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Halloween Tradition

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The Hale family had never been the best at Thanksgiving. There were too many people and half of them didn't like pumpkin and the other half hated cranberries and none of them liked turkey.

The Hale family had never been very good at Christmas either. They didn't like the cold and there were too many people to buy gifts for. Peter always managed to insult someone.

For obvious reasons, Derek liked to pretend Valentine's Day didn't exist.

One holiday the Hale's had always excelled at was Halloween. The Hale Manor had been used as a haunted house every year that Derek could remember - until it burned to the ground. They spent lots of money on candy and gifts for the human kids who came to visit. It was the one night of the year that the Hale's could let themselves show their wolf sides and no one would raise an eyebrow. No one would question an eye glow or sharp teeth, pointed ears or distorted features.

Derek hadn't celebrated Halloween since his family died. He and Laura had been moving around, trying to find a place that was theirs, but nothing had fit them. Nothing felt right. So they hadn't celebrated much of anything.

Now he was back in Beacon Hills. Things had calmed down – finally – and Halloween had come again. Derek wasn't back in his old family home, but he had the loft. The pack visited frequently, he'd used every pot in the kitchen at least once, the couch had butt dents in it, and it finally felt like he was stable enough to celebrate again.

So Halloween day, Derek went to the store and bought cob webs and little felt spiders. It wasn't nearly up to his parent's standards, but for a first attempt, he was fine with it. He also bought three big bags of candy full of all the good kinds – butterfinger, reese's, snickers, kitkat, m'n'ms.

Derek had just gotten home and placed his shopping bags on the counter when there was a knock on the loft door. There might as well have not been one, though, because a moment later the door was sliding open to reveal Stiles Stilinski dressed in low hanging jeans and his typical t-shirt-plaid-shirt combination.

"Hey, Derek!" Stiles greeted brightly. He held up a plastic bag. "Happy Halloween! I brought some movies to watch, figured you wouldn't have any popcorn so I brought that too." He'd almost reached the couch before he actually focused on Derek and saw the bags. "Dude, what's that?"

"Candy and decorations," Derek said simply, pulling the candy and decorations out of their bags.

Stiles stood still, merely watching as Derek moved to get a big bowl from a cabinet and ripped a bag open to pour the candy into it. Then he held up a finger and slowly pointed at Derek. "Are you-What-You're going to give out candy?"

Derek unwrapped the cobwebs and headed for the door. "My family used to do it every year. I just haven't had the time before."

The bag of movies and popcorn landed on the couch, but Stiles followed Derek to the door, and the hallway beyond it.

"So the big bad wolf hands out candy every year?" Stiles asked while Derek started draping the webs across the front of his sliding door. "You don't mind all the little kids in the gaudy, cheap costumes running around? The invasion of privacy? The bright colors and parties?"

Derek didn't even look at him while he answered. "I don't mind the costumes. I have no problems with colors. And they aren't coming into my home, they stop at the door." The webs were staying where he'd draped them and he stepped back to check if they needed altering in some way. "My family's always been big on Halloween."

Stiles nodded sagely, as if the whole world made sense now. "Ah, right. Spookiest night of the year. All the monsters come out to play. People wanting to be scared. Gotcha."

"No," Derek frowned. "No one asking questions."

He headed back inside for the felt spiders with Stiles once again on his heels.

"So being wolfed out and handing out candy is a Hale Family Tradition?" Stiles asked, and Derek could hear the capital letters.

Instead of responding verbally, Derek just nodded on his way to stick the spiders on the door. This time, Stiles didn't follow. Derek got all six spiders positioned on the webbing or over the door and then came back inside to find Stiles picking lazily through the chocolate. He almost snapped at him that it was for the children, but Stiles wasn't eating it or taking pieces out of the bowl. He was just shifting them around inside the bowl.

"When I was little, my parents used to both dress up with me and we'd go trick or treating," Stiles noted, examining a pack of m'n'ms. "When I was eight, my dad was the sheriff and had to stay at work on Halloween for all the craziness that always happened, so my mom and I went on our own. Then after she died, I didn't go at all."

"Stiles," Derek started, feeling his chest constrict at Stiles blasé commentary.

With a shrug, Stiles said, "I was too old for trick or treating by then anyway."

Derek could hear how the human's heart was beating hard, how he smelled sad. It reminded him of how they both had lost family, had lost traditions. Stiles lost his mother at a much younger age than Derek had lost his family, and Derek had lost more family than Stiles had, but they both knew that loss. Didn't Stiles realize that Derek understood that? That he didn't have to pretend he wasn't sad about it?

"You can help me hand out candy," Derek offered, feeling useless.

Stiles laughed and it felt like all the heaviness left the room for the moment. He waved toward the couch. "I was inviting you to watch Halloween movies with me," he reminded.

"Your Halloween tradition?" Derek asked, his lips curling up at the sides.

A nod. "You've gotta watch Hocus Pocus, obviously, but then we've got dozens of other movies to pick from. I brought every movie I could find on short notice that didn't include werewolves."

So vampires, zombies, the apocalypse, mass murderers, and witches then. Derek could deal with that.

"What about Scott?" he asked.

Stiles gave another shrug and rolled his neck with it. "Eh, he's got a thing with Allison tonight."

It was sad so flippantly, without any regret or stumble of the heart, that Derek was certain Stiles would've come over even if Scott had been free to hang out. It made his own heart quicken its beating and his entire chest feel lighter. He was someone's top priority right now, and that person was Stiles. A decent Halloween night was looking to be pretty enjoyable instead.

"We can do both," Derek let out. At Stiles' curious eyebrow lift – something it seemed he was trying to copy from Derek, Derek explained, "We can watch movies and eat popcorn, and give out candy whenever someone comes to the door. We can do both."

Stiles smiled and practically vaulted over the back of the couch to get to his movie bag. The popcorn came flying through the air at Derek, who caught it without thinking.

"Great. You pop the popcorn, I'll pop in the movie," he said with a bright grin.

Derek could be irritated that Stiles was putting him to work, but Stile was oozing so much joy at getting to share his Halloween tradition and Derek's with Derek that Derek could do no more than shake his head and head for the microwave. And as he hit start on the microwave and heard the movie loading up on the TV, he wondered if this was how he'd spend his Halloweens from now on – if this was the new Halloween tradition.

"Hurry up. We've got sister witches to resurrect!"

He was more than okay with that.