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Christmas Trees

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"Where do you stand in the fake tree versus real tree debate?" Stiles threw out, sitting upside down on Derek's couch, feet hanging off the back and blood rushing to his head.

So he was a little bored. Whatever. It was his day off work and Derek wasn't entertaining him so he had to do it himself.

Some boyfriend, he muttered in his head, only to wipe the thought away. Guy might've been boring at times, but he was still a pretty good boyfriend, even if he'd only held that title for two months, three weeks, and five days.

Not that Stiles was counting.

And eleven hours. And fifty-three minutes.

Okay, he was counting a little bit.

Derek looked up from the book he was reading on the other end of the couch, eyebrow cocked. "Is this a test?"

"No." Stiles stated as Derek gave him a stoic yet dubious look. "Maybe."

In all honesty, it had started out as a way to make conversation and stop being bored. The next day was Thanksgiving, the day after traditionally when Stiles and his dad went out to buy their tree and decorate it. It was clearly on his mind and the question had just slipped out.

But now it felt Important, felt like a Big Deal. Probably because it was a Big Deal to him and his dad. So naturally, that translated over to his relationship and trying to figure out if it was just a Big Deal to his partner.

Derek let out a long sigh, using the dust jacket as a bookmark before setting Term Limits on the trunk-turned-coffee-table. Sensing the change in mood, Stiles flipped himself around and sat upright, tucked into the corner of the couch so he was facing his boyfriend. Definitely a "sitting right-side-up" kinda conversation.

"My family used to go to this tree farm up north every year the weekend after Thanksgiving," Derek began, small wistful smile on his face as he sat back on the couch. "They have acres upon acres of trees and let you pick out your own one and chop it down. My dad liked it because it was the one time of year he could pretend like he was stronger than the werewolves."

Stiles let out a small laugh, remembering how Derek had once told him that his dad had been human, how he didn't care that the woman he loved was supernatural and had taken her surname out of respect for her position as alpha. Not once had he ever been intimidated or resentful of his stronger wife and Stiles couldn't help but think his mom would've really loved both of Derek's parents.

"After the fire, when Laura and I moved to New York," he went on, the smile fading. "We bought a fake one. Neither of us could really bring ourselves to get a real one. It just reminded us of what we'd lost, what was never gonna happen ever again. But it didn't feel right or smell right, so the next year, the weekend after Thanksgiving, Laura just showed up at the apartment with a real tree over her shoulder. We hadn't talked about it but we both just knew. It's what our parents would've wanted, to try and keep at least some of the traditions alive as best we could."

Stiles smiled as he rested his head on the back of the couch, fingers tangling together on his lap. "That's why me and my dad get a real one, too," he stated, clearing his throat. "My parents used to have a fake one until my first Christmas when my mom decided we needed to start getting a real one because she wanted us to have traditions that would be passed down to the grandkids then the great-grandkids and so on. My dad says he was so stupid in love that she could've suggested they strip naked and dance around a flaming tree in the backyard and he would've grabbed the matches without question."

A laugh sounded from Derek and Stiles felt his smile growing. Memories and stories of his mom still hurt a little but mostly, he felt a sense of joy and comfort at remembering all the good times. At least he'd had a mom, he'd think to himself, even if it was for too short a time. He hoped it was the same for Derek.

"After she died, Dad suggested we change it but I threw a fit, started crying and screaming about how Mom wanted us to get a real one. Looking back, it was selfish of me and it probably hurt my dad to do all of it without his wife but now, we can't imagine not doing it. It's like keeping her alive through that tradition."

"I get what you mean," Derek replied, scratching at his whiskered jaw before mimicking Stiles' position on the couch. "I haven't gotten any sort of a tree since Laura died."

"Too busy running for your life?"

He snorted and nodded in agreement. "Think I'll get back into it this year, head back up to that farm and get a tree." The wistful smile returned and Stiles mirrored it, feeling it grow as Derek reached over and took hold of his hand. "Wanna come with me?"

"I'd be honored," he replied genuinely, grinning even wider when Derek raised his hand to his lips in a kiss. "Next question, Douglas or Fraser Fir?"

Derek laughed and Stiles' smile hurt his face. He needed to make sure the older man made that sound always.