Stiles leaned forward to fiddle with the radio, not finding anything good in the three seconds he searched. He flopped back into his seat and sighed, wincing at the easy listening that was filling the car.
He was all but thrumming with nervous energy and it was not okay.
It hadn't even been half an hour since his father had clapped him on the shoulder and said, somewhat sternly, just be polite Son, you'll be fine.
Derek and he were driving, which Stiles still didn't quite understand.
His father was flying out to meet them in two days.
And Scott was a bit too thrilled that Gus would be staying at the McCall house.
Because they were spending Christmas in Maine. With the Hales.
Stiles swallowed around a groan, heart giving a few extra kicks in his chest.
Derek turned the radio down without a word, one hand settling on Stiles' thigh. His thumb began rubbing small circles where it rested.
"Why don't you get some sleep?" he suggested gently.
"Sleep? I can't sleep! How would I even sleep right now?"
"We're going to be in the car for hours. Sleep is the easiest way to pass the time," Derek suggested wryly.
"What, you don't want to play I Spy?"
Derek barked out a laugh.
"No. No I don't."
"Damn," Stiles sighed halfheartedly.
Derek squeezed his leg again.
"Relax. They're going to love you," he paused significantly, "and at least they won't threaten to shoot you."
"Is that supposed to be comforting?"
And Derek laughed again.
"Yeah," he offered with a grin.
Stiles pouted, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I hate you."

Stiles made it an hour and a half before he gave up, dropping his seat back down and pulling his coat from the back, using it as a blanket.

When he woke up they were still driving but it was snowing.
Stiles frowned as he blinked at it.
"Yes," Derek agreed, "snow."
"Why is there snow?" Stiles questioned, even as he thought his confusion should be quite obvious.
"Because it's snowing?" Derek said, innocently enough.
Stiles scowled at him.
"Okay. Why is it snowing?"
"I imagine because it's winter."
Stiles smacked him.
"You're not subtle at all. Now tell me where we are."
Derek smirked.
"What do you mean no?"
"I mean I'm not telling you where we are."
"Because, it's a surprise."
Stiles paused at this.
"A romantic surprise?"
"Maybe," was all Derek conceded.
Stiles pulled his coat back up to his chin before slumping again.

"Hey come on. Wake up."
Stiles stretched lazily, frowning when his legs couldn't move any further.
"We're here."
The car was perfectly quiet and Stiles cracked open one eye slowly.
There was more snow and trees.
"We're where?"
Rather than answer Derek opened his door and swung out.
Stiles flinched at the cold air and grumbled to himself before unraveling his cocoon and stumbling out of the car.
"Oh," he managed, blinking a few times at the bright sunlight glaring off the snow.
"Does this pass as romantic?" Derek questioned, glancing back to him.
Stiles' lips curled, mostly against his will.
"Yeah. Yeah I think it does."
Derek looked incredibly pleased with himself.
When he offered his hand Stiles took it anyways.

Everyone was waiting at the diner and it was clear this had been planned out ahead of time.
A cheer went up as they entered and Stiles felt his cheeks heat in embarrassment. Instinctively, he tucked himself into Derek's side earning cooing from the pack.
"I would just like to begin," Ross said, "by saying I told you so. I told you all."
There was more clapping and Derek laughed quickly before kissing the side of Stiles' head.
"Yes your record remains nearly perfect, Dad," Aiden added, taking a swig of beer before crossing to them and offering his hand. "It's good to see both of you again," he said with a smile.
Stiles shook his hand first, followed by Derek.
"My record is perfect, I just didn't want to break your heart," Ross clapped Aiden on the shoulder as he said it but Aiden still winced.
"Happier things today, yes?" Aiden said, shaking it off and turning back to the crowd. "Come on!"
Taylor broke free first, Brennan right on his heels as always.
Stiles grinned so wide his cheeks ached.
"I knew it," Taylor was saying, triumphant. "I so knew it, in your face Stiles." He yanked him into a hug, clapping his back almost painfully.
"Yeah, yeah, alright shut up already," Stiles returned, still grinning.
Brennan hugged him too and then Aubrey was waddling over, literally waddling.
"Oh my god," Stiles exhaled, mouth moving without thought.
"I know," she said, happily flushed, "I know. I'm huge."
"Well…yes," Stiles agreed lamely, biting the inside of his cheek.
Aubrey laughed softly, leaning in to hug half of him.
"I'm okay with it. I see it as my baby being really healthy. Ten fingers and toes already."
"No tail?" Stiles questioned, mouth misbehaving again.
Aubrey just smiled and rolled her eyes.
"Chances are my baby's human. Pregnancy itself is rare enough."
"Well way to go Bella Swan."
That earned him a light smack and she moved to Derek, accepting a kiss on the cheek and half hugging him too.
"You really shouldn't tease pregnant people Stiles," Derek chided.
"I can't help it sass is my default setting."
"I am well aware," Derek replied, pinching his hip.

Shane finally made his way through the crowd, gently pushing people to the side before edging through.
"Little man!"
"Jesus I forgot how big you are," Stiles returned, only half kidding.
"That's the best you've got, really?"
"Sorry I didn't have time to prepare," Stiles rolled his eyes, laughing as Shane tugged him into a hug, both feet leaving the ground. "Jesus Christ, put me down," he laughed again.
"I'm getting there," Shane said, shaking Derek's hand while he held Stiles in one arm.

"Well this is a boost to my ego," Stiles sighed.
"Alright, alright, you're whiny today, geez. Clearly Derek hasn't fed you recently." Shane finally set him down and Stiles patted his arm before stepping back.
"He hasn't," Stiles agreed with wide eyes. "We've been in the car for hours."
"Most of which you were asleep for," Derek added dryly.
"You could totally feed me while I'm asleep. Just feed me like a mama bird."
Derek rolled his eyes.
"Well there is food. Kayleigh actually helped me make it," Shane added with a smile.
Stiles arched a brow, feeling Derek perk in interest too.
"Kayleigh?" he questioned, innocently enough.
"Yeah," Shane agreed with a quick smile, his neck flushing pink just barely.
"Did someone say my name?"
A petite blonde appeared. Ridiculously enough the first thing Stiles thought was of course, of course she's fucking tiny.
He was distracted briefly by thoughts of the lion with the thorn in his paw and the mouse that tugged it free for him.
"Kayleigh, this is Stiles and Derek. Guys this is Kayleigh. We're…seeing each other."
Kayleigh flushed prettily at this, glancing down before offering a dainty hand.
Stiles was tempted to kiss the back of it for about half a second, which more or less blew his mind.
"It's nice to meet you both," she offered quietly.
She was kind of like…a Disney Princess or something.
Stiles worked to close his jaw as he finally took her hand, gingerly.
Derek offered a smile as they shook hands and Stiles wondered if Derek was affected at all.
He felt sort of off balance.
Seeing each other? He mouthed when he caught Derek's eye.
One shoulder lifted barely in response.
Stiles supposed his curiosity would just have to wait.

People fawned over Derek smiling more and coming out of his shell and Stiles was very much amused.
"I guess I've been good for you," he teased, slipping an arm around Derek's back.
Derek sighed but his expression was still affectionate.
"Yes," he said, "you have."
Stiles softened at the words, smiling at him.
"Stop getting all mushy I refuse to cry," he sniffled, fingertip dabbing at his eye.
"Oh shut up and go get food. I'll be fine on my own."
"But I'm entertained right here."
Derek shook his head and pushed Stiles away by his shoulder.
Stiles made sure to stick out his tongue as he went.
"Good to see things haven't really changed," Ross offered, handing Stiles an empty plate as he approached one of the food tables.
"Not between us at least," Stiles said, brows inching up.
"Are you trying to imply that things have changed here?"
Stiles started filling his plate and waited.
"Yes well I suppose they have," Ross admitted. "Our situation is a bit…less desperate now. We don't need to increase our numbers like we did when you were here. Now we can invite people to stay, invite them to run, rather than take them against their will."
He glanced back to Stiles, who was frozen with a ladleful of baked beans.
"It's a long story," Ross deflected. "We still use our internet filters but it's much more…amicable."
"So when Shane says he and Kayleigh are 'seeing each other'…" Stiles let the statement drift.
"Yes they are. In a few weeks they'll both decide if they want to run."
"Well, that certainly sounds…nicer," Stiles admitted haltingly.
"It's amazing what an alliance will do for you."
"An alliance? With who?"
Ross smiled before grabbing an olive and tossing it past his lips.
"I think you already know the answer to that question."
"I do?"
Ross glanced significantly back in the direction he'd come.
"Oh," Stiles let out. "Oh." He paused a moment. "Oh my god am I about to marry into an ancient werewolf dynasty?"
His horror was cut off by Ross' laughter.
"Not that I'm aware of, no."
Stiles blew out a sigh of relief before moving down the table again.
"Good because that is just way too much pressure. And I just started picturing the Malfoys which is just not good on any count."
"If I pretend to understand that reference will it make you feel better?"
Stiles shrugged before shoving a roll into his mouth.

"So when were you planning on telling me that your family is like the werewolf mafia?" Stiles questioned mouth mostly full.
Derek's brows rose comically.
"I'm sorry, what?"
"An alliance with this pack? And now they do things completely differently? Care to explain?"
"I didn't work out the technical details."
"Oh my god you totally sound like a spoiled…prince or something right now."
"My family is not that big of a deal. Stop trying to freak yourself out."
"Not that big of a deal? I will be the judge of that, thank you very much."
"Just don't have a nervous breakdown, okay?"
Stiles scoffed and shoved a bite of pasta salad in his mouth.
"Nervous breakdown," he said, chewing, "hah, I'm as cool as a cucumber."
"Sure you are," Derek agreed easily. "But you haven't actually met them yet."
"Untrue. I've met Curtis and Aaron. And Peter."
"And yet you're still nervous."
Stiles didn't bother to lie, eating more.
"Parents are a big deal," he finally admitted, chasing a noodle around his plate.
Derek signed quietly.
"We're already mated. Even if they didn't like you they'd just pretend until we left again."
Stiles gaped at him, the noodle he'd finally speared slipping free again.
"That's even worse!"
Derek blinked a few times.
"Worse?" he managed before Stiles cut him off.
"Now I'm going to spend the whole time wondering if they actually like me and if they're spending every moment when I'm in the bathroom to whisper about me! They can use their super werewolf hearing to do it Derek!"
"I really don't know whether to try and comfort you or tease you more."
"I don't know whether to stomp on your toe or punch you right in the nose."
Derek's slight smile didn't waiver.
"Go ahead but when we get there and they love you and all this worrying was for absolutely nothing you're going to owe me."
Stiles ate more to keep his mouth busy.

They stayed most of the day, finally piling into the car after dinner huddled by the bonfire.
"It was really nice seeing everyone again," Stiles said, "thank you." He rubbed at his chilled nose and offered Derek a smile.
"You're welcome," Derek returned, turning the heat up. "Now, would you like to actually drive or did you want to fly the rest of the way?"
"We have tickets on reserve in Walla Walla…if you want them."
"So this whole driving thing was an elaborate ruse just to come up here?" Stiles demanded.
"Um. Pretty much. Yeah."
"Oh my god my dad was in on it too, wasn't he?"
"Obviously," Derek agreed.
"I feel so betrayed," Stiles exhaled.
"Stiles," Derek said patiently, "are we driving or flying?"
"Flying. Duh."

The airport was huge and appeared sterile on first inspection, even filled with travelers as it was. The plane was huge too but had so many seats that Stiles felt too cramped to breathe properly.
Still it was his first flight since he'd been very young and at least this one wasn't for a funeral. So. He'd look on the bright side he supposed.
Derek, however, had never flown before and he apparently wasn't thrilled with the idea of being so confined.
"We could have driven," Stiles offered halfheartedly.
It was too late now but he really didn't know what else to do.
"No," Derek said with a forced lightness, "this is faster. Faster is good." He frowned briefly. "It's more conducive to me getting some rest anyways. And obeying speed limits."
Stiles chose not to comment on the last part.
"It's really not that big a deal," he tried again, "I mean really we just have to kill the time." He paused thoughtfully. "I shouldn't have said 'kill' huh?"
"Stiles, I'll be fine. Stop helping."
"Oh god, you don't want me to be quiet do you? You know that's like…next to impossible for me. Derek," he whined, lips pushing out in a pout.
"I will be fine," Derek repeated slowly, "stop helping."
Stiles pressed his lips together, which didn't do much good at all.
"I just-uh-what do you want me to do? I want to really help. I am actually trying to help here."
Half of Derek's mouth curled in a smile.
"I know that."
He tugged Stiles closer by the chin, kissing him quickly.
"I'll be fine. We're most likely not going to crash. I'll be fine."
"Okay and when we hit the tarmac in Maine it's your turn to comfort me."
"Alright," Derek agreed, kissing him again.

"Maybe you could sleep," Stiles suggested quietly, nearly half an hour later, "at least until the first layover."
"Layover," Derek snorted. "Is there anything more ridiculous than us flying north to Seattle before flying east to Philadelphia and then north again to Maine?"
"Well personally I think those little tiny round pastas are pretty ridiculous. Actually, the ones shaped like wagon wheels are really dumb too. I mean, Derek, do you even know how many pasta shapes there are? There's like…over three hundred! Or something totally ridiculous. I mean come on. It's pasta. It pretty much all tastes the same. Like the sauce you put over it. I mean how bored were Italians anyway? Aren't they busy trimming their mustaches and falling in love? And being plumbers? Wait I think that's just Mario… Ignore that. But seriously. Seriously. Why are there so many pasta shapes?"
Derek was watching him with an amused twist to his lips and Stiles blew out a short breath before smiling back.
"In conclusion, there are many, many, many things more ridiculous than layover flights."
"No keep going. This is good, you're distracting me."
"Oh Derek. The times when you tell me to keep talking are so few. Let's just take a second to appreciate this moment," he paused briefly, "okay but anyway layover flights are kind of like Raisin Bran. No one likes them. No one wants to have them. And yet…they exist. It is a fact of life. Just ask my dad."
"You feed your dad Raisin Bran?" Derek questioned, laughing quickly.
"Technically no. I buy the Raisin Bran. And then he feeds himself. Or finds a creative way to get rid of it… Actually I don't have proof that he actually eats the Raisin Bran. That's a problem."
"I can ask him and tell you whether he lies."
"Normally I wouldn't support using your wolfy powers on my dad-" he paused at Derek's raised brow, "okay when sex isn't involved," he whispered. "But we should probably do that."
"It is important to find out if you're wasting your money," Derek agreed soberly.
"Yeah and I don't want to be an orphan at 21," Stiles muttered. "Right no mention of death," he forced a smile. "So we have time for last minute shopping, right? Because I haven't actually gotten your present yet." He grimaced quickly, picking at a gouge in his armrest before looking back to Derek.
"We have time. But the mall's pretty far away and it's going to be crowded."
"Well you can't come with me obviously. I'll have to go by myself or with someone else."
"You're silly," Derek told him, leaning closer to kiss his nose.

The first layover they spent shopping.
The second flight they spent with their new books.
Derek with the crime novel Guilt and Stiles with Where's Waldo: The 25th Anniversary Edition.
The second layover was eating and curling up on a bench to wait.
Derek went back to his book and Stiles did his best not to annoy him, wishing he'd bought an actual book to read too.
"I think your dad will like this," Derek said eventually.
Stiles smiled loosely.
"Your attempts to bond with him are admirable Derek."
"Who said I'm not reading it because I want to?"
"Um because my dad loves crime novels and you just mentioned that you thought he'd like it."
Derek was quiet for a moment.
"Well I'm going to be around. He's just going to have to love me eventually."
"You have a point I suppose," Stiles agreed quietly.
Derek ruffled his hair before kissing it.
"Everything will be fine. I promise."

By the time they finally arrived in Maine Stiles had to admit he was less than thrilled.
To a certain extent Derek was right. They were mates no matter what. But still… If Derek's parents didn't like him… What if they regretted sending Derek and the small pack out to California? He gnawed on his lip in silence.
"We'll be there soon," Derek said softly, "just remember to breathe."
Stiles snorted.
"Basic body function, think I got that down thanks."
"Well if you pass out I can't promise they won't tease you mercilessly. Especially Aaron. And Mom."
Stiles scowled at him, which Derek ignored effortlessly.
He glanced out the window, only mildly amused by the fact that there was nearly two feet of snow on the ground.
They'd certainly never had this much snow back home and Stiles wished Scott was here so they could build a snowman together. Or some snow forts. Derek would probably just laugh. And he was supposed to be making a good impression anyways. Stiles sighed again. He'd just have to behave.

Derek drove slowly, obviously aware that Stiles was already on edge.
Stiles curled into his seat and wrapped his arms around his knees.
"So when are you going to tell me what you got me for Christmas?" he questioned, putting on a hopeful expression.
"I'm not going to tell you. You're going to open it on Christmas just like everyone else."
"But it could really cheer me up," Stiles protested.
"Nice try," Derek smirked.
"Thank you."
"At least I already have my shopping done."
Stiles sighed.
"I am a notoriously bad shopper. Hope that's not a deal breaker for you."
"Mmm you might be just cute enough to get away with it."
Stiles preened a moment before settling in again.
"Well what do you think my dad got me?"
"It's not like he asked me," Derek protested, too quickly.
"Oh my god he did ask you. You two are bonding!"
"It was just a passing comment. He didn't even really ask me. He asked Henry. And Henry asked me. I didn't tell you any of that."
"But what did you tell him?"
"This conversation is now over."
"Oh come on, that's no fun."
"Why don't we talk about the fact that you still haven't bought my present?"
Stiles blinked a few times, mouth hanging open wordlessly.
"Admittedly that does seem a bit more important…"
Stiles sighed again. It was a pretty good deflection.
He spent the rest of the drive once again brainstorming presents, poorly.

Stiles' stomach crawled right up into his throat as they finally rolled to a stop outside a huge white farmhouse. The porch and several windows were illuminated; the Hales must be waiting for them. Whether Derek texted while he was asleep or they heard the car coming Stiles wasn't sure. He supposed it didn't matter either way.
"Okay," he said, half to himself. "This is it. We're here. Okay."
"Yes," Derek agreed simply, cutting the engine.
"Okay," Stiles said again, a bit quieter.
"Hey," Derek murmured, guiding Stiles to look at him, "don't be scared okay? They're going to love you, I swear."
Stiles managed a nod, just barely.
Derek smiled, fingertips tracing over the swell of his cheek.
"I mean it."
"Yeah okay," Stiles whispered.
Derek kissed him, a quick, chaste press.
Stiles exhaled slowly as he drew back.
"Let's go in."
Stiles met him at the hood of the rental, reminding himself to breathe. His lips twisted just a bit cynically at that.
Derek folded their hands together, twisting their fingers.
Suppressing another sigh, Stiles followed him up the steps.
The door opened easily under Derek's hand and Stiles smelled hot cookies, inhaling deeply in appreciation.
"We're in here!" a woman's voice announced from the left.
Derek glanced back at Stiles before tugging him forward.
They moved through a dining room before stopping at an open set of french doors.
What Stiles really hoped was Derek's entire family, because there were a ton of people, were all gathered in a huge room, sharing a few sofas and folding chairs.
He tucked himself into Derek's back clumsily, hiding his burning face in Derek's neck.

It worked for about two seconds as everyone in the room greeted Derek.
"And this must be Stiles," the same woman said, followed by absolute silence.
Stiles couldn't help it, he peeked.
He guessed this was Derek's mother. They sort of had the same chin.
"Hi," he offered, the word hushed by Derek's shoulder.
"Hello," she smiled. "I'm Elizabeth. You can call be Beth. Or Liz. Or Mom. Whatever. Just not Mrs. Hale, please."
Stiles' heart gave a painful thump at the thought of calling her Mom but he did his best to ignore it. Inhaling quickly he stepped out from behind Derek, avoiding hooking his foot in the doorframe, and offered his hand.
"It's really nice to meet you. Officially."
She smiled again and nodded, glancing to Derek for a moment that seemed significant.
"I'll introduce you to everyone."

The Hales were a lot to take in. For as tiny as the Stilinski family was, the Hale family was equally huge.
Stiles met Derek's grandparents, his other uncle, his aunt, his cousin, and the rest of his siblings. Not to mention his father.
Stiles was wound so tight exhaustion was beginning to tug at him, slumping his shoulders and willing his eyes to close. He must have slipped off without realizing it, jolting awake as he fell into the couch.
Derek had abandoned him in favor of the plate of cookies his mother was offering.
"Hey!" Stiles protested, "I was using you."
A stack of cookies in each hand and mouth full, Derek came back, expression mildly guilty.
"Peanut butter cookies," he mumbled, more than one person chuckling behind his back.
"You'll have to forgive him Stiles, they are his favorite," Beth explained.
Stiles crossed his arms, lifting a brow expectantly.
A frown pressed Derek's lips, as if he was seriously considering this problem.
"Sorry?" he offered.
"Peanut butter," Stiles returned, "really Derek?"
Derek ate a cookie off the stack in his left hand, barely looking down to do it.
"Did you want one?" he offered once he swallowed.
Stiles was working really hard not to smile.
Derek just looked so torn between being happy he had cookies and being sad because Stiles was glaring at him.
"Keep your cookies," he said finally, "just no more sudden movements."
"Okay," Derek agreed, going back to his cookies.
Stiles let himself smile briefly before settling on his shoulder again.

Asides from having the power to lure Derek away with cookies, Derek's mom was really cool.
Well, to be fair, every Hale, other than Aaron, was really cool. Even his dad seemed pretty chill and he was like…the boss around here.
In any case Derek's mom only let Stiles doze off one more time before she suggested that both Derek and Stiles tuck in for the night. She even had Aaron and Peter bring in their luggage for them.
"Your mom's pretty cool," Stiles sighed, leaning on Derek going up the stairs.
Derek hummed in agreement.
"She'll be glad you think so."
"Everybody's pretty cool," Stiles continued, apparently okay with blabbing his every thought. "Except Aaron. He's still an asshole."
Derek laughed.
"He is."
"But you know," Stiles said next, drifting off as the toe of his sneaker caught the edge of the step. He concentrated exactly on lifting his foot.
"But what?" Derek questioned as they started the second flight of stairs.
"You were saying something."
"Was I?" Stiles questioned, dumbfounded.
Derek hummed again.
Stiles thought a long moment.
"Oh," he finally let out, "I'm glad we came."
"Yeah?" Derek questioned his voice husky curling into Stiles' ear.
"I like your family. And I haven't screwed up yet so." Stiles thought about shrugging but quickly abandoned the idea.
There was a press of lips to his temple.
"You're not going to screw up."

Stiles woke violently to Derek screaming and cursing.
He clambered back on the bed breathing heavily, eyes glowing blue.
"Aaron!" he yelled, veins standing out in his neck.
Stiles peered around the room curiously.
"Wait, mom?" Stiles demanded, voice still sleep rough.
"He couldn't have set them all by himself," Derek growled, tearing a hand through his hair.
"Set them?"
Derek pointed to the floor in a sharp motion.
Stiles rolled enough to peer over the edge of the bed cautiously. Then he blinked several times, refusing to believe what he was seeing.
"I don't suppose you guys have a really horrendous rodent problem?" Stiles questioned finally, rolling back to the middle of the bed and stretching.
Derek's eyes were closed and he snorted quickly.
Derek yanked the sheet and cover back onto the bed, setting several more mousetraps snapping in the process.
"Mom," he repeated voice strangely level, "why are there mousetraps on Stiles' side of the bed?"
Stiles assumed she replied because Derek's mouth scrunched up.
"And what if he had rolled out of bed unexpectedly?"
Another response he couldn't hear.
"That's not the point."
Stiles sighed and rubbed at the corner of his eye.
"I didn't bring him home for you to maim him," Derek sighed.
"She's not apologizing is she?"
"No. She's very pleased with herself. And I'm to come down and help with breakfast." He ran his hands down his face quickly. "Could I borrow your shirt?"

Stiles wasn't admitting it out loud for several reasons, but watching Derek set off most of the traps by whipping his shirt against the floor had been pretty hilarious. He wondered offhandedly if this was a prank frequently played. Surely they didn't have that many mousetraps just lying around casually. He shook his head quickly before kicking some aside and heading downstairs.
The kitchen was in the front of the house. Derek, his mother, and Peter were all helping prepare breakfast.
"I do hope you're not upset Stiles," Beth called over her shoulder. "Just a harmless bit of fun right?"
"Uh yeah," he agreed slowly, "right."
"You're not upset with me either are you Stiles?" Aaron questioned, throwing an arm around Stiles' shoulders and tugging him close. He batted his eyelashes waiting for Stiles' answer.
Stiles grunted and shrugged him off.
"You are such an asshole."
Peter laughed loudly at that.
"It is widely agreed, Aaron is an asshole."
"I suspected as much," Stiles replied archly.
He made his way across the kitchen to where Derek was manning the stove.
"Good morning," he offered, leaning against him for a moment.
"Morning," Derek returned, bumping his hip against Stiles'.
"You're in a better mood," Stiles teased gently.
Derek sighed softly before rolling his eyes.
"My family," he said, as if that answered everything.
Stiles thought maybe it did.

Stiles' father arrived without much fanfare.
He was quiet and calm and, it took Stiles a while to realize it but, quite like he was at work.
"You're cheating!" Stiles accused when they finally escaped to the mall.
In the crush of hundreds of shoppers no one even glanced their way.
"What are you talking about?" his father questioned, one brow arched.
"You're in Sheriff Mode and it's totally cheating! You're supposed to be at least half as uncomfortable as I am."
His father paused an awkward moment.
"Sorry you feel that way Son."
"Sorry you feel that way? What? Dad, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he answered, not looking at Stiles.
"Dad," Stiles protested.
"Let's go in here," his father said, turning right abruptly.
Stiles got cut off by two families plowing ahead and then distracted by a shiny watch, forgetting what they were talking about by the time he saw his father again.
"Do you think I should get Derek a watch?" he questioned.
His father squinted at him.
"Does Derek even wear a watch?"
"Oh," Stiles sighed. "Well maybe it's because he doesn't have one."
"I think he could have gotten one by now if he'd wanted one."
"You're probably right," Stiles sighed. "I can't actually be this bad at this. Can I? Or is this all just a weird nightmare? Please tell me it's a nightmare," Stiles pleaded.
"Stiles I still have the pink and blue striped bowtie you bought me when you were nine."
"That was a joke," Stiles tried.
His father didn't say anything. He didn't have to. He just gave him a look.
"Well Mom asked for my help," Stiles added. "She totally threw me under the bus."
"She thought you were adorable actually."
"I was adorable," Stiles sniffed.

An hour later Stiles was no closer to selecting Derek's present.
"This is awful," he groaned, covering his face with both hands.
"You'll find something, I'm sure."
Stiles groaned again.
"You've been saying that for like a month now."
"Well…" his father paused long enough to sigh, "if worst comes to worst you two can go shopping together after Christmas. Then you'll know he likes it."
"Why did he ever even fall in love with me? I'm like the most pathetic person to ever be pathetic ever."
"Eloquent as always Stiles," his father said, lips quirked just barely.
Stiles didn't bother with a response, letting his hands flop to his sides before sighing.
His father smoothed his hair down in a strangely affectionate motion.
"Things are just out of our control sometimes. That's life."
"Yeah," he agreed softly.
The moment was oddly serious and Stiles remembered his father's closed off behavior suddenly.
"Are you okay?"
His father blinked a few times before smiling just a bit.
"I'm fine," he said. "Life. You know."
Stiles didn't know actually. He knew not to press right now but he had no idea what was going on with his father.
He pulled him into a one armed hug for several moments before letting him go.
"Okay," he said brightly, "let's do this."

Leaving the mall Stiles wasn't entirely sure his father had been a help. They ended up in the electronics department of the largest store and Stiles had finally settled on the newest version of the Nook, which his father then spent nearly forty minutes talking him out of. Instead he got Derek a speaker system. Stiles figured he could listen to music while he sketched or while he read an actual book because he certainly wasn't getting a Nook now.
At least he had something to wrap.
That was a relief.
Really he can't think of many things that would be more embarrassing than not having a present for his mate to open while spending Christmas with his mate's family. Stiles shook his head just at the thought.
And things had gone pretty well really so…Stiles supposed he couldn't, or shouldn't rather, complain. Now that most of the stress was over he could just enjoy the holiday.

On the drive back he got a text from Derek that there was a surprise waiting and to come behind the house as soon as he arrived.
Stiles spent the rest of the drive insanely curious.
His dad was leaning against the window, eyes closed.
Stiles wasn't sure if he was actually asleep or not.
He didn't press his luck either way, remaining silent until he parked in front of the house.
Awake then.
"We're back."
"You know I'm here," Stiles began haltingly, "if you…want…to…you know…uh…talk…or-"
"I know," his father cut in and Stiles was grateful.
"Okay great," Stiles called over his shoulder, evacuating the car.

He made his way back around the house, zipping his coat up tight and digging his borrowed mittens out of his pockets. Breath fogged out in front of his face and he wrinkled his nose at the cold briefly. It was definitely colder here than he was used to. Not to mention all the snow underfoot. He couldn't get used to it crunching under his boots. Or the fact that it really looked like he was in a movie about Alaska right now.
There was a lantern settled in the snow and Stiles picked it up as he wandered further from the glow of the house.
Pure darkness settled in a hollow between the trees and swallowing quickly, he moved into it.
Trees creaked in the wind and snow kept crunching under his feet as he progressed forward. Really Stiles didn't know why he didn't just call out. It wasn't like they didn't know exactly where he was. He supposed old habits die hard.
Derek stepped out of nowhere and made Stiles drop his lantern, chuckling as Stiles smacked his arm.
"Hey," Derek said, still laughing quietly.
"Ugh, I hate you," Stiles snapped, bending to scoop the lantern up and wipe it off. "I can't believe I just bought you a huge, totally awesome present."
"You finally found something then?"
"Yes," Stiles sniffed.
"Good," Derek returned easily, taking his hand and tugging him deeper into the woods.
They walked in silence for several moments before finally coming to a clearing.
Stiles' jaw fell open at the looming grey shapes all but filling it.
"What-" he managed.
Derek didn't answer so he just blinked at them for a couple seconds.
"Oh my god. Oh…my god. Derek. Are these…forts?"
"They're for tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," Stiles echoed slowly.
He thought about it for a moment.
"We're having a snowball fight!" he yelled, jumping on Derek.
Derek laughed, arms looping under his thighs to pull him up.
"We are."
Stiles' cheeks ached from how hard he was smiling. Or maybe it was from the cold.
"Okay, I love you again," he said, kissing Derek quickly.
"What a relief," Derek mumbled against his lips.

Dinner was ready by the time they stumbled in, brushing snow off each other in the process.
Stiles felt sort of…whole.
More than he was used to at least.
It was like he belonged here.
Of course there was every possibility that most of it was coming from Derek.
Stiles wasn't sure he minded either way.
Over dinner everyone discussed the snowball fight, more like war, that was happening tomorrow. There were several more forts sprinkled over the whole territory and nearly the entire pack was participating.
Derek reassured Stiles that they wouldn't be leaving the Hale fort, seeing as the closest fort was nearly five miles away.
Stiles had to laugh at that, shaking his head.
"Werewolves," he rolled his eyes.
"There's hardly a point if we're all sharing the same field," Amelia said, rolling her eyes in return.
"Yeah keep acting like you're not scared Stiles, you're going down hard. You'll cry snowflakes," Aaron cut in.
Stiles' nose wrinkled.
"That doesn't even make sense."
"Ask me if I care."
Stiles flicked a pea at him instead.
"Don't worry Stiles, Derek and I got your back," Will told him, leaning across the table for a high five.
Stiles slapped his palm, reminded of Scott once again.
"Alright children, Stiles, everyone ready for dessert?" Beth interrupted before any serious arguments could break out.
"I am hardly a child," Aaron exhaled, scandalized.
"Of course, now be a dear and fetch the cake from the kitchen."
Aaron scowled but did as he was told.

Stiles slept restlessly and woke alone. He could hear everyone at breakfast if he strained hard enough. He sighed to himself and waited several more seconds before sitting up and stretching.
It was another minute or two before he remembered the forts waiting outside.
A smile stretched his lips slowly.
Today would be a good day, he could feel it.
Stiles dressed fairly quickly before hurrying down the stairs and grabbing a chair.
There was still food luckily and he ate even as others were clearing their plates from the table.
Derek dropped a glass of orange juice in front of him, affectionate smile in place as he did.
Stiles smiled too, glad to have a distraction from his father's frown and Henry setting down a fresh mug of coffee in front of him.
He drank half the juice in one gulp and thought about all the snow waiting outside.
"Make sure you bundle up before you go Stiles," Beth said, as if she could read his mind. "And don't any of you be too hard on him. He's more fragile than you are."
"We know Mom," Aaron sighed, leaning in to kiss her cheek. "I'm gonna go find a good vantage point."
"You do that," she smiled before looking back to Stiles. "You be careful Stiles, I'm serious."
Stiles cheeks heated and he glanced down to his plate, focusing on cutting a bite of egg.
"Yeah okay," he mumbled before shoving it in his mouth.
"Too bad you didn't bring your gear," Derek said, sinking into the chair next to him. He bumped his shoulder against Stiles' and Stiles shot him a quick smile.
"Oh that's right. You're first…line, right?"
Stiles nodded.
"Very impressive," Beth nodded and Stiles had a vision of her ruffling his hair.
He couldn't help a small laugh.
"Thank you."
Pushing one last forkful of egg into his mouth he gathered his plate and stood.
"Thank you for breakfast," he said, carefully speaking around the egg.
"You don't have to thank me Stiles," she laughed, "I have to make the food anyways. But I suppose it's nice to hear." She did ruffle his hair then and Stiles blushed before gently ducking out of the way.
"Need to go get bundled up," he called over his shoulder, heading back for the stairs.

It had snowed more last night.
Stiles could barely make out his footprints.
"Come on," Derek said, tossing his arm over Stiles' shoulders and tugging him closer. "Stop thinking so much. Let's just have fun."
"Yeah okay," Stiles agreed slowly, not admitting that he was still worried about his father.
Maybe it was just being away from home but-
Derek gave him a shake.
"I can feel you thinking. Stop it."
Stiles closed his eyes briefly and exhaled.
There was only so much he could do and he'd already done it.
"You're right," he admitted. "I know."
"Alright so do you want to start in the fort or try and ambush anyone coming for our flag?"

Two hours later Stiles was fairly sure he was never going to feel the tip of his nose again.
Derek had snuck off to see if anyone was nearby so he was left with his pile of snowballs.
Stiles inhaled carefully and glanced around again. Just because he didn't see anyone didn't mean no one was there. Stiles only wished he wasn't at such a massive disadvantage. He also really wished Derek would hurry his ass up and get back. Couldn't werewolves sneak quickly? Wasn't it kind of what they were built for?
Still, Derek didn't appear.
Stiles thought about huffing out a breath in irritation but decided to remain silent.
Again he thought that his efforts to remain quiet were probably pointless but if he got hit for being an idiot and fooling around he was going to be really mad at himself. Not to mention he'd probably never be able to live it down.
He cast another glance around, squinting against the glare of the sun on the snow.
There was barely time to duck before two snowballs whizzed past, rapid fire.
Stiles rolled, sputtering as he got a face full of snow and trying to stay low to the ground.
There was a quiet impact and a huff of breath.
"You're out!" Derek declared, laughing.
Aaron shoved him off, throwing a handful of snow before rolling to his feet.
"Fine, fine," he grumbled, "I'm out."
He pushed Derek, apparently for good measure.
Derek simply laughed again, moving to help Stiles up.
"How did you not hear me behind you, I snapped like three branches."
"Four actually," Aaron said, flicking more snow off his coat.
Stiles flinched at the impact, ducking behind Derek fully.

"And now you're out," Aaron offered gleefully.
"Mom!" Derek growled.
Stiles peeked and sure enough there she was, snowball cradled in her bare hand.
"You can't be a body shield Derek," she pointed out, lips curling.
"I could be," Derek said, crossing his arms. "There's no rules against it."
"Fine," Beth said, tugging Aaron in front of her with her free hand.
There was a beat of silence as they all reassessed their situation.
Stiles realized his pyramid of snowballs was not only about three feet away, but toppled over.
He scrambled for an idea, any idea.
First he needed a snowball.
Crouching quickly he gathered snow clumsily, patting it as fast as possible before shoving to his feet again.
There was another beat of tense silence.
"I have to say, I didn't see this coming," Aaron observed, one eyebrow lifted.
"What are we going to do about this?" Beth questioned.
"We could," Stiles hazarded, "join forces and head back to the fort?"
Aaron snorted but Beth was quiet.
Derek remained perfectly still, waiting.
"I mean," Stiles continued after another moment, "we are all family, right?"
He forced himself to breathe evenly, willing his heart not to beat too fast.
After all, he wasn't lying. Yet.
"I suppose we could," Beth murmured.
Aaron smirked.
"You'd have to drop your snowball first," Stiles said, "seeing as you have better reflexes."
"Yes, I suppose you're right."
Stiles debated internally. Left or right?
Moving precisely, Beth extended her arm out to the side and opened her fingers, rotating her wrist until the snowball fell, breaking open on the ground.

Stiles shoved Derek to the side, throwing his snowball just left of Beth's head, diving to the ground as she dodged it. He didn't let himself panic, forming the poorest snowball of his life and firing again.
Aaron batted it down and Stiles wasted a precious moment gaping at him.
"Cheater!" Derek growled, tackling Aaron again.
Stiles ducked down for another snowball, eyes finding Beth just in time for a snowball to smack, rather harmlessly, into his chest. He sighed quietly.
Dropping his snowball and dusting himself off he had to laugh.
"I did pretty well for a human I guess."
"You did exceedingly well for a human," Beth told him, grinning.
"You really didn't stand a chance," Aaron called from the ground, protests muffled as Derek shoved his face back into the snow.
"Let's go back to the house and I'll make hot chocolate. Extra marshmallows for you Stiles."
Stiles couldn't help the childish thrill that ran through him. Extra marshmallows.
"I guess I can forgive you," he said agreeably, "for extra marshmallows."
She laughed and looped an arm over his shoulders.
"Come on boys," she called over her shoulder for Derek and Aaron, still rolling on the ground.

They had hot chocolate and cookies, even though it would probably spoil their lunch.
Stiles felt all of about seven years old and he was surprisingly okay with that. It was nice not to worry.
Besides what else were the holidays for?
It was time for dinner before everyone finally returned to the house and the meal was spent with accounts of the battle that had most likely been glorified at least a little.
Derek made it well known that Aaron had cheated and Aaron was not repentant in the least.
Stiles didn't know why he'd expected him to be.
He and Will helped with the dishes after dinner, halfheartedly flicking soap bubbles at each other.
Derek's father was quietly amused by them.
Stiles was okay with this too.

He didn't so much feel like a missing piece of Derek's family as he just felt…comfortable. Like he could fit here. Maybe just as well as he fit in Beacon Hills.
It was sort of a comforting thought.
Like hot chocolate.
And with that thought in mind Stiles climbed the stairs to seek Derek out.
There was a rustling behind the door just before Stiles pushed it open. He turned to see Derek lying too casually in bed.
"Hey," he offered.
"Hi," Derek said, running a hand through his hair.
"What 'cha you doing?"
"Why's your jacket on the floor?"
"Is it?"
Stiles rolled his eyes.
"Yeah. It is."
He crossed to the bundle of leather and folded it half heartedly before laying it across the foot of the bed.
"That's the story you're sticking with?"
Stiles sighed at him.
Stiles flopped down on the bed, half on Derek, before kicking his shoes off.
Derek was quiet a moment.
"You're letting it go?"
"For now."
Derek hummed and kissed his hair.

Stiles blinked twice.
"Mmm. Still dark. Go 'way."
"Come on," Derek breathed in his ear, "I want you to come with me."
"I am with you. Bed. See? Right here," Stiles said, snuggling closer.
"No," Derek laughed softly, "I want to show you something."
Stiles took a moment to wake up a bit.
"I take it this is important," he yawned.
Derek laughed again, nervous.
"Yes," he admitted.
Derek pressed his mouth to Stiles' temple, a brief kiss.
"Come on," he said again.
Stiles sighed but willed himself to wake up, stretching just a bit and blinking a few more times.
Derek eased from the bed and tossed Stiles a pair of jeans, tugging his jacket on. He grabbed a lantern off the desk and set it on the bed for Stiles.
"I'll meet you out front," he whispered.
"Okay," Stiles said, blinking deliberately again. "Yeah, I'm coming."
The chill in the air helped quite a bit and he shivered into a pair of jeans before finding a sweatshirt and tugging it on over his too thin tee. He shoved shoes on without socks and grabbed his coat, zipping it halfway before grabbing the lantern Derek had left.
He took the stairs slowly, not wanting to fall or wake anyone unnecessarily.
Derek was sitting on the top step. He pushed to his feet and took Stiles' free hand saying,
"It's not far."
"Can I ask where we're going?" Stiles questioned, pressing into Derek's side.
"I can't think of a non creepy way to say it," Derek said, glancing away.
They walked in silence for a few moments and Stiles thought he knew anyways.

They settled close together on a bench.
Stiles clicked the lantern off, more soothed by the darkness.
There was a tree seated between them and a drop off. Stiles had no idea how steep the drop was because all he could see beyond the tree was blackness.
"Sometimes it still hurts to come here," Derek said finally. "But when I think about the fact that she saved my life, that she gave up everything for me," he paused, exhaling sharply, "and it's a different kind of pain. Better I think. Does that make sense?"
"Yeah," Stiles exhaled. He didn't know what else to say so he just pressed closer, resting his head on Derek's shoulder.
"I'm really glad you came," Derek said, pressing another quick kiss to his hair.
Stiles wasn't sure if he meant to Maine or out here. Maybe it was both.
"I'm really glad you came home and worked things out with your family. They're really great."
"And I'm glad you like them. All your worrying was for nothing."
Stiles laughed quickly.
"You just had to throw that in there, didn't you?"
"What? I was right."
Stiles laughed again, nudging him.
"Oh, shut up. You always ruin our moments."
"I think it's more like a fifty-fifty split."
"Shut up," Stiles groaned.
"Alright, alright. I have something for you anyways."
"But it's not Christmas yet," Stiles protested automatically.
"Well it's not your present, not really."
Stiles squinted at him.

Derek shifted away from him slightly, digging into his pocket.
"Okay, close your eyes," he said softly.
Stiles' lips curled but he complied anyways.
There was a very quiet rustling and something settled around his neck lightly.
"Can I look now?"
"Yeah," Derek said after another beat.
It was a simple necklace, from what little Stiles could see of it in the darkness. He held the thin pendant between his thumb and index finger.
"Thanks," he said, regretting turning off the lantern for a moment. He really wanted to see Derek's face. He could still feel Derek's nervousness but there was a growing sense of contentment. Stiles wondered at it for another few moments before settling into Derek again.
"I love you," Derek exhaled simply.
Stiles smiled again.
"Me too."

Stiles was one of the first ones up, which was admittedly strange. He fiddled around with the coffee maker while Derek showered.
"Stiles," Beth greeted, shock evident in her tone, "you're awake."
"Yeah," he shot her a quick smile.
"And…gutting my coffee maker."
"Yeah," he laughed once, "I guess I am."
He put two pieces back on the counter carefully before half turning,
"I'll leave it to you I guess."
She opened her mouth to respond, pausing perfectly.
Stiles froze in reaction, right hand still in midair.
"I'm sorry," she smiled, "I wasn't expecting…that."
"What?" he questioned automatically.
"The necklace," she said softly. "I had no idea he'd kept it."
She closed the distance between them and pulled him into a hug.
"Oh, I'm getting so emotional," she laughed, giving another squeeze before releasing him.
"I kind of assumed there was a story," Stiles admitted, blushing.
Beth nodded once, tucking hair behind her ear.
"I'm sure he'll tell you." She laughed again before waving him away from the coffee maker.
Taking the circular pendant between his fingers again Stiles drifted out of the kitchen. He figured it'd take a few minutes for the coffee maker to be put back together and at least another two for the coffee to brew so he headed upstairs.

Derek was still in the bathroom, door cracked to let steam seep out as he brushed his teeth.
Stiles edged through the door and hugged him from behind, leaning his cheek on Derek's still slick shoulder.
"Good morning," he said, partially to distract himself from the racing of his heart, "officially."
Derek spit into the sink before laying a hand over Stiles'.
"Good morning," he returned, quietly amused.
"I might have killed your mom's coffee maker."
"I'm sure it will be fine. We can always get her a new one for Christmas."
Stiles chuckled into Derek's back.
"Yeah shopping the day before Christmas is such a great idea why didn't I think of that?"
"Well you can't have done anything my father hasn't done."
"Your father doesn't know how to work it either?"
"The stories are massively entertaining."
"But I thought he was the alpha of one of the most powerful packs in North America."
"He is."
"And he can't work that coffee maker?"
"Not really, no."
"Oh," Stiles exhaled, "well that makes me feel better."
"I'm glad," Derek said, turning slowly. "I have to get dressed."
Stiles dropped his arms.
"And what's the plan for today?"
"Pack visits. Instead of Dad going to them, they come to us."
"That sounds…thoroughly exhausting."
"It is. But in a good way." He kissed Stiles' forehead before slipping past and heading back to his room.

Stiles was on his second cup of coffee when the first visitors arrived.
They brought bacon and muffins and while Stiles thought it was a strange combination, he knew better than to complain.
Plus the muffins were fresh baked and he couldn't remember the last time he'd had fresh muffins. Luckily everyone thought his groan of appreciation was cute and the teasing for shoving an entire muffin in his mouth was minimal.
On pure instinct he glanced around for his father, only to see he wasn't downstairs yet.
Stiles grabbed another muffin while he could still get away with it.
It turned out that everyone visiting brought food and within the next hour Stiles was staring at the largest breakfast spread he'd ever seen.
He wasn't even sure how it all fit in the kitchen and dining room.
He wasn't sure how all the visitors fit inside the house either.
As he'd been practicing nearly his whole life, he hid his nerves by eating.
It wasn't that anyone was rude, quite the opposite. Stiles supposed they really couldn't be rude. He was the mate to the alpha's son after all.
It was just the sheer volume of people in the house.
It was very nearly wall to wall bodies and that was with most of the kids outside, playing in the snow.
Just after noon Stiles snuck upstairs and laid down, stomach stuffed so full it ached.

He was dozing lightly when Derek appeared.
"Oh thank god," Derek breathed, "here you are, help."
That woke Stiles up a bit and he had to blink a few times, wondering if he was dreaming.
"Is that-"
"I couldn't really say no," Derek insisted earnestly.
"Why are you holding a baby?" Stiles hissed.
"This old lady just comes up to me and says 'would you like to babysit' and I'm like well I've never really babysat before I mean I've been around babies and then she just handed me this baby!"
He hefted the baby a few inches higher as if to show him, hands just under its armpits.
"I don't know how to hold it," Derek added, a pucker appearing between his eyebrows.
"You have younger siblings," Stiles pointed out, sitting up.
"Well yeah but it was never up to me to look after them. I think I fed Will like…once."
Stiles supposed he had a point there.
"Okay well, here."
He arranged the pillows against the headboard and punched them a few times to get an indent.
When Derek didn't move he gestured to the pillows.
"Maybe he'll fall asleep."
Stiles was slightly terrified as Derek edged onto the bed with the baby.
At least it was a big baby, about eighteen months Stiles guessed, so things could be worse.

The baby settled against the pillows quietly, blinking huge brown eyes at them.
"Well at least he seems like a good baby," Stiles offered.
Derek smiled slightly, heaving a relieved breath.
"I'm just glad I didn't drop him. My job is done, right?"
Stiles had to laugh at that.
"Pretty sure you're supposed to keep him from crying too."
"You mean we're right?"
Stiles narrowed his eyes.
"Is this some sort of test to see if I'm okay with kids? Because the answer is no. Not yet at least."
Derek's eyes widened comically.
"No. Dear god no. I was just handed a baby I swear."
"You and women," Stiles huffed, too relieved to really sell it.
The baby cooed, reaching a hand towards Derek.
"Oh god what do you think he wants?" Derek questioned.
Stiles laughed again.
"Probably something to play with. Why aren't you a natural with kids? The women of Beacon Hills will be so disappointed."
"You're not helping," Derek informed him, easing a yellow and green rattle from his back pocket.
The baby seemed entirely unimpressed until Derek shook it lightly, then he laughed and reached for it with both hands.
"Maybe I am a natural," Derek smiled.
Stiles faked a scowl quickly.

When they were relieved from baby duty they made their way back downstairs to collapse on a couch.
More and more visitors came, until Stiles thought that the entire state of Maine was coming through.
He stuck pretty close to Derek this time and picked off his plate rather than getting another of his own. He'd probably already gained two pounds just that morning. He thought of returning home with a moment of passing dread. At least he wouldn't have to weigh in like the wrestlers.
But that was still a few days away anyways.
"Come on," Derek said, pulling him off the couch, "time to pick a tree."
"A tree?" Stiles questioned, half incredulous, "It's Christmas Eve!"
"It's tradition," Derek corrected with a smile.
"So you only have a tree for two days?"
"We leave it up till New Years. Come on."
Stiles sighed but let himself be pulled up the stairs where they tugged on enough layers to ward off the cold.
"I just thought you didn't do the whole tree thing," Stiles admitted, following Derek back down.
"We don't do the whole twinkle light thing, those are annoying. But yes we do Christmas trees."
"So who chops it down?"
Derek craned his neck to look at him.
"Chops it down?" he questioned innocently.
Nearly twenty minutes Stiles watched as a tree was taken down with a single swipe of claws and a push.
He did his best not to gape but Derek still laughed at him.
"You'd think I would have seen that coming."
"Humans," Aaron smirked, "really."
"We still have to get this tree home and make the garland," Derek's father reminded them. This spurred Derek and Aaron into action, each of them grabbing branches at the base before starting to drag it along.
"If I ask where this is going are you going to laugh at me," Stiles questioned, half debating climbing into the tree and making it his personal sled.
"Front yard," Derek responded simply.
"Ah," Stiles exhaled, stepping away from the tree when Derek shot him a warning glare.
He really knew him too well.

It was simpler than Stiles thought it would be.
In no time at all the tree was placed in the hole dug for it and brushed off. Ornaments and actual popcorn and cranberry garlands were brought out.
Once again Stiles was struck with a surreal sense of falling into a Christmas movie.
How did werewolves do Christmas better than any humans he knew? How was that allowed in the laws of the universe?
Maybe werewolves invented Christmas.
Stiles didn't ask, he was tempted, but that was the kind of thing Aaron would never let go. In this case, it was better to stay silent.
"So if you don't do the whole twinkly lights thing-" Stiles cut off as Derek slapped a candlestick in his hand.
Derek pointed to the gold flat ornaments before Stiles could ask anything else.
"Oh," Stiles allowed, stepping forward to slip the candle into the holder closest to him. "Real candles. Wow."
"Real candles," Derek confirmed, handing him another.
"The tree doesn't catch on fire?"
"No," Derek smiled.
"Oh," Stiles echoed, lips curling.
"You'll get the hang of it eventually."

By the time the tree was fully decorated Stiles was exhausted.
He nearly made Derek carry him up to bed.
"We should sleep in tomorrow. Totally."
Derek chuckled in his ear, one arm slipping around his stomach.
"Tomorrow's Christmas Stiles. Presents to open."
"We can open them," he broke off to yawn, "any time."
"You realize staying up to argue about it is just going to make you more tired when we have to get up tomorrow morning."
Stiles groaned at him, halfheartedly slapping his hand over Derek's jaw.
"Shut up."
Derek chuckled again before tugging him closer.
They fell asleep like that.

Derek was right.
The room was still pink with the dawn when Aaron threw their door open so wide it banged into the wall before howling, literally howling, to wake them up.
"Ugh, asshole," Stiles groaned.
Derek threw something at his younger brother; Stiles didn't bother to look what it was.
"Okay he's gone, we got like ten minutes."
''I heard that!" Aaron yelled from the hall, howling again.
Stiles yanked a pillow over his head.
"I hate him," he muttered, not caring that Derek probably couldn't hear him.
Derek tugged him closer, letting him keep the pillow, and rubbed his hand up and down Stiles' back, trying to warm him.
After another couple seconds Stiles abandoned the pillow and blinked up at him.
"Merry Christmas, Derek," he sighed.
Derek smiled softly.
"Merry Christmas."
Stiles wiggled up for a kiss before sighing again.
"Is it even six yet?"
"It's just after seven actually."
"What a relief," Stiles said dryly.
"If you want coffee we'd better get moving."
"Or you could bring me some," Stiles suggested, eyebrows pulling up.
Derek watched him a moment.
"Fine. But you'll owe me."
Stiles grinned slowly.
"I think I can handle that."

They spread out on couches, what was more or less a mountain of presents in the center of the room.
"Okay, who's passing out presents?" Beth questioned, "Mom? Curtis? Anyone?"
"I will," Aaron offered, all but lunging for the presents.
"He really likes Christmas, doesn't he," Stiles observed flatly.
That brought a few chuckles and a green present flying towards his head.
Luckily Derek reacted in time because Stiles was half to taking a sip of coffee.
"Thanks," he said, setting his mug aside and taking the medium box from Derek. He set it in his lap and waited politely, unsure how the present opening was going to go with this many people.
The McCalls and the Stilinskis normally combined their Christmases but still.
Once everyone had a present they rotated around the room before repeating the process.
When Stiles opened a present to see the new Nook laying in his lap he blinked at it in confusion. Then he glanced to Derek before looking to his father.
"You knew!"
"Yes I did," he replied unapologetically. "And now you two didn't get each other the same present. You're welcome."
Stiles huffed.
"I was gonna get you this," he tried to explain after a moment.
"I gathered that," Derek said, eyes crinkled up as he smiled.
"And Dad talked me out of it."
"You're welcome," his father said again.
"I guess it worked out then," Derek said, still smiling.
"Thank you for my present," Stiles said, leaning over to press a kiss to Derek's cheek.
"You're welcome."
"Come on open yours, it's too heavy to be a sweater," Aaron goaded.
Derek kicked at him before ripping the paper off the speakers Stiles had gotten him.
"Thanks," Derek said with a smile, "it's perfect."
Stiles rolled his eyes quickly.
"Yeah, okay."

After presents there was a late breakfast of leftovers. Then they piled back into the living room for It's a Wonderful Life. This was followed by A Christmas Story and more leftovers.
All in all everyone was content.
Stiles was sure it wasn't always like this around the Hale house but it was really nice, if not perfect.
And it wasn't like they'd be living with the Hales anyways. He was sure they'd have their own place. In any case it wasn't something to worry about now. He still had college to figure out first.
It would be nice getting back to a house that wasn't full of werewolves though. Hearing that good always had its disadvantages.
"Packing already?" Derek questioned.
"Well I don't want to be rushing last minute," Stiles said, pulling another shirt from the drawer and crossing to the open suitcase. "I'd much rather relax."
Derek arched a brow.
"Trying to make sure you don't forget anything this time?"
"Maybe I wanted to share toothbrushes."
"Uh huh," Derek let out, grabbing his suitcase as well. "I don't know that we have enough room for all the presents."
"The presents are coming back with us?" Stiles questioned innocently.
"Ha ha."
"Okay so I might not have thought about that."
Will came in, setting a suitcase down before glancing around.
"Mom said you can borrow this," he said.
Stiles laughed. Werewolves.
"Thanks Mom," Derek said, rolling his eyes.
Stiles laughed again.

Once Christmas was over the remaining time passed very quickly for them.

"You're coming back, right?" Beth questioned one hand on either side of Stiles' face, "Spring break? Right?"
Stiles did his best to smile before nodding.
"Yup. Just before Easter."
"Okay good," she said, voice oddly pitched. "I'm really glad you're part of the family now Stiles."
She tugged him into a hug and rubbed his back briefly.
"Me too."
"I'll miss you too Stiles," Aaron said, voice thick with fake emotion, "I'll count the minutes."
"Oh shut up," Stiles laughed, hugging him anyways.
Will hugged him next, pulling back to bump fists too.
"Maybe I'll come visit you guys sometime."
"That'd be cool," Stiles returned, carefully not looking to his parents for confirmation. That was between them.
He blushed when Amelia hugged him, which okay was weird, but she was really pretty.
It was sort of instinct.
Derek's father shook his hand.
The grandparents waved.
Annabelle gave him a hug and a pat on the cheek that was incredibly sticky.
Emily apologized for her daughter and Peter hugged him from the side, taking him by surprise.
"Hey, go be creepy over there," Stiles told him, pointing a mittened hand.
Peter smirked and saluted.
Stiles shuffled a bit closer to the car.
"So creepy," he exhaled, well aware it was heard.
Derek spent a bit longer saying goodbye to his family but finally crossed to the car as well.
"Oh, call when you land!" Beth called, hands cupped around her mouth.
Derek laughed.
"We will!"

It was easier the second time around.
Shorter too, but mostly easier.
Stiles hauled his bag to the front door before fishing out his keys and struggling to open the door.
Derek was behind him with the other two bags tapping his foot by the time Stiles actually managed it.
"I don't appreciate your 'tude," Stiles huffed, immensely relieved to enter an otherwise empty house.
Scott still had Gus and his father had a two day layover slash vacation thing in St. Louis.
Stiles wasn't thinking about it.
"You're in my way," Derek grunted, hip checking him to the side.
"Such a joyous reunion we're having already."
"I smell like sweaty airport," Derek informed him, dropping the suitcases at the base of the stairs and disappearing up them.
"Well I have to admit…that was not what I was hoping for."
Stiles wandered into the kitchen to find the fridge mostly empty, opening it on autopilot before remembering the shopping list was still stuck to the front.
"Also not what I was hoping for."
He supposed home wasn't meant to be glamorous.

The shower was running upstairs and Stiles flopped down onto his bed, which was actually made for once.
Toeing his shoes off he sighed and closed his eyes.
Derek fell on to him still soaking wet.
"Sorry," he hummed, kissing Stiles' neck. "You could have joined me in the shower by the way."
"Yes reunion sex in a four by four stall, excellent."
"I'm just saying," Derek offered with a slow grin.
He tugged at the hem of Stiles' shirt until Stiles sat up, shrugging out of his hoodie and letting Derek strip his shirt off.
Derek kissed him, teeth tugging his bottom lip before releasing it.
Stiles groaned, one hand slipping down to find Derek's jeans were already open.
"God I missed you," he huffed on a shallow laugh, "that makes sense right?"
"Missed you too," Derek offered, ripping his jeans open.
Stiles half wanted to mutter something about only having so many clothes but abandoned the thought as Derek slotted their hips together and rolled down.
He bit down on his lips and groaned, head rolling back into the pillow.

"Tell Scott to go away," Derek muttered, folding Stiles' fingers around his phone.
"Mm-what?" Stiles said.
"He just pulled in, tell him to go away," Derek mostly growled the last few words.
Stiles' fingers tumbled over the screen sending mno before NO and finally se x gtfo.
The phone vibrated in his hand but he was already tossing it to the floor.
Derek slid down his body, pulling his jeans off before lifting Stiles' leg over his shoulder.
Stiles' hips rolled up, spine arching helplessly.
Teeth dug into the inside of his thigh and Stiles nearly screamed.
"Derek-fuck," he managed, one hand fisting in the sheet, the other falling to Derek's shoulder and scrabbling for purchase.
He couldn't believe it had only been six days.
"Will you please get in me?"
Derek growled against his skin, teeth nipping again.
Thoughts of being covered in bites and marks had Stiles shuddering, releasing another weak groan.
"I can't believe you just said please," Derek teased, opening the lube and pressing two fingers gently against him.
Stiles pulled at him ineffectually, groaning again.
"Have to do this part slow," Derek warned, "or the claws will come out."
Stiles wriggled once before forcing himself to settle.
At least he'd had practice with this.
Derek eased his fingers in, curling them enough to make Stiles groan before pulling them back out and twisting slightly. He pushed in again, rubbing at the rim with his thumb.
Inhaling deeply, Stiles tried to spread his legs further.
It was incredibly hard to stay relaxed. Relaxed and still. Relaxed or still.
Stiles decided to focus on breathing.

Claws sinking into his hips were a relief.
Derek pressed in with two sharp thrusts, Stiles' arms winding around his neck.
For a moment Derek simply stayed as he was and they both breathed, hips pressed together.
The first roll of Derek's hips was slow, his exhale even slower. He caught Stiles' mouth in another kiss, muffling a low moan.
"Round two is slow," Stiles breathed into his mouth, "remember?"
Derek squeezed his hips.
"I'd hate to be so predictable."
Stiles yanked on his hair, delighting in the resulting growl.
"Stop teasing me it's been like a week and the fact that I'm still coherent is uhhh-" he broke off to moan and bite his lip as Derek thrust sharply. "Yes," Stiles exhaled, muscles loosening in pleasure.
Derek's lips closed over his pulse point and Stiles never wanted to move again. He didn't think he wanted anything other than this ever again.
This feeling lasted through the next several thrusts before urgency began building again.
"Derek, please…"
"What?" At least he was breathless too.
"You know what I want," Stiles said, slapping his shoulder.
Derek pressed in again, settling for a second.
Stiles could feel the start of a swell, tongue sweeping over his bottom lip.
"Yeah?" Derek kissed his jaw before pulling back again.
Stiles nearly howled, back bowing as the muscles in his legs clenched in an effort to keep him close.
"Hate you," Stiles panted, "s-so fucking much."
"Mm…I know," Derek returned, rolling in again.

Stiles clenched his muscles and Derek was definitely bigger. He groaned weakly, pulling Derek down for a kiss.
Derek nipped at his mouth, a growl rumbling in his chest.
Stiles whined as he pulled back again. Not even his teeth digging into his lip could keep him quiet.
The next thrust was more of a stretch and Stiles clenched again, still trying to keep him in.
The drag out was even slower and Stiles wanted to scream, groaning instead.
Derek's knot came to rest right against him, and Derek paused there.
Stiles' nails dug into his shoulders.
"Come on, come on."
Derek pressed forward slightly before pulling back again.
He repeated this twice, panting into Stiles' neck.
Finally he slid in until their bodies locked together.
The sound Stiles made was unidentifiable. It was mostly surprise followed by pleasure and just a hint of pain.
Derek canted his hips back, tugging on Stiles as their bodies held together.
Stiles whined, one hand dropping to Derek's hip to yank him back.
"Sadist," Stiles hissed.
Derek huffed out a shallow laugh.
"Shut up."
He kissed Stiles, pressing closer and trailing his fingertips up Stiles' ribs.
Stiles inhaled carefully, skin pushing against Derek's claws. He pressed his hips up, trying to get some friction.
Derek shifted against him, groaning quietly as Stiles gasped.

He spread his legs wider, knowing they were going to hurt later but unable to care.
Derek was smiling down at him, kissing him as a hand wrapped around his cock.
Stiles couldn't stay still, wriggling and trying to press up into Derek's hold. He more or less ended up trapping Derek's hand between them and grinding into him. It was clumsy but effective and finally he hit the right angle, aware distantly what was just about to happen.
The release was sharp and his eyes slammed closed as he trembled with it.
His hips couldn't help rocking slightly in the aftershocks and he forced his fingers loose.
Derek buried his face in Stiles throat and breathed deeply.
Stiles smiled languidly, still panting for air.

After showering and pulling the comforter back on the bed to cover the ruined sheets they collapsed to the bed.
"You smell like me," Derek said, pulling him closer, "and I smell like you. I feel much better."
Stiles laughed.
"I didn't know you were so possessive."
"Yes you did."
"Yeah, I guess I did."
Derek's fingertips drifted along the chain around Stiles' neck, coming up with the pendant. He gazed at it for a moment.
"Laura got me this," he said quietly.
Stiles went very still, brain scrambling for a way to react, any way to react.
"Alpha," Derek said softly, drifting over the top swirl, "Beta and Omega. But she said," he paused to smile, "that it was really our parents, us, and the pack."
"Derek I-" can't take this he might have said.
"I haven't worn it since she died. But it's nice seeing it again."
"Is that where the hole in the lining of your jacket came from?" Stiles asked after a long moment.
"I couldn't get rid of it either," Derek said by way of explanation.
"Do you mind?" Derek whispered.
Stiles' heart was aching.
"No. No. I…don't know what to say."
"An even playing field for once," Derek said, brow arched.
"Ha ha," Stiles muttered, throat embarrassingly thick.

"I really don't know what to say," Stiles said once he'd regained control of his voice.
"You don't have to say anything. I wanted you to have it." Derek looked as if he wanted to say more but didn't, letting the pendant settle against Stiles' chest again.
Stiles sighed, half in self depreciation.
Derek watched him a moment before tilting his chin up for a kiss.
Stiles thought belatedly he really didn't have to say anything.
I love you he could say.
But Derek would only smile back at him.
I know.



*covers face*

I can't explain how nervous I am for this. I'm sure you expected this. It feels really choppy to me and dear sweet jesus the fluff BUT I feel good about it and I'm going to keep that in mind.

I mean it was a chapter about Christmas so that's my excuse.

Also I just wow thank you all so much! Thank you thank you thank you x 10000 I can't even. This has…well it's a bit indescribable isn't it?

I never in a million years expected this EPIC thing to happen! Not only how long it is but so many people reading it!

I still want to make a blanket cave and never come out.

But one last time thank you all so much for your patience and your support and you'll never know how much it means to me.

Finally I will leave you with this, I have started a tumblr specifically for this fic. Right now there's a few extras there and there are going to be some drabbles in the future, mainly about my side characters but that is some point.
it's youdontseestraight dot tumblr dot com
I hope it doesn't block that but hopefully google will work or s/t.

Thank you so much. Hopefully you enjoyed the ride half as much as I did.