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Stiles met Derek when he was a sophomore in college. They’d met at a coffee shop, of all places, and while Derek hadn’t said anything to Stiles, he’d had a distinct feeling that the man had wanted to. So he’d talked to the man instead, and while Derek hadn’t said anything, he’d seemed interested, and Stiles has talked to himself for hours at a time, so talking to Derek, even though he was carrying the conversation, was easy.

 

Stiles figured out, after the second time meeting, that Derek wasn’t a very talkative person, and it wasn’t because he was interested in Stiles, it was because he just didn’t like to talk. Stiles was okay with that because he can talk enough for the both of them, and Derek seemed like a really sweet guy. Stiles asked him out on a date. Derek said yes.

 

Two years, a bunch of dates, and several big moments later, and Stiles and Derek are still going strong. Derek talks more now, it’s still not a lot, and it pales in comparison to how much Stiles talks, but it’s definitely more than when they’d first met. Stiles doesn’t think that he could be more in love with a person. He loves everything about Derek, the way his eyebrows speak more than his mouth does. The way that Derek tells corny jokes just because they make Stiles laugh so hard that he snorts. The way that Derek’s not a big fan of public displays of affection, but every now and then he’d hold Stiles’s hand, or kiss him on the forehead because he knows that Stiles likes to show him off.

 

Because Stiles does. Showing Derek off is his third favorite thing to do with the man, cuddling and making out coming in first and second respectively. He likes that people see him and Derek and wonder what Derek sees in him, but that Derek doesn’t see it that way if anything he sees it the opposite. Stiles knows that Derek went through a hard time back in high school, and it caused the man to lose confidence in himself, and that’s a contributing factor of why Derek doesn’t talk all that much, but he doesn’t know the specific details.

 

Derek had given Stiles his leather jacket, a token that the man didn’t go anywhere without, and wore like armor, but he’d given it to Stiles. He’d told Stiles the gist of what happened to him, his only ex had used him and tried to hurt the people closest to him, and he’d shut down after that. He’d worn the leather jacket as armor against the world ever since, using it to magnify his aura of a bad boy, so that people were scared of him. But he was letting Stiles wear his jacket as a testament to say that he doesn’t need the jacket anymore because he has Stiles.

 

Stiles had told him he loved him immediately after, and while Derek hadn’t said it back, still too afraid, he hadn’t needed to, stiles already knew.

 

Being with Derek is easy, they fit into each other, their jagged edges fitting together perfectly, and their snarky manners cooling the other. They argue like a married couple, and they both are anti-social so they are alone together a lot. Stiles has friends, and Derek has friends, but they don’t go to parties or have large gatherings a lot, just their close friends over sometimes, or going out to eat, but other than that, Stiles wouldn’t think of them as very sociable people. That works for them.

 

Derek met Stiles’s dad on the first Christmas after they got together. Stiles talks to his dad every night, most often about his classes and Derek, so it wasn’t a surprise when his dad said he’d wanted to meet Derek. He’d said that he’d have to ask because while Derek didn’t talk about his family much, he’d told Stiles that he actually had a big one, and he might have been spending it with them.

 

He wasn’t, and while Stiles was shocked by that, Derek also hadn’t gone home for Thanksgiving or the summer break. Stiles had asked, but Derek hadn’t wanted to talk about it, so Stiles dropped it, and although he was curious as all hell as to why Derek didn’t like to talk about his family, stiles respected Derek’s wishes.

 

Derek liked his dad, and his dad had liked Derek, after the whole posturing ‘I’m the Sheriff and I have guns’ thing went away, the got along effortlessly. His dad wasn’t much of a talker either, so they mainly watched Mets games together, and bonding over their shared love of Stiles. While Stiles hated that it was stories of his ridiculous antics as a child and teen that bonded his father and boyfriend, he loved that they were bonding.

 

Going back to college after their trip to see his dad changed their relationship, it made them stronger, both solidified in the knowledge that they were in it for the long haul.

 

Now, Stiles sits on their shared bed, in their shared apartment, deciding whether he should pack his laptop on their trip to Derek’s families house for Christmas. He doesn’t think he should because this trip is about getting to know Derek’s family and the laptop will just be left in his bag if things go well, but if they don’t like him and he’s exiled to his and Derek’s room, he’d need something to keep him occupied. He figures it won’t hurt to bring it, just in case he needs it, but if things go well, he’ll just leave it in his bag. Standing up he shoves the laptop between his jeans, keeping it safe and sound.

 

“Stiles, where did you put the refill blades for the razor?” Derek questions quietly from the bathroom.

 

“In the drawer on the right,” Stiles answers, walking into the bathroom with his boyfriend, and leaning his head on the man's shoulder while he packs his man pouch. Stiles has never needed a man pouch because he doesn’t have to shave the way that Derek does. A quick run over with a disposable razor is enough for him, but Derek, if he wants a clean shave, has to trim his beard with an electric razor, then put on shaving cream, then shave with a straight blade. Stiles gets paranoid everytime Derek puts the blade to his face, but Derek has steady hands and has never cut himself with it, and he’s been doing it since he was eighteen, so he’s chilled over the years that Derek’s been doing it.

 

Derek gets the blades and puts them in their respective place in his man pouch, his toothbrush sticking up in the air before he lays it down and zips it up.

 

“Ready to go?” Stiles asks, standing up straight and leaving the bathroom as Derek follows him.

 

Derek grunts out his answer, sliding his man pouch into his suitcase and zipping it closed. With Derek’s forlorn response they leave the house, locking it up securely, and set off to Derek’s parent's house.

 

                                                                                    ~~~~~*****~~~~~

 

Derek never talks about how he grew up, never talks much, period, but he’s especially mum when it comes to his family, so Stiles had no clue what to expect when he got to Derek’s families place. A huge mansion in the middle of the forest that looks friendly, and welcoming, and family-like, was not what he was expecting. He was imagining something a little more Mommy Dearest, rather than Mary Poppins.

 

“You grew up here?” Stiles asks incredulously. The way that Derek’s talked about his family in the rare, so very rare, occasions made it seem like he wanted to separate himself from them, but this house looks like a home, like a very welcoming family lives here. There are toys strewn across the front yard, a swing on the porch, a garden running along the side of the house, which is painted a very nice shade of blue. It looks friendly. Looks can be deceiving though, Stiles knows.

 

Derek just grunts out an affirmative as he exits the car, going to the trunk to get their suitcases, while Stiles, knowing that Derek is strong enough, keeps taking in their surroundings. This place is beautiful, freeing in a way that the crowded city of Berkeley isn’t, and Stiles takes in a deep breath, holding it in for a few seconds and then letting it out.

 

“Derek, this place is amazing! I can feel the poison city air draining from my pores, welcoming in the fresh, mountain, air to cleanse my soul!” Stiles says dramatically, laughing when Derek raises an eyebrow that clearly states that he’s an idiot.

 

Stiles’s laughing dies off, his eyebrows knitting in concern when he sees just how tense Derek is, his shoulders drawn up, almost imperceptibly to someone who wasn’t paying attention, but Stiles has spent the last two years studying Derek Hale. Derek looks like a bark of a dog could spook him back into his car and have him speeding away as fast as the Camaro will take him, which is pretty fast, Stiles knows.

 

“Derek?” Stiles questions, coming around the car to stand right in front of his boyfriend, “It’ll be okay. I’m great with parents, they love me.” Stiles says, rubbing Derek’s shoulders and staring him in the eyes, showing how confident he is.

 

Derek nods his head, forcing a small smile on his face that makes Stiles more concerned.

 

“Is it something else? What is it? You know what? It doesn’t matter, because whatever it is that you’re worried about isn’t going to happen. If we get in there and you want to leave then we’ll go, if they don’t like me, then we’ll figure something out. No matter what happens, we’ll work it out, we always do. I love you, and that’s all that matters.” Stiles tells him, wrapping his boyfriend up in a hug when Derek’s shoulders lose their tension and he gets a genuine smile from him.

 

The front door opening pulls them apart, Stiles jumping away from Derek like he was burned. He’s trying to make a good impression and he can’t do that from being all over Derek, even if it’s just a hug, right in front of their house.

 

“Derek!” A man says, holding his arms open for a hug. “It’s been a long time, dear nephew.”

 

Derek’s uncle Peter then, Stiles figures, watching Derek except for the man’s hug excitedly. Stiles has a feeling that they were once very close, though he can’t be sure. They break apart and Peter’s smile is huge, splitting his face from ear to ear. He turns to Stiles, smile dulling just a bit, almost unnoticeable but Stiles notices things, has to if he wants to be with Derek, and he refrains from feeling hurt, he is a stranger after all.

 

“You must be Stiles,” Peter says, sticking his hand out for a shake. Stiles takes it, shaking it firmly the way his father taught him, smiling his best smile.

 

“Hi. Peter?” Stiles asks, even though he already knows.

 

“That’s me. Although to Derek it’s favorite uncle,” Peter says, throwing a smile in Derek’s direction, to which Derek just lifts an eyebrow, as if to say “You mean the only uncle”.

 

Peter chuckles, letting Stiles’s hand fall back to his side, taking a step back. “Come on, everyone’s waiting,” He says as he starts walking back into the house.

 

Derek takes both of their bags, Stiles having learned to not even try after the first six months together, Derek likes to prove his strength to Stiles in small ways like this. He looks up at the house, then at his uncle's retreating back and Stiles sees a brief flash of hesitance flash over Derek’s face before Stiles puts his hand on Derek’s shoulder and it disappears and they walk together to the house.

 

Stepping over the threshold, door left open by Peter, Stiles is met with a short hallway, which splits into a door leading to a living room on one side, then a staircase leading up on the other, then the hallway continues on a bit more. Derek shoos him down the hallway after Peter, while Derek takes the stairs, presumably to put their bags away.

 

Stiles follows Peter, feeling a little off kilter now that Derek’s not by his side, but not letting that stop him, he’s going to woo the crap out of Derek’s family and make them love him. The hallway ends and opens into a large dining room and kitchen combined. It takes up the entirety of the back of the house, stretching from one end to the other. The back wall is mostly windows, and there’s a glass door leading out into the backyard in the center. But what Stiles really pays attention to are the people staring at him from every inch of the kitchen, a bunch of people.

 

“Everyone, this is Stiles, Stiles, this is everyone,” Peter says by way of introduction, then leaves to sit at the dining table.

 

Stiles is overwhelmed, to say the least. When Derek told him he was from a big family, Stiles thought more along the lines of a normal sized family, since big to Stiles is more than two kids since he was an only child raised by a single father, but this? There has to be a least a dozen or two people here.

 

“Hi,” He says, waving a bit awkwardly at everyone in the room.

 

“Stiles,” A woman, tall, beautiful, scary, and looks a lot like Derek, says as she walks up to him, “I’m Talia, Derek mother,”

 

“Mrs. Hale, it’s an honor to meet you,” Stiles says, sticking his hand out for a shake.

 

She looks him up and down, a quick flick of her eyes, before taking his hand, gripping it firmly while Stiles’s grip was loose, gentle, the way his father taught him when shaking hands with a female. She shakes his hand firmly, and Stiles, taking her cue shakes her hand just as firm, smiling at her with his best smile. This smile has gotten him a job that he wasn’t even qualified for, and a date with his boyfriend, he’s confident that he could charm just about anyone with it.

 

She doesn’t say anything else, turning around and heading back to the stove where she’d been before he entered, picking up a spoon to stir whatever delicious smelling food is in the pot. If Stiles weren’t so nervous he’d try to pick apart what’s in the pot simply by the smell.

Alas, he can’t, when a man approaches him.

“I’m Derek’s father, David. It’s nice to meet you, Stiles,” He says, offering up his hand.

 

“Mr. Hale, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” Stiles responds, feeling less like he’s being put under a microscope with Derek’s dad like he did with his mom.

 

“I’m sure they’ll be time for full introductions later, and I don’t expect you to remember everyone’s names, but that’s Laura and Cora, Derek’s sisters. That is Peter’s wife, Amelia, and daughter, Malia. That’s Derek’s Aunt, Elizabeth, her husband, Henry, and their two daughters, Mikaila and Sarah. Those are Derek’s grandma’s, Ella and Pearl. Grandpa’s, Steve and Jeff. We also have some close family friends coming by a little later, so it’s a full house today,” David says, smiling at Stiles.

 

Stiles laughs, albeit a little awkwardly, and goes to respond but Laura stands up and marches to him.

 

“So, Stiles, how long exactly have you and Derek been together?” She says primely, not wasting time with pleasantries. Stiles was expecting this, the grilling, and he doesn’t falter under her stare, he grew up with a Sheriff as a father.

 

“Almost two years,” Stiles answers. He and Derek got together in January of his sophomore year and it’s December and he’s a senior and it’s Christmas, so about a year and eleven months to be exact.

 

“How did you guys meet? My brother isn’t the most socially inept of people,” Laura asks, steering Stiles over to the island in the center of the kitchen. She sits next to him, so close that Stiles barely has any room to wiggle his leg up and down like he really wants to.

 

“We met at a coffee shop close to campus. Derek was being the dork he is and reading and I just had to talk to him,” He answers.

 

“What do you like most about Derek?” She asks next, leaning her head on her hand and staring at him. Stiles can feel all the eyes in the room staring at him actually, it makes his spine shiver, but he ignores it. He will impress Derek’s family.

 

“His intelligence. He’s insanely smart, loves to learn, is always reading, and as a fellow nerd, I relate. It’s what drew me to him in the first place. While everyone else in the coffee shop was on the phones or a laptop, Derek had a book.” Stiles feels like he got a bit too personal so he tries to lighten the mood a bit, “Plus he tells hilarious jokes.”

 

No one says anything and everyone just stares at him, more intently than before, which Stiles hadn’t thought was possible, and he feels like he said something wrong.

 

“Derek hasn’t said a word in six years, Stiles,” Laura says, finally breaking the awkward silence.

 

“What are you talking about? He may not be the most talkative of people but he talks plenty. He tells this one joke about a clown…” Stiles stops when he feels Derek come up behind him, smiling at his boyfriend, who isn’t even looking at him. Stiles follows Derek’s gaze to see it firmly locked on his mother, who has a hand over her mouth and tears in her eyes.

 

He’s just about to ask what he said wrong when she speaks, her voice barely above a whisper.

“Six years,” She says, taking her hand away from her mouth, “You've held out on us for six years, haven't contacted us for two years and then this boy comes and he's seen the best of you, and your family just what? doesn't matter anymore? We’ve been here, Derek, been waiting for you to see that what happened wasn’t your fault. That none of us blame you. We tried to make you see, then we decided to give you space, and you took that space and ran away from us! Now we think that we’ve finally got you back but we don’t, he does!” She says, jabbing a finger in Stiles’s direction. Her voice was elevated by the time she's finished and Derek and Stiles both look like deer caught in headlights.

 

Stiles’s isn’t sure what’s happening, and from the look on Derek’s face, he can say that Derek’s just as shocked as he is. Derek breaks out of his stupor first, taking a step forward, towards his mother.

 

“Mom,” he says, reaching out to her, but she just hugs herself and walks away. Derek’s face falls and he looks about ready to cry, so Stiles hops off of his chair and wraps his arms around him. Derek squeezes him, once, taking comfort Stiles guesses, before pulling back and following his mother out of the room.

 

Stiles is left standing in the center of the kitchen, all eyes on him, confused as hell as to what just happened.

 

“What just happened?” He questions out loud, hoping someone can clarify that he didn’t just mess up Derek’s relationship with his mom. Guilt swirls around in his stomach, making him weak in the knees, Stiles falls back onto the bar stool that he’d vacated.

 

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Stiles. There’s a story there that you just aren’t aware of.” David says from the stove, taking over the food that Talia abandoned.

 

“Someone want to enlighten me to this story because I’m drawing a blank here,” Stiles asks, looking at each of the faces in the room, hoping one of them would tell him.

 

“It’s not our story to tell. Derek will tell you when he is ready,” David says.

 

“Okay, welp!” Stiles says, clapping his hands to bespell the awkwardness, “anything I can do to help?”

 

                                                                              ~~~~~*****~~~~~

 

Stiles is peeling potatoes with a knife, moving at a snail's pace as not to cut himself, while Cora does the same but at a much faster speed, when Derek and his mother return to the kitchen. He’s up and out of his seat in a heartbeat when he sees the look on Derek’s face. He looks like he’s been crying, which Stiles has never seen Derek cry before, so he’s worried. He’s about to race around Talia in order to get to Derek when she reaches for him, grabbing both of his shoulders with her hands.

 

“Stiles,” She says his name differently than when he’d first arrived, warmer, less threatening, and Stiles is taken aback, “I’m sorry for the rude welcome, but in this family, you can never be too sure with outsiders.”

 

Stiles is totally confused by that, so he chooses to ignore the millions of questions that stir up and focuses on the main one.

 

“Then what’s changed?” He asks, tilting his head to the side in confusion.

 

She smiles at him, a warm thing that makes him feel off-kilter from how she glared at him earlier, but also warm and fuzzy from how sweet it is. “A lot,” she says by way of an answer, pulling him into a tight hug before he even knows what happens. He reciprocates because if he didn’t that would be awkward, and then he’s let go, while she glides to her husband.

 

Stiles immediately turns to Derek, dragging him into the hallway, out of sight and earshot of the people in the dining room.

 

“Are you okay? You look like you’ve been crying, I’ve never seen you cry before. Do we need to go? Are your family always like this? I don’t think I can take this if tomorrow they’re going to hate me again. What do you want to do? Stay? Leave? Whatever you need is fine with me, just say the words and…” Stiles is cut off by Derek placing his hand over his mouth.

 

His boyfriend is laughing at him and Stiles really doesn’t appreciate that when he’s just really worried about him.

 

“Stiles everything is fine,” Derek assures, “Now,” he adds almost like it was an afterthought.

 

“Now? What does that mean? Actually, what is going on as a whole? Your dad wouldn’t tell me, said it was your story to tell. What story? I am so confused here, and I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t know something and you know that I hate being the last to know things! You owe me an explanation, a big one Mr.” Stiles rants. He’s so confused and panicked, and a little scared to be honest because he’s never seen Derek cry before, ever, and Derek came back with tear tracks on his cheeks and red eyes.

 

“Stiles, just breath. I promise I’ll explain everything, just not now, okay?” Derek says, his eyes darting to the kitchen. They are out of sight, and Stiles can’t hear anything going on in the kitchen, but they are here so that Stiles can get to know Derek's family, having this discussion can wait.

 

“Okay. But I want Reese’s when this discussion takes place!” Stiles says petulantly, grabbing Derek’s hand as the walk back into the kitchen.

 

Their welcome is a warm one this time, everyone smiling and clapping Derek and he on the back, and Stiles is a tad confused by it, but more than happy at the change of mood.

 

                                                                                      ~~~~~*****~~~~~

 

Stiles loves Derek’s family. They are loud and hyper, just like him, they don’t mind his jokes, and they love movies. By the time the night is over and it’s time for bed, Stiles isn’t ready to go yet. The Hale’s close family friends came and as soon as they got there things got crazy, but in a good way. They brought a bunch of tiny children and all the doors on the bottom floor were opened and a stream of people kept the house lively while most of the party was in the backyard and some in the front yard. It as hectic, and Stiles loved every second of it. People were a lot nicer to him after the ordeal in the kitchen and Stiles didn’t have to turn up his charm to one hundred but instead just got to be himself and they seemed to like him.

 

He was able to remember most of their names, and most of them remembered his and Stiles was happy to be surrounded by so many people. He’s not a very social person, but this didn’t feel like going to a party or being around a bunch of strangers, even though that’s what they were, he didn't have the awkward feeling that he usually did when around bunches of people. He just felt right. At home.

 

He offered to help clean up just so he didn’t have to go to bed yet, but Talia and David insisted that he was a guest and didn’t have to help. Derek showed him to their room, then left to go back downstairs and help, leaving Stiles to his own devices.

 

He’s glad that he brought his computer now because he’s scrolling through Netflix, looking for something to watch, his phone beside it as a portable hotspot, when Derek comes into the room.

 

“Hey,” Derek says, kicking off his shoes by the door. He pads over to the bed on sock-clad feet, falling onto Stiles’s back with a huff, causing Stiles to do the same.

 

“Hola,” Stiles says back, no longer able to scroll through the movies with Derek’s crushing weight on top of him.

 

“Let me get changed and then we can talk,” Derek says, sliding off of him and heading to the drawers. He must have put them away, which explains why he was gone for so long earlier.

 

Stiles wouldn’t say that he forgot about all the stuff that happened earlier and Derek promising him an explanation, but with all the chaos of the party, it had slipped to the back of his mind. He’s anxious now, his mind racing to the worst of scenarios, and it’s only by watching Derek scamper around the room, shedding clothes, changing, grabbing a toothbrush, and his man pouch, that Stiles avoids a complete freakout.

 

“Calm down, I promise it’ll be okay,” Derek says, walking over to him and kissing his forehead. He looks tired, and Stiles can’t really blame him because Stiles feels that way too. Today has been the most either of them has done in the two years that they’ve been together, they usually stay in, just the two of them, but today it was a bunch of people, and Derek’s been through some emotional things, so Stiles won’t fault him.

 

“Okay,” Stiles agrees, not even bothering to ask how Derek knew that he was panicking. Derek does things like that all the time. Stiles just plays it off to Derek knowing him really well, because Stiles knows Derek really well, too.

 

“I’ll be back,” Derek says, heading for the door and presumably the bathroom.

 

“I’ll be here,” Stiles says, laying down and continuing to scroll through Netflix.



Derek comes back twenty minutes later, looking less worse for wear and more like himself, and Stiles sits up and moves over on the bed to make room for him to sit down, too.

 

“Sooo,” Stiles says awkwardly, not really knowing what to expect.

 

“When I was sixteen,” Derek begins, hands fiddling with each other and not meeting Stiles’s eyes, “I met this woman named Kate. She was older than me, and I liked her. I thought she liked me, too. We started dating and I kept it a secret from my family because of the age difference. It went on for about three months, us seeing each other behind closed doors, sneaking around before things went bad.”

 

Stiles waits patiently for Derek to continue, mind spinning at the reveal. He’d known that Derek had had a bad relationship, but not with an older woman.

 

“She tried to burn my family alive,” Derek rushes out, knocking the breath out of Stiles’s lungs.

 

“Why?” Stiles asks, sliding his hand over Derek’s knee.

 

“She…” Derek pauses, taking a quick glance up at him, but then looks back down at his hands, “She was crazy, and she had it out for us, I just didn’t know. Was too young to know, to see the signs. Luckily, my aunt, Amelia smelled the smoke and was able to get everybody out in time, but I couldn’t let it go. Kate was arrested and charged with arson, attempted murder, and… statutory rape. I couldn’t forgive myself though. It was my stupidity that almost got my parents killed, so I went mute. I didn’t say a word after that. Two years later I applied for college and I got away as fast as I could to get away from the guilt. My family tried to tell me that it wasn’t my fault, but I just couldn’t see it at the time, was too hurt, the wound too new. Then I met you, and I had a reason to talk again,” Derek finishes, eyes finally locking on Stiles’s. They’re hesitant, and there’s fear there, but they stay locked.

 

“I’m so sorry, Derek. I hate that you had to go through that,” Stiles says, feels like it’s the only thing to say. He pulls Derek into a hug, glad that Derek told him, trusted him enough to tell him, but feeling angry that he can’t help, can’t fix it the way that he wants to.

 

“My mom didn’t really trust you at first, because of Kate, but I told her how much you mean to me, how much I love you, and that’s why she changed her attitude towards you,” Derek says once they pull back  holding his hand, hesitation, and fear gone from his eyes.

 

The air is knocked from Stiles’s lungs, once again at Derek’s words. He knew, already, that Derek loved him, without a doubt, but hearing him say the words out loud causes Stiles’s heart to beat faster, his palms to sweat and a smile to break out over his face.

 

“What?” Derek questions, tilting his head sideways, making him look like a puppy.

 

“You said you loved me,” Stiles says, smiling like a loon.

 

Derek rolls his eyes, “You know I love you.”

 

“Yeah, I do, but it’s the first time you’ve ever said it,” Stiles reminds him.

 

Derek takes both of his hands in his, looking him dead in the eyes.

“I love you,” He says earnestly, leaning in to kiss Stiles.