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Please Come Home for Christmas

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Derek yawns wide and rubs his eyes, with a low groan. He twists to his side, away from the curtained window, and turns into the curved body beside him. He casually drapes an arm over it, and pulls it close to his bare chest. The warm, lithe body tucks in close, and holds his arm affectionately, then kisses his fingertips, bringing a closed-eye smile to the wolf’s face.

“I don’t want to get up,” Derek grumbles.

An agreeing groan replies to his laziness, then molds itself perfectly alongside him, and grinds against his morning erection. Derek moans, and buries his nose into soft hair, taking a deep whiff.

Pine and birch. Golden poppy. Blackberries, Rain water, and talc.

He knows that smell. He can pinpoint it anywhere. Derek’s eyes shoot open and fall on dark brown hair and a long neck specked with moles. He yanks his arm away and bolts upright! “Stiles!”

Stiles groans and twists around, facing Derek, with closed eyes.

“Stiles, wake up! What the hell is going on?!”

Stiles mumbles something, then pulls the blanket up to his neck and settles more comfortably into the warm bed.

Derek shakes his shoulder. “Stiles. Up. Now.”

Stiles groans again, annoyed. “Go for your run first then I’ll make breakfast, sourwolf.”

“I don’t…” Derek's confused, and if he’s honest, a bit scared. One minute, he's falling asleep, Braeden tucked under his arm, in bed at the loft. The next, he wakes up cuddling with Stiles in a strange house he’s never seen before. And Stiles seems poised to return to sleeping.

He told him to go for his run, and that he’d make breakfast later… Stiles is…familiar with what’s happening. He’s comfortable here. Wherever here is.

“Okay… Okay…” Derek says, trying to think.

Whatever’s going on, wherever I am, Stiles —this Stiles— seems okay with it. This is routine. We’re a routine here.

He tries not to think about that, almost tempted to let a smile break upon his lips at the thought, but he doesn’t. He can’t. He has to figure this out. He has to get back to where he belongs, and if this Stiles is anything like his—other Stiles, then he’ll understand and find a way to help him. He’d also be prone to panicking, so he should probably approach this gently.

“Stiles… Stiles,” Derek says, lightly nudging him awake.

“Hmm?”

“I don’t want to go for a run. I want to talk.”

“Okay,” Stiles says in a groggy tone, still half-dead to the world.

“Can you sit up so we can talk please,” Derek asks kindly.

Stiles manages a nod as he yawns, slowly pulling himself into waking life.

He eventually manages to sit up, running a lazily hand through his hair. “Yes, sourwolf. What would you like to talk about at--" Stiles checks his cellphone on the nightstand, "--3AM...?”

“I don’t want you to panic.”

Stiles eyes widen and immediately he’s on high-alert. “You know better than to start a sentence off like that with me,” Stiles snaps. “What happened?! What’s going on?! Derek, tell me now!”

“Calm down! Please.”

But Stiles is already overreacting. “Answer me now, Derek. What the hell is going on?”

“I need you to tell me where I am,” Derek says slow and easy.

Stiles stares at him, puzzled, completely lost in what Derek’s trying to say. “Derek, what do you mean…? You’re home.”

“Where’s home?”

“'Where’s home’?”

“Yes. Are we in Beacon Hills?”

“Beacon Hills? Derek, are you feeling okay?” Stiles reaches up to put a hand on his forehead, but Derek leans away.

“I’m fine. You know werewolves don’t get sick.”

Werewolves? Did you just say ‘werewolves’?”

Shit.

“I know I call you wolf-related pet names, but that’s just because of your grumpy and growl-y nature. Not to mention, your excessively hairy body. You can’t exactly take any of that literally…at least I hope you don't. Are you still sleep? Are you sleepwalking again? Nevermind. Don’t answer that. You can’t really, because you’re sleepwalking.”

“I’m not sleepwalking, Stiles.”

“Then why are you asking me questions to things you should know, and calling yourself a werewolf? What’s going on? You sure you’re okay, babe?”

‘Babe’…?

So...it looks like, wherever he is, he’s human. Or supposed to be. His sense of smell is still in tact…or was. He did pick up on Stiles’ scent when he woke up, but he's not sure if it was just a dream from his world imprinting on his mind here, or not? He’s fallen asleep thinking about Stiles before and woken up to his scent lingering under his nose. There’s a possibility that that’s what happened.

He tries to hone in on his hearing instead, focusing in on Stiles’ heartbeat, but he can’t. He can’t hear a thing.

“Are you okay, Derek?”

“Uh, yeah. I’m okay.”

No. I'm not okay. I'm apparently human and trapped in another reality that leaves me defenseless without my powers.

“You sure? Because I just asked you a question and your face scrunched up like you were constipated.”

Derek rolls his eyes at him.

“Ah. There we go. The pervasive eye roll. You’re fine. Just having a slow wake up from a bad dream. Go for your run, and clear your head, werewolf.”

Before Derek can retort, Stiles leans in and kisses him on the mouth! Just a quick, reassuring peck before he snuggles down into the bed again, pulling the covers up to his neck and closing his eyes.

Derek, however, is feels as though his heart's stopped.

Stiles kissed him. Like it was nothing. Like it was this banal thing they do every morning when they wake up and just before bed. With a bunch of other, easy, kissable moments in between.

Derek can't help his mind wandering to how often in those tiny moments of the day do they kiss. How long does each kiss last, and does each kiss feel differently than the one before it? Or have they exploited the billions of time their lips have met, and each kiss just becomes far too easy and habitual to them?

He thinks billions, because he knows that given the chance, he’d kiss Stiles a billion times over. Especially now, with his lips tingling with the taste of Stiles on them. He wants to touch his them with the tips of his fingers and suck them into his mouth, having the sweetness of Stiles on his tongue for as long as he can.

But he doesn’t.

Instead, he finally grows aware of his singular surroundings when he feels his cock twitch at the thought of Stiles’ mouth and the taste of him inside his own.

He’s naked, save for the thin, white sheet covering his lower half. He’s naked, and in bed with Stiles, who’s wearing basic briefs and an old college T-shirt. Yale University.

Stiles’ half-naked body, sleeping soundly beside him in bed would normally turn his heartrate quick and noisy, but seeing as how this isn’t his world, or other Stiles (his Stiles), he can only focus in on the fact that he’s naked, in a strange bed, with an alternate universe Stiles, with no idea where he is and how he got there.

Or maybe it’s a dream.

Maybe he’s having a very vivid, lucid dream. Maybe when he wakes up, in his own bed, with Braeden lying asleep on his chest he’ll no longer feel the humming of Stiles’ kiss on his lips. Or remember the way he brought Derek's fingertips to his lips and pulled him close to his body, grinding his ass against Derek’s hard, morning erection.

Maybe he won’t remember how badly he wishes he hadn’t said a word, and just let Stiles continue working himself on his dick, and woke him up with a teasing bite on his neck.

It’s a dream. He’s decided.

Because in what other world would Stiles be his, like this? In what other world would they share a bed, a life together, without the existence of werewolves?

In what other world would he get what he wants? Things like that don’t happen for him. It’s never in the cards for him to be happy, or at ease. He’s accepted that, and has resigned himself to simply being satisfied with what life brings him, and handle as best he can what life takes away from him.

It’s the best he could hope for.

And it’s what makes all this easy to accept as merely the result of too much Thai food before bed.

He’s dreamed of Stiles plenty of times. Some are like this one. They’re dating, or living together. Stiles cooks for him and he reads to Stiles when it’s just them, lying on the sofa before a roaring fireplace. Then they kiss and the rest of the world falls away, and it’s just them, making loving in the glow of the fire.

So it's simple to slide back down into the big, soft bed, and tuck himself beneath the covers. To card his hand through chestnut-colored hair and chase frantic moles with his fingers. To close his eyes and drape an arm around the boy, pulling him close against his chest, loving how perfect their bodies fit together. And to drift off into slumber, with long, lean fingers entwined with his own…

 »»»

Derek’s eyes flutter open at the feeling of something heavy and moving, crawling up his body.

He tries to snap his claws out at the small creature atop of him, but finds he can’t; his fingernails just blunt human stubs.

He looks up to a child. A girl, about 7 or 8 years old, with jet black hair and light eyes, looking down on him with a giggle.

“I caught you, daddy. I snuck up on you. Grrrrr,” she says with an adorable pretend growl. She’s wearing an oversized T-shirt that reads: Welcome to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort. “Daddy, you have to growl back,” she says with a disappointed face.

Not knowing what else to do, he gives a weak growl, still confused by her sudden appearence.

“No. Not like that, like this: Grrrrr,” she shows him, with her face twisted into something relative to a snarl as she turns her tiny fingers into “claws.” 

Derek can’t help but let a tiny smile grow on his lips at the little girl’s attempt at a vicious growl.

“Now, you do it. Just like that. Like how you always do it,” she says.

He wants to. He wants to give her the biggest roar he can. He wants her eyes to grow big at the mere sound of his wolf growling proudly.

But he can’t.

He remembers now; he’s stuck in a dream. The one where he’s human and Stiles… He turns his head to see Stiles lying asleep beside him, hugging his pillow, legs sprawled in odd directions.

The cherub sitting on his stomach pokes him in the chest. “You forgot how to growl, daddy?”

And she looks so sad, so worried when she asks that Derek can’t help the crack in his heart at her sorrowful face.

He sits up, pulling her close to him and growls as fiercely as he can without his powers.

Victory! She laughs happily and plants a big, messy kiss on his cheek.

“Was that a good growl,” he asks.

“Yes!” She leans up, and gives him an Eskimo kiss.

Without thinking, he gives her one back. He’s never fantasized or dreamt of having children with Stiles. He’s thought about it at times, but not that often. His dreams were normally filled with kissing and touching and marking and sucking and fucking. Rarely, did his nightly escapes reach beyond anything that could be as creative as this.

Stiles stirs awake beside him. “Good morning, pumpkin. What’s going on?”

“I snuck up on daddy and growled.”

“Did you now,” he says, leaning over to kiss her cheek. “Daddy must be losing his touch.”

Derek rolls his eyes at Stiles.

“No. He can still growl really, really loud,” she assures Stiles.

“Oh, is that what woke Roadie up? I thought another woodland creature got stuck in our walls again,” Stiles says with a wink at Derek.

Derek glares at him, in lieu of giving him the finger in front of their apparent “daughter.”

The door pushes open gently and another little girl enters the room.

She’s smaller, with long, light brown hair that hangs past her bottom. There’s no mistaken that she’s Stiles’ child; from her brown doe-eyes, long, dark lashes, upturned nose, wide, pink mouth, and pale skin. It makes Derek take another look at the girl in his lap.

A long, hard look.

She favors him instead. More than favors him. If he were a 7 year old girl, he’d look like the sweet, little thing on his belly. It makes him squeeze her just a little bit tighter.

The other girl, who seems about 6 years old, quietly climbs atop the bed in a pair of green pajamas designed to look like an elf costume.

Derek takes a closer look around the bedroom. His eyes fall on Christmas themed ornaments and knickknacks about the room. There’s a Christmas themed throw blanket hanging off the bench at the foot of the bed. The end table by his side of the bed has a snowflake notepad resting on it with a list of items running down it in his handwriting. A few of the items are crossed off.

A shopping list.

There’s also a pair of goofy-looking reindeer boxer briefs crumpled on the floor by his side. Something ridiculous Stiles bought him to wear to bed no doubt. Which he clearly rejected in favor of just being naked.

“Good morning, Roadie,” the light-haired girl says in a soft, sweet voice.

“Good morning, bluebell.”

She crawls on her knees toward Derek and pecks his cheek, “Good morning, daddy.”

He runs a gentle hand down her face, looking into her stunning eyes. She looks so much like Stiles it hurts. “Good morning, sweetie. You sleep okay?” She nods. “Good.” His hold on the eldest tightens as he pulls his youngest closer to him in a gripping hug.

This is a dream. When he wakes up they’ll be gone, and he’ll feel so lost and empty, but right now he has this. He has them. He’s not going to waste such a spectacular fantasy regretting the inevitable. He’s going to hold onto this. He’ll make the best of it, and maybe the next time he falls asleep, he can come back.

He just wishes he were a wolf in this one. That way he could remember how they smelled, and he could bottle it in his memory, and keep it with him all the time.

“Okay, sprites, what do we want? Pancakes, or French toast,” Stiles asks the girls.

They each pick one, making the choice undecided.

“Okay. Daddy has to be the deciding vote then.”

They both look to Derek with pleading eyes to choice their breakfast food. It’s so cute he wants to laugh.

He pretends to mull it over, hard and thoughtful… “I choose…waffles.”

They both squawk at him that he cheated and his pick wasn’t a fair one.

He lets out that laugh he held in a moment ago.

Stiles clears through the dissonance of girly squabbling. “Daddy chose waffles, so we’re making waffles.”

“Can they be chocolate chip waffles at least,” their oldest pleads.

“Yes. I will make chocolate chip waffles,” Stiles concedes.

Stiles climbs out of bed and pulls on a pair of pajama pants from off the floor. They’re silly-looking with a Frosty the Snowman pattern on them. Derek lets a warm smile slide on his face at Stiles' unabashed choice in holiday sleepwear. Of course, he thinks, shaking his head.

“Will you get the girls washed and dressed,” Stiles asks.

“Yes,” Derek says easily.

“Thank you.”

Stiles does it again. He crawls on the bed and presses his lips to Derek’s, this time in a longer, more lingering kiss that allows Derek to close his eyes and really feel Stiles’ soft mouth against his own.

He breaks it though, when their girls coo and ‘Ooooo’ at them with bright smiles.

“Better than them being disgusted,” Stiles jokes. “You okay?”

“Y-Yes. Why?”

“I don’t know. You just… You look like it’s the first time we’ve ever kissed.”

“Feels like it.”

“That compliment earns you another one.” Stiles kisses him again. This time it’s quick and hard. 

Derek's nearly breathless as Stiles leaves the room, headed for the kitchen.

He’s kissed Stiles plenty of times in his dreams.

He’s done more than kiss Stiles in his dreams, but never has it felt so real as the three times he’s done so already.

His lips hum afterward and butterflies flutter in his stomach. And that second kiss left a wet taste of blackberries in his mouth.

Stiles tastes like sweet blackberries.

That is definitely something he will remember when he wakes.

  »»»

Claudia and Halina. That’s their names.

Derek figures Claudia, for Stiles’ late mother, but wonders where his mind drew up Halina. It’s beautiful, but he’s curious…

His curiosity, however, is pushed aside quickly when Stiles calls them down for breakfast.

Derek’s barely gotten them out of the tub. He decided to bathe them together in the master bathroom.

Two birds, one stone. 

Halina is in his arms as Claudia, his eldest that mostly resembles him, frolicks down the hall wrapped in a giant, fluffy towel, to a small staircase that leads to a large attic room that spans the width of the house. It’s an adorable, shared room of pinks and greens with two twin beds and it's own little bathroom. Books and toys and crayons and paints litter the floor.

He steps in something soft— Play-Doh. He doesn’t mind; he likes how lived-in the room looks, feels.

He sets Halina down on the left-side bed; her name is stitched into the headboard. So is Claudia’s on her own bed.

Their names also on matching twin furniture makes it easier for him to find their clothes and get them dressed. 

Immediately, he can tell which child takes after which parent: Claudia is prissy and girly. She talks a lot, about anything and everything, hardly stopping for air when she asks him a question. Her dresser is full of bright colorful clothes, mostly dresses, and mostly pink. A ballerina music box and matching jewelry box rest atop of it. The jewelry box contains two tiaras, lots and lots of hair barrettes and bows, and fake plastic “jewelry.” She may look like him, but her talkative nature and high-maintance behavior makes her all Stiles.

Halina, on the other hand, has drawers full of neutral colored pants and hipster T-shirts for kids of legendary bands (Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, The Beatles). In addition to a few shirts with ironic jokes, some basic patterns, and 80s pop culture that surely runs over his daughter’s head. It has the makings of Stiles all over it, but Derek has to admit Halina’s quiet, thoughtful personality seems actually suitable for her wardrobe.

Claudia’s side of the room is crowded with Barbie dolls, Disney princess paraphernalia, and ballet dancewear.

Halina’s side of the room is nothing but books. Some beyond what Derek thinks should be a 6 year olds reading level. There’s also a painting easel, various paint brushes, and a sophisticated painting palette.

Derek appreciates art, but was never one to create it. He's loved books more. 

Halina is content to get dressed by herself, but Claudia needs help. Not to put her clothes on, but on what to decide to wear.

She wants Derek’s opinion on everything, and he relishes in it, telling her she looks beautiful with everything she puts on.

Her daddy’s opinion matters and he loves that it does.

When she's dressed, she gives him a big hug, and kisses his cheek. She didn’t want help with her hair—Roadie does my hair better, daddy. Sorry— but Halina simply pulls a wool cap over her long strands, grabs a book, and heads downstairs.

Derek picks Claudia up in his arms, and followed her out.

  »»»

“I called breakfast 15 minutes ago,” Stiles complains.

“I know. I’m sorry. Claudia needed help getting dressed.”

Christmas music plays on the SoundDock in the counter near the stove as Stiles put a giant chocolate chip waffle on a plate with bacon and eggs. He hands it to Derek. “You always let her run the show. She’s going to play you like a fiddle when she’s a teenager.”

Derek’s mind immediate recalls Lydia and Allison and all the impossible lying and scheming they had to do in those early years. Along with the horrific results of it. “I will never let it get that bad. But I will spoil them both when it’s deserved.”

“When is a child ever deserving of being spoiled,” Stiles chuckles.

“When it suits me.”

Stiles snorts and downs the rest of his coffee. He glances at the clock on the stove. “Shit. I need to shower.”

Derek watches as Stiles peels off his shirt and runs out of the kitchen. He takes a step in his direction, ready to follow up the stairs, joining him in the hot shower, when he remembers the two little girls eating breakfast at the counter.

“Roadie said ‘shit’,” Claudia repeats.

“I know. He should do better to watch his mouth more often,” Derek tells her.

“And yesterday you said ‘fuck’. Twice,” she smiles at him.

“And ‘damn’” Halina chimes in.

“Well, I’ll do better and watch my mouth, too.”

“Roadie has to put a nickel in the swear jar now,” Claudia says, pointing to the clear cookie jar behind him.

It's half full.

“I’ll make sure he puts a nickel in it before he has to go.”

“He has to do my hair, too,” she says with a worried frown.

“He will, pumpkin. I’ll make sure he does.”

“Can I have some more eggs, daddy,” Halina asks.

“Absolutely,” Derek says, taking her plate.

Derek scrapes the last of the scrambled eggs onto her plate, but drops the serving spoon on the stove onto one of the electric burners. He grabs it, touching the coil— Stiles forgot to turn it off! Derek’s fingertips catch the burning heat and he yells in pain, “SHIT!” Reactionally, he drops the spoon and Halina’s plate of eggs on the floor!

“Daddy,” Claudia cries out.

“I’m okay, pumpkin. Daddy just hurt himself by accident,” he tells her. He turns off the hot burner.

He looks at his red fingertips. Not too bad. Nothing a first aid kit couldn’t…

…He burned himself. He burned himself and it hurt. He felt it. Not just because he’s "human," but he felt it because…it was real.

His burn felt like hell because it was real

Derek’s eyes dart around in his head, thinking. His heartbeat racing, practically beating out of his chest. His skin is cold now, sweating with panic. His mouth has gone dry.

His mind replays everything that’s happened since he woke up with Stiles in his arms.

I was right the first time…

“Daddy,” Claudia calls.

But Derek’s not here. He’s thinking about waking up human, about Stiles calling him ‘babe’, about kisses that hum on his lips, about comfy beds and reindeer underwear. About a beautiful little girl named after her dead grandmother. He’s thinking about a little girl in band T-shirts and chocolate ship waffles. He’s thinking about how he was wrong and—

“It’s not a dream… This isn’t a dream… It’s real.”

Chapter Text


Stiles walks into the master bedroom, toweling off his wet hair and hurriedly making his way to the dresser for his clothes—

Derek bursts through the door in a panic!

“What’s the matter,” Stiles asks nervously.

Derek freezes, and quickly averts his eyes...elsewhere.

Stiles wants an answer to the look on his face, but all that comes out of Derek's mouth are blunt stammers of incomplete sentences.

He can’t give him the response charged in with. At least not at the moment, because Stiles is naked. Absolutely no clothes on; hair still damp from his shower.

He’s still tall and mostly limbs, but he has more definition, more tone. He’s a little less pale, too, and his arms and legs are hairy.

Derek’s always found Stiles attractive, but this Stiles, this alternate universe-Stiles, is incredibly sexy.

And naked.

Which is why Derek has forgotten the English language and basic patterns of speech.

“What are you doing,” Stiles asks, his face scrunched up with an annoyed tone in his voice. “Why are you looking at the floor and mumbling?”

“I’m not!”

“You are. You’re acting like it’s the first time you’ve seen me naked. Like you don’t have permission,” Stiles says, his tone shifted into slight amused.

Because I don’t. And it is the first time, Derek thinks, eyes finally finding Stiles’ hazelnut-colored ones.

“You’ve seen me with no clothes on, Derek. So many times I’ve lost count,” Stiles muses. “Wait. Did you leave the girls downstairs by themselves,” Stiles snaps, worried.

Derek feels the immediate need to go on the defensive. “They’re fine. I’ve only been up here a minute, Stiles.”

“A minute is all it takes. You know how Claudia likes to get into stuff and Halina likes to disappear.”

“Halina’s too into her book to wander off-- in her own house, might I add-- and Claudia is eating her breakfast, waiting for you to come do her hair. Apparently, I’m a terrible stylist.”

“You are. You brush her hair too hard. Must be all the 'werewolf strength',” Stiles teases.

“Aren’t you running late somewhere,” Derek asks, irritated, which only makes Stiles’ grin brighten. Derek wants to fuck that smug little smile right off his face. I

t’d be easy to do, considering he’s already naked...  Shit! He’s naked! Stiles is naked and I’m stuck in an alternate universe where we’re married with two daughters and have no idea how to get back to my own universe.

Stiles slips on a pair of underwear and undershirt before moving toward the closet for the rest of his clothes. “Is that why you ran in here like the sky was falling, Chicken Little; Claudia needs me to braid her hair?”

“Uh, no. No…”

“Then what? What’s the matter?”

“Roadie,” they hear Claudia call from downstairs.

“Give me a minute, pumpkin, and I’ll come do your hair,” Stiles shouts back at her. He quickly moves into the master bathroom. Derek hears him hastily brushing his teeth.

He’s anxious to get back downstairs, nervous the girls are by themselves down there, but he needs to talk to Stiles about this. He needs to explain to him that he’s not from here, and needs to get back home. But he keeps getting...sidetracked.

Stiles rushes into the room and sits on the edge of the bed, putting on his shoes. “You just going to stand in the middle of our bedroom all day,” Stiles says.

“No, smart-ass. I wanted to tell you something,” Derek responds.

“Will it be quick,” Stiles asks. “What is it?”

“Stiles, I… I…”

Stiles moves to his side of the bed and grabs a pair of eyeglasses off the nightstand and slips them on his face. He’s looks handsome in his dressy/casual outfit, and the glasses just adds intensely to Derek’s desire to fuck him hard and rough right now.

“Derek, as much as I love you, I need you to use your big boy words. Especially when I’m in a hurry.”

“I, uh… I burned my fingers on the stove. You left it on.”

“Oh, shit, babe. I’m sorry,” Stiles says. He lifts from the bed and approaches Derek. Stiles takes Derek’s hand into his to inspect his fingers. It’s such an innocent, sweet gesture of concern. Stiles touching him, intimately, the way two people who love and care for one another, who worry about each other—openly— touch when the other is hurt. “Come here.”

Stiles pulls Derek into the master bathroom. He reaches under the cabinet below the sink and takes out a first aid kit. He opens it and pulls out a small packet and opens it. He motions for Derek to move closer. Derek steps forward and Stiles gently takes his hand again and rubs burn cream on his fingers. “You have to put this stuff on I think two more times today. I’m so sorry, babe. The girls didn’t go near the stove, did they?”

Derek shakes his head. It’s all he can do. He’s stunted, standing this close to Stiles, having him take care of his injuries, and calling him ‘babe’ while wearing the sexiest eyeglasses he’s ever seen.

“Good. That feel better,” Stiles asks, still holding onto Derek’s hand. And Derek is still non-vocal. He’s just staring. Staring at the boy he’s wanted for years now. The boy that makes his heart skip a beat. The boy whose scent is etched into his memory forever. The boy’s whose smile makes Derek want to climb mountains, swim oceans, and walk through fire.

Derek leans in and kisses Stiles hard, abusing his mouth in a soul-crushing kiss.

Stiles tries to speak, but his slightly parted lips allow Derek to slide his tongue inside his wet mouth, tasting the sweet, French roast coffee on his breath.

Derek feels Stiles melt into the kiss and takes it as permission to hungrily explore his mouth.

Stiles’ hands glide through Derek’s hair, turning into a rough hold.

Derek turns their passionate kiss into a lewd one of sloppy tongues and moans, making Stiles pull at Derek harder, falling against the sink.

Derek’s hands are everywhere, and he’s rutting his erection against Stiles’ own growing inside his pants.

Derek grabs his ass. His hands then slide to the back of Stiles' thighs. He lifts him up atop the sink. His tongue licks from Stiles’ jawline to his long neck.

“Oh, God, Derek…” Stiles moans.

Derek palms Stiles’ erection through his pants and bites his neck.

“Oh, my God, that feels so fucking good, but you have to stop. Please.”

Derek growls out a “no.”

“Babe, please. I’m going to be late, and I can’t show up with a hickey on my neck,” Stiles says, breathless.

“Roadie!”

“I’m coming!”

Stiles reluctantly pushes Derek off of him.

Derek’s lustful gaze turns to surprise at Stiles’ ability to move him off his body until he remembers he’s supposed to be human here. Plus, Stiles is a little more fit here than back home.

“I swear to God we are finishing this when I get home, but right now I have to will my erection down so I can braid our daughter’s hair and get to work.”

Derek nods dumbly in response. Too taken with what just happened. He’d blame his wolf, but...

Stiles sides off the sink. He pulls Derek into a quick kiss then rushes out of the bathroom.

Derek takes a deep breath.

Holy fuck…

He finally kissed Stiles—did more than kiss Stiles—and it was every bit as incredible as he knew it’d be. He just wishes it was his Stiles, and not this Stiles. But is there really a difference? Their lives aren’t the same here as they are in Derek’s universe, but Stiles seems consistent with the one he knows. And loves.

He’s confused.

This isn’t his world, but he likes it. It’s good, and he’s apparently very happy here. He has a family that consists of two beautiful girls, and he’s married to the boy he’s been in love with since he held him up in a pool for 2 hours.

But it’s not real. Or it’s not his reality rather.

“This isn’t your life. You can’t have this. You have to leave,” he says softly to himself.

He stands at full height, stiffening his spine, resolute in not letting himself become “distracted” any further from his objective… Then he sees it. It’s such a small, insignificant thing, but it makes him stop completely.

Derek looks to his own hand. On his fourth finger, left hand. And suddenly he feels a heavy weight on his shoulders, but a fluttering lightness in his chest.

He picks it up off the soap dish: Stiles’ ring.

»»» 

Stiles is putting on Claudia’s coat when Derek comes downstairs and enters the “mudroom.”

Claudia's dark locks are in a crown braid around her tiny head. She smiles brightly at Derek. “Roadie braided my hair,” she says as Stiles sits her on the bench and shoves her snow boots on her feet.

“I see that. You look very pretty, pumpkin.” Derek bends down and kisses her cheek. She blushes and Derek’s heart does a backflip.

Stiles carefully puts a pair of earmuffs on her, mindful of her hair, then wraps a scarf around her neck.

“Mittens, kitten.”

She pulls a pair of mittens from her coat pocket and puts them on.

“Okay. Look at me. You are to come home with every piece of clothing you have on today, understood?”

She nods.

“I mean it. You put everything in your cubby and you make sure it’s there when school is over. That includes your lunchbox. And no trading with Sarah. Do you hear me, Claudia Ainsley Hale?”

“Yes, Roadie.”

Watching Stiles Stilinski discipline a child is too bizarre not to snicker at for Derek.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Derek said, poorly trying to hide a smile.

Stiles grabs a pink polka dot lunchbox off the floor. It’s personalized with Claudia’s name on it. “Kiss daddy ‘goodbye’,” Stiles tells her.

She hops off the bench and wraps her tiny arms around Derek's leg.

He hoists her up into his arms and they Eskimo kiss. It feels like the most natural thing on the planet. He holds her while Stiles puts on his scarf, then his coat, and gloves. He pulls a ridiculous bobble hat with ear flaps over his head then grabs his keys and wallet from the key bowl before swinging a briefcase satchel around his body.

“Come on, pumpkin.”

“Wait. Where’s Halina,” Derek asks.

“Hopefully, in the kitchen. Where you left her.”

Derek rolls his eyes at Stiles’ accusatory tone. “You left her in the kitchen to get Claudia in her coat and boots. I meant, is she not coming with you two?”

“Uh, no. Why would she come to school with us? You sure you’re okay?”

“Fine. I…just forgot is all.”

Stiles nods, still looking a little troubled by Derek’s question. “…Okay.”

Derek puts Claudia to her feet.

“Bye, daddy. Love you.” And she's out the door and into the snow.

“Do not get your mittens all wet,” Stiles shouts after her. “I’ll be out in a minute.” Stiles steps closer to Derek, leaning in for a kiss, when Derek holds his hand up in front of Stiles’ face. Perched between his fingers and thumb is Stiles’ wedding band. “Shit. Derek, come on. Please don’t give me a lecture about this now.”

He reaches out for it, but Derek clasps it in his fist. Seems Stiles either taking off, or forgetting it altogether, is a constant fight between them. The sudden tinge in his chest gives Derek the impression it’s the former and not the latter.

“I took it off to do my hair, then wash the gel off my hands and forgot to put it back on. Please can I have my ring and we can fight about this later?”

“I don’t take mine off. Ever.” Derek has no idea if that's true, but feels as though it is.

“Because you’re the perfect husband who never does anything wrong,” Stiles says sarcastically.

Derek scowls at him.

“Okay. That wasn’t nice and I’m sorry. And in a less dickish context is completely true.”

Derek brings Stiles’ left hand to his mouth and bits the tip of his middle finger, pulling Stiles’ glove off with his teeth. He slides Stiles’ wedding band over his ring finger. Derek wonders what it was like the first time he did that, and if it felt anything like it does now. “Don’t ever take this off again,” he says absolutely, rubbing the metal with his thumb against Stiles’ finger.

Stiles pulls Derek into a fierce kiss, then breaks away, staring at him with a gaze so loving it makes Derek’s grip tighten and throat burn with the threat of tears reaching the surface.

“I love you.”

Derek wants to say it back. He wants to so bad because it’s true. Nothing has ever been so true in his life. Instead pulls on the drawstrings to Stiles’ hat. “Your hat is stupid.”

“You love this hat. I know you secretly do.” Stiles gives him another hurried kiss. “I’ll pick up dinner.” He snatches his glove from Derek’s hand and runs out the door.

Derek stands in the doorway, watching Stiles buckle Claudia into the backseat before climbing into the driver’s side.

He closes the door a bit, stepping backward a little into the house, when a gust of wind blows toward him, making him shiver. Being a were always made his body temp higher, and living in California never allotted him the luxury (or curse) of having to deal with snow.

But save for the cold, it was beautiful. There was an ethereal hum to it, and a clean, crisp smell. Big, fat flurries were coming down quickly from the grayish sky and blowing easily in the slight wind. 

Stiles honks the horn to his car. It's a red, Chevy Volt. He's a little disheartened to not see him pull out of the driveway in the jeep, but knew the Chevy was more economic and safe for kids. Plus, it was an electric car, and he remembered Stiles—his Stiles—lecturing to him once on fuel-efficient vehicles versus his camaro. Which in turn, lead to a rant on environmentalism, and Derek nearly throwing him out of the car having to listen to it.

Derek steps back into the house and closes the door.

Halina.

She's still sitting quietly at the kitchen counter, reading her book.

She has to be the most adorable little thing he’s ever seen. She's the type of kid you just want to squeeze to death and smother in kisses. Derek figures it has something to do with just how mature and calm she is, making him want to bring out her squishy, playful side. So he runs his fingers up and down her sides, tickling her, and loving the loud, happy laughs she squeals.

He holds her close while she tries to regain her breath, and kisses her all over her cheeks.

“Tell Daddy what you’re reading.”

The Wind in the Willows.”

“Oh, that’s a good book, bluebell.” He isn’t the least bit surprised she's taking on such an advanced book for her age. He had already assumed she was incredibly smart by her character, and the things she seems into, “But you know what I want to do? I want to play in the snow. With you.”

She gasps happily. “Right now?”

Derek nods. He puts her to her feet. “Go put on your coat while Daddy gets changed, okay? And don’t go out without me. Understand?”

“Yes,” she yells as she runs toward the mudroom.

Derek hurries upstairs to the master bedroom. He rummages through a few drawers until he finds a pair of blue jeans that looks like they could be his and slips them on with a pair of comfy, wool socks. He pulls a knit sweater out of the closet and puts it on. He gazes a bit at the small space, taken with how his and Stiles’ clothes fit so easily beside each other.

Wolves take everything in through smell, and he wishes he could breathe in the mix of their scents. Of the home they made with one another. He wishes he could bury his nose in the closet, or the drawers or the bed, and take in what they smelled like together, as a family. The fact that he can’t jabs him with a gust sadness that's pushed aside at remembering the little girl downstairs waiting to play in the snow with him.

He grabs the cellphone on the nightstand by his side of the bed. It has a four-digit number lock. He tries the generic 1234 to no avail, then Stiles’ birthday (0408), his own (1107), then the only other numbers he would think to chose as a code (0000)—nothing. He leaves the phone, giving up, and trots downstairs and into the mudroom.

Halina is standing in the open door, looking out into the “winter wonderland,” trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue as he silently curses himself for not being able to crack his cellphone open to take a picture of her. “What are you doing, bluebell?”

“Tasting snow,” she says innocently.

“What’s it taste like,” he asks, putting on a pair of large snow boots he knew had to belong to him.

“Ice. Then water.”

He laughs pulling on a dark pea coat and red scarf.

She turns out of the door and looks at him. “Did you know all snowflakes are different?”

“No, I did not,” he lies, sounding amazed. He properly buttons up her coat and wraps her scarf around her neck. “I guess that makes every snowflake very special then.”

She nods, agreeing.

“Where are your mittens,” he asks.

She pulls them from her coat pocket and puts them on. He tugs the wool cap on her head tighter, over her ears to keep them warm.

“Ready?”

She nods, excitedly.

He stands and pushes the door open. Halina runs out at full speed, giggling.

Dammit, he wishes he could unlock that stupid phone… He keeps the door unlocked, fearing being stuck outside, considering he has no idea where his keys are. 

Halina grabs handfuls of snow and throws piles of it into the air, as high as her little arms can throw. She then grabs a handful of snow and pats it into a round ball in her hand. She grins at Derek mischievously, and throws it at him. He lets himself be hit right in the shin with it.

He makes a snowball and throws it toward her, purposely missing her as she runs around the front yard squealing with laughter.

They throw snowballs at one another for a long time. Derek always “missing her,” and Halina always managing to hit her daddy.

They're making side-by-side snow angels when a cream-colored, VW Beetle pulls into the driveway. Music blares from inside of the car, vibrating the rolled up windows. Derek sits up, looking at the vehicle. He can’t make out who it is; their head is turned from him, grabbing something from the backseat, but he can tell they're female.

He stands. Halina climbs out of the snow, too. She immediately takes Derek’s hand, scowling angrily at the car. Or rather the person inside.

He picks her up, holding her on his waist. She keeps scowling, but locks her arms around his neck fiercely. Protectively.

He gives her a big kiss on her temple, but her temper doesn’t change. Her eyes are still locked on the object of her discomfort.

Who the hell has got her so pissed off, he wonders.

And then he sees who. The music cuts off and the door opens—

Malia climbs out of the driver’s seat with a bright smile in their direction and a heavy canvas bag gripped in her hand. “Hey, guys. What you doing? Making snow angels?”

Derek tries to hide his nervousness at her presence. “Yeah. Just a little Halina/Daddy time.”

“Awww. How cute. I love making snow angels. Can I make them with you guys,” Malia asks nicely.

“No. We’re done,” Halina responds curtly.

Malia is taken aback a bit by her directness and tone.

So is Derek.

Halina squirms in Derek’s arms, signaling she wants to get down. He sets her to her feet. “We should do work now,” she says to Malia, in the same tone.

“Um, okay,” Malia responds. But Halina is already halfway at the front door. She bothers not to look back, and goes inside. “Is she okay?”

“Uh, yeah. She’s okay. I think she’s just cold, and a little tired,” Derek covers. But he knows she’s not fine, and Malia for some reason is the root of her attitude change. He knows why he’s suddenly nervous at Malia's presence, but feels the need to get to the bottom of his daughter’s hostile feelings toward her.

“Okay. I mean, I can come back later or tomorrow instead--”

“No. No. Now is good.” Derek has absolutely no idea why Malia is here, but was nonetheless curious about it and wanted her to stay if only to find out. Plus, it seems she's supposed to be there, with an agenda, so asking to her to leave might be unfortunate, Derek assumes.

“Okay. Good,” she says, cheerfully. She skirts around the tall snow, walking on the concrete driveway toward the front door.

Derek follows behind her.

 »»» 

This is the girl that took Stiles’ virginity. This is the girl that referred to him as “mate.” This is the girl that made Stiles feel worthy, when all others failed, or bothered not to do so. In his world, Derek's world, Malia is everything to Stiles, and he's everything to her.

Yet, in this one, they aren’t together. They aren’t mates. He and Stiles are everything to each other here, but it still made Derek's heartbeat quicken seeing her pull up to the house. It still makes his hands shake at her sitting at his dining table with his daughter, helping her write 5th grade level composition on a book she read.

He reminds himself that here she didn’t matter to Stiles like that. She wasn’t his.

But he also has to rmeind himself that here didn’t matter at all, because it wasn’t where he belonged.

He' s starting to turn miserable at the thought and decides to use the opportunity to roam around the large house and explore.

Halina is busy being homeschooled by Malia-- which no less than stunted him when he saw them fall into the chairs at the dining room table and Malia pull workbooks and her laptop out of the canvas bag she brought with her-- and he needed something to do.

Stiles never mentioned Derek going to work, and wasn’t surprised with Derek still being in a T-shirt and sweatpants when he left. Derek figures he's either supposed to be off today, or works from home. He just hopes he is employed and not currently laid off from work, or fired. Maybe he never worked and was a “househusband,” staying at home with Halina while she was tutored, doing chores around the place, making dinner, and lazily watching bad daytime TV when he was done.

He loves the idea of being home all day with his girls. Then he remembers Stiles mentioning something about dinner… He should probably figure out the ins and outs of this world, if he was going to be here for a while. 

The first place he thinks of gaining some answers is the home office under the stairs. It's a decent-sized space with a door that led to the outside. The walls are aligned with white bookshelves stuffed with books. Derek fingers along the book jackets and finds that most, if not all, of them are history books. Non-fiction history books. And there's one particular, unorganized pillar littered with sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery novels.

Stiles.

He sits down at the little, wood desk that looks as though it's bought at a thrift store for ten dollars. For some reason, just the idea of that makes him like it even more. He swivels around in the old, leather chair to the matching wood cabinets behind him. He opens the one furthest to his left.

A safe. There’s a numbered keypad on it.

Shit.

He couldn’t even unlock his stupid phone. There's no way he's going to get that open.

He opens the next cabinet to find it stocked with snacks: dried fruit, chips, crackers, granola bars, protein bars, peanut butter, girl scout cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, and bottles of water. Seems he spends a lot of time down here...

He turns back to his desk and sifts through the papers atop of it. His handwriting is squiggled periodically in shorthand corrections throughout a thick bundle of paper, in red Sharpie.

He reads the entire page that’s on top. Then the next page. Then the next.

It's a historical detail of the Paik Rebellion in 1817. He fans through the packet of papers and finds the front page. The cover page. It's written by someone else, but underneath the accredited name is his own, preceded by the preface, “Introduction By.”

He grabs the five books on the desk and opens each of them to the title page. He’s credited with the introduction in all of them.

He opens his laptop. It's password protected. He tries Stiles’ name and is happily surprised it works. He goes to the documents on his computer and finds at least 20 titles of different word docs.

He clicks on a few. Notes. His notes. On the titled book each file is saved as.

I'm a book editor. I edit historical books.

A smile breaks on his face having solved a mystery, and a mystery he rather likes the answer to.

He glances back at the safe and decides to try something.

He opens the ‘Pictures’ folder on his computer. He clicks on the folder marked ‘Wedding Photos’.

It loads nearly a thousand pictures, and Derek is content to just sit there and watch a slideshow of them all, but he’s focused on looking for something. He clicks on the thumbnail of something that looks like a close-up of a white piece of paper.

It’s their wedding invitation.

He mentally fist pumps, enlarging the image. He can see the date on it: September 1, 2021.

He rolls to the safe and punches in the numbers 090121 and pulls on the handle. It opens. Another mental fist bump.

He takes out three files on the top shelf. He opens the first one: Claudia and Halina’s birth certificates, his and Stiles’ birth records—he stares long and hard at Stiles’, taking note of his obscene real name and smiling to himself about it— their marriage license (again, with Stiles’ very real, and very Polish name), and all of their social security cards.

The second file contains the deed to the house, the titles to their cars, their life insurance policies, and both of their Last Will & Testaments.

The last file is of several pictures of Stiles’ mother.

Derek’s seen a picture or two in Stiles’ home before, and thought the woman beautiful, but never has he seen the pictures here (if they existed in his world). She's stunning, with a warm, friendly smile. Stiles definitely takes after her. Particularly her eyes.

Among the pictures is her obituary, a doodle of a goofy-looking monkey on a slip of paper he assums she drew, a note in her beautiful penmanship about getting home late from work and asking Stiles to clean his room, a strip of floral fabric, and two child-like drawings with “To: Mommy, Love Stiles” written in crayon on both.

Derek feels special being able to see this and Stiles keeping those things that meant a lot to him in their home, but he just as quickly begins to feel as though he's intruding on something he has no right to be looking at when his own memories of his mother starts to drift into his head.

He closes the files and puts them back into the safe.

He reaches into the safe, on the second shelf, and takes out a shoe box. He opens it up to find bullets and a semiautomatic pistol.

He hates guns.

Loathes them actually. And the last thing he ever wants in his house, with his children, is a loaded gun.

He finds himself growing angry with the "him" that lives in this world, for being so stupid as to have one in the first place. But remembers in this world, Derek Hale isn’t a werewolf. He doesn’t have claws and fangs and super strength and healing as a means to protect his family, so the closest thing he could get to being warning and dangerous is a gun.

Yet, still, he isn’t happy about it being here. He puts it back in the safe and closes it. It automatically locks into the latch, catching on the heavy, small door.

So, he's a book editor. He’s been married to Stiles for about 8 years now, with two adorable daughters, one of which was so smart she’s tutored at home and reads/writes on a 5th grade level at only 6 years old. And according to the deed on the house, they live on 551 N Appleton Lane in Smithville, Connecticut. Stiles works outside the house—

Stiles! He has no idea what Stiles does for a living!

A brilliant idea forms, and he turns back to his laptop. He opens the internet browser and types in the address for Facebook. He’s a little surprised to know he has one, seeing as how he was never interested in social media in his own universe.

He clicks the link that connects him to Stiles’ page through his ‘Relationship Status’. On Stiles’ page, under ‘Work’, he list his most recent employer as 'third grade teacher at Smithville Elementary School'.

Derek can’t say he's surprised. He had always figured Stiles would either be a teacher, or some sort of researcher when he grew up.

He opens up a new tab and types in the name of the school. He clicks on the official site and goes to the ‘Staff’ tab.

The first name, coupled with the appropriate picture, lists Victoria Argent as the principal.

Derek’s blood runs cold and he slams the laptop closed as if Victoria’s hand could reach out through the screen and squeeze around his neck.

His heartbeat is going a mile a minute. His brow begins to sweat.

He should open it back up. He should do more research and find out about this bizzaro world he’s living in, because apparently, Victoria Argent is alive and the principal at an elementary school Stiles teaches at.

It makes him wonder who else is alive and behaving like a totally different person, because in this life they are…

He doesn’t want to do it. He doesn’t want to dwell on it. He liked it better when it was just about being with Stiles and their daughters.

Then Malia showed up, and he had to go digging, not accepting things as they are at the moment. But he was curious. He wanted to know and now all that its gotten him is scared.

He’s never considered himself a coward before. Not brave either, but never a coward. Not because he wants to end his nosy inclinations about his life here, but because if he didn’t, if he kept digging, he might hate it here, and so far he hasn’t. So far he's enjoying it and it's good.

He doesn't want to lose that feeling.

He’s shaking. He needs to breathe. He needs a distraction.

He needs Stiles.

Stiles is at work, and he can’t call him. He shouldn’t call him. But he wants to.

He wants to hear his voice and feel safe here again… He should go for a run… But it’s snowing, and he’s not a wolf here. He'd freeze to death after only 3 blocks.

Fuck.

Shower. He hasn’t showered yet. A nice, hot shower will help.

He breaks from the desk and heads upstairs.

He checks in on Halina with Malia. Malia’s giving her a vocabulary test now. Derek asks Malia if she wants anything to drink, or eat, but she politely declines. He takes note of the hard eye roll his 6 year old child gives her tutor. He definitely needs to find out about the hostility there.

But first, a shower.

He runs the water for a minute as he strips down naked, and studies his face in the mirror.

He doesn’t look much different at all. He’s still well-built, mostly bulk. His beard well-trimmed and dark like his hair. His skin is less tan, which he blames on the weather and location of their home, but all-in-all, he’s still confident in his looks, despite supposedly being 37 years old.

He climbs into the shower in the master bedroom and stands under the spray of water with his eyes closed, mind blank. And it feels incredible. Especially after being in the cold snow for over an hour with Halina.

He should Google her name, find out what it means, he thinks. It might clue him into why they named her that. He should also find out why his daughters called their other father, “Roadie,” while he’s at it.

His thoughts lead to Stiles, and earlier when he had the boy perched on the bathroom sink.

Derek’s mind wanders to hard kisses, roaming hands, and sexy moans. He finds his hand wrapped around his swollen cock. He pumps it viciously, thinking about taking Stiles apart on that very sink, fucking him so deep and so rough Stiles can’t walk the next day. He wants to push into him with a salaciousness so crazed Stiles is turned into a puddle of whines and whimpers. Of tears and lewd moans.

Hot cum coats his hand and the blue tiled wall at the thought of Stiles crying while Derek pounds into his tight, pink hole.

He washes away the evidence of his arousal and grabs the bar of soap, lathering up his body. A little ashamed, and a little content about masturbating to Stiles in their bathroom.

»»» 

He slips on the jeans and sweater he had on earlier, with a clean pair of underwear. He comes back downstairs and checks on Halina again. She seems happier despite her company.

“What are we doing, bluebell,” he asks.

“I found a language program that can help with her Polish. She’s really good,” Malia answers.

Polish? Wow.

Kocham cię, tatusiu,” Halina says to him.

“She said, ‘I love you, daddy’,” Malia answers Derek’s confused face.

“I love you, too, Halina.” And he means it. He really means it...

The sound of the front door being pushed open, jingling keys in the lock, takes Derek’s attention away from his child.

Stiles can’t be home already. He only left a couple hours ago...

Derek walks a few steps toward the front door when a bundled up figure walks into the room. Their face covered by the large hood of their puffy jacket.

His instinct is to growl at the intruder, the figure that barged into his home with his child present, but he can’t. So he scowls angrily at it, ready to bark out his orders for the "masked" figure to leave at once, but before he can utter a word, the cloaked presence pulls down their hood to reveal a stunning woman with dark hair, and sharp features.

She smiles wide at him. "It’s starting to come down out there. I think it’s colder today than yesterday," she says sniffling a bit.

Derek stares with an open mouth, and shocked eyes of disbelief. His breath is lost and body numb. He can’t think. He can only see. Only see her, standing there as though it perfectly normal for her to be. As though she does this every day. As though he hasn’t missed the hell out of her each and every day.

She’s just standing there with her red cheeks and pink-tipped nose, nipped by the cold, in the ugliest coat he’s ever seen.

She’d never wear that coat. Never.

Yet, here she is, looking at him with a dubious smile.

And he swallows. He swallows down the burning at the back of his throat, threatening to rise and break from his pale green eyes that look so much like hers.

She raises a curious eyebrow at him, and it’s so familiar. So like her it crushes him.

He lets out the wrecked breath he didn’t know he was holding to whisper: "...Laura?"

Chapter Text


Derek runs downstairs to his office! He opens up his laptop, logs on, and opens his pictures.

He clicks on wedding pictures and starts the slideshow.

He’s shaking and holding his breath. First Victoria, and now his sister. Laura, risen from the dead and alive and well in this universe. Wearing ugly L.L. Bean coats, but still just as flawless.

The first few pictures are candids of him in bed, looking shaggy with bedhead and his mouth open. Then there’s a few of him smiling with thumbs up while drinking coffee. Next, are a couple with odd angles of him in the passenger seat of a car, smiling and laughing, wearing sunglasses and a fitted hat. He’s being driven somewhere but the driver is cut out of the picture; he can’t make them out.

Finally, two photos later, he sees who’s driving. He pauses the slideshow. Staring. Just...staring.

Because he can’t look away. It’s such an ordinary picture. Anyone else looking at it wouldn’t see why Derek is trembling, why tears are stinging his eyes, or why he has to cover his mouth, afraid the hurt and grief and guilt he buried there would rise and he’d let out a wail so loud the walls would cave in.

It’s him. And Boyd. Mugging for the camera with goofy faces.

His fingertips burn at the memory of his friend. His beta, dying on his claws, forgiving him as his last breath left his lungs. Stiles’ hand on his shoulder...

“Hey, D, what the hell was that,” Laura asks entering the room.

Derek breaks from the chair and rushes her with a tight embrace.

“Uh…okay.” She hugs him back, tight and familiar.

He never wants to let her go.

“You okay, D?”

“I missed you so much.” Tears fall down his face, getting lost in the dark hair of his beard.

“Are you crying, you weirdo? You saw me two days ago.”

He can’t help but laugh. Laura always teased him. Laura was ‘the bossy one’, his sister Valerie was ‘the sweet one’, and Cora was ‘the tough girl’.

She pulls away, looking at him. “You are crying. What the hell, D? You okay? Are you getting all crazy about Stiles again?”

He opens his mouth to speak, to ask her what she means, but before he can utter a word—

“You need to clam down, Derek,” she says seriously. “You do not want to go this route again. You don’t want to lose your husband.”

Derek stops cold at that.

Lose Stiles? Why would I lose Stiles?

“I know you love him, but the jealousy is going to drive him away if you don’t relax, and trust him.”

“…I do,” is all he can say. He does. He does trust Stiles, but this Derek, the one here, doesn’t.

Laura said “jealousy.” He has a jealousy problem…? Which Derek would never admit seems pretty similar to his own self.

“Good. How’s Halina been with the tramp? She’s always such a bubble of unicorn kisses when she’s learning Polish that I can’t tell.”

Derek assumes his sister is referring to Malia in her use of the word “tramp.” “She’s hostile to her. Rude, and short.”

“What do you expect? I don’t know how keeping her employed as Halina’s teacher is an ‘exercise in trust’, but whatever. If it makes you and Stiles stronger, I shall support. But I will not refrain from calling her a tramp. That I can not give up.”

Derek rolls his eyes at his big sister. “You know, you’re probably the reason Halina is so openly hostile to Malia, right?”

“God, I hope so! Can I teach her to call her ‘tramp’.”

“No!”

“God. You and Stiles have a couple of kids and you become no fun anymore.”

“Hey, I am a shitload of fun.”

“I’m an ass-load of fun.”

“Well, I’m a fuck-load of fun.”

“I am a mega-fuck ton of fun.”

“I’m a mega shitload fuck-ton of fun.”

“Wow. That’s a lot of fun.”

He nods. “It is.”

They laugh. He can’t believe it's so easy to fall into such a normal banter with her. He forgot, for just a bit, that she had been gone, lost to him for years now, and found it so simple to pick up where they left off; the closeness they had. He had it again. Here. And it feels like a old, worn coat.

“Well, you’ll get the chance to prove yourself this weekend.”

“What’s this weekend?”

“Please tell me you are joking, because if you forgot, you will be killed.”

“No. No, I didn’t forget,” he lies, grateful they aren’t wolves here and she can’t detect the lie. “I’ll be there.”

“You have no choice. None of us do. Sadly.”

She turns on her heel and walks out of the room. He follows.

“Where are you going?”

“Ugh. This little thing called work. Which I was off from today, hoping to spend it taking a long, hot bath, then making myself an omelet with green peppers and chopped onions. Then I was going to trek all the way over here and bug you while you try and work. Then I was going to take a long nap on your couch, wake up, bride you into making me soup and hot chocolate-- even though yours is nowhere near as good as Stiles’-- and finally head home and wait for my troublemakers to come running in, tracking muddy snow all though the house while I yell at them to clean it up. Sounds like the perfect day, right? Well, that’s all over now. I only got up to the part where I end up here. Thomas called when I was in the driveway. Seems someone booked two weddings on the same day for Christmas at the resort, and yours truly has to be the one to go and fix it.”

Laura has kids. She has children, and a husband.

Derek wants nothing more than to sit her down and listen to her talk about her life. She died so young in Beacon Hills. She never had the chance to grow and marry and have cubs. He only wants for her to continue talking. Talking until the sun sets and rises again. “Do you really have to leave? I want to spend the day with you.”

She pecks his cheek. “Me, too. But you know how husbands are. Completely inept without the ‘little woman’ around.”

“I kind of feel like the inept one whenever Stiles isn’t around.”

“I am so telling him you said that.”

They reach the ground floor of the house.

“Alright. I’ll see you this weekend. Okay?”

He grabs her, holding her tight. “Please stay, Laura.”

She manages to wiggle from his embrace. “D, relax. Just don’t murder her. Or let Halina murder her. Actually, I’d love to see Halina murder her. She’d be famous and they’d make a movie out of it. ‘The Kiddie Killer’. ‘You don’t tuck her in. She tucks you in’.”

Derek laughs at his goofy sister.

“Tell me you wouldn’t go see that movie,” she laughs.

“Only with you. I’d only go see it with you.”

She puts her hands on his shoulders and squeezes affectionately. “Be calm. Relax. Breathe. I love you,” she pecks his cheek. “I’ll see you this weekend.”

“I love you, too.” He leans in and scent marks her, rubbing his cheek against hers.

“What are you doing, weirdo? Stiles likes your stubble burn, not me.”

“S-Sorry. I—”

“You get weirder and weirder as you grow older and older, baby brother.” She pulls a red, plaid mad bomber hat from the inside pocket of her coat and slips it over her head. She kisses his cheek one more time. “I got to go. I’ll call you. Kiss my niece for me please.”

“I will.”

He hangs in the doorway, watching her avoid the slippery parts of his driveway toward her truck.

Laura has a truck. Not just any truck, but a real truck. A Ford.

He truly has no idea of the lives that are being lived here.

He regrettably watches as she backs out of the driveway and turns into the street, hitting the gas and making brown, muddy snow spin out from her tires as she disappears from the house. Freezing cold or not, he steps barefoot from the house to watch her drive further and further down the grey street until she turns left and is out of his sight.

He should have begged, pleaded, with her to stay. He should have lied and claimed he was so full of jealous rage that he was going to murder Malia.

She would have believed him and stayed with him, and they would have talked. She would have tried to calm him down, convinced him it was all alright and that hurting another person was not like him. He wouldn’t have heard a word of it, though, too busy enjoying her company, despite the false pretense.

He wants to see her again, and meet her husband and children this weekend. But maybe by that time he’d be transported back to his own world, where Laura in ugly coats with even uglier hats is something that never was, and never will be.

There's no point in missing her though, he concludes. She isn’t real. She isn’t his reality, his Laura, and the more he understands that, the less it'll hurt when he gets back to Beacon Hills.

He shuffles downstairs to his office. He stopped at the corner of his desk, looking at his open laptop, wondering if he could do this. Could he look at another gone face and see it staring back at him casually, or making funny expressions? Could his wrecked-with-guilt heart take it…?

The alternative seems to be waiting around for the undead to arrive, poking their heads in— á la Laura— and wondering ‘how,’ ‘why,’ then begging for just one more moment, or maybe a thousand more moments. The other option appears to be getting a handle on this life, this universe, to avoid said surprises; to at least be able to function here and not look like an idiot.

He sits back down at his desk before his laptop. He takes a deep breath and hits the play button on the slideshow.

By the third picture, Derek begins to feel like this was a bad idea. Included in the pictures at that point is Isaac, comfortable and happy, all smiles as he, Boyd, and Derek go to breakfast at a diner, followed by a few pictures of them picking up their tuxedos. After which, the candid pictures stop and more professional ones play in succession of the day:

The first of which are about six pictures of Derek, Boyd, and Isaac putting on their suits with Derek’s cousin, Michael (who died in the Hale House fire), and his cousin, Richard, on his dad’s side of the family at a mansion.

There's a picture of Derek’s father, Theo, fixing Derek’s bowtie that makes him pause the slideshow for a few minutes to cry before starting it again.

Tears runs down his face at a picture of his mother, still just as lovely, kissing his cheek. The high-resolution of the taken photo lets him see the happy tears in her eyes in the following picture.

The next picture is of him standing in the upstairs hall sandwiched between his sisters and Erica, all in the same cranberry-colored bridesmaids dresses. Erica has her arms wrapped around him with a big smile on her face. Which brings one to his own. The first he’s had since looking at the pictures.

The next set of pictures mirror Stiles doing the same with Scott: dressing in their suits, clowning around and laughing.

There’s one with Stiles looking a bit forlorn out into the balcony of his room. Derek assumes it’s a sorrowful moment managed to be captured by the photographer of Stiles thinking about his mother...

There’s a few with Stiles and his father. The last one is of them both wiping away tears, silhouetted by the early afternoon light as they stand in the doors of the balcony.

There’s a lot with he, Scott, and Lydia. Lydia wearing the same bridesmaids dress as his sisters and Erica.

The picture that throws him is of Scott and Lydia…kissing. And not in a friendly way.

She’s sitting on his lap, her head tilted down, his upward to meet her lips, both their mouths locked together, eyes closed.

Even more startling is Stiles and Allison looking on fondly at the two of them in the background, in addition, to Scott’s hand laid gently on the small baby bump under Lydia’s dress. There’s so much going, so much to question, in that one photo, he has to click forward in order to avoid his thoughts spiraling off into a tangled web.

Their wedding seems to have a fall/autumn theme, with lots of bright fall colors mixed with hues of brown.

The ceremony is outside, on the mansion’s big expansive green lawn. There are about 150 people in attendance, which doesn’t surprise him. Derek has a very large extended family, and Stiles would make friends with a cactus and invite it to his wedding.

There’s a picture of their flower girls (two cute little ones he doesn’t recognize), their ring bearer (an adorable 5 year old in a suit he doesn’t recognize either), then the wedding party procession starting with his parents, himself, then Boyd and Scott together, Isaac escorting Lydia, Laura with Allison, and so on.

Stiles is walked down the aisle by his father.

At the alter with them is Boyd (serving as best man for Derek), Isaac, his sisters, his cousins Michael and Richard, and Erica beside him. Beside Stiles is Scott as best man of course, Lydia, Allison, Kira, and four people Derek doesn’t recognize, believing they might be Stiles' friends from college or co-workers.

Deaton officiates the wedding.

He and Stiles hold hands and look…happy.

Stiles’ face is wet with tears as he reads from a slip of paper (his vows). Derek’s face is red and eyes glossy as he reads his vows to Stiles.

There are a few pictures of their guests: their parents, all three of them with tear-stained faces, Danny, and Victoria Argent…dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief.

Derek paused the slideshow to stare at their kiss. Their both smiling with their lips pressed together firmly with their wedding party looking on cheering. His fingers touch the screen, running down Stiles’ happy face, wishing he could remember that day more than anything…

Next, were a ton of pictures from their reception, some candid and some professional, but mostly of everyone else and food.

As the pictures progressed, they got sillier and sillier, hinting at everyone’s alcohol consumption as the night wore on.

There were some really nice ones of him dancing with his mother, Stiles dancing with Lydia, then Allison. He danced with each of his sisters and Erica in a few photos, and there was one professional picture that captured he and Stiles’ father, John, having a heart-to-heart.

He notices a few very absent people from the pictures thus far: Peter, Chris Argent, Jackson, Melissa, Liam, and Malia. He had already assumed Malia wasn’t his relation here by Laura’s attitude toward her, but the lack of her presence in his wedding photos seems like conformation.

He also takes note that in nearly every picture of Boyd, Cora is there, looking very smitten by him…

The slideshow ends with a really nice photo Derek likes a lot. It’s a close up of he and Stiles slow dancing. Derek’s tux jacket is gone, dress shirt untucked and unbuttoned at the top, his bowtie undone and hanging around his neck. Stiles isn’t wearing his vest, nor his dress shirt. Just a plain, white T-shirt, with his left hand clasped in Derek’s right hand. Derek holds Stiles at the small of his back with his other hand. Stiles holds Derek at his shoulder. And they’re gazing into each other’s eyes with so much love and so much joy it’s blinding.

“Mr. Hale,” Malia calls, interrupting his thoughts. Her formality confirming again Derek’s assumptions of them not being related to one another.

Derek closes his laptop and heads back upstairs.

Malia’s wearing her coat and gathering up her things.

Derek grabs Halina and picks her up, putting a big kiss on her cheek. She giggles, making his heart swell three sizes larger. Watching Malia get herself together, it truly dawns on him that she’s teaching his daughter. The Malia he knows, is admittedly, not too bright academically. And a bit socially. Here she’s more than adequate, despite her being the ire of him, his sister, and apparently his daughter.

“Thank you. I appreciate it,” he says politely.

“No problem. I like teaching Halina; she’s quick and incredibly smart. Makes my job a lot easier,” she jokes. She turns to Halina, “Bye, Halina. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Halina rolls her eyes. “Sure,” she says cold and flat, then wraps her arms tighter around Derek’s neck.

There’s a part of Derek that wants to snicker at just how “adult” his daughter’s rude behavior is, but the fatherly part of him sees the hurt look on Malia’s face and knows he probably needs to reprimand her…but not this time. Not until he knows why.

“Um, okay. So, um, bye. Same time tomorrow.”

Derek attempts to follow her to the front door—

“Oh, no. It’s okay. I can show myself out.”

Derek nods. He watches as she exits out the front door, closing it behind her. He turns to Halina in his arms, “You and I need to talk, my love.”

“May I have lunch first?”

“Yes. You may.” He carries her into the kitchen and sits her down on the island. “You want a sandwich,” he asks.

She nods.

“Okay. What kind of sandwich?”

“Um…peanut butter and banana.”

“You got it.”

Derek puts around the kitchen. There's only wheat bread and organic peanut butter. He couldn't decide if it was either him or Stiles that decided their food choices should be so healthy. He does recall Stiles going off on tangents about environmentalism, Monsanto, Pfizer, and healthy living (namely at his father whenever Stiles caught him eating something that came in a greasy paper bag), but he’s also seen Stiles inhale troths of curly fries, eat his weight in cookies and Twizzlers, and pluck all but the marshmallows out a bowl of Lucky Charms more than once. Maybe fatherhood changed him, and he put his money where his mouth was in terms of eating better food. Or maybe this Stiles was always conscious of what he ate.

Derek, on the other hand, had always been a healthy eater, as so pointed out to him once when Stiles saw him eating scrambled egg whites and vegan sausage.

“So, you want to tell Daddy why you’ve been so mean to Malia?”

“I don’t like her,” she says casually, as though discussing the weather.

“Why, bluebell? Is she a bad teacher?”

“No. I told you why I don’t like her: she kissed Roadie, and Roadie told her to stop because he’s married to you.”

What. The. Fuck?

Derek tries to put the pieces together: Halina saw Malia kiss Stiles and told me. I must have said something to Stiles, hence Laura’s jealousy comments.

Exercise in trust…”

So, that’s why Malia is still employed by us? I’m supposed to be trusting Stiles that nothing happened between them...which means I must have accused him of wanting something to, or going further with her.

Fuck…

But still, she made a move on Stiles, and Halina saw, so she must have been close or nearby, and that’s just fucking—

“No crust, daddy.”

“Huh? What,” he says, knocked out of his runaway thoughts. “Oh, yeah. Sorry, my love.” He cuts he crust off the sandwich and sits it beside her. He looks for a glass and finds a pink Disney princess one, and a plain blue drinking cup for a kid. He assumes the blue one is Halina’s and pours her a glass of almond milk.

Then it occurs to him, how he could figure everything out, things he’d like answers to. He has his own source right in front of him.

“Want to play a game?”

She nods.

“Okay. Daddy is going to ask you a question, and you tell him the answer. Even if you think Daddy should know. Okay?”

She nods again, her mouth full of sticky peanut butter and covered with crumbs. He really needs to figure out how to crack open his phone…

“Alright. Can you name all your cousins and their mommies and daddies?”

“Yes. Aunt Laura and Uncle Thomas are TJ, Ash, and Forrest’s mommy and daddy. Aunt Valerie and Uncle Jason are Arthur and Miller’s mommy and daddy. Uncle Scott and Aunt Lydia are Ernie’s mommy and daddy, and Aunt Cora and Uncle Boyd said they don’t have a name for the baby yet.”

Derek wants to fist pump at calling that particular fact when he was looking through his wedding pictures. If anyone was to marry his sister, he was glad it was Boyd. Though thoughts of he and Erica as a couple make him curious as to why they weren’t together here. Then his mind shifts to his sister Valerie naming her boys Arthur and Miller and he finds it a bit amusing, and so like her.

“Aunt Allison isn’t married and doesn’t have babies.”

“Oh, well, that’s okay. She doesn’t have to. I bet she’s still very happy even though she doesn’t.”

“You were happy without me and Claudia?”

He kisses her worried face. “No. Roadie and I wanted you and Claudia really really badly, but it doesn’t mean that just because someone doesn’t have babies, or want babies, that they’re a bad person. That’s okay, too. Some people want different things.”

“That’s what Roadie said about Aunt Erica because she said she didn’t want babies.”

“And do you think Aunt Erica is a bad person?”

She shakes her head.

“See? She just wants something different. That’s all.” He wasn’t the least bit surprised that this Erica made such a definitive proclamation (in front of children no less) about kids. The one he knew didn’t seem so maternal either, but then again, she was only 16 when he knew her. “Can you answer a few more questions for me?”

“Yes.”

“Where does Grandpa John live?”

“He lives near Aunt Cora and Uncle Boyd.” She closes her eyes tight, gesturing with her hands, “Down the street this way, then a left at Mrs. Culpepper’s house, then a right at the house with the mean dog, then another right by the scary tree, then down the street, all the way to the Burger King, and then a left by Claudia’s school, and then a left—no a right, by the blue house with the red door, then all the way up the hill, then grandpa’s house is on the right with the purple flowers on the steps.”

She’s so cute he could eat her. “And Aunt Cora and Uncle Boyd live there, too?”

“All the way at the end of the street. Their door is yellow.”

“Does Aunt Valerie and Uncle Jason live close, too?” He figures Laura did, given her presence already, but isn’t so sure about Valerie.

“They live where Aunt Erica lives. In the city.”

“Which city, bluebell?”

“New York City.”

New York City is only a train ride to/from Connecticut, but he is still a bit down at not being close enough to visit his sister and Erica in mere minutes, especially given he has Halina to look after until Stiles gets home.

“Daddy, are we done playing the game? Can we look at the calendar now?”

“The calendar? What calendar?”

“That one.” She points to a Christmas Advent Calendar on the wall by the backdoor.

He lifts her off the island and approaches the calendar. He remembers from the date on his phone, that today is the first of December. He lifts the flap and pulls out a small card that reads: Make/Buy Christmas cards to send out the family and friends.

“Can we make them, please,” she pleads.

“Yes, and we’ll buy some, too. But we have to wait until Claudia and Roadie get home okay?”

“Okay,” she resigns, not liking the answer she got, but accepting it anyway.

“I’ll tell you what: we’ll go to the store and get some Christmas cards, then you can come back and do your homework.”

“Okay,” she said with a bright smile, happy to be putting off her homework a little longer.

He sets her to her feet and she runs off to get her coat.

He heads upstairs and searches for his keys and wallet. He finds them on top of the dresser.

He grabs his cellphone and tries the code again, this time using his wedding anniversary.

Success!

»»» 

Derek is utterly grateful that his car has a GPS in it so he doesn’t have to ask his daughter any “weird questions” about where the mall is located.

They go to Target and hit up their holiday section. It's 1:30 in the afternoon, but the place is busy.

Halina whines about being put in the front seat of the shopping cart. It's her first display of 6 year old childishness, and it throws Derek a bit, given how sweet she was all day until now. He opts to just let her walk with him, holding her hand.

Stiles was right too, she likes to wander off. He holds tighter to her little hand at her attempts to break free at something interesting she sees, and each time he has to tell her ‘no’. He says it a little more sternly after the fifth time she tries to break free of him. Her pouting lip would have melted him if the concern weren’t her safety.

He grabs a couple of boxes of Christmas cards, avoiding the religious ones, assuming he and Stiles were still of the same mind on that subject in this universe as they are in their own.

How could they not be? They were a gay couple raising two daughters...

He hadn’t had the chance to meander around the house as thoroughly as he liked, so he didn’t know if anything else was needed, such as toiletries, office supplies, underclothes, or food. Stiles said he’d pick up dinner on the way home he remembers. 

So Derek goes up front to the cash registers and stands in the ‘Express Lane’. He takes the opportunity to Google Halina’s name on his phone and finds that it's the Polish variation of ‘Helen’. Stiles’ mother’s middle name.

He leaves the store annoyed at having to stand in line for 20 minutes just to purchase twelve dollars of generic Christmas cards. But his smiled returns when he hears his name being called.

He turns around to see Cora approaching him.

Tears welled in his eyes as she waddles over to him. She has to be about 7 months pregnant. She glows all over.

He holds tight to Halina and wraps an arm around his sister as best he can given her swollen belly and the many layers she wears over it.

Cora hears him sniffle in her ear. “You okay? Laura said you were a little weird today. Told her I’d be weird too if some bitch made a move on my husband but still came by 5 days a week to tutor my kid.”

“You said ‘bitch’, Aunt Cora,” Halina grins.

“I know. That’s what you call girls like Malia.”

“Cora! You’re as bad as Laura!”

Cora rolls her eyes and waves off his chastising. “What are you doing here?”

“Christmas cards.”

“I want a handmade one this year! Every year you guys give me a store bought one and Laura and Valerie get the cool ones with Halina’s paintings and Claudia’s glitter on them,” Cora complains.

He laughs at the seriousness in his sister’s whining tone. “Fine. You get a hand-crafted Christmas card this year.”

“Thank you. And you get a sorry lump of coal because I heard you’ve been naughty.”

“Me?! You just called another woman a b-i-t-c-h.”

“You are aware that your wunderkind child can spell, right?”

Halina giggles.

“Shut up,” he snaps at Cora.

“See? Naughty,” Cora says to Halina, pointing to Derek.

“Stop making me look bad in front of my daughter please. What are you doing here?”

“Oh, Christ! I needed to get out of the house. I was going crazy.”

“You should have come over.”

“Boyd was still home until about 15 minutes ago. He would have wanted to come, too, and I need a break from that man as well. He’s like a goddamn helicopter with all the hovering.”

“Your kid is going to know every curse word there is before it can even say ‘dada’.”

“Says you with the gigantic swear jar. I know all those nickels aren’t from Stiles. Come back in with me while I pretend to shop for stuff.”

She doesn’t wait for an answer as she wobbles into Target. Derek follows her in.

»»» 

They meander through the store with Cora playfully teasing him to Halina, while dumping “things I don’t really need, but want now that I’m here” items into her cart.

Boyd calls. Twice.

Both times she assurances him that she’s fine and with Derek, then returns to excessively chatting about anything and everything.

He isn’t used to this type of Cora.

The one he barely knew said very little, and when she did it was either a threat on her tongue, or some snide comment in a rough, sarcastic tone.

This one went off on tangents about her pregnancy symptoms (in detail), missing work (she was a horseback riding instructor at the inn & resort Laura apparently co-owned with her husband and Boyd), on what to name the baby (they were having a boy, officially making Claudia and Halina the only girls in the family thus far), how nervous she is about making the ham this Christmas (because it’s her turn, despite “not being able to cook for shit,” although Stiles has been apparently been trying to teach her how since August), an incident at the inn & resort in which a guest made a horribly racist comment about Boyd in front of her when she paid him a visit at work last week (said guest was refunded their money and told never to come back), and how their parents’ weekly dinners every Friday is something she has to skip on the 14th because they’re going to New Jersey to visit Boyd’s family that weekend.

He remembers Laura asking him if he forgot about this weekend and pieced together she was talking about weekly family dinners with his parents.

The thought of seeing his parents stopped his breathing. He felt like he was having a panic attack.

Before Cora could notice, he asks her to watch Halina and disappears, claiming he had to use the restroom.

He slips into the deserted garden section and tries to breathe. He remembers Scott bringing Stiles down from a panic attack once, and tries to do as Scott told Stiles.

1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6... 7... 8... 9... 10... 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... Breathe… In…and out… In…and out… In… Out… In… Out… In… Out… 

Slowly, the store stops getting smaller, and warmer. His lungs filled with air, and he lets them expand, then contract, with easy breathes.

You’re fine. You’re okay. Don’t be scared. Just breathe. Just breathe…

»»» 

He eventually finds Cora in the holiday section with a giant wreath in her cart and Halina at her side.

“Sorry.”

“You okay?”

“Really had to pee.”

“I’ll say. You ran like your ass was on fire. Come on. Let’s pay for this crap so I can go home.”

They stand in line for 45 minutes until Cora's next and can purchase her items.

While she pays, Derek catches a glimpse of a picture of her and Boyd in her wallet. They looked good together. Really happy. Boyd wears a bright smile and Cora makes a goofy grin.

It makes Derek wish such a thing were possible in his world.

Derek helps carry Cora's bags to her car while Boyd calls her for a third time. He's at home now and waiting for her.

Cora hugs and kisses Derek and Halina goodbye.

Derek holds on tight, just like he did with Laura, before letting her go, and solemnly watches her drive away.

 »»»

Halina sits in his office with him doing her homework while he works on the book he seems to have been in the middle of editing.

He finds it fairly easy to comprehend and really likes doing it. He didn’t know much about India and England’s conflict and was fascinated by the facts of it as he edits.

Stiles’ voice brakes through his concentration when he hears him call for him.

Derek sweeps Halina into his arms and heads upstairs.

Stiles and Claudia are in the kitchen. Stiles is unloading a few bags of groceries while Claudia hangs a picture she made at school on the fridge.

Derek admires it and gives her a big kiss on her cheek.

Stiles kisses him ‘hello’ then snatchs up Claudia to take her into the mudroom and out of her winter coat and boots.

Derek puts the rest of the groceries away and asks Stiles what he bought to make dinner with.

Stiles comes back into the kitchen and tells him to make Honey-Garlic Chicken while he takes a shower then makes sure both the girls have finished their homework.

The once quiet house was suddenly chaotic and filled with noise, despite it being only four of them.

Stiles has to tell Claudia four times to go do her homework at the dining room table as she tries to tell Derek about her day at school and the picture she drew. Derek wants to hear all about it, so he doesn’t reprimand her about ignoring her other father, which earns him a glare from Stiles that he rolls his eyes at when Stiles turns his back to go upstairs and take a shower.

Halina finishes her schoolwork first (far less distracted than Claudia) and comes into the kitchen with Derek. He's sifting through a recipe book he finds on the counter until Halina tells him she likes the way he makes “grandma’s recipe” better than the one in the book. Derek recalls his mother did a recipe for that, and he had helped her a few times with it when he was young. He looks at all the ingredients Stiles bought and immediately remembers the recipe.

Halina asks if she can help, but before he can answer, Claudia comes running into the room wanting to help, too.

Halina tells her sister ‘no’, which starts a loud argument between them, ends with Halina pushing Claudia to the floor!

Claudia cries her eyes out.

Despite her being older, Derek had already figured Claudia was the more sensitive of the two, and wasn’t surprised when she burst into tears at Halina getting physical with her.

Derek snaps at Halina and tells her to go to time-out. With a pout, Halina walks toward the mudroom.

He picks Claudia up and tries to comfort her with soft whispers and kisses on her wet cheek.

He maneuvers around the kitchen, trying to continue cooking with her in his arms.

She eventually calms down after a few short minutes, and he sets her too her feet. She wants to stay in the kitchen with him and help with dinner, but Derek says no and tells her she needs to finish her homework instead. With a pout, Claudia stomps back into the dining room.

So, that’s two daughters pissed at me right now…

»»» 

Stiles comes back down in comfortable clothes. He smells fresh, and his hair is still damp from his shower. Derek wants nothing more than to bend him over the island and take him right there.

“Where’s Halina,” Stiles asks, peeking into the living room.

“Time-out,” Derek answers, chopping carrots.

“What she do?”

“Push Claudia.”

“Halina Alice Hale get in here please.”

Halina comes into the kitchen, an angry scowl on her face.

“Did you push your sister?”

She ignores him, deciding to remain insolent. Both Derek and Stiles turn their complete attention and glare toward their youngest.

“Did you push Claudia? Answer me. Now.”

“…Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because I wanted to help daddy make dinner and she wanted to, too, but she wasn’t even done her homework,” she whined.

“I do not care. You don’t push your sister. Go apologize. Sincerely.”

Halina stalks off toward the dining room.

“I swear, those two girls are like gladiators for your attention. I’d be jealous if I weren’t grateful it’s not me in the middle.”

“Oh, gee, thanks, honey. And that wasn’t passive-aggressive at all,” Derek says.

Stiles grins and winks at him. Derek tries to hide the smile on his own face.

Their comfortable moment is interrupted by Claudia running into the room in tears. She heads straight for Stiles, who lifts her up. “Hey, pumpkin, what’s the matter?”

Halina comes into the kitchen. “She’s sad because me and daddy did the calendar.”

“Derek! We’re supposed to do the advent calendar together, as a family!”

Shit. Shit. Shit.

“I-I forgot. I’m so sorry. I just bought the cards. We didn’t do anything else. They’re sitting on my desk downstairs.”

“You hear that, pumpkin? Daddy only bought the cards. He brought them home so you and Halina can decorate them and make them pretty and then send them out. Okay?”

She nods through her tears and snotty nose.

“Come on. Let’s go clean your face, then I’ll help you with your schoolwork.”

“I’ll do it.”

“No. I got it,” Stiles says. He doesn't bother to look at Derek as he carries Claudia out of the kitchen and to the half-bath downstairs.

“I didn’t mean to make Claudia cry. I’m sorry,” Halina says.

“I know, bluebell. We’ll make it up to her.”

Halina nods.

Stiles returns with Claudia after a moment. “Go sit at the table. I’ll be there in a second.” Claudia goes back into the dining room. “You, too, Halina.”

“But I’m done my homework.”

“Then practice your Polish on my laptop.” Halina picks up Stiles’ briefcase off the floor and carries it, with all her might, into the dining room.

Derek's not an idiot. He knows Stiles is trying to get rid of their daughters to talk to him privately, because as soon as Halina is out of ear shot—

“What the fuck, Derek? We talked about this,” he snaps in a harsh whisper.

Fuck. This is an on-going discussion.

“I’m sorry. Halina and I were bored and she asked to do the calendar and I forgot we’re supposed to do it together,” he defends, whispering as well.

“You know it’s not just about the calendar. I don’t care about that, especially since it's fucking Christmas cards. I care about you doing it with just Halina and how that makes Claudia feel.”

“I didn’t think she’d take it so hard,” he says defensively.

“How could she not? You’re home most of the day with Halina, so you spend most of your time with her so Claudia feels left out.”

Derek thought of all his interactions with Claudia throughout the day. They were minimal, but when she was in his presence, she did spend most of the time vying for his attention.

“She already feels inadequate with Halina being smarter than her. She doesn’t need to think—”

“Stiles. She’s my daughter. I’d give my life for hers, and if Claudia doesn’t know that, or feel that from me, than I’ll fix it,” he says in a firm tone. He isn't angry with Sties, but himself for not picking up on his daughter’s insecurities, and for being the cause of his 8 year old daughter having them in the first place.

Stiles rounds the island and approaches Derek. He nudges him with his shoulder. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap. I shouldn’t have. Claudia was upset and… I’m sorry.”

Derek put the pan of chicken in the oven. “It’s okay.” He washes his hands at the sink beside Stiles. Stiles leans his head on Derek’s shoulder.

“…How can she think I don’t love her?”

“She knows you love her. She just thinks you love Halina more.”

“That’s—”

“Ridiculous. I know. But she’s eight. She’s nothing but raw emotion. She’s not going to sit down and think about things logically. There’s what she sees, and she interprets it as what she knows. She sees you spending all day with Halina, buying Christmas cards—”

“—that we’re supposed to do together as a family, but I took Halina with me instead.” Derek sighs.

Stiles rubs his neck. It feels nice.

“Laura used to call me ‘mom’s favorite’. I hated that.”

“Just make it a point to spend more time with her. And we have to make sure we do things together, not in pairs.”

Derek nods.

Stiles kisses him quick. He tries to walk away, but Derek pulls him back and kisses him again.

“All day I’ve been thinking about you and me in the bathroom this morning.”

“Yeah?”

Stiles nods. “I was really tempted to come home during my lunch break.”

“Why didn’t you?” Derek nuzzles Stiles’ neck.

“I got made 'lunchroom monitor' at the last minute.”

Derek mouths at Stiles’ pulsepoint.

“Derek…”

They’re interrupted by their daughters catcalls of “Oooooo” again. They quickly break apart. Claudia and Halina giggle.

“Are you two done with your homework?”

They nod.

“Halina, why don’t you help Roadie go over your work and Claudia’s work. Claudia can help me make dinner and you can help me tomorrow night, okay?”

“Okay,” Halina says, disappointed.

“I’ll teach you some Polish words that aren’t in your program, okay,” Stiles winks at their youngest.

Her frown turns upside down. “Okay.” Halina runs into the dining room.

Derek raises a skeptical eyebrow at his husband.

Stiles shrugs, What?

“I think that swear jar is pretty full as it is.”

“Most of that money is from Cora when she visits and you know it.”

“I know. I ran into her at the store.”

“Boyd let her out the house?”

“She made a daring escape when he got called to the resort.”

“Brave girl,” Stiles says, then heads into the dining room.

Derek looks down at the bright-eyed girl beside him. Her eyes completely focused on him, as though he hung the moon and stars. He picks her up and sits her on the counter. “You know daddy loves you, right?”

“Yes.”

“You and Halina are the same. You both mean the world to me, so that means I love you both equally. The same. Okay?”

She nods, but Derek knows she might not truly get it. Not just yet. Not that simply. 

“Want to help me make the green beans?”

“Can I use the stove?”

“No, it’s too dangerous, but you can help me mix the sauce for it.”

“Okay,” she says happily.

How can she think I don’t love her enough? She’s perfect.

»»» 

After dinner, which consists of Derek and Stiles fumbling through an (very weak) explanation of how Santa Claus gets presents to every kid in the world in one night, they sit at the kitchen table and address Christmas cards to a long list of friends and family. Which is how Derek finds out Isaac lives in Boston, Scott and Lydia in the next county, and Allison lives just up the street.

The girls make homemade Christmas cards for their grandparents, aunts and uncles. And as promised, Cora gets a homemade card with a picture Halina paints on it and tons of red and green glitter, courtesy of Claudia. Derek and Stiles help them write the addresses clearly on each envelope and put stamps on them. Together they get dressed in their hat and coats and boots and walk to the blue mailbox at the end of the block. Derek splits the envelops between both girls and lifts them up to drop the cards in the mail slot.

They walk back home and Derek helps both girls take off their coats and things before Stiles brings them upstairs for a bath.

It's Derek’s turn to read them a bedtime story and he lets Claudia pick.

She chose The Princess and the Pea and Derek happily reads the story to them.

Halina requests another story, but it's nearly 8:30, so Derek says no, but promises to read them two next time.

He comes downstairs to find Stiles has just finished washing the last of the dishes.

“What,” Stiles asks.

Derek shrugs.

“You were staring. What is it?”

Derek says nothing as he rounds the island and comes close to Stiles. He cages Stiles against the sink with his arms positioned on both sides of him.

Derek kisses him chastely at first, a slow, sensual kiss Stiles could feel in his entire body. But then Derek slides his tongue in Stiles’ mouth, keeping the same deliberate, lusty pace to his kiss.

Stiles arms come up Derek’s broad back and hook onto his shoulders. Derek wraps an arm around the small of Stiles’ back, and the other hand cards through the younger man’s hair.

Stiles deepens the kiss, turning it hungry and eager. Derek met his hunger with his own, and slides a hand down the front of Stiles’ sweatpants, groping his hard on.

“Fuck. Derek…”

Derek has spent all day trying (and failing) to push this to the back of his mind, for a number of reasons, but here, now, like this, it’s all he wants, and he plans on taking as much as he can get. He turns Stiles around to face the sink.

“Derek. Wait. We can’t here, in the kitchen--”

Stiles is cut off by Derek bending him over the sink and pulling down his sweatpants and underwear. Derek uses a hand to spread Stiles’ cheeks apart. He sucks the middle finger on his other hand, getting it as wet as possible, then teases Stiles’ hole with the sopping finger.

Stiles grips the faucet, biting back a moan, not wanting their daughters to hear them.

Well, that won't do...

Derek is determined to make Stiles keen a little harder in order to hear the noises he’s been dying to hear since the third time Stiles saved his life.

He stops teasing and abruptly pushes his finger inside Stiles’ tight, pink hole. He gets what he wants when Stiles lets out a good moan and clenches around Derek’s finger.

He takes his finger out of Stiles and puts it in his mouth, loving the taste of his boy on his tongue. He wets his finger again, along with his index finger, then achingly slow, he guides them into Stiles again.

He works his fingers in and out, ever so slowly increasing the speed the longer he's inside him.

Derek curls his fingers and pushes against Stiles’ prostate, making Stiles shudder and grip the faucet until his knuckles turn white.

He feels Stiles is on the verge of coming, so he slips his fingers out of Stiles while grabbing his dick at the base with his other hand, to stave off his orgasm.

“Fuck, Derek! I was going to come!”

“Not like that. Get on your knees.”

Stiles turns around to face Derek and sinks to his knees. Derek opens his jeans and Stiles gets to work, sucking him off.

Derek has to grab the edge of the sink for purchase, because Stiles gives amazing head. Fuck!

Stiles fondles Derek’s balls, all while not losing stride in bobbing up and down Derek's fat cock. He takes Derek all the way to the back of his throat and slips a finger past his taint to circle his hole.

Derek nearly comes right then and there, but backs away, letting his cock fall from Stiles’ mouth. Stiles going down on him is something he's often thought about, but feeling him actually do it, and be so good at it, has Derek’s head spinning. It feels too much like when his wolf is antsy, and looking to either fight, or fuck.

Derek grabs Stiles, turns him around, and bends him over the sink again. He lines his cock against Stiles’ entrance and pushes just the head inside.

“More, Derek. Please.”

Derek pushes in further, and further, until he bottoms out and he’s balls deep in Stiles.

He wants to pull Stiles' hair and rut into him like a beast, but it’s officially their first time, he doesn’t know if—

“You still here?”

“Yeah.”

“Then fuck me.”

Derek grabs Stiles on either side of his waist and pushes into him hard. Once to shut him up, and twice to make sure he feels it.

Derek’s balls slap wildly against Stiles’ taint as Derek shows no mercy and fucks Stiles, hard, deep, and fast.

Stiles is back to biting his lip to quell his screams, but Derek doesn’t care this time. He’s too preoccupied with the feeling of Stiles’ aching hole pulsing around his dick, like it's made specifically for Derek to fuck.

Derek finds Stiles’ prostate again, and Stiles goes limp against the sink. Derek keeps at it, pounding harder and harder. Faster and faster.

Stiles reaches for his own cock and Derek grabs his arm and twist it behind his back, using it as leverage to slam inside him deeper.

Stiles is all stammering swears and moans.

Derek reaches under Stiles’ shirt and pinches a nipple.

That’s it. That’s all it takes to send Stiles over the edge. For his body to burst into flames, and his spine to shift into electric currant. He comes, shooting ribbons of cum all over the drawers and cabinets below his waist.

“Oh, fuck, Stiles! You feel so goddamn good!”

Stiles pushes his ass back against Derek, meeting him thrust for thrust. “Come on, babe. Come on. Come for me. Fill me up. Fill me up with your hot cum.” Stiles grabs Derek’s hand and brings it to his semi erect penis, still dripping with seamen. “You feel that? You feel how wet I am? You did that.”

Derek shouts Stiles’ name with a roar, and shoots what feels like an endless stream of cum into him.

He collapses, heavy and sweaty, onto Stiles’ back.

They stay like that, panting for breath and exhausted, for a moment or two...

Stiles’ hand reaches behind him to run through Derek’s sweat-soaked hair. “I missed you like this. It was starting to feel like forever since we last had sex. Especially somewhere that wasn't our bedroom.” Stiles lifts up a bit, turning his head, to bring his lips to Derek’s and kiss him sweetly.

And it’s all Derek needs to change his mind.

He’s not leaving here. Not if he can help it.

Chapter Text


Derek is too afraid to sleep, terrified that he’d wake up and be back in Beacon Hills. He tries to stay awake for as long as he can, opting to sleep downstairs and watch TV so as to not disturb Stiles, claiming he isn’t tired, but truth be told, he can’t keep his eyes open. The exhausting day wears on him, and he drifts off to sleep while infomercials played softly in the background.

He jolts awake around 6AM, surprised, and happy, he's still in his home in Connecticut.

He trots upstairs to the master bedroom. Stiles is still asleep and has to be up in about a half-hour to make the girls breakfast and get ready for school.

He can do that. He is after all the one that works from home, but first he thinks he’ll give Stiles a good enough reason to sleep in a little later...

Stiles has kicked the covers off his body in his sleep, exposing his half-naked flesh to the warm air in the room. He sleeps only in his basic briefs this time, and on his stomach, propping up his tight, little ass.

Derek closes the door and locks it, remembering yesterday morning when their daughters barged into their room and woke them up. He takes off his T-shirt and pajama pants then climbs onto the bed at Stiles’ legs.

He gently maneuvers Stiles onto his back, and then sinks between his legs. He really wishes he were a wolf here. He’d love to know what Stiles smelt like between his thighs, but he knew what he’d be giving up by not attempting to go home and remain here.

He was a born wolf and loved being a werewolf, but more than being a wolf, he loved his family. He missed them, and here there was no Kate, no fire, no guilt and sadness. He had them back in this world, and wasn’t going to let them go a second time. Nor was he going to let go of his husband and their two beautiful daughters.

In just a day, he’d seen the life he’s always wanted, the one he was meant to have, and it didn’t take long for him to decide that this is where he belonged and wanted to stay. So, giving up his powers, being human, was minimal to say goodbye to if it meant having everything else.

Derek gives one long lick to the center of Stiles’ underwear. He keeps at it, licking long and hard at the Y-shape front of Stiles’ briefs. His mouth salivated, wetting the garment with a spreading dark spot as he mouths at Stiles’ balls under it.

He closes his eyes and sucks harder, noticing Stiles’ cock beginning to tent his underwear.

It has always been a fantasy of his to make Stiles come in his pants. He’s thought about it a number of times. About them kissing and touching. His hand moving to Stiles’ clothed cock and squeezing, fondling him until Stiles is squirming underneath him, begging Derek to let him take his pants off, but Derek would keep him there, rubbing his hard dick, watching as Stiles reaches his orgasm and wets his jeans, whimpering.

“Derek. What are you doing, babe,” Stiles asks, half-sleep and half-aroused.

Derek bothers not to answer and simply hooks Stiles’ legs over his shoulders, continuing to mouth at his dick through his underwear.

“Oh, my God, Derek…” Stiles moans. He attempts to take off his briefs, but Derek stops him, holding his wrists down.

Derek can smell the precum leaking through the material. His wet mouth moved over the tip of Stiles’ penis and sucked at the musty smell of his excitement.

Stiles breaks free of Derek’s grip on his right wrist, and grabs the back of Derek’s head. “Jesus Christ, I love your mouth. I love the way you suck me off.”

Derek moans, humming around Stiles’ cock, and groping at his balls.

“That feels so fucking good... Derek…”

“Show me how good. Show me how good it feels, Stiles.”

Derek watches him with a smile on his face as the younger man fists his pillow, and soaks his briefs with cum.

Derek then leans over his out-of-breath husband, and reachs into the nightstand to take out a canister of lube. He squirts a generous amount into his palm, then drops the can on the floor to slick his cock.

He yanks Stiles’ body closer to him— Stiles still somewhat immobile due to his body-shaking orgasm— and finally takes off his underwear. Derek can smell Stiles’ semen and see it coating the inside of his dripping wet briefs.

Derek lines his cock up to Stiles’ hole.

“Fuck me. Fuck me now,” Stiles begs.

Derek pushes his head past Stiles’ entrance gingerly, and Stiles’ back bows off the bed.

“You want it that bad, baby?”

“So fucking bad, Derek. You have no idea. Fuck me. Please. Please, babe.”

Derek grips Stiles’ hips and surges into him hard and fast. Stiles responds with a loud half whimper/half moan, which gives Derek an idea…

He picks up Stiles’ underwear and shoves them into Stiles’ mouth. He takes hold of Stiles wrists, pinning them above Stiles’ head and fucks into him without abandon.

Stiles' head digs into his pillow, body arching off the bed, as Derek holds him down and fucks him like a beast.

His underwear becomes wetter and wetter with his saliva as he moans and wails into the damp cotton.

Years of pent-up sexual frustration over the boy beneath him lets Derek's every desire float free and take hold. He’s always wanted to look down and see Stiles’ lithe body wiggle and squirm on his cock. He remembers at one point desperately wanting to know what Stiles would look like, choking on his underwear, sopping with cum, as he takes him apart in bed.

Stiles’ underwear will do. This picture is enough. More than enough.

He has so many other fantasies he wants to work out on his husband he can’t remember them all. But this one, this one is one of his favorites though.

Derek hits Stiles’ prostate and Stiles’ eyes fill with tears, hips rising to meet Derek’s thrusts.

Derek hits that special spot again. And again. And again. And again.

Stiles wails into his underwear and a tear falls from his eye.

Derek's merciless, slamming harder and harder into Stiles. The headboard bangs against the wall with each thrust; Stiles’ untouched cock beating against his belly button, swollen and red at the tip.

“You have such a beautiful cock. You know that?” Derek's spent hours daydreaming about Stiles’ dick. He caught Stiles coming out of the shower once by accident, climbing through his window to ask him to research something for him and managed a glimpse of Stiles stepping out of the shower through the cracked door of the adjoining bathroom. He watched him dry himself off before disappearing out the window, returning to the loft to masturbate. Twice.

Stiles comes a second time, shooting white ropes of semen across his stomach and chest.

The sight alone is enough to push Derek close to the edge. “Oh, fuck, Stiles! You look so good when you come… I just… Oh… Shitshitshitshit…” Derek’s orgasm cracks over him like lightening. His spine stiffens as he explodes inside Stiles, then collapses beside him, finally letting go of his wrists.

Stiles takes his underwear out of his mouth and tries to breathe… Derek's just as out-of-breath and spent. Sexual stamina is definitely something he’ll miss as a werewolf.

The alarm on Stiles’ cellphone goes off. He nearly rips it from the wall and throws it across the room, trying to shut it off with the little energy he does possess at the moment.

“Where’d that come from,” Stiles asks after a beat.

“That’s always there.” Derek leans over, grabs Stiles’ head, and kisses him.

“You can’t fuck me like that.”

Derek laughs, gently running his fingertips up and down Stiles' ribcage. “Okay. How do you want me to fuck you every morning?”

 

“Every morning, huh?”

“I can try to make it a goal.”

“And I hope to God you achieve your goals. Oh, fuck, that was amazing. I almost forgot how filthy you can be.”

“It hasn’t been that long has it,” Derek asks curiously. He had hoped he and Stiles had a pretty good sex life here. He understands with work and kids and everything else in between, sex sometimes gets lost with couples, but he can’t imagine being married to Stiles and not wanting to tear him apart every night.

“10 weeks, 4 days, 16 hours, and about 8 minutes, give or take. I don’t know. I can’t think about moving enough to reach for my cellphone to check the time.”

Derek turns to properly face Stiles. “I’m sorry I’ve neglected you. That will never happen again,” he says seriously.

Stiles entwines their fingers. “It’s not just you, babe. It's just…life, you know?”

“That’s not an excuse. We are each other’s lives. We need to take care of each other. In every way.”

Stiles blushes. “...Kiss me again. I liked that.”

Derek pulls him close again, sliding his tongue into Stiles’ mouth when their lips touch.

“I love you, Stiles.” He didn’t want to say it yesterday. He couldn’t. But now, now with his decision to be here, to have this, he can say it. He can be honest, with himself, and with Stiles. Even if it’s not the Stiles he’s known. It’s still the one he wants.

“I love you, too.”

»»» 

Stiles sleeps in while Derek makes oatmeal for the girls. He gets them bathed and dressed by the time Stiles comes careening down the stairs to put Claudia’s hair into pigtails.

Derek watches him gulp down a cup of coffee and shove two pieces of toast into his mouth before putting Claudia’s coat and boots on her. He kisses them both ‘goodbye’ and watches out the door as Stiles turns from the house and down the street in his electric car.

Derek walks back into the kitchen to clean up when Stiles comes flying back into the house. He forgot Claudia’s lunchbox. He grabs it, pecks Derek’s cheek and hurries back out the door.

Derek finally sits down to eat his own breakfast and chat with Halina about her book. She's just about finished with The Wind in the Willows, so Derek suggests she read The Enchanted Castle next. He's happy to hear it's a book she hasn’t read yet, and is excited to do so once Derek explains the gist of it to her without giving much away.

He's also happy to hear she hasn’t gotten to Charlotte’s Web yet and can’t wait to read it to her.

He had a fantasy years ago of he and Kate having a little girl and them reading Charlotte's Web to her at night. It was his mother’s favorite book as a child, and she had given each of her children a copy to read on their 10th birthday. Derek was the only one to take the gift seriously and read it from cover to cover, and then talk about it with his mom for two whole days. Thus, began Laura’s taunting nickname for him: "Mom’s favorite."

Malia comes over, earning a glare from Halina who disappears into the dining room where they usually work.

Derek offers Malia a cup of coffee, which she happily takes, and he makes small talk with her about the weather and her Christmas plans. She was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has plans to return back home until New Years. She and her friends are going to Cabo as a group to ring in the New Year, she'll be back in Connecticut on the 5th of January.

He takes note of her appearing nervous while talking with him and suspects she's under the impression he doesn’t know she made a pass at Stiles, hence her having to suffer through Derek's company.

He mentally smirks at the thought despite making an effort to be kind to her. He wants to show Stiles he does trust him and believes him about what happened between him and Malia, even though he finds what occurred really tasteless on Malia's part.

She's a young and ignorant girl who made a pass at a married man while his child was in the house and saw the whole thing. No matter how much he wants to confront her, Derek knows it isn’t the best course of action to take. And she's Malia. Not the one he knew, but she has her face and her voice, and he’d only known this one for two days. Maybe he’s here to be a clean slate for this Derek. Maybe he’s here to fix all his wrongs. And maybe he should start with the young girl in front of him. So, he’ll make it easy, with a cup of coffee and some conversation.

Halina calls to Malia from the dining room with an impatient tone in her little voice.

Malia thanks him for the coffee and heads into the dining room.

Derek goes down to his office and decides to work. He finds book editing very easy to fall into, and enjoyable. His previous notes and markings are simple enough to follow, and he loves history as a subject.

»»» 

He's so into his work he doesn’t noticed Malia standing in the doorway until she calls him. She and Halina are done for the day. He glances at the clock on his desk— it's already 2:30pm.

He walks Malia out and they talk about what Halina's working on, her weak spots (math), and how best to tackle them tomorrow and into the future.

Malia then asks Derek why he and Stiles haven’t sent Halina to the Eleanor Roosevelt Academy, an all-girls private school, or New Haven School for Gifted Children in the next county.

He obviously doesn’t know why Halina isn’t at either of those schools, but simply tells Malia that he and Stiles couldn’t afford to send her to such exclusive schools.

Malia seems confident that Halina could receive a scholarship to either one, given how bright she is, and comments on how she had assumed Derek’s mother being the headmistress at Eleanor Roosevelt Academy (and his sisters having all attended) that Halina would have no problem getting in.

Derek simply states he’ll think more about the subject when he has no other answer to draw from.

Malia says “okay,” thanks him again for the coffee, and leaves.

»»» 

Derek makes a late lunch for he and Halina.

They watch Reading Rainbow on PBS as they eat. He isn’t surprised at all that Halina has read nearly every book discussed on the program, but is still fascinated by the show.

It's kids talking about how much they love the books they read, of course her eyes are glued to the screen.

They finish eating. Derek brings her downstairs with him to his office.

She asks if she can draw until Stiles gets home instead of doing her homework. Derek feels it better if she and Claudia work together, which would keep them both occupied for a while and out of he and Stiles’ hair for a bit, so he says yes.

Instead of returning to his own work, he decides to look up the two schools Malia mentioned.

The one his mother apparently teaches at looks like a typical New England boarding school (beautiful, old buildings sitting on immaculate acres of green grass with young girls in black and purple uniforms smiling and sitting in giant lecture halls). On the ‘Staff’ tab he finds his mother’s name and picture, listing all her achievements as first a teacher at the school, then as its headmistress. He smiles brightly, so proud and captivated by the professional life she's built here. Talia Hale was a social worker in his universe.

In his own world, his father was a stay-at-home dad. And admittedly he's curious about his father here, and what he has achieved.

He Googles his father’s name and the state together. He finds several local and national news articles about his dad. Some involve him in civil protests, marches, and political debates. Each one list his profession as a civics professor at Yale University. There's even a 5 minute interview with him on Meet the Press.

Derek’s heart beats with so much pride, he thinks it's going to burst through his chest.

He goes to Yale University’s page and finds a short, professional bio of his father and a picture of him appearing very studious-looking while lecturing a class.

Then he remembers Stiles wearing a Yale University T-shirt to bed the other night and wonders if that’s how they had met…

»»»  

Stiles and Claudia come home. Stiles kisses him passionately before even getting his coat and boots off.

“I want a hot shower, and I want you to take one with me,” Stiles whispered back.

They make sure their girls are at the dining room table and tell them to stay put until they come back downstairs to check their homework. Stiles tells them they are to only come upstairs to "daddies’ room" if it's an emergency only.

Derek and Stiles run all the way up the steps when Claudia and Halina understand and comply with what they said.

They keep the bedroom door ajar, but lock themselves in the master bathroom.

Derek strips Stiles out of his clothes, and Stiles nearly tears Derek’s clothes off his body.

Stiles pushes Derek against the shower wall and goes down on him.

Derek comes embarrassingly quick, all down Stiles' chin and neck, but Stiles simply smiles, loving how he can so easily make his husband come apart.

Derek returns the favor, relishing the taste of Stiles in his mouth as he swallows ever drop of cum that he spills down his throat.

They spend the rest of their time in the shower kissing under the hot spray of water until it turned cold.

 »»»  

They finally get out of the shower and dress quickly. Stiles puts his eyeglasses back on, and Derek has to control himself into not tackling him, and throwing him on the bed.

They go downstairs. Claudia and Halina are still at the dining room table with their homework. Stiles goes to check their work, while Derek starts on dinner. Derek takes out everything he needs to make a Baked Ravioli recipe he saw online last night when he tried to keep awake.

Like Malia said, Halina needed work on her math, so Stiles kept her at the table and went over it with her extensively. Claudia also needed help with her reading workbook which kept her at the table as well. Derek is a little grateful both girls need help with their schoolwork. It alleviates the issue of them fighting over who gets to help Derek in the kitchen and who doesn’t. He doesn’t like them fighting, and doesn’t like having to discipline them even more.

By the time both girls are finished with their work, dinner is ready. Claudia sits next to Derek, telling him about her day and “a mean boy named Geoffrey” who pushed her in line during lunchtime. Derek can’t help the scowl on his face at someone putting their hands violently on his daughter. Even if they are an 8 year old boy.

“Oh, pumpkin, that just means he likes you,” Stiles tells her.

“Can we not raise our daughters with that false analysis?”

“You were never mean to a boy or girl in school because you liked them and didn’t know how to tell them?”

“No. If I was mean to you, I genuinely didn’t like you.”

Stiles snorts. “Well, I was mean to a girl when I was Claudia’s age. Johanna Lewis. Had a big crush on her. Pushed her, face down in the dirt, when I saw her give Scott half her Lunchable one day.”

Derek laughs.

“Scott beat me up for ‘hitting a girl’. All three of our parents had to talk with our teacher when they came to pick us up.”

“And thus began the Stiles/Scott saga.”

“An epic friendship that has spanned many years of happiness and trials.”

Derek smiles at his goofy husband.

“I’ll talk to Allison about Geoffrey, okay, pumpkin,” Stiles tells Claudia.

Derek hasn't retutned to the Smithville Elementary School website after catching Victoria’s photo there. In not doing so, he neglected to know Allison taught there, too, let alone was Claudia’s teacher...

“Can we do the calendar now, Roadie,” Halina asks.

“After dinner, bluebell.”

Halina sighs dramatically, bringing a smile to both her fathers’ faces with her theatrics.

»»»   

Day two of the calendar states that they are to watch a Christmas themed movie together.

To quell any arguing, Stiles picks the movie-- The Polar Express.

The four of them snuggle on the couch and watch the film with a giant bowl of popcorn, which Stiles eats most of.

Most kids talk through movies, moving around, unable to keep still, but both Claudia and Halina are perfectly still and quiet; amazed by the film. They do, however, move to the floor midway through it, cuddled together under a blanket, eating their popcorn, attention focused at the bright pictures on the TV screen. Derek grabs his cellphone and snaps a picture of them.

Stiles leans over and pecks him.

»»» 

When the movie is over, Stiles takes both girls upstairs for bed while Derek washes dishes.

Stiles comes back down about an hour later. He wraps his arms around Derek as he puts the last of the dishes away. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“This morning. And the shower.”

“You’re thanking me for making love to you? My husband?”

Stiles sighs and rests his forehead on Derek’s shoulder blade. “I… I thought that you were punishing me…for what happened with Malia.”

Derek immediately reaches behind himself and grabs Stiles, swinging him around to face him with his back against the sink. “Look at me.”

“No. It’s stupid. I can’t believe I thought that--”

Derek tilts Stiles' head to look him in the eye. “It’s not stupid. I’m stupid. I can’t believe I made you feel that way. I’m so sorry, Stiles. That’s not… I was upset about the whole Malia thing, but I would never withhold loving you, or ‘punish’ you over it, or anything else.”

“I know. It’s just… You were so angry and we were fighting all the time, and I told you not to fire her... I just missed you like that. A lot. And I thought…”

“Did you sleep with Malia?”

“Derek!”

“Just answer me. Did you?”

“No, and I don’t want to! For the 20th time!”

“Did you kiss her back?”

“No, Derek! Why are you—”

“What did you tell her when she kissed you?”

“Derek, I thought we were pass th—”

“Answer me.”

Exasperated by the whole ordeal, Stiles rolls his eyes with a heavy sigh, then answers, “I said: ‘You’re a sweet girl, but I’m happily married. I love Derek and I’m sorry if you got the wrong impression. My husband means the world to me and I could never hurt him in any way. Not to mention, you’re my daughter’s teacher. A relationship with you would be inappropriate, to say the least. You can stay employed by us if you understand all that, and I won’t tell Derek, because I know how he gets, but if you can’t abide by anything I just said, then I’ll have to ask you to leave and I can’t write you a letter of recommendation.’”

Derek cups Stiles’ face. “You told her that you love me, and that I’m everything to you and you made her stop. That’s all I care about, Stiles. I trust you. Completely. I’m sorry that I accused you of cheating, and that I made you feel like you deserved to be castigated for it. This, is the very last time we’re ever going to talk about it, because its done.”

“…Only you could use the word ‘castigated’ in an apology,” Stiles says with the hint of a smile.

“I love you, and I love making love to you. I could never give that up.” He technically has only had sex with Stiles three times, but they have a long life here together, and he imagines that he and Stiles have an incredible sex life. Promising to never abandon that, or let it falter, doesn’t seem like such a difficult vow to keep.

“I love you, too.”

»»»  

They catch up on three sitcomes on the long list of TV shows that have piled up on their DVR.

Stiles lies tucked under Derek’s arm, nursing a beer, while Derek sips from a glass of red wine.

Derek turns to ESPN when Stiles decides to work on his lesson plan for tomorrow, and corrects the grammar and spelling on a few ‘Dear Santa’ letters he had his class write today.

Afterward, Stiles kisses him ‘goodnight’ and goes to bed when Derek volunteers to make Claudia’s school lunch for tomorrow.

»»»  

Stiles apparently has a recipe box of cool, healthy lunches for kids. Derek chooses one and cleans out the containers for her lunch, then sets to work making the lunch recipe he chose.

It turns out to be a lot harder than he initially had thought.

No wonder Stiles snickered when I said I’ll make her lunch. Asshole.

It appears what Stiles has been making for Claudia is something called Bento Lunches; healthy lunches made in the form of flowers, animals, or other odd shapes.

By his third failed attempt, Derek is ready to give up, but decides not to. It's for Claudia, who feels left out of his affections, so he wants to show her he cares and can take the time to do something particularly nice for her. He needs her to feel special and appreciated by him.

He reads the instructions thoroughly one more time, carefully checking over each step as he attempts to make her something called a ‘jelly flower’.

It turns out nicely he thinks, but carving the vegetables and fruit to look like flowers is going to be an even tougher challenge...that is until he finds metal cookie cutters in the shape of moons, hearts, stars and flowers that can do the job for him a lot better.

When he's satisfied with how Claudia’s lunch turns out, he packs it away, washes his hands, and goes upstairs.

He's still terrified that he’ll fall asleep and wake up back in Beacon Hills, just as he had gone to sleep there, and woken up here in Smithville.

He decides, however, after much meandering and hesitation, that if it were to happen, if tonight is to be his last night here, than he’ll at least spend it in bed, holding the man he loves.

Derek undresses, and then climbs into bed.

He tucks in close to Stiles, already asleep, and pulls him as close as he can.

He closes his eyes.

If this is his last memory of all this, he's at least grateful that it's a good one…

 


Derek wakes up to lean fingers prodding in and out of a sensitive spot. “Stiles…”

“Morning.” Stiles kisses him, pushing his fingers in and out of Derek’s wet hole faster, and harder.

“Fuck, Stiles,” Derek groans.

“You like that? Christ, you feel so good on my fingers.” He slides his fingers out of Derek, bringing them to his mouth to suck, then slides them back into Derek, no longer being nice, and hammering into him, rubbing against his prostate.

Derek jerks his cock twice before spilling his seed all over the sheets.

Stiles kisses him on the cheek while he tries to regain his breath. He pulls his fingers from Derek and hops out of bed. “Can you start breakfast for the girls, please,” Stiles asks.

Derek can only nod, having been taken apart by his husband so casually first thing in the morning, leaving him speechless. He glances at Stiles, who winks at him then disappears into the master bathroom.

Derek can hear the shower running under the alarm on Stiles’ phone going off. He rolls over to Stiles’ side of the bed and shuts it off.

He enjoys the afterglow for a minute before Claudia came bursting through the door! He quickly covered his nakedness with the comforter as she runs right onto the bed with him in tears. He holds her in his arms.

Her bottom is wet.

She wet the bed.

He whispers in her ear: "It's okay, pumpkin. It's okay. I'm here. Everything's fine."

She had a nightmare that Derek went away, and never came back, she tells him, and the chance of that happening matching with her tears and worry crushes him. He kisses her repeatedly, telling her over and over, “I’m not going anywhere, pumpkin. I swear.”

He takes her back to her room, and cleans her up in her bathroom. Halina manages to sleep through him dressing Claudia and stripping her bed of the soiled sheets.

He quietly brings Claudia and her bedsheets downstairs. He dumps the sheets in front of the washer in the laundry room, then goes into the kitchen to start breakfast with Claudia’s "help;" which is really her making a mess and him having to clean it up while trying to make wheat pancakes and vegetarian bacon. But he loves being around her, and she's had a rough morning, so it evens out.

 

Stiles comes down the stairs, with Halina, washed and dressed.

Derek explains what happened with Claudia.

Stiles picks up the dark-haired child asks if she’s alright. She nods, but refuses to talk about it when Stiles asks her what her nightmare was about.

Stiles kisses her and takes her to the half-bath downstairs. When they return a couple minutes later, Claudia’s hair is in a waterfall braid, which is apparently her favorite hairstyle to wear.

Derek hands Claudia her lunchbox.

Stiles tells her that Derek made her lunch this time, and without even looking at it, her face lights up and she wraps herself around Derek’s legs. He picks her up and plants a big kiss on her cheek.

Derek gets Stiles to eat at least a pancake in addition to his morning coffee before flying out the door, toting both Claudia and his satchel.

Derek lets Halina continue to read in silence as he washes Claudia’s bed sheets.

 

Malia shows up, and his day continues on normally as it had the last two days. Or as normally as traveling to an alternative universe allows.

 

When Stiles gets home, the four of them do the advent calendar after dinner. They're to make a popcorn garland.

The girls are initially excited about making one, but the novelty wears off quickly given it requires them to sit still for a concentrated period of time, while trying to carefully thread popcorn on a string under the watchfully eye of their fathers.

It's all too clear the activity has lost its luster on them when they end up in a popcorn fight with each other instead of making their part of the garland.

Derek sends them to their room to go play while he and Stiles finish the garland alone with a shared bottle of wine.

Stiles tells Derek that he spoke to Allison about the little boy that’s been picking on Claudia. It seems Claudia’s not the only girl he’s targeted, but that it was merely "just her turn." Stiles finds it amusing, while Derek scoffs at the whole thing, making Stiles find it even more humorous.

They finish the garland and decide to take advantage of the girls being upstairs. They make-out for about 10 minutes before their kissing becomes a little too hot and heavy when Derek gropes Stiles through his sweatpants. Stiles blames the wine and pauses their fooling around, thinking it might be a good idea if they call the girls down now to see the garland they made.

Derek agrees and goes upstairs to their room when they don’t respond to him calling them.

They're both knocked out on Halina’s bed, fast asleep.

Derek picks Claudia up and puts her in her own bed, then takes Halina’s pants and shoes off before tucking her under the covers.

Derek comes back downstairs. Stiles is in the dining room, going over his lesson plan.

Derek goes to his office, grabs his laptop and the manuscript he'd been working on, then returns to the dining room to work side-by-side with Stiles.

 


Derek is getting antsy with not having seen his sister, Valerie, yet.

He hasn’t laid eyes on her since the morning before the fire and it’s killing him.

He can't leave the state without Halina; Malia is her teacher, not her baby-sitter, and he doesn’t trust her enough to leave her alone with his child. He doesn’t think she’ll hurt Halina, but if something were to happen, he doesn’t know how capable Malia will be in a crisis. Not to mention he’d blame himself entirely if something bad were to happen to his little girl and he weren’t here.

He thumbs through the contacts on his phone, finding her name, and calls her.

He gets her voicemail.

He leaves a message, asking her to call him back, and telling her that he misses her and loves her.

He remembers he has a Facebook account and logs in, believing it might be the best way to find out about everyone and their lives here. That way he isn't so blindsided by things come Friday.

He first checks out his own page: he’s a Brown University grad, having majored in English, with a minor in European History (as so noted by the framed degrees on the wall in his office).

He works for Global Books, the New York division of a major publishing house based in London. New Haven, Connecticut is listed as his hometown, he's also apparently a major Boston sports fan (Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots…), and of course, links Stiles as his husband.

There are tons of pictures of him, Stiles, and the girls. Most of which he's tagged in through a number of albums on Stiles’ page. He goes through a few of them; they're mainly pictures of them on holidays, at sporting events, birthdays, and their trip to DisneyWorld last year. Laura and her family are in most of them, as is Scott, Lydia, and their son.

He clicks on Laura’s page and finds that she went to the same all-girls school their mother is headmistress at, and then went to the University of Colorado, majoring in business and business management. Her husband, Thomas, went to the same college, leading Derek to assume that’s where he and Laura had met.

Laura has three boys: TJ (Thomas, Jr.), Ashford, and Forrest. Her youngest is the only one that looks like her; black hair, wide, expressive eyes. They seem like silly, rambunctious boys, and Laura the perpetrator of their behavior. In most of her pictures with her boys, she's acting just as goofy and looks to be laughing the hardest.

She and Thomas both list their employment as co-owners of Hope Mountain Resort & Inn, a year-round retreat. Laura and Thomas have both adopted Colorado’s sports teams, instead of being fans of New England teams. They have similar taste in music as well, citing Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd, and Aerosmith as some of their favorite bands.

Derek's not surprised. He has a very vivid memory of Laura sneaking out to go to a rock concert with her two best friends and being busted by both their parents when she tried to climb back into her window at 3AM.

Valerie has two different Facebook pages. There’s her personal one that’s for friends and family only, and there’s one for her business: a boutique in New York that sells designer baby clothes, which, admittedly, Derek finds a little…gross.

Why do two year olds need to wear high fashion? They’re just going to grow out of it in 6 months anyway?

He decides to spend more time on her personal page. She went to Wellesley College after the academy, majoring in Sociology. She has two boys, of course, Arthur and Miller. There are a couple of pictures of them wearing school uniforms, leading Derek to believe they attend private school in the city.

She lists Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, and Etta James as her favorite music artists and The Crucible as her favorite play (hence her sons’ names).

Her husband, Jason, is handsome, less ruggedly handsome like Laura’s husband, but more distinguished. His page is practically bare. There are just a few pictures of he and Valerie’s wedding and the two of them at what looks like a black tie charity event, or fundraiser. A closer looks lets Derek see that it's actually The White House Correspondents' Dinner. He lists his employment as ‘Segment Producer for Getting Real with Greenberg’.

He is just about to click through Cora’s page when his cell rings— Valerie.

He immediately picks up. “Val?”

“Hi, Derek. Is everything alright?”

He nearly breaks down in tears at the sound of her sweet voice. “Yeah, Vee. Everything’s fine. I just… I just wanted to talk to you.”

“About what?”

“Nothing really. Just felt like calling you. That’s all.”

“Really? You never call me just because.”

“Well, I think we should change that, don’t you,” he says, wiping a fallen tear from his cheek.

“Aw, Derek… Of course. I’d love to just hear from you. I mean, I know we see each other every Friday for dinner at mom and dad’s, but… I don’t know, calling each other seems really great, too. No one ever calls me.”

“Well, I’m calling you. I miss you. So much.”

“I miss you, too, Derek. I’m sorry I have to miss this Friday. I really thought I’d make it, but the boys, and Jason… You know how it is.”

“Right.” He can taste the salty tears falling from his eyes.

“But I promise I’ll be there this week, and we’re still taking the kids to see The Nutcracker on Saturday, right?”

“Right.”

“I really glad it wasn’t on a school night, then I'd have to give the tickets away, and truth be told, I didn’t want to give them to anyone else,” she laughs.

Derek chuckles at her laugh, missing it greatly.

“I'm glad I'm going with you and Stiles. Nothing against Laura’s boys, but, well, I’d rather have a somewhat stress-free night.”

“Yeah. I know what you mean.” He of course doesn’t, but has to play along. He takes it to mean that his assumption about Laura and her children is pretty accurate; they're a little wild. “Are you busy?”

“No. I’m at home. I let Heather run the shop today.”

“Does that mean I get to keep you on the phone for hours, talking about everything and nothing?”

“You want to talk to me for hours?”

“Yes. I want to hear everything," he says,wiping his face with his sleeve.

“We can talk on Friday instead, Derek, if you want.”

“No. Now. Tell me whatever is on your mind.”

Valerie was always the quiet, sweet one of the Hale children, resulting in her getting left out, or ignored until the last minute. Laura and Cora had “big personalities” that sucked all the energy out of the room. He was the only boy, so no one could ignore that, but Valerie, was meek and soft-spoken. She had a habit of blending in with the wallpaper. And never did she complain or make a fuss.

It wasn’t until after the fire did he ever wonder if it ever bothered her, or if she was actually content with the dynamics of their family and how she fit into it.

It seems this Valerie is sort of like that, too.

So Derek lets her talk.

She talks about work (she name drops and gossips about her celebrity client only once; particularly a bitchy movie actress) with such an apathetic tone in her voice Derek can’t help but laugh.

Her voice picks up though when she speaks about her sons (Arthur really likes being on the basketball team and she never misses a game; Miller is struggling in science class, so he might need a tutor), but she sounds really distant and sad when she talks about her husband, Jason.

He works a lot, and it seems to be making her feel lonely and removed from him. She understands that he loves his job, but it's becoming his whole world and he's missing key moments in their children’s lives, and she's resenting him due to the neglect she feels as his wife and partner.

His heart aches at not being able to give her a hug when she starts to cry.

He decides to try and make her feel as though she weren’t so alone by telling her how the whole Malia-kissing-Stiles situation honestly makes him feel. He trusts Stiles, but finds it hard sharing the same space with Malia, knowing she hit on his very married husband while their daughter was only a few feet away. In his house.

Surprisingly, Valerie takes the same route as Laura and Cora, referring to Malia with unfriendly names, but encouraging Derek to be strong and show Stiles that he does trust him by trying to remain somewhat civil toward Malia.

They stay on the phone for hours, gloating about their kids, talking about their husbands and their strange habits, what books they're currently reading, and how much they miss vegging-out in front of the TV, but parenthood, being what it is, leaves little quality time for it, if ever.

It isn’t until Malia trots downstairs to tell Derek that her lessons with Halina are over that they end their phone call. It 's nearing the time for Valerie to pick up her boys from school anyway.

Derek tells her that he loves her three times before Valerie tells him back three times, too, and they hang up.

 

The day goes on as per usual:

Halina sits in his office with him while he works and she reads after he makes them lunch.

When Stiles and Claudia get home, Stiles orders them a pizza, not really in the mood to cook, and truth be told, neither is Derek.

The advent calendar instructed them to make homemade eggnog.

It seems simple enough, but Derek speaks too soon when he and Stiles spent more time cleaning up the gigantic mess their girls make, and come between a nasty fight sprouted by them arguing over who got to do what.

Stiles is snapping loudly, ready to call the whole thing off.

Halina starts to cry, which sparks tears from Claudia, and he and Stiles have to spend an exhausting 20 minutes trying to convince both girls that they aren’t angry at them, but that they need to be nicer to one another and listen to both their fathers when they tell them to do something.

Claudia and Halina apologize and try to help clean up the mess they made after Derek tells them to apologize to each other as well.

After what feels like an eternity, they finish making the eggnog…which Claudia didn’t like at all, and Halina voices her objection to by vomiting all over the island and into her own hair!

Derek rushes her upstairs to the master bathroom and cleans her up. Stiles stays downstairs and wipes up her puke while trying to keep a jittery Claudia at ease. She has a problem with seeing people get sick; it in turn makes her feel queasy as well. Stiles sends her into the family room to go watch TV while he cleans.

Derek calls Claudia upstairs to give her a bath, too, after he dresses Halina in her pajamas.

With both girls in their sleepwear, he tucks them and reads them a bedtime story. Halina reminds him that he promised the other day that he would read them two stories next time, this being that time. Being true to his word, Derek lets Claudia pick the second story and reads them another fairytale.

When he’s downstairs finally, Stiles is at the dining room table, correcting homework and revising his lesson plan for tomorrow.

Derek walks over and kisses his neck. Before he knows it, he has Stiles atop the table, fucking into him with a slow, lecherous pace. Derek insists Stiles keep his glasses on while he makes him come all over the mahogany furniture.

Afterward, Derek cleans the table afterward with disinfectant as Stiles takes his work downstairs to Derek’s office, proclaiming Derek "a distraction" and that separate rooms should be required when either of them have to work. Derek smirks as Stiles disappears down the steps.

 

Derek is enjoying a beer and some really shitty reality TV when he gets a text from Valerie, thanking him for listening to her problems. She needed to vent and was glad he called. She loves talking to him.

He thanks her back, tells her he loves her, and that she can call, or come visit him, any time she wants. He means it.

Stiles saunters upstairs with his work minutes later, stuffing it into his satchel. He grabs the beer from Derek’s hand, drinks the rest, turns off the TV, and takes Derek’s hand, leading him upstairs for bed.

 


It was supposed to be Friday. Friday was the day, not today.

At least that’s what he had thought.

He's  been spending all week preparing himself to see them, to look into his father’s eyes and see his very own stare back at him, and to hug his mother and smell her perfume and take pride in the warm smile she always gave him when she saw him.

He's been gearing himself up for the moment when he walks into his parent’s house and sees them. The faces he's held in his memory for so long; the haunted looks that wreck him with guilt and shame every night, sometimes waking him up, screaming. He needed time to prepare looking at those faces again and to not fall to his knees in broken sobs of anguish, begging for forgiveness, knowing he doesn’t deserve it, but hoping for it anyway.

He thought he had that. He thought he had two more days of breathing room, but he was wrong...

 

Derek had the sneaking suspicion that he and Stiles arrange the advent calendar themselves every year to coincide with whatever is most convenient for them. Such suspicions arise on the 5th, when Stiles suggests they do the calendar in the morning before school instead of after dinner like they have been.

The card inside read: Go to your town’s tree-lighting ceremony.

Derek knew then that no store-bought calendar would know when the Smithville Tree-Lighting Ceremony were to happen, so he figures he and Stiles arrangedthings to suit their needs.

 

The day wears on as it has during the last four:

Malia comes over, politely trying to ignore Halina’s blunt, rude attitude (which Derek admittedly still thinks is a little funny), he takes a quick shower, and then retires to his office.

Instead of getting right to work, however, he logs back into Facebook and spends time on his friends’ pages, curious as to what their lives have been like here.

He was never a social media fan (still isn’t), but it's a great resource for finding things out. Which he thinks is a little daunting as well.

Anyone, anywhere, can find out what they need to know about someone, just by looking them up on their page. He’s a huge fan of privacy, and with him being a father now, he doesn’t exactly care for pictures and “news” about his underage daughters being on the internet for any degenerate to gawk at.

Still, it's beneficial for looking at pictures of Boyd and Cora’s wedding reception in Maui, finding out Lydia is an interior designer, or that Scott is a deputy with the sheriff’s department in the next county. He also coaches a little league baseball team during the summer, on which his son, Ernie (Ernesto) plays.

Allison played basketball in college at UCONN. Kira is a registered nurse at Smithville General Hospital. Erica is a bartender at what he can tell is an upscale gentlemen’s club in the city, and Jackson is a day trader living in Manhattan, just a few blocks from Valerie. Most of the pictures on his page were of tropical getaways with other friends, expensive cuisine at fine-dining restaurants, and selfies of him at the gym.

Derek snorts. Not much is different about Jackson is seems…

The most surprising revelation is Isaac.

He has two different pages: one is his own personal page which is private and only open to close friends and family (Derek being one), and the other is a fan page.

Isaac is a graphic novel writer!

Two of his books it seems were turned into movies not too long ago. Big budget, high-grossing movies.

Derek breaks from his seat and stalks over to the bookshelf housing all of Stiles’ books— and there they are: 5 sexy, ubër violent, hard-boiled detective novels, with splashy colors on glossy paper, crediting 'Isaac Lahey' as the author.

Derek can't help the overwhelming feeling of fatherly-like pride in his chest. Isaac was his beta; a scared, fragile thing that covered up his anguish and abuse with quippy jokes and verbal bullying, but now, here, he's a grown man, more than accomplished in his goals.

Derek knows he should get back to work, but he instead decides sitting down and devouring Isaac’s books would be a far more enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

 

Stiles gets home, breaking through the door in a rush, hurrying upstairs to shower so they wouldn’t be late for the Christmas tree lighting.

Claudia is with the other 3rd graders who are practicing the song they were commissioned to sing as the tree is lit in the middle of town square.

Derek has never been so excited and proud. He quickly gets Halina dressed in her coat and boots, bundling her up warmly, and then putting his own coat and boots on.

He forgets his cellphone in the bedroom. He's just about to make his way upstairs for it, when Stiles runs down the steps and hands it to him. The simple gesture saying volumes about how much they know each other, see what the other misses, and need one another for the "small things." He likes that.

The doorbell rings and Halina eagerly runs to it with Derek trotting after her. She gets there before him and opens it. Immediately, she's swept into John’s arms and kissed all over her face, giggling happily.

“Hello, sweetheart. How are you?”

“Good, grandpa.”

“You miss me?”

She nods.

“How much?”

She spreads her arms wide, showing him how much she missed him.

“That’s it?”

She strains with a groan, trying to make her arms longer, the distance between them wider.

Derek can’t help but to laugh.

“That’s better. Much better,” John says, planting a big kiss on her cheek. “Let me put you down a minute to say ‘hi’ to your fathers.” He sets Halina to her feet and gives Derek a big, strong hug.

Derek returns it with the same enthusiasm. He once let his mind drift to if the sheriff would like him. If he’d think he was good enough for Stiles and make him happy. It creates a warm buzz in him that in this universe he does.

“How are you, son?”

“Good. Same old, same old.”

“Great. It’s when things are ‘exciting’ that something’s wrong.”

Derek laughs. Ain't that the truth, Derek thinks.

“Where’s my kid?”

“Here,” Stiles shouts entering the mudroom. He slips on his bobble hat with the ear flaps.

“You’ve had that hat since college. Don’t you think it’s time you got a new one. I’m sure that thing probably smells, too.”

“I wash it. It’s fine. What do you two have against my headwear?”

“It’s ugly,” Derek and John said at the same time.

“Haters goin’ hate,” Stiles retorted.

Outside, a car horn honked at them.

“Whose that?”

“You’re impatient, pregnant sister, and her put-upon husband,” John answered. "We rode up together in my car."

Derek wanted to run outside, pull open Boyd’s door and give him the biggest hug. He had to silently talk himself out of appearing crazy by doing that.

“So, we ready?” John turned to his granddaughter, “You ready, sweetheart, to see you sister sing and the big tree?”

“Yes!”

“That’s the best attitude to have.” He swept Halina in his arms. “Mind if she rides with me?”

“No,” Stiles answered. “Put your mittens on, bluebell.”

Halina pulled her mittens from her coat pocket and slipped them on. John walked out the door with Halina.

“Do I have everything…” Stiles mumbled to himself. “Do you have cash? All I have are my cards.”

Derek pulled him close and planted a big, sexy kiss on his mouth. Their domesticity was killing him, making him overly affectionate and turning him on.

Stiles gradually broke their kiss. “What was that about,” he asked, a little dreamy-eyed at Derek’s kiss.

“I have cash. Let’s go.” Derek winked at Stiles, then took his hand as they slipped out the door.

 

Approximately, 205,000 people live in Smithville, and over half of them are here. Christmas music played from every corner as snow gently fell from the night sky. People meandered in and out of the local shops surrounding the area. Smack-dab in the center was an enormous, 80ft tree, strung with lights, ornaments and the like, but dark and dull, not yet lit. On the far-outer perimeter of it, circled numerous food stands. Derek took note of Melissa selling hot cocoa at one, and Kira handing out chicken noodle soup at another.

The crowded town square made Derek a little nervous, concerned for his girls, until she saw Halina sitting on the sheriff’s shoulders with his hands held securely on her tiny legs. “I got this little one. Why don’t you two wander off and find some mistletoe,” John said to Derek and Stiles.

“Really, dad,” Stiles whined like an embarrassed teenager, bringing a smile to Derek’s face.

“We’ll meet up in 20 minutes for the lighting ceremony. In front of Miss Rickels’ stand. She made popcorn balls this year instead of that disgusting fruit cake.”

Before Derek can speak, John melts into the crowd with Halina on his shoulders. He wanted to protest and insist on having Halina himself. He wanted to experience their yearly tradition with her, given it was technically his first time doing so, but he knew objecting might cause worry, and awkwardness. Besides, it’s assumed by everyone that he and Stiles have been parents every day for the last 7 years, and little breaks are needed, so John volunteered.

“You know popcorn balls are my weakness, Derek.”

“I think food in general is your weakness.”

“Ha ha. Like I don’t take note of the nearly orgasmic sounds you make when you’re eating chocolate-covered pretzels.”

“They’re not nearly as good as the sounds you make when you’re having a real orgasm.” Derek bites at the exposed skin of Stiles’ neck uncovered by his scarf.

“I don’t care what’s gotten into you lately, but I like it.”

“Maybe I just really, really like fucking my husband.” Derek’s hand slid to Stiles’ ass and squeezed.

Stiles’ lips found Derek’s and pressed them against his in a hard, wanton kiss.

“Ugh, God! You two are so damn gross.”

They broke apart at the sound of Cora’s voice…and her loud chewing. Laura stood beside her, in the same ugly hat and coat she wore days ago.

“I don’t know. I miss when they were all gay and obscene," Laura teased. Sort of.

“What are you eating, Cora,” Stiles asked.

“Mrs. Culpepper may be the evilest old lady ever, but she bakes a serious pumpkin pie. I’d have her child if I weren’t already pregnant with Boyd’s.”

“I’m actually more in the mood for popcorn balls and some hot cocoa.”

“Good luck with the hot cocoa. Melissa’s running that stand,” Laura told Stiles.

“Shit,” Stiles groaned.

Derek turned curious at Stiles’ discomfort with Melissa and forgot himself. “What’s wrong with that? Why is Melissa selling hot cocoa a big deal?”

“Uh, because then I’d have to talk to her. You know she fucking hates me, babe. Will you go buy it for me please?”

Derek even more curious now, agreed to buy Stiles’ hot cocoa for him.

He waited patiently in line until it was his turn. Melissa greeted him with a warm and friendly smile, and asked about Claudia and Halina, giving him the opportunity to gloat and beam like a proud father. She in turn did the same about her grandson, Scott and Lydia’s boy, Ernie.

She pours him a tall cup of hot cocoa, but when he tried to pay, waved him away, refusing his money. However, just as he was about to reach out for the cup, she asked:

“Is this for Stiles?”

“Yes.”

She turned the cup over and dumped the hot cocoa on the cold ground. The whole time, a tight, wicked smile was plastered on her face as she looked at Derek.

“He gets nothing. Next,” she called. Derek was pushed out of the way by a large man biting into a candy cane.

Derek returned to Stiles and his sisters.

“Where’s my cocoa?”

“What did you do to that woman?” Derek recounted what happened. Laura and Cora burst into obnoxious laughter while Stiles looked completely dejected.

“She can’t keep blaming me for Scott! I didn’t do anything! Scott’s his own man!”

Derek didn’t realize how upset Stiles was until he stalks off.

Derek chased after him.

“All I said to Scott was: ‘Make choices you’d be happy with later. Do what’s right for you.’ That’s all I told him, and she acts like I ruined him! He’s happy with Lydia and he loves his job. I was just being a good friend!”

Derek can see the tears well in Stiles' eyes. He pulls him close. Stiles rested his head on Derek’s shoulder.

“Years of this. It’s so ridiculous. But it hurts.”

“I know. Hey. If Scott’s happy and nothing’s ruined, then nothing’s at fault. You did nothing wrong.” Derek didn’t know what to say exactly, but his husband was in tears and hurting. He just wanted to make it go away.

“Try telling her that.”

"Derek. Stiles. Is every alright?”

...Derek can’t breathe.

He can’t speak.

He can’t speak or breathe.

He can’t move either. He’s debilitated by raw emotion flooding over him like a tidal wave. He’s clutching onto to Stiles for support, gripping with everything he’s got in him, because otherwise he’d fall. He’d fall to his knees, pushing them into the cement until they bled, balling his hands into fist, trying to dig his blunt, human nails into his skin until they too bled, and he let out a wail. Something so raw and real and guttural it’d make the Earth quake. So he needed to hold onto Stiles. Especially when that warm, loving smile swept across her face so innocently at him, and all he can do his gape at her. He thought he was starting to forget her. The lines of her face, the chestnut color of her hair, and her amber-colored eyes that looked so much like Stiles’ eyes…

“I’m fine, Talia. Just being a giant baby.”

“About what, sweetheart?”

He remembered the soft, sweet way she used to call him that…

“Melissa.”

“Oh, Stiles… I’m sorry.”

“It’s been ten years and she still treats me like I told Scott to rob a bank or something.”

“What happened?”

“She wouldn’t sell me hot cocoa.”

The child-like seriousness in Stiles’ tone makes Talia snicker.

“Not you, too! Cora and Laura already laughed at me! It’s not about the damn hot chocolate! It’s why she wouldn’t—”

“I know, Stiles. I’m sorry. I should have taken the seriousness of your feelings into better consideration.”

“It’s okay.” Stiles tried to break apart form Derek, but he wouldn’t let go. “Babe. You alright?”

Derek didn’t answer.

“Derek? Babe?”

Talia stared puzzlingly at her son. “Derek, are you—”

Derek broke from Stiles and rushed his mother with a tight embrace. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.”

“Derek, for what? What happened?”

He couldn’t answer. He could only hold her close and smell her hair and feel her cheek against his own.

“Derek, tell me what’s wrong? What happened, sweetheart?” Talia looked to Stiles who appeared just as stunted.

She finally got a grip on him, pulling him from her shoulder, to look into his eyes. His mint green eyes that were filled with burning tears that have built up over the last 5 years. “Sweetheart. You’re worrying me…”

“And me,” Stiles said with concern in his tone.

“I’m…” Derek's eyes flickered between the two sets of honey-brown ones, swimming with fret in them.

He swallowed hard, biting it back, trying to remember this was not Beacon Hills. There are no werewolves, and there was no fire. Stiles is his, they have two daughters, and Cora is having a baby.

“I… I don’t know what to get you for Christmas. You, or dad.”

“Is that what has you in such a state? Oh, Derek. Sweetheart, you always fret about the little things entirely too much. I just want you and your sisters at home and around the table for Christmas. That’s all I want ...Your father on the other hand can’t stop talking about some telescope he saw online.”

“I told you, babe! You didn’t see his face when TJ and Ash broke the one in his office," Stiles said to Derek.

“And I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t think I could have withstood the repressed anger your father was trying to swallow in that moment,” Talia said.

“I was honestly surprised the windows didn’t shatter with the sheer magnitude it took for him not to scream at the top of his lungs,” Stiles replied.

Derek smiled. He liked hearing of a memory of his father, and the comfortable laughter Stiles and his mother shared at the thought of it.

“You okay now, Derek?”

“Uh, yeah. Yeah. I’m fine. Don’t know what got into me.”

“We’re just a couple of crybabies today,” Stiles said.

“It’s the holidays. Everybody gets a little weepy around this time of year. I broke down in tears just last night,” Talia said.

“Why,” Derek asked.

She took his arm as they strolled back toward all the commotion. “Well, you know, this time of year I have to get all the Christmas stuff out of the attic, and well… It gets a little sad remembering my babies are all grown up, with families of their own. I took your reindeer ornament from the box and then the waterworks started.”

“We’re making reindeer ornaments in my class next week,” Stiles added. “Sounds nice that you still have the one Derek made for you when he was 9 years old. Makes me hope the ones the kids in my class are going to make will mean that much to their mothers 25 years down the road.”

“Stiles, I have no doubt your class will learn and take with them everything you teach them, for many years to come.”

Stiles stops and raises a dubious eyebrow at his mother-in-law.

“What? That was a genuine compliment; not a very sweet, and endearing ploy to coax you into teaching at ERA next year.”

“Talia, I went to private school. I hated it, and I hated the teachers. Even the really good ones.”

“Stiles, ERA is different from that snob-factory your father sent you to. It’s an all-girls school, with all the tools and resources you could possibly need to give a child a good, proper education," Talia said trying to persuade Stiles.

Derek watched them go back and forth— clearly, a conversation they’ve had numerous times— about the pros and cons of both public and private school education. They were both respectful, yet firm in their arguments. He liked it. He liked seeing his mother and husband in a rousing debate, comfortable enough with each other to have it, and to have it civilly. It also made him curious enough to ask if that’s why Halina doesn’t attend ERA, or the other school Malia mentioned.

The argument stopped when a loud whistle in their direction gained their attention. John. Halina still on his shoulders. He waved for them to come over. The tree-lighting ceremony was about to begin.

“Oh, damnit. I have to join your father.” She turned to Stiles, “This is not over, young man.” She pecked Derek's cheek.

“Not by a long shot, Talia Hale," Stiles shouted at her back as she hurried toward the giant tree. Stiles turned to Derek. He ran a tender hand down Derek’s face. “Please tell me you’re okay?”

“I’m fine. I just… I got a little choked up seeing my mom, and with it being Christmas and all… I’m fine, Stiles. I promise you.”

“You big sap.” Stiles leaned into Derek to kiss him— John whistled at them and called their names, interrupting them. They run over toward the crowd.

John handed Stiles a tall cup of hot cocoa and winked at him when they caught up to him. He then shuffled Derek and Stiles to the front of the gathered crowd. There was a small podium in front of the tree. Derek recognized the man—the mayor— as Stiles’ lacrosse coach, Finstock, or something…

Finstock introduced Derek’s father, Theo Hale, then stepped down. Derek lost his breath again, squeezing Stiles’ hand for support.

Someone roughly bumped his shoulder— Cora, with Boyd at her side, who smiles brightly at him.

John lifted Halina from his shoulders, and handed her to Derek. There was a dark, hot coca mustache above her lip that made him smile, and calmed his nerves.

“Hello, citizens of Smithville, on this beautiful, snowy night,” Theo started. “I’ll make this quick because it’s cold, and despite Mrs. Culpepper’s pumpkin pie being the stuff dreams are made of, my wife’s cooking is reality, and one that I am eager to get home to.” The crowd laughed lightly at his joke. “Christmas is a big deal in my house. It’s our biggest holiday, filled with an equal amount of food and noise, and an overabundance of love. It was always my favorite holiday as a kid, and wife’s as well, when she was a child, some 4 years ago,” he jokes. “And I’m happy our traditions have carried over with our children: our eldest, Laura, our second eldest, Valerie, our son, Derek, and our youngest, Cora. They each have their own families, and are starting their own traditions, but it makes my heart beat just a little faster, a little louder, seeing them here tonight, carrying on one of our old traditions with their families, sharing it with their own little ones. Each year on this day, we’ve come to this town square and watched as the beginning of the holiday season takes shape with the lighting of the Smithville Christmas Tree. So, it is my great honor, to kick off the festivities with such a wonderful tradition in my family, and hopefully yours as well. So, please, 'let there be light'.”

And with that, the giant tree radiated with a million twinkling lights, hundreds of ornaments, and a bright, white star at the top. Loud cheers and applause sound at the stunning sight.

Finstock returned to the podium. “Thank you, Dr. Hale. And now we’ll have a lovely song from Miss Argent and Miss Graeme’s second grade classes from Smithville Elementary.”

About 40 second graders with craft elf ears on their heads stand in front of the Christmas tree. Allison stood before them, holding a sheet of paper in her hand. Derek assumed it was the lyrics to their song. He recognized the other second grade teacher as the deputy he flirted with so Stiles could sneak into his father’s office.

“Daddy, that’s Claudia. HI, CLAUDIA,” Halina shouted, then waved at her sister. Derek immediately put a hand over his daughter’s mouth, trying with all his might to suppress the laughter threatening to explode from him. Stiles, John, and his sisters were trying just as hard, and failing miserably. Until Allison leveled all of them with a stern glare.

Stiles removed his cellphone from his pocket and recorded the kids singing O Christmas Tree. Nearly, everyone around them had their cellphone out, recording the sweet children singing.

Derek finally maneuvered his phone from his pocket, while holding Halina, and recording it as well. He focused only on Claudia and her enthusiastic singing. Surprisingly, for a bunch of 7 year olds, they all seem well behaved, and well-practiced. He shouldn’t be surprised though, if Allison is their teacher. She seemed like one of those teachers that would be really caring, but have a strong, firm handle on her class. It made him grateful she was Claudia’s teacher.

The song ended to cheers and applause, much bigger than the ones received for the tree. A bunch of overly happy parents, grateful their kid didn’t puke, or forget the words to the song.

Claudia came running to Derek and Stiles, and was showered with praise from the both of them, her grandparents, and her aunts and uncles. Halina gave her sister a big kiss and hugged her tight. Derek managed to snap a quick picture of their embrace.

He thought he was a second away from losing it when his father sauntered over and gave him a big hug and kissed both his granddaughters. Derek could tell he doted on them more than his grandsons. He was sort of like that in his universe, too. His sisters could get away with murder with him; girls broke something in him, made him complaint and malleable. It’s why Derek had always feared his father finding out about Kate more than his mother. He foolishly thought his dad would hate him for it and cast him from the pack, making him an Omega. He wasn’t his sisters, so he didn’t believe his dad would ever have forgiveness in his heart for him. Yet, there he was with a big grin on his face, his mother around his arm, talking to John.

“How’s book editing? What are you reading about now,” Theo said, turning to Derek.

“The Paik Rebellion. India and England’s conflict.”

“Ah. Very nice. Very interesting time in India’s history. Let me know if you need a little help. Larry’s got a TA that's majoring in Asian History.”

“Will do.”

Theo squeezed his shoulder. “Why does it feel like years since I last saw you?”

Because it has been. “I don’t know. But I feel the same way.”

“Come to my lecture on Tuesday. I’d like my boy’s handsome face there, helping me school a bunch of snot-nosed twentysomethings who think they know the answer to everything.”

Derek laughed. “Okay.” Derek was internally overjoyed with the prospect of watching his father teach and couldn’t wait. “And I’m only handsome because I look like you.”

“Good answer. Very good answer.”

 

John let Boyd take Cora home, who was starting to feel tired and get a little (lot) cranky. Which left John without his car to get home, so Stiles offered to let him stay the night in the guest bedroom at their house.

Laura and her boys headed out next. It seemed Thomas, her husband, drew the short straw and was the one that had to stay back at the resort & inn instead of taking their boys to the tree-lighting ceremony.

Derek didn’t want to say ‘goodbye’ to his parents just yet, but it was nearing Claudia and Halina’s bedtime and they were becoming restless.

His mother mentioned to him that she and his father had a long, exhausting day and a good night’s sleep was desired. She kissed Derek and her grandchildren before calling to Theo who was holding court with Mayor Finstock, Melissa, and two other people who hung on his every word. Theo excused himself, shaking hands with them all, and hurried toward his wife.

Theo rained kisses down on Derek’s girls, before shaking hands with John, and pulling Derek into a loving embrace. Derek gripped him hard, wanting him to feel every ounce of love and grief he’s felt over the years and the unspoken apologies he’s had to keep inside that whole time. When they pulled apart, Theo looked at Derek, really looked at him, with such a deep understanding and affection it was sure to make Derek’s heart explode.

“You’re good man, Derek. Have I ever told you that?”

“…Yes.”

“I mean it. You are. Be proud of all you have, and all you’ve accomplished.”

They felt almost like the exact words he needed to hear. He fought back the tears threatening to escape from his eyes.

“See? The holidays makes people turn to mush. Something in the Hale genes, I guess,” Talia teased her husband, telling her son.

“He just wants to secure he’ll get a new telescope for Christmas,” Derek mused of his father's sincere compliments.

“I am not. I meant every word. But, if you wanted to get me something…”

“Come on, you,” Talia said, dragging her husband away. “Tell Stiles we said ‘goodnight’. He looks a little engrossed in his conversation with Allison. We’ll see you two this weekend. And remind him our conversation is far from over.”

“Oh, God. We’re you trying to convert him on the merits of private education again?”

“Says the civics professor at the world’s most prestigious university.”

Theo rolls his eyes before his mother kisses his cheek one more time and his father is carted off toward their car parked down the street.

Derek felt Friday couldn't come quick enough...

Derek and John finally managed to pull Stiles and Allison from their conversation, and head home.

 

Stiles made up the guest room for his dad while Derek bathed and put the girls to bed. He read them a bedtime story, and praised Claudia once more for her lovely singing, and how proud he is of her. He kissed both girls, then turned out the lights.

He came downstairs to find John in the family room with a beer, watching the ten o’clock news. Derek grabbed a beer, too, and joined him on the sofa. Derek liked how easy it was for them to engage in comfortable conversation between news segments. It turned out John was an electrician, and has been since Stiles was in diapers. Derek found it weird and a little jarring with him not being a sheriff. The uniform was so synonymous with him, that John not being in it seemed…incomplete.

Stiles called to John that the guest room was made up, and that he was going to bed.

Derek really, really wanted to make love to Stiles, but with John just down the hall, he didn’t feel in the least bit comfortable eliciting anything sexual with Stiles.

He politely bid John ‘goodnight’ and headed to bed.

When he got to the room, Stiles was already asleep.

He collapsed on the bed with a sigh, and hoped tonight isn’t the night he ended up back in Beacon Hills when he closed his eyes, because today was a really good day, and he thinks more are ahead.

 


Boyd and Cora quickly dropped off John's car while Derek was getting the girls bathed and dressed, having missed them.

Stiles made breakfast, trying to convince his father vegetarian bacon was just as good as the real deal. Derek liked the vegetarian bacon, but he’s also had real bacon, and knows it doesn’t compare in the slightest.

John drank his (decaf) coffee, finished his pancakes, kissed both girls, hugged Stiles and Derek and then left. Promising to see them on Friday.

Stiles and Claudia weren’t that far behind him. Stiles put Claudia’s hair in a simple ponytail, brushed the knots out of Halina’s hair, quickly made Claudia’s lunch, kissed Derek ‘goodbye’ and flew out the door with Claudia in tow.

Derek took a shower then retreated downstairs when Malia showed up. This time to actually work instead of spy on friends and family via social media.

 

When Stiles and Claudia got home, Derek started on dinner while the girls did their homework and Stiles showered.

The advent calendar’s activity of the day was for the girls to write their letters to Santa Claus for what they wanted for Christmas.

Derek laughed at how excited they were and just how quiet and focused they became while writing them.

Stiles asked to have a look at their lists when they were done, “to see if Santa can carry everything in his sleigh.” Both girls asked for a puppy, which had Derek and Stiles exchange nervous looks. Halina’s list consisted mainly of books, paints, a new bike she saw a girl across the street had, and a sweater for the puppy she wanted. Claudia wanted new dolls, a tea set, tap dancing shoes, new clothes, and a tiara for the puppy she wanted.

Derek promised to mail their letters to Santa while Stiles gave them a bath and dressed them for bed. Derek actually went down to his office, and put the letters in his desk drawer.

 

Stiles came down after tucking the girls in, while Derek cleaned up in the kitchen.

“We are so not getting them a dog.”

“Absolutely not,” Derek agreed.

“Which means we have to get them something so badass they forget about the dog.”

“Like what?”

“…We could take them to DisneyWorld again,” Stiles shrugged.

“I’d rather get them the dog if that’s our only option.”

“We’ll come up with something, but I am not getting them a pet. Remember the goldfish incident?”

Derek obviously doesn’t, but he imagines it’s not a pretty story. “Yes. Let’s not repeat that.”

“Agreed.”

Stiles rounded the island toward Derek. He wrapped his arms around his waist and kissed him along his neck. “Guess what?”

“What?”

“I don’t have homework to grade, and I did my lesson plan for tomorrow during lunch.”

Derek tossed the dish towel on the counter and ran a hand through Stiles’ hair as he continued to suck on his neck, eliciting a moan from the older man. “Oh, really?”

“Really.”

“And what does that mean?”

“It means you should fuck me right now.”

 

In no time, Derek had Stiles pressed against the fridge, fucking him hard and rough with Stiles' legs around Derek's waist. They knock their daughters’ pictures, notes, grocery lists, and magnets to the floor.

Stiles bit the junction of Derek’s neck where the shoulder begins and the neck ends, when he came, shooting ribbons of cum all over Derek’s stomach.

Derek, for whatever reason, was overcome with emotion, and almost sobbing when he came, telling Stiles he loved him.

Stiles held him close while shushing his cries away and running long, lean fingers through his dark hair.

He needs this. He needs to stay. To be here. It's not so much anymore that he enjoys the life built here, but more so it's that he knew he couldn’t be happy anywhere else, with any other life. This was it. He can’t go back. It’d kill him if he did.

Chapter Text


Stiles woke him up at 4AM, telling him to hurry and make it over to New Haven Shelter in the next county before his mother killed him for being late.

Tired, and full of questions, but not wanting to give himself away, or worry Stiles, he climbed out of bed and took a quick shower. Stiles had mentioned where he was supposed to go and he had a GPS in his car, so finding it wouldn’t be an issue, he was just a bit clueless as to what the place was exactly, and what he was supposed to do there.

Until he pulled up to a very non-descript building with the large sign out front: New Haven Shelter. He had assumed it was a pet rescue, or animal humane society, but was admittedly taken aback to find that it was in fact a homeless shelter.

He parked around back and took notice of his parents’ car already there, along with Laura’s truck.

Just as he climbed out of his own vehicle, Laura came out back in a rubber apron and long rubber gloves, hefting two large garbage bags.

He moved to help her, but she had already swung them into the dumpster a few feet away by the time he reached her.

“I don’t think anyone’s really cleaned that kitchen back there since Uncle Peter died,” she said.

There was so much about that “simple” sentence that Derek wanted to question it made his head spin and wobble on his feet a bit at the dizziness. His (shitty) Uncle Peter was dead (which probably explains his absence from his wedding photos), and apparently managed a homeless shelter…? What. The. Actual. Fuck?

“Mom, told me as soon as I saw you, to let you know she needs you to thoroughly wash all those pans and cookware back there.”

“Okay,” he said, trying not to freak-out about her blasé reference to their deceased uncle. He walked into the building as Laura broke down some cardboard boxes and piled them together for recycling.

As he walked in, his father pushed through the swing door that lead to the dining hall. He was wearing a simple apron and pushing a mop inside a wheel bucket.

“There’s my boy.”

Derek felt 5 years old at that moment, and wanted nothing more than to crawl into his father’s lap and stare at him adoringly as he held him in his arms.

“Sorry. I’m late.”

“You’re not late. Your mom and Laura are early risers— which is disgusting—and my unfortunate burden when she nudges me awake with her.”

Derek smiles. In his world, both his parents were early risers. Most werewolves were. Hard to stay asleep when you can literally hear part of the world wake up.

“So, has your mother assigned you a task?”

“Washing dishes basically,” he said as he caught a glimpse of the coat rack near the back door. He shook off his peacoat and hung it up.

“Thank God. I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the next thing she asked me to do.”

Derek chuckled. His father had always had a sense of humor, but it was never like this: warm, but sarcastic and clever. It almost reminded him of Stiles’ humor.

“Well, I’d get to it if I were you. Unless you’d like to incur your mother’s wrath.”

Derek shakes his head.

“Good.” Theo points to a small pile on the counter of folded cotton, and rubber, aprons along with a pile of latex gloves.

Derek nods and grabs a rubber apron and a pair of gloves.

 

The buzzer to the back door rang.

“Derek, can you get that, sweetheart,” his mother asked, elbow deep in mashed potatoes.

Derek turned off the faucet, relinquishing the industrial size pan he was cleaning. He wiped his hands on his apron and walked to the heavy, back door and opened it.

“Hey, you.”

Before he can catch his breath, she’s in his space, smiling, wrapping her arms around him in a tight hold.

He’s a block of frozen ice, unmoving and solid.

She broke their (her) hug. “You okay, Derek?”

His eyes find hers, looking deep into them, trying to recall the last time he’d seen them… It was that morning. She was back home, just finished her junior year at UCLA. They were having breakfast in the kitchen. She cooked. Made Derek his favorite: waffles and sausage links. He could almost feel the kiss she placed on his cheek when he thanked her as she handed him a plate.

“Is everything alright,” she asked, worried.

He pulled her close, giving her the hug she wanted earlier. He heard the happy squeal she let out at his embrace.

“You spaced out on me there. I thought something was wrong,” she said.

“No. Nothing’s wrong,” he said, fighting back the choked tears in his throat.

She pulled apart from him. “Good. I can’t have my rock crumbling.”

“I’m your rock?”

She gave him a sweet kiss on the cheek. “Of course. Can’t think of anyone else I’d rather turn to.”

He smiled. He knew they may not have been as close before he called her, but she feels they are now. Enough to call him her “rock.” He did that. Not other Derek. Him. His chest fills with pride and happiness as he took in her warm smile, so much like their mother's grin.

“You’re my rock, too, Val,” he says.

She blushed.

He squeezed her hand.

“So, where can I put my coat and get to work?”

He takes her coat off and hangs it on the coat rack beside the door.

“Should I find mom?”

“Yeah. Better she tell you what she needs than me.”

“Okay.” She squeezed his shoulder as she passes by him, into the dining hall, to find their mother.

 

Derek was beginning to feel guilty about Peter being dead. Not him being dead per se, but that he at least didn’t know why he was dead. He couldn’t ask anyone, obviously, but really wanted to find out why his despised relative was no longer alive in this world. He didn’t seem hated here, like he did in his world. In fact, he seemed well-liked, loved, and missed thoroughly by his mother, who teared up a bit at a brief mention of him and work he did at the shelter.

The shelter itself was also something he wanted to know about. He figured Peter had been dead a little over 8 years if he hadn’t made it to Derek’s wedding, so he found it odd that they were now just getting to resurrect his life’s work apparently.

He had so many questions, and was frustrated at being unable to ask for answers to any of them. Then it hit him: Stiles is nothing but questions. And when he wants answers to them, what does he do? Research. Looks like I have another date with my laptop again.

 

Cora and Boyd showed up just as he and Laura’s husband Thomas were helping to haul fresh produce into the kitchen from a delivery truck. Boyd immediately got to work helping them, while Cora went to look for their mother.

Looking at Boyd’s face hasn’t gotten any easier. Not even a little. It took all his willpower to not wrap his arms around his friend and apologize over and over and over again. He should have been stronger. He should have fought better. He should have sacrificed himself instead. That’s what a good Alpha would have done. He would have kept his beta safe, and away from harm, instead of causing the harm himself.

What made the pitiful feeling inside him worse was the easy way he smiled here. All the time. He was still somewhat shy, and quiet, but he showed off his bright, white smile more in this world. He was genuinely happy. Happy to be alive. Happy to be with Cora. Happy to be having a baby with Cora.

And Derek was happy for him, but also angry because he’d never have those things, ever, where he’s from. Deep down, Derek truly knows it isn’t, but he can’t help but to feel as though it is.

Thomas grabs the last crate and lugs it inside. Derek likes him. He’s perfect for Laura. He has just the same amount of silliness to match hers, and a rugged, outdoors-y like masculinity that he knows she desires in a man. Derek figures he must be smart, too, because all three of those qualities is definitely something he knows will lock Laura down for good: a lumberjack who graduated college with a business degree in accounting, that can speak fluent Spanish, and likes practical jokes? Laura. Sold.

 

Derek, his father, Boyd, and Thomas lug tables and colorful chairs into the dining hall after Laura and Valerie are done wiping them down. The dining hall smells of fresh paint, and the floors look new. Come to think of it, Derek takes notice of the industrial stove and dishwasher in the kitchen, and counter tops and shelves as he moves chairs into the hall; it’s all brand new. He assumes the shelter was probably closed, then reopened new and improved.

Talia was outside cleaning the windows with a long squeegee. So, Derek snuck away to the upper floors and looked around. It was all new, and nice. Comfortable, and not degrading or embarrassing. The rooms looked like dorms, or beds in a hostel.

The building was about 6 stories high and the middle four floors were dorms, with two communal shower/bathroom areas at opposite ends of the hall on each floor.

The top floor contained a medical center, playroom for small kids, and kennel for pets. Derek was impressed, to say the least. Proud. Happy. His family was making it there business to see that those less fortunate had a place to be, and not feel so ashamed of their circumstance.

“Wow. Looks amazing.”

Derek turned around. Isaac.

Without thinking, he rushed toward him and gave him a gripping hug. Isaac returned the embrace just as fervently.

“I missed you, big guy,” Isaac said.

“Missed you, too.”

“You shouldn’t. I’m a shitty friend. I’m sorry I missed Halina’s birthday…and Claudia’s…and Stiles’…and yours…and Christmas last year…along with New Year’s.”

Derek chuckled, then shrugged. “You’re a busy man.”

“I’m actually a lazy fuck. You’re letting me off too easily.”

“I’m in the mood for forgiveness.”

“Good. I’d hate for you to be mad at me,” Isaac said sincerely.

“Just… Just try and let me see you more often. Okay?”

Isaac smiled. “That may be in the very real realm of possibility, but before I get into that, give me a tour of my former home,” he said waving his arms at the walls around them.

Derek has to take a breath to choke back the burning inquisition he wants to fire off at the curly-haired man’s statement. Isaac was homeless? Jesus. This world or another and the kid still can’t catch a fucking break. He’s clearly been rewarded in this one by being rich, talented and successful, but Derek’s curious, and saddened, by what exactly it must have taken for him to get there.

Derek shows him around the top floor, then the dorm rooms on the second, third, fourth, and fifth floors, discovering the place along with him. Isaac is nearly brought to tears at it all. “Money very well spent,” he said, fighting back the waterworks. “I’m glad I got to be apart of it, even if all I was was the check.”

“I doubt that’s all you are.”

“Those three years on the streets, in New York…” he cleared his throat, choking back a sob. “I’m sad Peter’s not here to see it.”

“Are you? Really?”

Isaac gave him an odd look, as though he’s stunned Derek would think he’d feel otherwise. “Why wouldn’t I want the man that helped me get off the streets and took me in and got me into college to be here and witness his hard work and dedication come to fruition?”

Mystery solved…but no less strange. “I don’t know… Just happy you feel that way about it— him. Peter, I mean.”

“He most definitely wasn’t my father, but…he took care of a 16 year old street urchin. Just because he cared. He saved my life. And now I have this one.”

Derek smiled. He may hate his uncle in his own universe, but the one here, he mattered to a lot of people, namely Isaac, so he had to relinquish some sort of affection for the loss of the man and the good work he was doing, and wanted done.

“Come on, before Talia kills us both.”

Derek follows Isaac down the flight of stairs.

 

His sisters serve trays to the full dining hall, while he, Boyd, and Thomas continue cooking there asses off. It’s hot, and all three of them are sweating to death, trying to not drip on the beautifully made food. Cora hands them each ice cold water bottles and slips sweatbands over their hair nets to keep the perspiration out of their eyes, and out of the food.

His parents, along with two other employees, and Deaton occupy two of the offices on the ground floor to speak with people about their set jobs skills, education, or lack thereof, in order to help appropriate them a job while they live at the shelter.

Kira is there with another nurse and a doctor. She waves at him as the three of them head to the top floor to the medical room.

Isaac is outside talking to local press, a student reporter from Yale University’s newspaper, and a reporter from The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Vox, Huffington Post, and MSNBC. He’s a recognizable name that affronted a hefty sum of money to a homeless shelter being built in the town he was given a second chance in; media was bound to be interested.

Derek stuck another giant pan of baked macaroni-n-cheese in the oven, then got to work starting on a new batch.

“You want to call Stiles,” Boyd asked. “I can do both stations for a few minutes.”

“Thanks, Boyd.”

Boyd nudged his shoulder.

Derek removed his gloves and apron, then the hair net and sweatband. He opened the back door, holding his bottle of water. The winter air is just what he needed after being in the sweaty, hot kitchen for the last couple hours.

He took his cellphone out. It’s 9:30AM. School is well underway. Stiles can’t answer his phone…but maybe he can get away with texting.

DEREK: Hey, you. Taking a short break. Thought I’d shoot you a text.

STILES: Hey! How’s everything going this morning?

DEREK: Good. Hard work. It looks great, Stiles. You have to see it. Mom’s working real hard with everything. Isaac is here, too.

STILES: I expect no less than complete dedication from a strong woman such as your mother.

Derek smiled at his husband's compliment about Talia.

STILES: But you tell that curly-haired ‘lost boy’ that I am going to kick his ass when I see him tonight for dinner!!! A year?! A year and we haven’t seen and barely heard from him?!
STILES: He is not a good uncle!

DEREK: He knows. He apologized.

STILES: Still kicking his ass…

DEREK: Lol
DEREK: Am I picking Halina up from your dad’s, or you?

STILES: You. Remember, I have that teacher conference after school…?

DEREK: Right. Sorry. Slipped my mind.

STILES: Hey. I got to go, babe. I’ll see you at dinner.
STILES: Love you. Bye.

DEREK: Love you, too.

Derek was slightly grateful his texting with Stiles ended. The winter chill was getting to him, and he came out back with no coat, clutching a bottle of ice water.

He shivered, and went back inside.

 

Around noon, his sisters had switched duties with Derek, Boyd, and Thomas, them to serve in the dining hall. He was a little taken aback at how many of them were children, small children about his daughters ages.

One particular girl about Claudia’s age, gave him a big grin when he gave her an extra scoop of ice cream. Her hair was filthy and matted, her clothes too small for her and covered in patches of dirt, and her Velcro sneakers were duct taped, holding them together. Yet, still, she gave him a wide smile—with three teeth missing—when all he did was give her a little extra dessert. It was probably the only time she had had such a treat, or the first in a long while. Maybe it was the nicest anyone’s been to her in ages. Derek hated the idea that an innocent, little girl wouldn’t be given consideration, or care due to an unfortunate circumstance that befell her family.

He sat down at her table and talked to her for a bit. He told her he had two girls, their names, and what they liked to do. The young girl said her name was Shay, and that like Claudia, she liked dolls. Derek smiled at that, trying to hide the sad frown at realizing the holidays were vastly approaching, and this sweet girl wouldn’t get nearly (if at all) as nice a gift as he and Stiles were getting their own daughters.

He spoke briefly with her mother, a hefty woman, looking worn and tired. A sad life without a place to call your own, and raise her child, were deep into her skin, creating a perpetual frown, even as she smiled and thanked him for being kind to her daughter.

Derek wanted to ask. Wanted to know what happened, but he knew better. He remembered being at his worse and wearing it all over him like a cloak, and the people who saw him, thinking they had a right to know, to ask, why he held himself so close and pushed others so far away. He was currently surrounded by that reason. Ghosts in the world he’d come from, but beating hearts in this one. The one he wanted to bury himself in and never leave.

So he settled on making small talk with the cute little girl with the My Little Pony sneakers that liked dolls and sang praises about how much she liked strawberry ice cream.

A volunteer swooped by and gathered up the empty trays as another handed each at the table a slip of paper with the number of their bed on it, and another paper stating their schedule (allotted shower time, a session with the counselor, aka Deaton, their social worker, the doctor, and duties around the shelter) and curfew on it.

He stood, and said ‘goodbye’ to Shay and her mother, then caught his own mother’s eye. She smiled faintly at him with tears in her eyes. He had empathy, raw empathy for these people, and the work being done, and could be done, at this shelter and so many just like it. And she was attempting to keep on with the hard work her brother was trying to accomplish, as best she could.

He crossed the room toward her and kissed her cheek. “Uncle Peter would be very happy.”

“He’d also say it’s not about him.”

“It isn’t. It’s about all of them. And we’re trying. For the better.”

He gives her hand an affectionate squeeze, and returns to the kitchen.

 

Around two o’clock, a bunch of volunteers and about 6 employees came in and Derek and Laura were relieved of their duties. He had to go and pick up Halina from John’s, and thought he’d swing by the school to get Claudia, too, seeing as how Stiles was to be engaged in a teacher’s meeting until almost dinner time. Laura needed to meet her boys at home “otherwise they’ll get into shit and I don’t want to have to deal with that later.”

 

Derek decided to go to the elementary school first and called John to tell him.

By the time he got there, the last bell had rang and what seemed like hundreds of kids, spilled out of the building and into the snow. Derek weaved his way through the crowd, notably catching the eye of a few soccer moms as he made his way inside.

He knew he had to go to the front office to find Stiles’ classroom number, and hoped like hell he wouldn’t run into Victoria Argent in doing so. Though realistically he knew that was unlikely given she’s the principal of the school.

He took a deep breath with his hand on the door handle, and then went into the office. He’s immediately greeted by the secretary pool with sweet smiles and ‘hellos’. He smiled back and made small talk, mostly about Halina. One of the secretaries made note of telling Derek that the school now had a gifted students program and was a little taken aback that Stiles hadn’t mentioned it to him. Unprovoked, she handed him a bunch of pamphlets about the course work provided and the goals of the program.

The door to Victoria’s office opened and she stepped into the door frame, the receiver to her desk phone on her ear, stretching the cord it was attached to as she spoke into it. She acknowledged Derek with such a comfortable, friendly wave and warm smile that he blanched a bit; feeling physically dizzy for the briefest of moments as she kicked the door stopper under the door and removed her jacket. He watched as she flopped into her office chair and propped her feet up on the old, brown desk.

Derek’s attention was drawn away from Victoria when one the secretaries asked Derek if he was picking Claudia up today.

“Yes, but I’m a little embarrassed that I can’t remember where Stiles’ classroom is. Sorry.”

“Oh, it’s down the hall, to the right, fourth door on that side.”

“Okay. Thanks, ladies. And thanks for the reading material.”

As Derek grabbed the pamphlets and exited the admin office toward Stiles’ classroom, he thought of how he was going to approach the subject of Halina attending a real school. It seemed they had numerous opportunities around them for her to, even given her talents, but weren’t taking them, and it made him curious as to why…

He was almost near Stiles’ class when he heard his name being called— Allison. He stepped into her class as she broke from her desk and hugged him.

They weren’t friends, and only slightly enemies in his world, but he still nonetheless had an affection for the girl. He felt for her. She was raised by a family of psychos (excluding Chris) and tried as hard as she could to be normal, or something relative to that. Trying to balance both of those worlds would be extremely hard for a teenage girl, even one as strong and smart as Allison. Scott saw something in her. Something good and worth loving. He had to take that into some sort of consideration.

“How’d the opening of the shelter go?”

“I think it went really well. I just hope all those people get what they need out of it. That some good is done.”

“Well, that’s what it’s for, and knowing your family, amazing things will come of it.”

“Thanks.”

She nods.

“Isaac was there.”

“I heard! On the radio, during lunch! God, has he come a long way or what,” she said with a bright, proud smile.

“He has. I’m so happy for him.”

“You uncle helped him. He did. Isaac was a mess and your family gave him hope and opportunity, especially Peter. I love that he’s apart of giving that back. I’m mean, I’m really glad he’s still the same Isaac. Money can change people for the worst sometimes.”

“As if we’d let that happen.”

She laughs. “As if Stiles would let that happen.”

“Heard my name.”

They turn to Stiles in the doorway holding Claudia’s hand. She runs to Derek and he lifts her up and kisses her cheek.

“We were talking about you putting your foot down and not letting Isaac become some sad, writer cliché,” Allison said.

“Did you tell him I’m going to kill him,” Stiles asked Derek.

“Yes. He’s fully aware that he’s to be murdered tonight at dinner.”

“Who’s murdered, daddy,” Claudia asked.

“No one. Roadie is exaggerating his violent prowess,” Derek told her.

“You know, I never asked you guys why Stiles is caused Roadie…” Allison said.

YES! I finally get to know, too!

“Derek, you tell the story,” Stiles said.

Fuck. No.

“You do it. I love how you have no idea how to tell a short and sweet tale,” Derek teased, knowing Stiles and how to turn this around.

“I can, too!” He turns to Allison, “When Claudia started speaking, I tried to teach her how to say ‘father’ in Polish-- rodzic-- but it came out too abused, in her tiny, little lispy mouth. So it ended up sounding like ‘Roadie’. My dad and Derek thought it was hilarious, so they taught her to call me that. Then when Halina was born it sort of stuck, and she started doing it, too. Even though now, she knows how to properly say it. See? Short and sweet.” Stiles mouths ‘fuck you’ to his husband, gaining an eye roll in return, in spite of how adorable Derek finds that story.

“Stiles, we have to get to the teacher meeting.”

“Okay. You going to get Halina at my dad’s? He can just bring her to your parents' house since he’ll be there for dinner anyway.”

“No. I’d rather pick her up and have her and Claudia for a couple hours. I haven’t seen my girls all day.” Derek and Claudia Eskimo kiss.

“Aw. So cute. No wonder the soccer moms can’t stop drooling over you,” Allison said with a wink.

“Those bored housewife harpies are ridiculous,” Stiles said with an eye roll.

Derek snorted at Stiles’ jealousy.

Allison grabbed her lesson plan and her keys and her laptop. She hurried Derek and Stiles from the room and locked the door behind them.

Stiles kissed Claudia, and gave Derek a quick peck before he and Allison headed down the hall in the opposite direction, and said they’d seem them at dinner.

 

Derek got Claudia buckled in her seat before he realized he had no clue as to how to get to John’s house.

Shit…

“Pumpkin, you know how to get to Grandpa John’s house?”

“Uh…”

I'll take that as a ‘no’.

He couldn’t remember Halina’s mental directions, and John’s address wasn’t programmed into his GPS. Why would it be? Knowing your father-in-law’s address should be second nature. Fuck.

Derek was going to have to grit his teeth and bear it--

“Hey, John… Yeah… Still at the school. Leaving now… I know… Okay… Hey, uh, listen, can you text me your address… Yeah… No. No. I just, uh…I just want to program it into my GPS… I know that’s weird, but… No. Just, um, a brain fart… Okay. Thanks. See you in a bit.” Derek hung up, feeling like an idiot on the phone with John.

His phone chimed with a text message. John’s address. He programmed it into his GPS and pulled away from the school as soon as the robotic, female voice started giving him directions.

 

John still found it weird that Derek needed directions to his house once he arrived there, and Derek tried his best to dismiss the whole thing as a silly goof; too much going on in the day and not enough sleep. He knew John didn’t buy it completely, but seeing as how it was the only explanation Derek was offering, he had no choice but to take it.

They talked about the shelter’s opening, Isaac being the face of it and helping to get it rebuilt, Peter’s legacy and work with displaced persons and veterans, and Derek gained insight into Peter’s death when John briefly mentioned him dying in a car accident. Derek nodded along, pretending to already have that knowledge and how past tense it’s supposed to be, but was really a bit dazed at the realization that Peter was dead. And in such a common, tragic way. It was weird not hearing he was either bit by a rogue Omega, or pissed off one too many witches, or something. A car accident made it seem for real. And gave Derek a bit more sympathy for his uncle.

Derek then thanked John for watching Halina while he was at the shelter. John waved him off, refusing gratitude for being helpful when in regards to his granddaughter. John kissed Halina's cheek and hugged Derek before Derek scooped Halina in his arms and put her in the backseat, fastening her seatbelt over her.

 

Derek brought the girls downstairs into his office with him to do their homework as he Googled Peter on his laptop. Sure enough, there were local newspaper articles and a few liberal, news blogs that mentioned him, and the work he was doing with the homeless. Derek even read his obituary online. The typical facts were listed, along with a rather nice picture of him smiling happily. Included though were a few words written by Isaac: “Peter Duncan was not my father, but he was my friend. A great friend who is no doubt missed by all whose lives he touched, but none more than my own. He cared for me when I had nothing, and helped me when he had nothing to be gained from it. That is the mark, the character, of a good man. I hope and prey there are more out there like him. Rest in Peace, Peter. You are sorely missed.”

Derek wanted to scoff; thoughts of the Peter he knew flooded into his head, but he caught himself when he had to once again remind himself that this Peter was someone completely different.

 

Stiles came home at almost seven. He kissed both girls, then Derek. He sent them to the living room and told them both to stay put “while daddy and I change our clothes.” He grabbed Derek’s hand and dragged him to the master bathroom.

Under the hot spray of water, Derek let Stiles take him apart, fucking him hard and quick. Unlike Derek, Stiles liked when Derek touched himself while being fucked, and told him to. Derek jerked himself frantically, trying to keep in time with Stiles’ thrusts. Stiles stabbed at Derek’s prostate, and Derek let go of his dick, to grab at the tile wall for purchase, muttering incoherent curses as Stiles fucked him raw.

He must have been thinking about it all day, Derek thought, given how unabashed and intense his movements were.

Stiles reached around and pulled on Derek’s cock, still fucking into him as vicious as he could.

“Stiles! Oh, my God!”

“I haven’t fucked you in so long. God, you’re so tight.”

“Christ…”

“Remember the last time I fucked you? On your birthday? You cried so loud for me, babe. Cry for me. Cry for me again.”

Stiles’ thumb swept under the very sensitive spot under his head, and Derek let out a roar as cum coated Stiles’ hand.

Stiles came right afterward, and feeling him stiffen and shoot his seed inside Derek, made the older man loose it, and come again, grabbing at the wall, then falling to his knees, breathless.

Stiles gained his own breath back, and put light kisses all along Derek’s shoulders while the water beat down on them.

“You okay, babe?”

Derek nodded. That’s all he could do, puffing and at a loss for articulate words.

“Good, because we have to go.”

Derek nodded, but slumped to the floor, letting the water spray all over him.

Stiles smiled smugly at him as he grabbed the bar of soap and began lathering his body.

“Asshole,” Derek smirked back at him.

 

After getting up in the middle of the night, and spending all morning, well into the afternoon, cooking and cleaning, no one was too eager to cook. And the clean up afterward seemed like the biggest burden to bear. So Theo called Stiles and Derek, telling them to bring beer, and sodas for the kids, while on their way to the house. He then ordered 8 pizza pies for delivery.

By the time Derek and Stiles arrived at the house with the girls, the whole place was full of noise and bodies. Valerie’s husband, Jason, was there finally with their two boys Arthur and Miller. Jason was on the phone arguing with someone about a particular news segment involving either a senator, or governor; he paid very little attention to what was around him, too focused on his call. Arthur was quiet, and sat in a corner in the adjoining living room, on a tablet, while Miller ran around screaming and playing with his cousins. He didn’t look anything like Valerie, or Jason for that matter. He was pale, with light eyes and dirty blonde hair.

Claudia and Halina broke from Derek and Stiles’ sides as they came into the house, and joined their cousins in horseplaying.

Every so often, a random adult would squawk at them to “stop chasing each before you break something.” Namely, his father. Derek thought back to the conversation with his mother and Stiles about two of Laura’s boys breaking his very expensive telescope.

Derek and Stiles came into the kitchen, dropping off the beverages they were asked to provide. Immediately, every man in the place grabbed a beer and chugged have of it as soon as the caps were flicked off. Jason managed to still be on his phone as he nodded to both Derek and Stiles then grabbed a bottle of the Budweiser they brought, and then wander off.

Derek never got a chance to enjoy a beer with his dad, and tried his best to keep it together when he realized that opportunity was currently presented as he stood in the kitchen listening to his father and John swap ‘war stores’ about whatever back problems they were currently having. It made Derek laugh a little at the ‘old guy’ conversation being had before him.

“Please, dear God, promise me we will never reach that point. I don’t want to be the middle-aged guy at the party who spends the whole time telling everyone about some unsightly patch of dry skin under my arm, then fall asleep in the armchair by ten,” Stiles said, whispering to Derek.

Derek spit his beer up a bit, trying not to laugh at Stiles’ comment. He was wearing his glasses and looked incredibly sexy, Derek thought.

“I promise to make sure if you start drifting off to sleep to at least make sure to put you in the back room so you don’t ruin the party for everyone else with your snoring.”

“I do not snore, Derek Hale.”

“If you say so…”

“Jackass,” Stiles said under his breath at Derek’s smirk.

The pizza arrived, and his father and John fought each other over who was going to pay. Boyd beat them to the punch and paid while they were arguing, then brought the pizza into the dining area.

Everyone gather around the table, each holding a paper plate and napkin, vying for their favorite slice. Stiles grabbed two cheese slices for the girls, and a pepperoni and black olives slice for Derek. Derek wasn’t the biggest fan of black olives, but figured in this world, it must be his favorite and his dad was thinking of him when he ordered it because no one else touched it, and Stiles dropped it on his plate without hesitation.

The adults shooed the kids away to the game room to eat and watch TV. Valerie gave them plenty of napkins and wet-naps so they wouldn’t get sauce and grease all over the furniture, but Derek knew with young kids that that was an impossible feat.

The adults sat around the table discussing the shelter’s re-opening early that day, drawing the conversation back to Peter and his untimely death, which resulted in a tearful Talia proposing a toast to her deceased brother. Jason managed to get off his cellphone long enough to engage in it, but then started texting instead.

Derek caught Stiles shaking his head at Jason and mumbling something under his breath around his beer.

The topic then shifted to Isaac discussing his latest graphic novel and his current bout of writer’s block.

Derek noticed whenever Isaac talked, he looked at everyone, or the person speaking directly to him, but always managed to sneak a couple of glances in Valerie’s direction…

The four teachers started a debate at the table about public education and alike, which morphed into a heated debate about school funding and vouchers between Stiles, Talia, and Allison.

Theo, an educator himself, opted to stay out of the debate, but was then egged on by Talia when she mentioned the numerous times he’s been asked by political committees and advocacy groups to run for statewide office, making education his platform to run on. Theo humbly dismissed it, and acknowledged that Peter was always asked the very same thing by PACs as well.

Derek is about to fall off his chair. His father, had been asked to run for political office countless times, as was his (lunatic) uncle, and he just simply waved it off like it was nothing, and not important, but at this point, Jason decided to jump into the conversation wholeheartedly, believing Theo should run for office, particularly governor.

Theo looked exhausted at with the topic, especially now that Jason has joined in the fray, and not for the right reasons. His son-in-law is after all a producer on a major 24-hour cable news show in New York City; Derek gathers his father doesn’t seem to think Jason has his best career interests at heart; so much as he was chasing an interesting story.

Theo changed the topic of conversation to Christmas, and Christmas gifts, and Laura immediately told him how everyone knows he wants a new telescope, and she’d be happy to buy him one since it was after all her rowdy boys that broke his previous one.

Stiles whispered how the girls want a puppy, and the whole table gave a resounding ‘no’ to the idea.

Valerie mentioned how excited she was to be going to see The Nutcracker tomorrow with the boys, Derek, Stiles, and their girls. There’s a quick flash of hurt on Laura’s face Derek wished he didn’t see. Or the gentle way Thomas squeezed her hand. Derek can’t help but feel guilty, assuming Laura’s aware that nice evenings out in the city aren’t something she’s invited to due to her boisterous boys.

Cora asked Stiles how the advent calendar was working out this year as opposed to last year. Stiles said it was way better this year than last, but recounted the whole making eggnog fiasco to her for good measure. A good laugh circled the table at Stiles recalling Halina throwing up in her hair and Claudia feeling nauseous at the whole happening of it.

At one point, Thomas breaks from the table to squash an argument between the kids over what they got to watch. He shut the TV off and said “now no one gets to watch anything. Talk to each other. You might it more entertaining.”

The adults continued to occupy the table talking about anything and everything.

Derek liked it, but got a little weary; afraid he was going to slip up on something, or be asked to recall something he didn’t have knowledge on. Yet, mainly everyone stuck to the topics of work and kids.

Later, Cora disappeared upstairs into her childhood bedroom, when the symptoms of ‘food coma’ started to loom on her.

Laura, Allison, and Talia occupied the sitting room with their glasses of wine.

Jason scattered to Theo’s office to make a private call, while John, Boyd, and Thomas remained at the table talking sports.

Stiles chewed Isaac out like promised. Isaac apologized, and promised to call/visit more often. After ward, Stiles and Theo ended up in the kitchen in a deep conversation. Derek didn’t want to interrupt, so he began cleaning up the messes everyone left. He grabbed all the paper plates and balled up napkins, and threw them in the trash in the kitchen, skirting around his husband and father.

Only the pizza ordered for him was left so he stacked all the empty pizza boxes and headed toward the backdoor to take them and all the empty beer bottles to the trash and recycling out there.

He got to the door, his arms full of garbage, and stopped. He watched a minute...

Valerie looked distressed and upset. Isaac appeared firm, but there was begging/hurt in his angelic eyes as he tried to keep Valerie from walking away.

Derek couldn’t hear what they were saying, but their body language spoke volumes. He knew they couldn’t see him at the door because they kept at whatever intense argument they were having.

Isaac was pointing to his chest, then grabbed her hand and put it there, over his heart. He said something to her that looked heartfelt, and aching.

She pleaded with him gently, but he refused, shaking his head. It was like a silent movie.

Isaac pulled her close to him. She didn’t resist. He looked hurt, broken. And mouthed something to her. Derek didn’t need to hear it. He knew what he said. There wasn’t a soul on the planet that wouldn’t be able to interpret those three, little words.

Valerie didn’t say it back. She held it in her throat, swallowing it back hard, but she let him still hold her close to him.

He moved slow, tentative, like she was a deer he didn’t want to scare off, but then his lips found hers, and Valerie allowed herself to close her eyes.

Isaac’s hand ran through her hair as he pulled her as close to him as he could, as though he wanted them to meld into one being.

The tension left her shoulders and she wrapped her arms around his neck.

His hands were everywhere as their apprehensive kiss, turned into something greedy and wild.

Derek stood there, frozen; his eyes blown wide and mouth parted in shock.

Valerie. My sister, Valerie, and Isaac. Isaac and Val. They’re…in love… Fuck.

Chapter Text


Derek felt shaky the next night when he and Stiles took the train into the city to see The Nutcracker with Valerie and her boys. After watching her kiss with Isaac, he didn’t know what to say or do, or how to act around either of them.

What made it even worse was Derek noticing how very similar Valerie’s youngest, Miller, looked like Isaac. He felt queasy at the idea of his meek, big sister engaged in an illicit affair and fostered a child that wasn’t her husband’s offspring. A part of him wanted to strangle Isaac, but he knew better. He knew it took two to tango, and Isaac wasn’t the only guilty party.

Miller was 10 years old, which meant when he was conceived, Isaac was 20 years old, and Valerie was thirty. Isaac was still in college at RISD when he and Valerie started having an affair, and from their interaction, and the distance between where they lived, Derek assumed it was an on/off kind of adultery. He remembered Valerie looked hesitant and resistant in what it was Isaac was saying to her, the pleading, desperate, looks he gave her before she succumbed to her desires for him. He assumed whatever happened between them created the distance, with Isaac moving to Boston. Boston, like New York, was a mere train ride away, but it had enough distance to be both far and near. Especially to someone you loved, but knew you shouldn’t.

Valerie suggested they take the kids to Serendipity since they behaved so well during the show, and had such a good time, but Derek ruined it by playing party-pooper when he complained of a headache and wanting to simply go home. Truth be told, in letting his mind wander to the assumed details of Valerie and Isaac’s affair, he began to feel uneasy and sick again.

Derek caught a glimpse of Stiles’ suspicious eye (years of being married to a man you know is either telling the truth or making excuses) before making apologies to Valerie and her boys about ice cream, going along with Derek’s migraine excuse, and hailing a cab to Grand Central Station.

Valerie hugged him tightly, whispering how much fun she had, and how much she loved him in his ear. He hugged her back, telling her the same, but feeling lost, and clueless at what to do about what he knows of her now.

In the cab ride to the station, the girls can’t stop raving about ‘The Rat King’ with one another, both proclaiming they want rats instead of a dog for Christmas now. Stiles immediately said no, then turned his attention to Derek who was gazing out the window, mind adrift…

Stiles scratched at the nape of his neck with his fingernails, trying to gain his attention. Derek turned to him. Stiles mouthed, ‘Are you okay?’ before Derek nodded with a fake smile and turned back to the bright lights of the city whizzing by them.

 

The girls were already asleep when they entered the house, Derek holding a sleeping Claudia, and Halina knocked out in Stiles’ arms.

They took off their clothes and shoes, then tucked them into bed.

Derek slipped into bed while Stiles brushed his teeth, then changed into his night clothes.

Stiles climbed into bed, and curled around Derek.

“You want to tell me why we really had to deny our well-behaved daughters ice cream and head home to bed?”

“…No. Not now. Now I just want to go to sleep with my husband beside me…hogging all the covers.”

“I do not hog--”

Stiles is silenced by Derek with a kiss. A sweet, endearing kiss that Derek tries to convey just how much he loves him, and how happy he is that their marriage, isn’t like other marriages. There’s no horrible secrets, no trust being broken (at least not anymore). It’s them, loving one another sincerely, and making the best family they can with each other.

Their lips finally parted, and Stiles smiled, eyes still closed.

“I think that may be the best kiss you ever gave me.”

“Better than the kiss at our wedding?”

Stiles thinks about it a moment… “Yes. But not better than the very first kiss you gave me. Nothing beats that kiss.”

Derek tried to not look somber at never getting to ever know how amazing and special that first kiss was, so he focused on what he does get: he gets to make new ones now. New kisses and new memories with Stiles. That was other Derek’s first kiss. His was at dawn, the light barely peeking over the horizon, as his husband leaned over with intention and kissed his confused face, before settling back into bed.

That’s his memory, and no one else’s, and he’ll take it, any day of the week, over any other scenario, because that one is his, and his alone.

 


Everyone spends Sunday night at John’s house creating shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Despite, it being a religious organization, Derek finds the whole charity endearing and selfless. He liked that his entire family was involved, and that it was John’s idea years ago that they do more charitable things for those less fortunate than them, especially around Christmas (all according to Allison).

He also liked that Allison was always included in their family get-togethers.

It threw him a bit when Victoria showed up, eager to help and be involved, treated just like family by his parents. At one point he stood frozen, watching his mother and Victoria talk casually and laugh over their glasses of white wine with one another.

A part of him wanted to walk over, knock the glass from Victoria’s hand and growl at her to leave before he claws her throat out, but the other part of him was captured in wonder about what life in Beacon Hills would have been like if the Argents were more like this, instead of filled with so much hate. Allison would probably still be alive. So would Victoria.

Kate’s fate, though, is not something he’d like to dwell on. Ever. The disgust and ill-will he has toward her will never allow the satisfaction of seeing her as a real human being with feelings and emotions and a future. It’s because of her that he’s had to unwittingly travel to another universe in order to find happiness in his life again.

He did, however, find it strange that Melissa wasn’t around. He knew her dislike for Stiles ran deep, but he didn’t ever think it was so deep she’d be so absent from their life, and Scott still so present.

Pictures on Facebook of Scott and Lydia stunted him, especially the picture of them on his wedding day, but in the flesh, and together, it was easier to swallow. Lydia was still pristine and poised, but she seemed more relaxed, comfortable. She drank beer instead of wine, and wore ugly, green snow boots when she arrived, instead of some highly expensive, designer ones she’d bitch all night about getting muddy snow on. She wore no make-up but her face was still just as fresh and flawless as it brightened upon seeing him and smiled wide.

She asked him about work and he got all of four words out his mouth before she spotted his daughters and made an excited b-line for them.

Derek got the distinct impression Lydia might be aching for a little girl of her own by the way she doted on them: playing in their hair, complementing their outfits, telling them how pretty and smart they were, asking about school…

“I think I’m in trouble.”

Derek turned to Scott standing beside him with a smile pressed against the lip of his beer. He nods to Lydia cooing over Derek’s daughters.

“You might be.”

“She wants a little girl so bad. I can’t blame her. I practically did a backflip when we found out Ernie was a boy.”

“Well, why don’t you make your wife happy and give her what she wants,” Derek said with a wink.

Scott laughed. “Maybe… Might bring Lyddie and my mom closer… Or result in a bloodbath over how her hair should be braided,” he said with a grimace.

Derek gave Scott a smirk, but his mind was running with the idea that Melissa McCall was a hard mother-in-law. She’s such a giving, loving woman where he’s from; caring and understanding. The idea of her driving a wedge between Scott and Lydia sounds so absurd it feels like a lie. And the torn relationship between her and Stiles is foreign…but that’s what all this is— foreign. At least to him. He’s not from here, so what he knows, or used to know, is vastly different to this. Still, it felt odd, and a little uncomfortable not having her here with them, despite the supposed tension she creates around her.

“Either way. I’d like a little girl. A mini-Lydia walking around with fire-red hair and big, green eyes.”

“Little girls are amazing,” Derek said, watching Claudia help Ernie make his box for Operation Christmas Child. “Then they grow up to be teenagers…and then you feel like you should punch every teenage boy that crosses her path in his nuts before he gets the chance.”

Scott laughed, spitting beer down the front of his shirt. “Well, that’s better than shooting them I guess.”

“You are the deputy. Stock pile full of weapons.”

“If it scares horny, teenage boys away from my hypothetical daughter than all the better, because I definitely remember what Stiles and I were like when we were 16 years old.”

Derek laughed, remembering the smell of arousal wafting from both of them at anything in a skirt. Especially their girlfriends.

Derek caught Scott looking longingly at Lydia as she sat between both girls with the biggest smile on her face.

“Yeah. A mini-Lydia wouldn’t be so bad,” Scott said.

He walked over to Lydia and kissed her, then sat cross-legged on the floor between Claudia and Ernie asking them to help him make a box of his own.

It was good to know that the Scott he knew, was the same Scott here, too.

 

Jason was absent from their get-together, despite Valerie and her boys both being there. Derek took a closer look at Miller, comparing his features to Isaac when the boy asked him for help in putting the rubber band around his shoebox to be mailed off. He had sweet, innocent eyes and a charming, shy smile.

Yup. Definitely Isaac’s son. Jesus, Valerie…

It didn’t help matters that Miller gravitated toward Isaac, and Isaac relished in the attention, playing with him, goofing around and laughing. It was like a gigantic red flag being waved around in front of everyone. And Valerie just watched, trying not to smile too much, loving Isaac and her (their) son interacting so happily with one another.

Derek knew he couldn’t be the only one to take notice of the awkwardness. There had to be someone else in the house that saw what he saw, or maybe knew what he knew.

He looked around… No one. Everyone just went about their business, ignoring Isaac playing ‘happy father’ with the little clone of himself.

Valerie caught his eye and gave a small smile, before returning to help Stiles with dinner.

 

The kids once again sat in the TV room with their dinner. This time though, Thomas chose what they got to watch (PBS Newshour) and told them all not to complain about it, or sit in silence.

The adults sat around the dining room table, eating the chicken and dumplings Stiles and Valerie made.

The usual talk of kids, work, and sports floated around the table, until his mother mentioned chicken and dumplings being Cora’s favorite meal when she was a kid. Talk shifted to fond, childhood memories about Derek and his sisters growing up. Derek sat back and laughed at the funny moments recalled about he and his sisters by his parents, peppered with anecdotes about Stiles and Scott from John.

Then Laura recalled a childhood memory about Derek, and he started to sweat.

“What was the name of that doll you used to carry around with you when you were little, D?”

“W-What?”

“Oh, come on. It was a doll nana gave you so you could play Barbies with me and Valerie, and you loved that thing. You took it everywhere.”

“I doubt I played with dolls.”

“Oh, yes, you did, mister,” his mother corrected him. “You loved that thing to death, and got it so filthy, but refused to let me clean him.”

“I think I remember that,” Valerie said. “You slept with it after you ate dinner with it. It had food on it from your plate. You woke up screaming in the middle of the night because whatever gross-ness that was on that thing attracted ants and crawled all over you when you were asleep.”

“Oh, ew, Derek,” Stiles said with a disgusted face.

“Come on, D, you know the name of that horrible thing,” Laura said.

“You seem to have a better memory about it than me. Why can’t you recall it?”

“Wasn’t my gross doll.”

“Tony! That’s what his name was,” Valerie remembered.

Thank God.

“Now that that mystery is solved…” he said.

“Whatever happened to that creepy doll anyway,” Laura asked.

“Mom threw it out,” Derek answered, assuming by what’s been said that his mother would toss such a horrible thing away after he’d grown tired of it.

“No, I didn’t. You gave it to Kate Argent.”

Derek choked on the spoonful of his dinner that managed to make it into his mouth. Stiles patted him on the back as he coughed into his napkin.

“You alright, babe,” Stiles asked.

Derek nodded, taking a sip of his beer.

“She was sad one day, so you thought you’d cheer her up by giving her Tony. It was so cute. You had such a crush on her,” his mother cooed.

“I assure you, I did not,” Derek said.

“Oh, don’t be so modest. It was a long time ago, and you were an adorable little boy. Gerard told me how you used to pick wildflowers for her and bring them to the house for her after school,” Victoria said with a teasing smile.

Oh, Jesus Christ… This life or another and I’m still an idiot over the most horrible woman to have ever lived.

The look on Victoria’s face turned a bit forlorn. “I think she would have loved to have seen the man you’ve become, Derek,” Victoria said.

Allison took her mother’s hand and squeezed it gently as tears welled up a bit in her eyes.

Derek is a block of wood as he stared at them and felt the joyful mood of the table shift into something…somber, but sympathetic at the mention of Kate and the mournful look on Victoria’s face.

Kate. Something happened to her…

Derek bit his bottom lip to keep from exposing the evil grin that wanted to explode onto his face. Whatever it was, he hoped she suffered.

 

Derek watched as Isaac helped Valerie get Arthur and Miller dressed in their hate and coats and boots. Without knowing Jason existed, looking at the four of them together, Derek thought they’d make a beautiful couple. A happy couple.

He knew Valerie wasn’t coping with the strains on her marriage well, but he hadn’t really zeroed in on her being miserable. So miserable that she sought the company of another man, a friend, and had his child under the guise that it was her husband’s son.

He feared for her. He knew neither of them— Isaac, Valerie, or Jason— could go on like this. It had to end, and soon. For Miller’s sake, and their own sanity and security. It’d only be a matter of time before Jason found out (if he didn’t know already), and once he did, Derek didn’t know if he’d toss Miller aside like garbage, or demand custody of him right along with Arthur, just to spite her. And would Valerie deserve such a punishment for her indiscretions? Did Isaac deserve to have Miller taken away from him before he got the chance to be a real father to him? Did he deserve that chance? And why hasn’t he attempted to be a real father to Miller before? Why does this all feel abrupt, and confusing?

So many unanswered questions he didn’t know if he had the right to ask, but desperately wanting to was swirling around in his head, making him queasy again.

He focused his attention on something else. Like Claudia, Ernie and Forrest, Laura’s youngest, outside in the snow throwing snowballs at one another and singing a crude version of ‘Jingle Bells’.

He laughed, and felt arms wrap around his waist and soft lips on his cheek.

Stiles.

Always his center. Always his anchor.

Valerie apologized for not being able to make it tomorrow night to help Stiles and Derek, but promised to be make it back up the following weekend. She hugged everyone twice and gave Derek a big kiss on his cheek before calling to her boys and leaving out the door, thanking John for his hospitality.

Isaac was giving her a ride back into the city. He had apparently picked her and the boys up from the station as well.

No one batted an eyelash.

Laura and Thomas were next to leave with their boys, followed by Allison and Victoria.

After one more glass of wine and one more beer, his parents called it a night as well, kissing and hugging everyone, promising to see them next weekend.

John said he’d drop off the shoeboxes at the designated area tomorrow during his lunch hour, and was thanked by his parents before they left.

Stiles was starting on the dishes when Boyd shooed him away. “You cooked. The least these slobs could have done was help you clean.”

“I’ll help,” Derek said, rolling up his sleeves.

“No. Take your girls home. Tomorrow’s a school day,” Boyd said. Cora nodding in agreement from the couch with her feet propped up.

“You sure,” Derek asked.

“Derek, go and put your little ones to bed so they don’t pass out in the middle of class tomorrow.”

“This is really a ploy to con free baby-sitting out of us when Cora drops that sea monkey from her uterus,” Stiles said.

“Maybe it is… Maybe it’s not,” Cora said with a sly smile. “Either way it’s okay. Go. We only live four houses down; we practically live with John.”

“’Practically’ is an understatement,” John said, but Derek could tell he secretly loved having them near and always around. Stiles probably did, too. It meant his dad wasn’t so alone a lot of the time.

They hugged John and thanked him for hosting and shipping all the boxes to be mailed off tomorrow. Boyd piped up and said he’d come help around John’s lunch hour.

They hugged Boyd and Cora, then scooped up their girls, and said ‘goodnight’.

 


Derek’s day went on as per usual (which he loved): woke up, jerked off Stiles, made breakfast for the girls while Stiles got them showered and dressed, ate breakfast with them while Stiles showered, kissed Stiles and Claudia ‘goodbye’, let Halina read in peace until Malia showed up. Then took his own shower before going downstairs to work in his office. Malia left, he made Halina lunch, they watched a little TV, and then went to his office to work, while he let her pick up her book again. Stiles and Claudia came home. Stiles showered, then came downstairs to help the girls with their homework while Derek made dinner. They ate.

And then Scott and Lydia came over with Ernie, and Laura came over with her boys.

Stiles opened the advent calendar: Make homemade ornaments.

And thus, the nightmare began…

Halina refused to let anyone use her paints, which Derek tried to reason with her about, citing the merits of sharing.

She didn’t care.

Stiles sent her to time-out.

Laura’s eldest, TJ, refused to participate believing he was far too grown up to do such “baby things” with his younger cousins.

Derek and Stiles understood, having been 13 year old boys themselves once, and said it was okay for him to go and watch TV in the family room, but Laura refused to let him, trying to put her foot down. Doing so created an even bigger problem as it turned into a battle of wills between mother and son.

In the end, Laura only half won (by threaten to tell Thomas about TJ's behavior). TJ stayed at the kitchen table with them, but at the far end, looking very pissed.

Halina was allowed out of time-out by then, and apologized to everyone there. She shared her paints with everyone, but kept a close eye on their use, or near misuse.

Ernie was a sweet, thoughtful boy, who kept close to Claudia most of the time, the two of them sharing and laughing with one another. Derek couldn’t help but assume if he had known Scott when he was 8 years old that he’d be exactly like Ernie. It was easy for him to see why he and Stiles remained such good friends for so long. Who couldn’t be friends with Scott? He was a loveable kind of guy.

…Then the conversation turned to Melissa. Stiles complained once again to Scott about how Melissa treated him during the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Scott regretfully apologized for his mother with a frustrated tone, suggesting it’s not the first, or the 101st time he’s had to.

Derek and Lydia exchanged glances but remained silent, helping the kids paint their ornaments as Stiles and Scott’s conversation rose gradually into something heated.

From what it seemed, Melissa had blamed Stiles for years over the decisions Scott has made in his life, beginning with their perpetual troublemaking while attending private school together and culminating in Scott’s decision to drop out of Yale during his Freshman year and backpack through Europe. Stiles feels Scott doesn’t do enough to stick up for him (and Lydia) with his mom, and defend the life choices he himself made, instead of leading her to believe that he was persuaded by Stiles.

Scott of course denies this (though Derek suspects it’s true given Scott’s tendency to be passive at times when it comes to the strong women in his life), and grabbed Lydia’s attention, seeking backup.

Lydia initially does the smart thing and tried to stay out of it, but Scott kept trying to pull her into his argument with Stiles.

Derek and Laura tried, and failed miserably, at focusing Lydia back onto the project with the kids, but Scott was seeking approval like a sad, little puppy and Lydia was being far too evasive in her answers.

She finally gave in, annoyed at his prodding, and told him that Stiles is right. Stiles— like the glorious asshole that he is sometimes— took open pride in Lydia siding with him.

Scott demands an instance in which Stiles would be right, and Lydia cites “uh, our entire marriage!”

Derek and Laura turn into statues…

So, it would seem Scott and Allison dated for about a year or so before he sailed off to Europe to go backpacking. Melissa liked Allison a lot, and would publicly refer to her as “my daughter-in-law.” Yet, when Scott dropped out of school and left the country, he “forgot” to tell Allison, too cowardly to break up with her face-to-face, and instead sent her a letter. In the letter, he wrote that he took Stiles and Lydia’s advice and decided to do what makes him happy. Traveling, “finding himself,” and not a going to school at a “snooty, private university” is what would make him happy at the moment.

A heartbroken Allison told Melissa about the letter, and Melissa interpreted it as Lydia convincing Scott to dump Allison. It didn’t help when he returned to the states, Scott confessed to Lydia that he was in love with her, and had been since high school. Lydia clearly felt the same way, and they were married the same year she graduated from Pratt Institute and Stiles graduated from Yale.

Scott never really bothered to firmly tell his mother that he was the one that broke things off with Allison of his own accord, not to mention it was his idea to drop out of school and travel the globe. In not standing up to Melissa, he’s allowed her to think every major decision he’s ever made has been nothing but improperly influenced by his “selfish” friends all his life, resulting in Melissa’s attitude about Stiles and the way she undermines and belittles Lydia with snide comments and passive-aggressive “advice.”

Allison on the other hand has appeared to take her history with Scott a lot better than his mother does.

Scott felt as though he were being attacked and stormed out of the house into the backyard!

Lydia rolled her eyes, took a deep breath and readied to go after him— but Stiles stopped her, and went outside after him instead.

Derek could make out through the patio doors that Scott and Stiles were talking— somewhat heated but not violent— confrontationally.

Derek was a little taken aback at the sight of Scott lighting a cigarette as he talked with Stiles…

After about 20 minutes they came back inside. Scott kissed Lydia and whispered an apology in her ear.

Stiles seized the opportunity to get his cold hands under Derek’s shirt, making him squirm to get his icicle hands off his warm skin.

Things seem to calm down a bit after that, for about a half-hour, after Stiles made everyone hot chocolate.

…Until Claudia shrieked at the top of her lungs when Ash, Laura’s middle child, accidentally burned her hand with the hot glue gun!

Halina freaked out at her sister being hurt and punched Ash right in the nose!

When Ash’s nose started bleeding, Lydia broke from the table to go get him a cold compress and some tissues, forgetting there was a giant bag of fake snow in her lap, and knocked it EVERYWHERE!

(Derek is pretty sure they’re going to be vacuuming up fake snow until August).

Stiles tried to explain to Halina that socking her 11 year old cousin (she took down a kid twice her size!) is not nice and not how he and Derek taught her to express herself when she’s angry.

Derek tried to soothe a blubbering Claudia.

Laura made a flippant comment about his daughter exaggerating her “injury,” causing Derek to go on the defensive and snap at Laura.

Laura snapped back.

Derek raised his voice.

Laura raised her voice.

Derek told Laura to “calm down,” (two words you NEVER say to a woman that’s already angry) which made Laura’s head spin, and go into a rant about coddling (that pissed Derek off), that somehow morphed into admonishing him and Valerie for always excluding her and her boys from certain things (and slightly confuses Derek).

Laura grabbed her coat and yelled for her boys to follow her as she stormed out.

Derek has no idea what just happened…

Neither does Scott and Lydia, but it was about time they head home themselves. School and work tomorrow. Lydia tried to help sweep up the fake snow, but Stiles told her to just go, that tonight “was a bit much, and sleep must be had on all sides.”

They said ‘goodnight’ to Scott, Lydia and Ernie.

Stiles looked at the mess all over the table. “I am way too tired, and way too annoyed to deal with any of this right now.”

“Agreed,” Derek said.

Stiles picked Halina up and they carried the girls upstairs for bath time, and then to tuck them into bed.

Derek bothered not with a nighttime shower, and Stiles was too exhausted to brush his teeth.

They crashed into bed. Glitter, fake snow, pipe cleaner “bracelets” on their wrist, and all.

Screw it.

Long. Fucking. Day.

 


SNOW DAY!!! The snow was unbearable high, causing snowy, dangerous roads and harsh conditions so Stiles— like an eager 12 year old— sat in front of the TV, tuned to the local TV access channel, watching the scroll at the bottom of the screen, desperate for the day off.

When Smithville Elementary crawled by on the screen, both Stiles and Claudia jumped up and down with excitement and did a goofy dancing adding a chant (“No school! No school!”). Derek laughed so hard there were tears coming out of his eyes.

Stiles immediately demanded that the girls go upstairs and change into their footie pajamas while he started on breakfast. Derek tried to help Stiles in the kitchen, but Stiles shooed him away and told him to find a Christmas movie they could all watch together, snuggled in front of the TV.

Derek found Miracle on 34th Street amongst the massive DVD collection just as Claudia and Halina came downstairs in their other pajamas.

Derek quickly grabbed his cellphone and took a few pictures of their daughters in footie pajamas made to look like animals. Halina’s was a shark (which oddly didn’t surprise him), and Claudia’s a fox. They were too adorable, and Derek practically melted at it.

Stiles fussed around the kitchen in a noise of shuffling feet and clanking pots and pans as Derek broke out a deck of cards and played Go Fish with Claudia and Halina.

After about an hour and a half, Stiles came into the family room with arms full of food. He dropped French toast sticks in front of Halina, along with a tall glass of chocolate almond milk. Claudia got a stack of chocolate pancakes and orange juice, while Derek was handed ‘Egg in a basket’, vegan sausage patties, home fries, and a fruit bowl. Stiles settled down beside them with a Denver omelet, short stack of buttermilk pancakes, and two mugs of coffee for he and Derek.

“I’ve got cinnamon rolls in the oven, too, if you want some.”

“Jesus, Stiles.”

“What? It’s a snow day,” he said with a shrug, as though Derek should know exactly what that entailed.

He just shrugged and dug into his breakfast.

 

They didn’t make it through the movie. Stiles’ gigantic breakfast put each of them into a food coma. Halina passed out on the floor with a half-eaten French toast stick in her hand, and Claudia collpased fast asleep on Derek’s chest.

Derek woke an hour later to Stiles nudging him. Claudia now, somehow lying on him with her little feet on his chin.

“Why are you dressed in your hat and coat,” Derek said, gently maneuvering Claudia’s body so her head was now resting on his chest.

“Because we’re going sledding. Get dressed.”

“Stiles, your family is stuffed and tired from being stuffed. We can go sledding some other time, okay?”

“No, we can’t. In order for us to go sledding, we’d have to do it on a weekend, when the girls don’t have school, and the only weekend thing I could switch it with on the calendar was baking Christmas cookies. The rest of the stuff I couldn’t because we’re doing them with Laura, Val, and Lydia’s boys. I can’t ask them to upturn their lives so we can go sledding another time. It was hard enough to get them committed to the stuff we’re already doing with them.”

“Alright,” he said with a yawn. “We’ll go, but take all that stuff off while you’re in the house before you sweat to death. It’s going to take a minute to wrestle these to into consciousness.”

Derek looked over at Halina on the floor. She was still knocked out, but her French toast stick was stuck to her face as she breathed out tiny, baby snores.

Derek and Stiles couldn’t help but laugh quietly at the picture she made.

“I took one with your phone,” Stiles told him, reading Derek’s mind.

Derek reached up and pulled Stiles down by the drawstring on his stupid hat, and kissed him.

 

It took them an hour to get the girls dressed and into their hat and coats, having just been forcefully woken up from their naps, and in a cranky mood.

That is until they spotted Derek getting their sleds from the garage, along with their inner tube. The two girls’ faces lit up and they squealed. Derek would have delighted in it, had he not spent the last 20 minutes trying to calm Halina down from a crying fit.

Stiles put both girls in their seats and was ready to climb into the passenger seat, until Derek insisted he drive instead, trying to not look like and idiot at not knowing where exactly they were headed.

Without a fuss, Stiles got in the driver’s seat, too excited to go sledding to argue, or take notice of Derek seeming “weird” with wanting him to drive instead.

When they arrive, they’re at a designated hill, owned by the town, for sledding. And it would seem that they aren't’ the only ones who thought of going sledding today. Nearly every kid from 5 years old to 18 years old is out. Most are standing in a long line on the side of the hill waiting for their turn to shuffle down the steep, white incline.

Rows of cars on both sides of the street seem endless as Stiles looked for parking...

They ended up about 5 blocks from the hill. Derek is already regretting the walk back to the car when they’re done, and exhausted, carrying a large inner tube and sled, along with two young girls.

Walking toward the hill, they pass a group of teens smoking pot and sharing a bottle of something in a brown paper bag. Derek feels himself growing older by the second as he scowls at them.

“They’re not doing anything. Just sitting there. It’s not like they’re shotgunning 6 year olds,” Stiles said, taking notice of Derek’s frown.

“Still don’t have to like it. And they may not be directly blowing smoke at kids, but they’re still around here.”

“God, when did you get so suburban,” Stiles teased.

“When this cute boy married me and we had two daughters.” Derek looked back at Stiles who was blushing.

“What cute boy, daddy,” Claudia asked.

“Roadie.”

“Roadie isn’t cute.”

“Oh, Roadie is very cute.”

“Alright, now,” Stiles said, trying to end the conversation, embarrassed of the compliments.

“If Roadie isn’t cute, then what is he,” Derek asked Claudia, ignoring Stiles.

“Sexy,” Halina interjected.

Derek and Stiles both stop, looking at their youngest, wondering where she heard that word, and if she knew exactly what it meant.

“That’s what Malia said,” Halina said with a shrug, clearly having no concept of the definition of the word.

Stiles’ mouth dropped open and he looked horrified, then scared as he looked at Derek.

Derek felt like shit. He caused that looked. He caused for his own husband to fear him and his reaction to such a small, incident that he had blown out of proportion with his jealousy and possessiveness.

He pulled Stiles close to him, his lips just a hair’s breadth from Stiles’ own mouth. “Roadie is very sexy.”

Stiles’ face relaxed into an amused smile. Derek captured the smile with a kiss.

“Come on, daddies! We have to go in the line for sledding,” Claudia whined.

Derek and Stiles reluctantly broke their kiss.

“Alright, sprites, let’s go,” Stiles said. They headed toward what looked like and endless line of kids and put-upon parents carrying sleds, saucers, and inner tubes. Teenagers and adults had inner tubes, while families and younger kids had long, plastic sleds like they did.

 

The line moved fairly quickly. They were only in line for 10 minutes when Derek noticed they were fourth in line, having spent the idle minutes on his phone, playing Words With Friends with Valerie, while clutching tight to Halina’s hand and pushing their sled uphill with his foot whenever the line moved.

He caught wind of three pre-teen boys trying to sneak ahead in line, pissing off everyone behind them. Derek decided to speak up, “Hey. You three. The line’s back there.”

“Fuck you, dude,” the one in the red wool cap shouted at him.

“What, you little shit?!”

“Daddy, you said ‘shit’.”

“Derek,” Stiles said in a warning tone.

“I said fu—”

The boy turns around.

“TJ?!”

Laura’s eldest. He looks mortified. He turns back around, shoulders hunched up by the collar of his coat, hiding his embarrassed face, probably wishing he were invisible at the moment.

“Thomas Pryce! Get down here this instant,” Stiles barks at the boy.

Reluctantly, with a sheepish look on his face, he shuffled toward his uncles to the playful taunting from the older teens in the line.

“I’m sorry, Uncle Derek. I didn’t know it was you.”

“I don’t think that matters, TJ. You don’t talk to me, or a complete stranger like that.”

“Yes, Uncle Derek.”

“Where’s your mother,” Stiles asked.

“Work. With Dad.”

“And you’re here? Where’s Ash and Forrest?”

TJ shrugs.

“Are you kidding me, Thomas?! You have exactly 2 minutes to find them before I call your father,” Derek tells his nephew.

TJ ran off in search of his younger brothers.

“I’m just going to go ahead and assume he’s not supposed to be here in the first place, let alone with— without rather— his younger brothers,” Stiles said.

“Is TJ in trouble, Roadie,” Claudia asked.

“There’s a good possibility of that, pumpkin.”

“I should call Laura anyway,” Derek said.

“That might be best,” Stiles said.

Derek took his phone from his pocket, ready to call his eldest sister when—

“I found them! Uncle Derek, Uncle Stiles! I found Ash and Forrest,” TJ shouted at them, dragging his brothers by their wrists toward their waiting uncles.

“Good. Now, I can take all three of you back home. How’d you get here anyway?”

“Walked. Are you really going to take is home, Uncle Derek,” Ash asked. “TJ’s the one that wanted to go sledding,” he whined, throwing his brother under the bus.

Before Derek could respond, Stiles pulled him close to whisper, “You’d have to drive them all the way back home, then come back here to a pissed off husband who’s a little aggravated that both his daughters cried his ears off at having to go one at a time down the hill, since their other daddy wasn’t here to ride with them all together. Food for thought.”

Derek sighs. No matter what Stiles he's familiar with, a good case is something he can master in mere seconds. He should be a lawyer. In every life.

“You can stay. All three of you. But you will not leave our sides, and you will take every trip down this hill with your cousins. Understand?”

They nod with “Yes, sirs” on their tongues.

“Good.”

They’re next in line. A park ranger executed each person sledding down the hill, letting groups and families go together. Derek found it funny, like a lifeguard at a water park.

TJ and Ash climbed onto Derek’s inner tube with Halina. Ash looked a little weary of Halina, given she punched the hell out of him, not even 24 hours ago, but his worry was pushed aside for the complete joy of sledding down a steep hill as fast as humanly possible.

Stiles tried to put Claudia on the other sled with Forrest, so that he and Derek could slide down together on the other sled, but she refused and broke into tears.

She’s scared. So eager just minutes ago, and now terrified.

Stiles opted to stay with her, but she refused him, wanting Derek instead.

Derek swore in his peripheral he saw Halina roll her eyes at her sister…

Derek offered to slide down with Claudia and told Stiles to go with Forrest.

Stiles, of course, initially refuses, but Derek insist and pushed Stiles onto the sled with their nephew. Derek grabbed the saucer TJ was holding when he snapped at him in line. He sits down in it, and beckons Claudia to come sit on his lap.

She’s hesitant, obviously, but takes small, tentative steps toward a supportive Derek.

She gets into his lap and he holds her securely.

The park ranger tells TJ to ‘go’ and he does. Derek listens for as long as he can to Halina’s delighted squeals of joy as they fly down the hill. He also silently hopes that she’s in one piece when she reaches the bottom.

Derek nodded to Stiles.

“You sure,” Stiles asked.

“Yeah. I got her. She’ll be good.”

Stiles gave him one last look of worry.

Derek pushed at the sled Stiles and Forrest are sitting on, giving it a shove with his foot—

WHOOSH! Stiles and Forrest are gone in a fit of laughter that echoes as they breezed downward.

“What about us, pumpkin? We going down, too?”

She looked up at him with big, pleading eyes that looked so much like his own.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to. It’s alright, pumpkin. Swear. I won’t be mad.”

“…You won’t let me go?”

Derek squeezed her so tight, as though he were trying to meld their bodies into one.

“Never.”

She smiled.

Derek put his gloved hand in the snow behind them. He used his hips to tip them forward a bit, then rock back.

“Ready?”

She nodded.

He kissed her cheek, then rocked back, then forth.

In a matter of seconds, they were snowy dust on the wind, and Claudia was a melody of giggles.

Chapter Text


“Jesus Christ. It’s like Christmas took a shit all over the place.”

“Daddy you said ‘shit.”

“I know, pumpkin. And Daddy’ll probably say it 5 more times, too.”

Lydia smirked over her four dollar cup of coffee.

“That’s thirty cents in the swear jar, daddy,” Halina said, beaming at him.

“Daddy is very happy you know how to count money, bluebell,” he said in a sarcastic tone he knew she didn’t pick up on.

Again, Lydia tried to hide her chuckle around her coffee.

He’s going to kill Stiles.

Derek maneuvered Halina on his hip to take his cellphone out of his pocket to text Stiles.

DEREK: Where are you?!
DEREK: Murder will be had if I don’t see your face in the next 5 minutes!

He slipped his phone back into his pocket.

“Why did we give our husbands permission to go and fuck around in a crowded mall?”

Before Halina can remind him that he cursed again, he slipped his hand over her tiny mouth, and— “Daddy needs you to give him a pass today.”

She nodded. A grin behind his large hand.

“Thank you.”

He removed his hand.

“Fuck,” she shouted, giggling loudly, gaining some stares from snooty parents in line with them.

Lydia didn’t even try and be polite that time. She outright laughed as Derek sighed. He hadn’t the strength to reprimand Halina; too aggravated. He was hot, exhausted, his legs hurt, as well as his hip, because Halina had refused to be put down, throwing a fit when he initially refused to carry her. The mall was crowded, noisy, playing the same 5 Christmas songs over and over on a loop, in addition, to the few rowdy kids in line with them. He hadn’t eaten since lunch, and Stiles ran off with his ‘other husband’, Scott, to finish up some items on his shopping list.

He couldn’t help but think had he been a werewolf here, he’d have wolfed out a long time ago. He always hated malls. The noise, the smells, the people, all in one space, taking over his senses. Here, now, he was simply annoyed at having been left with his two daughters, waiting in line for Santa, while Stiles was probably off playing in the toy store and eating curly fries at the food court with Scott.

“How are you not murderous and sociopathic right now?”

“Pfft! Because it’s always been the Stiles and Scott show. We’re just extras,” Lydia said.

“Exactly my point.”

“I don’t remember you being this grumpy last year.”

“Did my husband abandon me last year?”

“No.”

“Mystery solved.”

She laughed. “You have definitely gotten funnier though.”

“Am I usually not?”

She shrugged. “Compared to Stiles…”

“No one is a funny as Stiles. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional.”

“I happen to think Stiles is very intentional.”

“Really? I disagree. I think Stiles can’t help it. Sarcasm is a second language to him. Or third rather. Right after babbling English and profane Polish.”

She laughed again.

It was nice seeing her smile. The Lydia he knew was always so serious. He could barely recall her smiling as much. But then again, when you’re always stumbling over a dead body and watching your friends die, it gets kind of hard to yuck it up at times.

“Seriously, I don’t think you’ve ever made me laugh as much as you have in the last couple days. Especially today.”

“Guess there’s one silver lining to the nightmare that has become my life for last two and a half freaking hours,” he groaned.

“…If I tell you something, you promise not to hate me?”

He nodded before it even registered in his brain that he may hate what it is she’s going to say.

“When Stiles told me you asked him to marry you, I…kind of… told him…maybe…he…shouldn’t…”

“Why?”

“You guys just didn’t seem…right for each other. You’re so different. I mean, I knew you loved the hell out of him, and I know that’s all that should have mattered, but… I don’t know. All I could see was a marriage full of fights and arguments. I thought you’d try and make Stiles…less Stiles.”

“You thought I’d try and change him?”

“I couldn’t really see why you wanted him so much. I thought maybe he was some sort of project for you. This goofy, smart boy you could turn into a serious, shrewd man, you know?”

“I would never try and change Stiles,” he said sincerely. “I love that idiot just the way he is.”

“And I get that now. I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize, Lydia. He’s your friend. You were looking out for him… Even though you were grotesquely wrong.”

She smiled at his teasing, her face relaxed and not tight and worried as it was moments ago. “That I was, sir. That I was...”

“Now, if you had told him I have a weird possessive, jealous streak that worries you, then you’d have probably presented a better case,” Derek said, half-joking.

“I tried that angle. He thinks your whole ‘back up off my man, bitch’ swag is really hot. Didn’t work,” she said with a fake frown that made him smile.

“That was then. I think now it’s not so hot anymore.”

“Malia?”

“We’re past it. Completely. But it still gnaws at me a little.”

“He would never, Derek. I told you that.”

“I know. It’s not that. It’s… I don’t feel worthy of him. And it scares the hell out of me that he might realize that one day, and find someone that is.”

He’s never told anyone that before. There were a hundred and one reasons as to why he never made a move on Stiles. The biggest one was fear. Complete and total crippling fear. He didn’t think Stiles felt the same way about him, as he felt about Stiles, but even if he had, even if he knew Stiles cared about him, romantically, he still couldn’t bring himself to act on his feelings. Because Stiles was everything. He was what Kate, Jennifer, Braeden, and a slew of other women (and a few men) in New York should have been. Even Paige. There was being in love, and there was being in love with Stiles.

He felt unworthy of a lot of things, and saw the tragedies in his life as proof of that, but none greater than Stiles. Stiles knew how to love and care and protect. Derek tried those things, and had always failed at them. Failing at having Stiles would break him. He’d give up, and let death take him, because it would have been clear that he didn’t deserve ‘nice things’, like teenage boys with whiskey brown eyes and a wit so sharp it cuts like a razor.

“So I freak out, and say all the wrong things, scaring him, because I’m terrified he’ll leave.”

“Who’s leaving, Daddy,” Claudia chimed in.

“No one, pumpkin. No one’s leaving,” he told her.

He doesn’t know why he told her all that, but there was something…safe about it all. He didn’t feel the need to be so closed off here. He was opening up, and sharing. Using his “big boy words,” Stiles used to say. He guessed it was simpler, easier to do here, when he had everything he’s always wanted.

“I feel like I should confess something too, because that was…sad. And oddly romantic. Honest,” she said.

He shrugged, eyes on the ugly red carpet under their feet, not knowing what he should say next, feeling a bit embarrassed.

“Sometimes I don’t think Scott loves me enough,” she told him. “He doesn’t defend me enough with Melissa. I know it’s just to save his own hide, but… I just wish he’d tell her that he married me because he wanted to be with me, because he loves me. Instead of letting her believe I somehow pressured him into it. It shouldn’t matter, I know, because everyone else knows the truth, even Allison, but it’d be nice if my husband stood up to his mommy and shouted it from the rooftops how much he loves me.”

“He’s an ass for putting you through all this, Lydia.”

“I know. But I love him. So I keep hoping one day he fixes it.”

Tears float in her eyes, but she holds them back, not wanting Ernie to see her cry.

“That puppy-faced moron loves you. I know for a fact he does. He’s just…dense.”

She laughed.

“He is. He’s completely dense. So if it means that much to you, if you need it, you demand that clown quit being a coward, and stand up to his mother. His choices are his choices, and not telling Melissa that he’s had every intention of marrying you since the 7th grade makes you feel ashamed, and unappreciated. Scott’s a man now. He should be able to be honest with his own mother,” Derek snapped.

She pecked his cheek. “Thank you. But if he hasn’t done it by now…”

Derek rolled his eyes. He knew Scott would eventually tell his mother the truth, instead of hiding plain facts and leaving much to be filled in incorrectly, but it would probably be a long time coming, and he didn’t like how that was making Lydia feel.

“Halina, Daddy is going to have to put you down.”

“No!”

“Yes! Now stop that and be a good a girl!”

He set Halina to her feet. She pouted with her bottom lip poked out and arms folded across her chest, refusing to look at Derek.

He was free of another person’s body heat, and the heaviness that weighed on his hip and numbed his arms. At the moment, he could care less about her pouting.

He stretched, twisting his upper body to the side when he saw Stiles and Scott approach them with a box of hot dogs and drink carrier.

“Before you lay into me, it turns out Scott and I had a little more shopping to do than expected, resulting in us standing in numerous lines for an excessive amount of time. So as an apology, we brought you all pretzel dogs from the food court,” Stiles said.

Derek and Lydia said not a word, and lunged for the food and drink. Starving!

“I think we might be forgiven, Scott,” Stiles beamed.

“Don’t bet on it,” Derek said, mouth full of pretzel dog.

Stiles kissed then nipped Derek’s neck. “How about now,” he grinned.

“Maybe,” Derek said, fighting back a smile.

Stiles took a bite of Derek's pretzel dog then looked at Halina. Lydia was trying to offer her one, but she remained insolent and pouty.

“What’s going on here,” Stiles asked in regards to their youngest.

“I quit my job as a burro. Halina wasn't happy about it,” Derek quipped.

“Halina. Aunt Lydia is speaking to you, and offering you something to eat. It’d be nice if you not only acknowledged her, but were polite,” Stiles told her.

“No, thank you, Aunt Lydia,” Halina huffed out.

“You know, good little girls not only get to see Santa, but get what they want from him, too,” Stiles reminded her. He bent at the knees to meet her at eye level. “Halina, this is the fourth time in two weeks I’ve had to talk with you about how you act. I’d like it to stop. Please.”

Reluctantly, she unfolded her arms and looked at him. “I’m sorry, Roadie. Can I have a hot dog please?”

Stiles takes the hot dog from Lydia and hands it to Halina.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Stiles stands at full height and catches Derek staring at him as though he were a unicorn. He'd grown accustomed to seeing Stiles ‘parent’ two small girls, and was surprised at how easily he fell into the role himself, but what threw him was Stiles’ role in their family. He was disciplinarian, the harder one. The one that typically said ‘no’ and the girls broke down and relented for.

He never spent much time fantasizing about he and Stiles as parents (that activity was usually reserved for thoughts of Stiles naked and screaming his name), but in the handful of swift times he did, he never pictured this. He thought he’d be the strict one and Stiles the 'marshmallow'. Sure, he wasn't run over and exhausted by his daughters (like Laura was with her boys), but they were quicker to a temper tantrum with him and fought him at first when he refused them something, such as Halina not wanting him to put her down.

The odd thing about it was that it turned Derek on seeing Stiles be so in control with their daughters.

Derek leaned in to Stiles’ ear. “Neck kissing gets expanded on later.”

“Absolutely,” Stiles said with a grin and a wink.

“Has this line moved at all since we left,” Scott asked.

“Well, we were all the way back by the MAC store and now we’re about…fifth in line. So I’d say it has, my love,” Lydia told Scott with a play roll of her eyes.

“You hear that, guys?! Only five more kids before you get to see Santa,” Scott said excitedly to Claudia and Ernie.

They were barely listening, preoccupied with the paper fortune teller Lydia made for them out of a square of paper.

“Those two are made for each other,” Scott beamed.

“Can we not match-make our kids like we're a widowed, old countess living in 19th century England,” Derek groaned.

“He’s been on a role today,” Lydia said, laughing at Derek’s joke.

“Depends. How much is Claudia’s dowry now,” Stiles said.

“You’re the worst. They’re only seven and eight. They get along and that’s all,” Derek responded.

“You’re going to eat those words when 20 years from now they’re married with two kids,” Scott said.

“Hopefully after she’s done grad school at Stanford,” Derek said.

“Ugh. Derek, please don’t put all those high expectations and incredible dreams onto our daughters. You’re standing in front of three people’s whose parents did that to them and are not happy with the results.”

“I don’t think wanting Claudia to get into a really good university is an incredible dream. Especially not one that shouldn't be expected of a bright girl. Secondly, John is in no way, shape, or form disappointed with you.”

“Not with me being a teacher, but you remember that fit he threw when your mom first offered me the teaching position at ERA and I turned it down.”

Derek obviously didn’t, but he could more than likely picture it. Right along with the hurt look on Stiles’ face at his father’s disappointment.

John was so important to Stiles it was indescribable. They meant the world to one another, and were all the other had after Stiles’ mother died and they leaned on each other for guidance and love. “Failure” shadowing on either of them felt wrong and shameful.

“If Claudia doesn’t go to an Ivy League school, or elite four year college, its okay, Stiles. I just saying there’s nothing wrong with wanting those things for her…so she doesn’t end up stripping near the airport.”

“Did your mom and my mom have lunch together this afternoon then call you,” Lydia teased.

Derek not-so-subtly flipped Lydia off, making her smile.

“HO! HO! HO! Who do we have here,” the mall Santa exclaimed at Ernie.

Ernie crawled into his lap and Lydia literally threw her soda cup and empty hot dog wrapper to the floor in order to break out her camera phone. Scott had already had his out and was snapping away with pictures.

Derek couldn’t blame him. He’d seized every opportunity he had to take pictures of Claudia and Halina. At first he never understood those parents that felt the desire to coo over and take pictures of their kid’s every whim and movement. Yay! Johnny made his first poop! Pfft!

But now, with his daughters, anything and everything he felt worth remembering he captured with the shutter of his camera, never wanting to forget, and always preserving the memory.

Ernie told Santa he wanted some outrageously expensive video game console that made Lydia take a resigned breath. He also wanted a cellphone (which Scott and Lydia shook their heads at), a paintball gun (Scott smiled; Lydia mouthed ‘no’ to her husband), new sneakers, a popcorn machine, a pet lizard (Lydia giving another ‘no’ to Scott), a new ipod, and some more puzzles. He liked them and crosswords.

Santa promised to get Ernie everything he could on his list, but reminded him he had to check with his parents for the “'okay' on the lizard and cellphone.” He told Ernie to be a good boy, then leaned in close and smiled as a sullen-looking teenage girl, dressed like an elf, snapped their picture with a professional looking camera before calling “NEXT!”

Claudia hopped up on Santa’s lap. She told him her name and swore she’d been a good girl all year (“Ask my daddies!”).

She asked him for a puppy (Stiles and Derek trying to communicate a strong ‘no’ to the man in the Santa Claus costume), and all the other things she wanted in her letter: dolls, tea set, new clothes, tap dancing shoes.

The mall Santa said he’d try his best to get Claudia all the things she wanted, so long as she continued being a good girl.

Claudia took her picture and then rushed over to Derek, excitedly telling him all about her meeting Santa, as though he weren’t right there watching the whole time. He thought she was the most precious thing on the planet.

Santa reached for Halina, to sit her on his lap, but she declined.

“I can stand,” she said very adult-like, making the four adults snicker.

“If you insist. So, what is your name, sweet angel?”

“Shouldn’t you know it?”

Derek felt like this was going to go very south, very fast…

“Um… Yes. Santa should, but there are so many young boys and girls in the world, Santa sometimes has a hard time remembering all their names.”

“Why?”

“Uh, well, um… Santa is a very old man. He’s been bringing lots and lots of toys and joy to children all over the world for hundreds of years--”

“No, you haven’t.”

“Um… W-What?”

“You don’t bring toys to everyone, and not just bad kids. You don’t bring toys to little boys and girls in Africa, and India and Brazil, or Afghanistan. If you did, my grandpa wouldn’t ask us send them toys and clothes so they can be happy.”

“Uh… W-Who’s kid is this?”

“Um, Halina, bluebell, don’t you want to tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas,” Derek interrupted, trying to get the awkward conversation back on track.

“I sent him a letter. He should know.”

She turns to Santa, “You know what I want for Christmas, right?”

“Um… Y-Yes. I-I-I know what you’d like. You, uh, want a really nice, uh…” The mall Santa tried to communicate using telepathy to Stiles and Derek. They tried to signal ‘books’ and ‘painting’ to him without her looking.

“Um, you, sweet child, want a, uh… p-pony? Pony! You would like a pony!”

“No, I don’t! I want books, and paints, and a puppy! You didn’t read my letter!”

“He did read it, Halina. Right, Santa,” Derek said through gritted teeth.

“Yes! Absolutely! My chief elf hasn’t read all of them to me just yet, but I assure you that I did get it, Halina.”

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously at him for a good moment…

“Why are you real, but God’s not,” she asked with a curious tilt of her head.

The three soccer moms behind them looked utterly scandalized. They covered their children’s ears.

Derek ran up and nabbed Halina, while Stiles failed miserably to hide the sniggering shaking through his whole body as he took Claudia’s hand.

Lydia, however, was laughing so hard, Scott had to physically carry her away from the Christmas Town set as the seven of them escaped under a sea of judgmental glares and cacophony of gasps.

 

Chapter Text


“It’s too big, Stiles.”

“No, it’s not.”

“I’m telling you Stiles, it’s too big. We need a smaller one.”

“But I don’t like any of the smaller ones. They look all scrawny and pathetic,” Stiles said, scrunching his nose up at a line of smaller Christmas trees about his height.

“Well, maybe that can be the theme of our Christmas this year: the Charlie Brown Christmas,” Derek quips to an unamused Stiles.

“I want a big tree.”

“You always want a big tree.” Derek has no idea why he said that. He has no clue as to whether or not it’s true, but it slipped out, feeling like the most natural thing to say…

Stiles doesn’t skip a beat: “And you never let me get one,” he practically whines.

“Because it’s too damn big, Stiles. Why would I agree to a tree that we’re just going to have to cut down to size anyway?”

“Because you love your husband who only wants you to have the most perfect Christmas with the most perfect tree.”

Derek wanted to fight him one it, but Stiles was being cute, and it was making him weak… “I don’t know. Let’s ask the girls.”

“Fine,” Stiles said smugly. “Girls, would you like one of those sad, sickly-looking trees over there—”

“Oh, Christ,” Derek said not-so-quietly at Stiles' coaxing, but with a faint smile on his lips.

“—or would you like this really, big beautiful tree Roadie picked out for us?”

“The big tree! The big tree,” they chorus, Halina spilling her hot chocolate on her snow boots as she jumps up and down.

Derek has to fight back a laugh at Stiles’ smug expression, despite having used persuasive language to con their daughters into siding with him.

“The sprites have spoken.”

“And so they have. Coerced by a manipulative little elf.”

“Who’s a elf, daddy?”

“Roadie.”

Claudia’s face lights up, suddenly taken with the thought of Stiles being an elf…like in Santa’s workshop.

Stiles immediately saw where her thought-process was headed: “No. No. No, pumpkin. Roadie is not an elf. Just like Daddy’s not a werewolf,” Stiles teased.

Derek bit back a laugh. You haven’t a clue about the statement you just made.

“Daddy was just being funny.”

“Oh,” she said easily.

“Roadie’s too big to be an elf. He has to be tiny. Like the man in the circus,” Halina says.

“Elves are small, but not all small people are elves. Please remember that. I don’t want to insult anyone…again,” Stiles said with a huff.

Derek found himself very curious about that story. He felt as though he were starting to get a firm handle on everything around him, or the people rather. There were a few tiny surprises that popped up every now and then, but Derek gauged his reaction by the reaction of others around him if he could. He was discovering a lot of things about his family and friends, and nothing made him smile as wide as when he was treated to a snippet of information about one, or both of his girls. They were smart, funny girls who seemed prone to hijinks at times. Derek initially thought it was simply the role of child being played in that neverending movie called ‘parenting’; that his girls were simply being the children they were, but it occasionally came off as something a little more than that. Like they were clever, little devils who could get into all sorts of mischief if not occupied most of the time with something else.

Then it all clicked for him: the advent calendar, Halina liking to wander off, Claudia’s disappearing act when she wasn’t hovered over in public by a trusting adult, Stiles calling them ‘sprites’… They were little devils. Little tricksters. Not the foul-mouthed, troublemaking class clowns like Laura’s boys, but more playful and amusing, like the faeries Stiles called them. He thought to the bookshelf in the family room full of boardgames and card games and movies and knew that he and Stiles had there hands full with them at times, so they invested in keeping them busy. Hence, the advent calendar.

He remembered when he was growing up, how his mother always kept he and his sisters busy with activities and games when they were young, too. Werechildren feel the call of wilderness just as much as they feel the pull of the moon. Not to mention, weres and the like have to live in secret, hiding, so their animal must be kept in check. A bored werechild will lose control and answer the “call of the wild,” shifting into form and getting into trouble that can’t be explained to human observers. He liked that his daughters were restless, not only did it allow him to spend more time with them, but it made him feel closer to them, like they could be werechildren in his (past) world.

“Let’s please do remember that, girls,” he added on to Stiles comment.

“Alright. I’m going to tell that lovely young lady in the puffy, pink vest that we’ve found our tree.” Stiles heads toward the front of the lot with a big grin on his face.

Derek shakes his head at his goofy husband. He’s ridiculous. And he’s mine.

 

The damn tree is to damn big. There’s a good foot and a half crushed against their ceiling, leaving no room to ‘christen’ it with the star, let alone making it awkward to decorate it, which they were plan on doing tonight. Meaning tomorrow Derek has to haul the thing outside and cut off the 1.5ft that’s causing a problem. He should make Stiles do it, but…reasons. Too many to count.

Instead, they try and speed up part B of their night and call Laura and Thomas to come over and help make Christmas cookies.

Derek and his sister haven’t really spoken since the night she stormed out of his house. Yesterday, before Friday night family dinner, when the whole bunch were donating to Goodwill, he tried to make nice but she just gave him the cold shoulder, along with short, one-word answers. It was killing him. He couldn’t stand her being angry with him. They had always been so close, best friends, and it hurt that they were fighting. Especially given it’s been ages, years— to him at least— since they last spoke. He missed her completely. The last thing he wanted was to be fighting with her here, and now.

Nearly as soon as Laura and Thomas walk in with their boys, the family of five bursts into a laugh at the ridiculous Christmas tree in the living room.

Well, at least it’s an ice breaker…

Stiles frowned and took all there hats and coats, claiming it to be a stunning tree worthy of a beautiful house to be in. Derek pulled him in quick for peck when he noticed Stiles’ frown looking a little permanent. Stiles face soften at Derek’s acknowledgement.

“Before I slip my boots off, you want to take that monster out back and hack at it,” Thomas offers.

“No. Thanks though. I’ve had enough tree adventures for the day.”

“Alright,” Thomas smiled warmly. He took off his boots and put them in a cubby in the mudroom.

Laura and the boys were already in the kitchen with Stiles and the girls.

“Hey, Thomas--”

“Asking me if your sister hates you is completely stupid, you know? She loves you, idiot. She’s just upset.”

“That’s the thing: I don’t get what happened. What did I do? If anything she… Nevermind. But she went off on some tangent then stormed out. I tried talking to her but she shut me out.”

“Hey, you know my policy when it comes to you two. I stay way the hell out of it…but if you tried a less desperate, but softer approach, she might be a little more receptible.”

Derek smirked. Thomas shoulder bumped him. Then clasped a hand on his shoulder, walking him further into the house.

He liked Thomas. A lot. Wishes it were possible to have known him in his ‘past life’. He’s certain they would have been close, like brothers…

 

Laura’s boys seem to be very well-behaved, and actually having fun. Even TJ. Though Derek suspects that’s mainly due to Thomas being present, and the boys having a healthy fear of their father’s no-nonsense attitude. Party, though, is seems they actually enjoy making cookies with their cousins.

After the whole sledding incident, Derek called Laura instead of Thomas and told her he had taken the girls to the hill and found the boys there, but that he and Stiles decided to keep watch over them until they were done and were going to bring them back home. Laura had been furious and growled that she was on her way to come and get them. Derek had tired to calm her down, but Laura was all hellfire about it and hung up on him.

Derek told the boys there mother was on the way, and was super pissed about them sneaking out the house to go sledding. They simply shrugged and kept sledding until she showed up.

Laura showed up, marching toward the hill, and dragged all three of them off toward the car. Derek could recall just how nonchalant the three of them were about how angry she was and how much trouble they were in.

They didn’t respect her. They loved her, she was their mother, but they didn’t show her the kind of respect they showed Thomas. They were actually pretty dismissive of her and her attempts to discipline them, from what he’s seen of their behavior thus far.

He doesn’t like it. Hates it actually. He wants to grab each of them by the scruff of their neck and growl them into submission with bowed heads and downcast eyes.

But he gets it now. Laura’s rant and dramatic exit. She was humiliated, by not being the parent that’s earned the respect they deserved. He boys were seen as rowdy and troublemakers and uncouth. Too obnoxious to be invited to a Broadway show in the city, or to make ornaments. There’s probably a host of other things Laura missed out on with her kids because no one wanted to deal with their disobedience and Laura’s failed attempts are being stern and firm.

They only listened to her when Thomas was present, or any male probably, seeing as how TJ changed his tune quickly when he realized it was Derek yelling at the back of his head that day.

Laura had lost control, or never had it, and she felt like a failure. Even more so, when he brother, her best friend, and her sister excluded her from things she’d enjoy.

“Laura. You want a glass of wine,” Derek asked her.

“No. Thanks,” she said, shaking red sprinkles on a Santa-shaped cookie.

“How about some adult hot chocolate,” Stiles said.

“That sounds nice,” she brightened.

Derek makes her a mug of the hot chocolate, an alcohol recipe Stiles found online and has been obsessed with making for three days now.

“Those are some delicious-looking cookies, Ash,” Stiles told their middle nephew.

“Thanks, Uncle Stiles. I like cookies, but I wish you had a gingerbread house. We made one in my class and it was fun,” the 11 year old said.

“Who says I don’t,” Stiles said with a wink. He took two gingerbread house kits out of the cabinets and the kids went wild. He gave one to the boys and the other to the girls.

Stiles lifted the pans of finished cookies off the island and placed them in the oven. “I figure they can play with that while the four of us put our feet up and pretend to be adults.”

Stiles grabbed his mug of hot chocolate and handed Thomas another beer. “Care to join me in the family room for some good conversation while these two talk out their issues,” Stiles asked Thomas.

“Of course. Can we watch the Bruins game,” Thomas asked with a smile.

“Why not,” he said, then turned to Derek and Laura, “You two are more than welcomed to join us when you’re done being pissy with each other and have morphed into a big boy and big girl.”

Derek scowled at his husband’s condescending tone.

“TJ. Watch your cousins please. That doesn’t mean be bossy and rude. Understand,” Thomas said in his ‘dad voice’.

“Yes, sir,” his eldest answered.

“Timer’s set for thee cookies, guys,” Stiles said.

Stiles and Derek disappeared into the family room.

“…Want to go in the living room,” Derek asked.

Laura nodded.

They walked into the living room.

Laura focused her eyes on everything but Derek, nervously shuffling her feet.

He can’t even remember the last time he saw her so vulnerable. At least before the fire…

“I shouldn’t have said you coddle Claudia. I know she needs a special kind of attention from you. That was low, and I didn’t mean it,” she said softly.

“Yes, you did. And you said it because you were hurt. I get that,” he told her.

“I wasn’t hurt Haline punched Ash, I was—”

“I’m not talking about that. I think you’re hurt because me and Val and everyone else make you feel like you’re not doing a good job with your boys, because we don’t… Because you and the boys aren’t at the top of everyone’s invite lists.”

Tears float in her big, green eyes.

“I’m so sorry about that, Laura. It’s not right, especially if it hurts you.”

“I know they’re a bit of a mess, and I know I’m to blame—” He attempts to interrupt her just then, but she waves him off. “It is my fault. I know it is. From the beginning Thomas was the one that was firm, but fair with them, and I was the one that just wanted to play with them, and let them get away with murder, and now that I want them to listen to me, and respect me. They don’t. That falls on me… So, I’ve been, uh, taking some…parenting classes.”

“Really, Laura?”

“I created the monster, or monsters rather, and now I have to destroy them, before they scare all the villagers away.”

“I know two gay villagers that aren’t scared.”

She laughs.

“You’ve never referred to yourself as ‘gay’ before,” she said.

“Well, when you’ve spent 8 years married to another man, raising two daughters together, I think it might be time to stop referring to yourself as ‘bisexual’.”

She laughs again. “I think you can get away with identifying yourself as sapiosexual, like you did in high school.”

“Maybe, but do I even need to identify as anything now? I’m married. All that labeling is for twentysomethings still doing the whole dating scene.”

“God, you’re old. How about that? How about you label yourself as ‘old’? No one will contest that.”

“I love you, too, Laura. And I’m sorry. For everything. You and your boys shouldn’t be treated like the family pariahs.”

“Thanks, but like I said, this is all on me. I’m learning how to be a little sterner, and to not fall back into old patterns. They’ll never be Val’s boys. It’s going to take some time, but… I’m their mother. Not their friend. I just have to remember that.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks. Just be there for me, and support me please.”

“Is that something you have to ask for?” He pulls her into a hug and kisses her cheek.

“Thanks, D.”

She pulls away, wiping tears away from her gorgeous face. “Can we go watch the hockey game and end this touchy-feely bullshit please?”

“Yes,” he said with a laugh.

 

Laura, Thomas and the boys left after the game. When they came into the kitchen all the cookies had clearly been eaten. There was two makeshift gingerbread houses on the island.

The adults went into the living room: all five kids were knocked out on the two sofas and two armchairs.

Thomas and Laura slipped on their coats, hats, and boots, then Thomas shook TJ awake and lifted Ash into his arms while Laura scooped up Forrest into hers. TJ put on his shoes and coat, and grabbed his brothers’ boots who were asleep in their parents’ arms. They thanked Stiles and Derek for having them and left with the gingerbread house the boys made.

Stiles picked up Claudia and Derek picked up Halina. They carried both girls to the third floor, took off their clothes and tucked them into bed.

 

“Oh, God, Stiles…”

“You like that?”

Stiles worked his hips in a swivel, hands on Derek’s knees as he moved intently, trying to draw Derek’s orgasm out of him.

“Fuck, Derek… I missed working you over like this. It feels so good fucking myself on your cock.”

Stiles was trying to kill him. If his skilled movements, circling himself on Derek’s erection, wasn’t going to do him in, his dirty talk was. He always wanted to know what Stiles sounded like in bed, but figured he’d be fucking the younger man so hard only moans, groans, and swears would ever make it out of his pretty mouth. Seems he was wrong.

Stiles was fucking the life out of him, reducing him to moans in between hard hitting curses on his tongue. And he knew it. Stiles knew exactly what he was doing.

“I want you to come. I want you to come and fill me up. Please, babe. Please.”

Begging? Shit. Stiles really was trying to kill him.

Derek’s fingernails dug deep into the soft skin on Stiles’ hips. He wanted to surge up, take control and fuck Stiles until tears ran from his eyes, but Stiles felt so good on top of him, and looked so sexy swirling the lower half of his body on Derek’s dick.

“Come, babe. Come.” Stiles stops swiveling his body and instead bounced his ass up and down Derek’s shaft, hard and fast.

Derek had to braced himself against the headboard. “Christ!”

“You going to give me what I want? You going to come for me? Your big, fat dick going to fill up my tight, pink hole?”

Derek seized into a spasm, shooting his orgasm into Stiles. There was so much of it, it seeped out of their connected bodies and wetted Derek’s balls and Stiles’ thighs.

Derek could hardly breathe, let alone move, or open his eyes. He was numb; having shot the biggest load he’s ever had to into Stiles. He didn’t realize Stiles was chasing his own orgasm until a hot balm coated his stomach as Stiles groaned above him.

A splash of it landed on Derek’s bottom lip. His tongue darted out of lick it off, tasting his boy’s arousal. Sweet, like pinot noir.

Stiles collapsed beside him, curling himself into Derek’s side. Derek’s arm came up and wrapped around Stiles, who was already fast asleep.

Derek’s eyes closed, too.

The last thought he had was of the way Stiles’ cum tasted and how he had to chop a good foot and half off their tree in the morning.

Chapter Text


“What up, bitches!”

Derek is so thrown by her shouting, it took a minute for him to comprehend that Erica Reyes was standing on his front porch with a wide smile, and holding a bottle of expensive tequila at ten in the morning.

He grabbed her, and pulled her into his arms, squeezing the life out of her.

She hugged him back just as fiercely. “Miss you, too,” she whispered.

After another, long minute, they finally pulled apart, both of them with wet, soggy eyes.

“My brother lives all the way in Germany. I see him about twice and year and we never call each other. I don’t hear or see you in a month and it feels like you just got home from war or something.”

He smiled, wiping his eyes with the cuff of his sleeve. “I know what you mean.”

“Don’t do this sappy shit to me ever again.”

“No guarantees.”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. Ruin my mascara.”

He smiled again, loving that twentysomething Erica is just the same as sixteen year old Erica. That should worry him, an adult woman on her own, still behaving, sounding, immaturely, but it’s what’s familiar to him, and what he’s missed. He could care less.

“Well, let me in, asshole. I’m freezing my tits off.”

He stepped aside, forgetting they were huddled in the doorway.

“Get my bags,” she said, coming into the house.

He takes notice of the two cheetah print suitcases and overnight bag on the porch. First, he clearly had no idea she was coming, and second, he had no idea she intended to stay for awhile.

“God, I always forget how fucking badass this house is,” she said. “Lydia’s brother really did find you guys a gem. Too bad it didn’t work out between you two. He’d have gotten you a mansion.”

“I think I’m doing pretty good with being married to Stiles in our almost-mansion,” he said, carrying in her bags. He closed the door with his foot.

Erica disappeared into the living room.

“Oh, wow! Your tree looks amazing!”

He sat her bags by the steps, and then went into the living room with her.

“It better look amazing. I had to hack off about a foot and a half just so it’d fit in the room.”

“You let Stiles get a big tree this year. Awww… You big, ol’ softie,” she cooed, pinching his cheeks.

“Knock it off,” he said, batting away her hands with a smile. She was worse than Laura.

“Aunt Erica!”

Erica turned to Halina behind them with the most surprised face. “Hellcat!”

Halina ran and jumped into Erica’s arms, giving her the biggest hug. Erica peppered her face with red-painted kisses.

“Believe it or not, I missed you, Hellcat. You and the Tigress,” Erica said to Derek’s youngest.

“You’re right. I don’t believe it,” Halina teased, making Derek laugh.

“You are your father’s child.”

“Which one,” Halina asked.

“Roadie. You are definitely Roadie’s daughter.”

Malia stepped into the living room. “Hello,” she said with a friendly smile.

Erica stood abruptly with daggers in her eyes at the younger woman. “What the fuck are you doing here?!”

Oh. Shit.

“Erica—”

“Derek, what the hell is this homewrecking bitch doing here?!”

Halina, Derek’s too-adult-for-her-own-good daughter, laughed at Erica’s insult toward Malia.

“I thought you were going to get Stiles to fire her ass!”

Tears clouded Malia’s eyes before she stormed out of the room!

“Shit. Stay,” he said to Erica.

He followed Malia into the dining room, gathering up her things in a panic.

“Malia—”

“I’m so sorry. I know I acted unprofessionally with Stiles. I misinterpreted his kindness for something else. Something that clearly wasn’t there and I am sorry for that. And I am sorry that it was in the vicinity of your daughter, who I think is a very bright and amazing little girl that I love teaching. Not only was my behavior unprofessional, and amoral as well, but I am not that girl. I don’t go around trying to steal people’s boyfriends or husbands. It was a mistake. Stiles understood that, or at least he said he did. And he said he didn’t tell you.”

“Halina told me. She saw you trying to kiss Stiles and heard him turn you down.”

Malia looked as though she could crumble to the floor at any moment.

“I told Stiles to fire you, but he refused. He said you made a mistake and that he made it explicit with you about what’s expected from you as Halina’s teacher, and only her teacher…but I couldn’t get over that and understand why he still wanted to keep employing you, and why he never told me about it if it meant nothing. He wanted you here as an exercise in trust, and because of whatever stupid reason Halina doesn’t attend a regular school.”

‘An exercise in trust…’

“…I accused him of sleeping with you, or wanting to sleep with you rather.”

“That didn’t happen. I swear to you. We didn’t do that. I barely kissed him--”

“I know. I trust my husband. And you still being Halina’s teacher, coming into my home and educating my daughter is me showing that trust to Stiles.”

“I see…”

“I’m sorry about Erica…and Laura…and Halina. The women in my life and very protective of me. Just like I am with them.”

“Explains Halina’s attitude toward me… So, your whole family knows?”

“We try not to keep secrets.” “Try” being the operative word, seeing as how everyone turns a blind eye to the fact that Miller is really Isaac’s son and Valerie is stuck in a dead-end marriage she no longer wants to be in.

“Two weeks ago you started being nice to me again. I thought you knew about me trying to kiss Stiles, but then… You were offering me coffee again, and walking me to my car, and asking me about my holiday plans…”

“If I trust Stiles, then being civil to you shouldn’t be a problem.”

“I appreciate that, but I can’t work here anymore, Mr. Hale. I’m sorry. To you and your family.”

He didn’t know what else to say, what he should say. He didn’t think letting her go like this was right, but he also thought it best she left. Truth be told, deep down he thought she really should have been fired, whether he trusted Stiles or not.

He watched he grab her laptop and head out the door.

Stiles is going to be pissed.

 

“I can’t believe you just let her quit like that,” Stiles snapped.

“What was I supposed to do? Chase after her? She wanted to leave, Stiles.”

“Yeah, I don’t doubt that after Erica calling her a slut.”

“She didn’t call her a slut; she said she was a ‘homewrecking bitch’.”

“I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I’m not laughing, Derek. Our daughter no longer has a teacher. Who the hell is going to homeschool her at what we were paying Malia?”

“I don’t know! But maybe now is a good time to discuss possibly sending her to ERA or Smithville Elementary!”

“I don’t want her going to some fucking snob-factory! That school should just change their name to ‘Bored & Wealthy Housewives of America’.”

“My mother is the headmistress of ERA, Stiles! All three of my sisters went to that school! Do you think they’re snobs?! Just because you had a bad experience going to private school doesn’t mean Halina will!”

“I didn’t have a ‘bad experience’ at Weston Prep! I had a fucking nightmare going there! The only silver lining was Scott and Lydia! Thank God I wasn’t boarding there like them!”

“Fine! Then let’s talk financials about all this. She’d be the granddaughter of the headmistress of ERA guaranteeing her free admittance to the school.”

“All the more reason for other kids to look down on her and give her grief!”

“Okay, then, public school. What’s your issue with Smithville Elementary’s gifted student program?”

“It-It’s new, and I don’t exactly know any of the teachers and what their curriculum entails.”

“Shouldn’t we find out?”

“Where is this all coming from?!”

“Why do you have such an issue with Halina going to school? Claudia goes. Fuck, Stiles, she goes to the school you teach at!”

“Claudia isn’t 5 years old with a 142 IQ! She doesn’t have to worry about being so smart other kids think she’s a freak and tease her, and call her ‘teacher’s pet’ just because she knows the answer to something, just because she likes to read instead of smoke in the girls’ bathroom, or just because she actually likes to learn and thinks going to school is fun because every day she finds out something new and exciting. I don’t want her bullied and peer pressured into doing homework for jocks, or helping the head cheerleader cheat on a pop quiz. I don’t want her eating her lunch in the library because no one will sit with her. And I don’t want her having panic attacks every morning before she has to walk out the door and do it all over again.”

Stiles fought back tears, recalling his childhood, substituting their daughter into his own ostracized experiences. Derek figured that this was the case, the issue as to why Halina wasn’t in school, because there seemed to be a lack of substance on the fact that she didn’t attended school outside their home. She was social, and was like any other child in public situations (mostly), so Derek knew whatever the reason, it wasn’t anxiety-related.

At least not on Halina’s end. Stiles, on the other hand, had plenty of anxiety.

“Stiles, I love you, but you are holding our daughter back because of your own prejudices and personal experiences. You can’t do that to her. She’s too smart and deserves a good education.”

Stiles scoffed wryly, not wanting to give in.

“I’m just asking you to think about it, okay? Halina’s holiday break has now clearly started a few days early and schools aren’t back in session until January 3rd. We can take this time to really think about everything and weigh our options. That’s all I am asking you to do.”

“…Fine.”

Stiles broke out of Derek’s office, heading up to the second floor. Derek head him stomp up the stairs and slam their bedroom door shut.

Derek rubbed his temples. He definitely feels a headache coming on.

“So…should I go and stay at a hotel instead? Or with Cora and Boyd?”

The thought of Erica staying in Cora and Boyd’s spare room was odd, to say the least, Erica herself suggesting it…? Just plain weird.

“No. No, you’re staying here.”

“You sure that’s okay?”

“Yeah. He’s not mad at you. He’s just…mad.”

“Stiles not getting what he wants? Who would have ever thought he’d be upset about that,” Erica said, rolling her eyes.

“What does that mean?”

“Nothing. Forget it. I’m being a jackass.”

Derek raised a curious eyebrow at her.

“I’m starving. When do you plan on feeding me? And none of that Spaghetti-Os bullshit either.”

“We don’t give our girls that crap.”

“Good. Because I am so down for a home-cooked meal.”

 

Derek watched Stiles ice skate around the frozen pond with their girls and Boyd. Erica was on the ice, too, but became distracted when a cute, redheaded guy bumped into her by “accident.” They skated off to the side near a tree and have been there for the last 20 minutes.

His parents were also on the ice, as was Scott, Lydia, and their son Ernie.

Derek stood behind the boundary with a cup of hot cocoa and waved big to both girls every time they lapped him. Stiles gave him meager glances as he and Boyd tried to keep the girls going so they didn’t end up trampled by the bigger kids and adults.

He knew Stiles was still angry about their fight earlier, but they were both trying their best to kick that all aside and not ruin their girls’ good time.

Cora waddled up beside him with Laura. Both of them were eating gingerbread men. Laura handed one to him.

“Do I let Stiles do whatever he wants,” Derek asked bluntly.

His sisters suddenly became very interested in the ground.

Derek sighed.

“I mean, you do, but it works for you both,” Laura said, pathetically trying to make it not sound as bad as it is.

“Yeah. You guys have like a give-take kind of marriage. You give, and Stiles takes. Not like an asshole or anything, I mean, he gets carried away sometimes and you cave when he gets upset, like all the time—”

“You’re rambling, Cora,” Derek scowled.

“Okay, like Malia. You wanted her fired and Stiles said ‘no’—even though that was a total worthy thing to fire someone over—but you folded,” Laura said.

“Like a cheap suit,” Cora added.

“And…Stiles kind of got his way. Again. For like the millionth time. As always.”

Cora nodded.

It explained why Stiles felt like he was being punished with he and Derek not have sex for over two months. He was sure it was just simply life being what it was and the stress of raising two young girls and having a mortgage and car payments along with two dozen other bills, is what caused their lack of intimacy. And he’s pretty sure all of that was a reason, but now he assumes “punishing” Stiles was a factor as well. The 'other Derek' must have grown tired of feeling like the one to always compromise, and hardly ever getting any give in his own direction. He didn’t approve of the method, but he understood the cause.

“Hey, don’t take this as us disliking Stiles or anything, or that you’ve got some sort of unhappy marriage or something. Far from it, okay,” Cora said. “We love Stiles. He’s family, and he makes you happier than a pig in shit. We’re just acknowledging something routine between you two.”

“Yeah. We adore Stiles. He and John are big pieces in the 'Hale Family Puzzle'. Tell you the truth though; I thought you’d never figure it out. Like you’d be blind to it forever,” Laura laughed, and then stopped when she took note of the scowl of her brother’s face.

“…Erica pointed it out today. She mumbled something about it then told me to drop it.”

“Of course Erica did,” Cora said, rolling her eyes.

“What does the mean?”

Before Cora could answer, Lydia skated up beside them. “God, I love this pond! The indoor ice rink in New Haven is nowhere near as cool. No pun intended.”

“Do I let Stiles do whatever he wants,” Derek asked.

Lydia doesn’t miss a beat— “You spoil that boy like a fucking toddler. Why? You thinking of caving to him because of that sad clown frown on his face? He’s only doing it so you give in.”

“No. I think he’s really upset. I told him I want Halina to go to ERA.”

All three women wince.

“I know,” he said.

“I’m sure your arguments were all sound and reasonable— like the last two times you had this ‘discussion’— but school was hell for Stiles a lot of the time. That’s how the three of us became friends. The outcasts and the bullied putting up a united front. We helped each other cope,” Lydia said.

“I have a hard time picturing you bullied by anyone, Lydia,” Derek teased.

“Maybe not bullied, but I was significantly excluded from the other girls a lot. Girls can be a lot harsher than boys.”

Laura and Cora nod, agreeing with the redhead.

“I’m not saying Stiles is right to keep Halina out of a ‘normal’ school, but his fears are coming from a very real place. Add ordinary parental anxiety to that and you’ve got a panicky little husband that just wants to shield his most vulnerable child from all the hurt he can.”

“’Vulnerable’ is not the word I’d use to describe Halina at all,” Derek said.

“When she reminds Stiles a lot of his own self, yeah, she might just be,” Lydia told him. “What spawned this whole ‘Oh-no!-I-think-I-treat-my-husband-like-the Queen-of-England conversation?”

“Erica,” Laura and Cora said with an eye roll.

“Oh, Jesus,” Lydia mumbled. “Look, don’t let Erica poison your thoughts, okay? She likes to create drama. Lives for it. Her entire life is a soap opera and she’s not happy unless it is. You and Stiles are so perfect for each other it’s gross.”

“That’s what we said,” Laura interrupted.

“You guys just have this one thing that you need to work on, but it totally explains what you told me at the mall.”

“What,” Laura and Cora asked with nosy inquiry.

“You spoil Stiles and always agree to what it is he wants so he has no reason to ever leave you. ‘I will make life in the palace so pleasant that our son will never want to leave’, and all that. It even adds to why you’re so possessive of him as well. You’re way too afraid of losing him because you feel like you don’t deserve him,” Lydia said.

Derek sighed heavily, trying hard not to be embarrassed his biggest secret has just been revealed to both his nosy, meddling sisters. Even in this life or the next, Lydia Martin is still too clever for her own good.

“Oh, D, really? You think Stiles is better than you and he’s going to walk out the door any day now,” Laura frowned at him.

“You’re an idiot,” Cora said tactfully.

“Thank you, Lydia,” he said sarcastically. All he got in response was a clueless shrug.

“I’d stand here and tell you the zillion reasons why that’s such a stupid fear to have, but eternity sounds like a pretty long fucking time to tell someone how dumb he is,” Laura said.

“Who’s dumb?”

They turn to Allison behind them. With Jackson.

Jackson was a hard beta. He was stubborn, mean at times, and egotistical. Despite it, he was Derek’s beta, and as his Alpha he wanted nothing more than for him to be the best of himself; the best werewolf he could be, and it hurt seeing him turn into a kanima, then flee his life in Beacon Hills, leaving behind Lydia and her broken heart. Derek had to admit he was sad, too, at the boy’s departure. He was his ‘creator’ of sorts and seeing him fly off without a hint made him angry. And miss him.

He was still Gap model adorable with a keen fashion sense that bordered on 'Hamptons-Rich-Boy' and 'Spoiled-Hollywood-Brat'. Yet, there was something different about him. He didn’t look confident. He actually looked quite shy, timid, with his hand in Allison’s (which oddly wasn’t surprising…) and shoulders hunched up around his ears as he stood close to the brunette.

“Derek. But it’s a long story,” Laura said.

“Hey, Lydia,” Jackson said with a small, bashful wave at her.

She ignored him, and turned to Derek and pointed at Jackson, “Reason number one why Stiles has a hard time letting Halina go to school.”

Lydia skated off toward Scott and Ernie.

Jackson looked like he was 5 seconds from fleeing if it weren’t for Allison holding his hand.

“What was that about,” Laura asked.

“I’m going to get some hot cocoa. Does anyone want anything?”

They shook their heads.

Jackson walked away so quickly Derek wasn’t sure he’d be back. He looked terrified and nervous.

“I told him I was going ice skating and he wanted to come. I warned him you, Lydia, Stiles, and Scott would be here. He still wanted to come,” Allison said. “He said it’d be good ‘therapy’ for him,” she shrugged.

Derek recalled what Lydia said about Jackson before she skated off. Stiles had anxiety about Halina attending school because of his fear of her being bullied and excluded…

Dammit. Jackson bullied Stiles in school. And if he’s the ‘number one reason’ it must have been bad.

He’s got to get to Stiles before—

“Really, Allison? Really,” Stiles snapped at her.

Fuck.

“Stiles, he’s a different person now, and he’s been trying to make amends with the three of you for a long time now.”

“There is no amount of make-up he can do for the hell he put me through for years! Did he even tell you about half the horrible things he did to us?! He teased Scott and pulled pranks on him, he made fun of Lydia's weight, and made oinking noises when she walked by or said something in class, but me--no! No! He saved all his good stuff for me! It wasn’t enough for him to scratch ‘faggot’ on my locker or leave naked pictures of men taped to my desk in homeroom, or steal my homework and draw dicks on it in permanent marker, he did shit that went beyond ‘typical teenage bullying’. He harassed me, Allison! He made me hate myself for a long time! He made me scared to be honest about who I am!”

“I know that, Stiles—”

“No! You don’t know shit! Because if you did, you’d know your goddamn boyfriend is a fucking monster!”

Stiles skated off toward Boyd who held their girls in each hand as he, Scott, and Lydia looked on as Stiles berated Allison.

Stiles took both girls by the hand and pulled them to a bench on the other side of the pond.

Derek watched him help a protesting Claudia out of her skates. “I, uh… I should go,” he said.

Allison nodded, tears running down her cheeks.

Derek rounded the boarder circling the frozen water toward his family.

Chapter Text


Stiles and Erica hate each other. Derek’s sure of it. No matter the polite, morning smiles, or generous ‘thank yous’ over pancakes, there’s something…off. Something tight and intense, like they’re trying. And trying way too hard. Stiles is always quiet and reserved when Erica is around, and Erica is just the same, but as soon as the other leaves the room, Derek gets a quick glance at an eye roll, or hears a low grumble of something rude under breath.

“Come on, pumpkin. I’ll do your hair and then we’ll go.”

“I don’t want to go to school, Roadie. Halina doesn’t have to go. She doesn’t even have Malia come over anymore.”

Stiles shot Derek a quick glare at the mention of Halina no longer being taught by Malia. Derek ignored him as he sipped his coffee.

“It’s just today then tomorrow and then we’re off for Christmas break. Come on.” Stiles helped Claudia off her chair. They held hands as they walked to the half-bathroom downstairs.

Erica grumbled something he couldn’t make out under her breath.

She caught Derek’s narrow eyes and plastered on the biggest (fake) smile. “These apple cider pancakes are amazing, D.”

“Thanks, but it’s Stiles’ recipe.”

Her smile turned tight, and forced, as she nodded and returned her attention back to her plate.

Derek noticed Halina looking up from her book at the two adults saying everything and nothing over their breakfast. She shrugged then returned to her reading.

Derek snorted over another sip of his black coffee. It amazed him how insightful and mature Halina could be, then so childish at other times. She was a handful, and weirdly he’d have it no other way...

Stiles and Claudia returned to the kitchen. Claudia’s hair in a sock bun.

“You look beautiful, pumpkin,” Derek said as he bent down to kissed her cheek.

“Thank you, daddy,” she smiled.

“Come on, pumpkin. We have to go,” Stiles told her.

“Ugh. Two more days…” she groaned.

“One more actually. We don’t count today.”

“Even better,” she said before stalking off toward the mudroom to put on her boots.

Stiles rounded the island and put his and Claudia’s plates into the sink. He guzzled the rest of his coffee and placed the mug in there, too. Derek grabbed him and pulled him close.

“What are you three going to be up to today,” Stiles asked.

“Havoc and mayhem. Lots of mayhem,” Derek answered.

“Well, as long as I don’t have to clean up after said havoc and mayhem, have at it all you like.”

“Just remember you gave me permission.”

Stiles kissed him, slow and carnal, taking his time to make it languid and arousing…before Erica cleared her throat.

“They do that all the time,” Halina said, not bothering to look up from her book.

“Well, it’s a bit rude when there are other people in the room,” Erica said with a bit of snark in her tone.

“It is rude…but it’s my house.” Stiles mumbled the last part under his breath, but Derek was close enough to catch it. “Sorry,” he said in a normal tone, with the same tight smile Erica had earlier in regards to Stiles’ pancakes.

Yeah… They definitely hate each other.

“Roadie!”

“Coming, pumpkin! I got to go.”

“Yeah. Wouldn’t want you to be late,” Erica said. Read: Can you leave already?

Stiles eyes narrowed at her while biting his bottom lip.

The underlining tension the two of them brought into a room was stressful, to say the least. They were like a tea kettle ready to explode.

Derek kissed Stiles’ cheek, knocking him out of the mental picture he was sure Stiles was having of murdering Erica.

“Right. School. I don’t want to be late.” Stiles kissed Derek, then Halina, gave a curt nod to Erica then disappeared into the foyer.

“Bye, Aunt Erica,” Claudia shouted from the front door.

“Bye, Tigress!”

Derek heard the front door close. Before he could get a word out, curious about the heated dynamic between his husband and friend, Erica announced she was taking a shower and headed upstairs.

As if reading his mind, Halina looked up at him, “Roadie and Aunt Erica are weird.”

All he could do was nod. “Agreed.”

 

Erica didn’t use the guest bathroom, but rather the master bathroom, which Derek found odd, and a bit rude to be honest. It was he and Stiles’ own personal bathroom, and without asking, she took a shower in it. She also used all the hot water, clogged the drain with her hair, got water everywhere somehow, used all the towels, left her makeup kit all over the sink, threw a used tampon in the toilet (clogging it), filled the trash can with lipstick and mascara-stained bits of toilet paper, used Stiles’ toothbrush, and forgot to turn off her curling iron.

Derek was starting to think maybe Stiles’ passive-aggressive disapproval of her staying with them was justified.

 

Instead of working today, he and Erica took Halina to the mall. It was 5 days until Christmas and he had yet to get Stiles’ gift, but to be fair, he was spontaneously dropped into another reality without his knowledge, so…

Stiles and Claudia would be home around 3:30pm and Stiles told him the day’s activity was going to the Smithville Christmas Parade which started at 6:30pm. He remembered Stiles saying that Scott and Lydia were attending the New Haven parade in the next county instead, seeing as how they lived there, but everyone else would be there tonight. He shot off a text to Valerie, asking if she’d be coming to town for the parade, but she responded that she couldn’t. It was a school night for the boys, so she didn’t want them getting home late, and she knew they liked the NYC Christmas parade more.

Smithville didn’t have a mall, or at least one as nice as the one they went to in New Haven to see Santa. There was basically a Target, two Wal-Marts, a Kmart, a Burlington Coat Factory, a Macy’s, a Walgreens, CVS, a Home Depot, a diner, a bunch of fast food chains and two strip malls. Both of which had a nail salon and donut shop.

He didn’t want to go to any of those places to get Stiles’ Christmas gift. He wanted to get him something special, and costly. He knew money shouldn’t matter, but it was the first official gift he’d ever give him, and Derek wanted it to be perfect and meaningful, which he interpreted as expensive.

They stopped at the bank and Derek checked his accounts. He and Stiles shared two savings accounts. One included both their daughters’ names on the account, and money was only ever deposited, not withdrawn, so he knew not to touch it and that it was probably a college fund set up for them. The second had almost 15 grand in it, and according to his bank statements money had only been taken out of it twice in the last 6 months.

‘Rainy-day fund,’ he thought. It seemed that account might only be used for emergencies.

They had separate checking accounts, which Derek found strange, but were allowed to access each other’s statements. It appeared that Derek made more money, of course, and paid all the major bills like the mortgage, car notices, and doctor bills. Stiles handled all the other bills (heat, electric, cable/internet, water, etc.), groceries, and small stuff like toiletries and housewares.

Derek has about 8 grand in his checking account, and according to his bank statements, he usually pays Stiles’ car payment on the 15th. It’s the 20th.

Shit.

He set a reminder in his phone to write check for Stiles’ car when he gets home, and create an automatic payment system if he can.

He sent a text to Laura asking her if she and Thomas were really going to get Theo the telescope for Christmas. She said ‘yes’, especially given it was their boys that broke it, so he added his father to the list of people he needed to buy a gift for.

The snowflake notepad by his side of the bed had more than half the names on it crossed out. Derek assumed it meant he’d already bought gifts for them, so a few days ago he hunted around the house looking for them and found them in the garage when he went to retrieve the sleds. He guessed he and Stiles split the list and would share the gift-giving credit together as a couple when he noticed neither Scott, Lydia, Allison, Kira, nor Victoria was on his list. And neither was Cora and Valerie, but John was. Everyone else, however, was and the only names left were Isaac, his parents, Thomas, and Jason.

Erica suggested they go to the mall in Concord. It was a good 45 minutes away, but it was larger with designer stores; much nicer than the mall in New Haven, and better than anything they’d find in Smithville.

Derek knew Stiles couldn’t respond to him accordingly, but shot off text after text to Stiles about gifts he was getting the girls. Derek let Erica take Halina around the shopping center while he sought out gifts for her and Claudia, not wanting her to see what her daddy was buying her. He reminded Erica that Halina liked to wander off and to hold her hand the entire time, no matter what.

Erica scoffed, snapped at him for “treating me like an idiot,” took Halina’s hand and stalked off.

Okay…What the fuck?

He didn’t have time to dwell on Erica’s tantrum, and went straight to a shop that looked like it sold antiques, or rather items made to look like antiques. He asked the sales associate if they had a tea set for a little girl. The sales associate showed him a really pretty tea set for four that had pink polka dots on it. It was perfect, but he worried that it being porcelain, and Claudia being 7 years old, just how careful would she be with it.

Derek: I found the perfect tea set for Claudia! But it’s porcelain and I’m worried she might break it. I’ll send you a picture.

About 2 minutes later Stiles text him back.

Stiles: That is perfect, babe!
Stiles: Why would she break it? You know how she is about her things.
Stiles: Porcelain is fine. Worse comes to worst, we super glue some pieces back together.

Derek: Okay. I’m getting it then.

Stiles: I already got her dollhouse when we went to see Santa, and on Saturday Lydia’s going with me to get her more clothes.
Stiles: I don’t know what books to get Halina though! She’s fucking read everything, babe!
Stiles: You know what she reads more than I do. Can you get her books and I’ll get her some more paints? I already ordered her bike from Amazon last week.

Derek: Okay. I’ll get her books.

Stiles: Okay. Thanks.
Stiles: I got to go. I’ll call you during my lunch. I love you.

Derek: I love you, too.

“Does the tea set meet with approval,” the sales clerk asked.

“It does. I’ll take it.”

Derek watched the sale clerk individually wrap each piece of the set in tissue paper and gently place it in a box after ringing it up.

Three hundred motherfucking dollars! For a kid’s tea set?! No wonder parents are always broke…

He took a resigned breath, and reminded himself it was for Claudia. His sweet, little pumpkin. He had money to burn in his 'other life' but on no one and didn't really care to spend much of it on himself. Buying something nice for his daughter was nothing he realized.

He headed to the bookstore next and picked out a handful of books he knew Halina would like and hadn’t read yet: Charlotte’s Web, The Enchanted Castle, and a collection of Ezra Jack Keats books, because every kid should own one.

He text Erica: I’m headed to the car to put Halina and Claudia’s Xmas gifts in there. Meet you back inside.

Erica: We’re at Aldo trying on shoes.

Because of course you are…

Derek went back to the car to put the gifts in the trunk, then headed back into the mall.

Stiles: Don’t forget my dad’s gift, too!
Stiles: He really wants a new barbecue grill.

Instead of meeting up with Erica, he went into Sears and headed to their outdoor/patio section.

Derek: Gas or propane?

He waited a few minutes, but Stiles didn’t respond.

He decided to make an executive decision and chose a propane grill. It was a really nice grill ($200 bucks!), and far too large to be taken out of the store and put in his car, so he paid extra for home delivery. With it being so close to Christmas, it wasn’t guaranteed that it would arrive on Christmas Day, and Derek felt bad making someone work on a day they should be spending with their family, so he requested it be delivered early morning on Christmas Eve at the latest.

Derek: You two still at the shoe store?

Erica: No. Perfume counter at Neiman Marcus.

Derek stopped a security guard and asked where Neiman Marcus was located.

“All the way at the end of the floor,” security said.

“Thanks. Merry Christmas.”

Derek headed toward the luxury store, feeling as though he’d just walked two miles given the enormity of the mall and placing of its largest store way on the end.

Sure enough, Erica and Halina were at the perfume counter testing and smelling perfume samples in front of a very annoyed, and very snooty-looking sales woman. This whole situation had Pretty Woman written all over it, and given Erica’s brash temper, it wasn’t going to end well if they didn’t split soon.

“What are you two doing?”

“Trying to decide which perfume Aunt Erica should ask Santa for for Christmas.”

“Santa, huh?”

“Boyfriend? Santa? One in the same,” she shrugs.

“Didn’t know you were seeing someone,” Derek said, because it’s the truth.

She gave another evasive shrug as she picked up Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds and sniffed.

He remembers seeing a wrapped gift with her name on it in the garage.

“Help me pick something out for Isaac,” he said to her, not wanting her to buy something he may have already gotten her, and avoid the stink-eye the sales woman was giving them.

“Isaac? He’s rich enough to buy us all gifts. Why get him something?”

“Because he’s my friend, Erica,” he groaned.

She rolled her eyes. “Alright. What does the ‘lost boy’ want?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I need your help.”

“He likes African art. Has that shit all over his place, remember? And he’s always talking about going back to Kenya…and whisking away a certain sister,” she said under her breath.

He leveled her with a glare. She held up her hands in ‘surrender’.

“Maps,” Halina said.

“What, bluebell?”

“Get Uncle Isaac a map of Africa.”

Derek and Erica exchanged agreeing looks.

“I think that’s a good idea,” Derek said. “Like a vintage map, and frame it.”

“Where would you get that?”

“Online.”

“Sounds pricey.”

“Doesn’t have to be.”

She nods. “Okay. Who else you buying for?”

“Already got your gift. Stop fishing. I have to get something for Jason.”

“How do you intend on buying a new personality,” Erica quipped.

Derek tried hard not to, but he couldn’t help but laugh, deepening the scowl on the sales woman’s stern face as his chuckle bellowed through the department store, bouncing off the walls of the serene store.

 

“She’s already in ballet. Do we want her taking tap, too,” Derek asked Stiles through his phone.

“She clearly wants to, and she’ll have the same instructor…” Stiles responded.

“I just don’t want her getting a complex or something. Those girls and dance instructors can be intense, and I don’t want her self-esteem fucked with.”

“You think we’d let that happen to our daughter? Look, I know you’re worried because you saw it happen to Val, but we’ll keep an eye out on her and if we feel like it’s getting too much for her and looking a little too Black Swan, then we’ll pull her out, but right now she’s seven and all she wants to do is dance her heart out. Nothing wrong with that.”

“Fine. Where do I get tap shoes?”

“Uh…same place we got her ballet gear.”

“Oh. Yeah. Right. Okay.”

Seems I have to rely on Google Maps again… And what did he mean about Val…?

“Babe, did I lose you?”

“Huh? Oh, no. Sorry. I’m still here. What did you say?”

“I said you need to face facts: we’re raising the head cheerleader and prom queen.”

“God, I hope not. Those girls are usually bitches.”

“Wasn’t Laura prom queen and Cora head cheerleader in high school?”

“My point exactly.”

Stiles snorted a laugh over the phone.

“Why are you so at easy about Claudia and so on edge about Halina,” Derek couldn’t help but ask.

“Claudia’s stronger than Halina.”

“How can we both look at the same two girls and see the complete opposite?”

“Well, one of us is wrong…”

“And you don’t think it’s you?”

“You know why small dogs are so mean? Because they’re compensating for their size. They feel they have to be vicious in order to avoid being dominated by bigger dogs. That’s Halina. She acts big and tough, but she’s scared most of the time. She knows she’s different.”

“But keeping her locked in a tower forever isn’t going to change that, Stiles. It’s going to make it worse.”

“I don’t want to lock her away forever…just until college.”

“Stiles, really,” Derek asked incredulously. “She’s 5 years old with a genius I.Q. College for her will be in 8 years.”

“Are you trying to ruin my day?”

“I’m trying to address your overprotectiveness and separation anxiety issues.”

“I’d rather you didn’t. I’m perfectly happy this way.”

Derek had to take a moment to assess what was really going here: he’s the one trying to give his daughters more freedom and independence to grow and learn, and Stiles is the one refusing to let them leave Neverland.

“What? No growl, or warning in your tone as you say my name and roll your eyes,” Stiles teased.

“I’m scowling. That’s enough.”

“Not if I can’t see it.”

Derek shook his head with a small smile on his lips at his silly husband.

“…It’s not that I don’t want them to grow up, I just don’t want them to do it now,” Stiles said.

His voice sounded so small and heartbreaking. Derek just wanted to reach through the phone and hold him. Maybe he isn’t the marshmallow. Maybe it’s Stiles after all…

“They’re still little girls, Stiles. They didn’t get jobs and move out.”

“I know, it’s just… What the hell am I going to do when they really do get jobs and move out?”

“Let go…but be there.”

“Weren’t we talking about Christmas gifts a minute ago? When did this get maudlin and turn into On Golden Pond?”

“I will get Claudia’s tap dancing shoes.”

“Thank you.”

Derek could hear the adoring smile on Stiles' face through the easy, humored tone in his voice. He really wished he was standing in front of him so he could kiss him.

“You can thank me by telling me what in the hell to get Jason for Christmas.”

“Do they sell new personalities at Sharper Image?”

“Erica already beat you to that joke.”

“Of course she did,” Stiles said sarcastically.

“I can detect mockery over the phone. I don’t need to see you to be aware of it in your tone.”

“Oh, look at that. My lunch break is over.”

“Conveniently.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too, but I wasn’t kidding about Sharper Image. You might find something he’d like there. Or Best Buy.”

“Okay. I’ll check it out. Love you. Bye.”

“Love you, too.”

Stiles hung up first. Derek slipped his cellphone back into his coat pocket and went back into Johnny Rockets. He slid into the both beside Halina and took a sip of her strawberry milkshake.

“Roadie says he loves you and he’ll see you when he gets home,” Derek told his daughter.

“Okay,” Halina responded happily.

“Sharper Image,” Derek said to Erica. “For Jason.”

She nodded. “Makes sense. He seems like that type of asshole.”

“Does every woman I know just feel free enough to swear around my children?”

“Face it, D. You only know women with potty-mouths.”

“Potty-mouths? Just you and Cora are enough to make a sailor blush.”

Halina giggled.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Not a compliment.”

“I beg to differ,” she said with a wink at Halina. “So, what you get Stiles?”

“Do you really want to know,” he asked with skepticism in his voice.

“Eh. Just curious if you were actually going to try and get him a gift this year, or simply throw him some money and tell him to buy his own.”

Derek was surprised to know that ‘other Derek’ didn’t actually buy Stiles a gift every year and simply handed him an envelope of cash like a drug deal, or a ‘John’ paying a hooker.

He’d never do that. He wanted what he'd get to be thoughtful and romantic. He wanted to make Stiles cry tears of joy. He’s never gotten a chance to buy the Stiles he knew anything, so he wanted to take full advantage now.

“I will certainly not give him cash like some shady, back room deal. I’m getting him a gift.”

“What?”

“Something nice, that he’ll like.”

The corner of her red-painted mouth turns up at him. “You haven’t even got him anything yet, have you?”

“He’s…difficult to shop for.”

“Which is why you usually give him cash, you moron!”

The teenage boy in the other reality would have been easier to buy for: comic books, ironic T-shirts, a trip to an antique book store, or archive, movie passes to one of those luxury movie theaters in LA, a candy gift basket, a romantic dinner at the loft, and a new laptop. Any, or all of those things, and Derek would have been the greatest husband ever. But here, with an adult Stiles that has two kids, teaches third grade, and drives an electric car, buying the perfect Christmas gift seemed not only difficult, but frustrating, and Erica wasn’t helping.

“I will get my husband the best Christmas gift I possibly can, and it won’t be a band of money,” he snapped.

Erica held up her hands in ‘surrender’ again.

He’d have felt bad about biting her head off about it, if he wasn’t already stressed about it, and as his friend she wasn’t being very helpful by making him feel inadequate in his confusion.

He pulled the basket of French fries in front of her toward him and picked at them.

Erica ate a couple with him.

“So, what’s next on the agenda,” she asked.

His eyes shifted toward Halina picking the lettuce off her cheeseburger. Erica nodded, getting the hint.

“Hey, Hellcat. Let’s go to Marbles, that nerd store you and Stiles like so much, after this.”

“Okay,” Halina said easily with a mouth full of hamburger patty.

Derek mouthed a ‘thank you’ to the bombshell.

She returned it with a wink and a smile.

 


Derek wanted to fool around. Badly.

Stiles walked in the door with Claudia and his mind drifted back to their kiss this morning. Stiles let Claudia join Halina and Erica in the family room to watch TV, seeing as how it was the last week of school before the winter break, and teachers decided not to be cruel and dish out workbook assignments to be taken home.

Stiles went upstairs to shower before they had to leave for the parade. Derek followed.

Derek closed and locked their bedroom door, then took off his sweater and undershirt—

“What the fuck?!”

Derek paused at Stiles’ shocked exclamation. Good thing he locked the door.

“Stiles…”

Stiles hurried out of the bathroom. “This is what I’m talking about with her, Derek,” Stiles yelled, his arms gesturing to the master bedroom.

Shit. The bathroom. 

“First, she just invites herself to stay, without asking— and you let her—then she’s half-drunk at 10am, and lashes out at Malia—”

“She wasn’t drunk, Stiles.”

“Are you really going to tell me that when I came home she didn’t smell like that bottle of tequila she brought over? Tequila she said was a present for us, but a quarter of it was already gone.”

Derek had nothing. He did smell it on her breath when he opened the door and let her in when she arrived. And she did say the expensive liquor was a gift for he and Sties, but the seal had already been broken and about three shots worthy was already gone.

“She took the biggest portion of dinner last night, then drank almost the entire bottle of wine by herself, bitched about it being cold the whole time we were ice skating— like it’s not cold in New York, too—ditched us for some dude she met for all of five minutes, only to have you go and pick her up at a bar at one in the goddamn morning, complained about ‘all the noise we were making’ this morning, didn’t say ‘thank you’ for breakfast, and now she’s left her shit all over our bathroom! Why couldn’t she use the guest bathroom?! That’s what it’s for! She’s so inconsiderate, Derek! I don’t know why you’ve put up with it all these years!”

“Because she’s my friend, Stiles! She’s a fucking mess, but she’s my friend! There’s a shit ton of things about Scott I could complain about! And even Lydia! Who I just found out told you not to marry me!”

Stiles’ eyes turn as wide as saucers at Derek knowing, and throwing back in his face, what Lydia told him at the mall.

“She’s all over the place and just too fucking much sometimes, but she’s got a good heart. She loves our girls and she’d do anything for me.”

He knows that. With everything in him he knows that. Feels it.

“I will talk to her about being more considerate of you and our house, but you have got to be just as compromising, Stiles.”

“And what do you think I’ve been doing since we met?”

“Passive-aggressively cutting each other down with snide remarks and not-so-subtle eye rolling. Like two teenage girls.”

Stiles scoffed.

He pulls Stiles to him. Close. Chest-to-chest. “This is the second fight I’ve had with you in two days. I don’t want to do this.”

“Well, I don’t either.”

“Then can we please make it to New Year’s without incident? I came up here to fuck you deep and hard into our mattress, not talk about Erica leaving a tampon in the toilet.”

“That was by far the grossest thing I’d ever had to witness. Why wasn’t any of that cleaned up?”

“I was going to make her do it.”

“I see that worked out perfectly.”

“Stiles.”

“What?”

“Shut up, and take your clothes off so I can fuck you please.”

Stiles grinned mischievously. He wrapped his arms around Derek’s neck. “You take them off.” Stiles bit Derek’s bottom lip, catching it between his teeth, and nipped.

Derek smiled, and moved his hands to the fly on Stiles’ pants.

 

Derek never understood parades. Standing at one spot watching people walk down a street on floats or playing in a band, or doing some cheesy dance number with batons always sounded mundane and stupid to him. He just always found them exceedingly boring, and would make fun of Laura and Cora getting far too into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year. ‘It’s just balloons shaped like cartoon characters and the Rockettes with their toothy, cream cheese smiles,’ he’d say before they rolled their eyes at him and turn their attention back to the TV.

But being at one with his entire family, Claudia on his shoulders eating a rice crispy square that flaked into his hair on every bite, and Stiles who huddled against him, trying to keep warm as they watched the Smithville High School choir perform Carol of the Bells holding lanterns and ringing handbells, Derek had never felt such a happy sense of peace and joy.

Snow flurries fluttered down as a small float carrying the current Miss Connecticut rode down main street and teenage girls dressed like elves tossed plastic mistletoe into the crowds.

His father caught one and hovered it over his and his mother’s head. Talia blushed and leaned in for a kiss.

“Ew, Grandpa,” TJ said with his face scrunched up in disgust, receiving a laugh from Stiles and Boyd, but a smack ‘round the head from Thomas.

“I should hope that when you are my age you still find your wife, or husband, just as striking as you did when you met them, and that such wonderful things as mistletoe should be appreciated as a glorious excuse,” Theo told his eldest grandchild.

“You never need an excuse, Theo," Talia said with a sultry smile.

“Okay, now I’m with TJ. You two are as bad as Derek and Stiles,” Cora said.

“We’ve learned to tamper down our ways. We’re not as bad as we used to be,” Stiles protested.

He received a collective scoff in return.

“Look, Roadie! There’s Miss Allison!” Claudia pointed out.

Allison stood across the street from them, enjoying the parade as well. With Jackson at her side. They were smiling and laughing, holding cups of coffee and bundled up in scarves and wool hats.

“Is Ally dating Whittemore,” Isaac asked, shocked.

“Jackson Whittemore?! That asshole kid that… The one that bullied you in high school, Stiles,” John asked.

“That’s the one,” Stiles said with a scowl.

“I never did get around to kicking his ass, and seeing as how he's not a minor anymore…” John said. “How can Ally be dating that guy?”

Stiles shrugged.

“You tell her what he did?”

Stiles nodded. “Guess it doesn’t matter to her,” Stiles said solemnly.

Derek tightened his grip around Stiles’ hips.

“Want me to talk to her,” John asked.

“No. I’ve already said what I had to say.”

Allison looked over and saw them. She waved, big and friendly. Everyone gave a wave back. Except Stiles and John.

Even across the street, past red and green banners and dancing candy canes, Derek could see the hurt in her eyes at Stiles ignoring her.

She looked ready to take a step forward, disregarding the parade in the middle of the busiest street in Smithville, just to talk to him.

But then Jackson swooped an arm around her waist, pulling her back onto the sidewalk, worried about her safety. He pecked her cheek, then whispered something in her ear. She nodded and fell back into his arms with a smile.

Whatever Stiles’ beef with Jackson, and anger toward Allison, it was no match for what Derek just saw: two people madly in love.

He looked at Stiles, who was staring at them as they 'cupcaked' all over each other, smiling at the Smithville Fire Dept. allowing their two, Dalmatian fire dogs to prance ahead of their big, red fire truck.

Stiles' head lowered a bit and a frown formed. Stiles saw what Derek saw: love at its newest, and purest; his friendship with Allison no longer tested by Jackson’s presence, because Jackson will always be a presence.

“Hey,” Derek said.

Stiles turned his head to his husband.

“You’re right. I do secretly love your hat.”

Stiles’ face lit up. “I knew it, you liar!”

Derek laughed. He loved having the power to lift the the corners of his boy’s mouth into the biggest smile. “Kiss me.”

“But we don’t have mistletoe,” Stiles teased.

“We never need an excuse either.” Derek leaned down and pressed his lips gently against Stiles’ own.

Stiles’ lips parted, and Derek could taste the sweet icing from the Christmas cookies he ate earlier, and the rich chocolate from the sip of hot cocoa he shared with him. He didn’t need to be a wolf to taste and smell how amazing Stiles was in that moment. It would forever be buried in his memories that his first Christmas with Stiles smelled of pine and snow, tasted like sugar and smooth, rich chocolate, and sounded like playful bells.

He just only hoped it’d be the same next year, too.

Chapter Text


Derek walked in the front door with Claudia on his hip and Erica and Halina behind them. Stiles said he felt the onslaught of a head cold coming on and decided to stay home while they joined the rest of the Hales at the homeless shelter all morning.

“Stiles,” Derek called.

Stiles came into the mudroom, still in sweatpants and a comfy sweater. He looked a lot better from when Derek left him earlier in the day.

“Hey. You look a little better. You feel okay,” Derek asked, untying Claudia’s snow boots.

“Yeah. I’m fine. How was the shelter?”

“Still good. I really hope we’re making a difference in these people’s lives. My mom is so proud of it, and Deaton and Kira are doing awesome work.”

“And apparently Isaac’s been there every day since it opened,” Erica adds. “But I guess if I sunk a couple mil into something I’d be there every day to make sure it didn’t turn into crap,” she scoffed.

Stiles readies to lay into her, but Derek shoots him a look, asking him not to. Stiles bit his tongue.

Derek turned to his friend. “Or Erica, Isaac just wants to be there, helping others because he was once just like them, and feels it’s his duty as a general human being to care about the plight of those less fortunate than himself. Not to mention, the shelter was built in honor of the man who helped him in his hour of need,” he said in an obnoxiously condescending tone.

Erica simply rolled her eyes, and helped Halina take off her puffy coat and hat.

“Stiles…”

Jackson. Jackson Whittemore stood behind Stiles, looking even more insecure and timid than when Derek saw him at the ice skating rink. Derek stood.

“I-I can come back, if this is a bad time.”

“Uh, no. No. I think we’ve both said all we had to say,” Stiles replied, scratching the back of his head, feeling awkward.

“Y-You sure?”

“Yeah… Yes. I’m sure.”

Jackson nodded, eyes on the floor. “Thank you.”

Stiles simply nodded in return.

“Truly.”

Stiles nodded again.

“And, uh, I-I’m so sorry. For all of it.”

Jackson looked like he was on the verge of tears. In fact, his eyes were red and puffy as though he’d done nothing but spend hours just sobbing.

Derek turned his attention to Stiles. His eyes looked just the same: exhausted and sad. Derek initially thought it was Stiles’ cold. Apparently not.

“Who are you,” Halina asked, breaking the awkward silence.

“It’s Miss Allison’s boyfriend. I saw you kiss her at the parade,” Claudia giggled.

A small smile broke out on the adults’ faces at the innocent, sniggering girls.

“Um, yeah. I’m Miss Allison’s boyfriend,” Jackson said. “And who are you?”

Claudia slides off the bench and sticks her hand out toward Jackson. “I’m Claudia Ainsley Hale.”

“Well, I’m Jackson Henry Whittemore III. It is a pleasure to meet you Claudia Ainsley Hale,” he said, bending down to shake her hand.

“This is our youngest, Halina,” Stiles said motioning toward Halina keeping her distance beside Erica. “And Derek’s friend, Erica.”

Derek didn’t miss the hard emphasis on “Derek’s friend” Stiles pronounced.

“Yeah. I saw him at the rink, then the parade with his tongue down Ally’s throat,” Erica said coolly.

Jackson turned beet red and Derek wanted to laugh. The Jackson he knew was seldomly embarrassed, let alone about a girl he’d been intimate with. To see him bashful now was interesting. It made him wish he were a wolf, an Alpha, just so that this more “human” version of Jackson was what he turned instead of the cocky asshole he actually did turn.

“Well…” Jackson said, embarrassed a bit. “I-I should go.”

“Okay,” Stiles agreed.

Jackson slipped on his wool cap. “It was nice to see you again, Derek. And your girls are really sweet, Stiles. Really.”

Jackson left out the front door.

“Is he your friend, Roadie,” Claudia asked.

“…No, pumpkin. He’s just someone I knew a long time ago.”

Derek glanced over at Erica and their eyes met.

“Hey, girls, let’s go find something we can make your daddy cook us for dinner,” Erica said as she ushered both girls toward the kitchen with her.

I could never get rid of Erica as a friend. We’re practically telepathic with each other, Derek thought.

Stiles said nothing as Derek followed him into the living room.

“Are you okay,” Derek asked.

“I guess. I’m doing pretty good for talking about 7 years of abuse with my abuser in an afternoon.”

“Why was he here? What did he say? Why did you let him in?”

“I don’t know,” Stiles said, answering Derek’s last question. “He rang the doorbell and I answered it and saw it was him. I started yelling at him and he was begging me to talk to him, to listen, but I just kept yelling and told him to get off our property. Mr. Tipper saw us and heard me and asked if I was okay and if I wanted to call the cops…and I just broke out in tears, and started crying. Jackson got down on his knees, in the snow, and begged for me to hear him out. I started crying even harder. Mr. Tipper had to bring me inside. He wanted to call you.”

“He should have. You should have,” Derek said, cupping Stiles’ face with his large hands.

“I felt stupid. Like some Victorian countess who needed a fainting couch or something. The last thing I wanted to do was call you to come ‘rescue’ me.”

Derek placed a sweet kiss on Stiles’ forehead. “I would have,” Derek whispered against Stiles’ skin.

“I know.”

Derek’s eyes meet Stiles’ glossy, honey-brown colored ones. “What did he say to you?”

“After Mr. Tipper left— with some convincing— Jackson brought me a glass of water.”

“Did you have a panic attack?”

Stiles nodded, eyes downcasted to the mahogany floor.

Derek tilted his husband’s chin upward so their would meet again.

“I freaked out. I couldn’t understand why he was here. How he knew where I lived. I thought… It felt like being 16 years old all over again.”

“Hey. That’s okay. Its okay you were scared of him. Especially since you weren’t expecting him, and because of the way he treated you when you were kids.”

“It feels so dumb to still be afraid of him. I’m a teacher. I have a master’s degree from Yale, and a house and a husband and two daughters. I shouldn’t still be afraid of bullies from high school.”

The whole time he’s been here he’s been on cloud nine, happy to see lost loved ones and old friends he was sure to never see again, but he was starting to really reconsider that feeling about Jackson. Stiles was scared. Still scared. After all these years. And he was right to call it abuse. He was traumatized and hurt.

Derek felt helpless, as though he should have been there for Stiles then, to help him and let him know he doesn’t have to be afraid, and that he was far from alone. He knew he couldn’t do that. He didn’t have that ability, parallel universes be damned. The best he could do was hear Stiles out, and hold him when he needed to be held.

Derek ran his fingers gently through Stiles’ hair. “It’s alright. There’s nothing shameful about you feeling that way.”

“Feels like there should be.”

“But there isn’t. I promise you. You have the right to be…cautious and angry. You deserve to be.”

Stiles pulled Derek in close for a hug. “…Thank you.”

Derek kissed his neck with a light touch of his lips, then pulled back, wanting to look at Stiles again. “What did he say?”

Stiles took a deep breath… “After Jackson got me the water, and Mr. Tipper went home, I told Jackson to leave. He said he wasn’t going to leave until he was sure I was okay, and until I ‘hear him out’ on what he wanted to say. I was still shaky, and to be honest, nervous about being left alone after I had a panic attack. Even if Jackson was the root cause and it was him that was there with me. So, I let him stay... He begged, Derek. Begged, for me to forgive him. Tears and everything. He had a list of all the shitty things he did to me when we were kids and apologized for each and every one. I asked him if this was all some bullshit having to do with a 12-step program or something and he said no. He said he’s been going to therapy for years now and that he and his therapist discovered that the root cause of all his failures and behaviors stems from self-hatred and self-loathing, for how horrible a person he was when he was a kid.”

“He told you all this?”

“Yeah. He said he had to fix every right he made wrong because he hurt a lot of people, and if he ever wanted to be happy, he’d ‘have to change this from his past to make a stronger future’,” Stiles said with a chuckle. “I swear to God he said that last part word-for-word. He sounded like an inspirational poster or something.”

“And righting wrongs is getting on your hands and knees, begging for forgiveness…?”

“I’m a tough nut to crack; he had to pull out all stops. Apparently, Danny was quick to forgive. Hugged him and everything after they cried together. I wasn’t going down without a fight. If he wanted atonement then I was going to make him work for it.”

Derek snickered.

“I’m serious. It had to mean something to him for me, other than his own damn quest for happiness. I wanted him to truly understand how hurtful it all was for me, especially after finding out Danny came out to him during graduation. For 7 years he made me hate myself and feel like there was something wrong with me, and he didn’t even know his own best friend was gay. Danny at least had the decency to apologize to me after high school for never sticking up to Jackson when he would attack me.”

“So did you? Did you make him work for your forgiveness?”

“Yeah… I was screaming and crying, then screaming again, and crying some more… He listened and cried, too. He apologized so many times it was starting to get annoying.”

Derek laughed.

Stiles looked thoughtful a minute. Pensive.

“What?”

“The best part of it all was that he didn’t blame anyone else. In fact, he told me his parents were actually big supporters of the gay community. He said--”

“He didn’t understand. He was uncomfortable and didn’t know how to handle it, being around someone so open about their sexuality which was different from his own.”

“H-How do you know?”

“…We all have our Jacksons. Or were sadly him.”

“You never talk about what school was like for you as a kid. All I know is that you went to military school in Virginia.”

Seems fitting, Derek thinks. In the world he grew up in, he started out rough as a teen. He wasn’t Jackson, but something more akin to Danny. Too scared and too pressured to stand up for the weaklings, so he stayed deep and hidden in the “closet,” only coming out for girls that peaked his interest. Girls named Paige and Kate.

It made sense to him that here he’d either been shipped off due to his actions— too frightened like the others to stand up for the harmless, like Stiles—or, he was Stiles, surrounded by boys just as frightened and confused and dishonest as he was, with no escape in sight. He figured it was the former rather than the latter. His parents didn't seem the type to ship him off to military school without a legit reason as to why.

Other-Derek must have been a handful…

“We’ll just say I get where you’re coming from.”

Stiles ran a gentle hand down Derek’s face, fingertips grassing through his dark beard. “Oh, babe. I’m so sorry. I knew there was a reason you always understood so well.”

“So, did you absolve Jackson Whittemore of all his sins,” Derek asked, wanting to change the subject.

“I shook his hand, and told him if he ever hurt Ally I’d murder him. That’s about as much ‘forgiveness’ I could give him in one day. He seemed to understand that.”

“…I’m so proud of you, Stiles.”

“I feel like I might’ve betrayed Scott and Lydia with what little civility I’ve given Jackson today.”

“You didn’t. They need their own time in figuring out how they want to handle their feelings about him.”

“We’ve just always been in it together. Then, and now.”

“Go call them. I’m sure if he made such a dramatic effort to seek you out, he’ll do the same for them. Don’t let them get blindsided by him like you were, and tell them everything that happened today.”

Stiles was…staring. Just eyes wandering over Derek’s face, as though he were trying to solve a riddle, or crack a mysteriously intriguing code.

“What,” Derek asked.

“Just… Just wondering how I tricked you into marrying me.”

Instinctively, he nuzzled into Stiles’ cheek.

“What are you doing,” Stiles laughed.

“Go make your phone call before I take you upstairs and destroy you,” Derek breathes against Stiles’ neck.

“That sounds a lot better than making a phone call,” Stiles said before sliding his tongue into Derek’s mouth.

“Or you could make your daughters and house guest lunch first,” Erica said, interrupting them.

Stiles shot Derek a glare only he could see before turning on his heel and walking out of the room practically growling.

Derek doesn’t miss the grin on Erica’s smug face, happy to have agitated Stiles.

“What?”

“Knock it off. Please. I’ll make lunch. And you should really learn to cook.”

“Do you not recall your horrible efforts in trying to teach me years ago? I burned your mother’s curtains. Cooking is not for me,” Erica said adamantly.

Derek may not have that particular memory to remember, but it doesn’t stop him from picturing it, and laughing his ass off.

 

Derek made garlic brown sugar chicken for dinner. Stiles, Erica, and the girls ate in peace (or in as much peace as could be had with his husband and friend shooting glares at snide comments back and forth), while Derek spent his dinner fielding calls between he and his sisters on who was getting what for their parents for Christmas.

Stiles gave the girls their bath, letting Derek finally get to his dinner. Erica volunteered to clean up (much to their surprise).

After he ate, Derek headed to the third floor to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to the girls with Stiles. Every year his father would read it to them until they grew into teens and felt too “adult” to be read bed times stories. He started tearing up at the memory as he read. Stiles squeezed his knee, letting him know he was there, in every sense of the word.

The three of them shared two bottles of wine after the girls fell asleep and they dragged the presents into the living room from the garage to wrap them. Derek purposely left Erica’s gift upstairs in their room, under the bed, figuring she’d get nosy at some point. Chiefly, when they lugged everything into the house.

The three of them shared some laughs between wrapping gifts and poking fun at whatever cheesy, romantic holiday movie was playing on The Hallmark Channel.

It seemed in order for Stiles and Erica to be genuinely kind to each other, alcohol and romantic comedies had to be involved.

I’ll be sure to write that down for next time, Derek quipped to himself.

 

Stiles turned over in bed, tucking in close to Derek, his fingers playing lightly in his chest hair, coaxing him out of sleep.

Derek gradually awoke, taking a deep breath as his eyes fluttered open and tried to adjust to the darkness of the room.

“You okay,” he asked Stiles with a yawn.

“I can’t believe Scott was so mad.”

Derek lifted his arm to wrap around his husband.

“You would have thought I said Jackson was my new best friend and we were going camping this weekend.”

Derek snorted. “It’s just going to take him some time. He was just as hurt and angry all those years ago, too.”

Derek had no idea the torture Jackson put Stiles through until he talked to Isaac. He grew up with Stiles, and was pretty good friends with him until they were about 10 years old and Isaac’s family disappeared and wound up homeless on the streets of New York due to his father’s financial failures and his parents’ combined drinking problems.

Isaac abandoned his parents to avoid social services and foster care, finding himself back in Connecticut, then under Peter’s guardianship. He didn’t return to prep school with Stiles, but on occasion hung out with him when he was at home. They didn’t live far from one another; Peter’s house merely a mile from Stiles’ childhood home (John’s house).

Isaac told Derek he remembered a few times that Stiles had come home angry or hurt or crying. Sometimes all three. Then Isaac mentioned the ‘prom incident’ being the last straw, and Derek feigned knowing, but manipulated Isaac into recalling the story for him:

Stiles had had enough. He was 18 then and about to graduate high school. The last thing he wanted was anymore of Jackson Whittemore’s shit.

Jackson was making fun of Stiles in the locker room after gym class one day and Stiles, boiled with rage and exhaustion from being bullied by him, screamed at him in front of the entire class and their P.E. teacher, accusing Jackson of perpetually mocking him with homophobic comments and pranks, or ridiculing him with slurs and homoerotic taunts because Jackson himself was probably a closeted homosexual, too afraid to be out and open, making him a coward.

Their P.E. teacher came between them before Jackson could attack Stiles, and gave them both detentions.

Jackson waited after detention for Stiles by his jeep. He told Stiles that he was right and that he was gay and too afraid to come out for fear that his friends and his “strict” father would be ashamed.

Stiles, though skeptical at first, eventually bought Jackson’s act as truth over the next couple of weeks when he noticed Jackson and cronies let up from bullying Stiles, and Jackson made slight attempts at being polite to Stiles.

Jackson asked Stiles to be lab partners with him in chemistry one day, claiming he really wanted an excuse to be close to Stiles and talk to him about a guy he had feelings for. Stiles agreed to be his lab partner and came over to Jackson’s house after school. Jackson confessed to being in love with a boy from school, but not knowing what to do with his feelings for him. Stiles gave him the best, sound advice he could give him, assuming the “boy from school” Jackson was referring to was Danny, and told him to call him whenever he needed to talk.

Two days later, Stiles found a love letter in his locker. From Jackson. Asking him to meet him later that night at the park nearby.

Stiles complied and listened to Jackson “confess” to being in love with him, and explain that had been the reason why he had always been so mean to Stiles; he was masking his real feelings and didn’t want to be found out.

Stiles was floored, and speechless at Jackson’s “admission.”

Jackson claimed he no longer wanted to do that, and what better way to be honest with himself and his friends and family, than to show Stiles how much he liked him, and ask him to prom.

Stiles bolted. Too terrified of what was happening and overload of information thrown at him in the middle of the night by his own personal bully, who now claimed to be in love with him.

But after talking it over with Lydia and Scott, and seeing the “wounded, sad” looks Jackson was giving him in school, Stiles said ‘yes’.

Stiles had never kissed anyone, let alone been on a date with anyone, but he was over the moon, and found himself really starting to like Jackson. They studied together some times during study hall, called each other every other night, and a few times Stiles had eaten lunch with Jackson and his friends. Jackson had even left Scott and Lydia alone by association with Stiles. And all three of them were invited to a party Danny was throwing at his parents’ lake house after prom.

He started to like Jackson a lot. Romantically.

Jackson told Stiles that he got his father to rent two limos for prom and that he and his friends would go and pick him, Scott and Lydia up at Stiles’ house, since he lived closest to the hotel their prom was being held at.

Jackson was almost an hour late as Stiles, Scott, Lydia, and their parents sat around waiting for him to pick them up.

When he finally did call, he sounded drunk and told Stiles to go outside. Stiles stepped outside. Stiles stepped out on his porch to see Jackson and his friends hanging out the sunroof of the limo drunkenly laughing at him, before pelting him with raw eggs and flour bombs.

Stiles still held the phone to his ear as shock and utter humiliation wrecked over him like a wave. “I am so not gay, you fucking spaz, but even if I was, I would never go to prom with you and your loser friends,” was the last thing he heard before he slipped into a panic attack.

Derek hung up the phone on Isaac. He needed to breathe. He needed to remind himself that it was 13 years ago. He needed to think clearly instead of driving to Allison’s looking for Jackson so he could kill him. Literally, kill him. The last time he was so filled with rage like that, Kate had confessed to killing his entire family.

Jackson was not Kate. Far from it. But he was cruel. He was malicious without reason, and uncaring because he could be.

He had to remind himself that Jackson was a kid, and as an adult now, he was making an attempt to change. To be better and seek absolution.

He had to remind himself to Not. Kill. Jackson.

Isaac called back. Derek answered, saying he lost the connection, and quickly changed the subject to Isaac and his ideas for his new book.

“It’s not worth it.”

“What isn’t?”

“Holding on to all that anguish. All that resentment and pain. Especially not when your life is so different from what it was then. It felt so dumb clutching to my hatred for Jackson, and to an extent, Danny, for so many years, when I’ve been nothing but happy since.” Stiles sits up, facing Derek, “I went to fucking Yale. I’m a teacher. I got married to the most amazing man and have these two daughters that I love more than my own life. I won, Derek.”

Derek smiled.

“I… I don’t need to be angry anymore. I shouldn’t be. And neither should Scott and Lydia. We’re amazing. And Jackson’s spent the last 13 years miserable and in therapy and in fucked up relationships with shitty women, and working at a job he hates, with no friends. He sucks. He’s spent his whole life thinking he was…this demigod, or something, and he’s really just Don Quxiote.”

Derek laughed. “Very true.” He rubbed his thumb gently across Stiles’ bottom lip.

“I’m proud of me. Of us.”

Derek sat up. He leaned in and kissed Stiles sweetly. “Me, too. But remind Scott of that, too. That he should be proud of he and Lydia, too.”

“Right. I will,” Stiles said, nodding.

Stiles curved his leg around Derek, straddling him. He slipped his hand into the sheet and wrapped it around Derek’s cock. “You said something about destroying me earlier, before we were rudely interrupted…”

“Now? It’s two in the morning.”

Stiles shrugged. “Is that a ‘no’?”

Derek grabbed Stiles and flipped them over, putting Stiles on his stomach. He leaned in and whispered into Stiles’ ear, “Destroying you sounds like fun, but I’m suddenly very hungry. I’d much rather eat you instead.”

Stiles moaned and involuntarily grinded against the mattress as Derek pulled his briefs down and left a trail of wet kisses down his spine…

Chapter Text


Derek is drunk. He hasn’t been drunk since he was 12 years old and Peter snuck him a glass of wolfsbane wine one Christmas. Derek downed the entire glass and managed to make off with a whole bottle up to his room, undetected by the preoccupied (and very drunk) adults downstairs.

But here, now, on Christmas Eve, at Laura’s house, he’s feeling a bit tipsy, and he’s not so sure he wants to slow down. He felt warm, full, and giddy; happy, as cheery Christmas music is drowned out by the cacophony of chatter and laughter from the crowded room of adults just as (or more) wobbly as he was. He was good. Content. More than content. He was blissful. He loved it. He loved the noise without the piercing ringing in his sensitive ears. He loved the crowded room of strangers that don’t overwhelm his senses with their odd natural smells, or emotional ones. He loved the slightly dizzying feeling he had gotten from the sweet, Christmas punch Stiles practically made in an oil drum.

He’ll always miss being a wolf, but being human here, with Stiles and the rest, like this felt right to him, too. He’d often wondered (especially after meeting Stiles) what it would be like to be human, so vulnerable, but yet, so free. Full from garlic knots and bacon-wrapped scallops coupled with his husband’s pungent rum punch, it felt like a warm pool in his chest had spread all over and made the corners of his mouth turn up.

He almost wished his girls where there, but he was drunk, surrounded by other drunk adults, so it was probably better if they weren’t there to see him slurring his words and reeking of rum.

Cora being pregnant nixed her out of the party, and wherever Cora wasn’t, was were Boyd didn’t want to be. So the expecting couple were charged with babysitting all seven of their nieces and nephews, along with Ernie, and Kira’s daughter, Juliet, at their house while the grown ups had a good time at Laura’s house.

Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas, Baby” sounded through the stereo and soft lips kissed his cheek from behind.

Stiles. In a goofy elf hat, holding a glass of his punch. He smiled wide and silly at Derek. “Hey, there, sexy Santa. What are you doing all by your lonesome?”

“I was talking to one of my dad’s colleagues, then he started looking queasy and green. He ran off to the bathroom.”

“Bald guy? Red bow tie and wearing a hideous sweater with his dog’s face on it?”

Derek nodded.

“Yeah. He didn’t make it to the bathroom. Laura’s cleaning his puke up now.”

Derek laughed, making Stiles laugh, and they burst out into bellowing guffaws together.

“Did you see the way he ran? It was like a duck being chased on dry land.”

Derek continued laughing, remembering the poor man’s attempt at a speedy escape to the toilet.

Stiles moved into Derek’s lap. “I’m drunk, and really want to disappear into some dark corner with you.”

“That definitely sounds like fun.”

“Where could we go?”

 

“Jesus Christ, this is so wrong,” Stiles said in a breathy moan.

Derek continued to pound into him with a determined look about his face. “Why? We’re not on their beds.”

True. They weren’t on either of their nephews beds in their shared room, but they were on the wicker couch in the center of the room, a communal space all three boys no doubt have made a habit of occupying for long periods of time given the TV and game console in front of it. So, it was safe to say that their uncles fucking on it was still not a good idea, despite it not being one of their beds.

Yet, it must have made perfect sense to Stiles, who was not only alcohol-drunk, but sex-drunk at the moment, because he keened when Derek gripped his hips firmly and slammed against his prostate.

Derek kept hitting him against the walnut-sized muscle, making Stiles moan and shake. He buried his teeth into Derek’s neck— eliciting a hiss from the older man— to keep from crying out.

The remnants of being a wolf were still heavy in Derek at times, of course, and when Stiles bit into Derek’s neck, his hands held tighter to him, and he growled as he lifted Stiles off the cushions and hammered harder and faster into him, with all that he had.

“Oh, my… Derek… Fuck…! I-I-I— Fuckfuckfuck!”

Stiles spasmed and came all over the front of Derek’s dark red Henley.

Derek pulled out of Stiles roughly, pushed him off the couch and onto his knees—pants bunched up around his ankles, and out of breath still at the crippling orgasm Derek just gave him—clasped his hand into his chestnut-colored hair and tilted his head back.

It took Stiles a good moment to realize what Derek was about to do, let alone that he wasn’t on the couch anymore.

Derek pressed the tip of his cock against Stiles’ mouth and came on his lips and chin.

Stiles sucked at Derek’s dick in slow, languid open-mouth kisses like worship.

Derek pulled Stiles back from his cock. He tilted his head back and cleaned Stiles’ mouth and chin with his tongue.

Stiles had let the cum on his face dribble down his chin to his neck. Derek rubbed it into his skin against his throat.

“Now everyone knows you belong to only me,” Derek whispered in Stiles’ ear.

He didn’t miss the whimper Stiles let out when he pressed his lips against his debauched mouth.

They joined the party minutes later.

The front of Derek’s shirt had a large wet stain on it from using the boys’ bathroom to clean the nearly dried cum off of his clothing. Stiles looked no better, flushed and hair askew in all directions. He slipped his elf hat back over his head as they reached the ground floor where all the guests were.

Laura immediately swooped on them. “I hope this means Thomas and I have free reign to fuck in Claudia and Halina’s room,” she said with a wicked smile.

“Gross, Laura. We didn’t fuck in your boys’ room,” Derek lied.

“As long as you weren’t on the beds…or the couch,” she said before sipping her punch and sauntering off toward a gaggle of women in sexy, Santa costumes.

“We are horrible people,” Stiles said.

Derek pressed his lips to Stiles’ own, then licked into his mouth. “Ask me if I care.”

Stiles’ cheeks pinked and he smiled. Derek could look at that smile forever. And hoped to.

They made their way toward the kitchen when Valerie called Derek and approached.

“Can I talk to you,” she asked, quickly shifting her eyes nervously to Stiles.

“I’m, uh, going to go find my dad. Make sure he’s not challenging Thomas to an arm wrestling match or something,” Stiles said.

“He’d more likely be eating that pigs in a blanket wreath Kira made and talking about the Red Sox with my dad,” Derek chuckled.

“Hopefully.” Stiles pecked them both then left to give them some privacy.

“You okay,” Derek asked her.

“Let’s go out front,” Valerie said.

Derek followed her through the house, out the front door.

It was cold and too late for either of them go upstairs to the master bedroom for their coats, and Derek got the impression Valerie didn’t want anyone to know she and Derek were speaking privately. So they stayed put, shivering on the front porch.

“I’m going to say this quick because it’s freezing and I might lose whatever liquid courage I have running through me at the moment. I need you to watch the boys for a bit, after New Years. I’m going to Africa…with Isaac.”

“…And I doubt it’s to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders.”

“…No. He wants to take me to Mombasa, and I want to let him,” she said with tears flooding her eyes. “I’ve been in love with him for over a decade, D… I can’t keep fighting it. I hate being without him.”

If it’s anyone that understands fighting against something, or someone, you want so bad, because you feel it’s wrong, or you’re scared, it’s Derek. He’s had to slip into another reality to get what he wants. Who he wants. He understands that particular ache, and finds himself nodding despite the shock.

“When I get back, I’m asking Jason for a divorce. It’s going to get ugly, and I don’t want to boys to see it, so I need you and Stiles to take them until we’ve calmed down a bit.”

“Are you going to tell Jason that Miller is Isaac’s son?”

She chuckles wryly with wet eyes and tear-stained cheeks. “Miller is the epitome of why our marriage was never good. Everyone on the planet knows Miller is Isaac’s without me ever having to say it, but my own husband… Head in the sand. Like always.”

“Are you really going to blame a man that’s been lied to for 13 years for the end of your marriage, Val? It’s never worked because you’ve been in love with Isaac since day one. You married a man you didn’t love, thinking it’ll help you get over the one you did,” he offered as hard truth. Hers, and his own. Braeden’s existence in his life was merely because he needed to fill the Stiles-shaped void in his chest.

“You’re right. This is all on me...and I’m scared. He could take my boys from me, or at the least, he could take Arthur,” she cried.

“Hey. We will never let that happen. Understand? You are a successful business owner, with an impressive client list. You’re from a good home, with a prominent father, and a boyfriend that’s more than financially stable to take care of you and your boys. You’ve got a good leg to stand on, and we’ll make sure they see that in family court.”

“You sound like you’ve thought a lot about this,” she said, slightly amused.

“I was worried, after I figured everything out. I don’t want you hurt by this.”

Derek had spent a good amount of hours, after correctly assuming Miller was Isaac’s son, online reading up on divorce proceedings, alimony, child support, and custody cases. Some of what he found was ugly like Valerie said, and made him nauseous to think his sister would have to go through such a horrific and embarrassing situation.

“It’s my own hurt. I did this. It didn’t have to be this way if I just trusted Isaac all those years ago, instead of thinking he was too immature and not enough because he was younger.”

Derek nodded, getting her meaning more than she realized.

“But I can’t anymore, D. Being without him hurts more than betraying Jason. I feel sick when we’re not together. I love him so much it—”

“Hey. You don’t have to convince me. I get it. More than you know.”

“I know you’re close, you and Isaac, so please don’t hate him.”

“I don’t, Val. I could never. I don’t hate either of you. I don’t hate Jason either. It’s all just…”

“Fucked up?”

He laughed. “...Hearing you swear is weird.”

“Cora said the same thing.”

“When did you swear in front of Cora?”

“Couple months ago. When all of us when to the beach and I scraped my knee on a rock. She looked so scandalized. Like I said I was into watersports or something.”

“I feel scandalized that you even know what watersports are.”

It was Valerie’s turn to laugh. The sound was lovely, and her smile reached all the way up to her eyes. He remembers it always being sweet, and polite, but never wide and open like it was at that moment.

And he knew. He knew Isaac was good for her. Made her better, because even in his own world, his "past life," he couldn’t remember her looking so comfortable.

The front door opened. Isaac.

“Everything…all right out here,” he asked, looking nervously at Derek.

Derek pulled him all the way out of the door and onto the porch. He wrapped his arms around the tall blonde and squeezed. “I would have taken her to Marrakesh, but I guess Mombasa is just as good,” Derek said lightly.

He felt the tension leave Isaac’s body and his arms come up to hug around him. “Mombasa is just as beautiful. I promise. Nothing but the best for my girl,” he said, winking at Valerie over Derek’s shoulder.

The two men broke apart.

“It’s going to get really nasty, and vile. Just don’t abandon her. I don’t want to have to kill one of my best friends.”

Derek thought it a tad amusing how Isaac had grown up here as one of Stiles’ friends, but eventually grew closer to Derek as he became an adult, reminiscent slightly of his relationship to him in the 'other world'.

“I will never leave this woman again,” he said with such seriousness and sincerity, Derek didn’t need to be a werewolf to know it was complete and utter truth.

“Good, because I can’t wait until you tell mom and dad.”

Derek walked back into the house chuckling to himself at the terrified look on his sister and Isaac’s face with the inevitably of them having to tell Talia and Theo of it all.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall during that conversation…

Chapter Text


Derek woke up to two little girls jumping up and down excitedly on the bed. He wanted to bark at them to stop, telling them, “Daddy has a headache,” but it was Christmas Day and they were beyond excited.

“Stiles,” he grumbled, burying his face into his pillow as Claudia continued jumping around, crash landing on his knees. “Stiles, your daughters would like to go downstairs and open their gifts now.”

Stiles groaned back at him and crawled deeper into the nest of blankets around him.

They really shouldn’t have drank that much last night. Especially not the day before Christmas.

“Girls, please give daddies 10 minutes to wake up, then we can go downstairs,” Stiles begged.

A whine and a sad moan echoed in Derek’s ears, making his stomach feel heavy with guilt…but not enough to climb out of bed and face the busy day ahead of them.

He wanted nothing more than to run downstairs and watch with glee as his daughters cheered and screamed with joy at their Christmas presents while he took an obscene amount of pictures and Stiles baked cookies. But the hangover thumping in his head and gurgling in his stomach said otherwise.

Stiles wasn’t any better. Derek could still smell the rum perfuming out of his sweaty pores. He didn’t even bother to take off the stupid elf hat he’d wore to the party when they got home and crashed into bed. At some point in the middle of the night, it shifted off Stiles’ head and wound up underneath Derek. He grabbed it by its jingling balls and threw it across the room into a corner.

When Claudia and Halina barged into the room, Halina grabbed the hat and fit it over her long, brown hair; jingling the bells on it as she bounced atop the mattress to wake up her daddies.

“10 minutes, girls. We promise. Just go back to your rooms for only 10 minutes, and we’ll all go down to see what Santa got you for Christmas,” Derek pleaded.

With a huff and a sigh, their girls hopped off the bed and went back to their room.

“Lock. The door,” Stiles said.

“You’re closer,” Derek said.

Stiles groaned, then managed to find his way out of his comfy “nest” and push himself out of bed. He closed the door and locked it, then hurried back into bed, snuggling in the blankets.

Cruel. They know. But they deserve a little more sleep giving the night they had, and the day that awaits them…

 

“How in the hell is this better than a puppy, Stiles,” Derek snapped in a whisper at his husband.

Stiles massaged his temples, trying to relieve his headache just a little. “It seemed like a good idea at the time… In fact, it still is.”

Derek winced at the harsh noise his sweet, little girls were making as Halina banged her wooden sticks on a kid's drum set, and Claudia haplessly grinded on the strings of a kid's acoustic guitar. “How so?”

“Because it’s better than teeth marks in the furniture and the smell of dog piss on the carpets.”

Derek wanted to argue, but he couldn’t. Stiles did have a point. He just wished their children would give it a rest already. It’s only been 20 minutes, but it’s been a grueling twenty minutes, of non-stop noise that doesn’t remotely resemble anything musical.

“Lessons. For God’s sake we have to get them lessons.”

“I’ll teach them. Me and Scott.”

Derek raised his eyebrows at Stiles. “You and Scott?”

“Uh, yeah. Why not? We were in a band in college. For a little while anyway. I’ll teach Halina the drums and Scott can teach Claudia how to play guitar.

All Derek could do was picture a sweaty, Stiles under the harsh lights of some rundown club, beating against an impressive set of drums to a classic rock song, like Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” or Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” His T-shirt wet and clinging to his body as he twirls his drum sticks between his long, lean fingers; eyes closed, feeling the music, and creating its heartbeat. His mouth would be open, dry, breathing hard, taking in the smoky, stale air. His biceps and forearms firm, making every vein from his hands to his neck pulse…

Derek took a deep, deep breath and shifted, adjusting himself in his pajama pants. Christmas morning in front of his young daughters would not be a good time to sport a hard on.

But Jesus… Stiles playing drums, in a band, is something I definitely have to see. Fuck.

“Ernie already knows how to play both acoustic and electric, and the piano…” Stiles gasped, an idea forming.

“No. please don’t say it—”

“A band! They could form a kiddie band and rock out,” Stiles beamed excitedly.

“Stiles. Now is about the time I crush your little fantasy.”

Stiles frowned. “You are no fun sometimes, you know that?”

“Claudia is already in ballet, and she wants to take tap dancing lessons. We’re adding guitar lessons to that, too. When is she going to do schoolwork?”

The girls immediately stop playing.

“I don’t want to do tap anymore, daddy. I want to play the guitar,” Claudia said.

“But pumpkin, dad—Santa just got you tap shoes and a new dance outfit,” Derek said, trying to sound less frustrated than he was.

“Halina said there is no Santa and that you and Roadie buy us gifts for Christmas,” she responded casually.

Derek and Stiles gaped like fish on dry land.

“I figured it out. Plus, Aunt Erica told me the truth,” Halina said.

The two girls return to banging on their instruments.

“When she slithers out of bed, I am going to wrapped my hand around her neck and squeeze the very life from her, Derek,” Stiles threatened.

“Out of who,” Erica asked, coming into the living room wearing Christmas-themed nightclothes that consisted of a thin tank top and very short boyshorts.

“You,” Stiles glared.

Erica flops down on the couch beside Derek, yanking on the blanket for him him to share with her. “Me? What I do?”

“You tell our girls there’s no Santa,” Derek asked.

“Oh. That. How the hell are you two raising little Atheists, but let them believe in Santa and the tooth fairy,” she said unapologetically.

“It’s just… It’s essential to their childhood to believe in magic. We can wait until their teenagers for them to be cynical and sullen,” Stiles replied.

Erica yawned wide, then shrugged. “Whatever. Is there coffee?”

Stiles’ nostrils flared, and he and Derek communicated through a series of glares and eye rolling for Stiles to “please just let it go.”

“I’ll get you coffee,” Derek said, removing Erica’s feet from his lap.

“Because she doesn’t have legs,” Derek heard Stiles mumble under his breath.

“Wait. Give me my gift first,” Erica said with an excited grin. She looked like Claudia and Halina when they opened their gifts.

Derek stood and dug under the tree. He picked up a blue gift bag. The tag on the string said For Erica. He handed it to her.

“It’s from both me and Stiles.”

Stiles rolled his eyes so hard they almost fell out of his head. It earned him a quick glare from the blonde woman.

“And the girls, too,” he added.

Erica dug into the bag and pulled out something in the shape of a rectangle, wrapped in shiny blue and gold paper, with a big gold bow.

Derek was just as excited as she was. He didn’t get her the gift; ‘other Derek’ did, so he was on pins and needles to see what it was that had been hidden in the garage for the last few weeks.

Erica tore the paper off impatiently.

“Oh, Derek…”

It was a bottle of (from what Derek could tell, and judging from Stiles’ wide eyes) expensive perfume.

Chanel No. 5! Derek, oh my God!” She jumped up from the sofa and leaped into Derek’s arms, peppering his face with kisses. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you,” she squealed. “Best gift ever! I’m going to go brag to my sister and that cunt Ginger I work with!”

She jumped over the couch and ran up the stairs to the guest room in a fit of joy.

“Last I knew, Chanel was almost two grand,” said with a bright, fake smile.

Holy fuck.

“I did not spend two grand on Erica!” That much he knew had to be true.

“I should hope not, Derek,” Stiles said tightly.

“Stiles. I didn’t. At the most that’s a hundred dollar bottle I got at Macy’s. There’s no way I spent that much on Erica for one gift on one day.”

“And where and when is she even going to wear Chanel perfume? Aboard a yacht owned buy some Saudi prince who paid her ten grand so he could watch her, and two other girls with daddy issues and coke problems, scissor each other?”

“Stiles. Stop. Now,” Derek barked at his husband, nodding toward their children.

“You’re right. I know. I’m sorry. That was low. You got her a gift, she loves it, and that’s all that matters. I’m a total a-hole right now.”

“What’s an ‘a-hole’, Roadie,” Claudia asked.

“It’s what Roadie is acting like right now,” Stiles answered.

Derek yanked Stiles out of the armchair and pulled him close. “You worried Erica’s gift is better than yours?”

Stiles scoffed, but Derek knew he was worried.

“I promise you, you’ll love your gift when I give it to you.”

“I better.”

Derek hoped Stiles liked it. It made him worried and nauseous thinking about it, and the disappointment on Stiles’ face if he didn’t like it. Especially with Stiles giving Derek really nice gifts for Christmas: a rare edition of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, along with an in-dept biography about FDR, Ken Burn’s baseball documentary, a new office chair (which he hates, because he likes the lived-in, beat up one he has now), some new clothes, Bruins tickets for a ‘boys night out’ with Isaac and Boyd, and reserved seating for an art show in Boston, three weeks from now.

Derek ducked his head to capture Stiles’ lips in a kiss. It’s the first time they had since they allowed the girls to drag them downstairs finally. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Stiles kissed him once more before turning to the girls, “Alright, you two. Time to clean all this up. We’ll take your gifts upstairs to your room, and you girls throw out all this garbage.”

“Not the instructions though, just the wrapping paper and boxes and bags,” Derek added, not wanting to toss out anything important, like the warranty for their girls’ instruments.

“Okay,” they answered. They set their instruments down gently, then began picking up wrapping paper and other trash around the room.

Halina found a box wrapped in goofy reindeer paper with a red bow tied around it. “Roadie. What’s this?”

“Who’s it for?”

“It’s for me,” she says with a smile, reading the gift tag.

“Well, then open it.”

Derek turned curious to Halina sitting on the floor with the box. He doesn’t remembering wrapping that one. He doesn’t remember Stiles or Erica wrapping it either. He didn’t have that much wine. And he and Stiles did an ‘inventory’ of all the things they got for the girls. He really has no idea where the mystery gift came from…

Halina tears into the box. There’s an all-white, clothing gift box beneath the wrapping. She lifts the lid and pushes away the tissue paper to reveal— a purple sweater, plain, black skirt, white oxford shift, grey tie with purple and black stripes, and pair of Mary Janes. In addition, to three purple jumpers. A school uniform. ERA’s school uniform.

“What is it?”

“It’s your school uniform, bluebell,” Stiles said. “You’ll wear it in January when you go to grandma’s school.”

“Stiles…” Derek said, nearly speechless at his husband’s gesture.

Stiles shrugged with a small, humble smile on his lips.

“I can go to school?!” Halina ran to both her fathers and dove into them, wrapping her tiny arms around their legs.

He watched Stiles pick her up. She hugged him as hard as she could, and Stiles kissed her repeatedly, all over as much of her face as he could.

This. This was why he couldn’t leave. Why he would never leave. He couldn’t have this in Beacon Hills. He couldn’t have this as a werewolf.

He has the most amazing family. He’s married to the man he’s been in love with for years now and they have children. His parents are alive, Kate is dead, Valerie is going to marry Isaac (eventually), Boyd and Cora are having a baby, and he’s a book editor.

It’s all so simplistic. So normal, and common. People take things like this for granted, but Derek never will. Not again. Not after losing everything. Not after Paige, Kate, the fire, Laura, his pack, his Alpha status, and Allison. It was after Laura that he realized it was the small, simple things he missed, he wanted back, and wished he could have in the future. Yet, being what he was, who he was, none of that would ever be simple, let alone obtainable.

Here though, here he could have every wish he’s ever had. He could touch, taste, smell, hear, and see it all. No more wishing. It’s real here. And he’d do anything to keep it.

 

Cora’s Christmas ham was disgusting. Derek knew Stiles tried with all his might to teach his inept sister how to cook, but it was just not in her. She didn’t have not only the skill, but the finesse to pull off cooking a meal, let alone an entire Christmas dinner.

The ham was wet, slimy, and raw. It also smelled…past it’s sell by date. Which Derek didn’t even want to think about, because that would mean his baby sister bought an old, expired ham. Or when she bought it it was a good, fresh piece of pork, but she had kept it sweating in her fridge since.

He wanted to vomit.

And so did everyone else at the table. He could tell. No one had even touched it on their plate since taking the initial bite. Derek even caught his nephews spitting it back out of their mouths into their napkins at the kids’ table.

Derek glanced at Boyd, feeling sorry for the man and the Hungry Man dinners he was forever subjected to by his wife’s lack of cooking skills, or tuna casserole, seeing as how Stiles told him it was the only dish Boyd knew how to make.

Yet, Boyd was sitting there happily at the head of the table, talking with his father, Theo, and eating the (gross) ham.

There was no way in hell Boyd was enjoying the rancid meat his sister “cooked” for them, Derek knew that for sure, but there his best friends was, eating it like it was a New York strip topped with truffle butter, just to make Cora happy. To make her feel good, and not saddened by her attempt to create something her family could enjoy and it tasting like spoiled pig.
That’s love.

And Derek had never felt so happy his sister was so loved. Especially by his best friend.

 

Everyone gathered around, in the den, to watch It’s A Wonderful Life.

Before they settled into the den to watch, the adults gave each of their nieces and nephews their gifts. Claudia got a plush toy and necklace (to add to her overflowing box already) with a ‘C’ for Claudia on it, from Laura and Cora. Halina received a spirograph kit, and a pair of slippers made to look like sharks. Valerie sent her gifts via Isaac, giving the girls each a wool puppet.

The adults picked names for ‘Secret Santa’ the day they re-opened Peter’s homeless shelter. Derek had Isaac, and forked over the framed vintage map of Africa he bought him. Isaac was truly impressed and thanked Derek immensely for it.

John it seemed drew his name and decided to go with practical, yet funny, and gave Derek a custom shaving kit which earned a nice laugh from him and everyone else. All in all, the shaving kit was actually very nice, and looked expensive, making Derek a bit more comfortable with having bought John an impressive barbecue grill, which was actually Stiles’ gift to his father, seeing as how that’s who he picked in the drawing.

Stiles’ gift earned a well-deserved laugh when he pulled it from the bag. His name was picked by Boyd, who got him a new winter hat to replace the one he always wore, with the ear flaps and pom-poms.

The kids had just gotten done watching A Christmas Story after gift exchanging while the adults talked over after-dinner drinks. Afterward, the grown ups decided to join them by capping the night off with the classic, holiday film, all snuggled up and cozy with one another.

Isaac was there, but Valerie, Jason and their sons weren’t. The curly-haired man wasn’t leaving with Valerie for Africa until the 30th. They were planning to ring the New Year in together in Mombasa; the boys staying with Jason and visiting his side of the family in Ohio.

Derek had no clue how Valerie planned on getting out of that and jetting off to another continent with her secret lover, but if she could hide Miller’s paternity from Jason for the last 10 years, he was sure she could come up with something to get her out of spending New Years with her in-laws.

When Isaac and Valerie get back, Derek and Stiles were tasked with babysitting Arthur and Miller, while Valerie confessed to being in love with Isaac, wanting a divorce, and Miller not being Jason’s child.

Derek was worried sick about how it would all go down, but was grateful Isaac would be there with her, in case Jason got out of hand.

Scott and Lydia weren’t there with Ernie either. Scott used some of his vacation time to spend time in Providence visiting Lydia’s family.

From what Derek gathered from Stiles and Laura’s gossiping, Lydia’s family loved Scott and thought he and Lydia made a great couple. They apparently had always been very accommodating and warm toward Scott, even going so far as to learn Spanish when Scott insisted Ernie know it fluently in order to speak to Scott’s maternal side of his family. Though this year might go off with a bang, considering Melissa had tagged along with them to Rhode Island.

Allison and Jackson had seemingly reached the ‘meet the parents’ stage of their relationship and brought Victoria with them to spend the holidays with Jackson’s uber-rich, “old money” parents in Boston. They had two vacation homes: one in Kennebunkport, Maine, right next to the Bushes, and the other in Key West.

The Whittemores had plans to spend Christmas at the latter, but decided against it when Jackson insisted the whole family (Jackson’s sisters, their spouses, kids, and their “sleazy” brother) spend the end of the year at their main home in Boston so he could introduce Allison to them all, along with Victoria.

Derek had no idea where Chris was, or if he was even alive. No one talked about him. They never mentioned his name or spoke of him even having a presence in their lives, so he never brought it up, feeling as though he shouldn’t.

Kira and her daughter Juliet were there with them though. Derek had no clue as to who the father was, or where he was, and decided against investigating further when his mother innocently asked Kira, on Christmas Eve, if Juliet would be staying with her dad this season, and received a cold, deadly stare from Kira in return.

Deaton had also decided to spend the holiday with them. Derek instantly felt for him. In this life, or another, he seemed liked such a lonely, solitary man. He was glad in this one though, he’d made such an impression on his family that he was treated as such. Especially buy his parents who always drew the quiet man into conversation, and made sure he was comfortable and having a good time.

 

They got home around ten. Erica was staying the night with Cora and Boyd, claiming she wanted to spend ‘one kid-free evening in a quiet home before going back to NYC’ in two days.

Stiles glared at her hard for implying his daughters were rambunctious and burdensome.

Derek whispered into his ear, trying to reassure Stiles that Erica sometimes lets things fly out of her mouth without thinking, but she didn’t mean what he thought she meant this time. It was just her way of exaggerating, making a joke.

Stiles rolled his eyes then went to collect the gifts Claudia and Halina got from their aunts and (overindulgent) grandparents.

The girls were tuckered out. Derek and Stiles undressed them and gently put them in their beds.

Stiles went to the master bedroom to brush his teeth and change into his nightclothes. When he came out Derek wasn’t in the room.

“Derek? Babe?”

Stiles trotted downstairs. “Derek?” He noticed a soft, glowing light flicker on the hardwood floor. He walked toward it, into the living room.

Derek. With the fireplace going. The furniture pushed back to create an open space in the center of the room before the flames. A comfortable nest of blankets lay there, along with his naked husband atop them.

“Merry Christmas.”

Stiles blushed. “Merry Christmas to you, too.” Stiles walked over to Derek and straddled his legs, kissing him.

“I had a really nice bottle of wine for us, but—”

“—but given last night’s events and the hangovers that followed…”

“Exactly.”

Stiles returned his lips to Derek’s mouth.

“You are wearing far too many clothes, Mr. Stilinski-Hale.” Derek flipped them, putting Stiles gently on his back. He rose the hem of Stiles’ T-shirt, pulling it up and over his head.

Stiles lifted his hips, letting Derek slide his pajama pants own the lower half of his body. He kicked them off his ankles, leaving him in only his briefs.

Derek curled his fingers into Sties’ briefs. Stiles raised his hips and Derek slid them down his lithe body and off his ankles, tossing them aside.

Stiles surged up and kissed Derek wildly. They were naked, on a soft bed of blankets before a roaring fireplace and the neon glow of their Christmas tree; he wanted Derek badly, to say the least.

But Derek slowed down the kiss, making it more passionate and languid. He laid Stiles back down, parting their lips from each other, and moving his mouth to Stiles’ neck.

Derek sucked gently at his husband’s throat, nibbling with tiny bites that made Stiles hiss through his teeth.

Derek locked their fingers together as he rested comfortably between the younger man’s legs, leaving soft kisses along his neck, his collarbone, and down his chest, finding his left nipple and closing his hot, wet mouth around it.

Stiles inhaled sharply.

Derek laved at the pert nub slowly, with long licks that made Stiles’ skin pebble despite the fire and the heat rushing through his body.

Derek’s long licks turned to hard sucking and playful bites that made Stiles’ keen, arching a bit, desperate for friction against his hard erection that rubbed in Derek’s hairy chest.

Derek found his right nipple and attacked, biting down fiercely, shocking Stiles with blown wide eyes and a loud gasp. He was wet, leaking now, into the soft, dark hair on Derek’s chest.

Derek let go of Stiles’ hand and traced a finger around his lips. Stiles opened his mouth, letting Derek slip his finger inside, wetted by his tongue. Stiles closed his mouth around the digit and sucked, fellating it slow and filthy.

Derek sucked hickeys and indented teeth marks into Stiles’ belly, then slid further down to do so on his hip bones.

Stiles took Derek’s hand— the one wrapped around his neck as he sucked on Derek’s index finger— and pulled his middle finger into his mouth, too, moaning around both digits between his lips.

Derek sat up on his knees between Stiles’ legs.

Reluctantly, Stiles let go of Derek’s fingers with a whimper.

Derek urged Stiles’ knees further apart and pressed his wet fingers at Stiles’ hole.

Stiles moaned, craving what was next.

“What do you want, baby?”

“Oh, Derek, don’t make me talk,” Stiles begged. The paced, sensual rhythm and romantic tone Derek had eclipsed their love making with was already making him flush and teeter on the edge. Adding dirty talk was only going to tear him in half.

“Just tell me what you want and you won’t have to say a word afterward.”

“Derek, please…”

Derek teased, slowly slipping the tip of his index finger past the breech of Stiles’ hole, while his other hand massaged his taint.

Stiles let out a desperate moan.

“Come on, baby,” Derek prodded.

“I-I want you to finger me. Hard. Then suck my cock while I suck yours.”

Derek slipped his how finger completely inside Stiles. “What else, baby? Tell me.”

“Then-Then I want you to fuck me, on my hands and knees, until I come— Oh, God! Derek please!”

Derek plucked a can of lube from under a blanket corner and pumped a dab on the tips of his fingers. Stiles immediately spread his legs, practically shaking.

It was enough to make Derek want to forgo the foreplay and just take him rough and fast right then, but he remembered wanting to draw this out. To indulge the both of them, pushing close to their tipping points and falling over together.

It was meant to be all about Stiles, but it was about him, too. He had fantasized over and over and over again about taking his time, working Stiles over right, until he was screaming and crying with ‘I love yous’ spilling from his mouth while they made love before a cozy fireplace. So it was as much an indulgence for him as would be for Stiles.

Stiles said “hard,” so Derek was going to give him hard. He pressed two fingers against the younger man’s pink hole, then pinched, making it wink open, then close.

Stiles shuddered a breath, taking in air deep and hard, outlining his ribs through his skin as he breathed in.

Derek hovered over him, a hand pressed flat by Stiles’ head. “I want you looking at me the whole time.”

Stiles licked his lips, and nodded.

Derek pinched him again and Stiles tried to keep his eyes open and on Derek. He gripped Derek’s shoulders, making his husband smile wickedly. He was enjoying this way too much.

Derek, without warning, pushed a finger into Stiles, quick and merciless. The digit curled inside him and Stiles bucked, his dick slapping against his abdomen.

Derek worked the finger inside Stiles with a steady, easy rhythm for a bit, letting Stiles get used to it, before he pushed another finger inside and picked up speed.

Stiles’ nails dug into Derek’s shoulders as he moaned.

Derek wanted him louder; falling apart and stammering. He pushed in a third finger and madly fucked Stiles on them.

Derek got what he wanted as Stiles stuttered his name out of his mouth; his body shaking up and down on Derek’s violent fingers.

They’ve had sex enough since Derek’s gotten here for him to know Stiles is close. Really close.

He stops. Suddenly and unappreciatively, slipping from Stiles’ body.

“W-W-What? Derek,” Stiles whined, clueless and adorable.

“Not yet.” Derek positioned himself over Stiles, his head at Stiles’ cock now. He took it in his mouth, sucking only the tip wetly.

Stiles’ mouth found Derek’s balls. He opened, taking them in and sucked at them gently, making Derek drool down Stiles’ dick. He chased after the running saliva with his mouth, deep-throating his husband.

Stiles moaned happily around Derek’s balls.

Derek twisted their bodies, turning them on their sides into a proper 69 position. Stiles replaced Derek’s balls with his dick, sucking at it greedily.

Stiles was all the way at the back of Derek’s throat, when the older man gave Stiles’ pale butt a good smack, then a hard squeeze.

Stiles moaned in response, but Derek did it again.

Stiles got the hint and grinded his hips, fucking Derek’s mouth.

Derek’s hands kneaded Stiles’ ass, encouraging his movements. Stiles kept at working his mouth over Derek’s own cock, but it was becoming more difficult while also trying to concentrate on giving Derek what he wanted, which was making Stiles eager to come.

Stiles’ fingernails dug into the meat of Derek’s thighs when the older man slid a lubed finger into Stiles’ slick hole. He whined around Derek’s dick and gave up any semblance of a blow job for him, focusing on fucking Derek’s face while Derek’s erection simply occupied space in his drooling mouth.

He was close. So, so close…

Derek pulled his lips off Stiles’ cock and squeezed his hand around the base of the penis to stave off the orgasm. He removed his finger as well, then backed away from Stiles.

“Derek! Oh, God… Why,” Stiles nearly cried. He was burning with need. His whole body felt like pin pricks, and his head pounded with his arousal cut short for a second time. He was desperate and pissed off at the same time, which came out in aggravated groans that sounded more like sobs.

Derek shushed him softly. “You’re doing good, baby. I’m going to let you come next time, I promise.”

Edging had always been something he wanted to do with Stiles, and what better way to turn him into a pile of goo, than to touch and tease, bringing him to the razor’s tip, but holding off on piercing through skin.

Derek put Stiles on his knees and elbows. “You wanted it like this, remember? Breathe. Okay,” Derek said, rubbing soothing circles into Sties’ back; he was shaking.

Stiles did want this. He asked for it. Begged, but he would have gladly accepted either orgasm Derek denied him twice before, than to be reduced to a whimpering wanton. Even if it was his gorgeous husband that made him so ardent, like a virginal schoolgirl.

Derek grabbed the lube again and worked his cock over with a quarter size of gel in his palm.

Stiles remained on all fours, waiting for that delicious feeling of—

Derek pressed, measured and easy, past Stiles’ pucker. He guided half his cock into his boy before he smoothed a hand up Stiles’ spine, to his shoulder with a massaging grip. “Fast, or slow,” Derek asked.

“Fuck me. Just fuck me please, Derek,” Stiles said in a breathy tone. “Fuck me like you always do.”

And with that, Derek bottomed-out, slamming into Stiles brutally, earning him a loud gasp hidden behind a tightly, bit lip to keep it in.

He pounded rapaciously into Stiles, and yanked on his chestnut-colored hair with one hand and held a bruising grip on his hip with the other hand.

Stiles’ arms turned to Jell-O and gave out. He slumped to the blankets face-first with whimpers and cries.

Derek didn’t stop. All he could hear was Stiles’ ministrations and the beautiful sound of Stiles’ cock slapping in time with his thrust against his belly, leaving wet strings of precum.

Stiles felt so good and so tight. Derek couldn’t get over how perfectly their bodies slotted together, and just how effortless it was for them to find a pace to their love making.

He put a hand on either side of Stiles’ hips that were still in the air despite the top half of him meeting the floor.

Derek’s thrust became erratic and primal. If he were still a wolf he’d be worried and back away from Stiles, feeling the loss of control boiling in his chest and growing, rising to the back of his throat, tasting like smoke. Yet, here he was human, and though his moves became more brutal, he knew he’d never hurt Stiles, intentionally, or unintentionally.

Besides, Stiles seemed to like it as he tried to make a play for his cock, as though Derek wouldn’t notice. Derek swatted Stiles’ ass again, and the amber-eyed boy got the hint and let his cock fall out of his hand.

Derek angled his hips with a hard snap and Stiles saw stars.

Derek did it again, and again, and again. Each time gaining a whimper from his other half; giving Stiles what he wanted, having him make that greedy, distraught sound…

“Oh, God, Derek! Hurts so good!”

In three snaps of his hips, Stiles fisted the blankets, cried into the wool, and came, hollering a loud moan with Derek’s name in the wail, when the older man slammed against his prostate.

“Oh, fuck, Stiles… So hot. Jesus. Want you so bad. You feel so good. So wet and tight around my cock…” Derek bent over him, still snapping his hips ravenously, and kissed the space between Stiles’ shoulder blades.

In just a few long pumps, Derek filled his boy up with his hot, sticky balm. It felt endless, so he pulled out and squirted the remainder of his cum on Stiles’ lower back. And down the crack of his ass.

Stiles collapsed silently onto his side. Derek turned over on his stomach, spread his cheeks apart and licked him clean with an insatiable tongue.

Stiles came a second time with tears in his eyes.

Derek fell beside him, trying to gain his breath.

“You okay,” he asked Stiles.

“How could you ever think I’d want anyone that wasn’t you. No one else could ever be that amazing in bed.”

Derek chuckled. “I hope that’s not the only reason you’re so faithful to me.”

“No, but it’s definitely in the top three.”

Derek smiled, feeling smug and satisfied.

“I’ll take incredible sex as a Christmas gift any day.”

“That wasn’t your gift,” Derek said. He stood up and approached the fireplace. He took a small box with a red ribbon wrapped around it off the mantle.

Stiles sat up on his butt. Derek moved behind him and sat down, pulling Stiles against his chest. He grabbed a throw blanket off the sofa and wrapped it around them both.

“Merry Christmas, Stiles,” he said, handing him the box.

Derek placed a gentle kiss at the back of Stiles’ head, breathing in his scent, as his husband eagerly opened the box.

Inside were colorful envelopes, about twenty of them, each labeled: ‘Stiles, Open When…’ The first one on top told him to ‘Open When It’s Christmas Day’.

“Derek. Are these love letters?”

“Yes.”

“You wrote me love letters?”

“Yes.” He’d never been good with words, with talking when he was a werewolf, especially not after Paige, then the fire, but just because he didn’t say something, didn’t mean he couldn’t. Just maybe not in the way others wanted him to. Maybe he could be better at it in letters.

Stiles— ‘other Stiles’— had always tried to pressure him to ‘use his words’, but he lost that ability when he killed his first love, and never gained it back when his next girlfriend burned his whole family alive. What do you say when tragedies like that plague your life, and you’re to blame? He felt most things were better left unspoken, even if it meant never telling a spastic, teenage boy how much in love with him he was.

Stiles flipped through them again. There was one that told him to open it when he needs a laugh, one that said to open it when he misses Derek, one that told him to open it on the day Halina graduates from college, and another to be opened on Claudia’s wedding day. There was even a sad one that said to open it the day John dies, and one that told him to open it on his 50th birthday.

He goes back to the first envelope to read on Christmas. “Can I read this one now?”

“Of course,” Derek smiled into his hair.

Stiles opened it carefully as to not destroy the lovely envelope in which it was in.

Stiles,

I could write about how much I love you. How much I need you, and want you in my life. I could wax poetry about your whiskey-colored eyes and chestnut-brown hair. About your soft, pink lips that always taste sweet and make me come undone with just a smile. But I’d rather say ‘thank you’.

There is no amount of paper in the world I could write on to express the sheer gratitude I have to the man that’s saved my life, more times than I can count. And I don’t say that lightly.

You’ve pulled me back from depths so deep, so many times, that you don’t even realize you’re doing it anymore. You take care of me, and keep me safe. You protect me, even from myself at times, and it’s those times I should apologize for. I’m sorry for ever casting shadows on you and our marriage. I’ve stupidly realized now that your love knows no bounds and is eternal, just as mine is for you. Though I have to admit, I will never truly feel worthy enough for your love. I don’t deserve it, but I’m grateful to have it nonetheless.

I also want to thank you for the two most amazing, little girls. I could never tell you how much I love our daughters, just as I could never write down completely how appreciative I am of you and the life we’ve built. The best I can do is say that those two angels are my world, and the family we’ve made, we’ve created, is one in which my soul and sanity is built upon. Without it there’d be nothing left of me. So I find it more than necessary to be thankful to the man that’s help build it with me.

Claudia and Halina will grow into incredible women because of all the wonderful qualities you’ve given them, and taught them to achieve (I can only take credit for how gorgeous they are)*.

I know we’ve spent many holidays together, and this is far our first Christmas together (nor our last), but it feels new to me. It is new to me. It feels like a beginning; the start of something fresh and untouched, like an untouched blanket of snow, or a lush pine tree, unsullied by twinkling lights and tinsel.

New, exciting things are ahead for us. I feel it in every ounce of my body.

And what better day to approach the newness that awaits us, than Christmas? A holiday eclipsed by the onslaught of winter, of the year’s end, turning cold, and dying; breaking away into frozen chips and shards. A day haunted by birth and rebirth, the coming of what’s ahead, announced by bells and lights.

Not every Christmas will be like that for us. Sometimes it’ll just be the sound of cash registers and loud, drunken co-workers and the smell of eggnog. Yet, this one is ours, telling us to move ahead and don’t look back.

I intend to take every step I can, forward, with you. This newfound bravery is courtesy of you. I am courageous, willing, and content because of you, the love of my life.

I am better because of you. A debt I hope to repay, but know I never can.

I love you.

Merry Christmas,

Derek

“Oh, my God, Derek…” Stiles dropped the box and the letter, turning around in Derek’s lap to kiss him hopelessly.

Derek could feel the wetness on Stiles’ tear-stained face as he whimpered against his lips, and shivered in his arms.

I am the best gift-giver ever.

 

“Tell me a story.”

“Huh,” Stiles said, snuggled against Derek, the fire still going. Derek could hear the sleepy sound in Stiles’ voice, almost in slumber until Derek woke him.

After having read the letter two more times, Stiles jerked Derek off, salaciously and unhurried, occasionally biting at his nipples.

Stiles waited about 15 minutes after Derek had come, to wrap his mouth around his cock with the same dirty, but relaxed pace he had jerked him off to. Derek was way too sensitive at that point and was nearing orgasm quickly. Stiles begged for his cum, and Derek obliged, trickling a rivulet of his semen down Stiles’ thirsty throat, without a single drop spilled.

Derek surged up to tongue kiss him, dying to taste himself inside his boy’s filthy mouth.

“Tell me a story,” Derek repeated.

“What kind of story,” Stiles yawned.

“Tell me how we first met,” Derek said with a smile, his fingers softly carding through Stiles’ hair.

“You already know that story.”

“So? Tell it to me anyway.”

“You’re worst than Claudia.” Stiles turned over to face Derek, switching his position from ‘little spoon’ to lie on his side and stared into Derek’s eyes as they reflected the firelight.

Derek mirrored Stiles’ position, facing him.

“It was raining. Full-on torrential rain, so of course I got caught in it when my jeep wouldn’t start and I had to catch the bus into New Haven to go to Yale. And because of the rain the bus was behind schedule, and by the time it got a block from the university, I had literally 5 minutes to get to the Main Hall, to my professor’s office and drop off my last paper before the semester ended, so I could graduate on time.”

“I ran as fast as I could to the History department. I was soaking wet, from head to toe, like a sewer rat, with my 45-page paper under my hoodie so it wouldn’t get wet in the rain, knocking over snobby trust fund babies and pretentious TAs, and somehow running into, but also ignoring, a guy I slept with three days before at a shitty kegger, just to get to my professor’s office, and see he wasn’t there.”

Derek chuckled. He had to give it to Stiles, he definitely knew how to entertain with a story, recalling everything to Derek like it’s the fist time he’s heard it, or wasn’t there. And technically he wasn’t, ‘other Derek’ was, but it’s still nevertheless enthralling to hear it being told to him in such a manner.

“I started freaking out, asking anyone and everyone if they’ve seen the professor. Until some genius suggested to me that I should check the history department’s teacher’s lounge, or better yet, his classroom. The teacher’s lounge was on the way to the lecture hall, so I poked my head inside there and only saw Professor Yukimira.”

Kira’s mother is a professor at Yale, too. Huh.

“I asked her where the professor was and she told me he should be done his last class of the year by now, so I ran down the hall, my shoes squishing with water the whole time, and burst into the room! There was no one there…until the professor came out of the side door. He had his coat on, with his briefcase, and umbrella and I was like, ‘Shit’. I know I caught him in time, but he was on his way out, done for the year until September, and now he’s got to take my paper home and grade it when he should be getting wild with the rest of the faculty at some middle-aged cocktail party.”

Derek laughed.

“But he just smiled at me and shook his head, then said, ‘Jeep giving you trouble again, Mr. Stilinski.’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir. I’m so sorry, but I have my final paper.’ I lifted up my hoodie—which I think gave him a good view of my pastey stomach and the top of my briefs, by the way— and handed him my paper. He put down the briefcase and put on his glasses, then leaned on the desk, skimming through my paper. He was nodding, which was a good sign, but I could see he was about to critique something, when the door opened interrupting us. I turned around and this guy walked in, looking at his phone and telling the professor something about Friday night dinners.”

Derek’s smile widened.

“He finally looked up from his stupid Blackberry, and I see the most amazing pair of green eyes. They’re looking right back at me, but I can’t stop staring. They’re were so beautiful. He was so beautiful. We were just…standing there, like idiots, eyeballing each other with gaped mouths. I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know what to do. Neither one of us would talk.”

“Love at first sight, huh?”

“For me it was. I don’t know about the other fellow.”

“He sounds pretty smitten from what you’re saying.”

“Maybe…” Stiles said with a coy smile.

“Then what happened?”

“The professor was saying something. Or at least I think he was. I don’t know, all the blood was rushing to my ears. He sounded vague, distant, like he was far, and under water. Then the guy snapped out of it. I think the professor called his name. That’s when I came to, too. The trance was broken. I looked at the professor and he smiled, at both me and the guy. It was this sly, knowing kind of smile. He put my paper down and stood between me and the guy, then said, ‘Mr. Stilinski, this is my son, Derek’.”

“What next,” Derek asked, tracing his finger along Stiles’ collarbone.

“The guy, Derek, he stuck out his hand and said, ‘Hello’. I shook it, turning an embarrassing shade of pink all over. Then he said, ‘You get caught in the rain?’ I completely forgot what I looked like and almost fainted at this gorgeous man looking at me like a stray trying to find shelter from the weather.”

“I doubt he was looking at you like that.”

“Then he said, ‘You need a ride? If you do, I can take you home’.”

“Did you get a ride from the guy? From Derek?”

“Yup. He even walked me to my door and gave me his number. We had dinner the next night.”

“That,” Derek leaned in to kiss Stiles, “was a very nice story.”

“Yeah? I think so, too. It’s not grand, or epic, but it’s sweet, and I like it.”

“Me, too.”

Stiles settled against Derek, his head on his chest.

They lay in relaxed silence, with only the crackling of the dwindling fire creating any noise.

This was his. This life. Forever, and always. He didn’t know why he was here, or how he even got here. It didn’t matter and he didn’t care. Derek only knew three things: he wanted it, needed it, and deserved it. It was all he ever considered necessary to know, since that night he pinned Stiles against the fridge.

And no one, or nothing, would tell him differently. Nothing was going to take it all away from him.

Chapter Text


Derek felt stiff, uncomfortable. Like he was sleeping on a flat, plank. He rolled over onto his side, hoping to ease the slight ache in his back, and the crick forming in his neck, but it felt no better.

He reached his arm out, trying to touch soft skin, pale as moonlight, and dotted with moles that formed constellations, but his hand caught the rough cut of wood, splintering his fingers…

Oak. I smell oak. And moss.

His eyes snapped open, bleeding electric blue.

White. Four blinding, white walls surrounding white, linoleum floors with white, columns jutting from it to the ceiling. Bright, florescent light beat down on the door-less room.

Derek twisted upward. He’s sitting on a tree stump. The Nemeton tree stump.

“NOOOOOOO!” Eyes bleed cobalt, incisors point into sharp fangs, and claws snap out, digging into magical tree wood.

“Derek!”

His head whipped around. Stiles. He was soaking wet and barefoot, making puddles as he drips along the floor, running toward Derek.

“Oh, Jesus Christ,” he said, relief in his voice. “I can’t believe that worked.”

“Am I dreaming,” Derek asked with hope in his broken voice.

Stiles shakes his head. “No, but we got to go. We got to get you out of here. Come on.” Stiles grabbed his wrist and yanked, but Derek is too solid, too heavy for him to force. He remained there, sitting atop the stump, eyes blown wide in an array of emotions Stiles couldn’t track. “What? What’s the matter?”

“I’m not dreaming? I wasn’t dreaming?”

Stiles dropped Derek’s wrist. “No.”

“Then…”

“You ended up in a different universe, an alternate universe. Somehow you switched with the Derek that’s from there and he got sent to Beacon Hills.”

Derek looked behind Stiles, finally noticing two tin tubs. One was empty, and the other had the ‘other Derek’ inside, slumped over the edge and unconscious.

“Help me pull him out of the tub and put him on the Nemeton.”

“No.”

Stiles was visibly taken aback, as though Derek had put both hands on his chest, and gave him a little shove. “W-What?”

“No. No, Stiles. I’m not going to Beacon Hills. Send me back to Smithville. Now.”

“Derek, I can’t—”

Derek grabbed Stiles’ wrists; eyes turned normal and soft, pleading, aching at the human boy before him. “Stiles. Please.”

“Oh, my God… You’re serious.”

“Stiles,” he started, climbing off the Nemeton, still holding on to Stiles. “I can’t go back to Beacon Hills. I don’t want to. I’m sorry, but you can’t… Do this for me, please,” he begged with watery eyes.

Stiles’ eyes flickered across Derek’s face in confusion at his ask…until it turned hard, angry, and the brutish smells of sawdust and gunpowder wafted from Stiles’ skin. “Fuck you, you selfish asshole. Help me move that other Derek, then get. In. The. Damn. Tub.”

“Stiles—”

“No! Do you know how fucking long you’ve been gone?! 6 months! Six fucking months I’ve been losing my mind—all of us—about if you’re okay and how to get you back, and what exactly happen! For six goddamn months I’ve had to house a human that woke up a werewolf and was told almost everyone he knew was either dead or in Europe! He was out of his mind, Derek! He was scared! We all were! And you want to go back, for whatever stupid fucking…”

Stiles trailed off. His face froze; a thought occurring, and his scowl deepening. “Who is she?”

“Who,” Derek asked clueless, and feeling impatient. He didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to be here arguing with Stiles. He wanted to be in his soft, warm bed, with Stiles (‘other Stiles’) tucked under his arm, waiting for their girls to burst through the door demanding pancakes.

“You always make the worst mistakes when one’s involved. So, who the hell is she?”

Derek knew what Stiles meant. And he was right. He just never thought Stiles would ever throw it in his face so viciously. “There is no ‘she’, Stiles. He didn’t tell you what his life was like?”

“Of course he did. He did nothing but cry and wail for his family for weeks.”

“Then you should know why I’m staying there. Send me back. Please,” Derek said with a little more force.

“What are you doing there? Why don’t you want to—”

“If you woke up one morning and came downstairs to see your mother cooking you breakfast, and every day for almost a month she made you scrambled eggs and bacon, and you got to hold her and tell her how much you love her, would you ever want to come back to the world where you couldn’t have any of that?”

Answering would be pointless. Stiles knew that, because they both know he would. In a second. In a heartbeat. He’d give anything to tell her about his day, watch her toil with her rose bushes, yell at him to clean his room, and see her smile wide and happy when John kissed her on his way to work.

“I have that, Stiles. I have all of them: my parents, my sisters, Boyd, Erica, and Isaac. They’re with me and happy. I’m happy. Leaving, giving that up… I can’t. Not for Beacon Hills. Not for being a werewolf. Not for everyone I know dying. Not for me always fucking something up. I won’t. Kate and Peter are dead. I don’t have to always be on the lookout that my uncle is going to betray me, or that my insane, ex-girlfriend has turned into another something or other and will stop at nothing to see me dead. I have a life there. A good one.”

No one ever accused Stiles of being heartless, but no one’s ever accused him of being unselfish either. He sees the deep, pained look on Derek’s face, at the idea of being pulled away from utter joy. From love and happiness and goodness. All the things he knows Derek deserves.

Yet, there’s this ache in his chest. This sickening, self-serving want in him that feels as though he could collapse under its weight. This heartbreak. For himself.

“Am I there? With you?”

Derek knew what Stiles is asking. He knew that Stiles knew. He’s more than sure the other Derek told him, countless times; about the life they had in his world. He’s sure he’s probably sought Stiles out, looking for comfort in this other reality he feels so very lost in. And Stiles being Stiles, wanting to fix, to heal, to make better, probably let him.

Let him sleep with his head in his lap after crying for hours on end. Let him curl up next to him, taking in his scent, breathing it in and finding ‘home’. Let him hold his hand when being in a room with werewolves, werecoyotes, and kitsunes felt like too much and trying to breathe the soft air felt like inhaling bowling balls.

“What did he tell you?”

“He… He said… He said we’re married. That we’re in love. That we have two daughters. Is that true?”

Derek nodded slowly, confirming Stiles’ curiosity.

Stiles laughed wryly at the idea.

Derek stepped closer to him; a serious, look on his face. What he was about to say he wanted considered nothing less than real and significant by Stiles. “There is no ‘she’. Just us.”

Derek had never stunned Stiles into silence before. It made him want to smirk, big and wide, at the taken look on the teenage boy’s face.

“You… You’ve been living there, in Connecticut, in another reality, with me? Together? We’re…t-together?”

“Yes.”

“…Why?”

“…Because I love you, Stiles… So, I need you to send me back now. Please.”

Stiles paced back and forth a bit, hand carding through his hair as he muttered to himself.

After a moment too long of feeling overwhelmed, angry, and something else that smelt like sage, Stiles stopped, right in front of Derek, and poked him right in the middle of his chest with his finger. “You really are a selfish asshole,” Stiles said, eyes flooding with tears.

Stiles backed up, flailing now. “How can someone who gives their entire self to helping me fight evil, on a sometimes daily basis, be this inconsiderate?! This disloyal! This apathetic about the people that love him! How can you be so fucking…so fucking…just so fucking oblivious, Derek?!”

Stiles was ranting, going off on a tangent, getting flustered and making what Derek thought was very little sense. Normally, he’d try to level him with a glare, barking his name with an irritated growl, but he didn’t want to waste anymore time. He needed to get back.

He needed to kiss Stiles awake and jerk him off with a slow, salacious pace that would make him beg for Derek to let him come. He needed to make the girls breakfast, take Erica to the train station, and call Valerie, to see how she was holding up, and if she was having second thoughts about her and Isaac. He needed to finish work. He was two chapters away from finishing his edit, so he had to contact his editor.

“Stiles, look I understand you’re upset—”

“Malia broke up with me! She dumped me and ran off with fucking Peter!”

He was disappointed to hear that, but— “He’s her father, Stiles,” he shrugged. “He’s her family.”

“Do you know why she broke up with me? Why she ran off with your batshit-crazy uncle? She said I was ‘too focused on ghosts’. She said I was too obsessed with finding you, that it bordered on insane, and that it felt like something more. Something bigger. And you know what, she was right. That’s how it felt. You just up and disappeared and there was this guy that looked like you and sounded like you, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t my Derek Hale. He was a fucking stranger, wearing your face and your clothes and I hated it! I hated it!”

Derek could hear how worked up Stiles heartbeat was becoming. How the citrus, bitter smell of lemons perfumed off his skin, blaring his anxiety.

“I couldn’t sleep. Melissa had to prescribe me sleeping pills. And… I thought that goddamn fox demon was back, crawling in my head, making me question everything; if it was all real, or if I was losing my fucking mind!” He wiped away the tears that ran down his cheeks. “Every time you leave, I fall apart. How the hell do you not see that?”

“I don’t mean to hurt you.”

“I love you. I love you so much.”

Derek didn’t have time to process what Stiles had said before the boy pressed hard against him, lips on his, kissing him with everything he had.

Derek gave it back just as good, slipping his tongue inside Stiles’ mouth, hand in his wet hair, the other up the back of his damp T-shirt, clawing at his dewy skin. Why not? It’s Stiles. One reality or another, he’ll always love Stiles. He’ll always be the thing that settles him, and makes he come undone.

He twisted them around. The back of Stiles’ legs hit the Nemeton. He forced himself into Stiles’ space, making him fall back onto the tree stump, then crawled over him.

“As badly as I want you to fuck me, I don’t thing doing it on the magic tree that feeds off blood sacrifices is a good idea, sourwolf.”

Derek nipped at Stiles’ neck. “How’d you get here?”

“How? Jesus. I don’t know. Deaton and I figured it out, with this all-mighty druid he knows, but it was all just a warped combination of magic and physics that would make my eyeballs bleed trying to explain it to you.”

Derek nuzzled Stiles’ neck, then licked and sucked at his pulse point, making Stiles moan. He could smell the arousal pouring off of him in thick, heavy waves.

“I don’t know specifics. I don’t even think Deaton really does either. We just knew what to try to come and get you, and send back the other Derek.”

Derek licked into Stiles’ mouth, settling between his thighs, grinding their erections against each other. “How many times can you send someone back between realities?”

Derek licked a long stripe from Stiles’ collarbone to his Adam’s Apple, ending with a kiss just under his chin— Stiles squirmed out of Derek’s hold.

“Derek… No.” Stiles climbed off the Nemeton. “You could have just asked me, instead of the ploy.”

He wants to feel ashamed, but he doesn’t. “Fine. Come with me.”

“I can’t!”

“Why not?!”

“Because I can’t just take someone’s life like that, Derek! It doesn’t belong to me! It doesn’t belong to either of us! It’s not our lives!”

“But we deserve it, Stiles! All the shit and the fucking horror we’ve been through, we deserve to be happy and unafraid!”

“Everyone does! Everyone thinks they deserve for life to be a little bit better than what it is for them, but this is the one we got! Beacon Hills, and werewolves, and druids and psychopathic ex-girlfriends and dead mothers is what we have! We just have to stick together and make the most of it!”

“But given the chance to change it, wouldn’t you?”

“This is my chance to change it, and I’m saying ‘no’,” Stiles said, eyes brimming with tears.

Derek climbed off the Nemeton and approached Stiles. “We have two daughters—”

“Derek, please…”

“Claudia is seven, and she’s beautiful. She has dark hair and the biggest, green eyes. She likes dancing, but you bought her a guitar for Christmas, so it’s her new obsession.”

Stiles couldn’t help the small smile on his face at the idea. Sounds like something he’d do…

“She’s really sensitive though. Her feelings get hurt easily, and she always needs to know we love her, like at any minute she expects us to just stop caring about her. She doesn’t feel good enough for some reason, but every morning you do her hair and we tell her how special she is, how much we love her.”

“Derek. Don’t do this to me.”

“And Halina… Halina is a handful,” he chuckles, his eyes moist and red-rimmed with thoughts of his youngest daughter. “She looks like you, so much, and she’s so smart, Stiles. She’s a genius actually.”

“So she takes after me, huh,” Stiles joked through his tears.

Derek chuckled. “She’s going to a private school in January. My mom is the headmistress there. She’s so excited. And she reads all the time. I bought her Charlotte’s Web. I promised I’d read it to her.”

Stiles ran his hand gently down Derek’s face, seeing the longing and want splayed across it, in every pore, every crinkle of his skin.

“Scott and Lydia are married. They have a son. Isaac and my sister are going to get married after New Years. They already have a little boy named Miller. Boyd and Cora are expecting a baby, and for whatever reason Allison and Jackson are together. They look really good together though.”

“Well, that’s weird. He didn’t tell me that.”

“Just happened when I was there. And your dad, he’s not the sheriff, but he’s happy. He loves us and the girls. He takes them whenever he can.”

Stiles smiled at his dad being a doting grandfather.

“I can talk to my dad, Stiles. I can hug my mom and fight with Laura about stupid stuff. It’d only be better if you were there. My Stiles.”

“…I want to say ‘yes’ so badly. You have no idea… But… I can’t leave my dad, or Scott, and Lydia.”

“You won’t. They’re there.”

“They’re strangers that have their faces. I don’t know them. They only look like my family. My real family— our family, is in Beacon Hills, Derek.”

“Yeah. Buried six feet into the ground.”

“You’d have me. And I’m never going to leave you. Ever.” He holds Derek’s face with both hands, staring right into his eyes. “Derek, come home. Come back to me. If not for anything else, come back home to me. I know I have no right to ask you to, to ask you to give up the happiness you found, but I swear to you, Derek Hale, I will do everything in my power to make you infinity happy. You can have that. You can be happy, with me, in Beacon Hills. It’s not impossible.”

Derek knows him. He knows Stiles. He knows Stiles would give his own soul over to the darkest power if it meant Derek was safe, and loved, and content. He knows this because he’d do the same, without hesitation.

“I love you, and if you want two little girls that dance and read books, I will give you that. If you want Scott and Lydia together, I will force those two into wedded bliss.”

Derek tried to fight back a grin.

“Anything you want. Just stay with me. I’m not good without you.”

“Stiles, you’re seventeen—”

“And I want everything you do. You’re what I choose, and I am more than satisfied with my choice. Come on, sourwolf. Don’t chicken-out on me now. Not after everything we’ve been through. You can do this. You can live life with me and have it be good. You don’t have to take someone else’s. You’d hate yourself for it eventually.”

Stiles was right. He knew he was.

“If you love me, then show me. Please.” Stiles pressed his lips gently against Derek’s mouth, exchanging soft kisses, to even softer pleas: “Please… Please… Come home… Stay… Stay with me… Please…”

Chapter Text


Stiles yawned wide as he shuffled toward the French doors, still a little annoyed at Derek refusing to take his turn and go to Walgreens, knowing Stiles had to get up early for work in the morning, but the werewolf had the day off.

His feeling of resentment vanished when his eyes landed on his husband.

Derek was sitting in the rocking chair, facing the middle window on the right. Holding her. She was quiet now, and gurgling as her tiny fingers scratched at Derek’s stubble.

Stiles leaned against the door frame, watching the happy baby and her awestruck father smile down at her with the biggest grin.

“She didn’t stop crying until you pulled up,” Derek said.

“She must have known I came back with what she wanted,” Stiles responded, shaking the bottle of formula in his hand.

“Probably.” Derek lifted his head, attention finally on Stiles. He was still leaning casually against the door frame, looking at Derek and their daughter with dopey, but sweet adoration on his face. “What?”

Stiles shrugged. “Nothing. Just, one daughter down; one more to go.”

Derek’s face soured, before he stood, still holding their baby. “You want to feed her?”

“Sure.”

Stiles moved further into the room toward Derek, resting his folded arms beneath the werewolf's hold on the baby as they transferred her into Stiles’ grasp.

Derek turned the rocking chair from facing the window, to face the open doors of the nursery.

Stiles took a seat, then adjusted so he could feed the infant with the hand the bottle rested in. A loving smile split his face as he watched his little girl suck happily on the bottle. “We’re good now, huh?” He leaned down to press a soft kiss on her forehead.

“Stiles.”

Stiles looked up at Derek.

“I don’t want to live his life.”

“Who’s life?”

Derek pulled the ottoman over, close to Stiles, and sat down on it. His mouth opened then closed several times, trying to find the words.

Stiles sat patiently, waiting for him to think and put together what it was Derek wanted to say.

“…I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“…I’m… I’m sorry I made you think we had to live his life. The other Derek’s life.”

“You didn’t—”

“Yes, I did, Stiles. Me not wanting to come back to Beacon Hills, after you spent 6 months trying to find me, so I could come home, and you asking me to, pleading with me to, and promising to give me the ‘happiness I deserve’... I feel like you’ve spent the last 5 years doing nothing but trying to make sure I won’t disappear on you again; thinking that if everything isn’t as close to how it was in Smithville, that I’d be miserable, unhappy. Unhappy with you, and leave.”

He sees Stiles wants to deny it, and deny it vehemently, but they both know he can’t. He’s been living in a not-so private fear for 5 years, terrified that if Derek was the least bit unhappy, about anything, he’d walk out on Stiles, or worse.

Derek didn’t help that first year he and Stiles returned to Beacon Hills. The formulation of their relationship as a romantic one was all either of them had hoped for, but sometimes Stiles would catch Derek drifting off into some distant memory, getting stuck there until Stiles shook him a little and he snapped out of it.

Sometimes Derek would wake up in the middle of night at the loft and forget which house he was in, wanting to go to the attic and “check on the girls.”

There were times he’d get really sullen and withdrawn, quieter than usual (which Stiles didn’t think Derek was capable of doing). And a handful of times, Stiles heard him crying in the shower.

So, the human tried harder. He moved out of his dad’s house and into the loft right after graduation. He turned down three really good colleges on the east coast (including Princeton University), UCLA, and CalTech, planning to attend community college with Scott in order to be closer to Derek.

He had almost turned down Stanford, but his father stepped in, yelling at Derek about how his son was “throwing his future away” on account of him and that he “won’t stand for it.”

Stiles was angry with his dad for butting in, especially when Derek agreed, and told Stiles that he wanted him to go to Stanford University.

Stiles burst into tears, not wanting to leave, fearing the physical distance between them would grow into an emotional one, but Derek assured Stiles he was proud of him and all he had accomplished, and wanted him to go away to school. Stanford was only 5 hours away from Beacon Hills and Derek promised to visit. He promised Stiles that they’d call, text, and Skype as much as possible.

Stiles kept Derek at his word, communicating with him at every spare second he had, and came home every other weekend, while Derek visited the other weekends. He even went so far as to take online summer courses so he could graduate a year early and be back home with Derek full-time.

Meanwhile, Derek and the sheriff patched up their relationship from being passive-aggressive politeness, to tolerable, to friendly civility when Derek took him up on an offer to join the sheriff’s department as a deputy. When Derek passed all the exams and physical test with flying colors, John paired him up with Parrish as a partner.

Almost immediately after he graduated from Stanford, Stiles insisted they get married. They technically already were, having had a secret ‘mating ceremony’ during the summer before Stiles’ final year of college, but Stiles wanted a ‘proper’, legal marriage to the werewolf.

Scott and his father insisted that Stiles wait, and think things through thoroughly first before “rushing into marriage at only 21 years old,” but Stiles didn’t want to wait. He wanted everything with Derek and he wanted it now. He wanted to buy a home, get married, and have children with him. He had an obsessive, demanding need to accomplish all the things Derek had “lost” when he gave up Smithville, for him.

“You wanted her to be a girl so badly. Like you’d accept nothing else… Like I’d accept nothing else.”

“Derek—”

“I’m sorry, Stiles. I should have seen it sooner. I should have apologized to you 5 years ago. I should have told you that all I want is you, and the life we build here, whatever that may be.”

Stiles’ eyes turned to pools of watery glass as they fill with tears. As the exhausted fear he’s buried inside his chest slowly wanes into nothingness at Derek’s words.

“I miss my family, so much, every day, but they weren’t them. It was good to look at their faces, hear their voices and hold them in my arms, but they weren’t my family. At least not the ones I remember. My family’s here. You, and Claudia,” he said, gently running a finger along their daughter’s cheek, “are my family. This is what I want. Not a copy of another man’s life. I shouldn’t have let you think that. I shouldn’t have let you live like at any moment disappointment would get the best of me, and that I was one bad day away from leaving you. That will never happen. I love you too much.”

“I know you love me, Derek. I just knew how happy you were there, and all I wanted was for you to be happy here. I thought if you weren’t you’d…you’d regret being with me. Choosing me.”

“Are you happy, Stiles? You did all this for me, but are you happy?”

“I got you, and this little one, and my dad and Scott and Lydia. That’s all I need. I’ve been happy since you came back with me.”

Derek heard it in his voice, in his heartbeat. He’s telling the truth. Being married, the house, and the two cars, the grown-up jobs, and their daughter-- they’re not just for Derek. They’re for Stiles, too. Stiles wanted this, too, like he said at the Nemeton. He just wanted to secure that Derek wanted it just as much, or have as much of the life they deserved as he could give.

“I’m not the only one that knows loss. I forget that sometimes. I forget the world isn’t as perfect as I’d like it to be, but also just as imperfect for others, too. Life’s not fair for a lot of people.”

“...You’re talking about my mom.”

“And Allison, and Boyd, and Erica. Isaac. Jackson. Everyone we’ve loved and cared about.”

“Not everyone. I miss them. My mom especially. It hurts every day she’s not here to see 'little Claudia' grow and become even more beautiful by the minute…but that’s what you’re here for. That’s what you do. And dad and Scott. You remind me that what’s left— who’s left, is important. That’s why I wanted you to come home.” Tears run down his face. He adjusts Claudia in his arms, trying to not disturb her feeding, to wipe his wet face with the sleeve of his hoodie. “I wanted you to know I’m here, and I love you.”

Derek surged forward, kisses Stiles on his soft, pink mouth, mindful of the baby between them.

He leaned into the human boy’s ear: “You’re the only happiness I need.” His lips returned to Stiles’ own.

They kissed soft, and wet, until the gurgling and attention-seeking burbles from the infant in Stiles’ arms pulled them apart.

“I think someone’s full now.”

“And sleepy,” Derek adds. He grabbed the burping cloth from the changing table and drapes it over Stiles’ shoulder.

Stiles maneuvered Claudia over his shoulder, lightly patting her back in between soft, rotating circles, trying to push the gas out.

Derek grabbed a diaper and placed on the changing table, then pulled out the baby powder and wipes from the drawer, knowing she’ll need a change when Stiles gets her to burp before they put her down for bed.

It’s 2am and Stiles has an early morning meeting to get to, then a ton of research to do for an article one of the senior political writers wrote, that his editor asked him to fact-check.

Stiles almost majored in early childhood education, which Derek now recognized as Stiles’ attempt to mirror the other reality, hoping it would satisfy the wolf, but at the last minute changed his mind without telling anyone.

Stiles yawned, big and wide again.

Derek really should have taken Stiles’ turn for the ‘middle-of-the-night-run’, but he already had Claudia in his arms, wailing, turning her soft peaches-and-cream skin, bright red with anxiety and hunger, and he’s always found it hard to let her go once she’s in his hold.

“Come on, baby girl. Just one big burp for papa, please,” Stiles tried to coax out of the child.

Derek couldn’t help the small smile on his face as he watched them. “Stiles. Thank you.”

Stiles blushed, his cheeks turning pink, then a proud smile grew on his lips. “You’re welcome, sourwolf. Thank you, too.”

A small, bubble hitch of air escaped Claudia.

“Good girl,” Stiles said excitedly, feeling one more step closer to returning to his bed. He stood, walking toward the changing table. “You know, I think this is the most you’ve ever spoken in one sitting.”

“Shut up, asshole,” Derek smirked. He reached for Claudia, but Stiles held back a bit, not ready to hand her over.

“One thing though,” Stiles said.

Derek looked worried, hearing the slight change in Stiles’ heartbeat, and the nervousness in his tone.

“Could we…possibly…wait…on another kid. Like four, maybe five, years…?”

Relief settled over Derek. “Yes. Of course.” He leaned in to peck his husband.

“And when we do, if it’s a boy, can we name him ‘Scott’?”

“Absolutely not, Stiles.”

“But Scott and I promised each other years ago—”

“I don’t care. No.”

“It’s a good name!”

“Never said it wasn’t.”

“He’s already Claudia’s godfather!”

“Which I hate, and have stated so since you twisted my arm to make him her guardian.”

“It just makes sense! He’s her Alpha anyway!”

Derek missed this. He missed Stiles. His Stiles. He missed his ridiculousness and their bickering. Their banter and playfulness.

How could I ever give this up, he thought while Stiles went into a lengthy diatribe about the merits of Scott McCall, and what an “awesome name” he had.

It’s been a while since his mind has wondered curiously to Smithville and his alternate life there. He hadn’t thought much about it since he and Stiles became legally married.

And he doesn’t want to.

He doesn’t need to.

It wasn’t another life, but a fantasy.

And who needs fantasies, when you have the real deal?