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The Company I Keep

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When Stiles woke up, Derek wasn’t with him. He frowned, stretching across the bed in attempt to wake up. He heard banging coming from downstairs, and could smell it: Thanksgiving food. The smells were distinct and they made his mouth water. He looked at his alarm clock: 8:01 am.

Stiles climbed out of bed and made his way downstairs to find Derek in the kitchen talking with his dad. Derek had a cup of coffee and was leaning against the counter as his dad did dishes. Derek looked clean, like he just showered. He shaved, which Stiles hadn’t been expecting. Derek lifted an eyebrow at Stiles.

“I was just about to come wake you,” Derek said, offering Stiles some of his coffee. Stiles took a sip of it, his eyes on his dad as he drank from Derek’s mug.

“You look like the walking dead, son,” the Sheriff joked. Derek chuckled behind him. Stiles narrowed his eyes over the mug.

“Go shower and you can have your own cup,” Derek teased, taking his mug back. Stiles pouted, unable to hold any sort of conversation yet. He hummed as Derek pressed his lips to Stiles’ forehead, though.

“You know, Stiles, Derek has been up for a few hours already, getting things ready for when you guys get back.”

Stiles yawned, scratching his head. He didn’t know what his dad was getting to, really. It was too early for thinking.

“I just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t be behind, had to get the turkey in the oven.” Stiles looked over and, yeah, the turkey was in there. “Glad we made the jello last night,” Derek added. Stiles grunted, happy they did that as well because there was no way he was doing it before breakfast.

Stiles’ eyes shot open. Breakfast at the Argent’s. Derek must have realized what Stiles had just remembered because he handed Stiles his coffee and ushered him up the stairs. “You going to give me the silent treatment all day?” Derek asked, his voice light, joking. Stiles grunted. “I don’t speak caveman.”

“Ha ha,” Stiles rasped. He cleared his throat. “I’m not up yet.”

“Zombie!Stiles strikes again.”

“Every morning,” Stiles chimed as he walked into the bathroom. Derek followed him, leaning against the sink as Stiles turned the shower on, setting down the mug.

“We need to talk, before we go over there.” Stiles sighed, nodded his agreement.

“Shower first?” Stiles asked, sticking his hand under the spray, waiting for it to warm up. Not satisfied, he nudged Derek out of the way so he could wash his hands and put his contacts in. Derek watched him intently, not leaving as Stiles started striping.

“I’m going to go write down some things for your dad to do while we are gone,” Derek said as he left, shutting the door behind Stiles. When Stiles got out of the shower, he wasn’t surprised at all to find Derek in his room, waiting for him.

“Talking while I change?” Stiles suggested as he dropped his towel. He didn’t even blush as Derek’s eyes traveled down his body. Stiles pulled up a pair of boxer briefs, then bent over his duffel bag, looking for whatever he brought that looked nicest. He hadn’t been expecting to meet Derek’s family because, well...
Stiles threw a shirt down, his face showing his frustration.

“I feel like you need to know something before we go over,” Derek confided. Stiles arched an eyebrow, his attention completely on Derek. Derek was looking down at his hands, breathing carefully like he had to remember how in order to survive.

“I’m listening,” Stiles answered as he pulled on a pair of jeans.

“I haven’t said the words that you told me... since the day my family died.” Stiles’ breath caught in his throat. “I haven’t said them to anyone, not even Laura.”

“Why?” Stiles asked, his voice coming out hoarsely.

“Because it was the last thing I said to them,” Derek breathed out as if it had been killing him to keep it in any longer. “And I want you to know... that I feel that way. I feel it, but I can’t say it-”

“Derek,” Stiles said, his voice consoling him as he stepped towards the bed. He sat down next to Derek, taking his hand. “You don’t need to say it,” Stiles trembled, shaking his head slightly. “I know it, I know you do.”

“You do?” Derek asked, sighing in relief.

“Duh,” Stiles joked. “You wouldn’t be here? You’d be at the Argent’s, having Thanksgiving with them. But if we don’t leave soon we are going to be late.”

“We don’t want that,” Derek mused, his lips pressing against Stiles’. “And you need to finish getting dressed.”

Stiles groaned as he pushed himself off the bed, unable to wipe the grin off of his face because Derek fucking loved him.

Stiles didn’t know why but he thought that the Argent’s would be intimidating. The most intimidating thing was the fact that they had dogs, which were all huge. Great Danes, actually, three of them. He hadn’t been expecting to have dogs the size of him greet him at the door along with Kate. She had a smile on her face as she hugged Derek. Stiles refused to let it get to him, though, and paid attention to the lovable dogs that could tackle him at a moments notice.

“That’s Jake, Sylvi, and Turner,” Derek said by way of introduction. Stiles got a kiss on the face from Sylvi, who he deemed his favorite immediately.

“You guys are right on time,” A woman’s voice chimed in as the door opened wider. Mrs. Argent appeared and Stiles stood up straight in order to meet her. They were ushered inside, the door shutting behind them. Stiles pushed the thought of ‘there is no turning back now’ out of his mind because Mrs. Argent was hugging Derek, then she did the unexpected: she hugged Stiles. Stiles was sure his facial expression said it all... it had been a long time since he had a motherly touch. He was sure Derek felt the same, probably even more so.

“It’s nice to meet you, Stiles, is it?” She asked. Stiles nodded. “Is that a nickname?”

“Yeah, my mom gave me my Grandfather’s first name. I couldn’t say it let alone spell it when I was younger so...” Stiles trailed off. He didn’t want Kate to know his name, it felt too personal for her to know, considering Derek didn’t even know it. Mrs. Argent looked pleased with his answer, though, so they were brought into the living room. Allison was there, watching the Thanksgiving day parade with who Stiles guessed was Chris by the way he got off the couch and bro-hugged Derek. He then proceeded to show Stiles how strong he was by the way of shaking Stiles’ hand. Stiles tried not to flinch because damn, son.

Mr. Argent appeared from the kitchen and he was by far the scariest of the Argent’s, Kate notwithstanding. He looked military, with a sly smile that Stiles could only characterize as menacing.

“Derek, good of you to make it,” Mr. Argent said, but his eyes were on Stiles. Stiles felt himself take a step towards Derek instinctively. Mr. Argent obviously was under the impression that Stiles stole Derek from his little girl, he could practically feel it radiating off of him. “This must be the Sheriff’s son, Stiles.”

So Mr. Argent looked Stiles up, no big deal, he could handle that.

“Sorry I wasn’t at dinner last night,” Derek supplied as Laura walked in, rubbing Stiles’ back as a welcome. She looked radiant, happy. Stiles could see what Derek meant by the fact that Laura needed family.

“Well, breakfast is served,” Mrs. Argent announced. “Stiles, do you drink milk, orange juice, or water?” Stiles thought about it.

“Orange juice, please.” He got a smile and a nod as he was ushered into the dining room. He was seated next to Laura and Allison, which, whoa, he did not sign up for this. Derek sat across from him, between Chris and Kate. Derek was sitting next to Kate. The look on Derek’s face said everything: remain calm, it was okay, everything would be fine. Stiles breathed out. His seat even had his name written on a little card. How quaint. Ten to one says Kate set the table.

Breakfast, of course, was delicious. Stiles ate his weight in bacon and hash brown casserole. He was glad Allison was sitting next to him, because he felt more comfortable talking to her, mostly about Scott, and then Laura to his left practically bouncing as she dunked her toast into her eggs while she talked with Mrs. Argent. Stiles may not like that he wasn’t sitting next to Derek, but at least they were sitting directly across from each other. Stiles touched his foot to Derek’s, who smiled through a bite of bacon.

Well, Derek smiled until it fell and his back straightened, to which Stiles’ gaze shot to Kate. She was eating her eggs, with the wrong hand. Her right was underneath the table, conveniently. Stiles almost choked on his hash browns.

“Kate, I need to talk to you for a minute,” Derek spoke up as he pushed his chair back. Stiles saw Kate’s hand on Derek’s thigh as Derek stood, which, wow, what a fucking shit thing for her to do. Stiles exchanged looks with Laura because she had her hand on his wrist. She had a look on her face that definitely screamed something like ‘oh shit here it goes’ because Kate, her face stoic, followed Derek into the kitchen, the door shutting behind them.

The table was quiet until Chris cleared his throat and tried to ask Stiles if he liked football. Stiles barely had time to open his mouth before there was a crash in the kitchen.

“You can’t fucking be serious!” Stiles heard Kate scream. Stiles shut his eyes as he felt his cheeks reddening and Laura’s grip on him tighten.

“You have got to be kidding me, Kate,” Derek’s voice rang out. “You can’t touch me, you can’t force me to do anything! I came here to be civil but apparently you can’t handle that-” Derek’s voice was calmer than Kate’s, but it was shaking. The kitchen door was a swinging door, and really? Anything but inside voices could be heard.

“I didn’t force you to do shit, Der,” Kate spat. “You were supposed to come running back-”

“Not happening, Kate.”

“Why not?” Another crash. “I don’t see why the fuck you are with him-”

“Okay, dear,” Mrs. Argent’s voice said, distilling the shouting. She was talking to Stiles, apparently, because she was standing next to his chair. “I think you and I should go stop this before they break all of my tea cups.” Stiles stood, nodding his head as Mrs. Argent grabbed hold of his wrist. Laura released her hold on him so that he could go into the kitchen. As soon as they entered, Kate threw something at Stiles.

It was a tea cup.

It shattered against the door.

“Kathleen Marie Argent ,you stop that at once!” Mrs. Argent shouted. Kate was crying as Derek stood to the side, his arms crossed and jaw set tight. “If you break one more tea cup you will be paying for every single one of those. I don’t know what it is about you two not being able to be in the same room together but we discussed this, didn’t we?”

“I’m sorry-” Derek started but she silenced him with a look. Derek looked to Stiles, who was looking at Kate.

“Derek was mine,” Kate said, acting like Derek was some sort of possession. “And he,” she pointed at Stiles, “he thinks he can just walk into his life and-”

“That is none of your business,” Derek bellowed. “None. Kate, you need to give me that ring right now.” Kate recoiled. Mrs. Argent took a step forward.

“No,” Kate whined.

“You need to give it back, because its over.”

“We were getting married, Derek!” Kate tried to prove a point, but Stiles wasn’t exactly sure what that point was.

“I didn’t love you,” Derek said simply. Stiles shut his eyes, his breath catching in his throat. He thought about what it would feel like to hear those words coming from Derek. It would destroy him. Kate raged, screaming towards Derek.

“Stop!” Stiles shouted, his fists clenched at his sides. “Kate, you need to stop.”

“You can’t tell me what to do you little piece of shit,” Kate reeled. Stiles stood his ground as she approached him. Her mother stepped between them just as Derek reached Stiles, holding onto his arm as if about to pull him away.

“Kate, go upstairs,” her mother barked. Kate looked from her mother to Derek, who was standing next to Stiles, avoiding her gaze. Kate stomped past them. Mrs. Argent turned towards Stiles and Derek, sighing sadly. “Derek, I’m sorry. We talked about this,” she said, looking at Stiles as if he had been the one they had talked about, “and I’m happy that you’ve found someone who makes you happy, but it breaks my heart to see Kate like this.”

“I understand,” Derek said, his voice hushed as his hand found Stiles’.

“You and Laura are like family, it’s hard... realizing that it’s over,” she pat Derek’s cheek as she went upstairs. Laura walked in, almost stepping on broken pieces of tea cup. Stiles bent over, releasing Derek’s hand to start picking up the broken pieces.

“Is she okay?” Laura asked, which Stiles found surprising. She asked about Kate instead of about Derek? Derek nodded.

“She’ll be fine,” he answered, his voice clipped. Stiles realized then that Derek was right, he had said that Kate was his weakness, but it was obvious that the breakup had basically destroyed her and Laura knew that. She was close to Kate, as was Sam. Derek wasn’t the one who needed consoling, it was Kate. Stiles hadn’t even thought about that, that Kate would be worse off than Derek was.

Derek always put others first. He always answered her calls even when it left his mood completely shot. Stiles wondered how Derek had broken the news to her. He doubted he would ever know, really.

Stiles felt awkward as they walked back into the dining room. Allison had made her way upstairs as well, which wasn’t surprising. Mr. Argent and Chris were talking about something to do with the family business, but stopped once Laura, Derek, and Stiles walked in the room.

“Do you want us to help clear the table?” Derek asked in the midst of exhaling. Mr. Argent shook his head.

“No, Derek, thank you.”

“I’m sorry, for making this awkward-”

“Nothing to be sorry about. Kate is the one that needs to apologize,” Mr. Argent criticized. Stiles held onto his left arm, his right crossing over his chest. He still felt like if he hadn’t been at the breakfast things would have gone smoother. “Things are a bit strained right now.” Mr. Argent stood up, putting a hand to Laura’s back as they walked towards the foyer, putting coats and scarves on.

Stiles was glad they were being ushered out, because he didn’t know if he could handle much more happening. Just as they were about to walk out the door, Mrs. Argent came down the stairs handing Derek the ring, closing his palm over it, then patting it as she kissed his cheek.

“She’s sorry, dear.” Mrs. Argent assured him, her gaze falling to Stiles’. “Hopefully this hasn’t ruined your day.”

“Hopefully it hasn’t ruined yours,” Stiles said, his mouth dry. Everything was so complicated, his emotions were bouncing every which way in his body and all he wanted to do was hug Mrs. Argent which he didn’t think was the correct response to what just happened.

Laura followed them in the Camaro as Stiles drove his Jeep home. It took a couple of minutes before Derek talked. He had the ring in his hand, palm open.

“I just couldn’t do it,” Derek whispered, his voice weak. Stiles bit his lip, chancing a glance at Derek.

“Do what?”

“Marry her.”

“You didn’t, and you aren’t, though, so it’s good that she gave it back.”

“We started dating before my parents died,” Derek admitted. “I thought that staying with her would keep me linked to them. I stayed with her because of how close it made us, but that wasn’t who I was anymore.” Stiles wiped at his eyes, not wanting to show Derek how shot his emotions were. “Our lives are so interconnected, now.”

“But it doesn’t have to be this painful...”

“No, it doesn’t.”

“Letting go of the past is hard, so fucking hard,” Stiles empathized. “It’s like... it’s like how dad won’t take down those stupid Santa pictures. If he does, then that is another way of saying she’s really gone. Maybe, I don’t know, maybe being connected to the Argent’s is like that for you and Laura. If you break that line of communication it would be like losing your family all over again.”

Derek nodded his agreement, sliding down in the seat a little more, closing his eyes.

“I didn’t think she would react like that.”

“You can’t control how others act, or what they feel.”

“I know,” Derek rubbed a hand over his face, exhaling angrily. “How are you, though?” Derek asked, his attention on Stiles. Stiles shrugged, shaking his head slightly.

“I don’t know, Derek. I sort of can’t wait to be home and watch you cook and be with my dad? I’m tired and it isn’t even eleven yet.”

“I could use a nap,” Derek laughed out.

“Maybe after we gorge ourselves on turkey.”

“And your mashed potatoes,” Derek added in. Stiles grinned. And his mashed potatoes.

3 years later. Christmas time.

“The lights are crooked,” Laura fussed from across the room. Stiles rolled his eyes as he moved his strand of lights.

“I have pieces of tree in my mouth,” he complained, swatting at his tongue with his hand, making a face. Needles did not taste good.

“So close your mouth, then.”

“You come over here and put the lights where you want them, then,” Stiles rebutted. “Because my hot chocolate is cold, now, thanks to your OCD about this tree.”

“Children, children,” the Sheriff chided as he turned up the TV’s volume. “The game is on.”
Stiles scoffed as he stepped back from the tree, hands on his hips. He looked it up and down, tilting his head to the side.

“Looks even to me, Laur,” Stiles said as he reached for his cooled hot chocolate. He brought it in the kitchen to heat up as the back door opened and Derek walked in, both hands full of bags. “Need help there?” Stiles asked, an eyebrow raised.

“I got it, these are presents, so I’d rather you not look-”

“I wanna see!” Laura called out as she shuffled around ornaments in boxes, unwrapping one carefully. They were Hale ornaments that had been in a storage unit when the house had caught fire in the middle of a summer.

“No chance!” Derek called out, grinning as he made his way upstairs. When he came back down, Stiles was helping Laura decorate the tree. Derek walked up, wrapping his arms around Stiles, kissing his cheek. Stiles closed his eyes, smiling to himself as he put an ornament on the tree. It said: Hale Family Christmas 1993. Derek kissed Stiles’ neck as his fingers ran across the words, Derek’s grip on Stiles tightening.

“Such a Kodak moment,” Laura said, putting her fingers up to her eye as if Derek and Stiles were in a picture frame. Stiles flipped Laura off, a smirk on his face. She returned the gesture then dug back into the box of their family’s ornaments.

“Where is the one that Anna made?” Laura asked to no one in particular. “I want to make sure that one makes it on the tree.”

“It has to be in there somewhere,” Derek assured her. He hadn’t let go of Stiles yet, his body swaying back and forth lightly.

“I packed it away last year, I know I did,” Stiles offered. “Maybe it made it into the other box? In our ornaments...” Stiles meant the Stilinski ornaments. They were bound to be mixed, since they were a family. Laura began looking in a different box, sighing with relief when she pulled out the handmade ornament.

“I love you,” Derek remarked. Stiles smiled warmly, turning his head, his eyes closing as Derek kissed him.

“I know.”