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i love you a latte [Fic & Podfic]

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Title: I love you a latte
Length:  44:32
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(Right-Click, Save. THANK YOU, PARAKA! <3)

"What's wrong with you?"

Stiles looks up from his phone and sees Grouchy Mchotpants standing over him with his arms crossed and his lovely forearms bulging. Stiles has had very particular fantasies about those arms, ever since he ordered his first coffee at The Hale Bean and got to watch the ludicrously hot barista, Derek, scowl his way through Stiles' ridiculous order.

"What, why?"

"I can see you over your coffee - you're not obscured by your usual giant mound of sugar and cream."

“I ordered it devoid of joy like my future prospects,” Stiles sighs, slumping down, but then shoots back up very quickly again when Derek actually sits opposite him, pulling out a chair to perch backwards on like some weird fifties adult that’s about to level with him. Derek rests his elbows on the table between them and gives him a serious look.

“That sounds dire.”

"It’s not all that bad,” Stiles quickly amends. Stiles wanted to kind of wallow but now feels like he can’t because Derek looks like he’s actually worried which is lovely and way too nice for what Stiles expected Derek to be capable of. “I just, don’t have a plus one to my friend’s wedding.”

“Oh, that really isn’t a big deal,” Derek says, sitting back and Stiles waves a dismissive hand.

“I mean, I know? But it does feel like a big deal. I haven’t been back to Beacon Hills in a few years and I was expecting to be all successful and smug when I did go back and well, life, y’know? Got nothing to be smug about and I even have to go stag to my best friend’s wedding when I’m the best man.”

“Plenty of people go to weddings on their own.”

“Last one I went to was my friend Lydia’s and her husband had the DJ play Single Ladies and made me dance to it by myself.”

Derek’s face does something really strange, like maybe he’s trying not to laugh. “That’s terrible,” he finally manages when Stiles just gives him raised eyebrows.

“Ugh, that’s Jackson for you. Between that and every other person there trying to set me up with their nephew, cousin or other, I’m just really not looking forward to it.”

“When’s the wedding?” Derek asks, finger doodling patterns in the spilled sugar on the table.

“Next month, the fifteenth,” Stiles says. “Why, you got a cousin I can take?”

“Or me,” Derek says without looking up.

“…what?” Stiles finally manages through a suddenly dry throat. He looks at his coffee and then back at Derek, like maybe the extra caffeine not diluted by cream has made him aurally hallucinate.

"You said Beacon Hills, right?"

"Ye-es?"

"Okay, so, weirdly enough, I have a family reunion in Beacon Hills on the sixteenth and my sisters have been threatening to start buying me cats to really get my lonely cat lady life started if I don't bring someone so if you could stay an extra day and come with me, I think we could help each other out?"

"You... want me to come to your family reunion?"

"Yes."

"And you'll come to my best friend's wedding as...my... date?" Stiles thinks the whole proposition bears repeating.

"Yes," Derek says again, brows furrowing like he's starting to regret asking.

"You're really from Beacon Hills? How have I never seen you before?" Stiles thinks if someone like Derek had been in his home town when he was a teenager then his formative years would have been very different, and possibly filled with a lot more chafing of his palms.

"My family home-schooled most of us and we kept to ourselves. I went and stayed with some extended family when I was fourteen and then went to college after that. I haven't really been back much."

"Wait," Stiles says, brain finally making the connection. "The Hale Bean. You're a Hale? You're that Derek Hale." Stiles can't believe he's been buying coffee off the mysterious and elusive Derek Hale for a year now. He'd been hearing stories of the older Hale brother since he was small from his dad and other kids at school. Derek Hale had been more mythical than a unicorn to a younger Stiles and twice as cool.

He can't believe this is who he has been ordering his Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato with extra whip and extra caramel from.

"So... does that mean no?" Derek asks, looking strangely vulnerable. It's a weird look for him. He's usually just a morning cloud of milk steam and disapproving eyebrows to Stiles. To actually have his full attention and asking for a quid pro quo favor at the same time is bizarre to say the least.

"I kind of feel like I'm getting the better deal, here," Stiles says, because while he'll impress everyone with a hot-like-burning hunk of hotness like Derek, Stiles believes he's nothing to write home about, much less take home to a family and expect them to be anything but supremely disappointed.

"How so?" Derek looks genuinely perplexed which is extremely nice of him.

"Do you have a suit? I can't really Pretty Woman you."

"Yes I have a... Pretty Woman me?"

"Y'know, take you shopping, dress you up in something pretty."

"No, I don't need that," Derek says, dropping his face into his hand and possibly regretting ever bringing this up with Stiles.

Stiles, for his part, is left picturing Derek in formal wear and so is thoroughly derailed and only comes back to the here and now when Derek reaches across the table and pokes him. "I have a suit, you have an unfilled plus one and I have merciless sisters. Do we have a deal?"

"Yes!" Stiles blurts out before Derek can really think better of the whole thing. It might be overly loud and enthusiastic because Derek flinches back a little, face screwed up. In a much more normal voice, Stiles says, "I mean, that would be quite acceptable."

"Cool," Derek says. "Give me your phone."

"My phone?" Stiles hedges, hand automatically going to the pocket it's ferreted in, thinking maybe Derek has realized this is a horribly unequal deal and wants something extra thrown in.

"So I can give you my number? To work out the details?"

"Oh! Right!" Stiles says brightly, digs his phone out, unlocks it and hands it over. He's glad he changed his wallpaper recently from a set of particularly delicious abs that might have reminded him of a certain someone, or what he fantasized a certain someone would look like sans shirt, to a much less incriminating sunrise. Derek takes a moment to take a selfie which Stiles readies himself to comment on, but then he sees Derek inputting his details with the picture attached and it's both adorable and thoughtful.

"Just in case you forget me," Derek says when he catches Stiles staring, like it's actually possible. Derek then ducks his face, pushes a few more buttons and there's the sound of a phone bleeping with a new message. Derek hands Stiles' phone back and then digs his own out and holds it up. "Smile," he says and Stiles does, powerless to resist.

"Got a problem with object permanence there, big guy?" Stiles asks, sneaking a quick look at the picture Derek took of himself on his phone while Derek fusses with his own. He's not exactly smiling, but there's something in his face that's not the usual perma-scowl and Stiles can just make out the barest hint of Derek's bunny teeth.

Stiles resists the urge to hug his phone, only barely.

"Just in case," Derek says.

"Yeah, one of us could turn out to be a serial killer so it's good to have a photo to show the police, right?"

Derek just stares at Stiles for a moment, before he lets out a slow, "Quite."

"Not that I am, or I think you are," Stiles babbles, grimacing.

"Uhuh."

"So, is this like the plot to a really bad romcom, or what?" Stiles says, tucking his phone away and pasting on a jovial smile to hide his embarrassment.

"Romcom?"

"You know? Romantic comedy? Two people fake-date but then they realize they were what each other were looking for all along? I think I saw it on an episode of Frasier once-"

"Well, we're not going to fall in love with each other, so not really," Derek interrupts, pushing away from the table and standing. "Don't think this little deal gets you free coffee or anything, either," he adds, before heading back to the counter.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Stiles says, not really wanting to deal with what Derek's just laid down.

Too late, would be too close to the truth.

*

Stiles sees his dad pretty regularly, but it's usually in New York and the Sheriff wears a permanent air of discomfort in the bigger city, like he's small town to his bones and taking him out of his element really throws him. It's nice to see him relaxed in a way he never is when visiting Stiles, the uniform giving Stiles such strong sense memory that he might actually be accused of snuffling pathetically into his dad's shoulder when they hug at the airport.

"Good to see you, kiddo," his dad says, making Stiles warm to his toes. "You don't come home enough."

"Don't have enough time when I'm busy living the dream, daddio," Stiles scoffs which is really untrue. Returning to Beacon Hills always makes him feel a little like a dog slinking back with its tail between its legs. He's not doing as well as he tells people, not just romantically but professionally too. The job in the publishing house he relocated for evaporated when the place unceremoniously went under. He's now twenty-eight and working too many hours for too little pay in a book store for a woman that keeps calling him Steven no matter how many times he tries to correct her.

He might not have divulged that to anyone back home yet.

"Looking forward to the wedding?" the Sheriff asks when they're done loading his stuff into the cruiser and are on the road.

"Not sure that's exactly how I'd put it."

"You're not happy for Scott and Kira?"

"I am, just, I always thought they'd be more Goldwie Hawn and Kurt Russell. They've got a kid already. I didn't think getting hitched was a priority."

"I don't know, I guess it's just the right time for them. That or Scott figured it was the only way he'd get you back here."

"I doubt they'd plan an entire wedding just to force me homeward bound," Stiles says, looking out the window with his chin resting on one fist.

"I don't know, that boy really misses you. I mean, Carla asked if I was her grandad because they're over so often and I'm not going to pretend that's all about me."

Stiles snorts, looking at his dad. "You're kidding." He sighs, flicking invisible lint off his knee. "She probably won't remember her Uncle Stiles, I guess."

"You Skype, don't you?"

"That's different. She only sees me on a screen. I'm probably about as real to her as Barney the dinosaur."

"And whose fault is that?"

"Yeah, yeah," Stiles grunts, making a talky-talky hand at his dad. "I've just been... busy."

"So I heard."

"What?" Stiles says, sitting up.

"Scott told me you have a plus one for the wedding. You haven't told me anything about having a plus one."

"Oh, right," Stiles says, slumping back down. "It's no big deal, really. Nothing too serious."

"Serious enough to bring the person to your best friend's wedding but not enough to tell your dear old dad?"

"Da-ad," Stiles moans. He'd forgotten that his dad interrogated people for a living and his flimsy lie might not stand up against the Sheriff's scrutiny. He squirms for a second, before deciding that skirting the truth might be the best bet. "It's just, uh, a guy from Beacon Hills. He had a family reunion thing and I had the wedding so we decided to share the misery."

"A guy you met in New York... from Beacon Hills?" his dad says slowly, his face doing something weird.

"Yeah, small world, right?" Stiles says, waving an airy hand.

"This small world person wouldn't happen to be Derek Hale, would it?"

"How could you possibly know that?" Stiles asks, astounded. Beacon Hills might have a small town mentality but still had a substantial population, enough that it wasn't likely that his dad would be able to extrapolate his mystery date just from that information alone. Only the week before Stiles had run into two guys from the year below him in high school that were sharing an apartment and gigging around the city.

"Oh lord," his dad says, sounding aggrieved.

"What? I joked about him being a serial killer but he's not actually one, is he?"

"No, not... no, he's not that."

"Then what?" Stiles demands, because his dad's expression has gone pinched in that way it does when Stiles has done something particularly and spectacularly stupid, like stealing a police van in his junior year.

"It's... nothing," his dad finally settles on, which means it's something and a big, honking something at that.

"You're going to tell me. I'm going to find out what it is," Stiles declares, crossing his arms and glaring out the front window.

"Oh lord," his father just repeats and they drive the rest of the way home in silence.

*

"Did you slash my dad's tires when you were living here or something?" Stiles asks when he's tossed his bags into his old room that now does double-duty as his dad's study when he's not in town which is most of the time.

He'd called Derek because maybe Derek would be willing to dish when his dad wasn't.

"Depends. Who's your dad?" Derek asks. He'd sounded a little surprised when Stiles called, but recovers quickly.

"The Sheriff? You knew that, right? Everyone knows who he is and by unfortunate extension, who I am here."

There's a beat of silence and then he swears he hears Derek actually mutter, "Oh lord."

"What was that?"

"You're a Stilinski?"

"Are we like the Hatfields and McCoys and I just didn't know it? That was basically my dad's reaction finding out you were a Hale but he wouldn't say why."

"Stiles. Of course you are."

"Of course I am what?"

"A Stilinski."

"Again, is there some long-running feud I haven't been indoctrinated into?"

There's a suspiciously long pause before Derek says, "No."

"Well that's believable," Stiles scoffs.

"It's fine."

"I told my dad we just kind of bumped into one another and decided to mutually inflict our obligations on each other."

"Sounds feasible," Derek says.

"Yes, and bonus, we don't have to lie because it's basically the truth."

"Always a plus with my family," Derek says.

"Yeah, and my dad who is a human lie detector." Derek snorts at that which Stiles would be offended by, but he's already got enough to deal with from the weird tension his dad had worn all the way home from the airport and Derek's oddness now.

He's starting to get the feeling that he's been kept in the dark about something, possibly for years.

"Maybe this isn't such a good idea," Derek says and no, no way is he pulling this shit now.

"Nuh-uh buddy, no backing out on me. Scott's Aunt Kathleen has nine daughters. Every one of them single and apparently ready to mingle and I do not want to be subjected to that slideshow of sadness again."

"Would it be so bad to get set up? You might find someone you like," Derek says.

"P'shaw," Stiles lets out. "I can't really think about anyone else when I have a huge-" Stiles nearly comes right out and says it, huge crush on you. The words are there, ready to be set free but he clamps down on them at the last moment, some kind of self-preservation kicking in out of nowhere.

"Huge?" Derek prods.

"Hugely inflated sense of self-worth, however misguided," Stiles amends and it sounds lame and not at all like what he was going to say, but Derek doesn't call him on it.

"Alright, fine," Derek says. "Text me the address of the reception and I'll meet you there."

"Aren't you going to pick me up?"

"Aren't you part of the wedding party?"

"Oh, right, heh."

"I'll be the one wearing the suit."

"What should I wear to your family thing?" Stiles asks.

"It's casual. Giant barbecue at our house. You know it?"

"The creepy house in the woods that was the Halloween hang out of my formative years? Yeah, I think I know it. Should I bring anything?"

"Your inflated sense of self-worth. You're going to need it."

*

Scott is way more nervous than Stiles was expecting him to be.

"You're already basically married," he says, watching his friend pace and look worryingly pale. "You've got the house and the kid and the cross-stitch that says Bless this mess. You're golden."

"It doesn't mean this is automatically easy," Scott says, wringing his hands. "What if I've ruined her life and she realizes it right before she says, I do."

"Dude, she loves you. She already knows you've ruined her life and she's still hanging around."

"Ha, funny," Scott snorts, but he stops twisting his fingers together and his color starts coming back so Stiles counts that as a win.

"Plus, you have Carla. She'll kick both your asses if you mess this up," Stiles says, thinking of the five year old that indeed had eyed him suspiciously that morning when he'd greeted her and then flown at his dad to hug his legs, as expected. Stiles had been hoping she'd just embrace him with no questions asked but apparently he was going to have to work to get back into her good graces.

Stiles was really trying not to take it personally.

Scott's face goes dreamy, the way it always does when he's thinking of his daughter and Stiles knocks their shoulders together. "Let's go get you hitched before Kira's dad breaks out the shot guns."

"He actually said the words about time to me today, it was horrible."

"Well, we were all wondering when Kira would get around to making an honest woman out of you."

"Having fun?"

"Only at this very moment."

"It'll be fun later. You've got a plus one to fend Kathy off with."

"Yeah, about that-" Stiles starts because never in his life could he keep something from Scott, something important anyway, but then Melissa is poking her head into the room and saying, "Let's get this road on the show, eh kid?"

"Did I ever tell you I love the way you embraced dad jokes to give Scott a well-rounded upbringing?" Stiles asks, batting his eyelashes at her.

"Did I ever tell you I missed you?"

"No?"

"Funny that," Melissa says with an unrepentant smile and Stiles mimes laughing uproariously at her.

"You should take your road on the show," he snorts.

*

"This is my... Derek," Stiles goes with when he's forced to introduce him. Quite a few people in attendance already know who Derek is and give them surprised looks, his father included who shouldn't be surprised considering he already knew who Stiles was bringing. It's all worth it though for the way Kathy zooms away from him in a snit when he takes Derek's arm on her approach.

"Even if you leave now, I'd still owe you big," Stiles says, watching her bail up Greenburg in a corner.

"I put the suit on. I'm owed dinner and dancing," Derek says and Stiles turns to blink owlishly at him.

"You do really... wear it," he agrees, the least incriminating thing he can think of to stay about it. Stiles has a suit on picked out for him to match Scott's and since he hadn't exactly been available for fittings, they'd guesstimated a little on his sizing based on measurements he gave them. The suit jacket, as a result, is a little short in the sleeve and too broad in the shoulders for him, making him look boxy and gangly at once. Stiles had just sighed at himself when putting it on, hopes of looking Bond-like vanishing in the wake of what stared at him, the kid in an ill-fitting suit.

It was his senior dance all over again.

Derek, on the other hand, looks like he was born in the suit he's wearing. It fits him criminally well, hugging in all the right places. He's all clean lines and unfairly hot ass and Stiles is well aware that under normal circumstances, Derek would be way out of his league.

Derek's not even playing the same sport as him.

Derek tugs on his sleeve to get his attention. "Your dad looks like he's trying to kill me with his brain."

"That's just his resting murder face," Stiles dismisses, but he has to admit that his dad has been especially eagle-eyed throughout the wedding. If Stiles didn't know any better, he would swear his dad was even shadowing them, keeping them in sight at all times. He always seems to be talking to someone or eating something or doing something whenever Stiles looks over, but he's never out of sight-line.

"That does not make me feel better. The man routinely wears a gun and probably knows how to dispose of a body without getting caught."

"It doesn't matter, does it? After this weekend you'll probably only ever see him in passing when you come back here."

Derek jerks a little at that, manages to tear his gaze away from the older Stilinski to give Stiles an odd look. "Uh, yeah."

"I'll just tell him we decided to be friends. No, y'know, spark," Stiles proposes, miming a mini-explosion with his hands.

"Right, no spark at all," Derek agrees all too readily for Stiles' fragile ego.

"None, nada," Stiles nods along.

"Alright, I get it," Derek says through clenched teeth, sounding slightly peeved, which makes no sense.

"No romcom here, right?" Stiles adds, raising an eyebrow at him.

"God no," Derek says and Stiles slumps a little.

"I mean, I got it, loud and clear," Stiles says, looking back towards his dad, who is at the bar, body angled way and ordering a drink and still managing to keep an eye on them. Stiles really needs to figure out how he does that.

"Got what?" Derek asks, frowning.

"That you're not interested," Stiles says and he's distracted, he must be distracted to actually say that. There's silence next to him and Stiles sneaks a peek, wishing he could reel the words back because he sounds as pathetic as he feels, having a crush on a barista he barely knows and jumping at the chance to spend more time with him under false pretenses like the loser he is.

God, what is his life even?

"That I'm not," Derek repeats.

"Yeah, I know. Sorry, god, I didn't mean to make this weird. Have I made it weird? I can still come to your family thing and I'll be normal, I swear. Or not, that's also fine. If you'd rather or if you're uncomfortable-"

"Stiles, what are you talking about?"

"The-" Stiles starts to say, but then there's a commotion at the bridal table and people rushing around and Scott appears out of the throng and grabs his arm and tugs, saying something about Carla eating something strange and getting a rash all over and how Scott thinks her throat is going to close up and they have to get to the hospital now, Stiles, now.

*

Stiles doesn't get to talk to Derek before his family party the next day what with the hospital trip and the hours spent calming Scott down after, repeating things like, yes, it was really only a mild allergy, probably would disappear when she got older and no, Carla's airways didn't close up in the least. She'd just been grumpy and itchy and done with all of them by the time Stiles said his goodbyes and he was pretty sure he wasn't getting into her hug club any time soon considering she probably now associated him with the whole experience.

He's tempted to not show up to the Hale house considering the embarrassing conversation he'd had with Derek the day before but he'd made a deal and if anything, Stiles was a man of his word.

The Hale house is as impressive as his memory of it, big, sprawling and covered in ivy and decorations, making it look like something out of a story book. Stiles pulls his jeep up behind a town car and gets out, suddenly conscious of his jeans and t-shirt when he sees a girl in a pretty floral dress and a man in black suit pants and a crisp dark blue collared shirt standing on the porch. They're both holding what looks like some kind of complicated drink and watching him curiously.

Before he can get back in the jeep and zip away, the girl steps down from the porch, handing her drink off to the man who is handsome in a too-sharp way, before she does. She waves as she makes her way carefully over to him. "Hi, were you turned around looking for the Preserve entrance? Happens all the time."

"Uh, no, I'm not lost," Stiles says, grimacing. Great, no one is expecting him. Maybe he has made a mistake coming. "I'm Stiles."

The girl's face changes from careful politeness to outright beaming. "You're Stiles? As in, the Stiles?"

"I'm pretty sure there's only one, yeah," Stiles allows, scratching at the back of his neck. The man is looking on, bemused, even though he should be out of earshot.

"Oh my god, come right in," the girl says, snagging his elbow and tugging and Stiles kind of stumbles a little, surprised. "Everyone's out the back and they're dying to meet you."

"Uh, okay?" Stiles squeaks, feeling like he doesn't have a chance to do anything but follow her as he's nearly yanked off his feet in the wake of her determined tugging.

"I'm Laura, Derek's big sister and in your debt."

"How so?" Stiles asks as they make their way towards the far corner of the house and the sounds of a party start drifting out to them on the gentle afternoon breeze. "Am I under-dressed? Derek told me it was going to be casual."

"You're fine," the man from the porch says, suddenly appearing right behind them and pointedly giving Stiles a lingering once-over that makes him feel like he needs a shower.

"Peter, back off," Laura throws over her shoulder.

"Well, Derek didn't mention how gosh darn adorable you were going to be," Peter says with a grin that can only be described as wolfish.

"Way to keep the skeezy Uncle stereotype alive," Laura comments.

"What? I'm harmless," Peter says, spreading his hands and his grin a little wider.

"Usually if someone has to say they're harmless, they're usually not," Stiles says and Laura lets out a pleased-sounding, "Ha!"

Stiles is feeling pretty pleased with himself as well, right up to the moment they round the other corner of the house and Laura lets him go only long enough to yell into the crowd, "Hey everyone! Stiles is here!"

Every single pair of eyes at the party swings his way and Stiles has never in his life wished more fervently for a hole to open up underneath him and swallow him up. Laura is making some kind of show-model gestures at him like he's a new boat or something and Stiles smacks a hand to his face just as Derek breaks through the throng of clustered, improbably attractive people.

"Laura, what the hell?" Derek growls as he reaches them, extricating the hand she'd tucked back around Stiles' elbow like she'd known he was a flight risk, and replacing it with his own. Stiles goes with Derek a little more voluntarily than he had with Laura, mostly because he figures Derek is going to march him right back out of there, possibly having an awkward, I don't like you in that way, conversation all the while.

Possibly being stared at by a bunch of strange Hales is not the worst thing that can happen to him today.

"I'm so sorry about that," Derek huffs when they've reached the end of the back garden, nothing but the dark green edges of the preserve behind them and a bunch of party-goers trying to be surreptitious about watching them in front.

"It's fine. I guess you told your family about how pathetic I am, right? Must have been really amusing for you all that I actually showed up here. What a loser, huh?"

"Stiles, what? No," Derek says, palming his own face. "Would you stop saying stuff like that?"

"I'll go, seriously. I should have called first anyway. I know I got weird yesterday, saying all that stuff."

"You've got to be kidding me," Derek groans and Stiles shrinks away a little.

"Right, didn't mean to get my feelings everywhere again. They're pretty messy and I'm making you super uncomfortable."

"Stiles," Derek says, reaching out and grabbing his shoulders and that's when someone else grabs him by the back of the shirt and tugs him out of Derek's grip.

"Dad?" Stiles says, startled.

"Hi, am I interrupting anything?" his dad asks, eyes narrowed and looking extremely thunderous. There's a lovely-looking dark-haired woman standing behind him, wearing an expression that makes Stiles without a shadow of a doubt know that she's Derek's mother.

"I'm sorry about this, Sheriff, I really am. If I'd known this was who Derek was bringing home-"

"Hang on a second," Stiles interrupts, shrugging out of his dad's grip and stepping away from everyone. "Just, someone better tell me what the hell is going on, right now."

"Nothing's going on. We're leaving," his dad says, tone decisive.

"I'm not going anywhere until I get some answers. Everyone's been acting like there's some big hulking feud or something going on between our families. Everyone knows what's going on but me. I'm staying right here until someone starts with the explanations."

Laura sidles up next to Stiles, overloaded hot dog in hand that she hands over to him as she says, "Your dad's worried because we're all werewolves."

Stiles is about to scoff at that and possibly push the hot dog into Laura's smirky face but then he catches his dad's expression and the way Derek's mom has gone pale and her eyes have gone as wide as dinner plates. "Laura!" she gasps.

"Wait, what?" Stiles says slowly, eyes flicking to Derek who is suddenly finding the ground or his sneakers fascinating. "Wha-a-a-at?"

"This is not the way we tell people, young lady," Derek's mother scolds, crossing her arms.

"Oh my god, you guys were this way with Andrew as well. You all agonized and debated for ages and I finally just told him and it was fine," Laura says, eyes flicking across the back yard and Stiles follows her gaze, sees a man with glasses and fuzzy hair surrounded by kids who smiles and waves when he notices Laura looking at him. "It doesn't have to be as cloak and dagger as it used to be. We're settled, we have the local law enforcement on our side and if he freaks out, no one's going to believe him anyway."

"You knew there were werewolves in Beacon Hills and you never told me?" Stiles splutters, turning an accusing pointed finger on his dad, possibly more put out by that than anything else.

"Good grief," his dad opines.

"You! Seriously? There was something this cool here and you never told me?"

"You think it's cool?" Derek asks, sounding haltingly pleased.

"Of course I think it's cool, unless you guys go on some kind of murderous rampage when there's a full moon, but I'm figuring not since my dad knows about you and hasn't done anything about it. Wait, do you all turn into wolves? Like, big, furry wolves? Does it have to be a full moon? Is it a weird half-wolf thing like that American Werewolf in Paris? Can I see-?" Stiles' dad actually clamps a hand over Stiles' face to stop the barrage of questions.

"Is he always like this?" Derek's mother asks, looking amused.

"Pretty much from birth," his dad sighs.

"Were you going to tell me?" Stiles asks, attention swinging back to Derek after swatting his Dad's hand away.

"Eventually, maybe," Derek says. "It's more of a six month anniversary conversation." Derek's eyes narrow at Laura. "Not something you blurt out at the first opportunity."

"You've been mooning about this kid for ages, how many more opportunities was I going to get before you screwed it all up worrying about it?"

Derek's face goes beet red and he puts both his hands to his face. "Laura!" he whines.

"Okay, A, excellent use of the word mooning considering," Stiles says and Laura beams at him. "And B. what? Ages? How long is ages?"

"When did you start going to his coffee shop, because about that long," Laura says, completely unrepentant and Stiles decides that apart from Derek, she's going to be his favorite Hale. She cements her favorite Hale status by taking one of Derek's mom's arms and one of his dad's and saying, "Maybe we should leave these crazy kids alone to have a chat, eh?"

As soon as they are out of ear shot, or at least his dad's ear shot because Stiles will have to investigate what is out of earshot for a werewolf, what even is his life, Stiles turns on Derek again. "You like me. As in, like like me."

"You liked me first," Derek says, looking hunted.

"Not from what Laura says. I only started crushing on you on my second, maybe third visit."

"Seriously?"

"You'll never know. I don't have an older sister that'll tell you all my deepest, darkest secrets."

"I'm never leaving you in a room alone with her, ever."

"Oh, it's going to happen. There will be photo albums."

"God," Derek sighs, but then he squints up at Stiles, his eyebrows drawn together and says, "This seriously doesn't freak you out?"

"It might. I don't know. Maybe I'm in shock or something."

"Maybe."

"Not right now though. I've got a pretty open mind."

"This is a little much to take in though."

"Possibly," Stiles allows. Frankly, he's more amazed his dad can keep such a big secret from him.

"Okay, how about this. We enjoy the party, I don't let you anywhere near Laura or any of my other sisters-"

"There's more than one?" Stiles interjects, gleefully.

"No, forget I said that," Derek says hastily. "Enjoy the party, I have no siblings at all and then you give it some time and some thought and if it still doesn't freak you out, we see how it goes?"

"That sounds very mature and adult of us."

"It does, doesn't it?"

"That doesn't sound like me at all. I vote we sneak off and make out."

"Stiles."

"Alright, we'll do the adult thing," Stiles grumbles, kicking at the ground. He takes a big bite of the hot dog he's still holding, knows there's ketchup and mustard all over his face when he smiles at Derek.

*

They each go back to New York separately, Stiles to his lonely little apartment and Derek to wherever he goes when he's not making people coffee. Stiles tries to give it some real thought, is he weirded out by the prospect of dating a werewolf? Can his dad's heart take it? How long will it be before Laura and Cora, Derek's younger sister, start sending him incriminating pictures of Derek from his pre-teen and apparently awkward phase?

He waits three whole days before he texts Derek, asking if he wants to grab dinner. Derek texts back that he'll make it if Stiles doesn't mind coming to his place and Stiles does not mind that at all.

Outside Derek's apartment, Stiles encounters a guy with a cardboard box on the street and he buys an impulsive gift.

Derek opens his door to Stiles, or more accurately, Stiles with his face obscured with a black and white kitten.

"Uh, hi?" Derek says, stepping backwards as Stiles bustles inside, handing the kitten off.

"Surprise! You're not allergic are you? Or already have a pet that will eat this one, or will you eat this one when you go all grrr?" Stiles says, making claws out of his hands and watching Derek try to unsuccessfully stop the kitten climbing him like a tree until it's settled in the join between his neck and shoulder. "This... might have been a bad idea."

"Is this your way of saying that you just want to be friends?" Derek asks.

"What? No! The opposite. I just thought it was appropriate because it's a tuxedo cat and our first date was a wedding and oh, o-oh! The crazy cat lady thing? Nah, I don't believe in that. Cats aren't just for lonely people."

"Stiles."

"Oh my god, pets are for life, not just for Christmas. This was a terrible thing to do! I go a little overboard on gifts. It's like a tick I have."

"Stiles, breathe, it's fine," Derek says, reaching out to squeeze Stiles' shoulder, his other hand automatically going up to keep the kitten in place. He smiles then and says, "We'll work out a joint custody thing."

"Okay, so, I'm here to say that I'm in, in case that wasn't as clear as I intended to be. I've got a lot of questions, I mean a lot of questions and the internet is no help. I felt like Bella Swan googling vampires."

"Oh god, tell me you didn't."

"Oh I did. That is a particular rabbit hole I will not be traveling down again any time soon. Yikes."

"Good. So how about your dad? He know about your big decision?"

"He'll learn to live with it. He learned to live with werewolves existing."

"That's a bit of a leap to him being okay with his son dating one."

"He'll come around. Believe me, you're better than some of the guys I've brought home."

"How so?" Derek asks, looking amused.

"Well, there was that guy that liked Kenny G. I think anyone will look good next to that."

"Right."

"Plus, he'll have something to hold over me forever. Don't discount the value of a good argument winner. I'll be trying to feed him a vegie burger and he'll be all like, remember that time you brought a werewolf home and bam, curly fries all around."

Derek sets the kitten down on the floor and then scoops up keys and a hoodie. Stiles just blinks at him before he says, "Um, weren't you making me dinner?"

"I was until you brought me a present that needs food and somewhere to go to the bathroom."

"Uh, I think she found somewhere," Stiles says, watching dismayed as the kitten casually pees on Derek's shoe.

"And stain remover," Derek says, raising an eyebrow and toeing out of the wet sneaker and sock.

"Right, so, romantic trip to Walmart then?"

"Apparently," Derek says, but he slings an arm across Stiles' shoulders after he pulls on another pair of shoes and tugs him into his body before they go to lay a very firm kiss on him and that will make up for any amount of missed candlelit dinner.

"So," Stiles says as they're heading down the stairs and right when one of Derek's neighbors is coming out of their own apartment with a small bag of rubbish. "Werewolf knotting. Thing or not a thing?"

"Oh my god," Derek groans as his neighbor suddenly finds a reason to retreat back inside.