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Before the Storm

Chapter Text

It's been a long day, and the traffic is terrible leaving the city, and Stiles's music is nowhere near loud enough to drown out the sounds of the angry cars around him and tires swerving on the blacktop. It's just after 5PM on a Thursday and the construction on the highway hasn't seemed to progress since that morning, and Stiles just wants to be home with his dog on the couch with some shitty Chinese food from the place across the street.

And Derek, but that's obvious.

After high school and college and grad school and the like, Stiles finally managed to settle far away from Beacon Hills. Not as far as he would've liked, but Seattle is close enough that it makes his dad happy and the two of them can spend as much outside time as they like without Stiles turning into a peach because of the sun. Northern California was nice, but being able to enjoy the summer without feeling like dying is much better.

The weather is Seattle is chill, and the traffic isn't normally too bad, but Stiles has been sitting on the interstate long enough that he has to turn on the air conditioning, and it feels ridiculous. It's only 72 degrees outside, but here he is, sweltering in the summer sun because the Volkswagen in front of him can't seem to move at a considerable rate.

It's only been 12 minutes since he got in the car - Stiles has been counting - but after the long walk to the parking garage and all that time it takes to drive down 8 stories to the mainland, he's had enough. Everyday pretty much feels like this, so he should have got used to this already, but hot damn he just wants to be home.

His life in Seattle is nice. He gets to work at the top of a glass building that’s 18 stories tall and look down to the world below him. He has a decent car with decent gas mileage and a decent boyfriend to keep his life on track. They live close to a few friends, he can visit his dad whenever he wants, and him and Derek live a generally easy life.

It’s simple. It’s perfect.

He doesn’t have to take his work home with him if he doesn’t want, but law is something that he’s passionate about, so when Derek’s in the garage at night doing whatever he does – painting, building furniture, fixing the car (it depends on the day) – Stiles allows himself to settle into the comfort of their sofa and read up on whatever case he’s been working on. His friends think that he works too much, especially at home when the two of them could be doing something adventurous or romantic or fun, but they don’t see it that way. Law is more like a hobby for Stiles, and Derek gets some alone time in the garage without the dog going crazy for his attention.

Like before – it’s perfect.

They live in a bungalow right outside Seattle where the Northside meets the suburbs. It has three bedrooms, which is nice for summer when their friends want to escape the heat, and there’s a heated pool out back for those cool nights when they decide to have a little bit more fun. (Albeit these days their fun consists of a few beers and pretending that they go out anymore.)

They like to get brunch on the weekends, lay in the hammock on their front porch when it’s not too cold or rainy, sleep until noon when one of them doesn’t have to work. It’s really the easiest life that Stiles could have asked for, and some days he just doesn’t know what to do with himself.

His phone rings.

“On my way home.”

“Do you want to go out to eat tonight?” Derek asks over the Bluetooth. “I don’t feel like cooking, and we wanted to try that Vietnamese place over on Meridian.”

“Is she driving you crazy?”

“Mostly I don’t want to cook, but damn, working from home is impossible when she can’t do anything by herself.”

Stiles snorts and flexes his arms, yawning. “I guess. I don’t want to cook either.” He looks at his watch. Time has barely passed. “We can pay for one of those dog walking services, get her out of your hair for an hour or so.”

“We can talk about it over dinner. I don’t want to distract you.”

“The line is barely moving,” Stiles offers, and he can hear Derek on the other side of the call muttering under his breath. “Seriously! It’s worse than normal. I haven’t even got to Parkwood yet.”

“And I told you to stop taking the interstate.” Derek has told him, many times, to suck it up and deal with the 45 MPH roads because at least he’d be moving. “I-5 is always this slow during rush hour. Find a new route.”

He’s right, and Stiles knows it, but the backroads freak him out sometimes and when winter comes, he’ll be used to them and then be stuck in a ditch somewhere buried under 17 feet of snow. Obviously, it’s an exaggeration, but Stiles will use that argument every time.

“Make sure she poops before I come home, and then you can just hop in the car and we’ll head back out. If I get too comfy I’m never going to want to leave again, and then it will be morning, and I’ll be stuck once more driving on the interstate to town.”

Derek scoffs. “Whatever you say. Call me when you’re on the road and I’ll head out to the driveway.”

“Sounds good,” Stiles says, and he presses END CALL on the screen.

He needs to clean his car, he decides, when he notices that there’s a barrage of CDs on the floor and change where it shouldn’t be. He just gets so busy with work sometimes that when he gets home he just wants to eat and snuggle on the couch until Derek pulls him up and drags him to bed. Besides, sleeping on Derek is sometimes more fun than sleeping next to Derek, especially when he gets to throw his limbs on top of him like an octopus.

Only 20 more minutes until he’s home.

Chapter Text

It’s been raining all week, and shingles from their roof have already gone missing. Derek can’t believe the weather up here. Compared to California, Washington has a climate of its own. It’s either raining or foggy, and most of the year it’s cold enough that Stiles complains about the chill. It’s always damp, too, but at least the summers aren’t muggy. They once spent a vacation in Florida with Cora and Lydia, and the air was so thick he wasn’t sure how he continued to breathe.

Either way, Stiles is still intent on having a dinner party that night since he doesn’t have to work the following morning, and he didn’t bother mentioning to Derek until he was on the way home that he invited three more people from work that afternoon and they needed three more servings, three more matching chairs, and three more bottles of wine.

Derek works from home, but that doesn’t mean that he has the ability to up and leave at any point and pick up groceries or match wine with the fish that he’d be serving. He has things to do, stuff to build, furniture to sell. It’s not all fun at games a su casa, as Stiles likes to say.

The kid doesn’t even speak Spanish.

“Just buy more fillets and some asparagus and we’ll divide out the rice more than we thought,” Stiles has said on the phone, and Derek could only roll his eyes.

“You say that like I haven’t been marinating the fish all day.”

“We’ll eat the other ones. I’ll tell Lydia she will too. I mean, I’m not trying to impress these peeps, but it would be so cool to make partner after a while. So cool, Derek. So cool.”

“God, I get it,” Derek laughed, and he headed to the store.

Now, back home, he tries to find a quick marinade so that he, Stiles, and Lydia don’t have to eat tilapia with just butter and garlic. He doesn’t want to settle, but he will if he has too.

He knows he should have made more risotto. He almost doubled the batch this morning, but logic got in the way.

“It’s fine,” he mutters to himself. “It’s fine. Less risotto means more room for dessert.”

Derek isn’t all about cooking, but he’s good at it. He likes frying and baking, but sometimes the intense energy that goes into preparing a multitude of freaking baby quiches for brunches that Stiles schedules, or like tonight, when he somehow got conned into making four different lava cakes so everyone can try a little of each. And they all have a drink to match.

They’re not bougie, he keeps reminding himself. They’re just a little extra sometimes.

“Honey, I’m home!” Stiles booms, and their dog – a small goldendoodle named Sandy – runs as fast as she can into the foyer.

Derek checks his watch. 5:42. They have time.

“Kitchen,” he yells, and starts oiling up a glass baking pan. The oven’s preset at 425F and there’s not much left to do except keep stirring the risotto, finish the fish, and then start to cake once the move to the dining room.

Stiles enters, almost out of breath, and their dog keeps trying to pounce on him. “Good evening, my fair lass,” he bellows. Like he’s trying to be funny.

“Am I a lass now?” Derek asks, eyebrow cocked. “You do know lass is typically a young girl? A maiden?”

“Well, you ain’t no maiden, now are you?” Stiles smirks, and he swats at Derek’s butt.

“Knock it off,” Derek deadpans, and he looks again at the clock on the wall. “Six o’clock, right?”

Stiles nods, and he takes off his messenger bag and puts it on the kitchen island. “Don’t worry, I’ll put it in the bedroom. I just need to look over something before the firm people get here.”

Derek watches him. “Firm people,” he mutters, and goes back to putting the fish in their two separate, two differently seasoned baking pans. They have a total of 8 of them this evening, and their table normally seats 5. Weird, they know, but it was cute and Stiles had to have it. Luckily, Lydia has the exact same chairs at her house – probably for this reason exactly – and she only lives a couple blocks away.

Sometimes Derek wonders if Stiles only got this far away from his dad because he knew someone else was nearby. Especially since Lydia pretty much knows how to do anything.

“And yeah, 6. Lydia said that she’d be here any minute, so we’ll have to go to garage and help her carry in the chairs.”

“Can you help with the leaf for the table?” Derek asks. “It’s not heavy, it’s just super awkward.

Stiles picks up the paperwork he was looking for from inside his bag and stares down at it intently. “Yeah, one second. I’m not gonna chat about this during dinner, but afterward I’m gonna try to get them to tell me what my offer would be if they were going to make one.”

“Huh.” Derek slides the fish into the oven. At least it only takes 12 minutes to cook.

“Yeah, I want to be able to barter, you know. The last person to make partner left after like two months, and I don’t want to do that or anything, but if they don’t offer me at least 10 more grand a year than what they offered him, then what am I hanging around for. I can wait a few more years and then make partner somewhere else. No reason to waste more time, right?”

“Right,” Derek says. He goes to the dining room to pull the table apart, and when he’s ready for Stiles, the other man is already in the garage helping Lydia with the chairs.

They live a pretty reasonable life. They don’t spend too much money, Stiles has paid off his student loans from both undergrad and law school, and they own both of their cars. They’re still working on the house, but if Stiles is considering up and leaving his law firm without bringing up to Derek before, who knows if they’ll be moving somewhere else in 6 months. They’re not bad at communication, they’re just not good at it. They’re both super busy, even though most of the time Stiles doesn’t seem to see all that Derek does simply out of their garage.

The Jacob’s, an older couple across the street, paid him four grand just to build a swing for their front porch. They said that they wanted it hand crafted, which was why they didn’t go to a store, but Derek still feels like he cheated them out about $3,500. The materials barely cost $200, but they said they appreciated his time and diligent work more than they would have if they simply bought it from someone else. They wanted that personal connection, and they know that Derek takes pride in his work.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter, though, because Stiles works in environmental law and that seems to be pretty in right now. The polar ice caps, PETA, GMOs, and all that crap that everyone on both sides complains about brings in a good chunk of cash for both of them. He’s also pretty prolific in the field, too, and he’s gotten to work on pretty popular cases.

He’s the guy that made all interstates have three lanes if they were within sixty miles of a city over 100,000. Conservation activities weren’t too happy about that one. But all states but Alaska have had reduced vehicle accidents in their metro regions (and that’s just because Alaska didn’t have many that didn’t result from inclement weather in the first place).

Derek’s proud. Of course he is, he’s had the opportunity to watch Stiles grow since he was sixteen, and it’s been almost fourteen years. Three of those years were full of awkward encounters and trying not to die, but for the past ten or so they’ve been pretty strong. Derek never doubts him.

It’s just overwhelming sometimes.

“Whatcha thinking about over there?” Stiles asks, and Derek shakes his head, trying to clear whatever is distracting him away.

“Ten minutes,” he says and taps his wrist.

“Got it.” Stiles hands him the third chair and they carry them in through the garage.

Ten minutes.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

“I’m just trying to plan out my future. There’s been a lot of change in my life in the past couple of years, and obviously I get to work on the case I want to already, but I want to hit that final stretch. I want to hit the ground running and really make a name for myself.”

“You already have, Stiles. People know your name. You’ve done a lot of great work over these past couple of years, and we’re very grateful for your time and energy. We don’t have that many young lawyers that are ready to drop anything when necessary to help out.”

“Thank you. I remember working here in law school, too. I mean, I was at the reception desk, but every single thing I watched was a learning experience. Working here has been a dream.”

Lydia snorts in the kitchen, and Derek moves to close the door that connects it to the dining room. “He’s such a schmoozer.”

“He wants it,” Derek offers, and he shuts the door quietly. There’s not much left to clean up, and Lydia’s husband Connor is standing with them drinking wine. “If the offer is big enough, I think he’ll take it.”

“Did he tell you how much the offer was for the last partner? They offered $180,000. Or some assemblage of numbers that would amount to that much with rounding.” Lydia shrugs and shakes her head. “I don’t know if they’ll offer 190 or even 180 after the last person left the firm so quickly.”

“I don’t know,” Derek sighs. “I just know that if he doesn’t get it he’ll try somewhere else. And that’ll take more time, and I don’t think they want to lose him.”

Connor stands up and fills up both of their glasses, and Derek starts to clean the baking dishes from the fish. Everything else is clean or loaded into the dishwasher so he doesn’t have to deal with it.

“He’s good, so either way he’ll find something. If they give him a raise, fantastic. But even $150,000 isn’t bad. Some lawyers make around 90, and that’s after five or so years.”

“I don’t even know why he wants to tie himself to a firm,” Lydia says. “He’s good enough on his own, and he’ll want to start his own later anyway. He doesn’t need it.”

She’s right. In five or so years, they could have enough money saved away to buy a building for him to open up shop in. The rush is hard, he knows, because Stiles wants to keep working away until then, but he doesn’t have to make partner to do it.

“It’s an accomplishment,” he says. “You know how he wants to be noticed. Making partner is the next big prize. Aside from starting his own firm, this is it.”

“He has to start somewhere,” Lydia agrees.

The room retreats into silence as they drink and Derek cleans.

It’s hard for Derek to read Stiles when he’s not sure what he wants. He’s always very calculated, but since he didn’t even know about making partner until minutes before their guests arrived, it’s not like he can make an educated guess about how this conversation is going to end. He hopes Stiles gets what he wants, but Derek’s not sure he knows what that is anymore.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stiles steps up behind Derek in the shower. “Well, that was fun.” He rests his head on Derek’s shoulder, and the showerhead rains on them from above.

“Did they tell you what you wanted to hear?”

“I don’t know what I wanted to hear,” Stiles admits, and he grabs a loofah from the shower caddy and starts to suds it up. “There’s just so many options. I want to do so much stuff.”

“Changing your mind from law?” Derek asks, and Stiles laughs.

“Ha, I wish. There’s so many emotions in the courtroom, and most of the time, both sides of the case are right in some aspect.”

“Maybe you should start a dog walking business.”

“We still haven’t signed up for one of those, have we?”

“Nope.”

“Come here.”

Derek walks under the shower head again and lets Stiles scrub the loofah onto his skin. It’s soothing, and he closes his eyes. The loofah moves to his neck, and Derek can’t help but cant his head to the side.

Stiles hums and wipes away the foam with his hand. “Sorry the talk went long. I didn’t mean to drag it out.”

“It’s okay.”

“Wanna know what they offered me?”

“Partner?”

Derek opens his eyes, and Stiles beams for the first time in what seems like forever. “Yeah. And if I take some of the lower people in a few years, they’ll help me with an expansion. I’d run the second office.”

“Second of many?”

“That would be amazing.”

Derek cups Stiles’s chin in his hand and kisses him. “Proud of you.”

“Me too,” Stiles says, and he leans back into Derek. “I don’t want to leave the shower.”

“I’ll wash your hair.” Derek kisses him again. “And then we’ll go to bed.”

Chapter Text

Every night this week, Stiles has been stuck at the office, and yet again on Friday, here he is: trying to leave and something pops up.

The transition to partner has been weird. He figures he’d be doing more paperwork by now, but he’s just choosing the cases he wants and handing over the others to the fledglings below him. He doesn’t mind too much because he’s getting the opportunity to pick through everything given to the firm and finding his top pick and actually getting to take it for himself.

The best thing about working this hard and dedicating time outside of office hours to help his team is definitely the pay check. The guy who made partner before him was either lying about what his compensation package was or they really, really, really like Stiles.

Making about half a million dollars a year isn’t bad. It’s actually kind of overwhelming.

He’s okay, though, with the work load because after he finishes the two cases he’s working on currently and Derek finishes the bedroom set for a young couple two towns away, they’re off to Ireland. Stiles can hardly wait, and being away from the house so much in the past week has made him want this trip even more.

They’ve traveled a lot together. Last summer they went to Germany, and that was a blast, but they could only stay a week. You know, it’s expensive to visit another country in the summer time when both breadwinners in the household aren’t making too much after student loans and car payments. It was a rough year, but here they are, two “flexible tickets” – as the airlines says – and a house already set up for them in Galway so that they can arrive at any time.

It’s a good life.

“Hey, Claire, can you clear my lines for a couple minutes? I need to make a personal phone call.”

The receptionist at the desk in front of him gives the affirmative, and Stiles closes the door.

They have a lot of plans made for the trip, but nothing is super set in stone, because neither of them are really sure if they’ll be able to leave next week or if they’ll have to wait one more. As soon as Stiles is done though, he’s taking ten days leave (not including his personal weekends, of course), and they’re getting the hell out of dodge.

“Good morning, star shine,” he says into the phone. He stands at the window and overlooks the city. It’s not too early anymore, and the sun is kind of killing his eyes, but it’s not raining. The sun feels so refreshing on his phone.

“I finished the dresser this morning,” Derek tells him. “Everything is done except sanding and paint.”

“We’re getting so close.” Stiles can’t help but beam even though Derek can’t see him. “Days away from the adventure of a lifetime.”

“First of many,” Derek says, and Stiles nods at the sky.

They have plans to Spain and Portugal later in the year. It’s too hot in the summer for Stiles’s white skin, but maybe they’ll find somewhere else to take a second well needed vacation.

“What do you have left?” Derek asks.

“I’m hoping my opponent on this pesticide case will take the plea bargain today in court, but who knows. It’s not like they’re getting time, but admitting fault is a lot for a company.” Stiles sits down at his desk and spins to the left. “The other one is those two farmers I was telling you about. The brothers. Both claiming that the land is theirs even though the will left it to the state of Washington.”

“Yeah, that one sounds like it’s going to be more draining.”

Stiles scoffs. “For them, maybe. I’m having a good time watching them bicker back and forth when I know that the judge can’t do anything about it when the land was mentioned in the will.”

“Are you going to be home late again or will you make it back for dinner?”

It’s hard to say. If the corporation gets over themselves, he’ll be in the clear. There’s three lawyers on the team defending Washington State against the brothers, so it’s an easy out if he has the time to leave. Since he’s a big name now, he can pretty much do what he wants, but leaving a client behind like the nursery he’s defending isn’t going to bode well for the firm.

“I should make it back for dinner,” he says. “But no promises. I’ll text you at 4 and let you know what’s up.”

Not having clear answers sometimes gets in the way of the two of them communicating effectively. Stiles is trying to get better at it, but there’s often just so much going on that he doesn’t know exactly what’s important enough to mention. Obviously, he keeps his cases vague (unless they’re crazy outrageous like the pot farm he had to defend against the state a couple years ago right after they legalized marijuana), but there’s still so many little things that he doesn’t even think of mentioning most of the time, and then they get stuck in a weird circle on miscommunication where Derek makes fish tacos for dinner but that’s also what Stiles grabbed for lunch.

Like he said, little things.

“I’ll see you when I see you, then,” Derek says, and Stiles can hear the upturn of his lips.

“Love you.” Stiles logs back into his computer and hangs up when Derek responds. “Claire, you can patch me back in now. I’ll be in the office until 11, and then I have to head downtown.”

--------------------------------------

When Stiles gets home, it’s dinner time, and it feels nice that he’s actually made it home in time for once. For the past week, he’s been eating microwaved leftovers and Derek’s food is just not as good the second time around.

Except for his macaroni and cheese, because Stiles is gross and likes when it congeals.

“Want me to chop anything?” Stiles asks, and Derek turns around startled as if he didn’t hear him.

“Uh, onions? I’m making cheese enchiladas.”

“Bean dip?” Stiles asks.

“In the fridge.”

“Perfect”

The two of them stand side by side at the counter, babbling back and forth as they try not to eat the cheese before they actually cook dinner.

Derek only has to finish the two nightstands and then he’s finished, and since Stiles’s case with the nursery ended this afternoon they can leave as soon as they feel like it. It’s weird, knowing that they now have the opportunity to do whatever they want a good chunk of the time, but it is liberating.

“You’re not going to bring work with you, right?” Derek asks when they’re in the middle of foiling the pan.

“No, sir,” Stiles says. “But I’m bringing my laptop so we can watch crappy Netflix movies at night if we want.” Stiles holds up three fingers. “But no work. Scout’s honor.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “Sounds good to me.”

Before long, they’ve moved to the living room and begin eating dinner on the couch, Sandy snuggled between them trying to get little bites of cheese here and there. The TV is on in the background, some weeknight sitcom, and it captivates their attention just as much as the flies on the wall.

“How long will it take you to pack?” Derek asks. Neither of them are too picky or intense when it comes to getting ready for a trip, but the length of this one might make their process a little longer than normal. With the weather being up in the air for wherever they visit while in Ireland, they need more than they’d probably think.

“Maybe the weekend,” Stiles offers. “I know we need to get some of those travel size shampoos and whatever, and I can grab them tomorrow so you have the day to finish. I’ll take her with me so you can actually get some work done.” He scratches Sandy behind her ear.

“Grab extra toothbrushes. We’ll probably want a couple just in case we lose one in transit or we forget to take it when we leave the house.”

Stiles nods and shoves a giant piece of enchilada into his mouth.

It’s been awhile since either of them have talked about marriage, and Stiles knows that it’s probably something that he wants. Whether it’s now or in a couple years, he’s not sure, but he’s not sure if the right time to bring it up again is right before they leave the country for a couple weeks. He doesn’t want Derek to think that he has some kind of ulterior motive for going to Ireland – and he knows that Derek wouldn’t think that, he knows – but bringing it up right before a trip that could be the “beginning” of their lives together would be something else.

Impractical. Anxiety-inducing.

Yeah, that’s it.

He drones on and on to Lydia regularly about how he wants something new, but it’s still hard to know if marriage would do that. They are already legally partners and have each other wrapped into every medical or legal document that they can, so there’s no real reason to get married. Aside from being married, that is.

They’re both still young and neither has their clock ticking for having children, so there’s no dire need to show the world that they’re infatuated with one another. They know, their friends know, Sandy knows. That’s really all they need. Right?

“What do you think about an end of the summer trip to New York?” Stiles asks. “It’ll be cooler outside, and we can spend a week or so annoying Cora and going to musicals.”

“Day trip to D.C.?” Derek asks.

“Two week trip: New York and D.C.” Stiles grins and gives Sandy a small bite of enchilada. “We have the time. And the energy.”

“And the money,” Derek says. They both nod, smiling softly, and praise the heavens for a moment that they have such a relaxing life. It took a lot to get to this point – school upon school for Stiles, recognition and dedication for Derek – but they made it.

“Two weeks sounds nice,” Derek adds. “We can see if they’ll be doing Hamilton again in D.C. so we can get a real feel for the revolution.”

“Yes,” Stiles says. “Most definitely. New York was something, but D.C. is basically the city where it happened.”

Derek snorts, and Stiles falls back into the couch with a laugh.

“I’ll pack tomorrow night,” Derek notes, “and then we’ll be able to leave Sunday. Do you want to figure out the plane stuff? And can you take car off the bathroom junk?”

“Yes and yes. I’ll call the house in the morning to let them know we’ll be there soon, too, and then check out train tickets for London and Paris if we still want to make day trips.”

“Definitely.”

They finish their enchiladas, clean up after dinner, and settle back on the couch to watch the newest crime docu series on Netflix about a crazy lady in the UK who kidnapped her boyfriend so that the Mormon’s couldn’t keep them apart.

They hope their vacation doesn’t make them that crazy.