“You weren’t in bed,” a soft voice said, the sound of footsteps pausing at Derek’s back. “I was looking for you.”
Derek didn’t glance back, but he smiled softly. Stiles plodded over and sank down at his side, the old wood of the porch creaking slightly. A hand found his own, long fingers intertwining with his own.
“Der, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Derek said, gazing out at the forest beyond. It was the day before the full moon and he hadn’t been able to sleep. The urge to get up, to move around, to go outside, had overwhelmed him until Derek couldn’t take it anymore. But he hadn’t meant to wake up Stiles.
“Okay,” Stiles said, bumping against his shoulder. “So what are you doing out here, then?”
“Wow, big guy, you’re full of words on this fine night. Might I ask why?”
Derek glanced over, eyebrow raised, and Stiles smirked a little. The amber-eyed boy was wearing one of Derek’s shirts and it hung loosely off his frame, draping down his arms and across his chest like a sheet. Stiles was wearing his wolf pjs too— the ones Derek always thought were so stupid, but so Stiles, it made him roll his eyes every time.
“Derek,” Stiles said, poking his nose. “Talk to me.”
“I love you,” Derek said, and Stiles blinked in surprise. “You know that, right?”
“Dude, you’re starting to scare me.”
“Sorry,” Derek said, squeezing Stiles’s hand. The boy narrowed his eyes and then stood, turning back toward the house and tugging Derek with him. Derek pushed himself up with a last glance over his shoulder, and let Stiles lead him back inside.
But to his surprise, Stiles didn’t lead him back toward their bedroom. Instead, the boy sat him down at the couch and patted his head, before starting toward the kitchen. Derek turned around to watch him and Stiles held up a hand.
“Stop it. No peeking.”
“Stiles, what are you doing?”
“Stuff. Now read a book or something, this will only take me like five minutes.”
Derek raised an eyebrow but Stiles only grinned and blew him a kiss, before vanishing into the kitchen. Derek was half-tempted to follow after him, but he turned back around instead, spotting his favorite Orwell book sitting suspiciously on the coffee table.
He knew that’s not where he’d left it.
Derek could hear the sounds of Stiles moving around, followed by the occasional curse as he ran into a counter or fumbled with something, but he couldn’t figure out what he was doing. Grunting, Derek reached for his book.
Stiles was a weirdo. Derek didn’t even have a clue.
Stiles was in the kitchen for longer than five minutes. Derek thought he vanished into another room at some point too, the sounds of the house going quiet. None of the other betas had woken up; but Derek wondered if it was only a matter of time.
He shifted on the couch and resisted the urge to glance over his shoulder.
When Stiles started making noise again and came out of the kitchen, his arms were laden with plastic containers, a stack of movies, and Derek’s favorite blanket. Derek raised a brow as the boy plopped down beside him, amber eyes dancing.
“There. See? Five minutes.”
“Stiles, what are you doing?”
“We’re going to watch some movies, Sourwolf.”
Stiles rolled his eyes and proceeded to wrap the blanket around Derek’s shoulders, chuckling as he pulled it over Derek’s head too, making him growl. Then he popped the tops off the plastic containers and Derek realized they were full of baked goods— ones he didn’t remember Stiles making.
His brows drew further and further together, especially when he realized the movies were his favorites, not Stiles’s. The Princesse Bride (he refused to admit that one out loud), the Lion King, and the Goonies. Derek blinked a few times, unsure of what to do.
“You look like you’re about to blow your top,” Stiles said, settling down beside him. “Are you feeling alright there, Sourwolf?”
“Why are you doing this?”
Clearly, everything had taken some kind of preparation. But Derek didn’t remember seeing Stiles acting any different. He didn’t think he’d been that obvious before tonight either.
“I… know what day is coming up,” Stiles said, a twinge of nervousness to his voice. “I mean, I know it’s still like a week away, but I know it’s close. The, uh, anniversary of the fire, that is.”
“So why are you doing this now?”
“I’m not going to wait until you need-need me,” Stiles said softly. “I’m here up until then and always after.”
Derek stared at him for a moment. Stiles fidgeted with his fingers and then squeaked as Derek moved forward, capturing his lips. The boy melted against him, careful fingers dancing up his arm and tracing around his jaw until Stiles drew back. There was a grin stretching from ear to ear.
“You are such a softie, Sourwolf.”
“Eh,” Stiles said with a shrug, grabbing the remote and turning back to the TV. “My reputation doesn’t depend on my grumps and growls, I’m allowed to be. You, on the other hand, better be careful. Or people are going to start thinking you like me.”
Derek huffed at that, catching Stiles’s hand with his own again. “I don’t think that would be so bad.”
“You’re worrying me again, Sourwolf.”
Derek couldn’t help rolling his eyes. Stiles poked him on the nose again before turning on the first movie he’d put into the TV; The Princess Bride. Derek knew that was going to wake the others up.
It only took a few minutes.
Stiles glanced up as the sound of footsteps plodded into the living room and Isaac rubbed at his eyes, looking blearily from Derek, to Stiles, and then the containers of food on the coffee table. Without a word, he walked over and grabbed a cookie, then plopped down at Stiles’s other side.
Erica and Boyd were slower to follow.
“You two,” Erica said as she came into the room. “Are so fucking adorable I hate you for it. Does sleep mean nothing to anyone in this house anymore?”
“Cookie?” Stiles said, offering the one in his hand forward. Erica grunted and took it, dragging Boyd to the armchair and pushing him down first, before dropping onto his lap. The dark-skinned beta didn’t even protest.
And when Stiles looked back over, a stupid grin on his face, Derek couldn’t help but smile back. He hadn’t climbed out of bed an hour ago expecting this. The comfort, the consolation, the gathering of his pack.
He hadn’t, but maybe he should have. Because it was Stiles.
It was Stiles.
“I love you,” Derek said softly. “You know that, right?”
Stiles’s face softened and he leaned forward, touching his lips against Derek’s own. He tasted like the chocolate cookie he’d just eaten and his lips were soft. The feeling of Stiles so close felt like safety. It felt like home.
“I know, Sourwolf,” Stiles said, pulling back an inch. “And I love you too.”
Derek closed his eyes. Stiles didn’t even have to ask— Derek knew that too. He had since Stiles first stumbled into his loft in those stupid wolf pjs and declared himself part of the Hale pack. In fact, he probably had even before that.
Long before that, he thought. Derek leaned forward and kissed him again.
It always felt like home.