Stiles hated shopping of any kind, but anyone who knew him was well aware that grocery shopping was his arch nemesis. It might not have come to such extremes if he hadn't had a little helper with him; one who thought that grabbing the bottom water melon, from a pile as tall as Stiles himself was a good idea. She was wrong. So gloriously and epically wrong. Stiles ducked down to avoid the stares of the thirty something townspeople who had all known him and his dad for years. No, really, this wasn't embarrassing at all.
"Need some help?" A familiar voice asked and Stiles looked up to see the dimpled smile of Allison Argent as she elegantly knelt down to assist him in gathering smashed water melon from the cold grocery store floor.
"Would it make me a bad dad if I started crying with gratitude?" Stiles asked, only half joking.
"No," she laughed, "but imagine what the Beacon Hills gossip mill would make of it."
Stiles grimaced. As a single parent who had failed to bother to get into college or find himself a partner, the town already had plenty to say about the Sheriff's oddball son. No need to give them more ammunition. He turned around to see that most people had moved on, only two people remained staring at him. They looked like the typical Alpha-Omega couple, the woman had a possessive hand wrapped around the bulging biceps of her Alpha and the other on the handle of a shallow trolley. Looking closer Stiles could see that she was pulling on him, asking him quietly to stop staring and leave. Stiles couldn't have agreed more and he turned to glare at the Alpha, only to freeze in fear immediately.
"Stiles? Stiles, what is it? Stiles?"
Allison's hand on his arm startled him enough that he broke eye contact with the Alpha. "Sorry, I... uh... I didn't hear you."
Allison's brow was creased with concern and her grip became a gentle caress to reassure him. "I was asking where the culprit had scampered off to?"
"She's hiding under the apples."
"Stiles, who is that man?"
Stiles eyes immediately flickered to the Alpha who was now being dragged off by his pretty Omega. Finally there was no one left to gawk, and a store employee hurried over with a 'wet floor' sign and a mop. The teenager smiled at them and Stiles left the kid to clean up after his daughter.
"Well? Was it someone you knew?"
Stiles checked that Ella was safe and sound before answering Allison. "I don't know him, not really. He used to live in these parts; he's Mayor Hale's son."
"Are you sure you don't know him? The look he was giving you... it was pretty intense."
Stiles gave her a reassuring smile even as he tried to hide how shaken up he was. "I think I'd remember meeting Derek Hale. He was probably just wondering how anyone could be so clumsy as to destroy every melon in sight."
"Hmm, if you're sure. Just, be careful, okay?"
Stiles knew that Allison's concern came from a place of experience. When she had been in high school, before Stiles knew her, a beta called Matt had become fixated on her. It had ended badly, with Matt dead from a gun shot to the head and Allison traumatised. Afterwards she had taken up self defence classes which she now taught when she wasn't working at the local abused Omega protection centre which was where she met her now wife, lawyer Lydia Martin.
"Thanks," he said, meaning it.
They parted ways after that, with Allison heading off to pay for her modest basket of quality meats and exotic fruit while Stiles encouraged his daughter to show her face. Ella Stilinski was a bright young seven year old who had inherited her mother's golden locks, her biological father's expressive green eyes and Stiles's sense of humour and general klutziness.
"Proud of yourself are you, little lady?"
She cocked her head to one side and raised an eye brow. "You're not mad at me."
"Ya huh. If you were mad then you'd full name me and say that you were going to leave me here because you couldn't afford to pay for the watermelons so I'd have to work it off."
Stiles fought down a smile. "Let's just see what the cashier says when we pay."
Stiles had barely started shopping but he had no desire to hang around the store. He grabbed the last few necessities and made a bee line for the check out. A manager was called when be asked how much he should pay for the damages and the Alpha who arrived took one look at Stiles; seeing his young age, the cheap worn clothes on his back and the value items he'd purchased, and then a look at Ella; who smiled charmingly as she hummed the theme tune to a popular kids TV show and jumped around in her brand new sneakers, and forfeit the payment of the damaged food. It was kind of condescending but also a gesture that Stiles genuinely appreciated. The fifty bucks it probably would have amounted to was much better spent on getting Ella a new rucksack for school and going towards household bills.
Finally he was able to load his groceries into the back of the beloved Jeep and get Ella away from the store and the penetrating eyes of Derek Hale. It was only once Ella was tucked up in bed that he truly started to freak out.
The first thing he did was to hyperventilate on the kitchen floor. That was generally a good way to start a major freak out. Afterwards he searched through all of his important and exceedingly boring paperwork to find Ella's birth certificate on which no donor parent was named. This comforted him but only until he compared her blood type to Erica's and realised that Ella had her father's blood. It was tenuous but any link was enough to give Stiles heart palpitations. There was only one person who he could share his panic with and she happened to be several hundreds of miles away so Stiles taped out a message to Erica on his cell phone hoping she was awake in whatever part of the world she was in right now.
~ Guess who I just ran into? Derek freaking Hale ~
~ Hello to you too Stiles. Boyd and I are fine, thanks for asking ~
~ Did I not properly convey my panic? Gosh, I'm sorry. Here, let me rephrase; DEREK FUCKING HALE IS IN TOWN!!!! ~
~ I can read Stiles, I'm just not sure why this is such a big deal to you ~
~ Ella is more than a big deal to me ~
~ Derek Hale is the most self obsessed individual I know. He'll never figure out that she's his biological daughter. Stop worrying. ~
It was easy enough for Erica to suggest that he stop worrying, but Stiles knew that as long as he lived he wouldn't spend a moment without worrying about Ella in some way or another. Had she eaten enough? Was she getting enough sleep? Did he let her spend too much time with adults? Did she need to get more exercise and fresh air? Was that rash a reaction to the cheap washing powder he brought or had she had contact with a poisonous plant? Was she too pale? Too loud? Did she think her mom didn't love her? Did she think Stiles wasn't enough?
“Daddy,” Ella whined and Stiles spun around to see his daughter dressed in her 'Hello Kitty' nightdress, rubbing her eyes and yawning. Stiles gave her a smile and opened his arms for her to walk into and snuggle up into his warmth. She smelt of strawberry kids shampoo, clean linen with the same familiar Ella smell that seemed to be a combination of liquorish and rose petals. He breathed in deep and let the strange scents wash over him and settle him. There was nothing better than an Ella-hug.
“Couldn't sleep, pumpkin?”
“I heard something strange and I woke up. Can you tell me a story daddy?”
Stiles stood up, picking Ella up along for the ride and holding her as he walked to her bedroom, which was painted a 'happy' yellow with pink blankets on her child sized four-poster bed that he had gotten second hand and a pale blue rug that had been in the house when he had brought it. “What story would you like?” He swung her down onto the bed and tucked her in, sitting himself down on the edge nearest the door.
“You know which one,” she insisted sleepily.
“Ah, of course. Once upon a time their was a brave princess called Erica...”
Stiles had been telling this story to Ella since she was born, adding more to the ending as life went on. The most recent update that Erica marrying Boyd to live happily every after. Maybe one day he would be able to give himself a happily ever after. He loved Ella unconditionally and nothing would ever change the fact that she was the best thing to happen to him, but that didn't mean he was oblivious to the hole in his life. One only an Alpha could fill.