Derek's head is pounding when the bright light streaming through his bedroom window forces him into waking. He didn't think it was physically possible to be this hungover, especially as a werewolf, and yet here he is with a headache bordering on migraine and the taste of death in his mouth. He squints at the window. It's too bright out. He doesn't usually sleep this late. Thank God, it's Sunday... or at least he thinks it's Sunday. He gropes for his phone to check the date and then stares at the notifications filling his lock screen.
He has twenty missed calls from Kate, ten from his mother, and another eight split between his sisters. There's a mass of texts that he doesn't even want to think about, but what's really curious is the surprising amount of notifications from Instagram. He doesn't even remember posting recently.
He thumbs through his unlock code and then clicks on Instagram. It's going to be at least an hour until he's up to dealing with Kate or his mother. When he pulls up his latest post—the one with all the comments—he almost drops his phone.
There's two more photos below that, one with him and the strangely familiar guy kissing and another where the guy is wearing the ring Derek had planned to give Kate on Christmas.
He doesn't even want to read the comments. Those he will save for later, but he recognizes Erica, Cora, and Peter among the usernames. He's kind of hoping he can ignore it all but another text message comes in and he thumbs over to the messenger app with a growing sense of dread.
"You okay there, Derek?"
The sudden sound startles him and Derek nearly tumbles off the bed when he realizes he isn't alone. The guy from Instagram is smiling at him from the next pillow over. The covers pool in the small of the man's back and for a moment, Derek loses all sense of words as he stares at the man's pale, naked flesh. His skin is dotted with moles. A flash of memory hits him—Derek's tongue tracing lines between them as he thrust into tight, wet heat—and that's when Derek realizes that he's naked and the other guy is naked and they're both naked and holy shit, he had sex with a guy.
Some of his swirling emotions must have made it onto his face because the guy laughs and rolls over onto his side, propping his head up on one arm. "I take it you don't do this often?"
Derek shakes his head, which only makes the guy laugh more. There's something beautiful about the way he laughs. It lights up his whole face and makes his eyes sparkle.
"Well, you did pretty well from my end. A+ effort. Would ride again." Stiles turns and reaches for something on the table on that side of the bed. When he rolls back to face Derek, he has Kate's ring. "I'm guessing you want this back, though."
No, no he doesn't. He swallows that thought down and nods. "I... um... yes?"
The guy chuckles and presses it into Derek's hand. Derek instinctively wants to give it back. The Instagram photo of him wearing it was blurry and Derek wants to see what it would look like in real life.
"I hope I didn't make your partner mad. She's a lucky girl." The guy winks at him. "I won't tell if you won't."
Derek licks his lips. He considers lying and saying everything's all right but he's pretty sure the guy had said something about having an Instagram account as well, which is why Derek had the app open in the first place and he's almost certain he tagged the guy. "It's on Instagram."
The guy falls back against the bed laughing. Deep, gut-wrenching laughs that make him crane his neck back and arch against the bed. There's a mostly-healed bite mark from Derek's teeth on his shoulder.
"I'm glad you find this funny," Derek says, though he can't bring himself to put any heat in the words. He's not angry. Scared, yes. Going to have to listen to a lot of yelling, yes. Angry, no. If anything, he feels relieved.
The guy smiles up at him. "Hey, no, it's okay. I mean this," he waves a hand between them, "this can stay a secret if you want. I know not to kiss and tell. If you want, I'll even meet with your fiancé and tell her it was just a drunken joke and that I hit on you and we didn't do anything."
Kate would take that about as well as someone criticizing her art, which is to say somewhere between not at all and painting the walls in their blood. Derek leans back against the headboard and stares down at the ring in his hands.
"No," Derek says after a long moment of silence. "No, it's better this way. I mean, I'm kind of glad honestly. I didn't even realize I was looking for an out but now I have one."
"Oh." The guy slides up to sit next to him, not at all concerned about how much bare skin he's showing. "Well, congrats then? I don't like breaking up relationships unless they're shitty ones."
Derek chuckles at that. "Yeah, it was a shitty one."
"Good." The guy bumps his shoulder into Derek. "I'm Stiles, by the way. In case you don't remember."
Derek's blush obviously gives him away but the guy just smiles and takes the ring from Derek's hand. Stiles sets the ring back on the table and then slides over to straddle Derek's hips. "So, since you're single now, you wanna go again before I head out?"
Yes. Yes, Derek does.
The only upside to having spent the last three hours on the phone is the fact that he made the calls naked after two fantastic orgasms. In Stiles's words, A+, would ride again. Kate went through the entire gamut of crying, screaming, and begging before finally hanging up after threatening to burn him alive. At least she didn't come over. Derek already talked to his super about having the locks changed. He also hid the knives.
He's not sure what he expected from his mother, but her opening line of "When do we get to meet him?" certainly wasn't it.
"Your new fiancé," Talia says. "When do we get to meet him?"
Derek's mouth hangs open. He pulls his phone away to stare at it. Finally, he settles on "I literally just broke up with Kate."
"So? She was awful for you. This boy makes you smile. That's all I need."
Derek rolls his eyes. His mother has made no secret of her dislike for Kate. Admittedly, neither had his father, Uncle Peter, Aunt Patricia, Mark, or Cora. In fact, the only one who even attempted to be nice to Kate was Laura and that was only for Derek's sake, not for any actual fondness for his ex-girlfriend. "Really, mother?"
"What? A mother is allowed to be concerned for her son. I only want you to be happy, that's all."
"You refused to let Kate come to the house until we'd been dating for over a year and she passed a background check."
"She's an Argent. You can never be too careful."
Derek rolls his eyes. "This isn't the eighteen hundreds. It is literally illegal to hunt werewolves. There are werewolf celebrities. There are werewolves in Congress." His mother snorts a laugh in the midst of Derek's rant. Derek frowns. "What?"
"You would know about werewolf celebrities," Talia says.
"That's really more Laura's thing," Derek says, confused. Yeah, he catches bits of news here and there about which actor or actress is a werewolf, but unless they're actually playing a werewolf onscreen with a real shift, it's about the same as knowing who's gay in Hollywood. Most of it is just rumor and speculation.
Talia just laughs. "You know, Christmas is in two weeks. Ask him to come over, at least for dinner on Christmas Day. Laura and I really want to meet him."
"You mean terrorize him and make sure he's 'worthy'?"
"Oh, honey, you have no idea."
Somehow his mom gets not only Laura involved in bombarding him with questions about Stiles, but also Cora and Mark as well, which is shocking because Cora generally dislikes men who aren't immediately related to her and Mark is usually the only Hale Derek can count on not to stick their nose into his business. But they keep calling him and texting him and he really should just tell them the truth—that it was a stupid, drunken one-night stand—but before he knows it, there's a whole story built up around him and Stiles and how they met and how Stiles was his confidant about his relationship problems with Kate until Stiles became the one he wanted instead of Kate.
This is what happens when you become an author, you get really good at making up stories that sound believable until even you start to believe them yourself.
There is, of course, one huge, gaping problem in all of this, which is that he does not actually know Stiles, doesn't even know his last name let alone how he takes his coffee, which for some reason Cora really wanted to know. Another problem is that Stiles likely already has plans for Christmas, plans which are no doubt far away from Beacon Hills.
It's stupid, really. Derek is a giant idiot and a lying liar who lies but he's also just relieved that Kate hasn't shown up at his apartment to kill him—or to get back her stuff, which is strange, but he's got it ready to mail out this weekend if she doesn't show up—and that his family is accepting of the person they think he's engaged to. He at least knows one thing about Stiles, which is his phone number.
Stiles, of course, does not answer when Derek first calls, likely because it's early in the afternoon and Stiles is off doing whatever it is Stiles does for a living. Derek leaves a message and figures he'll try again in the evening.
He's settled at his desk and just opened the document for his current manuscript when his phone rings. It's Stiles.
Derek nearly drops the phone twice as he fumbles it up to his ear. "Hello?"
"Hey, Derek, hi!" Stiles's bright personality carries through in his voice and it's like the room's instantly lighter. "I was hoping I'd hear from you. What's up?"
Derek licks his lips. It's now or never. "This is going to sound stupid."
Stiles laughs and Derek's heart skips a beat. "I live for stupid. Hit me."
"So, my family saw those Instagram photos with the ring and the engagement and all that."
"That was great, right? I've had people asking me about it all week."
Derek can't help but smile. Stiles sounds so proud, like they'd pulled off the best prank on purpose. "Yeah. Well, they think it's real and are begging me to bring you home for Christmas?"
"Aww." Derek does not melt. Not at all. "That's so sweet. I'm going to California to see my dad for Christmas. I'm assuming they're upstate?"
"N-no." Derek blinks because there's no way Stiles lives anywhere near Beacon Hills. That would be too much coincidence. "They don't live in New York, they're in California. Down near Modesto."
"No shit! That's so cool! Me too! Where? What town?"
Derek licks his lips. He has a sudden sense of hope growing in his chest and he knows, just knows, that the universe isn't this kind to him. "Beacon Hills."
"Shit!" He can hear Stiles flailing wildly on the other end of the call. "Dude! Me too! That's where I live! We can be plane buddies and ooh, you can meet my Dad. I told him about the whole drunken engagement and he thought it was hilarious. So, you wanna crash at my place first and then go to yours Christmas Day?"
Derek blinks. It takes him a full minute to process Stiles's words. "Wait, what? Really?"
"Yeah, totally. I'm down." There's a muffled voice on the other end. Someone calls Stiles's name. "Oops. Break's up. I have to go, but I'm totally in with the obvious conditions that you fly with me because I hate flying alone and at some point in the weekend you plow me into the mattress because damn, your cock. Anyway, got to go. Call me later with deets so we can coordinate our flights."
The line goes dead and Derek just stares at his phone. He has no idea how that conversation happened the way it happened. He had expected to have to bribe Stiles. He'd worked up a full page of talking points, including pros and cons. He had been willing to beg and then... Stiles. He's starting to wonder if Stiles is a previously undiscovered force of nature. He thinks Peter knows a theoretical physicist. Maybe she can get a Fields medal out of it.
Derek sets his phone down and drops his face into his hands. Is he really doing this?
It's a chance to see Stiles again, which is something Derek has been trying not to want as much as he currently does.
Yes, he's absolutely doing this which means now he has to figure out the plans for their trip and what he's getting his "fiancé" for Christmas. He wants to give Stiles Kate's ring, to make it real, but that's not going to work. Stiles doesn't want to marry him. Stiles just wants sex and to have fun and Derek is so, so fucked.
It's better than being with Kate.
"Derek!" The shout carries over the constant chatter of the airport crowd. He turns just in time to have another body barrel into him. Arms wrap around him. The sudden constriction should be off-putting but Stiles's scent fills his nose and he buries his face in Stiles's neck for a brief moment before realizing where he is and that they're not actually in a relationship.
Stiles doesn't seem the least bit fazed as he steps back, his hands still lingering on Derek's arms and his eyes searching Derek's face like they haven't seen each other in years instead of two weeks.
"Hi," Stiles says. There's something amazing about the way he smiles.
"Hi," Derek says back. He glances down at the bag in Stiles's hand. It's just a simple duffle, smaller than the rolling suitcase Derek is bringing along with his laptop bag.
Stiles follows Derek's gaze. "Oh, I pack light. Lots of travel." He waves his hand dismissively as if Derek has any clue what he does for a living. "Plus I had all the presents I bought mailed there so it makes things super convenient."
Derek nods. "I had to check mine. Big family."
Stiles's eyes sparkle. "Oh, really? Man, I always wanted a big family but it's just me and my dad and he's very stubborn about not remarrying even though I keep trying to hook him up with Scott's mom but it's yet to work. And his date with Lydia's mom just ended in disaster, which is good because Lydia would make a horrible step-sibling."
Derek blinks. He has no idea who any of those people are, though Stiles has at least mentioned his dad once before.
"You'll get to meet Scott and Mrs. McCall on the day after Christmas. We always do dinner together. It's a thing. This is my first time bringing a plus one, though, so I apologize in advance for my dad." Stiles elbows Derek playfully. "He knows the engagement isn't real but he also knows we slept together so..." Stiles shrugs. "He doesn't get much chance to play overprotective father with me all the way out here."
Derek nods. He's not sure what to say or even if he's supposed to say anything at all. The name McCall sounds familiar. Isn't there a pack with that name?
"Oh, and Scott. You'll love Scott. He's like a big puppy, he-"
Whatever Stiles was about to say is interrupted by the flight attendant announcing the start of boarding. Stiles waits until she's done and people start shuffling forward to get on the plane. "You have to tell me all about your family on the flight. Everyone. Spare no detail."
Stiles looks so eager that there's no way Derek could possibly say no.
The Stilinski residence is a small house in Beacon Hills proper. There's a cruiser parked out front with the Sheriff's Department logo on the side. Derek glances at Stiles. "Your dad's a cop?"
Stiles beams, obviously proud. "He's the Sheriff."
The front door opens and the man in question appears in the doorway. He's not in uniform and he's smiling, both at his son and Derek. When they approach, he wraps Stiles in a tight hug before extending his hand. "You must be Derek."
They shake hands and head inside. Derek just has his travel bag since his bigger suitcase is just presents and he figures he can last a night without his laptop. He hadn't even had a chance to break it out on the plane, not with the way Stiles talked.
"Thank you for letting me stay with you."
"No problem. Call me Noah, by the way," Stiles's dad says. "It's rare that Stiles brings home anyone from the city."
Derek glances at Stiles, who's blushing for some reason and scratching the back of his head. Stiles grabs Derek's hand and pulls him up the stairs. "Let me show you to my room, Derek."
"I expect you back down in a few minutes," Noah shouts up the stairs after them. "I just washed those sheets."
Stiles's blush gets even worse and Derek's starting to wonder what he's missing.
Derek parks the rental car in front of his house and takes a deep breath to steady himself. Stiles, meanwhile, is gawking.
"Dude, is this seriously your house? I mean, I'd heard how the Hales were a big family but damn."
Derek looks at the sprawling mass in front of them. It's always been home to him but he can see how it could be considered excessive for most families who aren't from a pack. "We've added a few extensions. We're a large pack so there's been some extensions."
Stiles smiles at him and squeezes his arm. "It's cool. I can't wait to meet your family."
Something warm settles in Derek's belly and he doesn't want Stiles to ever leave. He almost blurts his feelings right there in the car, but the front door opens and Laura is dashing toward them. Derek smiles and gets out of the car so that he can give his sister a proper hug.
"You're in such deep shit," Laura whispers in his ear before pulling away and turning toward Stiles. "Stiles Stilinski. It's a pleasure to meet you." Laura goes for a handshake but Stiles grins and throws himself at her for a hug that makes Laura laugh in delight. When Stiles pulls away, Laura turns to Derek and says "We're keeping him. He can stay in my room and I promise to feed him."
Stiles pouts. "But I want to sleep with Derek."
Laura sighs. "Fine, you can both stay in my room. I hope you don't mind me watching you have sex."
"No!" Derek blushes bright red while Stiles cackles. "What? No! Bad Laura."
She waves him off. "Whatever. Get your ass inside, loser." She hooks her arm in Stiles's and drags him inside, leaving Derek to get all their bags. He's glad he's a werewolf.
He leaves the suitcase full of presents by the living room door before taking the rest of their bags up to his room on the third floor. Memories of sleeping pressed against Stiles last night flood his brain as he stares at his childhood bed. It's a queen, at least, but Stiles still somehow sprawls like an octopus in his sleep. Derek hadn't minded too much, especially after the amazing blowjob Stiles had given him.
When he comes back downstairs, he finds Stiles sitting next to Cora, deep in discussion about people Derek doesn't know. He frowns. "You two know each other?"
Cora rolls her eyes. "Duh. We went to high school together."
Derek blinks. "Oh." He glances between the two of them and yeah, he realizes, they are about the same age.
Stiles grins. "Derek didn't even know we were from the same town until a few weeks ago."
His sisters look at him with that "really, Derek?" look they get and he retreats to go add his presents to the pile under the tree. He leaves the ring box tucked away in one of the suitcase pockets and sets out the wrapped books he bought for Stiles instead. He really shouldn't have brought the ring.
"Oh! I have something!" Stiles jumps up from the couch. He starts to run out of the room and then stops. "Uh, which room..."
Laura volunteers to show him. Outside, car doors slam and Derek sniffs the air. Mark, his wife Karen, Aunt Patricia, her wife Lindsey, and their two daughters. He smiles and goes to the door for hugs. In the commotion of greeting people, he doesn't see what Stiles puts under the tree. Stiles is just suddenly by his side, all smiles and happiness and Derek wants to lean into him and press his nose to Stiles's throat. Aunt Pat gives him a knowing look and Derek really hopes no one brings it up because Derek is so doomed. He's in love with a guy he barely knows and it's only going to end in tears.
Derek's parents arrive next from a run to the store and then just as they're getting ready to move into the dining room for lunch, Peter breezes in like the natural disaster he is. Stiles's eyes go wide and he's flinging himself across the room before Derek even realizes what's going on.
"Peter!" Stiles nearly tips Peter over with the force of his hug. Jealously twists inside Derek as Peter hugs Stiles back and judging from the way Peter smiles at him over Stiles's shoulder, Peter can smell it.
Thankfully Peter doesn't linger on the hug. "Stiles, darling, what a pleasant surprise. I was hoping you'd join us and can I say, thank you so much for ridding Derek of that dreadful woman."
Stiles blushes. "I'm sure she wasn't that bad. I'm just glad Derek is happy now." The look Stiles turns on Derek dispels any jealousy Derek previously felt. There isn't even a hint of a lie in Stiles's words and Derek can't help but take a subtle sniff. There are a lot of scents in the room with the amount of people who have been coming and going but the sudden pang of desire-longing-hope makes Derek's eyes go wide.
Maybe Derek's crush on Stiles isn't as hopeless after all.
"Do you seriously know all my family?" Derek asks.
Stiles grins. "Just Peter and Cora. Laura's just a fan of the show."
Derek blinks. "Show?"
Laura elbows him hard in the side. "Wolf Cop. Stiles plays a rookie. Do you seriously not watch it? I know you don't watch much TV, but it's your fiancé!"
Well, now Derek knows what Stiles does for a living.
"Stiles has modeled some of my designs," Peter says as he sweeps into the room to deposit more gifts under the tree. When he turns, his eyes rake over Stiles's form. "He has quite a fetching look."
Derek is saved from his complete lack of knowledge of Stiles's work when Talia calls them for lunch and then there's food followed by presents and Derek only has a moment to marvel over the soft, hand-knit scarf Stiles shyly hands him before they're swept away in the craziness that is Christmas with the Hales.
It's not until most of the family's gone to bed and Derek and Stiles are retreating up to Derek's room that they finally get a moment alone together. Stiles is clutching the books Derek picked out for him—one cozy mystery and one of Derek's own books—to his chest like they're something precious. The rest of his gifts from the family are all shoved in a single giftbag and Derek still can't get over Stiles's blushing delight when he'd been handed multiple presents.
He drops his suitcase—now filled with his own presents—by the others and turns to face Stiles with a raised eyebrow. There's something soft in Stiles's expression, something hesitant and Derek wouldn't have thought Stiles capable of this kind of reserve if it wasn't on display right in front of him. The expression alone makes Derek's insides melt and he knows it doesn't matter what Stiles is about to ask him, his answer is yes, always yes.
Stiles shuffles on his feet. He sets the giftbag down but doesn't let go of the books. "Do you think... maybe... after we get back to the city, do you want to..." Stiles frowns suddenly and turns toward the window. "Were you expecting any late arrivals? I thought your family was all here."
Derek shakes his head. "No, no one else is coming."
Stiles sets the books on the bed as he passes, making a bee-line to the window. He opens it and sticks his head out. "I thought I heard a car door."
Derek frowns. "There shouldn't be anyone out here this late." He strains his ears but he doesn't hear anything.
Stiles inhales deeply. His eyes go wide and before Derek can even react, Stiles is jumping head-first out the third-story window.
"Stiles!" His shout is loud enough to have woken the other werewolves, but Derek doesn't care because he's already leaping out the window after Stiles. He expects to see Stiles's head smashed open on the ground below but instead Stiles is sprinting across the yard with inhuman speed. "What the fuck?" Derek says as he lands in a crouch and takes after Stiles.
How had he missed Stiles being supernatural? He should have smelled that, right? Noah definitely wasn't a werewolf but Stiles had mentioned the McCalls. Oh, shit, is Stiles part of the McCall pack? Did Stiles invite him to meet his Alpha tomorrow—or was it later today? What time was it?
Behind him, he can hear people stirring, curiosity pulling them out of sleep. Stiles reaches the tree line at the end of the driveway and roars. An answering call builds in Derek's throat but they're not pack, not yet, maybe soon. The front door to the house slams open and more people are following Derek in his race after Stiles.
There's no question where to go once he gets to the trees. He can hear fighting further down the road. Stiles yelps, there's two quick gunshots, and the roar Derek had been holding back lets loose loud enough to shake the branches around him.
He bursts through the trees with claws and fangs out, only to halt as he takes in the scene in front of him. There's a car parked on the side of the road with the trunk open. Stiles is shifted and breathing heavily while Kate is sprawled on the ground, alive but unconscious. Talia and Peter stop beside him with the rest of the pack following behind.
Stiles turns toward them with wide, panicked eyes. "She was... I heard... There was..." He waves a hand toward the trunk. Stiles leans back and sucks in a deep breath before letting the shift fall away.
Derek isn't the only one who heads toward the car. His heart almost stops as he gets a look at the trunk. There are jugs of gasoline, multiple guns, and jars of mountain ash and other things he can't identify. Stiles is at his side, fingers twisting in Derek's sleeve.
"Hey," Stiles says, "you're not mad that I punched your ex, are you?"
Derek turns his wide eyes on Stiles and blurts the only thing on his mind. "Marry me? I mean really marry me." He starts to drop to one knee but Stiles laughs and pulls him up into a kiss instead. Stiles's mouth opens up for Derek and it's amazing.
Someone coughs next to them and Derek hastily realizes that he's holding Stiles up against him by Stiles's ass and Stiles's legs are around Derek's waist and it's probably not the best place to be making out, considering his murderous ex-girlfriend is sprawled on the ground three feet away. Stiles pouts as Derek lowers him to the ground but he pulls out his phone.
"I'll call my dad. I'm assuming you'll want to press charges."
"That would be correct," Talia answers for the group. "Peter and Laura, stay here. Everyone else, back to the house."
Derek follows the others back, listening with half an ear to Stiles's conversation with the Sheriff. Stiles's free hand finds Derek's and their fingers twine together as they walk through the woods. Stiles doesn't let go of Derek's hand, even as they settle onto the couch to wait for the police, and every time Stiles looks at him, there's a blinding smile on his face that Derek knows matches his own.