Dinner seems to last forever.
It’s not a bad thing, having his entire pack together. His family.
It’s grown over the years, as people have moved away, or as people have moved into Beacon Hills, attaching themselves to the Beacon Hills pack. It grew when Satomi admitted that she was ready to rest, to spend the remainder of her days relaxing without worrying that Beacon Hills needed her. When she peacefully transferred her alpha power, and became Derek’s beta, merging the Hale-McCall pack and the Ito pack permanently. They’d already allied when Liam and Hayden opened their home to Brett and they formed their own pack within the packs. And when Valerie had somehow become the one to convince Peter to settle down quietly as a stay-at-home Dad raising their twins, while Valerie continued to work for the Sheriff.
Parts of the packs have scattered, as well. Jackson came back to the US, but went to school at Harvard, spending most of his time with Lydia and Danny at MIT. Parrish transferred east, and somehow the four of them ended up in an apartment together, getting a new house when they added Ethan to their small pack. Derek doesn’t ask who’s dating who; he really doesn’t want to know.
Isaac brought home a petite French wolf just a few years ago, and she’s settled into Beacon Hills like she always belonged there. The kindergartners rave about Miss Celeste, and Scott appreciates the help at the practice he took over from Deaton just a year ago. It gives him more time to spend with Kira and their three golden-eyed children.
Mason moved to Japan, while Corey left for Texas, and both returned with new boyfriends. Yuri and Kira bonded quickly over their kitsune heritage, cementing Yuri’s place in Beacon Hills, while Corey’s completely human other half found friends in the humans of the pack.
And of course, there’s Stiles.
Stiles, who can’t seem to stay in one place, but always circles back to Beacon Hills. Never gone for more than a few months at a time, flitting around the globe with his camera and his laptop, shooting remote locations and publishing travel articles. It’s a great cover for his research into the supernatural, as he develops the definitive guide to werewolves, banshees, and all manner of fantastic creatures.
He doesn’t have a home, but he crashes at Derek’s when he’s in Beacon Hills. Now that the Sheriff and Melissa are finally together, neither Stiles nor Scott likes to invade their home, preferring to give them the peace they deserve.
But it means that three days before Thanksgiving, Stiles arrives with a pile of laundry and takes over Derek’s bed. He sleeps for three hours straight, then gets up to help Derek get ready for the holiday. They spend three days hardly having time to talk, shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen as they prepare for werewolf appetites. Brett’s sister Lori is bringing her new husband. Danny’s invited his youngest sister, who recently started dating a werewolf at CalTech. Lydia’s mother has a new boyfriend, and Chris Argent has a girlfriend. Somehow Coach is invited, and Derek’s not even sure how that happened, just that he’s there and strangely quiet, and hasn’t had a drink stronger than water since the night began.
It’s good. It’s really good.
Everyone smells pleased and replete with good food, and the conversations are pleasant. No one’s upset, no one has drama. Cora arrived late and pounced Isaac the second she got through the door, then made apologetic noises to Celeste, kissed her cheeks, and begged for details about her job at the school.
It’s chaotic, and it’s good.
It’s just long.
Derek needs to step away as the early afternoon dinner lasts for hours, and they’ve already eaten a second round at eight, and it looks like people will easily be there until midnight. He pushes open the window, steps out onto the balcony and pulls it shut behind him. He sinks down against the wall and leans his head back, looking out over the city.
It’s a beautiful night, and it’s taken him a long time to be able to truly appreciate just how lucky he is.
The window creaks, and he knows the heartbeat as it opens. Stiles steps through and sinks to sit next to Derek, his shoulder pressed up against his.
“Thanks for letting me crash here again,” Stiles says quietly. “I know that you love having pack around, but I know it’s hard on you having us here for too long.”
“It’s okay,” Derek replies. “I like having you here. My place needed a new influx of Stiles-scent.”
Stiles chuckles, knocks his knee against Derek’s. “Aww, the big bad wolf misses me when I’m gone.”
“I do.” The words are out before he thinks about it, dropped soft and serious between them. Derek hears the uptick in Stiles’s heartbeat, and he winces. “It’s fine. I like it when you’re here.”
“Everyone keeps reminding me that I can come home any time.” Stiles raises his hand, and when it drops again it falls on Derek’s knee instead of his own. “They keep telling me that Beacon Hills is my home. That I belong here. My dad told me that I can have the apartment over the garage in that new house he bought with Melissa. Scott said I can stay in his guest room.”
“You can stay here,” Derek points out. “Like you always do.”
“And you don’t have a guest room, so I always somehow end up kicking you out of your own bed,” Stiles says quietly. “Or you come up after I’m asleep, and you curl into a tiny ball on the other side of it, like you’re afraid we’re going to touch.”
Stiles flinches away, yanking his hand back from Derek’s knee. “Like I said,” Stiles mutters, “I shouldn’t stay here.”
“I didn’t say that.” Derek stares at the sky as he reaches sideways, curls his fingers around Stiles’s hand and tugs it back into the spot on his knee. He holds him loosely, thumb sliding along his skin. “This dinner is lasting forever.”
He listens to Stiles’s heartbeat, to the way it thuds in his chest like a rabbit’s run, skittering from one beat to the next. Derek strokes skin, and Stiles’s breath catches.
“So it’s… so it’s lasting forever.” Stiles stumbles over the words. “What’s wrong with that? I thought you liked these lingering pack gatherings. Or do you have other plans?”
“There’s something I was thinking of doing,” Derek admits. He lets it go after that, just stays silent, still looking out at the city, Stiles’s hand in his.
Stiles wiggles his fingers, shifts to interweave them with Derek’s to hold on more tightly. “So anyway,” Stiles says, exhaling with a soft huff. “I was thinking about moving back to Beacon Hills.”
Derek can’t control the way his fingers clench down, instinctively holding on more tightly. “What about your project?”
“I’ve got enough material now that I should be starting to write it up,” Stiles admits. “I’ve got contacts all over the world, and most of them would be happy to talk over Skype, answer questions and help me dig into the details. When I’m done, I have people waiting for copies. For access to it online by a password protected site. I’ve been talking to Danny about maybe making an app, and to Lydia about ways we can digitally encrypt it so that only the supernatural have access.”
“What about your travel blog?”
“Dude, are you trying to get me to leave?” Stiles asks, and Derek finally turns to look at him.
Derek shakes his head slowly. “No. But I always figured you would.”
“You’re an idiot,” Stiles mutters. “And I’m an idiot. And this is probably suicide but please don’t bite my face off.” He reaches with his free hand, gets his fingers on the nape of Derek’s neck. When he tugs, Derek leans with the touch.
Derek can’t breathe. The taste of nerves on the air—his own and Stiles’s—is choking him. He closes his eyes, feels the press of Stiles’s mouth against his, and he whines softly in response.
Stiles pulls back, brow furrowed. “Is that a good sound or a bad sound?”
“Good,” Derek manages to say, then Stiles’s mouth is back on his. Another low whine, and Derek raises his free hand, cups Stiles’s head and threads his fingers into his hair. He opens his mouth, touches his tongue to Stiles’s lips, and is rewarded by Stiles nipping him back.
The window creaks open, and Derek can’t bring himself to care. “Hey, guys, we’re getting out another round of… oh… whoa.” Cora’s voice cuts off abruptly. “Never mind, we’ll just… we’ll just… pie to go.” The window slams shut, and Stiles’s laugh bursts out.
Derek stops, forehead pressed to Stiles. He lifts their joined hands, presses Stiles’s hand to his own chest, just above his heart. “Since you can’t hear how hard mine’s beating right now.”
“Dude,” Stiles whispers, and kisses him fleetingly one more time.
Derek finally pulls away, gets an arm around Stiles’s shoulder and leans back against the wall. He breathes easily, listening to the way Stiles’s heart patters in time with his own, and the way they both ease over time. He tightens his fingers on Stiles’s shoulder, feels the way Stiles squeezes his knee in response.
The window creaks open again. “Hey, everything’s mostly cleaned up, dishwasher’s running, food’s in the fridge, and we are all gone,” Cora calls out. “I’m staying at Scott and Kira’s, and we’re getting together with Isaac and Celeste for brunch tomorrow. If you want to join us. If you’re willing to leave the loft by then. Stop that I’m coming!” she yells, and the window slams shut again.
Stiles huffs, and Derek smothers a laugh.
“I think dinner’s finally over,” Stiles murmurs.
Derek nudges a slow kiss. “I might finally be ready for some dessert. If you want to go inside, I could show you everything I’m thankful for.”
When Stiles laughs, he does it with his whole body, ringing out loudly. “Wolf’s got lines,” he says, and Derek kisses the grin right off his face.
“Wolf’s got plans,” Derek growls softly, and he loves the way musk rises in the air in response.
Stiles stands, holds out his hands to pull Derek up. “Then let’s go inside,” he says. “Because I’m thankful for a few things, too, and I’d be really happy to share.”