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The Things We Learn

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Derek took a deep breath in, smelling the air around him. It was a beautiful day out. The sky was blue, only a couple white clouds around. The trees were a vibrant green, swaying in the slight breeze. The sound of laughter and families was heard all around the park.

Derek smiled at it all, before starting off at a jog down the running path. He ran for a little ways, looping over to the other end of the forest, before he finally stopped to catch his breath. He held his arms above his head, stretching as he did.

"Dad!" Derek looked up as a little girl cried out. No one else was around this side of the park, Derek remembers seeing people maybe 100 yards back up the path. He stepped closer to the girl, crouching so he was closer to her height.

"Hey sweetie, are you okay?" She looked a little scared, but so far no tears.

"I-I can't find my daddy."

"Okay. Where'd you see him last?"

"I don't know. W-we were having a picnic, and I wanted to explore. I don't where he is." Aaand tears were starting to show.

"Okay, sweetie, it's okay. I can help you find him. My name's Derek, what's yours?"

"Jenna."

"Okay Jenna, I'm going to help you find your dad. Is that okay?" She nodded, reaching out for Derek's hand. Derek allowed her to, her little hand almost being swallowed by his. Derek walked back in the direction he came from, back towards where he saw the people. He tried to use scent to track her dad, but there were so many scents on the little girl alone, Derek didn't know which one to follow.

"So how old are you?"

"I'm six. How old are you?" Derek smirked.

"I'm thirty-seven." Jenna nodded, swaying their jointed hands back and forth.

"How was your picnic going?"

"Good. Daddy packed oreos, and caprisuns!"

"Is that so?"

"Mmhm, and he knows those are my favorite. I can't wait to get some." Derek smiled. He kept up the small talk as they walked, wanting to keep her mind off of things. It worked. Derek was relieved when they got to the little clearing he remembered seeing a family or two. He was sure Jenna's dad was going out of his mind at this point.

"Alright Jenna, does this look familiar?" She looked around, her eyes squinting.

"I don't know... Everything's green." Derek chuckled.

"Ya. Um, do you see your dad?"

"No."

"What's your dad's name?"

"Stiles." Derek didn't comment, just lifted an eyebrow.

"Alright. Maybe we can try calling him."

"Okay." Derek nodded, looking around.

"Stiles!" A couple people looked up, but no-one answered. Derek decided to look around the park, walking away from the path.

"Stiles!"

"Daddy!" They called a couple more times, before Derek sighed.

"I don't think he's over here." Jenna's shoulders sagged, her bottom lip starting to tremble.

"Are we gonna find him?" Derek knelt down in front of her, grabbing both of her hands in his.

"Of course we are, sweetie. Do you know his phone number, maybe we ca-"

"Jen!" Derek looked up as Jenna's name was called out.

"Daddy!" A man came running over to them, scooping Jenna up in his arms. Derek was almost certain that Jenna lost all access to oxygen in that moment.

"Bożena Claudia Stilinski, don't you ever do that to me again! I thought I lost you! Do you know how worried I was? I almost called Dziadek to bring out the dogs and swat team."

"I'm sorry, Tatuś. I didn't mean to scare you. But Derek helped me find you, and I'm okay." Jenna's father looked up at Derek from where he was crouching, almost as if he just realized Derek was there. He stood up, still holding Jenna in his arms.

"You helped her?" Derek nodded, his voice suddenly not working. Stiles was beautiful.

"Thank you." Derek shrugged.

"I was just trying to help."

"Still. I'm Stiles Stilinski." Derek shook Stiles' offered hand.

"Derek Hale." Stiles just looked at him for a moment, before looking over to Jenna.

"I think this was enough excitement for one day, kiddo. Let's say you and I head home, huh?" Jenna pouted a little, but didn't argue. Stiles pressed a kiss to her head, and Derek noticed his hands were still shaking. Derek took a step back, wanting to give them their time. He can tell that Stiles is still sort of panicking and just needs to hold his daughter for a while.

"I should get going." Stiles looked at him, giving him a polite smile.

"Thanks again, Derek." Derek smiled back, stepping farther away.

"Sure."

"Bye Derek." She waved at him, her head resting on her father's shoulder.

"Bye Jenna." He gave another nod, before heading back to the running path. He looked back one more time before leaving though. Stiles was holding Jenna close, obviously trying to calm his breathing. Derek sighed, continuing his run. He cut it a little shorter than usual though, not really in the mood for a run anymore.

Chapter Text

Derek looked at the cereal boxes in his hands, trying to decide which one to buy. Which one would the pack like better? Derek shrugged, throwing both into the basket. He sighed, continuing down the aisle. He did a mental checklist of the things he still needed to pick up, mapping out the quickest way to get them and get out.

He was just about to head over to the milk, when a high pitched squeal caught his attention. A bundle of brown crazy curls came tumbling at him, crashing into his legs. Derek didn't even have time to react.

"Derek!" Derek blinked, holding his arms out by his side. "Uh..." "I though I'd never see you again. But here you are, and I'm seeing you."
"Uh, ya... Hi." Jenna pulled back, smiling up at him.
"Hi Derek." Derek pulled her back, kneeling down in front of her. "Sweetie, where is your father?" "Jenna!" Jenna sighed.
"Right there." Jenna's exasperated reaction would have been comical in any other situation.

Stiles came jogging into the aisle, his worried eyes on Jenna. They flickered over to Derek though, looking more apprehensive. "Jenna, come here princess." Jenna grumbled, walking over to her father.

Derek stood up, straightening out his leather jacket where Jenna ruffled it. "What have I told you about running off?" Jenna's shoulders sagged, letting out a large sigh.
"That it's dangerous and I'm not allowed to."
"Exactly. And the same goes to talking to strangers."
"But Derek isn't a stranger! He's my friend!"
"Sweetie-"
"No!" Jenna pushed away from her father, running back into Derek's legs. Derek instinctively put a hand on her back, looking at Stiles with worried eyes.

The father looked absolutely lost, and overwhelmed. Derek knelt in from of Jenna, the little girl pushing herself into his chest. Derek put an arm around her, her tiny body looking even smaller next to him.
"Jenna, your dad is right. You can't go running off, it's very unsafe. You got lucky, cause as strangers go, I'd like to think I'm not so bad. But there's a lot of bad people out there, and they're not going to help you find your dad."

"But you're not like that. I wouldn't have run off if I didn't see you."
"Okay. Well how about next time you ask your dad if you can come see me. Then you won't give him a heart attack, okay?" Jenna nodded, looking a little ashamed.
"Sorry daddy, I didn't mean to scare you. I just wanted to see Derek." Stiles looked a little better, even if he did keep eyeing Derek's arm around his daughter.

"Thank you, sweetie. Next time please ask."
"Yes, sir." Derek stood, Jenna still holding onto his leg. It didn't look like she was quite satisfied with her time with Derek yet, but Stiles still looked uneasy about Derek's presence. "Sweatheart, I think your dad's got places to be. I don't want you guys held up on my account." Jenna shook her head, burrowing almost impossibly closer into Derek's bubble. "We've got nothing planned all day." Derek sighed, this was going to be difficult.
"Well I still think it's time to say goodbye." Derek could smell the hysterics before he saw it happen. She started squeezing Derek's legs tighter, her face getting red, and tears starting to form.

"No! I don't wanna say goodbye! No!" Derek stood with wide eyes, before finally kneeling so he was at Jenna's height. Stiles looked like he wanted to jump in, but they both knew it'd probably only make things worse.

Derek tried to signal to Stiles what he was about to do next, asking for permission. Stiles seemed to catch on, hesitating only slightly before nodding. Derek put a hand on Jenna's back, trying to pull her away from where she hid in his chest. "Okay, okay. We don't have to say goodbye yet. How about we finish our shopping together, okay?" Jenna paused her crying at that, sniffling a little.

"O-okay, that sounds good. Can I sit in your cart?" Derek gave her a small smile. "As long as it's okay with your dad." Jenna turned to her dad, full force puppy dog eyes. Stiles still looked a little emotional from Jenna's outburst, but still managed a small laugh at her antics. "Yes, its fine." Jenna cheered, Derek lifting her into the basket.

He pushed the cart over to Stiles, giving the man a small smile. Stiles returned it, but Derek could smell Stiles' concern still. Derek didn't think he was going to win Stiles over anytime soon.

"I left my cart over by the milk." Stiles pointed over his shoulder, in said direction. Derek nodded, pushing the cart. "Perfect. I was just about to head that way."

Jenna rambled while they shopped, keeping a constant conversation going between her and Derek. Well, a one sided conversation, seeing as how Derek couldn't get a word in edge wise. The wolf shared an exasperated look with her father, not knowing what to do with all the words being thrown that him. Stiles just smirked, going about his shopping like he didn't notice anything. Derek playfully glared.

"Derek, did you eat lunch yet?" Derek startled out of his thoughts, returning his attention back to the little girl in his shopping cart. "Uh, no."
"You should come eat lunch with us."
Stiles went to protest, but Derek got there first.
"I would love to, sweetie. But my family is expecting me back with the food."

Jenna pouted for a second, but seemed to get distracted by something else. "You have a family?"
"Jenna, of course ha has a family. Don't be intrusive." Jenna stuck her tongue out at her father, Stiles returning the gesture.

Derek laughed at their antics, shaking his head fondly. "Yes, I do have a family. And they take their food very seriously."
"What are they like?" Stiles looked like he wanted to combat Jenna's question again, but Derek just waved him off.
"They're a mess. They're loud, and obnoxious, and always in my business. But I love them."

Derek noticed Stiles was looking at him, but Derek couldn't decipher the expression on his face. "Can you come to lunch tomorrow?" Derek was again startled by her change in topic.

"Uh, I have work tomorrow, but I'm free the day after. If it's okay with your dad, of course." Both Jenna and Derek looked Stiles. The younger male looked uncomfortable under the attention, his eyes flickering back and forth between Jenna and Derek. Finally they landed on Derek, the two of them holding eye contact.

It was Derek's turn to feel uncomfortable under the scrutiny of Stiles' stare. Whatever Stiles was looking for, he must have found it. He slowly nodded, looking away from Derek.
"That's fine. We can meet at Mary's at twelve, that okay?"

Derek nodded, smiling minutely. "Ya, that's great." Jenna squealed, clapping her hands together. "Yay!" Derek chuckled, ruffling her hair. She squealed again, pushing Derek's hands away. Her tiny glare was adorable, causing Derek to laugh again.

They finished their shopping, checking out. At the door, it was kind of awkward. Neither men knowing how to say goodbye. Jenna saved the day, of course. She threw herself at Derek's legs, something Derek was becoming alarmingly familiar with. "Bye Derek, see you on Saturday."

Derek patted her back, allowing himself a small smile. "See you then, sweetie." Derek looked up, sharing a look with her father. "Goodbye, Stiles." He gave Derek a friendly smile, one that Derek couldn't decide if it was genuine or not. "Bye, Derek. C'mon Jenna, let's go put the groceries in the car and head home."

Jenna let go of Derek's legs, giving the wolf a final wave, before grabbing her father's hand in hers. Derek watched them walk away, a pulling in his chest. He shook his head, as if to shake off the feeling, and headed to his own car. Laura and Erica were going to have a field day with this.

Chapter Text

It took Derek way longer to get out the door than he expected, and it wasn't his fault at all. Erica followed him around the entire time he was getting ready, asking him questions and generally making fun of him. Surprisingly, it was Laura who saved him, telling Erica to leave him alone. Derek eyed Laura skeptically, but continued getting ready.

Derek was right to be skeptical, cause as soon as Erica left the room, Laura took her spot. Derek huffed, rolling his eyes. He patted his pockets, making sure he had everything. When he decided that he did, he made his way to the door.

"Have fun on your date!" Derek growled at his sisters, slamming the front door behind him.
He was only a couple minutes late, which ruined his plan of being a couple minutes early. Damn sisters.

Stiles and Jenna were already at a booth, Jenna spotting him as he walked towards them. Her arms flailed, nearly knocking over her chocolate milk. Stiles caught it with skilled hands though. Derek shook his head, getting the thought of Stiles' hands out if head.

"Derek! I ordered you chocolate milk! Daddy said it was rude to order for you, and that you might not like chocolate milk. But like, who doesn't like chocolate milk?! That's a sin!"

Derek chuckled, sliding into the booth, sitting across from the little family.
"Chocolate milk just so happens to be my favorite drink. So thank you."
Jenna stuck her tongue out at her father, Stiles rolling his eyes.

Derek chuckled, Stiles' eyes flickering over to him. Derek's breath caught in his throat momentarily. He cleared his throat, sitting up a little straighter.
"Sorry I was a little late, my sisters wouldn't let me out the door."

Stiles scoffed, shaking his head a little.
"Derek, you were 5 minutes late. We're not going to behead you for it."
Derek smiled, lowering his head.
The stutter in Stiles' heart beat made him look back up, but Stiles' attention was already on Jenna.

"Daddy, look at my wolf! I made it blue and orange!" Stiles smiled, running his hand through Jenna's hair.
"It's beautiful, baby."
"Do you like it, Derek?" Jenna asked, pushing the piece of paper towards him.

Derek picked it up, squinting his eyes to make it seem like he was scrutinizing every detail of the drawing. He hummed, scratching at his chin. The stubble there scratching against his fingers.

He glanced over at Jenna. She was leaned closer to him, eyes wide, waiting for his answer. He hid his smirk, placing the paper back on the table.
"This is the most exquisite piece of art I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of art in my life."

Jenna's eyes widened, slowly taking the paper pack. "Really?"
Derek nodded, smiling at her. She squinted at him, folding her arms. "What makes you an expert?"

Derek leaned closer, as if telling a secret. Jenna did too, eyes still squinted. "I'm the art curator at the museum. So all I do all day is look at art." Jenna gasped, pulling at Stiles' sleeve.
"Dad! Did you hear that? Derek is a prefessional art watcher and he said mine is the most amazing he's ever seen!"

Stiles smiled at her, his eyes crinckeling at the corner. "I did hear. That's amazing, baby." Jenna's face was bright, the little girl jumping in her seat. Derek smiled too, happy he made her that excited.

The waitress came over to the table, smiling at them. "You guys ready to order?" Stiles and Derek both nodded, the waitress taking down their orders.
"Alright, I'll be right out with them."
"Thank you."

Derek's attention returned to Jenna, the little girl continuing to color. Derek noticed how much blue and orange she was using, smirking a little. "You better be a Mets fan to like blue and orange that much." Derek watched Jenna's eyes go wide, momentarily stopping in her coloring.

"I love the Mets! They're my favorite team! Daddy and I watch every game together. Sometime Papa joins us, if he's not working. Do you like the Mets?" Derek smiled at Jenna's word vomit, but nodded to her question.

"I am a Mets fan. I lived in New York for a little bit with my sister, they kind of won me over." Jenna's eyes got comically wider, pulling at Stiles' shirt sleeve again. "Daddy, Derek's a Mets fan! Did you ever go to a game?"

Derek nodded, taking a sip of his chocolate milk. "My sister surprised me with tickets once. It was a great game, we won." Jenna sighed, basically sprawling herself over Stiles. "I wish I could go to a game. But we live sooo far."

Derek smirked as Stiles rolled his eyes, giving Derek a 'see what I deal with' face. Derek took another sip of his drink to hide his smile. "Maybe you'll go one day. The Mets aren't going anywhere." Jenna sighed at Derek's words, Stiles patting her head.

The waitress came back with their food, smiling at them. "Alright, here you are." Derek sat back so she could put the plates down, his eyes wandering to Stiles. The other male was attending to his daughter. Making sure she could reach, putting a napkin in her lap, moving the coloring stuff aside. He moved with such ease, concentrated on what he was doing yet listening to Jenna speak without any trouble.

Derek shook himself out of his thoughts, picking up his fork.
"You should come watch the next game with us." Derek froze with his fork halfway to his mouth, eyes moving to Jenna.

"Uh-"
"The next game is on Wednesday. You should come over. Daddy can ever make pigs in a blanket! They're sooooo good." Jenna gave him the most hopeful look, Derek almost gave in right then, but he couldn't.

"I can't. Wednesday is girls night."
Stiles raised an eyebrow at him, an amused smirk on his face.
"Girls night?"
Derek blushed, realising how that sounded.
"My sisters go out on Wednesdays, and I babysit my nephew." Derek couldn't read the facial expression that Stiles was sporting, but it made Derek's heart stutter.

"You have a nephew?!" Derek shook his head, putting his attention back on Jenna. "Uh yes, I do."
"How come I'm just learning of this?" Derek looked at Stiles for help, but the father just shrugged.
"Uh, he hasn't come up?"
"How old is he? What's his name?"
"His name's Daniel, and he's five."
"I'm older than him!" Derek and Stiles chuckled at her.

The rest of breakfast went like that, Jenna asking questions, telling stories, just generally rambling. Derek got to sneak bites of food in when she wasn't asking questions, so he didn't mind. Finally Jenna yawned, about half of her food still left. Stiles noticed too, shaking his head fondly.

"I think it's someone's nap time."
Jenna stuck her bottom lip out in a pout, but otherwise didn't argue. Derek chuckled, waving down the waitress.

"Y'all doing okay?"
"We're doing great, thank you. Can we get the checks and a to go box please?"
"Sure thing, I'll be right back with those."

Derek turned back to the little family, smiling at how Jenna was almost down for the count. Her eyes were droopy, and she was heavily leaning against Stiles' arm. She's adorable.

"I'm going to go to the bathroom real quick. If she comes back can you hand her my card?" Stiles nodded, taking the debit card from Derek.
"Yeah, sure."
"Thank you."

By the time Derek got back, Stiles had Jenna's food packed into the box, while Jenna had moved to Stiles' lap. Derek slid back into the booth, smiling at Stiles as the other male handed him back his card.

"Thank you, for meeting us. You didn't have to give into some little girl you don't even know, and yet you did. She had a great time, and you made her smile. So thank you."
Derek shook his head.
"You don't have to thank me. If anything I should be thanking you. You definitely didn't have to accept a stranger eating a meal with you. I had a great time as well."

Stiles had that look that Derek couldn't read back on his face. He tilted his head slightly, as if trying to figure Derek out. But Derek was trying to do the same exact thing to him.

"You know... If you wanted, you could just bring your nephew with you on Wednesday."
Derek looked at Stiles in disbelief, his mouth slightly agape.
"Really?"
Stiles nodded, giving him a small smile.
"Only if you really want to join us, though. You don't have to feel obligated to come."
Derek shook his head, quick to answer Stiles.
"No, that would be.. That'd be great."

Stiles smiled at him, grabbing one of Jenna's crayons. He scribbled something onto the back of the kids' menu, before ripping it off and handing it to Derek.
"Just text me, and we can talk details."
Derek nodded, carefully folding and sticking the piece of paper into his pocket. "Okay."

Stiles stood, maneuvering Jenna carefully, as to not wake her up. Derek stood too, grabbing Stiles' things for him. They waved to the waitress on their way out, walking in a comfortable silence.

When they got to the blue jeep, Derek stood there as Stiles buckled Jenna into her seat. When he was done, Stiles turned around, smiling at Derek. Derek handed him Jenna's stuff, Stiles giving him a quiet thank you.

"So I'll see you Wednesday then."
Stiles nodded, getting into the jeep.
"See you Wednesday."
Derek watched as they drove off, giving a little wave. He sighed to himself, walking to his car. What the hell was he doing?

Chapter Text

"Come on buddy, we're gonna be late." Derek said, grabbing his nephew's bag. Daniel huffed, but went to follow his uncle.

"Uhuhuh, not so fast. I know you weren't about to leave without saying goodbye to mommy." The five year old's eyes went comically wide as Laura's voice boomed through the room. He ran into his mom's waiting arms, squeezing her tight.

"Of course not, mommy. I was just about to say goodbye."

"I'm sure you were." Laura kissed her son's head, a smile on her face. "Alright, have a good time with Uncle Derek. You better be on you best behavior. What's the rule?"
"No wolfy unless Uncle Derek says it's okay."
"That's my good boy."
"Love you, mommy."
"I love you too, baby. Now go on."

Daniel ran back to Derek, taking his uncle's hand in his. "Have fun using my son to pick up dates, Derek." Derek glared at his sister, flipping her off behind Daniel's back, as they walked out the door.

****

Derek's heart beat nervously in chest, as he knocked on Stiles' apartment door. Daniel hung onto Derek's hand, trying to see how much of his body weight it would take before his uncle would fall. So far he was not successful. Derek smirked at his nephew, just as the door was pulled open.

"Derek!" Jenna flew out of the house, throwing herself at Derek's legs. From the weight of Daniel pulling on him, and Jenna running into him, he did sway a bit, but managed to stay standing.

"Hey, sweetheart."
"You're just in time, Daddy just pulled the pigs in a blanket out of the oven. They're soooo good!" Derek chuckled at her, corralling both kids into the house. They scent of the food wafted through the house, Derek's stomach growling in anticipation.
"I can smell them, they smell delicious." Derek knelt down so he was at the kids' level, smiling as Jenna was almost instantly hanging off of him. "Jenna, this is my nephew, Daniel."

Jenna climbed off of Derek, finally realizing someone else existed other than Derek. She stuck her hand out, like her Daddy taught her.
"Hi Daniel, I'm Jenna." Daniel took her hand in his, shaking it. Derek covered his mouth with his hand, trying not to laugh at the scene. They were too cute.
"Hi Jenna, it's nice to meet you."

Derek noticed Stiles leaning against the wall in the doorway that Derek assumed led to the kitchen. Stiles had a kitchen towel thrown over his shoulder, his arms crossed over his chest, and a smile on his face. The older man felt his heart lurch at how beautiful Stiles looked, doing his best to keep it out of his facial expression. Stiles caught his eye, pushing off of the wall and walking towards them.

"Hey, Derek."
"Hey. Daniel, can you say hi to Mr. Stiles?"
Daniel stepped forward, repeating the hand shanking and the introductions. Stiles smiled at him, having knelt down to his height.
"Just call me Stiles, no need for the formal titles." He said, throwing a wink at the five year old. Derek had to take a couple deep breaths.

Stiles stood back up, waving the group to follow him farther into the apartment. He brought them into the living room, picking up a couple toys as he went.
"Sorry about the mess. I told Jenna to clean up her toys, but obviously she didn't." Jenna smiled sheepishly at the look Stiles sent her. Derek chuckled, waving it off.
"It's fine, I get it. This one is like a tornado in our house." Derek said, poking Daniel in his side a couple of time. Daniel barked out a laugh, squirming away from his uncle.

Derek looked back up in time to catch a hint of a something on Stiles' face as he watched the two Hales, but it was gone before Derek could interpret it. Stiles cleared his throat, taking a couple steps away.
"I'm gonna grab the food. Make yourselves at home. Bo, turn the game on please."

Derek set Daniel's back pack on the floor next to the couch, before sitting down on said couch. He watched as the two kids sat on the floor, Jenna explaining in detail how to work the remote. Derek chuckled, shaking his head fondly. He could hear Stiles moving around the kitchen, the younger man humming to himself as he worked. He could hear all of it. Stiles, the kids playing together, the tv quietly playing in the background. The peacefulness of it all, and the almost domesticity was heavy in the air. It hurt a little, because it resembled something that Derek wanted so bad. He forced himself to shake off those thoughts though, just as Stiles walked back into the room.

Derek stood, grabbing one of the three plates from him. "Here let me help."
"Oh, thank you." Derek just nodded, setting the plate on the coffee table in front of the couch. Both men sat down on the couch, just in time for the guys on tv to stop talking, and for the baseball game to actually start.

It was comical how into the game Jenna got, occasionally throwing yells at the screen. Daniel had never really been into watching sports on tv, too young for it to really catch his attention. But he was right up there with her, yelling when she did. Derek and Stiles shared a look, quietly laughing at the duo.

The Mets won, Jenna raising her arms and letting out a victory cry. Daniel followed suit, the two of them running around the room. The adults let them, amused smiles on their faces. They eventually tired, collapsing on the floor at Stiles and Derek's feet. Jenna looked up from her position on the floor, flailing her arms a bit.

"Tatuś, can Daniel and I go play in my room?"
"Derek only agreed to stay for the game, baby. You can't keep them captive here forever." Both kids looked panicked at the thought of being separated, clinging to each other.
"No, no, no. Please, just a little longer. Pleeaase." Both kids pulled out the puppy dog eyes, laying it on heavy. Stiles looked to Derek, shrugging.

"Up to you, big guy." Derek looked at his watch. The girls weren't due back for another hour and a half, giving them plenty of time. Derek nodded, smiling down at the kids.
"You have an hour. Make the most of it." The kids didn't need to be told twice, zooming off to Jenna's room. That left Derek and Stiles alone, which Derek had not planned for before this moment.

"Thank you." Derek was surprised by Stiles' words, his eyebrows going up in confusion.
"For what?"
"For that, them. Jenna.. Jenna doesn't really have friends, which is probably my fault. But this, today, was really nice for her. So thank you." Derek was again surprised.
"You were the one to invite us, I should be thanking you. This was good for Daniel too. My sister decided to wait another year before putting him into school, so he doesn't interact very much with kids his age." Stiles nodded understandingly, a soft smile on his face.

They continued talking, conversation flowing easily between them. It wasn't nearly as awkward as Derek thought it was going to be. He enjoyed talking to Stiles.
It was about forty minutes later, when Derek realized the kids had gotten awfully quiet. With Daniel, and he was suspecting with Jenna too, that was never a good sign. "You know, I haven't heard anything from the kids in a while." Stile looked towards Jenna's room, eyeing the door suspiciously.
"You are very correct." They both got up, walking down the hall to Jenna's room. Stiles pushed the door open, stopping in the doorway. Derek stood behind him, his eyes searching the room, before falling onto the bed.

Curled up in the middle of Jenna's bed, was Daniel and Jenna. Both of them were out cold, a book in between them, and their hands clasped together. Derek got his phone out, snapping a couple pictures. Stiles smirked at him, tapping Derek's phone. "I want those." He whispered. Derek chuckled, nodding.

He walked over to the bed, carefully picking up Daniel. It would have been easier, but Jenna did not want to let go of his hand, even in her sleep. Stiles helped, gently untangling their fingers. Derek carried Daniel out of the room, Stiles turning off the lights and closing the door behind them.

Stiles scooped up Daniel's back pack as they walked past the couch, Derek sending him a quiet thank you. The younger man walked them out to their car, Derek gently placing Daniel into his car seat and buckling him in. He turned around then, taking the back pack that Stiles held out to him.

"Thank you again, for today. We both had a really nice time, and the food was delicious." Stiles chuckled, bashfully smiling at the ground.
"Well I'm sure it won't be the last you guys are over here. I think this was only the beginning to a great friendship." Derek smiled too, nodding in agreement.

"I hope so," They shared a look, before Derek cleared his throat, stepping closer to the car. "Well, goodnight Stiles."
"Goodnight, Derek."

Derek smiled again, before getting in the car. Hopefully this really was just the beginning.

Chapter Text

Derek was.. happy. How could he not be? It's been about a month since that first Wednesday, and since then, it's become a routine for them. On Wednesdays, Derek and Daniel would head to the Stilinski household. Games didn't always fall on those days, and during that time the four of them found something else to do. Going to the park, watching movies, making cookies, Stiles was good at finding activities for the kids to do. The kids were inseparable.

Although their contact, at least Derek's, wasn't always limited to Wednesdays. Stiles would text him, asking if he would like to join the little family for brunch, or to go to the movie theater, something. Derek didn't care what it was, if he wasn't preoccupied, he always said yes. He liked hanging out with the little family, and that was something he was trying very hard not to read too much into.

He knocked twice on the Stilinki's front door, before pushing it open.

"Derek!" Jenna came barreling at Derek. Said man picked her up as she reached him, throwing her up above his head. She squealed in delight, burrowing into Derek's chest as he caught her.

"Hey, sweetheart. You ready to go?"

"Yes! I'm sooo hungry." Derek chuckled, pressing a kiss to her head.

"Met too. Where's you dad?"

"Right here." Derek looked up from Jenna, Stiles' voice catching his attention, as said man walked towards them. Derek smiled at him, Stiles returning it. It made Derek's breath catch in his throat. The Stiles that stands in front him now, and the guarded Stiles he met over a month ago, are two different people. Both equally beautiful, but god, how that smile took Derek's breath away.

Derek cleared his throat, putting himself back in the present.

"Your car or mine?"

"Do you still have Daniel's seat in your car?"

"Of course."

"Then we can take yours." Derek nodded, lifting Jenna up to sit on his shoulder. She giggled, leaning to rest her chin on the top of Derek's head. Derek turned around, walking out to the door. He missed the look on Stiles' face as he watched the two of them interact.

Derek helped Jenna get buckled into the car seat, Stiles jumping into the passenger seat of the Camaro. Derek got into the driver's seat, not having to ask where they were going. Mary's had become their favorite brunch spot, the staff there knowing them pretty well at this point.

Jenna was already out of her seat when Derek put the car in park, bolting out of the car and into the restaurant. Derek could see Stiles' shoulder tense, a worried look on his face. The younger man quickly got out of the car, following after his daughter. Derek sighed, following after them. Some things never changed.

When Derek walked in he spotted Jenna in a very animated conversation with her favorite waitress at the counter, Stiles watching them from their usual table. Derek joined Stiles, sliding into the booth across from him. He wanted to take the opportunity of Jenna being distracted to talk with Stiles.

"Hey, keep something between us?" Stiles looked away from Jenna, eyes wide in surprise as they met Derek's. Slowly he nodded.

"Of course."

"I've wanted to say something for a bit now, but we haven't had any time alone," Derek chuckled, throwing a look over to Jenna. "We're throwing a surprise birthday party for Daniel next week. It's basically just going to be family, but it'd mean a lot to us if you guys would be there too."

Derek couldn't really decipher what Stiles' face was doing, but it took him a minute to answer. Finally he cleared his throat, sitting up straighter.

"Uh ya, of course. We wouldn't miss little man's birthday for the world." Derek smiled bright, excited for the party already.

"Awesome!"

****

Stiles sighed, putting the car in park in front of Derek's house. Jenna unbuckled herself from her seat, climbing into the front seat. She was basically bouncing with excitement, Daniel's present in hand. Stiles was careful not say anything about the party until they were leaving for it, so Jenna wouldn't run her mouth to Daniel.

"Come on, Bo. We don't wanna be late," Stiles got out of the jeep, Jenna scurrying after him. Stiles chuckled, shaking his head at his daughter's antics. "You know you had your own door, right?"

Jenna looked up at him, an eyebrow raised. "And?"

Stiles laughed, shaking his head again. "Nevermind. C'mon, let's go." He stuck his hand out for Jenna take, his daughter doing so.

Stiles knew that the party was supposed to be out back, but he didn't know if that meant he should head straight back there, or go to the front door first. He decided to do the latter, knocking on the door. Derek opened the door a couple moments later, a bright smile on his face.

"Hey! I'm glad you're here." Derek opened the door wider, waving them in. Jenna went in first, giving Derek a hug, and then demanding to be picked up. Derek just smiled wider, doing as requested. Stiles smiled, poking his daughter in the side as he walked past them, drawing a giggle from her. Derek closed the door, leading Stiles farther into the house.

Derek brought them to a large area, half of it was the kitchen and then opened up into the living room. A couple people were in the kitchen, circled around the island counter. They were busy bickering over a cake, and didn't notice them. Derek gave Stiles a look, rolling his eyes, before letting out a loud whistle. The group looked over to them, their faces breaking out into smiles.

"Guys, this is Stiles, and his daughter Jenna. This is Isaac, Erica, Boyd, and my uncle Peter. My sister, Laura, is out with Daniel. You'll meet her when they get here" Derek pointed to each person as he introduced them, Stiles making sure he memorized them. They all shook his hand, introducing themselves.

"Okay, they should be back soon. So we should get everything finished up. You wanna help me out back, sweetheart?" Jenna nodded from where she was burrowed in Derek's chest, Derek smiling at her. "Peter, help me out too." Derek carried her out the back screen door that sat between the kitchen and living room, Peter following them. That left Stiles with his family.

"So, Stilinski, what have you been up to since high school?" Erica asked, a smirk on her face. Stiles squinted, looking over her face again. He felt his mouth fall open as he pieced it together.

"No way. Reyes?" Erica chuckled, nodding. Stiles looked at the other two, piecing it all together. "Damn, the whole gang. I haven't seen you guys in forever." Erica chuckled, handing a plate off to Isaac.

"You and McCall still inseparable?" Erica asked with the same smirk.

"Ya, well kind of. He and Allison are expecting, so they've been a little busy. But Jenna can't go very long without seeing her uncle Scott, so he's around." Erica chuckled at him, continuing her work with the food. "Do you need help with anything?"

"Um, ya. You can start carrying things out to Derek, Isaac help him." Both men moved when she said, knowing better than to not. She handed them both a couple plates, shooing them off. Stiles followed Isaac out the door and into the back yard.

"I see she hasn't changed." Isaac chuckled at him, shaking his head.

"No, only gotten worst."

They finished getting everything set up just in time, Derek receiving a text from Laura that they were pulling into the drive way. The back yard was lit up with lights strewn from the trees encasing the yard. There was a small fire pit in the middle, apparently Daniel loved s'mores. A table with all of the food was set off to the side, up against the house. It looked honestly beautiful, with the stars out especially bright just for the birthday boy.

Derek hushed everybody, telling them to get down. Stiles grabbed Jenna, joining Derek in ducking behind the lawn chairs. A couple minutes past where the only sounds came from the crickets and the crackling of the fire. Then the back door slid open, voices following it.

"He's not out here, Mommy."

"Really? I could have sworn I heard him out here."

Derek counted to three, that being the signal for everybody to jump out and scream surprise. Jenna was by far the most enthusiastic. Daniel's face lit up, jumping up and down in place. He grabbed Laura's hand, pulling her arm in excitement.

"This is for me?" Laura smiled, picking her son up.

"It is. Happy birthday, baby." Daniel hugged his mom, before squirming out of her hold and running around. Jenna joined him, the two of them running around the yard and yelling. The adults smiled, moving to sit in the lawn chairs that sat around the fire pit.

The night was amazing. The kids getting stuffed with hamburgers and s'mores, the adults conversing around the fire. Stiles couldn't remember the last time he actually spent an extended amount of time with people his age.

Derek got up from his chair, heading into the kitchen to get another beer. He heard footsteps as he dug around the fridge, the person stopping behind him.

"Yes, Erica?" He heard the she-wolf snicker.

"I'm not allowed to come talk to my brother? Maybe I wanted another drink too."

"What do you want?" Erica chuckled again, leaning against the counter.

"Lover boy out there sure has you hanging off his every word." Derek let a small growl rumble through his chest, just a warning. "Hey, I'm just stating what I've observed. Jenna too, she's got you wrapped her little pinky. And rightfully so, she's adorable."

"Watch it, Erica."

"You're telling me, after all this time you've spent with him, you feel nothing for him?" Derek didn't dignify her question with an answer, just continued digging through the fridge. "Or maybe, you do feel something. And you're just too chicken shit to do something about it."

Derek slammed the fridge door closed, turning to look at his sister. He flashed his red eyes at her, her own instinctively flashing back yellow. He went to tell Erica to drop it, but a small gasp caught his attention.

In the door way, stood Stiles. His eyes were wide, locked onto Derek's. Derek went to say something, but nothing came out, not knowing what to say. Erica pushed off the counter, walking towards the door. Stiles didn't even acknowledge Erica getting close to him, his eyes still on Derek.

"I'll just leave you two here. Don't break anything."

She closed the door behind her, leaving the two of them alone. Stiles blinked a couple times, the sound of the door closing bringing him back to reality. He took a stop closer to Derek, his heart beat oddly calm.

"So you're a werewolf." It was Derek's turn to freeze, shocked by Stiles' words. They weren't a question either.

"Wait, you know about werewolves?" Stiles nodded, slowly stepping forward until he was a couple feet from Derek. He moved as if Derek was the one who should be freaking out, not the other way around.

"My step brother, Scott, got bit when we were in high school. It's kind of been part of my life since then."

"Does Jenna know?"

"No. Well, she knows something different about her uncle, but not what. I've been fortunate enough to have held off all questions so far. We'll see how much longer that lasts."

"So you're cool with this? You're not gonna freak out, or be mad at me?"

"Why would I be mad?"

"Because I lied to you."

"You didn't lie, Derek. You just didn't tell me. Werewolves wouldn't be much of a secret if they just went around telling strangers of their existence."

"But you're not a stranger, you're.. You're you." Stiles gave him a small smile, ducking his head. Derek stepped closer, closing the gap between them so they were standing right next to each other.

"Well, no matter. I'm still not going to be mad at you."

"Good, cause I don't think I could handle you being mad at me." Stiles looked up, meeting Derek's eye. They were closer then he remembers them being a moment ago. Derek's eyes were so beautiful. Stiles could never tell what color they were, cause they were always changing. His eyes left Derek's, scanning the rest of the man's face. Everything was beautiful about him, inside and out. Stiles' eyes landed on Derek's lips, which looked very pink and soft.

"Stiles?"

"Can I kiss you?" Derek felt his heart stop.

"What?" He asked, unsure if he heard Stiles right.

"Can I kiss you?" Derek felt his lips stretch into a smile, his head nodding.

"You never have to ask."

Stiles moved forward, closing the small gap between them. Their lips met, and it was better than anything either of them could have imagined. It started soft, just the press of their lips together. But slowly Derek's hands came up to rest on Stiles' cheeks, Stiles' arms winding around Derek's waist. They moved closer, their bodies pressing together, and the kiss deepened. Derek never wanted to take a breath again, if it meant he could kiss Stiles for forever.

"Daddy and Derek are kissing!"

The two men stopped kissing at Jenna's yell, but stayed wrapped around each other. Their eyes met, twin smiles on their faces.

"Ya, they are." Stiles laughed at Derek, pressing another kiss to his lips.

Chapter Text

Derek snuffled as he slowly came to consciousness, rolling over. Well he tried to. Something heavy sat on his chest, preventing him from doing so. He squinted open his eyes, looking down at his chest. His breath caught in his throat.. again.

Stiles laid across Derek's front, his face cuddled into Derek's chest. His hands were pressed flat against Derek's chest, under his shirt, as if he were seeking out heat. Stiles snored quietly, a little bit of drool running down onto Derek's chest. Derek smiled fondly, running a hand through Stiles' hair.

They were laid out on Stiles' couch. He doesn't remember falling asleep. The movie he and Stiles were watching still played, forgotten on the TV. He doesn't even remember what it was about, nor did he remember when he and Stiles got in this position. Last he remembered, they were sitting up. Derek's arm was around Stiles' shoulders, Stiles leaned into Derek's chest. But Derek was not opposed to this new position in the slightest.

Stiles yawned, stretching out. His eyes slowly blinked open, taking in his surroundings. Finally he looked up at Derek, a soft smile on his face.

"Hey." Stiles said, his smile making Derek's heart clench.

"Hey." Derek said back, pressing a kiss to Stiles' forehead. Stiles looked over to the tv, chuckling.

"What a great movie we watched." Derek chuckled with him, nodding in agreement.

"Oh ya, goes down in the books as one of the best movies ever."

"Well we weren't that invested in it anyways. The kids picked.." Stiles sat up quickly, nearly hitting Derek in the crotch. His eyes wide in panic. He went to get off the couch, but Derek grabbed him, pulling him back down.

"Woah, woah, woah. Where are you going?"

"The kids. Where are they? Where's Jenna?" Derek pulled a frantic Stiles into his chest, holding him close.

"Hey, calm down, it's okay. I can hear them in Jenna's room. They're playing, they're fine." Stiles let out a shaky breath, and Derek could feel his muscles relax. Derek pressed another kiss to Stiles' head, rubbing a hand up and down his back comfortingly. "You're okay, they're okay."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to freak out."

"It's okay, you don't have to apologize. Just come lay back down." Stiles did so, curling back up against Derek's chest. They sat in silence for a bit, just enjoying each other's presence.

It wasn't long though before Trouble 1 and 2 came running into the room.

"Tatuś!"

"Uncle Derek!"

Both men shared a look, before sighing and sitting up.

"Yes, children, how may we help you?" Stiles asked, his voice very deadpan.

"Since you and Derek are getting married, does that make Daniel my family?"

Stiles' facial expression made it look like he short circuited, spluttering as he searched for words. Derek would have answered, but he was too busy doubling over with laughter. He had to grab onto his sides, them aching from how hard he was laughing. Stiles finally got it together though, sending a glare and a slap against the side Derek's way.

"Okay, first off, Derek and I are not getting married. We've been dating for like two weeks. Secondly, you and Daniel can already be family if you want to be. Family doesn't stop at blood or law. For instance, your Aunt Lydia, is she related to you in any way, shape or form? Or Daniel, your Aunt Erica, are you related to her?"

Both kids shook their heads no.

"Exactly! And yet, I still consider Lydia my sister, and you still call her Aunt Lydia. And the same goes for Derek and your Aunt Erica. So, if you guys want to be family, then you are. It's that easy. Family is in the heart, not on a piece of paper or in DNA."

The kids smiled brightly, basically vibrating with excitement. They began dancing around the room, chanting repeatedly that they were cousins. Very loudly. Derek and Stiles shared looks that were both equally part fond and done. Jenna came running back over, jumping into Derek's lap.

"Derek?"

"Yes, sweetheart?"

"I want you to be my family too." Derek felt his chest tighten, a fond smile growing on his face. He pressed a kiss to Jenna's head, Jenna smiling back at him.

"I am, sweetie. And you are mine." Jenna wrapped her arms around Derek's neck, giving him a hug. Derek wrapped her small form up in his arms, hugging her back. She quickly squirmed out of his hold though, grabbing Daniel by the hand and running back to her room.

"Hey, you guys got half an hour! Start cleaning up!" Grumbles were heard from them, but Derek also heard them doing as they were told, so he didn't comment. He looked back over to Stiles, who was already looking at him. Derek started patting at his face, thinking something was on it.

"What?" Stiles chuckled, pulling Derek's hands away from his face, and into his own hands.

"Nothing. I just love how great you are with her." Derek smiled at their intertwined hands.

"She has me wrapped around her little pinky." Stiles chuckled, pressing a kiss to Derek's lips.

"She has that effect on people."

Chapter Text

"Laura, is it usual for parents to be over protective of their kids?" Laura glanced over her shoulder at Derek, stopping only momentarily in her cooking, before continuing.

"Sit, baby bro." Derek rolled his eyes, but listened anyways. He sat down on one of the stools at the kitchen island, facing his sister. "Okay. Where does this question come from?"

"Well, Stiles, I guess. He's super protective of Jenna."

"Protectiveness is pretty normal in parents, Der. Especially when kids are younger."

"No, but.. It's more than protective. It's almost paranoid, and he's been like this the entire time I've known him. He woke up from a nap two weeks ago and freaked out, cause he didn't know where Jenna was. He's always on alert when they're out in public.

"When we were first met, I thought it was just me. I thought he was just being cautious of this stranger, and that it would go away the more he got to know me. And it has mostly, when it comes to me. But he's still always guarded, and keeps a really close eye on her. Like he's scared something will happen."

Laura hummed, handing Derek something to taste test for her.

"That doesn't exactly sound like normal parenting, but who knows, maybe he's just a helicopter parent. Maybe you should talk to him, baby bro."

Derek huffed, handing Laura back her spoon.

"Needs salt. How do I do that without it sounding like I'm criticizing his parenting skills?"

"Don't come at his parenting skills then. You're seeing him tomorrow, right?"

"Ya."

"Then talk to him then. Tell him you've noticed he's been tense lately, ask him if something's wrong, if it's anything you can help with. Sound supportive, not criticizing."

Derek nodded, standing up from the stool.

"Thanks, Laur." He pressed a kiss to his sister's head, leaving the kitchen.

****

Derek's watch read 2:30pm, the ticking hands mocking him. God, he was running so late. He got caught up at the museum, and ended up staying way later than he intended. Thus making him late picking up Daniel, and even later in getting to Stiles' for their standing Wednesday dates. Daniel was not happy about this, pulling his uncle full force towards the Stilinski's front door.

Derek knocked once, before pushing it open. As soon it was open, Daniel was gone, bolting to Jenna's room. Derek sighed, shaking his head as he closed the door and walked farther into the apartment.

He found Stiles asleep on the couch, curled around a couch pillow. Derek allowed himself to stare for a moment, seeing as no-one was around to pick on him for it. Derek could tell the man was tired, as he never left Jenna unattended. He had dark bags under his eyes, and he was lying in what looked to be a pretty uncomfortable position. But god, was he beautiful.

Stiles was so beautiful. His hair was mused on one side, as if Stiles was pulling on it, and flat on the other, from the pillow pressing it down. His face was relaxed, the tension he normally held in his shoulders nonexistent as he slept. Derek just wanted to walk over to him and kiss every mole and freckle on his exposed cheek

Jenna and Daniel came tiptoeing into the room, which was much different from their usual tactic of impersonating a stampede. Derek raised an eyebrow at the two as they came to a stop in front of him.

"Yes?"

"Tatuś said we were going to get ice-cream. Can we go now?" Jenna said in a hushed tone.

Derek looked back over to Stiles. He didn't want to wake the man, he obviously needed the sleep. He looked back at the kids, their puppy dog eyes boring holes into his soul. Derek worried at his bottom lip, eyes flicking back over to Stiles. Finally he sighed, nodding his head.

"Give me a minute."

He walked into the kitchen, going to the fridge, where he knew Stiles kept a marker-board. He grabbed the marker, writing a note to Stiles, letting him know where they went and that they'd be back soon. He drew a little heart for good measure, smirking to himself. He capped the marker, returning to the kids.

"Okay, lets go."

The kids quietly cheered, opening the door. They were awfully quiet when they wanted to be. Derek made sure to file that away for future reference. They had to move Jenna's seat to Derek's car, as Daniel was using his. But they (Derek) did it quickly, and then they were on their way to get ice-cream.

****

Stiles yawned, stretching awake. His back popped a couple times, Stiles letting out a satisfied groan as it did. He blinked, looking around the room. What time was it?

Derek had messaged him, letting him know he'd be late. Stiles must have fallen asleep shortly after that, so he couldn't have been out that long. He sat up, reaching for his phone. Stiles squinted in confusion, making sure he read the time correctly. Derek had messaged him at 1pm, which is right around when he usually gets here. It was now 3:30. There were no new messages from him either, only making Stiles more confused.

He stood, his body groaning at being removed from the unnatural position that Stiles had slept in. He ignored it, walking down the hallway to Jenna's room.

"Hey, Bo, do you-"

Stiles stopped, as Jenna was not in her room. His face contorted in confusion, walking back to the living room. He looked around, thinking maybe she had fallen asleep on the floor and he hadn't noticed.

When she wasn't in there Stiles checked the kitchen, his room, even the bathroom. He checked the closets, under beds, even some cupboards. Jenna liked to play a game of hide and give daddy a heart attack sometimes. When he checked every possibility, he finally let the panic that had been bubbling up surface.

"Bożena Claudia Stilinski, if you are hiding it is no longer funny. You are in big trouble."

There was no answer, and Stiles felt kind of stupid for talking to nothing, but his panic was over powering that feeling. His chest was getting tight, breathing becoming very difficult. He grabbed his phone, going to dial his father's number. It proved to be a difficult task, as his hands were shaking. Just as he was about to hit dial, he heard laughing from outside, and then the front door opened.

Stiles dropped his phone, running into the hallway. Derek and the kids moseyed in, as if nothing was wrong. Stiles dashed forward, pulling Jenna into his arms. Jenna squealed in delight, hugging her father back.

"Oh my god, you had me so worried. I woke up and you were gone. Don't you ever do that to me again!"

"It's okay, Tatuś. Derek just took us to get ice-cream."

Stiles stood, pulling Jenna up with him. He held her close, setting his glare on Derek.

"You had me terrified, Derek. Do you know what it feels like to wake up, and your child be gone? It's soul crushing." Derek stepped forward, trying to reach for Stiles, but Stiles just stepped farther away.

"Stiles, I am so sorry. I didn't know we'd be gone for so long. I left you a note, I thought-"

"You thought wrong. You know how I am with her! Did you even consider me before you just decided to run off with my daughter?"

"Of course I did! You looked exhausted, I didn't want to wake you. I just wanted you to get some rest. I took the kids to get ice-cream, and then we came right back. I'm sorry I made you feel that way, I really am. I'm so sorry."

"Sorry doesn't cut it, Derek. I think you should leave."

"Daddy, no-"

"No, Jenna, adults are talking."

"Stiles-"

"Now, Derek. Please, just go."

Derek felt like his heart was punched out of his chest. He's never seen that look of sheer anger and hurt in Stiles' eyes before. And he did that. He slowly nodded, taking a step back.

"Say goodbye, Daniel."

"Bye Jenna, bye Stiles." Stiles' face faltered for a moment, his eyes falling onto Daniel. The six year old's bottom lip was quivering, not understanding what was happening, but knowing it definitely wasn't good.

"Bye little man."

Derek waved to Jenna, who was borrowed into her father's chest. She waved back, tears in her little eyes. Derek grabbed Daniel's hand, leading him out of the Stilinski household. He only looked back once, Stiles closing the door as he did.

Chapter Text

It has been two weeks. Two weeks since Derek's been able to breath. Derek has sent message after message, called god knows how many times, left numerous voicemails. He's begged, pleaded, groveled, apologized. And nothing. Nothing came of it. No answer, no reply, no hint that Stiles even knew he existed anymore.

Laura says he's moping, it's not moping. He's just dealing.

"You haven't left your room for anything except work in two weeks, baby bro. You're moping." Derek told the voice in his head, that sounded annoyingly like Laura, to shut up.

So what? So what if he's spending way more time at work than usual? So what if he hasn't slept properly in weeks?So what if he sometimes spends the night in his office? And so what if when he does get home, he just wants to be alone in his room?

He is a grown ass adult, he can make those decisions for himself. No matter how unhealthy they may be.

He decided a run was much needed. He didn't bother on a shirt or shoes, knowing he was just going to shed them anyways. He tried to sneak out the back door in an attempt to avoid his family. He should have known better.

"Uncle Derek?"

Derek closed his eyes, taking a breath, before turning to face his nephew.

Daniel sat at the counter, his head tilted in curiosity as he took in his uncle. Sometimes this kid was too smart for his own good.

"What's up, buddy?"

"Where are you going?"

"I was uh just going for a run."

"Without the pack?"

"Ya, buddy. I kinda just wanted to be alone for a bit."

Daniel looked down at his hands, his bottom lip jutting out.

"You've been alone a lot lately." His voice sounded so small, it hurt Derek. Daniel was only six. He was just a young pup, and his uncle, his alpha, has been avoiding him. Good job, Der, A+ douchbaggery.

Derek sat down next to his nephew, putting an arm around his shoulders and pulling him close.

"How about when I get back, you and I watch a movie together? Your pick."

Derek couldn't help but smile as he watched Daniel's face light up.

"Really? Any movie I want?"

"Any movie you want. I'll even make you your own bag of popcorn."

Daniel jumped up in his chair, wrapping his little arms around Derek's neck.

"I missed you, uncle De."

Derek wrapped his arms around Daniel, holding him close.

"I missed you too, bud."

Daniel pulled back, patting Derek's head. Derek playfully snarled, snapping at his little fingers. Daniel giggled, doing it again to show he was faster than Derek's reactions. Derek let him.

"Okay, go on your run, Uncle Derek. I'll get mommy to set up the TV for when you get back."

Derek chuckled, standing up.

"Okay, buddy. I'll be back in a little bit."

Derek shed his sweatpants when he hit the tree line, nicely folding them in half and hanging them over a branch. He took a deep breath, breathing in all of the scents that the forest had to offer. They lived on the edge of the preserve now, leaving the original Hale house as a memorial instead of building on top of it. They were now closer to town, but still had access to the preserve from their backyard.

Derek let the tension in his muscles go, easily gliding into his full shift. He hasn't done this in a while, he mentally made it a note to do it more often. It felt good, having four paws sink into the forest floor. Feeling, hearing, and smelling everything. He took off, heading in no particular direction, just running to run.

The wind blew thew his black fur, giving him the feeling of being free. He caught the scent of a rabbit, chasing it just for the fun of hearing it's heart race. He kept a safe distance from it for a bit, letting it think it had the upper hand. Eventually he grew bored of the chase though, going back to just running. He sprinted through the forest, the ground making almost no sound as his paws barely touched the ground.

He wasn't sure of exactly how long he had been running for, but he kept an eye on the setting sun, keeping track of when he should be back. Soon the sun was almost completely gone, the moon taking it's place. Derek sighed, heading back in the direction of home.

As he got closer to the house, he could hear Daniel in the backyard. He was running around, playing. Derek smirked, sprinting faster. He broke through the tree line, kneeling playfully. Daniel screamed in delight, charging at him. Derek gripped the back of Daniel's shirt gently (Laura would kill him if he ripped another shirt) between his teeth, throwing him backwards, so he landed gently on Derek's back.

Daniel took two hand fulls of Derek's fur, holding on tight. It wasn't until Derek went to take a step forward that he noticed Jenna, standing with wide eyes behind Daniel's climbing tree. Derek froze, not knowing what to do. Daniel was none the wiser, nudging Derek with his foot, telling him he wanted to play.

Derek finally moved, letting out a bark of distress. Laura was in the door way moments after, sliding the backdoor open. She took in the scene, huffing in annoyance.

"Nice job, Der. You're an absolute fail wolf." Derek sent her a glare, but it was cut short. Stiles stood behind Laura, his eyes on Derek. He didn't look scared, obviously knowing it was Derek, but he did look nervous. Nervous because Derek was in front him, not because Derek was in front of him as a wolf. He noticed Derek staring at him, sending him a nervous wave.

"Hi."

If Derek was in human form he's pretty sure his jaw would be on the ground right now. Fortunately he was not.

"Uncle Dereeeeeeek, come oooonnn."

Derek huffed at Daniel, but did as requested. He twirled around a couple of times, careful not to move too fast as to knock Daniel off of him, but enough to where the boy giggled in delight. He liked to pretend Derek was a bull, see how long he could stay on. Derek made sure to never knock him off.

Jenna finally came out from behind the tree, watching the two of them. Derek reached his head around, grabbing Daniel by the shirt again. He set him on the ground, nudging him towards Jenna with his nose.

He went back into the tree line, shifting back and slipping his sweats back on. He kind of regrets not grabbing a shirt now.

When he got back to the backyard, he instantly had two little monkeys hanging off his arms. He smirked down at them, doing a couple reps with a kid hanging off each arm. They squealed in delight at being lifted off the ground.

"You know, I'm not a jungle gym."

The kids just giggled, just trying to climb higher. The scent of both of them together made Derek internally purr. He missed this so much, missed Jenna. He put the kids down, looking back up to the porch. Stiles and Laura still stood there, watching them.

Derek cleared his throat, walking towards them. He didn't miss the way Stiles' eyes lingered on his chest. Laura was polite enough to act like she had manners, leaving the porch to join the kids in the yard. That left Derek alone with Stiles, and Derek's heart felt like it was beating out of his chest.

"Hey."

"Hi.. Can we talk?"

Derek wanted to say no. He wanted to be resentful, wanted to go hide in his room. But he also wanted to grab Stiles and never let go. That part of him won, and probably always will. He nodded, walking into the house. Stiles followed him, Derek closing the door behind him. They sat down on the living room couch, Derek giving Stiles plenty of room.

"I just.. I wanted to say I'm sorry, Derek."

"Why are you apologizing? I'm the one who fucked up. I shouldn't have left with her without letting you know, and I'm sorry."

"No, I overreacted. You did let me know, you left a note. With a heart drawn on it! And I know, I know she's safe with you. She's probably safer with you than me, cause you can actually do something to protect her. But I.. I just can't lose her. She's all I have left."

Derek reached forward, grabbing Stiles' hand in his. The younger man had tears pooling in his eyes that threatened to fall at any moment, and that broke Derek's heart.

"She is never more safe than when she's with you. I-"

"Shush, I'm not done. You're the best for trying to comfort me, but if I stop I'm not going to be able to get all of this out. Okay?"

Derek quietly chuckled, but nodded his head.

"Okay.. Okay. I'm protective of Jenna because she's all I have left of my little family. Jenna.. Jenna had a twin when she was born. His name was Mieczyslaw, at his mother's insistence to make him Mieczyslaw the third. I, on other hand, quickly gave him the nickname of Mitch. I don't think Jenna remembers either of them, and I.. I don't really talk about them. I probably should, for her sake, but.. I just can't.

"I guess that runs in the family, my dad did the same thing when my mom died. But uh.. the twins were about a year old when they died. Their mother, Caitlin, and I weren't a thing. She was a friend I made at college, and we spent one night together my second year of grad school. She told me a couple weeks later that she was pregnant. We talked options, the decision ultimately being hers, but we both wanted to keep it. We were excited, but freaking out all at the same time. And that was over just one baby, imagine us when we found out we were having twins."

Stiles chuckled lightly at the memory, a tear falling from his eye. Derek wiped it away with the pad of his thumb, having moved closer to his boyfriend as Stiles was talking.

"But uh, we decided that we should live together, for the babies. That was probably the hardest decision either of us made, deciding where to live. I was almost done with my last year of school, she had finished the semester before me, so we didn't need to stick around Berkeley. We ultimately decided on San Jose. It was pretty close to half way between Beacon Hills, and San Francisco, where her parents lived. We both would have no problem getting jobs there.

"It was all falling in place, we were excited. We found a three bedroom apartment in a nice area, we both had good jobs set up. We were building a life.. We'd been living there for a little bit over a year when it happened. Mitch was crying nonstop that night, it was keeping Jenna up. Jenna had a fever, she needed rest and some medicine, but we were out. Caitlin said she wanted to walk to the store to get some and take Mitch with her, thought maybe it would sooth him to sleep.

"I offered to do it, but she said she wanted to. She made a joke about Jenna being Daddy's girl, and Mitch being Mommy's boy, and then she left. It was only a block away, it shouldn't have taken her that long. So when she was gone for awhile I called her, but sh-she didn't answer.. Some druggy mugged her for fifteen bucks and an iPhone."

Stiles had a dark sneer on his face as he said the last part. Derek just squeezed his hand tighter, offering silent comfort.

"Caitlin always carried the babies in a wrap on her back. The guy thought it was back pack, and accused her of having more on her.. before shooting her. It went straight through, hitting Mitch too. When he saw that she had a baby, and not a back pack, he turned himself in. He's serving life, even tried sending us a letter once."

Stiles wiped at his face, trying to dry the tears off his cheek. Derek didn't know what to say, knew first hand that there was nothing he could say. So he just pulled Stiles into his chest, holding him close. He cried into Derek's chest, his hands curling into Derek's shirt. Derek let him cry, rubbing a hand up and down his back and pressing kisses to his head.

After a bit, Stiles pulled back, wiping at his face again.

"I miss them everyday. Jenna reminds me more and more of Caitlin each day. It hurts to think she'll never see our little girl grow up, and I'll never get to see the same for my son. But I have Jenna, so I hold onto her, and I don't think I'll ever be able to let her go."

Derek kissed Stiles' head again, placing his hand on the side of Stiles' face as he met Stiles' eyes.

"And you never will have to, I promise you that."

Stiles shook his head, pressing their foreheads together.

"You can't promise things like that."

"Yes I can, and as long as I'm alive I will keep that promise."

Stiles kissed him, Derek kissing him back in earnest. Stiles broke the kiss first, pressing their foreheads together again.

"You plan on sticking around that long?"

"I plan on being around as long you'll have me."

Stiles smiled at him, giving his lips another peck.

"Guess we're stuck together then."

"Guess so."