It starts with cuddling.
Not in the way that the cuddling led to sex, which is what led to—
No, in the way that Derek's first alerted to it when Stiles starts absently taking Derek's hand and putting it onto his stomach. When they are cuddling. Specifically, spooning. In bed, or on a couch. One time, dozing off in the bed of a stranger's pickup truck. Spooning is a regular occurrence and has been since the first time they shared a bed, so the change in ritual, however slight, is noticeable. One night, just before dozing off, Stiles reaches over, grabs Derek's hand, and drags it over. He presses the palm into his abdomen and hums in contentment, almost a sigh of relief.
It's not out of character for Stiles to desire or even request physical affection. Nor is it a particularly odd physical position to be in, all things considered. It's just such a specific request: put your hand exactly here. So Derek's either concerned or just curious.
"It just feels nice, okay?" Stiles tells him somewhat defensively after the second time when Derek looks at him funny about it. "God, you can't let me have anything, can you?"
He's such a dick. Derek's into it.
Derek isn't exactly keeping track of when he has to bracket Stiles in place at night, so he's not sure how many times it happens before he asks; but ask he eventually does, putting forth a conscious effort to sound as minimally judgmental as he can. He doesn't want Stiles to stop reaching out at all.
"It just—it feels good," Stiles explains, blinking slowly. He's annoyed because he was just nodding off when Derek asked him. "I dunno. Why do I have to—it feels right." He thinks for a second and then relinquishes Derek's hand. Derek decides to indulge this newfound tic of Stiles'. It's not like it bothers Derek to hold him. He puts both his hands on Stiles' stomach after a bit. Which Stiles seems to appreciate. "Get off my case," he adds in a mumble.
But then Derek starts noticing the smell.
That sounds bad, but it wasn't. It was the opposite of bad, really. Stiles' scent is already Derek's favorite smell—like sugar and flour, titanium dioxide, like amusement and lobeira, an inexplicable something like vinegar. Probably energy drinks, probably down feathers, probably—jesus, like love. And then there's—more.
That's the smell Derek gets, is this sweet extraness of Stiles. Like a second helping, like more to come. A little bit like Derek, too—honey and singed wood, mostly. Some additional blood and some hunger, and the scent is enthralling. It's like when he and Stiles first started having sex, the smell of Stiles full of, dripping with, covered in Derek's come ("Goddamn, you came straight into my eye.") made Derek positively drunk with happiness ("Well, close your eye next time. Ow"). That's what this is, only totally removed from sex and placed into this completely new category of—something eerily similar to elation. Something is different. Not wrong, necessarily, Derek doesn't think. It's just...
He's sitting at their kitchen table, which at this point is a big-ass crate with a circle of glass glued to it, watching Stiles cram buttered waffles down his throat like a starving dog, and smelling this newfound additional saccharinity, and feeling his heart start to pound in his ears, when he realizes he lent his texts to Deaton.
Deaton furrows his brow, as he is wont to do, when he finally beats it out of Derek why he needs the books back. And if Derek's honest with himself, he wanted to tell somebody. Deaton thinks, hums thoughtfully. Then he strolls distractedly into his office. When he emerges, Derek's books in his hands, he smiles and says, "Here they are. Just as you left them."
Derek takes them, feeling oddly incomplete. "Thank you," he adds belatedly, and shuffles trough them, in search of Strange Practifes of The Wolfes & Nature. He's read the thing twice before, and knows it doesn't have anything applicable to his situation—nor is it a reliable source in the first place—but he's hoping there's something he missed in the past because he wasn't looking for it, some theory, any wisp of a rumor that can confirm what's going on. He becomes slowly aware that Dr. Deaton is watching him thoughtfully. "What," he says.
Deaton answers, "Tell Stiles to come here."
"I'd like to test him for it. I can't leave, because I'm waiting for someone to bring in a maine coone for a spay, so send him here."
To the vet? Stiles will hate that. Derek hates that. If Deaton's gonna interfere with all their personal issues, why can't he open up a goddamn private office? One void of parrots? "No. For what?" Derek asks. A dog barks when Derek speaks, making him wince—he hates dogs. All dogs should be relocated to Canada, where Derek will never go.
Deaton full-out grins. Almost pityingly, but probably something else. "Do you really not know the answer to that, Derek? Surely you've smelled this before."
Derek recalls and then represses a memory of his aunt, pulling his uncle's hand and placing it onto her belly. "That's not," Derek begins firmly over the sound of two dogs barking. A directed terror is whirring into his limbs, his chest. "It's different." There is a long pause (full of noise). "Isn't it?"
Deaton pauses for a long minute, swallows, considers his words. "Tell Stiles to come here," he says again gently. "If it makes you feel any better—and it might Stiles—go get a test from the store."
"Just—" Derek's knees almost give out, so he sits in a chair. There's a stack of paper on it that crinkles under him, but he doesn't care. "Just a test, a normal—a normal test." Before Deaton can answer, Derek stands up again, wide-eyed, and runs out the door. Dogs bark emphatically as he rushes past them.
When he gets back, Stiles is sitting on Deaton's little metal examination table and looking deeply disgruntled. He's holding an ice pack to his head. "Derek," he says accusingly when Derek walks in.
Derek drops the bag in his hand—it hits the floor with a thok—and ends up pressed against Stiles' knees like driftwood. He looks at him much closer than Stiles would have found comfortable at the beginning of their relationship. Now, he seems like he's almost grudgingly soothed by it.
"You never told me this could happen," Stiles says, and then he adds, "Asshole," for good measure. He lowers the ice pack, holds it idly in his lap. "You'd think this would be front page news. Okay? The public needs to know."
"I didn't know it could happen. I don't know how it happened, this doesn't make any goddamn—" Derek pauses, a little frantic. "Unless," He peers into Stiles' eyes. "you're not—?"
"No! You moron," Stiles snaps, deeply angry. "That's not even the same orifice, you fucking—" Derek scrubs a palm on his own face. He hears Laura's lilting voice, This is why we think before we speak. Fuck off, Laura. Jesus. "I would assume it's because of werewolf stuff. You goddamn donut." But Stiles snags clawlike fingers in Derek's shirt, keeping him close. "I fainted," he tells him confidentially. "You know? I freaked out, and then I fainted."
A little olive branch. Don't beat yourself up, champ; there's a learning curve for both of us. Tentatively, Derek puts his hand on Stiles' head, where there is indeed a small bump. Like a little welt; the kind of lump an idiot would get after falling off an examination table he didn't even need to be sitting on. "Do you think you…" Derek pushes his other hand under Stiles' t-shirt, flush against his naked stomach. Stiles sighs under his touch. "I mean, do you want…"
Stiles kisses him—quick, because it smells like rabbit shit and ammonia in here. "To keep it? Yes," he tells him. "I mean, I can't imagine how I would—not that I—yes." He belatedly reaches a hand up to scritch Derek's scalp.
Derek scowls and backs away, because Derek's life is going to change and he needs to be ready for it. There needs to be hammering and sawing in his house, and furniture, and money needs to be moved around, from one place to a different place. He needs distance, to grasp all this, to shift from one mindset to the next. Derek doesn't have the faintest idea what, specifically, he will do to prepare for this new portion of their lives, but he must prepare now, or risk being—well, unprepared. "Okay," he says, determined to prepare. "All—all right." Must prepare.
Stiles blinks at him. He drops inelegantly onto his feet, looking almost disturbed. There's a furrow between his brows and hurt in his eyes. Everything is wrong suddenly, and Derek missed the change. His fingers go cold; he is not prepared for this. "I mean, we can talk about it," Stiles points out. "Obviously."
"Talk about it," parrots Derek stupidly.
"If—If you don't want—"
"No," Derek says, understanding. "Shut the—shut up. No. I want—" He tries to catch his breath. "I want. Stiles, I—" He wants so badly, suddenly. Something he didn't know he wanted, something it had never occurred to him he could have, until about an hour ago. He wants it the way you want something someone wants to take away from you. He wants it abstractly, like when you know you want to order dessert but you haven't seen the menu yet. He wants it passively and deeply. He wants it, but not yet. "Do it," he says firmly, maintaining eye contact. Stiles smiles a little, tentative.
"Not until you make me an honest woman," he teases, grinning now.
Derek gives him a dirty look. "Really?" An honest—really? Why does he think he's funny? He's not funny.
Stiles shrugs, jubilantly immune to Derek's irritation. "We're having a baby, apparently," he announces, reality dawning on him as he says it. "A, a werebaby, probably. If it's a dominant trait; what do we know about werewolf genetics?"
"This is—ummm, I dunno, it's—"
"We should—I mean, if you want. We could..."
Stiles gives him some kind of rudely impatient gesture. "Get it out, King's Speech."
"Married," snaps Derek finally. Shit. He meant to prepare himself before he said that out loud. He never had grandiose plans for this conversation, but at the very least, in a crowded veterinarian office and in response to a biologically improbable medical situation has never really been in his mind as a possible proposal, let alone his ideal one. Leave it to Stiles to piss him off so much he proposes too fast.
All the same, Stiles' eyes get wide, and a beatific grin wells slowly up on his face. Low, a little hoarse, he asks, "Are you serious?"
No, psych, you've been punked, Derek thinks. What an idiot. But before he can verbally express any kind of stress-induced sarcasm, Derek just says, "Yes."
Stiles laughs, once, just an expulsion of delight. Derek guesses they're engaged.
And the thing is, the thing is—
Laura would be laughing her ass off.