#12 On the Road

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Beacon Hills is about seven hours, give or take, from Newport. Stiles has to work Friday, but he manages to arrange his schedule so he can leave at noon instead of three. Derek’s offered to just fly them up and rent a car, but Stiles is actually looking forward to the road trip aspect, so he declined. Having time alone without distractions will be good for them. They can talk, listen to music, and just enjoy each other’s company without interference. After the week that Derek’s had, Stiles wants them to have a relaxing trip with a little bit of romance.

The fact that he’s actually thinking about romance without mocking the concept is still surprising to him, but it probably shouldn’t be that unexpected that it turns out there’s a bit of a sap lurking beneath the cynical asshole exterior. He’s never had reason to let it out, since his relationships, such as they’ve been, haven’t been passionate in nature. His crush on Lydia is the closest thing for comparison, and he was slightly obsessive with a habit of making grand gestures back then. Now, he likes to think he’s a little more calm and mature, even if he might still be slightly obsessive. It’s a good kind of obsessive, he thinks, since it’s focused on making Derek smile with crinkly eyes or laugh with his whole body.

When he gets home from the station, he finds Derek sitting on the sofa reading a biography about Queen Victoria that looks big and potentially boring. Derek looks up when he comes in, his eyebrows doing a confused dance. “You’re home early.”

“Yep.” Stiles grins. “I was too excited about our little weekend getaway to concentrate. I managed to get approval to leave at noon so we could get on the road before it gets too late. My double on Tuesday helped persuade the powers that be to agree. Plus, it was pretty quiet today at work.”

“That’s great.” Derek smiles as he closes the book and puts it on the coffee table. “It’s a nice surprise.”

“Well, we know how you love surprises.” Stiles starts unbuttoning his uniform shirt. “Since I packed my bag last night, I just need to change out of the uniform, then we’re good to go.”

“I filled the car up this morning and stopped at the store to buy some good road trip snacks,” Derek tells him, standing up and stretching. “Along with some Cheetos and Reese’s because I figured I’d let you indulge in some of that junk food you love.”

“You’re seriously going to let me have Cheetos in Lola?” Stiles stares at Derek. “They aren’t like the baked kind, right?”

“I trust you not to make a mess on my car’s seats. No, not the baked kind. The regular kind. They look disgusting, but I know you love them.”

“They are yummy puffs of cheesiness,” Stiles defends. “And you eat Reese’s, too, so you can’t even complain about that perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate heaven.”

“There is nothing ‘cheese’ about those things. Just reading the nutritional facts is probably going to give me nightmares.” Derek shudders. “Also, I refuse to kiss you if you have Cheetos breath.”

Stiles stops halfway up the stairs and looks down at him. “You’re no fun. Don’t think I can’t see through your nefarious plans, Derek. Sure, you’re indulging my junk food addiction, but withholding kisses if I actually eat the food. Thus, I now have the conundrum of determining whether it is better to eat cheesy goodness or kiss you.”

Derek smirks. “Why would you ever think that I’d be that sneaky and underhanded? Unlike some people, I’m not plotting to take over the world.”

“If you keep being smug, the Cheetos might very well win. Then we’ll see how you deal with the choice between no kisses or cheesy kisses.” Stiles wags a finger at him. “I bet you’d surrender before I do.”

“That wouldn’t be a fair competition since your choice would have to be Cheetos for us to then see if I give in on the kissing,” Derek points out. “So you’d win either way.”

“Actually, if you consider a particular approach, that would actually mean I had lost the bet before we started,” Stiles says. “If the winning choice is kisses, that is. I’m still not entirely sure if kisses outweigh cheesy yumminess. I might have to do a little research so I can make an informed choice.”

“Informed choices are important.” Derek waves his hand. “Hurry up and change so we can leave. We can discuss your research needs on the road.”

“Bossy.” Stiles does head upstairs to their bedroom, grabbing a clean shirt and jeans from the closet. He debates a moment but hops in the shower for a quick wash because he knows Derek’s talked about the lingering scent of station on him before. They’re about to spend hours in the car together, so he wants to make sure he smells good. After he’s dressed, he looks for his overnight bag before heading back downstairs. “Did you already grab my bag?

“Yeah, I put it in the car while you were in the shower.” Derek walks in from the kitchen. “Did you remember to put your toothbrush in this morning? You said to remind you.”

“Nope, I forgot. That’s fine. I’ll just buy a new one. I’m too lazy to go back upstairs to get it.” Stiles shakes his head. “And, no, you don’t need to go get it, either. It’ll only cost a few bucks at the store, and I probably need to replace it anyway.”

“You probably do,” Derek agrees. “Maybe one without a superhero on the handle?”

“I like my adult size Batman brush. I had to order that special from EBay.” Stiles shrugs. “I’ll find another one on-line, but I’m good using a plain old boring brush for the weekend.”

Derek pulls Stiles against him and smiles. “Hey,” he whispers, leaning down to kiss him. A nice welcome home kiss that he normally gives Stiles whenever he comes in from work.

When they separate, Stiles licks his lips. “I’ve been waiting for that.”

“You were too busy talking for me to do it earlier.” Derek rubs their noses together. “Better than Cheetos?”

“I don’t know. I need to do further research so I have an adequate sample size for comparison. We don’t want to draw conclusions after just one kiss because it might be a fluke or simply chance.” Stiles grins as they leave the house and head to Lola. “I might not have gone to college, but I did graduate second in my class. I know all about scientific research.”

“College isn’t that vital for what you do,” Derek points out, getting into the driver’s side of the car. “It’s just a piece of paper saying you took required classes. It isn’t a measure of intelligence or common sense by any means. You’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. I’m guessing that Lydia is the one who beat you for first in class?”

“Yep. She’s brilliant.” Stiles nods as he fastens his seat belt. “I actually had some scholarship offers, but I wanted to be a deputy, and it made more sense to go into the academy instead of wasting time at university. I’ve thought about eventually getting a degree in Criminal Justice one day, but it isn’t really a priority.”

“I don’t even remember much of my college experience.” Derek turns on the radio, flipping through stations until he settles on an oldies station. “I mostly went because it was expected, and it took me an extra year to get done because I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to take. It probably would have been a lot better if I hadn’t discovered the extremely potent strain of alcohol being marketed for weres in New York City. That and the different manufactured drugs that actually affect the supernatural is a bad combination for an eighteen year old kid wanting to escape his past.”

“I didn’t even realize there was a market for that kind of thing aimed at supernaturals,” Stiles admits. “I mean, Lydia created something that lets Scott and the others get a buzz from alcohol, but it takes a lot for them to get drunk from it.”

“It’s not that mainstream in our world,” Derek says, heading towards the highway that’ll take them to the interstate. “My mom does a good job of keeping it out of our territory, too. I was in NYC for college, though, and it’s not Hale territory. It’s a split territory, actually, between three alphas who control different parts of the northeast, so it makes it easy for illegal shit to happen. I bought the stuff on the black market, basically, and it helped numb me from all the crap that happened when I was fifteen.”

“You know that you don’t have to talk about it, right?” Stiles looks at Derek. “I have a pretty good idea what probably happened during those years just based on what you’ve already told me. I don’t need specifics to know you went through hell and survived it.”

“Like I told my mom weeks ago. My therapist says I have to be able to talk about it and be honest about my past or it could cause me trouble in my present.” Derek shrugs. “The numbness helped some, but then I used really rough sex to punish myself. I fucked around a lot. Was too wasted most the time to even care what was done to me. I only fucked humans, so it’s not like I couldn’t physically recover from anything too rough. It went on that way through college, and I hung around NYC for another year after, just losing myself in that lifestyle.”

“Then rock bottom? You said before that happened when you were like twenty-four?” Stiles is bouncing his right leg slightly. He’s glad that Derek’s been able to work through everything that happened in his past to be able to talk about it now, even if he does still have some triggers. Considering the fact that Stiles has major control issues after the Nogitsune, he knows Derek’s likely to always have a few things that bring it all back.

“Yeah, I was twenty-four.” Derek tightens his grip on the steering wheel. “I woke up naked in an old building in Brooklyn. There was come, piss, and blood on the floor under me, and my ass felt like I’d been fucked by a dozen or more guys. I don’t…there are only bits and pieces that I remember…some guy I met at a bar….calling me names…a huge crowd of men…one after the other…just using me like I didn’t matter as anything but a hole.” He looks at Stiles. “After I finished throwing up, I called Laura. She flew in from Eugene and helped me get my shit together. That was…I realized I couldn’t keep running from the past, not when it was destroying me like that.”

“I’m sorry that I made you relive that,” Stiles whispers. “I would never have…Fuck, I’d kill him if I ever found him.”

“You’d have to get in line. Laura called dibs when she came to get me.” Derek sighs. “It’s not your fault. For the most part, I don’t really think about those years. I avoid thinking about Kate and the repercussions I felt in my life for years after all that. It was like she was still controlling my life, still making me feel unwanted and unloved, from the grave. It took me about eighteen months to get myself to a point where I could actually think about everything without feeling ashamed and disappointed in myself for being so fucking weak.”

“You’re so far from weak that it’s ridiculous.” Stiles shifts in the seat so he can look at Derek. “What you’ve been through would probably have broken most people. Not only did it not break you, it just made you stronger. Not only have you survived, but you’ve become an amazing man.”

Derek snorts. “I don’t know about that, but I appreciate the thought.” He looks at Stiles. “The two people I tried dating seriously amidst all that crazy were just using me. When I got sober and straightened my life out, I avoided any kind of intimacy and didn’t even consider having a relationship with anyone. There’s been a handful of one night stands, but not even that many of those because I’d rather jerk off than let someone get close like that.”

“Yeah, I can understand that.” Stiles nods slowly. “So, if I hadn’t been your mate, you probably wouldn’t have even been interested at the ball?”

“I’d have definitely been interested. You were a snarky asshole, and your way of flirting appealed to me.” Derek smiles slyly. “Not to mention those lips, your hands, and the power I can feel thrumming under your skin. We’d have probably done what we did, but I wouldn’t have gone anywhere with you, and I’d have avoided anything that might indicate a repeat encounter.”

“Well, then, I guess I’m glad for this soulmate nonsense then.” Stiles looks back out the front window. “It hasn’t even been a month yet, but I find it difficult to think about my life not having you in it now. I mean, I’m getting used to sharing my house, even if you’re a picky bastard about folding clothes a certain way. I don’t really remember what I did in all my spare time before I met you. Pack stuff, being part of Scott and Allison’s lives, but mostly sitting home alone at night playing video games or streaming TV shows. I never really felt lonely, you know? I guess I didn’t even realize I was until I had someone of my own to share stuff with.”

“Mating isn’t nonsense. It’s destiny.” Derek smiles slightly. “I knew I was lonely, but I hadn’t reached a point of wanting someone in my life enough to go out looking for them. I certainly wouldn’t have thought I’d actually come across someone I wanted to know better at that ball. I almost didn’t attend because I have no use for the political aspects of that type of event. It was the masquerade aspect that appealed to me, though, and I knew I’d be able to hide if it was too much.”

“We create our own destiny,” Stiles says, glad that Derek did decide to attend the masquerade because he really can’t think of how much he’d miss Derek if he never met him. Well, he’d have never met him to know he’d miss him, but it still makes sense in his head. “Fate is just something people can blame or credit when things happen in their lives. What we’re developing between us? It’s taking time, effort, and patience. Relationships are hard work if you want one to be successful. We’re the ones trying hard to communicate and be honest about shit. We’re the ones taking chances and not letting our stubbornness get the better of us. It’s not destiny working its ass off to make this work. It’s us.”

“I don’t know if Destiny actually has an ass,” Derek muses, smirking slightly when Stiles punches his arm. “I do believe in this soulmate nonsense, as you like to call it, but I also agree that we’re going to have a much more stable relationship because we’re working at building a solid foundation instead of just accepting the mate bond at face value. At the time, it hurt when you refused to even give me a chance, but, looking back, I’m glad you wanted to fall in love as part of the process.”

“Yeah, I might have been overly paranoid and melodramatic about Hale vendettas, but I’m glad I was firm on that stipulation for the negotiations.” Stiles huffs a laugh. “You aren’t too bad at this wooing thing, you know?”

“I’ve only taken you out once. You asked me out for our second date.” Derek snorts. “I haven’t done much wooing at all, really.”

“You woo me every time you make me food or spoon me when we’re sleeping or listen to me when I get in one of my manic moods.” Stiles gets the bag of snacks and starts going through it as they finally reach the interstate and head north towards Oregon. “Not to mention watching bad reality TV with me or making my watch historical documentaries that seem to turn you on. What can I say? I’m easily wooed, I guess.”

“Yeah, well, I’m glad it’s working, even if I’m not doing much of anything,” Derek says. “I’ll arrange a date for us soon, though. I have some ideas in mind. Hand me the bag of grapes, would you? I could use a snack.”

“Grapes aren’t a snack. They’re fruit.” Stiles hands over the bag of grapes. “When you see a convenience store next time, can we stop? I’m thirsty, and I’d like to get out and stretch.”

“Sure. I might fill up the gas tank, too. We’ve only used about half a tank, but better safe than sorry.” Derek takes a handful of grapes and pops one into his mouth. “Grapes are good for thirst, you know? You can have some, if you want.”

Stiles takes some of the grapes and munches on them as they listen to the radio. Thank God for satellite is all he can think because he isn’t sure they’d get many station options where they are now. It takes nearly ten miles before they come across an exit with a gas station. While they’re stopped, Stiles goes ahead and uses the toilet since he knows he’s probably going to need to soon anyway. He buys a bottle of water, showing it off to Derek even as he hides the Snickers that he also bought. Derek just rolls his eyes and buys a bottle of water, too, and he totally grabs a Payday without any shame.

“I need to do another round of research,” Stiles declares in a lofty tone after he walks over to where Derek’s pumping the gas. He leans up and kisses him, moving his arms around his head and gripping his hair as he deepens the kiss. He hears someone catcall and honk, but he can ignore them easily when Derek’s tongue is licking into his mouth.

“Well?” Derek asks when they separate, lips a little swollen because Stiles really gets into research.

“Not enough data to be conclusive.” Stiles winks before he gets into the driver’s seat. “My turn to drive.”

“Don’t touch the radio. I can handle classic rock, but there’s no way I’m listening to pop music all the way to Oregon,” Derek warns. “I’ll turn it off first.”

“How about the 2k station? It’s old music, so your bitter old fogey heart can be content, but it’s still stuff from a generation that I was actually alive in. And my parents were alive in.” Stiles actually enjoys classic rock and even the oldies stuff, but he likes more modern music, too. Hell, he likes most music so long as he can sing along to it. “C’mon. It’ll be music from your childhood. That’s cool, isn’t it?”

“Music during my childhood basically sucked.” Derek laughs. “Not a good argument. But we can try it, I guess. If I hear any boy bands or Britney, we’re turning on the 70s station so I can get bubblegum pop out of my head, though.”

“You know you were totally a NSync fan and probably even knew the whole Bye Bye Bye dance since you’re such a great dancer,” Stiles teases, watching as Derek’s ears turn red. “Wait. Seriously? You are totally dancing for me now, you know that, I hope?”

“No way.” Derek finishes with the gas and gets into the passenger seat. Stiles turns the car on, twisting the stereo knob until he’s at the right station. He can hear Maroon 5 playing, so he figures that’s not really a boy band. “Laura and Cora forced me to learn it because they’re evil. I forgot the dance moves, obviously.”

“Sure you did. It’s all good. I bet Laura’s got it on video, and I’d rather see an adorable little Derek dancing anyway.” Stiles smirks because he’s totally already texted Laura to send him the video. Texting and driving is totally bad and wrong, but Stiles feels his need to see Derek dancing to NSync is worth splitting his concentration briefly.

“Oh, so you want to play like that, Stiles?” Derek slowly smiles. “Alright then. I can’t wait to see the videos that Scott told me about yesterday when I was at the clinic. I got to hear all about a sixth grade talent show while I was petting the dogs. About how someone decided that performing a scene from The Full Monty, of all movies, would be the perfect way to get Lydia’s attention, and instead it got the two of you suspended for a week.”

“That’s so wrong. Scotty’s totally broken the bro code. I’ll have to have a serious talk with him when we get back to town,” Stiles says, grinning anyway. “And, hey, it did get Lydia’s attention. I was pretty well developed, if you know what I mean, for a twelve year old. We might have been rushed off stage before we got our underwear off, but she totally looked at me for a couple of months after that. If I’d just done it two or three years later, I might have had a better chance. Alas, she’s better off as my partner in crime and world domination partner than a significant other anyway.”

“I just can’t believe the teachers didn’t realize what you might be doing when you chose that song,” Derek tells him. “I mean, there are some songs that just make you think about stripping. You Can Leave Your Hat On is totally old-school get it on music at its best.”

“Yeah, it’s like Pony. I can’t not see Channing Tatum’s abs when I hear that song now.” Stiles snickers. “Not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily. Just I can understand what you mean.”

“Hmph. He isn’t that great,” Derek mutters. “His wife did better dancing to it on that Lip Sinc show Cora loves.”

“Oh! Yes, oh my God, I’d totally be happy in the middle of that sandwich,” Stiles agrees, nodding eagerly. “I’d even let you watch, so you wouldn’t feel left out.”

“As if I’d ever agree to let anyone else fuck you.” Derek laughs. “Sorry, babe, but I don’t share.”

“Eh, I wouldn’t either, but they could totally be our freebies.” Derek looks confused at the term. “Kira and Malia have a list of people they can fuck if ever given the choice without jealousy and shit,” Stiles says. “We could have Channing and Jenna on our list.”

“No lists.” Derek shakes his head. “Not even random celebrities we’ll never meet. I’m not about to risk the possibility that you would somehow run into them and get into their pants if you had blanket permission to do so.”

“Nah, I mean, I’m all for people exploring whatever works for their relationships and their sexuality, but I’m more of a monogamous kind of guy myself. Now, people watching us fuck? Totally doesn’t bother me, but it’s not something I’d make an effort to do.”

“I never would have guessed that you had a kink for having sex where you might get caught,” Derek says dryly. “Like your dad’s office, a house viewing with my sister just upstairs knowing what we were doing no matter how quiet we were, the alley behind Luna while people are walking past not a hundred feet away from where you’re blowing me…never would have suspected you enjoyed that.”

“You enjoy it, too.” Stiles smiles. “Always an active participant, and you’re the one who dropped to his knees during the house tour. Not me.”

“You’re just a bad influence,” Derek says primly. “I’ve never been into it before, not until you.”

“You mean a good influence.” Stiles turns the station and raises the volume on the radio when he hears a song start playing that he probably should be ashamed to even know by heart but, well, he isn’t really shamed easily. “The best influence ever.” He starts to sing along, knowing all the words, even looking at Derek to croon a few lyrics of ‘I’ll Be’, much to Derek’s eye-rolling but laughing pleasure. Stiles is awesome. He knows it, and Derek totally can’t deny it.

They end up stopping in Medford for an early dinner. Stiles chooses a place solely based on the name because he isn’t able to resist Kaleidoscope since it makes him think of Jackson’s comment about Derek’s eyes. It’s a pizzeria and pub, and the pizza turns out to be pretty good. Crispy thin crust but chewy middle that makes them easily devour two larges between them. Since Derek’s driving the rest of the way to the Newport area, Stiles has a beer to go with his pizza. While one beer isn’t going to even give him a buzz, he doesn’t really support the drinking and driving thing now that he’s a deputy. He took a lot of risks with other people’s lives when he’d go get drunk in the preserve as a teenager, and he isn’t going to be a hypocrite when he tells the younger pack members not to follow his former example.

Conversation flows easily, broken up occasionally by the radio and impromptu karaoke sessions. Derek even joins in, and Stiles knows he’s going to make sure they attend one of the karaoke events at Luna in the future because he can’t wait to get Derek on stage to see if he just stands there singing or actually adds the moves, too. He’s betting on the latter, considering Derek’s even moving in the car seat a little bit while singing along. Stiles just wants to know for certain that he’s guessing correctly, so, yeah, definitely some karaoke in their future.

It’s a little after eight by the time they get past Newport and arrive at the bed and breakfast. Fortunately, Derek explained when he made the reservation that they’d be driving in from out of state, so they have instructions on where to find the key and how to enter the property. It isn’t as late as they expected, but no one is downstairs, so they follow the instructions to get their key. Stiles has never stayed somewhere like this before, and it’s pretty interesting. Almost like staying in someone’s house, if he knew someone who lived in a huge historical home right on the coast with great views of the ocean. It really is a beautiful place, and he’s glad that Cora sent them those vouchers. They both needed time away from Beacon Hills to just talk and get to know each other even better.

Their room isn’t what Stiles expects. He looks around curiously, seeing the champagne and chocolates on the bed, and a large antique looking tub right there in the room by the large windows that overlook the beach. “Wow.” Stiles glances at Derek. “Why is there a tub in the bedroom? Is that some rich person thing?”

“This, uh, actually,” Derek starts then smiles sheepishly. “Since we were so late making reservations, they only had the honeymoon suite available. Obviously, I didn’t tell them we were newlyweds, but I did accept the room. I’m guessing the tub is there for, what do you call it, sexy times?”

“Honeymoon suite, huh?” Stiles snorts. “Well, technically, I guess it’s accurate since we’re werewolf married, but that isn’t official or anything yet. Whatever. It’s a great room, and that balcony is amazing. And there will definitely be some sexy times in that bathtub. Do they have…ah ha! They do. There’s bubble bath provided.” He looks at Derek and waggles his eyebrows. “Want to take a bubble bath, babe?”

“Maybe later,” Derek says, putting their bags down by the bed. “Right now, I wouldn’t mind a walk on the beach. I know it’s getting dark, but we’ve been stuck in the car for hours, so a walk and fresh air sounds really good.”

“Sure. We can go for a walk. The ocean smells nice, and a moonlit walk on the beach is all romantic and shit.” Stiles grins. “Don’t forget the key.”

“I’ve got it in my pocket.” Derek follows him out of their room, and they go downstairs, leaving through the back door that backs up to the beach. There’s a nice little courtyard area with a few tables set up, but no one is at them. They open the gate and boom. Beach!

“I want to take my shoes and socks off. I’d rather walk barefoot on the sand,” he decides, leaning against Derek as he gets his shoes then socks off. He leaves them by the inside of the gate, knowing they’ll be safe because no one will want to steal his old shoes.

“You’d better not cut your feet,” Derek mutters, shaking his head as Stiles just grins at him. “I’m not carrying you back if you do.”

“Sure you would.” Stiles hooks his arm through Derek’s as they walk towards the ocean. He inhales the scent of salty sea air, smiling as he feels himself already starting to relax, which is great considering he hasn’t even really felt stressed today. “Anyway, you’ve got super-duper eyesight so just use your wolfy senses to make sure I don’t step on anything that can cut my feet.”

“You’re such an ass.” Derek huffs a laugh, tugging him closer and stealing a kiss as the water laps at their feet. Stiles shivers as the cold water rushes over his bare skin, but at least his shoes aren’t getting wet like Derek’s must be.

Stiles pulls back from the kiss. “The squishy sand is kind of gross between my toes, but at least my shoes are dry.”

“I brought another pair because I knew we’d be on the ocean.” Derek ghosts his lips across Stiles’ mouth. “Thank you for suggesting this. I didn’t realize how much I needed to just get away and have you all to myself for a couple of days.”

“Hey, it was totally selfish, so don’t give me too much credit. I thought we could both use a break from Beacon Hills.” Stiles takes Derek’s hand and squeezes it as they start walking down the beach, staying on the wet sand. “I mean, we’ve had time alone, obviously, but my pack can drop in at any time, and I know it can’t be easy moving into my space, especially when I get bitchy about something being moved or things being too crowded.”

“You definitely have your bitchy moments,” Derek agrees, dragging his thumb over Stiles’ knuckles. “But so do I. I’m glad you’ve been sleeping better this week, though. It was difficult watching you deal with the nightmares and insomnia last week without being able to help.”

“Eh, you helped. I sleep better since you started sharing my bed than I have in years.” Stiles smiles. “The nightmares cycle, so I don’t really even pay much attention to them anymore.”

“I get it. I haven’t had any in a while, but I don’t really pay special attention when I do anymore because it’s just part of life.” Derek presses his lips against Stiles’ jaw. “You know, I forgot to tell you when you got home, but I did go ahead and buy that building we looked at last week. I think it’ll be a good business decision, and my sisters can use two of the lofts while we work on rebuilding.”

“Wow. I like how casually you say you just bought an entire building.” Stiles laughs. “Like most people would talk about buying a sack of potatoes or something. It’s the place with that penthouse loft Laura liked, isn’t it? You were talking about it last night when I was dozing.”

“Yes. I already let her know about it, so she said that she and Cora might just take a place there, since so many of the units are vacant right now.” Derek shrugs. “I like having a safe space for them. I figured you might be willing to put up some wards around the property, if I asked nicely.”

“I can do that for sure.” Stiles nods. “It seems like a solid building. It just needs some repairs, but nothing too major. How many tenants are actually still there? Damn, you realize that makes you a landlord now, don’t you?”

“Three of the ten units are rented. I’ll work with someone next week to get the minor repairs done, and I’m thinking that means that my sisters will be able to move down in a couple of weeks or whenever they’re ready.” Derek smiles. “I actually put extra down on that one and the two bedroom near you so they would be willing to sign the closing paperwork sooner rather than waiting for a thirty day minimum. My pack wants to get down here.”

“Money talks,” Stiles says simply. “I’ll be glad for your pack to get here, though. I hope that helps make you a little less bored while waiting for projects. Though, I guess the whole landlord thing is going to be a project, too.”

“I’ll be hiring a building manager,” Derek tells him. “Someone who can do minor repairs and handle the tenants. I don’t want to get bogged down with that kind of thing. I just know it seems like a profitable income property with a little bit of investment into fixing it up, and I never mind making money.”

“I’m glad because I make enough to get by but there’s no way we’re supporting three or more potential kids on my salary,” Stiles teases, leaning in for a kiss when they stop to watch the dark ocean waves.

“Or more?” Derek snorts. “We’ll be lucky to get three out of Laura, gift or not. For any others, we’ll have to adopt or surrogate with someone else.”

“Laura might have twins or even more, though. In vitro has a tendency to product multiple births, but, uh, you might not want to tell her that.” Stiles shakes his head. “Not that we’re going to be ready for kids anytime soon. I mean, I’ve never even thought they were a possibility for me, unless I adopted, and I know I’d rather not have any until we’ve had a chance to travel and be together on our own for a few years.”

“You’ve been giving it a lot of thought, haven’t you?” Derek is smiling, and Stiles doesn’t have to see him clearly to know his eyes are crinkly. “Aren’t you going to say this is all dependent on if you accept the bond?”

“Oh please. Like we both don’t know that I’m totally committed now that I’m past the paranoia and initial reservations. We already established that I’m practically a genius, so there’s no way I’m foolish enough to not be all over that,” he motions at Derek, “when I realized you were serious. Besides, you’re also a total adorkable sexy man who gets a lot of my random pop culture references and you’re able to compete with me intellectually. How could I ever resist? No one else is getting confirmation until December 26th, of course, and I’m not saying the whole married thing will be happening any time soon, but we’ve got time for all that to happen whenever it happens. I’m not saying I’m in love yet, either, because it’s still too soon for that, but I am falling. And I think you are, too.”

“I am,” Derek whispers, tracing Stiles’ lip with his thumb. “Harder than I ever expected. You continue to surprise me, Stiles Stilinski. Whenever I think I might have you figured out, you just come out and knock me on my ass.”

“What can I say? I like keeping you on your toes.” Stiles nips at the tip of Derek’s thumb, scraping his teeth against it. “You know, I’ve seen movies where the leads are rolling around on the beach having passionate sex, but I can’t imagine how when this wet sand really feels gross against my bare skin.”

“We’ll buy you some beach shoes tomorrow morning so you don’t have to spend the whole day griping about weird sandy feelings,” Derek says, moving his arm around Stiles’ shoulders as they walk. “It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it really is. Getting cooler, but still tolerable.” Stiles looks at the sky overhead. “The stars are bright tonight. It’s so quiet, too. Like we’re the only people even around.”

“I’m not complaining about that,” Derek admits. “It’ll probably be more crowded tomorrow, but it’s almost October, so the beaches won’t be that packed or anything, at least. Are you getting cold?”

“Nah, I’m good. It’s nice feeling so much nature around me here. It’s making my skin tingle and my magic hum.” He smiles as he stops walking by a piece of driftwood. “Give me a minute.”

“Alright.” Derek watches him as he closes his eyes and reaches out with his magic, making the connection and feeling the power surging through his veins. Stiles opens his eyes and focuses on the piece of wood, moving his hand above it, waiting and watching as a spark strikes. Slowly, the spark ignites, and it’s soon burning and providing them warmth.

“Thank you,” he whispers to the magic and nature around him, sending out gratitude into the space around him. “There. Now we can warm up.”

“That’s the first time I’ve seen you use your magic,” Derek whispers, stroking his face. “It’s different than some of the other emissaries I’ve known. It’s a natural gift, isn’t it?”

“I had a spark, from what Deaton told me, and I had to study to learn how to tap into the magic around me. I also had to learn how to control it, to channel it properly. It took me years, but I’m pretty good now.” Stiles shrugs. “Unfortunately, it’s somewhat limited. I can’t do most of the cool tricks that Harry Potter can do, but I’m good working with nature and persuading nature to work with me usually.”

“You’re the amazing one, you know? After everything you went through with the possession and everything that happened, you’re still so pure of heart that nature works with you.” Derek shakes his head. “There might be darkness in your head, but it isn’t in your heart.”

“I hope you’re right.” Stiles bites his bottom lip. “Sometimes I worry that I’ll lose control again, that it’ll just take over and I’ll lose myself. I think it’s probably an irrational fear, but sometimes it seems so real when I dream about it.”

“Nightmares have a way of doing that to us, making us think what we fear most.”

“Yeah, they do.” Stiles looks at Derek’s face by the firelight. “You’re beautiful, you know? I mean, not just the face, which totally is, but just you.”

“Why don’t we save the rest of the beach walk for tomorrow?” Derek kisses him softly. “We can go back to the room and try out that huge bathtub now, if you want.” He kisses Stiles in between every word.

“I want.” Stiles reaches up to grip Derek’s hair, bringing him down so he can get a real kiss. Not one of those soft teasing kisses that he enjoys but aren’t nearly enough. He licks into Derek’s mouth, moaning when he feels Derek’s hands on his ass, squeezing and pulling him closer. “You and the bubble bath. Or maybe you in the bubble bath.”

“Yeah, that sounds good.” Derek suddenly picks him, carrying him bridal style. “I can walk faster without you grumbling about sticky wet feet in dry sand.”

“Don’t lie. You just want to carry me to show off your manly strength because you know it turns me on.” Normally, Stiles would probably protest at being carried around, but his feet really do feel dirty in a gross sticky way, and he’s tired after a long afternoon and evening of driving. He’s going to just let Derek win this one without putting up a fight.

“You caught me,” Derek deadpans. “I’m just trying to turn you on with my strong muscles.”

“It’s working.” Stiles laughs when Derek just rolls his eyes. “I can’t wait to get back home and tell Allison how romantic our weekend getaway is with moonlit walks on the beach, carrying me back to the room, bubble baths, and champagne. She’ll be so jealous. Also, for the record, my research is starting to lean in favor of Derek Kisses outweighing Cheesy Yumminess of Cheetos.”

“I think I can support that research conclusion. By the way, gloating isn’t an attractive quality,” Derek points out. “It’s not Scott’s fault that he isn’t as romantic as I am.”

Stiles snorts. “You’re just a big old sap underneath the sardonic asshole exterior. Fortunately, I’m finding out that I don’t mind indulging in a little sap once in a while. I think we’ve both been through our own versions of Hell in our lives, so we deserve silly romance occasionally.”

“You know that you don’t have to justify whether you deserve to be romanced or not, right?” Derek kisses his forehead. “Everyone deserves to be loved and taken care of, but it’s up to each individual if that’s something that would make them happy or not.”

“I know. It’s just…this isn’t something I ever expected in my future,” he admits. “The relationship and falling in love and all the romantic shit that seems so cliché and easy to be cynical about until you’re the one experiencing it. Sometimes I feel like you deserve better than a sarcastic asshole with darkness in the corners of his mind who doesn’t know how to handle being someone’s priority. Or how to balance his life so he doesn’t become a selfish jerk focused so much on himself and his own issues that he takes you for granted.”

“Hey, I never expected it, either. Hoped for it one day, sure, but I was resigned to being lonely until I reached a point when it was too much and just made me decide to put myself out there.” Derek sighs. “I don’t deserve better, Stiles. Even if you somehow think I do, for whatever twisted reason you’ve thought up, I don’t want anyone except you. True mate or not, I’m falling for you. Sarcastic asshole and all.”

“You say the sweetest things,” Stiles murmurs, nuzzling Derek’s neck and listening to his breath catch when he feels Stiles’ lips against his skin. Oh yeah. The neck thing totally goes both ways for his boyfriend. They reach the bed and breakfast gate, and Stiles is back on his own two feet again. He wipes off his feet before grabbing his shoes. He smiles at Derek as he takes his hand, squeezing it as they go back inside. “Come on, Prince Charming. Our bubble bath and champagne awaits.”