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People say that nothing good ever happens after midnight. People are right. Stiles slams the door to his shitty loft apartment, locking the four deadbolts he installed on the door while clutching his guitar case to his chest, heaving in exertion. He slides down to the floor of his apartment, taking in shaky lungfuls of air. Just a minute. He thinks. Just a minute to catch his breath. Just a minute to collect himself before he gets up to get his handgun within arms reach.

Just another Friday night. He thinks bitterly.

It’s more like Saturday morning. Stiles finished his set at the nearby bar and high tailed it home after last call. It was just his luck that someone would try mugging him. Again. Why anyone would try and rob him of his measly two hundred and fifty dollars he earned in one night of singing at the bar is beyond him. Surely there are better targets. After he collects his thoughts, he puts his beat-up guitar case back in the little closet by the door, locking the padlock on the door before retrieving his handgun and heading off to take a shower.

He tries to ignore the large bruise that begins growing on his stomach, the strong hit the mugger landed to his belly successfully knocked the wind out of him but luckily Stiles grew smart after his first two muggings. He unzipped the secret pocket on the inside of his jeans where he put his night’s wages. The green makes him breathe a sigh of relief. He never puts large sums of cash in his wallet anymore. No, that’s just asking for trouble. All he keeps in his wallet now are small, insignificant bills. No more than fifteen bucks at a time. His driver’s license and his debit card are in another hidden pocket in his wallet. Even if someone wanted them, they’d have to go looking. All that remains from this night’s mugging attempt: the bruise on his stomach, the lack of ten dollars in his wallet, and the shaking residual fear from the attack.

Stiles doesn’t even bother calling the cops. They wouldn’t be able to help him anyway. They’re off handling bigger calls and Stiles doesn’t want to burden the already stretched out police force in his small, terrible town. So he hops in the shower and washes himself in the tepid water. The scent of his soap calms him and he slowly comes down from his panic. He hears a slightly offended mewl down on the ground outside the tub and is reminded about his little friend. His little hungry friend.

“Oh, Salem.” Stiles sighs down at the little black cat, “I’m sorry, buddy. I got mugged again.” is all he offers his feline companion as an excuse. The cat seems to nod in understanding and waits patiently as he stumbles out of the shower and pulls on his underwear.

“Hungry?” Stiles asks, “I bet you are. I’m sorry you’ve gotta be all alone at night, bud. I’ve almost got enough saved for us, though. Another few nights and we’ll be out of this hell hole.” He promised as he poured some food in Salem’s bowl.

He takes the money he earned tonight and put it where he hides all his valuables. Under the floorboard, under the little creaky bed in a small safe. Big enough for his stacks of money and jewelry from his parents. His mother and father’s wedding rings, some of his mother’s jewelry and his father’s dog tags. He counts the money he has saved up, nearly $8,000. He wants to get to at least 9 before he gets the hell out of dodge. The excitement in his bones helps to heave his tired body into bed. Salem jumps up with him, curling by his head on the pillows, purring obnoxiously but Stiles is grateful for the distraction from the sirens that pass by his window.

“Soon, Salem. Soon we’ll be out of here.” Stiles says, “Anywhere but here. It’ll be better. When we’re finally out of here.”

He sleeps with the bedside lamp on and his pistol beside his head on the table. He doesn’t sleep in total darkness anymore. Hasn’t since his father died nearly three years ago. Stiles and Salem snuggle together and breathe a sigh of relief at another day being done.

 

. . .

 

His alarm wakes him at nine o’clock in the morning every morning. Stiles wakes up with a start, feeds Salem then himself, and sits on the couch sipping his coffee and eating his oatmeal while staring at his laptop as he watches another episode of some special he doesn’t remember the name of. Then he gets up, gets dressed, takes Salem and his guitar to the nearby park and plays for tips for two hours before heading back to his apartment with usually twenty bucks in his pocket. After that, he’ll sit at his table and work on his novel until his fingers cramp around dinner time.

It’s a routine.

A routine that he’s followed for years. It works for him. After he finishes dinner, he’ll goof off until it’s time to get to the bar at nine PM. Then he’ll play until last call at three in the morning. People like his playing. They like his voice and some just like being at the bar. Stiles doesn’t care. He’s gotten a nice sized crowd and the owner of the bar has agreed to pay him a cut of what is spent on booze that night. Stiles gets paid nicely on the weekends. During the week, however, he won’t usually make too much over a hundred a night. Not bad by his standards and it serves his needs. His pay by the month shitty apartment runs him around six hundred a month. He lives frugally and manages to survive off a seven hundred and fifty dollar monthly expenditure. He’s gotten good off of making the most out of a little and he’s been proud of it. He’s lived off of so little for so long but it’s all been in the name of getting the hell out of his shit town in Louisiana.

His routine has been the same for two years and now that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel, he’s struggling not to just blow it all now. So he pulls on his clothes and goes back to the bar for another night of singing.

“I’ll see you later, Salem.” He says, scratching his companion behind the ear and locking the door behind him. He always worries about his cat. He knows they don’t live in the best of places, there’s always been break-ins and gang activity in this area. That’s why he installed the extra deadbolts to try and protect himself and Salem. It’s just how it has to be, though.

Stiles loves to sing. He loves singing and he loves playing his guitar. He loves getting to express himself in the music he plays and the lyrics that he sings. Each song is a testament to the day he’s had or the struggles he’s facing. He plays out his frustrations and his desires. He plays music to relieve stress and singing at the bar helps him do that. Some days are better than others. Sometimes there are better crowds, nicer people, better tippers. Sometimes he’ll get an angry drunk throwing a beer bottle at his head, sometimes he’ll get hecklers. It just depends on the night. That night is a good night. The crowd is mellow, it’s an easy Saturday night. Good tips. He counts nearly fifty bucks in his guitar case.

So when he packs up for the night and heads over to the bar owner, he smiles to himself. He’s exhausted and the calluses on his fingers burn but he’s happy. Sal, the owner, is a portly man. Short and fat with no hair and an ever-present grimace.

“It was a good night, huh Sal?” Stiles asks in a tired but otherwise chipper voice. The older man huffs and rolls his eyes.

“Yeah. Here’s your money kid.” He hands Stiles three hundred dollars. Stiles’ eyes are blown wide.

“I’m almost there,” Stiles mutters under his breath. Sal catches it and laughs like he’s said something hilarious. Stiles stops for a minute and looks at him quizzically, “I say something funny?”

“You’re almost there?” Sal laughs, “Kid, you been saying that for years. Sayin’ that you’re gonna get out of this shit hole but you haven’t. You ain’t ever getting’ out of here.” The man barks out harsh laughter and walks away from Stiles.

Stiles has been told this countless times. It’s never bothered him before, never pissed him off like it does right now. He’s not sure why it makes him so angry. Why he’s so pissed but it’s eating at him and the entire walk back to his apartment, the three hundred sits heavy in his pants. Stiles wanted to yell in Sal’s face.

“What does he know?” Stiles asks Salem angrily, “He’s lived here his entire life. He’ll never know a better life.”

Salem offers him a consoling meow but it doesn’t help Stiles’ mood.

“I’ve been working my ass off for years to save enough money so I’ll be in a good place. He just thinks I’ll always be here. Just another low life. No, fuck no .” Stiles says. A new type of fire in his belly begins to consume him and he jumps off his bed.

What is he going to do? He’s got enough money now. More than enough, he rationalizes. He can find a job wherever he goes. He’ll be fine. More than fine. Which is more than he can say if he stays here. It’s four in the morning and Stiles is pissed. He’s ready to get out. So he puts his music on and starts. He starts packing.

“If I don’t get out now, I never will.” Stiles says in borderline hysteria.

He moves quickly, pulling out his luggage. The black suitcase is large and can hold a good amount of Stiles’ things, so he packs it full of his things. Clothes, toiletries, personal items. His photo albums. His blanket that his mother knitted him. He packs Salem’s things, pouring enough food to last him to tomorrow. He throws everything else he needs in a backpack. All of his money, papers, and valuables. When everything is packed away, Stiles paces the floor, swallowed in a panic. Salem yowls at him unhelpfully.

“Where are we going to go?” Stiles asks Salem, “Let’s check and see which trains are leaving tomorrow.” He pulls up Amtrak schedules for tomorrow, his eyes search the schedule quickly. There’s only one train leaving and it’s leaving in three hours.

“Looks like it’s gonna be California, Salem.” Stiles says, “Beacon Hills here I come.”

He does another one over of this things. He’s got the bare minimum, nothing too important. Nothing he’d want to take with him. So he goes to knock on his landlord’s door to let him know he’s leaving. The old woman answers the door with a hard glare and her fraying gray hair in rollers.

“The fuck you want?” She asks gruffly.

“I’m leaving. For good, so you can get rid of anything take what you want I don’t care. I’ll be gone in a few hours.” Stiles tells her with his head held high.

“You’ll be back.” She rolls her eyes, “You’re just like everyone else here, kid. You have nothing, you will never have anything and sooner than later, you’ll end up back here again. Just like the rest of us. I hope you enjoy your vacation.” She rolls her eyes and slams her doors.

This only stokes the fire that engulfed Stiles. I don’t know why I waited so long . Stiles thinks bitterly as he rushes back to his apartment to gather his things. This place is poison.

He calls an uber. It’s the first time he’s ever done that. Usually, everything he has to get to is within walking distance but the train station is too far to walk to. Not with everything he’s hauling with him.

“Alright buddy, I know you hate the carrier but this is how we have to travel for now.” He says sadly to his feline friend as he puts Salem in the little brown carrier. “We’re getting the hell out of here.”

A newfound sense of urgency overwhelms him. His body thrums with the need to flee. A nervous anxiety fills him and he’s practically racing to get the hell out. He takes one last look at the hellhole he’s spent three years dying in and leaves his keys on the table. When the Uber gets there, the man says very little to Stiles but helps him get everything into the car. His large suitcase and guitar go in the trunk of the little Toyota car. Stiles’ backpack and Salem’s carrier go in the back. Stiles rides in the front. He finally feels like he can breathe when he’s a few miles away from his shitty apartment. Salem remains silent, Stiles thanks God for that. When he gets to the station, he hauls his things inside to buy a ticket and some food from the nearby vending machine. It’ll be a long trip to California, but Stiles is eager to get it going.

So he waits. He waits in an uncomfortable plastic seat by his things for the train to pull into the station. When the train pulls up, Stiles thinks it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. He lets Salem out of his carrier before they board the train to do his business while he loads his luggage onto the train. He keeps his backpack with him, however, and when they get onto the train, Stiles finally feels himself relax.

“We’re on our way, Salem.” Stiles smiles at his cat. The black feline looks just as relieved as Stiles does to finally be leaving. He makes himself comfortable in his seat, shoving his headphones in his ears. The music flows through, calming Stiles even more. He has no idea what it’s going to be like in Beacon Hills. He’s not sure what is waiting for him, what kind of life he’ll have, but he doesn’t care. It’s a new life. A new chapter. A new way. And Stiles can’t wait.

Chapter Text

The train pulls into the Beacon Hills station around 9 AM two days later. It was the longest ride that Stiles had ever experience. It was two days of sitting and doing nothing. After about six hours of sitting in his seat, Stiles thought he would die from boredom. He worked on his novel on his phone until they made it to Houston. Then he was able to get out, stretch his legs and let Salem do his business. He hated being cooped up in his carrier, just as much as Stiles hated being cooped up in a small seat. So Stiles tried to occupy his time as best he could. He used his old beat up laptop to find an apartment in Beacon Hills. There weren’t many out there, but he managed to locate one in the middle of town. It’s a one bedroom, bigger than his last apartment was and nicer too. It’s got a large window and a dreamy window seat. Not to mention that it’s right above a bakery. So when he arrived at Beacon Hills and let Salem go to the bathroom, he called an Uber to take him to the bakery.

On the way to his prospective new apartment, he stares out the window of the Uber. It’s a quiet town. The suburbs aren’t too far from the main part of town, everything is close together but once you get out of the inner part of the city, things get farther away. There’s a good-sized woodland area practically circling the small town and he can see tall silos in the distance. It’s a cute little town. No well-known stores in sight. There are several small restaurants and diners. Several bars and only a handful of gas stations. It’s a nice town. Stiles sees teenagers on their bikes, parents walking with their children, women walking with strollers. It’s something he hasn’t seen in a long time.

“What’s town like?” Stiles asks timidly. His driver, a nice looking woman, smiles at him and chuckles.

“Just moving in then?” She asks with a kind smile. Stiles nods his head and gives her a small smile in return, “This town is like any other small town. Everyone knows everyone and gossip is what keeps all of us alive. But it’s a nice town. You’ll never live anywhere better.”

“Sounds dreamy.” Stiles chuckles almost dryly. The woman beside him gives him a concerned look.

“You moving here all by yourself, aren’t you?” She asks sadly. All Stiles can do is give er a sad smile, “That’s what I feared. You’re so young to be on your own. And I’m sure that you didn’t come from somewhere nice.”

“You could tell, huh?” Stiles mutters sheepishly.

“You’re not the first to escape a worse fate, son. I’m just glad you got here. Now you really are safe.” She says, “Here it is. New Moon Bakery. The Hales own this bakery, they’re good people. Good luck, son.” Stiles smiles at her and grabs his things from her car.

“Thank you, ma’am.” Stiles tells her.

When he’s alone with Salem, standing on the outside of the shop, he gets a good look at it. He can clearly see the apartment above the bakery, staring him in the face. I love it already . Stiles thinks hopefully.

“Fingers crossed, Salem.” Stiles smiles at the cat. He enters the shop with a great deal of trepidation. Stiles doesn’t know what he’d do if he couldn’t get the apartment. Think positive , Stiles scolds himself.

“Hi! Welcome to New Moon!” A cheery voice calls from somewhere behind the counter. The bakery smells delicious. Like fresh baked goods and it’s quiet at the moment. Only a few people sit in the shop and they’re already eyeing Stiles. Then a tall brunette woman walks out of the back room, smiling brightly at him, “I’m Laura, how can I help you?”

“Hi-”

“I’m sorry, sir but no animals are allowed in the store,” She says sadly.

“O-oh uh, yeah. I would leave him outside with my stuff but I don’t want anything to be stolen.” Stiles shrugs. The woman’s eyes widen and she nods in understanding, “I’m here about the apartment. . .the ad said to just go inside the bakery and ask. . .” Stiles begins to feel unsure, a feeling of dread settles in him.

“Oh!” Laura smiles at him again, sensing his unease, “Of course. Hold on one moment and I’ll take you up there.” She tells him. When she rushes back into the back room, it’s only a moment before another girl steps out to take Laura’s place. She looks just like Laura, they must be sisters , Stiles thinks.

“This is my sister, Cora.” Laura informs me.

“Hi,” Stiles waves shyly. Cora doesn’t smile at him and is decidedly less cheery and nice than her sister. He decides to brush it off.

“If you’ll follow me.” Laura leads him back out of the shop and down the side alley to a door behind the building, “It’s got it’s own front door but the staircase just leads up to the apartment. The door here leads into the back room of the bakery. Up here. . .here’s your real door.” She unlocks the door and leads them in, allowing Stiles to set his things down by the door and take a look.

“This is really nice,” Stiles whispers. His eyes land on the window that he fell in love with on the ad.

“It’s just a little one bedroom, one bath. But there’s a full kitchen. All the appliances work, there's heat and a/c. The windows can jam sometimes but a good shove will get them to open. There’s a little window box outside a few of the windows you can plant stuff if you like. Take a look around, if you like?” She gives him a gentle smile, stepping out of his way to sit on the couch in the living room, “Can I play with your cat?”

“Uh, sure.” Stiles shrugs as he takes a look at the apartment. He loves it already. The entire place is cast in a nice light from the windows. The kitchen just behind the living room has another small window above the sink and there’s a door leading to the bedroom at the other end of the living space. The room is small. There’s a dresser, a bookshelf, and a queen-sized bed. Otherwise, there’s nothing else in the room. No sheets, nothing. The closet is small and holds just enough. The linen closet is small too, just like the bathroom, but it’s good enough for Stiles. Better than where he’s been, in fact. This apartment is furnished. It’s all set up and Stiles knows he doesn’t need much to get by.

It’s quiet, too. There aren’t any sirens outside the window and the scents from the shop below would float up through the vents. The apartment smells delicious and it makes his stomach growl. Stiles loves the apartment. Now comes the hard part. The part he’s dreading. He returns to the living room and sees Laura playing with Salem, happily laughing on the floor while Salem chases her fingertips as they brush against the red rug on the floor. Stiles smiles at the sight. He’s never seen anyone play with Salem like that except for his father and himself. Stiles never did have any friends.

“I love it,” Stiles sighs as he gets down to business, “How much are you asking in rent?”

“I’ll give you a flat rate.” Laura says, “$1,000 a month and a 200$ pet deposit. The washer and dryer are downstairs, you have full access to facilities.”

A thousand dollars a month? He screams in his head. It’s nearly two hundred dollars more than he used to pay for his shitty apartment. Not to mention the pet deposit is outrageously expensive. Though she didn’t say there would be a monthly pet fee. So small blessings. Stiles would need to see a lease first. Still, it was hard to justify spending so much. Though this is California, Stiles speculates. Rent ought to be more expensive here. Stiles rubs his temples in exhaustion. Nothing looks more comfortable than that bed in the other room and a sandwich from the cafe below.

Laura hasn’t had anyone interested in the apartment in a while. Not many people move to Beacon Hills on a whim much less for any other reason. The last person to live there was her personal friend, Erica. She moved out about a month ago to live with her fiance. Otherwise, the space hasn’t been used since. Not that they had been hurting for tenants. The apartment was basically extra income that really wasn’t needed. The shop had been providing all they needed and more. Laura likes Salem and she can tell by the looks of the cat’s owners, they both had been through some shit. It makes Laura want to take him under her wing. A new pet project . Laura thinks to herself with a devilish grin. He’s cute too. Just Derek’s type. . .

Before she can really begin plotting, Stiles sighs sadly and gathers his things.

“Thank you for your time.” He says dejectedly. Laura jumps quickly, stopping him from leaving.

“What’s wrong?” Laura asks. She’s never seen someone look so exhausted. She could see him pulling away. Laura’s always praised herself on her ability to empathize, she’ll use her powers for good here and get Stiles to open up.

“I don’t think I can afford this place, sadly.” Stiles sighs. His amber eyes look clouded with sadness and anxiety. Laura can see the lines on his young face, lines that he shouldn’t have and dark circles under his eyes giving his face a darker, more gaunt kind of look.

“We could work something out,” Laura says urgently, “How about five hundred for the first month and a hundred for the pet deposit? Is that better?” Stiles’ eyes go wide and relief washes over him. Laura feels ten times better when he sees Stiles’ shoulders sag in relief.

“Where do I sign?” Stiles grins. He’s beginning to catch his second wind. A newfound sense of energy fills him. He’s so close. He is about to speak when his stomach growls so loud that it makes Laura’s eyes widen.

“Why don’t we discuss all the details in the bakery? Cora makes a mean triple layer grilled cheese sandwich.” Laura offers with a kind smile, “On the house.”

“Oh no, thank you but-”

“Leave Salem to get acquainted with his new home. I won’t take no for an answer.” She says, heading out of the apartment without looking back.

Stiles stands for a minute, shocked. So he quickly sets up Salem’s food and water and follows Laura back to the bakery. It’s warm in the cafe area. The tables are a light wood and the chairs are comfortable. It’s a welcoming space and it matches the rest of the town. Laura calls to Cora and puts an order in for Stiles then returns to a table with a plate full of sweets for the two of them. Stiles can’t believe her kindness.

“Thank you,” Stiles says as he picks up a chocolate chip cookie and devours it.

“So tell me about yourself,” Laura says, handing him a cup of coffee.

“Well uh. . .I’m Stiles Stilinski. I’m from Louisiana and. . .I guess that’s it. There’s really not all that much to me.” He shrugs.

“What made you want to move?” She asks him curiously.

“I had to get out.” Is all Stiles offers her.

“Oh, well, what made you choose Beacon Hills?”

“It was the only train going out when I wanted to leave.” Stiles shrugs. Laura is quickly putting together all the information she needs on him and she’s not liking what she’s hearing.

“You didn’t have anyone you could have gone to?” She presses.

“No.” Stiles shifts uncomfortably. Laura feels him pulling away quickly and backtracks.

“Well, I have-” Cora comes out with a sandwich that’s absolutely dripping with golden cheese and it smells absolutely delicious. Stiles’ eyes go wide and he all but snatches it away from Cora. The girls watch him scarf it down just as fast. He groans almost lewdly at the taste of rich cheddar and sweet tomato. There’s even bits of bacon in the layers of cheese and bread. It’s the best sandwich that Stiles has ever had.

“This is delicious,” Stiles says through a mouthful of food, “Thank you so much.”

“No problem,” Cora says with a concerned look on her face. She backs away quickly and returns to her post.

“She’s still in high school. Works here after school and on the weekends so you’ll be seeing a lot of her.” Laura says, “So here’s the thing, when I bought the place, it came with the apartment. I lived in it for a while until I got married and then a friend of mine lived there until recently. I’ve never really had an issue with tenants and therefore never needed a lease to be drawn up. To be honest, I’m not even sure how that works.”

“Oh,” that puts Stiles out, “In Louisiana, I signed a month-by-month lease. Even then it was shady at best and I was on my own if anything broke or went wrong.”

“Well, you won’t be on your own here but I think as long as you’re paying the fees every month, we’ll be fine. I know I’m taking a chance on you, on a complete stranger. . .but I’ve got a good feeling about you.” Laura smiles, “Plus if you do anything wrong my brother is a deputy in the sheriff’s department here.”

“I’m pretty quiet. Not too obtrusive so. . .” Stiles admits, “I think we’ll be more than fine.”

“Great. We’ll just call it square then.” Laura grins widely, “Of course we’ll be bugging you regularly with food. . .just checking in. The apartment is move in ready obviously. You can pay rent whenever you-”

Stiles reaches into his backpack and picks through his things, quickly locating the money required to pay this month’s rent. He produces the money and hands it to Laura. He’s glad that she’s nice, definitely nicer than any landlord he’s ever had, but he’s eager to get started on getting the apartment up to speed so he can sleep. He needs to go grocery shopping and fast. Laura looks at the money almost skeptically but takes it.

“Let me know if you need anything. We’re always right downstairs. Here are the keys,” She says, giving him a couple keys, “We can iron out all the other details when you’re rested.”

“Thank you so much, Laura, I can’t tell you how much I need this.” Stiles sighs, clutching the keys like a lifeline, “How about we talk more tomorrow? Iron out the details?”

“Sounds good.” Laura gives him a sympathetic smile.

“Thank you for lunch, I haven’t eaten in a while and it was the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.” Stiles grins then stands and puts on his bag, “Do you know where I could buy some home goods stuff? And a grocery store?”

“Down the street actually, not too far away.” Laura points in the direction of the stores but can’t stop staring at the money.

“Thanks,” Stiles smiles at her, “Oh, and you wouldn’t mind if I installed a new deadbolt on the door? I’ll make sure to give you the key.” Laura’s eyes widen but she nods, not sure if she could say no to Stiles. He grins a little easier at her and walks away before she can ask him why.

Stiles feels like he’s walking on air. He’s never met such a nice landlord. He knows they’ll work everything out later, he’s so tired and Laura knows that Stiles is strapped for somewhere to stay. The only hotel in Beacon Hills is on the outskirts of town by the seedy bars and she doesn’t want him staying out there. Stiles works quickly, running to the store literally across the square and makes quick work of buying the essentials. He can come back tomorrow for everything else he needs. For now, he needs new bedsheets and a couple more pillows. He gets a couple stares as he moves about the town but he pays no attention and without thinking about it, he moves just a little bit faster.

He throws the bedsheets into the cart and towels soon follow. Pillows are next and lastly a bathmat. Stiles is happy that there’s a little pet section in the store and litter is available. So are litter boxes. It’s perfect. Better than the old storage box that Salem used to do his business in. I’m sure Salem will appreciate it. He’ll get the rest tomorrow. He’s so tired. He practically dead on his feet when he hauls his things back to the apartment. When he unlocks and enters his new apartment, chills run down his back. It’s his now. He actually got it. And at a massive discount too. Well, for the first month at least.

“Here ya go, buddy.” Stiles huffs as he finishes pouring the kitty litter in his new box. Salem yowls as if to say finally . “I know, man. Been two days without a litter box. It’s been two days without a bed. How about I order out and then we hit the hay?”

Stiles calls for a pizza and while it’s on its way, he gets the bed put together. Brand new gray sheets cover his bed and a total of three pillows lay haphazardly on the bed. His sheets smell new, like a store. But he’s too tired to wash them. He’ll do that tomorrow. Then he showers. The first shower in two and a half days. He’d done his best to clean himself up on the train but he can tell that he’s a little rank. The hot water seems to hit him hard. His exhaustion becomes nearly unbearable and he catches himself falling asleep more than once. When he’s finally clean, fresh smelling and in a pair of clean boxers and PJs, he finally feels good. Finally feels like he can sleep easy. By the time the pizza arrives, Stiles can barely manage to eat a slice before calling it a night and putting the still hot pizza in the fridge. He checks the door and windows one more time before heading to his room. He leaves the hall light on. There’s no lamp by the bed. That’ll have to change soon.

“Salem, let’s hit it.” Stiles murmurs as he stumbles into bed. He groans loudly, feeling his whole body settle into the nice, soft mattress. It feels as though his bones are melting into the bed beneath him, the way his body settles makes him want to cry in relief. His feet are killing him, hell, his whole body aches with a fierceness that he’s never known. Salem practically plops down next to him and snuggles closely to his human.

“G’night, Salem,” Stiles whispers before passing out completely, feeling safe for the first time in years.

Chapter Text

Move in week was stressful for Stiles. Even after sleeping for close to twelve hours on his first night didn’t make him feel any less exhausted than he already was. He spent the second day in Beacon Hills keeping to himself as he ran all over town collecting the things he needed. He spent hours running from one store to another. He didn’t have a car, which would make things exceedingly easier. He’s glad that stores weren’t too far away from the bakery. Everything he needed was within arm’s reach, but that didn’t make hauling all his new things back to his apartment any easier. Installing the second deadbolt was easy and didn’t take Stiles too long, he’s had plenty of experience adding locks to doors in the past.

Laura had been kind enough to wait for Stiles to come to her. She even gave him a box of goodies, from the day olds that she couldn’t sell. Every day she brought him a small box. Usually with only a few things but enough that Stiles didn’t have to buy bread or sweets when he wanted one. Sometimes she even had muffins that he would save for the next morning. It was kind of her and gave him a chance to give her more details of why he couldn’t give her references but he could give her his information if she wished to run a background check on him and submitted his credit information to her. It was what he gave his previous landlords but beyond that he had no idea what else to give her so they left it at that. Laura already had renters insurance on the apartment so as long as Stiles paid the rent, they would call it square. The only thing he needed now was a job.

He sits in the cafe in the mornings, happily taking up a seat in the sunny area of the shop while he types away at his computer. He bought a cup of coffee earlier and continuously sips on it while he works.

“Hello, new friend.” Laura says, pulling up a chair. She offers him a blueberry scone which Stiles takes happily.

“Thank you,” Stiles smiles. Despite the smile on his face, Laura still sees those worrisome stress lines. She’s been pleased to see that Stiles looks better each day that he’s been living here and in only one short week, he looks like he’s becoming more and more stress-free.

“What’s wrong?” She asks knowingly.

“I’m still trying to find work.” Stiles sighs, “I found a bar that I can sing at and they’ll pay me but it’s only for friday and Saturday nights. It’s not enough money to keep me going.” Stiles runs his long fingers through his hair.

“You perform?” Laura asks excitedly.

“Yeah, it’s been my sole source of income for years.” Stiles says begrudgingly.

“That’s pretty cool though,” Laura urges, “Hey, I know a woman who works at the hospital in town. She’s really cool and she mentioned the other day that the pediatric ward at the hospital is looking for a new musical therapist or whatever.”

“I’m not qualified to-” Stiles starts but Laura is already writing down contact information.

“Just call her, no shame in trying.” Laura persuades him by shoving the slip of paper at him and offering a friendly smile, “Lord knows they’ve got less qualified people working in that hospital.”

“Thank you,” Stiles grins, “I don’t know how to thank you for all you’ve done for me. Seriously, I don’t know how lucky I got to have a friend like you.”

“It’s no problem.” Laura shrugs it off, “I know it can be hard starting over in a new town and I want to help you as much as I can.”

“I’ll call her right now, thank you, Laura.” Stiles smiles at her. Laura nods and stands from the table, letting Stiles return to his business.

The contact number that Laura gave him turned out to be one of the best opportunities he’s ever been given. When Stiles mentions Laura’s name, the woman on the other end of the phone, Melissa, gets excited and quickly gets Stiles to come in for an interview. He’s nervous, he’s never had to actually interview for a job and he knows that he doesn’t own anything that’s professional looking. He had one button up shirt but doesn’t own slacks and doesn’t even know what a tie looks like. So he dresses in his best blue jeans and dark blue button up shirt. He decides to Uber to the hospital. It’s not too expensive and he doesn’t want to get there and smell. His ratty guitar case can’t be fixed but Stiles thinks that it adds character.

He bounces his leg nervously all the way to the hospital. This could be a huge break for Stiles. An actual day job! That would be amazing. Expendable income, that’s the goal here. When he arrives at the hospital looking slightly out of place, he heads to the front desk.

“Hi, I’m looking for Melissa McCall?” He asks timidly.

“I’ll page her.” the nurse says in a rather monotone voice. Stiles thanks her and stands awkwardly in the lobby, hoping to God that he makes a good impression.

“Stiles?” a dark haired nurse asks. She has a kind face, one of those faces he knows to be a mother’s face.

“That’s me.” Stiles smiles at her, “Thank you again for interviewing me, it means a lot.”

“Oh no problem, sweetheart,” she gives him a gentle smile, “Why don’t you follow me and I’ll let you know what’s going on.” Melissa walks the two of them down the hall to the elevator. She walks with a purpose, quickly and with confidence. He follows after her, almost fumbling over his feet as he dodges all the other medical and civilian personnel.

“So this position requires a minimum of thirty-five hours a day. It’s only a part time job but it’s good work, important work. It doesn’t necessarily require nearly as many prerequisites as the lead musical therapist here at this hospital. You will be a part of his team, however. Peds musicians are purely for entertainment and therapy.” Melissa says, “It’s a spot usually reserved for students in college but Laura tells me that you’re struggling for a new job. We’re rehiring and I’m just glad to fill the position. These kids are sick. Some of them are injured and some of them are dying. It’s a difficult job, definitely not for the faint of heart, but it’s one of the most fulfilling jobs you’ll ever have.”

“What does the job entail?” Stiles asks, thoroughly interested.

“It’s simple. It’s just spending time with the kids. It’s singing and playing for them, taking their minds off of what they’re going through. Kind of like our therapy dogs only you’re human and you play guitar!” She smiles at him, “How long have you been playing?”

“My whole life. My mother was a music teacher and she taught me how to play.” Stiles tells her.

“That’s sweet, do you play any other instruments?”

“Any string instrument. Once you learn one it’s easy to learn the others. I used to have a violin but I outgrew it.” Stiles shrugs.

“That’s impressive.” She says, her brown eyes are wide, “Do you have any references that we could talk to? I know there’s no formal application, we’re in such a desperate need that we’re trying to hire on the spot.”

“No, I haven’t held any positions other than singing in random bars.” Stiles says regretfully.

“What’s your story?” She asks, stopping in the hallway. Her hands are on her hips and a concerned set to her eyebrows is only slightly terrifying.

“There’s not much to tell,” Stiles begins, “I’m from a small town in Louisiana. Life isn’t so great there. There’s a lot of gang activity, crime, poor quality of living. That kind of thing. My father was the sheriff and after my mom died it was just us. So when he died, it was just me. I couldn’t afford school. I finished high school of course, but barely. So I went into the workforce. I performed in bars every night, played in the park, competed in some contests. Anything I could do to get money. That’s kind of it. . .like I said, nothing much to it.”

“Oh.” Melissa says, “Well that’s alright. As long as you have a GED or equivalent, you’re more than qualified. They gave you a visitor’s pass so we’re going to just walk around and I’m going to see how you do, how you interact with the kids.”

“Oh boy,” Stiles mutters under his breath. Nerves begin to take over and he’s feeling jittery. For the first time, he feels nervous for performing. He grips his guitar tightly and follows Melissa into the peds ward. It’s large and colorful. With fields painted on the walls and blue skies. Sunshine and flowers decorate the walls. It’s warm and fuzzy and cold. Melissa makes a motion for him to go and explore.

He goes slowly at first, not particularly enjoying the smell of the hospital. He’s never liked the smell of hospitals. It brings bad memories from his childhood. He can see a large playroom at the end of the hall. It’s full of children and they’re all playing with something. He passes the rooms almost hesitant, unsure of how he’s going to approach. Then a disgruntled woman practically runs him down.

“Sorry,” Stiles grunts.

“That kid’s an ass.” She grumbles, running from the room.

That’s not a nice thing to say about a kid . Stiles thinks. He looks inside the room and sees a thirteen year old boy. He’s pale and thin looking, with no hair and a mets cap on his head. He’s sitting with his arms crossed and a pissed look on his face.

“She wasn’t very nice, was she?” Stiles asks from the doorway. The boy looks at Stiles with a sneer.

“You here to try and talk to me too?” He asks curtly. He turns his attention back to the television, a graining box that is currently playing another episode of Supernatural.

“Nah,” Stiles rolls his shoulders. He presumptuously takes a seat in the empty chair in the corner of the room by the boy’s bed, “But I like Supernatural.”

“That’s fascinating. Why don’t you shut the hell up so I can watch?” The kid doesn’t take his eyes off the television.

“These TVs can’t really put out much sound.” Stiles says. Though he’s sure the kid knows that already. As a new episode begins, Stiles knows that it’s playing Carry on my Wayward Son by Kansas.

“You play guitar?” The boy asks monotony, “You must be one of those musicians they get to play to the kids.”

“Hopefully. If I get the job.” Stiles says honestly, “No, I mostly sing in bars.”

“Seriously?” He laughs, “Must not be that great if you’re singing at bars.”

“Yeah, I kinda suck.” Stiles shrugs with a chuckle, “I can play this song, though.”

“You can play Kansas?” The boy perks up just a little.

“I can play a lot of stuff.”

“Prove it, looser.” The boy sneers again. Stiles grins at him and pulls out his old guitar. He quickly strums a couple strings and tunes his guitar quickly. His fingers assume the correct position and begin to strum the chords of the song easily. His fingers flying over the strings, his foot taps to the beat and he feels the music surrounding him and when he looks up at the boy, he sees a spark in the kid’s eyes. A spark that he recognizes. When he finishes the song, silence envelops the room. For a moment, they just stare at each other in silence.

“You expect me to clap or something?” The kid asks, “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard.”

Stiles scoffs, “Yeah I guess it wasn’t so good.” He stood and put his guitar away, “I’ll see ya ‘round kid.”

“You’re just leaving?” He asks hesitantly. A little bitterly.

“Yeah,” Stiles shrugs, “It seems like you wanna just chill right now. I’ll leave you to it man.” He begins to walk out of the room, not looking back at the sick kid.

“Wait!” He shouts. Stiles pokes his head back into the room, an expectant look on his face.

“What’s up?” Stiles asks nonchalauntly.

“You played pretty shity. At least, your weak attempt at playing Kansas was shitty, but maybe you’d be better at playing another song?” The kid says s he rolls his eyes.

Stiles can’t help but chuckle. Obviously the kid really is desperate for some amount of conversation but he had yet to meet anyone he really wanted to hang out with. Stiles can get that. His mother hadn’t wanted any company in her room most of the time when she was sick. Sometimes she didn’t even want Stiles there. Of course it made him sad to see that. But he had been so young. He didn’t understand until he got older. It helps him understand this boy now.

“What’s your name, kid?” Stiles asks, reentering the room.

“Sean.” He says, “You gonna blabber all day long or are you going to play something?” Sean glares. Stiles can tell there’s no real heat behind his blue eyed glare.

“You ever heard of Seven Mary Three?” Stiles asks.

“Duh,” Sean rolls his eyes, “ Cumbersome is one of my favorite song.”

“Love that song.” Stiles agrees. He takes his seat again, his guitar in his lap and a smile on his face. As he begins to strum the intro to the song, he can see Sean nodding his head, “Want me to sing too?”

“Whatever.” Sean crosses his arms over his chest and maintains his surly expression but Stiles still sees his foot tapping. He can’t help but smile at that and continue playing his song.

She calls me Goliath and I wear the David mask

I guess the stones are coming too fast for her now

You know I'd like to believe this nervousness will pass

All the stones that are thrown are building up the wall

I have become cumbersome to this world

I have become cumbersome to my girl” Stiles strums the guitar easily. His fingers fly over the neck of the guitar, playing the strings with ease. His voice floats through the air and he can tell that Sean is watching him closely. As he readies to slide into the second chorus, he feels the boy’s eyes following his hands closely.

 

“I'd like to believe we could reconcile the past

Resurrect those bridges with an ancient glance

But my old stone face can't seem to break her down

She remembers bridges, burns them to the ground.

I have become cumbersome to this world

I have become cumbersome to my girl” Stiles doesn’t expect much. He didn’t really expect anything magical or overtly important to happen. So he keeps playing, knowing that Sean has that spark in his eyes. The curiosity and almost a glint of hope. He continues the song, feeling everything else fall away, it’s just him and Sean. The words to the song pass through his lips easily as he sings.

“Your life has become cumbersome” Stiles finishes. When he’s done playing, he returns his attention back to Sean. The boy’s eyes are calmer. Just as sharp, but there’s no fire burning there anymore. Just a calm flame. Flickering in interest.

“That wasn’t so bad.” He shrugs, “I bet if I learned, I could play circles around you.”

Stiles laughs, “I bet you could, man.” Then he gets an idea, and he couldn’t stop before he blurted it out, “You wanna learn?”

“Seriously?” Sean’s eyes are wide again. Unsure.

“Yeah, I could teach you if you want.” Stiles shrugs. He’s never taught anyone anything before but he can’t stop the words from flooding out of his mouth.

“That would be pretty cool, I guess.” Sean tries to hide his excitement, “Another episode of Family Guy is coming on right now so scram.” He returns to his TV as if their whole conversation hadn’t just happened.

“I’ll see you later, Sean.” Stiles grins as he leaves the room with his guitar in his hand. Melissa runs up to him then, her eyes wide and an impressed grin on her face.

“You didn’t run screaming from Sean’s room.” She states in surprise.

“He’s just a kid.” Stiles shrugs, “I was going to go see the little kids now, if that’s alright?”

“Do that tomorrow. You’re hired.” She shakes his hand briskly.

“Seriously?” Stiles is shocked. He didn’t think it would be that easy at all.

“Anyone who can get more than two minutes of Sean’s attention and not run out of the room cursing the boy deserves to be here.” She says with a grin, “You’ll be a volunteer until HR gets your work done but I can get it all streamlined today if you have time, we can head down and get all the paperwork started right now.”

Stiles nods eagerly. There are no words so he follows her closely, almost walking on air. He’s absolutely elated. He goes through the motions, smiling and happy. He doesn’t even remember being fingerprinted. The only memory of signing papers and beginning the hiring process are the dark smudges of ink on his fingers and the ache in his writing hand from signing his name in so many places.

“I’ll see you back here on Tuesday at 9 AM sharp.” Melissa says, giving Stiles’ shoulder a good squeeze before he walks out of the hospital and begins heading back to his apartment. It’s a twenty minute walk from the hospital that Stiles spends silently, still unsure of what just happened. Of how he pulled it off. There’s only one thing he knows. He needs to thank Laura. When he reaches the bakery, he sees Laura whiping down tables.

“I think I owe you way more than I can ever repay.” Stiles chuckles. She turns, her brown eyes are wide and a grin is plastered on her face. She places her delicate hands on her hips and smirks.

“You get the job?” She asks him.

“Yup,” Stiles laughs, “I’m not sure how it happened, all I did was talk to this boy, Sean, and-”

“Seriously? Sean was nice to you?” She laughs, “That kid hasn’t been nice since he was diagnosed.”

“He wasn't nice to me either.” Stiles chuckles, “But he let me play for him. So, I think that’s what really got me my job.”

“I’m really happy for you, Stiles.” Laura smiles.

“I can’t thank you enough,” Stiles says pleasantly, “Can I buy you dinner or something? Anything?”

“Just keep your job, Stiles, that’s thanks enough.” Laura waves his offer off, “I will, however, be going to see you perform on Friday at the bar.”

“Oh-”

“No buts, I’ve been dying to hear you perform so we’re all going to see you.” She holds up her hand, “So just come to terms.”

“Alright,” Stiles shakes his head and goes up to buy a snack for the night but Cora hands him a box of day olds.

“See you Friday.” She smirks, “I’ll bring the tomatoes.”

“Always a pleasure, Cora.” Stiles salutes her and heads up to his apartment. He’s in desperate need for a shower and desperately in need of sleep.

When he gets in, Salem greets him with an obnoxiously loud meow. He has to dance around the excited feline to give him some more food and water before heading off to shower. He’s still reeling from the day he’s had and all he thinks to do is smile up at the ceiling and thank his angel for getting him through another day. He sings in the shower for the first time in years. Already trying to think of a set that he wants to sing for his new friends. It’s his first weekend singing at this new bar and he’s beyond excited. When he settles into bed for the night after eating a cup of soup and an almost stale donut then checks the doors and locks. When he finally pulls the covers over his chest, Salem lays on his chest and purrs loudly.

“It’s amazing, Salem.” Stiles thinks out loud, “Just how much this town has done for us in such a short time. We never could have made it this far on our own, buddy. But there are good people in this world.”

Salem rubs his head against Stiles’ chin in agreement.

“I can’t believe it,” Stiles laughs tiredly, “Goodnight, Salem.”

The bedside lamp lights the room in soft golden lighting and Stiles rolls over, content and safe.

Chapter Text

Friday rolls around and Stiles is still doing what he was on Wednesday. Playing song after song, holed up in his apartment. He hasn’t been outside the apartment in days. He’s not quite sure why, but he knows that tonight is a big night. It’s the first time he’ll be singing in a bar in Beacon Hills. He’s got to impress a lot of people if he wants to keep singing there on the weekends. It’s money he can’t turn down. He needs to pick the perfect songs. He needs to practice and he needs to be perfect.

Stiles keeps playing and playing. He can’t remember the last break he had to eat but he’s sure it was when Salem needed food. His fingers ache but a couple aspirin fixed that right up. His back hurts from leaning over his guitar for so long and his hair is greasy from not showering. He’s not sure what time it is but his laptop has about twenty different tabs open. All different song sheets from a free online source. It’s got the music from songs that Stiles forgot he liked. Songs that he hasn’t sung in a lifetime. Now he has a list of songs he wants to play, one in particular that he’s desperate to play.

When Friday rolls around, Stiles finally looks himself in the mirror. His scruff is longer than it has been in a long time, he stinks and he’s starving. His stomach growls angrily and he’s become aware that his sheets probably smell like B.O. So he strips the sheets off his bed, runs them downstairs to wash after feeding Salem and runs back upstairs quickly before anyone sees him. He needs to shower then he needs food. The idea of one of Cora’s grilled cheeses appeals to Stiles more than anything and it makes his mouth water just thinking about it. After showering and shaving, he throws on his last clean pair of clothes and heads down to the bakery. The scents of all the freshly baked goodies makes his stomach growl loudly and it catches Laura’s attention. Her eyes widen at the sight of him and a concerned look takes over her porcelain face.

“Where the hell have you been?” She practically barks at him. Stiles has enough shame to feel embarrassed and he looks it too. He scratches his neck awkwardly and gives her a shy smile.

“I’ve been practicing. . .” He offers her weakly.

“You look like you haven’t eaten or seen the sun in days.” She scolds him, sitting his butt down at their table with a scone from the display.

“I haven’t.” Stiles mumbles through his mouthful of blueberry scone, “You think I could get one of those grilled cheeses?” he asks her hopefully.

“Sure,” She says, hurring off into the kitchen. When she returns she has a glass of water and a glass of orange juice in her hand, “What happened to you?”

“I had to pick a new set list. A good one so that Harry would want me back every weekend.” Stiles shrugs, “I sometimes forget that I need to eat. Or sleep. Or shower.”

“Gross, Stiles.” Her face scrunches up in disgust, “Oh my god your hands!” She clasps his aching hands gently in her warm fingers. Stiles’ long fingers are dry and sore. His knuckles look almost arthritic. The calluses on his fingertips that have seen some abuse over the years are red and throbbing. Stiles had been ignoring the slight burning sensation in his fingers for the last few days but now it’s almost overwhelming. He doesn’t say anything to Laura about them though.

“They’ll heal.” He shrugs, pulling his aching fingers away from her. She looks at him with a worried expression. It’s so foreign to Stiles to see someone concerned for his wellbeeing that he’s not sure what to do.

“You’ll be amazing, Stiles. We could hear you practicing sometimes. You’re really very good.” She says with a small smile, “We were worried about you, we hadn’t seen you in a couple days. You never came to collect the day olds and we were unsure if we should bug you or not but now I wish we had.”

“It’s okay,” Stiles says honestly, “I can get like that sometimes, when I’m anxious or I have something big coming up. I can shut everything down and I’ll play for days so it might not be a bad idea if someone comes and checks on me once and awhile.”

“I’ll be sure to do that.” She smiles, “You look absolutely starved.”

“I am,” Stiles laughs, “I can’t remember the last time I ate anything.” Just then, Cora comes out with the gooeyest, cheesiest, most delicious looking grilled cheese he’s ever seen. It’s absolutely dripping cheddar and grease, there are extra bacon pieces in it and he suspects more tomato that usual. “Oh my God. . .Yes. . .”

“Enjoy your heart attack.” Cora says with a level of sass that Stiles is sure she’s built up over the years. He's so hungry that he doesn't even say anything. He simply digs into his meal and devours his food. Laura sits back, watching him eat with a complicated look on her face.

“So did you pick a set list?” She asks curiously. Stiles nods, “Great. So you’ll be able to rest before tonight. Give your fingers a break.”

“Yeah, probably not a bad idea. I gotta do laundry anyways.” Stiles says with a mouthful of cheese.

“Stiles, when did you get that tattoo?” She points to his collarbone. The tip of a wing pokes out from the loose neck of his worn out top. He usually keeps them hidden. Most of the time he forgets he even has the tattoo. When he got it, he was so young. New to the harsh world that took everything from him. Every time he looks in the mirror it’s a reminder. It’s been a part of him for so long he’s never thought much of  them.

“I got them a couple years ago. After my dad died. They’re sparrows.” He says, pulling his shirt down farther so she can see the two little birds in black ink that fly just below his collarbones.

“They’re beautiful.” Laura comments.

“Truth be told, I forget they’re there most of the time.” Stiles shrugs like its nothing.

“Do you have other tattoos?” She asks.

“Several. I knew guys at the bars I was singing at that had apprentices. They needed willing canvases to practice on. I volunteered. The tattoos were cheap and it helped them gain some experience.” Stiles tells her, “They were good artists. Wouldn't have done it if they sucked ass.”

Laura laughs at that. Her smile quickly goes away though when she realizes that he’s getting up to leave.

“I better go check on Salem and fix up the place before I get some rest for tonight.” Stiles says, handing her a twenty for all the food he’s eaten. In return, she grabs a box from the kitchen and hands it to him. His usual day olds.

“I guess I’ll see you tonight then.” Laura smiles and waves him goodbye.

“Catcha later.” He salutes her and makes his way back upstairs.

He feels better. Sluggish and tired, but full and happy. Excited even. The anxiety is still there but it’s lessened and not as overwhelming. He’s calmed down and can’t wait until tonight. He has a feeling it’ll be a good night.

 

. . .

 

Stiles dresses quickly, his ratty old blue jeans and black boots that were once his father's. The ropers are hidden under his jeans but the feet you see have intricate patterns etched into the square footed shoe. He was never a cowboy, but before his mother and father moved to Louisiana, they had both lived in Tennessee. His father had grown up in the country and his mother in a small town in the middle of nowhere. A gray tank top he’d fished out of a basket somewhere. His signature red flannel covers his shoulders and he rolls his sleeves with practiced ease. The tip of his other tattoo shows on his elbow. His sparrows show, exposed by the low-necked shirt.

“Well, wish me luck, Salem. I’ll see you later, bud.” He makes sure Salem has his food before leaving for the night. His little black cat yowls at him in response. He grabs his guitar and heads down to the street to begin his walk to the bar. It’s about a twenty minute walk but Stiles doesn’t mind. The evening is cool and it seems like everyone’s out right now.

The bar that he’s performing at is large. It’s old and the wooden walls give it a saloon like feel. There are horse posts outside and neon signs. It’s a dinky little place but it’s got character and Stiles likes that. It’s got one bar that’s covered in hard liquor. The wooden tables are scattered throughout the bar and the stage is at the other end of the establishment and a dance floor between the two. It’s a little country bar. Stiles likes country, he loves old country music and though he’s never had the chance to live in the country, he feels as though Beacon Hills is close enough to it. He’s never been outside of town but he knows that the orchards and farm langs are vast just outside of the town. Northern California has a lot of country land and Stiles knows that it’s just what he’s wanted. He likes the bar, and Harry, the bar owner, is much nicer than Sal ever was.

Harry is this gentle looking man. Tall and built. His gray hair is always combed back and his laugh lines lead Stiles to believe that he’s always smiling. He’s sarcastic and hilarious. Easy Going and charismatic. Stiles likes him and really hopes that he’ll want him to return next week. When he gets to the bar, Harry is setting up, the other bar tender smiles and waves at him. Jerry, he’s just as cool as Harry.

“Kid!” Harry calls out to him.

“Hey, Harry.” Stiles grins.

“You ready?” He asks, “Friday nights are pretty busy.”

“Born ready,” Stiles laughs, “I was feeling a little country this week so I hope you don’t mind. There’s a little rock in there too but mostly country.”

“You’re definitely singing at the right place.” He laughs, lifting a crate filled with glasses, “I dug out that old amp. We haven’t had a performer around in a while but feel free to use the equipment. I don’t know if your guitar can plug into the amp or not but what’s over there, feel free to use.”

“Thanks, I’m gonna go set up.” Stiles says, taping his case roughly.

The stage is a good size. It’s a wooden platform that really can only hold a few people and their instruments. It’s more than enough space for Stiles, though. His guitar doesn’t connect to the amp but there are a couple mic stands so he’ll just connect the mic to the amp and put it down by his guitar like he used to at the other bar. After he sets everything up, a couple of people are already in the bar, sitting and minding their own business. So Stiles begins to practice. Strumming his guitar to a couple songs, just passing time by playing. It’s about two hours before the larger evening crowd comes in. So Stiles gets up again to fill another glass of water and a shot of tequila.

“Here ya go, kid.” Harry says, handing him a shot and a water bottle.

“Thanks, Harry.” Stiles grunts before slamming the shot. He grimaces at the burn but the warm feeling in his gut makes him feel lighter.

“You’re sounding pretty great, The crowd’s starting to file in, you better head back.” Harry smiles at him. Stiles nods, taking the water and heading back to the stage.

“Stiles!” He hears a voice shouting his name from somewhere in the bar. Then Laura pushes her way through the crowd. She’s got a pretty good sized group with her.

“Hey, Laura.” Stiles gives a smile and waves to the group.

“Guys, this is Stiles. Stiles, this is my group.” She points to each person and says their name, “That’s Erica and Boyd, Isaac and Allison, Scott and Kira, of course you know Cora. And this is Derek, my younger brother.”

Stiles’ eyes lock with Derek and he suddenly feels a little shaky. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen a man so. . .beautiful. He’s not sure if this guy is even human, he can’t be human with that bone structure. Laura and Cora are both beautiful and Stiles thinks that this family must be exceptionally good looking and exceptionally gifted in the genetics department. Stiles stares for a moment before he realizes what he’s doing and scrambles to play cool. He’s made an ass of himself in front of too many crushes.

“Hi, guys. I’m glad you made it.” Stiles smiles at her, “I have to head back to the stage but I’ll see you all later?” Laura nods eagerly and Stiles quickly takes his leave. He hustles back to his little area and thinks he might need a few more shots to get through tonight. So he sits back down and takes his guitar in his hands, strumming another song.

He doesn’t sing quite yet. It’s not late enough yet but soon. He takes his time, playing gently. He watches the crowd in the meantime, especially Derek from his periphery. He watches the man order a beer, watches him tip his head back and expose that long, gorgeous neck. Jesus, his adams apple is glorious. . . Stiles thinks. Focus, Stiles. Focus.

The swallows his nerves and begins to play gently, getting people’s attention. When he looks up, his stage persona takes over. The bar is filled, Harry had advertised a new act at the bar, apparently and it brought in a full house. The bar patrons all watch him eagerly, all of them with an excited grin. So he takes a deep breath and halts his plays just a little quieter as he reaches for the mic and starts.

“Evening everyone. I’m Stiles. Just blew into town not too long ago but this is a pretty big crowd. One of the biggest I’ve performed in front of,” Stiles chuckles dryly, “Welcome to Harry’s, sit back, relax and start your drinking.” The crowd chuckles as their attention is glued to him, “I think now is a good time to get a little country so, here we go.”

Stiles begins to strum the chords to his first song of the night. It’s upbeat, calmer than some of his music but it gets them started. When he starts singing, it’s easy and it’s natural. He loses himself in the music and focuses just on his playing. He lets all the rest fall away. The background noise of the people in the bar talking and laughing. What surprises Stiles is that it doesn’t take long for most of the people in the bar to start singing along with him.

It’s five o’clock somewhere,” Stiles sings, his fingers move quickly on the strings, strumming with a quicker tempo to make the song jumpier, faster and even more lively than it is.

With the soft lights in the bar, people are moving about and when Stiles looks up, he sees that people are dancing, moving about and having a good time. It’s only just begun but Stiles is really starting to enjoy it. When that song ends, he moves on. The next song is set up and Stiles feels as though he can’t stop playing. His fingertips still sting and he can feel that they’re sensitive, red and angry from his constant playing this week but he can’t stop now.

By his third song, he’s still feeling good, energy is high and there are still people moving on the floor. They’re swaying with his playing and when he hits the third song, the tempo moves and the energy changes. He wishes he had a drummer but his guitar is just going to have to do.

“Woke up this mornin', tastin' Jim Beam. holdin' the answer to some ol' boys dream.I gotta bad reputation, guess I made life wild. Like my whiskey on ice, and my women on fire.” Stiles sings. He can tell that he’s not the only Hank Williams Jr. fan in the house because a good portion of the bar begin to sing with him. From the stage, Stiles can see Harry working quickly at the bar. He’s serving drinks and moving from customer to customer. The waitresses move even faster with the drinks on their trays. He makes eye contact with Harry and the bartender waves at him, a big smile on his face and a thumbs up. It gives Stiles a new vigour.

“I like my whiskey on ice, my women on fire. Like a good sounding' guitar, and won't be called a liar, I spent many long night, with a burnin' desire. Pour my whiskey on ice, and my women on fire.” Stiles continues the song, grinning into the microphone. The crowd is hot and they move like it’s nothing.

Laura grins at Stiles, watching him play with practiced ease. She worried about him a great deal today, she hadn’t seen him in so long and seeing him like that made her want to take him into her home and care for the guy. She’s not sure how he managed to worm his way into her life, and even a short time with him makes her want to know more, desperately intrigued by the man who ran from everything and came with nothing. He was down on his luck and Laura took him in. She’s not getting anything out of the deal except for a new friend and a new tenant.

Watching Stiles play right now, she’s starting to understand why he’s got such a magnetic personality. He’s good looking, for sure, and when she dragged Derek to see Stiles play, she knew her brother couldn’t resist this man after laying eyes on him. Derek would want to know more. He would want to see more and Laura knows that Stiles is just his type. She likes the kind of person Stiles is. Quiet and sarcastic, observant, aware and kind. Stiles has such a kind heart that Laura can see clearly. It’s guarded, she knows that, Stiles has been through more than Laura can imagine and he’s damaged but he’s good. Anyone who can relate to Sean and form a relationship with the boy is nothing short of an amazing person.

She wants him for her brother. She wants Stiles for Derek and given the stares that they exchanged earlier, she could tell that they’re both interested in the other. Even now, Derek is silent, but his eyes are stuck on the musician. Laura can see the intrigue in his eyes. Stiles drew him in just as easily as he drew her in.

“You should ask him out after this is over.” Laura suggest with a sly grin. For the first time that evening, Derek’s eyes break away from Stiles and he looks at Laura as if to say she’s insane.

“What? Really, Laura?” Derek rolls his eyes, “You brought me here to set me up with your new tenant?”

She shrugs in response, “I don’t know. He’s your type, he’s smart and talented. He’s the biggest sweetheart and his cat is adorable.”

“Is that all you know about the guy?” Derek asks her, “He’s living above the bakery and you took him in without any references. Sure you got me to do a background check but beyond that, the guys a ghost. Nothing to his name before moving here.”

“There’s stuff about his dad, the sheriff in Louisiana.” Laura supplies.

“Other than that, there’s nothing. You don’t even know anything about him, Laura. He could be a killer. Or. . .I don’t know. He could be a weirdo.” Derek grumbles, retreating back into his surly cop demeanor.

“Oh come on, Der.” Laura rolls her eyes. She watches Erica grind on Boyd from the table and rolls her eyes again, shooting her shot of vodka, “He’s a good guy. If you’re so worried, why don’t you get to know him and then you can make a decision.” She suggests.

“You know what, I just might.” Derek says, taking a swig of his beer, “I should get to know the guy living above my all too trusting sister’s bakery.”

“Yeah, you do that little brother.” Laura chuckles, “You’ll like him, really. He’s not at all like your past. . .relationships. It would be your turn not to break your partner as opposed to the other way around.”

Derek grumbles in response and only chugs his beer. He turns his attention back to Stiles. A man who upon seeing him, took all of Derek’s breath away. It felt as if Derek’s brain had short circuited. He’s never seen a man so intoxicating. The sharp jaw, piercing amber eyes, soft chestnut hair and angular nose. Derek doesn’t think he’s seen a man so well proportioned. He’s strong and dark, a perfect mix for Derek. He could make out the tattoos on his chest and the little tip of one under his shirt. Derek wants to know what they are. He wants to know intimately. Laura told him that he’s gay, perfect for Derek and he couldn’t help but agree with his sister. Stiles is perfect.

So he watches Stiles play, enthralled by the man’s melodic voice and if he watched Stiles’ fingers for too long, he would begin to think about naughty things. He had to work to get his mind out of the gutter but he’s definitely going to inquire about the man later.

As the night progresses, Stiles doesn’t take a break. It’s weird to Derek and to the rest of the group, they can tell that Harry is also worried about Stiles but can’t interrupt him. The music is continuous and unwavering. It’s impressive to say the least and Derek isn’t sure how Stiles manages to do that. Three hours later, at closing time, Stiles stops.

“Goodnight everyone, don’t forget to tip your waitress and come back another night for Harry’s amazing hospitality.” He says. The first thing he does is drink water. He chugs the water bottle at his foot. It’s a relief to drink water. He’s used to no breaks, having to sing at Sals, if the music stopped, he would be pissed and yell at Stiles. He learned how to cope over the years and now, now he’s good at holding off on his needs. When he begins to takes down all the mics and put everything away, Harry stops him.

“You were great, kid. I really appreciate the live entertainment, it’s gonna drum up some new business that I think will rock the house.” Harry pats him on the back, “You know you can stop to take a break if you need to, right?”

“I’m used to no breaks. The last bar I sang at, the owner wasn’t a guy who liked breaks.” Stiles shrugs like it’s nothing. His voice is hoarse as it usually is at the end of a long night.

“That guy’s a dick. If you need a break, you take it. I don’t want you passin’ out or hurtin’ yourself.” He says, “Don’t worry about putting anything away, I’ll take care of it.”

“Are you sure?” Stiles asks, his brow furrowed.

“Yeah, get on out of here. I’ll see you here tomorrow, kid.” Harry smiles and puts an envelope in his hand, “Here’s tonight’s pay. See you later, Stiles.”

“Bye, Harry.” Stiles smiles, “Have a good night, man.”

He stuffs the thick envelope into his guitar case and packs up. He’s tired. Exhausted, really, but he’s hungry too and happy. His fingers still sting and he’s pretty sure they’re fire engine red by now but he doesn’t want to look. He sees Laura and her brother waiting by the door and the girl motions for Stiles to join them.

“You were amazing!” She gushes, hugging him tightly and grinning widely at him.

“Thanks for coming.” Stiles smiles at her, “Really appreciated it.”

“Of course,” the state of his voice worries her but she tables that for the moment, “We’re heading home but we’ll see you tomorrow at the bakery!”

“Yeah, see you then.” Stiles says, following them out the door. He begins his walk home in the dark but Laura stops him.

“Stiles, what are you doing?” She asks, hands on her hips.

“Walking home?” He says, suddenly unsure. He’s going in the right direction. . .

“You walked here?” She asks again in that stunned tone.

“Yeah, I don’t have a car and it was only a twenty minute walk.” Stiles shrugs tiredly.

“It’s late, Stiles. Derek will drive you back to the bakery.” She says. Somehow Stiles knows that her statement takes the both of them by surprise and Derek looks at his sister in silent horror.

“That’s not necessary, thank you, but I’ll be fine.” Stiles objects.

“He’s driving that way anyways, Stiles. It’s dangerous to be out at night alone.” Laura presses. She nudges her brother and he quickly gets with the program.

“It’s no trouble, I can drop you off. She’s right, it’s not safe.” Derek says. Lord help him, but Stiles can’t say no to him. So he nods silently and relents, following the man to his car. It’s a sleek black camaro that Stiles is sure to be worth more than his life. But he slides in quietly nonetheless after placing his guitar in the back seat.

“Thank you,” He says.

“No problem.” Derek says.

It’s silent the rest of the way to the bakery. It’s a little awkward and Derek isn’t sure what to say to alleviate that awkwardness. Stiles isn’t sure either. It's A quick drive and when they pull up outside of the bakery, Stiles looks at Derek again and offers a small smile.

“Laura’s really great. Cora too, I know I haven’t been in town too long but it’s already feeling like home.” Stiles chuckles, “Thanks for the ride, Derek. I hope to see you around more often.”

Derek wants to say, you’re more than welcome and now I think I want to be around more often. All the time. But what comes out is:

“Goodnight, Stiles.” in a tight voice, one that is unsure and not denying nor promising anything. Stiles nods and collects his things, stepping out of the car to walk back into his apartment with a new crush on the man with the highest cheekbones and collidescope green and hazel eyes.

Salem greets him at the door and waits patiently for him to eat and change. When he slides into bed that morning with a tired sigh and pleasantly aching body, he jumps into bed with Stiles and curls up dutifully by his human. Stiles leaves the bedside lamp on as he always does and curls into his bed with a happy smile on his face.

“Tonight was amazing, Salem.” Stiles grins, “One of the best night of my life.”

Salem simply purrs, beginning to fall asleep with his sleepy human. Salem falls asleep to the sound of Stiles’ heartbeat and the image of moonlight through the window. Stiles falls asleep to the sound of Derek’s voice ringing in his head, Goodnight, Stiles, and the color of his eyes.

Chapter Text

The weekend passes in a blur for Stiles. Playing on Saturday was as good as it was on Friday and he couldn’t wait to sing again the next weekend. The days are too short in his opinion. Time flies when you’re having fun, and Stiles is having a lot of fun. His first day at the hospital with all the kids was wonderful. Sean was busy with chemo and testing all day so he spent his time with the other kids. They ranged in age and illness but they were excited to have him there and he doesn’t think he’s ever played so much Disney.

The rest of the week with kids was wonderful and when he came home in the evening, he was always exhausted. He barely had time to write and he never had enough time to get around town. Instead, he spent his spare time trying to find things he still needed. Offerup, this wonderful app, managed to find Stiles a new guitar case after his beloved case was damaged by an overzealous toddler at the hospital. He also managed to find a mandolin. It’s beat up but with a little TLC, it’ll be his new addition to his act. He’s still looking for a mode of transportation. He has the rest of the money he’s saved up so it might be worthwhile to spring for a car, it’s just worrisome to him to spend so much money on something he doesn’t need more than eating. So he decides to hold off. Instead, he buys a metro card so he can ride the bus to the hospital.

The week passes by quickly for Stiles. Uneventfully and sadly mediocre. He had hoped to see Derek at some point but the man remain elusive and altogether absent. True to her word, Laura checked on him in the evenings before she closed up and brought him goodies from the bakery. It was nice of her and Stiles wants to think it was because she’s his friend, not because she wants to play with Salem. Which she does and she did. Every day she visited. Laura loves Salem. It’s amusing, really. Stiles even thought that Derek would show up to his performances the next weekend but he didn’t. It put him out just a little but he had to focus. Two great weekends in a row but now he needs to keep it fresh. He needs to think of something new. During his next week at the hospital, he practically mopes in the halls.

“Why the long face, kiddo?” Mellisa asks from the nurses station in the peds ward.

“It’s nothing,” Stiles waves it off, “Just trying to figure something out.”

“Anything I can help with?” She asks in a motherly tone.

“No, I think I’ll be fine.” Stiles offers her a smile.

“Well let me know if-”

“Hey, mom!” A voice calls from down the hall. Stiles turns to see a man with the most crooked jaw he’s ever seen, but also the brightest smile he’s ever seen.

“Hi, Scott.” Melissa smiles, going to hug her son, “This is a surprise.”

“I was in the neighborhood, I thought I’d drop off some coffee for you.” Scott smiles and hands her a cup of coffee. Then he turns to Stiles. He remembers seeing him at the bar on his first week, in Laura’s group, “Hey! You’re Stiles, the performer we saw at the bar a while ago.”

“That’s me,” Stiles smiles tiredly. It’s the end of the day and he’s ready to go home.

“Why don’t you head out, sweetie? We’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.” Melissa pats his shoulder gently.

“Yeah, probably a good idea. Thanks, Mel.”

“I’ll give you a ride back to the bakery, Kira wanted some of Laura’s pumpernickel anyways,” Scott laughs.

“Thanks,” Stiles says a little awkwardly but happily. He’s not sure he could handle a bus ride back to his apartment. Scott walks excitedly back to his car.

“So I know you perform on the weekends and I was wondering. . .I mean, if you want. . .if you might want a drummer?” Scott asks almost sheepishly.

“You play?”

“Yeah, been playing since I was little,” Scott says, “I really liked the music you played and I thought that maybe you might wanna jazz it up.”

“Yeah, I would love if we could play together. I don’t know if you could get paid or not but-”

“No worries man, I don’t need to be paid, I just like playing.” Scott assures him. Stiles isn’t so sure about that but he is eager to have someone to accompany him.

“Yeah, well I’d love to have you playing with me.” Stiles says as they pull up to the bakery. The lights are off and the neon sign outside says closed.

“Laura must have closed up early.” Scott sighs, “Shoot, Kira’s gonna be pissed. Oh well, I’ll see you later, here’s my number. Text me when you want to rehearse and we can get together.” Scott scribbles his number on the back of his business card.

“Thanks, man. I guess I’ll see you later.” Stiles says, grabbing his guitar and slides out of the car. Scott drives away with a smile on his face and a wave. For Stiles, it’s been a long day and he’s ready to make some ramen and go to bed. He walks sluggishly to the door, only to see it bashed in. It feels like ice is shot through his veins. It feels as if the world slips away from him and he stumbles up to the apartment. The door is caved in, the extra deadbolts he installed did little against the foot that crashed through the middle of the door. It’s all overwhelming. He feels his pulse rising as he steps inside his apartment. He didn’t have a lot to begin with and seeing his little apartment, trashed, is disheartening. It feels like all the air has been punched out of him and he feels a panic coming on. Then it feels like he’s been dunked in ice water again.

“Salem?” Stiles whispers. His eyes go wide at the silence, “Salem!”

Oh my God.

“Salem! Where are you!” He cries. His eyes water furiously at the silence, the little black cat is nowhere to be found. He fumbles for his phone with shaky fingers and speed dials the only number he knows he has.

“Hey, Stiles!” Laura laughs through the phone, “We closed early cuz Cora needed to go shopping for an interview but-”

“L-laura?” Stiles practically whimpers.

“Stiles? What’s wrong?” She asks, concern bleeding into her voice.

“Salem’s gone,” Stiles croaks, “Salem’s gone and I-I don’t know what to do.”

“He got out of the apartment?” Laura almost shouts.

“Break in.” Is all Stiles could say through the shaking.

“Break in? What-” Luara gasps, “Oh my God, Stiles! I’m going to call Derek, are you going to be okay if I hang up?”

“Yeah.” Stiles lies.

“Okay, After I call him I’ll call you right back. I’m on my way to the shop right now and I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.” She says fiercely. Stiles supposes he should check to see if the bakery was broken into.

“Okay.”

“Okay, Stiles. Don’t worry. I’ll call you right back, honey.” She assures him. When the line goes dead, Stiles gasps. Feeling cold again. He begins to search frantically. Under the bed, under the table and on top of shelves. He even checks in the closets. His safe hadn’t been discovered, luckily. It still has all his money and personals in it. Thankfully the loose floorboard in the closet concealed it well enough.

He can’t find Salem. Stiles stands in the middle of his apartment, utterly stunned. This type of thing never even happened to him when he was living in Louisiana. Not even in that shit apartment did he get broken into. He suddenly feels so violated. Someone broke into his sacred space, his happy place, and trashed it. Broken dishes lay scattered on the floor and his pillows are thrown everywhere. It looks like someone just came in and vandalized the place for sheer fun of it. Who knows, maybe whoever broke in also robbed the bakery. Stiles can’t bring himself to care though, because Salem is gone. Salem who’s a middle aged black cat that he had been given as a gift when he was eleven by his father. Salem was supposed to keep him company and look out for him whenever his father wasn’t there, which was often. After his dad died, he had no one except for Salem and now Salem’s gone.

He falls to his knees, staring towards his bedroom, numb. The tears are flowing, he can feel the sting but he can’t feel the water falling off his cheeks. The only thing Stiles feels is this utter helplessness. He wishes Salem were here. When did this happen? When was-

“Stiles!” he can hear the voice calling for him but all he can really do is gulp and stare ahead of him. He doesn’t know what to do now. “Stiles. . .” he feels a hand on his shoulder and when he looks up, collidescope green eyes meet his amber.

“Salem’s gone.” Is all he can muster up to give Derek.

“Come on, Stiles,” He helps Stiles to his feet and gently guides him down to the bakery. Stiles doesn’t process being put in a chair or the lights being turned on but he does register the scent of lavender and chamomile tea.

“Salem’s gone.” Stiles whispers brokenly. He’s in shock and Derek feels so heartbroken for the man. He doesn’t know who or what Salem is but by the way Stiles is acting, Derek can tell it’s important. He’s suddenly very angry that someone would do something so horrible to Stiles. He moves quickly about the kitchen, making Stiles a cup of tea, hopefully that will help sooth his nerves.

“Stiles?” Derek asks gently, setting a cup of coffee in front of the man with a cookie from the day olds box, “I have to go talk to my partner, real quick. Is that okay?”

Stiles just nods and comes to just a little bit. He reaches out for the cup of steaming tea and holds it in his hands like a lifeline. Derek moves quickly and rushes outside to talk to his partner. The man is already investigating the break in. Derek had already checked the register in the bakery, nothing had been stolen. Someone had tried to get in, though. The metal door that goes into the bakery is dented but they couldn’t get past it.

“I’m going to take Stiles’ statement, you good up there?” He asks his partner, Jordan.

“Yeah, I’m fine up here. CSU is on their way to dust for fingerprints and do all that junk.”

“Good.” He says before returning to the man in his sister’s bakery. Stiles is shaking just a little and his eyes are devoid of emotion or that light that he had seen that night in the bar. Derek doesn’t like it.

“Salem. . .” Stiles whispers. He looks up at Derek then, eyes wide and watery. For a moment, Derek is taken back by the man’s large doe eyes. They’re pleading and so sad. It breaks Derek in a way he didn’t think he could ever be broken.

“Stiles, I know you’re in shock, but we need to take your statement.” Derek says gently.

“O-okay.” Stiles shudders. He curls in on himself slightly, as if he wants nothing more than to disappear.

“What time did you get home?” Derek asks, pulling out a notepad from some pocket Stiles doesn’t see.

“Scott dropped me off at five-ish?” Stiles sighs tiredly, “I walked up and saw the door caved in.”

“And you entered the premises, no one was there?”

“I was alone.” Stiles whimpers, “Did you find a black cat?”

“No,” That must be Salem. Stiles’ pet, “We’ll keep a look out, though Stiles.”

“Salem must have been so terrified.” He whispered to himself. Derek lays a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sure he’s fine, just running around somewhere looking for you.” Derek offers a small smile, trying to comfort him.

“He’s just a little cat. People don’t like black cats.” He tells Derek sadly. His voice chokes up and he has to stop talking for fear of letting out the sobs he’s got in a stranglehold.

“We can look for him, Stiles. I’ll help you look.” Derek promises. Stiles feels a little better, not much but just a little.

“Stiles!” He looks up to see Laura at the entry to the bakery, her eyes wild with worry. She rushes over and hugs Stiles tightly, looking him up and down to make sure he’s alright. Stiles lets her, “Oh honey.”

“Someone tried breaking into the store from the alley where the entrance to the apartment is. There’s a dent in the door but it’s so heavy they cut their losses and settled for Stiles’ apartment.” Derek tells her his theory, “Did you notice anything missing?”

Stiles shakes his head, “Just Salem.” he says miserably.

“We’ll find him, Stiles.” Laura tells him with a small sad smile.

“The doors are caved in and right now they’re dusting for prints. Anything that might help us find these guys.” Derek tells them, “For now, though, we can look for Salem. After that, I think Stiles should probably stay at the hotel down the street. He can’t stay in an apartment without security doors.

“I have a guest house, he can stay there.” Laura tells him, “It’s safer than a hotel.”

“Laura-”

“No, Derek. After today, he’s in no shape to be alone and he doesn’t have anyone.” Laura hisses at her brother. Derek is startled by his sisters fierce protectiveness but raises his hands in surrender, “Pack a bag, honey. I’ll take you back with me.”

Stiles nods tiredly, he’s exhausted and feels like his legs will give out any second. As they leave the bakery, Stiles feels light headed. He stops for a moment, grabs the railing and tries to focus his eyes.
“You okay?” Laura asks, a firm hand on his shoulder.

“Yeah,” he exhales, “I just. I think it’s catching up to me.” He admits. He’s always been prone to panic attacks and though one hasn’t happened in a while, he knows the signs, “Think I’m gonna have a panic attack.” He tells them. Then his knees buckle and he has to sit down. He struggles to get a grip and breathing becomes difficult.

“Stiles,” Derek pushes his way to the man and bends down to be eye to eye, “I want you to count with me okay? Listen to my voice. Ready? Inhale one. . .two. . .three. . .four. . .exhale one. . .two.  . .three. . .four-”

Derek repeats this process several times, never taking his eyes away from the shaking man in front of him. When Stiles finally gets a hold of his breathing, he’s still shaking, and he still feels like shit but at least now he can focus. They get him back up to the apartment so he can pack a bag. He does his best to ignore his disheveled apartment and packs a bag quickly. Only the essentials. He brings his guitar too, because he doesn’t want anyone taking it while he’s gone.

“Laura, do you think I could keep a few things in the bakery until I get a new door?” Stiles asks hopefully.

“Of course.” She says. He hands her the mandolin he had bought recently. It hadn’t been found, still buried in his closet and he hands Derek the small safe with all of his personals.

“What’s in here?” He asks.

“Important papers, personals, stuff like that.” Stiles shrugs.

“Okay, Derek and I will put these in the bakery, why don’t you wait outside and give the guys time to investigate.” Laura suggests with a small smile. They move quickly, supporting Stiles by the shoulder with a firm hand. When he waits outside, he takes a minute to look at the deputy standing by his car. He’s in a light brown uniform, it reminds Stiles of his dad and he feels a wave of nostalgia. It’s quiet in the alleyway. It’s getting dark too and a foreboding sense of worry for Salem washes over Stiles. The cat has never gone this long without being by Stiles’ side. He’s probably hungry. He thinks sadly. When he stands there, leaning against the wall, he closes his eyes and listens to the world around him. And like a sad little bell, he hears a low whine. A barely there whimper and he feels the Earth fall out from under him.

“Salem!” Stiles calls out, “Salem, buddy, where are ya?”

He listens harder, hearing the whine again and he all but drops everything before running down the alleyway. The dumpsters at the other end of the ally are open, they smell and Stiles hates them. When he rounds the corner of the building, he listens again.

“Salem!” He calls. There’s another whimpering meow, this time coming from behind the dumpster, “Hold on, bud!” He shirks off the flannel he has on and pushes the dumpster away from the pittiful yowling sound. There, under the dumpster lays Salem. His dark fur is dirty. There’s stuff in his fur that Stiles doesn’t want to think about and his cat looks so broken. Tears spring to his eyes and he wants to die. Salem’s tail is bent the wrong way and his leg is broken. He looks like he’s been bashed a good several time and there’s blood in his mouth.

“Oh Salem.” Stiles whimpers with the feline. Salem’s eyes roll into the back of his head and Stiles panics, “Okay bud, don’t worry. We’re going to be fine. Better than fine. You’ll be better than fine. We’re gonna find you a vet and get you all fixed up.”

He leans down and gently picks up the cat, wrapping his little broken body in the red flannel. Salem is limp, breathing but limp. Stiles runs back to his things with his friend in his arms.

“Laura!” He shouts, “Laura!”

“Stiles?” She calls, then she sees the bundle in his arms, “Oh my God!”

“Please tell me there’s a vet somewhere?” He asks, tears brimming his eyes.

“I’ll call Scott.” She says, “C’mon, I’ll drive us there. Derek, come by the house later?” She asks her brother before taking Stiles’ bags and rushing to her car.

“I’ll see you there. Keep me posted.” Derek says before going back to his partner.

The drive to the vets is painful for everyone. Stiles is barely holding it all together and Salem is still unconscious. Laura called Scott and told him it was an emergency, luckily Scott was so kind, he promised he’d be there shortly. While they waited, Stiles cradles his cat.

“He’s gonna be okay,” Laura tells him, “Scott’s the best vet in the state.”

“He’s my best friend.” Stiles whispers, “I’ve already lost so much. How am I gonna lose Salem too?”

“You’re not going to lose him.” Laura says with a determined voice. When Scott pulls up, he runs up to Stiles and takes a look at Salem.

“Okay, let’s get inside and we’ll assess the damage. It’ll be okay, Stiles. I promise.” Scott says, rushing them into the building.

Salem is still knocked out, limp in Stiles’ arms. His owner is absolutely shell shocked. He’s not sure what to do, how to feel anything other than pain, and Laura can only watch helplessly as Stiles lays him on the table and Scott runs around frantically for what he needs. Stiles listens numbly as Scott tells him what to do. First are the x-rays. Stiles manipulates Salem’s body to Scott’s orders carefully and without argument. When the photos are taken, Scott can see how much is really hurt. Salem’s left hind leg, tail and one of his ribs are broken. Salem has a painful gash on the side of his little head and a concussion.

“Okay, I’m going to wash him, get him nice and clean.” Scott tells Stiles, carefully taking the cat in his hands. Stiles had been holding Salem’s paw, rubbing it gently in order to calm himself while Salem was being examined but now Scott is taking him. Stiles’ eyes go wide but he allows Salem to be taken. Once he’s clean and died carefully, he’s back on the table. The gook that was in his fur now gone and he smells clean once again.

“What now?” Stiles asks helplessly.

“I’m going to give him a local anesthetic so he won’t feel anything. I need to shave his face so I can stitch up the gash.” Scott says, already in action. Stiles can’t look when he injects Salem with the local. He can’t look when he’s being shaved and he feels absolutely sick when Scott begins to suture his best friend. Once he’s stitched up and bandaged, Scott moves on, “Now I’m going shave his hind leg and tail, then put a cast on the leg and a splint on the tail. I didn’t see any signs of internal damage so that’s great, it’ll be easier for him to heal. The concussion is going to be uncomfortable and he’s going to be lazier than normal but otherwise, he should make a full recovery.”

Scott works quickly, getting everything he said he was going to do done. Laura stood in the corner of the room, watching silently with tears in her eyes. Stiles simply nods at the vet, only half listening to what he’s saying.

“There’s not a lot I can do for pain, unfortunately cat’s a notoriously difficult to give pain relievers to and the only ones out there that are safe for them are really hard core. He’ll be just fine without them, if anything changes let me know but really, he’ll be fine. He’ll be groggy and sluggish when he wakes up, I’ll give you a cone to put around him so he doesn’t scratch or bite at anything, especially the sutures on his head. Once it’s healed, come on back and I’ll take put the stitches.” Scott tells him, “Oh, here.” He rushes off to the back room and returns with a little red soft fleece blanket.

“Thank you,” Stiles says numbly, “I can’t thank you enough. W-how much do I owe you?”

“No, Stiles, don’t worry about it. Seriously.” Scott says, “Laura told me someone broke into your home and did this. I want you to know that people don’t do that here. We have a surprisingly low crime rate and whenever this type of thing happens, everyone wants to help.”

Stiles is stunned. He’s never experienced such kindness before.

“Thank you so much.” Stiles whispers as he wraps his friend in the blanket.

“It’s no problem. I do recommend that you get a cat bed and put it near his things so he doesn’t have to go far.” Scott says, “If you have any questions or concerns, just call me.”

Stiles nods and follows Laura back out to her car. When they’re inside, Stiles feels tears burning his eyes.

“I don’t have any of his things.” He says miserably.

“I’ll ask Derek to bring them.” She tells him in a soothing voice, “I think maybe you should call out tomorrow and stay home with Salem.” She suggests.

“I’ll call Melissa in the morning. Tell her what’s going on.” Stiles says, cuddling Salem closer to himself.

“I’m so sorry this happened, Stiles. Really. I want you to know that we’re all here for you.” Laura says earnestly.

“Thanks, Laura.” Stiles gives her a weak smile.

When they arrive at Laura’s house, Derek is already there. The lights are on and there’s a delicious smell wafting out of the open windows. It’s late and they’re all exhausted.

“Hey,” Derek greets them at the door. Now that Stiles is calm again, he takes a moment to appreciate Derek in his uniform. His sleeves are rolled and he looks comfortable. Stiles likes the looks of his forearms, “I got us chinese. Hope that’s alright. I put your stuff in the spare room already, Salem’s things too.”

“Thank you, Derek.” Stiles says tiredly. He’s starving and the thought of food makes him less queasy than it did earlier. When they enter the house, Stiles feels safe. It feels how his house felt when he was younger. Like nothing could hurt him there, it's cozy and welcoming.

They move about quietly, Stiles carried Salem to the spare room. Derek helped to show him where it was and also helped make a cozy looking bed for the feline right by the litter box and food dish. They’re silent, but Stiles feels like they’re communicating well enough. When they return to Laura, she’s got the food opened up and plates out to serve.

“I can’t thank you both enough.” Stiles says before serving himself. He looks haggard, they all do. It’s been a long day and they’re all just happy to be stable.

“Do you have any news?” Laura asks Derek.

“There was another break in on the other side of town. They got away from the scene there too so we’ve got Isaac on it.” Derek informs them with a heavy sigh.

“Isaac is a detective.” Laura tells Stiles, “He’ll do a good job.” Laura nods, shoving a chop stick loaded with chow mein in her mouth. They eat slowly, leisurely. At the end of their meal, Stiles excuses himself to shower and get ready for bed. He’s absolutely exhausted. He moves slowly, gingerly washing himself in the shower. He takes his time getting dressed and by the time he’s ready for bed, he leans out of the door and notices that Derek is staying the night as well. He’s in the room next to Stiles’, Laura stands across the hall.

“Thanks, for all your help.” Stiles whispers into the hall. Laura’s kind smile eases him. She embraces him and her lavender scent calms him. Derek places a gentle hand on his shoulder and Stiles feels as though the area he touched is on fire.

“Get some rest.” He tells Stiles with a constipated kind of look. He nods and retreats back into his room, closing the door. There’s a bedside lamp, thank God, Stiles thinks. Stiles is still asleep, breathing easy in his little corner. Stiles wants nothing more than to feel him cuddling against him. He has to settle for just cuddling a pillow. He doesn’t reflect on the day. He doesn’t think about what happened. He’s numb and when he closes his eyes, he falls into an uneasy sleep.

. . .

Broken doors. Broken dishes. Broken windows. Everything is broken. A man in a black mask.  A gun and everything is fuzzy. Then pain as a single shot rings out.

Stiles gasps awake, like he hasn’t taken a breath in days. A scream is caught in his throat making him choke and sob. A helpless noise escapes his lips and he’s shaking worse than he’s ever shook before. His head pounds and he’s sweating. He doesn’t remember his nightmare but he feels taunted by it. He can vaguely hear Salem meowing from his corner but he feels like if he moves he’ll pass out.

“Stiles?” Derek barges into the room, A startled look on his face and his gun in his hands, ready for anything. When he sees Stiles shaking, still moving frantically, he sets his weapon on the dresser and quickly moves to encompass Stiles’ body with his own. The strong man pulls Stiles into his arms and holds him tightly, whispering comforting words and keeping his arms close to his sides. The confinement makes Stiles want to lash out for a moment before the panic settles and he just pants. Hurt little noises escape him and he struggles to come back down. Derek is patient.

It feels like a million years before he feels like he can breathe again. Derek never lets go of him.

“Derek,” Stiles gasps.

“You’re okay, Stiles.” He whispers back, “Everything’s okay. It was just a nightmare.”

“I-I can’t,” He can’t seem to catch his breath. So Derek runs through another breathing exercise with him and when he’s done, he still sits with Stiles, never letting go.

“You sleep with the light on?” Derek asks, trying to take his mind off things.

“I’ve been doing that for years,” He hiccups.

“Why?”

“I don’t know.” Stiles says, “Since my dad died I need a light.”

“I’m sorry this break in happened to you, Stiles. You don’t deserve it.” Derek whispers.

“It’s okay.” Stiles shrugs, “I’ve been mugged, I’ve been robbed. I have the best kind of luck.”

“I’m sorry,” Derek says, unsure of what to really say.

“It’s not your fault.” Stiles answers him, suddenly feeling so tired he’s leaning all his weight against Derek. The man shifts easily, now almost spooning Stiles.

“I can leave now, if you want.” Derek says hesitantly. Derek doesn’t want to let go of Stiles. If anything, he wants to hold Stiles tighter. He doesn’t know a lot about Stiles and he doesn’t know anything from his past, but the little information he does have is heart wrenching. Derek doesn’t know a lot, all he does know, is that he doesn’t want to let go of Stiles.

“Stay with me?” Stiles croaks out, “Please?” Derek nods, happy that Stiles doesn’t want him to go.

“Salem wants to join us, if I bring him up here, is that alright?” Derek asks, to which Stiles replies with a tired but eager nod. His little black cat is laid beside him gently, he’s finally awake but Scott was right. He’s breathing harshly and he’s sluggish. Stiles doesn’t doubt that he’s in pain. But the feline looks at him with intelligent eyes, concerned for his human’s wellbeing.

“I’m okay, bud.” Stiles whispers to his kitten, “Just a nightmare. I’m glad you’re okay, Salem. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Salem purrs quietly as Stiles strokes his little head with careful fingers. Derek slides back into bed behind Stiles. They lay face to face now. It all feels very intimate to Stiles, it’s the first time he’s had anyone look at him the way Derek’s looking at him right now. It’s kind of throwing him for a loop. Derek looks at Stiles like he’s a Rubix cube, an enigma he desperately wants to solve.

“Salem’s very important to you, isn’t he?”

“My dad gave him to me when I was a kid. Salem was just a little thing, supposed to keep me company when he was gone on his shifts.” Stiles says, “When he died, Salem was all I had.”

“You’re not alone anymore.” Derek says. His hazel-green eyes bore into Stiles’ soul and he suddenly feels exposed. Though it’s not uncomfortable, he can feel his own yearning. Derek is kind and years for him too. Taking his comfort in Derek, Stiles crawls closer and situated himself flush up against Derek’s warm body and seeks solace in his warmth. It’s an embrace that isn’t rushed, it felt so right and the tingling they both feel in their bones is all consuming.

“Goodnight, Stiles.” Derek murmurs into his chestnut hair, memorizing the feel of it against his lips.

“Night,” Stiles whispers back, nuzzling into the heat of Derek’s chest, wishing he could just melt into the man.

It’s a step in the right direction for both of them.

Chapter Text

By the time sun filters through the curtains in the spare room, Laura’s standing in the doorway of the room. She’s got a bowl of cereal in her hands and her hair’s a mess. She’s leaning on the doorframe with a smirk on her lips. When Stiles and Derek wake, they’re still holding each other, Salem blinks into consciousness at the foot of the bed. Laura clears her throat obnoxiously from the doorway before taking another spoonful of her cereal.

Derek rolls his eyes, Stiles blushes and begins to roll over.

“Good morning,” Laura sing songs.

“Mornin’ Laura.” Stiles chuckles dryly.

It’s all just a little too awkward for Stiles so he climbs out of bed and retreats into the bathroom to quickly get his shit together and get out of Laura’s house.

“You know you could stick around for breakfast,” Derek says, leaning against the doorway to the bathroom. Stiles looks up from where he’s just spit toothpaste into the sink.

“I don’t want to overstay my welcome.” Stiles sighs, “If I spend too much time hanging around, you might get tired of me.”

“I don’t think that could ever happen.” Derek assures him.

“Look, I know last night was kind of messed up and with everything that happened, I was pretty vulnerable. I’m sorry if I overstepped my bounds but you shouldn’t have to hold my hand longer than you want to.” Stiles tries his best to sound nonchalant. If it were most anyone, they wouldn’t have been able to see his tense shoulders. Or his eyes closed in fear. But Derek can.

“You’re not fooling me, Stiles. Anyone else, sure. But not me.” Derek crosses his arms. “You’re fooling yourself too, Stiles. So stop it. We want you here. I want you here. So suck it up, and come eat some damn cereal with my sister and I then let me take you out to dinner tonight.”

Stiles laughs. The angst he was feeling now completely gone.

“Alright. Let me get dressed.” Stiles says with a laugh. The deputy smirks but leaves the man to his own devices. Stiles hasn’t been welcomed into a home like this in a long time. Now that he’s fully lucid, he’s finding that he is just a little awkward. He likes it, for sure, Laura’s soap smells wonderful like citrus and flowers. It’s a welcoming home and eating with people makes him feel better, it’s certainly more entertaining than eating with just a cat.

He pulls on his spare gray tank top. His arms are exposed and so are his tattoos. The half-sleeve on his arm. His father’s shield is tattooed on his shoulder, sitting at the top of his arm above his deltoid. The golden yellow is as bright as the day he got it. Running down his arm from the top of his shoulder to the bend of his elbow is the American flag in black and white. The only color in the flag is a thin blue line. Usually a flannel shirt of his covers the tattoo but he doesn’t want to cover it today. After the nightmare he had, he wants a reminder.

Stiles kisses Salem’s little head gently and puts on the cone that Scott gave him. Despite the glare the cat gives him, Salem allows him to be moved to his little cat bed.

“I’ll be back soon, buddy.” Stiles tells his feline friend. He’s got his typical black jeans on, his boots aren’t laced up but they’re visible. Downstairs, the smell of coffee is strong and the lovely smell of cooking bacon and pancakes. When he enters the kitchen, he has to stop for a minute because the sight of Derek in a white wife beater and his uniform pants on with no shoes on his feet is far more arousing than it should be. Derek’s strong arms work easily to flip pancakes in the most domestic display Stiles has ever seen. Laura watches Stiles starting from the entryway to the kitchen with a smirk on her face.

“Sweet tat.” She breaks the silence like a gong. Stiles grabs his arm, wrenched back to reality.

“Thanks.” He says to her, “Smells good.”

“Can’t beat Derek’s pancakes.” She grins, “I didn’t know you were such a big fan of cops.” She wiggles her eyebrows and laughs at Stiles’ sudden shyness.

“Oh, yeah it was my dad’s badge.” Stiles tells her, sitting down at the counter. Derek sets a plate of food in front of him and it’s so mouth wateringly delicious. The perfectly cooked bacon, the perfectly round little pancakes that are soft and fluffy and delicious. Stiles wants this breakfast every day for the rest of his life.

“So what’s on your agenda for today?” Laura asks him.

“Well, I told Mel that I wouldn’t be coming in today because I need to deal with everything at the apartment.” He grunts, taking another bite of his food. “I need to get a new door. And a security door. I need to replace my dishware-”

“You need to take it easy.” Laura tells him urgently, “Yesterday was way too much for anyone to go through alone. As your landlord, I will be getting you new doors. I’ve asked Cora to handle the bakery today and she will, so I’m going to be meeting with the insurance agent and going to get you those doors.”

“Thanks, Laura.” Stiles says, still shocked, “I’ve never had a good landlord before.”

“Seriously, where did you live? You make it sound like if you got robbed or something broke you’d have to fix it yourself?”

“Yeah. I did.” Stiles continues eating like it’s normal, “One time, the apartment next to mine caught fire and burned a hole through the wall in my kitchen. Well they didn’t have the money to fix it and the landlord told us it was our problem so we both had to pull our money together to buy stuff to fix the wall. It wasn’t such a big issue on my side because my kitchen wasn’t burnt but their side was really bad and the landlord wouldn’t do shit to help.”

“That’s. . .that’s really bad, Stiles.” Derek says, handing him a mug of black coffee.

“You’re telling me.” Stiles says, “I didn’t come from a very good town. After my dad died, it all really went downhill. The crime rates skyrocketed, gangs took over, drugs were everywhere. It’s a rough place to live and until recently I just couldn’t get out.”

“We’re glad you’re here now.” Laura tells him honestly.

“Thank you,” Stiles smiles, “I am too. It’s a much nicer town and I’m actually making a livable wage.”

“How about you and I spend the day together dealing with everything?” Laura proposes, “Salem can stay here, I don’t think he’ll want to go back just yet.”

“Sure, that sounds fine.”

“I want you to stay here tonight too. I don’t want you going back just yet.” She says, a small smile on her face.

“I gotta head to work now. I’ll see you two later.” Derek says, throwing on his shirt and gear, “Stiles, I’ll pick you up here for dinner.”

Stiles just nods, unsure of what to say that could do Derek’s offer justice.

“See you later, sis.” Derek says, kissing her forehead before heading out with a wink in Stiles’ direction. When the door slams, Laura looks at Stiles with a smirk on her rosey lips.

“So. . .my brother, huh?” Her voice is insulting and teasing.

“Shut up,” He laughs with her.

    Stiles is far too excited for dinner.

.     .     .

 

    The day was long. It was exhausting and Stiles didn’t think that returning to his apartment would be so stressful but it was. He helped haul everything they needed back to the apartment, the doors, the locks, all the new kitchenware. He insisted on installing the doors and new locks himself, which made things easier for Laura but just a little harder on Stiles. He’s sweaty and tired by the time that lunch rolls around, Laura supplies him with a sandwich and water during a brief break.

    “How’s it coming along?” She asks.

    “It’s all fine. I finished the door and frame for the security door. It’s going to be finished here soon.” Stiles tells her, biting into the delicious sandwich.

    “You’re pretty amazing.” She laughs, “What can’t you do?”

    “Windows.” Stiles jokes. Laura laughs, “Actually, that’s not true, I can totally do windows too. One time there was a drive by outside my old apartment and one of the shots went through my window. I had to fix it the next morning.”

    “Jesus, really?” Laura’s eyes are wide in shock.

    “Yeah, it wasn’t the first time there had ever been a drive by, but it was the first time my apartment was hit.” Stiles shrugs.

    “You grew up in a rough place, huh?” Laura says thoughtfully, taking a bite of her sandwich.

    “I didn’t live in the rougher neighborhood until my dad died. I finished out high school and when I sold everything and after insurance, taxes, blah blah blah. . .I didn’t have much money left. His pension is what kept me going for a while, I couldn’t find a job for a bit.” Stiles explains, “That and I didn’t know any better when I first started out. I was taken advantage of by a lot of people. Ended up losing a lot of money.”

    “I’m so sorry, Stiles.” She whispers dejectedly.

    “It’s not your fault,” he shrugs, “Besides, it’s just money. It wasn’t important. It isn’t important. I’ve figured out over the years that money really isn’t everything. I had a roof over my head, food and a companion I could take care of. I don’t need a lot to keep satisfied.”

    “How did your father die?” Laura asks carefully.

    “It’s actually kind of strange. They never really got a straight answer.” Stiles sighs, running his tired fingers through his hair, “Officially, the report says that he died in a roll over accident. He was in pursuit and when he turned a corner, he was t-boned by another car. It sent his cruiser rolling. They never found out who was in the other car. It was presumed that he got in the middle of a turf war.” He tells her. It’s a story he’s had to tell many times, one that he heard many times and a story that was never closed. It’s a story that Stiles came to terms with a long time ago and one that he knows will most likely never have an ending. He loved his father and he understood what the job meant.

    “I’m sorry, Stiles.” Laura whispers, completely unsure of what to say to him.

    “Why? You weren’t the one who hit him.” He smiles consolingly at her, “I learned when I was young what it meant to be the sheriff’s son. What sacrifice it takes.” He rubs his shoulder in memory, “I loved both my parents and I think the best way to remember them, isn’t for how they died. It’s how they lived, how they loved me. After all, that’s all that’s left of us after we leave this Earth isn’t it? How we loved?”

    Laura is completely flabbergasted. Stiles has known exactly what makes him happy over the years, how he keeps from feeling the sadness longer than he has to. Laura hasn’t mastered what Stiles has, she isn’t able to just take a step back and realize things like Stiles can. She isn’t so well adjusted. If only she really understood.

    “How about I finish up and we head back to your place? I need to check on Salem and get some rest before tonight.” Stiles grunts, returning to his feet.

    “Before my little brother takes you out to dinner and rocks your world?” Laura snarks. Stiles can’t help but blush.

    “Sure, Laura.” He laughs, returning to his work while ignoring her cackling.

    Stiles isn’t sure if Derek will rock his world but one can only hope.

.     .     .

    By the time they finish and return to her house, Salem is still in bed, exhausted and happy that Stiles has returned. Laura let him go shower and by the time he’s scrubbed the odor and grime from the day’s work, Laura stops him in his room.

    “I’m staying over with Parish tonight,” She winks at him, “Don’t destroy my house, would you?”

    “Laura-” Stiles is beet red and embarrassed.

    “See you later.” She blows him a kiss and saunters off. She’s changed into tight jeans and a low cut white top. Her hair is perfectly curled and makeup done. She looks fantastic and walks with confidence in a pair of cherry red heels. Stiles watches in wonder as she sashays down the stairs and out the door.

    “Well. . .I guess we better look good tonight, huh?” Stiles asks Salem. The little black cat purrs quietly up at him as he gets dressed. He pulls on his good jeans and an undershirt. He’s exhausted though and the sight of the bed in front of him is too appealing.

    “Just a few minutes,” Stiles says to Salem. He lifts his cat up onto the bed and curled up beside his friend. The room is cast in a soft golden hue with the afternoon sun beating against the window and Salem’s soft purring quickly lulls Stiles into the comfort of sleep.

    Just a few minutes , Stiles thinks.

.     .     .

    Derek had walked into the house around five thirty. He was exhausted and eager, hopeful that Stiles wasn’t mad at the late hour. He spent all day thinking about Stiles, thinking about what taking him out would be like. Should he kiss Stiles at the end of the night? Should he try his luck at spending another night with him? Maybe earning more?

    “Stiles?” Derek calls through the house but doesn’t receive a reply. He climbs the stairs quickly and enters the guest room where he finds Stiles passed out on his belly, his face scrunched up in an easy, peaceful expression. Salem has curled himself up on Stiles’ back, his little black head laying on Stiles’ shoulder and his tail curled around his hip. It’s adorable and Derek loves the sight.

    I could definitely get used to this. He thinks with a smile. He knows Stiles is probably hungry and it’s Derek’s job to wake him up. So he lays a gentle hand on Stiles’ hip and shakes him.

    “Stiles?” He calls. Stiles wakes with a startled meep and only settles when he sees Derek’s bright smile.

    “‘S only takin’ a nap.” Stiles lies.

    “Laura left like two hours ago, it was a little more than a nap.” Derek chuckles.

    “Tired,” Stiles groans. His stomach protests, “Hungry.” He groans even louder.

    “Why don’t I just order some pizza and wings? We can watch a movie or something.” Derek chuckles.

    “That sounds great.” Stiles gives him a tired smile, “PJ party.”

    “Sure, Stiles. PJ party.” Derek grins, “I’ll make the call, get changed and meet me down stairs.”

    “‘M ‘kay.” Stiles says, “Can you put Salem in his little bed?”

    Derek chuckles but gently lifts the injured kitty off of Stiles’ back which earns him an angry little mewl. The feline nips at his hand when he’s set in the bed. Derek rolls his eyes at the moody cat. It’s not Derek's’ fault that he chose to nap in the most inconvenient spot.

    He leaves the room to change and call the pizza place that has the best pizza in town. He’s secretly happy that Stiles doesn’t want to go out. He’s tired too and frankly, the idea of a night in is much more appealing to Derek. When they’re both settled on the couch with a soft blanket covering their laps, Salem sleeps in the loveseat next to them and the tv displays the main menu to Monty Python and the Holy Grail . A movie that Stiles insisted on after looking through their movie collection.

    “I love this movie.” Stiles says as he shoves a piece of fresh pizza in his mouth.

    Life of Brian is better.” Derek says, making Stiles roll his eyes.

    “Whatever, man.” Stiles laughs. The pizza is delicious and makes him groan at the flavor. It’s one of those pizzas that makes his jaw hurt it’s so good and when the sting subsides, the food makes his mouth salivate and he’s absolutely in love with this pizza. The noises Stiles is making while eating this pizza should be illegal. They’re going straight to his dick and he can’t have that. Not this early in the evening. Derek does his best to focus on the movie, eating his food in silence and only offering commentary when Stiles demands it.

    “How was your day?” Stiles asks suddenly.

    “Fine, long as usual.” Derek says blandly, “It was a quiet day. Not too much going on. How was yours?”

    “Good. Laura and I got the new doors put on. Or, I put them on. Laura watched.” Stiles laughed. It got quiet again, neither really knowing what to say. It’s just a little awkward, “I’ve never been on a date before.” Stiles blurts. That catches Derek’s attention.

    “Really?” He asks.

    “No,” Stiles smiles sadly, “I was always working and when I was in high school, no one wanted to hang out with the sheriff’s kid.”

    “I would’ve hung out with you.” Derek says honestly, garnering a deep stare from Stiles.

    “I was pretty dorky in high school.” Stiles grins, “Kind of a nerd really.”

    “I was kind of a dumb jock.” Derek grins in return, feeling the lightness of the conversation.

    “Really?” Stiles laughs.

    “Yeah,” Derek sighs, “Basketball, baseball, football. I did it all.” Derek says and Stiles doesn’t doubt it. With Derek’s physique, Stiles could picture a young, teenage Derek. Strong and tall, one hell of a chick magnet. His adorable bunny teeth a major plus.

    “I was in the chess club.” Stiles says bashfully.

    “I would’ve asked you out in high school.” Derek says boldly. He’s always been good at recognizing what he wants and Derek knows for a fact that he would’ve wanted Stiles in high school. Given his first love, he knows that if he had met Stiles in high school, he would’ve gone for it. Page was beautiful and special, reminds him a lot of Stiles, and though Derek likes women, he likes men just a little more. He would’ve picked Stiles in a heartbeat.

    “Yeah right,” Stiles scoffs.

    “Seriously, I have a soft spot for guys with amber eyes and little moles.” Derek leans in closer to Stiles and stares at his perfect cupid’s bow lips. Those soft looking pink and plump lips. Derek just wants to have a taste. Stiles sees him leaning in and more than anything he wants to feel those lips against his. And in one swift moment, the two of them threw caution to the wind and their lips touched ever so gently at first then all of a sudden with an urgency that neither of them expected to feel.

    Derek pushes away their plates and revels in the taste of pepperoni pizza on Stiles’ tongue. The kiss isn’t awkward at all. Stiles has never kissed another person before but he knows that following Derek’s lead would be in his best interest and really, kissing isn’t so hard. Stiles thinks it’s the best kiss he’ll ever have. Derek is warm and soft. His lips are perfect and when Derek’s strong hands pull him closer, he all but melts into Derek’s hands.

    The deputy is sure he’s in heaven at the moment. The feeling of Stiles going so pliant in his arms is all too enticing and the signals his brain is shooting to his crotch are working a mile a minute. He has to push those feeling aside to just enjoy the moment with Stiles. To enjoy the kiss that he’s been wanting to pluck from Stiles’ lips for so long.

    Then Stiles gets confident and just a little adventurous by moving even closer into Derek’s space, urging the man to maneuver him any way he wishes. Stiles wants to be closer, he wants to be held and he wants more than anything to keep going.

    Derek feels Stiles pushing lightly against his chest, urging a closeness that Derek wanted more than anything. Now that he had tasted Stiles’ lips, he wants to taste more. Namely his neck and those collarbones that hold two sparrows taking flight.

    Stiles thinks he’s died and gone to heaven when Derek uses his hidden strength and lifts him into his lap, wrapping Stiles legs around his hips and deepens the kiss.

    Derek savors the little groan Stiles makes when their bodies are flush together and he takes a second to break away and pant for air, trailing kisses down his jaw. . .his throat.

    Stiles inhales sharply at the feeling of Derek’s lips on his neck and desperately wishes for more.

    Derek gives him more.

    It’s give and take, the two of them working in unison to hold each other, to grab at each other and this desperation neither of them knew had been growing inside them suddenly burst and the dam was broken. The genie was out of the bottle and their mutual attraction for one another with the inkling of something more underneath pushed them farther and farther. Just like Derek’s hands into Stiles’ pants. His warm fingers dip bellow Stiles’ waistline and cup the two glorious globes of his stark white ass. Stiles groans at the feeling of Derek’s strong arms pulling his hips closer to his, rubbing their crotches together in heated friction.

    And suddenly it’s too intense for Stiles. It’s too much too soon and he’s in overload. His heartbeat is racing almost painfully and he’s so eager he thinks he might burst into flames if he doesn’t hit the brakes right now. This isn't how he wants his first time to happen. It’s a perfect beginning, but he doesn’t want it all to end so soon.

    “Derek,” Stiles pants, “We need to stop.” He whispers in an almost melancholy tone. Derek halts his movements almost immediately but doesn’t make a move to retract his hands from Stiles’ bottom or his lips from Stiles’ neck.

    “What’s wrong?” He breathes deeply, working to catch his breath. It tickles Stiles’ neck but he doesn’t make a move either. Hesitant to break contact that he’s been wishing for for so long.

    “We can’t go any farther,” Stiles says. He feels Derek tense and begin to move away but in a moment of fear, Stiles clutches him close in a death grip, “I mean that I want this to continue, just not tonight. I want this to keep going, I want us to keep going.”

    “Stiles, that was the plan all along,” Derek reminds him as if he didn’t already know. But Stiles didn’t know and this is news to him. His eyes are wide and he looks at Derek in wonder, “Did you really think I only wanted a night with you?”

    “Why would you want more?” Stiles asks, “I’m little more than a transient. Your sister took me in when I had nothing. No job, no friends, no family. Why would you want any part of someone who has nothing to offer?”

    “That’s not true, Stiles.” Derek objects. He removes his hands from Stiles’ ass and places them on the sides of his face, forcing Stiles to look at him, “You have everything to give. You do give everything, don’t you see that? Since the moment I met you, all you’ve been doing is give. You sing to sick children, on the weekends I’ve seen you running too and from the hospital after giving Sean music lessons. You help take out the trash at the bakery and you get things off the top shelves for my sisters. You’ve given everything you can to those around you and you wear your heart on your sleeve for everyone to see. You’ve given me a comfortable evening I haven’t been able to have in a long time and more importantly, you’ve decided to give me you. That’s more than anyone could hope to get.”

    Stiles is stunned into silence. He’s not sure what to say next.

    “So I’d really like it if we spent the rest of the night together, I’d like to kiss you some more and then I’d like to take you on an actual date.” Derek says with a small smile. His eyes are hopeful and Stiles feels like he might burst.

    “Yeah, that sounds pretty damn good to me.” Stiles says, kissing this glorious man again. Derek enjoys the feeling, he doesn’t think he’ll ever grow tired of kissing Stiles. After cooling down, they move around and find a comfortable position on the couch with Derek against the arm of the sofa with his feet on the automan and Stiles snuggled into his side. Stiles couldn’t imagine a better date.






Chapter Text

“I can’t do it!” Sean yells angrily at Stiles, throwing his pick at the door in a flurry of anger. Stiles sighs and sits back in his chair. He understands Sean’s anger. He was there when he was his age.

“You just need to take a break,” Stiles says, “We’ve been practicing for two hours now, why don’t we call it a day?”

“No!” Sean fumes, “I need to get this down now. I don’t have time to ‘call it a day’.” Sean mimics his teacher, making a silly face while motioning to the guitar in his lap.

“Sean, you have plenty of-”

“I swear to god, Stiles, if you say time I will call the nurse and have you thrown out of this goddamn hospital.” They sit in silence for a few minutes, Stiles knows that Sean is deep in a mood. It happens, and he’s used to it by now.

“I heard that your next round of chemo is in a couple days,” Stiles says soberly, leaning over his guitar to look at Sean with intense eyes.

“What about it?” Sean replies in a voice much too hard for one so young.

“Can’t be easy,” Stiles says, fiddling with the strings on his guitar.

“No shit, Sherlock.” Sean rolls his eyes, “It’s not enough that I have cancer and I have to go through chemo but my parents stopped coming to see me when they don’t have to and I’m all fucking alone in this stupid room with stupid people and idiots like you!” The boy’s anger is out of control and Stiles can see the vulnerability in Sean’s eyes. The boy is slowly losing steam and closing in on himself. Stiles hates to see it.

“I’m here, Sean. If you want, I’ll be there too. I may be an idiot but I know what it’s like to feel out of control and lonely.” Stiles says earnestly, hoping to have gotten through to him.

“How could you understand?” Sean ridicules, “How could you possibly understand what it feels like to die. Slowly with only a forty percent chance of making it through to next year?”

“You’re right. I don’t understand what that’s like.” Stiles nods, “But I do know what it’s like to be alone. My mom was sick too, only she was never going to get better and after she died, my dad and I were never the same again. When my dad died, it was just me. So I know what it’s like to be alone. I was alone for years until I found this place.”

“You’re an orphan?” Sean asks quietly.

“Yeah. I’ve been on my own for a while.” Stiles answers honestly, “So I can spot someone who’s just as lonely as I am.”

“So what if I am?” Sean shrugs, desperately trying to put on that fake facade, “Not like you can do anything about it.”

“You’re the oldest kid in this ward and the sickest kid in this ward. You’re the only boy and I know that you didn’t have friends here because you’ve moved around a lot. You’re just as new to this town as I am.” Stiles says, “Outside of these lessons, you’ve told me that no one really visits you. I think that’s completely unacceptable. So tomorrow night, how about I work on rounding up a couple of my friends and we’ll all hang out with you here? Some real guy time?”

“You? You have friends? Who would’ve known.” Sean says snappishly but with a good grin on his face.

“I know, it’s pretty surprising. How about it, kid?” Stiles laughs.

“I think I’d like that very much.” Sean replied with a sigh of relief. The boy looks happier, much more relaxed and hopeful. The buzzing of Stiles’ alarm breaks the silence and though Stiles doesn’t want to leave Sean, Derek is supposed to be outside waiting for him.

“Good. I’ll make it happen. We’ll see you later, Sean. Keep practicing and remember to relax.” Stiles tells him as he packs his things for the day.

“H-hey, Stiles?” Sean stops his friend at the door, “Do you think that maybe. . .maybe you could be there when I get my chemo?”  Stiles’ eyes go wide and he nods.

“Of course.” Stiles smiles at the boy, happy to see some life being breathed back into him. Stiles likes Sean, feels a kindred spirit in him and tries really hard not to feel so upset at his parents for ignoring their child.

“Good now get out.” Sean shooed him out of his room, trying to suppress a grin.

“See you later, man.” Stiles waves goodbye and heads out. On his way out of the ward, the newest little resident in the hospital is a little girl who got appendicitis only a few days ago. She had an emergency appendectomy and is still laid up in bed. The service dog, Cocoa, a chocolate lab that Stiles is quite fond of, is greeting the little girl. Shannon. She’s small for a five year old and sweeter than candy. Stiles has never met a little girl with such a great attitude and her parents are just as nice. Stiles had spent an hour every day since she’s been in the hospital singing songs to her before she goes down for her nap time. Now that he’s leaving, she’s been awake for only an hour.

“Sti!” She waves from her bed, calling him inside.

“Hey there, wonder woman.” Stiles laughs, “Have a good nap?”

“Yeah, and Cocoa came too!” She squeaks. She looks so small in the little hospital bed but he knows that she’s been taken good care of. Melissa always dotes on the little ones. Shannon has her barbie blanket covering her and half a dozen stuffed animals surrounding her. There are double the amount of balloons hanging around.

“That’s awesome, sweetheart.” Stiles laughs, “How are you today?”

“Good,” She answers simply, completely occupied with petting Cocoa. Of course, the dog is just eating it up. Stiles turns to her parents who are both curled up on the side couch, smiling at Stiles.

“She’s healing quickly, hopefully, we’ll be out of here in a few days.” Her father, Rick, says.

“That’s good.” Stiles nods, smiling at the little girl with the biggest brown eyes he’s ever seen and two missing front teeth, “I hope you guys have a good night, I’ll see you all tomorrow.” Stiles begins to leave but Shannon quickly stops him.

“Sti! Wait!” She bounces, wincing at the sudden movement, tears well up in her eyes.

“Be careful, Shannon.” Stiles chastises lightly, taking her small hand in his, “What’s up kiddo?”

“Will you sing me Moana?” With her lower lip bobbing like that, Stiles can’t resist her.

“Sure, sweetheart.” Stiles smiles, taking out his guitar and plants himself at the edge of her bed. Cocoa and her handler take a seat, readying themselves for his performance. Stiles clears his throat and begins strumming the song he knows she loves the most.

I know a girl from an island. She stands apart from the crowd . She loves the sea and her people. She makes her whole family prou d. Sometimes the world seems against you. The journey may leave a scar, but scars can heal and reveal just where you are” Stiles sings. He keeps his eyes on the little girl in front of him. Shannon is smiling so wide and humming along as she usually does.

“The people you love will change you. The things you have learned will guide you, and nothing on earth can silence the quiet voice still inside you, and when that voice starts to whisper: "Moana, you've come so far" Moana listen, do you know who you are?”

“Who am I?” Shannon asks out loud, grinning at Stiles.

“I am a girl who loves my island and the girl who loves the sea, it calls me. I am the daughter of the village chief we are descended from voyagers, who found their way across the world. They call me” They sing together for this part. She loves this part. She can only keep it up for a short period before she gets winded and has to stop, letting Stiles finish the song.

I've delivered us to where we are, I have journeyed farther. I am everything I've learned and more still it calls me . And the call isn't out there at all, It's inside me. It's like the tide always falling and rising . I will carry you here in my heart you'll remind me . That come what may

I know the way!” Stiles sings to her, knowing that this is her favorite part.

“I am Moana!” Shannon sings loudly, filling the whole room with her voice. It’s adorable and Stiles loves hearing her sing this part. She smiles so brightly at her and laughs. There’s a clap by the door and Stiles sees Melissa and Derek standing in the doorway with grins on their faces. Shannon’s parents join the clapping and Cocoa howled just a little bit.

“That was awesome!” She squeals, clapping her hands.

You were awesome, supergirl.” Stiles high fives her.

“Sti. . .there’s an officer. . .” Shannon’s eyes go wide when she sees Derek standing in the doorway.

“He’s here to pick me up, he’s a friend of mine.” Stiles laughs, “Don’t worry.”

“Cool, I never had an officer in my room before.” She says, hugging her stuffed bunny closer.

“Well now you have,” Stiles laughs, “I’ll see you tomorrow, honey.”

“Thanks, Sti.” She waves goodbye and promptly goes back to playing with Cocoa. He waves goodbye to her parents and heads out. Derek is grinning at him a certain way and Melissa is in a happy mood.

“That’s the cutest little girl I’ve ever seen.” Stiles chuckles.

“You’re her favorite musical therapist.” Melissa laughs, “She asks for you all the time.”

“You’re very sweet with her,” Derek remarks, “It’s cute.” Stiles blushes at his hopeful boyfriend.

“You ready to go? I’m starving.” Stiles asks, quickly changing the subject.

“Yeah,” Derek chuckles, “I put in an order to my favorite chinese place, hope that’s alright?”

“Sounds delicious,” Stiles grins, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Mel.”

“Bye, kid.” She grins slyly, like how Laura grins whenever Stiles and Derek are together and eagerly takes herself somewhere else so that the two lovebirds can make a break for it.

“You just get off duty?” Stiles asks Derek as they approach the camaro.

“Yeah, I brought a change of clothes, though.” Derek says, “I also rented the entire Star Wars trilogy I was hoping we could watch tonight.”

Derek hasn’t seen Stiles in a few days and though they made arrangements to have a date night, he didn’t get around to visiting Stiles at the bakery. It’s been a total of two weeks since the robbery and though they text often, they have only been able to see each other a total of three times over the last two weeks. If Derek is being honest, he didn’t like it. He wanted to spend more time, all his time, with Stiles. He wanted nothing more than to stop by Stiles’ apartment every night after his shirt, or swing by the bakery in the morning when he knew Stiles was getting a cup of coffee and visiting with his sister. Derek spent almost all his time thinking about Stiles. Thinking about when he could see him again, when he could touch him again, when he could be in the man’s presence. There’s no doubt that Derek was smitten and he was annoyed as hell when something always came up and he couldn’t offer Stiles a ride home or to the hospital where he would spend the day singing to sick kids (if that didn’t just make Stiles seem like more of an angel to Derek).

Stiles had been cranky all week leading up to this day. Leading up to his date with Derek. In all the times they’ve hung out, (a total of three times) Stiles was left wanting even more of Derek. He wants Derek’s time, his attention and his touch. Stiles feels warmer whenever he’s with Derek. He feels happier and he laughs far more with Derek than he does with anyone else. Texting has been a poor substitute for Derek’s company. Stiles loved when Derek would pick him up and take him home, they’d stop for food and Derek usually brought a movie. They’d curl up in Stiles’ bed and watch the TV that Stiles invested in for a magically cheap expenditure on Offerup. The two of them would change and climb into Stiles’ bed and gorge themselves on food and good company. Stiles loved it. He loved just being alone with Derek and having this kind of contact. At the end of the day, they’re both exhausted and staying in for a movie night is a welcome change of pace. Stiles began to crave it.

“I missed you,” Stiles blurted out as they pulled up to his apartment.

“I missed you, too.” Derek grins leans in to kiss Stiles and savored the warm touch, “I spend literally all week hoping to get here again.”

“Same,” Stiles says breathlessly.

“Come on, your stomach is growling.” Derek laughs. He grabs the food and his bag and takes Stiles’ hand. Derek loves the apartment. He loves walking in and being greeted by Salem and he loves being able to navigate the place as easily as he does the house he shares with Laura. He goes to change while Stiles feeds Salem and get plates for the two of them. Stiles is eager to spend the night with Derek. He’s eager to see how far he’ll go tonight. Though they’ve shared many kisses and touches, the both of them are still so hesitant to take it past the bare minimum. But Stiles isn’t rushing. If anything, he’s taking it slower than probably normal but he just wants to take his time with Derek. He wants to learn how the guy ticks, his likes and his dislikes. He wants to learn how to drive him crazy.

“Go change,” Derek breaks Stiles out of his reverie and sends him to shower and change, “I’ll get everything set up.”

“Okay,” Stiles sighs, kisses Derek’s cheek in passing and heads to get in the shower.

Derek has to execute a massive amount of self-control. He wants nothing more than to push boundaries and see how far he can go with Stiles but it’s so satisfying to get everything ready and wait for his hopeful boyfriend in the bedroom. So he sucks it up and transports everything to the room. It doesn’t take long for Stiles to hustle through his shower and get into bed with his hair still wet but his cozy fuzzy batman pajama pants on.

“Let’s do this.” Stiles grins, accepting a plate from Derek and digging in as he presses play on Star Wars: a New Hope.

Time passes in comfortable silence, they eat quietly and when they finish, they eat some leftover cookies that Laura gave Stiles. Halfway through Empire Strikes Back when Stiles feels all the day’s exhaustion. Derek turns off all the lights and makes sure that all the doors are locked, letting Stiles stay in bed and get comfortable.

“All locked up,” Derek says, crawling into bed behind Stiles. He turns off the TV and turns on the bedside lamp, knowing that Stiles sleeps with it on.

“You’re the best.” Stiles murmurs tiredly. He doesn’t know when he started trusting Derek so much that he doesn’t feel the need to double check the locks.

“I know.” Derek chuckles and pulls him close. Derek loves this position. Ever since that first time, the first time he ever held Stiles like this, he was hooked. Derek loves the warmth, the pliant body, the cozy happy feeling that spreads through him. Salem curls up at their feet and eyes Derek with a certain look that the deputy isn’t sure what to make of it. If humans could purr, Stiles would be purring right now. He loves being in Derek’s arms, he’s literally never felt so safe. He sleepily kisses the skin under Derek’s jaw, nipping at the skin there.

“Are we boyfriends?” Stiles whispers in the dim light.

“I would like to be.” Derek answers honestly, absolutely loving the intimacy of this moment.

“Good, cuz I wanna be too.” Stiles sighs and slips farther and farther into the darkness, happily letting it swallow him.

“Goodnight, Stiles.” Derek murmurs, kissing his sleepy boyfriend’s head. Stiles may be asleep but Derek stays up as long as he can, simply savoring this moment.

It’s a wonderful moment.

Chapter Text

Two months later. . .

 

“Derek! We’re going to be late!” Stiles calls from the kitchen in Derek’s house. He’s got a sweater vest on, one that he bought specifically for today's event. Stiles got himself invited to Lydia’s Sunday brunch. An affair that had previously only been opened to the inner circle of their group. Now, after several coffee dates as well as multiple occasions hanging out with the group, Stiles was off “probation”. Derek had insisted that a sweater vest wasn’t necessary but Stiles couldn’t help but feel that this event completely justifies the purchase of a sweater vest.

Here he is wearing a blue vest with a lighter blue button down shirt and his trademark black jeans and boots. Derek was hesitant, and to be honest, was afraid of going downstairs to see his boyfriend’s outfit. Finally, he just bites the bullet and goes downstairs. He’s pleasantly surprised to see Stiles is actually pulling off the sweater vest. Derek feels a sudden rush of amorousness that he can’t seem to staunch and without any warning, he rushes to Stiles and wraps the unsuspecting man in his arms.

“Derek!” Stiles lets out a surprised squeak that Derek ignores and lays little kisses all over his neck, “Derek!” Stiles laughs, squirming in Derek’s hold.

“Why am I surprised that you can make sweater vests look good?” Derek murmurs into his boyfriend’s neck.

“I’m glad you like it.” Stiles chuckles, “Now come on, we’re going to be late.” Stiles breaks free from Derek’s arms and takes his hand instead. Laura had let Stiles use the bakery after hours the night before to make a fruit tart that had been his grandmother’s recipe to bring to brunch. Derek concedes quickly after looking at his watch and hurries Stiles out the door.

Stiles isn’t sure he’s ever felt so nervous. He’s never met Lydia, which is odd considering she’s one of the best oncologists this side of the U.S. and she happens to work in the hospital that Stiles works at. Apparently she’s just returned from Switzerland where there was a large conference for the world’s leading cancer researchers on some cancer that Stiles has never heard about. She’s been published, many times, and she’s highly sought out by desperate wealthy people. She’s well respected, reputable, and intelligent. Stiles is sure she’ll wipe the floor with him.

“She’s kind of a handful at first, but you’ll realize that she’s really nice and just like anyone else in the group.” Derek tells him.

“I’m sure,” Stiles sighs, “This is really the first time I’ll be hanging out with everyone in your group.”

“It’s your group now too. You’ve already met most of them, you even play with Scott on the weekends. You’ve gone over to Scott and Kira’s for dinner several times and you’re already my sister’s best friend.” Derek reminds him, “Everyone already likes you.”

“Thanks, Der.” Stiles smiles at him.

When they arrive at Lydia’s house, Stiles is fairly surprised. It’s a beautiful home. Luxurious and humble at the same time. The beautiful spanish colonial style home is a stark white with a dark oak trim. It contrasts with the surrounding landscape, the dark green forest and grass make the home stick out even more. They walk up the red brick walkway to the door and knock on the dark brown, solid oak door. Stiles feels one little flare of nervousness again and messes with his collar one more time before a tall, gorgeous, red-headed woman answers the door. She looks at him with intense hazel eyes that to him feel as if she’s picking him apart piece by piece.

“Uh. . .I bought a fruit tart. . .” Stiles offers with an awkward smile. Lydia purses her lips and looks down at the tart in his hands then flicks her eyes back up to his.

“Acceptable.” Is all she says before taking it out of his hands, “Well? Come on in.”

Stiles nods quickly and hurries into the house with Derek following closely behind.

“It’s been a while,” She says, hugging Derek tightly, “I’m glad you found a non-crazy partner. We were all worried, honestly we were planning an intervention.”

“They weren’t that crazy.” Derek rolls his eyes.

“Stiles, trust me, his ex's were all crazy.” She tells Stiles as she brings them into the kitchen and pours them both a drink, “Everyone’s outside. Help yourselves to some food.”

Stiles is happy to see all of his friends outside. When they see Stiles, everyone rushes to say hello. Laura hugs him first, and Scott gives him a manly side hug. Erica and Boyd, friends that he hadn’t met too long ago, sit comfortably on a porch swing, wrapped in each other. Kira hugs him after Scott and she grins at him widely.

“It’s good to see you again.” She smiles. Stiles loves Kira, she’s like the brightest light. She’s warm and happy and beautiful. Scott’s match in every way.

“Good to see you too, Kira.” Stiles laughs. He takes a seat next to Derek, who had graciously gotten him a plate of delicious looking finger foods.

Around the table, the group of friends are all conversing on their own and after another hour, Stiles finds that he’s bored out of his mind. Derek has done his best to try and entertain Stiles but it seems that Lydia’s latest medical conference is the source of conversation at the moment and Stiles was lost when she started talking about it.

“So, Stiles, Melissa told me that you’re working as a musical therapist at the hospital. Did you go to college for that?” Lydia asks, sipping on her lemonade.

“Oh no, I didn’t go to college.” Stiles says.

“Oh no? What have you been doing with yourself all these years?” She asked him.

“Singing in bars. Writing. After my parents died I had to make ends meet on my own and unfortunately I didn’t have time or money for college.” Stiles says, sipping on his own drink.

“That’s too bad, Melissa tells me you’re quite talented. I know I’ll be going to your Saturday performance this week.” She smiles at him, “Sean tells me you’re a pain in the ass but that your vocal chords are, and I quote, “not so bad”. That’s a pretty big compliment coming from that kid.” She laughs.

“Takes one to know one.” Stiles nods, “He’s a good kid. He’s a quick learner.”

“It’s very sweet of you to teach him. Lord knows he’s lonely.” Lydia says, “You have quite a way with kids if you were able to get a reaction out of that boy.”

“That’s what everyone keeps saying but honestly, if you’re just normal around him then he’ll come around. Everyone’s always trying to make him feel better or treating him like he’s some fragile thing. Then when he snaps, everyone gets angry at him and they think he’s so bad. But he really isn’t. He’s sick, sure, but he’s a kid first. People tend to forget that.” Stiles doesn’t see the pensive stares he’s getting or the calculating look in Lydia’s eyes.

She’s seen Derek go through several partners. There was Paige, Kate, then Jennifer. In between each was some type of guy that really didn’t want a relationship and Derek’s eye candy so she’s sure he never got much out of those interactions. She’s been hearing so many good things, however, that she simply had to meet Stiles and judge for herself. The minute she saw him, she liked him. Even though his wardrobe could use some help, she could see the innocence and the vulnerability in his expression. She could see the way that he curled in just a little, but once he came outside and interacted with the others, he stood a little straighter. He became more and more comfortable. From everything she’s heard, she can honestly say that she isn’t disappointed and this little speech of his confirms her idea of him.

“Interesting. You must be close with him.” She speculates.

“Sean’s a good kid. He just needs a friend.” Stiles tells her honestly.

“Well I couldn’t agree more.” She smiles at him, “By the way, this fruit tart is amazing, it even gives Laura a run for her money.”

For the rest of the afternoon, they eat and enjoy the cool weather. Laura loved the tart and by the end of the evening, Stiles promised he would show her how to make it and she promised him payment for the recipe. Of course she would keep it a secret, but she had a feeling it would be the new popular pastry at the shop. In another hour, it’s getting close to dinner time and people were starting to leave.

“How about I take you out to dinner?” Derek leans over and whispers in Stiles’ ear.

“Absolutely,” Stiles grins at his boyfriend, “And after dinner, you wanna come by my place? Maybe fool around a little. . .”

“Let’s go.” Derek says gruffly, he takes Stiles’ hand and they wave goodbye to everyone quickly before rushing out the door. They barely make it across the threshold before Lydia stops them. She calls Stiles over to her with a look that tells him she’s not going to relent.

“Just start the car, I’ll be right there.” Stiles tells Derek with a heated look in his eyes, “Yes, Lydia, dear. What is it?”

“Stiles, darling, I just want to tell you what I’m sure no one else has told you because they assume that you’re such a golden-hearted, pure souled, good boy. But I know that that’s only part of who you are.” She says with a glint in her eyes, “I know exactly how rough you can be, I can see it in your demeanor, and I know that you’ve come from rough roots. I know a hellion when I see one and I want you to know that if you ever hurt our boy, you will regret it. You have no idea what that man’s gone through and I won’t hesitate to keep him from hurting again.”

“You don’t have to worry about that from me, Lydia.” Stiles tells her in a whisper. He knows exactly how he comes off. He is a good person, has never done anything bad that wasn’t in the name of protection or self defense. He knows that she can see through the good and find the not so good parts of his demeanor.

“One can never know for sure,” She sighs, “But I can see how you two look at each other and I like you, Stiles. It’s my job to worry for my friend so you understand that I have to tell you this. Really, I have high hopes for you two. Now go, have fun.”

“I’ll see you around, Lydia.” Stiles says with a sly grin. He likes her. He’s even happier that he knows she likes him too. He has a feeling that she’s someone he doesn’t want to be on the bad side of. He rushes out of he house and slides into the camaro to join Derek at their favorite Diner.

“What did Lydia want?” Derek asks curiously.

“Oh just to make sure I knew not to hurt you. By the way, she’s pretty terrifying. I like her.” Stiles says with a light tone.

“She what?” Derek practically barked.

“Frankly, I was wondering when someone was going to do that. You’ve got so many friends and two sisters. No one gave me the ‘if you hurt him I’ll kill you’ talk.” Stiles shrugs like it’s nothing.

“I can’t believe she did that.” Derek barks.

“Relax, babe. Really, I was surprised it took someone so long to say that to me. It’s not too big a deal. Really.” Stiles assures his boyfriend.

“If you say so.” Derek sighs.

“Come on, big bad. Let’s just have a nice, relaxing dinner.” Stiles smiles and takes Derek’s hand as they head into the diner.

“I’m starving. I love going to Lydia’s but the food isn’t exactly filling. I’m in the mood for a burger.” Derek laughs.

“I want some curly fries.” Stiles says with a grin.

The two of them are seated quickly in the warm little diner. They’ve spent many dates in this booth and with the same waitress. Stiles has grown fairly fond of her. Nanny, is her name. She’s this twenty something woman, another person who escaped their town and came here to Beacon Hills. She’s sweet and always gives Stiles an extra portion of curly fries for free. She smiles warmly despite her tired eyes and her brown hair is always pulled up in a messy bun. Her makeup is always well done and her nails manicured. She’s the type of girl to make conversation with Stiles and Derek whenever they come in.

“The usual, boys?” She asks them with a happy smile.

“Yes, please, Nanny.” Stiles answers her, “Oh, Salem loves that meowijuana you got him. He couldn’t get enough of the stuff! I guess you’re just gonna have to be his new drug dealer.”

Nanny laughs, “Oh good, I’m glad he likes it. I know my cat loves the stuff too. Let me go get your food started.” The two wave goodbye to her for the time being as she rushes back to the kitchen to get things going.

“So, I was thinking-” Stiles begins.

“A dangerous pastime for you.” Derek interjects with a snort.

“You know I’m a genius,” Stiles rolls his eyes, “I was thinking that we could maybe take a trip? Just the two of us for a few days. I was looking at this place. . .it’s a little cottage on Catalina Island. It’s small and cute. . .with a blue lighthouse in the front yard and it’s right on the beach.”

“Sounds like a dream.” Derek smiles at him, “And you wanna spend a couple days there?”

“Well yeah. . .I thought it might be a nice vacation.” Stiles shrugs.

“I think it’s a perfect vacation. I can’t take any time off right now though, I wish I could. I’m working towards a Sergeant position and I need to be here for just a little while longer.” Derek takes his hand from across the table, “Once I can get away I’ll be there though. I’d love nothing more than to take a vacation with you.”

“Great!” Stiles smiles and stares at his boyfriend with such a dreamy look that he’s startled by Nanny as she puts their drinks in front of you and their usual chocolate shake with two straws.

“Thanks, Nanny.” Derek says before eagerly sipping on the shake.

“Food will be right out,” She laughs.

“What movie should we watch tonight?” Stiles asks his boyfriend.

“I’m in the mood for some Monty Python .” Derek says, taking another sip.

They continue their rather domestic conversation when Nanny brings their food to the table. Two steaming hot cheeseburgers, fully loaded. Derek’s french fries are matched by Stiles’ curly fries and they are happy to dig into their food. By the time they finish their food, nearly an hour later, they’re full and happily sated.

“Thanks, Nanny. You’re the best.” Derek tells their favorite waitress. He leaves a good tip and heads towards the door with Stiles. When they exit the small diner, an angry looking man with shaggy, greasy hair and dark circles under his eyes doesn’t even bother to side step to avoid Stiles. He slams his shoulder into Stiles and knocks him into the doorway.

“Hey,” Stiles objects to the brutal treatment but looking at the guy, decides he’s better off letting it go. He’s tussled with guys like him and he doesn’t have the incentive at the moment to do so again. So they go to the car before Stiles realizes, “Shoot! I left the box of curly fries Nanny gave me. I’ll be right back, start the car and we’ll head out.”

Derek nods and gets into the car. He runs back into the diner and what he sees sparks

something he hasn’t felt in a long while. Nanny is being held by her hair by the man that rudely brushed Stiles aside. She has tears in her eyes and her makeup is ruined. The bad man looks like he’s ready to haul her out by her hair and everyone in the diner is terrified to move because of the sharp looking switchblade in his other hand. He looks absolutely wild. Absolutely frantic.

“I really wouldn’t have come back in.” His voice is dark, just as dark as the black leather jacket he’s wearing, he wrenches Nanny’s hair again and makes her cry out in pain, “The bitch and I are leaving.”

“I don’t think so.” Stiles says. He didn’t think he had a reason to fight tonight but it looks like he’s going to have to.

“Oh. . .you feel like playing the hero tonight?” The man smirks.

“You’re hurting my friend and I don't like that.” Stiles replies just as darkly. He’s come from mean streets and this guy doesn’t know what he’s messing with.

“You don’t like that?” The guy taunts, “How about this?” He slams Nanny’s head on the table and she yelps in surprise then in pain. Stiles sees red.

“Why don’t you mess with someone your own size?” Stiles throws right back at him, “Come on, tough guy. Come at me.”

“Andy. . .stop, please.” Nanny cries.

“Shut up, whore.” Andy growls at her, “Now why don’t you sit there like a good little girl while I take care of your saviour over here.” He throws her backwards and she slams against the counter, sinking down to the floor. Andy opens his arms, laughing in Stiles’ face and in a blitz, he rushes towards Stiles and slashes with his knife. He’s sloppy, uncoordinated and uses brute strength to substitute for actual skill. Stiles ducks out of the way and dodges his hit then throws a right hook, hitting Andy in the side of his face. The punch effectively disorents Andy and Stiles throws a quick succession of hits. Uppercut to the jaw, jab to the liver, right hook directly into Andy’s nose.

The guy didn’t stand a chance.

He makes one last angry, desperate slash and cuts Stiles across the arm, slicing him from wrist to elbow. It stings and Stiles registers the pain but he moves past it easily. He’s had muggers stronger than this punk. He’s been beat by men harder than this delinquent. Stiles was taught well by his father. He was taught by the sheriff. He honed his skills on the streets of his crap town. Those skills were never forgotten.

Stiles lands the last, final blow to Andy’s stomach, knocking him so hard to the floor that he lost consciousness. Blood pours from his nose and there are painful bruises blooming on his skin. He breathes harshly, working to catch his breath and lower the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He interaction didn’t take long and frankly, Stiles feels like it took no time at all. He looks down at the ground at Andy and snorts.

“Maybe next time, you’ll actually be a good fight.” Stiles rolls his shoulders and winces, realizing that he had been cut in the fight. Just at that moment of realization, Derek barges into the diner, gun drawn.

“Stiles?” He sees Andy laying on the ground and the entire diner still shaking, “My God, what happened?”

“Bad guy.” Stiles says simply. He turns to Nanny and moves to help the girl up, “Are you okay?” The woman is shaking, her entire appearance wrecked.

“H-he wasn’t supposed to find me.” She cries into his chest. When her knees buckle, he picks her up and sits her down on the nearest stool.

“I called the police, they’re sending an ambulance,” A woman says from her booth. She’s held tightly in her husband’s arms, “Thank you.”

“All in a day’s work.” Stiles offers a weak smile.

“I don’t know how you did that but thank you,” Nanny says, “You shoulda seen him, Derek. He was like Rambo.”

“I wouldn’t say Rambo. . .” Stiles shrugs.

“Where did that come from?” Nanny asks, rubbing her sore head while they wait. Derek attends to Andy, putting him in cuffs that Derek just happens to carry around.

“I was raised by a sheriff. Not to mention I didn’t grow up in the best of places.” Stiles says to her.

“You’re bleeding pretty bad. . .” Nanny points out. The red blood seeps through the light blue of his button down and Stiles is even more pissed about the ruined shirt.

“Just a flesh wound. I’ll be fine.” Stiles says, “I’m more worried about your head, you could have a concussion.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time.” She sighs, “Andy’s my ex. I left everything behind. My old life, my old job, my old home and friends. . .all to get away from him. I didn’t think he would still be looking for me.”

“Well now he’ll never be looking for you ever again. He’s going to be put away for a long time.” Derek assures her before turning to Stiles. There’s a deep worry there and a burning fury. Stiles feels himself shrink just a little. In their short relationship, the two had never been in an argument but Stiles feels one coming.

It takes EMS and the police ten minutes to arrive. When they do, they take statements from everyone who was in the diner while paramedics take a look at Nanny and Stiles.

“It’s not deep enough for Stitches but it’s gonna hurt like a bitch for a while.” The paramedic says, “You’ll need to keep it clean, keep it wrapped for a little while until it scabs over then you can go without the gauze. If you see it beginning to redden or become pussy, you’ll have to go in and get checked.”

“Thanks,” Stiles grins appreciatively and looks at his gauze covered arm. Derek is leaning against the ambulance, a stern look on his face makes Stiles feel uncomfortable. They finish getting their statements taken and when Parish tells them they can leave, they check with Nanny before they go.

“You gonna be okay?” Stiles asks her.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. My roommate is going to pick me up and Tony gave me time off. I do have a mild concussion but I’ll be alright.” She smiles at him, “I’m so glad that you were there. I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t stepped in like that.”

“It was nothing, really.” Stiles hugs her, “We’ll see you around, alright?”

She nods and waves goodbye to a silent Derek and Stiles lets himself be pulled away from the scene to be taken back to the apartment. Derek is silent the entire way home and Stiles feels a feeling in his gut that keeps growing. Like he knows he’s going to be scolded. They make it into the apartment and Stiles is putting more food in Salem’s bowl when Derek stops his pacing and looks at Stiles like he wants to say something.

“Stiles-”

“Don’t say it, Derek.” Stiles sighs, “I couldn’t just not help her.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to not help Nanny. But I would have hoped that you would value your life just a little and called for help. I was only in the car. I could have helped!” Derek shouts.

“Is that what this is about, Derek?” Stiles shouts back, “You wanted to help?”

“No that’s ridiculous, Stiles. I just want to make sure that you’re-”

“I can take care of myself, Derek. I’m fine!” Stiles shouts, “Sometimes I think you forget how capable I am. Andy was some low rent thug and didn’t have any skill to back him up. I’ve been mugged by guys ten times stronger than him.”

“I know you can protect yourself, Stiles but that doesn’t mean I think you should have to!” Derek yells before flopping down on the couch and rubs his temples, “You’re supposed to be safe here. I’m supposed to keep you safe.”

“Derek,” Stiles sighs. In that moment, hearing Derek’s defeated tone makes his anger evaporate, “You can’t always keep me safe, babe.”

“I know that.” Derek groans, “But can’t a guy try?” suddenly, they’re both laughing.

“Come on, big guy. I want a shower and I need some help.” Stiles stands and offers his hand to Derek to lead him into the bathroom with heavy lidded eyes.

Derek follows quietly with eyes full of awe. Then they’re standing in Stiles’ bathroom and he helps get Stiles’ sweater vest off. Then slowly unbuttons his ruined blue button down. Pausing at the middle of his chest to run his fingers down his boyfriend’s chest. Stiles feels his entire body come alive with Derek’s touch and when his shirt is off, Derek’s hands travel lower to undo his belt. Then pop the button of his jeans. The moment he feels his waistband loosen, he inhales sharply and grabs Derek’s hand.

“I’ve never done this before.” Stiles gasps out, “I’ve never been this close with anyone.”

“It’s okay,” Derek whispers. His lips are only millimeters away from Stiles’ and he can feel his breath, “We’ll go as slow as you want.”

“Okay,” Stiles’ wide, innocent doe eyes stare at him with unrelenting trust.

Derek kisses his lips tenderly and continues to take Stiles’ clothes off. When Stiles’ pants hit the floor and his boxers follow, Derek feels like he might explode. Stiles is pale. Pale, and soft with a thick patch of dark hairs surrounding his groin that trail upwards towards his bellybutton. Stiles feels Derek’s eyes on him and feels vulnerable, raw. It’s a new feeling for Stiles. He moves to take off Derek’s clothes and the man is eager to shed his layers and join his boyfriend in the nude. Derek is beautiful. Olive toned skin with dark hair covering his strong legs, muscular arms and framing his large and throbbing penis.

Their hearts beat powerfully in their chests, pounding in their ears. Derek’s warm hands unwrap Stiles’ arm and caress it gently. He can hear the water running in the distance but he doesn’t register it until Derek is pulling him under the stream. The warm water stings his arm but he feels better getting it clean. Derek is gently, his warm hands run all over his body and trail soap around every crevice. They wash each other in a comfortable silence, simply learning each other’s bodies. This is the farthest Stiles has ever gone with anyone and he wants to go even farther.

“Stiles,” Derek whispers to him as he runs his soapy fingers through Stiles’ hair.

“Derek,” Stiles responds almost lethargically.

“Stiles, I think I love you.” Derek says, seemingly as stunned as Stiles was. But the response was immediate.

“I love you too, Derek.” Stiles says, a small smile plays on his lips. Derek looks as if he’s been given a precious gift and hugs Stiles tight.

“Let’s get to bed, you’re exhausted.” Derek says to his boyfriend.

“I wanna mess around,” Stiles pouts.

“Me too, babe. But we’ve both had an eventful day. We’ve got all the time in the world.” Derek smiles and wraps a towel around his lover.

“Okay,” Stiles rubs his nose adoringly against Derek’s and lets himself be led to bed where Derek re-wraps his arm. After he double checks the locks and brings Salem to the bed, the two curl up under the covers, completely nude and completely happy.

“I love you,” they say at the same time.

Chapter Text

“Alright, kid. Show me whatcha got.” Stiles grins at Sean. The boy is feeling better today. He had enough energy these past two weeks to actually get out of bed and play the guitar. Stiles sits in his usual chair in the corner of the room with his own guitar in his lap and a smile on his face. Sean is sitting up in his bed, a determined look on his face and a smirk on his lips. He clears his throat and looks at the camera that they both setup to capture this moment.

“I’ve been workin’ real hard on this one, I think you’re gonna like it.” Sean says. He begins to strum the intro to the song and it hits Stiles which song he’s performing. A massive grin breaks out on his face and he watches Sean’s expression turn into one of concentration.

“Well, I won't back down. No, I won't back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won't back down. No, I'll stand my ground. Won't be turned around. And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down. Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down.” Sean’s eyes close slightly and Stiles can see a real shift in his demeanor. The boy’s voice is higher than Stiles’ and just a little scratcher but it’s well tuned and not unpleasant. “Hey, baby. There ain't no easy way out. Hey, I will stand my ground, and I won't back down.”

Stiles is in awe of Sean. He’s amazed at the boy’s progress and his ability. The boy has real talent and Stiles really likes listening to him. This is the first time that Stiles has ever gotten to see Sean this free and easy. It’s pleasant and the air in the room is more comfortable than Stiles has ever experienced. Sean is focused and he transitions smoothly from verse to chorus with an eased practice.

“Well, I know what's right. I got just one life. In a world that keeps on pushin' me around, but I'll stand my ground, And I won't back down.” Stiles watches as Sean’s fingers fly over the strings, strumming and picking with skill and he’s almost tempted to just pat himself on the back for being such a phenomenal teacher. Sean isn’t missing a single chord. “ Hey, baby. There ain't no easy way out. Hey, I will stand my ground, and I won't back down.”

As his finishes the song, Stiles notices that Sean has managed to get himself into a state of pure bliss. That he’s seemingly forgotten about the rest of the world around him and he’s adrift in the music. Stiles has been there before, he knows the feeling and he’s so happy that Sean can experience that kind of release. Stiles watches intently as Sean finishes the song and when he strums the closing to the song and the music dies off, he doesn’t clap. Sean is still gone to the world. So he takes the phone and turns off the video. He gives Sean a minute to find his way back and when his eyes meet Stiles’ there’s a sense of happiness, ease and tranquility there. Sean feels like some weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

“That was amazing, Sean. Really amazing.” Stiles tells him honestly, “Perfect song choice.”

“Damn right it was amazing,” Sean says without any real sarcasm. “Thank you.”

“Do you have a song in mind for next week?” Stiles asks hopefully, “Because I think that we should definitely do this every week.”

“Yeah, I’ve got a couple in mind.” Sean grins, “Stiles. . .I know I annoy the hell out of you and can be kindof an ass but I really like playing with you. Thank you for teaching me.” This moment of realness is so out of character for Sean that for a moment, Stiles doesn’t know what to say.

“You’re welcome,” Is all that Stiles manages. Sean rolls his eyes, returning to his usual flippant self.

“Don’t go getting all sentimental on me.” He frowns slightly, “The last thing we need is you showing your fragile sensitivities.”

“Thanks, Sean.” Stiles laughs, “Well, I guess now we oughta start working’ on the harder stuff. Now that you’ve mastered the basics and the intermediates.”

“Sure that’s-”

“Stiles!” Melissa runs into the room looking frantic.

“Mel? What’s wrong?” Stiles asks, suddenly feeling his stomach sink.

“You need to come with me right now.” She says, her eyes wild.

“O-okay.” Stiles stutters as he packs his things quickly with shaking hands.

“Leave your stuff here, man. Come get it later.” Sean says with concerned eyes. Stiles nods and thanks him quietly before running out of the room with Melissa.

“What’s happening?” Stiles asks fearfully.

“There was a shoot out by the highway heading out of town. Derek and his partner, Parrish were caught in the crosshairs and they were both shot down.” Melissa explains as they run to the ICU lobby, “They were both rushed in and they’re both in emergency surgery right now.”

Stiles feels as if the world is collapsing right in front of him. He feels like he’s seventeen again, with his father dying in the hospital. He feels his whole world shatter. He just talked to Derek this morning. How could this have happened? He feels as if he’s going to puke. Like his legs are going to crumble underneath him and he’s sure that he might have a heart attack. When they get to the lobby, Melissa sits him down. No one is there yet.

“Where’s Laura? Where is everyone?” Stiles asks out loud.

“I just ran in to tell you, I have to notify Laura and everyone now.” Melissa says.

“I’ll do it.” He feels breathless, his shaking fingers reach for his phone.

“Stiles you don’t have to-”

“I can do it. Let me do it.” Stiles entreats her, “It’s her brother and her fiance in there.”

“Alright. I’m going to go get some more information, I’ll be right back.” She tells him with a kind smile and sad eyes. Stiles nods and quickly dials Laura’s number.

“Stiles! Hey babe, how are you?” Laura’s cheery voice stops him. He’s not sure how to break the news to her, not sure if he can actually say the words, “Stiles?”

“Laura. . .you and Cora need to get to the hospital.” Stiles sighs shakily, “It’s Derek. . .and Jordan.”

“Oh my God.” Her voice cracks and it’s enough for Stiles to let out a breathy sob, “We’ll be right there.”

“Be safe.” Stiles says before hanging up the phone.

“Stiles!” He turns his head to see Lydia, in her little white lab coat. She looks pristine, as per usual, though she’s got a distressed look on her face. The redhead runs to him and pulls him into a tight hug. Stiles struggles to keep the tears back, “I just heard.”

“I-I don’t know what to do.” Stiles croaks.

“You don’t need to do anything sweetie.” Lydia rubs his back consolingly, “They’re going to be just fine. Did you call Laura already?”

“Cora and Laura are on their way.” Stiles murmurs quietly.

“Good.” Lydia settles him back into a chair and they wait for more news. Lydia is busy on her phone, texting with one hand and holding Stiles’ hand with the other. In no more than ten minutes, Laura and Cora burst into the waiting room with tears in their eyes and when they see Stiles sitting with Lydia, the four of them are hugging in meer seconds.

“What happened?” Laura cries, “I just talked to him this morning. . .”

“They were on a call,” Stiles chokes out, “There was a shoot out and they were hit.”

“Oh my God.” Cora whimpers.

“Mel, have you heard anything?” Lydia breaks up the hug to ask her.

“Derek took two bullets to the torso. One in his upper right pectoral and one just above his kidneys. He’s in critical but the doctors are hopeful. He’s doing well in surgery so far.” Melissa says with a hopeful expression.

“Wasn’t he wearing his kevlar?” Laura questions almost angrily.

“Yes but vests weaken with every shot taken. He took several. Shots to the chest and back.” Melissa says, “When they pulled the vest off of him it looked like he took at least four shots. That’s more than enough to pierce the vest and cause damage.”

“What about Jordan?” Laura asks quickly.

“Shot in the thigh, it hit his left femoral artery.” Melissa says, “He lost a lot of blood. We hate to ask but we need blood, are any of you able to donate?”

“I’m O-negative,” Stiles nods fervently, “I can donate.”

“Jordan and I are the same blood type, I’ll donate too.” Laura jumps at the chance.

“Good, okay,” Melissa nods quickly, “They’ll be in surgery for a while yet and we’ll get it going on the blood right away.”

They rush Stiles and Laura into a nearby room with all the necessary equipment and begin drawing their blood. Stiles has never been fond of needles and truth be told, it’s his first time giving blood but he’d rather have his boyfriend than his blood. It’s a quick process and before they know it, one unit of blood has been taken from both of them and whisked off to the operating room. Stiles feels woozy but still fine enough to give a little more. Lydia went with them to make sure that the appropriate amount could be taken. They gave as much as they could and soon after, Cora and Scott walk in to donate too.

“Hey,” Scott hugs Stiles gently, “Crappy day, huh?”

“You said it,” Stiles huffs out a laugh.

“Okay, you can go wait in the waiting room now with Lydia.” Melissa tells Stiles and Laura, “She’ll make sure you’re eating and staying hydrated. Take it easy for a while you won’t be feeling too great.”

They nod and take the offerings of juice and assorted goodies from the nurses before following Lydia back to the waiting room. Stiles wraps an arm around her waist, the arm that doesn’t have blue tape around it where they drew blood. They lean on each other and when they find themselves back in the waiting room, Laura leans her head on Stiles’ shoulder.

“Are you okay?” She asks.

“Yeah.” Stiles lies.

“He’s gonna be okay.” Laura says firmly, “They both are.”

They sit in silence, sipping their juice and eating their animal crackers. It’s cold and quiet in the waiting room. Surgery is supposed to take a couple hours, Stiles isn’t sure he’ll be able to sit for that long. After only an hour in the waiting room, he feels much better and anxious. The last update given to Melissa was positive for both of them, so they’re hopeful.

“Stiles, why don’t you and I go and get you an overnight bag? I’m sure you’ll want to grab Derek something too.” Lydia suggests.

“I don’t want to leave Derek.” Stiles objects.

“Just a quick trip, you’ll be back before he’s even out of surgery,” Lydia pushes, “You’ll probably want to stay the night with him too, I’m sure so you’ll have to pack a bag to stay with him. You need to make sure Salem’s okay, too.”

“But-”

“I’ll go with you two. Salem can stay at my house, I would like it if you could stay with Derek so I can stay with Jordan.” Laura sighs, pulling Stiles to his feet, “Cora, could you please stay at the house and take care of Salem?”

“Definitely.” She says with a small, tired smile.

“I’ll drive us.” Lydia says, ushering them out of the hospital.

They’re silent as they drive to Stiles’ apartment to get his things. He fills a bag with the essentials. A change of clothes and his toothbrush. He packs quickly and grabs Derek’s pillow. Stiles feels his eyes burn with tears when he thinks about how just this morning they had been laying in bed together. How they had eaten breakfast together and gotten ready for the day together. Stiles even helped to put on Derek’s kevlar. It’s distressing and Stiles feels his lungs burn with panic.

“Stiles?” Laura hugs him from behind, “It’s okay.”

“Laura-” His voice breaks and he feels himself breaking down again.

“Shhh.” Laura’s own voice shakes with emotion, “It’ll be okay. He’s strong. You know how strong he is. He’ll pull through.”

Stiles nods and holds Derek’s pillow close to his chest. He takes his pillow and his mother’s blanket with him. Lydia is holding Salem in her arms and the cat is calmly watching all that is happening. On the way to Laura’s, Salem lays in Stiles’ lap, purring loudly in an attempt to calm his friend. It works only a little. Stiles finds it calming to rub down the cat’s back and scratch behind his ears. While Laura packs her things, Stiles sets up Salem’s things.

“Okay, buddy. Cora’s going to keep an eye on you tonight. I’m going to stay with Derek in the hospital and you’re going to be on your best behaviour alright?” Stiles says to the cat, “I love you, bud. I’ll see you soon.”

The cat only purrs and meows in quiet dissatisfaction. Laura runs down the stairs with a few things in a bag. Movies and books that she knows Derek loves. A blanket that Derek sleeps with and a bag of little things for him. His shaver, his toothbrush, his comb.

“Okay, let’s head on back.” Laura says with a frown, “We need food, I haven’t eaten all day and neither has Stiles.”

“We can run through a fast food place-”

“I already put an order into the diner, Nanny’s got it waiting for us.” Laura shakes her head and pats Salem before rushing everyone out of the door.

By the time they get their food and get back to the lobby, their whole group of friends are there in the waiting room. They let Stiles and Laura eat in peace before the hugging started. It felt better, all of them waiting for Derek to get out of surgery. It didn’t take too long for Melissa to come back out and greet them.

“They’re being moved to adjoining rooms. You’re going to have a lot of deputies in and out for a while but they’re still asleep so you’ll have to police it.” Melissa says, “Just remember to be quiet and to be calm.”

“We’re not all going up, we’ll come visit sometime tomorrow.” Erica says, holding out a small teddy bear to Stiles and Laura, “We’ll be back tomorrow, okay? Call us if anything changes.” Boyd nods in agreement with his girlfriend and hug everyone once more before heading out of the hospital.

“I’m going to head out too,” Isaac says, “There’s a lot going on at the station right now and I’m going back to make sure everything is put back in order. I’ll let everyone know that they’re stable and being taken care of.”

“Thanks, Isaac.” Laura says, hugging her friend.

“I’m staying till my mom is off shift then I’m taking her home,” Scott says, “Is there anything I can do for you right now?”

“I think we’re okay.” Laura smiles at him gratefully.

“They’re in their rooms now, you can head on up.” Melissa says, handing her a sticky note with the room numbers on them. The tension is thick and walking to the rooms feels like they’re walking through mud. It’s hard and taxing. When they finally get to the rooms, the Stiles and Cora rush in to Derek’s side. He’s pale and he’s hooked up to so many wires that it’s all so overwhelming. Derek’s hair is greasy and he’s so still. The sleep that he’s in is so unnatural to Stiles and it sends shivers up his spine. He’s bare chested, the gross blue gown is pushed down around his hips, visibly displaying Derek’s bandages to the world. It looks like they’ve tried to mummify him but only succeeded in wrapping his chest. Seeing Derek like this makes Stiles feel queasy all over again.

Laura was torn, she didn’t know who to go see first. After a moment of contemplation, she heads in to see Jordan and in her moment of solitude by Jordan’s side, she breaks down and cries for her fiance. Jordan is in bad shape, pale and sickly looking with his leg in a bright white bandage. She takes his cold hand and holds it tightly, willing it to warm in her hand.

They know there are other people in the rooms with them. People file in and out but it’s all a blur to Stiles and Laura. There’s a suffocating aura of sadness that no one is able to stand for too long. Stiles works to make Derek more comfortable, gently lifting his head to place his pillow there, laying Derek’s blanket across his body, covering his chest to keep him warm in the cold hospital. He sits down and holds Derek’s hand, stroking it lovingly, waiting for his boyfriend to wake up.

The day is long and Stiles is lost in most of it. He’s waiting dutifully for his lover to wake from his sleep and tell him that everything will be alright. Cora moves in between the two rooms with her sister, splitting their time as best they can. There’s a blur of cops, nurses, friends. . .Stiles doesn’t see any of them. He only sees Derek. It’s shortly after visiting hours are over that Stiles feels Derek squeeze his hand.

“Derek?” Stiles looks at his lover with tears in his eyes. He’s at his feet in an instant, a warm hand stroking his cheek.

“St-” Derek coughs and groans in pain at the movement. Stiles quickly calls the nurse and they run in with a water cup and a straw. She delegates to Stiles to give Derek water and he does so eagerly, holding the water cup up to Derek’s lips to let him take small sips. He’s groggy and in pain, the nurse works to give him pain medicine and run through everything she needs to. Stiles isn’t a doctor and he’s never been one to pay attention to what nurses do so he keeps his eyes on Derek.

“Oh Derek,” Stiles cries, “I’m so happy to see you awake you have no idea.”

“Stiles,” Derek groans, “What happened?”

“You were shot you great big oaf.” Stiles cries, “Don’t you ever do this to me again.”

“Sorry, babe.” Derek chuckled dryly.

“What were you thinking, running into danger?” Stiles asks him, kissing his lips gently.

“What can I say. . .” Derek groans, “Danger’s my middle name.”

Stiles laughs until he begins to cry uncontrollably. It was a long ass day for everyone and after it all, Stiles let everything else fall away while he was with Derek. He wouldn’t lose another loved one.

. . .

Stiles is laying beside Derek, cuddled into his side despite the objections of all the nurses that saw them together on the hospital bed, but whenever they tried to separate them, Derek’s heart rate grew too high. Stiles is careful and for once in his life, finds it easy to lay still. They’re watching the TV, the second Terminator movie. Derek loves this movie. Though he’s exhausted and he’s been in and out the entire evening, Stiles is perfectly comfortable on the little bed with him. Stiles hasn’t let go of Derek’s hand and he doesn’t plan on letting go either.

While Derek sleeps, Stiles can’t help but think. About his father, about the similarities between his dad and Derek. About what happened to both of them, but how heartbreaking one of their situations had bee. Stiles has always understood the sacrifice it takes to be a cop and the sacrifice it takes to love one. He had been alone most of his teenage years because his dad was always on shift, he had spent a lot of his time bugging his father to eat better. He spent all of his time worrying for his father, all of his time reassuring his father that he was okay and taken  care of. It was all he knew. Being with Derek is like he’s back in that life again. Not that Stiles was wholly against it. He loved his dad and loved the sacrifices he made to keep everyone safe and to make the world better. He loved his father’s passion and his strength. Just like how he admires Derek.

That doesn’t mean, however, that he doesn’t worry for Derek. That he doesn’t feel stressed almost every single minute of the day. Stiles loves Derek more than he ever thought he could love anyone. He’s given Derek everything he can. He wants to give Derek everything. So when Derek wakes up for the fourth time that night to stretch and drink more water.

“Are you okay, baby?” Stiles asks quietly.

“Yeah,” Derek groans out a pitiful lie. Of course he’s not alright, he’s been shot.

“I love you,” Is all Stiles can think to say.

“I love you too, Stiles.” Derek gives him a weak smile, “I know today was probably really shitty for you, but you have to know that no matter what, I’ll always do my absolute best to come back to you.”

“I know,” Stiles replies with a soft expression, “Just. . .try not to get shot again?”

“I’ll try.” Derek chuckles lightly, “Thank you for being here. For me and for Laura.”

“I love you, Der, and I love your family. I’m just happy that you and Jordan are okay. I don’t know what I’d do if you didn’t-” Stiles gets choked up and feels himself starting to crumble.

“Stiles,” Derek whispers, laying his free hand on Stiles’ lips to silence him before wiping away his tears, “I’m okay, Stiles. I’m here, with you and I’m okay.”

Stiles nods and after a minute of pitiful sniffles, Stiles curls in tighter to Derek’s side and pulls his mother’s blanket over the two of them. Stiles is careful not to jar Derek’s body with his movements and when he settles for the night, Stiles sighs and hiccups just a little. The lights are off in the room and he had just turned off the TV. All that could be heard in the room is their breathing. Stiles feels calm, the light from the oxygen monitor illuminate the room and the door is latched. Stiles feels himself fall into a deep dark sleep, wrapped in Derek.

“I love you so much, Derek.” Stiles murmurs to his lover.

“I love you too, Stiles. More than anything.” Derek kisses the top of his head and together, the two of them fall asleep in each other’s arms, lulled by their shared warmth and the sound of their hearts beating. To Stiles, he thinks that Derek’s heartbeat might be the best thing he’s ever heard.

Chapter Text

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve come to see you both. If you’ve been watching over me like how I think you are, then you know I’m not in that shithole anymore. I’ve found a new home, one that I have settled into. It’s unbelievable, really, it feels like only yesterday I was burying you, mom and only a few hours since I buried dad. It feels like no time has passed. It’s still an open wound that refuses to heal most days. Sometimes the wound gets so infected that I feel as if I’m gonna lose a limb. I’m not sure how to fix it.

Derek’s been helping, though. Derek is great. In all my life I didn’t think I could ever find someone who is so magnificent. He’s got a heart of gold, really. He’s so kind. He’s brave, dad, just like you. He reminds me so much of you. He’s so gentle and strong at the same tie. Loving, and truly generous. He’s exactly what I’ve always wanted but never thought I could have, it’s almost as if I ordered him from a catalogue. I think the two of you would have been proud. Derek and his family are amazing. His sister practically took me in with next to no reservations. She saw me, a guy with nothing and took me in, gave me a home, a family. Cora is hilarious, really. She’s snarky and fun. She makes the best grilled cheese, sorry mom. Laura is just like her, only slightly nicer, less sarcastic.

I’ve come to be a part of the community. My job at the hospital, I meet so many new people. I’m sure you know just how many. I’ve come to really enjoy the job. The kids are really cute and Sean’s a piece of work but I like the kid. He’s smart and sarcastic, witty and can really be very strong. He’s a good kid and I worry about him. He’s really sick. I was there after his third round of chemo and he was so sick for days. He wasn’t nearly as snappy as he usually was and he was even perfectly content to just listen to me play in the corner of his room while he dozed off. It was heartbreaking. But he’s really a good kid, like the little brother I never had.

Derek likes him too, and if Derek likes him then I guess my intuition is correct and I was right in choosing my pupil. Well. I know that this past week was the anniversary of mom’s death and dad’s is only a few weeks away. I hope you’ll forgive my weakness, but I really don’t want to go visit you. I have everything that reminds me of you, your spirits are always with me and I know you’re watching over me, so why should it matter if I’m not there in person? I guess it really does matter. It matters a lot. I can’t tell you how much I wish I could be there. The truth is, I’m sort of scared to go back there. So many things happened there that I just. . .it hurts thinking about that town. About the house we three used to live in. About my schools that I grew up in. About the park we used to go to on weekends. Not just the happy memories that we created, but also the bad ones. The hospital mom died in, the street that dad was shot at, the bar that I was mugged at repeatedly. It’s all in that town. In Beacon Hills, there’s nothing but happy memories, memories that I’ve created with my friends, with my boyfriend. I’m sure that eventually, I’ll make bad memories here too but I haven’t so far and honestly, I’ve had so much fun here. It feels like I’ve actually started living.

My life is so wonderful now. It’s like everything I’ve ever wanted. I’m actually a part of something so wonderful. It feels like I’m in a family again. I missed that so much, you have no idea. I missed being able to call someone if I was stuck or upset or just feeling lonely. I missed being able to have breakfast, lunch or dinner with people who laugh and love. I love Saturday mornings with Derek, making pancakes or just laying in bed. I love going to Sunday brunch with everyone. I love going to movie nights on a Wednesday with my group of friends. I love playing with Scott on the days that we practice.

I love everything that being with Derek comes with. I love smelling his cologne on my sheets, I love when he comes over to nap during the day between shifts and ends up talking about work in his sleep. I love it when he cuddles me at night. As sappy as that sounds. It’s the best feeling in the world feeling his wrapped around me. Salem loves him too, the cat is actually getting fairly fat now with all the snacks that Derek brings over. We both love Derek. I know that you two would have loved him too, especially dad. Dad, Derek is so much like you it’s insane. Mom, he would’ve called you ma’am. He would’ve loved both of you. Sometimes when I think about it I get so sad. Derek doesn’t talk about his parents yet but I’m sure he’ll talk about it when he feels ready. It took me a long time before I could really talk about you guys to him. When he got shot on the job, it all just poured out to him. All of the good memories and the bad. I told him about how hard it was when you were killed, dad. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sick, so helpless. Once in a lifetime is hard enough but twice. . .seeing Derek like that shattered my heart.

I know that bad things happen, it feels like they happen to me more than anyone I’ve ever known but now it seems like things are looking up. Mom, Dad, things are looking up. I’ve found the love of my life, I’ve found a new family, and I’ve found a home. Most people aren’t so lucky to have all that let alone find it twice in a lifetime and I know you’re both watching over me. I love you both so much and I miss you guys so much it hurts. But now, now I think I’ve got people that help to heal that pain.

I love you both more than anything and I know that wherever you are, you’re watching out for me.

I’ll write you again soon,

Stiles

Chapter Text

“Derek, baby. . .” Stiles questions from the bedroom to his boyfriend who is currently making breakfast in the kitchen.

“Yes, sweetie?” He calls back sarcastically.

“Darling, I think you’ve been avoiding me.” Stiles sighs almost annoyedly.

“Sugar, we’ve spent almost every waking moment together since I’ve been in the hospital and since I’ve gotten out.” Derek rolls his eyes, a slight frown on his face.

“Love, we haven’t spent that much time together, you’re exaggerating.” Stiles shifts uncomfortably in bed, feeling suddenly as if he’s in the way.

“Pumpkin, I am certain I’m not exaggerating.” Derek reminds him almost petulantly. He flips the bacon with a strong glare.

“Derek, is there something you want to say to me?” Stiles grouches from the room, rolling onto his bed to stare at the ceiling.

“No, dear. Of course not.” Derek huffs. Stiles feels the vibrating tension that is entirely too palpable. He doesn’t believe Derek for one moment. He swings his legs off the bed and goes to lean against the doorway, staring at Derek with his arms crossed.

“I think you’re upset.” Stiles points out unhelpfully. Derek grunts and throws the spatula in the sink angrily making Stiles flinch.

“Look, you know I’m so grateful for everything you’ve done for me, especially since I’ve been put on desk duty. I’m agitated, PT is grilling, I miss Jordan and I’m just at the end of my rope, Stiles.” Derek manages to grit out with his back still turned to Stiles, “You’ve been there every day and I love you, you know I do. It’s just that we’ve been in close quarters all the time. I’ve been staying with you, we see each other before work and I pick you up after work and we spend all of our spare time together. I just. . .I need some me time. Time to myself.”

The silence is just as bad as the tension there was before. Now there’s a different kind of tension and Stiles hates is. He’s never had this before so he’s not sure what to do. He thought that spending so much time together was great. He loved going to bed with Derek and waking up with him. He loved going to dinner together or making breakfast together. He loved seeing Derek so much. Before Derek was injured, they didn’t see each other nearly as often and he hated that. He could see his boyfriend maybe twice or three times a week but now they saw each other every day. Stiles knows that Derek’s been struggling with PT and being put on desk duty, especially since he’s been working so hard for the sergeant title. This injury set him so far back, and Jordan. . .according to Laura, he’s having an even harder go of it.

After a few minutes of silence that seem to stretch on and on, Derek turns to look at Stiles. All of the anger, the annoyance and irritation is simmering now. Stiles is staring at his feet as if they’re the most interesting things on the planet, trying to think of a solution. He’s gasping but he thinks that maybe, maybe he’s been too pushy. Maybe he made things too serious too fast for Derek. Maybe Derek just isn’t ready for what Stiles is offering. The last thing that Stiles wanted to do was push it on Derek.

“I’m sorry,” Derek says suddenly feeling a twinge of regret.

“Don’t be sorry, Derek. You’re right.” Stiles runs his fingers through his hair, “I don’t want to suffocate you, Derek.” He returns back to the bedroom to get dressed as quickly as he can. He can hear Derek sigh loudly from the kitchen though he continues to finish preparing breakfast. Stiles applauds his effort but isn’t hungry anymore. He pulls his boots on and grabs his phone and wallet.

“Breakfast is done-” Derek stops at the doorway but stopped and stared at Stiles questioningly, “What’s uh. . .what are you doing?”

“I forgot that this was the only time that Scott was free to rehearse. I’m supposed to be at his place like. . .an hour ago.” Stiles sighs and grabs his guitar.

“What about breakfast?” Derek asks in a quiet voice.

“I’m not so hungry but it looks good, thanks.” Stiles gives him a weak smile before making his way to the door.

“Stiles, don’t go,” Derek says urgently, “Not right now, let’s talk about this.”

“I just need to process this, alright? I need to process then later, when we’re both calm and have it together, then we can talk about this.” Stiles rubs his temples, feeling the headache that’s emerging there, “I’ll see you later, Der.”

“Okay,” Derek says with little fight, “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Stiles says without hesitation before hurrying out the door. The moment the door closes, he feels as if he’s drowning. Like he’s been swept beneath the undertow. It’s a surreal feeling. He starts to make his way to Scott’s place, his phone in his hand, he calls his friend.

“Hey, Stiles. I’m kinda busy, what’s going on?” Scott sounds a little flustered and Stiles feels guilty for calling so suddenly.

“Nothing. . .I just sorta had a fight with Derek. If you’re busy I can-”

“That’s the worst, dude. I’m having an emergency at the clinic, why don’t you come by. Maybe you could help me out.” Scott sounds hopeful and Stiles is happy for the distraction so he changes direction and starts walking towards the clinic.

“Sure, I’m on my way. I’ll be there in ten.” Stiles tells his friend.

“Sweet! I’ll see you soon,” There’s a loud crash in the background, “Uh. . .hurry?”

“I’ll hustle.” Stiles laughs before hanging up the phone. He picks up the pace as he makes his way to the clinic. It’s a cloudy day, almost like it’s going to rain. The air is heavy with moisture and the clouds above are that dark gray kind of color. The air is thick with that rainy scent that Stiles loves. It’s all the confirmation he needs. By the time he gets to the shelter, there’s a light drizzle and thunder in the distance. He can hear the animals barking outside in a noisy clamor and he can even pick out Scott’s shouting. There’s a closed sign on the door and Stiles, upon entering, is struck by the most hilarious sight. Scott is on the floor of the lobby, struggling to wrangle a host of little critters.

“Stiles!” Scott looks up at him gratefully, “Man I’m so glad you’re here! Do you think you could help me out?”

“Sure,” Stiles laughs in joy at the little animals. He sets his guitar down and kneels on the ground to quickly grab a couple multi-colored kittens before they can squirm away. He giggles as they bite his fingers and squirm but he puts them in the little cat carrier beside Scott and goes back to get more. There are far too many litters here, just random kittens all meowing and crawling, “How did you even get this many?”

“This is nothing. You should see the kennels in the back. Just packed with puppies.” Scott sighs tiredly, “This is my least favorite part of the year.”

“Adoption season?” Stiles asks.

“Yeah, adoption season.” Scott rolls his eyes, “All the shelters that are overcrowded with puppies and kittens are put on a bus, basically, and carted around until they get adopted. If they don’t get picked up then they go back to the shelters. I stupidly let Kira convince me to sign up to be one of the locations for an adoption event.”

“Shouldn’t there be like. . .volunteers?” Stiles asks, gently placing another three kittens in another carrier.

“Oh there were. To drop off.” Scott grouches, “They basically just dropped them off and left. I’m going to complain to the organization. This is ridiculous! Some of the carriers were just left outside too. These guys were the worst!”

“That’s terrible.” Stiles says, “Your assistant is out today too, huh?”

“Karen’s giving birth.” Scott says bitterly, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for her but I didn’t have anyone to help and the carriers completely came apart on me when I was moving the little guys inside!”

“Well, I guess it’s true when they say when it rains, it pours.” Stiles sighs with a dry chuckle.

“I guess.” Scott runs his hands through his hair and takes a moment to look at Stiles, “I’m sorry you and Derek had a fight.”

“Yeah,” Stiles grunts, “I guess it wasn’t really a fight fight .”

“What happened?” Scott asked. They sat now that all the kittens were wrangled. Stiles holds a little black kitten that reminds him of Salem to his chest. The little thing squirms but settles after a few moments of calm stroking.

“I could tell he was getting irritated. With all the PT and desk duty, I guess I just. . .smothered him a bit. I don’t know. But he was angry this morning at me and told me he needed some space. Maybe I picked a fight with him, I was sorta sarcastic and unpleasant. He’s been stressed.” Stiles murmurs to the kitten that’s purring away in his hands.

“Even if you were being sarcastic, he shouldn’t have been that angry. He should have told you if he was feeling smothered. And even then, he’s a grown ass man. If he was feeling that way then he could have gone back to live at his house instead of staying with you. He could have just taken his own time.” Scott tells him, “Derek should realize that he’s an adult whose fully capable of moving around. It shouldn’t make you feel bad about that.”

“He said that he needed some ‘ me time’ ,” Stiles tells him, “Why wouldn’t he just take it? Is it so hard to tell me that maybe he doesn’t want to spend an evening on the couch? He could have gone out and hung out with Boyd or anyone else or just himself!”

“Yeah, he shouldn't have blown up like that, dude.” Scott shakes his head, “Sometimes Derek doesn’t realize that he’s hitting his limit and when he hits it, he can blow up. He’s getting better about it but he’s just like anyone else, he has his moments. That doesn’t mean that he’s not in the wrong, though.”

“Yeah. I just walked out. Told him I was going to see you and that we’d talk about it later when we’ve both. . .decompressed.” Stiles shrugs. Scott gives him a soft smile and nods.

“That’s all you can do. When Kira and I fight, we both need to take a minute before we come back to it. Clearer heads prevail.” Scott tells him, “Maybe this will be a good little bit of time for him to figure out what he needs. Some time to himself is exactly what he wanted, right?”

“Yeah,” Stiles chuckles, “I don’t feel that way though, you know? I go to work and I have all that time to myself with the kids or just hanging around the hospital then I get to spend time with Derek and I love it. I never feel like spending time alone. I don’t feel like I need it.”

“You think that maybe that’s because you spent so much time on your own before you came here?” Scott asks gently.

“Maybe.” Stiles shrugs, thinking deep isn’t really his thing, “I get too in my head when I spend time alone. I spent too much time being lonely. I just thought that maybe Derek would feel that way too? Maybe I’m just too invested or, more invested than he is.”

“No, man. Derek loves you. We’ve never seen him so in love before. With you, Derek is calmer, happier, he’s a better person. You bring out parts of him we’ve never seen before.” Scott urges, “Derek’s never been alone like you have. Sometimes he needs it.”

“I guess.” Scott looks at Stiles with a pensive stare.

“Why don’t we get your mind off it for a bit and you can help me get everyone taken care of back there.” Scott asks with a kind smile, “Then we can order pizza or something and eat in my office.”

“That sounds great.” Stiles smiles.

Together the two of them put all the animals in the kennels. It’s crowded but so many young animals in one place don’t mind too much. Scott wasn’t kidding when he mentioned there were a lot of puppies. There were close to four puppies in each kennel, Stiles doesn’t know there could be so many puppies in one place at one time. Stiles laughs at the little dogs that play and bite his fingers through the kennel doors. After he’s greeted all the puppies, he helps Scott clean out the kennels again and replace the water.

“They’ve already been fed so that’s good. We just don’t have the facilities here. They’re just going to be sleeping here until tomorrow where the volunteers will be back to help set up the parking lot for the adoption event. It’s gonna be huge.” Scott says, “We’ve got so many little ones that they’re all guaranteed to go to a new home. Babies never stay on the market for long.”

“They sure are cute,” Stiles agrees with his friend, “I just ordered pizza, it’ll be here soon.”

“Sweet, I’m starved. These guys are all set for the night, I think.” Scott cracks his back and happily leads Stiles to his office in the back of the clinic. The office is small but it’s cozy. There’s a desk and a comfortable chair with a small sofa against the wall. Scott logs on to his computer quickly and handles whatever business he has to before putting on some quiet music and talking more with Stiles. They talk about the next set list they want to perform, which songs would be perfect. Stiles has almost all of them picked out and he’s sure that this Saturday is going to be the best performance he’ll ever do. By the time the pizza arrives, the rain is coming down heavily and the lightning is keeping the animals awake and terrified.

“I think this is good.” Stiles nods, looking over the slip of paper that has the setlist written down on it, “This is really good.”

“I agree.” Scott nods. They chow down on their pizza while chatting happily about the gossip they’ve heard in town. Though neither of them really like to admit it, they’re both rather big gossips. When Stiles takes a minute to look down at his phone, he sees that it’s getting well into the evening, they’ve spent so much time just getting the animals set then talking. It’s been pleasant and effective at taking his mind off things. By the time that five o’clock rolls around, Scott comes back to himself.

“You mind helping me with one last thing before you go?” Scott asks hopefully.

“Sure.” Stiles shrugs.

“Awesome, I just need to make sure all the animals are set overnight then I’ll let you go.” Scott gives him a grateful smile and leads him back to the animals. Before they get into the room, there’s a loud whine that sounds painful sad. Scott rushes into the room with Stiles hot on his heels. When they enter the room, they quickly find the reason for the pained yelp. The third kennel from the back is all a kerfuffle with activity.

“What the hell?” Stiles exclaims. Inside the kennel, a couple of the older dogs are mixed with a few of the puppies. All are different sizes and breeds but most certainly all are male. Except for one little white fluffball. A little girl from the kennel next to that one managed to jimmy herself into the next kennel through a break in the chain links that was big enough to allow her little body through. She’s currently in a brawl with the other dogs. Her snow white fur is tarnished by red specks of blood and one of the older dogs has her neck in his jaws.

“Hey!” Scott shouts, breaking up the fight by slamming his fist on the kennel door. It startles to dogs into scattering. The puppies all run up to Scott but the older dog, the one that had the little girl’s throat in his jaws cowers in the corner. He quickly scoops up the little white fluff ball and takes her out of the kennel, “Sht. I’m going to have to look her over. Do you think you could fix the fence? There are zip ties and pliers over in the tool chest.”

“No problem. Is she alright?” Stiles asks worriedly.

“She’ll be okay, won’t you, honey?” Scott asks the whimpering pup. He leaves Stiles to quickly patch up the gate before reconvening in the exam room. The little white pup is cleaned up and laying on the table with her head on her paws as if she did nothing wrong. Stiles grins at the dog, a laugh bubbles up in his chest.

“You’re just trouble aren’t you?” Stiles asks her, “You are just the fluffiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“She’s a samoyed-heeler mix. The only one of the litter that looks like a pure samoyed. Her littermates are all different colors but she takes after her father.” Scott says with a grin. “They’re all pretty cute but this one’s a bit of an escape artist.”

“Well, she’s pretty adorable.” Stiles laughs, watching the pup follow him closely with her eyes. There’s an intelligence there, a brightness that Stiles can identify. Like the one he saw in Salem. Stiles feels the overwhelming urge to have her.

“Yeah, she is. They all are,” Scott grins brightly, “But if I bring home another animal, Kira will leave me.” Stiles chuckles with the vet. He picks up the little white fluff ball and holds the pup for a moment. She turns her nose up towards Stiles’ chin and licks him. Stiles can’t help but let out a little giggle and scratch behind her ear. Her curly little tail wags excitedly and she whimpers excitedly at being held. She’s so soft and pure white. This little pup is quickly stealing Stiles’ heart.

“Alright, alright,” Stiles laughs, getting the puppy to quit licking him up a storm.

“We better put her back now, the dogs are all set for tonight, and thanks for fixing the gate.” Scott says, “I’ve gotta do one last thing but I’ll let you head go on home.”

“Uh,” Stiles feels his arms tighten around the puppy and he struggles to think of what to do about this predicament.

“Stiles?” Scott smirks at his friend, “You gonna let her go?”

“No. . .no I don’t think I can.” Stiles admits with a wide-eyed stare, “Is there any way I could adopt her before tomorrow?”

“Oh uh, yeah of course. One less puppy for me to wrangle tomorrow.” Scott laughs, “Why don’t you take her home and just bring her back tomorrow so we could fill out the papers. Bring fifty bucks and you’ll be able to call her yours.”

“Thanks, man.” Stiles smiles an easy smile.

“I’m happy for you, dude.” Scott laughs, “Derek’s going to shit himself when he sees the pup.”

“Shit.” Stiles grunts, suddenly reminded of his unhappy boyfriend that’s more than likely at his apartment wondering where he is, “I should get back. Derek’s probably waiting.”

“Yeah. You want me to drive you home? It’s still raining.” Scott points out.

“No, thanks but I think I just wanna. . .take as much time as I can. Plus, a little rain never killed nobody.” Stiles shrugs, “Can I leave my guitar here, though? I’ll get it tomorrow when I come by?”

“Sure,” Scott nods, “Are you sure you don’t want me to drive?”

“Yeah, it’s only a couple minutes walking.” Stiles reassures his friend, “I really appreciate you letting me hang out today and then letting me take the puppy.”

“It’s no biggie, man. What are friends for?” Scott claps him on the back, “Besides, we’ve gotta get as many of those furballs with loving homes anyways. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow.” Stiles grins. He pulls up the hood of his jacket and tucks his puppy into the armpit of the warm shield and zips it up, keeping the puppy nice and snug and hidden away. He laughs at the little indignant squeak she makes but heads out the door. Scott lets him out and waves him off as he walks off in the downpour.

It’s cold and slightly windy, the rain is harsh on his shoulders and it quickly permeates his jeans and soaks into his shirt. His chest remains warm where the pup is hidden but the rest of him is cold. In the fifteen minute walk back to the apartment, he nearly slips and falls three times and is shivering by the time he reaches his door and lets himself in. Derek’s Camaro is sitting in the parking space behind the building and Stiles knows he’s in for it when he walks inside. By the time he gets into the warm apartment, his fingers are just about frozen, just like his toes. The apartment is warm and cozy. There’s the wonderful scent of Derek’s lasagne floating through the air and he can hear the TV on in the bedroom. At least Derek’s still here . Stiles thinks with a tinge of bitterness. Salem runs over to him and meows obnoxiously at him.

“I know buddy, I’m sorry for being gone all day.” Stiles whispers to his feline friend, knowing that the cat is going to be even pissier once Stiles unveils his new surprise. Derek walks into the room then and Stiles feels like running into the man’s arms. He missed Derek despite their disagreement but he doesn’t want to overstep. Derek looks him up and down and gives him a concerned look after a moment of deciding how he wanted to approach this.

“You were gone all day.” Derek states almost pointedly.

“Yeah,” Stiles supplies unhelpfully, “Yeah I got kinda distracted. I’m sorry about that, I probably shouldn’t have been gone so long.”

“It’s okay.” Derek seems to shrink, “I’m glad you came back at all.” The biting silence makes Stiles feel awkward.

“It smells wonderful.” He says, unsure of what to really say.

“I thought maybe we could have dinner and talk about things.” Derek shrugs.

“Yeah, not a bad idea. I’m kind of freezing, let me just. . .change.” Stiles makes a move towards the room when out of nowhere, his jacket emits a high pitched bark which thoroughly confuses Salem. Stiles and Derek stare at each other for a moment.

“Stiles?” Derek asks hesitantly.

“Yeah?” He answers almost bashfully.

“Did your jacket just. . .bark?”

“Yeah uh. . . I meant to tell you. . .” Stiles unzips his jacket and gives a bashful grin at his boyfriend who is currently slack-jawed at the little white puppy in his jacket.

“Oh my God. . .” Derek whispers.

“Yeah. . .” Stiles says, holding out the puppy towards his boyfriend. She looks at him quizzically and squirms at being held for too long. “They’re having an adoption event tomorrow so Scott’s got a bunch of kittens and puppies in the clinic right now. This little girl thought she was being sly by getting into the kennel next to hers which happened to have an older dog that didn’t like her much.”

“You brought home a dog. . .” Derek says plainly.

“I couldn't leave her there. She’s special.” Stiles insists, holding the puppy out to Derek.

“I don't even know what to say,” Derek admits. He takes the puppy out of Stiles’ hands and holds her, almost inspecting the little thing.

“You get to know her, I’m going to jump in the shower.” Stiles nods firmly, walking briskly to the bathroom. His clothes have been chafing and he can’t stand the feeling much longer. He leaves Derek to introduce the animals and to get acquainted with their new addition. His mind wanders to all the names he could use for the pup. Stiles always hated this part. Picking a name that both the dog and the owner has to live with. It’s the hardest part of owning a pet. When he turns off the water, completely clean and warm again, he hears a crashing noise and Derek’s indignant shout. Stiles quickly pulls on a pair of sweats and one of Derek’s wife beaters that are laying around then sees all the commotion. Salem is sitting on top of the counter and gives Stiles a ‘ seriously’ look. Derek is chasing a little white blur around the sofa, unsuccessfully , Stiles might add. The coffee table is knocked over and Derek is frustrated.

“Mind giving me some help with this demon?” Derek gripes angrily.

“Come here, little girl.” Stiles laughs, walking up to the practically bouncing pup and picks her up easily, “You’ve got quite a lot of energy, don’t you? You know exactly what you’re doing though, don’t you? Pissing Derek off is not a hobby that you should take up.” He says to the dog who seems to listen to Stiles. Derek huffs in annoyance at the display.

“That little white fuzzball wreaks havoc, Stiles.” Derek grunts while picking up the mess.

“Havoc. I like that.” Stiles says pensively, “You like that, girl? Havoc?” The pup gives an excited yip, “Havoc it is.”

“Fitting name.” Derek rolls his eyes.

“Now go and be calm,” Stiles reprimands the pup with a firm voice, “Go on, go do puppy things.” He sets her down on the floor and looks up at Derek with a bright smile but quickly deflates when he sees Derek’s unhappy expression.

“Stiles-”

“I’m starving, why don’t we talk and serve the food,” Stiles suggests. His boyfriend nods in agreement and joins Stiles in the kitchen to serve up the food.

“I’m sorry about earlier, I shouldn’t have blown up on you like that.” Derek starts, “I’ve been really stressed out but that’s no excuse for how I treated you.”

“I just wish you would have told me if you needed your own time, hell, you could just do it. Whenever you feel like you need it all you have to do is take it.” Stiles sighs, “I’m not your warden, Derek. You’re free to spend your time how you wish.”

“I know, I know.” Derek says, his frustration is evident to Stiles, “I don’t know why I didn’t just take care of myself. I want to spend time with you, Stiles. I love spending time with you, it’s just-”

“Sometimes you need a minute to yourself,” Stiles supplied, “I get it, man. I do. Next time, just take it. Do it, Derek. Whatever you need.”

“I need you .” Derek insists, he wraps his arms around Stiles’ middle, holding him tight. Stiles feels all the tension and wariness melt away at the intimacy of the gesture, “I’m sorry.”

“I know, love.” Stiles set his plate down and turns around to wrap his arms around Derek’s neck, pulling his lover close for a deep kiss, “Just, from now on please feel like you can take time for yourself. I love you, and I want you to feel like you can be your own person.”

“I promise,” Derek murmurs into his boyfriend’s neck.

“Good, now come on and serve yourself, I want to tell you about what I did at the clinic.” Stiles smiles, pulling away from Derek. He feels ten times better when they make up. It’s a quick resolution and Stiles is happy that they could make it quick, he hates being mad or upset with Derek and definitely didn’t want it to continue. He knows that Derek loves him and finds that he can’t ever stay too mad at him.

They eat at the table with Havoc nipping at their heels for treats. Stiles tells Derek about having to wrangle kittens and how he spent the day helping Scott. He wishes he had some puppy chow for the pup but he knows that she was fed earlier, she’ll have to wait until tomorrow when he can get some food. He tells Derek that he’ll have to go by the event tomorrow to pay for her and officially adopt her and Derek nods in hesitant agreement. He’ll have to deal with Stiles adopting another animal. He has nothing against dogs but he worries what she’ll get into while she’s home alone.

“I want to see about enrolling her in therapy dog lessons so she’ll be able to go to the hospital with me during the day. She’s small and intelligent, I know she’d be great at it.” Stiles tells Derek with an eager grin, “I’m going to call the hospital tomorrow and ask what the requirements are for that.”

“That’s great, babe. I’m glad she won’t be home alone.” Derek says sarcastically.

“Oh, hush. She’ll be great. I can’t wait to introduce her to Laura and Cora. They’ll love her.” Stiles grins evilly.

“They’ll go absolutely batshit.” Derek agrees.

“Tomorrow’s gonna be so much fun!” Stiles bounces in his seat.

Together, the two of them finish dinner and climb into bed. Stiles did his nightly routine, checking the locks twice and turning all the lights except the bedside lamp off for the night before crawling into bed with Derek. Stiles had placed a little pillow on the floor where Havoc now sleeps soundly. It’s been a long day for her and Stiles is happy that she’s settled in. Salem takes his usual spot by Stiles’ feet. He wasn’t too happy about the new addition. Making their duo into a threeo isn’t sitting well with him but Stiles knows that he’ll get over it. He’ll even come to love his counterpart. When all is said and done, Derek wraps his arms around Stiles and spoons him from behind, happily kissing up his shoulder to his jaw.

“I love you.” He whispers in the dim light. Stiles smiles to himself and snuggles in closer, sighing in content.

“I love you too, Derbear.” Stiles says, kissing his lover’s arm.

“Don’t bring home any more animals,” Derek says firmly making Stiles bark out a laugh.

“Okay, babe.” Stiles laughs.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up to Derek’s alarm blaring in his ear. After a minute of listening to the damn alarm, he rolls over on top of Derek, ignoring his boyfriend’s grunts of disapproval and turns off the alarm. It’s early. Five AM and it’s too early for anything to be happening but Derek has to get up for work now and get his ass to the station in the next hour. Stiles smells the scent of freshly baked goods. Laura’s already been baking for the last hour. Stiles can smell the sweet scent of cinnamon rolls baking and it’s enough to motivate him to get his butt out of bed and get dressed for the long day he’s about to have. He hauls himself up and pulls on a clean pair of jeans and Derek’s long-sleeve maroon henley. His boots have been drying in the hallway all night so hopefully, by now they’re dry.

“Derek, I’m going to go down to the bakery here in a minute with or without you.” Stiles grunts to his boyfriend from the bathroom with a mouthful of toothpaste. Derek simply grunts and rolls over again. Havoc follows Stiles closely, trotting around the apartment with him as he collects all of the dirty clothes into a hamper so he can do a wash before getting breakfast. It’s no longer raining outside but the clouds are thick with the autumn air and it’s getting colder. Stiles reminds himself that he ought to pick up a thicker winter coat. Maybe a scarf and a hat too. Before he is about to exit the apartment, Derek walks out of the room, buttoning up the beige uniform shirt. Stiles pulls on his now dry jacket.

“Wait for me, I’m coming.” Derek rubs his tired eyes and grabs his gear. Stiles nods and plops Havoc inside the basket of dirty clothes so he can take her down to see the girls. Derek shakes his head fondly at the pair.

“It’s going to be a long day, I just know it.” Stiles murmurs to the puppy. Salem is happily sleeping on top the couch, completely disregarding the conversation. Stiles rolls his eyes but smiles at his friend.

“Okay, let’s hit it.” Derek grunts as he follows Stiles out the door with a travel mug for coffee in his hands.

“You mind holding her while I put the clothes in to wash?” Stiles asks hopefully when they arrive at the washer and dryer. Derek gives him a tired nod and does as he’s asked. When they walk into the bakery, Derek heads straight for the coffee and pours himself some. The bakery doesn’t open for another half-hour so the place is empty and Stiles is glad for that.

“Morning!” He says into the kitchen, letting the girls know that they’re in the shop.

“Goodmorning, sunshine.” Laura smiles at him while pulling out another pan of fresh cinnamon rolls.

“I have a surprise for you,” Stiles says with a wide grin. From the doorway to the kitchen he brings Havoc out from behind his back and shows her off to the girls. Cora’s jaw drops and Laura starts squealing.

“Oh my God! It’s so precious!” Laura all but shouts. She drops what she’s doing to wash her hands of excess glaze. She practically runs out of the kitchen and snatches the puppy out of Stiles’s arms, “Hello, fluffy baby.” She comes to the puppy.

“She’s a demon,” Derek grumbles into his coffee as he walks behind her and snatches a cinnamon roll off the baking sheet.

“Nooo,” Laura laughs, “She’s an angel.”

“Her name is Havoc.” Stiles laughs, snatching another roll for himself.

‘Where did you get her?” Laura cries. Havoc has taken to licking at Laura’s neck which is more than likely covered in sugar.

“I was at Scott’s clinic yesterday and it’s full of puppies and kittens. He’s having a giant adoption event today.” Stiles chuckles. Laura snaps back to him, her eyes wide and jaw dropped.

“So you’re telling me that there are dozens of puppies like this little angel at Scott’s clinic right now?” Laura asks slowly.

“Uh. . .yes?” Stiles confirms. Laura hands him Havoc and quickly takes off her apron.

“Cora, I’m going to go buy a puppy. Everything’s already in the ovens and Erica will be here to open with you.

“No fair!” Cora shouts from the kitchen, “I want one too!”

“Well maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll bring one back for you too.” Laura says as she grabs her jacket from the coatrack in the kitchen, “Any requests?”

“I want a boy.” Cora whines, “One like Stiles’.”

“I can look at Havoc’s litter and pick one out for you.” Stiles proposes. Cora considers for a moment before nodding vigorously.

“Send me a picture and I’ll yay or nay.” Cora smiles, “Thanks, Stiles!”

“No problem.” Stiles laughs.

“Alright, let’s go now. I wanna get the pick of the litters.” Laura says with a happy bounce in her step. Stiles is eager to make his way over to the clinic. He gives Derek a quick peck on the lips and Derek wraps a scarf that he produced from his jacket pocket around Stiles’ neck.

“It’s gonna be cold today.” He grunts.

“Thanks, love. Have a good day at work.” Stiles smiles lovingly at Derek and kisses him again on the cheek before heading out the door with Laura by his side and his puppy in his hands.

“You two are cute,” Laura smiles, “I’m glad you worked out your shit.”

“Derek told you about that, huh?” Stiles asks bashfully. Havoc gives him a playful yip and squirms in his hands.

“Oh yeah. He called me in pained regret shortly after your little skirmish.” Laura chuckled, “My little brother can be a little bit of a bonehead sometimes. You’re just going to have to get used to it.”

“I am prepared for boneheadedness.” Stiles laughs.

“Good,” Laura’s mood turns serious, “I know it’s really hard for him right now. PT is driving him nuts. Jordan hasn’t been much better.”

“He’s going to be okay though, right?” Stiles asks, his voice and expression are tight with concern.

“He’ll be fine once he’s fully healed. PT is rough on his nerves but he’s making due. He still has a lot of pain and the doctors say that it won’t go away completely but soon he’ll be able to go back to work. Desk duty of course until the department clears him for the field.” Laura sighs heavily, “But he’ll be okay. He’s the strongest man I know, besides Derek. They miss each other, I think. After spending years with one guy as your partner, it’s difficult to go so long without him but they both need to realize that they were in a serious incident and it’s better to take things slowly.”

“I agree.” Stiles says, “I’m glad that he’s alright and that he’s doing better. Jordan’s a good man.”

“He’ll be good to go for the wedding,” Laura laughs, “That’s all that matters.” She jokes. The two of them laugh all the way to the clinic where they see Scott struggling to dictate where everything goes to the volunteers. There’s only a couple of them and they seem as inept as they possibly could be.

“No! Over there! By the other end of the clinic! How fucking hard is it for you to understand that everything needs to go in an L formation? Capital L, do you know your letters or do I need to draw it out in chalk for you?” Scott shouts at the workers. They look like kicked puppies at his harsh tone but Scott feels no regret at yelling. Laura and Stiles are trying and failing to hide their laughter as they approach the scene. When Scott sees them, the smoke coming out of his ears stops and he lets out a relieved groan.

“Guys, I’m so fucking happy you’re here. I know you’re probably just here to shop for a new pet but I could really use your help. Kira’s inside getting the animals ready and these dipshits are trying to set everything up.” Scott rolls his eyes at the workers, “Do you think you could help me get all the cages up? Seeing as how these idiots can’t do it?”

“Sure, man.” Stiles laughs, “I’ll need to put Havoc somewhere.”

“I’ll take her. I can go help Kira and simultaneously pick out a dog for me and one for Cora.” Laura says happily. She takes the snowball out of Stiles’ arms and heads inside.

“You named her Havoc?” Scott laughs, “That’s the most fitting name for her.”

“I thought so.” Stiles grinned, “Why don’t you tell me your vision and we can get it all put up.” Stiles suggests to his friend.

Scott shows Stiles exactly where everything needs to go and Stiles doesn’t understand how the workers didn’t understand. After Scott shows him how he wants things, he gets one of the workers to help put up the cages. It’s quick work with Stiles helping and Scott is then able to get the kitten’s tents set up. After an hour of set up, they’re finally able to move all the animals outside. With Laura and Kira’s help, they make quick work of it. The kittens are simple enough, large dog crates are able to house at least seven of the small kittens in each crate. The puppies are another deal. Each of the workers including Laura and Stiles has to go in and grab as many as they can and bring them all out. It’s hard work and Stiles breaks a sweat.

“I called in help at work, a couple temps wanted more hours so I called them in. Cora’s on her way.” Laura laughs. It’s still an hour and a half before the event starts and Scott is sitting back with Kira and his friends while the workers finish setting up their table. The towns pet stores are all here with their own booths, setting up as well. The groomers also have their own stands to hand out business cards and coupons.

“I’m glad you’re all getting pets. These guys really need homes. I’d hate to have to send them to the next town for another one of these things.” Scott shakes his head.

“It’s good that you’re helping out, though.” Laura points out.

“Yeah. These workers are just so hard to work with and the organization hasn’t even gotten back to me about how they just dropped them off.” Scott says angrily.

“It’s all over now.” Stiles reminds him, “At this point, all you have to do is just sit back and watch.”

“You’re so right.” Scott laughs, “Have you already picked out a puppy?” He asks Laura.

“I’ve got my eye on a special little guy, yeah.” Laura laughs, “He’s in the shepherd mix litter. Cutest little guy.”

“We should get together tonight.” Kira suggests, “How about we do dinner at our place later tonight?” Scott nods eagerly.

“That sounds great,” Laura grins, “I’ll put it in the group chat. Is seven alright?”

“Sounds good, gives me enough time to get to the store.” Kira laughs.

“I’ll bring the booze,” Laura says plainly as she types away in the group chat with their large group of friends. After only a few minutes, the responses are pouring in. There’s a hell yes from Erica and Boyd, an ‘ I don’t have anything better to do’ from Lydia and a myriad of responses from the rest of the group.

While they work out the details, people start showing up to the event. Cora arrives with them and Laura goes with her to pick out their new puppies. It’s a fun afternoon. Stiles goes and picks out a collar and food bowls for Havoc as well as a tag for her collar. He even paid extra to get her a microchip. By the time the event finishes at noon, there are only a few kennels with animals left. They had such n amazing turnout and Stiles couldn’t be happier that so many people adopted.

“Why don’t we head back to the house and we can have lunch there?” Laura proposes to Cora and Stiles. Cora is too busy snuggling her little multi-colored puppy. It yips up at her excitedly and licks her chin. The little dog with floppy black ears squirms but Cora is clearly loving the attention.

“Sounds good, we’ll need to stop and get some puppy chow, though.” Stiles reminds Laura. The tall brunette nods and before she grabs her purse, she clips a leash onto Gatling ’s, her little brown pup, collar. Havoc is sitting rather calmly by Stiles’ feet with her little pink tongue lolling out of her mouth.

“We’ll see you tonight, Scott! See you, Kira!” Stiles shouts off at the pair from across the lot.

“See y’all tonight! Bring the dogs!” Scott shouts back.

“Duh!” Laura shouts. Her pink lips curl into a brilliant smile.

The afternoon is spent in happy company. Stiles feels as if he’s glowing with how happy he is. Spending time with his boyfriend’s sisters, his friends is time well spent. Stiles loves getting to have an afternoon that isn’t stressful, that is all about him and his friends. When they pick up pet food when they head back to the bakery to get lunch, Salem, and an overnight bag for Stiles to stay at Derek’s family house. When Stiles gets to hang out with his boyfriend after work and Derek gets to see Jordan. Salem has a difficult time trying to get used to all the new puppies, they chase the poor cat and refuse to let him alone.

Then at dinner, it was the same. The pups run around with Salem while the adults talk in the kitchen. There’s wine, hor devours, and laughter. Lydia complains about stupid patients, Stiles talks about the kids at the hospital and Isaac talks about new cases at work. Erica plays with the puppies on the floor and gripes about how she would have loved to get her own if she had known about the event. It’s a pleasant evening and by the time it ends, Stiles is practically falling asleep on Derek’s shoulder. So they say goodnight and head off to home. As Stiles lays his head down on his pillow, with Derek at his back and in his embrace, he thinks that life couldn’t be better.

. . .

Stiles doesn’t remember the last time he’s had this much fun. Seriously, he doesn’t think he’s ever felt this good. It’s Friday night and Stiles is dressed to kill. Derek practically attacked him thirty minutes before they had to leave for the bar which resulted in Stiles being ten minutes late and his hair completely unmanageable. Totally worth it , Stiles thought. Derek had gifted him with a dark red leather jacket the previous day that he said he could just picture Stiles wearing. A tight black shirt under the jacket and a new pair of jeans later make Stiles look rough and tough. His boots only seal in that look. Stiles feels confident and sexy. He feels like his endorphins are high and he feels good. Scott is standing on the stage sitting at his drums with a happy smile on his face. The two of them had shared a drink before getting up on stage. Harry had even surprised Stiles with an electric guitar, it had been his in what seemed like another life, Harry had said. He’s letting Stiles keep it and the young man feels ten times better. He feels like he’s high and can’t come down. When he gets on stage and feels the lights on his face, hears the crowd and sees Derek cheering his name with his friends. Scott whistles to his girl and Kira swoons dramatically.

“Evening everyone,” Stiles says into the microphone. The packed bar cheers and hollers for their little duo, “Are you ready to rock?” Stiles knows it’s cheesy but judging by the way the entire bar shakes with all the applause he thinks it’s perfectly fitting. Stiles and Scott join together to strum the strong intro to Love Gun by Kiss. Almost immediately, the entire bar explodes with cheers.

I really love you baby, I love what you've got. Let's get together, we can get hot. No more tomorrow, baby time is today. Girl, I can make you feel okay. No place for hidin' baby, no place to run. You pull the trigger of my. . . ” Scott joins Stiles in singing this part. “ Love gun, love gun, love gun. Love gun, love gun, love gun.”

The bar is bouncing with movement and as Stiles moves his fingers quickly over the chords, Scott is a flurry of movement as he pounds on the drums expertly. Stiles looks over at Derek and gives him a flirtatious wink. His loves is grinning widely, his eyes crinkled at the edges and his adorable bunny teeth are on display. He hoots for Stiles and looks at his lover with a heated look. Going through the song, he feels the thrill of performing. His fingers flying over the electric guitar, the sound of the instrument sends fire through his veins and he absolutely loves it. Scott is loving this song and Kira is loving watching him. The entire bar is rocking out to the song and behind the bar, Harry is having the time of his life.

The air is electric tonight as Stiles and Scott run through their set list. Stiles is loving all the songs they picked out and towards the end of the night, the mood shifts. As people start to wind down, their songs begin to calm. For their second to last song, Stiles had to get the piano on a recording and play it but he takes his guitar and sits on a stool, his mic against his lips. The instrumental gives him goosebumps as silence falls over the audience.

Only love can make it rain. The way the beach is kissed by the sea. Only love can make it rain. Like the sweat of lovers' laying in the fields.” Stiles sings. His voice sends chills up Derek’s spine and if he thought that Stiles couldn’t be more attractive, Stiles’ powerful voice rings out, “Love, reign o'er me. Love, reign o'er me, rain on me, rain on me.”

They watch as Stiles’ eyes close and the musician loses himself in the song. His long, dexterous fingers capture Derek’s attention and he finds his throat running dry.

“Only love can bring the rain that makes you yearn to the sky. Only love can bring the rain that falls like tears from on high.” Stiles takes  a breath and with a practiced, controlled voice screams out, “Love, reign o'er me, rain on me, rain on me. Love, reign o'er me, rain on me, rain on me.”

He opens his eyes to see people swaying in the crowd and his love, staring intently at Stiles as if there’s no one else and Stiles feels his blood light on fire once more. He feels the yearning to have Derek under him. The song continues and just like his lust and love for Derek, they culminate in the bridge.

“On the dry and dusty road. The nights we spend apart alone. I need to get back home to cool, cool rain. I can't sleep and I lay and I think. The night is hot and black as ink. Oh God, I need a drink of cool, cool rain.” Stiles feels the build, he feels it in his soul and his voice goes higher and higher as he sings one last time, “Love, reign o'er me, rain on me, on me, on me, oh. Love, reign o'er me, whoa, on me. Love.” He plays with Scott to the end, grinning as the crowd shouts and cheers.

As the song finishes and Scott moves so fast that Kira can’t even track his movements. When the song ends, the bar shakes with the sounds of admiration from the crowd. Stiles is sweating and panting, he’s exhausted but some part of his soul feels so deeply fulfilled. Scott stands on shaky legs and joins Stiles at the front of the stage. He takes a bow with Stiles and they wave at the crowd.

“You’ve been a fantastic audience, we’ll be back tomorrow night!” Stiles shouts, “Have a good night!” When they exit the stage, their group rushes at them. Derek takes Stiles into his arms and kisses him so deeply that Stiles feels pleasure pool at the bottom of his stomach.

“Let’s get out of here.” Derek’s voice is low and filled with lust. Stiles nods eagerly and says a quick goodbye to everyone. He hugs Scott quickly and tells him ‘good job’ before saying goodnight and thank you again to Harry for the guitar. He lets Derek pull him and his guitars out of the building and straight to the Camaro. They laugh like teenagers as they pile into the car and speed off back to the apartment.

Derek can’t take his hands off of Stiles for one moment and tears off Stiles’ clothes while he fumbles for the key. Once inside, Derek makes quick work of stripping Stiles of the rest of his clothes. Their mouths are a wet, sloppy mess as they kiss desperately all the way to the bed, completely ignoring Havoc’s excited yips and Salem’s meows. Stiles takes charge and pushes Derek down onto the bed. He takes a deep breath to reclaim his faculties and slows things down. His long fingers, the ones that Derek desperately wants, unbutton the man’s jeans. He hooks his thumbs under the waistband of Derek's’ jeans and underwear than in one swift movement, pulls them both down and off, exposing Derek’s hard member. His lover’s eyes are blown wide and they’re dark with lust.

Derek scoots himself back and lays his head on their pillows, watching as Stiles takes off the remaining pieces of his clothing and in a manner that reminds Derek of a large cat stalking its prey, crawls onto the bed and situates himself between Derek’s knees. He leans down to kiss Derek’s lips in heated passion. Stiles looks into Derek’s eyes as he licks his hand, reaches down and wraps his fingers around Derek’s throbbing penis and begins to move his hand up and down, jerking his boyfriend. Derek lets out small, desperate gasps as he loses himself in the pleasure. There’s a faint whisper of his name on Derek’s lips and the deputy lets Stiles do as he wishes with his body. After a few minutes, Derek can’t take much more and captures Stiles’ lips with his, gently biting at the lower.

“Stiles,” Derek gasps, “ Please.” He begs. Stiles nods, unable to deny him anything. He reaches over to their bedside table and retrieves what he wants. He squirts the lube onto his hand in generous amounts. Derek lifts his hips at Stiles’ gentle urging and he situates himself onto Stiles’ thighs, legs spread, exposing his hole and precious parts in his boyfriend’s lap. Stiles admires the view as he expertly slicks Derek’s hole, playing with the rim to make Derek squirm in pleasure. Little grunts escape Derek’s lips as he feels Stiles’ fingers prodding at his entrance.

“Stiles,” Derek whines, his eyes are scrunched closed and an almost painful expression adorns his face. Stiles doesn’t think he’s ever heard a more beautiful sound.

“Shh, baby.” Stiles calms his lover as he slips one of his long fingers into Derek’s hole, making him shiver and quake, “I’ve got you, love.”

“Stiles,” Derek moans. His toes clench as Stiles adds another finger. He groans when another is added and twitches when a third is added. He feels as if he might cum on his fingers alone but Stiles takes his other hand and wraps it around the base of Derek’s cock, making him cry out.

“Settle down, sweetheart. We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.” Stiles smirks at his lover. Derek wants to hump the air he’s so overwhelmed. He feels like his entire body is electric, “Look at how beautiful you are,” Stiles says in wonder as he thrusts in and out of Derek with a gentle hand.

“Stiles,” Derek cries again, begging for Stiles to get on with it. Stiles smiles at his beautiful partner and nods, “No condom,” Derek says as his boyfriend reaches for it.

“Are you sure?” Stiles asks, feeling as if he might explode if he doesn’t get inside his lover right this second.

“Yes,” Derek pants, “Please, Stiles.”

“Anything for you,” Stiles says so honestly that it chokes Derek up. They keep eye contact as Stiles gently nudges his body closer to Derek’s and slips his cock into Derek’s well-stretched hole. They both let out a cracked moan once Stiles is fully seated inside Derek. Stiles feels his entire body shaking. The tight heat that Derek is, the warmth wrapped around his cock is overwhelming and he feels all the love for Derek pouring out of him. Stiles wraps his arms around Derek, pulling him closer and they’re flush against one another. Derek’s cock is leaking against their bellies and their chests heave with effort.

Stiles lays his head in the crook of Derek’s neck and relishes in the warmth of Derek’s arms that pull him closer. Stiles begins to thrust in and out of Derek, slowly at first then faster and faster, their bodies are so close, Derek’s shaking with pleasure, feeling Stiles’ cock filling him and the friction on his own dick. Stiles’ thrusts are powerful and Derek feels as if he’s being slammed over and over, his prostate is hit each time without fail and he feels his orgasm rising in him. He’s panting and moaning Stiles’ name as Stiles is panting and moaning Derek’s name. They’re losing themselves to the intimacy. Stiles starts chasing his orgasm and slams into Derek, groaning at the feeling of Derek’s tight heat squeezing around him.

Stiles, ” Derek moans.

“Derek,” Stiles moans.

“I love you ” They say at the same time as their orgasms slam into them and they’re both cumming so hard. Stiles feels his muscles twitch and he pumps a few more times, riding it out. Derek’s cock shoots white across their bellies and chests. They’re so close and Siles doesn’t want to let go of Derek but after a few minutes of struggling to catch their breath and lazy kisses, Stiles pulls out of Derek slowly and groans as he lifts himself off of Derek. His legs are weak and he doesn’t think he will be able to get up any time soon so he lays beside Derek and settles for holding Derek’s hand. They’re both out of it, coming down from the high but Derek is smiling up at the ceiling.

“I love you,” Stiles repeats.

“I love you too, more than you know.”

Chapter Text

Just like anything else in life, eventually, shit hits the fan. For Stiles, it had been a good long while since any shit hit any fans but a sneaking suspicion that it was bound to happen and soon couldn’t be shaken. It started out slow and Stiles never knew what hit him.

It started with a phone call.

But not to Stiles.

. . .

 

“Derek.” Laura calls her brother on a rainy autumn afternoon. Her brother is busy filling papers from his last case but answers the phone with a tired and exasperated sigh.

“Yes, Laura?” He says somewhat unpleasantly.

“Jennifer and Kate are in town.” Laura’s tone isn’t joking. It’s dead serious and just hearing that dreaded sentence makes his blood run cold and he suddenly feels nauseous.

“Oh.” Derek says breathily.

“I thought you should know.” Laura says gravely, “They were skulking around the bakery earlier and I told them to get lost. The two of them seemed too chummy for my liking.”

“I don’t know what to say.” Derek admits weakly, “Did they say anything to you?”

“Just told me to tell you they’re in town.” Laura reports.

“Great. Just what I needed today.” Derek says annoyedly.

“I know.” Laura sighs through the receiver. She’s pissed. When she saw those women outside her shop, all she could think was how ballsy they were for showing their faces around her bakery after all they did to her little brother, “Are you going to tell Stiles?”

“No.” Derek says firmly, “No, I don’t want Stiles to know about this.”

“But Der-”

“No, Laura. He doesn’t even know about these women let alone what they. . .what they did to me. And I don’t want him to know.” Derek says urgently, “He doesn’t need to know about this. Now when I’m so close, Laura. I’m meeting the designer today.”

“That’s great, little bro, but you know that it’s not wise to hide something so big from him. He should know some of your baggage too, honey.” Laura entreats, “ You can’t just keep something this huge from him, what if he misunderstands something? He should hear it directly from you and not from someone else, or god forbid from those harpies.”

“They wouldn’t.” Derek glares at the wall.

“Think about it, Derek. Wouldn’t they?” Laura tries to appeal to her brother’s better judgment but lord knows she’s not getting anywhere.

“I don’t want to tell him.” Derek says almost like a child.

“I know, honey, but you need to. He won’t think any less of you, you know that. He loves you more than anything.” Laura presses.

“I’ll think about it.” Derek lies. He gives a quick goodbye before hanging up the phone. He puts his head in his hands and takes a few minutes to collect himself. Today is supposed to be a good day. He’s supposed to be hearing from the sheriff any day now if he’s cleared to go into the field again and he’s meeting with one of Erica’s designer friends to discuss a design for the engagement ring that he wants to give Stiles. Derek wants to give his lover a custom made, entirely unique ring. He’s wanted to do this for a long time and is finally ready to do it. He won’t let his past ruin what he’s got. He misses Stiles, it’s been a couple weeks since they’ve really been able to spend more than an hour together. Derek’s hours have gotten longer and longer as a couple officers were transferred out of the town, some retired and a couple are out sick or on vacation. It’s been infuriating to Derek because he hasn’t been sleeping well due to the lack of his boyfriend in his bed. Stiles has been busy at the hospital as he’s been by Sean’s bedside near constantly. The boy’s most recent round of chemo wasn’t easy on the kid and he caught pneumonia a week ago. It’s been terribly hard on Stiles being apart from Derek and seeing his friend die. Their friends have tried to keep him positive and surrounded but it isn’t the same as falling into bed with Derek and basking in the warmth that only his lover can give him.

Stiles hasn’t thought too much of their separation. They text as much as they can and they’ve been able to get lunch once anda whilee. Though he misses his boyfriend dearly, he’s confident that he’s always there for him.

That’s when a series of unfortunate events seem to kill Stiles’ confidence.

After the phone call, there’s a text.

 

To: Der :)

From: Me

1:43 PM

Hey, babe, wanna get dinner tonight? It was a rough day at the hospital.

 

To: Stiles

From: Me

2:04 PM

I wish I could but I’m stuck at the office until late. Do you want me to come over tonight?

 

To: Der :)

From: Me

2:10 PM

That sucks. Yes please, I miss you and haven’t been sleeping well at all cuz you’re not there.

 

Derek assures Stiles that he’ll be there tonight and that he loves him. He knows it’s hard on the two of them being separated for so long, especially with everything going on and he desperately wants to just marry Stiles already but first thing’s first, he needs a ring. So Derek skips dinner with Stiles to meet this guy. By the time he makes it to the little restaurant, it’s almost five and Erica’s friend is sitting patiently, flipping through the books he brought with him.

“Hi, Jake, right?” Derek extends his hand to shake and smiles happily at the man in front of him, “I’m sorry I’m late.”

“It’s no problem.” Jake says with a curious smile, “Why don’t you tell me about your intended fiance?”

So they begin the discussion. Derek gushes about Stiles to Jake. Tells him how kind and strong his boyfriend is. Derek describes Stiles’ work ethic, his taste in music and his love for animals. Derek all but bares his soul and love for Stiles out to Jake. The designer smiles and listens to Derek go on about Stiles. He collects as much information as he can, his mind races with all the possibilities.

Stiles exits the hospital at five. He’s exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. He’s starving and can’t wait till he gets home. He decides to walk instead of catch the bus, though he’s absolutely exhausted, he feels like if he doesn’t get some air he just might die. He keeps his eyes ahead of him, focusing on the walk home. He misses Derek dearly and is eager to see him later that night. As he passes buildings and shops, he thinks about Derek and about the crazy few weeks they’ve had. While he’s thinking on their separation, he walks past a busy restaurant. It’s a little Italian joint with lights and brightly painted walls. He can see through the window on the wall facing the street and tries desperately to ignore the delicious scents making him salivate. He takes one last look and almost runs into the light post. He sees Derek inside the restaurant, still in uniform, sitting with another man. Derek is talking enthusiastically, far more enthusiastic than he’s seen Derek talk in a long while. In an instant his mouth runs dry and he feels like he might puke. What is Derek doing with that guy? The man is blonde and in a fitted suit, much more expensive than Stiles. He’s even smiling back at Derek. Who wouldn’t smile at Derek ? Stiles thinks almost bitterly.

His better judgment takes over reminds him that Derek loves him and only him. Derek would never cheat on Stiles. Ever. There’s an explanation for this, Stiles knows there has to be. So he takes his eyes off his boyfriend and tries not to let the hurt he feels swallow him whole. Just then, a woman about his height stops to see what he was just looking at. She rolls her eyes and flips her perfect blonde hair off her shoulder. She turns to him with a sad smile.

“My ex used to come here too and cheat on me with his flings.” She sighs, “I guess this place is just a cheater’s hang out. Oh. . .oh my God. That’s him in there. Wow.”

“I’m sorry?” Stiles asks, unsure of what to say to this woman.

“It’s alright. Derek’s always been a phenomenal liar. He and the whole Hale family is notorious.” She shrugs, “Good riddance. It’s behind me, anyway.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Stiles’ voice breaks.

“Because you have the same face that I had when I found out my ex was cheating on me.” She gives him a pitying look, “Don’t worry, sweetie, you’ll get over her.”

Stiles is about to tell her it’s actually a he, and that he was the same man who had cheated on her. All the doubt slams into him and makes him feel even worse. Just as he turns to her once again, she’s disappeared. Stiles thinks about how weird the whole encounter was. All he wants now is to just go home and wallow. He doesn’t want to believe that Derek would cheat on him. He thought things were going so well. Maybe he should talk to Laura? No, why would he talk to Laura? She’s his sister. Of course, she would talk to Derek. But Laura is also Stiles’ friend, wouldn’t she listen to him? No. No, better not open that door. Stiles doesn’t know who he should talk to. All of his friends were Derek’s friends first. They would obviously tell Derek about anything going on.

He goes straight up to his apartment, ignoring his usual stop at the bakery. Once inside, he lets himself crack and fall apart just a little bit as he goes through the motions. Take care of the animals, eat something, shower.

Downstairs, Laura looks at her watch, wondering where Stiles is. Maybe he just went up to his apartment. She feels a little odd about that and decides to go check on him. She takes up a plate of cookies to her friend and when he opens the door, she knows something is so deeply wrong. She pushes inside of the apartment despite Stiles’ protests and sits him down.

“What’s going on?” She asks, her concerned expression makes Stiles’ stomach twist. He wants to tell her but he thinks back to what that woman said and feels so conflicted.

“It’s nothing.” Stiles shakes his head determined not to answer.

“Please, Stiles? You don’t seem okay at all, talk to me.” Laura urges.

“I have nothing to talk about.” Stiles sighs. His eyes turn steely and frustrated.

“Is it Derek?” Laura asks hesitantly.

“No.” Stiles lies so terribly that Laura understands.

“What did my idiot brother do?” She asks.

“He didn’t do anything,” Stiles tells her with a chipped off expression. Not that I know if he did or not . Stiles thinks angrily, “Look, thank you but I just need to talk to him.”

“About what, Stiles? What happened?” Laura continues to press, “You know I’m your friend, I’m here for you. Whatever you tell me stays between us. Even from Derek.”

“Look, I can’t talk to you about this.” Stiles shakes his head vehemently.

“Are you going to break up with him?” She asks timidly, a sad tone to her voice. Stiles remains silent, unsure of how to answer, “Oh. . .”

They’re silent. It’s one of the most painful silences he’s ever felt and he’s not sure what to do. He doesn’t want to tell Laura anything. He wants to keep things between Derek and him. He especially doesn’t want to break up with Derek if he just misinterpreted whatever it was that was going on. Laura tries not to feel too sad or angry about Stiles’ silence. She’s angry for her brother, wants to demand an explanation and she’s sad for the fear of losing a friend. She nods and stands.

“I’ll leave you to your thoughts.” She says soberly and leaves the cold apartment. Stiles feels as though he’s in some sort of limbo. Laura, as quick as she can, calls Derek and tells him that something’s wrong with Stiles and that whatever happened between them, he needs to fix it or he’s going to lose Stiles. It startles Derek and the deputy speeds the rest of the way home. He had been happy just a moment ago, a design for the ring picked out and everything and now he’s terrified for what Laura’s call means. When he gets back to the apartment, Stiles is laying on the couch, staring at the ceiling. It’s cold and so unlike the warm home that Stiles created.

“Stiles?” Derek asks, approaching his lover quietly and carefully. Stiles looks up at Derek as if he’s waking up from a dream but the haze hasn’t quite left his eyes.

“I thought you were at work.” He says darkly.

“I was-”

“I saw you on my walk home. At the restaurant.” Stiles shakes his head, unable to listen to any lies, “With that guy.”

Derek remains silent, knowing exactly what Stiles must be thinking. Derek wants to keep the purpose of his meeting with Jake a secret. He wants to surprise Stiles but he’s not willing to risk their relationship.

“He’s a designer,” Derek says, running his fingers through his hair, “I was designing you something for Christmas.” He says a half lie.

Stiles isn’t sure what to say. He wants to believe Derek, but there’s just one last thing he has to know before he can put this behind him.

“There was a woman,” Stiles tells Derek, “She was outside the restaurant with me. She said she knew you, dated you once. That you cheated on her too.”

“What?” Derek asks, confused at Stiles’ new revelation, “Did she tell you her name?”

“No. All she said was that she was your ex.” Stiles tells him, “Did you cheat on anyone in the past?”

“I’ve never cheated on anyone,” Derek tells Stiles, “I haven’t even dated a woman in a long time.”

“She seemed to know you.” Stiles shakes his head dishearteningly, “Seemed like the type you would date. She was beautiful. This tall, blonde, multi-colored green eyes.”

“Kate,” Derek concludes almost immediately. He curses under his breath and takes a seat beside Stiles.

“Who is she?” Stiles asks tiredly.

“Someone I never wanted to tell you about.” Derek says, “Someone I never thought I would have to talk about ever again.”

“You know what I realized? I realized that I don’t know anything about your past.” Stiles stares off into the distance, voicing his thoughts out loud.

“My past isn’t. . .it isn’t something I ever want to share.” Derek tells Stiles, “I’ve only dated a couple times in my life and two out of four relationships were entirely terrible.”

“Will you tell me about it?” Stiles prods just a little. He’s scared that Derek will clam up and refuse to tell him anything, and if Derek is unwilling to share his past with Stiles then Stiles is unsure of what that could mean for their relationship. Stiles has shared with Derek the good and the bad of his past. He’s shared all of it. He wants to know that Derek trusts Stiles with his past just as much as Stiles trusts Derek with his.

“Stiles. . .” Derek struggles. These wounds that have scabbed over and healed left deep scars. Scars that Derek loathes, “These women were. . .monsters. It’s hard for me to talk about them, please understand. Please. It’s not because I don’t trust you, it’s because it hurts.”

“She called you a liar, your whole family liars,” Stiles tells him. His face is grim and he’s struggling to understand. Stiles feels cut deep and isn’t sure how he’s supposed to move on without a little reassurance.

“Is that what you think I am?” Derek asks softly. His eyes become misty and he’s not sure how he can fix the damage that his monster of an ex has done today. The knowledge that she not only undermined Stiles’ trust in Derek but that she also managed to make Stiles’ own confidence in himself dim.

“You’ve never lied to me.” Stiles says, “When I saw you today I thought that maybe. . .maybe you had.”

“I love you so much, Stiles. I have never lied to you and I won’t ever lie to you.” Derek tells Stiles, “I would never do anything to hurt you. Kate was always a good manipulator. She was always talented at twisting something wonderful and making it ugly and mangled. Please don’t let her do that to us.”

Stiles looks at Derek. Really looks at him. Into those bottomless green eyes. He has a strained expression on his face and flickering hope in his eyes. Derek is afraid. Though Stiles thinks about it. He thinks about all the days he’s spent with Derek. All that he’s given his boyfriend. Stiles has shared his soul with this man and not once has Derek ever taken that for granted. Derek has never hurt Stiles and from the moment they met, Derek has only ever had his eyes set on Stiles. He’s only ever had eyes for Stiles.

“You’re right, Derek.” Stiles sighs, finally feeling as if he’s re-entering his own body, “You’ve never lied to me. I trust you, Derek. I’ve never met this woman, I don’t know anything about her but I know that you and your sisters have done nothing but give me a home and love.”

Derek lets out the breath he didn’t even know he was holding and quickly wraps his arms around Stiles in a gently embrace. He’s always known that Stiles was the smarter of the two of them and now he’s realizing that Stiles will always outsmart anyone who’s trying to trick him. Stiles hugs Derek back tightly. The clouds of fear and hesitance are fading away and he feels all the exhaustion slam back into him. The need to be in Derek’s arms and taken care of emotionally by his love is strong and it powers him through the fog.

“I need a little reassurance, can we please just cuddle the rest of the night?” Stiles pleads tiredly. Derek nods eagerly and smiles gratefully at Stiles.

“Let me take care of you?” Derek asks hopefully. His lover nods and allows Derek to lead him to the room. There, he undresses Stiles and puts him in a clean pair of underwear and a soft t-shirt. Once dressed, Derek lays him into bed and pulls the covers around him, tucking his blanket under his arms, “I’m going to go lock everything down and take care of the animals, just relax. I’ll be right back.” Derek tells Stiles, giving him a kiss on the forehead before making quick work of taking care of the animals.

Once the locks are double checked, Salem is taken care of and Havoc is sleeping happily in her crate, Derek takes care of himself. Doing his nightly routine before sliding into bed behind Stiles. Derek pulls his lover in close and curls around him protectively, thankful to the gods and deities that Stiles is who he is.

“Stiles, I promise, when I’m ready I will tell you everything that happened,” Derek vows.

“I love you, Derek.” Stiles murmurs against his neck, “Just know that I’ll love you no matter what, nothing could change that. Your past doesn’t define you.”

“I love you so much, Stiles.” Derek whispers in the dim lighting, “You’re the love of my life. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past with my heart but now I know that it’s safe. It’s safe with you.”

Stiles responds by kissing him gently on the neck and snuggling into Derek’s warmth. Murmuring ‘I love you’ until he falls asleep. Derek feels like he’s been exhumed. Like he’s finally free from his grave.

Chapter Text

The following Saturday, Stiles is woken up to Derek’s lips on his shoulder. The warm, soft pair of lips are trailing down his arm and he can feel Derek’s stubble. It courses him into wakefulness in a pleasant nature. Stiles wiggles against Derek’s body, feeling his lover’s soft, pliant limbs in the early morning. Stiles sighs happily and basks in the warmth.

“Morning,” Derek grumbles sleepily.

“Morning, sunshine.” Stiles says with a dreamy smile.

“What’s on the agenda for today?” Derek asks.

“I thought maybe we could take Havoc for a walk and maybe picnic in the park?” Stiles asks hopefully. Derek took the day off to spend with Stiles and they’re both happy to spend every single moment of it together.

“That sounds great, babe.” Derek grins, “Do you want to go out to dinner?”

“Definitely, I’m in the mood for pizza. How’s Oreganos sound?” Stiles proposes.

“Sounds good to me,” Derek agrees, “We can come back here and fool around before your show tonight?” Derek wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.

“I like the sound of that. . .” Stiles’ grin widens and he find himself growing warmer and warmer with need. He starts to kiss Derek, ignoring the morning breath and taking Derek’s tongue into his mouth. Derek groans into the heated kiss, “I think we should food around right now. . .”

“Yes,” Derek growls out, flipping them so that Stiles is on bottom. His boyfriend is in full agreement with Derek’s plan and quickly fishes out the lube as Derek strips Stiles and himself of their boxers. Stiles’ hands wander all over Derek’s body, feverishly running his hands up and down those tight abs. Stiles practically drools over Derek’s magnificent body. When Derek sees Stiles’ lust blown pupils, he hungrily runs his hand down Stiles’ pecs, straight down to his flushed cock. Stiles lets out a high pitched whine and wiggles under Derek’s weight.

“Der-” Stiles cries out when his lover’s hand grips his aching member.

“No more talking,” Derek grounds out, “Now be good for me and get into my favorite position, love.” Derek lets Stiles up.

Stiles nods eagerly and does as Derek wishes. He quickly gets onto his hands and knees, spreads his legs and allows Derek into the space between them. Derek eyes him hungrily and smirks down at the eagerly body beneath his. Derek pushes apart Stiles’ cheeks even farther, exposing Stiles’ flushed pink hole.

Derek coats his fingers in lube and begins to work Stiles open with languid movements. Stiles practically falls apart on Derek’s fingers and by the time he’s really dor Derek’s hard cock, he’s face down in the pillows, fingers gripping the sheets in white knuckled hands.

“So good for me,” Derek groans out as he finally pushes into Stiles’ tight heat. Stiles moans into the pillow, his back arches as the two of them are connected and Stiles feels so impossibly full. Stiles feels as if his soul is filled just as much as his ass. It’s not a pretty analogy, Stiles thinks, but it’s accurate. Derek takes things agonizingly slow, simply enjoying the tight, slick heat that is Stiles’ ass. It’s been so long and Derek feels like he’s going to explode pitifully soon. Derek begins to thrust into Stiles’ ass harder and harder, faster and faster, taking Stiles apart with each thrust. Stiles feels Derek’s hard length intruding and hitting his prostate on each thrust and within moments he’s seeing stars. Stiles feels so connected to Derek. As he moans into the pillow. Derek pulls Stiles up, forcing him to grasp the headboard in front of him. Derek’s hand travel up the curve of Stiles’ ass, up the beautiful curve of his back, past his strong shoulders and grasps at Stiles’ chestnut brown hair. He caresses Stiles before gripping his lover’s hair in his hand. Stiles feels the pressure of Stiles’ fingers pulling at his hair and it sends electric shocks up his spine.

“Please,” Stiles begs, his eyes are closed tightly and his lips are open wide.

“What do you need, baby?” Derek whispers.

“Touch me, please.” Stiles whimpers. Derek doesn’t hesitate and removes his hand from Stiles’ hair to wrap around his leaking cock. He takes in the heat that radiates off of Stiles’ member, relishing in Stiles’ hole as it tightens around his cock the moment his hand touches Stiles pulsating cock.

Stiles mewls in pleasure as Derek strokes his shaft with an eager and experienced hand. Derek times his thrusts with his strokes but only manages for a few minutes before he begins to chase his orgasm and a desperate need to get off consumes him.Derek growls deeply, a sound that Stiles never knew he could make but feels the sound go straight to his cock. He feels the desperation welling up inside him.

“Harder, Der, please.” Stiles begs. He pushes back against Derek as hard as he can, chasing his climax, “Wreck me.”

Two words. Two words that send Derek into a spiral of carnal desire. He grabs Stiles’ lithe body forcefully, mounting Stiles’ body with his own, still pounding into him. Derek wraps his arm around Stiles’ chest tightly and uses the other wrap his hand around Stiles’ throat to apply light pressure. With this leverage on Stiles’ body, Derek pistons his hips against Stiles’ body, fucking Stiles impossibly hard and fast. Stiles is a moaning groaning mess and a tear escapes his eye it’s so good. He moans Derek’s name because he can’t even remember the english language at the moment. Derek places rough and sloppy kisses against Stiles’ shoulder blades, biting and sucking at his neck.

“Like that, baby?” Derek groans in sheer pleasure.

“Yes, just like that.” Stiles’ voice croaks out.

“You like it?” Derek growls.

“I love it,” Stiles cries out, “Love it. . .”

“Tell me how much you love me,” Derek all but orders, the desperate tone in his voice makes Stiles clench, “Tell me how much you love my cock.”

“I love you so much,” Stiles whimpers, “I love your cock, Der, I love it so much.”

“‘M gonna cum,” Derek grounds out, the burn in his muscles and the adrenaline running through his veins makes Derek feel like he’s riding a high and he feels the pleasure building to a climax.

“Cum in me Der. Want your cum.” Stiles whimpers, “Please, please, please. . .”

Derek gives a choked off grunt before filling Stiles’ wet hole with his cum. His hips twitch and Stiles’ thicks are quaking. Derek feels like all the air is punched out of him and Stiles thrusts one more time into the bed beneath him and spurts all over the bedsheet. He cums with a wail and if it weren’t for Derek’s heavy body holding his down, Stiles would have shook so hard he probably would have fallen off the bed. Together the two of them ride their highs until all that’s left is the residual pain-pleasure of intense sex. Derek gently pulls out of Stiles and rolls off his body, struggling to catch his breath. He’s thoroughly exhausted from the physical exertion.

“I love you,” Stiles laughs after a few moments of regaining his composure.

“I love you too, Stiles.” Derek smiles at his lover, “More than air.”

. . .

After spending the day cuddling and doing mushy couples activities, fooling around as much as they can, and just spending time together, they are relaxing on the couch for just a short while before they are going to the bar for Stiles’ performance. Stiles’ legs are in Derek’s lap and Havoc is laying in Stiles’ lap, sleeping. She’s well sated after a long time playing in the park earlier that day.

“Stiles. . .is it okay if I tell you something?” Derek asks, his heart is beating harshly and he didn’t think it would be this difficult but he knows that he needs to start sharing about his past or he may never.

“Of course,” Stiles says earnestly. He senses the seriousness in his voice and turns all of his attention to Derek.

“It’s about. . .” Derek sighs heavily, “It’s about Kate. . .and my other ex. . .” Stiles nods and lets Derek take a minute to bring his thoughts together. “I dated Kate for a while. I was sixteen, maybe seventeen when we started seeing each other. She was older and it was lust but I mistook it for love. She got me to do things that I wasn’t ready for at all. I was just a kid and she introduced me to a lifestyle that I didn’t like. That I wasn’t into. But I let her convince me that I wanted it and. . .it was really bad. She didn’t give me any kind of aftercare and when I started to develop anxiety and depression, I started to cling to her. She took advantage of that and started to make me dependant on her.”

“Oh Der-” Stiles shakes his head, “I’m so sorry.”

“Laura started to notice and before it got so bad that she cut me off from everyone, Laura got me out of the situation and gave me the care I needed. Laura took care of me and got me out of that situation.” Derek tells Stiles with a sad smile, “I was so young, I didn’t understand. It took me a while before I started dating again and even then I just had flings. It was just me trying to get back to normal. I had a couple relationships but they were all short and when I found Jennifer. . .I thought I could do it again.”

Stiles could see Derek struggling so he gently removed Havoc from his lap and crawled into Derek’s. His lover eagerly wrapped his arms around him in order to anchor himself. Derek began to breathe again normally and when he was able to speak again, Stiles was listening.

“Jennifer was good at first. She seemed like someone who could be good for me, could be what I was looking for. It wasn’t long before I realized that she was using me.” Derek shook his head, “I had found out that she stole my social security number, she took out credit cards, a lease on a car and went on a shopping spree that wiped me out.”

“Oh my God.” Stiles whispered, completely shocked at Derek’s luck.

“Luckily, Laura is in charge of the family’s assets and mine. She caught it quick and was able to get everything fixed but it did a number on my credit and my trust.” Derek rolls his eyes, “She did it all while smiling in my face and telling me she loved me. I couldn’t believe it. When I had her arrested, she was shocked to say the least and became very nasty very quick.”

“Did she go to jail?” Stiles asks.

“She was acquitted on a technicality.” Derek sighs, “She was out of my life, though and that’s all I wanted. After Jennifer, I stopped dating. For years I was single. I had felt so used and so broken. After all the things they did. . .it felt like I could never trust anyone ever again.”

“I’m sorry, Derek.” Stiles whispers to his boyfriend.

“When I met you, there was nothing holding me back.” Derek gives Stiles a small, fragile smile, “It scared me to think that even after everything, I could still trust a complete stranger. But I did. I loved you almost the moment I saw you. Now, now I can’t even imagine my life without you.”

“I love you, Derek. I could never ever hurt you.” Stiles tells him.

“I know that.” Derek assures him, “I love you and I trust you. More than I’ve trusted anyone in a long time. There’s a lot that I’m not telling you, things that happened with these girls that I just don’t know how to tell anyone and I’m still really trying. . .” Derek struggles but Stiles silences him with a kiss.

“I trust you,” Stiles whispers, “I trust you with my life and you don’t need to tell me everything right now or ever if you can’t. I’m here for you, baby. I’m here for you and I’ll always listen to what you have to say. Thank you for telling me this much.”

Derek nods and allows silence to fall over the both of them. They sit in silence, comfortable in each other’s warmth. It’s calm and healthy. It’s a good space to be in. Derek thinks about how lucky he is to have someone like Stiles. . .so accepting, so understanding. Stiles thinks that he’s lucky to have someone like Derek. . .someone who tries no matter how much it hurts.

Chapter Text

Rain falls on the windows to the hospital windows in a harsh, oppressive manner. The sound of it isn’t welcome, even to Stiles, a man who loves the rain. The sound of the rain beating against the window only serves to darken his mood. He sits at Sean’s bedside. The kid is pale. Far too pale for his liking and the doctors are concerned. He’s just gotten sicker and sicker. This close to Christmas, it’s been harder and harder for Sean to keep up his strength. Stiles knows what’s coming next. He’s known for a while and though he was always hopeful, he always prayed, he knew that Sean wasn’t going to make it after another round of chemo and a white cell count that was so low the doctors had little to no hope.

Sean is connected to machines, his breathing is labored and he’s so frail. He can barely keep his eyes open and seeing Sean so sick hurts Stiles to the core. It feels like his mother all over again only this time, he’s losing a friend. Sean stares up at the ceiling, lost in whatever world he’s in. Stiles is holding the boy’s clammy hand. The room is dimly lit as light has been hurting Sean’s eyes as of late and he’s covered in warm blankets. The boy’s parents have been there earlier, but left once Sean became foggy and though Stiles wanted to scream at them for being so selfish, he knew he wasn’t going to make any waves with them. Sean’s parents still wouldn’t want to be with their dying son. They’d rather pretend it wasn’t happening. Though Stiles knows that they’ll regret it one day.

Stiles decorated Sean’s room with Christmas lights. He put up a little tree that he got at the dollar store and got him new guitar picks for Christmas. Stiles wants Sean to feel comfortable and happy, even if it is his last days.

“Stiles?” Sean’s fragile voice echoes from the bed.

“Yeah, bud?” Stiles whispers to the boy.

“I’m pretty doped up,” Sean gives a weak smile. The comment makes Stiles laugh and smile, “Could you play for me?”

“Of course.” Stiles gives him a small smile.

“Christmas songs,” Sean requests. Stiles gives him a nod and pulls out his guitar. Once he’s got his guitar in his lap, he begins to strum the notes to Silent Night and sings quietly, easily. He takes solace in the happy expression that takes over Sean’s face and it eases his tensions. Stiles’ voice is smooth and low, controlled and warm.

Sean feels like absolute shit. He’s never felt this rotten in his entire life and he unfortunately knows what that means. Sean knows that he hasn’t got a lot left in him. He had given up after years of treatment. Four years of chemo and being in and out of the hospital. He’s spent the last year in permanent residence. Even he knew that he wasn’t going to make it out of this alive. And he had accepted that. Sean thinks back to the early years of treatment. When his parents were both by his side every step of the way, well, mostly. They were there for at least 75% of it. Then after two years, by the time the treatments would have worked, it seemed like nothing was working. They bounced him from drug to drug trying to figure out which one would do it but none worked. Now he’s at the end of his rope and his body is finally giving out. Sean thinks about the last year he’s spent in the hospital. How dismal and lonely it was. How he’d spent his days feeling like he was just wondering, like the hospital itself was purgatory and he was already dead. He saw less and less of his parents as time went on. He didn’t blame them, he was past the point of even wanting to see himself. Then when Stiles came to the hospital, it felt like maybe he could be normal again, if just for a little while longer. Stiles spent time with him, Stiles taught him to play guitar, took time to teach him like he was still alive.

Sean has only known Stiles for about four or five months but he doesn’t think he could have made it this long had it not been for having Stiles as a friend. Stiles showed him that he’s not just a sick kid, that he’s capable of living. Stiles is his friend. Stiles is his best friend. He’d deny thinking such warm thoughts about Stiles but if he were being honest with himself, he would say that Stiles is the first friend he’s had in a long time. It makes it hard, so hard because he’s not looking forward to dying on Stiles. Sean knows about Stiles’ mother and knowing that he’s gotten close to Stiles only makes things worse.

For now, Sean takes a breather and just listens to Stiles play. He’s always liked Stiles’ voice. It’s strong and what he thinks a real man sounds like. It’s different from what singers sound like today but it’s a good kind of different. It’s Christmas time and he’s warm, cozy and safe. I’m dying, Sean thinks, but at least I’m not alone.

Stiles sings to him in a quiet voice. He sings all the classics. Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, White Christmas, Have Yourself A Merry Christmas and a couple others. Sean smiles and watches him play with a content expression. Sean feels something, deep down. Something that isn’t right, but he knows what it is. He feels it coming, little by little and he knows that it’s almost time. So he smiles at Stiles and whispers a thank you. Then he closes his eyes and listens. He smiles and he listens.

Stiles knows it’s coming. He can barely keep it together and keep playing but he doesn’t know what else to do. So Stiles does what he does best and keeps playing. He plays through it because he knows that Sean would get angry if there were any chick flick moments. Sean wants to play it cool, he wants to be calm and happy. Like nothing bad is happening to him. Though they both know better. All while Stiles sings to him, he prays to himself. Praying to God that Sean is well taken care of. That the boy is able to play music with the angels and sing with the seraphs because he was really good at playing music and singing.

It doesn’t take long.

Stiles thinks to himself. He thinks about what puts Sean at peace. What makes him feel like there’s nothing left for him to do on Earth. There’s a content smile on his face as he falls asleep for the last time. His eyes close and Stiles feels tears slipping free. He keeps playing. All that fills the room now is the sound of his guitar and the long, endless beep from the monitors. Stiles doesn’t know anything about medicine. He doesn’t know anything about the human body and he sure as hell doesn’t know anything about the afterlife, but he does know that Sean was happy. In his last moments he was happy and comfortable. He was loved and he was safe. That’s all anyone could ever ask of their friend. After a moment, Stiles lays his guitar down and stands. He looks over to a sad Lydia. She stands in the doorway with Derek beside her, looking at Stiles with tears in her eyes and a smile like she knows. She knows what happened. She knows what he’s feeling.

Lydia turns the machines off.

Lydia takes Sean’s chart and writes the time of death.

Lydia lays the bed flat and presses a gentle hand to the boy’s arm to caress his still warm body.

Lydia hugs Stiles tightly through the tears and whispers to him how much Sean loved him. How much Sean cared for Stiles and admired him. How much Stiles gave to Sean.

Stiles nods numbly.

Stiles looks at Sean with tears streaming down his cheeks.

Stiles looks over at Sean’s guitar and feels like he might break down.

Everything happens so fast. Sean’s parents are called and when they come to the hospital, they don’t even acknowledge Stiles. They looks at their son’s guitar like it means nothing. Though Stiles holds all those memories dear to his heart and thinks about the videos he has of Sean singing and playing on his phone, he knows that his parents don’t care. Right now they’re grieving and everyone grieves differently. Their little boy just died.

“Stiles. . .” Derek whispers gently. He touches his boyfriend’s arm softly, “Let me take you home.” Derek sees the pain in Stiles’ eyes. He sees the tears and feels like his very soul is being shredded with each little drop that falls from Stiles’ eyes. He didn’t know Sean like Stiles did, but he did like the kid. He thought he had the most spirit that any kid could possibly have and he admired that. Derek doesn’t feel the loss as deeply as Stiles does, but he feels Stiles’ pain. He feels heartbroken for his lover.

Stiles nods almost robotically and he collects his things. Before he steps out of the room, he looks one more time at the parents, at the boy and at the doctor in the room. He’s not sure how to speak. He doesn’t think he can say anything without letting out the sob that’s stuck in his throat. He wants to scream and cry and bargain for Sean’s life. He doesn’t want to accept this but he must. He knows he must. He sees the little guitar in the corner and thinks, who is going to take care of it now? Who is going to love music the way that Sean did?

Should he take the guitar? Should he say something to the parents? Should he scream at them for not being here for their son? Derek knows what he’s thinking. He knows what’s running through Stiles’ head and wraps an arm around his waist, walking him out of the room with a gentle force.

“They’ll realize what it means.” Derek promises. That’s all he says. Derek doesn’t say he’s sorry for Stiles’ loss, though he is immensely sorry. He doesn’t tell Stiles that he’s in a better place, though Sean is most definitely in a better place. Derek doesn’t say anything to Stiles. Because Stiles doesn’t want to hear it. Stiles doesn’t want to hear that things will be okay because they won’t be for a little bit. Stiles knows that he got close to Sean and it’ll happen again with another child because Stiles has a heart of gold. Stiles saw a child that was in need of help, of a friend, and security. Stiles gave Sean that and in the end, it hurt, but he can’t find it in him to regret it.

Sean deserved it.

Sean needed it.

Sean was loved.

So Stiles lets himself be led out of the hospital and taken out to the Camaro and driven home. He lets Derek take charge. He lets Derek pull him into the apartment and stripped naked only to be redressed in a warm sleep shirt and sweats. He lets Derek wrap him like a burrito in bed and he lets Havoc and Salem curl around him. They sense his distress and help to heal Stiles by simply being in his presence. Derek gives Stiles a hot mug of hot chocolate with the little marshmallows that Stiles loves so much and a candy cane to stir. Just the way he likes it. Stiles says that this drink, though it’s seasonal, is so strong that he swears it can heal broken hearts if drunk regularly.

Once they’re done with the sugary medicine, Derek tucks Stiles into his side and holds him tightly as he gives a good cry. He cries for his friend. Stiles knows that if he could, Sean would tell him to quick acting like a crybaby and suck it up. Sean would tell Stiles not to cry for him. Sean would tell Stiles to man up and remember him. Always remember him. So Stiles promises that after this night, he won’t cry anymore. He’ll be sad, sure, but he won’t cry anymore. Sean never wanted Stiles to cry for him.

Derek whispers how much he loves Stiles. He whispered how good Stiles’ heart is. How he was so strong for Sean, how he gave Sean what he wanted. How he loves Stiles’ courage and conviction. How much he loves Stiles’ soul. It’s late and rain is still beating against the windows and it’s cold but Stiles thinks that it’s a beautiful night. He falls asleep to the sound of the rain and the beat of Derek’s heart against his ear. He thanks God for the time he had with Sean. It’s time that he’ll always treasure.

. . .

It’s cold. There’s frost in thick patches on the windows and the ground. Dangerous. Though there’s no snow. It’s cloudy with the promise of more rain to follow. They’re having an exceptionally rainy holiday season. Stiles loves the rain. He loves the weather here in this town. Today is a hard day to love the cold. Today, Stiles is dressed in a new black suit. He thinks that Sean would have laughed at the monkey suit but Stiles knows that he couldn’t show up in jeans and his hoodie. He’s got a red tie and his hear neatly styled. A black umbrella is in his hand and one of Derek’s thick black coats on his body to keep him warm. He’s standing with Derek beside him, holding his other hand and dressed in similar style. Lydia is at his other side, a black dress and coat contrast with her pale skin and red hair so much that Stiles does a double take whenever he looks at her. They’re standing outside of the church, staring at it with apprehension. Stiles still finds it hard to believe that he’s here. That he’s going to do what he’s been asked to do. Derek is the first to step towards the building, gently tugging Stiles along.

They walk up the aisle, Stiles doesn’t hear the crying family. He doesn’t see the saddened congregation. He only sees a sleek black coffin at the altar. When he gets up to it, Sean looks like he’s only asleep. He’s got color back into his cheeks and he’s got the same smile on his face that he had when he passed. He’s dressed in a monkey suit just like Stiles and he thinks with a laugh that Sean would be rolling his eyes and telling Stiles to shove it. Stiles places a guitar pick inside the coffin and a new package of guitar strings. He smiles sadly at the little boy and whispers that he needs to be careful, it’s the only pack he’s getting. Derek leads Stiles to his seat and places an arm around his shoulders. Lydia sits on his other side and takes his hand in hers, holding it as if to ground herself. Stiles doesn’t talk to Sean’s parents. They’re busy talking to other people and besides, everything’s been arranged.

“We’re here to celebrate the life. . .of Sean James Williams.” The priest begins the services but Stiles doesn’t really pay attention. His mind goes through all the things he wants to say, all the memories that he shared with Sean and all the days he spent in Sean’s room, just bickering with the boy. Time flies when you’re in your own head, “Sean was prepared. More prepared than most children who know they’re going to die are. He wrote letters to everyone he loved. He left specific requests and here to fill his last request, is his good friend. Stiles Stilinski.”

That’s Stiles’ queue. It’s his moment. He rises on shaky legs and makes his way to the pulpit to speak. When he gets there, he takes a look at the mass of people that have assembled for Sean. Half the church is filled. Sean would have been impressed.

“My name is Stiles.” he begins with a shaky voice that rivals his legs, “I met Sean when I became one of the music therapists at the hospital. I met him on my first day. It was actually how I got hired. I managed to impress him.” Stiles chuckles.

“There was a while there where I didn’t know if he liked me or not. Sean was the most snarky child I’d ever met, but it was eventually what made us such good friends. He loved music. Loved it. He was a quick learner too. Boy could he sing. He was a magnificent performer. He picked up the guitar in weeks and was playing like he’d been playing for years in just a short period of time.” Stiles reminisces, “He was into classic rock and country. He loved all things rock. Sean. . .Sean wrote me a letter. I didn’t receive it until a day or two after he passed. I could almost hear his voice as I read it, it was so like him. He’d told me how much he loved playing and how much he loved playing with me. While I was reading, I thought that he might be scared. I can’t imagine writing a letter like the one he wrote, one that foreshadowed death, at his age. But he did it. And he was articulate. He was honest, pure and simple. He understood his mortality and I can’t believe that he could possibly understand. But he did. He understood more than I could possibly convey to you but. . .Sean wasn’t scared. He wasn’t angry. He was courageous and strong. Even in his last moments, he asked me to play for him and he was happy. He was content. That’s all I ever wanted for the kid. And rather than stand up here and talk to all of you about how great he was, how smart and wonderful, I think it’d do better to just watch.” Stiles takes his phone out and sighs, “Sean was my friend, a best friend. I loved that kid and I think he felt the same. In all my years, I couldn’t have asked for a better student or friend. Sean was one of a kind.”

Stiles nods to himself and steps down, walks towards the projector and plugs in his phone to project the perfect video that will make everyone understand. Then, up on the screen is Sean. Looking so alive and vibrant that it makes Stiles smile brightly.

 

“Alright, kid. Show me whatcha got.” Stiles’ voice from out of frame can be heard. The spotlight is on Sean. He’s sitting up in his bed, a determined look on his face and a smirk on his lips. He clears his throat and looks at the camera and smirks. His eyes are so alive.

“I’ve been workin’ real hard on this one, I think you’re gonna like it.” Sean says to the camera.  A massive grin breaks out on his face and his hands are confident as they work.

“Well, I won't back down. No, I won't back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won't back down. No, I'll stand my ground. Won't be turned around. And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down. Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down.” Sean’s eyes close slightly and his entire expression begins to shift. The boy’s voice is higher than Stiles’ and just a little scratcher but it’s well tuned and strong. “Hey, baby. There ain't no easy way out. Hey, I will stand my ground, and I won't back down.”

Sean is so carefree. He’s comfortable and confident. It’s clear that he’s lost in the music. He is focused and he transitions smoothly from verse to chorus with practiced ease.

“Well, I know what's right. I got just one life. In a world that keeps on pushin' me around, but I'll stand my ground, And I won't back down.” Sean’s fingers fly over the strings, strumming and picking with skill, not missing a single chord. “ Hey, baby. There ain't no easy way out. Hey, I will stand my ground, and I won't back down.”

Sean is quiet. He’s still lost, completely gone on the music and the song. When his eyes open and he smiles, it’s like everything is alright. Like he isn’t even sick. Like he’s happy and strong. He is.

Stiles looks at Sean’s face for another moment, taking in the boy’s wide smile before turning off the video and unplugging his phone. He looks to the boy’s parents who are both beside themselves. They’re crying but they smile at Stiles and mouth thank you to him. Stiles just nods and and understands what he gave their son. Without another word, he walks back to his seat. What he doesn’t realize is that everyone in the church is so moved. There isn’t a dry eye in the house. Stiles thinks that now, now they understand. Now they know.

Sean was strong.

Sean was courageous.

Sean wasn’t afraid.

Sean knows what adults struggle to understand.

Sean was special.

Stiles knew that. Stiles knew it all. Stiles knew who Sean was at his core and he loved the boy for it. Stiles knows that wherever he is, Sean is happy. Knowing that, Stiles could find peace with this. He could find peace with losing Sean.

Chapter Text

“There,” Derek grunts as the bright green Christmas tree into the tree holder that still has the tag on it. He gets down on the floor and screws it in tight, “We’re all set.”

“Yay,” Stiles grins like a child, “Now it’s time for the lights.”

“I’ll go make the hot chocolate.” Derek gives his lover a happy smile and a kiss on the cheek before jumping to his feet and heading into the kitchen.

Stiles gets strings the lights up on the tree. He feels like he’s twelve again. Back in his old life with his dad. Stiles had always been the one to decorate for Christmas, but his father always made time to go and pick up their tree together. Stiles loves Christmas. It’s his absolute favorite season. He loves the cold, the warmth that comes with being inside with loved ones and the love that is shared. Stiles hasn’t had a Christmas in years, not since his dad passed, so this is a special Christmas. It’s December 10th and they’ve got lights lining the windows and Christmas items all over the apartment.

“There, perfect.” Stiles breathes as he finishes stringing the lights on the tree. Salem is busy sniffing at the tree, occasionally chewing on the low hanging branches. Havoc is currently obsessed with drinking the water out of the tree stand, “Stop that!” Stiles shooed them away from the tree with a firm hand. Derek chuckles at the inquisitive animals and hands Stiles a hot mug.

“This Christmas is going to be great.” Stiles sips his hot chocolate with a happy smile as Derek opens up the boxes of new ornaments.

“Our first Christmas,” Derek says with a warm sigh. Decorate the tree with Christmas music in the background. It’s a warm moment, full of the stereotypical Christmassy goodness. Once the tree is all done and shining brightly, the last thing to do is put the brand new star on top of the tree.

“Why don’t you put it up?” Stiles suggests with a pleased smile. He puts the little blue star in Derek’s hands and takes another sip.

“Are you sure?” Derek asks. His hands are gentle around the star.

“I’m sure, baby.” Stiles grins, “You do it. Now hurry up so I can turn on the lights.”

Derek laughs and nods. He connects the star and puts it up, nodding to Stiles to fire it up. Once Stiles plugs in the lights, the entire room shines with bright multi-colored lights. It smells like evergreen in the apartment and the cinnamon-apple candle that’s burning on the table makes it smell like how Christmas feels. It’s so warm and cozy. Earlier in the day Stiles had baked cookies, the animals are all calm and happy in their beds. It’s a perfect scene.

“I love you,” Stiles tells Derek.

“I love you too,” Derek grins, he flops down on the couch and pulls Stiles in close. He plants a kiss on his hairline and if he could, he’d be purring with happiness.

“This is going to be the best Christmas ever .” Stiles whispers into Derek’s shoulder. The two of them stare at the tree and eat cookies. Content in each other’s company. Derek smiles at his boyfriend and thinks to himself , it will be .

. . .

“Let me see it!” Laura bounces on her feet excitedly with Cora right behind her. Derek’s sisters are excited and can’t stop squealing. Jordan is smiling from his seat at the bar.

“Alright, alright! Relax.” Derek laughs. He pulls out the red velvet box from his coat pocket and reveals the ring to his family. The moment the girls see it they gasp.

“It’s so beautiful. . .” Laura whispers, completely mesmerized at the ring.

Derek smiles so wide it almost hurts. He’s just as pleased with how the ring turned out as his sisters are. The black zirconium band is split in the middle with gray meteorite filling the gap. It’s sleek, unique, and entirely beautiful. Just like Stiles. Jake did a great job with the ring. Erica’s friend delivered the ring today with a matching ring for Derek. The deputy had been so excited, that he called his sisters and told them to meet at the house for the big reveal. So here they are in the house, practically jumping for joy. It’s the fifteenth of December and in a short ten days, Derek is going to propose. Just thinking about it makes Derek feel giddy.

“I’m so happy for you, Der.” Laura has tears in her eyes.

“We all are,” Cora smiles, “Mom and Dad would be too.” Laura nods. The three Hales embrace and get misty eyed together.

“We all love Stiles and we can’t wait for him to be a part of the family. . .officially.” Laura laughs, swiping her tears away.

“He’ll love the ring.” Cora tells Derek.

“It’s great, man.” Jordan claps him on the bag and gives him a tight hug.

“I can hardly wait,” Derek says, “Now that I actually have the ring, it’s like it’s burning a hole in my pocket.”

“I bet,” Jordan says, “When I was getting ready to propose I thought I was going to explode every moment I saw Laura.” Derek’s sister smiles at her fiance and slides right into his extended arm.

“Who’d of thought we’d both be engaged in the same year.” Laura laughs.

“You’re getting married in like two months, Laura.” Derek points out with an eye roll.

“And you better not get married before me,” Laura pokes him right in the chest with a sly grin. There’s a glint in her eyes, happiness in her heart.

“So how are you going to do it?” Cora asks with an eager smile.

“Well. . .”

. . .

December in the hospital is hard for the kids. No one wants to spend their holiday season in the hospital. It’s understandable. So Stiles did his best to make the kids happy. He sang Christmas carols, brought the kids things from the bakery, wore a Santa hat. He even brought Havoc into the hospital. Her training is going well, soon she’ll be certified and ready to go. Stiles brings her on her practice days. The kids love the white dog. She’s energetic and playful, as well as gentle. She’s intelligent and caring. She’s a big hit with the kids.

December is a hard time for Stiles. It's one of the worst months for him, or at least, it was in the past. He hasn't celebrated in so long that even Thanksgiving last month was hard for him to understand again. This month, every single day has been a challenge. The whole premise of Christmas, spending time with family and loved ones gets to Stiles more often than he would like to admit. Though he loves Derek and his new family, all of his new friends, he still misses his parents. He misses them so much sometimes that he's not sure he'll survive. But Derek has made it better, Derek has done his best to fill that part of Stiles.

It’s Christmas eve and Stiles is absolutely exhausted. He pulled extra hours all week long because one of the other therapists called out this week. Not that he minds, it’s a job that Stiles loves more than anything and he knows the kids love him the most. Stiles is walking out of the hospital, pulling his coat in closer to his body and the Santa cap farther over his ears. His guitar is slung across his back and he’s ready to go home. He waits by the hospital doors for a minute or two when Derek’s Camaro pulls up. The window lowers and Derek’s smirking face greets him.

“Need a lift?” Derek calls out.

“Nah, thanks mister but my boyfriend will be here soon to get me.” Stiles grins.

“Must be a crap boyfriend if he’s making you wait in the cold like this. . .” Derek replies.

“I dunno, he’s alright.” Stiles shrugs, “He makes up for it with his big penis.” Stiles laughs as he approaches the car. He slides into the passenger seat and leans over to kiss Derek.

“Come on, I rented It’s a Wonderful Life .” Derek grins.

“Ugh, you know I hate that movie.” Stiles groans.

“It’s not like we’re actually going to watch it.” Derek points out.

“It’s weird that you like having background noise while having sex.” Stiles jabs.

“It’s weird that you don’t like It’s a Wonderful Life. ” Derek chuckles. On the way back to the apartment, they talk about their day and about how excited they are for Christmas. Derek got the day off and Stiles is off the hook tomorrow too. They can spend Christmas together then go over to the big house for Christmas dinner. When they get into the apartment, the animals all crowd them.

“Whoa there,” Stiles says. He quickly tends to the animals before setting his coat on the coach, “I stink.”

“Me too,” Derek says while smelling his armpits, “We need to shower.”

“Hmm. . .” Stiles slips into Derek’s space and begins unbuttoning the man’s uniform, “Wanna save some water?”

“Shower together. . .” Derek feels his blood heat at the suggestion, “I think that’s what ecologically minded people would do. . .”

Stiles giggles as Derek chases him into the room. They shed their clothes quickly and climb into shower together. The water turns hot quickly and Stiles groans at the hot water that hits his skin in a gentle stream. He’s almost surprised to feel Derek’s hands on him. Derek’s lust has morphed into worship. This is the man he’s going to propose to in a few short hours. He’s unbelievably excited. He’s also terribly nervous and it seems like the only way to calm his nerves at the moment is to take care of Stiles. Derek soaps up his lufa and begins to run it over every inch of Stiles’ skin. His soft touches and tiny kisses are completely mesmerizing to Stiles and he quickly loses himself in the touches. Stiles closes his eyes and lets himself feel Derek. It’s so easy and good. Stiles thinks that he might have just died and gone to heaven. He could feel Derek’s love for him. Derek takes his time with Stiles and quickly cleans himself, wanting nothing more than to make sweet love to Stiles’ pliant and supple body.

Stiles eagerly follows Derek’s lead and does as he’s urged to do. Derek doesn’t talk, he simply moves Stiles’ body with gentle but firm hands. The two lovers are so close, Derek lays on top of Stiles’ body ready to make love and Stiles stares up into his eyes, ready to receive and reciprocate that love. Stiles thinks that maybe he finally received last year’s Christmas wish.

. . .

“Baby, wake up.” Derek whispers into Stiles’ ear, waking his lover gently.

“Five more minutes,” Stiles grumbles sleepily. Derek chuckles and waves a mug of hot coffee under Stiles’ nose and watches as his boyfriend wakes suddenly to snatch the mug out of his hands.

“Merry Christmas, Stiles.” Derek says, kissing his boyfriend on the forehead.

“Merry Christmas,” Stiles replies automatically. He takes a sip and sighs happily. In the next moment, Stiles is reminded what day and he excitedly jumps out of bed and runs over to the tree, “It’s Christmas!” Derek laughs and hauls their comforter over to where Stiles has taken a seat on the floor by the tree.

“I take it you want to open presents?” Derek supplies with a mirthful chuckle.

“Duh!” Stiles says, “Not get your cute butt over here.”

Derek laughs and quickly retrieves his coffee before sitting next to Stiles to open their gifts. Stiles pulls the blanket around their shoulders and Salem takes shelter in the blanket. Havoc is busy chewing on a large bone in her new bed. It seems that everyone is happy with this morning. Stiles takes the first small gift and hands it to Derek, grinning eagerly. His lover grins at the small box in his hands and shreds the gift wrap. Derek uncovers a brand new, black leather wallet. A new wallet that Derek has been needing but hasn’t gotten around to getting. Derek grins at his boyfriend and kisses his gratitude. Then Stiles opens his gift from Derek, a brand new guitar case. They take turns opening gifts. There aren’t more than three each, a number that Stiles and Derek had come to an agreement with. Stiles gave Derek the wallet, a new black leather jacket, and a soft blue throw blanket so that “you can stop stealing all the blankets at night”. Derek gave Stiles the guitar case, a new pair of boots, and a new pillow because “yours keeps leaking stuffing, I’m tired of picking pieces of stuffing off my body in the morning”. They both sit in the blanket for a couple more minutes, finishing their coffee and staring at the tree with happy smiles on their faces. Stiles is completely content, settled and calm. Derek, on the other hand, is a hot mess. He’s nervous and if it weren’t for his superior poker face, he would be sweating bullets right now. Though he’s sure Stiles can hear his heart pounding in his chest. It’s now or never , Derek thinks to himself. Before he can talk himself out of it, he sets his mug down and turns to his boyfriend.

“Stiles. . .I gotta tell you something,” Derek sighs, “I didn’t listen to the three gift rule we set.”

“Seriously?” Stiles questions worriedly, “I didn’t get you anythi-”

“You didn’t have to,” Derek says and takes a deep gulp before getting up onto one knee. He fishes the red velvet box out of his pocket and presents it to Stiles.

Stiles’ eyes go wide the moment he sees the small box in Derek’s hands, knowing exactly what is going to be inside of it. His heart leaps and tries to escape his chest. The moment his eyes meet Derek’s, he thinks he might start crying. Derek looks almost traumatized but is handling it fairly well, all things considered.

“From the moment I saw you, I knew that there was something different about you, something that no one else on this Earth could ever possess and still to this day I can’t put my finger on it. But I’ve watched you since day one. I’ve seen your heart and soul and I know that’s they’re so pure and beautiful. Your capacity for love and empathy is amazing to me. I love who you are inside and out. Your wit, your sarcasm, your strength. I love your understanding and your courage.” Derek gives Stiles a smile, “I want to be with you for the rest of my life, I want to wake up next to you and watch you sing every chance I can get. I love you more than anything in this world, Stiles. I want to spend the rest of my life loving you. Will you marry me?”

Stiles’ jaw drops and he feels the sting of tears. He’s absolutely shocked, but he’s known the answer to this question since the day he fell in love with this man. This gorgeous, gentle, perfect man.

“Duh,” Stiles says, laughing through the tears as Derek lets out a deep sigh. He giggles when Derek takes the ring out of the box and places it on Stiles’ finger. Derek tackles his fiance and kisses him senseless. The giggling mass under his body is giggling loudly and squirming under Derek’s body.

“I love you,” Derek says with misty eyes.

“I love you,” Stiles repeats. They hold each other for another couple minutes, “Even though you didn’t listen to the three gift rule.”

“You saying yes is the best gift I could ever receive.” Derek grins down at his lover.

“So corny.” Stiles laughs, “You’re the best gift I could have ever received.”

“Look who’s being corny now.” Derek teases lightly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles laughs. He takes a minute then looks at the ring with eager eyes. Stiles thinks that it’s an absolutely beautiful band. It’s perfect and he’s treasure it forever. It’s completely unique, “What is this made of?”

“Meteorite,” Derek answers, “I had it custom made for you. You deserve a ring that’s as unique as you are.”

“You’re absolutely perfect, you know that right? My better half in every sense of the word.” Stiles whispers to his lover.

“And you’re mine.” Derek smiles.

“I’m thinkin’. . .Stilinski-Hale. . .” Stiles proposes.

“I think that’s perfect.” Derek laughs, he’s so happy that he thinks he might just explode. There are no words to describe how elated he is. How high he is.

“You’re perfect,” Stiles kisses Derek deeply.

“We’re perfect, together.” Derek replies.

“Merry Christmas, love.”

“Merry Christmas.”

Chapter Text

“Should we even have a ceremony?” Stiles questions Derek, “Why not just go down to the justice and elope?”

“If that’s what you want to do, I’m fine with it.” Derek answers, “Though you know we’re going to have to have a reception. There’s no way out of that.”

“I’m all for that.” Stiles agrees.

They’re enjoying a cup of coffee in the bakery on a Saturday morning. Derek took the day off and they’re taking the day to begin planning their wedding and the rest of their lives. It’s been a month since Derek proposed since they made it official. It’s only a couple weeks till Laura’s wedding and Stiles has been busy helping her with her arrangements. Stiles has spent countless hours running to goodwills and thrift shops to collect mason jars and visiting her bridal shop for last minute alterations. It’s been busy for her. Even today, Derek and Stiles are sitting in the bakery to taste test some new creations that Laura is wanting to use for the wedding. Derek’s sister is busy in the kitchen, baking away while Cora mans the cash register. It’s a busy morning but soon it will die down as the afternoon goes on.

“We should ask Laura to cater,” Stiles suggests. He bites off another piece of his cinnamon roll.

“Who else would we ask?” Derek laughs.

“There is something else I wanted to ask you about. . .” Stiles begins. Derek sets down his coffee and gives his fiance his full attention, “The hospital is making some changes. Good changes and they’re pretty big. The Chief decided that because of all the good reviews and feedback that she’s been getting about me, that she’s decided to completely restructure my department.”

“What does that mean?” Derek questions.

“Well. . .basically it means that they want me to be the “Head of Pediatric Music Therapist”. Would be my official title.” Stiles says with a happy grin, “I’d basically be running the job.”

“Really?” Derek breaks out into a brilliant smile, “That’s great, baby!”

“It is,” Stiles nods, “It’s an amazing opportunity.”

“Are you going to take it?” Derek asks.

“I’m not sure. . .” Stiles shrugs, almost at a loss. “It’s a lot of change and I’d be busier. There’d be more of the bureaucracy and the stakes would be higher.”

“Is it what you want to do?” Derek asks his fiance.

“I love being with the children. I love working with them but. . . I don’t know if it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life. Especially if I’m not going to be able to spend any time with the kids anymore because of all my other responsibilities.” Stiles shrugs, unsure of what to do about the offer.

“Well maybe you should think about something else? Maybe you want to do something different?” Derek always thought that Stiles was great at his job. Though he wishes that his boyfriend was able to do more, he understands that there isn’t something in between what he does now and the job that he’s being offered. At least, there isn’t an in between at the hospital.

“I’ve been thinking about it. I’m not really sure.” Stiles says honestly, “I graduated high school but I don’t even have a degree. I never went to college. It was a miracle I even got the job that I have.”

“You could go to college if you wanted to.” Derek gives his fiance a gentle smile.

“What? No. I’m twenty-six. It’s too late for me.” Stiles objects, “I don’t even have money for college.”

“Well, you know that I would support you if that’s what you wanted to do. As for you being too old, you know that’s not true. People go back to college all the time. My dad went to college when he was in his thirties.” Derek shrugs, “You know that once we’re married, my money is your money and vice versa.”

“That’s sweet of you, Der. But I don’t you to have to pay for all that stuff.” Stiles’ eyes worry together into a small frown.

“Stiles,” Derek rolls his eyes, “I never really told you but, babe. . .I’m well off.”

“What?” Stiles asks, completely lost.

“The Hale family, my family, are very well off. The real estate business that my family owns is doing very well and has been doing well for a long time. My uncle is still running the business. Apart from having my own trust, my siblings and I own stock in the business. A lot of stock. We’re on the board and we manage our own finances very well. Laura’s been managing mine for a while but I do still have properties in my name all over California that accrue a very healthy revenue.” Derek explains in a hushed tone. The last thing he wanted to do was let everyone in the bakery know. Derek was never one to flaunt his family’s success.

“Seriously?” Stiles asks, completely blown away, “Why are you a cop if you’ve got all that?”

“Because being a real estate mogul isn’t really my passion. Yeah it keeps me in good standing and fills my bank accounts but it’s not what I love. It doesn’t matter to me if I’m living like a millionaire. I don’t need all that stuff.” Derek shrugs, “I give a lot of my money to charities and all that because I don’t need it and I hate that it’s all sitting in a bank account just. . .sitting. No, I’d rather spend it on something important or give it to someone who needs it more than I do.”

“You’re an angel.” Stiles says, still trying to wrap his mind around it.

“No,” Derek denies his obvious generosity, “My money is our money now. So please, if you want to go to college, you can. Do whatever you want.” Derek sits back and looks at stiles with a loving expression.

“Okay. . .” Stiles smiles, “I think I want to go to college. . .”

“Great,” Derek laughs, “Think about what you want to do and we’ll get it done.”

“I love you so much.” Stiles says to his lover.

“I love you too,” Derek replies. They smile at one another for a moment before Laura places a large platter of mixed goodies in front of them. They’re all colorful and small. They look absolutely delicious and Stiles eagerly reaches for one of the small cakes with pursed lips.

“So that one is a coconut cream cakes.” Laura tells him. She’s covered in dried egg batter. There are some little patches of flour dusting her collar.

“It’s amazing!” Stiles says with a mouthful of cake. Derek picks up a small yellow cake covered in golden frosting and little black poppy seeds.

“Lemon lavender poppy seed cake.” Laura tells Derek. Stiles’ eyes widen and he quickly clears his pallet to snatch up the other little cake that Derek tried. He lets out an appreciative groan the moment it touches his tongue.

“Ugh, Laura. . .” Stiles nods, “This is it. This is the one.”

“Really?” She asks, “I put a hint of spearmint into batch. . .just a little.”

“This is perfect.” Stiles tells her. Derek nods in agreement.

“It really is. I think we should have these at our reception, Stiles.” Derek nods. He goes for another little cake. This one is much the same as the last only white with light blue frosting.

“I love this!” Stiles exclaims, “You gotta get into the wedding catering scene, really. These are perfect. They’d drum up so much business.”

“Do you really think so?” Laura asks with a small, excited glimmer in her eyes.

“I know so.” Stiles nods. Derek hands him the little blue cake and upon eating it, Stiles’ eyes roll into the back of his head.

“Laura I think that these are the best cakes that you’ve ever made.” Derek says, savoring the bite of blueberry vanilla bean pastry.

“I want these two at our reception. Please.” Stiles tells her.

“You got it!” Laura smiles, “I’ve been thinking about getting into the wedding business but I would need a lot more space than I have now. It’s a lot of money to start up and I’m not sure about the market-”

“The bakery has been doing really well, Laura. You know that if you got into the wedding scene, you’d have so much business that you’d need to hire more people.” Derek points out, “And you know that money isn’t an issue.”

“You’re right.” Laura signs, “You are right. I know. I’m just nervous about it. I’ve been toying with the idea for a long time.”

“Derek’s been encouraging dream all morning.” Stiles chuckles.

“That’s my little brother,” Laura smiles, ruffling Derek’s hair. “The dream maker.”

“He sure made mine come true.” Stiles smiles at his lover. Derek smiles back and picks up a sweet morsel from the tray and feeds it to his fiance.

“You two are sickeningly cute.” Laura grins, “What are you two going to do with the rest of today?”

“We’ve got an appointment with a real estate agent. . .we’re gonna start looking for a house.” Stiles smiles.

“Really?” Laura’s eyes start to go wide with happiness, “I’m so happy for you two this is huge! My little brother. . . growing up and getting married.”

“We’re hoping to find something soon. Something to our liking.” Derek laughs, “Stiles is unbelievably picky when it comes to houses.”

“I know what I want.” Stiles shrugs.

“What do you want?” Laura sits down, curiously nosing into their business.

“Something with lots of room. A big yard, updated kitchen, something that we can make ours. Oh, ranch-style house. I love ranch style homes. I want to have an orange tree.” Stiles’ eyes shine with excitement, “I want an orange tree and a garden. I want an open floor plan so there’s plenty of light. I want hardwood floors and a light blue paint.”

“You are picky.” Laura laughs.

“You can have anything you want.” Derek interjects, taking Stiles’ sticky hand in his own and runs his fingers over his knuckles. Stiles feels his heart swell at the gesture. There’s a feeling of excitement surrounding the two of them and Laura can see the happiness in their eyes. It’s beautiful, she can hardly believe it. Seeing the happiness in Derek’s eyes, seeing her little brother finally find someone to love and someone who loves him just as much. She sees the love that she feels for Jordan, she feels the depth of their love and it fills her to the brim with excitement. It’ll be a beautiful home. It’ll be a beautiful life.

Chapter Text

 

“Sometimes I feel like an old man,” Stiles begins. He’s laying on Derek’s chest, curled up under comfortable blankets with Havoc and Salem curled at his feet. Derek’s strong arms are wrapped around his shoulders and his nose is firmly pressed to Stiles’ chestnut hair.

“Why’s that?” Derek asks in a tone that leads Stiles to believe that Derek is thoroughly amused.

“Because sometimes getting up and going out. . .it feels like I’m just running in circles. Like it’s been years that I’ve been doing this.” Stiles explains, “It’s gotten better. This feeling. It used to be so bad that I would spend mornings in bed just struggling with the idea of getting out of bed. I didn’t want to. I used to think about the rut I had gotten myself into.”

“Is it still bad?” Derek murmurs into his hair.

“Not so much anymore. Not when I’m with you.” Stiles says, his fingers play with the waistband of Derek’s pants.

“You won’t ever be alone anymore,” Derek kisses his forehead, “You never have to feel like that again.”

“Do you think that after twenty years of marriage we’ll be as in love as we are now?” Stiles muses out loud, not entirely asking for a response from his lover.

“No.” Derek says so nonchalantly. The blunt response makes Stiles’ fingers halt and his heart pound painfully, “I think after twenty years we’ll love each other even more than we do now.”

“That was so corny.” Stiles laughs.

“It was.” Derek chuckles.

“My parents never made it to twenty years. They were only together for thirteen but I think that every day my dad fell more and more in love with mom.” Stiles goes back to thinking out loud.
“My parents were together for a long time. They were high school sweethearts.” Derek says in a tone that is thick with nostalgia.

“Really?” Stiles asks, “What were they like?”

“My mom was just like how Laura is now. Laura is practically her carbon copy. Sometimes when I look at Laura I think she’s mom. Especially on Sundays when she would cook breakfast for me and Cora.” Derek smiles wistfully, “Just like how mom used to make breakfast. Talia Hale was a beautiful woman. She was passionate and strong. Terribly stubborn and bullheaded sometimes. She was a good woman, a great mother, and she loved my father so much. I’ve never seen two people so in love. For a while, after they died I thought that I would never be able to see that kind of love again. But now I see it in Laura and Jordan. I feel it in us.”

“She sounds amazing,” Stiles says pensively.

“She really was. Dad was great too. He was on the quiet side, mom used to speak for the both of them more than I remember him speaking, but he would always talk to me when it was important.” Derek smiles, “I’m a lot like him in that sense. I’m not much of a talker.”

“You talk a lot to me,” Stiles points out.

“I like talking to you.” Derek says, “Dad always talked to mom. In a lot of ways their personalities balanced each other out. She was kinda reckless where dad was overly cautious. She was outspoken where dad was quieter. They brought together a good medium.”

“I don’t remember my mom all that much anymore. I was so young when she got sick. I remember the big things. How she took care of my dad and I. I never got to see the deeper side of her. I never knew it. My dad did. It took a long time for him to be able to even talk about her.” Stiles sighs, “My dad was never complete again. Like he’d lost a part of himself that he would never get back.”

“Do you want kids?” Derek asks suddenly.

“I’ve always wanted kids.” Stiles answers quickly, “I love kids.”

“How many?” Derek asks, his arms tighten around Stiles.

“Three.” Stiles nods, “Three is a good number. I’ve always wanted to adopt. There are so many kids in the system. What about you?”

“I want as many kids as I can get.” Derek smiles, “Do you think it’s too soon to start on adoption papers?”

“The process could take years, Der. . .” Stiles’ eyes are wide, surprised at Derek’s eagerness.

“It could. . .all the better that we start ASAP.” Derek grins. He waits for Stiles’ answer with bated breath.

“Der. . .but-we-” Stiles stutters, “I-” He struggles to find a reason why they shouldn’t. They’re not ready-but they are. They don’t even have a house-but they will soon. He doesn’t even have a job-but Derek’s wealthy on his own. Stiles will be in school-but he’s taking all online classes and he’ll be done with his accelerated course in two years. There isn’t a reason why they shouldn't. They’re both stable, comfortable and loving. There isn’t a reason why they shouldn’t get the process started. Getting a marriage license in California takes zero wait time. The two of them could get married any day they wanted to, all they had to do was make an appointment at the county courthouse and show up, pay the fee, wrangle a couple witnesses and tie the knot. The process really wasn’t too difficult and could be completed next week if they so wished. It really occurs to Stiles that they are in a perfect position to have a kid. He thinks eagerly about all the things he’s wanted to do with a kid of his own. Stiles wants to teach his baby how to play guitar and all the other instruments that he knows how to play. Stiles wants to read to their kid. Stiles wants to be woken up at five o’clock in the morning by a toddler jumping into his and Derek’s bed. He wants to teach his child to drive, how to be a good person, how to love the world. Stiles wants to be a good father.

“Let’s do it,” Stiles grins up at his lover, his smile is wide. So wide that he thinks his face might snap in half. Derek hugs Stiles even tighter and kisses his lips with a heated passion.

Derek’s kiss deepens and Stiles moves to straddle his lover. With legs on either side of Derek’s hips and groins pressed together, their lips search for something deep within one another. Stiles feels his heart pounding in his chest and his breath coming quicker and quicker. Just as Stiles begins to think that this is going to have a happy ending, his phone rings. He groans loudly and reaches over to pick up the call. Derek stares at the ceiling as if it’s offended him somehow.

“Hey Boys, how’s it going?” Stiles clears his throat loudly and irritatedly.

“Good, I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Stiles knows that the man is smirking. Boyd knows exactly what he’s interrupting.

“Nope, you’re fine. What’s up?” Stiles sighs, deciding to let it go. For now.

“I just wanted to tell you that I tracked down your dream house. The auction is today, though so if you want it you need to get down here.” Boyd informs him. Stiles is up and out of bed in an instant.

“Get dressed, hurry.” Stiles tells Derek, “When’s the auction?”

“In about an hour and a half. They’re still allowing people to do a walk through so you should get here and see if you love it as much as I know you will.” Boyd informs him.

“Okay, text me the address. Derek and I are on the way.” Stiles says, grunting as his pulls on his boots.

“Okay, will do. I’ll see you soon.” Boyd hangs up and leaves Stiles to rush getting everything together.

“What’s going on?” Derek asks almost worriedly. He’s struggling to pull up his jeans and Stiles takes a moment to mourn the loss of his potential sexy time.

“Boyd says that our dream house is having its auction today and if we don’t get over there we’re going to miss it.” Stiles informs his fiance. Derek speeds up, grabbing the nearest henley and pulling it on. Stiles really mourns his sexy time, “Later tonight, I’ll make love to you so hard you’ll forget your own name.” Derek says, pulling Stiles in for a deep kiss. Stiles feels his knees go a little weak and he gulps loudly. His fiance smirks and walks out of the room, pulling his jacket on over his shoulders.

“I’m screwed,” Stiles mutters to himself.

“Not yet.” Derek throws back.

. . .

After speeding to the house that Boyd sent the address for, Stiles and Derek arrive. Stiles was anxiously bouncing his leg the entire trip and when they get to the house, Stiles feels his heart begin to settle. It’s not much. By not much, Stiles thinks, it’s not anything. The place is a bit of a dump upon seeing it for the first time. The grass is overgrown, the landscape is completely overrun by vegetation. The house can barely be seen from the outside. It’s a large property, that much could be distinguished. Boyd, their friend and real estate agent is sitting by his car in the long gravel driveway.

“You rushed us for this?” Stiles asks, unsure of what he’s even looking at.

“I know it looks a little rough on the outside but trust me, it’s got everything you wanted.” Boyd assures him, “It’s a little run down but with some upgrades, it’ll be the home of your dreams. It’s a steal, and with the money left over in your budget, you could totally make some major improvements.”

“Alright,” Stiles sighs, “We’ll trust you. For now.”

“Cool, follow me.” Boyd leads them up the driveway past all the cars to the house. The closer they got to the house, the more Stiles could make out, “All of these trees have overgrown and they’ll all need to be cut down, big time. The foliage is covering like half the house.”

“Was this place abandoned or something?” Stiles asks.

“It was foreclosed on and the bank just let it sit.” Boyd says, “It needs a paint job, bad. Outside and in. But it’s got windows everywhere. The porch is sturdy and only needs to be painted and lacquered. The siding is in good condition. Railings and everything are fine.”

“I can see its potential.” Derek muses. He can see the lines on the house and likes the feel of it.

“The inside is a little worse so don’t freak out.” Boyd informs them. There are people wandering all over the property and inside the house, they’re carefully moving about, “Obviously the floors are going to need to be redone. The tile is completely busted up. The walls need to be repainted and in some places it needs new drywall. It’s a two story house, plenty of space. Six rooms, three and a half baths. The property sits on two acres of land.”

Stiles is busy looking at all the damage. It’s open. Just like how he wanted it. He could see all the light entering the room. He could feel the warmth in the walls and see the improved space in his mind's eye. They walk through the spacious house, the wrecked kitchen and the upstairs which isn’t in the best condition either. There are a lot of things that they would need to do to make this place their dream but they both could see it. Stiles and Derek could practically see them and their family sitting in the kitchen at breakfast. They could see Havoc running in the front yard.

“The backyard is what I think is going to sell you.” Boyd leads them out the old creaky back door. “There’s a small orange grove right over there.”

Boyd points to a small area with about ten trees, close in proximity to one another. Stiles thinks it’s a cute little orchard. There’s an old wood looking fence that’s enclosing the yard. It’s not much and frankly, Stiles knows that if he’s ever going to feel secure he’ll need to put in a whole new fence encompassing the yard. At this point, all Stiles is seeing is dollar signs. He loves the house and loves to potential, but he’s having trouble justifying the money. Derek knows exactly what his lover is seeing. He doesn’t want to say to Stiles that money’s no issue. He could turn this place into a mansion if he wanted to. He’s not worried about money.

“There’s a barn on the far side of the property. There’s a large lawn mower that’s being included with the property, also a large accumulation of tools. There’s also old garden beds. They’re all overrun but it’s an easy enough job to clear out. Quiet neighborhood, nice neighbors. Reduced crime and it’s twenty minutes from the town’s center. Which means that it’s close to everything including stores and schools.” Boyd turns to look at them. Stiles is staring out at the large yard and the forest off in the distance. It needs work, he knows that, but it’s a beautiful house. It’s a beautiful property ad he’s really liking it. He looks over at Derek and isn’t sure what to say.

“What do you think?” Stiles asks, biting his thumbnail.

“How much are they asking?” Derek asks Boyd.

“$300,000. Though I really think with the amount of repairs no one is going to pay that much. I’d say they’re going to open the bidding at 300 then go up from there. I think your maximum bid should be 5.” Boyd says honestly, “That would leave $200,000 left for repairs.”

“Derek!” Stiles objects loudly. That wasn’t the number they had discussed for their future home. They had agreed on $500,000 because Stiles didn’t want Derek to pay for it all.

“Stiles, remember I told you that my money is our money and I want us to have a home that we make ours for the foreseeable future.” Derek silences his lover, “I want us to build something wonderful. Something that our kids can grow up happy and safe in.”

Stiles considers this. He thinks about how he grew up. He didn’t have a lot growing up. He didn’t have a lot of money but he was happy. Anything he needed, his parents got for him. When he was on his own, he lived very humbly. Though he doesn’t want to spoil his children rotten, maybe giving them more than what he had wouldn’t be so bad. He nods to Derek and concedes.

“It’ll be beautiful once it’s done.” Stiles says.

“Great. I’m glad you love it.” Boyd says. He knew this house would be the one the moment he saw it. With all the criteria he had to meet for Stiles, he knew he was in for a challenging assignment, a challenge that he was more than willing to meet. The three of them walk around just a little longer to get a better feel for the house. Stiles’ brain is already racing with ideas.

“Attention, everyone!” A man in a tailored suit steps out into the backyard patio and calls for everyone walking around to attention, “We will be starting the auction here shortly so we ask that you make your way to the front yard where we will proceed.” All of the other potential buyers wandering the property make their way to the front and Stiles feels anxious all of a sudden. What is someone else bids higher? What if someone else buys the house?

“It’s going to be fine, Sitles.” Derek promises, kissing the top of his head. Stiles nods, feeling only a tiny bit eased. There’s a group of about twenty people standing outside of the property, all of different backgrounds and purposes.

“Welcome, everyone. We’re very pleased to see such a healthy gathering. This is a beautiful home, foreclosed on in 2017 and now the bank is selling at a much reduced rate. We’ll open the bidding at 300 k.” The man shouts over the murmuring crowd. Boyd raises his hand and opens the bidding, “We have 300k do we have 350?”

From there, Stiles watches in tight attention as Boyd enters the bidding war. It all happens quickly. The auctioneer raises the bid from 350 to 400. Boyd gets it to 450 and the bids start halting. There’s one bidder that’s still going after the house.

“410!” The other man shouts. Boyd can tell he’s losing steam. Everyone else stopped bidding, not willing to pay over 400 for the run down house.

“430.” Boyd says, a glint of competitiveness in his eyes.

“435.” The other man wagers. Derek whispers in Boyd’s ear, eager to have this whole thing over with.

“450.” Boyd says in a strong voice. He looks over to the other man expectantly. The man shakes his head and begins to walk away from the property with a discouraged look. But Stiles and Derek are elated.

“Sold for $450,000.” The auctioneer says. The others that were hanging around to see the end of the bidding war all begin to disperse with one last look to the house. The two eager new homeowners embrace. Derek’s arms are tight around Stiles’ waist. Happy smiles are wide on their faces. Stiles doesn’t really know how buying property works, so he remains silent while Derek and Boyd handle everything. Derek outright pays the entire sum. The auctioneer looks stunned to say the least, but takes the money nonetheless and signs over the deed to Derek and packs his things to leave the house that the bank is no doubt happy to be rid of.

“Oh my God. . .Derek. . .we bought a home. We literally just bought a house.” Stiles whispers with wide, stunned eyes.

“Yeah we did.” Derek agrees. He’s not all that surprised but seeing the look on Stiles’ face makes everything better.

“What do we do now?” Stiles wonders out loud. Boyd smiles at them and chuckles.

“Now I call my contractors to get out here and start demolition.” Boyd tells them, “Both you and Derek should start on designing the house and when you get an idea of what you want we’ll talk it out with the contractors and get it going.”

“It’s that easy?” Stiles asks doubtfully.

“It’s that easy.” Boyd laughs, “Construction can take anywhere from 2-3 months if we start ASAP.”

“When can we get your people out here?” Derek asks.

“By the end of the week. I’ll call the landscapers first to clear everything before the end of the week so the builders can get a clear look.” Boyd says, nodding to the house as if to agree with himself, “Congratulations, guys. I know you’ll be happy once it’s finished.”

“We really appreciate it, Boyd. Seriously, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.” Derek shakes the man’s hand. Stiles ignores the outstretched hand and pulls Boy into a hug, thanking him profusely.

“You’re welcome, Stiles.” Boyd smiles, “I’m gonna get to work. I’ll see both of you tonight at the bar.”

“Erica dragging you out to see my set again?” Stiles laughs.

“You know she loves getting rowdy with you guys.” Boyd reminds him of his excitable wife with a fond smile.

“We’ll see you there.” Derek says, waving goodbye to his friend. He guides Stiles back to the camaro, “I think we’ve got a lot to talk about.” Derek smiles at his fiance.

“I want a blue house,” Stiles blurts.

“We can go look at swatches later.” Derek smiles.

“We bought a house.” Stiles leans over the consul to kiss Derek.

“We bought a house.” Derek confirms, leaning in to Stiles’ kiss, savoring the soft and pliant lips.

Chapter Text

Stiles messes with his tux, awkwardly pulling at the collar and tie. He’s never felt more uncomfortable but never looked so good. He got dressed with Laura and her bridesmaids. His friend and soon to be sister-in-law is staring at herself in the mirror. Her perfect white dress is immaculate and brings out the olive tone in her skin. It’s a beautiful fit and flare dress, classy and sexy with a low exposed back and satin buttons. A sweetheart neckline accentuates her sharp collar bones and the half-updo she has her chocolate brown locks perfectly curled into bringing out her pronounced cheekbones and exquisite jawline. She’s wearing minimal makeup, as Stiles told her she needed none of considering how beautiful she is without it.

A simple silver diamond pendant adorns her neck and silver Bengals encompass her wrists. Diamond earrings shine on her lobes. Everything is done to perfection from the delicate curls framing her face to the tips of her long french manicured fingertips. Stiles thinks she looks like the most beautiful thing in the world. Erica is still curling her long blond hair into perfect ringlets. Cora is scrolling through her phone and Lydia is steaming Laura’s veil. Kira had run out of the room a few moments ago to grab everyone a quick nip. All the girls are wearing soft peach colored dresses, floor length and soft looking. Stiles’ pocket hanke is the same color as their dresses, as is the pair of socks he’s wearing.

“I can’t believe it’s finally here,” Laura says, smiling softly at her reflection.

“You look beautiful.” Stiles tells her, “Jordan’s going to love the dress.”

“He will,” She laughs, in the next moment her expression turns somber, “I wish my parents could be here to see this.”

“They’re watching from where they are,” Stiles says earnestly. He takes her hands and kisses her knuckles.

“I think they would have liked Jordan.” She muses.

“They would have loved him.” Cora chimes in.

“It’s going to be so surreal. I’m not going to be a Hale anymore. . .I’m going to be Laura Parrish.” Laura chuckles for a moment. They talk for a few more minutes, sipping on the small bottles of tequila that Kira wrangled for them. There are pictures being taken, Stiles helps the girls put on their finishing touches and when it’s time, Derek walks into the room. Stiles takes a moment to appreciate the man of his dreams in a fitted tux. Derek smiles at Stiles and the man swears his heart stops. Derek is so handsome and debonair. I’m so going to climb that like a tree later tonight, Stiles thinks. Derek follows the same line of thought and thinks about how badly he wants to jump Stiles’ bones.

“You.” Stiles murmurs in an awed tone, “Look absolutely amazing.”

“You stole my line.” Derek grins, pulling his fiance in for a kiss. Stiles feels his blood boil at the touch of those firm lips. Stiles thinks that the kiss might be leading somewhere else with the heat that’s building in Stiles’ gut.

“Someone throw some water on them, please,” Erica smirks from where she’s applying her eyeliner.

“Get a room.” Laura says, “This is my wedding, quit being attention hogs.”

“You’re right, I’m sorry.” Stiles pulls away from Derek and turns to her, “It’s just about time, we should get the veil on and head downstairs to the ballroom.”

“Okay,” Laura sighs loudly, nervously fidgeting with her fingers.

Stiles smiles at her and helps to pull the veil up and over her head. Erica easily locks it into place on her head. It’s a long-trained veil, embroidered at the edges with little white flowers in intricate patterns. A small, delicate clip keeps the veil in place on her head and Erica lifts the front of the veil up and over Laura’s face. Little comes of awe and love fill the room and Derek feels himself choking up just a little bit. His big sister is getting married. To his best friend. Laura is getting married to a man that Derek loves, trusts, and respects. He knows that Jordan will treat her like a queen and they’ll have a bright future. Derek takes her hand and smiles at her, gently stroking her hand with his thumb.

“You look so beautiful,” Derek whispers to her. She smiles and mouths a quiet thank you to him, unsure if she’ll be able to keep it together.

“It’s time,” Lydia smiles, “Let’s get out there.”

Laura grips Derek’s arm as if she might pass out if she lets go. Her heart hammers in her chest and she feels an eager excitement taking over. Cora hands her the bouquet, along, falling flowery thing. The cascading bouquet trails down in soft green tendrils with white flowers woven in. Laura’s hand is hidden under the plume of white gardenias and peach colored lilies. The scent of it is enthralling and complements Laura’s perfume. The party move out into the hall, traveling down from the fifth floor of the hotel to the first.

The warmth and excitement that everyone feels is overwhelming. It feels surreal to Stiles and to Laura. Stiles hasn’t ever been apart of something so beautiful and lovely. Laura never thought she would make it to her own wedding. She never thought she could love someone as much as she loves Jordan. It feels as if she’s floating, like the world is moving around her and all of it is bringing her closer to Jordan. Closer to that happy ending that she’s always wanted.

When they arrive at the doors to the ballroom, Jordan and his groomsmen are all at the altar. Waiting for Laura and her bridesmaids. Outside the room, Laura feels as if she’s at the precipice of everything. There’s a tense silence as they wait for their cue. Stiles walks into the room after kissing his fiance and walking down the aisle to stand beside Scott with the other groomsmen. Jordan is shaking hands with their family members, cousins and aunts. He’s saying hello to guests in a nervous flurry of movement. When Derek leans in and cues the string quartet, Jordan makes his way back to his spot and anxiously rocks back and forth on his feet. The sound of practiced violins fills the air and the doors to the room open. The bridesmaids begins to walk out in a procession, practiced and glowing. Each one takes their spot at the altar, standing still and trying not to become emotional.

Cora walks down the aisle with practiced ease. Laura had made sure that the photographers capture photographs of Cora while she was dressed up and unusually well put together. Then once she made it to her assigned spot as the maid of honor, the congregation stands for the bride’s entrance.

“Keep up.” Laura grins at Derek.

“You got it, big sis.” Derek answers with a small smirk. She takes his arm and together, the two of them make it down the aisle. It’s a slow canter but Laura thinks it goes by way too quickly. She entered as a Hale but she’ll be leaving as a Parrish. Then she sees him. Jordan’s eyes begin to water at the sight of his bride and Laura thinks that she’s died because the angel at the altar can’t possibly be real. He’s everything she’s ever wanted and more. Even his faults and all the things he does that drive her up a wall, she still loves everything about him. Jordan thinks he’s never seen something so perfect. He’s never loved anyone how he loves Laura. She makes him excited for the future, makes him think about all the things he never knew he wanted. Now, it’s their time. It’s time to start that future. As man and wife.

The ceremony passes quickly. It’s a full house, all of Jordan’s family and coworkers attended as well as Laura’s extended family and friends. It’s a large wedding, for sure. The sheriff is even in attendance. Laura can only focus on Jordan, however, and manages to say her parts when the minister called on her. Jordan smile brightly when she finally says the words ‘I do’ and Laura thinks that ‘I do’ are the best words she’s ever heard coming from his lips.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.” The minister says to the newlyweds. Jordan doesn’t wait another second to pull Laura in for a deep kiss. His arms wrap around her waist as he pulls her in deeper. The congregation cheers loudly, hooting and hollering. Stiles feels the tears in his eyes and brushes them away. It’s a joyous occasion to say the least. Stiles has never been a part of a wedding let alone in the wedding party and being in so many photos makes his heart swell. Knowing that he’ll be a part of a family. That he’s a part of this family. He gets photos with Laura and Jordan as well as his own photos with Derek. It’s sweet and he can’t wait  to get copies to put on his phone and a photo book. When the wedding party enter the reception hall, the DJ announces the new couple’s entrance.

“May I introduce for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Parrish!” The announcer opens the event. There’s more applause and this time around, things are a little more rowdy. Jordan and Laura enter with their intertwined fingers thrust into the air. From their entrance, the event is kicked off with the DJ opening up the dance floor with the bride and grooms first dance. Jordan pulls Laura flush against him and takes her hand, starting to sway to their chosen song, I.O.U by Lee Greenwood floats softly through the air as the couple deep in love swirled around the dance floor. Derek’s hand holds Stiles’ tightly and when other couples begin to join the newlyweds on the dance floor, Derek tugs his lover out. Derek sways slightly, smiling at his fiance with a light in his eyes that Stiles thinks he could bask in for the rest of his life.

“I can’t wait to marry you.” Derek whispers in Stiles’ ear.

“Neither can I.” Stiles laughs.

“You are the love of my life.” Derek says earnestly, “I don’t know what I did to deserve you but I swear that as long as I’m breathing, you’ll always be in my heart.”

“You’re such a hopeless romantic.” Stiles pulls his love in for a deep kiss and they almost stop swaying because neither can focus on the movement when they’re lost in the passion. That’s how they spend the rest of their night. Locked together, never going too far from the other’s side. It really is the best wedding that anyone could have ever hoped for.

. . .

It didn’t take long to pick out the basics for the house. Boyd and his contractors spoke with Stiles and Derek three days after the wedding and work had already begun. Demolition on the house was swiftly done, taken care of in two days. Stiles nearly had a heart attack when he saw the house in shambles. Derek spent the rest of the afternoon assuring him that it would all be taken care of soon, that it would be rebuilt and it would be even better.

Things happened rather quickly from there. Three weeks after purchasing the house, things were nearly complete. Stiles is loving it every time he sets foot in the house. Much like a puzzle, the pieces were coming together to form a beautiful picture. There were only finishing touches to be done now. Today, the entire house was being painted. Stiles has just finished meeting with the painter's to approve the paint colors in the house before going to meet with Derek at the apartment to grab a quick lunch before the deputy had to return to work.

“I love it. It’s going to look great,” Stiles says to Boyd as he holds up the paint swatches he chose and imagines how they’d look on the wall.

“Great, we’ll get to work and after that it’s just all about putting in the cabinet and appliances.” The lead contractor says.

“Awesome, I can’t wait to see it when it’s done.” Stiles grins. He grabs his jacket off the new white marble countertop in front of him and slings it over his shoulder, “I’ll talk to you all later, I’ve gotta go. Keep up the good work!” He says as he makes his way out of the house. Derek had let him borrow the camaro for the day and Stiles couldn’t believe that Derek had let Stiles borrow his baby. He slides into the car and fastens his seat belt, smiling at the house in front of him. He couldn’t believe that just a short year ago, all of this was just beginning to be set into motion. A year ago, Stiles had been struggling in his hometown, becoming fed up with the life he led there and soon, he would make the journey to California.

Stiles sighs in complete contentment before starting the car and making his way out to the main road. The radio plays softly in the background, a song that Stiles hadn’t heard in a long time and traffic is easy to navigate. He’s ten minutes out from the apartment when he gets a red light and has to stop. When the light turns green, he presses gently on the accelerator and begins to cross the intersection. It’s two in the afternoon when a man in what could only be described as road rage, slams on the gas and runs the red light in a blind rage, completely uncaring to the black Camaro in the middle of the intersection. The other driver t-bones Stiles on the passenger's side at sixty miles an hour. He only has time to let out a scream as the old black SUV plows into his far, pushing him out of the way. The Camaro spins out, breaking free of the collision and slams into the street light, jarring Stiles’ body harshly. His head slams into the door making him lose consciousness immediately and the windows explode, showering him in glass shards. His arm gets jammed in between the door and his now busted steering wheel column, tearing into the meat of his forearm. There’s pain. There’s so much pain and Stiles is only able to feel a moment of it before the lights go out.

The cars around him can hardly believe what just happened in front of them. Good Samaritans stopped, pulled over and ran out of their cars dialing 911. They don’t dare to try and move Stiles for fear of injuring him more but they can see him passed out inside the car, bleeding from so many different places that they’re sure this isn’t going to turn out well. Dispatch is called and the ambulance is on its way. Derek sits in their living room, playing with Havoc when a friend of his from the station calls him.

“Hey, Mark. What’s up?” Derek asks in a cheery tone.

Derek! You need to get to the hospital right now. Stiles was in an accident,” His friend says urgently.

“What?” Derek asks almost dumbly. He feels as if the air’s been punched out of him, “What happened?”

“Someone ran a red light,” Mark sighs, “I was the first responder. It’s not good, man. The ambulance just left for the hospital, you should get over there.”

“O-Okay. . .” Derek ends the call with shaky hands. He’s not sure what to do. His hands are shaking. Stiles took his car so he can’t drive. Laura is downstairs though, she’ll drive him. Yeah, Laura. He begins to move as fast as he can, running to the bakery with his phone clenched tightly in his hands. He bursts into the bakery in a flurry of panic and stress.

“Derek?” Laura asks, startled at her brother’s sudden arrival, “What-”

“You need to take me to the hospital right now,” Derek says, “Stiles was in an accident.”

“Oh my God.” Laura runs into the back office to grab her purse and her keys, quickly telling Cora what happened and meets Derek by the door. She drives as fast as she can and they manage to get to the hospital in one piece. Derek is a nervous wreck, however, and when they make it to the emergency room lobby, he’s shocked by the activity. It’s busy. There are lots of people rushing around and Derek thinks it’s a crazy mess.

“M-my fiance was in an accident.” Derek stops a nurse in passing and looks at her imploringly, “Please, do you know what happened?”

“Name?” She rushes behind the nurse's station to log onto a computer.

“Stiles Stilinski?” Derek says. Laura clings to Derek’s side, holding tightly to his arm for support.

“The ambulance is still in transit, should be here soon.” She replies after a few moments of searching, “We’ll be rushing him into an OR, we’ll know more then. I’m sorry.”

Derek nods and goes to sit down in the crowded waiting room. Laura pulls out her phone and dials, Derek isn’t sure who she could be calling at that moment. He feels as if he’s losing himself.

“Lydia, Derek and I are in the ER lobby. Stiles was in a bad accident.” Laura says, “We’re not sure what’s happening, the ambulance isn’t here yet.” Laura is silent for a moment before she nods, “Okay. Okay, thank you so much.” She hangs up the phone and goes to take the seat next to Derek.

“What do we do?” Derek asks. His voice is thick and it cracks, there are tears in his eyes and Laura can tell that her brother is just a moment away from breaking.

“We just wait. We wait, and we pray.” Laura says, pulling her brother into a hug. She begins to wonder how this could have happened to him. How this could have happened to their family.

Chapter Text

The next several hours pass in a blur. Derek feels as if he’s walked into a nightmare. His friends show up to the hospital quickly once they hear the news. They stand by his side and hug him, hold his hand, cry for him. Surrounded by even his closest friends, he feels completely alone. He thinks back to when he had been shot and he wonders if this is how Stiles felt. Lydia had gotten into the OR, she wasn’t the lead surgeon but she managed to get on the attending list. When the ambulance finally arrived, Siles was touch and go for a while and took a lot of work to become stable and he’s still in critical condition, as Derek had been told. His wrist and his ulna had been broken as well as his left eye socket is fractured. His left shoulder had been dislocated as well as several ribs were broken by the seatbelt that had saved Stiles’ life. The airbag broke his nose and there were lacerations all over his body. All these things could have been manageable. But there was bleeding. There is swelling in the brain, no bleeding, but swelling means a bad concussion. The impact had ruptured Stiles’ spleen and there’s internal bleeding. Stiles is in bad shape, Derek knows that. The crash had been bad and he had seen many before. Derek knows that Stiles is strong and he’s holding out hope that Stiles pulls through. Laura remains by his side throughout the long wait. There’s a feeling that Derek isn’t sure how to place. An anger at the man who did this, the man who is still on the run. There’s fear. Every time the nurse comes out to give an update, he’s sure that he’s going to hear bad news. The unsettling feeling of death that Derek can’t shake. Derek doesn’t like this feeling.

“Derek, we’re going to go get you something to eat, okay?” Scott places a gentle hand on his shoulder and gives him a compassionate smile. Derek can only nod. He’s glued to the chair.

He eats robotically. Not really paying attention to the pizza in his hands. He’s silent the entire time. No one tries to get him to talk and Derek couldn’t be more grateful. It’s almost six hours later when the nurse comes out of the ER to give her final update.

“He’s stable right now. It was touch and go for a bit there but he’s strong and healthy. We had to put him in a medically induced coma because of the swelling, we want it to go down before we wake him up.” The nurse says gently, “I can take you to him now, he’s in the ICU and we’ll be closely monitoring him until his condition improves.”

Derek nods numbly, his mind racing with questions. They’re already piling up and forming into a list. Him and his group walk to the ICU in sullen silence. The nurse leads them to a small room on the far east corner of the floor. Derek feels as if the Earth below his feet is crumbling when he sees Stiles laying in that bed, unnaturally still with tubes coming out of his mouth, arms and his body in various shades of red and blue. His face looks terrible. Horribly swollen and broken. His arm is in a cast and bandages cover more than sixty percent of his body. The blanket covering Stiles looks like it had just been thrown over him in a haste, uncaring for the broken man that’s lying beneath it, unable to pull it up over his shoulders.

Derek’s worry and sadness give way to anger. How could they just throw it on him? How could they just leave him to be so uncomfortable? Don’t they know who this is? Don’t they know what Stiles means to them?

“He’s not out of the woods quite yet, his injuries were extensive and they’re all taken care of but now we’re mainly worried for the swelling in his brain. Until that’s cleared up, we don’t want to wake him up.” The nurse says, “We’ll keep him closely monitored but for now, his body is healing and we’ll let it do its job.”

Derek nods and agrees to wait for Lydia to come in to give him all the information he wants. When the nurse leaves, Derek takes a seat in the chair at Stiles’ bedside and feels his shoulders falling into himself. Laura comes to stand at his side and settled a gentle hand on his shoulder. She has tears in her eyes and she’s not sure what to say that could help ease the pain in her brother’s eyes.

“He’ll be okay, Der.” Laura says quietly, cringing at the beeping coming from the monitors surrounding Stiles.

“Can you go back to our apartment and take care of the animals?” Derek asks suddenly, not taking his eyes off of Stiles.

“Sure,” Laura nods, “Do you want me to bring you anything?”

“Stiles’ blanket? His pillow, too.” Derek thinks out loud, “We’ll be okay. He’ll be okay.”

“Do you need anything else, Derek?” Scott asks delicately.

“Can uh. . .can you leave? Everyone?” Derek asks quietly, “I want to be alone with him for a bit.” The room is painfully silent for a moment and Derek thinks that if they don’t leave right this second he might break in front of them.

“Y-yeah, of course.” Kira nods, smiling sadly at Derek and pulls Scott out of the room. Erica gives Derek a quick kiss on the cheek and heads out with Boyd holding her hand tightly. Jordan gives Derek a squeeze on the shoulder and Laura does the same before high tailing it out of the room.

Once the door closes and all the prying eyes of the world are blocked off, Derek’s tears fall freely. It’s uncontrollable and Derek finds himself sobbing mindlessly into the pillow by Stiles’ head, crying for his lover. Derek cries for all the pain, all the hurt that Stiles is in. He cries for the relief he’s feeling and the stress that he’s feeling. He cries for it all. He wishes that Stiles had just stayed with him this afternoon instead of going out to the house. He wishes that that man hadn’t been angry, hadn’t run that red and for a moment he even wished that the man who did this was dead. He wishes that Stiles hadn’t been the one to be hit.

“It’s okay, Stiles,” Derek sobs, “I’m here, baby. I’m here and no one is going to hurt you anymore. You’re going to make it through this and we’re going to move into our house. We’re going to adopt all the children you could possibly want and we’re going to live happily ever after because that’s what we deserve. After all the shit, all the pain and hurt, we’re going to live happily ever after. I promise you, we’ll get our fairytale ending. I’m going to take care of you, Stiles. I promise I’ll always be here for you. I promise. . .”

The night is long. He feels utterly drained but finds it impossible to sleep. Listening to the machines beeping and Stiles’ mechanical breathing. Derek sits by his fiance’s bedside, hopelessly waiting. Waiting for something to improve. He knows it’ll be a long wait before Stiles is healed enough to open his eyes. Stiles waited for Derek when he’d been shot, and now it’s Derek’s turn to wait for Stiles. The hours pass with little consideration from Derek. He doesn’t care about the nurses that walk in periodically to change Stiles’ catheter bag. Derek doesn’t care about to orderlies that come knock on his door. He didn’t care about his sister coming to check on him. He sat in his chair with Stiles’ hand carefully tucked into his. When his friends came to drop off their stuff, Derek tucked Stiles’ pillow under his head carefully and laid his blanket across Stiles’ fragile body.

When his lover is tucked in snug and warm, he hunkers down for the night. Positive that he is not going to move no matter what.

Time passes slowly. Almost painfully so.

Derek is sure that Stiles is in more pain than most.

So he promises that he’ll be there. He’ll take as much pain as he can.

He feels it just as deeply.

Derek loves him so much. He loves Stiles more than anything and just being around him sets his blood on fire. He’d feel so high whenever he could hold his hand. Derek doesn’t feel that now. He still feels that burning love, but now the high he feels when he touches Stiles is gone. Now all he feels is longing so deep that he thinks his heart might split open. Now it’s all he can do to be there for Stiles.

It’s a long, painful wait.

But Stiles is worth it.

Chapter Text

After a week of practically living at the hospital, Derek feels as if he’s in some kind of horrible time loop. He wakes up in the hospital, goes to work, finishes his shift and goes back to the apartment to spend the rest of the day with their animals before returning to the hospital to sleep. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Every day for the longest week of Derek’s life. It’s a difficult thing, sitting there day after day with only the minimal improvements.

Stiles’ bruises are healing, they still look horrendous but Derek can tell that they’re beginning to get better. Stiles still looks like he was in a wreck, but that’s to be as expected. Derek tolerated all the people coming in to see Stiles and leave balloons or flowers. He tried not to get upset at all of it. Not that Derek didn’t appreciate their hopeful thoughts, but he didn’t think that cheap balloons or grocery store flowers were going to fix anything. He stares at them bitterly in the meat locker of a hospital room. Derek is constantly worried that Stiles is cold and works to keep his lover warm and comfortable. After three days of laying in that bed, he sees that Stiles is looking greasier than usual because he’s been laying in that bed without a shower for several days. After three days, the smell hits him and he gladly volunteers to clean him up. The nurses give him a warm washcloth, hot water, a bucket and some soap to keep Stiles up and Derek does so eagerly.

“In sickness and in health,” Derek had whispered to his sleeping fiance.

He hadn’t minded having to clean Stiles. He had taken gentle care for his injuries and by the time he finished, applied a new layer of deodorant and a new gown, Stiles smelling loads better and his hair no longer had that greasy look. He took extra care to keep Stiles from being dirty from then on, he knows that Stiles would have done the same for him.

On the fifth day of that week, Derek received the news that the house was ready to move into. The builders finished putting in the new cabinets and all the painting. The landscaping had been finished recently and according to Boyd, the house is move in ready. Derek knows he should have been happy. Stiles should be healthy and safe, celebrating with Derek over the completion of their new home. Derek tried not to be too upset about that fact, but he failed miserably and all Boyd could do to console his hurting friend was promise that Stiles would be okay. Stiles would love the house and soon, the two of them will be building a home together.

On the sixth day, Derek receives the papers in the mail to begin the adoption process. It’s a harder blow than he thought it was going to be. When he opened the manila envelope in the cold living room of their apartment, he fell to his knees and cried for the millionth time that week. He knew that if Stiles were here, they’d be practically jumping for joy and crying happy tears. Instead, Derek is sobbing alone in their kitchen. He knows that Stiles’ chances of recovery are high, the doctors say so every day, but it didn’t change the fact that it hurt not being able to share this moment with Stiles.

On the seventh day, a week after Stiles was in his accident, Derek sits with his head in Stiles’ lap, eyes staring at his sleeping fiance. When his doctor comes in, he clears his throat and announces his presence to Derek. The doctor recognizes the tired, sunken in look that Derek bears. He knows that Derek is hurting and though he sees this more often than he would like, it’s not any easier.

“I have some good news.” He informs Derek with a cautious smile, “Stiles’ vitals look good, and this morning’s MRI looked good so the team has decided that it’s time to take Stiles off of the Propofol today.”

“What does that mean?” Derek sits up straight in his chair, eager that Stiles is making progress.

“It means that we’ll be taking him out of the coma today. We’ll cease the administration of the drug and begin cycling him on morphine for the pain so when he wakes up, he won’t go into shock.” The doctor informs him.

“How long will it take for him to wake up?” Derek asks hopefully. After a week of hell, he finally sees some light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s different for everyone, it could be anywhere from hours to a day or two.” He says with a pensive look, “That means that we’ll be taking out the feeding tube and insert one through his nose but not the catheter just yet. There will be some things to note when he wakes up.”

“Like what?” Derek asks, knowing there was always a but to these situations.

“He won’t be completely aware of what’s happening right away. He’ll be slow to consciousness and there’s no telling how long that’ll last.” The doctor says, then he turns to Derek with a serious expression, “Then there’s the matter of brain damage.”

“Brain damage?” Derek croaks out.

“There’s no telling what state he might be in until he wakes up and we can run a few tests. It could be nothing, could be temporary amnesia, or any of the other usual symptoms associated with a traumatic brain injury.” The doctor states as gently as he can.

“Traumatic brain injury,” Derek parrots back uselessly.

“In TBI cases, an edema can cause memory issues, speech impairment, motor skill impairment, and other issues. Some are temporary, some aren’t. Stiles’ brain injury wasn’t so severe that we anticipate anything major. We just want to prepare you for what might come next.” He says clinically, “Like I said, it could be nothing or it could be something. We won’t know until he wakes up but we’re very hopeful.”

“What are the chances that he has permanent issues?” Derek asks, already regretting the words coming right out of his mouth.

“With any TBI there are considerable risks and ailments. I can’t give you a definite answer because Stiles’ case is unique to his injuries.” The doctor tells Derek with a gentle tone. He can see the man struggling with the news, working to process all of this along with all the other things happening in their lives.

“Okay,” Derek murmurs disheartedly, “Thank you.”

“We’ll monitor him closely, but until he wakes, it’s just a waiting game.” The doctor nods, “Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.”

Derek nods and sits back down in his seat. He runs his tired hands through his hair frustratedly and thinks about all that he could do at this moment. How can he make things easier, how can he help Stiles, how is this going to change them forever? A million questions race through his brain at that moment, grasping for some semblance of an answer, of some kind of comfort. But he comes up short.

“Derek?” Lydia walks into the room, quietly approaching her friend with a sad, concerned smile. “Dr. Rosen just gave me an update. Are you okay?”

“I-” Derek is at a loss for words. He’s not sure if he’s okay. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be okay again or if Stiles will ever be okay again. With one tearful look, Derek conveys all of the emotions and thoughts stampeding in his brain. Lydia feels all of Derek’s emotions just slam into her. In the next moment, she’s rushing to his side to embrace him.

“It’ll be okay,” Lydia whispers into Derek’s hair as the man clutches at her for support. “Stiles is going to be fine.”

She knew it was foolish to say this, foolish to make promises that she wasn’t sure could be kept. As a doctor she knew that false hope was a dangerous thing but as a friend, she wanted to reassure herself just as much as he wanted to reassure Derek.

“They’re going to wake him up,” Derek says, his voice muffled against her shoulder.

“That’s good.” She says honestly, “That’s really good, Derek.”

“What if-”

“Don’t say it.” She says quickly, “Stiles is a fighter and no matter how he might be affected, he’ll always be Stiles. He won’t stop fighting.”

Derek nods and lets Lydia hold him just a little longer. Lydia has to go back to her office for a meeting but she promises to come back to the room later with pizza. When she leaves the room, he opens the group chat their group has going and updates everyone on Stiles’ progress. Simply stating that they’re going to take him off the sedatives and hopefully he’ll wake up soon. There’s a flurry of response but Derek turns his phone on to silent and doesn’t look at it again. He watches helplessly as the nurses come into the room and extract the feeding tube with a sickening squelch noise that churns Derek’s stomach. He turns away when they insert another tube into Stiles’ stomach through his nose that he’s sure Stiles is going to hate. Now that that giant tube is out of Stiles’ mouth, Derek feels a weight lift off his chest that he hadn’t known was there. He knows that Stiles is far from okay but this is a major improvement.

Derek takes stock of Stiles’ body, cleaning him again so that when his lover wakes up, he won’t be dirty. Derek notices that Stiles’ lips are horribly chapped and knowing his fiance’s hatred for chapped lips, he walks quickly makes his way to the little gift shop in the hospital and purchases a tube of chapstick and another cup of coffee from the nearby cafeteria. When he returns to the room, he smiles at the improvement that Stiles is making. He’s immensely happy that the damn tube is gone. Now he can clean out Stiles’ mouth with a warm, toothpaste infused towel. Now he can put chapstick on Stiles’ cracked lips. Now he can kiss Stiles’ cheek and lips. It was a good step. Derek takes his seat and takes Stiles’ hand in his. He kisses his fiance’s still fingers lovingly.

“I’m right here, Stiles. I’ll be right here when you open your eyes.” Derek promises, “No matter what happens, we’ll figure it out together. I’m not leaving you and you’re not leaving me.”

His promise seems to echo through the room, in a way that he’s sure some deity out there had to have heard him. It rattled around in his head for the next hour or so, his words play on repeat in his brain and it gets to the point that Derek wonders if he was the one with the brain injury. Either Way, he’d still be sitting right there, dutifully waiting for Stiles to open his eyes.

 

. . .

“We caught the guy who hit Stiles.” Jordan tells him as they sit by Stiles’ side. It’s been twelve hours and fifty-three minutes since they took Stiles off the Propofol. They’re still waiting. Everyone else had checked in, coming to see Stiles and Derek before going home. Derek perks at hearing the news. The guy had been on the lamb for a little over a week now so Derek was beyond satisfied that the poor excuse for a human being could be brought to justice.

“Good.” Derek says with a dark tone. Jordan knows that he would be equally as happy if it had been Laura that the guy hit. He knows his partner and knows that they would both do more than let the law sort it out if they could.

“An anonymous tip led us to the guy.” Jordan says, “Everyone at the precinct are eager for arraignment. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire office breathe so easy when we brought the man in for questioning.”

“I hope he rots.” Derek says darkly. Jordan can only agree with his partner. For all that he’s put his best friend and soon to be family through, the deputy agrees that this man should be punished in the worst way, “I’m going to sue him for everything he has. Then, I’m going to donate everything I get from him to some charity that helps families affected by TBIs or car crashes or something .”

“It’s a good plan. For all he’s caused, reparations are definitely in order.” Jordan agrees. “He’s a low life. Laid off for drinking on the job two months ago, living in a run down motorhome outside the preserve on private property. He had been driving back from the liquor store when he hit Stiles. He’s going away for a long time if I have anything to say about it.”

“Stiles and I don’t have any furniture.” Derek says suddenly. “I want to furnish the house but I don’t want to ruin Stiles’ vision.” Jordan nods, rolling with the change in topic.

“You know he already picked out all the furniture he wanted.” Jordan points out, “He has it all in a shopping cart on his laptop, ready to be bought and picked up at the store.”

“Really?” Derek looks at his partner owlishly.

“Yeah, he asked me what I thought you might like. I think he wanted to surprise you.” Jordan gives a small smile, “He said, and I quote: ‘Derek has no sense of interior design but that’s alright, I’m more than capable of designing a home. All he needs to do is move in.’”

That makes Derek laugh. He throws his head back and bursts into laughter, something he hasn’t done since Stiles was in his accident. He could picture Stiles saying just that. Derek knew that he had no eye for color or decor. That was all Stiles. Derek happily acknowledged that he’s the muscle. He’s supposed to stand there, look pretty and hang the occasional frame.

“I want to surprise him with moving in when he’s discharged from this place. I want to take him home.” Derek grins. It feels good to smile again, odd, but good.

“He’ll love that.” Jordan smiles at his partner, happy to see some semblance of happiness on Derek’s face. They sit there for another couple hours before Jordan hugs Derek goodbye and vows to return again the following day. When he leaves, Derek feels the familiar loneliness setting in again, almost like all the warmth left the room. It was hard retaking his seat like he could pretend he was okay. Like feeling happy for a moment didn’t make him feel ten times worse when he was on his own. So he turns on some music, Stiles’ orchestra playlist on his spotify that he listened to all the time. It had musical scores from movies like Pride and Prejudice and Star Trek . It’s calm in the room and Derek begins to feel himself settling again. It wasn’t for another three hours at two thirty in the morning did Derek notice that Stiles was beginning to stir. His heart bangs painfully in his chest as he watches Stiles struggle to emerge from his sleep.

“Stiles?” Derek calls gently, “Stiles, it’s okay. Relax. You need to relax.” He could see Stiles struggling, his face scrunching only slightly before tears begins to stream down his abused cheeks and he opens his eyes. Derek feels like the air is plucked out of his lungs the moment he sees those coffee brown eyes.

“Oh my God, Stiles.” Derek cries up at the ceiling, struggling to catch his own breath through the relief.

“Der-” Stiles’ voice is scratchy from disuse and pain. Despite the pain killers that he’d been started on, it didn’t take away all the pain. Stiles began to move more, jostling his body then halting in abortive movements when he realized that every part of him hurt .

“Stiles, relax.” Derek urges, gently laying his hands on Stiles’ arms, pinning him. He leans over and captures Stiles’ lips in a kiss, effectively halting Stiles’ panic attack. The kiss shocks Stiles but he falls into it instantly and stills, “I need to call the doctor, Stiles. Try to stay awake. It’s so good to see you awake, baby, I thought-”

Derek cut off his own talking by kissing Stiles again.

“What-” His fiance coughed, a terribly dry throat being the cause. He pressed the nurse’s button and held a cup of water he had prepared for Stiles hours ago. The little plastic straw laid in his mouth and Stiles sipped the water at Derek’s careful watch.

“Stiles, do you remember what happened to you?” Derek asks. Stiles looks at him for a moment, eyes unfocused before he nods. “You were in a really bad car accident and they had to put you in a coma to bring down the swelling. But you’re awake now-”

“Stiles,” The nurse calls his attention and runs through a few quick tests, testing his sight, hearing and other things that Derek can’t focus on. He’s too busy clutching Stiles’ hand and staring at his fiance. He can’t believe that Stiles is finally awake.

He can tell that Stiles is losing consciousness again, quickly. He answers questions that he can with a sore throat but can feel the darkness creeping in again.

“Stiles, I’ll be right here. I’m not leaving, I swear.” Derek says, “I love you so much.” He says just before Stiles crashes again. The nurse gives him a satisfied smile.

“That was great, he did great.” She comments, “It’s common that coma survivors are in and out for a while as their body readjusts from the drugs. He’ll be in and out over the next day or so.”

“Thank you,” Derek says, “Is there anything I can do for him right now?”

“Just keep doing what you’re doing, Derek.” She smiles, “I’ve never seen someone so dedicated to their fiance before, it’s heartwarming. He’s a lucky man.”

“I’m the lucky one.” Derek says, turning his attention back to Stiles.

“I’ll let his doctor know that he woke up, the next time he’s awake we’ll page him.” She nods, leaving the room after checking Stiles’ IV one last time.

Derek let himself have a moment to absorb all of what just happened. Stiles woke up. He was fine. He remembered him. It’s more than he could have ever asked for. It’s such a good sign. It’s more than he thought he would have and he’s so excited for Stiles to wake up again. When he finally wraps his brain around it, he puts it in the groupchat that Stiles woke up and he seems that he’s doing well. Just like the previous message, there’s an influx of messages from everyone and several of them are on their way now to be with them. Derek feels so much better than he had before, he feels like the weight on his shoulders has been eased and he’s able to breathe a little easier.

“I love you,” Derek whispers to Stiles. This time, he knows that he’s going to wake soon.

. . .

“Okay, Stiles,” The doctor is standing at Stiles’ bedside, writing things in his clipboard. They had been running tests all day on Stiles. There was no paralysis, no amnesia, no physical problems. However, the doctor had noticed issues with Stiles’ concentration. It wasn’t major, no worse than someone with ADD. Stiles struggles with focusing like he used to. There was also problems with his speech. Some words Stiles struggled to find, some words were slurred and some he struggles to say. It’s not severe, but it’s noticeable. With time, however, the doctor says that it’ll get better.

“So what now?” Derek asks, still clutching Stiles’ hand.

“Now all that’s left to do is heal. Give him time and soon enough, he’ll be able to leave. The worst is behind us and now that Stiles is awake, things will be much easier.” The doctor says. He gives a firm smile and exits the room to fill more papers.

“I was out for a week. . .” Stiles whispers.

“Worst week of my life.” Derek nods.

“I’m so sorry, Der-”

“Why are you sorry, babe?” Derek asks, “You didn't get hit on purpose. That ass hit you so hard they had to put you in a coma for a week. None of this was your fault.”

“But the camaro and-”

“I would rather have you than that car, Stiles.” Derek runs a gentle hand down his cheek, softly caressing the bandage over his broken eye.”

“Did you really bathe me?” Stiles asks with a small smirk.

“Babe, I did everything for you.” Derek laughs.

“I love you so much, Derek. I can’t thank you enough.” Stiles turns serious, “No one has ever been willing to do so much for me and I can’t tell you what it means to me that you were always here by my side.” Stiles speaks a little slower than usual, not so confident in his ability to speak as quickly as he used to without stumbling over his words.

“I love you, Stiles. You’re going to be my husband, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you.” Derek says earnestly, “I’m so happy you’re awake.”

“Me too. So what did I miss while I was asleep?” Stiles asks.

“The house is done.” Derek says, “Laura and Jordan decided to start trying to have a child-”

“Really?” Stiles asks excitedly, “That’s great!”

“Yeah, it’s pretty great.” Derek smiles, “And speaking of kids. I know you’re in no condition, and I don’t mind waiting. We can definitely wait, but I got the adoption papers in the mail a couple days ago.”

“Really?” Stiles goes quiet and Derek isn’t sure what’s going through his head.

“I’m not even focused on that, right now. All I’m concerned with at the moment is getting you healthy again.” Derek urges.

“We should fill them out.” Stiles says after a few more minutes of sitting there quietly.

“You really want to?” Derek asks with wide eyes.

“I want to have a family with you,” Stiles gives a small smile, “If there’s anything this whole thing has taught me. . .is that I want to live life to the fullest. I want to start a family.”

“That makes me insanely happy,” Derek admits, “Going through all this, I was so scared. It was hell, Stiles. Seeing you lay there, hurt and broken.”

“I’m better now, Der.” Stiles says, rubbing his cheek consolingly, “I’m getting better quick and before you know it, we’ll be in our new home.”

“I don’t know how you do it. How you stay so optimistic and positive.” Derek marvels.

“I have you, don’t I? How could I not be.” Stiles smiles.

It was hard for Stiles, he’d never been in so much pain. It was so disorientating when he woke up, feeling like he had been run over by a truck. . .which he realized had been what happened. He fought through the hallucinations, through the pain, and the confusion. Then he learned how long he’d been asleep, how much damage had actually been done and what kind of work it would take just to get back to as close to normal as he had traumatizing. Being run through test after test with his doctors, learning what damage to his brain had occurred, taking out the catheter and the feeding tube, and still having Derek wash him was on another level of difficulty. Stiles never thought he could feel so vulnerable or exposed. Though Derek had been taking care of Stiles all week, he couldn’t wrap his brain around it. It made him want to hold Derek closer, snuggle harder, love deeper.

Stiles was maybe just a little broken, but with Derek, he could keep going.

Chapter Text

The next couple weeks were the longest weeks of Stiles’ life. He was healing wonderfully, though many things had changed in his life. Because of his broken eye socket, one of his cheeks was no longer the same. Derek convinced him that it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t the same, but it was far from anything that made him unattractive. Stiles spoke with the hospital’s speech therapist and figured out tricks for his speech struggles. He couldn’t fix the attention issues, however, and that was disheartening to him. He was happy that when he finally had the energy to do so, he could play his guitar without difficulty. He stumbled a little at first but he kept at it and was back to normal in no time.

Stiles wasn’t sure how to feel about the issue with the man who caused the accident. His assailant had walked away without a single injury and was in fact, pissed that Stiles had caused his own truck damage. The man’s cold indifference tipped Stiles over the edge and convinced him of this man’s utter callus and self-centered personality. In the end, he allowed Derek to do as he saw fit in terms of legalities that Derek wished to carry out. According to Laura, the family’s lawyers weren’t people to be trifled with.

It seemed like their entire group closed ranks around Stiles. They were all coming in and out of the hospital to see him, bringing food and candy for their friend. They had a very cramped game night in his little hotel room, playing Cards Against Humanity for several hours. Derek thought that he’d get tired of the number of times Stiles wanted to play Battleship , but he didn’t grow tired of it at all. Lydia brought in a chess board and they kept him busy, they kept his brain working and off the fact that he’s still in the hospital, still in a cast, still in pain.

Now after those painful weeks are over, the worst is behind him and he’s being discharged. Everyone was ecstatic about it all. They got Stiles into some of his own clothes and into a wheelchair, his ribs are still healing and it’s still too soon for crutches. So there they are, mid-morning, Derek wheeling Stiles out of the hospital towards a new FJ Cruiser that Derek purchased while Stiles had been bedridden. Stiles loved it and thought it suited Derek perfectly in his signature black exterior.

“I love the car, Derek.” Stiles murmurs in wonder as Derek helps him into the passenger seat. It smells like a new car and Stiles thinks he could get used to it. Derek’s just happy that Stiles isn’t afraid to get into a car again.

“It’s got a lot of space,” Derek laughs, “We can cart around the animals and a kid or two.” He winks at Stiles. The thought of a kid in the backseat and Havok in the way back. He could picture them going on summer trips to the beach and camping trips. Stiles could see them jamming out to the radio. He could picture it so clearly. They had finished the adoption papers soon after Stiles gave the OK and had begun working the circuit. Now all they had to do was wait. It seemed easy enough. If the anticipation and excitement didn’t kill them first.

“Uh-Der?” Stiles stutters as they drive past the apartment.

“Yeah, babe?” Derek replies nonchalantly.

“We just drove past the apartment,” Stiles informs him.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, we’re not going back to the apartment,” Derek says simply.

“What? Where else would we-” Then it dawns on him, “No! Really? But there’s no furniture!”

“Just wait,” Derek grins. Stiles feels like he’s ready to burst with excitement when they pull up to their new house and he sees the banner hanging over the porch. Welcome home, Stiles! It reads. All of their friends are standing on the shaded porch with drinks in their hands and smiles on their face.

“Oh my God!” Stiles exclaims. Derek helps get him back in the wheelchair and wheels him up the temporary ramp they installed on the steps up the porch stairs, “I can’t believe you guys!”

“Welcome home,” Derek smiles.

“We’re so happy that you’re out of the hospital, Stiles.” Lydia says, “We thought a nice little welcome home/ housewarming party would be the best way to welcome you to your new home.”

“Thanks you guys,” Stiles says as he begins to get misty-eyed, “It’s good to be home.”

“Come on, let’s go inside.” Laura says, “Wait till you see what we did with all the stuff you ordered.” Stiles nods eagerly and walks inside. Walking into the house, he’s utterly surprised by the way that everything has come together beautifully. He knew that he had picked out everything in the house, but he was surprised by how it all came together. The light blue on the walls, bordering on a light gray, accentuated the white mantle of the fireplace. The perfect gray leather couches over a gray and white, blue and gray Persian style rug. The gray hardwood floor looks great and the bookshelves on the walls framing the TV are filled with books. Stiles’ guitar is in a standby the shelves and the modern farmhouse look is completed by the decor and spots of green in the room from the assorted houseplants.

“This looks amazing!” Stiles marvels, “I can’t believe it!”

“You picked out a lot of great stuff, Stiles. I was thoroughly impressed.” Erica says, “Even Lydia loves it.”

“I love the modern look.” Stiles says, “I can’t believe we’ve got a house!”

“You did an amazing job with it,” Derek kisses him on the cheek. Just then, Salem comes running up to him with squeaky meows and jumps into his lap to rest. He rubs against Stiles fiercely with pushy determination.

“I think someone missed you,” Scott laughs.

“Hi bud, I missed you too.” Stiles tears up a little. He missed Salem so much while he was in the hospital. He missed Havoc too. Salem and him had never been apart for so long and it made him hurt more than he thought he ever would. In the next moment, a blur of white rushes into the room and Havoc rushes to Stiles. She’s about to jump into Stiles’ lap in excitement when Derek catches her and stops her movement. Stiles laughs and ruffles her ears.

“Hi puppy,” Stiles laughs, “It’s been a while, huh?”

“She’s been insufferable without you.” Derek says.

“I’m glad to see both of you.” Stiles grins. He spends the next couple minutes cuddling with his animals before putting them down and accepting a plate of food.

The housewarming party goes on for a couple hours. It’s great spending time in his own home, his new home with his friends and his soon to be husband. They joke and drink, celebrate and share memories. It was a good day and Stiles loves every minute of it, but he’s still in recovery and he’s quickly growing exhausted. It doesn’t take long for Derek to notice this and he thanks everyone for coming. They agree to stop by the following weekend for dinner and the group files out with little complaint.

“This is so amazing, Der.” Stiles yawns as Derek picks him up out of the chair and carries him up the stairs. It always turns Stiles on how easily Derek is able to carry him like that. He takes note of everything upstairs. There’s nothing in the other rooms, their still waiting to be filled. The window at the end of the hall illuminates the hallway with late evening sunlight. When they enter their bedroom, Stiles is beyond blown away. It’s more perfect than they had imagined. Their king sized bed stands in the middle of the room with the softest looking white duvet. The gray headboard stands out against the soft blue paint and the metal lighting hanging from the ceiling brings things together nicely. The trunk at the end of the bed gives the room a rustic feel and the matching armoire and dresser set fill Stiles with eager happiness. He had gone a little overboard on the whole furniture thing but he can honestly say that he thinks it’s perfect for him and Derek.

“This is so amazing,” Stiles whispers as he’s settled into bed. Derek props up his broken arm on a pillow and makes sure that he’s perfectly comfortable before draping his blanket over him. Derek kisses his lover’s bruised face and opens the armour to reveal a TV.

“You picked it out,” Derek hands him the remote, “Why don’t you find something for us to watch while I go lock up for the night and bring in the animals.”

“Sounds great, just like we used to,” Stiles smiles. He’s practically oozing happiness, “Can you bring up a snack?”

“Of course,” Derek smiles, “And I’ll get you pills.”

“Thanks, baby.” Stiles puckers his lips, asking for a kiss. Derek obliges easily and kisses his fiance before heading downstairs to make sure everything is locked. It’s quiet, and all you can hear is the sound of crickets in the evening, beginning to wake up for the night. It’s quiet, their far from neighbors and town. Derek didn’t think he’d ever get to this point in his life but he’s here and he couldn’t be happier. He feels fulfilled in the best way. He fixes them some snacks and watches as Havoc and Salem run up the stairs to the bedroom to join Stiles. Once upstairs, he sees that Havoc has taken a spot at Stiles’ side, much to Derek’s chagrin. He sets the plates down on the bed and turns out the lights, Stiles has his bedside lamp on.

“I chose Spaceballs , I hope that’s alright?” Stiles asks hopefully. Salem settles in his lap, purring away.

“Yeah, that sounds good.” Derek smiles. He changes quickly into his pajamas and settles in next to Stiles for the night and they begin their movie.

“This house is really amazing, Derek,” Stiles whispers against his lover’s chest.

“It’s a beautiful house.” Derek agrees, “I think we’re going to be very happy here.”

“This is our first night here in our home.” Stiles murmurs.

“Our first of many,” Derek holds Stiles a little closer, “I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Der.” Stiles smiles, “More than anything.”

. . .

As the weeks pass, there’s not much that happened to make things eventful. Slowly but surely, Stiles continued to heal. In the next couple months, the two settled into their new home and into their new rolls. Stiles’ arm and nose healed the quickest. The cast came off and Stiles could play guitar even easier like his arm hadn’t been broken in the first place. His shoulder and ribs felt better each passing day and little by little, he could move around easier without feeling out of breath and tired. Derek started going back to work every day and Stiles was left to his online classes and taking care of their home. He still volunteered at the hospital often, doing as much as he could in the pediatric department. The kids missed him but he knew that it was time to move on, he still promised to visit though and fully intended on keeping that promise.

Laura came over frequently, bringing treats and smiles. She kept Stiles company at the house and helped him figure out the next move with the adoption papers. It was a confusing process and without her help, Stiles isn’t sure he could have done it. Laura and Stiles together were funny to watch, in Derek’s opinion, the two of them together make the worst gossips in the entire town. He would come home to find Laura and Stiles laughing so hard at the day’s gossip that Laura had acquired at the bakery. The two were close friends and soon to be family. Laura would tell Stiles about the difficulty she was having getting pregnant. She had thought it would be easy, but getting off her birth control had been difficult and getting pregnant proved to be more difficult than they thought it would be. Stiles did his best to console her, he knew that they would have a child when the time was right and that there wasn’t too much of a rush. He felt sorry for Laura, however, and felt her pain like it was his own.

Things fell into a routine quickly. The domestic life proved to be just what the doctor ordered and they knew that they had chosen correctly, to begin their life like this. When CPS came to do initial inspections to clear them for adoptions, Stiles had been a nervous wreck, despite them passing with flying colors. Both Derek and Stiles knew that it would be a long, arduous process, but it would be worth it. Now it’s fall again, close to Thanksgiving time and it’s a day that everyone has been waiting for. The couple are inside the courthouse with all their friends surrounding them. There’s a thick feeling of happiness in the air and Stiles thinks that if he could glow, he’d be like a 1000 watt bulb.

It’s not a long ceremony, really it’s just reading their vows, repeating what the justice tells them, and finally an I do. When they look into each other’s eyes and say those two little words, it’s like everything has fallen into place. Stiles wasn’t sure how the universe could just. . .come together. Derek thinks he’s the luckiest man on this planet. To have met Stiles, loved him, nearly lost him but get him back again, was insane. Derek knows that he’d never take this life for granted. He would never take anything the universe gives him for granted ever again.

When their lips touch for the first time as husband and husband, they can’t stop smiling at one another. The entire room erupts in applause and noise. Stiles smiles so wide that his face hurts just a little but he doesn’t think he can stop. Derek sweeps him off his feet and kisses him again, completely overjoyed at the moment.

“Alright, lovebirds.” Laura laughs, “We gotta get back to the house for the party!”

Everyone cheers in agreement and whisk the couple away in the waiting limo outside. Laura knew they weren’t wanting a ceremony, but she pushed for the limo and she got it. It’s a smooth ride with champagne and a casual feel. It’s a fun ride back to the house with the group in the stretch limo, Stiles and Derek can’t seem to keep their hands off one another. When they get back to the house, the entire place is transformed. Stiles looks at Lydia and Erica in surprise.

“Guys, we told you nothing too spectacular!” Stiles scolds with little heat behind his words. They smile mischievously.

“We kept it simple!” Erica defends, “It’s a casual, spectacular, outdoor celebration.”

“With all of your friends. . .family. . .and half of Beacon Hills.” Lydia smiles.

Stiles rolls his eyes but walks out to the party with Derek by his side and their hands clasped together. Lydia and Erica really know how to put a party together. It’s entirely casual, just like they wanted but it’s also classy with some beautiful additions that make it just a little more eventful than a simple backyard barbeque. There are lights strewn all over the place, intricate centerpieces, and tablecloths. Stiles doesn’t think that a cookout would have tablecloths. There are tables and tables of food. From main courses to deserts that Laura spent all week putting together. There’s even a cake. It feels like all of Beacon Hills showed up, almost the entire police department was in attendance, even the captain. Melissa was there, a bunch of Stiles’ friends from the hospital as well as Harry from the bar and countless other people that Stiles has become friends within their town. They receive applause all the way to where Erica has set up a microphone and an amp, Stiles’ microphone and amp to be exact.

“Derek and I want to thank everyone for coming and surprising us with such a wonderful turnout.” Stiles begins, “Over the past. . .nearly two years now, a lot has happened. When I moved here, I had two bags and a cat. Now I’ve got a house, a dog, a husband. . .so a little more than two bags. The two of us have been through so much, in such a short time too, but I couldn’t have pictured our lives any different.

“I really appreciate all of you coming out, seeing all of the deputies here in one spot. . .makes me wonder who’s protecting the town!” Stiles gets a laugh out of that joke and Derek rolls his eyes.

“We’re so grateful that all of you support us and I know Stiles and I really feel like a part of the community.” Derek says, “I’ve been so lucky to have found Stiles, to have this life and I have to thank every one of you because in some way, you all helped to make this all possible.”

“I guess. . .now all that’s left to do is grab a drink, have a great time everyone.” Stiles waves to the crowd just a little awkwardly and pulls Derek off towards the food tables.

“This is insane,” Derek whispers to his husband. Husband . Derek can’t believe that he’s able to call Stiles that. It’s insane. Insanely wonderful.

Derek and Stiles spend the next few hours, mingling and accepting everyone’s congratulations. It’s a torturous couple hours because all Stiles and Derek want to do is sequester themselves upstairs in their bedroom for the next several days so they can spend an intimate honeymoon together. Stiles and Derek both decided to remain at home and have a little ‘staycation’ rather than take a trip somewhere. Derek couldn’t really take the time off and all Stiles wanted to do was make love to his husband for as long as he could before reality took over. So it’s understandably a long couple hours.

It’s nice that so many people came out to celebrate, and Stiles isn’t upset by the monetary as well as physical gifts. Never before has he been this overjoyed by simple kitchen appliances like a Nutribullet or a waffle maker. Stiles loves waffles and he knows that that little waffle maker is going to be used well. By the time that the event runs into the night, most of their guests have said their goodbyes and headed on their way home. It’s really only their group that remain long after everyone else has gone and it’s getting on Stiles’ nerves. He doesn’t want to be discourteous but he’s exhausted, a little grumpy and he just wants to crawl into bed with his husband and their animals. Boyd is the first to catch onto Stiles’ slowly increasing sarcasm.

“I’m beat.” He gives Stiles an apologetic look, “We’ll give you a couple days before we bother you. Congrats you two.” His tone is laced with suggestion and he pulls Erica out the house with him.

“I guess we’ll take that as our cue.” Laura smiles at Jordan. Just like that, they all say their goodbyes to the newlyweds and head out the door. When the two of them are finally on their own, they take a moment to just. . .stare at each other. Then all of a sudden all the pressure in the room pops like a balloon and Derek slams into him like a brick wall, shoving him against the door and lifting him into the air, wrapping Stiles’ legs around his hips. Their kiss ignites a fire in them, like an inferno so hot that it’s got them peeling their clothes off to relieve the heat. Stiles loves the feeling of Derek’s skin on his, he relishes in it, feels it deep in his soul like he’s a puzzle being put together. He’s whole again.

Derek thinks that if he doesn’t get to be inside of Stiles right that second that he might just implode in his need. Stiles giggles as Derek turns into a caveman and carries him upstairs to their room. Derek tosses his lover on the bed and crawls on top of him with lust blown eyes. Stiles thinks it reminds him of a wolf stalking his prey. It makes him impossibly hard in his jeans. Without thinking twice, Derek unbuttons Stiles’ jeans and shucks them off before making quick work of his own. The moment their hard lengths make contact, Stiles moans loudly. His eyes roll back into his head at the simple feeling of Derek’s hard, hot, throbbing, groin against his own. He can see Derek’s toned, glorious body moving over his own and thinks that he’s somehow married a god. Derek’s body is sinfully beautiful and strong. Watching his hips grind down and feeling it against his hardness is making him so hot, he’s already leaking.

Their moans fill the room and it’s a symphony of pleasure. Derek’s fingers working the lube around Stiles’ hole, urgently working him open, makes a squelching noise that fills Stiles with heated anticipation. Derek whispers how much he loves Stiles and Stiles whimpers words of devotion. When Derek is finally balls deep in his husband, his world explodes. He never thought that he could feel this kind of pleasure. Feeling Derek’s bare cock inside him makes Stiles bear down a little harder, the pressure around Derek’s cock makes his knees buckle a little. Derek pulls his husband into his arms and holds him tightly as he thrusts into him at a strong pace. Stiles feels so full and cherished. Listening to Stiles’ breathless moans fills Derek with pride and urges his orgasm closer.

“Stiles,” Derek groans, repeating his name like a mantra.

“Love,” Stiles’ words are punched out between punishing thrusts, “You.”

Stiles urges Derek harder, faster until they’re chasing their orgasms. Derek reaches his hand down and strokes his lover’s leaking cock roughly and Stiles howls in pleasure before erupting, shooting white streaks on the duvet. Feeling Stiles’ hole spasm around him and tighten to an almost painful pressure, Derek’s voice cracks as he cums so hard he has dark spots dotting his vision. They take a minute or two to catch their breath before Derek pulls of out Stiles with a groan.

“That. . .was amazing.” Derek pants.

“Totally,” Stiles’ voice is a little high as he says that.

“I love you so much.” Derek grins dopily at his lover.

“I love you too, husband.” Stiles smiles. His eyes twinkle in the moonlight.

“Husband,” Derek repeats with a wistful tone, “My husband.”

That night, they clean up tiredly and spend the night in each other’s arms, holding on tight to one another as they bask in the love that still swirls thickly in the air. It makes them both high and they don’t think they could ever lose this feeling. As they fall asleep whispering sweet nothings to one another, they fall deep into a well-earned sleep.

Chapter Text

Their first year of marriage was equal parts easy as it was difficult. There were fights and long nights and nights of endless love and devotion. The bad never outweighed the good, however and both Stiles and Derek were more in love a year later than they were on the first. It was a total of two and a half years of knowing each other but two whole years of being together and one year of marriage.

Time is a funny thing. Sometimes you think it goes so slowly that it actually stops. Like there’s an endless amount of time on you hands, so much so that you’re not sure how you’re going to fill all of it and while you’ve got your head down in contemplation, months pass. Before you know it, so much time has passed that when you finally look up, you think that there has been no time at all and that there just doesn’t seem to ever be enough of it. You can spend all your time thinking about time. I can’t fit this into my schedule right now or I’m never going to have time for this so why bother . You can lose time by thinking about it. Time is a fickle thing. It passes as quickly as it does slowly. In truth, there really is never going to be enough time and in Stiles and Derek’s cases, they didn’t seem to notice the passage of time.

They didn’t notice it when Laura told them she was pregnant. They didn’t notice time when they were waiting for the birth of Scott and Kira’s firstborn. They didn’t notice when they celebrated Laura’s baby shower. They didn’t notice until just after their second wedding anniversary, two years later.

Stiles was laying in bed, it’s a late night for him. The clock is rounding midnight and Derek still isn’t home from his shift. Havoc is laying in his space with Salem curled tightly in Stiles’ lap behind his laptop. He’s working on tomorrow’s lesson plan. In the past two years, Stiles began working in the town’s only charter school while he goes to online school for his teaching degree. Stiles is only working part-time at the school as a music teacher, but he loves it. He’s able to teach lessons on the side and volunteer at the hospital. It’s been a busy couple years, being married, working, and managing all the other things in his life. He’s barely had time to look around him. He’s still unbelievably happy, however, and wouldn’t change anything that’s happened in the past couple years. He hears the front door open and close, Havoc quickly jumps out of bed and races downstairs to greet Derek as he comes home. Stiles slips into his slippers and heads downstairs to greet his husband.

Derek is tired. He’s spent the last week pulling swing shifts and putting in overtime. They’ve been shorthanded at the precinct and it’s been on everyone to pick up the slack while they train the new deputies. Derek hates that he hasn’t been home a lot, he hates not eating dinner with Stiles and he hates that they never get to spend quality time with each other. He greets Havoc when she races down the stairs and accompanies him to the kitchen. Stiles had made a casserole of some kind. It looks delicious and when he microwaves it, he begins to salivate.

“Hey Der,” Stiles hugs Derek from behind.

“Hi babe,” Derek turns and kisses him, “How was work?”

“Oh you know, the same.” Stiles admits, “Catch any bad guys?”

“It was a slow night,” Derek smiles tiredly as he pulls his food out of the microwave.

“It’s getting colder,” Stiles says, “We’re only a month away from Christmas. I was thinking that maybe this year we could go up a little farther north and maybe get snowed in for a few days?” Stiles wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.

“Yeah,” Derek laughs, “That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day long.”

“We could go back to the place we went to last Christmas? I loved it up there.” Stiles suggests hopefully.

“That sounds great, we’ll have to book it soon thought. It’s probably going to get really busy here soon.” Derek murmurs into his food.

“I actually already booked us a room. . .” Stiles grins sheepishly.

“Well then I’ll put in for a vacation.” Derek grins, “You know we’ll need to be back here for Christmas day though, for the kids.”

“Laura would kill us if we missed Laney’s first Christmas.” Stiles agreed.

“I think Jordan would be secretly angry too.” Derek thinks. “Well I’d love to have a couple days just the two of us.”

“It’s settled then.” Stiles sits by his husband, waiting for him to finish so they could go to bed. It’s a quiet evening, just like most of their evenings, Derek trudges up the stairs and is bullied into a shower by Stiles. They get into bed, too tired for anything other than spooning but they’re both completely content to wait for Derek’s day off or the following morning to have sex. It’s a routine that they had fallen into and it’s a routine that they’re entirely content in. So there they are in their bedroom, comfortably tucked into their bed, happily wrapped in each other’s arms. It’s been the two of them for two years now, and they couldn’t possibly be more in love.

. . .

As the winter progresses, the air turns sharp and the trees lose their golden leaves. Everything seems to die and turn brown. It’s winter and it takes a pretty warm jacket to be comfortable outside. Stiles is on Christmas vacation now, out of school. He’s sitting in the bakery with Laura and her daughter Laney. They’re sipping coffee while the little girl gnaws on a soft plastic ring that’s currently grasped in an iron grip in her chubby fist. She looks up at Stiles with crisp green eyes and babbles through a full mouth. She’s sitting on Stiles’ lap as he bounces her lightly on his knee.

“You’re ready for your vacation?” Laura asks, “You don’t need anything?”

“We’re all packed and ready. Cora’s all set to watch the house and the animals, all our bags are packed and Derek just changed the oil in the FJ.” Stiles reports, “We’re all set.”

“And you will be back by Christmas?” Laura stresses this requirement.

“We’ll be back the day of Christmas Eve.” Stiles assures, “I wouldn’t miss your first Christmas for the world.” Stiles tells Laney in a baby voice.

“Good. That’s good then.” Laura approves, “I hope you both have fun.”

“I’m looking forward to it. We need some quality time together.” Stiles nods, “Not to mention the lodge is freaking’ magical.”

“Jordan and I are planning a weekend up there so we’ll need a babysitter for the weekend.” Laura gives him fair warning, “I can relate with the whole quality time thing. We haven’t had sex in weeks.” Her tone turns exasperated.

“Well. . .” Stiles laughs, “I guess that’s parenthood for ya.” Laura shoves his arm lightly, laughing at his joke. She smiles at Laney, who’s still happily gnawing away at her little ring. Just then, Stiles’ phone begins ringing. Derek’s name pops up on the screen and Stiles’ face breaks out into a smile.

“Hey, babe.” Stiles greets his husband, “You just get off work?”

“Yep, I’m driving over to the bakery to get you.” Derek tells him, “How about we swing through the diner and grab something to eat before hitting the road?”

“That sounds awesome,” Stiles agrees, “You gotta see Laney before we leave, I swear she gets cuter and cuter each day.”

“I bet,” Derek laughs, “I don’t know about you but I’m really looking forward to sitting on the patio with a hot cup of coffee and you cuddled up next to me.”

“Everything’s covered in fresh snow, too.” Stiles says dreamily, “It’ll be nice, just the two of us.”

“It’ll be a great trip.” Derek takes Stiles’ hand from across the console. They’re grinning from ear to ear and Stiles’ road trip mix is playing in the background. One thing’s for sure, Stiles can’t wait to  get his husband naked.

. . .

Upon arriving at the lodge, their bags are whisked away to their room and the frosty air outside makes Stiles shiver uncontrollably as the heat from the FJ leaves his skin. There’s snow on the ground and it’s lightly falling at the moment. Derek hands his husband his thick winter coat for when they go on trips like this. Check in is simple enough and the lodge is pleasantly cozy. It’s warm and inviting, the workers are pleasant, and the entire place is a winter wonderland. Stiles loves coming to this place and he loves spending snowy mornings with Derek. It’s like something out of a Hallmark movie.

“Why don’t we head up to the room, unpack, then hit the jacuzzi?” Derek suggests.

“Oh that sounds great,” Stiles nods in complete agreement. Once they reach the elevator with their key in hand, Stiles turns to Derek and presses against him suggestively as he runs a long finger down Derek’s chest, “Afterwords I think we should get dinner and spend the rest of the night making love.”

“My husband is a genius.” Derek says in a low tone, his voice thick with lust.

They move slowly because they have plenty of time. Unpacking their things and messing around in their room like newlyweds. Outside the large window on the far end of their suite, they see snow falling a little more strongly. It’s bright out but they can see snow clouds in the distance that carry the promise of more snow. Their king size bed holds another promise.

The jacuzzi is on the first floor, outside with the other amenities like a large grill, sitting area with a large fire, and bright twinkling lights strewn about. Stiles loves the steam rising from the hot water and he’s incredibly happy that there’s only a few people in it at the moment. They shed their towels on the nearby chairs and quickly slide into the hot water. It burns for a moment, their skin adjusting to the differences in temperature that quickly, but once they settle in, it’s heavenly. Stiles thinks he could fall asleep right there in Derek’s lap in the hot waters. He’s so comfortable, warm and happy. After a long drive, Stiles feels like his muscles are finally starting to relax. He can only imagine how Derek feels after having to work and drive them up.

They kiss leisurely in their little corner of the hot tub and talk quietly about what they’ll be doing with the rest of their trip. It’s a long while before they start to get out. Stiles is far too pruney to be attractive despite Derek’s reassurances and they’re both starving. So they decide room service is going to be the best way to go. Derek decides to treat his beloved husband with a bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and a wonderful meal of pepperoni pizza for dinner. When they move to the champagne and dessert, Stiles leans across the bed in his white robe in an enticing manner. Derek grins and pours him a glass.

“Why, Mr. Hale, are you trying to seduce me?” Stiles questions with a sly grin.

“I’m simply treating my husband with the romance he deserves, Mr. Hale.” Derek answers, laying next to his husband with the tray of strawberries between them.

“You’re too good to me,” Stiles smiles, “To us.”

“To us,” They toast to one another and sip the drink while feeding each other the strawberries. Stiles is pleasantly buzzed when they finish the sweet treats and the champagne. He allows Derek to clear everything from the bed and when he turns back, Stiles lets the robe fall from his pale skin, pooling at his ankles on the floor. There’s a wicked glint in his eyes that makes Derek’s blood boil. Stiles walks to his husband and unties his robe, pushing it from Derek’s strong shoulders. In an instant, they’re flush against one another, hands frantically roaming. Their lips clash in heated passion and their groins press together in beautiful friction. Stiles groans at the feeling of their rapidly hardening cocks moving together.

“Make love to me,” Stiles pants in between heated kisses. Derek nods eagerly and leads Stiles back to their bed, lowering him down with gentle hands. He has to take a moment to collect himself. Derek wants to savor this moment. He fishes the lube out of the bedside table and begins taking Stiles apart with strong and gentle fingers. Stiles raises his arms above his head and grasps at the white sheets beneath him, closing his eyes and spreads his legs to allow Derek better access. Derek thinks it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. Stiles laid out like this, practically keening from his touch. He can’t resist the sight of Stiles’ twitching cock, so he lowers his head and licks a heady stripe up the length of Stiles’ aching member. He relishes in Stiles’ low moan, as his fingers work to open him, his mouth gives more pleasure.

Stiles can’t remember the last time Derek gave him a blow job but can’t think of anything else at the moment. Derek’s hot, wet mouth is working him over and Stiles thinks that he’s going to cum if Derek keeps doing that. Luckily, he’s so relaxed and horny that Derek’s ministrations at his hole are quick and Derek can hardly wait to be inside his lover. Without wasting any time, Derek replaces his fingers with his long, hard, cock. He slides into Stiles with ease and groans at the tightness. They clutch at one another as Derek begins his thrusts. They’re powerful and deep, eager in their deliverance and Stiles is starting to see stars. The room is filled with breathy moans and the sound of Derek’s dick impaling Stiles’ hole. It doesn’t take long for either of them to orgasm, with a deep kiss and a powerful stroke to Stiles’ leaking cock, his hole tightens around Derek, milking an orgasm from the man while Stiles rides the waves of pleasure. Derek’s thrusts are shallow as he struggles to catch his breath. When he thinks he’s regained feeling in his legs, Derek lays beside Stiles, begrudgingly pulling out of his tight heat.

“I love you,” Stiles pants, “So much, you have no idea.”

“I love you too,” Derek responds in kind.

“It feels like our wedding night.” Stiles laughs.

“Yeah,” Derek chuckles, “It’s been an amazing couple years with you, Stiles.”

“Likewise, babe.” Stiles grins.

It really has been amazing.

. . .

 

It’s a full twenty four hours later, the two men are sitting on their little terrace outside their window with two mugs of hot chocolate, curled up under their comforter on the loveseat. They’re looking out into the night, staring at the mountain in front of them. It’s not snowing but everything is still covered from the previous day. They’re plenty warm, curled up together in comfortable silence. At that moment, Stiles doesn’t think anything could disturb the peace. Then Derek’s phone rings. Spoke too soon , Stiles thinks to himself.

“Hello?” Derek answers. Who could be calling this late? Derek thinks.

“Is this . . .Derek Hale?” A woman’s voice asks.

“Yes, this is him.” Derek responds, “Who am I speaking with?”

“It’s Shelly Brice. Your assigned case worker.” The woman answers.

“Ashley Trent is our caseworker,” Derek says sceptically.

“Ashley is on maternity leave at the moment so I’ll be temporarily taking your case. She said that she had called but couldn’t reach you. The full details are in an email that was sent to your partner. . . a Stiles Hale?” She reassures him. Stiles looks confused for a moment before opening his phone and checking his email to confirm. Right there at the top of his inbox is the notification from Ashley.

“I see, Stiles and I are on vacation at the moment and didn't see the email.” Derek says, “Is there something else? I don’t think you’d be calling this late just to let us know that Ashley’s on leave.”

“You are correct, we’ve actually got a surprise for you. Earlier this afternoon, a young woman came into the office with her newborn daughter and relinquished her rights.” Shelly informs him , “The baby is in custody now and we’d like to place her as soon as possible. We were hoping that you and your partner would come in and meet with her and possibly make the match.” Derek almost drops the phone. His jaw goes slack and he sees Stiles is in much the same condition. Stiles gets with the program quickly and nods excitedly.

“Oh my God!” Derek exclaims, “Y-yes of course!”

“Wonderful! She’s an adorable little girl and her social worker is eager to get her into a good home. We’ve been waiting to place you with a child and it’s just a perfect miracle that his happened.” Shelly chuckles through the receiver, “I am driving to Sacramento at the moment to meet with her case worker. How soon can you be here?”

“It’ll be at least a four hour drive.” Derek sputters, “Is that alright?”

“That’s fine, I’ll email the details to your husband. Congratulations, Mr. Hale. I look forward to seeing you and Stiles.” Shelly sounds enthusiastic.

“Thank you so much!” Derek says, mutters a quick goodbye to the woman and hangs up. He looks at Stiles with wide eyes and they both have no idea what to say.

“Holy shit!” Stiles jumps up, pulling Derek with him and they embrace.

“Oh my God. . .” Derek is still awestruck. They stand there holding each other for a moment before they break apart and then the panic sets in, “We’re not ready for a baby! We don’t have anything a baby needs!”

“We need to call Laura, we might not make it back in time for Christmas.” Stiles murmurs.

“What if they decide last minute not to give her to us?” Derek asks.

“I’m only halfway through the year and we don’t have a nanny. . .” The two of them are on completely different tracks but then they both stop and feel everything around them begin to explode with excitement.

“We’re going to be parents,” Derek whispers in wonder.

“You’re gonna be papa. I’m gonna be daddy.” Stiles’ tone mirrors Derek's.

“We need to call Laura.” They say at the same time. As quick as a flash, they gather their things and rush back into their room.

“I’ll start packing, you call Laura and get her to arrange things with the girls, I’m sure they’ll all want to help.” Derek delegates, “I’ll call the front desk and let them know we’ll be checking out early.”

Stiles nods and does what he says. With shaky hands he dials Laura’s number and stumbles over the words. There’s a moment of silence before there are squeals on the other end, no doubt waking Jordan and Lacey. It’s a quick conversation as Laura assures him they have got it all covered on their end and it’ll all be done by the time they arrive with the new baby. Stiles thanks her before hanging up to finish packing while Derek gets on the phone with management. It feels like they’re racing against time. It’s two in the morning and there’s still time, Stiles doesn’t honestly think that they’d just give the baby to someone else if they were ten minutes late. They make quick work of getting dressed and ready to go before throwing their bags into the back of the FJ.

“Let’s go!” Stiles bounces in his seat, eager to reach Sacramento ASAP.

“We need to stop for gas,” Derek reminds his husband, “We should be there in a couple hours, babe.” Derek’s eager grin gives away his anticipation and they both can hardly stand it.

“Oh my God, Derek!” Stiles squeaks, “We need to stop and get a car seat. And supplies. Food, bottles, diapers, wipes, a changing mat, a diaper bag, we need baby powder-”

“We’ll stop and get all of that when we get to Sacramento, love.” Derek reminds him.

“Where are we going to get all that at 6 in the morning when we get there?” Stiles asks worriedly.

“We’ll have to fill out paperwork and handle the legalities-fuck! I need to call the lawyer.” Derek curses, “Don’t worry Stiles, when we get there, this will all work out. We’re going to pick up our daughter and we’re going to be fine. The three of us.”

“The three of us.” Stiles grins like an idiot, completely loving the way that sounds.

. . .

Stiles can’t sleep the entire ride there despite Derek telling him that now is the best time to get some sleep. There’s just too much excitement in the air and Stiles thinks he might burst with it. They spend the entire four hour drive to Sacramento arguing about names. The baby’s mother had yet to name the girl and though Stiles thought it was asenine, it’s perfectly legal to not name a child right when they’re born. In fact, the child can go a long while without needing an actual name so the little girl has been referred to as Baby Doe until Stiles and Derek get to name her. It’s thrilling to think that they get this chance, though Stiles is thoroughly terrified about having a newborn, he’s incredibly thankful.

By the time they arrive in Sacramento, it’s a little after six and they’re both starving. Shelley assured them that it would be fine to take a couple hours to get composed as well as pick up all the necessary travel items. She’s preparing the paperwork and working with their lawyer in the meantime. It’s been a long day for her and they could tell by the sound of her voice on the phone. It’s nearly nine in the morning when Stiles and Derek burst into the office, new items in hand, neatly packed in their new baby bag. Stiles didn’t know that he could be such a perfectionist but was ecstatic that they could provide everything for the little girl.

“Mr. and Mr. Hale!” A short woman somewhat resembling Blanche from Golden Girls greets them upon entering the building, “It’s great to finally meet you in person.”

“Shelly,” Derek presumes. The lady nods with a happy smile despite looking tired, “Lets get things rolling shall we?”

“Of course,” She nods. They are led to a nearby conference room and the door is shut behind them. Inside the room, their lawyer is already sitting there, still reading through papers. After quick hellos, Shelly begins to talk, “Baby Doe’s caseworker is on her way up with the baby. The little thing was fussy all night so we apologize if she’s anything but quiet when she gets here. She’s been through so much already.”

“We’re very eager to meet her.” Derek says, still clutching Stiles’ hand like he’s the only thing keeping him tethered to Earth.

“That’s wonderful! You passed all your home visits with flying colors and the donation that your uncle, Peter, gave has very helpfully move things along.” Shelly states, “We’ve been very grateful for his assistance and we couldn’t be happier to place Baby Doe in such a deserving and wonderful home. I have to say, I was impressed with all of the notes that Ashley made in regards to the two of you.”

“Thank you,” Stiles smiles. He wants to tell her to just hand him his baby but knows that she is the one that worked hard to give him the baby so he should probably be nice to her. Shelly looks incredibly pleased and when they hear the sound of crying in the hallway, Derek and Stiles are at their feet in an instant. A woman enters the room with a squealing baby in her arms. She gives them an apologetic smile and looks about ready to scream at the baby. Given that little Baby Doe is wrapped in what looks like a blanket they happened to have on hand and wearing a worn out onesie, it’s no wonder the poor thing is upset. She’s tired, overwhelmed, and she’s been abandoned by the woman who was supposed to be her mother.

Stiles looks to Derek for permission and earns a happy nod, a ‘go ahead’ to be the first to hold her. Derek lets go of Stiles’ hand and watch as his husband goes forward and scoops the baby out of the caseworker’s arms. He bounces her gently in his arms, cooing to the sobbing little girl and comes to her. Derek has always been mesmerized by Stiles’ way with children. Watching the two of them sway for only a moment is something Derek would never get tired of. Stiles had thought that he couldn’t love another human more than he loves Derek but he was so wrong. The instant she was put in his arms he fell in love with her. He feels a little misty-eyed and continues to soothe her. She quiets only a little, still very upset. The caseworker reaches into her small baby bag and hands him a bottle with a little bit of formula in it. The poor thing is hungry and the minute the nipple is on her lips, she begins succling. Everyone in the room breathes easier when her nose is quieted down.

“She’s so precious.” Stiles whispers, “Oh Derek. . .”

“She’s absolutely beautiful.” Derek comes closer, lightly stroking her cheek with a gentle finger. They grin at each other and it’s like their entire world is centered on this little girl.

“The three of you are absolutely perfect.” Shelly smiles, “Why don’t we finish the papers so you can take her home.” The two new parents nod eagerly and continue to take care of the girl while Derek sorts out the legalities with their lawyer. Stiles can’t even focus on what is happening in the room as his only concern is his daughter. He’s not even sure how much time elapses but finally, their work is almost done and she’s sound asleep, tuckered out from all her crying.

“Alright, last but not least, the birth certificate.” Shelly sighs, “Do you two have a name for her?” They both nod.

“Faolan Lydia Hale.” Stiles says with a smile.

“Welcome to the family, Faolan.” Derek grins.

It’s truly a beautiful beginning.

Chapter Text

The drive back to Beacon Hills is surprisingly serene. They had both been prepared for the screaming, the crying, the noise that a newborn makes, but little Faolan was peaceful in the car. She didn’t wake up for several hours until she needed to eat. The pulled into a little diner halfway to their hometown to stop and eat. Now that everything was done, they were both completely starved. Derek holds the baby almost the entire time they’re pulled over, completely enthralled with the little girl, just like Stiles. When their food comes around, they lay her in the detached car seat. She makes little ah ah noises but otherwise remains calm. Derek had just fed her and now she’s ready to fall asleep again.

“Everyone’s going to go crazy.” Stiles smiles, looking at her. He takes in her wisps of dark hair and scrunched up nose.

“Lacey’s got some serious competition.” Derek nods, taking another bite of his pancakes. Derek can’t help but muse at the little girl’s adorable little features. Her pursed lips and little button nose. She’s so young, when Shelly had said newborn, Stiles thought that she was at least a month old. She wasn’t though, Faolan was only two weeks old.

“How do you think everything’s going at the house?” Stiles asks in an apprehensive tone.

“It’s literally Christmas eve. We haven’t heard from anyone and I’m sure that everything’s gone to DEFCON 2.” Derek muses, “I’m definitely sure that the girls have turned one of the spare rooms into a princess’ wonderland. Leave it to all of them to go absolutely crazy.”

“I’m completely fine with having them decorate the room.” Stiles chuckles, “I’d love to just bring her home and have everything ready.”

“Agreed,” Derek looks at his daughter again, “I can’t believe it’s happened. I can’t believe we’re fathers.”

“It feels like just yesterday we were moving into our house. . .just yesterday I stumbled into Laura’s bakery.” Stiles smiles dreamily. Derek reaches across the table and takes Stiles’ hand.

“We’ve come a long way.” Derek nods. He finishes his meal and pays the check, “Come on, let’s get this little girl home.”

Stiles nods and picks up Faolan’s little seat. When they get her back in the car, Stiles tucks her in nice and warm with his blanket. She’s sound asleep by the time they get back on the road and Stiles can't stop looking back at her. Derek’s holding his hand tightly and even he can’t refrain from looking back at her in the rearview mirror. They talk in hushed tones heading back to their hometown and by the time they arrive, they see that their driveway is full of cars. Obviously, everyone had come to the house. Derek had let Laura know when they were a couple hours from the house and Stiles looks at Derek as if to say here we go .

Stiles detaches Faolan’s car seat and carries her in while Derek brings in the baby bag. It takes all of two seconds upon crossing the threshold before they’re both swarmed by their best friends. They’re all cooing in hushed voices once they notice the sleeping infant.

“Oh my God, Derek!” Laura whisper screams. There are tears in her eyes and she’s ready to die from cuteness overload. Jordan is holding Lacey, looking down at the new addition, his newest little niece.

“She’s so cute!” Erica gushes. Boyd gives Derek a solid ‘bro hug’. In the next moment, little Faolan is being passed from one pair of arms to another, each of the women getting their fill of the new baby while Stiles and Derek bring in their things.

“We finished putting together her room for you two. You’re welcome.” Lydia says, bouncing Faolan gently in her arms.

“Thanks guys, we really appreciate it.” Stiles thanks them.

“We were completely unprepared.” Derek agrees, “We couldn’t have done it without you all.”

“We’d do anything for you guys, and now this little angel.” Laura smiles. Her pride for her little brother is clear in her eyes and Cora mirrors the sentiment.

“Lydia, we also wanted to tell you. . .” Stiles begins with a small grin, “We want you to be her Godmother.”

“Her full name is Faolan Lydia Hale.” Derek tells her, “Stiles and I couldn’t repay you for all the nights you spent helping me with Stiles. I couldn’t repay you for all the help you’ve given me in the past and Faolan couldn’t wish for a better Godmother.”

Lydia’s eyes are wide and her plush lips parted slightly in complete shock. Her eyes water and when she recovers from the news, she looks down at the little girl in her arms and smiles at the baby, placing a small kiss on her forehead before turning to her fathers.

“Thank you,” She whispers, “You have no idea what that means to me.”

They nod to her, happy grins on their faces.

They spend the next couple hours exploring Faolan’s room. The girls had filled it with everything they needed. A beautiful gray crib is placed in front of the window with soft pink curtains filtering the light in the room. The crib’s extended to also have a changing table, an excellent choice, Stiles thinks to himself. Above the crib is a mobile with little multi colored hot air balloons and clouds hanging from the ceiling. There are shelves on the opposite wall bearing a ceramic pink teddy bear piggy bank and a few other aesthetic decorations. There’s a light pink rug on the floor and a dresser matching the color of the crib. Stiles looks inside and sees that it’s filled with clothes. There’s also an untold amount of plushies of various animals. It’s a perfect little room and the baby monitor on the dresser copies the one on Stiles’ bedside table.

Stiles loves the room and he loves how it feels. It’s warm and beautiful, perfect for their little girl. He could see her growing up in this room. Derek feels moved by all that his friends and family had put together for his little girl and held onto Stiles tightly. He feels like that last piece of his life has finally come into the puzzle. Like he has everything now and it’s all so perfect. He’s got the love of his life, the home of his dreams, a great job, and now the perfect child. How could he ask for more?

“So we’ll see you all tomorrow! Bright and early for present opening,” Laura says firmly, “Lacey and Faolan’s first Christmas. . .”

“We’ll see you three tomorrow.” Jordan shakes Derek’s hand with a grin on his face.

“See you, man.” Derek hugs him goodbye and kisses his sister on the cheek, little Lacey on the forehead as they part ways. Cora’s agreed to stay the night, no doubt wanting to stay and have more time with her niece.

“Night you guys,” Lydia kisses everyone on the cheek and takes an extra moment to say goodnight to her godbaby.

“Merry Christmas, Lyds.” Stiles says as she walks out to her car.

“Don’t forget that all of her new little baby blankets are in the dryer.” Erica reminds them on her way out. Boyd says a quick goodbye and drags his wife out the door to the car.

“Well, I don’t know about you both but I’m exhausted. I’m gonna hit the hay.” Cora says, gently sliding a squirming Faolan into Derek’s arms. She kisses them on the cheek then heads up to the spare room. When it’s just the two of them, They finally feel all the aches and tiredness from the last day and a half of driving and excitement. Now they’re both exhausted.

“Let’s head up to bed.” Stiles says, “Lydia was smart enough to buy this little girl a bassinet. I want her to sleep in our room tonight.”

Derek nods in agreement. Their nightly routine takes far longer this time around now that they have to change, dress and put Faolan to bed as well as take care of themselves. Derek lets Havoc into the room to get acquainted with the new baby and Salem comes out of his hiding place to come see what all the commotion that day has been about. Stiles holds on to the baby while Derek gages the dog’s reaction. Havoc is uncharacteristically calm. The white ball of fluff approaches cautiously and sniffs at Faolan’s little head before giving a tentative lick. The little girl gives out a squeal, startling the dog. Havoc looks at Stiles as if to say ‘what the heck did you bring into out house?’ Havoc is still unsure of the baby and retreats to her bed in the corner, still keeping her eyes on the little bean in her owner’s arms.

Salem is far more welcoming. He sniffs at the baby and looks entirely too curious at their new addition. Salem tries to reach out a paw to touch her but Stiles chastises him and Salem quickly learns that this little thing isn’t a toy that he can play with. Stiles laughs at the scolded cat.

“Don’t worry, you two will get used to her.” Stiles says, “Good first meeting.”

“They’re good animals.” Derek nods. He’s slipped into bed and smiles as Stiles places Faolan in his arms so that he can get ready for bed. It doesn’t take long for the little girl to begin falling asleep again and when she does pass out, Derek lays her on her back in the bassinet. When Stiles slides into bed with him, this sense of calm washes over the three of them. The two new fathers bask in it. Derek pulls Stiles into his arms and kisses the back of his neck.

“Best Christmas present ever.” Derek chuckles quietly.

“Yeah, she is.” Stiles murmurs, “This will be the best Christmas ever.”

“We’re a family,” Derek whispers.

“It’s good to have a family again.” Stiles nods, “I know I’ve had all you guys for a while. . .but it’s just different having a husband and now a baby. It feels like things are really starting to happen. Like life is beginning.”

“I know it sounds kind of corny but having Faolan, having you, it’s like I’m complete. My soul is complete.” Derek says honestly.

“I feel the exact same way.” Stiles confesses, “I love you both so much.”

“I love you too, Stiles. You and our daughter.” Derek kisses him passionately.

In the calm of the night, under gentle moonlight, they are lulled into a deep and comfortable sleep. The three of them happy and safe. Who could ever ask for more?

Chapter Text

To say that life got easier would be a complete and utter lie. Life was hectic, it was annoying and sometimes Stiles just wanted to scream because he was so frustrated. Life wasn’t magical all the fucking time. It wasn’t pleasant all the time and it certainly wasn’t easy. No, life was messy, filled with dirty diapers, screaming infant to screaming toddler. It was accidentally spilled paint on their nice carpet. It was crayon drawings on the walls. It was so many fucking spills . It was terrible twos and fighting with Derek over giving her another cookie. It was arguing over parenting styles and fights over really stupid things like hearing Derek chew his food too loudly. It was annoying .

Life certainly didn’t get easier.

Laura laughed in his face.

He had come to her regularly as his friend and confidant that it seemed like life was always completely insane. Almost like the mornings filled with light and laughter and pancakes never happened despite them happening regularly. Like the nights Derek made sweet love to him were outnumbered by the nights Derek spent doing night shifts. Or the days he spent with Faolan, laughing and having fun, were overrun by the days that she would throw tantrums and toss her sippy cup to impressive lengths.

Laura thought it was all so amusing.

Stiles thinks that’s mostly because she’s experiencing the same things. Lacey is only a few months older than Faolan and is always at least one step ahead of Stiles. Stiles knows because Laura complains equally as much. Jordan never cleans the fucking hair out of the sink when he shaves. Stiles can relate. Jordan thinks it’s fucking funny to ask me if the garage door is closed after I spent an entire five minutes assuring myself that I did close it. Stiles can definitely relate. Lacey slapped me this morning and I thought I was going to backhand her. Stiles was extremely guilty for feeling the same way.

They consoled each other. It was their thing.

All this definitely didn’t mean, however, that they didn’t absolutely love their lives. Laura had been busy with her daughter and opening a wedding catering business. Stiles obtained his degree and began teaching at a public school, one that Stiles hoped would be home for Faolan. Stiles and Derek were still so in love that at moments, Stiles forgets how to breathe when he thinks of Derek holding their daughter. He feels weak in the knees when he walks into Faolan’s room and sees Derek rocking her on expert feet, humming to her as she drifts off to sleep with a little thumb in her mouth and a little wolf plushie gripped in her other fist. Stiles lives for the mornings that he goes to wake his daughter up for daycare and sees her blearily looking up at him through the bars of her crib, her pale brown hair all messy from sleep.

Stiles loves all of it.

He knows that he needs to savor each and every moment, precious or not. He loves his husband and his daughter, he loves his life more than anything. So when one day, Stiles is at work and eating his lunch at his desk, grading papers, he gets a call from Faolan’s daycare center telling him that she’s got a fever and won’t stop crying for her daddy, he’s understandably upset. She hadn’t been sick this morning when he’d dropped her off and she had never been sick under their care. They’d always been extremely careful to keep her healthy and the only illness she’d acquired was a mild ear infection that cleared up in a matter of days. So he rushed to her after letting his principle know that he’d be gone for the rest of the day as well as the next.

“Mr. Stilinski,” The daycare center manager, Rhonda, greets him and takes him to their little nurses office to collect Faolan, “Poor thing hasn’t stopped crying.”

“Thank you for calling me,” Stiles tells her. When he sees his little baby sobbing loudly, no doubt worked up so bad that it’s making her cold worse, “Faolan, hush now, daddy’s here.”

He tells her as he rushes to her. She sees him and starts sobbing daddy, daddy. Her little arms reach out to her and snot hangs from her little nose. Stiles picks her up and uses his jacket sleeve to wipe away the snot. She clings to him, finally quieting down now that she’s got her daddy. She sticks her thumb in her mouth and clings to his neck, hiccuping loudly. That’s probably why she’s sick. Stiles thinks. He turns to Rhonda and gives her a smile.

“Let’s go home, little girl,” Stiles says, rubbing her back gently.

“Sign her out at the front. We hope she feels better,” Rhonda says with such a motherly expression that it eases Stiles. He loved this daycare. The women who work here at Lighthouse Daycare are so gentle and truly love the children.

“Thanks, Rhonda,” Stiles says in goodbye. He does as he’s told and signs her out, “We’ll have to stop at the store and get you some things baby girl. You’re not super hot. I think just some juice and rest.”

He buckles her into her car seat in the back of his FJ. She whimpers at the lack of contact but is quelled when Stiles gives her Wolfie, her favorite plushie. They drive in silence back to the house. When they’re in the door and Faolan is situated in his arms, he calls Derek.

“Hey babe,” Derek greets.

“Hi Der. I got a call earlier that Faolan was running a fever so I picked her up from daycare.” Stiles sighs, “We just got to the house. I’m gonna take her temp and get her settled in our bed. I was hoping you would maybe pick up some cranberry juice and more applesauce.”

“She’s never been sick before,” Derek says, “I can get the stuff for her on my way home.”

“Great. I’m going to call Lydia, double check with her.” Stiles mentions as he single-handedly lets the dog in.

“Probably a good idea.” Derek muses, “Let me know if you want anything else. If she’s not feeling so good, we should probably just do something easy for dinner.”

“I’m going to make soup.” Stiles says, “We’ve got all the stuff for a good chicken and rice soup. She loves it too.” He says just as Faolan looks up and murmurs soup into the phone making her fathers laugh.

“Soup it is. Okay. I’ll see you both later. Love you, pumpkin.” Derek says loudly so Faolan can here him.

“Love, papa.” She says tiredly.

“Love you, Stiles.”

“Bye baby.” Stiles says, grinning as he hangs up, “Alright, princess. Let's get you washed up and in some comfy PJs. Then how about you watch some Octonauts in papa and daddy’s bed?”

“Ye,” She whispers. Stiles looks at her worriedly. She’s usually far more energetic. He gives her a nice warm bath and dresses her in her fluffiest PJs then tucks her into his bed with her favorite blankie and Wolfie tucked under her arm.

“I’ll be right back, baby. I’m going to get you a sippy with some milk, how’s that sound?” Stiles asks his little girl.

“Good, daddy.” She says. He puts on her favorite cartoon on his television and Havoc jumps up on the bed with her, curling up at her feet, looking at Stiles as if to say, ‘go, I’ll watch her’ . Stiles scratches behind her ears and hurries downstairs to get her the sippy cup. When he returns with the promised sippy cup in his hand and a thermometer, Faolan has tears in her eyes.

“Hurts daddy.” She cries up at him with a pouty lip and big blue eyes.

“What hurts baby?” Stiles asks her with a soft voice, “Is it your throat?”

“All yucky.” She cries.

“I’m sorry baby, here drink this. It’s cold and it’ll help your throat.” Stiles says. “We’re going to take your temperature, love.” He holds up the thermometer and runs it over her forehead until it beeps. 100.2 . He’s definitely calling Lydia. He curls up beside Faolan, watching her completely zone out as she watches tv, sipping on her milk. Lydia picks up on the third ring.

“What.” Her tone is a little annoyed, no doubt bothered at work.

“I’m sorry to call suddenly but Faolan’s sick.” Stiles tells her, “She’s got a fever of 100.2 and she says that something hurts but doesn’t know what hurts.”

“I’ll check on her tonight. She’s probably just got a cold. If her temp increases or persists for another day then we’ll revisit.” Lydia says, her voice going from bothered to worry in moments of learning that her goddaughter is ill, “Bring her in if she starts vomiting or her fever spikes too high. Anything above 102.”

“Thanks, Lyds.” Stiles sighs.

“I’ll see you both later tonight. I expect food and wine.” She says before hanging up the phone. Stiles rolls his eyes but puts his phone away, turning his attention back to his daughter. He stays by her side for a bit longer, until she falls asleep, happily wrapped up in Stiles’ favorite blanket, snoozing away. Havoc remains on the bed with her and Salem trots behind Stiles. The old cat is pushing twenty. A fact that he’s reminded of whenever Salem can’t climb the stairs or jump up on chairs.

Stiles continues to work at the table, knowing that Faolan will be asleep for at least another hour before she’s up and awake. The baby monitor sits in front of him as he types away at his computer. He’s not sure how time seems to pass so quickly while he works. Grading, inputting, lesson planning, etc. It’s all a blur and before he knows it, he’s being woken up by Faolan crying through the baby monitor.

“Okay, sweetie,” Stiles says, rushing to her side to pick her up. Her brown hair is a mess and he knows he’ll have to brush out some crazy knots later. She calms down once he’s holding her, carrying her downstairs. She had managed to sleep for two hours before waking up and now she doesn’t seem to want to let go of her daddy.

“Why don’t we give you a snack and some juice? You can play with your toys in the living room. How’s that sound?” He asks her. She nods tiredly, rubbing at her eyes. He grabs her an applesauce pouch and she happily snatches it out of his hand. She’s fairly good at entertaining herself nowadays. All it takes is a couple of stuffed animals, a Barbie or two and some crayons. Stiles loves that she could play with anything they put in her hands. Until Derek gets home, Stiles busies himself in the kitchen, preparing dinner.

“Pumpkin!” Derek greets his daughter, “Are you sickies, baby?”

“Papa,” Faolan gets a little chattier with Derek home, “Don’ feel good, papa.”

“I know sweet pea.” Derek picks her up and carries her into the kitchen, kisses Stiles on the cheek and refills her sippy with water, “Is her temp any better?”

“No, it’s still the same.” Stiles says, placing a bowl of freshly tossed salad on the counter, “Lydia said she’d be here at some point t-” just as he mentions her, the doorbell rings.

“Speak of the devil.” Derek chuckles, taking Faolan to go greet Lydia. Immediately upon entering, she scoops the small child out of Derek’s arms and asks her questions. Derek rolls his eyes and returns to the kitchen to help Stiles set the table. He meets his husband’s questioning stare by widening his eyes to emphasize Lydia’s insanity. Stiles is already pouring the wine.

“She’ll be fine by tomorrow night. Keep doing what you’re doing. They caught it early so that’s good.” Lydia kisses Faolan on the cheek, “Now all she needs is a popsicle to make her throat feel better!” She lifts her other arm to show a bag of popsicles that she knows are her goddaughter’s favorite.

“After dinner,” Stiles says, taking the bag away from an excited toddler. He hands Lydia a glass of wine and she happily received it.

“I’m actually glad I’m here, I have some important news to tell you.” Lydia says. She sets Faolan down and the little girl wanders off to go play, “You’re the first I’m telling this to so. . .be gentle.”

Her tone is serious and the way she settles into a bar stool is indicative of someone with a lot of weight on their shoulders. Derek and Stiles are her closest friends and to her, it made sense that they be the first to know.

“These last couple years have been amazing. You two having Faolan, Laura having Lacey and now Erica and Boyd having their own child.” Lydia takes a sip of her wine, looking pensive, “For so long I’ve been so career minded. I’ve been competitive in my field, working to be the best of the best and now that I’m in a place where I’m happy. . .I’m happy where I am in life. . .my priorities have changed.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you being career minded, Lyds. You’ve always known where you wanted to go and who you wanted to be.” Derek tells her.

“I know that. It’s just. . .well I’ve never really thought about having children until recently. Though I’ve never really wanted one or even desired a lifelong partner, lately I’ve felt like something’s missing.” Lydia sighs tiredly, “And I know exactly what that something is.”

“Lydia. .  .are you saying you want a child?” Stiles’ eyes widen in surprise.

“Yes.” Lydia says simply, almost stunned that she’s managed to finally come out with it to her friends, “Whenever I hold Lacey or watch Faolan for the night, I get so heartbroken whenever I have to give her back. So. . .so I made a decision almost half a year ago.”

“Oh my God. . .” Stiles whispers, thinking he knows exactly what she’s going to reveal.

“I decided to test my fertility and if everything was ship shape. . .that I would try IVF.” Lydia says with a small smile. Stiles nearly drops his wine glass. Derek’s eyes widen so much he thinks that they might pop out of his skull, “Well it turned out that I was ovulating a few weeks ago and I went in to a clinic and was inseminated. I’m pregnant.”

It’s completely silent for a moment before the universe breaks. Stiles feels tears welling up in his eyes as he pulls his friend into his arms and hugs her tightly. Derek surrounds them and engulfs both of them in his arms, the three locked in an embrace. Lydia is crying, Stiles is crying and Derek is struggling not to show emotion. Lydia never thought that she would have this moment. She had always thought that it wasn’t for her, certainly, motherhood wasn’t for her. She never had any time, she lived alone without a husband or partner. She struggled to even think babies were cute. No, she wanted a career, she wanted to go to Stanford Medical School, she wanted her Ph.D. She wanted to be chief of medicine one day at Beacon Memorial.

As the years went on, however, all of that changed. She went to Stanford, she got her Ph.D., but she loved being a doctor. She loved helping people and treating people. She knew that the Chief of Medicine was a wonderful position but not one that would be conducive to her curiosity and vigor towards solving the never-ending puzzle that was the human body. So she turned down the job last year. She was happy being the head of her department. She was happy until all of her friends started having children and she discovered that she yearned to be a mother. That the hesitance towards children in her younger years had been a product of her striving towards the finish line in her career. Now that she’d crossed it, she was discovering all the things she’d been putting off. She had never been short of company, Lydia was a beautiful and strong woman that was completely happy with taking her pleasure when she wanted it. She never actively sought out a life partner and hadn’t come close to one that was adequate.

Just like anything else in life, Lydia wasn’t willing to wait for a man or woman to come into her life before getting what she wanted. She wanted a child and she knew that could happen with or without a partner. So she did it. Lydia did it all on her own. She anxiously waited for the results of her fertility exams. She sifted through catalogs and catalogs of sperm donors. She alone picked the perfect donor. She alone endured the process alone. All of which, she was happy to do. She didn’t want to tell anyone in case it failed. She didn’t want to tell anyone if she turned out infertile. Lydia thanked her lucky stars that it had all gone so well, that now she could tell her friends the news that she never thought she’d be so happy to share.

“I’m so happy for you,” Stiles whispers in her ear, “You’re going to be even happier with a little one of your own.”

“I finally feel like I’ve got everything I want.” Lydia confesses, “I can’t wait for the next chapter.”

Chapter Text

So now it’s come to the close, Stiles realizes this the moment that he turns off his bedside lamp, no longer needing it to stay on as he sleeps. It’s the last remnant of his old life. The fear of falling asleep in the dark, the unknown, the uncertainty that it held in its depths. Derek cuddled him closer, knowing what this meant. Though Stiles thinks that Derek’s just happy he can finally sleep in the dark again. It’d been years since he’d been able to do so, years since he’d fallen into bed with Stiles to comfort him.

When he turns off the lamp, the darkness engulfs him and he thinks that it’s a perfect ending to the last chapter in his life. He thinks about when he first arrived in Beacon Hills. Nothing but a couple thousand dollars, a backpack, and Salem. He remembers stumbling into Laura’s shop and enjoying that first grilled cheese. He remembers meeting Sean. He thinks about all the days he spent in the hospital and all the nights he spent in Derek’s arms, learning about his lover’s body. He remembers falling in love and getting married. Then Faolan. It’d all been a happy ending to the last episode of his life and a happy beginning to the next chapter.

Stiles thinks about how far his friends have come. All the weddings, the children born. He thinks about Laura and Jordan, how they’re expecting their second child. Erica and Boyd, who just had their first. Scott and Kira who are pregnant. Lydia, the image of a pregnant goddess. He thinks about the fostering papers that Derek had filed earlier that day. It was a great day. Now with the light off, Stiles can really appreciate the darkness. He can appreciate the moon and the crickets. He can see that just past the horizon, in a few short hours, the sun is going to rise on a brand new day. What a beautiful night to turn the page.

Stiles found his way a long time ago. From that night in his shitty little apartment after being mugged and ridiculed, after being alone for too long, Stiles sought a new home and he found it. He found a new way of life and a new way of being. He found happiness and hasn’t lost it, though he’s come close on many occasions. It’s been wonderful and scary, utterly terrifying but he’s come out the other end of the shit tunnel and emerged unscathed.

Stiles found his way.

Now all that’s left for him to do, is keep going.