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They Don't Know How Long It Takes (Waiting For a Love Like This)

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“Run, run, run!” Derek begs, “Please, momma, can we go on a run, please?” he pouts a little, tiny hands tugging on his moms pants.

Mom slowly closes her thick leather bound book, “Alright” she sighs, running sharp nails over Derek’s scalp, “Go fetch your cousins and sisters so we can go.”

Derek beams at her, rumbles happily, “Thanks, momma,” he cheers, dashing out of the study and pounding through the doors along the hallway.

“Run, run, run,” he hollers up and down the hall, loudly enough even his human cousins can hear.

“What are you doin’ runt?” Laura calls out, popping her head out of her room.

She gets a room all to herself because she’s the oldest. Derek thinks it must be lonely because when Derek gets nightmares he gets to cuddle with his cousins that are just on the bed on the other side of his room and Laura has to leave her room in the dark and look for someone to cuddle with. That’s a lot of work.

“I’m not a runt!” he shouts, “And momma said we could go on a run but you’re a poop face so you can’t.”

Laura growls playfully, “what did you call me?”

“Poop face!” Derek sticks his tongue out at her, making a break for it and running down the hallway and straight into a dead end, but that’s okay because there’s a window at the end and Derek can hear Dadda just outside.

He throws the window open just as Laura’s catching up to him and then jumps over the ledge, screeching “Dadda!” as he falls.

Strong arms wrap around him, holding him close and safe to a solid chest.

“Derek,” Dada acknowledges him, looking a little bit apprehensive.

Derek beams up at him, butts his head against his cheek, “Hi, Dadda. Laura was being a meanie.”

“He called me poop face,” she accuses from the second story window. Derek grins smugly up at her because Dadda has his arms full, which means Laura can’t jump.

“Derek we’ve talked about this. You can’t call your sister names. Be nice.”

Derek pouts, “She started it.”

Dadda ruffles his hair, noses against his cheek for a moment before setting him down, “Wait for your mom and then you can go on a run. We can play wrestle with Laura later.”

“You’re going down, runt!” Laura crows, climbing over the windowsill and catching Dad’s attention before jumping.

Derek yelps and races away, dodging Aunt Maya’s fingers and dashing straight into the forest.

“Derek!” he hears Dad call from behind him, but he can’t stop because if he stops Laurs will give him a noogie and Laura is the worst at those. Derek’s head hurts for days.

He runs as fast as he can, letting his light up sneakers pound through twigs and fallen leaves, his tiny fangs drop as he partially shifts into a wolf.

It’s exhilarating to run like this, without anyone to keep him within a tight circle of adults where he’s herded around and slowed down with where his cousins keep tripping him up, and just being able to follow whatever path he pleases.

Derek hears tiny paws rushing through leaves and changes course, racing after what he’s pretty sure is a bunny- rabbit.

He howls happily, excited to be running alone for the first time.

His mom will probably be mad at him when she catches him, Laura will probably tackle him to the ground and play wrestle with him, but right now his eyes are flaring beta gold and the scent of prey is on his nose and Derek just wants to chase it down and rip through flesh.

“Derek!” he hears Dadda call out and runs a little faster.

Momma forbids from running alone.

She says it’s because they’re too little and don’t have their anchors quite in place yet, that they can go feral and then hunters will have to kill them.

Derek is not worried though, Momma would save him if anything went wrong. Especially if any meanie hunter tried to get him.

The bunny is hopping madly in front of him now, zigzagging towards its lair, but Derek’s just the tiniest bit faster. He leaps and slashes the animal, sinking his teeth in its throat and shaking his head like a wet dog.

Derek immediately regrets his decision and drops the bunny-rabbit.

It tastes terrible.

He makes a face, licking his shirt sleeve to get the taste off.

“I’m gonna smack you, runt!” Laura threatens, but she’s laughing so it’s okay.

“No you won’t!” Derek hollers, jumps back to his feet and starts running in another direction, intent of escaping capture by his older sister.

On his way to escaping, Derek’s heightened hearing catches another pretty sound that has him sharply changing his course.

It’s the sound two heartbeats, one slow and steady and another fast pace like whomever they are they just run a lot.

Derek’s curious; he tilts his head while he runs towards it and hears a woman’s voice talking quietly, telling stories.

“Derek James Hale don’t you dare,” his father’s growling intercepting him, but Derek sidesteps him, ducking under his legs easily.

He needs to go to that sound. That too quick heartbeat because it sounds right, it sounds like something he should be always listening to. It makes Derek’s brain happy, like listening to Aunty Maya singing lullabies does.

He runs faster and faster and faster than he’s ever run before, until the sound is so close it’s reverberating through his little bones.

Derek stops, skids on the leaves and falls on his butt, looking up at the woman touching a tree reverently.

She slowly turns when she hears him fall, smiles a pretty, nice smile.

“Hello, are you okay?”

Derek jumps to his feet, makes a show of dusting himself off, “Yeah,” he nods, stopping to tilt his head and try to locate that pretty fast sound again. His eyes zero in on the woman’s round belly, “did you eat a baby?” he asks.

The woman laughs, “No, but I do have one in my tummy.”

Derek frowns, “Oh. ‘Cause Cousin TomTom says that to have a baby in your tummy you have to eat it and then it grows there and then you have to poop it out.”

“I think you should ask your mommy about that,” the woman advises with a warm smile, “can you tell me your name, sweetheart?”

“Derek,” he says, putting his hand up like he sees daddy do when he meets new people.

The woman’s smile brightens a little bit and she takes his hand and shakes it firmly, “My name’s Claudia, nice to meet you.”

Derek nods because he doesn’t know what you say when someone tells you that.

The faster heartbeat trips over itself once before continuing its rhythm.

“Derek,” Dadda says urgently, reaching them first with Laura on his heels, “Derek, son, would you step away from the nice lady, you don’t want to frighten her with your Halloween costume do you?”

Derek frowns and turns to his dad, who taps his teeth and that’s when Derek remembers he’s still shifted.

He gasps and turns wide eyed to Claudia who’s looking very unimpressed at his Dadda.

“Don’t insult me, Mr. Hale.”

“I wasn’t trying to-“

“Make a poor excuse as to why your son is shifted and running through the woods?” Claudia laughs a little, “Deaton is right, you’re terrible liars.”

“You know Deaton?” Dadda asks, seeming more relaxed.

“I work with him, when his work is lacking a certain… spark!” she grins sharply, one hand subconsciously rubbing her belly. Derek turns back towards the sound.

“Can I touch your tummy?” Derek asks hopefully, gives her the same hopeful look he’d given Momma earlier.

“Gentle with the claws, sweetheart,” Claudia says carefully and Derek immediately retracts his claws, feels his face smoothing back to normal.

Claudia takes his hand and gently places it on her belly where Derek can really feel that little accelerated heartbeat reverberating through his palm, shaking through his entire body, making his heart try to catch up.

“Oh!” he says, looks up at Claudia in wonder when he feels something against his hand.

“The baby’s kicking. He likes you,” she smiles and that gets Derek impossibly thrilled. He beams up at her.

“I like him too,” Derek says solemnly because he feels like this is very serious.

“Aren’t you a sweet one?” she coos, running her fingers through his hair, “Do you think you could guide me back to the city?” Claudia seems to be asking him, but she glances up at Dadda when she speaks, “I started walking and got a little lost.”

“We’ll get you to the house and drive you back into town,” his dad promises, “it’ll be easier like that.”

“Thank you.”

“Derek,” Dadda calls, “would you mind coming over? You’ve got blood on your face son.”

Derek tries to wipe it away with the back of his sleeve making a disgusted face.

“It was icky, Dadda.”

Dad snorts, “I’m sure it was, but I need you to let go of the nice lady now.”

Derek pouts and shakes his head, takes Claudia’s hand, “I’ll make sure she doesn’t get lost,” he says bravely, lifting his chin.

Dadda raises an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything, gives him a sharp nod and tells them to follow them.

Laura keeps peeking at Derek and quirking her eyebrows, making her confused face.

Claudia walks with her hand on Derek’s, letting herself be led and Derek touch her stomach every few paces or so.

Derek doesn’t know why he keeps doing it but it’s like he needs to be sure that he’s still there, even though he can hear his heartbeat just fine. Derek feels like it’s very important that he always knows if the baby is okay. Like it’s his job.

It takes them almost fifteen minutes to get to the house, at least that’s what Dadda tells him, and when they do Mamma is waiting outside with Uncle Peter and Auntie Maya who’s holding a sleeping Malia in her arms.

“Der made a new friend,” Laura announces loudly, running towards Momma and hugging her leg.

“So I see,” Talia says serenely.

“Alpha Hale,” Claudia turns her head slightly so Momma can see a little bit of her neck, “I apologize, I seem to have gotten a little bit lost,” she smiles, she’s always smiling.

Derek thinks it’s a good thing because if she’s always smiling then her baby will be to and that feels right.

“That’s no problem,” Talia looks at where Derek is still holding Claudia’s hand, “my son seems to be quite taken with you.”

Derek touches Claudia’s tummy again, feels the steady heartbeat against his fingers, making a pleased rumble.

“Not quite,” Claudia says amusedly, her own hand coming down to caress her swollen belly.

“How far along are you?”

“Just two weeks shy of nine months,” she says proudly, “any minute now I should have this little runt running around.”

“He’s not a runt,” Derek pouts, touching her tummy again to reassure the baby he’s not a runt.

“I said it in a nice way, sweet one, don’t worry.”

“Okay,” Derek agrees easily.

Talia is watching them intently, “And you’re okay with this?” she says carefully.

“I don’t see why I wouldn’t be. Your son has his little heart in the right place, he’s a sweet one like I said. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

“And the lycanthropy aspect?”

“I think it’ll be just enough to keep up with him,” Claudia smiles kindly, patting her belly, “we have quite a fame for hyperactivity and chaos in my side of the family.”

Talia nods, gives her approving smile “Would you like to come in?”

Claudia’s smile dims down a little, “Unfortunately I can’t. If I’m not home my husband will probably have the entire police force of Beacon Hills tracking me down. It’s happened before.”

“Of course. I’ll give you a ride,” Momma agrees easily.

“But we were going for a run,” Laura whines.

“Uncle Peter and Uncle Samuel can take you kids. Not you, Derek,” she says sternly, “You’re grounded.”

Derek pouts, “It’s Laura’s fault.”

His mom gives him a look and he immediately deflates.

Claudia runs her fingers through his hair again, “Come on, give me a hug sweet one.”

Derek loops his little arms around her middle and presses his cheek against her round tummy, clinging for a little bit when he feels that captivating rhythm in his own heart.

When he lets go Claudia is smiling gently at him.

“Tell your Momma that she can bring you around the library whenever you want to see me or my little one again, okay.”

Derek nods, a little excited that he won’t lose that perfect sound, “Okay.”

Claudia ruffles his hair affectionately, drops a kiss on his forehead before stepping away to leave. Derek steps with her but Dadda grabs his shoulder and makes him stay put.

Derek has to watch Momma and Miss Claudia walk away, but he figures that it’s fine because even all the way in the car and down the road he can still hear the heartbeat.

It’s a good while before it starts fading, until Derek finally stops hearing it.

“Dadda?” he asks, pulling on his dad’s ear to get his attention.

“Yeah?”

“Can we go to the library now?”

«»

One and a half weeks later, the heartbeat gets louder and Derek is able to feel it in the back of his head all the times.

«»

Derek’s walking to the library with Cora by the hand even though she doesn’t really like it when he holds her hand in public.

“I’m nine Derek I don’t need you to hold my hand,” she growls, tugging on it.

“And I’m eleven. It’s not like I like holding your hand, but mom says I can’t come if I don’t take you with me and I can’t take you with me if I don’t hold your hand all the way.”

Cora pouts, “She doesn’t have to know.”

Derek looks at her, slowly raises an eyebrow until Cora slumps and huffs.

“Laura doesn’t make me hold her hand.”

“Laura can lie to mom. We’re both crappy liars, Cora.”

Cora huffs again, “Whatever. Let’s just visit your stupid boyfriend so we can go to ice cream afterwards.”

“Stiles is not my-“

“Derek!”

Derek’s head jerks up, eyes instinctually focusing on Stiles standing at the library’s door, waving enthusiastically. If he breathes in deep he can catch Stiles’ sweet scent and he grins in the face of it, waves back.

Cora kicks his shin, “You’re rumbling like a cat, dork.”

“Your face is a dork.”

“ You’re lame.”

 “Derek, come on! I can’t reach the big shelves,” Stiles urges bouncing towards them and taking Derek’s free hand, tugging him forward impatiently and into the adults section of the library.

“Sti-“ Derek starts, eyebrows furrowed, because normally at this time Stiles’ mom is manning the kids’ section so they usually hang out there.

Cora takes advantage of his distraction to run off into the magazine display next to the plushy couches. Derek would call after her but he’s too distracted by the sadness and slight hint of misery wafting off of Stiles.

“Momma is sick,” Stiles cuts him off, resolutely pulling him forward and decidedly not looking at him.

“Stiles,” Derek stops, making Stiles lose momentum and almost fall to his face. He carefully rights him, turning him around and pinning him down with both hands on his shoulders so Stiles has no choice but to look at him.

“Stiles,” he repeats, “how sick?”

Stiles shrugs, bites his lip, wide eyes turned to the floor.

Derek turns his head towards the kids’ section, closes his eyes and tries to see if he can catch Claudia’s scent from here. It’s faint, but it’s there.

Claudia has always smelled a little of lightning and books, of cinnamon and apples, always wrapped it in this bittersweet smell that was always present, clinging to her fingers and leaving traces behind but that Derek could never properly identify.

That bittersweet scent is blown-up now, more bitter than sweet, making Derek turn his nose away and leaving a bad after taste in the back of his throat.

Derek pulls Stiles to him and wraps him up protectively in a hug. Maybe if they both hold really still time will stop and bad things won’t happen.

Stiles clings to him like he’s standing in quicksand, slowly being dragged down and Derek is the only thing preventing him from being completely submerged.

“I’m sorry,” Derek whispers.

“She’s not gonna be okay, is she? You can smell she’s not gonna be okay. Can’t you?” Stiles whispers back, voice shaking, “You sniffed and then you looked sad.”

Derek hugs him tighter, “I’m not a doctor, I don’t know,” he lies. Claudia’s scent becomes stronger; Derek hears her heavy footsteps leaving the kids’ section, like a taunt at his blatant lie.

“Did you come to play with Stiles, sweet one?” Claudia asks, her smile just a little bit pinched, her eyes valiantly radiating warmth.

Stiles pulls away from him and Derek has half a mind to hold him tighter, but ends up letting him go, slipping his hand in the younger boy’s, and giving it what he hopes is a reassuring squeeze.

“Stiles can’t reach the high shelves,” he says simply.

“I could get you books from the tall shelves,” Claudia points out.

“Yeah, but you can’t read them to me ‘cause you’re at work and Derek makes all the voices, mom.”

Claudia presses her lips in amusement and ruffles her son’s hair, tugs at Derek’s ear because she knows they both hate it.

“Alright then, I guess if you’ve already replaced me for Derek,” she sniffs in mock offense.

Stiles smiles and steps on her toes, hugging her tightly around the waist, it’s a bit awkward since he took Derek’s hand with him.

“Don’t be silly, momma. That’s like saying you replace Dad with me.”

Claudia hugs her son tightly, pulls Derek into the hug, “You’re right,” she says a little quietly, “How silly of me, you’d never replace your ol’ mom would you.”

“Never,” Stiles says fiercely, baring his teeth.

Derek’s heart aches for him.

“Okay, little hurricane, Momma needs to go work at the desk, be good.”

“I’m always good,” Stiles responds automatically, stepping back from the hug.

“Uh-uh,” Claudia snorts.

Derek snickers and Stiles steps on his foot for that particular betrayal.

“Derek,” Claudia calls him to attention.

She steps forward and places both hands on his cheeks, looks him in the eye with a serious expression that makes Derek stand a little taller, look steadily back at her. He feels like this is going to be important, so he needs to pay attention.

“You take care of him, okay,” she says, although it’s not really a question. Derek feels that she’s asking more than just for today, more than just to make sure Stiles doesn’t trip and brain himself or tries to play a prank of Mr. Harris while he’s grading papers.

Derek’s only eleven, it’s a bit until he’ll be twelve, but he knows what she’s asking. Claudia knows what’s going to happen to her, Derek can smell it in the way her scent turns to resignation and worry, and she wants to be sure there’s someone to look after Stiles. Someone who deserves to look after Stiles.

Derek sets his jaw firmly, keeps their eyes locked and says solemnly, “I will. With my life.”

Claudia smiles and leans forward to kiss his forehead, “I don’t doubt it for a second. You’re a sweet boy.”

Derek bites his lips hard and blinks a couple of times. He can’t cry because if he does, Stiles will know. And he can’t think of anything more awful than that right now.

Claudia kisses Stiles on the nose, makes him go cross-eyed for a second, and walks off towards the front desk.

They stand there for a second, hand in hand looking at her walk away. Derek keeps his grip on Stiles tight, since he feels Claudia already slipping away from them both.

“Come on, Derek,” Stiles says, trying on a smile, “there’s this book about giraffes. How cool is that? Did you know that their tongues are blue?!”

The younger boy starts tugging him away and up the stairs that lead to the adult section.

Two hours later, when Cora has annoyed him into leaving, Derek takes Stiles with him to get ice cream and brings one to Claudia; helplessly watches on as she flounders to try to remember the word vanilla.

«»

Four months later Claudia is committed to long term care in the hospital; Stiles shaves all of his hair off; Derek starts feeling a slight tug of helplessness, loss, anger, sadness in the back of his head that aren’t his own.

«»

When Derek’s twelve, his mom lets him enroll in Little League. She says it’s not healthy all the time he spends around Stiles, not when he’s like this.

Derek gets mad, he’s furious at first because how is he supposed to go and hit a bat against a ball and run around when Stiles is most likely in the hospital by himself, hunched over his mother that doesn’t even remember his name anymore.

How is he supposed to go out and have fun when Stiles is-

“Because Stiles might be going through the hardest moment of his life-“ his mother had looked pointedly at him “-and it will only get worse after Claudia dies. A loss like that would be unbearable if you’re both drowning in the same state of mind when the soulbond manifests.”

Derek had shut up at that and done what his mother had told him.

Part of him understood what she was saying, and that this would be the best long term for both of them, the other part was a little bit overwhelmed due to the acknowledgement of the bond that was clear as day for Derek he and Stiles shared.

That’s why he’s in Little League, a bat firm in his hands as he tries to ignore the helplessness that Stiles is slowly soaping his mind with and concentrate. That’s why he’s not at the hospital with Stiles like he should’ve have been, like he always planned on being for this.

Stiles knew his mother was going to die, the Sheriff knew his wife was going to die, Derek knew Claudia was going to die, all of the Hales knew Claudia was going to die after she had sealed her own fate by refusing to take on the bite.

That had been another thing Derek had been irrationally furious about, because couldn’t she see she was hurting Stiles. Except Claudia had explained how she was something – a Spark, she had called it – there was something in her blood that made her taking the bite something fatal. She was sure that if she took the bite she would die faster than if she didn’t.

Dr. Deaton had exactly what a Spark was and why it wouldn’t work, and directed his penetrating look towards Stiles as if measuring him up to see if he fit the role in his mysterious emissaries of mysteriousness club.

Derek had irrationally put himself between the two, baring his teeth.

Johnny finally gets in position to throw the ball when Derek is hit with a tidal wave of pain and despair, helplessness, a complete and encompassing sense of loss so powerful his knees buckled under him and he falls to the floor. The ball comes flying and smacks him in the forehead, but he doesn’t even have it in him to be bothered by that little thing.

“Hale!” Coach shouts, already power walking towards him.

Derek tries to blink back tears and breathe deeply through his nose, “Stiles,” he gasps out, rising to his feet, still dizzy with the sudden onslaught of emotions.

“I need to go,” he says urgently.

“Hale, what the hell do you-“

Derek doesn’t wait for Coach to finish the sentence, sprinting towards the exit and making a sharp turn left in the direction of the hospital.

Cars speed past him, so he runs faster, zigzagging between pedestrians and he thinks it’s awful that he has to do so. That there are people calmly going about their lives when there’s someone going through this much pain.

Derek doesn’t know exactly how long it takes him to get to the hospital, he just knows he’s running as fast as he possibly can and that he probably beat some kind of record in doing so. It feels like an eternity and no time at all because the next thing he knows he’s bursting through the emergency exit for the floor Claudia’s been staying on.

Stiles is curled up in a chair pitifully, head on his hands as he quietly sobs. There’s no one next to him and Derek can’t understand how anyone could leave him alone like this.

Derek rushes to him, gently reaching over a hand to touch Stiles’ shoulder.

Stiles blinks wide red rimmed eyes up at him.

“Derek,” his voice breaks and that’s all Derek can take before he’s curling around Stiles protectively, holding him away from the world and trying to keep him safe with only his arms. It doesn’t feel like he’s enough, but Stiles clings to him all the same, buries his face on Derek’s chest like they’re both willing to chance Derek and his scrawny arms being just enough to protect him from such a horrible thing.

Stiles’ pain is still beating strongly on the back of his head, keeping tempo with Stiles’ heartbeat. Derek breathes deep and calms down his mind, recalls all the little things that make him feel calm on a full moon and wills them through the newly formed bond until Stiles’ breathing isn’t so close to a panic attack.

“You can feel it too, right?” Stiles whisper, voice raw and bony fingertips reaching for the nape of Derek’s neck, pressing up to where he can feel the current of Stiles’ strongest emotions.

“Yeah, that’s how I knew to come.”

Derek grabs the bottom of his shirt and wipes Stiles’ tears away.

“Okay,” Stiles says, and then, “I knew it’d be you.”

“I’m sorry it had to be like this,” Derek keeps his tone of voice low and calming.

“’S not your fault,” Stiles says firmly, sniffling and hiding in Derek’s larger frame.

They’re quiet for a while, Stiles closing his eyes against the world and Derek standing guard attentively as they both wait for the Sheriff to arrive.

It’s another twenty minutes before he does and nurse McCall immediately redirects him away from Stiles’ and Derek’s line of sight. Derek can still hear his desperate wounded sounds, the way he completely breaks down like he has never seen an adult do before. It shakes something in his world, knocks something loose that he thinks he won’t be getting back.

Derek holds Stiles tighter until the Sheriff is composed enough to face his son.

Stiles lets go of him to cling to his Dad in a grief hug, they stand there for several minutes, Derek hovering protectively.

“Thanks,” the Sheriff croaks out, looking at Derek over the top of Stiles’ head, “for being here for him.”

“I promised I always would,” he says as serious as he was the day Claudia made him promise.

“You’re a good boy,” the Sheriff acknowledges, “will you need a ride home?”

Derek shakes his head, “I’ll look for Aunt Maya and have her drive me when her shift’s over.”

Stiles lets go of his Dad enough to turn to Derek with fearful eyes, “You’re not coming? Don’t- don’t leav-“

There’s a note of panic reverberating over the back of Derek’s head.

“I’ll be over later, I promise,” he assures, reaching over to run the tips of his fingers over the nape of Stiles’ neck.

“Okay,” Stiles says quietly, still blindly faithful in Derek’s promises.

The Sheriff straightens up and wraps his hand around his son’s, “Come on, let’s go home.”

Derek stands in the middle of the hallway and watches them walk away, holding his muscles and the will to chase after them and look over Stiles back.

Instead he looks for his Aunt Maya, who finds him halfway, and lets himself collapse in her arms, sobbing over the death of one of the brightest people he’s ever met. Over someone he has considered family for years.

His Aunt holds him through it at the best of her abilities.

«»

Later that night, Derek sneaks out of his house in his jammies and a distinct lack of shoes, runs through the forest in direction to the Stilinski’s house, scaling the side that leads to Stiles’ bedroom and letting himself in, like he normally did when he was trying to scare Stiles.

Stiles is curled up around his pillow, his breathing a little too ragged and wet for him to be sleeping.

Derek quietly moves towards him, climbing on top of the sheets and pulling Stiles’ back against his chest, holding him through panic attacks and nightmares like it’ll become habit for him to do.

“I knew you’d come.”

“Of course.”

«»

It takes four months for any to raise any noise about Derek’s middle of the night trips to Stiles’ house and only because Stiles has slowly stopped having nightmares.

Still, he has three changes of clothes in Stiles’ room and a spare toothbrush in the bathroom.

«»

It takes time. It takes months, even years, for Stiles to feel comfortable enough to talk loudly, play pranks and fool around. It certainly takes years for him to stop feeling guilty for not being miserable every single hour of his life over his mom’s death.

It doesn’t go away, things like that at such a young age never do, but it does get easier.

There’s even full weeks, sometimes several weeks in a row when Derek can feel nothing but happiness, contentment through their bond.

The Sheriff has taken to ask him, “How are you?”

 To which Derek normally answers, “We’re good, I guess.”  or “Great.” or, when the days aren’t so good, he’ll shrug and not answer at all.

It’s a way the Sheriff uses to both keep tabs on his son and on his precocious bond.

No one had been surprised that Derek and Stiles would end up being soulmates, so they embrace it.

And if Derek makes Stiles wear his oversized sweaters when it gets cold and Stiles stands a little taller in them and Derek’s wolf almost purr, that’s no one’s business but their own.

It’s certainly not the good people of Beacon Hills’ that tsk at their unorthodox relationship, bonded so young with both parents completely on board with it. Both of them still children and with this level of codependency, sharing a thing the general population doesn’t get to have so they don’t understand.

«»

When Derek hits fifteen he starts appreciating how amazingly pretty the people around him are, even if he knows there’s no one he’d want to touch but Stiles. It’d feel wrong, like a violation of himself and what they have together.

Stiles notices him noticing.

“You can date if you wanna,” he tells Derek, getting ice cream on his nose.

Derek calls him an idiot and shoves the ice cube from his drink down the back of Stiles’ shirt.

«»

He continues noticing. He notices Paige with the cello and pretty fair skin and Parrish with the million dollar smile and hair on point.

Stiles notices a pretty redhead in his class called Lydia.

His mother calls them adorable, calls them crushes, but crushes got nothing on the potentially of what Stiles and him will have when Stiles is old enough to, so that’s all they really do. Notice, appreciate aesthetically. Like fine art.

«»

Derek’s sixteen and there’s hormones and the resignation that he’ll be a virgin until he’s twenty-two and that’s if he doesn’t want the Sheriff to shoot him for sexing his underage son.

He’s taken to jacking off constantly and taking long runs in the woods, sparring a lot with both of his sisters.

From the summer of his fifteenth birthday onto his sixteenth year of living, Derek puts on significant muscular mass, which gets him noticed at school, of course, but it also gets him noticed outside of it too, by some men and some women that don’t have enough preservation instinct or simply don’t know Talia Hale to know better.

Her name is Kate and she look too old for him, but she’s got the kind of everlasting beauty that draws you in until you’re caged with no chance of escape.

Her name is Kate and she shows interest, almost aggressively so.

She has a pretty smile and beautiful hair and her perfume is a little too much for Derek’s sensitive nose, it makes him a little dizzy when she leans over to bat her eyelashes and show off cleavage.

Derek could almost see himself being captivated by her, trapped in her charms, if he didn’t have Stiles.

“Sorry,” he says apologetically, “but I’m already taken.”

“Damn right,” Stiles pops up from virtually nowhere, glaring daggers at Kate and at where she has her hand on Derek’s arm.

He feels a sudden wave of surprise followed by outrage and anger through the bond. Stiles reaches over and yanks Kate’s hand off Derek, pressing in a spot that makes her fingers go lax and a little metal thing clatter to the floor.

The gentle wave of dizziness, starts lifting from Derek’s mind.

Kate yanks her hand away and quickly steps back.

“Oh well,” she says as she takes a gun from an ankle holster and aims it expertly at Derek, “Guess I’ll have to content myself with one Hale.”

“Beacon Hills police department, drop your weapon,” the Sheriff’s voice comes loud and strong from somewhere behind them, Derek turns to see the Sheriff on his patrol car with a couple of his deputies, guns aimed at Kate.

Kate sneers, but holds both her hands up.

“The bond felt weird, like when I had to take morphine ‘cause I broke my wrist,” Stiles explains, tacking Derek’s hand and leading him away, carefully picking up the metal thing that clattered from Kate’s grasp and handing it to a deputy when they passed by them, “so I figured that you were in trouble, and then I felt the pull. So I called dad just in case.”

“Good call,” Derek mutters, still a little dazed.

Stiles opens the passenger door of the cruiser and makes Derek sit down, digging a blanket from the glove compartment and wrapping it around Derek’s shoulders.

Derek tugs it over his shoulders before stopping and blinking at Stiles, “Why do I have a blanket.”

“I don’t know. It’s the blanket of I just went through the most difficult moment of my life.”

“You’re an idiot,” Derek tells him.

Stiles beams that beautiful full smile at him, the bond pulsing with fondness, “Apparently there’s no need to worry. You’re obviously okay, calling me an idiot and all.”

“Even high people would know you’re an idiot.”

Stiles sticks his tongue out at him and starts pushing him, so there’s space for him to sit his scrawny ass between Derek and the back of the passenger sit, which of course leaves Derek almost falling off.

“I did a background search on her,” he tells Derek, whispering lowly.

“What? When did you even have time for that?”

“She’s been hanging around for weeks now. I thought it was strange so I swiped her wallet and got into the database at the Station.”

“Stiles,” Derek sighs, “what have I told you about illegal activity?”

“Not to do it when you’re not there?”

“Exactly.”

Stiles huffs, “Do you want me to tell you what I found or not?”

Stiles feels giddy, a sense of pride flowing through the back of Derek’s head.

“Sure.”

“She has several misdemeanors, not very impressive, what is impressive is the major massacres that happened in every town she’s had a misdemeanor on, ever. All of them were either attributed to an accident or going unsolved,” Stiles opens his eyes wide in excitement, bouncing excitedly in his seat, “and then I remembered something your mom said about the Argents and Derek she’s a hunter,” he says urgently.

Derek smiles at him fondly.

“Why are you smiling like an idiot, stop smiling. We have to tell your mom. She could try something.”

“You’ll make a great detective,” he tells him instead.

Stiles sits up a little straighter, preens at his words.

“You think so?”

“You’re already a menace at twelve I don’t want to think what’ll happen in your adult years.”

“You say the sweetest things.”

Derek knocks their shoulders together playfully.

“It’ll be okay,” Stiles says quietly, “you’ll be there to stop me from doing anything stupid.”

“Yeah,” Derek breathes, “And you’ll be there to save me from evil women?”

“Absolutely.”

“Hey,” Derek calls, “thanks for getting here so fast.”

He won’t thank Stiles for coming because it’s painfully obvious that he would, Derek has that much faith in him.

“Someone has to protect your furry ass, idiotwolf.”

Derek lets his teeth elongated and gives Stiles a sharp smile, “Obviously.”

It’s almost overwhelming the feeling of fuzzy happiness radiating through him, some his own, some Stiles, making his body warm and his wolf content.

He leans over and kisses the top of Stiles’ head. “Thank you, “ he repeats, “I don’t want to know what would’ve happened if you hadn’t stopped that.”

“Of course,” Stiles says quietly.

«»

Kate gets pinned down for assault and several other accounts of crimes trailing wherever she went.

The Sheriff even lets Stiles help organize the files for the FBI to pick up when the investigations are passed over to them.

Stiles peacocks about it for three weeks straight.

«»

But then Derek is seventeen and he goes to college. He’s heard enough horror stories about long distance relationships not working, about people slowly drifting apart.

He should’ve known better really, because Stiles basically says fuck that as their bond continues to develop.

Sometimes Derek thinks he can even hear Stiles’ heartbeat all the way from his dorm room.

«»

Stiles kisses him for the first time on the mouth when he’s sixteen and Derek’s twenty.

“Don’t do that. What if your dad had walked in?”

“Derek, we’re in the middle of the preserve.”

“Still!” he hisses.

Stiles laughs at him, “He got you that scared, uh?”

Derek shudders

 Last year when Stiles started to grow into himself the Sheriff had sat Derek down and talked for one hour straight about the best way to go about gutting wildlife. Derek still has nightmares.

Stiles is still laughing at him when Derek kisses the corner of his mouth. He’ll allow this much, because even if they’re soulmates he’s not a cradle robber and he’s still scared shitless of the Sheriff.

«»

When Stiles is seventeen they’re both too worried dealing with Stiles’ new found Spark and his propensity to accidentally blow things up.

«»

And then Stiles is eighteen.

During Spring Break, he burst into Derek’s room, starts throwing a bunch of his stuff in a duffel bag and drags him to the car before he can even open his mouth to say “What?”

“I’m giving myself a birthday gift. I’m gifting myself.”

“O-kay?” Derek frowns.

“And the gift from Stiles to Stiles is three days in a fancy hotel in L.A. where I will proceed to sex you up,” he blushes.

“Oh,” Derek blushes, fidgets in his seat like he’s a teenager too and not a grown ass man, “Okay.”

He can hear Laura laugh from inside the house all the way down the beat up road that leads to the Hale property.

«»

Stiles gets in the same college Derek is and practically moves in with him, even though his father told him he wanted Stiles to at least get one year in the dorm rooms, get the full experience.

Derek had argued that might be a good idea, but Stiles’ counter argument was really hard to find flaws in.

“Why should I be getting the full college experience when I could be getting the full experience on your dick?”

«»

When they visit home from Stiles’ first year the first thing the Sheriff tells him is:

“If you even dare propose to my son before he finishes graduation I’ll show you how good of a shot I am.”

Derek had turned to his mother with wide a little fearful eyes, even if rationally he knew that the Sheriff would never shoot him.

“He’s right sweetheart.”

Derek pouts at both of them in a completely mature way and storms out to buy an entire grocery bag of ring pops. He then proceeds to spend the next years randomly proposing to Stiles.

And no he absolutely not do it only to be contrary and see Stiles suck on the godforsaken thing for hours, that’s not this is about at all.

This is practice obviously.

«»

“Marry me?” Derek asks seriously, one knee on the floor like it’s proper and a shiny ring pop in his hand.

“Eventually,” Stiles agrees with a beautiful smile, taking the ring pop and sliding it proudly on his finger.

«»

Stiles says yes three weeks after he finishes his masters in the middle of the preserve, the same very spot Derek met him for the first time.

“You kicked me when we met,” Derek tells him.

“You were probably being a dick, like you are now, mentioning that while you propose and all.”

Derek shrugs, “Is that a yes?”

“Of course.”

Derek even gets him a real ring and everything this time.