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it was always you

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As soon as Stiles sees that it’s Jackson Whittemore standing at the end of the aisle, waiting for him, he knows he should turn right back around and walk away. There’s no possible way, in any universe, he can envision this ending well. It’s going to be messy and painful and ugly and it’d be better for everyone involved to shut it down before it even starts.

Except Jackson’s standing there grinning at him softly, fondly, like he has no issue with the fact that this is happening. Like he’s not disappointed in the slightest about being matched with Stiles. He’s every bit as gorgeous as he used to be, even though it’s been nearly 15 years since they last saw each other, and he’s looking at Stiles like he wants this. Like he wants him. So Stiles takes a deep breath, marches up to the altar, and smiles back at him. Holds hands with him. Recites his vows to him. Kisses him. Marries him.

It’s awkward, to say the least, explaining to the cameras that they know each other. But considering they didn’t have any time alone to get their story straight, it’s pretty seamless. They tell it as a classic rivalry story of the prom king and the geek who antagonized the hell out of each other because there was nothing better to do in their small town, until Jackson moved away sophomore year. They both pointedly omit the detail that they were also pretty frequent makeout partners (in secret, of course) before either of them were out and while Jackson was dating his high school sweetheart.

Someone on the crew asks them “So do you guys still hate each other?” and Stiles hesitates briefly. He knows his answer, but he’s not sure it’ll fit the narrative they’re creating for themselves. Before he can decide, though, Jackson jumps in and saves him from the war inside his head. He shakes his head, wraps an arm around Stiles’ waist, and says “No, absolutely not. I never hated him.”

They set a record for earliest sex any couple’s ever had on the show. Not only do they do it on the wedding night, they do it about an hour into the reception. They sneak off to the nearest coat closet and trade blow jobs, and Jackson murmurs something about how he’s always wanted this that has Stiles coming as soon as the words leave his mouth.

The cameras catch them coming out of the closet, of course, with hickeys peeking out from the collar of Jackson’s shirt and Stiles’ painfully obvious sex hair and their clothes untucked and in disarray. Stiles blushes furiously, but Jackson just laughs and takes his hand, leading him to the bathroom so they can straighten themselves out before they go back to the party.

Jackson’s mom isn’t there to join him for the mother-son dance, but neither is Stiles’, so at least it’s a mutual kind of awkward, heart-wrenching pain. Scott’s quick to come dance with him instead, shooting him one of his contagious million-dollar sunshine smiles as they chuckle to each other about the fact that Stiles actually just married Jackson Whittemore.

Lydia follows suit and steps in to dance with Jackson. Stiles tries to ignore the violent ache he feels as he watches the two of them holding each other close, but the situation is too overwhelmingly familiar to overlook. He’s instantly transported back to the homecoming dance freshman year, when he and Jackson had snuck off to the locker room for one of their earth-shattering makeout sessions. It had almost turned into more, both of them starting to rut against each other desperately until Stiles had opened his stupid fucking mouth and said “I wish we could go out there and dance together, just once.”

Jackson had pulled back and given him a complicated look. Stiles expected him to laugh, or make fun of him, or tell him to get the hell out. but instead, Jackson took him by the hand and started dancing around the locker room with him, pressing their foreheads together and breathing deeply. They’d never done something so soft and sweet before, but that made it hurt all the more when they made their way back to the gym and Jackson walked away from him without a second glance, going to greet Lydia with a grin and a kiss and then dancing with her in front of everyone.

It’s a hell of a feeling, to be so brutally reminded of his very first heartbreak on his wedding day. It’s like a punch in the gut, and he can feel his breaths starting to get shaky, but then the song’s over and Jackson’s immediately back at his side. He rests a hand on the small of Stiles’ back and asks Scott “Can I have my husband back now?” and Stiles’ brain malfunctions, because wow, what a sentence.

They don’t talk about why Jackson’s parents aren’t here, but he holds on to Stiles like a lifeline when the sheriff comes up to congratulate them and asks where they are. Stiles squeezes his hand and helps him deflect like the good husband he is, figuring Jackson will tell him about it when he’s ready.

He has fun with Jackson. He laughs more than he has in what feels like an eternity, and every time he does, Jackson gives him a warm smile and then leans in to kiss Stiles like it’s a reflex. like he can’t help it.

They sleep together again when they finally get to their hotel room that night. They kiss, slow and filthy, as they undress each other in record time. Honestly, Stiles completely forgets that they’re not alone until they’re both naked and the camera guys are scrambling towards the door saying “Okay, hang on, Jesus, we’re leaving.” Jackson just laughs against his lips, uncaring, as he pushes Stiles on to the bed.

 

The honeymoon is blissful newlywed heaven. The vast majority of the week is spent chilling out on the beach, getting tipsy at all hours of the day, and having the best sex of Stiles’ life. They get judged a little the first time they meet up with the rest of the couples, because none of them have fucked at all yet and he and Jackson are well into the double digits, but Stiles is too happy to care.

Jackson turns out to have quite the submissive streak in bed, which is something Stiles had always suspected but never expected to actually witness firsthand. It’s intoxicating, having the human embodiment of perfection writhing underneath Stiles, begging for him, coming completely undone at his hands.

Stiles had been worried having cameras on him all the time would make him uncomfortable, and that might have been the case had he been matched with anyone else, but Jackson makes it easy. He knows Stiles and understands his anxiety, and any time it starts creeping up, whether they’re filming or not, Jackson sees it right away. He takes Stiles’ face in his hands, gives him a gentle peck on the lips, and tells him “It’s just you and me, Stilinski.” And Stiles, who has never managed to find an effective coping mechanism even after all these years, just…calms down immediately. Simple as that.

On the last night of their honeymoon, over dinner, Stiles asks him “So, why did you come on this show anyway? I mean, you’re like…you’re you, you could literally be with anyone you want.”

Jackson chuckles at that, hooking a foot around Stiles’ ankle under the table. They’re already holding hands, but this feels more intimate; something for just the two of them and not for the whole viewing audience to see.

“Honestly, I went out with plenty of people, but nothing ever made it past two or three dates,” he answers, looking at Stiles with complete sincerity. “I didn’t even know what I was looking for, but it just never felt right, you know? And then you walked down the aisle and everything clicked into place.”

Later, though, when the cameras are gone and it’s just the two of them (because yes, they’re living a lie), Jackson elaborates.

“For the record, that feeling I spent all these years looking for…it’s the way that I felt when I was with you. I know we were just kids and I sure as hell didn’t act like it, but believe me, Stiles, I always knew what we had was special.”

And that…for once, Stiles is speechless, so he responds by fucking Jackson into the mattress until the only word he can remember is Stiles’ name.

 

When they get back home, Stiles is fully expecting things to get harder, but they don’t. Not really. They move in together, and it all just comes naturally. Jackson cooks, and Stiles does the dishes, and they always go grocery shopping together. They brush their teeth side by side every morning, and they cuddle on the couch every night.

They argue constantly (because they’re still them, after all) but it’s never about anything that matters. It’s shit like whose turn it is to do the laundry, or which All Time Low album is the best, or what movie to watch on their date nights. It’s not old married couple bickering, exactly; in fact, it’s kind of the opposite. It’s playful but passionate banter, just like when they were teenagers.

They only get in two major fights during the eight weeks of filming, and Stiles is mature enough to admit that, in retrospect, both of them are mostly his fault.

The first one is just a few days into living together, and it’s about money. because Jackson is loaded, okay, he knows this for a fact, and yet all the stuff he’s moved into their apartment is surprisingly basic and boring and…well, kind of cheap. And Stiles jumps to conclusions, because that’s what he does.

“You know I’m not a gold digger, right?”

Jackson just looks at him like he’s lost his mind, which is fair. “What?”

“I just mean, you know, I know you have money. And I don’t care, you don’t have to hide it from me,” Stiles tells him.

“I’m not, Stiles, Jesus,” he snaps, voice flat. It’s obvious Jackson’s getting defensive, and Stiles knows he should back off, but they’ve always had a knack for pushing each other’s buttons.

He doesn’t even understand how it escalates as far as it does, really. But suddenly they’re screaming at each other, because “why don’t you trust me enough to know I’m not with you just to steal your money?” and “why don’t you trust me enough to believe me when I say you’re delusional and that’s not what’s happening?” and then Jackson is huffing and storming out of the apartment.

In high school, Stiles loved getting the last word and riling Jackson up until he got too pissed to fight anymore and stormed off. It was one of his favorite pastimes, in fact. Now, though, sitting on their couch in their apartment, alone, he feels like shit.

Jackson’s only been gone for a few hours at most when Stiles admits to himself that this sucks and he hates it when Jackson’s mad at him, even though he still doesn’t even know why he’s so mad at him. The teasing and bickering is harmless, fun even, but he never wants Jackson to be legitimately upset because of something Stiles said or did. So he swallows his pride and sends Jackson a text that says Come back home, please, I miss you.

Jackson comes back through the door not even five minutes later and immediately pulls Stiles in for a long hug, holding him tight as he mumbles “I’m sorry I freaked out.”

It’s actually absurd how his mere presence immediately puts Stiles at ease, how his entire world shifts back into focus now that he and Jackson are together again. Stiles is a little concerned about it, if he’s being honest, because those are some heavy feelings to be having two weeks into the relationship, but he tries not to think about it too hard.

“M’sorry too,” he says, pulling back just enough to capture Jackson’s lips in a filthy kiss. He decides to emphasize how sorry he is the best way he knows how: in bed. Stiles rides him, unhurried and sweet, until Jackson comes inside him with a happy sigh.

Once they’re finished, and the camera guys have already barged back into their bedroom (because they have a sixth sense for the drama and they don’t care about the sacred space of the afterglow), Jackson explains.

“I don’t have any money,” he says softly, head resting on Stiles’ chest.

Stiles stays quiet, not wanting to interrupt, but he does start running his fingers through Jackson’s hair gently in a way he hopes is comforting.

“I mean, I don’t have any of the Whittemores’ money,” Jackson clarifies, leaning into Stiles’ touch. “I, uh…I got emancipated when I was seventeen, and I haven’t seen or heard from them since. So, yeah, the only money I have is my own.”

Stiles’ heart drops to his stomach, because he hadn’t been expecting that at all. “Shit, jackson. I didn’t know things were so bad with them.”

“They didn’t give a shit about me,” he answers with a shrug. “I was just a way to make themselves look good, and when they didn’t need me, they acted like I didn’t exist. I could have gotten my trust fund if I’d just stuck it out for one more year, but no amount of money was worth how awful they made me feel.”

“I don’t blame you,” Stiles says, pulling Jackson closer and pressing a soft kiss to his forehead. “For what it’s worth, you were kind of a pretentious douchebag back when you were a rich boy. I like you better without the money.”

Jackson laughs at that, which makes Stiles smile. “Yeah?” he asks, tilting his head up to look at him.

Stiles nods and pecks Jackson on the lips. “Yeah. Hey, let me ask you something.”

He drags them both out of bed and then gets down on one knee, in his boxers, looking up at Jackson with a grin.

“You know we’re already married, right?” Jackson asks, looking at him like he’s lost his mind, and Stiles snorts.

“Yeah, I know that, dumbass. God, just shut up and let me talk.” Stiles rolls his eyes, taking Jackson’s hand and kissing his fingers. “Jackson Whittemore…how would you feel about being Jackson Stilinski?”

Stiles hopes to god it’s not an offensive or insensitive thing to say. He just figures it can’t feel good having to go through life with the name of the people that failed him, and it’s a problem that Stiles can solve pretty easily, given the circumstances.

Jackson’s staring at him in disbelief, mouth opening and closing a few times like he can’t quite form words. “I…you’re serious?” he manages, finally.

“Of course I’m serious. What do you say, hubby?” Stiles asks, waggling his eyebrows playfully and laughing at Jackson’s answering groan.

“Never call me hubby again and you’ve got yourself a deal.”

A couple days later, the experts give both of them a hard time when they watch the footage back together — Jackson for walking out and Stiles for putting sex before communication — but if you ask him, things couldn’t have turned out any better, really, so he’s not worried about it.

 

The second fight is much, much uglier, because it’s about Lydia.

Stiles likes to think he’s not a jealous person. Jackson gets hit on all the time, by people of all genders and all ages, despite the fact that he’s wearing a wedding ring and Stiles is standing right next to him wearing a matching one. It comes with the territory of being the prettiest person in the room, which in Jackson’s case, is always, because he’s perfect.

And it doesn’t bother Stiles. It honestly doesn’t. In fact, he likes watching Jackson shut them all down without a second thought and then turn his focus back to Stiles like nothing had even happened. It’s a major confidence boost and kind of a rush, honestly, to be wanted by the guy that everyone wants, so Stiles has no complaints. He is completely chill with the entire LA population constantly flirting with his husband.

All of that chill goes directly out the window, though, as soon as Lydia’s involved. Because when Lydia’s involved, suddenly Stiles is fifteen again and all he wants to do is curl up in a ball and wallow in self-pity, just like he did when he left the homecoming dance early and alone.

She invites Jackson out one Friday night, and in all fairness, Jackson does ask him if he wants to come too. But Stiles is sulking, and he’s not really in the mood to watch the two of them finish each other’s sentences and be cute and perfect together. So he politely declines, gives Jackson a half-hearted kiss, and sends him on his way.

He spends the entire night in a profoundly shitty mood, and by the time Jackson comes home at almost one in the morning, he’s been steeping in his jealous rage for so long that he can’t help it. He blows up.

Jackson’s sweet at first, telling him he missed him even though he had fun with Lydia, but when Stiles pointedly ignores him in favor of rolling his eyes, he asks, “Okay, what the hell is your problem?”

“Nothing, Jackson, I’m great. I’m really happy you had such a good time with your insanely smart and annoyingly beautiful ex-girlfriend,” he answers flatly.

“Oh my god, Stiles, are you serious? You’re jealous?” Jackson asks with a disbelieving scoff.

“Can you blame me? It’s kind of hard not to be, you guys are the picture perfect fucking power couple. You always have been.”

“We haven’t been a couple in almost fifteen years, dumbass. And in case you forgot, I invited you to come with us tonight. It was just the two of us because you turned me down,” Jackson says, which just pisses Stiles off more. He knows that, he knows he’s being irrational, he doesn’t need it pointed out.

“Yeah, well, forgive me for not wanting to feel like a third wheel when I’m out with my own husband,” he snaps.

“How many times do I have to tell you there’s nothing between us? She’s my best friend, that’s all,” Jackson yells. They’ve gotten loud enough now that the neighbors can probably hear them.

“Sure, your best friend that you lost your virginity to and fell in love with and continued to fuck on the regular for years,” Stiles says.

Jackson laughs at that, shaking his head at Stiles. “Jesus, you’re such a hypocrite. Everyone knows you and Scott screw around every time you’re both single at the same time. It’s the same fucking thing, and it’s a hell of a lot more recent. So why is it so much worse when it’s me and Lydia?”

“Because, Jackson! You chose her over me once, who’s to say you won’t do it again?”

They both go silent as they realize what Stiles just said. They’re panting, out of breath from screaming at each other, and Stiles feels sick. He knows they’re going to have to explain themselves, come clean to the producers and the experts about their little lie, but right now he’s just tired.

“Stiles,” Jackson tries, reaching a hand out to him. Stiles wants to take it, wants to curl up in Jackson’s arms where he always feels safe, but he doesn’t.

“I’m sleeping on the couch,” he says instead. “We can deal with this in the morning.”

He spends the whole night tossing and turning and not sleeping at all, and in the morning, when they’re having breakfast and getting ready, he and Jackson don’t say a word to each other. Stiles hates it.

One of the experts comes by pretty early to talk to them. They both knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less nerve wracking. The three of them sit down in the living room together, Stiles and Jackson at opposite ends of the couch. Stiles is acutely aware of the cameras on him, probably because Jackson isn’t helping him through it like he usually does, and it ramps up his anxiety even higher.

“So it seems like you two lied to us about the nature of your relationship when you knew each other before,” she starts.

“I like to think it was more just an omission of the truth, but yeah. We, um…we were together in high school,” Stiles says, then realizes those words aren’t really right. “I mean, kind of. Barely.”

“Meaning you slept together?” she asks, and they both shake their heads.

“No, we never had sex. It was mostly just making out, and some sexting a couple times,” Jackson explains, and Stiles almost wants to laugh, because when you say it out loud, it sounds ridiculous. Meaningless. Nothing like the way he’d felt when it was actually happening.

“And this happened while Jackson was dating Lydia.”

All Stiles can do is nod. He braces himself for the judgment, the shaming, the lecture about how Stiles is a home wrecker and Jackson’s a cheater and they’re both awful people.

It never comes, though. Instead, she simply says, “Okay, so Jackson, can you understand why Lydia in particular is a sore spot for Stiles? Why she makes him feel insecure and unsure of where you two stand?”

“Yes,” Jackson answers immediately. “Yeah, I totally get that. I just don’t know how to make him see that that’s not gonna happen again, that he has nothing to worry about.”

“Well, why don’t you try explaining it to him, calmly, without getting defensive? And Stiles, let him say what he needs to say, no interrupting. Okay?”

They both nod, and Jackson scoots closer to him on the couch.

“Stiles,” he starts, waiting until Stiles looks up at him before he continues. “Stiles, I swear to God, there’s nothing going on between me and Lydia. I’m sorry for the way things went in high school, I really am, but I have no intention of repeating my mistakes. I was a kid, and I was scared, but I’m not anymore. You and I - this is what I want. And for what it’s worth, Lydia would be the first one to kill me if I let you get away again.”

“Again?” Stiles asks softly. “I…she knows?”

“Yeah, she knows. I told her after I moved away, and she helped me come to terms with my sexuality and my feelings for you. So yeah, she’s my best friend and I love her, but I’m in love with you, Stiles. I was then and I am now.”

Stiles surges forward until he’s practically in Jackson’s lap, leaning in to kiss him, chaste and sweet. “I love you too,” he mumbles against his lips.

For a week afterwards, several times a day, Stiles says “I can’t believe you told Lydia about me,” grinning smugly.

Jackson’s response is the same every time.

“So fucking full of yourself,” he says, rolling his eyes even as he smiles and kisses the corner of Stiles’ mouth. “I couldn’t keep you a secret.”

 

Jackson has something of an existential crisis when he turns thirty. Stiles doesn’t understand it, honestly, because if anything he’s just gotten more beautiful with age. But he recognizes and acknowledges Jackson’s feelings, because they’re valid, and he knows too many people in his life have tried to tell him otherwise.

So Stiles throws him a 21st birthday party, at a club recommended to him by the internet (because Stiles didn’t know the hot spots in town even when he was young, let alone now). He invites the other couples, and Jackson’s closest friends, and Scott, to keep him company while Jackson’s busy with everyone else.

That ends up being a nonissue, though. Jackson’s happy to hang out with all his party guests, but he does it glued to Stiles’ side. They all get sloppy drunk together and Jackson pulls him into every conversation, including him like it’s as easy as breathing. Like Stiles fits right into his life like he was always meant to be there.

On the dance floor, however, Jackson pays no attention to anyone but Stiles. They’re the only two people in the room, as far as Jackson’s concerned, and Stiles can’t say he disagrees as they sway, hot bodies pressed together. It’s a delicious turn of events, for him to be the one dancing with Jackson while Lydia watches from across the room, although there’s a hell of a lot more grinding happening here than at a school-sanctioned dance.

Stiles doesn’t know how long they spend dancing, but eventually they end up in a bathroom stall, with their tongues down each others’ throats in a way that’s also painfully nostalgic — passionate and determined and all-consuming, like they have to make the most of every single second because they only have a precious few.

He pulls down Jackson’s ridiculously tight jeans, with a little bit of a struggle, and grabs his ass hard enough to bruise. He’s just about to get on his knees for a birthday blowjob when Jackson takes his hand and guides him between his cheeks, until Stiles can feel the plug pressed inside of him.

Stiles’ eyes go wide as he lets out a choked off noise, and Jackson shrugs. “I wanted to get drunk fucked in a dirty club bathroom,” he says simply. Seemingly from nowhere, he also produces a packet of lube and two condoms.

God, I love when you get all slutty for me,” Stiles groans, flipping Jackson around so they’re back to chest and then pushing him against the stall so he has enough room to work.

They don’t bother to turn off their mics, because they both not-so-secretly get off on knowing the entire crew can hear exactly what they’re doing. It’s not like they can actually air it on TV, anyway, though Stiles wouldn’t care even if they did.

Neither of them last long. Stiles pushes into him slowly at first, to make sure Jackson’s good, but once he gets the go-ahead, he fucks him with abandon. He ducks his head to sink his teeth into Jackson’s shoulder, which earns him a sinful little whimper. Jackson meets his every thrust, pushing back on Stiles’ cock like his life depends on it.

He tells Jackson what a good boy he is, and as soon as the words leave his mouth, Jackson’s coming with a shudder. That’s all it takes for Stiles to immediately follow, spilling into his condom. It’s not quite as satisfying as filling Jackson up with his come like he usually does, but it makes the cleanup a hell of a lot easier.

They kiss lazily until their post-orgasm haze clears enough for them to get their pants back on, and once they finally make it back to their friends, all Stiles can do is grin sheepishly when everyone immediately calls them out.

When they finally get home, Jackson pulls Stiles straight into bed (stopping only so both of them can change into their sweats) and cuddles up close to him.

“Thanks for tonight, baby, it was perfect,” he tells him, nuzzling into Stiles’ neck.

“I’m glad,” Stiles says, kissing the top of Jackson’s head with a satisfied hum. “You know you’re still every bit as gorgeous as the day I met you, right?”

“You met me when we were five, Stiles,” Jackson points out, in a doubtful tone that makes Stiles chuckle.

“Yeah, and you were the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen. And you still are,” he says easily.

Jackson huffs and calls him a sap, but Stiles can feel him smile against his skin, and he gives himself a mental pat on the back for the ‘oh god I’m old’ crisis averted.

 

Stiles is dreading the anniversary of his mom’s death more than anything this year.

Even after all this time, it’s still the worst day of the year, without fail. As soon as the calendar flips to the day, suddenly he’s eight years old again, in that fucking hospital room, watching helplessly as he loses her.

It’s crippling. He always locks himself away and refuses to see or talk to anyone — except for when he goes to see his dad, but even then, they just sit together in silence, because neither of them can muster up words.

It’s hard enough by himself, is the point. It’s all he can do to get through the day while he grieves in silent solitude, but this year, he has to do it in front of cameras for millions of people to watch for their entertainment. He’s seen enough seasons of this show to know the producers are going to be all over it, because his misery and his husband’s response to it, good or bad, is TV gold.

Stiles doesn’t know if he’s strong enough to hold it together. In fact, he’s almost sure he’s not — the whole filming thing is a lot on a good day, so he’s pretty much convinced he’s going to have a full-on breakdown on camera.

By the actual morning, he’s resigned him to the fact that it’s going to be ugly, but that doesn’t make it any easier to face. He spends a solid hour and a half sitting on the bathroom floor (because it’s the only place the camera guys can’t follow him) before he finally gathers the strength to venture out to the living room.

When Stiles opens the bedroom door, though, he’s met with…nothing. No cameras, no production team — no one but Jackson, wearing his favorite of Stiles’ shirts and making breakfast.

“Where is everyone?” he asks softly.

Jackson looks up at the sound of his voice, a fond smile growing on his face as their eyes meet. It’s nothing new — it’s the same smile he gets every morning when Jackson wakes up and sees him laying next to him — but it’s more overwhelming today, somehow.

“I convinced them to fuck off for the day,” Jackson says simply, like it’s not the impressive feat Stiles is positively certain it was.

How?” Stiles asks, in awe.

“I asked nicely,” Jackson answers, shrugging, with a tone that makes it clear he absolutely did not ask nicely. “We still have to do a full confessional tomorrow, though. Even I couldn’t talk our way out of that one.”

Stiles isn’t looking forward to it, but he always knew it was something he was going to have to do, and he can handle tomorrow. It’s not today, at least, and he lets out a sigh of relief so deep he can feel it in his whole body.

“Thank you,” he says, wrapping his arms around Jackson from behind and leaning into him. “How, uh…how did you know?”

It’s vague as hell, but words are hard today. It doesn’t matter anyway, though, because Jackson understands. (He always does.)

“I remember. I was in class with you that day, when your dad came and pulled you out of school early,” Jackson says, pulling one of Stiles’ hands up to his lips so he can kiss his knuckles. “And then you stayed home every year after that.”

That knocks the breath out of Stiles — the fact that Jackson not only noticed in the first place, but also remembered, after all these years, despite not being in each other’s lives at all for the majority of them. And not just in the abstract sense of ‘I vaguely recall that your mom died at some point in the distant past’ — Jackson remembers the fucking date.

Stiles sniffles, choked up for reasons that have less to do with his mother and everything to do with Jackson. “I love you,” he murmurs, although even that doesn’t quite cover what he’s feeling right now.

“I love you more,” Jackson says. On any other day Stiles would argue with that statement, but he doesn’t have the energy. So he just hugs Jackson tighter instead, breathing deep.

Jackson stays with him all day. When Stiles needs space, he gives it to him, but he doesn’t stray farther than a room away. When he breaks down crying, Jackson holds him through it with soothing words and gentle touches. He goes with Stiles to see his dad, and then to visit her grave, and after all of that, when Stiles is too exhausted to do anything else, Jackson tucks them both into bed (despite the fact that it’s barely 7:00 PM). He lays there with him for the whole night, curled around Stiles, holding him close.

It’s still the worst day, but with Jackson, it’s almost bearable.

 

The rest of their two months of marriage is uneventful. Easy. Stiles learns that Jackson’s super into yoga, which is as sweet as it is sexy, and starts going with him after making him swear not to laugh at how bad he is. He gets Jackson obsessed with Animal Crossing, so much so that eventually Stiles’ island isn’t good enough and he buys his own Switch. They let various members of the other couples crash at their place when they get in a fight with their husbands or wives. They’re steady.

Everyone else freaks out going into Decision Day, worries about whether or not the person they married is actually the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. Stiles and Jackson, on the other hand, cannot relate whatsoever, because neither of them have a single doubt about this — about them. They even refuse to follow the rule about sleeping apart the night before Decision Day, because it’s stupid and they can no longer sleep without each other, thank you very much. Stiles makes a big show of packing a bag and kissing Jackson goodbye, only to sneak back into the apartment an hour later when the crew is gone.

They keep it simple when the experts ask if they’re going to stay married. They can feel everyone rolling their eyes at them, because no amount of editing will achieve the dramatic cliffhanger they usually rely on in these scenes. There’s no moment of hesitation, no ambiguous-sounding statements, just Jackson’s “absolutely, I’m never letting him go again” and Stiles’ answering grin and immediate “same.”

“Are you still gonna love me now that there’s no one watching over our shoulder?” Stiles asks playfully when they’re home later that night, blissfully alone.

“I don’t know,” Jackson teases. “You know how much I love being on camera.”

Stiles smirks, runs a hand up Jackson’s shirt. “Who says we can’t still be on camera? Maybe we can finally make a sex tape or two, so you can see for yourself how pretty you are when I’m fucking you.”

“God, I love you,” Jackson says easily, naturally, like it’s a simple, undeniable fact of the universe.

He gives Stiles a kiss and then hauls him over his shoulder, taking him straight to bed, and Stiles can’t believe he gets to have this for the rest of his life.

 

At the six month reunion, they piss off the producers yet again. They want them to act casual in the beginning, keep their distance to maintain the mystery of whether they’re still together or not.

Stiles and Jackson refuse, of course, and spend the entire hour glued to each other’s sides — holding hands and playing footsie and kissing each other softly.

When they get asked about it, Stiles and Jackson just lean in closer to one another and say, in perfect unison, “I’m done hiding him.”