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How Many Pumpkins Is Too Many Pumpkins?

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Stiles wakes Derek up the day after his birthday practically vibrating with excitement.

"Deeeeereeeek," he coos softly, plastering himself to Derek's back. Derek hums into wakefulness, settling comfortably into Stiles' weight behind him. "Wake up," he says, and places a kiss behind Derek's ear. "My birthday is over, and Halloween season has officially begun. I've booked the pumpkin patch for eleven."

Derek's happy, barely-awake rumbles abruptly stop, his body stiffening. He rolls over slowly, then blinks at Stiles, his eyes crusty with sleep. "What."

"Pumpkins, Derek," Stiles says. "We need to get there early or all the good ones will be gone. This house is huge, so we're probably going to need at least twenty to sufficiently decorate—"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Derek says, sitting up in bed suddenly, a look of abject horror on his face. "Who said anything about pumpkins, or decorating?"

"Uh, me," Stiles tells him, rolling his eyes. "There's only two weeks until Halloween. I want this place to look like Satan's grotto by the time we’re done with it. Realistically, how many pumpkins do you think you can carve in an afternoon. Eight? Ten?"

"None, Stiles." Derek throws the covers off his body and steps out of bed, stretching before he heads towards the bathroom. The door slams shut behind him.

Stiles is left bewildered at Derek's sullenness over pumpkins, before he puts it down to Derek’s morning crankiness. He's never very agreeable before coffee.

He shrugs to himself before he slides out of bed, heading downstairs to switch on the coffee pot to appease his grumpy, caffeine-deprived boyfriend.

**

It takes some convincing to get Derek to agree to go to the pumpkin patch, even more so to get him to wear the knitted sweater that Stiles ordered for the occasion. Stiles ends up agreeing to so many blowjobs in the way of bribery that his jaw starts to ache in preemptive sympathy.

"They're cute, Derek," Stiles says as they enter the gates to the Parker's farm. They started holding fall-based and Halloween events a few years back for the residents of Beacon Hills, and this year it's already heaving with people, despite only being mid-October.

"They're ridiculous," Derek growls, pulling at the material at the hem of the sweater in discomfort as they follow the crowd past the line for tickets, Stiles having already bought theirs a few days ago.

Stiles had looked high and low online for the perfect fall sweaters for them both. It was a Stilinski tradition, one that had been introduced by his mom when he was little, and Stiles made sure to fulfill it every year.

He'd stumbled across a small etsy shop which sold hand-knitted sweaters with funny slogans on them. He'd bought one for himself which had a ghost surrounded by bottles of beer which said I'm only here for the boos, which he'd found hilarious, and still does. Derek's has a frowning pumpkin with the word Grumpkin underneath, and he'd been so tempted to stitch some thick, angry eyebrows onto it to give it that extra Derek-ness. Stiles loves it though, Derek not so much.

They join the line to enter the farm, Derek grumbling under his breath and Stiles bouncing excitedly at his side while they wait to be let in. They show their ticket to a rather surly looking teenager that Stiles recognises as the Parker's daughter, and Stiles makes a quip about how her and Derek would get along.

"I'm just saying," Stiles starts, holding his hands up after Derek shoots him a glare. "I thought you'd left the moody-broody phase behind years ago, but here we are. At least try to look like you're enjoying yourself, this is important to me."

Derek’s expression softens by a fraction, and Stiles beams. Baby steps—it's all progress.

Stiles takes Derek’s hand and drags him away from where the hoards of people are gathered. He’d found in the past that most people look for the most perfectly shaped pumpkins and pick those, but Stiles’ mom always used to scour the rows and rows of pumpkins to find the weirdest, misshapen ones and load up their wheelbarrow with as many as they could fit.

“The most beautiful things are the most unusual, Mischief,” she would tell him, ruffling his hair.

Halloween was her favourite time of year, and so Stiles and his dad made sure they kept up all of her little traditions. Traditions that Stiles is trying to share with Derek, but it looks like he’s woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

“Oh shit,” Stiles exclaims, halfway between the entrance and the farthest rows of the pumpkin patch. “We forgot the wheelbarrows.”

“Wheelbarrows,” Derek says flatly, dropping Stiles’ hand. “As in plural.”

“Yes, Derek.” Stiles rolls his eyes, turning on his heel and walking back towards the entrance. “Unless you want to do like, four or five trips with one.”

Stiles hears Derek sigh, but follows him and diligently pushes the wheelbarrow that Stiles practically forces into his hands. They head back over to the furthest row of pumpkins, the wheelbarrows clanking as they bounce over the uneven ground.

“Okay, so we’ve gotta look for the ugliest, most misshapen ones,” Stiles tells Derek. “The ones that no one else will choose.”

“I’m not even going to question why,” Derek mutters, setting his wheelbarrow down next to where Stiles parked his. Stiles is already halfway down the row, surveying the various pumpkins, occasionally kneeling down to get a closer look. They all look pretty uniform so far; perfectly orange and consistent in shape. “Hey, what about that one?”

Stiles looks over at where Derek is pointing, towards the very end of the row, where a medium-sized, white-ish blue pumpkin sits a little away from all the others under the shade of a tree. It appears to be bulging on one side, one half much more round and shapely than its other, flatter side. It’s perfect.

“That’s a Jarrahdale,” Stiles tells him, striding over to the pumpkin. “I’ve heard they’re really hard to grow. They originated in Australia and are essentially hybrids--”

Stiles,” Derek interrupts, “Do you want this one or not?”

“Uh, duh, it’s ugly as fuck,” Stiles says, beaming. “It looks heavy though.”

“It really doesn’t,” Derek replies, rolling his eyes before looking at the pumpkin intently, assessing. “I’d say about 8lbs at most.”

Stiles raises his eyebrows, trying to emulate the puppy eyes he’s seen Scott and Isaac use so often to get their way.

Derek just shakes his head. “Nuh uh. This is your thing. It’s your pumpkin, you can pick it up and put it in the wheelbarrow.”

“But I’m just a puny human.”

Derek just huffs and walks away, and Stiles tries not to feel annoyed about how Derek is acting. Derek often forgets how to use his words when something is affecting him, but he knows how important this is to Stiles. Stiles takes Halloween—and fall in general—very seriously.

Stiles sighs, bending down to pick up the pumpkin and heft it into his wheelbarrow. "If you didn't want to come along, you should've just said," he says, knowing that Derek can hear him from the other end of the row. "So, please, either tell me why the hell there's a stick up your ass, or cheer the fuck up because I am not having this experience ruined by your grumpy ass."

He sees Derek stop, setting his wheelbarrow down next to a patch of smaller pumpkins at the end of the row. Stiles catches up to him, mentally crossing his fingers that they aren't about to launch themselves into a pathetic argument about pumpkins when Derek pockets his phone and gestures to the array of fruit in front of him. "These would look cute in the windows, don't you think?" he asks, turning to Stiles, his expression softer and apologetic. "And I've just read that the flesh of this breed is really sweet. If you were gonna make pies or whatever."

Stiles beams again, and kisses his cheek before bending down to pick out the grossest looking ones.

**

Derek is a little less grumpy after that. He doesn't complain about having to haul five wheelbarrows worth of pumpkins back and forth to the Jeep, but he does make Stiles unload them into said Jeep, supervising as Stiles plays pumpkin Tetris, trying to balance objects that just want to roll everywhere on top of each other.

Derek doesn't even look up from where he's leaning against the Jeep, scrolling through his phone when Stiles scrambles to close the trunk of the Jeep before any pumpkins can fall out.

He wipes his brow with his sleeve, wincing at the distinct noise of twenty pumpkins tumbling over each other from the force of the trunk-shutting, and barely resists the urge to press his back against the trunk door. Just in case the sheer weight of them decides to miraculously push the door open and undo all of his hard work.

"Why are you just standing there?" he asks Derek, who still hasn't looked up from his phone. "What would you do if the door just burst open and I got buried under an avalanche of pumpkins?"

"Enjoy the peace and quiet," Derek says, deadpan.

Stiles rolls his eyes and walks over to him to see what it is on his phone screen that he's so enraptured by. Stiles lets out a huff of a laugh when he sees what Derek has typed in the search box.

How many pumpkins is too many pumpkins?

**

They hang around at the farm for a bit afterwards. Stiles treats Derek to a hot chocolate from the food truck the Parker’s have hired for their customers. He’s just swallowing the dregs of his pumpkin spice latte, listening to John Parker drone on and on about the cost of running a farm, when he feels something brush up against his lower leg.

He looks down to see a tiny black cat rubbing itself against his jeans, weaving between his legs and looking up at him expectantly with big, yellow eyes.

“Who’s this?” Stiles asks John, bending down to scratch the cat behind its ears. The cat closes its eyes and starts purring contentedly in response.

“She’s not ours,” John sighs. “She’s been hanging around for weeks now, scaring the chickens. Our dog chased her away a few times but she just keeps coming back.”

Stiles stills his hand for half a second while he looks up at John, and the cat butts her head against it in annoyance. He makes a truly undignified noise at how cute she is, and nearly melts when he gathers her up into his arms and she starts purring.

“You’ve made a friend there, kid,” John says, chuckling.

Derek walks back over from where he was helping an older couple load their pumpkins into their car and takes one look at Stiles, sighs heavily, then starts shaking his head.

“What?” Stiles asks, faux innocently.

Derek really doesn’t like cats. Or rather, they really don’t like him.

“No,” Derek says simply, crossing his arms over his chest.

What?” Stiles asks again, briefly eyeing John who begins to slope off, sensing the building contention between them.

“I know exactly what you’re thinking,” Derek replies, “and the answer is no.”

“But, Dereeeeek,” Stiles whines, repositioning the cat in his arms so she’s facing Derek, not that she seems particularly aware of him considering how much she’s purring, obviously enjoying Stiles scritching behind her ears. “She’s a stray. We can’t just leave her!”

Derek is quiet for a moment, and Stiles knows exactly when he caves when his shoulders drop a fraction before he uncrosses his arms and sighs.

“Fine, we’ll take her to Deaton, see if she’s chipped.”

Stiles grins, moving her round so he can look into her big, yellow eyes. “Sorry, baby girl, but we’re taking a trip to the vets.”

**

Stiles makes Derek drive the Jeep to Deaton’s, so that he can keep the cat safe on his lap while they’re travelling. Derek keeps glancing at her out the corner of his eye while he’s driving, and she just sits there on Stiles’ lap, looking at Derek with an air of I’m not afraid of you, wolfboy.

“I thought cats didn’t like werewolves,” Stiles wonders aloud as they turn into the parking lot of the clinic.

“They don’t, usually,” Derek clarifies, parking up in one of the guest parking spots and killing the engine. “I’m not used to...this.”

“Want to try petting her?” Stiles asks, and he holds back to the urge to laugh at the horrified look on Derek’s face at the question.

“Absolutely not.”

Deaton isn’t in reception when they arrive, but the clinic is quiet; no customers in the waiting room. Stiles thinks it’s good that there’s no one else there, as he’s not sure what he would do if there were any dogs or rodents in the waiting room, considering the cat isn’t in any form of carrier. That would just be a disaster waiting to happen.

Derek rings the bell on the counter—which is hilarious, because when have they ever used the bell and not just stormed in demanding answers to whatever supernatural conundrum they were facing—and pointedly avoids looking anywhere near Stiles or the cat while they wait.

Less than a minute later, Deaton appears, holding a stack of papers which he places on the counter when he clocks them.

“Derek, Stiles,” he greets them, looking mildly surprised. “And who’s this?”

Stiles places the cat on the counter, and she sniffs at Deaton’s sleeve before deeming him acceptable and allowing him to run his hand down the length of her body, arching into the touch.

“We’re not sure,” Stiles says. “John Parker said she’s been hanging around their farm for a few weeks, but they’re not sure where she came from. The weather’s starting to turn, and I’d hate for her to be stuck outside in the cold when the temperature really starts to drop.”

“I’ll give her a check over, and then see if she’s chipped,” Deaton says, scooping the cat up. “Are you alright to wait out here?”

Stiles nods, sitting down on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs in the waiting room. Derek joins him, and immediately grabs one of the magazines from the stack on the small table next to his seat. He starts flicking through it, and Stiles raises an eyebrow.

“Somehow, I don’t think your wolf form could pass as a dog. You’d get instantly disqualified, and someone would probably call animal control.”

Derek looks at Stiles for a second, before he glances back down at the copy of The Canine Chronicle: Best In Show Edition in his hands. He huffs and snaps the magazine shut before he throws it back onto the pile.

“I mean, we can try. I’ve done weirder things in the past than training my werewolf boyfriend to win the red ribbon, or whatever it is.”

“Red rosette,” Derek corrects, rolling his eyes. “And that’s for horses.”

“Whatever,” Stiles says, leaning back in his chair, smirking. “Red is totally your colour. I think your wolf would look dashing with a red rosette. Oh my god, we’d have to think of a badass name. Can’t have a huge black dog called Snuffles, or some shit.”

Derek looks over at Stiles and flashes his red eyes at him; a clear request for him to shut the hell up. He mulls it over in his head while they wait for Deaton to come back out. He can’t believe they haven’t actually named Derek’s wolf form, but it’s not like he can go out in public as a wolf and pass as a dog. Although, he’s never really been sure how Sirius Black got away with it as Padfoot, because he was kinda terrifying.

His bizarre train of thought is interrupted a few minutes later when Deaton reemerges. He’s carrying the cat, and she’s eating treats from his open palm. Derek immediately stiffens next to him, and Jesus, anyone would think he’s afraid of her.

“She’s perfectly healthy,” Deaton tells them. “I’d say she’s about one to two years old. Unfortunately, she’s not chipped, so I won’t be able to contact an owner.”

“So, she’s a stray?” Stiles asks, hopeful.

Deaton nods. “And that’s not all.” He turns her over in his grip so that her belly is showing, and Stiles can see a few pink lumps on her skin. He’s concerned for a second, because Deaton had said she was perfectly healthy, until he says, “She’s pregnant.”

“Awwww!” Stiles can’t help but say. “That’s so cute.”

“I’ve done a scan, and I think she’ll be having between four to six kittens,” Deaton says. “Cats have quite a short gestation period, so I would say she’ll be ready to deliver in about five weeks.”

“Oh my god, Thanksgiving kittens! That’s adorable.”

Deaton places her back onto the counter, and Stiles steps forward to stroke her back, marvelling at how something so small can be carrying so many little lives. She nuzzles into his hand, brushing her nose along his arm as if asking him to pick her up.

“She’s very affectionate,” Deaton points out, his eyes drifting over to Derek briefly, who hasn’t said a word since Deaton and the cat came back. “She doesn’t seem concerned by your presence, Derek. Cats are usually unsettled in the company of a werewolf.”

Stiles snorts. “Oh, I know. Scott used to complain all the time about being repeatedly mauled when he worked here.”

“Yes,” Deaton agrees, the corners of his mouth quirking slightly at the corners at the memory. “I’m going to send you home with some supplies, just give me a moment.”

Stiles’ eyes light up, turning to Derek, who looks like he’s chewing on a lemon. Before Derek can say anything, Deaton has disappeared into the back room to gather said supplies.

“Stiles,” Derek says in warning, his eyes flicking down to the cat purring in Stiles’ arms.

“What? This isn’t a shelter, Derek. It’s not like she can stay here.” Stiles brings out the puppy eyes, not that they ever really work on Derek. He’s never quite been able to master the skill as well as Scott or Isaac. “She’s homeless, Derek. Also, she doesn’t hate you like other cats do. Granted, I don’t think she particularly likes you either but—”

“Stiles,” Derek sighs.

“Okay, okay,” Stiles pouts, but he’s already coming up with a plan to make Derek come round. “Can we keep her until she has her babies? Like a foster family? I really want to be a kitty foster-Dad, Derek.”

Derek looks at him, then the cat, then over to the door where Deaton disappeared, as if he’s hoping he’ll come to his rescue. Too bad Deaton just assumed that they’d be taking her home anyway; he is totally on Stiles’ side.

“Fine,” Derek says with a grimace. “But I am not cleaning up any poop. And you do not name her, okay? Once you name it, you get attached to it.”

Stiles grins. “Alright, Mike Wazowski, you’ve got a deal.”

Derek doesn't get the reference, and Stiles is so horrified that he forces Derek to sit down and watch Monsters Inc. as soon as they get home.

**

A few days later, Stiles is in the kitchen making pumpkin pies to be sold at the Beacon Hills Sheriff’s Department Fall Fundraiser when Derek comes home from work.

It’s a slow process—because there are bowls and bowls of pumpkin flesh all over the kitchen and there’s only so much space in the oven, and they only own so many flan pans—and Stiles is spooning the filling into the pre-baked crusts of pies ten, eleven and twelve when he hears the front door open and close.

“In the kitchen!” Stiles calls.

The cat, who had been laying on the windowsill soaking up the late afternoon sun, lifts her head, stretching before she pads over to sniff at the pie mixture. Derek walks through the kitchen door and stops, eyeing the cat with a blank expression.

“Why is she on the counter?”

Stiles puts down the bowl and gives her a stroke, smearing some flour that was clinging to his hands through her dark fur. “She was relaxing until you came in.”

“Get her down, Stiles,” Derek says forcefully, moving towards the counter. “It’s unhygienic, we prepare food here. You’re literally preparing food right now.”

As Derek approaches, the cat whips round to look at him then bolts, launching herself off the kitchen counter and running out into the hallway.

“Awww, you spooked her!” Stiles admonishes, flicking Derek’s shoulder as he walks past to go and find her.

“She’s a guest here,” Derek argues. “This is my—”

“Don’t start the this is my territory, I am the alpha, all creatures must submit to me routine, she’s a cat.”

He can’t see Derek, but he’s one-hundred percent sure that he’s rolling his eyes. He walks into the living room to check under the couch, because she hid under there for hours when they first brought her to the house, and finds her curled up underneath it, her yellow eyes glowing stark against the black of her fur.

“Hey, girl,” Stiles says softly, holding his hand out in what he hopes is a placating gesture. “Big meany-wolf didn’t mean to spook you. I think he might be jealous that you’re now my favourite pet, because you’re cute and small and he’s—well, he’s kinda cute as a wolf but he’s also freakin’ huge.” The cat just stares at him, and it doesn’t look like she’s going to come out of her hiding place for a while. “That’s okay, little lady, take as long as you need. Think I’m gonna go have a word with meany-wolf to make sure he doesn’t spook you again.”

He stands up, scuffing the carpet with his socked foot where he’s left a floury hand print on the floor. A thought flies into his head at that moment, and suddenly, he finds himself dropping to his knees once again and leaning down to look at the cat. She hasn’t moved, but she picks her head up to look at him when his face reappears in her eye-line. “Don’t tell Derek, but I think I’m gonna call you Spooks. You look like a Spooks; you’re a black cat, we found you at a pumpkin patch, and you're gonna be staying with us for Halloween. It’s perfect!”

She blinks her yellow eyes at him and he grins, taking that as an assent.

Once you name it, you get attached to it.

Fuck it, he was already attached anyway.

**

Turns out meany-wolf is also a nosey-wolf and was totally listening in to Stiles’ one sided conversation with the cat.

“I told you not to name her, Stiles,” Derek sighs over dinner that evening.

Stiles shuts him up by letting him taste-test one of the fifteen pumpkin pies he made that day, and with the way Derek is moaning in delight over it, Stiles would say he’s semi-forgiven.

**

On the morning of the Beacon Hills Sheriff’s Department Fall Fundraiser, Stiles decides to wake Derek up with one of those many blowjobs he promised him. He’s relishing in the feeling of Derek’s fingers running through his hair while he opens his throat to take him deeper when Derek’s moans turn into grunts of frustration.

“Stiles, stop,” Derek says, gently stilling Stiles’ movements.

Stiles does as he’s told, pulling his mouth off Derek’s cock with an exaggeratedly lewd pop while he raises a questioning eyebrow. Derek sighs and points to the other side of the bedroom. “She won’t stop staring at me.”

Stiles shifts to lay on his side so he can see where Derek’s pointing, and can’t help the laugh that escapes him when he sees Spooks sitting on the dresser, her big yellow eyes staring them down.

“Spooks, you big perv!” he laughs, and she regards him then, blinking but making no move to look away from where they’re both sprawled naked on the bed.

“I can’t concentrate with her staring at me,” Derek confesses. “It feels wrong having sex while she’s in the room.”

“Well, you could always put her out,” Stiles suggests, and Derek’s eyes go comically wide. “Seriously, Derek, I don’t understand your weird aversion to going anywhere near her. You’re a werewolf, she’s a cat.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “She likes you. You put her out.”

“No way, buddy,” Stiles says, putting his hand on his hip. “If you want to continue getting your dick sucked then you put her out. She’s not putting me off in the slightest.”

Stiles watches several different expressions flicker across Derek’s face, before he huffs, shuffling off the bed and walking slowly over to the dresser. Spooks doesn’t bolt away while he approaches, not like last time, she just tilts her head as Derek gets closer to her.

Stiles holds his breath as Derek reaches out, scooping Spooks up and cradling her so gently against his naked chest, his hand underneath her butt so she feels secure in his arms. Stiles kind of melts a little, taken aback by how careful Derek is being with her, and Spooks doesn’t look like she wants to claw her way out of his arms, so he counts that as a win. Derek places her gently down outside of the bedroom door, shutting it behind him as he comes back into the room.

He stops when he catches Stiles’ eye. “What?”

“I’m incredibly attracted to you right now,” Stiles tells him honestly, laying back against the bed in an exaggerated swoon. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you being so sweet in my life.”

Derek’s grin is wolfish and predatory as he stalks back over towards the bed.

“Roll over and I’ll show you just how sweet I can be.”

The way Derek fucks him after that is anything but sweet, but Stiles isn’t complaining at all.

**

Stiles’ pumpkin pies go down a treat—selling at five bucks a slice, all fourteen of them are bound to rake in the cash for the fundraiser. Stiles preens at every compliment he gets, and Mrs Allenson even goes as far as to say that he should open his own bakery.

“He’s the messiest baker I’ve ever met,” Derek tells her, but his voice is warm and fond. “He even managed to get flour all over our cat.”

Stiles’ eyes widen, and he wonders if Derek noticed his little slip up. He doesn’t appear to, if the way he carries on talking is anything to go by, telling Mrs Allenson all about the time Stiles managed to get frosting on the ceiling.

After Derek spends another twenty minutes regaling all of Stiles’ baking disasters, Stiles politely excuses them so he can drag Derek over to the corn maze, which naturally, he looks less than thrilled about.

“Humour me,” Stiles begs.

Derek is frustratingly good at navigating mazes. Stiles isn’t sure whether it’s a werewolf thing—although it probably is—but whenever they come to a fork in the maze, Derek takes two to three steps down one way before he says nope and turns back around to go down the other route. It kinda sucks all the fun out of it, and Stiles is not happy.

“Well that was riveting,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes as they exit the maze. Derek just shrugs, looking smug, and Stiles is about to question what the hell his problem is when his dad appears.

“Hello boys,” Noah greets them, looking sheepishly between Stiles and the plate in his hand.

“What are you doing with that?” Stiles asks, horrified as he looks at the collection of sweet treats on his dad’s paper plate. There’s an enormous piece of Stiles’ pumpkin pie, as well a cookie in the shape of a pumpkin, a mini pecan cheesecake and a caramel apple. “That’s like, a heart-attack on a plate!”

“It’s a special occasion,” his dad argues around a mouthful of cookie. “Besides, the Doc says my heart is fine. Stop worrying, kiddo.”

“Impossible.”

“Are you boys having fun?” Noah asks, ignoring Stiles’ glare as he finishes off his cookie.

“Well, I was,” Stiles starts, glancing over at Derek. “Until show-off wolf here completely ruined my experience of the corn maze.”

The sheriff chuckles. “I remember taking Stiles to your house one year. He’s probably too young to remember it, but he absolutely loved the Halloween candy hunt.”

Stiles looks between his father and Derek, confused. Derek’s blank expression shifts into something soft, a sad smile gracing his features.

“Cora and I weren’t allowed to join in with those in the end,” he says. “We would always stiff out the candy before the other kids and mom would get mad.”

“Wait, what?” Stiles asks. “What are you guys talking about?”

“The Hales used to put on a whole host of events around Halloween,” his father says. “Like I said, you were probably too young to remember, but Derek’s family would decorate their house like a real haunted house. People from all over the state would go there for Halloween, it was kind of a big deal.”

Stiles takes it all in, not sure how to deal with this new revelation. Initially, he feels a bit angry, and upset, because Stiles has shared with Derek so many of the Stilinski family holiday traditions whereas Derek hasn’t mentioned anything about his. It seems obvious that the Hales would have Halloween traditions, considering, and he feels betrayed that Derek hasn’t shared any of those with Stiles.

Does he think that Stiles wouldn’t want to carry on any of those traditions? He loves anything to do with fall and Halloween, and like his dad said, the Hale family Halloween was obviously a big deal back when they were alive.

“I’m uh—just gonna go find the, uh—bathroom,” he stammers, waving a hand in his dad’s and Derek’s direction as he turns on his heel and walks away. Stiles feels ridiculous, getting so upset about this, but he was convinced that he and Derek were at that point now where Derek would talk to him about this stuff. They’ve only been dating for less than a year, but they’ve known each other for six of those, and Derek has talked about his family a couple of times, completely unprompted.

He doesn’t head towards the restrooms, instead settling himself under the shade of a large tree behind the corn maze, away from the crowds. He pulls his sweater over his knees when he sits, looking down at the little ghost surrounded by beer bottles and suddenly feels stupid for even buying himself and Derek gimmicky jumpers. Everything suddenly makes a little bit more sense; how Derek has been extra grumpy and incredibly reluctant to join in with Stiles’ packed calendar of fall/Halloween-based activities.

Stiles just wishes Derek had confided in him.

He sits there along with his thoughts for a few minutes, knowing that soon enough, Derek will realise that something is wrong and come looking for him, doing that infuriating thing where he uses his goddamn super senses to sniff Stiles out of a crowd. If they’re in the house, Derek is quite content to leave him to sulk, not actively seeking him out and waiting until Stiles has cooled off and comes to him.

He rests his head on his knees, hugging them to his body underneath his sweater and trying to make himself as small as possible. He used to do this when he was younger, when his mom or dad had scolded him for something, wanting to just crumple into himself and disappear so he wouldn’t have to see the disappointment on their faces.

As predicted, a couple of minutes later, he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. It had nothing to do with the chill of the wind and everything to do with the feeling of being watched. He felt the warmth of a body settle into his side, Derek’s usually comforting weight anything but comforting right now.

There’s silence for a few moments, before Derek speaks. “You’re upset.”

Stiles huffs a short laugh, his shoulders shaking with it, and he doesn’t bother to lift his head up, knowing Derek will be able to hear him anyway. “You know I hate it when you do that.” And he does. It’s one thing to be friends with a group of supernaturals who can tell where you are and where you’ve been, but when they monitor his chemosignals and state blatantly how he’s feeling, that really gets his back up. It makes him feel like he can’t have anything to himself, not even his emotions. “You also know I hate it when you don’t talk to me.”

He feels more than hears Derek sigh, and he wonders whether it’s selfish and childish for him to be upset about this. Stiles likes to think that he can be a pretty empathetic person, and he knows that Derek finds it really hard to talk about his family, whether it be about their deaths, how it feels to live without them and the crushing guilt he feels on a daily basis that he doesn’t ever think he’ll be able to shake off.

But Derek has always been forthcoming when talking about the Hales when they were alive. He’s told Stiles about how he would sit in his dad’s workshop watching him carve a family of wolves onto a large plank of wood which then became the door to the Hale house, about how him and his cousins used to play pranks on Peter and his other uncle when he would visit, about how they would eat venison hunted and killed by one of the Hale pack members every Christmas. He always looked fond when he talked about them, as if one day he might be able to share memories of them without the mournful glint in his eyes.

“This has always been a hard time of year for me,” Derek starts, and Stiles lifts his head from where it’s been resting on his knees. Derek looks blank, his face a mask devoid of emotion as he stares straight ahead. “Halloween always brings back so many happy memories, until I think about—" He stops, swallows, and finally looks at Stiles, the mask beginning to slip. “Most religious holidays are widely celebrated by werewolf packs. A lot of my family’s traditions stem from Celtic and Pagan ones. Samhain was always my favourite.

“Like your father said, my mom and dad used to love opening our house up to the people of Beacon Hills in the run up to Halloween. They were always well respected in the community, often footing the bill for fundraisers or community projects to help the town. They used to donate the money they brought in from the Halloween events to local charities.” Stiles feels his stomach flip, thinking about how generous and good-natured the Hales were. It’s hard to believe that anyone could murder them because they believed they were nothing more than vicious animals. “I loved to help decorate the house. Laura used to tease me about how many fake cobwebs I would hang up, and Cora was obsessed with those animatronic witches and monsters you can get which cackle and scream when you walk past. She used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night to set them all off and wake us up.”

Stiles feels himself smiling a little at the thought of the Hales so happy and carefree, and settles himself into Derek’s side, his head on his shoulder, content to let Derek reminisce a while longer.

“My favourite part of the holiday was Halloween itself. The run up to the holiday was for Beacon Hills, but Halloween was for us as a family. Traditional Samhain celebrations are all about celebrating the death of summer, the last of the harvest before the winter sets in and the belief that the barrier between the physical and the spirit world is at its thinnest. We would spend the day talking about lost pack members as if they were there with us, and as darkness fell, we would build a bonfire in the clearing at the back of the house and we’d all shift and chase each other through the woods.”

Derek swallows again, obviously uncomfortable at the mention of fire. Stiles squeezes his knee gently, hoping his touch is reassuring. While he’s relieved that Derek is sharing this with him, he doesn’t want him to feel as if he has to, like he’s been backed into a corner and the choice taken away from him.

“The fire was always left to die out on its own, as tradition states. When I was sixteen, I was too busy, too distracted to join in the celebrations with my family, thinking it was all beneath me.” Stiles stiffens, because he has a feeling he knows where this is going, because he’s read the police reports, seen the newspaper clippings about the Hale fire and he feels so utterly stupid and insensitive now, remembering the date and how he and Scott were trick-or-treating on Maple Drive when they saw the police cars and fire engines flying down the road towards the Preserve.

“Derek,” Stiles hazards, feeling moisture start to sting his eyes. He hopes that his tone alerts Derek to the fact that he doesn't have to continue with the story if he doesn't want to.

“Laura and I were at some senior’s Halloween party,” Derek carries on, putting his arm around Stiles’ shoulders. He huffs out a bitter breath, “I can’t even remember their name. I forgot everything about that night other than the realisation that days before, I told her all about our family traditions. Told her that as the fire is dying outside, we take a flame from it and gather around the fireplace in the basement to light it and lay down our harvest offerings. Turns out, that night, she also took a flame from that fire, poured gasoline through the basement windows and trapped them inside.”

They’re quiet for a while, and Stiles just listens to Derek breathing steadily. He doesn’t know how Derek does it, because even now, Stiles can’t talk about his mom’s death without choking up. Not for the first time, Stiles is in awe of Derek, because he’s always been so strong, and even in this moment of vulnerability, he’s the one that’s holding Stiles as if he’s the one that needs comforting.

“I have so many happy memories of this time of year, so many that are now tainted by the fire. It’s all I can think about.”

Stiles sits up and looks at Derek then, takes in the pain in his eyes, and he feels so goddamn guilty that he’s pushed this; forcing Derek to try to enjoy the holiday when all he can think about is his family burning, and wondering why he was so reluctant to partake in the all the activities Stiles had planned. Granted, Stiles didn’t know, and he had a feeling that Derek just went along with everything to make Stiles happy, even though it was hurting him so badly.

“I’m so sorry,” is all Stiles can think to say, and he knows it’s not enough, it’ll never be enough, but the small smile he gets from Derek in answer is enough to stop his heart from shattering completely.

“You don’t have anything to be sorry about,” Derek reassures him, pulling Stiles close and kissing his temple. “I know how much this holiday means to you, how it reminds you of your mom. I’m the one who should be sorry. I’ve been trying not to think about it but sometimes I just can’t, and that seems to manifest in me being an intolerant asshole.”

“Whoa, hey,” Stiles starts, wiping furiously at his eyes. “I don’t wanna hear you apologising either. I’m the one who’s an asshole. I had a feeling something was up, but I didn’t ask. I just carried on, dragging you here, there and everywhere, shoving pumpkins in your face and forcing you to unwillingly adopt a cat.”

“Foster,” Derek corrects, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

“Shut up, you know you love her,” Stiles says, and he fists his hands into Derek’s ridiculous Grumpkin sweater and tugs. “Off, take it off.

Derek grabs his wrists gently, stilling his movements as he catches Stiles’ eye. “Stiles, it’s okay. I like it. Plus, it’s kinda true.”

He’s smiling, and even though it doesn’t quite reach his eyes, it settles Stiles somewhat and he sags in defeat. “We should make our own traditions,” he tells Derek, determined. He knows that he’s not going to be able to re-write Derek’s past, but he’ll do anything to help Derek to enjoy this time of year once again.

“I’d like that,” Derek says, smiling softly, and Stiles feels something inside him settle. “Come on, we should get back. I don’t think it’s wise to leave your dad unattended at these things. There was a hell of a lot of pumpkin pie left when I came to find you.”

“Oh god,” Stiles groans, because Derek is right, his dad really can’t be trusted where dessert is concerned.

**

Things get a little bit easier after their conversation at the fundraiser; Stiles is less pushy and Derek is less grumpy, but still no more tolerant of the cat. There have been a few times when Stiles has entered the room and they’ve been having some kind of stare-down.

It’s quite cute, actually.

Derek is out of the house quite a lot, working long hours on projects and making the most of the fair weather before the winter truly sets in. It’s a good thing, and it seems to be taking his mind off everything. He still comes home stressed most nights, and Stiles spends a lot of time baking his favourite sweet treats so he’s got something nice to come home to—besides Stiles, of course.

Stiles does notice that Derek seems to be going out a lot more on shifted runs through the Preserve after dark. Stiles doesn’t comment, because it seems like Derek’s using it as a coping mechanism, and he’s a lot more agreeable for it.

One evening, Derek’s gone for just short of four hours, combining his de-stress run with a territory patrol. Stiles would worry, but he’s been reassured by Derek and the pack that there aren’t any supernatural threats in their territory at present. Maybe they’re preparing for Halloween, Stiles thinks with a snort.

He’s curled up under a blanket on the couch, Spooks napping nestled between his folded legs, her nose buried in her arms. She looks visibly pregnant now, a little furry pouch hanging down underneath her when she stands up. She also spends most of her time either eating or napping, and not doing much else, constantly stuck to Stiles’ side whenever he’s in the house.

He should’ve named her Shadow.

He ordered a Knit your own pumpkin kit a while ago, and he’d been planning to ask Derek to do it with him on a rainy weekend afternoon, but after the recent revelations, he decided to make it a solo venture. It’s quite therapeutic actually, having something to occupy his mind as well as his hands; it’s why he enjoys baking so much. Baking reminds him of his mother, and his grandmother always used to knit, although she made it look much easier than it actually was.

By the time Derek gets back, it’s gone midnight, and Stiles jumps, nearly dropping the very nearly-finished pumpkin he’s working on. He just manages to catch it before it rolls onto the floor, but the movement jostles Spooks and she scrambles up, stretching and padding at Stiles’ bare legs before giving him an unimpressed look and sloping off towards the kitchen, most likely in search of food.

Derek’s bare, standing in front of him—as Stiles had banned him from being in wolf-form in the house with Spooks around—an eyebrow raised, looking at the wool in Stiles’ hands.

“You’re knitting.”

“And you’re naked,” Stiles says, since they’re stating the obvious. “And technically, it’s crochet.”

Derek collapses on the couch next to him, lifting the blanket and jamming his freezing cold feet between Stiles’ lower legs. Stiles yelps, swatting at him in retaliation. Derek doesn’t say anything, just tips his head back to rest it on the back of the couch, his eyes closed.

Stiles wants to ask whether everything is okay, whether he’s okay, but he doesn’t want to push, as Derek’s been quieter than usual ever since he told Stiles about the circumstances of the fire.

“Nothing to report,” is all Derek says, and Stiles feels himself wilt in relief, not realising he was so tense. They haven’t had anything horrendous make its way into Beacon Hills for a while, but it's only a matter of time before the scales of the universe tip out of their favour once again. “Malia came with me today, her dad is in the hospital again. Think she just needed to switch off for a while.”

Stiles sighs, because he shouldn’t feel jealous that Malia got to spend the evening with his boyfriend; they are cousins, after all, and it’s not like they were having a big heart-to-heart about their feelings considering they were in their animal forms. Maybe, being human, he’d never understand the feelings that came with being able to shift, to let the animal take over.

“I’ll call in the hospital tomorrow,” Stiles says. “I’ve got plenty of cookies leftover, don’t want them to go to waste.”

Derek scoffs. “Like I’d ever let that happen.”

“They’re pumpkin snickerdoodle,” Stiles says with a grin, because he knows that snickerdoodles are Derek’s favourite. He’s relieved that Derek’s come round to pumpkin, considering how much of the flesh was leftover from the ones he’d carved even after making fifteen pumpkin pies.

Derek groans, opening his eyes. “Are you sure you want to take them to the hospital?”

“I made like, four batches,” Stiles tells him, starting up on his pumpkin once again. He’s so nearly there with this one—the final in the set—and he wants to get it finished before he turns in for the night.

“Speaking of pumpkin,” Derek says. “That’s an interesting colour for one.”

Stiles finishes his stitch, running his finger along the length of black wool in his lap. “You can get black pumpkins,” he attests. “Granted, they’re often hybrids, but I looked it up and there’s a farm in Wisconsin that grows a subspecies called Dark Knight, which is fucking badass.”

“I bet that one doesn’t need a Scarecrow to watch over it.”

Stiles gapes. “Did you just make a Batman joke? Not that it was a very good one, but have I told you how much I love you?”

“Not nearly enough as I’d like. So what’s with the goth pumpkin?”

Stiles drops the crochet hook and wool into his lap and reaches over the arm of the couch to the side table. “It’s not a goth pumpkin. Pumpkins come in all different colours, you should know this from our trip to the pumpkin patch.” Stiles places the other two pumpkins he crocheted in Derek’s lap. “It’s the third in the set.”

Derek picks up the dark orange pumpkin first, and Stiles bites his lip in anticipation as Derek reads the tag Stiles attached to the stem. “It’s the closest they had to red,” Stiles tells him, and he may have just said that pumpkins may come in all colours but red wasn’t one of them.

Derek places the orange pumpkin down and picks up the white one, which is ever so slightly smaller, and he reads the tag on that one too. “How come you’re the white one?”

“Uh, have you seen my skin?” Stiles asks, gesturing to himself. “I burn in a snowstorm. Plus, white has connotations of purity and innocence, which suits me down to the ground.”

Derek raises an eyebrow, then slowly says "Right."

Stiles doesn’t have time to act affronted, because Derek is eyeing the black pumpkin in his lap, much smaller than the other two, and Stiles sees the moment it dawns on him.

“The cat.”

Stiles nods, grinning and proud. “A cute little family of pumpkins.”

Derek rolls his eyes, but he looks fond. He passes the two finished pumpkins back to Stiles, patting his legs so that he can get up from under the blanket. “I’m gonna go take a shower. I’ll make up the guest room for you.” Stiles looks up at him, horrified for a moment before the line of Derek’s mouth morphs into a sweet smile. “You said yourself that you’re pure and innocent, don’t want to go besmirching your virtue.”

It’s Stiles’ turn to roll his eyes, and Derek leans down to press a lingering kiss to his mouth, which has the potential to turn anything but innocent. Stiles pulls away and swats at him gently. “Be gone!”

Derek chuckles as he walks out of the room towards the stairs, and Stiles sighs when he hears Spooks start to meow continuously from the direction of the kitchen.

“I’ll tell you I love you a hundred times a day if you feed the cat!”

**

The next morning, Stiles wakes up late, having been up until the early hours finishing the little black Spooks-pumpkin, which he remembers leaving in the living room with the other two.

When he goes into the kitchen to make himself coffee, he notices the crochet pumpkin family sitting proudly on the windowsill, the orange and white pumpkins at the back with the little black one in front and between them.

**

The day before Halloween, Derek is out of town for most of the day, working. Stiles uses his absence as an excuse to execute his super-secret seasonal plan, and even with Derek gone for nearly twelve hours, he's still pushed for time.

He gets back to the house ten minutes before Derek is due home, and he runs upstairs as soon as he's through the door to shower away any evidence of where he's been or what he's been doing. He doesn't want the surprise to be ruined.

He’s just towelling off his hair when Derek comes in, and Stiles hears him coming straight up the stairs. He appears in the doorway and Stiles takes in his appearance; he looks exhausted. There was a time when he thought that werewolves were incapable of being physically tired, but as the years went by he discovered that that wasn’t the case. They aren’t human, but that doesn’t mean they’re superhuman.

“How was it?” Stiles asks cautiously.

Derek sighs. “As good as it could have gone.”

The client that Derek is working with is notoriously difficult, and the building designs that they commissioned have had to be redone multiple times since they first took on the contract, and it’s only gotten worse since they started the build.

Derek starts to strip off his clothes, throwing each item in the hamper, a perfect shot on each attempt. Usually, Stiles would roll his eyes and call him a show off, but with the way Derek looks, he doesn’t think it’s appropriate.

“I ran you a bath,” Stiles tells him, and relishes Derek’s small smile.

“Thank you,” he says, pausing to kiss Stiles’ temple as he passes before disappearing into the bathroom.

Stiles told himself to give Derek space during the run-up to Halloween. Most evenings they spent together, after Derek got back from his run, and they’d had dinner with the sheriff earlier on in the week. Stiles is trying to take Derek’s mind off things, while giving him the space that he needed, and it’s been hard to find the balance.

They agreed to spend Halloween just the two of them, and while Stiles is disappointed that he won’t be spending the evening at his dad’s house entertaining trick-or-treaters as planned, he knows it’s for the best.

While Derek’s relaxing in the bath, Stiles heads downstairs to check on the stew he made and put in the crock pot in the early afternoon. The kitchen actually smells delicious, and Stiles is surprised that he isn’t feeling at all nauseous considering the stew’s key ingredient is, you guessed it, pumpkin.

“Smells great,” Derek compliments when he comes downstairs after his bath. He looks a little more refreshed, his cheeks still a ruddy pink from the heat and steam from his bath, but his eyes are tired, and Stiles can tell it’s a kind of mental exhaustion that he’s facing. “Not that I’m complaining, but I thought you used all the pumpkin in your many baking ventures.”

Stiles laughs sort of hysterically, rubbing the back of his neck as Derek raises an eyebrow in question. “What can I say? It’s like the stuff multiplies before I can use it up.”

It’s quite possible Stiles never wants to carve, eat or even see another pumpkin ever again.

**

Stiles wakes up early on Halloween morning, and he knows that Derek hates it when he wakes him up constantly fidgeting in bed, so he goes downstairs to start a pot of coffee.

While he’s waiting, he puts down some food and refills Spooks’ water as she’s already sitting by her bowls and eyeing him expectantly when he walks into the kitchen. She meows gratefully before tucking in.

When his coffee is ready, he decides to go sit out on the porch, taking one of the blankets from the couch with him. It’s a fairly mild morning for late October, but he still appreciates the blanket wrapped around him and the heat of his coffee cup warming his hands.

As he sits, he takes in the Preserve around him, the peacefulness of the forest settling him. When he’d first moved into the newly-rebuilt Hale house, the surrounding trees had unnerved him, like it was too quiet. It’s not like he grew up on a busy street, but hearing cars driving past or a neighbour’s lawn mower running became comforting sounds; the sounds of suburban life right outside his window. Now, there’s nothing but the soft swish of the wind through the trees or the occasional animal sounds to be heard.

He doesn’t need to be scared, not when he lives with the scariest thing in the forest.

The sun is still low in the sky when Spooks joins him out on the porch, climbing up into his lap and allowing herself to be petted. He thinks about the surprise he has planned for Derek, and his heart starts to thump a bit quicker in his chest, thinking about how it could go one of two ways.

“I hope I’m doing the right thing, little lady,” he says to her as she lifts her head to look up at him, as if sensing his rising panic. She just screws her eyes closed in answer as he scritches behind her ears.

He’s just about to go inside and get another cup of coffee when Derek slides open the door, sporting a wild bedhead. He’s wearing a pair of thin pyjama pants, and he doesn’t even look cold at all. It’s unfair.

“Oh, look,” Derek says, gesturing to the woods with a wide sweep of his arm. “Another glorious morning.”

Makes me sick!” they both say in unison.

Stiles throws his head back and laughs, because Derek legitimately surprises him nearly every day. While he can sometimes be grumpy and come off as unapproachable, for the most part he’s actually really kind and funny. Stiles never imagined that this is where they’d be nearly eight years after first meeting one another, in this very forest in a spot not all that far away from where they are now.

“Want another coffee?” Derek asks, gesturing to Stiles’ empty cup on the seat next to him. He’s smiling, and Stiles is relieved to see that it’s reaching his eyes; genuine.

“Please,” he says.

Derek comes back a few minutes later with two steaming cups of coffee, and settles next to Stiles on the porch swing. Spooks looks up when Derek sits down, looking at him with her wide, yellow eyes. Stiles wishes he knew what she was thinking. Derek looks back at her when he’s settled in his seat, his eyes flashing red for a split second. Spooks continues to look at him, seemingly unamused and unperturbed by the display. It makes Stiles laugh.

“She’s so not afraid of you.”

Derek shrugs, taking a sip of his coffee and screwing up his face when it burns his tongue. He does it every time, and never learns. Stiles finds it adorable.

“So what do you want to do today?” Derek asks.

Stiles thinks for a moment, because he’s not sure what to suggest they do. Today is the anniversary of the Hale fire, and if he’s honest, he wants Derek to be forthcoming with some ideas of what they could spend it doing. Maybe Derek needs Stiles to take the lead on this one, to completely take the decision away from him so he doesn’t have to think too much.

“Well now I really wanna watch Hocus Pocus,” Stiles tells him honestly.

Derek laughs. “We can do that,” he agrees. “We could make hot chocolate on the stove with those fancy syrups you bought at the fundraiser.”

“Sounds like a plan. Although, I’m really not keen to try the pumpkin spice one.”

Derek makes an agreeable noise. “Pecan salted caramel?”

“You read my mind,” Stiles says with a grin.

**

After breakfast—which Stiles unsuccessfully tries to convince Derek is pumpkin pancakes, claiming there are no other options—they make their hot chocolate, complete with whipped cream and marshmallows, and camp out in the den cum cinema room. Stiles had insisted that they invest in a fancy projector, so they could pretend that they were at the movies without Derek getting distracted by the other movie-goers hushed whispers and incessant crunching on popcorn. Now, he only had to put up with Stiles’ constant commentary.

They watch Hocus Pocus, and Derek actually provides commentary of his own, quoting the dialogue along with Stiles. Afterwards, they get into a heated discussion about which Sanderson sister is the best.

“Of course you like Winnie the best, that’s so predictable,” Derek says, rolling his eyes.

Stiles gapes. “How dare you? At least Mary isn’t my favourite.”

“Mary is extremely underrated,” Derek argues, picking up a cushion and batting Stiles over the head with it. “She cares about her sisters, and isn’t nearly as big-headed as Winnie or Sarah.”

“You’re wrong, but okay.”

They agree to disagree, and end up making out lazily for a while, the blu ray main menu music playing on a loop in the background. Stiles doesn’t think it’s going to go further than making out, mostly because he’s too jittery and worried about overstepping.

“You okay?” Derek asks, nuzzling his face into Stiles’ neck and placing a chaste kiss to the skin. “You smell—”

“Derek,” Stiles warns, because he’s doing that thing again. Besides, Stiles wants so desperately to ask if Derek’s okay, but he doesn’t want to draw attention to anything. “I’m good. Just need to pee.” It’s not a lie, the massive mug of hot chocolate is starting to make itself known in his bladder. “Let me up, you big lump.”

Derek nips at the muscle where his neck meets his shoulder before he moves away from Stiles, untangling their legs so Stiles can slide out of the blanket. He’s just about to get up when Spooks slopes in and promptly jumps into Stiles’ lap.

“Noooo, baby girl,” he groans. “Dad has gotta pee.” He scoops her up and places her gently into Derek’s lap before he gets up. He looks down at them when he’s standing, the cat looking up at him, utterly betrayed, and Derek sitting there with wide eyes and his arms in the air, as if in surrender. He manages to stifle the laugh bubbling up before he tells them, “you two need to do some bonding.”

He can’t deny that he isn’t a little bit disappointed that when he comes back into the den, Spooks is curled up on the armchair and Derek just shrugs noncommittally at Stiles’ questioning look.

**

They bum about for a bit in the house until the late afternoon, ending up skyping with Jackson and Isaac, and then Cora respectively. Jackson and Isaac have just settled with a pack in London officially, but they always reassure Derek that they’ll forever consider him their alpha, and Derek reassures them that they’ll always have a place in the pack if they want to return to Beacon Hills. It’s good to catch up with them, and Stiles will never get over the fact that he can now say that he’s friends with Jackson Whittemore.

The conversation with Cora is a little less easy. Neither of them mention the date, or its significance, at least not while Stiles is there. About halfway through, Stiles decides to give the siblings some privacy, and goes upstairs to change. He sends a couple texts to the pack, needing some last minute reassurance from them that he’s not totally out of his mind for doing what he’s about to do. Although it is hard for them to know considering he’s omitted certain details in order to respect Derek’s privacy.

Stiles is rifling through one of his drawers trying to find his beanie when Derek comes upstairs.

“Going somewhere?” he asks, eyeing Stiles carefully.

Stiles stands up straight, very narrowly avoiding smacking his head on his sock drawer which he’s mistakenly left open. “I was wondering if you wanted to take a walk. They’ve decorated Main Street and I thought it would be cool to check it out, maybe grab a burger or whatever.”

Derek nods. “Sounds good. If you’re looking for your beanie, it’s in your underwear drawer.”

**

An hour later, it’s just starting to get dark as they round the corner onto Main. The whole street is lit up with Halloween-themed lights, and there are skeletons hanging from every other street light. They walk past a few groups of teenagers dressed in a variety of costumes, from simple Scream masks to complicated cosplay-style comic book characters. Stiles high-fives one guy dressed in a pretty legit looking Deadpool costume, and Derek scoffs as they pass a girl dressed as Little Red Riding Hood with wolf face paint and fluffy black ears.

“They always forget the glowing eyes, huh?” Stiles laughs as Derek shakes his head.

They stop to talk to the sheriff, who’s standing next to his parked cruiser halfway down the street.

“Any trouble so far?” Stiles asks.

“Not yet, but the sun’s only just gone down. I’m patiently awaiting the hundreds of radio calls I’m going to get asking me to go check on old Mr Jones on Oak Drive because his house has been TPed yet again.”

“Could be worse,” Stiles offers, because lord knows his dad has attended some gnarly supernatural-inflicted crime scenes in the past. You’d think he’d be grateful for these ordinary, pedestrian crimes.

His father makes an agreeable noise. “Anyway, don’t let me keep you. You boys have fun.”

Before they walk away, the sheriff catches Stiles’ attention and presses something small and sharp into Stiles’ palm, giving him a thumbs up as they break apart. Stiles tries not to react too much in case Derek is aware of his emotions in that moment. He’d asked his dad for a small favour, and that’s the signal that everything is in place.

They mooch along Main for a while, and end up getting hot dogs instead of burgers, because the street vendor is marketing them with a Halloween theme, calling them Bloody fingers, which Stiles finds hilarious.

There are a couple of carnival games at the end of the street, and Stiles manages to convince Derek to have a go at the “Witches Hat Ring Toss” and no one is surprised except the guy running the stall when Derek scores on every single go. Derek picks out a toy, and Stiles laughs until there are tears in his eyes when Derek comes back with a giant, stuffed pumpkin.

“What’s one more for the collection, right?” Derek asks with a grin as he pushes it into Stiles’ arms. It’s easily two times the width of his torso, and he has to wrap both of his arms around the thing to hold it. “No doubt you’ve already got a name for it.”

“I’m working on it,” Stiles says, still laughing. He sobers a little before saying, “Funny you should say that, actually. About the pumpkins, I mean. I actually have a surprise for you.”

Derek regards him for a second, searching his face. “You’re anxious.”

Stiles laughs nervously, and he’d be rubbing at his neck if his hands weren’t full of soft-toy pumpkin. “Well, yea.” He’s not even annoyed that Derek did the thing again, because he is anxious, despite the reassurances from his dad, Scott and Lydia that this was a good idea. He decides to just bite the bullet. “This way.”

Beacon Hills cemetery is, conveniently, at the end of Main Street, it’s tall, wrought-iron gates imposing as they approach. The gates are locked to the public this late at this time of year, especially on Halloween—not that it seems to stop teenagers from breaking in and doing Ouija boards or whatever it is that they do—but the sheriff had pulled some strings and managed to get the key from the groundskeeper, on the proviso that they keep it on the downlow.

“Please tell me you haven’t been researching necromancy and have decided to try it out, with me as your witness.”

Stiles chuckles to hide his nervousness, trying to juggle the goddamn pumpkin while unlocking the stiff padlock holding the gates shut. “Necromancy? Really? It’s like you don’t even know me at all. If I were to get into any evil magic practice it would blatantly be something like ritual Satanism.”

The padlock clicks open, and Stiles wrestles with the chain before the gates open with an ominous creak. They’re far enough away from the festivities that people won’t notice them, and Stiles thinks about the calls his dad would get if anyone did. Two suspicious males seen breaking into BH cemetery. Both six-foot-ish, one carrying an abnormally large toy pumpkin. He can just imagine his dad sighing into his radio, “Yep, that’s my son.”

“I literally have no idea what we’re doing here,” Derek confesses, watching Stiles lock the gates up behind him. “But I feel like at this point, with you, it could be anything.”

“Good to know I’m still managing to keep you on your toes,” Stiles says. “Can you get a flashlight up on your phone? I would, but I have two armfuls of pumpkin. Still working on a name, by the way. I’m thinking maybe Sasquash, because it’s big and a little furry, but in a soft way, which is nice. And obviously you’ve got the word play with squash, which is a similar fruit to a pumpkin, and—”

Stiles, it’s okay. I get it,” Derek says, nearly blinding Stiles with the flashlight coming from his phone before he quickly points it at the floor in front of them. “You know I don’t need this, right?” His eyes flash red, and Stiles rolls his eyes.

“Yes, but I do. And I really don’t want to be trampling all over dead people, it’s disrespectful.”

“So, are you gonna tell me why you’ve dragged me into a graveyard on Halloween?” Derek asks.

“I think I’d rather show you,” Stiles tells him, and gestures for Derek to start walking down the path which leads deeper into the cemetery.

They walk past many different gravestones, up a slight incline which leads to the newer and more affluent headstones, and Stiles can see the soft lights emanating from their destination up ahead as they walk over the brow of the small hill.

Derek stills, and Stiles experiences a heart-sinking moment of dread and panic and oh my god, I’ve totally fucked this up, what the fuck did I do?! before Derek starts walking again.

“That’s my family’s plot,” he says simply, not looking at Stiles.

Stiles is still panicking, because he really can’t get a read on him right now. He doesn’t stop walking again, and sooner than Stiles likes, they’re in front of the Hale family memorial plot. Derek stops in front of it, and Stiles watches him taking everything in.

There are ten perfect jack-o-lanterns placed around the plot and on the stone memorial itself, each one carved with the name of the various members of the Hale family who perished in the fire. There was a soft, flickering light inside each one, illuminating the cursive letters that Stiles had spent hours and hours carving the previous day.

Stiles watches Derek’s eyes become a little glassy as he looks at each of the pumpkins in turn, feeling his heart beating fiercely in his chest. This could go one of two ways, and right now he’s not sure which it’s going to be.

“Okay, so I may have gone back to the Parker’s farm early yesterday morning and begged John to let me buy the last of his stock. A few of them were kinda rotten inside, but I propped them up with some barbeque skewers and I think they’ve held pretty well, don’t you? And don’t worry, those are LED tea lights inside, because—yea…”

Derek is silent for a while longer, and Stiles starts to feel antsy, feeling ridiculous standing there in front of his boyfriend’s dead family’s memorial with a humongous stuffed pumpkin in his arms, so he places Sasquash on the ground and steps cautiously closer to Derek.

“Derek,” he ventures, “please say something.”

Derek finally looks at him then, tearing his gaze away from the scene in front of him. His eyes are a lot more glassy now, Stiles notices, the budding moisture threatening to spill over and fall.

Stiles,” is all Derek says, before he grabs Stiles and crushes him against his body. “Thank you.”

Stiles wilts in relief in Derek’s grip, bringing his hand up to cradle the back of Derek’s head and run his fingers softly through his hair. Derek nuzzles into Stiles’ neck, scenting him, and Stiles can feel the wetness on his skin.

“I’m so fucking glad,” Stiles admits. He’d spent the whole day having an internal conflict about the whole thing, especially when Derek didn’t even mention the anniversary or the fire at all—not that he was obligated to. Stiles was familiar with grief and how it manifests and lingers in different people, just look at the difference between how he and his dad handled his mother’s death.

Derek pulls back, then cradles Stiles’ face in his hands, looking into his eyes. “I love you, so much.”

“I know, right? I’m freakin’ awesome. And I have the best ideas.”

Derek rolls his eyes fondly, then kisses him deeply; a thank you and heartfelt declaration of love at once. And if they both end up with wet, tear-streaked faces, well, Stiles won’t tell anyone.

**

They head back to the house a few hours later, after Derek has said a quiet few words in front of the memorial while Stiles went over to his own mother’s grave, both needing some moments of privacy. He’d carved a pumpkin for her as well, and he stares into the light of it as he says his own few words to her, imagining that way the LED flickers is her answering him. He’s sure that it flares brighter at some points, but that’s probably just his imagination.

Derek kisses him sweetly as soon as they walk through the door. “I’m gonna head up, if that’s okay?”

“Of course,” Stiles tells him, kissing him gently on the corner of his mouth. “I might make some more hot chocolate. We can have it in bed.”

Derek disappears upstairs, and Stiles gets to work on another batch of hot chocolate. His mom had always made it on the stove with actual melted chocolate rather than powder, and Stiles knows that Derek prefers it this way, considering he has an insane sweet tooth.

Twenty minutes later, he finishes up the hot chocolate, garnishing them with the obligatory cream and marshmallows, feeds the cat—who is nowhere to be seen—and heads upstairs with their drinks. He shoulders open their bedroom door and nearly drops the cups at the sight which confronts him.

Derek is laying on the bed, fully clothed and on his back with his legs crossed at the bottom, one arm folded up so his hand is pillowing his head. Spooks is laying spread out on his chest, her face tipped up so it looks as if she’s looking at Derek, his other hand buried in the fur on her back.

Stiles gently places the cups on the dresser and whips out his phone, snapping a few pictures and promptly setting the cutest one as his phone background.

There’s no way they’re not adopting her now.

**

Less than three weeks later, the day before Thanksgiving, Spooks disappears into the nest she made underneath the low shelf of the desk unit in Derek’s office, and gives birth to five healthy kittens; three boys and two girls. They discover that the baby daddy is likely to be a ginger tom, as two of the boy kittens are ginger, and the two girls are tortoiseshell. The other remaining boy is black like his mom.

Deaton manages to find homes for the two girls and the two ginger boys—named
Bean, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Sweet Potato by Stiles—but no one seems to want the little black guy. “Black cats are notoriously hard to get adopted. People are very superstitious,” Deaton told them by way of explanation. Lucky for Stiles, little Pumpkin gets on real well with Derek.

“He’s just like his mommy,” Stiles coos, stroking Pumpkin’s impossibly tiny head. He’s burrowed himself into the crook of Derek’s arm, and Stiles’ heart feels so full. He’s probably got enough wool left to knit another, even smaller crochet pumpkin to represent the newest addition to the Stilinski-Hale family.

“Any particular reason why you called a black cat Pumpkin?” Deaton asks, leaning over to give Pumpkin his shot. The kitten mewls softly, and Stiles strokes down his back soothingly.

“Because pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes and colours, Doc, even black,” Stiles says. “And the most beautiful things are often the most unusual.”

He looks at Derek, and the two cats on his lap—Spooks having joined them to comfort her son after the nasty vet with the big needle jabbed him.

Two cats, a werewolf, and a human make a pretty unusual family, but no less beautiful than any other.