Christmas at the Hale Household was most amazing time of the year. The house was full of Christmas decorations, the smell of gingerbread floating through the house.
Laura would always buy everyone ugly Christmas sweaters for Christmas day. His mom would wear hers with pride, his dad would frown for all of two minutes until Laura and Cora’s puppy dog looks would win him over and he’d slip it on.
Derek was just like his dad. Would make it look like he hated wearing it but secretly liked how they still bought him one every year, when he would huff and puff.
The best part of Christmas day though, was after the meal. When everyone was too full to move off the sofa, yet tubs of chocolates would be passed around. Miracle on 34th Street would be on the TV and Derek was surrounded by all of his family. Mom, Dad, Laura and Cora. Then there is his Uncle Peter, Aunt Elle and their two kids Hannah and Anthony.
Derek was a family person. He loved his family dearly, and during Christmas when they are all together, relaxed and just enjoying everyone’s company, that was when Derek felt the most grateful.
Now, Derek is sitting in his empty loft. His mom, dad, Laura, Elle, Hannah and Anthony gone. Cora in South America. Peter is probably sulking away at his own apartment. Erica and Boyd are dead. Isaac is in France.
Derek is alone.
It is Christmas day and Derek can’t help but think back to the days where the silence was always filled; the emptiness was full of decorations and family and the sadness was filled with happiness.
Derek hates Christmas.
It's around 3pm when Derek hears the sputtering of Stiles’ Jeep. Unsure why Stiles would want to be visiting, today of all days, Derek gets out of bed with a sigh, slips sweats and a t shirt on and sits on the sofa, waiting for Stiles.
Stiles opens the loft door three minutes later, pops his head around and looks around until he spots Derek. With a smile on his face Stiles says cheerfully, “Merry Christmas.”
Derek watches as Stiles enters the apartment without a care in the world, shutting the door behind him. As he approaches Derek sees a present in one of Stiles' hands.
"What are you doing here Stiles?" Derek asks, eyes searching the boy curiously.
It doesn't phase Stiles however, because he bounds up to Derek and holds out the present. “Merry Christmas to you too Stiles.” He says sarcastically and Derek just rolls his eyes in reply, not moving to take the present, which is apparently for him, out of Stiles' outstretched hand. “Just take your present Derek.”
He shakes the box in front of Derek's face and he sighs again, reluctantly taking the present. Stiles smiles and sits beside him on the sofa. Derek's eyes wander to Stiles, back to the present, and then settles back on Stiles, curious as to why Stiles has brought him a present. “It’s not a bomb is it?”
"I would have left the building if it was." Stiles says simply, ignoring Derek's sarcasm completely. "Just open it."
Derek's eyebrows contort into a frown and Stiles sighs, reaches over as if to open it himself and Derek swats his hand away, ignoring Stiles’ grin as he tears the wrapping paper off. The present is inside an Amazon box and Derek frowns even harder before opening the flaps.
What he pulls out is a leather bound photo album. A triskele inscribed into the leather. “Stiles, what -“
"Just open it, please."
Derek looks at Stiles, sees the calm demeanour he’s put himself in but he can smell the anxious worry behind it all. Derek looks back at the photo album and runs his hand across the leather before opening it.
He’s surprised to see what pictures he’s first faced with. His mother, smiling with her eyes closed. His father is next to her, looking at her smiling face, a matching smile. Their wedding photo.
He turns the next page and is faced with pictures of him, Laura and Cora.
He goes through the album: Cora’s first flute recital; Derek’s first basketball game; The family baseball match; Laura graduating from high school and then his father and himself wearing the ugly Christmas sweaters Laura bought, looking displeased.
Derek tears up when he flips the last page over and is faced with the family portrait picture, the edges of the picture are charred but he doesn't look at that. He looks at his mother, his father, Laura, himself, Cora, Uncle Peter with Hannah in his lap, grinning. Aunt Elle is sitting beside him with newborn baby Anthony in her arms.
When he closes the album and looks up at Stiles, his focus is blurred from the unshed tears. “Why?” He croaks out.
"It’s Christmas." Stiles says, like it’s that simple. Like Stiles bringing him a family photo album with pictures that had long since disappeared during the fire was an everyday thing. "I was being nosey and found like a ton of negatives in a chest in your attic and I brought them down, blown them up and thought that maybe you’d like them."
"Thank you." Derek rasps out, blinking back his tears.
“You know, it’s okay to cry.” Stiles says quietly and it's those few words that finds Derek letting it out. A few tears slip past his barricade, the tears sliding down his face and dropping onto the photo album.
Derek never expected this from anyone. For anyone to think of him during the holiday, to spend time and money to put a little piece of his life back together for him. He never expected Stiles.
Stiles the one who wishes death on him everyday yet is willing to saw off his arm when he’s poisoned. Who holds him up in a pool for two hours when he could have easily let him go. Stiles who anchors him when he killed Boyd. Who brushed his hand over his arm when Cora was dying, anchoring him again. The guy he dreamt about when Kate comes back.
Stiles, this annoying little kid who has managed to break Derek down and rebuild him again, just from a simple gesture.
No, nothing about this gesture was simple.
It was the best Christmas present Derek has gotten since the ugly Christmas sweaters.
He doesn't realise he’s properly crying now, letting the tears fall freely, body shaking from holding it in for so long. It isn't until Stiles wraps a hand around the back of Derek’s neck, squeezing slightly that he realises what he's doing.
Derek clutches the album to his chest and lets Stiles guide Derek’s head to his shoulder, his free arm wrapping around Derek. Derek buries his neck into Stiles shoulder, inhales and finds that Stiles smells like home. He lets his tears get soaked up by Stiles’ jumper as Stiles cards his hand through Derek’s hair, sitting silently, anchoring him once again without even realising he's doing so.
"Merry Christmas Stiles." He mumbles through the shirt after he’s calmed down a little.
Stiles arm tightens around him slightly. “Merry Christmas Derek.”