It’s not that the sheriff doesn’t like Derek. It’s just that he thinks Stiles could do better.
But Stiles has been an adult for over two years now, so he can make his own choices. Even if they are terrible.
Also, the sheriff doesn’t like Derek.
This thing between his son and Derek is relatively new. Well, actively new. Apparently it had been simmering for years, and the sheriff doesn’t need to know that. Simmering. Ugh. He also doesn’t need to happen across what he later finds out is their first kiss, Stiles backed up against the kitchen counter, his fingers tangled in Derek’s hair.
They don’t stop until the sheriff slams the door shut, and then they jump apart guiltily, like scalded cats.
“You didn’t hear him come in?” Stiles squeaks at Derek after the three of them have the most awkward stare off ever.
“Um, no,” Derek says, eyes on John, looking as shocked as Stiles sounds. “I...didn’t.”
“Well,” John says. “Let’s all agree that Derek’s lapse in creepiness has unfortunate timing.” He doesn’t want to think about what has Derek so distracted that his super-senses have abandoned him altogether. “Also, what it this?”
“A date?” Stiles says uncertainly.
The sheriff looks pointedly at the blood seeping through the gash of Derek’s jacket and dripping onto the floor. There are also leaves in his hair and something yellowish in his beard.
When John had taken Claudia on their first date, he’d called to the door like a proper gentleman, flowers for both his girl and her mom, a bottle of wine for her dad. He’d worn a suit, the tie all but strangling him, and the tweed of the coat itchy even underneath the shirt. He had called Claudia’s parents ma’am and sir, and he’d politely helped Claudia into her own coat. He’d opened the car door for her and driven them to a small restaurant down by the coast, pulled out her chair, and danced with her after dinner, his arm careful and proper around her waist. Later he had driven her home and kissed her cheek, waiting until she was safely inside before driving off with the biggest grin on his face.
What he hadn’t done was chew her mouth off while covered in demon goo and bleeding onto the kitchen tiles.
See, this is what he means by Stiles can do better.
Derek shows up the following night with slightly more salubrious clothes and a basket of fruit for John.
John stares down at it. “You couldn’t have gotten me muffins?”
“Stiles says you love fruit,” Derek says, offended.
Further proof, if any were needed, that Stiles is deluded.
Stiles bounces down the stairs then, wearing a graphic tee and red jeans. Derek looks at him stupidly, and okay so maybe John looked at Claudia like that sometimes. Until her dad had clipped John around the head.
John would love to clip Derek around the head.
“Later, Dad,” Stiles calls, and John watches them scurry to the car. Derek walks in front of Stiles, doesn’t look behind to see if he is following and doesn’t hold the car door open for Stiles.
John scowls down at the basket, emptying it into the fruit bowl, and discovering a well hidden bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue at the bottom.
John suspects that Derek has heard this might be a weakness, but the sheriff isn’t so easily swayed by fancy schmancy alcohol, even if it does make him temporarily agreeable. It had helped soothe the longstanding feud between John and that moron, Alberts, who lives across the street. The one that had started over a dog and a newspaper, and had developed into an all-out cold war. One night, after a more than happy hour with some of the station’s crew, John had run into Alberts and hugged him tight. “You’re one of my best buddies,” he had said, and he’d meant it until he sobered up.
The following morning Alberts had waved to John from the door and John had given him an on-the-spot citation for parking in front of a hydrant.
So, joke’s on Derek really.
John’s pouring tumbler number four when his hall door comes crashing in and Derek is carrying an unconscious Stiles like a bride. All the warmth from the alcohol leaves John, and he’s suddenly cold with fear.
“He’s okay,” Derek pants. “Got choked by a faerie until he passed out. But he’s breathing now. Gotta go. Watch him.”
He’s gone then, and John wants to shout after him that he didn’t need parenting advice from some…delinquent.
Stiles wakes up a while later and the first thing he gasps is a croaky Derek?
John wants to finish that for him. Has run off with the faerie folk. He’s never coming back. By the way, did I tell you that Jeanette from the station has a cute son that’s studying Actuary in Berkeley? You guys should totally hang out.
“I don’t know,” is what he says, and he helps Stiles upstairs, sitting with him while Stiles blinks dully at the window.
It’s well into the early hours before Derek pushes the ledge up and climbs in like he’s done this before. Many times before.
“Hey,” Stiles rasps, and his entire body relaxes.
Derek falls to his knees and places a palm on Stiles’ brow. “Problem solved,” he says non-too-crypically.
“You mean problem eliminated,” John says. He wonders if he can arrest Derek for faerie killing, if there’s any precedent for bringing federal charges. He’s going to check that out tomorrow.
“I mean it’s gone away,” Derek says, still looking at Stiles. “As in geographically away, not other worldly away.”
Jon harumphs sceptically and Derek gives him a quizzical look. “I can take it from here,” he says.
It’s only when John gets into his own bed that he realises that Derek Hale just threw him out of his own son’s room.
As the young people say - what the fuck. He had never ever seen the inside of Claudia’s bedroom, had never dared to speak to her dad so dismissively.
“I never spoke to your dad so dismissively,” he grumbles to Claudia.
He can imagine her soft laugh. “Stop grinching about young love.”
“Young,” he snorts. “Hale has at least eight years on Stiles.”
“And you had six on me. Your point?”
“Yeah well,” John huffs. “I never even saw the inside of your bedroom.”
“No. But I was plenty familiar with the back seat of your pick-up.”
Stiles comes home for his winter break and doesn’t even mention Jeanette’s son. What he does is disappear to Derek’s and return two days later looking pinched and pale. He also spends the whole of the next day in bed and has to coaxed out by a trail of prawn crackers leading from his bedroom to the sofa.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he says, munching unhappily on a spring roll while sacked out beside the sheriff on the couch.
Which pretty much makes John gleeful. He’s got his boy, his Chinese food and his game on the TV.
And best of all, no Derek Hale.
“You’ll get over him,” John says wisely. “There’s something better out there for you.” That something might be Jeanette’s nephew. He might be the lead singer in a punk-rock band, with more holes in his face than a colander, and yeah, his name might be Studz, but John could warm to him. “He probably cheated on you, right?”
Stile baulks. “What? No. Jesus, no. Dad. Derek is ridiculously loyal.”
John presses his lips together. It’s probably too soon for a dog joke.
“We just had a dumb argument,” Stiles says. “And then he said - ” He breaks off with a sob that punches John right in the solar plexus.
“He said what?” John grits.
“He thinks I might be better off without him.”
John couldn’t agree more.
“Everyone thinks I might be better off without him,” Stiles continues unsteadily. “And apparently, how I feel doesn’t matter.”
The sheriff is not - not - going to feel guilty about this. It’s about what’s best for Stiles in the long run. They’ve been down this road before. When Stiles was six, the circus had come to town and Stiles had packed his bags to join them. “Just for a couple of weeks,” he had promised. “I’ll be back before Scott’s birthday.” Reality had broken Stiles’ heart then too.
Stiles’ phone has been on silent since he came downstairs, but it’s been vibrating quietly on the space between them on the couch. John lifts it to put it on the table out of Stiles’ reach, and he can’t help but read the text flashing on the screen.
Sourwolf: Stiles, please.
John steels himself and tosses it aside. Derek had his chance and blew it.
“I love him,” Stiles states and when John looks over, there are huge, fat tears hovering in his kid’s eyes.
But Stiles had also loved Dozo the Clown. And he’d gotten over that by the time Scott’s birthday party had rolled around.
“He makes me happy.”
“He’s making you cry,” John insists.
“He also makes me laugh,” Stiles shrugs, wiping furiously at his eyes. “Besides, are you telling me that you never made mom cry.”
Oh, that’s dirty play right there, comparing his thing with Derek to what John had with Claudia.
Once. He had made her cry once, with nasty words that he stills hears in his head sometimes. “Bend down,” her dad had said when John had called to her parents’ house to beg forgiveness.
John had bent down. Claudia’s dad was barely five four, but he packed quite the punch. He’d given John a few minutes to stem the blood gushing from his nose before ordering him to fix it.
The Derek that John answers the door to would probably open his legs and let the sheriff kick him right in the nuts.
“Stiles doesn’t want to see you,” he says, feeling his right foot twitch in anticipation.
“I know,” Derek says miserably, and now that John looks at him, everything about Derek looks miserable, from the slope of his shoulders to the dull haze of his eyes.
John sighs. “Look, you should - ”
“Derek,” Stiles says brokenly from behind him, and John’s about to wave him back, tell him to move along now, nothing to see here. But Derek and Stiles are gliding quickly towards each other, and the sheriff kinda gets shoved to the side for them to pounce into each others arms.
That’s okay, he thinks. That’s a great way to end things, say a proper goodbye. None of the pent-up passive aggressive bullshit that eats away at your soul.
Just let it all go.
Only Derek and Stiles aren’t letting go. They’re holding on even tighter than before and now there are more desperate sorrys and smacking kisses than the sheriff can count.
“Don’t mind me,” he mumbles, holding his palms up to ward off any arguments.
Nobody minds him and nobody argues. Stiles and Derek are too busy putting each other back together again.
Stiles is still seeing Derek when he goes back to college. John knows this because sometimes he calls Stiles and he can hear Derek in the background, asking Stiles what he would like to eat, or if he needs his books returning to the library, or if he’s ready for the game.
“What game?” the sheriff snaps, because so help him god, if Stiles is falling behind because of that…reprobate -
“Oh, it’s this thing Derek does where he pretends to be a famous criminologist and I have to ask questions that can be only answered by yes and no. And then when I think I know who it is, I have to give him three principles of the theory associated with that person before I can make my guess. We got through all the subcultural differential associates last night. Tonight we’re looking at symbolic interactionism.”
The sheriff can’t think of a single thing to say.
“I’m not allowed to have any ice-cream until we’re done,” Stiles continues.
That Derek, so - pushy.
He scoffs about it to Claudia later on that night.
“I don’t understand the half of what our son is talking about these days.”
“You’re a smart guy,” she says. “I’m sure you could understand it if you wanted.”
“I’m not even sure I want to understand symbolic interactionism.”
“Yeah, honey. Symbolic interactionism. That’s what I’m talking about.”
Summer rocks around again, and the sheriff’s admiring the cherry blossom in the front garden when the tree sneezes, scattering little pink petals like confetti.
Derek’s head ducks out of the bloom. “Sheriff.”
“Pollen count is a little high today,” Derek sniffs.
“Sure is. What’s going on?”
“Stiles is being stupid.”
“I see,” the sheriff says wearily. He needs to put an end to this conversation. Alberts is watering his lawn and John is talking to a tree. “Why don’t you just hop in the window? I know that’s your favourite.”
Through the branches he can see Derek glance mutinously up at said window. “Stiles put mountain ash on the sill.”
John grins to himself. He sure as hell didn’t raise no fool.
“Before you break out the victory champagne, we’ve had a fight not a break-up,” Stiles says from his bed, face covered by graphic novel.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” John lies. Shoot. He’d been waiting to mention this guy who delivers donuts to the station. Sure, he has a record. But who hasn’t indulged in a little petty larceny? Or grand theft. The point is that Kevin is on the road to good places now. He’s been telling John about the ideas he’s been coming up with for new donut flavours. He said something about a raspberry and roast potato fusion, but the sheriff had been too busy to respond - his good pen, that was just there a minute ago, had gone missing.
“There’s this beta werewolf that has the hots for me,” Stiles explains, glowering at the window. “Which I totally had under control before someone else found out and turned into a big sulky crybaby.”
“I can hear you,” Derek shouts back.
“Did I fucking whisper?”
John tunes them out. Maybe this beta werewolf has prospects, could be a decent enough sort. Stiles shouldn’t be too hasty about dismissing the whole idea.
“So beta-dude’s a bit slow to pick up on the normal social cues, like the fact that I reek of two different alphas,” Stiles is saying. “Although I think that's where he got a bit confused. He could probably smell both Derek and Scott on me and thought that maybe we were all into a bit of sharing and caring - ”
Derek growls threateningly from the tree.
And that’s the exit cue. John has one foot out the door when he something catches his eye. It’s a pale marble photoframe with several deep mounts around a photograph of Stiles, John and Claudia. The original had been creased from much handling and rumpled from that time John has tossed it towards the fire.
“Where did you get this from?” he asks, gently running his finger down the spine.
Stiles looks up. “I took it out of the grate the morning after you threw it in,” he shrugs.
It’s a perfect copy, all of the lines and thumbprints and smudges gone, and in their place a moment captured in clarity, Claudia almost brought back to life as she holds a giggling Stiles, John looking on like can’t believe this is his.
“Derek got it for me,” Stiles continues. “He found it when he was helping me unpack at Berkeley, and had it restored.”
John frowns. Stiles didn’t have a birthday or any other significant celebration around the time the time he left for college. “What for?” John asks.
Stiles’ face grows puzzled. “For me. That’s what for.”
The sheriff struggles to find some words. “Why didn’t you show me?” he manages eventually.
Stiles looks back at his book. “Because I didn’t want to hear you criticize it. It’s too important.”
John’s good with subtext. “I didn’t want to hear you criticize Derek. Not about this.”
“Hey Derek,” the sheriff hisses a few minutes later. “I made you a sandwich. Catch.”
Alberts watches as John throws a paper bag up into the tree. John gives him the finger.
“Thanks,” Derek says, soft and surprised.
“Jesus, you’re supposed to be on my side,” Stiles shouts when the sheriff goes back into the house.
Yeah, John thinks. Weird.
But the pendulum swings the other way again.
They're in an abandoned warehouse and Derek's on all hairy fours, about to rip the throat out of the same beta that’s still sniffing around Stiles.
Not that the sheriff doesn't appreciate Derek's exuberant loyalty and over-protection, but this isn't a fair fight. He could just arrest this beta, dope him and dump him far away. There's probably a pack looking for him somewhere and it's not like he was going to harm Stiles. He just had the hots for him.
“Nah, dude,” Scott whispers. “It’s gone further than that. That guy tried to kidnap Stiles.”
So, okay, maybe the sheriff is good with Derek giving this asshole a couple of slaps and a growly 'stay the fuck away from what's not yours' warning.
But Derek is seriously going to rip his throat out. And the sheriff is a man of the law.
He steps forward but Scott pulls him right back. "Don't be stupid," he says.
The sheriff is stunned. "We can't let this happen."
"We can't stop it," Isaac says.
"You can," the sheriff says to Scott. "You're an alpha."
Scott shakes his head. "Not Derek's alpha."
"Well, try," he hisses.
Scott sighs. "Fine. Derek, step away from the beta."
Derek's head snaps around, rabid looking slobber dripping from his jaw, eyes blazing with blind fury. The sheriff swallows when Derek snarls viciously.
"Yeah," Scott says slowly, inching his way backwards. "I tried. He's too far gone. Best not to interfere any further."
Jesus, the sheriff thinks, I am about to watch my probably-son-in -law kill another living thing right in front of my eyes.
Just then Stiles bursts through the door, like the questing hero with perfect timing, and rolls his eyes. "Derek Hale, put that wolf down right now."
He walks easily towards Derek, and the sheriff can't help but move. Derek is probably going to kill him, but Stiles is the sheriff's cub.
Scott pulls him back again. "It's okay," he promises.
Derek seems to have forgotten about the beta, craning his neck to watch Stiles approach, and, dear god, his tail is thumping on the ground.
"You heard me, mister. Put him down."
Derek whines and shakes his head.
"Don't you tell me no," Stiles says insistently, wagging his finger at Derek.
Derek huffs and looks back at the beta, before shuffling backwards reluctantly.
"You're in big trouble, buddy," Stiles says, and Derek cries out pitifully. Stiles is moving too quickly, is nearly at Derek, and the sheriff stiffens. But then Stiles stops and folds his arms and Derek actually gets down on his knees and hides his head in his forepaws. It's kind of hilarious.
"Don't move until I tell you to," Stiles warns the beta. "And when I do, run like your life depends on it. Because it kind of does. And don’t fucking come back here again."
The beta looks adoringly at Stiles, and even the sheriff has to resist an eye roll. Derek snarls again.
"Run," Stiles says, and puts a hand on Derek. That's all it takes to keep Derek right there as the beta flees the scene, actual dust flying up from the floor in his wake.
Derek glares at Stiles but it's all front.
"Don't you even with me," Stiles says, but he allows Derek to nuzzle into his hand. "Change back."
Derek shakes his head again, but Stiles puts his hands on his hips insistently. Derek chases Stiles' touch with his nose, and Stiles ducks it.
"I said change back," Stiles says, louder. "And then you and I are going to have a long chat about how I already told you that I had this under control and how you can't go killing everything that looks twice in my direction."
Suddenly the sheriff feels sorry for Derek. Stiles has had long talks with his dad about the benefits of five a day. It's never fun.
Derek seems to know this because he whines like he's been hurt. He flops down on his belly and shuffles closer to Stiles, like he’s no shame. Then he rolls on his back, bares his neck to Stiles and...plays dead.
“I’m so embarrassed for him,” Scott sighs.
“Humiliating,” Isaac agrees.
Stiles’ face grows helplessly adoring. He lifts a foot and rubs it down Derek’s front, and the sheriff nearly has his fifth heart-attack of the evening when Derek catches Stiles’ ankle between his teeth.
His huge, long, sharp, canine teeth.
But Derek just shakes Stiles’ leg gently and pushes his sock down to lick at skin under it.
“Doofus,” Stiles says fondly and Derek yips in response.
Stiles folds down onto the floor and Derek is on him immediately, nosing into Stiles' neck until Stiles runs both hands through the fur on his back.
Derek looks about as terrifying as a basket of kittens playing with yarn.
"Change," Stiles says, and Derek's contented rumbling stops. Then Stiles whispers something in his ear.
"Ew," Isaac says.
"I did not need to hear that," Scott nods.
The sheriff is glad that he couldn't hear that.
Derek shifts back slowly, the sheriff watching as his paws morph into hands and feet, into fingers and toes, as his back shortens and stretches, and his fur goes...away.
Then it's just Derek, lying in Stiles' arms, Stiles petting through his hair, much like he did his coat. And human Derek is able to rumble too.
"Only one thing stronger than your wolf," Scott says. "And that's your anchor."
Stiles looks up then, and throws a beam across the room when he notices the sheriff. "Hey, Dad," he says cheerfully. "Didn't see you there."
"Hi, son," the sheriff waves.
"So, I need to talk to Wolfy Mac Possessive Pants here." Derek does that whining thing again, burying his face into the crook of Stiles' neck, like he's mortified.
And well, he probably should be.
"Which means I might not be home until -"
"Got it," the sheriff says, holstering his gun. "I'll see you...whenever."
He leaves with Isaac and Scott, now more afraid for Derek than of Derek.
Maybe he could invite Derek over for Sunday lunch next week and they can commiserate with each other while Stiles makes his three bean casserole.
Falling in love with Stiles is easy, but loving him is fucking difficult. Derek and John should set up a support group.
“I worry about our son having that much power over another person,” John tells Claudia later.
“Like you did over me, and I did you over you,” she smiles.
“Yeah,” he whispers honestly. “It’s terrifying.”
“Love always is.” And she’s so beautiful, always vivid in his memory, always alive. “This bed feels weird,” she says.
“Yeah. Like maybe it’s time there was someone else in it.”
It’s a couple of months later, after they’ve faced yet another supernatural entity - and seriously, someone needs to start cataloguing the sheer amount of them - when he has Melissa pinned by the wall and his mouth. There are leaves in her hair and goop on his chin, and John gives no fucks about any of that until the door ominously slams shut.
“What is this?” Stiles gasps.
“Our first kiss?” Melissa says.
“A date?” John says.
“Dad,” Stiles admonishes. “Do better.”
“Yeah,” John says, chastised. But he’s not letting Melissa go.
“I hope you're buying her dinner,” Stiles continues. “That’s the least she deserves. Also, does Scott…”
“Stiles,” Derek says. “Let’s go and leave your dad and Melissa alone.”
“But...” Stiles flounders indignantly.
“But we’re going,” Derek says firmly, and looks John square in the eye. “And before we do, we just want to say that we’re very happy for you both.” He seems oddly young and earnest, and John doesn’t doubt him for a minute. “Happiness is something you’ve got to grab with both hands.”
“His hands are grabbing plenty,” Stiles says mulishly, eyes dropping to his dad’s arms still locked around Melissa’s waist.
“Going,” Derek says insistently, his own hand cupping firmly around Stiles’ elbow and beginning to guide him back out the door. “We’ll be at mine,” he tells John and John nods dumbly.
Stiles is still muttering his shock and dismay at his father’s lack of chivalry until they disappear.
Then Derek comes back with a big grin and two thumbs up before he’s gone again.
“I like him,” Melissa says when the door closes.
John smiles at her. “He’s okay,” he supposes.
Stiles could definitely do worse. Might even struggle to find better.
Then he does Melissa the courtesy of thinking of nothing but her when they kiss once more.