“Oh no, oh no, baby, come on, not now,” Stiles pleads and lets his head thunk against the steering wheel when Roscoe’s only reply is the dying splutter of doom. There’s smoke escaping from under the hood and just before she had turned off, a lot of lights had flashed up on her dashboard.
“Couldn’t you have made it home at least?” Stiles complains loudly, throwing the door open with a little too much force. “You know I could have fixed you at home, baby. It never seems to work as well on the road.”
Roscoe just groans in protest when he opens her hood, but at least she seems to have stopped smoking. Not that Stiles would be able to tell what exactly had been the problem either way; car innards look weird and wrong to him whether they are squeaky clean or covered in soot and grease. Not that Roscoe has ever been squeaky clean since Stiles has owned her. He loves her, but they’ve got an understanding - and sponges are not a part of it.
With a sigh, Stiles steps back and closes his eyes, trying to concentrate. He feels a little ridiculous, standing in front of his broken down car on the side of the road, but this is how this whole thing works. He just needs to believe it.
Deaton’s “be the spark” speech had been a real life changer. Stiles still remembers the triumph he felt when that line of mountain ash closed and it’s a feeling he has never grown tired of. Fixing his car usually doesn’t lead to such an immediate payoff, but as long as Stiles keeps his belief strong, it does work eventually. Sometimes it takes a day or so, but then a car is more complicated than a handful of mountain ash, so it makes sense it’d take longer, too. Which is why it’s very unfortunate Roscoe decided to give up on him before he could bring her home. At least she broke down not too far from the coffee shop, so Stiles sends another burst of trust and belief her way and then settles in for the wait.
When it gets dark, he finally has to admit that this is not happening today and call his dad for a lift.
“You know your mother would have rather had you drive in a safe and reliable ride than a sentimental one, right?” his dad asks drily once Stiles is seated in the cruiser (up front thankfully, so Stiles’ call didn’t take him away from anything too important) and Stiles squawks indignantly.
“She is perfectly safe and reliable! She just needs a little rest, dad! Just you wait, tomorrow she’ll be as good as new.”
He doesn’t even have to fake his conviction, because he knows that to be true. Since Stiles figured out this spark thing, Roscoe has always been as good as new the next day at the latest. This is just a minor inconvenience.
Roscoe is not as good as new the next day.
This time there’s no smoke at least, but there’s also not even the slightest splutter when Stiles tries to start her. After another half day spent at the coffee shop, waiting for his belief to start working, Stiles has to admit that if he’s spending money on overpriced foods and drinks while waiting for his car to repair itself, he might at least spend it on the actual repairs.
His mechanic looks surprised to see him.
“I thought you’d found a new one,” he grunts in explanation and Stiles laughs.
“A new one? Robert, there’s no other mechanic in town, and you full well know that! You keep buying them all out, you son of a gun! She’s just been running fine, no need for a check-up. I don’t know what’s wrong with her right now.”
“What’s not wrong with her is the question rather,” Robert grumbles but falls silent when he finally opens the hood. He squints at whatever is giving him pause and Stiles asks:
“What’s wrong? Don’t tell me there’s another rat!”
That had made for a pretty funny story in hindsight, but the initial discovery had been both very disgusting and quite embarrassing, too. Robert had said that even his most automobile-challenged customers hadn’t had any problems differentiating between engines and rats so far. Stiles was apparently a new low on an already pretty low scale. Stiles has had to hear many an impassioned rant about this, when he’d had to bring Roscoe in for another repair. Let a dead rat mummify under your hood once and you are the devil to cars everywhere forever.
But Robert doesn’t even take the bait this time, he just asks, sounding very disbelieving: “You said you’ve not been visiting another mechanic since you were last here?”
“No, I told you!” Stiles insists and then suddenly realises that Robert is probably seeing the results of Stiles’ sparkly belief. Hopefully without actual sparkles. Some rapid backtracking is in order.
“I mean, I’ve not been to another shop. But someone has been looking after her, yes! Just not at a shop! At home! In the garage!”
“Not you,” Robert returns and the conviction in his voice is frankly insulting. Especially as Stiles is the one who has been looking after Roscoe! But Robert continues before Stiles can complain: “Whoever it was has done a great job; you should be very thankful. I thought for sure this rattletrap would have fallen to pieces before now. But here she is, and looking pretty good all in all. You can come and get her tomorrow; this won’t take long. And then keep taking her to that friend of yours - the old lady deserves some tender loving care for putting up with you for all those years.”
Robert is true to his word and when Stiles comes back for Roscoe the next day, she purrs like the sweetest little kitten again.
Until the kitten shows its claws.
Or whatever you want to call it when your car stops running for the second time in a week.
This time she at least dies right in front of the house, so Stiles can do his sparky belief thing in bed. Only it still doesn’t work and so after having her towed to the garage again , Stiles calls Scott.
“Dude, I think my spark is dead.”
“What? Why? How?” Scott demands.
“Shouldn’t you have started with ‘Who?’ and ‘Where?’ - isn’t that how the Five Ws go?” Stiles snarks back but then sighs and says: “Roscoe has died twice this week already.”
“Oh right, Derek is visiting Cora right now!” Scott replies brightly and Stiles actually pulls his phone away to look at it in disbelief. What has that got to do with Stiles’ spark?
“I know, he told me so. He told all of us, remember? We had a ‘farewell and give our love to Cora, but not too much, because she’s scary and might bite’ party! Fun was had all around. Just like he’s having fun now, I’m sure.” Imagining Derek on some southern beach surrounded by generously endowed hotties leaves a sour taste in Stiles’ mouth for some reason, so instead of thinking about it too closely, he switches back to the problem at hand - his dead spark. “I’m talking about my spark, you know, the magical hand-wavey belief thing I do? The mountain ash? How I keep my car running?”
“Your car runs with mountain ash?” Scott questions and Stiles groans and flops down on his bed. If ever any situation called for teenage drama clichés then it is this one.
“God no, I can’t even begin to imagine how that would work! It runs on my spark! On my belief in Roscoe! And I’m afraid I’ve broken something! Because it doesn’t work anymore!”
“I see,” Scott says and it is abundantly clear that he does not see at all. And apparently hasn’t been listening to Stiles either, because he just comes back again to Derek of all people. “Just give it a bit of time, Derek’s coming back for Christmas after all.”
“As if I’d care about that,” Stiles grumbles and then quickly hangs up before Scott can call him out on the lie. At least his problems with Roscoe have served as a convenient distraction from how much he has been not missing Derek. Denial is just a river in Egypt after all.
Scott is right about one thing, though, Christmas is close and that means Stiles only has to survive the rest of the week before Christmas break starts. Taking the bus will suck, but he’ll do it, because if Roscoe really needs to go back to the garage again, Stiles will have to use his Christmas money. His spark taking a time-out is really inconvenient for his wallet.
Perhaps his spark got switched for some premonition, because the next week does indeed suck. Stiles is late almost every single day because either the bus runs late, or he is late and misses the bus, or in one memorable instance, they are both late and the bus skips his stop to save time. And Roscoe still doesn’t want to start despite Stiles giving it his all with his sparky belief. Scott isn’t any help; he just keeps mentioning that Derek is going to be home soon. Stiles has honestly heard enough about Derek, thank you very much.
Especially as he hasn’t heard anything from Derek since he left to visit Cora.
It’s not as though he expected daily updates - Stiles knows Derek is bad with words, and while you could argue that he doesn’t really like speaking either, he seems to abhor texting even more. Stiles guesses it has something to do with how he’s missing his other senses in written conversation, not able to take clues from the scents and heartbeat of the person he’s talking to. Still, though, it would have been nice to hear from him, just to know that he’s alright.
At least he knows that Derek made it safely down south. Cora has an instagram now (it’s mostly pictures of horses and wasn’t that a surprise. Stiles would never have pegged her for a horse girl!) and the latest picture is one of her and Derek, windswept and sunflushed, grinning at the camera. Well, as much as the Hale siblings ever grin. To the uninitiated, it might look more like a glare. But Stiles has made a profession out of deciphering Derek’s miniscule facial expressions, and that’s definitely what counts as a grin for him. The sight makes his heart ache. Even with things having settled down in Beacon Hills lately, smiles and grins from Derek have been far and few between. To see one now, far away from Beacon Hills, from Stiles, makes him wonder whether it wouldn’t be better for Derek to stay away, if he wouldn’t be happier. The radio silence doesn’t help things.
So yes, it’s a shitty week all around - no Roscoe, no other reliable transport, no Derek, and maudlin thoughts to top it all off. Stiles could really use a Christmas miracle.
Despite Scott’s constant reassurances that Derek would be home for Christmas, come Christmas Eve there’s no sign of him anywhere. And with Roscoe out of commission, Stiles can’t even drive by the loft to check if he went straight into hiding. His nightly prayer for Roscoe to work again in the morning is half-hearted at best and it takes him ages to fall asleep that night.
On the morning of Christmas Eve he wakes up early - as in way too early to wake up his dad now that he’s no longer five and has the excuse of childish excitement - and so he decides to check out Roscoe one last time. If she still won’t start, then he’s going to give up, formally bury his spark in the back garden and call the garage after the holidays.
But when Stiles turns the ignition, Roscoe purrs to life.
“Dad! Dad! A Christmas miracle happened!”
“I’m allowed to eat red meat again?” his dad croaks, keeping his eyes firmly shut against the lights Stiles slapped on in his bedroom.
“Nope, and you are going to be so grateful for the delicious kale lentil pie I’m going to cook late that you won’t even miss the horrible, heart-killing meat! No, dad, Roscoe is working again! It’s a Christmas miracle!”
“Oh, so Derek’s back? Tell him to come over for dinner; I won’t accept no for an answer. He can have your kale lentil pie,” his dad snarks and then pulls his comforter over his head in a clear sign that he considers this conversation to be over.
“Seriously, why is everybody obsessed with Derek Hale?” Stiles complains and ignores the little voice in his head that sounds suspiciously like Lydia sing-songing ‘pot, kettle!’.
Roscoe deserves a ride around the neighbourhood anyways, though, so Stiles might as well take her out and drive around to the loft to see if his dad was right and to pass on his invitation if so.
And indeed, when Stiles arrives at the loft, the Camaro is parked near the entrance and Stiles swiftly pulls into his customary spot next to it. He checks it over quickly, but as far as he can tell, there are no new dents or scratches anywhere, which hopefully means that Derek made it back without attracting the attention of every local lunatic on the way home. He has a talent for that - Stiles sometimes thinks he must have been cursed as a baby. Perhaps Talia hadn’t invited all the witches of the forest to his christening.
With a last gentle pat to the hood, Stiles finally turns his back to the Camaro and makes his way up to the loft. The lift still isn’t working after that incident with the troll three months ago, which gives Stiles plenty of time to think about what he wants to say. So when Derek opens the door, he of course very eloquently says: “Wanna have dinner?”
And then quickly corrects himself when Derek’s eyes widen in apparent shock: “I mean with my dad!” And again when Derek’s next breath goes down the wrong pipe and he starts coughing violently: “And me! But not like a date! I’m not asking you for a date! Especially not with my dad! Just dinner. Christmas dinner. Scott and his mum are coming too! Tonight?”
“I don’t want to intrude,” Derek croaks and Stiles rolls his eyes.
“Dude, we are inviting you, you can’t intrude if you are invited in. Oh, and you don’t need to bring anything, Melissa and I have got it all covered. See you tonight then? At six?”
Derek nods and Stiles gives him a grin and a thumbs up, feeling accomplished. It’s only when he is sitting in the Jeep again that he realises he never even made it into the loft, that whole awkward conversation taking place in the hallway and that he completely forgot to tell Derek about Roscoe’s misadventures during his absence.
Oh well, they’ll see each other tonight.
And while it’s definitely not a date, Stiles’ stomach still flutters at the thought.
Christmas Dinner with the McCalls has been a tradition that they’ve upheld for years and it’s as loud and boisterous an affair as it can be with just four people present, just as it has always been. Or well, five people present this year. But Derek hasn’t ever been a man of many words, so he doesn’t change the noise level much.
He seems happy enough to just be there, though. Stiles sneaks a glance at him out of the corner of his eyes, and Derek is just sitting there with his hands wrapped around Stiles’ dad’s special mulled wine, his eyes crinkling at Melissa’s latest Christmas related pun (she’s got a whole repertoire of them, and there’s a reason Stiles loves this woman). Despite Stiles telling him to he hadn’t come empty handed, bringing a few bars of expensive chocolate which Melissa and Stiles’ dad almost come to blows over, and a delicious apple pie.
“I know it’s more Thanksgiving than Christmas,” he says, sounding apologetic, and Stiles is mesmerised by how Derek’s ears slowly change colour, “but it was my mum’s recipe and she always made it for Christmas as well as Thanksgiving.”
“You MADE this?!” Scott asks, but with his mouth full of pie it sounds more like ‘Shoe ate diss?!’. Stiles doesn’t even attempt to speak, he just shovels more pie down his throat. Rookie mistake, Scott. You don’t speak when food is this good. You just shut up and eat.
Despite them all technically already being full after a generous meal, the pie is gone quickly, not even crumbs left over after Stiles wrestles the form from Scott’s grabby hands. It might involve a bit of sneaky mountain ash that makes Scott sneezes at an inopportune moment (Stiles has stored mountain ash and wolfsbane in every room of the house - better prepared than sorry), but all’s fair in love and war and this is definitely both love and war. Derek looks as though he isn’t sure whether he should interfere or not, while their parents know better after years of them together and just ignore them in favor of the fancy chocolate Derek also brought.
Their tiny party breaks up soon after.
It’s Christmas Eve, so no presents are exchanged yet, so when everyone is full and all the dishes are done, the McCalls and with them Derek bid their goodbyes. Christmas Day is always celebrated just amongst their small families, but Stiles is already thinking about maybe paying Derek another visit tomorrow. After all, with Cora down in South America, he doesn’t have any other family left here in Beacon Hills. Peter doesn’t count - a few too many literal fights to the death for those familial bonds to hold strong and true still. He can usually be counted on as an ally in a fight nowadays, but to imagine Derek spending Christmas with only him for company is impossible.
With their guests gone, Stiles’ dad leaves for the Station. He’s been taking the night shift on Christmas Eve for the last couple of years, to give those with bigger families and smaller children a chance to spend Christmas at home. Stiles knows some pity him for that, but he doesn’t mind, in fact he’s proud of his dad. He knows that Sally for example has three children under the age of ten who’d be devastated if she wasn’t home for Christmas. If Stiles’ dad can give her that by taking the graveyard shift, then Stiles won’t dream of complaining.
He futzes around on the internet for a little longer after his dad is gone, before heading to bed. The last thing he watches is the trailer for Bumblebee , the new Transformers’ film, and so instead of dreaming of Father Christmas and his little helpers, Stiles’ dreams are full of Autobots and Decepticons and grand explosions. And Derek Hale in the role of Megan Fox for some reason.
He does rock that orange crop top.
It actually reminds Stiles of his old blue and orange striped shirt he made Derek try on for Danny way back.
Good old times.
When something wakes him in the middle of the night, Stiles’ first, sleep muddled thought is that his dad came back early. But when he looks out the window, the cruiser isn’t there.
There’s a light on in the garage, thought.
The first explanation that springs to his mind is - oh my god, Roscoe’s a Transformer!
The second one is - oh my god, someone’s trying to steal Roscoe!
Both of which are quickly discarded because neither makes much sense. If Roscoe was going to transform into an alien made of metal and steel, then she’d have had many more fitting opportunities than the night before Christmas in the garage. And if someone was actually down there stealing her, then Stiles would probably have to go look for some cash to give to that poor burglar, because he certainly wasn’t going to make much money with her.
Still, though, the light is on in the garage, and Stiles is certain it wasn’t on when he went to bed. That calls for an investigation.
His trusty bat in hand and a whispered wish to remain unseen and unheard on the lips, Stiles sneaks his way down the stairs and out of the house. The garage is still lit up when he approaches it carefully, and there’s some faint screeching and groaning of metal on metal that Stiles can’t explain, until he throws the door open and discovers Derek Hale bent over Roscoe’s engine compartment. For a moment it resembles the image from his dreams so strongly that Stiles has to pinch himself to make sure he’s not still asleep.
But then Derek jerks upright - apparently Stiles actually managed to surprise him - and hits his head on Roscoe’s hood with a resounding bang.
The resulting curse is too colourful for Stiles’ mind to come up with in in sleep. (He’s taking mental notes, though, even as he cringes.)
“Derek!” Stiles returns and then asks, wishing he’d had the foresight to bring a flashlight, so he could do this interrogation thing properly: “What are you doing here? Are you trying to steal Roscoe? Admit it!”
“What? No!” Derek looks rather shell-shocked still. He should have really gotten used to Stiles’ particular brand of special by now. But Stiles’ sudden appearance must have really thrown him, because he just holds up a screwdriver awkwardly with one hand and some gleaming automobile part that Stiles would have no hope of identifying and says:
“I just wanted to finish this. I didn’t have all the parts yesterday.”
It’s Stiles’ turn to feel confused.
“Finish what?” he starts asking before the scales suddenly fall from his eyes.
“Scott!” he exclaims loudly and Derek furrows his brows.
“Scott?” he questions in return and Stiles repeats: “Yes! Scott! That explains his obsession with you!”
“Scott is obsessed with me?” Derek asks and doesn’t sound too happy about it.
Stiles ignores him, his brain finally putting the clues together.
“You are the other mechanic! Sorry I ever doubted you, Robert.”
Derek’s brows knit together even more tightly.
“Roscoe’s original mechanic, keep up,” Stiles explains absentmindedly and then gasps and clutches at his chest, almost knocking himself out in the process with the baseball bat he’s still holding.
“I’m a fraud !” he exclaims and his sudden distress must be noticeable because Derek sets down his screwdriver and mysterious car part and rounds Roscoe to approach Stiles with a worried look on his face.
“What are you talking about?” he asks, sounding worried, too.
“I’m a fraud!” Stiles repeats. “You’ve been repairing my car all this time! What else has been a lie? Do I even have a spark?!”
Derek grabs his hand and squeezes it gently, but firmly.
“Stiles, breathe. I have no idea what you are talking about. Is it because I repaired your car? I'll stop, if it upsets you so much.”
Stiles shakes his head and hurriedly says: “No, god, sorry, please keep repairing. Apparently Roscoe would have met the scrap press twice over already, if it wasn't for you!”
“More like ten times,” Derek mumbles and Stiles narrows his eyes.
“How long exactly have you been repairing my car?”
Derek isn't the type to visibly squirm, but it's clear he's reluctant to answer that question. But finally he says: “Since the Kanima? I felt bad your car had to suffer for my mistakes.”
There's a strange pause that makes Stiles think that ‘your car’ wasn't what Derek was going to say originally. But he can't focus on that right now.
“Oh my god, you are the worst,” he groans and finally lets go of Derek’s hand, so he can hide his face in his hands. He only wishes he had some hard surface he could let his head thunk dramatically against. “No, I am the worst,” he corrects himself, before amending again: “No, wait, you know who's the worst? Scott! He knew the whole time and didn't tell me!”
“I'm still lost,” Derek admits and Stiles sighs, suddenly embarrassed.
“I didn't know you have been repairing my car,” he starts and Derek comments dryly: “I gathered as much.”
“Shut up.” Stiles glares at him and then gathers his thoughts again.
“I didn't know you have been repairing my car,” he repeats and then continues: “because I thought I was doing it. With my spark.”
“I knooow!” Stiles whines. “It’s so stupid - I’m so stupid! I don’t know what I was thinking! It’s just - the spark thing and Roscoe no longer acting up came at the same time! It made sense okay! And no one ever told me anything, so how was I supposed to know!”
“You thought your spark was repairing your car?” Derek asks and for someone who has a very severe case of resting bitch face he is doing a very bad job of hiding his grin right now.
“Shut up,” Stiles grumbles and then demands, trying to change the subject: “Why are you still repairing my car, even after I stopped driving it into Kanimas?”
Derek ducks his head, but that does nothing to hide the blush that’s creeping up his neck.
“I know your car is important to you,” he starts, and then hesitates. There’s a long pause and Stiles finds himself holding his breath, suddenly anxious to hear what Derek is so reluctant to say. Derek’s eyes flicker up to meet Stiles’ briefly and he swallows before finally continuing, voice slightly hoarse: “and you are important to me.”
“Oh,” Stiles breathes. He doesn’t know what he expected, but certainly not this. He’d have hoped though, if he’d dared. “Why didn’t you say anything?” he asks after a moment, voice hoarse with emotion to match Derek’s.
“You were so young,” Derek says, “and I was so broken. There was no - I saw no point. I messed up so much, made so many mistakes I couldn’t undo. I wasn’t going to mess you up; I just couldn’t. All I could do was fix your car.”
“I’m older now,” Stiles replies quietly, stepping closer to Derek, slowly, carefully, but filled with determination, “and you are not broken. I can’t promise neither of us will ever mess up, but I think I’ve proven by now that I can handle whatever mess you make and vice versa.”
When Derek lifts his head, the look in his eyes takes Stiles’ breath away. It’s a mixture of fear, naked hope, and love that makes him feel strong enough to lift up the whole world and deathly afraid of dropping the most precious thing in the universe at the same time. It makes him desperately want to kiss Derek while still lacking the courage to just do so.
A sudden, faint pop makes them both look up.
A mistletoe has appeared above them, suspended from thin air, with a soft glow to it that throws Derek’s face into shadows when Stiles looks back at him. It doesn’t hide the smile growing on his face, though.
“Looks like your spark isn’t dead after all,” he gently teases and Stiles is afraid that his attempt at a glare rather resembles a smile, too.
“I think it’s trying to tell you something,” he hints, biting his lip in an attempt to hide his grin that’s doomed for failure. Derek raises his brows in mock question, but his movements belie him, one hand coming up to cup Stiles’ cheek, the other wrapping around his waist.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” he says, echoing their earlier conversation, and then finally leans in to kiss Stiles.
And just before Stiles’ eyes slip shut, he sees Roscoe’s headlights turn on.