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It Was Different

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(art by spider999now)


Derek sat at the breakfast bar, hunched over a bowl of cereal and a mug of coffee, and watched Stiles get ready for work.

The flat silk of his husband’s tie was all but draped over his shoulders like a stole while he tossed the container of food—a container Derek had packed the night before specifically for Stiles’ lunch—into an insulated lunchbox. An apple from the fruit bowl and water bottle from the freezer quickly followed it. He whistled while he fluttered around the kitchen, boundless in his energy despite how they burned moonlight the night before.

After it was packed, Stiles zipped the lunchbox closed and grabbed its handle as he rounded the breakfast bar. He stopped beside Derek and leaned to kiss his cheek, but Derek turned just in time to catch his lips. Stiles hummed, pleased, and lingered a little longer than his initially planned peck. “Love you,” he sighed against Derek’s lips.

Derek hummed. “Love you, too. Here.” He nodded to Stiles’ tie. “Hold still.”

He slid the tie to its proper balance, then, with deft fingers, folded and tied it into a perfect Windsor. All the while, though, Derek was keenly aware of how Stiles watched him, saw the faintest and fondest smile pulling at his kiss-pink lips, and couldn’t help how his cheeks flushed beneath such a reverent gaze.

“Thanks,” Stiles said, like it was nothing.

To Derek, it was everything.

Waking up beside Stiles every morning, seeing him off to work, kissing him goodbye when he left, and hello when he returned. Calling him husband. It was everything to Derek. Sometimes he lost himself just staring at the ring on his hand. Sometimes he lost himself knowing Stiles wore one as well. Sometimes he just lost himself in the perfection of it all.

Stiles’ lips were warm where they pressed against Derek’s forehead. “I’ll pick up dinner on the way home, if that’s okay,” he murmured, quiet and intimate, like a secret.

“That’s fine.”

“Thai good?”

Derek hummed again, then wrapped Stiles’ tie around his fist to pull him into a proper kiss—a filthy, needy, messy thing Derek sometimes needed to remind himself that this was real. This life with Stiles, this world where he could have and keep him, was real. And Stiles knew, of course he did, and obliged Derek, abandoning his lunchbox and sliding into his lap, draping his arms over the werewolf’s shoulders. The sleeves of his dress shirt were cool against Derek’s bare skin, the buttons cold where they pressed between their chests, but Stiles mouth was hot, warmed by his morning coffee and tinged with the sweetness of the syrup he added to it.

If Derek had his way, he’d kiss his husband until Stiles’ mouth went numb, each caress of his lips and tongue forgoing that wet, gasping place to shock straight to his cock. Then he’d cart him upstairs, strip him bare, and pull him apart piece by piece until Derek’s name was the only thought Stiles could form, until Derek could convince himself and his wolf that Stiles wouldn’t leave them.

All too soon, however, Stiles pulled away. “Okay, any more of this and not only will it be impossible to calm my dick down by the time I get to the office, but I’ll be late. I. Can’t. Be. Late.” He punctuated his words with kisses. “But save this until I get home. Promise to take care of you.”

“I know you will,” Derek rumbled. He guided Stiles off his lap and swatted his pert ass before his husband strode out of reach. “Have a good day,” he called. He watched how Stiles checked his side-arm and badge with practiced, almost subconscious movements.

Even after three years of marriage, and nearly ten of being together, Derek, in some still-wounded and primal place, still worried Stiles would leave him. Maybe not to another lover or to general disinterest, but to something far worse and far more permanent.

Derek hated it.

“Love you, babe!” Then the door closed and Stiles was gone.

It left Derek alone in a house so silent in Stiles’ absence, his wolf drove him to howl just to chase it away, just to fill the space. He didn’t. He wouldn’t. Instead, he shoveled another spoonful of cereal into his mouth and studied his coffee. A latte, really, with an artfully drawn lily in its foam courtesy of Stiles’ infinite generosity and steady hands.

It was a remnant, a relic of sorts, of their shared past and Stiles’ university days. While he studied criminal justice, he’d worked at a coffee shop, a job for which he applied with Derek’s love of coffee as chief motivator. The money he made in wages and tips had been secondary to surprising Derek with his favorite drinks and subjecting him to Stiles experiments. Once they reached the cohabitation stage of their relationship sometime during Stiles’ second year, Derek invested in a professional grade espresso machine. Stiles treated him to foam art and custom lattes nearly every morning since.

Regardless of how early he had to be to work, or how late he was up the night before, Stiles always made Derek a latte with foam art. Because Derek loved it, and Stiles knew, and because Derek loved Stiles, and Stiles knew that, too.

He sipped the coffee and licked the foam from where it clung to the scruff above his lip. That’s when he noticed the lunchbox, forgotten, still sitting on the edge of the breakfast bar. He smirked, pleased to have an excuse to visit Stiles at work later that afternoon. It was an opportunity for his wolf to provide, for his wolf to remind everyone who even considered looking twice at him just who was Stiles’ husband—mate. The anxiety his thoughts generated quieted some.

Then he tried to be more rational, tried to force the human and reasonable side of himself to reassure the primal, wolf side. Stiles was well-trained and incredibly capable, used his cleverness to his every advantage, and took every precaution to keep himself safe. He’d survived the chaos of his high school years in Beacon Hills, had managed to escape long enough to get an education, and chose to return home to protect it. He was resourceful. He was strong.

It was different with Stiles. He didn’t have to worry so much.

The front door opened with a bang.

“I fucking forgot my lunch!” Stiles called as he rushed through the house. He pressed a hand between Derek’s shoulder blades, right over the triskele inked into his skin, and leaned over to snatch it from the countertop. “You seduced me to distraction and I nearly starved, Derek. I nearly starved.”

“I would have brought it to you,” Derek muttered into his mug.

“To seduce and distract me more?” Stiles’ ridiculous eyebrow waggle had Derek chuckling.

Derek shrugged. “Maybe. Would it have been so bad if I did?” He set his mug down and turned so he could wrap his arms around Stiles’ waist.

“Okay, being the Sheriff’s son only gets me so much leeway, alright?” His attempts at being stern, at denying Derek were amusing. But even if Derek hadn’t been able to scent his budding arousal, the light dusting of pink in his cheeks gave away the weakness of his resolve. “I really can’t get busted with you in a broom closet again.”

“Then maybe you should stick around so I won’t have to drag you off later,” Derek suggested, cupping Stiles’ cheek. His hand drifted down the side of his neck, and he pursed his lips innocently while tracing the line of his husband’s collar. “Maybe you hit some traffic. Maybe you had car trouble. Who knows? The world is a crazy, unpredictable place.”

“Or maybe my husband is just a terrible—predictably terrible, I might add—influence.”

“Maybe.” Derek leaned forward and mouthed Stiles’ Adam’s apple, slowly loosening his tie. “So…?”

Stiles sighed, feigning exasperation even as he tilted his head back and scratched at Derek’s shoulders with blunt fingernails. “Fine. I had car trouble, and then hit traffic. Get me upstairs before I change my mind.”