she pointed to the two Hales, “come downstairs and get ready.”

The alpha watched his sister and uncle go, nodded when Cora threw a small smile over her shoulder towards him and tried to breathe when he felt the click of the door when it shut.

This was it. It was everything that he wanted and it was being presented to him in the simplest form. He wanted to embrace it, to walk out that door and down those stairs with an air of confidence that would wash away the bickering going on his brain. That would silence his wolf who whined and paced, ears flat against the back of his skull. Derek wanted to be the alpha that he'd fought tooth and nail to become- strong and fearless.

Not just for the wolves downstairs but for the man across the hall who was chewing on his fingernails.

For the man from San Diego who owned the shop off First and Oakheart.

The man with eyes like the rings around Saturn.

--

"Derek?" Erica's voice was gentle when she pushed the door open.

The blonde looked stunning. A long dress was draped across her body, hugging tight around her chest and fanning out beautifully over her hips. It was a light shade of pink and her hair was loose in wild curls, a band of wild flowers set like a crown balancing on her temples. Derek couldn't help but smile when he saw her; when he saw the gold bangles dangling on her wrists, the wedding ring shining bright on her left hand. It was incredible to see her now- to see the woman she had grown into when he found her as a girl.

"You look beautiful," the alpha breathed, standing to take her outstretched hand as she hoisted him off the bed.

Erica snorted and rolled her eyes, "Shut up, are you ready?"

Such an easy phrase.

"Yeah," he thought he might choke on the word but it came out warm and riddled in anxiety.

"Come on then," her brows arched high on her head and she tugged on his hand, walking him slowly towards the door, "time to go get married."

--

Derek didn't expect it, he didn't expect the flowers wrapped around the banister of the stair case or for the silence to be as deafening as some cliché wedding music to be playing. He didn't expect a breeze to be drifting through the open back doors, for each stair to creak when he took a step.

He didn't expect Stiles to be as at ease as he was, standing with his elbow resting on the railing at the bottom of the stairs, black rimmed glasses pushed up onto the bridge of his nose. Deep caramel eyes blinked up when he heard Derek coming and he watched him from over the rim of his glasses when the wolf finally made it to the bottom of the stairs.

The suit was fitted well, hugged the lean young man everywhere it should have. Broad shoulders rolled back and he tilted his head to crack his neck, "Hey, good lookin'," Stiles purred and reached out to brush his fingertips against the top of Derek's hand.

The wolf could hear the unsteadiness in his heart beat. The skip, sputter, restart, flutter every time he took a breath. The tops of his high cheek bones were already shaded a muted rose and Stiles turned to glance out the back door where everyone was seated and waiting.

"Deaton's ready," Scott walked back in and looked to the two of them. He was wearing a simple white button up shirt tucked into khaki pants with dress shoes.

Erica's hand found Derek's and she gave a short squeeze, offering a smile to Stiles who didn't pay much mind to her.

He just kept his eyes lingering on Derek, who wanted to squirm under their gaze.

There was no music.

They had wanted it that way.

Just silence and the sounds of birds chirping, of their friends feet shifting through dried leaves, of animals making their way around the woods. Stiles hadn't minded- not at all. Nor had he minded the idea of handfasting. It was something Derek had been thankful for- Stiles' excitement to embrace the lifestyle of someone who would be forever tied to the alpha of a pack of wolves. To the magic. The darkness. The light. The everything that he had chosen.

Erica and Scott paused at the doorway and turned to face the two of them, bright golden eyes flashing briefly before they turned and began to walk.

The leaves crunched beneath their feet, birds sang through the naked arms of the post-winter trees and Derek could hardly tell which foot to place where.

Stiles was right beside him, purposely bumping his hand against Derek's as they walked.

No one said a word but Derek could hear the hitch in Allison's breath, the sigh from Melissa, the soft hum from the old Sheriff.

Bundles of flowers decorated the arms of the white chairs that lined the aisle- roses, sunflowers, lilies, marigolds, star shooters. A few rose petals were thrown here or there and threads of flowers hung from the tree that Deaton stood beneath, a rope of red string clasped patiently in his grasp.

Erica and Scott stood on either side of them; Erica on Derek's who stood on the right, and Scott on Stiles' who stood to the left.

Deaton smiled to the both of them, nodded once to Stiles who nodded back to him and then to Derek who could hardly seem to make any motion back. But he did. He nodded. And then his eyes moved back to Stiles and he traced a pattern from each freckle and mole on his throat up to the ones settled like constellations across his jaw.

It was easier now- with the fresh air and Stiles next to him.

God, Stiles was next to him.

Deaton stood between them, "Rise," he turned to rest his eyes on the small group of people who stood and watched, listened as the emissary went on.

"May this union be blessed with the gifts of the East and the element of air- for openness and breath, communication and purity of the mind and body. For the gift of a new beginning with the rising of each Sun," he looked to Derek whose feet shifted slightly against the dirt, "May this union be blessed with the gifts of the South and the element of fire- for energy, for creativity, warmth and passion. May the fire within you generate a light which will be shared between one another in even the darkest hour."

Derek didn't know he was blushing until he heard Stiles sigh and felt long fingertips drag across the top of his knuckle.

"May this union be blessed with the gifts of the West and the element of water- for your capacity to feel emotion. To trust one another infinitely, to vow to keep your hearts open in sorrow as well as joy," Deaton paused only momentarily to clear his throat, "May this union be blessed with the gifts of the North and the element of earth- to provide sustenance, fertility and security. The earth will enrich you in ways of growth, to build a home, a place where you may always return."

Derek felt his chest constrict.

Their guests sat back down and Stiles smirked softly when he heard Lucas coo and giggle from his place on Boyd's lap.

"Place your hands out, palms down," Deaton ordered, moving the rope to wrap gently around both their wrists, "Will you honor and respect on another, and seek to never break that honor?"

"I will," Stiles spoke first, soft and quick.

Derek didn't want his voice to sound broken, "I will."

The cord wrapped around their palms and wound through each of their middle fingers.

"Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it?" Deaton purred.

"I will," Stiles' voice was firmer this time and his eyes nearly seared a hole through Derek's ribcage.

The alpha ground his teeth together, "I will," because pain was something he knew and pain was something he understood and pain was something he had never felt with Stiles. But pain didn't seem so frightening anymore because of him.

"Will you share the burdens of each other so that your spirits may grow in this union?"

Derek tilted his head to the side and Stiles arched a brow.

"I will," Derek almost shrugged his shoulder but decided against it and Stiles chuckled lowly, "I will."

The bright rope laced between their index fingers, wrapped around and hung loose over the tops of their now very bound hands.

"Will you share each other's laughter, and look for the brightness in life and the light in each other?"

Stiles was chewing on his bottom lip, "I will."

Derek couldn't stop watching him, "I will."

Deaton grinned when he pulled the cords tight and tied them, "And so the binding is complete."

Erica smiled from her place next to Derek and the alpha could hear Jackson start to laugh from his seat.

"Stiles and Derek, as your hands are bound together now, so your lives and energies are joined in love and trust. Above you is the moon, the sun, and the stars. Below you is the earth. Like the stars, your love should be a constant source of light and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow."

Derek watched Stiles carefully, listened to his heart beat slow down only to quicken back up again, analyzed the pop of his bottom lip between his teeth, the tension riddled in the cartilage around each of his knuckles.

"And even in death you will remain tangled," Deaton added, voice breaking the pause, "Will you allow for your spirits to become a single being?"

"I will," Stiles answered far too quickly.

Derek's lips pulled upwards, "I will."

His heart was slamming against his ribcage and Derek didn't realize just how hard he had been gripping Stiles' hand until he felt the florist's thumbs tap against the flesh of his wrist.

"In the eyes of the elements, of mother earth and the lovely guests," Deaton playfully gestured to the pack, "I proudly give you Mr. Stiles and Derek Hale."

There was applause, a few whistles and flowers being thrown at their feet as Alan pulled on the cord and unraveled them, allowing Stiles to reach forward and grip Derek's face, slotting their mouths together. Finally. It was all Derek could think, feel, say as he felt Stiles' lips against his own. The kiss was warm and hard and far too brief. Stiles whispered that he loved them, pushed the words like a brand against the side of Derek's mouth and the alpha whispered them back, took his lips in another kiss and laced his fingers through the empty spaces in Stiles' hand.

There wasn't some long train of people that led them back into the house, no, it was a free for all.

Erica was the first to walk over and press her lips to each of their cheeks and Scott slung his arms around both their shoulders. Deaton congratulated them as the rest of their friends rose to join in, walking them inside with gentle touches to each of their arms, quick blessings and promises of a happy future.

Stiles hand never left Derek, not when their friends kept hugging them, not when Audrey bounced at their feet and demanded some kind of attention. Not when they all started popping open bottles of champagne and wine and not when Derek pulled his husband backwards towards the back door once everyone had found a place either on the couch or in the living room.

"Babe," Stiles laughed, stumbling along as Derek nearly dragged him around the side of the house where he pressed Stiles back against the side of the cabin, "what are you-"

There wasn't an audience and Derek didn't have to control himself.

Stiles smelt like apples, like Burberry cologne and home and safety.

His head knocked back against the cabin when the alpha surged forward. Teeth clanked, lips bruised against each other and Derek nearly groaned into his mouth when Stiles hoisted his legs up around the wolf’s waist. It felt like the first time, like every time, like something new- uncharted territory. So Derek smoothed one hand down Stiles' side, let his other curl around the length of his neck and stroked his tongue behind the human's teeth like he had never been there before. He grinded his hips between Stiles' thighs, listened to him gasp and whine, growled when he sank his teeth into the wolf's bottom lip.

This was them.

Stiles and Derek.

It would always just be there from now on.

Not Stiles. Not Derek.

But Stiles and Derek for the rest of their lives.

Stiles' fingers found purchase in Derek's hair and tugged, angling his head where he wanted it, "All our friends-" Stiles choked on the words and his teeth gritted when Derek slid his tongue from the base of his throat to the concave just below his jaw, "Der, all our- fuck, all our friends are inside."

The alpha was vaguely concerned with the rest of the pack but he did take into consideration the fact that Mr. Stilinski was still inside.

And he still felt bad about the truck, so.

Forest eyes blinked a few times as Derek rested his forehead against Stiles', reached up and tapped on the tip of the florist's nose where his glasses sat crooked, "We're married," his mouth didn't catch the words before they were breathed out against Stiles' lips but the only thing he was graced with in return was the view of a wide smile and another long, fluid kiss.

--

"It's coconut cake with buttercream frosting," Lydia piped excitedly when she handed Stiles the decorative knife.

One of Derek's brows rose, "It's almost too pretty to eat," he scoffed.

The cake was three tiers with beautiful floral designs cascading down the left side. Simple in the most intricate way, so detailed that it seemed impossibly subtle. The red head smiled smugly and nodded, "It is isn't it? But it also tastes wonderful so just-" she waved her hands around it, "get on with it!"

Stiles physically winced when he slid the knife through the bottom layer of cake, "Oh, god, Lydia it's way too pretty to eat can't we just keep it in the freezer forever-"

"No, feed it to your husband!" she snapped, huffing and stomping one of her heels against the wood floor.

Jackson rolled his eyes from where he stood at her side.

Cora smiled when Derek smudged a fingertip of frosting on Stiles' cheek and Melissa broke out into a fit of laughter when Stiles hissed and slapped the tips of his cake covered fingers into Derek's beard.

They ate. Drank. Laughed. Cora explained that most of the wedding gifts would be given to them when they got back into town and Jackson dropped quite a large bomb on the newlyweds when he handed them a white sealed envelope.

"Cora offered to watch the preserve with Peter. If you say no I'll kick you in the balls," the beta smiled and eyed them both when Derek slid a subtle claw over the seam of the envelope and unfolded the few papers inside.

His gaze flickered over the top of the page before he squinted and read the words again. Stiles peeked over his shoulder and gasped when he caught up with Derek's eyes.

"Jackson this is too much-" Derek growled, shoving the papers at him which were only tossed right back at the alpha.

"I'm a fucking-"

"Language!" Erica snapped.

"I'm a freaking travel agent, Derek, just go! It's not everyday someone hands you two round trip tickets to Bali, hotel included, so how about a god damn- darn, you know what," Jackson fished around in his pocket and leaned down to hand Audrey a twenty dollar bill, "here kiddo, uncle Jacks has a potty mouth," he cleared his throat and Erica snarled at him, ushering Audrey into the kitchen, "so how about a god damn thank you."

The rambunctious young wolf crossed his arms over his chest and nodded to Stiles, "Any complaints, Stiles?"

"Yeah- no, none here. A week in Bali, I could go for that, except I don't know who would watch the shop-"

"That would be me," Allison tilted her head to the side and shrugged, "My dad can handle the store by himself for a week."

A low growl vibrated in Derek's throat and rumbled up past his lips as Jackson reached over to clasp his hand tight over his shoulder, "Derek," he sighed, deep blue eyes moving from the florist to his alpha and back again, "please... Just take it. It's a wedding gift, from me and Lydia. Just-"

"Fine," Derek snapped, pulling roughly at Jackson until he could get his arms around him and crush the beta in a very thankful hug. "You really didn't have to do something like this, Jackson, you didn't-"

"I wanted to," Jackson patted Derek's back before moving away and leaning in to hug Stiles who gushed out an overwhelming 'thank you.'

Derek had never had a vacation.

Not once in twenty-nine years.

He walked over and squeezed Lydia into a hug even though she squirmed playfully in his arms. Stiles did the same, thanked her over and over for both the cake and the over-the-top gift.

They both thanked Alan for the beautiful ceremony and he hushed each of them sternly, "It was an honor," he explained, "and I have something for you two when we get back into town. Just come by the clinic, alright?"

Stiles and Derek nodded, blinked at each other and shrugged.

The afternoon melted into night fall and the pack watched as both Stiles and Derek became more and more restless. Soft passing touches here and there, Derek gripping hard on Stiles' wrist, Stiles leaning into Derek's back and dragging the tip of his finger down the wolfs neck.

The two were making it extremely obvious.

Derek was making it extremely obvious.

"Son," John sighed and turned to wrap his arms around Stiles, "your mother would be so happy to see you with him."

The alpha hated intruding on a private conversation but he couldn't help it, not when Stiles had a cigarette pressed between his lips and hummed contently, nodding at his father’s words like they were exactly what he needed to hear.
When father and son walked back in, Melissa and Chris were standing by the door, "I think it's time for us to go," Chris mumbled lowly, extending a hand for Mr. Stilinski, "C'mon we're all staying at the same hotel."

Erica sighed softly, Scott smiled, Jackson had to shake his head and Boyd hoisted Lucas into his arms as they all headed out the door. The pack and friends all said their goodbyes, wished them a goodnight and surprisingly made no wise cracks about consummating the union. Derek hugged Audrey tight, placed a kiss to the top of her head and shooed her off to catch up with her mother when they all walked towards the cars parked around the cabin.

The door shut.

Stiles was standing in front of the staircase, fingertips twitching as he trailed his eyes down the wolf who stood across from him.

Derek listened carefully to each engine that rumbled to life.

"Are they gone?" Stiles' voice was a breath into the silent old house and Derek paused before he nodded.

"Yeah, they're-"

Lips and hands and legs and arms. It was all he felt.

The rest of Derek's sentence was punched out of him when Stiles' hands hit his chest and his back hit the door. The wood creaked its protest but the alpha didn't hear it over the sound of Stiles breathing the air he exhaled and gasping out a 'thank god' when his mouth attached itself over Derek's lips.

Heat.

Sunlight.

Metamorphosis.

Derek gripped the strong points just above Stiles' hips, pulled him hard and strangled the defiance out of his tongue when it pushed deliberately passed his teeth and delved into the wolf, stroked over his teeth, curled and prodded.

He didn't know why he had seen things going any differently, why he had tried to envision lying Stiles across a bed covered in rose petals with candles lit and making slow sweet love to him like couples did in every romantic comedy he'd ever seen. Derek had no idea why he imagined something so ridiculous.

Because Stiles was literally trying to climb him.

Blunt, bitten fingernails were latched on to Derek's jaw and Stiles lifted one of his knees, bracketing Derek further into the wood paneling of the door. His palms felt like they might leave blisters, tongue could have caused an earthquake, hips- god, his hips- they grinded and writhed and the alpha couldn't keep his claws from sliding out from the base of his nail beds.

"Yes-" Stiles choked when Derek moved to gather the back of his thighs in his hands, "fuck, pick me up, pick me up," the words were rushed, all together in a string of demands or pleads, Derek didn't know which.

But he did as he was told without any hesitation.

Stiles' legs were far too long for this- they had figured that out years ago, but that didn't stop them. Derek picked the lean human up with ease and walked towards the stair case, only making it a few steps until the florists legs started slipping and the two men came to a halt, spread over the stairs with Stiles' hand in Derek's hair and Derek's fingers wrapped around Stiles' tie.

There was a shaky inhale as Stiles' heart rate accelerated, "you're mine," he bit, latching his lips back onto Derek's while the wolf busied his hands with the buttons on his shirt.

It was obvious. No need to say 'yes', to nod, to agree. It was just there. Unspoken. Promised. Deliberate. Solid.

"We need to get upstairs," Stiles mumbled into Derek's neck, teeth grazing along his stubbled jaw, "if we don't I swear to fucking god we'll just make do with how uncomfortable these stairs will-"

Derek wanted to hush him but he settled for standing and pulling Stile to his feet instead.

They definitely weren't graceful. Never really had been. Stiles stumbled backwards, snorted when he laughed into Derek's mouth and nearly tripped into the wall when they finally hit even ground. The wolf settled against him, slotted their mouths together and felt just how soft Stiles was. If there was one thing the alpha certainly didn't want, it was to rush this.

Stiles seemed to have other plans.

"Off- Derek, get them-" he hissed and spat, nimble fingers popping the button on the wolf’s pants open before he struggled to unzip them.

They were toppling one way and then another, crashed against the table in the hall and almost knocked over a vase. Derek twisted the knob on the right hand side of the double doors and pushed it open, catching his husband when Stiles stumbled into him and turned to look around the room.

"Holy..." Stiles' words escaped him as his eyes traveled from the hard wood floors to the curtains swaying against the open bay window. There was a patio through two glass front doors, a bed against the wall, cream comforter turned down, a bottle of champagne waiting patiently on the nightstand next to a bundle of roses.

It wasn't anything over-dramatic. There was no statement written in candle light or rose petals dusted in a trail to the bed. Just a room, marked with tiny remnants of the pack, made intimate by the emptiness of everything except them.

Derek's hand rested around Stiles' waist and he tried to catch his breath, green eyes fading into a deep crimson when he felt the florist turn to face him.

There was no rushing after that. It wasn't an explosion- not a forest fire devouring every bit of their sanity and emotions and capabilities. Derek watched him. He watched Stiles pull off the button up shirt that was hardly hanging onto the angles of his
shoulders, watched it crumble to his feet and took in a shaky breath.

It wasn't hesitation- he didn't want to call it that. It was just steady. Stiles reached for him, palms dusting up his chest, until he could wrap his fingers around the loosened tie still looped around Derek's neck. They didn't move fast, just took steps, easy steps until the wolf was crawling back into the bed and Stiles was dropping his hands to either side of his waist and torturing the flesh above Derek's hips with feather light touches of his lips.

The darkness didn't suffocate- it wrapped around them. Blanketed the two bodies in the revelation that there was no more 'perhaps' that their life was now void of the terms 'maybe' or 'some day.'

Today was some day.

Maybe was future.

Perhaps was yes.

The alpha's back bowed when Stiles teeth sank into his side, he huffed, attempted to control his breathing and let the man above him weather away at his skin with the stroke of his tongue like it was the only thing left that allowed him to inhale and exhale.
Stiles bit, chewed, sucked bruises on to Derek's torso that faded with his ever accelerating heart beat, "Stiles, I-" Derek bit down on his lip, neck craned back as the human pulled himself up and grinded his hips down between the wolfs thighs.

"Get undressed," Stiles spoke as if someone heard them they'd be cast into hell. A whisper so low that it sounded like he hadn't meant to say it at all.

But Derek's cheeks flushed, his eyes glowed and his muscles tensed when Stiles dipped between his parted lips with the tip of his tongue.

Both their pants were kicked off the bed, Stiles' tie was tossed towards the door, Derek's shirt fell somewhere near the adjoined bathroom.

Skin.

Flesh.

Finally.

The wolf gripped Stiles' thighs, crushed his lips up against Stiles' mouth and it was messy and beautiful and chaotic and everything. It was everything.

The pale expanse of Stiles' neck led down to two sharp collar bones that Derek sucked and bit at, sighing at the sounds that leaked from Stiles' throat. Soft moans, choked gasps, tiny whimpers urging his wolf to kick and snarl and salivate.

Stiles moved his hand. Took Derek's fingertips and slid them down between his legs, nodding heatedly when the alpha pressed against the tight rim of muscle, "They had to have-" Stiles gulped down a mouth full of oxygen, "where would they have put-"

Derek reached over towards the night stand and almost pulled the drawer clear out when he rifled into it and found a small bottle hidden away towards the back corner.

The way Stiles shook always made Derek's breathing falter.

He trembled, twitched, clutched on to Derek's shoulders and waist and arms and face, sobbed out little incoherent phrases and bucked his hips when the wolf curled his fingers and twisted.

"No-" Stiles' voice was broken when the wolf removed his digits and he shook his head, "like this."

The alpha didn't argue when Stiles straddled his waist, pressed his chest into Derek's torso and wound his fingers into the wolfs hair. He didn't say a word until Stiles sank down and gripped harder, lips falling open, eyes screwed shut, "you feel like fire."

Derek didn't even know he'd said it, but clear honey eyes blinked at him and Stiles chewed on his lip, hips rolling like thunder in Derek's lap, a short breathy moan fluttering out of his mouth, "so do you."

There was a jump in Derek's chest- a skidding stop, a pause and restart. He gripped Stiles' waist, dug his claws into the cashmere flesh and exhaled hard through his nose when his mouth was covered by a demanding kiss. Stiles tasted like champagne and cigarettes and buttercream, smelt like the woods and after shave and tea leaves and flowers.

It was beautiful- like it always was, when Derek wrapped his hand around Stiles' cock and watched him throw his bed back. Felt his hips rock harder, felt him pulse and roll and writhe. He could hear it, the kick start of Stiles heart like the old engine of a dirt bike coming to life. It hit and missed, flapped and pounded erratically as his eyebrows knitted together, his mouth parted and he whined- a moan sliding over the cushion of his lips like syrup on to Derek's tongue when he came.

Derek loved the way he trembled, the way he dug his nails into Derek's scalp and let his head fall back, gave the wolf even more room to mouth at the space just to the right of his Adams apple.

"C'mon," Stiles whimpered when Derek leaned forward and let Stiles fall on to the comforter.

It was short hard thrusts, one hand lifting the back of Stiles' thigh while the other gripped his waist. Small exasperated breaths jumped from Stiles' mouth and he arched his back when he felt the tips of Derek's claws against his skin, "Jesus, Der-" he choked, reached up and scrambled to hold on to anything other than the sheets of the bed.

There was an echo of Stiles' name on Derek's tongue when he hoisted the man back into his lap, coaxed Stiles to wrap his arms around his neck and curled his own around the lithe torso settled against him.

He could hear Stiles' toes curling into the mattress, felt his breath like mist against his ear and chills stampeded across his back when he heard him begging, pleading for Derek to follow suit. To come. Stiles hissed it, bit down hard into Derek's throat and grinded himself into the strong push of Derek's hips.

The alpha's teeth gritted and he buried his face in the crook of Stiles neck, blushed at the sound of his own voice when it came out broken and sore- a rough moan trapped into the sweat slick skin of Stiles throat.

Time seemed irrelevant.

Breathing and touching seemed like the only thing that had any standing.

So Derek inhaled the scent of Stiles, bitter like dark chocolate, milky like thick cream, savory like spices and ginger.

He dragged his face against Stiles chest, felt along the ridges in his spine and smiled when he heard him sigh.

"Look at me," Stiles' voice was raw but Derek lifted his head and closed his eyes when soft palms cradled the bottom of his jaw.

The pads of his thumbs rubbed through the coarse hair on Derek's face, "Derek," he said his name and it sounded like a bird chirping playfully, a puff of breath warming the tip of his nose. Green eyes cracked open and Stiles tilted his head to the side, leaned forward until the wolf fell back.

He hadn't wanted to say anything, just wanted to look and Derek smiled because words weren't important at that point.

What mattered was Stiles' lips and the way the felt pressed against his own.

What mattered was Stiles' hands as they carded through Derek's damp hair and slid down the sides of his neck.

What mattered was Stiles' hips and how they still flexed on top of him, persistent and gorgeous.

What mattered was just Stiles.

Just him and his lips and his voice and his heartbeat.

Derek cleared his throat, said 'I love you' when Stiles leaned in for a kiss.

Stiles hummed, mumbled the words back against his mouth and Derek reached for his hand as it rested against his cheek. He let the tip of his index finger stroke across the band of white gold wrapped around Stiles' second to last finger and smiled, because god, it was time.

--

Watching the morning light drip across Stiles body was one of the most captivating things Derek had ever seen.

It bent around the shadows that blotched his hips and shoulders, settled over his eyelashes and warmed the tips of his fingers when he threw his arm over his face and purred out a sleepy breath into the seven o'clock air.

Stiles was like a piece of art all charred around the edges. He was the chaos of a storm wrapped in the tight sanctuary of a dormant volcano, a tornado whipping through Derek while at the same time being the peace after a typhoon. He was the most infuriating man Derek had ever met, one of the most curious and stubborn and fascinating people he had ever had the gift of running into.

And now, lying on the bed with the sheets lazily thrown over half his body, was the florist turned friend, friend turned lover and lover turned husband.

Derek was in awe.

"What are you doing?" Stiles yawned, squinting at Derek who was sitting on the edge of the bed with his hands in his lap, "Come back to bed."

The wolf flopped down next to Stiles, hummed when the florist shifted and curled up into his chest.

Every morning for the rest of his life was going to be spent with Stiles pressed up against him.

Derek had never been so thankful for anything.

--

Their morning was spent doing exactly what newlyweds do.

Stiles bent Derek over the bathroom sink, dropped to his knees and the wolf swore his legs had almost gone out from underneath him at the first stroke of his tongue.

They had tried to take a shower but it only ended with slippery hands between thighs and tongues tiring themselves out in each other’s mouths.

The alpha didn't know exactly how they ended up downstairs on the couch. He guessed it was after they had wandered down to eat the left over wedding cake Lydia had stashed in the fridge for them.

Derek had frosting smeared across his cheek, Stiles had whipped cream splattered on his chest and Derek didn't tell Stiles to stop when he pushed his chest over the back of the couch and gripped his waist. He didn't say much of anything, just focused on how strong Stiles was when he wanted to be and let himself fall into him again and again as he thrust into Derek without any reserve.

They found themselves tangled in every part of the cabin- and outside of it, in the woods where Derek could breathe in the smell of life and earth and nature. Where he could smell the oak in the tree bark that Stiles' back was pushed against, could hear his rabbit quick heartbeat, his exasperated gasps and revel in the way the birds stopped singing to hear Stiles moan.

--

They drove back by night fall.

Stiles glanced over to Derek from the passenger’s seat with his feet kicked up on the dashboard.

“Hey,” he smirked, “so are we like mates now? Is that a thing- is that a werewolf thing, like-“

“No,” Derek rolled his eyes painfully, cheeks heating, “We’re not animals, Stiles. We don’t mate. You’ve been reading too much shit on the internet.”

Stiles smiled smugly and stifled a small laugh.

“Husband,” Derek hissed, eyes flicking to the sign on the freeway that pointed them towards Beacon Hills, “you’re my husband.”

Rich caramel eyes narrowed as Stiles arched a brow, “Down boy,” he purred and reached over to lace their fingers together.

--

Erica and Boyd had ended up getting them a beautiful set of wine glasses, Scott and Allison, a cast iron tea set. Melissa gave them a few hand sculpted vases for the flowers Stiles always brought home and Chris gave them a crystal cut picture frame to hold a photo from the wedding in.

Peter gave them a set of China, Cora a lovely cherry oak book shelf.

Isaac gave them a bag full of cat toys as a joke and also a warm blanket and couch pillows to match.

When the two stopped by Deaton's clinic they were blown away by the beautiful framed piece of art he had made out of the thin red rope used to join their hands during the ceremony. It was a truly thoughtful gift and Stiles fawned over it just as much as Derek did.

He also gave them a few small bags of herbs and spices, expensive and rare that they could use on special occasions to cook with.

Derek hadn't expected his family to go so above and beyond and he appreciated it more than any one of them could ever imagine.

They squeezed the bookshelf in next to the fireplace, draped the blanket over the back of the couch and put the tea set in an empty space on the kitchen counter. Luckily, Derek had a cabinet he had restored from the fire where he kept the China and wine glasses. The vases were set, one in the living room and the other two in their bedroom.

The picture frame was filled with a photo of all of them that Jackson had snapped right after the ceremony had been completed. When the pack was walking them towards the cabin, all smiles and flower petals and a memory that neither Derek nor Stiles would ever forget. Something the entire pack would never forget.

--

Vernon Boyd: March 14, 5:08 p.m
where are you guys?

Derek glanced at his phone and typed out a short reply.

Stopped for coffee

Stiles was yapping away about how the shop was doing and about how excited he was for Easter since he would get to help all the young kids pick out bouquets for their parents. Derek still couldn't get enough of how ridiculous Stiles was- how his words all ran together too quickly and his hand motions sometimes had no relevance to his statements. But Derek listened and he understood and he enjoyed every bit of it.

When they walked into Erica and Boyd's house Stiles apologized for their tardiness and took a sip off the hot tea latte in his hands before the press of Erica's clawed hand against his lower back urged him into the living room.

Everyone was there.

Erica, Boyd, Jackson, Scott, Audrey and Lucas of course, Isaac, Peter, Cora.

Allison and Lydia were sitting outside with glasses of wine in their hands, watching through the window with content smiles.

"So," Erica clasped her hands in front of her and Derek arched a brow as he leaned against the wall next to the couch, "since you're married to Derek," her eyes shifted to their alpha who tilted his head to the side, "that makes you a part of us. Completely."

Scott smiled when Stiles went to take a step back and shot a worried stare over his shoulder at Derek who shook his head and rolled his eyes, "Stop scaring him," Derek snarled.

"Der, I'm not- I don't want the bite, I don't-"

Jackson barked out a laugh and pushed Erica's shoulder playfully, "Come on, let's just get this over with so he stops freaking out."

Boyd hummed softly and shook his head at Stiles whose eyes were large behind the black rimmed glasses set on his face and hands were starting to shake.

The blonde wolf took another step closer, close enough to send Stiles tripping backwards into Derek's chest. Gold eyes flicked from his toes to his nose and Erica's teeth extending just over the pout of her bottom lip.

Derek could smell Stiles fear when he reached back to grip at his hand but all the alpha did was place a palm on his hip and watch.

"God, Stiles, relax," Erica purred, rubbing her cheek against his face, "we aren't giving you the bite. We're giving you our scent."

Scott was at his side in a moment’s time, rubbing his head into Stiles shoulder, Isaac and Jackson followed. Boyd came around to his left holding Audrey who Stiles took into his arms, almost crying with relief and laughter. Derek thumbed just above his jeans, "I would never do that to you if you didn't want it," the alpha cooed into his ear.

The only one left was Cora, standing with her eyes pointed at the ground and her fingers laced together in front of the tight black pants she was wearing.

Derek watched her carefully. Saw her lift her eyes and blink at him once, twice, before she swallowed and her lips started to tremble.

"May I...?" her words were soft and she inched forward, combat boots scuffling against the rug beneath her.

Erica stopped.

All of them stopped.

Peter almost choked on the whine stuck in his throat and Derek stumbled out of the crowd of werewolves huddled around his husband to stare at his sister. Her eyes were glassy and he could tell that she had her hands bound tight together so that none of them would see her shaking. He did the same thing when he was nervous or upset.

The alpha shook his head, bewilderment passing across the contours of his face, "May you...? Cora, what? Yes. Come home, please, come home," he heard the trembled breath lift from her lungs when she walked forward and rubbed her cheek into his chest as she passed by, joining the betas huddled around Stiles.

Peter wrapped his arms around his niece and Isaac brushed his lips chastely over her temple.

Stiles was still laughing softly and reached for her when she shyly moved to press herself into his chest, "So, what? I don't speak werewolf, is Cora like-"

"She's ours," Erica growled, head bumping into Cora's hair while Jackson leaned over to inhale just below the woman’s ear.

"I re-joined the pack," Cora nearly sobbed, reaching up to wipe at her eyes as Derek walked back over and shooed Scott away from Stiles so he could wrap his arms back around the human’s waist.

Stiles leaned into his chest, closed his eyes and smiled when he heard the back door slide open.

"Cora, are you staying?" Lydia grinned enthusiastically when the wolf nodded.

It was everything that Derek had ever wanted in one space, his friends, his family, his pack, his home. He could hear all of their heart beats out of sync, running this way and that as they untangled from one another and he felt Stiles turn, bright eyes settled on the alpha.

Derek leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to the side of Stiles' mouth, hummed when he felt the curve of his lips turn up into a smile.

Rosemary. Pack. Wine. Peruvian lilies. Rose hips. Cinnamon.

--

Three days later Cora was standing in Derek's apartment, leaning against the couch.

"I'll have my things shipped here from New Orleans," she chewed on her lip and Derek arched a brow.

"Here?" he asked, nibbling on a piece of cheese from the fridge.

Beanie jumped up on the back of the couch and Cora reached over to stroke down the cat's back, "Isaac's," she answered quietly, "that's where I'll be staying."

The alpha turned, head tilted to the side as he stared at his sister. His blood.

Everything that wanted to come running out of his mouth would have just made things worse. The over protective big brother. The alpha.

So he sighed, took another piece of cheese and shoved it in his mouth, "If you need help unpacking just let me know."

Cora smiled at the ground.

Derek walked by to grab an empty glass off the coffee table but her hand stopped him.

"Thank you," she sighed.

Derek smiled, shook his head and reached up to squeeze the tips of her fingers.

--

Before they left for Indonesia Derek and Stiles put everything in order.

Peter would watch the preserve and take care of the wolves, Erica was in charge of anything pack related and Allison was handling Apothecary. Cora offered to look after Beanie and everyone urged them to go when the newlyweds mulled over the decision.

It hadn't taken much convincing but leaving his pack was harder than Derek thought it would be.

He was going to be in another country. Another time zone. If anything happened- if Audrey or Lucas or any of them got into trouble, if something made its way back into their lives then he wouldn't be there. He couldn't get to them.

That alone turned his stomach to knots when they boarded the plane.

Stiles assured him again and again that everything would be okay and after the second day on the beautiful island Derek realized that, yes, everything would be okay. Everything was okay. Everything had been okay.

They stayed at the Regent resort in Bali, an expensive hotel that Derek couldn't believe he was actually stepping foot in. Jackson had scored them a villa with a private pool, beach front access and what the receptionist called a 'lunar bathtub'. Derek didn't know he would be in love with the so called 'lunar bathtub' until he actually used it.

There were spa treatments, massages and exotic food. The gardens surrounding their villa put thoughts in Derek's head of the next flushes he wanted to plant around the Hale property and he watched Stiles coo at each flower and talk about them in such scientific loving ways- ways that Derek thought no one could truly speak about when it came to something as simple as flowers. But Stiles proved him wrong and the alpha couldn't help but fall into his passions at the exuberant sound of Stiles' voice when it toppled out of his mouth.

They drank fruity daiquiris, lychee mojitos and bottles of white wine.

They hiked to the temples hidden in the lush forests settled at the bottom of a bubbling volcano and chatted with a few locals down at a bar a few miles from the resort.

On the third day they found themselves submerged in the warm Indian ocean, peering out across the horizon to the neighboring Nusa Lembongan island that loomed in the distance.

Stiles pressed his lips into Derek's, tilted his head and laced his fingers through the wolfs hair as they stood, waist deep in the clear water as the alpha pulled him close, felt Stiles' chest slide against his own and inhaled deep through his nose when the florist stroked his tongue past his teeth.

The sun was shining bright above them and when Stiles pulled away Derek glanced over to stare at the seam where the ocean met the skyline and smiled to himself because it reminded him so fondly of Laura's old paintings.

Stiles' fingertips danced leisurely down his face, "Beautiful, isn't it?"

Green eyes turned and blinked, a soft smile coaxing the corners of his mouth to twitch and Derek leaned forward to steal Stiles' lips in a firm kiss, "Very."

"You know they call Bali the island of the gods," Stiles mumbled breathlessly when Derek backed them on to the beach and pulled him down into the white sand.

The wolf smirked, held on to Stiles' hips when the human braced his arms around Derek's face and leaned down to dust his lips along the alpha's jaw.

Derek didn't know if he believed in god or angels or devils or demons. He didn't know if he believed in miracles or omens or prayer.

But he did believe in his pack.

And he believed in Stiles.

And for once in almost thirty years he believed in himself.

When he opened his eyes he saw the rings around Saturn and his future locked away inside them.

He inhaled.

Cinnamon and pineapple, agave sweetener and green tea.

Derek had never been thankful for something like he was thankful for the man above him, who owned the shop of 1st and Oakheart- the man who he'd grow old with and die with.

Derek had never been thankful for something like he was thankful for Stiles Hale.

--

Notes:

i really hope you guys enjoyed this