“You’re not dead,” Stiles says as Scott bangs open the door and shucks off his shoes in the next movement. They hit the wall and then bounce into an ungainly pile in the middle of the hallway that Liam will no doubt trip over when he gets home.
“Nope,” Scott says. He looks confused by that part.
“So… That’s good?” Stiles has pumpkin guts all over his hands, but offers Scott a fist bump anyway.
Scott follows Stiles back into the kitchen and then plops down across from Stiles’s half-finished jack-o-lanterns at the counter. He’s a couple weeks early, but Halloween has to be taken seriously. These are practice pumpkins.
Scott says, “It was weird. I think they’re all models. They force-fed me pie.”
Stiles arches a skeptical eyebrow.
“I mean, the pie was great,” Scott says, face screwed up. “I think they were happy I ate the whole thing?”
Werewolf metabolism, Stiles thinks sourly. He’s getting to that age where he has to watch his beer and pizza intake. It sucks. He says, “I’ll make them brownies,” and then apparently it becomes a thing.
Stiles doesn’t know if the Hale pack are actually all models, but they’re definitely taking the supernaturally hot thing to a whole other level.
Scott’s betas are reasonably attractive, sure, but Liam’s the size of a cave troll and Mason’s on this whole hippie-chic kick that makes him look like a train hobo.
Stiles holds out the plate of brownies and tries not to stare at Erica’s boobs. Boyd has the bulging chest of a roman gladiator and Stiles could cut his hands on Isaac’s cheekbones, it’s insane.
Stiles says, “Nice to meet you guys,” and Erica’s lip curls up and her hands hover around the plastic-wrapped plate like it’s made of poison and-or possibly oatmeal. He waggles the plate back and forth encouragingly. “Promise they’re wolfsbane free.”
And then Jackson fucking Whittemore comes swanning down the staircase and Stiles says, “You’ve got to be shitting me. Jackson?”
“Stilinski,” Jackson says with a scowl.
“Lydia told us you got eaten by a giant lizard.”
Jackson scowls harder. “Fuck off.”
Stiles would like to say that the addition of Jackson makes the pack less appealing, but despite having the personality of a canned ham, Jackson still looks like he was carved out of marble. Balls.
And then someone says, “Do I smell chocolate?” from behind Stiles and he definitely does not jump three feet into the air, but it’s a close call.
He flinches and spins around and says, “Fuck my life.”
The hottest mountain man Stiles has ever seen is frowning at him and Stiles wants to bury his entire body in his beard. He wants to weasel his way under that soft-looking Henley and lick his collarbones. Stiles is ninety-nine percent sure this is Alpha Derek Hale, even though Scott had failed to prepare him for the way Derek’s eyes are eating Stiles’s soul.
Stiles wordlessly holds out the plate of brownies.
Derek takes them with a resigned silence. No one else is saying anything either, and the back of Stiles’s neck is starting to prickle with unease. Are they going to eat him now? They’d moved into town so Liam and Mason could go to the local college, expecting some kind of resistance, territorial posturing, possible brawl for dominance, but Scott has been tirelessly optimistic—even more so since the pie eating thing.
Stiles slinks around Derek, hands up. He says, “I’ll just, uh… leave now,” and backs down the sidewalk so he can see any kind of attack coming. He’s got a taser in his back pocket and he’s not afraid to use it.
The Hale pack all watch him with narrow, calculating eyes and Jackson gives him the finger.
Stiles thinks that if this is the way they react to brownies, he’s going to bake them a motherfucking cake.
Originally, Stiles thought it was a giant mistake on Scott’s part to rent a place nearby the Hale pack house, but now Stiles thinks it’s good to be able to keep an eye on them. They’ve never had to deal with another pack so close before. It’s both nerve-wracking and exhilarating, and Stiles tries not to think too hard about why and focuses on the important stuff: decorating for Halloween.
Stiles starts out with three jack-o-lanterns in front of their modest little pack house, but when he sees Derek staple-gunning orange lights around the entire front of their porch, he comes home with a six foot dinosaur skeleton with glowing red eyes.
“You spent actual money on this,” Scott says, hands on his hips. He doesn’t seem mad, just sort of baffled.
Stiles very carefully doesn’t tell him that it cost almost two hundred dollars. They don’t have ‘pack money’ and Stiles has a very good job, but there’s spending money on a video game and then there’s buying a giant skeleton that’s probably going to break the minute Liam tries to ride it.
Stiles can’t exactly explain it, the way Derek was aggressively hanging lights and glaring at him. It could have had something to do with the way Stiles was openly gaping at Derek’s butt when he was at the top of the ladder, but Stiles is going to up his game anyway: no one actually hangs Halloween lights unless they’re going to war.
Scott would probably not appreciate Stiles telling him this, though.
Instead, he pats the dinosaur’s back fondly and says, “He was on sale.”
Five days into October, Stiles blearily makes his way into the kitchen at seven a.m. to find Liam, Mason and Kira halfway through a giant dish of lasagna. They have full forks and zero table manners.
“Seven a.m.?” Stiles says, pouring himself an enormous mug of lukewarm coffee because he lives with heathens. “Where did that even come from?”
Mason mumbles something about a handsome roman gladiator while shoveling pasta into his mouth.
Kira says, “I want to marry this. I want to have this lasagna’s babies.” She stabs Liam with her fork and flashes orange eyes when he goes for the corner of the dish she’s staked out.
Liam says, “Did you just hiss at me?”
“If you marry this, I’m gonna eat your babies,” Mason says, and Stiles moves forward curiously, taking a deep sniff but careful not to get too close—he’s pretty sure Kira will take out his eyes.
Steam is still rising off of what’s left. Someone got up super early in the morning to make this fresh. Huh.
So they’re resorting to full meals now. Stiles can deal with that.
Stiles bakes a cake. Three layers of chocolate with vanilla pudding in between, and he covers the whole thing with an entire can of orange icing, using Oreo cookies to make bats. He also makes a cheesy chicken casserole in Boyd’s lasagna dish and has Mason take them both over in a wagon.
Stiles peeks through the window shades and gleefully watches Isaac open the door.
“What are you doing?” Scott asks, coming up behind him to peek too.
Stiles rubs his hands together and says, “Winning.”
“Winning what?” Scott says. He’s adorably befuddled, and Stiles pats his tummy and says, “I’m not sure, but whatever this is, I’m really good at it.”
“Is whatever this is why we have an entire ceramic haunted town on the front bow windowsill now?” He waves his hand to where Stiles is carefully kneeling in between a giant light-up Gothic mansion and a half-ruined churchyard.
“Exactly,” Stiles says.
Derek’s yard is now riddled with headstones that have each of his betas’ names on them. Cool, but not cool enough. Stiles is going to go with an undead army, he just has to convince Scott to sign up for Amazon Prime.
When Mason finally turns around he’s got a dazed look in his eyes and what looks like a homemade scarf wrapped around his neck. Damn it. He’s underestimated Isaac.
“Scott, buddy, you’re gonna have to learn how to knit.”
“What? No,” Scott says.
“Crochet?” Stiles says hopefully. “Cross-stitch?”
“No,” Scott says, but he scruffs a hand through Stiles’s hair. “I think Liam knows how to latch hook?”
“Everyone knows how to latch hook,” Stiles says, but he places a curled finger over his bottom lip and hmmmms. Liam is very impressionable. “Would you call Liam artistic?”
“Uh, no,” Scott says, “but his enthusiasm will probably make up for it.”
“Right,” Stiles says. He’s gonna need some red paint and a lot of old clothes.
“What is supposed to be happening here?” Derek says, standing on the sidewalk with his hands on his hips. He’s wearing some kind of fleece lined flannel jacket that is fucking with Stiles’s head. He wants to slip his hands inside and around and have Derek try and button it around Stiles’s back like some sort of comfy two-man cocoon.
Stiles rolls his shoulders and resolutely turns away and really takes in his masterpiece. “It’s the undead rising to defeat the skeleton army.”
“Is that one riding a dinosaur?”
“Yes,” Stiles says proudly. “If you walk past it, it cackles.”
It’s only October 10th. Mrs. Carbunkle on the left has stopped speaking to them completely, but Scott’s the only one who complained about it.
Derek has an enormous blow-up spider that he’s somehow managed to attach to his roof, and someone rigged up his lights to a sound system that plays This is Halloween.
Stiles finished a carved pumpkin that is, quite clearly, Derek’s face. It’s prominently placed at the top of the front steps.
“I’m finding this incredibly satisfying,” Stiles says, grinning back at Derek.
Derek has the flat mouth of a man who’s trying very hard not to smile. There’s pink on the tips of his ears.
Derek says, “Last year we put out a bowl of candy and a sign that said ‘Go Away.’”
“Classy,” Stiles says, grinning even wider.
“I hand painted those tombstones,” Derek says, tilting his head toward his yard.
“I’d make fun of you, but that dog skeleton over there is made up of squeaky bones that I glued together.”
Derek chuffs. Not even his beard can hide the way his cheeks bunch up when he smiles. “It’s a very good dog.”
“Is there any other kind?” Stiles says.
Stiles becomes acutely aware that Derek and him are just staring stupidly at each other when Kira clears her throat from the top of the driveway and says, “Uh, Stiles? Your boss is on the house phone.”
“Shit.” Stiles is, technically, supposed to be working. He should probably take that. He waves at a still adorably amused Derek and then runs for the door.
Kira says, “These are the cutest cookies I have ever eaten in my life.” There are crumbs all over her sweater and icing smeared over one of her cheeks. She’s halfway through a plate of ghostly sugar cookies. When Mason comes near her she throws one of them at him and then mourns the loss with a, “Oh, darn it.”
Liam says, “I think those were for all of us,” but backs off when Kira bares her teeth at him. Stiles is unsure whether a wolf or fox is more vicious, but Kira’s the only one of them that also owns a deadly sharp weapon, so.
Mason holds up a little card and says, “This says they’re for Stiles, Yukimura.”
Stiles grabs for the note and smiles down at the little, “for Stiles,” and “-D” and then shoves it into the top pocket of his flannel. He says, “That’s okay, she can keep them,” and thinks about how hard it would be to bake cinnamon rolls from scratch.
“Aren’t gingerbread houses a Christmas thing?” Scott asks, leaning his elbows onto the counter and resting his chin in his hands.
“Not gingerbread murder houses,” Stiles says. He’s putting the finishing touches on the little Jackson werewolf, sprawled out on the ground with his guts spilling everywhere. He’s using spun sugar.
“Huh. Why don’t you and Derek just do this together?”
“What?” Stiles straightens up, blinking at him.
“I mean. He likes you, you like him.” Scott knocks their shoulders together, grinning.
“He doesn’t like me, Scott,” Stiles says, cheeks heating. “We’re in a competition!”
“Right,” Scott says skeptically. “That’s what this is.”
“Yeah!” Stiles hunches his shoulders up around his ears and ignores the fact that his entire face is probably red by now.
Scott wrinkles his nose. “A competition.”
“That’s what I said.” Little Jackson keeps trying to fall apart, so Stiles lets it crumble—he can just add more blood.
“Right,” Scott says again.
The lengthy silence after that is damning, but Stiles is totally not going to talk about how Derek might like him. He’s not twelve. He’s gonna paint a sugar glaze on this thing, put it on Derek’s front stoop, ring the doorbell, and then run away.
Derek tops off his cemetery by adding stone-like walls and an archway that is, somehow, twined with real night blooming flowers. It’s impressive.
“I’m impressed,” Stiles says to Jackson.
Jackson sneers at him and says, “Who cares?”
There’s also a witch on a broom hanging from a big oak tree, and some kind of animatronic black cat that—“Holy shit,” Stiles says, backpedaling away from where the cat jumped up and lunged at him. Stiles clutches at his wildly beating heart while Jackson nearly busts a nut laughing.
“I almost fucking peed myself,” Stiles says indignantly, while the black cat winds himself around his legs in greeting.
The front door of the house flies open and Derek appears like an avenging angel, chest heaving, wolfed-out. He says, “What is it? What’s wrong?”
Jackson has his face covered, hysterical.
Stiles says, hands flailing, “Did you buy a cat for this?”
“Did I…?” He trails off, staring at Stiles with crazy eyes. The beta change melts off until he’s normal, stern-looking, hot Derek. He looks from the cat to Stiles to the cat and then back again before saying, “We’ve had Jinky for five years, Stiles.”
Jinky? Stiles thinks. “You named your cat Jinky?”
“Erica named the cat Jinky,” Derek says, stomping down the steps to pick him up. Jinky goes boneless in his arms, instantly purring, and Stiles stares at the big hand Derek splays over Jinky’s belly. It’s a good hand. It would fit nicely all over Stiles’s body. Yep.
“Um.” Stiles is having trouble concentrating.
Derek says, “Are you here for a reason?”
“No. I mean yes. I mean…” Stiles looks down at his shoes and tries to remember why he came over here in the first place.
It’s the middle of October. He’s three days behind on his latest work project. There’s a huge pumpkin that cost him fifty bucks waiting to be carved in his kitchen. What was he doing here?
He says, “Um,” again and presses his palms to his cheeks, mind completely blank. Then he takes a deep, bracing breath. “Right, yes, this is,” he waves an arm around, “really good, Derek! Like, super good, I’m gonna go—”
“Jesus Christ, Stilinski,” Jackson says, now done with laughing and just staring at him like he can’t believe Stiles is upright, walking and talking.
“Oh, fuck off,” Stiles says, and then marches back across the street to his own much better decorated yard.
Stiles comes home from the supermarket on October 21st to the entire pack lying in wait for him in the den. Allison and Lydia’s faces are even on separate laptops propped up on couch cushions in between Scott and Liam.
Stiles freezes in the doorway and says, “Is this some kind of intervention?”
“I don’t know,” Scott says carefully. “Do you think you need an intervention?”
“No!” Stiles has this thing with Derek perfectly under control. Obviously. He did not just buy ingredients to make even more fake blood.
Scott nods his head. “Okay. Then this is about the Halloween party next Saturday. Allison and Lydia are driving down!”
“Are we sure that’s wise? What with,” Stiles makes fangs with his fingers, “you-know-who and L-Y-D-I-A?”
“I know about werewolves, Stiles,” Lydia says dryly. “And also how to spell my own name.”
“Did you also know that Jackson Whittemore is in the Hale pack?”
Allison says, “I thought Jackson was eaten by a giant lizard,” but her eyes are sparkling.
Lydia purses her lips and says, “I’m a grown woman, Stiles.”
“I know you.” Stiles points a finger at her. “There will be bloodshed.” Jackson broke up with her via text in high school before his family moved away. He’s a spineless asshole.
“He’s a werewolf. He’ll heal.” She’s got a dangerous but pleased look in her eyes. She nods at him and he winks back, because she knows he’ll help hide the body.
“All right, so, Halloween party.” Stiles drops down into a chair. “Are we adulting or slumming it with Liam and Mason’s friends?”
“Everyone’s invited!” Kira says with jazz hands. “I’m making jello shots.”
“Not everyone is twenty-one,” Stiles points out. They’ve never had to really worry about that with pack, since none of the werewolves can get drunk anyway.
“The neighbors are invited,” Scott says, straightening up into Pack Dad mode. “And Liam and Mason can each have one friend.”
“Balls,” Liam says, scowling.
“Adulting, cool,” Stiles says. He rubs his fingers together, already thinking about candy, and bobbing for apples, and scaring the shit out of Jackson. He’s gonna need lots of sheets. And fake eyeballs. And spaghetti.
“Sexy or scary?” Stiles says, holding up a Little Red Riding Hood costume in one hand and a distressed mummy one in the other.
Mason makes a face. “Overdone,” he says, pointing first to Little Red Riding Hood and then to the mummy, “not scary.”
“Overdone can still be sexy,” Stiles says, frowning down at the skimpy little dress. “I can wear heels!”
“You do not want to wear heels,” Mason says. He’s wearing a Tina Turner wig and Hulk hands, but he’s got his serious business face on. “Nobody wants to wear heels. Heels disintegrate your toes over time and ruin your arches.”
“While I have no idea if that’s bullshit or not,” Stiles says, “I’d only be wearing them for a couple hours.” Stiles had been leaning toward the mummy outfit, but now it’s a matter of principle.
Behind them, Stiles can see Liam pretending to make out with a Freddy Krueger mask. There are several hovering employees with mixed reactions.
Mason says, “It’s a cliché.”
“It’s only a cliché because it works!”
“That would only make sense if werewolves were openly known,” Mason says.
Stiles rolls his eyes. “The same could be said about your argument, dumbass.”
Why is this a thing that’s happening? Why did he bring Mason and Liam with him? Why did he bother to ask Mason anything at all? Liam’s going to get them thrown out of the store, and Mason is a terrible judge of costumes.
Then Liam runs up, flushed and bright-eyed, bouncing on the balls of his feet. He says, “Stiles, please, please,” and holds up a ridiculous red, black and white costume. “I will give you fifteen dollars if you wear this.”
“Twenty, and you can’t get the money from Scott.”
Despite anything that Scott says, Stiles thinks the fog machine was money well spent.
“You can’t even see the yard anymore!” Scott says. “The entire Quince family fell into a horde of zombies!”
“So maybe I need to turn it down a little.” Stiles kind of tossed the instructions somewhere and forgot about them, but it’s probably pretty easy to figure out, right?
It’s 8:15 on a Saturday night, the neighborhood kids are all in the backyard getting an impromptu archery lesson from Hawkeye, Stiles has already soaked himself trying to get three apples out of a barrel with his mouth, and none of the Hale pack have shown up yet. Stiles is in no way anxious about that at all.
Instead, he crouches down by the totally awesome fog machine and starts poking at it indiscriminately. It sort of beeps at him, like an angry robot.
“What are you supposed to be?”
“I’m a ladybug,” Stiles says absently, fiddling with the side knob—is it getting even more foggy?—before registering the looming leathered presence of Derek Hale. He sees his black sneaks and cuffed jeans first. And then the belt, tucked in white t-shirt, beardless face.
“Oh my god,” Stiles says, held tilted all the way back. He’s sort of struck by the dimple in Derek’s chin, the cut of his cheeks and the awkward jut of his ears under slicked hair. Stiles is in awe, he wants to press his hands over his jaw and see if it’s as baby smooth as it looks. “Are you Danny Zuko? Please, please, please tell me Isaac is Sandy.”
Derek rolls his eyes, grabs Stiles’s arms and hauls him up to his feet. “Isaac isn’t Sandy.”
“You’re lying,” Stiles says, curling his hands around Derek’s wrists to steady himself. “Oh my god, this is the best day of my life, does he have on a crop top?”
“Stiles,” Derek says, glancing around the yard. “Is it supposed to be this smoky?”
“It’s atmospheric fog, Derek,” he steps back out of Derek’s hold and waves his hands around, “to really set the mood on this spooky All Hallows’ Eve.”
“It’s the 28th.” Derek has this look on his face, like he’s amused but trying not to be. He eyes Stiles up and down. “You’re not even a zombie ladybug.”
“Yeah, no, why would I want to dull down this sexy little number?” Stiles pats his stuffed hips.
“You look like a donut with antenna.”
Stiles frowns. He looks adorable, thanks very much. He says, “And you look like a…” Sexy greaser werewolf, basically, but Stiles isn’t sure he wants to give Derek that kind of ammunition.
After an only slightly uncomfortable silence, Derek says, “Boyd made profiteroles.” A curl of gelled hair falls over his forehead. Goddamnit.
“Boyd can suck my dick,” Stiles says, awkwardly creasing his ladybug costume as he crosses his arms.
“Don’t tell him,” Derek says, grinning a little now, moving closer so his chest brushes Stiles’s forearms, “but I like your brownies better.”
“Are you saying I win, Hale?” Stiles says. It’s dark, and the Halloween lights are muted around them, but Stiles is pretty sure Derek’s newly shaven cheeks are pink.
Derek sighs heavily. “I’m saying this fog’s as thick as peanut butter, and I want to kiss you where the Quince family can’t see.”
“I’m pretty sure they’ve been conscripted into the undead army,” Stiles says faintly. Kiss him. Huh.
“Good to know,” Derek says, and then cups his hands around Stiles’s face.
Stiles holds his breath.
From the front of the house, Scott yells, “Stiles, just turn it off before we lose even more children!”
“Even more,” Derek says, eyebrows furrowed. “That’s…concerning.”
“Shut up,” Stiles says. He can feel his heart beating in his throat. “Do you want to kiss me or not?”
Derek’s expression goes strangely serious; the strategically placed spotlights make his eyebrows look like bat wings, and his mouth parts slightly to reveal the cutest bunny teeth known to mankind. It’s incongruous, especially when you factor in the level of hotness Derek exudes on a daily basis.
Stiles says, voice nearly a whisper, “I bet your chest is super hairy.”
“Never mind, crap,” Stiles says, and then fists Derek’s tight white t-shirt and kisses him instead.
Vaguely, Stiles registers Liam yelling, “Onward, mighty steed!” a howling crash, and Scott’s pained, “Oh no,” but Derek has his hands wormed inside his giant foam shell, so he really can’t be assed about it.
Derek says, “Should we turn off the fog machine?” in between sucking bruises along Stiles’s throat.
Scott’s voice rises over the engulfing fog, “Stiles! Off!”
“Are you kidding me? That’s the only way we’re going to get out of here alive.” He tugs at the short hairs of Derek’s nape. “Let’s go make out in your graveyard.”
“We have leftover lasagna,” Derek says, threading his fingers with Stiles’s and then dragging him through the yard, deftly dodging skeletons and tiny screaming kids.
“I know what you’re trying to do here.” Stiles hooks his free hand into the back of Derek’s extremely tight pants as they sneak onto the open sidewalk. “You already admitted I won, big guy. You can’t beat me with reheated heaven.”
Stiles takes a big breath of clean air, fog clinging to their legs as they start to stagger across the street. In front of the Hale house, he grabs onto Derek’s wrists and walks backward to hitch his butt up against the fake cemetery wall surrounding the yard. He wraps his arms around Derek’s neck, forcing him to lean down into him, caged between his knees.
“Uh, Stiles?” Derek says, his arms braced on either side of them.
The wall creaks ominously underneath him.
“This is styrofoam, isn’t it?” Stiles says, and then the wall rips in half and Stiles goes sprawling back on his ass, pulling Derek down with him.
Stiles wakes up to off-key warbling and the intoxicating smell of bacon and coffee. He stretches and groans. There’s a warm arm thrown over his middle, he can feel Derek smiling into his nape, scraping his skin with a truly astounding amount of stubble for having shaved the day before.
“Are you a yeti?” Stiles says, and Derek’s soft laughter rumbles all along his spine.
He says, “Erica’s making pancakes. Do you want bananas or chocolate chips?”
“The clear answer is both,” Stiles says. He flops around onto his back, struggling his way out of the blankets tangled over his legs, and then jabs a finger into Derek’s nose. “You’re still not winning.”
“Of course not,” Derek says, expression soft and fond. Stiles doesn’t trust the misty-eyed bastard for a second.
“I’ll have Scott make empanadas for you, don’t think I won’t!”
Derek nods solemnly and says, “We’d be honored.”
“This is some sort of fucked up werewolf crap, isn’t it?” Stiles asks, suspicious.
“Isaac says breakfast’s almost ready,” Derek says, tilting his head in an I’m listening to the cosmos way. “We should get dressed.”
“You didn’t answer.” Stiles sits up, watches Derek slip from the bed with a healthy appreciation for his bare ass. “Am I gonna have to start saving up for Christmas lights?”
“I don’t know,” Derek says with a grin, “depends on whether you think I found someone willing to rent me a reindeer.”
Stiles narrows his eyes, clambering out of the bed. “All right, Hale,” he says, just as Derek moves into the hall, laughing. “You’re going down.”