Stiles hesitates inside the car. Derek’s already walked in front of it and is turned around waiting on him. He’s wearing the scarf Stiles gave him for his birthday and his leather jacket, and as Stiles stares out the windshield, he’s reminded of just how much he loves the man standing there as Derek shoves his hands into his pockets and bounces in the cold. He raises his brows in question, and Stiles tries to gather courage.
He loves Derek, but he’s terrified of his family. And not because they are werewolves.
Impatienly, Derek strides over to the passenger side of the car and opens the door. “What’s wrong?”
Stiles stares at the house, which is a large two-story with lights burning in almost every room. He can see outlines of people through the windows, a large Christmas tree through one on the left, blue-lit candles in each window, and multi-colored string lights around every window.
Derek squats down so he’s eye level with Stiles and reaches out to curl his hand around Stiles’ neck. “Hey,” he says softly. “Talk to me.”
“Your entire family is in there,” Stiles states. “All ten million of them.”
Derek’s face breaks into a soft smile. “You’ve already met my parents and some of my siblings.”
“But there’s tons more,” Stiles says. “Siblings and grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles and Pack members and…stuff.”
“They’re not all werewolves,” Derek says as he rubs a comforting thumb over Stiles’ neck. “Many of them are human, too.”
“It’s not that,” Stiles says in aggravation. “I don’t care that they’re wolves. I’m just not used to big families. It’s only me and my dad, or us and Scott and his mom. What if…”
Derek’s brows scrunch in concern. “What?”
“What if they don’t like me?”
Derek laughs, and Stiles turns to look at him sharply. “I’m sorry. I’m not laughing at you.”
“Sure as hell feels like it,” Stiles mumbles. Derek leans forward and pecks Stiles on the cheek. Stiles groans and pushes at Derek so he can get out of the car. When he’s standing out in the cold, he stares at the house apprehensively. “No, seriously, what if they don’t like me?”
Derek grabs Stiles’ hand and threads their fingers. Derek’s hand is still warm despite the cold air, and Stiles feels himself curling towards his body heat. “They’re going to love you.”
“But what if they don’t?” Stiles glances at Derek wildly. “What if they don’t like that I’m a human, or if I’m not a good enough human for the Alpha’s son or whatever, and oh my god we’re wearing matching ugly Christmas sweaters! Why did I think this was a good idea? Why did I agree to this? Why did I agree to this after you blew me? And why – hey, why are you laughing? This is not funny, Derek Hale!”
Derek’s shoulders are shaking with mirth, and his eyes are bright and sparkling. Stiles kinda wants to punch him. “You know they can hear you, right?” Stiles glances at the house in horror. “My mom says for you to come inside and stop standing in the cold, and my dad says everyone is going to like you.” Derek pauses for a moment and tilts his head to the side. “Laura, you and Cora stop laughing right now! Don’t make it worse!”
Stiles drops his forehead against Derek’s shoulder and kind of wants the ground to swallow him whole. Derek wraps his arms around Stiles, and Stiles snuggles closer against him. Maybe if he stays like this, warm and protected in Derek’s arms, everyone will forget how much of an idiot he is.
Derek kisses along Stiles’ face, nudging Stiles to lift his head so he can cover his lips with his own. Stiles’ fists curl into Derek’s jacket, and Derek presses with his tongue until Stiles willingly opens his mouth. Stiles sighs into Derek’s mouth as their tongues brush hotly against each other.
“You might want to come inside soon,” a voice calls from behind them. Stiles startles and whips his head around to see a man leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed over his impossibly large chest. “I can smell the hormones all the way over the cinnamon candles Mom’s burning. Grandma’s not too happy you’re standing out here ‘sucking face’,” the man makes air quotes with his fingers, “when you haven’t even come in to present your young man to your Pack. And she’s mad you haven’t come in to see her.”
Derek rolls his eyes. “Tell Grandma I’ll be in in a minute,” he replies with a huff. “Same goes for you, Michael.”
Michael holds his hands up innocently. “I’m just trying to keep things kid-friendly. Especially after learning the circumstances of how you convinced your boyfriend to come.” Michael snorts. “Come.”
Derek bares his teeth and growls, a human sound that doesn’t sound too threatening. Michael flashes his eyes, the same brilliant blue as Derek’s, and retreats into the house. “Great,” Stiles says. “I’m making a good impression on your brother so far.”
“Ignore Michael,” Derek tells him as he rubs his hands over Stiles’ back. He presses his lips to Stiles’ one more time. “Come on, we better not keep Grandma waiting.”
“I’d like her not to maul me,” Stiles mumbles. Derek chuckles as he slings an arm around Stiles’ shoulders.
“She said she’ll only maul you if you stay out here any longer.” Stiles groans as he drops his head to Derek’s shoulder.
The inside of the Hale house is warm, loud, and full of people. Kids are running around and playing in the floor, adults are sprawled through the house on couches, in chairs, and standing in clusters as they talk. Derek waves and speaks to people as he navigates through the crowd, but they don’t stop until they reach the kitchen. Talia is standing at the counter with Laura and Cora and a few people Stiles doesn’t recognize.
“Bout time,” Cora mutters as they enter. Stiles punches her arm as he passes, and she grins at him. He’s known Cora longer than Derek; they’d met in grad school and had started hanging out. One night, Cora had invited Derek to dinner with Stiles and some of their other school friends, and by the end of the night, Derek had gained Stiles’ number.
“Stiles!” Talia says, arms open wide as they approach her. Stiles goes to hug her, and notices she has flour on her cheek, on her shirt, and in her hair. Stiles thinks it makes a perfect picturesque moment. Talia hugs him tightly and kisses him on the cheek. “I’m thrilled you decided to join us.” She cups his cheek with a flour-covered hand, and looks at him with more fondness and adoration than he’s used to seeing. “And please don’t worry about a thing. You are always welcome at our home.”
“Thank you,” Stiles says, flushing in embarrassment.
“Please, have some food. There’re appetizers in the dining room, and some desserts as well. We’ll be eating dinner later.” Talia pulls him into another hug, and whispers, “I truly am glad you are here with him.” Stiles thinks her eyes look a little damp when she pulls away.
“Mom,” Derek groans as he moves in to hug her.
“Not a word,” Talia scolds him. “I’m happy to see you and your boyfriend.” Derek’s pretending to be annoyed, but Stiles can tell by the way he holds himself that he’s pleased and happy. He hugs his mom for a long time, and it makes Stiles miss his own mother.
“Hey Stiles,” Laura says as she comes up to him and gives him a hug. “How’s the new job going?” Stiles ends up talking to Laura and Cora about his job for awhile while Derek disappears further into the house. When he finally makes his way out of the kitchen, he doesn’t have a clue where Derek is.
Stiles leans against the wall in the huge living room and studies everyone. Everyone’s unfamiliar. There are four younger kids playing together in the corner. A group of teenagers are sitting on a couch, looking glum and scrolling boredly through their cell phones. The adults range from slightly younger than him to grandparents’ age. They’re talking in small groups, and the one conversation Stiles listens into is about Pack politics, while the other is about teaching wolf cubs to control their shifts during the full moon. Stiles realizes he’s completely out of his depth and makes his way to the dining room.
Stiles is piling his plate with amazing finger foods (yes, he knows this because he did some sampling) when someone steps close beside him. “Well, well, well,” the voice purrs.
Stiles looks over to find a ridiculously attractive (just like all of Derek’s relatives) man with piercing blue eyes standing next to him. The way the man looks at him sends chills down his spine, and Stiles purposefully moves around the other side of the table. He doesn’t say anything as the man stares at him. “Derek never fails to surprise or impress,” the man leers at him. “You are quite delectable.”
“Um…” Stiles stammers, unsure how to react. He doesn’t have to, thankfully, because Derek strides into the room a moment later, glaring at the man.
“Peter,” Derek nods curtly.
“Nephew,” Peter grins and holds his arms wide. “So glad to see you.”
Derek moves closer to Stiles and wraps his arm around his waist. “You as well.” Stiles thinks Derek sounds like seeing Peter is anything but a glad occasion.
“What a fascinating little human you’ve brought,” Peter continues, turning his cold blue stare back onto Stiles. “I can see the temptation.”
“Stiles is special,” Derek replies, tightening his grip on his waist.
“Oh, I have no doubt.” The smile that curls his mouth is cruel and humorless. His eyes sweep over Stiles as he makes to leave the dining room. “I hope to see you around, Stiles.”
When he’s gone, Stiles turns to Derek and mouths, WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?
Derek leans close to Stiles’ ear and whispers, “Uncle. Family creep. Every family has one. Don’t worry about him.” He kisses Stiles’ temple as Stiles says, “Easy for you to say.”
Derek leads Stiles into the living room and introduces him to uncles, aunts, and cousins. He can’t keep everyone straight, so he just smiles and shakes hands and hopes he says things that are cogent and okay. He still can’t shake the feeling that he’s doing a bad job at the part of being Derek’s boyfriend.
Derek grabs Stiles’ hand and leads him into a smaller den towards an elderly couple. They’re sitting on the couch, watching television. They both are tall and strong, with gray hair. The woman has eyes almost the exact color of Derek’s.
“Grandma, Grandpa, this is – “
“Stiles, yes,” Grandma Hale interrupts. “Bout time you brought him to meet me. Introduced him to the rest of the Pack before introducing him to me. When I was your age, people respected Alphas and hierarchy and brought important people to meet us first!” She scowls at Derek (and Stiles can see the frightening family resemblance in the glare and the eyebrows) before turning her eyes to Stiles. They’re also piercing, and Stiles knows where Creepy Uncle Peter got them. He tries his hardest not to look away, flinch, or show any signs of weakness as Grandma Hale stares him down.
“Louise,” Grandpa Hale says, placing a hand on her arm. “Be kind to the poor boy.” Stiles still doesn’t move, and neither does Grandma Hale.
“Didn’t anyone tell you you’re not supposed to stare an Alpha down?” Grandma Hale asks. “Even a former Alpha?” Stiles blanches, but can’t look away. He feels like he’s trapped, and his heart starts rabbiting in his chest. “It’s a sign of defiance and insubordination. Alphas have torn out people’s throats for less.”
“Good grief, Louise, you done scared the boy half to death,” Grandpa Hale says. “The whole room stinks with his fear.”
Stiles flushes, and after a few moments, Grandma Hale grins. “I like you,” she says, pointing at Stiles. “You’re gutsy, and a bit stupid, but you don’t show fear. Your heart and scent don’t lie, but your face doesn’t give anything away.” She glances over at Derek. “Wolf needs that in a human mate.”
“Grandma,” Derek groans.
“Whoa, whoa,” Stiles finally says, flailing a bit. “Who said anything about mates?” He turns on Derek and pokes him in the chest. “You said the mates thing was a myth.”
“Certainly is not,” Grandma Hale says.
“Louise,” Grandpa Hale says. Stiles turns back towards them, and he can see Derek’s grandfather looking at his grandmother with fond exasperation. And loads of affection. Stiles wonders if he’ll be that happy and still in love when he’s that age.
“JP, don’t start with me,” Louise says. She points at Stiles, then points to the empty couch cushion beside her. “You, come sit with me.” Stiles glances at Derek helplessly, and Derek smirks playfully. “Don’t look so smug, Derek. You sit down, too.” She points to the chair across from them.
“Yes, ma’am,” Derek says, bowing his head and hiding his smile. He keeps his hand at the small of Stiles’ back as he leads them over to the couch and chair. Stiles sits beside Grandma Hale, but doesn’t relax. Derek settles into the chair, completely at ease. Stiles wants to punch him, but he guesses Derek is used to former Alphas studying him like he’s some weak prey. Or maybe she’s never looked at Derek this way.
“Tell me about yourself. You’re human, this is obvious, and Derek’s scent is all over you. Your father’s the sheriff. I’ve known him for years. Good man, Sheriff Stilinski. You come from good stock.”
“Thank you,” Stiles says. Grandma Hale stares at him, waiting, and when he doesn’t say anything, she raises her eyebrows in question. It’s terrifying because it’s exactly like Derek. “Oh, about me? Um,” he scratches the side of his chin. “I’m from Beacon Hills, went to grad school in San Francisco, which is where I met Derek. I’m the access services librarian for a small liberal arts college.”
Grandma Hale nods in approval, and Stiles visibly relaxes. Grandpa Hale chuckles. “Don’t let Louise scare you, pup. Her growl is worse than her bite.” He laughs loud and full, and Stiles finds himself smiling. He’s not what Stiles expected from Derek’s grandfather; Derek and Cora take more after the grandma than the grandpa, but Stiles can see Derek in Grandpa Hale’s smile and around the softness of his eyes. “We’ve been married for over fifty years. When you been married as long as we have, and to an Alpha at that, you get used to a lot. And realize they’re just big fluffy wolves.” He wraps his arms around Grandma Hale and kisses her on her cheek. She tries to look annoyed, but Stiles can tell she loves it.
“JP, you behave now,” she says, slapping his leg. Stiles cuts his eyes to Derek, and the look on Derek’s face causes his heart to flip-flop in his chest. Derek’s looking at them with so much love, pride, and hopeful longing, and after a moment, Stiles realizes that it’s similar to look he gives Stiles sometimes.
“Now, let’s talk about you two,” Grandma Hale says, glancing between the two of them. “I’m guessing it’s why you brought him home to meet the family.” Stiles and Derek share a look, and Grandma Hale smirks at them. “Thought so. You both got that look about you. Like two idiots in love.”
“Grandma,” Derek says quietly. He whispers something so quietly that Stiles can’t hear, but Grandma and Grandpa Hale both nod.
“I know that, Derek,” Grandma Hale says with a frown. “Not for me to reveal. That’s between the two of you. I just want you to know that I see it.”
Derek looks at Stiles and smiles, and it’s a similar look to the one Grandpa Hale uses when he looks at Grandma Hale. Complete and utter devotion. It’s the same look he had on his face the night he asked Stiles to marry him and Stiles said yes.
“See? Idiots in love.”
“Hush, Louise,” JP says. “She’s a romantic at heart, don’t let her fool you.” He looks at Stiles and says seriously, “You seem like a nice young man. I look forward to getting to know you. If Derek loves you the way he does, you must be pretty special.”
“Thank you,” Stiles says, voice heavy with emotion.
“Not bad looking either,” Grandma Hale says, brow arched. “If I was fifty years younger…I’d be a sucker for those big brown eyes.” She turns to Derek. “He’s skinny, but I bet he’s good in the sack.”
“Grandma!” Derek exclaims, dropping his head into his hands. Grandpa Hale chuckles, and Stiles flushes a deep red.
“One of the main reasons I married your Grandpa,” Grandma Hale continues. “Was a beast in the sack. Perfect for an Alpha’s mate.”
“Must run in the family,” Stiles blurts before he can stop himself. Derek looks horrified, while Grandpa Hale laughs so hard he’s crying. The corner of Grandma Hale’s mouth twitches.
“I really do like you, Stiles,” she says. Then, she surprises Stiles by opening her arms and pulling him close to her in a hug. He tenses for a moment, but then relaxes. She smells like a pleasant perfume, and he finds he doesn’t mind being in her arms at all. “Welcome to the family,” she says against his hair.
When Derek and Stiles finally leave the den, Derek whispers, “Sorry about Grandma.”
“Nah, she’s awesome,” Stiles says. “A bit terrifying, but awesome. And she liked me.”
“Of course she did,” Derek says, draping an arm around Stiles’ shoulders and kissing his cheek. “Good thing, too. Once, she didn’t like one of Laura’s boyfriends, and Laura broke up with him a few weeks later.”
“Are you saying you would have broken up with me if she wouldn’t have liked me?”
Derek shrugs. “Mom’s the Alpha now, but Grandma was the Alpha for a long time before she handed it over to Mom. She’s still a powerful matriarch in the family. Even Mom defers to her sometimes.”
“I’m really glad you didn’t tell me any of this first,” Stiles says, shuddering.
They eat dinner in the dining room, and Stiles sees Derek’s dad for the first time. He gives Stiles a big hug when he sees him, and Stiles realizes werewolves (or maybe just the Hales) don’t shy away from hugs and physical affection.
“So glad you’re here,” his dad says. “I’m was so happy when Derek decided to invite you to spend Christmas with us.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty excited,” Stiles says. “My dad’s working Christmas Eve so some of his deputies can spend it with their kids. I told him we’d stop by later Christmas day.”
“You should invite him over here,” Talia says as she sets a dish on the table and occupies the seat beside her husband. “They’ll be plenty of room. It’ll just be us, Laura, Cora, Michael, and Seth. We’d love to have him over.”
Stiles glances at Derek. “Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. I’ll ask him.” Derek smiles and nods in agreement.
“The famous Stiles,” someone says beside him. He glances over and sees a man slightly younger than him who must be Seth. He looks exactly like his siblings and parents. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“All lies, I’m sure,” Stiles jokes.
“I’m Seth, Derek’s baby brother.” He holds out his hand, and Stiles shakes it.
“Baby is about right,” Derek says drolly beside him.
“Shut up, you just suffer from middle child syndrome.”
“Boys,” Talia says.
“Derek tells me you’re a big geek,” Seth continues.
“Oh, he did, did he?” Stiles asks, turning to glare at Derek.
Derek shrugs as he piles his plate with food. “I call them like I see them.”
“He’s an idiot,” Seth says. “He doesn’t understand. I’m a huge geek, too.”
“Really?” Stiles turns to him excitedly, and they launch into a discussion about board games.
Michael drops into the seat across from them, along with Cora, Laura, and another woman Stiles doesn’t recognize. “Oh god, they’re multiplying.”
“Shut up,” Seth snaps.
“I don’t think we’ve been officially introduced,” he says. “I’m Michael, and this is my wife, Kylie.” Stiles greets them, and looks at all five Hale siblings now that they’re in the same room. They all have dark hair and strong features, and are preternaturally gorgeous, though they have different eyes. Derek looks the most like Laura and Seth, while Michael and Cora look more alike. He knows Michael is about five years older than Derek, the oldest of the Hale siblings, but he doesn’t look that much older than any of his siblings.
All through dinner, Stiles watches the way the family interacts. Derek’s immediate family, including his grandparents and creepy Uncle Peter, sit around one end of the table, and other family members spread beyond, down the table and around other tables set up throughout the dining room, kitchen, and living room. He listens to the way they joke with one another and talk with ease, often talking over one another, finishing each other’s sentences, or cutting each other off. Stiles looks around and realizes this is his future, this will be his family. He doesn’t know how to be part of a big family, but he hopes they’ll accept him as part of their own one day.
Later, when Stiles and Derek are undressing in the room they’re sharing, Derek says, “You were quiet during dinner. Is everything okay?”
Stiles nods as he sits down on the edge of the bed to pull off his socks. “Just taking everything in. It’s overwhelming, you know. Everything is so loud and so much. I’m used to quiet.”
Derek gives him a flat look. “You’re never quiet.”
“But you are!” Stiles exclaims. “We are. A typical day for us is sitting around on the couch, you reading and me playing video games, the only sounds my rambling and the TV.”
Derek pulls back the duvet and sheets, and Stiles takes the moment to admire the long, lean lines of his body and his black boxerbriefs. He kinda wishes they weren’t in Derek’s parents house right now. He could really use a blowjob to unwind. Derek slides between the sheets and props himself on an elbow. Quietly, he asks, “Do you not like them? Are you uncomfortable?”
Stiles flips over onto his side in a flurry of limbs, accidentally hitting Derek on the leg and side. He sits up, crossing his legs under him. “Of course not!”
Derek’s draws his brows together. “If you’re not ready, we can – “
“Stop,” Stiles says, waving his hands back and forth in front of his face. “Don’t. Don’t even suggest that.”
“But you just seem so uncomfortable. Stiles, my family will love you. But even if they don’t, I – “
Stiles places his hand over Derek’s mouth to stop his speech, and Derek immediately smiles behind his hand before nipping at Stiles’ fingers. Stiles smiles, and he knows that it doesn’t matter if Derek’s family hated him – he was going to spend the rest of his life with this man.
“Let me talk, god Derek. Talk about me never being quiet,” Stiles teases. Derek chuckles quietly before kissing Stiles’ palm and taking his hand in his own. “They’re not listening to us, are they?” Stiles asks, suddenly paranoid. Derek shakes his head, so Stiles continues. “Your family is great, but they’re going to take some getting used to. But I was sitting at dinner thinking about being like that with them, that loud and comfortable. I saw it as my future, our future. It was…” Stiles pauses, stares at Derek’s hand in his own as he rubs his thumb across his knuckles. He picks absently at the dark hair on Derek’s finger. “It was really the first time it hit me that we were really going to spend our life together. That I will be a Hale one day. That they will be my family.”
Derek squeezes Stiles’ hand and leans up to kiss him softly. “I love you,” he says against Stiles’ mouth. “I am so ready to spend my life with you.”
“I’m not uncomfortable, I promise.” Stiles moves so he can get under the covers. “But give me some time to process.”
Derek scoots close, wraps his arms around Stiles, and kisses him. Stiles sighs against his mouth, feeling like he belongs there. He knows there’s no other place he’d ever want to be.
When they break apart, Stiles whispers, “I really wish we weren’t in your parents’ house. I could really go for a blowjob or handjob right now.”
Derek quirks an eyebrow. “Well, if you’re quiet – “
“I am not having sex in your parents’ house! I already accidentally announced the blowjob that got me here. Last thing I need is for your grandma to smell your come on my breath.”
“You’d brush your teeth.”
“She’s a wolf. She’d be able to smell it.”
Derek laughed. “Hey, you brought sex up. I was just going to follow your suggestion.”
“Maybe when we’re married. Then I’ll be able to look your mom in the face smelling like you came all over me. How do you wolves do it?” Stiles grumbles as he moves around, trying to find a comfortable place to lay against Derek.
“You stop caring after awhile,” Derek says as he settles back against Stiles’ chest as Stiles wraps his arms around Derek. He rubs his hand along Stiles’ arm as Stiles kisses the back of his neck.
“I’ll never get used to it,” Stiles mumbles as he starts to drift off.
The next day is Christmas Eve, so the only people around are Derek’s immediately family. Stiles can’t deny that he likes this better. It’s still overwhelming because even his immediate family is huge, but he feels like it’s more manageable.
Laura sits down beside him on the sofa in the living room while he’s reading. Derek’s doing something with his dad, and the other siblings are in the den watching television. He puts his bookmark between the pages and closes the book. Laura smiles at him warmly. “What are you reading?”
Stiles shows her the cover of the book. “I know it’s kinda lame to read A Christmas Carol at Christmas.”
“When else would you read it?” Laura asks. “I think it’s the perfect time.”
“Have you ever read it?” She shakes her head, her dark hair falling around her shoulders. “My mom used to read it to me and my dad. We’d read a few pages each night leading up to Christmas, and we’d finish it on Christmas Eve. It took me awhile to realize we did it in twelve days, our own version of the Twelve Days of Christmas.”
“That’s really cute,” Laura says. “I like that.”
“Ever since she’s died, I’ve read it once a year at Christmas. Derek told me he’d never read it, so this year, we’ve been reading it together. We’re gonna finish it tonight.”
“That’s a great tradition. I’m glad you included him.” Laura gives him another warm smile, and Stiles wonders if she knows that they’re engaged. Or maybe she just knows they’re serious and hopes her brother finds happiness.
“What traditions do your family have?” Stiles asks as he sets the worn book on the coffee table.
“Christmas tree the weekend of Thanksgiving, open one present on Christmas Eve, and then we go on a Christmas run through the woods.”
Laura nods. “The whole family can shift into full wolves, so we all transform and run for awhile, usually until after midnight. Then we come back into the house and sleep in a big pile in the living room.”
“Really?” Stiles asks, surprised. “Even now?”
“Yep. When we were kids, we’d make a pallet in my parents’ bedroom. Now, we all just sleep in the living room, except Grandma and Grandpa. They say they’re too old to sleep on the floor, so they sleep in the guest bedroom.”
“Are we going to do that tonight?”
So, when Derek returns later, Stiles pulls him upstairs into their bedroom. Derek immediately kisses him, and Stiles lets himself get distracted for awhile as he clings to Derek and explores his mouth like they hadn’t lain in bed making out for an hour before they left the room this morning.
“Hi,” Derek grins. “I missed you.”
“Where did you go?”
“To help my dad and grandpa get some last minute Christmas presents.”
“Did you buy me anything?”
Derek pretends to think. “Maybe.”
“When were you going to tell me that you turn into a wolf on Christmas Eve night and run through the woods and then come back and sleep in a big pile with the rest of your family?”
Derek’s face looks guilty and slightly embarrassed. “Honestly, I didn’t think about it because I forgot you didn’t know. It’s like our thing on Christmas. It’s as much Christmas as the old Christmas ornaments we’ve had since my parents were kids or my mom’s fruitcake recipe.”
Stiles wrinkles his nose. “Fruitcake. Ick.”
“You have never had my mother’s fruitcake.”
Stiles isn’t ready to stand in the cold on Christmas night and watch his fiancé’s family strip down naked. So, he turns his back to give them some privacy and instead stares up at the half moon. He’s wearing his ugly blue puffy coat, a pair of thermals under his track pants, gloves, and a knit cap.
In other words, he’s freezing.
Two hands slide along his arms, and he leans back against the solid, warm body. “Why aren’t you naked like the rest of your family? Unless you are naked, and I need to turn around.”
“I’m not doing a full shift tonight.”
Stiles turns around swiftly. “But why? It’s tradition!”
Derek just gives him a soft smile, with the same loving adoration he was looking at him with the night before. “Because you can’t run if I’m fully shifted, and I want you to be part of my tradition. You read to me, I run with you.”
Stiles is speechless at first. Then he kisses Derek hard. “That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
Stiles is distracted when something nudges his leg. He glances down to see a brown wolf pawing at him. “Oh my god!” he exclaims, half out of fright, half out of awe. “It’s a wolf. It’s like a real fucking wolf.”
Derek rolls his eyes. “You’ve seen me full shift before.”
“Yeah, but I haven’t seen an entire family full of shifted wolves before!” Stiles reaches down to pet the wolf, but it snaps at his hand, so he draws it back quickly. Derek laughs.
“Cora, be nice.” Cora bares her teeth and growls, but then goes over to nip at Derek’s hand.
“That’s Cora?” Stiles asks, then steps closer to get a better look. She sits back on her haunches and stares at him unimpressed.
A moment later, an elegant black wolf trots up to them, and nuzzles against Cora’s face before rubbing its face against Derek’s legs and then pushing up into Stiles’ hand. Stiles pets the wolf’s head tentatively as Derek says, “That’s Laura.”
Derek continues pointing out the rest of his family. His mother is a large black wolf, his father an even larger brown one, Michael a mixture of silver and black, and Seth a small silver wolf. Grandma Hale is also silver, while Grandpa Hale is black with patches of grey.
Talia raises her head and howls, and immediately, the forest explodes with the sound of the wolves howling, including Derek. Stiles sees that Derek is now half-shifted, his human facial features given way to his wolf. Then, Talia leads the way as the wolves take off through the trees.
Derek steps in front of Stiles and crouches down. “Get on my back. We’re running together.”
Derek nods. “I want to run with you.”
“Okay.” Stiles climbs onto Derek’s back, wrapping his arms tightly around Derek’s neck as Derek grips under his thighs. Derek bounces him slightly as he readjusts him, and then he glances over his shoulder.
“Are you ready?”
Stiles leans forward and places a kiss on Derek’s lips. “Absolutely.”
“Hold on.” Stiles tightens his grip around Derek’s neck as Derek takes off running through the trees, lifting his head and howling into the night. A second later, a chorus of howls answer him and two wolves crash through the underbrush to join them, running alongside Derek and Stiles as they move through the night.
“Your hands are freezing,” Derek says as he takes Stiles’ hands into his own and rubs them. They’re standing inside their bedroom in their Christmas pajamas. That was their one Christmas Eve gift from Talia. Each kid, including Stiles, got a pair of Christmas pajamas. Stiles and Derek got matching onesies with moose on them. Stiles thought they were freaking awesome.
“Well, it’s cold outside!” Stiles responds as Derek blows on his hands. “My body temperature doesn’t run as hot as yours.”
“Then let me warm you up,” Derek says as he pulls Stiles closer and wraps him in his arms.
“So lame,” Stiles groans against Derek’s shoulder.
“You love me.”
“I do,” Stiles agrees. “Very much.”
“Wanna finish reading the book?” Derek asks as he loosens his embrace.
“But I thought your family gets into a pile in the living room.”
“We do,” Derek says, “But this is just our tradition. We’ll curl together in the bed and finish the book, and then we’ll go downstairs and join the pile.”
Stiles just stares at Derek and smiles. “You’re kinda neat, did you know that?”
Derek rolls his eyes and gently pushes Stiles towards the bed. “Just read.”
Derek lays his head in Stiles’ lap as he reads the last section of the book. Derek closes his eyes and listens, nodding his head along in parts. When Stiles finishes and closes the book, there are tears in his eyes, and it has nothing to do with Ebenezer Scrooge. Derek doesn’t say anything, just takes Stiles’ hand and holds it tightly.
“She would have loved you, you know,” Stiles says after a few moments. “The two of you would have talked about books all the time, and traded books. She had rooms full of books, boxes filled with them, stacks and stacks of books. She’d read them all, too.”
“I’m sure I would have loved her, too.”
“Everyone loved her,” Stiles says. “I miss her so much at Christmas. It’s stupid that a holiday makes me miss her more than other days, but she loved Christmas. It’s stupid and cliché, who doesn’t love Christmas – “
“Ebenezer Scrooge,” Derek cuts in, and Stiles smiles.
“You forgot the Grinch.”
“I just miss her so much on nights like tonight. Dad does, too. It’s why he works on Christmas.”
“Tell me about your favorite Christmas memory of her.”
Derek closes his eyes and listens with his head in Stiles’ lap as Stiles recounts his favorite memories. He can’t choose just one; there are too many. It hurts thinking and talking about his mom, but it’s nice to share those memories with Derek. He wants Derek to know his mother, even if just through memory.
When he’s finished, Derek goes to the bathroom while Stiles texts his dad. Then, they go downstairs to find the whole family spread out among sleeping bags, comforters, and blankets piled in the floor. Everyone is wearing their Christmas pajamas, including Derek’s parents.
“Did you enjoy the end of your book?” Talia asks as Derek leads them to their space in the blankets.
“It was great,” Derek says. “My very first reading of A Christmas Carol, and I got to read it with Stiles.”
“It was nice reading it with someone again,” Stiles says.
The family gets comfortable in their designated spaces, and Stiles glances around, impressed with just how much space everyone has. He was expecting them to be basically sleeping on top of one another, and though they’re close, there’s plenty of room between them. Derek snuggles close to Stiles as Cora sets up the television so they can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, even though it’s almost midnight.
Stiles falls asleep during Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer, and wakes up again when Derek is moving them as he lays down to sleep. “Did you finish Rudolph?” Stiles asks, yawning.
“Yep. Good night, Stiles.” Derek kisses him softly.
“Night. Love you,” Stiles whispers, already half asleep.
Stiles paces inside the bedroom, trying to calm himself. He’s changed four times, and he didn’t even bring that many clothes. Derek returns from the bedroom and grabs Stiles’ arms to still him.
“Hey, it’s okay. Calm down. It’s going to be fine.”
“What if they like me, but like, don’t want you to marry me?” Stiles whispers.
“Then, screw them because nothing in this world is going to keep me from marrying you.” Derek pulls Stiles close and kisses him. “Now, let’s go down to dinner. I’m hungry.”
All of Derek’s immediate family are at dinner, along with Stiles’ dad, Derek’s grandparents, and creepy Uncle Peter. Stiles sits by his dad and tries not to have a panic attack each time he thinks about their announcement.
Halfway through dinner, Derek’s dad asks, “Stiles, are you okay?” He sniffs the air. “You smell distressed.”
“Me?” Stiles squeaks. “I’m not distressed. Why would you think that? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh for goodness sake, tell them already,” Grandma Hale says. “Before your human has a heart attack.”
“Derek, what is she talking about?” Talia asks. Stiles feels like his heart is going to beat out of his chest, he’s starting to sweat, and he’s starting to get slightly dizzy. But then Derek takes his hand, and he feels a sense of calm come over him. He glances at Derek, and Derek smiles at him and squeezes his hand.
“Mom, Dad, Sheriff Stilinski, we have some big news.”
“Oh my god!” Laura exclaims, covering her mouth.
Derek’s face breaks out into a big grin, and as he opens his mouth to speak, Stiles blurts, “I’m marrying him, and he’s marrying me, and we’re marrying each other. We’re getting married. To each other.”
Sounds of joyous exclamation arise from around the table. The sheriff grabs Stiles and pulls him into a fierce hug as Derek’s parents congratulate them. “I’m so happy for you,” the sheriff whispers into his ear. “He’s a good man. And you look at him like I used to look at your mother.” When the sheriff pulls back, there are tears in his eyes, and he looks the happiest Stiles has seen him in awhile.
The next thing Stiles knows, he’s being pulled into a hug by Talia, who’s squeezing him so hard he’s afraid his ribs might break. When she lets him go, he sees that she’s outright crying. “I thought it might happen, but I didn’t expect it right now,” she says. “I’m so happy for you both.”
“Welcome to the family,” Derek’s dad says as he hugs Stiles. “You’re a true Hale now.”
Talia hugs the sheriff as she welcomes him to the family to, and Grandma Hale says, “You’re all blind if you didn’t see this coming a mile away. The idiots stink of love. It’s sickening.”
Michael and Seth give Stiles and Derek hugs, and Laura’s crying when she hugs them together, and then kisses Stiles on the cheek. Cora gives him a stronger hug than he anticipated, and says, “If I’d known you’d end up my brother-in-law, I’d never have sat next to you in that History of the Book class.” She smiles at them both, and then says, “By the way, I’m so taking credit for this. If it wasn’t for me, you two idiots would never have fallen in love.”
“It was fate,” Derek says as he wraps his arm around Stiles’ waist. “We’d have met somewhere eventually. Library, coffee shop, the park. The universe would have found a way.”
“I think I’m going to vomit,” Cora groans as she walks around the table to take her seat. Derek just keeps looking at Stiles like he is the best thing on the planet, and then leans down to kiss him.
As everyone sits back down again around the table, Derek grabs Stiles’ hand and brings it to his lips. Everyone around them are talking excitedly about wedding plans and honeymoon destinations, talking over one another, cutting each other off, and starting to argue. Derek’s family are loud and obnoxious and a lot to take in, but as Derek stares at him with a soft smile, Stiles knows he wouldn’t want it any other way, especially not since he was getting to spend his life with this man. He figures the family’s just an added bonus.