Ten years later...
Even though Derek has been in love with Stiles for nearly half his life, he still finds it difficult to tell his mate how much he means to him.
This isn’t normally a problem for them. Stiles knows him well enough to hear it without Derek having to say the words. Stiles knows why Derek wraps him in his arms, rubbing his face against Stiles’s throat. He understands why Derek wants to hold him tight, to press up next to him. And he’s not even very eye-rolly anymore when the mailman drops off a letter from Derek-- nevermind that they live together and are rarely apart-- because Stiles gets that while Derek can’t find the way to say what he feels, he can always find exactly the right words if he’s writing them. Hell, Stiles has even stopped being vaguely uncomfortable when exactly the right words amount to little more than an eroitc love letter to Stiles’s personal bits.
Though it probably helps that Derek no longer feels the urge to write those kinds of letters on the back of postcards.
Stiles getting his stupid, inarticulate, emotionally constipated self isn’t going to work this time, because Stiles is just as romantic at thirty-six as he was at sixteen and Derek still wants to do right by him.
And a ten year anniversary... well, that’s something you really don’t want to fuck up.
It hurts when I think about you, so far away from me. It tears at my insides, makes me want to tip my head back and howl. God, Stiles, the way I feel about you. I can’t fight it back, can’t make it stop. I know you don’t want to be around me anymore. I know that I hurt you too much, that I broke something precious and will probably never be able to get it back again.
I love you.
I love that stupid red hoodie you insist on wearing, even though I’ve told you a million times it’s not ironic at all. I love how you talk with your hands, how you can never stand still, even when you really, really need to. I love your scent, the fresh, clean smell of you. I love your hair-- yes, I know you hate it-- but I love it, the way it bushes out around your head when you let it grow.
I love your laugh. Your easy, open manner. The way you always know just want to say to break me out of a funk. I love the way you smile when you’re annoyed with me, the way your eyes flash when you think I’ve done something dumb. You’ve got this way of looking at me, like I’m equal parts amusing and infuriating.
God, what I wouldn’t give to see you smile at me like that. Like you still care about me.
I’m sorry, Stiles. I know it’s too little too late. I know I ruined everything, that I pushed you away when I should have held you tight. I hear that you’re happy now, making a life for yourself in the city. And I’m... god, why lie? You’re never even going to see this. So why not tell the truth, for once?
I’m not happy for you. I’m not. I hate it. I hate that you can just pack our history up in boxes and put it away on some shelf. I hate that you can move on, can be content in a life without me. Because I’ll never be content without you. I’ll never stop missing you, wishing you were here.
God fucking damn it, Stiles.
It hurts so much, when I think of you, knowing that you are so far away from me now. Knowing that I’ll never have you near.
Stiles knows that Derek’s got something up his sleeve. Something big. He's been extra secretive lately, shutting his door when he's in his office, ducking out of the room to take calls, and actually missing one of Dee's tee-ball games. Which... is not normal behavior.
Stiles isn't insecure or anything. He's not worried about his mate cheating on him, that’s a problem they long ago sorted out between the two of them, but it does make his skin tingle, the way Derek's been acting. Makes him want to break out his old research skills, figure out what the hell is going on.
But it's not pack related. And Stiles has long since promised he would only investigate things that were pack related. And only when he has his Alpha's permission and the support of the whole pack. Which, Jesus. Nearly die one time and people-- read Derek and the rest of his insane wolf pack-- never let it go.
God, he wasn't even in the hospital that long.
Still, a promise is a promise and Stiles has the kids-- Ladybug, Haley, and Dee-- to think of nowadays. So he doesn't crack his knuckles and get down to work. But he does keep his ears open and his eyes peeled, because his sourwolf isn't nearly as crafty a beast as he thinks he is.
Nothing can compare to being with you, just laying next to you in bed, listening to your heartbeat as you dream. The way your skin feels, pressed tight against mine, your warmth sinking into me, your breath hot on my neck.
Being able to touch you, actually touch you, after so long apart, makes my inner wolf want to howl a love song at the moon.
It's stupid and cliche, saying that you complete me. The words have next to no meaning. But they are the best that I have. When you put your hand in mine, flashing one of your cheeky smiles with your eyes dancing and mischief just pouring off of you in waves... It makes me feel alive in ways I can't explain. Before you I was hollow inside, like an empty house, waiting for someone to come and fill it up with warmth and happiness and love. Waiting for you, my love. Only you. For your laugh and your smile and your hand in mine, tugging me along in your wake, letting me share this life with you.
Do you know what you mean to me? Can you ever know?
You ask me why I write endlessly to you, even though you live with me now, spend almost every waking hour in my presence. "Why are you writing to me, when I'm sitting right here?" you pout, your voice so exasperated, though your eyes are fond. And I just shrug and keep on writing. Because how else am I supposed to tell you how I feel? How else can I express my eternal love and devotion?
Stiles keeps giving him long, questioning looks. Looks that don't bode well for Derek's peace of mind. But that's the thing about a secret anniversary gift. It has to stay secret. So Stiles is just going to have to deal.
But Derek doesn’t like it. The way Stiles hesitates before nodding when Derek tells him he needs to go out of town. The way his smile doesn't quite reach his eyes. It reminds him too much of how things use to be, of the reasons why they are only celebrating ten years together, instead of twenty.
Derek's gut cramps at the thought that Stiles might be worried about him, about his intentions.
Did I ever tell you why Where the Wild Things Are is my favorite children's book?
It's because of you.
It's because of you and the idea that something can be wild, completely untamed, but still loved enough to deserve a supper, even when in the wrong. It's the thought of you letting me rage and scream and exorcise my demons as best I see fit. Of the way you never judge, just wrap your arms around me and hold me close.
Even before I had you fully, when this thing between us was just a hope I held tight in my chest, it was still you. When they would ask me, those mothers at my readings, I would smile and picture your face and answer Where the Wild Things Are. Because I was the wild thing and you were my Max. But now I am Max and you... are my supper, still warm. You are my fear and you are my comfort, all rolled into one.
God, is this even making any sense at all?
It's late, going on two in the morning, and you are holding our littlest girl in your arms, crooning to her as you rock her. And I know, I just know, that you are going to curl up next to me on the couch and ask me to read to the pair of you. You'll say it soothes her, but really it's your nerves that need the soothing. Our sweet baby girl is such a fussy thing, far more so than Laura or Genim ever were, and it worries you, wears you out, listening to her cries. So you'll ask me to read and I'll pull out the battered copy of my favorite book and you'll roll your eyes and tell me that I've read it a thousand times and I'll just snap my teeth at you and growl, which will make you roll your eyes more, but smile while you're doing it and then you will settle in close, the baby propped between us and I'll read to the both of you.
And if you watch me, my love, you will see it. The way I look at you-- and only you-- while I "read" my favorite story of them all.
Stiles doesn't tell Derek he's being ridiculous because he's pretty sure Derek already knows. So Stiles just sighs a put upon sigh and lets himself be blindfolded without saying a word.
He does laugh, however, when the blindfold comes off and he's in the empty front room of what use to be That Coffee Shop, but is now some trendy hookah-slash-wine bar. It’s a terrible fit for Beacon Hills, if Stiles is any judge, and will probably go the way of the dinosaurs within a couple of months, but that's not the point. The point is that Derek has clearly paid someone off to let him use the place after hours and has set up a small corner with two comfy chairs and a coffee table, complete with coffee, snacks and a large, leather bound book.
Stiles's heart does a little jump in his chest because this, clearly, is what all those closed doors and secretive phone calls were all about.
He gives Derek a besotted smile and then an equally besotted kiss and tells him that he loves him to the stars above and back again.
Derek laughs, his arms wrapping around Stiles's waist. He buries his face in Stiles's hair, breathes in deep, and then lets out a contented sigh.
He tells Stiles to take a seat, that he's got something to show him and Stiles smiles so wide he's surprised his face doesn't split open. He lets Derek lead him to the chairs, settles himself in the one on the right and looks expectantly around for his gift.
Derek sucks on his bottom lip, a nervous expression flitting across his face before he wipes it blank. He leans down and picks up the leather bound book, runs a finger over the emblem stamped on the cover. Then he nods to himself and hands it over without saying a word.
Stiles gives Derek a questioning looks as he takes it. There is no title, just that emblem-- a stylized wolf howling at the moon. Stiles traces the outside of the moon before opening in the cover.
The paper is a creamy color, heavier than the type typically found in books. Where there would normally be a cover page, there instead a print of a very familiar painting-- depiction of two people holding hands in black, white and grey. A close up, showing only the forearms and hands. Nothing identifying about them at all. But Stiles happens to know the owners of said hands quite intimately, because the original artwork just happens to be hanging in his living room over his mantle and was painted for him special on his twenty-eighth birthday by a certain sourwollf.
Stiles trails his fingers over the print, tracing down Derek's arm and back up his own. He glances up at Derek and gives him an encouraging smile when he sees that same nervous expression from before.
He opens his mouth, but Derek just makes a keep going gesture, and Stiles is too curious about what the book might hold not to do what he’s told.
He flips slowly through the pages, happiness bubbling up in him. Because the book is clearly something Derek has been working on for a while, has made just for him. It’s filled with image after image of their life together, quick sketches that Derek has done of Stiles’s face or hands or freckle pattern; the beautiful watercolor he did of their babies, soft and loving and just as gorgeous reprinted here as they are in person; and the bright, vibrant cartoon style versions of their pack. There are pictures Stiles has seen a thousand times mingled in with fresh ones he’s never seen before. And through it all flow Derek’s words, his endless letters.
Happy letters from happy times, sad letters from when things weren’t going exactly to plan. Bitter, angry letters. Letters that witnessed them nearly tearing their love apart. But love letters all.
And scattered through them are a precious few items that were written by Stiles: birthday cards and letters from before their rift; that short, hopeful note asking Derek out for coffee; a handful dirty jokes and limericks Stiles has written in Derek’s honor; an angry, vengeful ultimatum issued during The Summer of Their Discontent; and an edited version of the list of questions Stiles had pushed towards Derek, that first night when everything between them was once again fresh and new and filled with hope.
Derek, Stiles gasps, setting the book aside gently so that he can stand, can embrace his husband. You beautiful, wonderful man. I love you so much.
And then his kisses him, and that's the sweetest gift of all.
I hate when you are gone. Hate it with every fiber of my being. Ridiculous, I know. You’ll probably roll your eyes when you read this and tell me that you were just gone one night and that an overnight camping trip with Genim’s Cub Scout troop is nothing to get worked up over, but still. I hate it.
You should be here, in our house, with our children snuggled in next to you on our couch watching something that is rotting their little brains.
You should be cooing at Derika, calling her your sweet Deedums and tickling her toes. You should be tugging Laura into your lap, teasing her when she yelps, telling her that she’s still your little Ladybug, no matter how big and grown up she might be. You should have Genim climbing all over you, pushing at his sister to get at your lap, laughing at what you call his middle child ways. Haley Hale you would say, your voice stern but your eyes dancing and he would just smile up at you and god.
I wish you were here.
I wish you were here to do the dishes with. I wish you were here to correct Laura’s table manners. I wish you were here to tell Derika to wipe the spaghetti sauce off her chin.
I wish you were here so I could smile at you and you could smile at me. I want you here, Stiles. Here in our house. With me. With our children. Doing nothing out of the ordinary at all.
Derek should have expected what happens next. He should have. Because Stiles is Stiles. So of course he runs about showing his book to everyone they know. Hell, he starts reading the damn thing to the pups at night. Selected parts of it, anyway. Which makes Derek super awkward and uncomfortable because... he's just not good with feelings, alright? And there Stiles goes, blabbing Derek's feelings to all of god's green earth.
If that wasn't bad enough, suddenly Lydia and Allison are taking him out to lunch and throwing words like generous advance and brilliant new platform and pretty much trying to peer pressure him into publishing his book of love letters to the world at large.
And no. Not only no, but hell fucking no. That book is private. Special. Meant only for Stiles, thank you very much.
No, Derek doesn't care how well it would sell or how emotionally compelling it is or anything else.
That book is for Stiles.
No one else ever needs to see it.
You’re still mad at me. Furious, actually. Have been for about a week now and... I’m starting to worry. You aren’t opening my letters. You aren’t giving me that fond, exasperated smile that I love. Hell, you haven’t looked at me properly in days.
I... I can’t...
Jesus, Stiles. Did it really matter to you that much? I didn’t think that it would. Clearly, I didn’t think that it would.
It was nothing. Less than nothing. Just something I had to do to smooth over relations with... Oh god, you don't care. It doesn't matter why I did it. It just matters that I did.
I'm sorry isn't going to cut it, is it? Not this time. You won't even look at me. You're sleeping in the guest room. Our bed is starting to lose your scent.
I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't. But then I never do. And yet...
Are you thinking of leaving me? Is that why the suitcases had been moved? Yes, of course I noticed. You put them back, but the ground around them was scraped clean of dust. Is it the kids? Is that why you didn't do it? Because... if you want to leave, you can leave. I won't...
Shit. I've really fucked up this time, haven't I?
She didn't mean anything. It was just a way to get them on my side, to smooth out the negotiations. I didn't tell you in advance because I knew you would be upset. I knew you would scowl and be sour and make faces at them across the table. And I knew that if I told you what I was planning and you reacted badly and then I did it anyway...
I always know in advance, don't I? That's why this is a problem. Because I didn't just act spur of the moment, but planned it all out, considered every possible option and decided that the hurt it would cause you was worth the benefit I would gain.
Which is why you won't look at me. Why you asked me to give you some space. Why you left me with the kids last night and went out and didn't come home until this morning. And when I met you at the door, when I tried to touch you, you jerked away and hissed at me to keep my hands to myself, for once in my life.
Oh God. You are going to leave me, aren't you?
You're going to take the kids and leave and what will I do without you? Alone in this big, empty house. It's not a home without you. I'm not alive without you.
You mean so much to me. You're my everything, my all. I count on you to always be there, to be the rock that I can cling to, the arms that I can find shelter in. And you love me, with all your heart, you love me.
And I just pissed all over that love. I told you that it didn't matter. That your feelings were unimportant.
How do I fix that? How do I show you how sorry I am, how wrong I was?
Please, Stiles, give me another chance. I know I don’t deserve it, that I’ve long since run through all my do-over cards. But please.
If you leave...
Just think about it first. Please. That’s all I’m asking. Think about what we have, what we are. And, yes, I know that is what I should have done. But... it wasn’t...
She wasn’t supposed to kiss me. That wasn’t part of my plan. Yes, I flirted. Yes, I made a point of stringing her along her. I took her out for dinner and charmed her and when she asked if I wanted to continue our conversation over drinks, I said yes.
But I was never planning on it getting physical. I wasn’t going to lay a hand on her. But then, I wasn’t planning on you being there, either. I wasn’t planning on her seeing you and smirking and then pressing up against me like that, wrapping her arms around me and kissing me like she had any fucking right.
That soft gasp you made, like all the breath had just rushed out of you. And, Christ, the look on your face, the way you crumpled in on yourself. Thinking about it now makes my chest ache and my stomach cramp and none of this was supposed to happen. You have to believe me.
You know I'm terrible with expressing my emotions. You know I can never say the right thing, that the words just get twisted up inside me. I write to you, my love, because it's the only way that I can be clear. Please, just read my letters. Stop ignoring them.
You... even in the bad times, even when you were dating other people and pretending I didn't exist, you never ignored my letters. You read every single one.
And now... now they just piled up in front of your door. You just scowled when you saw them, hunched your shoulders like they will physically hurt you. And when I asked you to please, please, just read them, you scooped them up, headed to the kitchen and ripped each one in half before tossing them into the trash. Damn it, Stiles, you poured a cup of water over the top of them. You ignored me when I howled and then you went out and didn't come back until morning and what am I going to do now?
Please. Don't go over this. Please. Don't leave me. Don't turn your back on us because I was enough of an idiot to think that seducing someone into agreement was a smart idea.
But... if you do go, if this is something you can't forgive, if this is straw that breaks the camel's back, please know that I love you. That I've always loved you. God, I'll go to my grave loving you.
If you need to leave, I won't stand in your way. I won't make it difficult for you. I'll agree to whatever you want. You can take the kids, I know how much you adore them. I won't fight you on that, even though it will kill me not having them here. Just... let me still be a significant part of their lives. I... I won't bother you like I did the last time. I'll let you go, if that's what you want. But please don't cut me out of their lives too.
I, fuck. Being your husband, your mate, fills me up with pride. Our children, our beautiful, perfect children, give my life meaning and joy. Without you, I don't know what I will do.
But maybe I should have thought of that sooner, huh?
Stiles gets what Derek is driving at. He does. It's just... God. That book. It's the most amazing, wonderful thing Stiles owns, could ever own. And of course he wants to share it with everyone, to show everyone he knows exactly why he's in love with his grumpy old sourwolf. Especially all the nay-sayers out there, the ones who look at him with sad eyes and give him sympathetic pats on the back when they see him in town. As if being married to Derek is something to be ashamed of, something to regret.
And, yeah, maybe it ought to bother him a little that he sees this book, this wonderfully fabulous book, as a giant "fuck you" to anyone who has ever questioned him and his relationship, but really, Stiles can't be bothered enough to care.
Not when he can hold in his hands the physical product of Derek's love for him.
Sure, there are a few letters in there that don't paint either of them in the best of light, but who the fuck cares about that? They aren't perfect. Their life together hasn't always been a rose garden, but that's what makes it even more precious, even more special. Because they hit some pretty big bumps in the road, overcame some giant ass obstacles, and are all the stronger together for it.
That's what real love is, after all. It's the day to day grind. It's empty toilet paper rolls and milk that's gone bad and forgetting to pick up the baby's medicine on the way home from work. It's late nights and early mornings and days when you are just so bone tired you fall into bed fully clothed.
That's what most people don't realize; that's why one out of every two marriages fail. Because people go into them with hearts in their eyes and forever on their lips and no concept whatsoever of what that truly means. Of course it's going to be hard work. Of course you are going to get angry and upset and wonder why, out of everyone in the world entire world, you decided to fall in love with an idiot who farts in his sleep and eats like a pig and can't ever be assed to pick up his own dirty underwear off the fucking floor.
But the flip side of that is having someone who has seen you at your worst, someone who has your back through thick and thin. A partner, in every sense of the word, who puts up with your obsession with reality TV and your encyclopedic knowledge of Buffy and your late night sessions on the internet. Someone who won't tell you to stop with the stream-of-consciousness already or yell at you for being late-- again-- to your daughter's recital. Having someone who will hold you on nights you need to be held and leave you alone on nights when you hate the world. Someone who will kiss away your frowns and tell you that you are beautiful and will love you in spite of all your many, many flaws.
And, damn it, is it really so wrong that Stiles wants to show the world just why Derek is that someone for him?
You're right. It is easier to write about things than sit down and talk them through. And I'm right too, because it's a petty, pathetic move. But, whatever. I can't stomach the thought of talking to you right now, but this needs to be said so I'm taking your easy way out. I'm writing about it. And then I will put this letter in an envelope and slide it under your door and you can see how it feels.
First and foremost: Fuck you.
Seriously, fuck you so very, very much. Fuck you and your reasons and excuses and blah blah blah. There's always something with you. Some mythical, magical reason why you shouldn't have to face your consequences like the rest of us. And you know what, I'm sick of it. I am so damn sick of being the one to bend in this relationship, the one who puts their needs aside, who is calm and understanding and all that other fifties housewife bullshit.
I'm sick to death of it.
And, yes, you are right. I did take out the suitcases. Good on you, spotting that. Nothing gets by you, does it?
Oh wait, that stupid bitch's intentions did. Slipped right through on your blindside.
Yeah fucking right.
You might not have planned on her kissing you, but you knew damn well it was a possibility. The only thing you didn't plan on was me being there to see it happen.
And you want to know why I was there? Oh my darling, do you want to know why? I'm sure it's been eating at you. I'm not batshit crazy, the way you are. I don't feel the ridiculous urge to always know exactly where you are. I trust you. Or at least I did. So then how did I know where you would be when she was the one who picked the location?
And how did I even know that was her idea to go to that bar in the first place?
Here's how I knew, Derek: because she told me.
That's right. She told me.
You might have said that it was just a business dinner, you might have implied that you were meeting that same boring ass group of suits I had met that morning. But well before you even mentioned you would be going out, I already knew what was going on.
Of course, I didn't believe her. I believed you, because I am as stupid and naive as everyone always fucking implies.
If I had a nickel for everytime I've heard some variant of, "Oh Stiles, why do you let him treat you like that?" I would be a much, much wealthier man than I currently am.
But, whatever, not the point. The point is, she came up to me after the morning talks ended. She pulled me aside while you were schmoozing with the suits, and told me that you had propositioned her. And I laughed in her fucking face. That's right, my darling one, I laughed in her face. And told her that if she thought that, then she was thought wrong.
And you know what happened next? She smiled at me, patted me on the cheek and told me I was a dear, sweet thing and that she could understand why you kept me around. Then she took my phone and entered in an address and told me that I deserved to know where my husband was, even if I was too smart to stay married to him for long.
God, I wanted to punch her in her fucking face. But I didn't. Aren't you proud of me? I didn't punch her. I just smiled and told her it was lovely meeting her and then I went and found you and didn't tell you a thing because I never tell you when catty bitches (male or female) try to make me doubt my place in your life, question my hold on your heart.
So, yeah. I didn't bat an eye when you told me you wouldn't be home for dinner. I just kissed your cheek and wished you luck and sent you on your way.
But then you texted me and told me that you were going to be late getting home, that I shouldn't wait up, and I knew.
I fucking knew.
So I called up Boyd and asked him if he wouldn't mind keeping an eye on the kids and then got my ass into the city and there you were. All snuggled up next to that... I shouldn't call her names. She's not... It's not her fault you... God damn it. You did this. YOU. You let her press closer, you let her wrap her arms around your neck and you let her fucking kiss your mouth. Tongue and all, baby. Tongue and all.
Don't try and tell me you didn't. I know you. I know what you are capable of. If you didn't want her touching you, she wouldn't have been.
I'm not sure what clued you into my presence. Maybe I made a noise. Maybe I said your name. I'm not sure, I don't really remember much other than the way it felt, seeing you kiss her. The way my heart froze in my chest. So maybe I screamed. Who knows? All I know is that you let her kiss you until you realized that I was watching. Then you calmly removed her arms from around your neck, slid out of your booth and came towards me with that blank expression you do so well. You asked me what I was doing there in a voice with no fucking emotion in it at all. You told me to go home, that you needed to finish up here and that you would talk to me when you got in.
Do you have any idea how much that hurt? That you could look me in the eye with that fucking mask of yours in place and talk to me in your Don't-Make-A-Scene voice and tell me to go the fuck home? That you would deal with me and my drama whenever you were good and ready to?
You unmitigated ass.
God. I hate you so much right now. I just...
Really? That's how you respond to me and my hurt? Really?
What the honest to god fuck, Derek? What, are you twenty-five again and running scared because life didn't turn out the way you had planned?
We are married. We have kids. And a house. A life together. A wonderful, brilliant, messy life. Full of laughter and happiness and, yes, a few tears because nothing is perfect. But, damn it, what we had was pretty fucking close.
And you went and threw it all away for what again? Oh, that's right. A petty territory pissing contest.
So yeah, I'm not really in the fucking mood to look at you. Yeah, I pulled out our suitcases and packed them full and then looked at our babies and thought better of it. Yeah, I didn't read your stupid, pathetic excuses. I tore them up and tossed them out like the fucking trash that they are.
Which is what I really should have done with that last one too. Damn you and your stupid fucking puppy dog eyes. Where the fuck do you get off looking wounded?
What right do you have to be acting so damn hurt?
So what if our bed doesn't smell like me? So what if I went out with Scott and blew off some steam? If you wanted me in your bed, then you shouldn't have shit all over our life together. Our crazy, chaotic, wonderful life.
The life we've worked so hard to make happen.
Damn it all to hell.
Don't you know how much that hurt? God, I can't even imagine what the scene would have looked like if I was the one who so casually strayed. It would have been a fucking bloodbath. You would have eviscerated that bitch, if it had been my body she wrapped her arms around, my lips she kissed.
Don't even act like it wouldn't have been. Not with the way you freaked out when I went out to coffee with Robert and you fucking showed up fifteen minutes into our visit with Haley and Ladybug in tow.
You drove seven hours in a car with a infant and toddler to crash my coffee date because I texted you that I had run into Robert at my conference and wanted to know if you would be cool with me meeting up with him to catch up on old times. Seven fucking hours. So that you could make your claim known. Like he couldn't see the fucking ring on my finger. And did I call you on your shit? No. I didn't. I just laughed it off, even though it was embarrassing as hell and Robert was giving me that pinched look of his.
What is wrong with you? How can you get all crazy like that over nothing and then expect me to be cool with you sucking face with someone I'm going to have to see on a regular basis.
How does your mind even work?
God, I should just end it. I should. I should pack up my things and take our kids and get the fuck out of your life. That's what a normal, sensible person would do.
But I love you.
I love your stupid, sourwolf face. I love your snarling and snapping and the way that you pretend to hate it when the kiddos crawl all over you. I love your smile, the way your face lights up when you see me. I love your arms wrapped around me at night, the way you nuzzle your cheek against the top of my head. I love how kind you are, how soft and sensitive your underbelly really is, even though you act like a bad ass mother fucker.
I love your hands on my body, your smell in my nose. I love your terrible taste in movies and the fact that you are a sucker for trashy romance novels. I love the way you toss our babies in the air, the way you tickle their bellies and call them your pups. I love the way you watch them when they are sleeping, how gently you held them when the doctor first placed them in your arms.
God. I love you so much. Cutting you out of my life was near to impossible the first go round, and that was when we were "just friends." Though, god, if I also had a nickel for how many times people have told me that you and I were never "just friends" I would be so wealthy I could have my own Scrooge McDuck style swimming pool.
I miss you so much already, and we are still living in the same house.
Which is just ridiculous. Seriously. What is it about you, Derek, that gets me so twisted up inside? Why is it you? Of all the people I could have fallen in love with, why was it you?
I just... I don't understand is all.
I hurt so much, and I want to hate you for it. Want to scream and throw things at you and leave. God, I want to fucking leave so bad. Because how fucking dare you? How dare you do this to me? To us? To our family?
But I won't. I won't leave because I fell in love with you when I was sixteen and I love you still to this day. I love you enough to move past this, because I know you didn't go into that situation with the intention of cheating. It doesn't excuse what happened, it doesn't change how fucking wrong you were, and it certainly won't be getting you out of the dog house any time soon, but it does mean that I'm not going to call it quits just yet.
So you can stop walking around like one of the living dead. You can banish that panicked, wounded expression from your face. You can stop hugging the kids twenty times a day. You're freaking them out, baby.
I'm not going to move back into our room yet, but I will start talking to you again. Starting directly after you finish reading this.
Come find me, my sourwolf, and we will go to the study, set ourselves down, and have a frank discussion about what your consequences will be if you ever put me in a situation like this again.
I love you. You're my husband, my mate. I would gladly lay down my life in exchange for yours. But I will never do the same with my self-respect.
Derek isn’t exactly sure how he ended up agreeing to this, because lord knows he didn’t want to at all, but Stiles did. Stiles wanted it so bad. And Derek has never been able to keep Stiles from something he wants.
Together they edit the thing, culling out all references that might give away Derek’s secret, that might endanger their pack, as well as stripping it of anything that will to easily identify where they live. Sure, the crazies will still be able to ferret out their address and then find their house on Google maps, but why make it easy for them?
The only sticking point between them, once Derek finally signs on to the idea, is what to name it. Derek is in favor of something simple, something that reflects the deeply personal nature of the book itself. Stiles is also in favor of that, or so he says, but everything that Derek suggests gets shot down. In a fit of frustration, Derek pushes the whole issue of a title onto Stiles’s plate, growling about washing his hands of the whole affair.
And, boy, is he ever glad he did.
Because Stiles finds the perfect name-- the perfect inspiration for the name-- that very night.
Derek wakes the next morning to a tray set out with breakfast things and a folded piece of paper. He ignores the coffee and toast, though his stomach is rumbling and his eyes are blurry with sleep, choosing instead to read whatever it is his husband has written him.
The words are simple yet evocative, managing to capture in plain, uncomplicated English everything that Derek has ever felt.
I found this on the internet and something about it just clicked:
And how happy the thought that years increase the affection and esteem we have for each other to love & be loved. May it ever be so, and may I ever be a husband worthy of your warmest affections. May I make you happy and in so doing be made happy in return.
He was a Civil War soldier writing to his wife back home, but he could have you writing to me. Or me writing to you. Or any person who ever loved writing to the one who holds their heart.
So, what do you say, Derek? Does this strike you the way it struck me? Does it just feel right? Like it was meant just for us?
If the answer is yes, and dear sweet god, do I ever hope the answer is yes, then what say you to Love & Be Loved as the title for our little book of letters?
The answer, of course, is yes.
When I am with you, I am happy. I feel complete. When you smile at me, when you laugh with your eyes all crinkled up, when you lay down next to me in our bed, you make me feel so alive, so blessed.
I know I am gruff and angry and aggressive. I know that I snarl at you and tell you to fuck off and block you out. I don’t tell you I love you nearly often enough. I don’t show you how much you mean. I have to resort to this, to writing you letters, and even then it’s still not... I don’t know how to be different, to be better.
But none of that matters to you. None of it trips you up, pisses you off. You just roll your eyes and call me a sourwolf or shake your head and tell our babies that I haven’t had enough fiber in my diet. You tease me out of my moods, soothe me with soft touches and fond looks. You let me hold you in the night, wrap my arms around you and cling to you so tight.
You tell me you love me every single day. You kiss me on the cheek, on the hand, in the center of my forehead. You hum to yourself and dance while you’re doing the dishes and tell Haley that if he keeps frowning like that, his face will freeze and then he’ll end up looking just like me when he grows up. And then you wink at me and tell him that maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.
You love me, Stiles. You love me.
With all my faults. With all my flaws. With all my shortcomings.
You love me.
The book? It’s a success. An overnight sensation. Stiles isn’t surprised at all. Because, well, it’s a book of love letters. Amazing, intense expressions of faith and devotion and desire. It’s a snapshot of their lives together and it’s as beautiful as it is beautifully well written.
Of course America is in love with it.
It tops all the bestsellers lists and has big Hollywood media types clamoring for them to sell the rights. Which, no. Not happening. Derek and Stiles weren’t hurting for money before the book was published, and they certainly aren’t hurting for it now. They do cave in to pressure to do a book tour, but only because Stiles sees it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to get an all expense paid family trip across America.
He uses it as his chance to go to all the cool places he’s never been, to see all the things he’s ever wanted to see. And to share them with his children.
Still, about three weeks into it he can see why Derek’s always hated doing them. Even with their pace slowed down to what their children can handle, it’s still overwhelming-- downright exhausting. Makes Stiles long for home like nothing else. And, when they finally do get home, makes Stiles vow never to leave it again. Not for all the money in the world.
Derek laughs at him, because Derek’s a dick, but makes it up to him later, snuggling up close to him on the couch during family movie night. The kiddies romp around like the monsters they are, crawling all over them as if Derek and Stiles are their personal jungle gyms. Derek growls half-heartedly at them, telling them to stay still, to stop fighting over the popcorn and to at least pretend to watch the movie, but Stiles can tell that Derek’s just as pleased to be there as he is.
Later, when the movie is over and the children are tucked in their beds, Derek pulls Stiles close, buries his face in the crook of Stiles’s neck and breaths deep.
I love you he whispers, his lips ghosting across Stiles’s skin a second before he bites.
Stiles shivers, moans Derek’s name. His hands clutch at Derek’s shoulders as he arches up into his mate’s touch.
I love you too, Stiles tells him, Oh god, I love you.
And it’s true. Ten years later-- or twenty, depending how you look at it-- and it’s still true.
For my darling husband, the love of my life, the partner I always craved and never deserved:
Without you this would book never would have happened, and I mean that it the most literal way possible. You are my beacon, my guiding light. You shine in my night sky, the northern star that I have built my life around. My muse, my obsession, my darling one. The Max to my Wild Thing. Oh my darling, thank you for sharing your life with mine. Thank you for being the one true thing I can count on. Thank you for putting up with my surliness, my need to dominate, and my reluctance to compromise. Thank you for accepting me, for allowing me to use letters to communicate my inner thoughts and feelings.
My love, my Stiles, I say to you now, in front of god and the world:
Please don’t go. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.