“Hey.” Stiles sat next to him on the foundation of the new house, still in the beginning stages of renovation. Wrapped her arms around her knees. Kept her gaze on the Betas as they sparred. “Can we talk later? After everyone goes home?”
He looked at her. The rigid line of her shoulders. Her white-knuckled grip on the fabric of her pants. The faint blush on her cheeks.
The scent of saltwater stung his nose.
“Sure,” he said, eyes going back to Scott as he flew into a tree. He put his arm behind her; let his weight fall to it. His side pressed warm against hers.
He grunted. Yelled encouragement at Isaac, who paused long enough to grin at him and get punched in the face. Erica laughed and lunged again as he fell.
“Are you okay?” he asked after a few minutes had passed.
“Okay.” She took a shaky breath and said, so softly he could barely hear it, “I’m really stupid, Derek.”
He pursed his lips. Stood and said, “We’re done for the day. Everybody clear out.”
“I was just about to pummel him,” Erica whined, struggling in Boyd’s grip. Boyd rolled his eyes and released her.
She kissed him and flipped him over her shoulder while he was distracted, cackling at his expression.
“Go home,” Derek said. “Isaac, stay the night at Scott’s.”
Isaac’s eyes flickered to Stiles, then back to Derek. “You got it, boss.”
“I have to put up with you for a night?” Scott asked, making a face, and laughed when Isaac made a face at him. Looked at Stiles. Opened his mouth, presumably to invite her along.
Isaac elbowed him hard in the stomach. Grabbed him by the arm and dragged him away while he wheezed and asked, “What the fuck was that for, dude?”
“I’ll put that book you wanted to borrow in your Jeep, Stiles,” Allison said, stifling a giggle as she followed after them.
“Thanks,” Stiles said. Waved halfheartedly as they disappeared around the corner.
“You want something to drink?” he asked. Offered her a hand, which she took, and pulled her to her feet. “Coke, tea, lemonade?”
“You still have a stash of Dr. Pepper?” She smiled when he huffed, following him inside and to the kitchen table.
“You don’t smell sick,” he said as he handed her a can of Dr. Pepper, hidden in the vegetable drawer because the pack loved Dr. Pepper but couldn’t smell it past the celery. “Or injured. Scott would know if it was something at school—”
“I’m pregnant.” She stared at her hands, sucking her bottom lip into her mouth and biting down. Her voice shook. “I, um. I took a test this morning. A few tests. Like, ten tests. Maybe twenty.”
He couldn’t breathe. Wasn’t breathing—forced himself to suck in a breath and blow it out. Cleared his throat loudly. “Congratulations? Or, or I’m sorry?”
She let out a watery laugh. “Both, I guess.” She wiped her eyes with her forearm. “I was hoping…I thought I should try to get in touch with the father.”
“You know who he is?” he asked, heart coming to rest like a stone in the pit of his stomach.
“His first name’s Silas,” she said. “Sounded mid-western, maybe. He…it was at the symposium thing in December? I was hoping you could maybe find out what pack he’s from?”
“Yeah,” he said hoarsely. Cleared his throat. “Yeah, of course. Are you…did you want to ask him first, before you…?”
“I’m not going to abort it.” Her thumb scratched a nervous line into the side of the soda. “I just. I can’t raise a kid, you know? I’m going to college, and…well, I thought maybe his pack would want it. And…and if they don’t, you could look into finding another one? I mean, the chances of it being human aren’t…it’ll probably be a Werewolf. So it’s got to go to a pack, right? Like, can Werewolves be barren? Maybe there’s a family that wants a kid, so it. It could go to them.”
“I’ll ask around. Do you…I could focus on nearby packs, so you could maybe visit?”
“That’d be nice,” she said hoarsely, wiping her eyes again. Sniffled loudly. “I’m not a complete idiot, you know. He was…I made him wear a condom. And I’ve been on birth control to regulate my cycle.”
He reached out. Hesitated for a brief moment before putting a hand on her shoulder and squeezing gently. “It’s okay.”
“I always figured it’d be Scott and Allison,” she said. “Like, they go at it like rabbits all the time, and I have sex twice and…bam! Immediately preggo. How is that even fair?” She slumped forward, putting her face in her hands.
He rubbed her back. Startled when she leaned into his chest. Coughed. “There, uh, there.”
“God, you’re the worst,” she said, words muffled by his chest. Her fingers clutched the material of his shirt.
He scowled and put both arms around her. She had never felt more human.
“If you need to stay here, you can,” he said to the top of her head. “Isaac can hold your hair back.”
She laughed. “I’m bald, Derek.”
“Made you laugh,” he said, and didn’t bother to suppress his smile when she laughed again.
“You can let go.” She made no move to pull away. “I won’t break.”
“I know.” He gave her a final squeeze and dropped his arms. “Have you told your dad?”
She shook her head, eyebrows furrowing and lips pressing together. “I can’t figure out how. He’s already so disappointed with me, with all the lying. And now I’ve gone and…and gotten myself knocked up, and I’ve heard the stuff he says about girls he sees at the hospital. It was the only good thing about being a virgin, you know? Knowing he’d never think that stuff about me.”
“Stiles, you did everything right,” he said. “Birth control, condom. This kid is just a stubborn shit like its mom.”
“The actual worst,” she said, sniffling loudly. “Could you—I mean, would you—”
“You want to tell him it’s…” He motions between them.
“Wha—ours? Shit, no, he’d just kill both of us,” she said with a soft laugh. “But if you could just…wait outside, maybe? So if he…if he kicks me out…”
“He’s not going to kick you out,” he said.
She looked down at her hands, fingers twisting around the hem of her shirt. “He’s going to be so angry.”
“Maybe if you just focus on the part where he’s going to be a granddad?” he asked. “I remember…my mom was really excited when she found out about Eric’s girlfriend being pregnant.”
“Yeah?” She glanced up at him.
“She also threw him into a tree, but I don’t think your dad could throw you that far.”
She smiled lopsidedly. “Just in case he can?”
He rolled his eyes and stood, offering her a hand. “Yeah, okay.”
The sheriff was waiting just outside when they pulled into the driveway. Ran off the porch and all but tackled Stiles as she got out of the car. Clutched her like she might disappear if he didn’t hold on tight enough.
“You dropped the test,” he said, words muffled by her neck. “Or one of them? It was next to the trash can in the bathroom and I kept thinking about all those times we were at the hospital and I—”
Stiles burst into tears. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Daddy.”
“I thought you left.” Somehow his grip seemed to tighten further. “I thought I made you run away and I’d never see you again.”
“I thought you’d kick me out,” she said.
“No, no, baby girl. I love you so much, Stiles. I love you so much.”
She returned the sentiment.
Derek looked down at his hands, lips pursed.
(Eric stood pale-faced in front of their mother, his girlfriend’s hand in his, their fingers laced together. Her free hand clutched at material of her shirt over her stomach. The fire turned them all to ash a month before she was due.)
He got out of the jeep as quietly as he could and pressed the door shut.
The sheriff looked up like he had supernatural hearing. Pushed Stiles behind him.
“Mr. Hale,” he said, eyes narrowed.
“Sheriff,” Derek said. Fidgeted.
“No, Daddy, he just.” She sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. “I asked him to come with me in case you…I mean, he’s just here for moral support.”
“And where, exactly, is the father?” the sheriff asked, voice steely.
“I’m not…I don’t know,” she said with a grimace. “His name was Silas. I met him at that symposium thing I told you about? Derek said he’d help me find him.”
“I’m on birth control,” she said, the words bursting out of her. “And of course I made him wear a condom, Dad, I’m not stupid—”
“I didn’t say—”
“I’m not stupid,” she said again, insisted it, hands balled into tight fists at her sides, shoulders up near her ears, eyes on the ground.
“I know,” the sheriff said quietly. “I know, Stiles. I just…didn’t want this for you.”
“He’s going to help me find a pack for it,” she said with a weak gesture at Derek. “And I already wear baggy clothes, so I’ll be graduated before it’s noticeable. And I was going to take a year off, anyhow, you know that, so it’s not. It isn’t going to change anything or, or hold me back. It’s going to be okay.”
The sheriff’s face softened. “I’m supposed to tell you that, kid.” He hugged her again.
“Well,” Stiles said.
“Well.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
“I’ll just,” Derek said, and pointed down the street when they looked back at him. “Go.”
The sheriff nodded stiffly.
“Thanks, Derek,” Stiles said. Smiled at him, soft and watery and uncertain.
He tilted his head at her and left.
Stiles said, “I’m going to tell Coach tomorrow.”
Derek sighed and nodded.
Perched in the rafters of the boy’s locker room so he had a clear view of Finstock’s office door.
Closed his eyes and massaged the bridge of his nose when Jackson turned the corner.
Jackson looked up at him with upraised brows and then over at the office as Stiles said, “I’m preggo.”
“What, like the spaghetti sauce?” Finstock asked. “Is this your way of telling me you have a bad sun burn? Because it’s kind of confusing and you’re too pale to get away with the lie.”
“Pregnant, Coach,” she said.
Jackson dropped his bag. Looked at Derek again, eyes wide, mouth slightly open.
“If you say anything to her it’ll be the last thing you say,” Derek said mildly.
Jackson scoffed and picked his things up. His hands shook as he strapped on his gear.
In the office Finstock said, “Congrats on the sex. You need a ride to the clinic?”
“I’m putting it up for adoption,” Stiles said.
“You’re on first line,” he said. “I’ll give you a ride to the clinic.”
“I’m putting it up for adoption,” Stiles said again. “If you mention a clinic one more time I’m calling my dad and he will have no problems calling you Cupcake in front of the other inmates while he books you.”
“Do you need any numbers for reputable adoption agencies? Don’t ask how I know the numbers, it’s better you don’t know.”
“Thanks, Coach,” Stiles said, opening the door. “But Dad’s helping.”
“If you come to the games to cheer McCall on I’ll be obligated to make you run suicides,” Finstock said. “Or else Greenberg will start getting more stupid ideas. So. See you in Econ.”
“See you, Coach.”
“Bilinski,” Finstock said, going to the doorway. “You change your mind about anything, let me know. Anything.”
“Yeah, Coach,” she said with a wave. Turned, locked eyes with Derek, and smiled with a minute shrug as Finstock disappeared back into his office.
(“I picked a hell of a day to quit drinking,” said Finstock to no one. Poured something into a glass. Downed it.)
Jackson grabbed his lacrosse stick and followed her out. “Hey, Stilinski.”
“Jackson, you little shit.” Derek dropped to the floor.
“Fuck,” Stiles said. “Listen, Jackson, don’t—”
“You’re giving the kid up?” Jackson asked.
Derek stopped in the doorway.
“I’m not exactly mother material.” Stiles hugged herself. “It’s none of your business, okay, just…I know you don’t like me but please keep this to yourself.”
“Don’t do a closed adoption,” Jackson said, the words tumbling out of his mouth like he couldn’t stop them. “The kid—you should see it, sometimes. So it doesn’t. You should just visit it every once in a while, or something. Let it know you…care, or whatever. If you do, I don’t fucking know. Do what you want, Stilinski, I don’t give a fuck.”
He turned and all but sprinted toward the lacrosse field.
“Fucking weirdo,” Stiles said, shaking her head.
Derek stepped out into the hallway. “He’s adopted.”
“Yeah, I know. He’s still fucking weird,” she said. Shoved her hands in her pockets and waited for him to fall into step beside her. “I guess he meant well, or whatever.”
“Everyone knows you and Jackson have a deep, abiding friendship,” he said.
She squinted at him.
He kept his voice monotone as he said, “Oh, wait, I confused friendship with hatred again.”
She snorted and bumped her shoulder into his. “Leave the jokes to me, big guy.”
“I would point out that you kind of laughed, but you have a terrible sense of humor so I don’t think that would help my case any.”
“Seriously, stop it,” she said, laughing. “Also fuck you, I have a wonderful sense of humor, like thirty times better than yours.”
“But I do have one?”
“Buried deep, deep down beneath all of your leather and angst and ego-driven alpha asshattery.”
“You are full of so much shit.”
“And it’s all coming together to form a kid,” she said, making a face at her stomach. “Hope it takes after its dad, a mini-Stiles is not something the world needs.”
He shrugged. “You aren’t completely awful.”
“Yeah, thanks.” She made a face at him.
“I know worse,” he said. “Have known worse.”
She looked at him like she knew. About Kate, about everything. Then looked back down at her stomach, pert nose wrinkling. “Mom used to say I’d be cursed with a kid just like me.”
“Are you just like she was?” he asked.
“She claimed she was worse,” she said.
He mocked a shudder. “Truly a nightmare.”
“To be fair I don’t think they really diagnosed ADHD back when she was a kid, especially not in girls.” She shrugged. “Dad told me she was a girly girl when they were in high school, captain of the cheerleading squad and prom queen, the works.”
“So your inability to coordinate your feet like a normal person is inherited from…the milkman?”
She bumped him again. “Shut up, I am a paragon of grace.”
“Like I’m a paragon of humor?”
“Ugh, you’re stupid and I don’t like you at all.” Her heart sped up. And somewhere beneath that sound, softer but still there…
“I can hear it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I know, like you need to show off your creepy Werewolf powers to know when I’m—”
“No, the.” He waved a hand at her midsection. “I can hear it.”
She wrapped her arms around her stomach and said, “Yeah?”
“Yeah, like.” He tapped one of her arms to the faint, rapid beat of the baby’s heart.
“Oh,” she said, and then fell silent. Stayed quiet for the rest of the walk to her car except for one finger tapping in time with his.
“You don’t smell like vomit,” Scott said when Stiles announced the news at the next pack meeting a month later.
Jackson was conspicuously absent.
She rolled her eyes. “It’s called a toothbrush, Scott, I use it. Also Dad, like, immediately stocked up on these ginger candy things after I told him. Apparently they helped Mom with hers, and she didn’t even get it that bad, so…good genes, or whatever.”
“Oh,” Scott said, cocking his head to one side. “That’s, like…all I know about pregnant women. And the basketball tummy.” He leaned back and took a deep breath so his stomach pushed out.
“Oh my God, Scott, you are such a fucking potato,” Erica said, shoving him into a wall. Gave Stiles a bro-nod. “So who’d you finally get to bone you?”
“Erica.” Boyd sighed.
“What? She was my first crush, I totally have a right to know who finally got in her pants,” she said.
Isaac’s eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t think that’s how it works.”
“Was it Derek?” she asked without acknowledging Isaac. “It was totally Derek, right?”
“It wasn’t Derek, why does everyone think it was Derek?” Stiles asked, frowning at Derek.
“Everyone?” Scott gave her one of the saddest faces Derek had ever seen.
“Well, my dad and now you guys,” she said with an annoyed, dismissive wave of her hand. “It was this dude from the symposium, Silas something.”
“You didn’t even get his last name?” Erica asked, eyebrows shooting up. Gave her a sly look. “Well look at you, you sexy little harlot.”
“Fuck you, I am an independent woman and I will have sex with whomever I want, last name or no,” Stiles said, sticking her nose in the air. “I’m mostly just pissed he had, like, super condom-defying Were-jizz or whatever.”
“Were-jizz.” Scott’s nose wrinkled.
“On full moons it sprouts fur and eats eggs,” she said with a straight face.
“That’s disgusting,” Derek said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, my Batman.” Erica laughed as she threw an arm around Stiles’ shoulders.
“Catwoman,” Stiles said. “Think they make maternity belts?”
“We should totally make you a maternity belt,” Erica said. “With, like, doggie bags in one pouch, and whatever weird craving food you get in another pouch—”
“And extra batteries,” Stiles said. “Like, a thirty-six pack of them.”
“What do you need batteries for?” Scott asked.
Stiles snickered and patted his cheek. “Oh, Scott, my sweet summer child.”
“I don’t get it,” Scott said, bottom lip jutting out.
“It’s for her vibrator, sweetie,” Erica said. “Pregnant women get, like, super horny.”
“Vibrators,” Stiles corrected with a dreamy expression.
“Dude,” Scott said.
“Don’t worry, bro, now that I have a sister from another mister,” she slung an arm around Erica’s waist, “I totes don’t have to give you the down and dirty of my sexploits, anymore.”
“Was that ever a thing?” Isaac asked, looking between her and Scott.
“It’s in the bro code,” Stiles said seriously. “I know a lot about Allison. Too much.”
“But what do you mean, anymore?” Scott asked loudly, not meeting anyone’s gaze and looking in the opposite direction from Allison. “You definitely never told me about baby daddy and that happened three months ago. Apparently.”
“Dude, Scott.” She leveled him with a look. “Remember the tongue thing?”
“The secret to life, the clitoris, and everything?” Scott asked.
“Yeah.” She pointed down at her stomach and leered.
“Oh, shit, bro,” Scott said, smiling wide, and offered her a fist. Stiles bumped it with her own.
“How are you real people who exist in real life?” Boyd asked.
“I feel like I should be further along for The Talk to really have the emotional impact it should,” Stiles said, rubbing a hand over her (mostly flat) belly. “But see, it starts when a person with dude parts and another person with dudette parts—”
Derek cut her off. “I hate you. I hate all of you.”
“But, dude,” Scott said, eyes wide and trained on her hand. “There’s, like, a little you in there?”
“Yeah,” she said. Smiled wide down at her stomach and then bit her bottom lip like maybe she wasn’t allowed to be happy about it. Laughed awkwardly. “Looks like a kidney bean, right now, according to all of the books Dad’s been shoving down my throat.”
“That’s so cool.” Scott beamed at her. “Dude, you’re going to be a mom.”
“Nah, man, can you even imagine? I’d probably, like, go on some weird research binge and forget it. I’d be the very worst mom ever in the history of worst moms.” She rolled her eyes at herself.
“Do you…want to keep it?” Derek asked.
“Not about that, broski,” she said. “Little condom-buster has to have a real mom.”
“You’d be an awesome mom, Stiles,” Scott said. “You’re an awesome person, so—”
“I’m an asshole.” She held up a hand. “Like, seriously, it’s only due to forced closeness and a mutual inability to stay out of shit that any of you still hang out with me. And you,” she said to Scott, “only put up with me because I shared my Jell-O with you in kindergarten. By the time you started to realize what a jackass I am you were too deeply mired in the bonds of friendship.”
“Nope, discussion over. We’re all going to stop projecting traits Stiles doesn’t have on her just because she’s pregnant and that’s distorting our image of her in our minds,” she said loudly. “I’m going home. See you dudes on the flip side.”
And she disappeared out the door as swiftly as if she was a Werewolf.
Peter walked in on a pack meeting a week later. Stuck his nose in the air. Sniffed. Tilted his head to one side and said to Stiles, “I didn’t think the first child in the pack would come from you.”
“It’s not,” she said. “We’re finding another pack for it.”
Peter’s eyebrows rose as he looked at Derek. “You’re letting her give away your kid?”
“Literally everyone,” Stiles said with a melodramatic roll of her eyes. “It’s not Derek’s.”
“Oh, really?” Peter gave Derek what could only be described as a disappointed look.
“Does everyone seriously think I wouldn’t be in bed with him every moment of every day if I’d managed to talk him into it long enough to get knocked up?” she asked. “Have none of you people seen him bend over? If I got that ass in bed it’d take a whole hell of a lot more than some shitty supernatural crisis for me to let it out, trust me.”
“Also we would’ve heard about it a lot.” The corners of Scott’s mouth twisted down.
“And Scott would’ve burned that couch by now,” Stiles said, tapping her chin. “Which I guess means we’d have made it out of the bed at some point—”
“Dude, too far,” Scott said.
“Too far out of bed or—”
“You keep that in mind the next time you think it’s a good idea to wax poetic about Allison’s—”
“—Everything,” she finished lamely. “Not that I couldn’t write a few dozen limericks about Derek’s ass, mind you, and I’ve never even seen it unclothed.”
Scott did a fair impression of a hissing cat. “I should never have accepted Jell-O from you. It wasn’t even good, it was sugar free, what kind of kindergartner has sugar free Jell-O?”
“I feel very uncomfortable with the place this conversation has gone,” Derek said.
“Kindergartners with sugar free Jell-O make you uncomfortable?” Stiles asked, squinting at him. “You once asked me to amputate your arm but that’s where you draw the line?”
“I think he was referring to your objectification of his everything,” Lydia said.
“Would it make you feel better if I told you Scott’s the only person in this room I haven’t objectified at one point or another?”
“Including Peter?” Allison asked, making a face.
“It happened once in a dream and then I didn’t masturbate for like a week, okay, it’s not my fault all Werewolves are actually supernaturally attractive.”
“I’m flattered,” Peter said drolly.
“Don’t be. I get fear boners.”
“I’m judging you so hard right now, you don’t even know.” Scott shook his head.
“Like, everyone in this room has tried to kill or at least greatly injure me at least once, including you. So you can take your judgment, wrap it in wolfsbane, and shove it up your ass.”
“But I didn’t give you a fear boner, right?”
“Do I look like Cersei Lannister to you? No, no I fucking don’t. I have never lusted after my bro ever at all, thank you.”
“Good, that’s super gross.”
“The point is,” she said, and then said it again louder, like someone was trying to interrupt (no one was). “The point is the baby isn’t Derek’s.”
“And I assume it doesn’t belong to anyone else in this room?” Peter asked, narrowed eyes sweeping over the others.
“Not unless they disguised themselves as a Midwestern Alpha named Silas,” she said. “Which would actually be kind of impressive for a number of reasons, come to think of it.”
“Silas.” Peter zeroed in on her. “You’re sure?”
“Well, I’m guessing he’d have been offended if I was screaming someone else’s name. Probably would have protested; I hear guys get all bent out of shape about that sort of thing for some reason.” She shrugged. “Why? You know him?”
“I might know of him,” he said, turning away. “I’ll look into it.”
“I have some old friends of Mom’s looking for him,” Derek said.
“And now I am. I’ll be in touch, Nephew,” Peter said. “Stiles.”
“Uncle Scar,” Stiles said sweetly.
Peter smirked at her and disappeared through the doorway.
“I don’t like him,” Stiles said without looking away from the door. “I feel like he’s going to kill us all while we’re sleeping or something.”
“He’s not going to kill us while we’re sleeping,” Derek said.
“I actually prefer that to him killing us while we’re awake, so, uh, not comforting, dude,” she said.
“He’s not going to kill us at all, Stiles, Jesus.”
She opened her mouth. Hunched over and vomited.
“Oh shit,” Scott said. Jerked but otherwise stayed still, like he wanted to go to Stiles’ side but was also afraid to get near her.
“Aw, baby doesn’t want Mommy and Daddy fighting,” Erica said with her usual amount of tact.
“You okay?” Derek took a ginger candy out of his pocket and handed it to her.
“I thought I was supposed to be past the morning sickness,” Stiles said. Wiped her mouth on the back of her hand, grimaced, and went to the bathroom.
“Erica can hold your hair back,” he said, shooting Erica a wicked sneer.
Stiles poked her head out, the toothbrush in her mouth distorting her words. “Do you threaten your Betas with hair-holding?”
“Of course not,” Derek lied.
She rolled her eyes and disappeared back into the bathroom. Spat and said, “Ineffective threat; I still don’t have enough hair to need holding. Make her clean it up.”
“Ew, no, let’s not,” Erica said.
“Cleaning supplies are under the sink.”
“Homework?” Derek asked, flopping down on the couch next to Stiles.
“Translation for French,” she said distractedly. Chewed on her pen as she glared down at the massive book in her lap.
“What is it?” He craned his neck to take a peek.
“La Bête du Gévaudan. Or that’s the part I’m translating, at least,” she said. Shrugged when he frowned at her. “I borrowed it from Allison, you know, mixing business with…supernatural business. The rest of the book is about other hunting legends and stuff, but that’s what I’m doing for class. I’ll do some more for research stuff.”
“My mom used to have it. Just La Bête.” He settled back in the couch, looking at the powered off TV instead of her. “Only it was our version. The Beast was an Argent who hunted down a crazed Omega, then hunted down the local pack even though they’d never done anything wrong. The Omega wasn’t even from their pack.”
“Burn in the fire, yeah,” he said. Glanced at her and then couldn’t take his eyes away. The pen was hanging loosely between her lips. “Other packs might have copies, though. And there are probably other stories from that book from our point of view out there somewhere. I can ask Peter, he would know.”
She made a face and took the pen out of her mouth, jotting something down in her notebook. Mouth tight, she said, “That’d be nice, I guess.”
“I don’t have to.”
She sighed. “No, no, sorry. I got sick again last night so I’m tired, that’s all. Not, like, crazy sick, just enough that I didn’t sleep well.”
“You want to take a break?” he asked. “I have Netflix, we could watch a movie.”
“Yes, please, anything not French,” she said, all but flinging herself away from the book.
“Oh, you know, I have Monty Python and the Holy Grail on DVD,” Derek said, reaching for his DVD case.
She laughed. “Well then put it in, or I shall taunt you a second time.”
“You father smells of elderberries,” he said, getting up to start the movie.
“How did I not know you like Monty Python? My mind has been blown, dude.”
“Don’t call me dude.” He sat back down. Tensed when she scooted closer, their legs brushing up against each other.
“I might fall asleep on you.” She yawned and leaned against him as the movie started.
“That’s fine,” he said, and resolutely did not spend the entire movie fighting the urge to put his arm around her shoulders.
“Morning sickness is definitely not gone, yet, and has decided to stop going easy on me. I vomited for, like, an hour straight today,” Stiles said as she swept into the loft. Plopped onto the couch with a melodramatic sigh. “Accidentally hit Harris with some on my way to the trashcan.”
“That’s a lie,” Derek said, frowning as he tossed a small baggie of ginger candy at her.
She caught it and laughed. “Yeah, alright, you got me. I totally barfed on him on purpose.”
“It was glorious,” Lydia said, stealing the recliner before anyone else could try. “Completely disgusting, but also glorious.”
“Fucking douchebag—I told him I didn’t feel good, it’s his own fault he always thinks I’m lying to get out of class.” She hummed contently as she popped a piece of candy into her mouth. Folded her arms behind her head and closed her eyes. “Anyway, I got sent to the nurse, so now she knows. Got all high and mighty.”
“Long story short, Stiles has detention for the rest of the week,” Scott said.
She snorted. “I think I’m going to invest in some miniskirts and tube tops for the duration. If they want a pregnant slut I’ll give them one.”
Derek’s eyes narrowed. “Did she call you a pregnant slut?”
She peeked at him, a small smile tugging at her mouth. “Not in those words, but I’m not an idiot and pamphlets on safe sex and STDs aren’t exactly what I’d call subtle.”
“Hm,” he said. Lifted her legs up so he could sit down. When she tried to curl her legs up to give him room, he pulled them into his lap. Picked up one foot and started massaging it. “What movie are we starting with?”
“Whatever movie makes you happy enough to keep doing that,” she said, hissing when he started working out a knot in the arch of her foot.
“I think we should watch Easy A,” Erica said. “Give us all ideas for dressing like sluts.”
“Do I have to wear a corset?” Scott asked. “I don’t think I’d look good in a corset.”
“You’re going to dress like a slut for me?” Stiles asked, eyes popping open.
“Of course, bro,” Scott said, reaching over to fist bump with her. “Just don’t think I’ll look good in a corset.”
“Definitely a crop top and cut offs for you, baby boy,” she said with a leer. Let her eyes slip closed with a soft groan as Derek moved to her other foot.
“But it’s cold.” Scott wrinkled his nose.
Allison patted his arm soothingly. “We’ll get you some tights to wear under the shorts.”
“And you’ve got your leather jacket, right?” Stiles asked. “Isn’t it mandatory to get one when you join Derek’s pack?”
“You don’t have one,” Derek said.
Her eyes snapped back open.
“Dude, of course you’re pack,” Scott said. “Don’t be stupid.”
“You should wear Derek’s,” Lydia said.
“Ooh, yes,” Erica said. “He’s not really the baby daddy but can you imagine the looks on everyone’s faces thinking you tapped that?”
“It would eat me, Derek’s like thirty times my size,” Stiles said. “For real, have you seen his shoulder to waist ratio? He almost puts Chris Evans to shame.”
“I’ll have to work harder if it’s only almost,” Derek said.
She laughed. Jerked and squealed when he ran a light finger across the bottom of her foot. “No, no, don’t, oh my god.”
“Seriously, don’t,” Scott said. “If you tickle her too much she’ll piss herself.”
Stiles shrieked. “Don’t tell them that, why would you tell them that?” She cast a suspicious glare at everyone in the room. “I swear to god if any of you use this power for evil you’re paying for every article of clothing I get piss on.”
“I’m not going to make you pee yourself,” Derek said. Smirked when she gave him a grateful look. “This couch was expensive.”
“Ugh.” She kicked him. “What did I tell you about trying to be funny?”
“That I should ignore you because you still giggle at fart jokes and therefore your dislike of my humor is actually a ringing endorsement?”
She made a face at him.
“I’m starting the movie, now,” Isaac said.
“Oh.” Stiles looked down at her stomach, eyes wide.
“What? Are you okay?” Derek asked.
“Sorry, no, yeah, I’m fine,” she said. Lifted her shirt up and ran a hand over the slight bump of her stomach. “I think the baby just moved.”
“Really?” Scott asked.
“Yeah, it’s like butterflies,” she said.
“I didn’t know you’re already starting to show,” Allison said.
“Loose shirts are miracle workers.” Stiles shrugged, eyes still glued to her stomach. She shoved her shirt back down and curled her arms around herself, legs drawn up closer to her. “Sorry, Isaac, you can start the movie.”
“No way, I want to feel the baby move,” Isaac said.
“You guys won’t be able to feel it for at least another month,” she said, holding herself tighter. “At least, um, that’s what dad’s books say.” She looked at Derek. “Is it different for Werewolves?”
“No, the gestation is more or less the same, I think,” Derek said. “More activity around the full moon, but as far as I know that’s the only real difference.”
“Dude, we’ll be able to feel the baby for graduation,” Scott said, beaming at Stiles. “That’s so awesome.”
“Yeah.” Stiles gave him an unsteady smile in return. Cleared her throat and stood. “I’m going to—I think I’ll just lie down for a while, if that’s okay.”
“Are you—” Derek cut himself off when she held up a hand.
“Fine, fine, kid’s making me queasy again. Just going to crash for a bit.”
“I’ll wake you when the movie’s over,” Scott said. “If you aren’t already awake.”
“’Kay,” she said as she started up the stairs. Paused and jabbed a finger at him. “And don’t even think about trying to drive my Jeep, Scott McCall, I’ll be good to go after a nap.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Scott said, making a face at her.
They pretended not to watch her disappear upstairs. Pretended not to recognize the smell of saltwater, or the sound of deep, shaky breaths.
Derek was no stranger to teenagers, not after trying (and usually failing) for three years to lead them. He was also no stranger to teenagers trying (and consistently failing) to be subtle. So ignoring the teens pouring out of the high school as they pointed and whispered and practically tiptoed past him (as if by moving slowly he wouldn’t see them. Honestly.) came as easily to him as breathing.
It helped that he was wearing sunglasses and could roll his eyes with impunity.
He leaned back against the Camaro with a sigh, crossing his arms over his chest. His jacket was draped over one arm, the leather sun-warm against his skin. He arched an eyebrow at a group of girls inching toward him. One of them squeaked and they scattered.
He looked up at Stiles. Waved and pushed himself off the hood. Nudged the sunglasses further up the bridge of his nose so she wouldn’t see how wide his eyes were.
He forgot, sometimes, that Stiles wasn’t actually as puny as her baggy clothes made her appear. No mistaking her for puny in the lacy red and gold corset she wore, or the skintight black pants.
“What’re you doing here?” she asked. “You haven’t been to pick up the leather trio since Boyd’s grandma bought him a car.”
“Thought there might not be any harm in taking Erica’s advice,” he said, offering her the jacket.
She looked at it. Blinked.
“Are you going to put it on or not?” He shook the jacket a little.
“I’ll take it, I’ll take it.” She did, slipping it on and wrinkling her nose as the sleeves came to rest several inches past her wrists. “Told you it’d eat me, ugh. I probably look like a little kid.”
“You look good,” he said. Straightened the collar. Let his fingers trace the lapels down to her midsection so he could pull her a little closer. Smirked at her. “Want to really drive the point home?”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Yeah?”
She grinned. Reached up to push his sunglasses up into his hair. “Not while you’re wearing those,” she said, and then cupped his face and pulled him the scant few inches forward so their mouths could meet.
(He forgot, too, that they were the same height. She had a way of slumping, making herself smaller.)
His hands froze for a moment before settling on her hips. Her tongue ran across his bottom lip, and a shock of heat shot through him.
“Get a room, Stiloser,” Jackson said rudely as he passed them.
She pulled away and patted her tiny baby bump, smiling sweetly. “Already did, Whitteless.”
Derek sighed, especially when he noted several groups of students looking from him to her stomach (and back again). “Let’s go, Babe.”
She jerked a little. Looked at him with wide eyes. Slowly, her lips curved into a wicked grin. “Sure thing, Moon Pie.”
A snort escaped him before he could stop it, but he did manage to keep a straight face as he said, “Just get in, my sun and stars.”
She threw her head back and laughed. Tried to stifle it but just snorted and made herself laugh even harder.
It made his heart do something funny in his chest.
That wasn’t anything unusual, lately, when it came to Stiles.
Derek didn’t look up as Peter entered the loft, but he did when Peter slammed a thick book in front of him.
Peter nodded at the table.
Derek looked down at the book, which was actually a folder.
“Yes, Alpha Walker, this is Derek,” he said, sitting stock still in his chair.
“No need to be so formal, son,” Rudy said. “You know I’m happy help out Talia’s son.”
“Have you, um, found anything? Sir?” he asked, free hand fisting into the material of his jeans.
“ I’ve put out some feelers for you. Not found any matches, yet, but we’ve still got three or four months to go before we have to really start worrying about finding a pack for the child.”
“Thanks,” he said. “But I was going to tell you…it might be best if we keep it with us. If this Silas guy is as unsavory as I think, it might not be a good idea to get another pack involved.”
“I’ll find a big pack, one that can fight off scum like him.” Rudy paused. “Now, if you want to keep the baby because you want to keep it, and not like you feel you have to, that’s a different story.”
“I’m pretty sure she wants to,” he said. “She gets quiet when we bring up the birth and what happens after, and sometimes she…she looks sad.”
“No one’s going to stop you keeping it,” Rudy said. “If you want it. Even if it’s not yours, you’re its Alpha.”
“Yeah.” He coughed. “I think I do. But I’m not sure…I mean, maybe she doesn’t want it and I’m reading it all wrong.”
“Nothing saying you can’t keep it, son. Just because she’s in your pack doesn’t mean she has to act as its mother. Just think on it, talk it over with your pack. Her, too, obviously.”
“Yeah. Yeah, okay,” he said. “I’ll get back to you if I change my mind, or she…or whatever.”
“I’ll keep looking and have a pack or two on standby.”
“Thanks, Rudy. It really means a lot.”
“No worries, kid. You keep a close eye on your girl.”
His chest tightened. She wasn’t his, wouldn’t ever be—
He took a deep, shaky breath and closed his eyes. “I’ll call you back in a few weeks.”
“And I’ll let you know if I find out anything more.”
“I like this room,” Stiles said, a hint of a whine in her voice. She frowned at Derek, crossing her arms in such a way that they came to rest on the slight bump of her stomach. “Why doesn’t my room have a cool window nook?”
“You never said anything about wanting a nook.” Derek opened the window. “You shouldn’t even be here to see the nook, Stiles.”
“I just wanted to see what it looks like before the painting and stuff starts,” she said. “It’s not like the sheetrock has fumes for me to breathe in or whatever. And anyway, you should have known I would want a nook; who in their right mind doesn’t want a sweet reading nook?”
Derek rolled his eyes. “Your room’s already twice as big as everyone else’s so you can fit all of your research stuff. You don’t need a nook.”
She huffed and sat down on the nook with a pleased sigh, rubbing her tummy absentmindedly. “It’s a spare room, anyway. We can put a bunch of pillows here and it’ll be super comfy. A great place to rock—” She cut herself off. Blinked and dropped her hands to her lap. Cleared her throat and continued softly, “I mean, read. A great place to read. It even faces the right way so the sun will hit you while it’s setting.”
“Yeah.” He sat next to her.
“Have you found a pack for it, yet?” she asked.
“A few,” he said carefully. “One I…I think will be a really good fit.”
“But it’s not Silas’s?”
“We still haven’t gotten in touch with him,” he said, and thought he did a good job of not sounding relieved by that fact.
She nodded. Dropped her gaze to the floor. “He called me last week.”
“Last week?” he asked, voice harsh.
“Yeah. He said ‘Stiles? It’s Silas. I’ll be there in four months to pick up my son.’ And then he hung up.” She let out a shaky breath and leaned against him. “His son.”
“We won’t let him near your baby, Stiles.”
“It’s his kid, too, though. That’s why I asked you to look for him in the first place.”
“If he only wants a boy he doesn’t deserve to have it at all. And.” He cut himself off and pressed his lips into a thin line.
He took a deep breath and put his arms around her, for comfort and to keep her from running away. “I think he got you pregnant on purpose.”
“What?” She tried to pull away.
“Peter found him. He says Silas leads an all-male, migratory pack. Knocks up human girls from small packs and then wipes the pack out after the kid is born.”
“Oh,” she said. Curled herself around her stomach as much as she could in his arms. “Derek, I didn’t mean to. I mean, I didn’t think, I just. He seemed nice, and no one ever talked to me like that before, or looked at me like that, and I thought why not? Why not go ahead and lose my v-card so I can go off to college and not worry too much about it, you know? God, I’m so stupid.”
“Stiles, he targeted you. He specifically sought you out because you’re human and part of a weak pack. If this is anyone’s fault, it’s mine.”
“For what?” she asked his clavicle. “Trusting the stupid human girl not to be such a huge fucking idiot?”
“For taking you there in the first place. For letting you—any of you—be in my pack when I can hardly even take care of myself. For not vetting the list of packs so I could tell you who to look out for.”
“You did tell us.”
“I told you the ones I remembered from when my family was still alive and going to those things. I didn’t even remember most of them until we got there and I saw someone I recognized. I should have looked over the list and asked Rudy or some other friend of my mother’s who to avoid.”
She blew out a huffy breath. “We’re just going to go back and forth on this.”
He grunted and pulled her closer. Adjusted his arm so he could curl their fingers together over her belly. “Peter thinks he probably popped a hole in the condom.”
“Figured that,” she said.
“He might have also compromised your birth control. Switched it for sugar pills after you slept together or.” He cleared his throat. “Or maybe had someone switch it while you were talking? You talked to him before, right? I mean, not just on the night you…”
“For a day or two,” she said. “I thought I was being smart about it by getting to know him first. Less of a one night stand and more of a fling, you know? We didn’t, um.” She swallowed. “We didn’t have penetrative sex the first time. Just, uh, oral.”
“The secret to life, the clitoris, and everything?” he asked.
She laughed—a hollow sound, especially coupled with the bitter tang of her scent. “Yeah. Which, I mean, definitely going to make sure any future partners know that one. Even if I did learn it from a gigantic bag of dicks.”
“You were smart about everything,” he said. “You did everything right, Stiles. But all that I’ve heard says he’s been doing this for a long time.”
“So I wasn’t smart enough, is all,” she said quietly.
“Me, neither,” he said, thumb stroking her shoulder. He pressed a gentle kiss to the top of her head.
“This pack,” she said. “The one that’s getting the baby…”
“I still have to confirm it with them,” he said. “But they aren’t so bad. Pretty nice, as Werewolves go.”
She hummed softly. “Do you…do you think they’d let me name it?”
“I think they’d be honored.”
“Make sure they get it,” she said, clutching his hand. “You promise me, Derek Hale. No one touches this baby but them.”
“I swear on my family’s grave, Stiles.”
“We’re going to start patrolling,” Derek said without waiting for anyone to ask what the impromptu meeting was about, or why Stiles wasn’t present for it.
“What? Why?” Erica asked, elbowing Jackson before he could snag the last egg roll.
“I think Silas is going to try to steal Stiles’ baby,” he said.
They all stopped, most of them mid-bite (or mid-chew).
“Steal?” Scott asked, voice hard.
Derek handed him the folder, and went to get drinks for everyone while they read it.
“This is bullshit,” Jackson said, pushing himself away from the table.
“Hearsay,” Derek corrected. “But it’s sounding more and more like the truth the more Peter and my mother’s contacts ask around, and Silas called Stiles last week. Not,” he said, eyes hard, “a social call, or even a polite one. I want to know the second they’re in town. I’ll take night and school shifts until graduation, but after…”
“We only have one more week, and most of our testing will be done by Wednesday,” Lydia said. “And you know the sheriff is going to want to be involved, so we should talk to him, too.”
“I’ll call him later.”
“I’ll take the first one tomorrow after school,” Scott said, jaw clenched.
“We both will,” Allison said.
“You two take the east, Jackson and I will take the west,” Lydia said firmly.
“You can work out a rotation, Lydia. Don’t forget to check in with the sheriff, too,” Derek said.
She nodded and pulled a small electronic day planner out of her purse. Everyone crowded around, though she held up a hand before they could start arguing.
“I already have everyone’s schedules. I don’t need your input,” she said. “I’ll email everyone a copy when I’m finished, and you can let me know if you need any changes made for something I don’t know about.” Her eyes swept over them suspiciously, as if that would only happen if they were hiding something from her and such a thing was wholly unacceptable.
Derek took a deep breath and let it out. Leaned against the table so he could focus on the wood beneath his palms instead of the butterflies in his stomach. “There’s one other thing I wanted to talk to you guys about.”
“Shoot,” Allison said, slipping back into her seat. The others did the same.
“The house is mostly finished, now,” he said. “Pretty much just painting and finishing touches left, so we’ll be able to do it ourselves.”
“And we get to pick and paint our own rooms, right?” Isaac asked.
“We already picked rooms when we were drawing up the blueprints,” Boyd said. “Derek’s talking about something else.”
Derek nodded slowly as their heads swiveled back to him.
“So?” Erica asked.
“I was thinking we might turn one of the spare rooms into a nursery,” he said. Cleared his throat and looked down at a knot in the table when the room went still. “If. If everyone thinks it’s a good idea. I was going to ask Stiles if she. If maybe.”
“Dude,” Scott said, eyes wide.
“Unless you think she’d be happier if we just.” He swallowed thickly. Shifted in his seat. Rubbed the back of his neck. “There’s still time to find a different pack.”
“No way,” Scott said, beaming at him. “We’re going to have a baby. We’re going to have Stiles’ baby, this is the best thing ever, she’s going to be so excited. I’m going to be the best uncle in the whole wide world.”
“I get dibs on godmother,” Erica said.
“You get no such thing.” Lydia’s eyes narrowed at her.
Erica put her fists on her hips. “I’m Stiles’ Catwoman and Derek’s favorite Beta, that makes me the baby’s godmother.”
“I’m clearly the logical choice to take care of the baby if something happens to either of them,” Lydia said. Scowled when Erica snorted. “I’m financially stable, for one.”
“Your parents are financially stable,” Erica corrected. “If the kid grows up with you it’ll end up some spoiled, insipid brat who’s probably never seen the classics.”
“I’ll have you know I own all of the classics. Casablanca, Citizen Kane—”
“I’m talking about the original Star Wars trilogy,” Erica said with a roll of her eyes. “And Christopher Reeves’ Superman, and every iteration of Batman ever except George Clooney’s.”
“Nerd movies hardly count as classics and George Clooney’s face happens to be a gift to mankind—”
“His nipples aren’t a gift to anyone or anything, especially not the bat suit.”
“Um,” Scott said loudly, raising his hand as both a defensive measure and an inquisitive gesture. “Shouldn’t we let Stiles and Derek decide?”
“Of course it’s their decision,” Lydia said, tossing her hair over her shoulder and sticking her nose in the air.
“Right now we should be more worried about getting everything ready,” Derek said, eyeing both girls warily. He had never been in the middle of a dispute between girls—surprising, given the number of sisters he had before the fire—and he wasn’t keen to start. Especially having seen the arguments between his sisters. And the aftermath.
Also, Lydia and Erica were terrifying enough when they were happy.
“And whether or not Stiles even wants to keep the baby,” he added when he was sure they weren’t going to start fighting again.
“Trust me, I’ve known Stiles forever,” Scott said. “She’s my brain twin; basically me with a vagina and an overabundance of sarcasm.”
“And boobs,” Erica said.
“I have boobs,” Scott said. “Just mine are,” he held his hands up flat in front of his chest, “instead of,” he curved them so it looked like he was cupping a pair of breasts. Coughed and dropped his hands, a light flush on his cheeks. “But, yeah, she definitely wants the baby. I can tell, and also her dad said something about it the other day. I think he’s still worried she’s going to run off.”
“She’s not, is she?” Allison asked.
“I don’t think so. She’s really sad, lately, but once we tell her we’re keeping the baby she won’t be, anymore. And there’ll be no reason for her to leave,” Scott said with a goofy grin.
“When are we telling her?” Lydia asked, eyes snapping to Derek.
“I thought we’d surprise her once the house is finished,” Derek said. “Unless…maybe that’s a bad idea?”
“It’s a great idea.” Allison beamed at him. “Very sweet.”
He shrugged. Looked down at the floor and rubbed the back of his neck.
“What’re you talking about? It’s a shit idea,” Jackson said. Scowled and crossed his arms over his chest when everyone looked at him. “She reeks of sadness all the time. Even I can smell it and I make it a habit to avoid smelling her whenever possible. She’s just going to get more stressed and sad the closer she gets to giving birth and that’s not good for the kid. Or her.” He looked away from them, glaring at the hole in the wall. “Not that I care.”
“Of course you don’t, Jackson,” Lydia said, patting his shoulder. Held her phone out to Derek. “How about you call her right now and tell her to come meet her baby’s new pack?”
He stared at the phone for a moment, eyes narrowing when she jiggled it at him impatiently. Took it and found Stiles in the ‘recently called’ list (? Stilinski, to be precise. Everyone else seemed to be labeled similarly; Jackson was listed in her phone as J. Whittemore). Held it to his ear as it rang. Frowned when it went to voicemail and hung up. Called again.
“Hey, Lydia,” Stiles said breathlessly. “Listen, I bought that vibrator you recommended and I just got it today so I’m gonna need, like, ten minutes. No, ooh, five minutes. Call you back.”
Derek blinked as the line went quiet. Pursed his lips together and shoved the phone at Lydia.
“You’re talking to her,” he said.
Lydia rolled her eyes but took the cell. “Fine, but instead of being useless you should order pizza while we wait for her to call back.”
Derek gave her a look that would have been withering to anyone else (except any of the other people in his immediate group of friends. Somehow they were all immune). She rolled her eyes again and dismissed him with a wave of her hand.
He called the pizza place. Ordered enough for two small armies and a pregnant woman. Hung up just as Lydia’s phone began blaring the newest Top One.
“You were right,” Stiles said in response to Lydia’s, “Hello.”
“Of course I was, you’re welcome,” Lydia said. “You should know Derek was using my phone to call you.”
“Aw, is he embarrassed? I figured he’d be immune by now,” Stiles said, sniggering. “I mean, as often as he climbs in my window asking me to figure some crazy new shit out there’s no way he hasn’t almost walked in on me rubbing one out, before.”
“For some reason people think pregnant women are delicate, innocent flowers,” Lydia said, inspecting her nails. “It’s an idiotic and baseless byproduct of our ingrained misogynistic societal expectations.”
“So basically men are stupid. What’d he want?”
“Your kid’s pack is here,” she said. “At the loft.”
“Derek ordered pizza, so you have thirty minutes to shower and get here. He ordered you your own but it’ll be cold if you take much longer.”
“Right,” Stiles said. “Yeah, I’ll. Thirty minutes.”
The line went dead.
“That was cruel,” Erica said. “You know what she thinks.”
“That isn’t the sort of thing you tell someone over the phone.” Lydia flicked her hair over her shoulder. “And I want to see her face.”
“You could have just told her to come over for pizza,” Scott pointed out.
“I didn’t,” she said. Looked at Derek. “Have you thought this through? What are you going to do while she’s at school?”
“Everywhere she’s looked at is close enough to visit a lot,” he said. “Or we could share an apartment. It depends on how involved she wants to be.”
“Hm.” She considered him.
“You should probably wait until after the baby comes to tell her you love her,” she said. “So she’s less likely to think it’s due to the pregnancy hormones or something.”
“Don’t play stupid, Derek. Stupid isn’t a good look on anyone.”
“I’m not playing stupid.”
“You have to be, dude, even I know you’re in love with her,” Scott said. When everyone looked at him he shrugged and said, “He wants her kid. Also he kissed her in front of the school of his own free will and his heart, you know.” He raised a hand to his chest and tapped out a beat faster than that of his own heart.
“Yeah, it’s kind of obvious,” Isaac said hesitantly, like he wasn’t sure he was allowed. Grimaced.
“You trust her,” Boyd said. “More than any of us.”
“And you’re blushing,” Erica said, patting his arm. “No worries, boss, she likes you, too.”
“Fantasizing about me and lo—liking me are two different things,” he said.
“But they’re both things she does when it comes to you,” Erica said. “Trust me, she’s even more intense now than she was with Lydia and that was borderline stalker territory with a little dude-bro friend zone bullshit thrown in because of reasons. I think she plays it off because the whole true love thing with Lydia and Jackson burned her pretty bad and she has no idea there’s a middle ground between showing no interest and being obsessive and creepy.”
“You climb into her window a lot,” Jackson said. “You can be obsessive and creepy together. We’ll call you Edward and her Jacob and you can play out the secret fantasies of Twilight fans everywhere. It’ll be super.”
“Are they your secret fantasies, Jackson?” Erica asked. “Are you a Twilight fan?”
“No,” Jackson lied.
“Dude,” Scott said.
“Oh, please, everyone knows Jackson’s a sucker for trashy romance,” Lydia said.
“No,” Isaac said. “No everyone does not know that.”
“You think Archaic Latin is obvious.”
“Not obvious, easy. Speaking of which, Derek, steal your uncle’s bestiary. I’m bored.”
“Ugh,” Erica said.
Derek sighed and retrieved the bestiary. Sat down. Immediately stood back up as the pizza arrived. Passed out plates but not pizza, because he liked his fingers where they were. Sat down. Immediately stood back up as Stiles arrived.
“What are you wearing?” he asked when he opened the door and saw her.
She looked down at herself. At the stylish button-up maternity shirt Lydia probably bought her and the baggy jeans she probably stole from her father. The man himself stood behind her in full uniform.
“I wanted to look nice for the kid’s pack but I also didn’t want them suffering under any delusions?” she asked more than said, arms cradling her stomach. “Where are they?”
“In here.” He stepped back from the door and motioned them in. Hastily overtook them and turned. “I’m Alpha Hale, uh, Miss Stilinski. This is my second, Boyd, and the rest of my pack.”
She stared, eyes widening but mouth frozen in a polite smile.
“We, um, would like to adopt your baby.”
“Is this a joke?” she asked hoarsely, looking between them and her father. “Are you screwing with me?”
The sheriff shrugged weakly, eyes almost as wide as hers.
“No, of course not,” Derek said.
“Don’t you.” She took a sharp breath, eyes swimming with tears, face crumpling. “Don’t you dare, Derek Hale. Don’t you tell me that and then—”
“We would be honored if you would let us adopt your child. I,” he said, gently grabbing her arms when she swayed, “would be honored to raise him or her as my own. Even if you don’t want to, I mean, you can be his favorite aunt or, or whatever you want. We can do whatever you want.”
Her hands rose to cover her face. Shoulders shook. Breath hitched.
“If you don’t want us to keep it we, we can do that, too,” he said weakly.
“No, no.” She dropped her hands to reveal a bright, if watery, smile. “I do, I want the baby more than anything.” She looked at her father. Said, “I told you. I told you,” and burst into tears.
“She asked this morning what I thought about her telling you to stop looking for a pack,” the sheriff said, mouth pulled to one side in a poorly suppressed grin. “I said I would do what I could to help, but it wasn’t an easy thing to raise a kid alone.”
“And I told him I’m not alone,” Stiles said with an ugly, quavering breath offset by her radiant smile. “Because I have my pack.”
“Yeah,” he said breathlessly. “You have us.”
She started crying in earnest. Took a few shuffling steps forward. Buried her face in the nape of his neck. Clutched his shirt.
“It’s okay,” he said to the top of her head. Curled his arms around her. “Shh, it’s okay.”
“Yeah, we got you,” Scott said, wrapping his arms around both of them.
Isaac followed, then Allison. Everyone else slowly joined in until even the sheriff had gotten pulled into the massive hug.
“You guys are awesome,” Stiles said. “Also really hot. Like a furnace, it’s summer and I’m pregnant, I really, really appreciate the sentiment but the moment is passing.”
They laughed and let go of each other, though they didn’t hurry to pull away from Stiles completely.
Derek waited until she tried to back up before he did more than loosen his hold.
“Sorry I got snot all over you.” She hiccupped. Fanned her face. Looked up and blinked rapidly like she could suck her tears back into her eyes through sheer force of will. “God, I legit started crying at a yogurt commercial this morning, my hormones are ridic right now.”
“You’re going to be a mother. That’s a perfectly acceptable reason to cry with or without hormones,” Lydia said.
“You’re going to be a mom,” Scott said, practically vibrating where he stood. “And I’m going to be an uncle. This is going to be so awesome, you’ll be the best mom ever and Derek will probably be, you know, not the worst dad ever—”
“And I’m the precious little parasite’s godmother,” Erica said.
“I don’t think someone who calls it a parasite should be its godmother,” Lydia said, narrowing her eyes.
“If you don’t think Stiles has been calling it Spawn in her head since she found out she was pregnant I don’t think you’re really up to the task,” Erica said.
“If you two start straight up fighting right now it’ll be a perfect opportunity for Allison to take out the both of you and rise the victor,” Stiles said. “And she’s my first choice, anyhow, so I feel like that’d be a waste of two perfectly rad aunties.”
“What?” Allison asked.
“What,” Erica and Lydia said, turning on Stiles.
Stiles held her hands up. “Look, no offense, Erica, but I decided since Scott’s obvs the little wolf-ling’s godfather I’d prefer a human godmother. And if Lydia was its godmother that’d mean daily contact with Jackson if something happens to me and Derek, which, no.” She shrugged, then grimaced. “Also you guys are kind of terrifying? Like, through and through. And, well, Allison’s terrifying, too, but she hides it under the guise of being an Actual Disney Princess. Basically what I’m saying is it’s not personal unless you’re Jackson.”
“I don’t want to raise your lousy kid, anyway,” Jackson said to the floor, ducking his head.
She rolled her eyes. Strode over to him and grabbed his shoulders. “Okay, listen up, fart face, because I am going to say this once and only once and if you ever bring it up then you being a Werewolf won’t stop me from ripping off your dick and feeding it to you. Listening?”
He nodded, making a high-pitched noise when she threw her arms around him.
“Your mom loves you more than anything else in the whole world,” she said. “And giving you up was the hardest thing she ever did, and you should definitely find her and tell her you’re okay and all because that means literally everything to her. Alternatively.” She pulled back, frowning at him. “She’s a giant douchebag like you and will shove you in a locker or something, I don’t know, you’re really fucking weird so odds are she’s weird, too.” She patted his right cheek and kissed his left. “If you need help finding her I’ll make Derek bribe Danny with his abs again, that will be my gift to you, buddy.”
“I have my own abs, thanks,” he said, wiping his cheek (of her germs, not tears. Definitely not tears).
“For a minute I thought you guys were going to have a moment, and then it just didn’t happen. I am so glad hormones didn’t rid you of eighteen years of abject hatred,” the sheriff said. “Werewolves I can deal with but you two getting along is unnatural.”
“Eighteen years?” Boyd asked. “Really?”
“My mom—adopted mom—was friends with hers,” Jackson said, sneering at her. “We had play dates.”
“They were worse than what you’re thinking,” Stiles assured them. “He started all of it and deserved everything I ever did.”
Jackson scowled at her. “You smashed a shitty diaper in my face.”
“You stuffed worms down my pants.”
“Shitty diaper. In my face.”
“Didn’t you say ‘eat shit’ when you did that?” the sheriff asked, squinting at them.
“Yes. Yes I did,” Stiles said, looking inordinately proud of herself.
“You were three.”
“Mom was literally a sailor and I was a precocious child.”
“Was, right.” The sheriff nodded.
“Well, I’m…not a child, anymore, at least. Having my own has to count for something, I guess,” she said, putting her hands on her belly. Smiled down at it and then up at them. “Want to feel the kid kick?”
“What? Yes,” Scott said, making grabby hands at her stomach.
“Hey, hey, whoa, expectant daddy first.” Stiles waved him off, beaming at Derek. “You wanna?”
It took him a minute to remember to breathe. “Can I?”
“Of course you can. Here.” She unbuttoned the bottom of her blouse and parted it to frame her belly. She grabbed Derek’s hand and pulled him closer. Placed his hand gingerly on her tummy where the baby continued to kick.
“Oh.” Derek stared.
“’S pretty hyperactive,” she said, shrugging helplessly. “My fault, sorry.”
“No,” he said. Glanced up at her and then at the others. Looked back down and, with a deep breath, sank to his knees. “Can I? Eric used to—I mean, I don’t need anything special to hear, but—”
“Your kid, dude,” she said with an uncertain smile.
“Your stomach,” he said, but pressed an ear against it all the same. Closed his eyes and huffed out a laugh when the baby kicked his cheek.
“Oh my God,” Erica said again. Stormed to the bathroom.
“What’s that about?” Scott asked Boyd.
“She either needs to vomit or brush her teeth, bathroom’s a good place for both,” Boyd said.
Stiles’ belly jiggled under Derek’s ear as she laughed. Jabbed a finger into the top of his head. “Dude, you gotta cut the strong and silent shtick if this constitutes as so sweet she needs to vomit or brush.”
“She should be used to it after exposure to Scott and Allison and Isaac,” he replied.
“It’s definitely different coming from you, you’re all.” She frowned intensely. “Whereas I’m pretty sure Walt Disney himself drew those three and made a deal with the Dark Lord Satan to bring them to life.”
“True facts, boss,” Erica said, swiping an arm across her mouth as she rejoined them.
“Well, they’ll get used to it,” Derek said as he stood. Grabbed both of her hands. Looked right at her, into her eyes. Took a deep breath. “Thank you.”
She shrugged her shoulders. Cheeks flushed, face lowering though her eyes quickly returned to his. Smiled, shy and small but quickly widening. “You’re welcome.”
“You fucking assholes,” Erica said under her breath, walking away again.
The sheriff cleared his throat loudly, and kept clearing it until Derek and Stiles looked at him.
“Not saying I don’t think you should keep it, but I’m guessing this means that Silas guy didn’t want it?” he asked. Held his hands up when they blinked at him as one. “I know the original plan was to find him and see what his thoughts were.”
“Oh, right,” Stiles said when they looked at her. Coughed and looked up at the ceiling. “Guess I should have…right. Um, Daddy?”
“What is it,” John said more than asked, eyes growing narrower and lips thinner as she clasped her hands together and forced a smile.
“Remember when we watched Firefly and there was that episode about the dude who got a prostitute pregnant because his wife was barren and there was a showdown at the brothel over whether he could have it or she was going to keep it?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said slowly.
“I’m the prostitute,” she said, and made jazz hands.
“Przemysława Stilinski,” he said.
Her hands froze. “Oh, are we using full names? I feel like there isn’t really a need for—”
He said something else, something Derek couldn’t understand, voice rising over unfamiliar words.
She huffed. Hands still up—though more defensive than jazzy—she replied in the same language.
“What’s going on?” Allison asked Scott from the corner of her mouth.
“Most of the Polish she’s taught me is swear words,” Scott said with a shrug. “But they only speak Polish when they’re super pissed; her mom didn’t know a lot of English so it reminds them of her.”
The sheriff said something, loud and angry. Turned on his heel and stormed out of the loft.
Stiles followed as far as the door. Yelled something after him. Slammed the door shut so hard even the other humans flinched.
“What? What happened? Does he think you’re a prostitute?” Erica asked.
She clucked her tongue and said, “Nie.” Frowned and blinked a few times. “I mean, no. He’s getting me a gun. Because that’s a great idea and also mostly useless unless he’s been talking to Allison’s dad about getting wolfsbane bullets.”
“So he’s not…kicking you out?” Isaac asked, eyes so wide they took up almost the entirety of his face.
“What? No, trust me, if he thought I was hooking he’d book me himself. He’s going to go call someone about getting me a permit and stuff, set up time at the shooting range.” She waved a dismissive hand through the air. “And when he gets back he’s going to ask what your plans are for keeping me safe and how can he help and why in the heckity heck didn’t anyone bring him in on this sooner, I’m his daughter and he has a right to know and protect me, it’s bad enough I didn’t say anything but someone should’ve told him, surely at least one of you knows better.” She made a face and rolled her eyes.
“I don’t know what in the hell you people are thinking,” the sheriff said as he reentered the loft, words slurred like he had to fight not to speak Polish. “You realize I’m the sheriff, right? I mean, I guess you don’t think much of that given how long you went through all this supernatural bullshit without telling me—and no, I won’t be forgetting that for a while—but surely there’s at least one of you knows that’s a pretty fucking useful position to hold when dealing with this? I have resources, actual important resources.”
“Tato,” Stiles said, unimpressed.
“Nie, cicho bądź,” he said, pointing at her sternly. Looked at Derek. “I don’t know what in the hell you’re thinking, keeping me out of this, but if it’s that I’m going to let some asshole walk into my town and hurt my baby girl you’ve got another thing coming, Derek Hale.”
“Of course not, sir,” Derek said. “As a matter of fact, we were just discussing how to protect her. It’s why I called this meeting. And then I asked if they would be amenable to taking in your grandchild with me. It’s just recently that I realized Silas’ duplicitous nature, that’s the only reason I hadn’t talked to you about it, yet.”
“Duplicitous, nice, ten points to Hufflepuff,” Stiles said under her breath.
The sheriff huffed, shoulders loosening but lips still tight at the edges. “And how did that discussion go, exactly?”
“I’m making a patrol rotation,” Lydia said, offering him her planner. “I was planning on running it by you; I know the pack’s schedules but not yours or your deputies’, if you can get them involved without it being suspicious.”
“I’m not sure about that,” he said. Held the planner at arm’s length and squinted at it. “But I can let you know their routes when they’re on patrol so you can avoid them as much as possible. I’ll see what I can do about tracking him down, maybe put out an APB so we have more of a head’s up about when he’s getting close to town.” He looked at Stiles. “Think you could describe him to a sketch artist?”
Stiles rolled her eyes, pulling out her cell phone and handing it to him. “I have a picture of him, his car, and his plates, which I sent to a friend the night we slept together. I keep telling you guys I’m not an idiot, I don’t know why you insist on not believing me.”
“What friend?” Derek asked, looking over her father’s shoulders. “Not pack.”
“Ginger works at the hotel the symposium was at so I sent it to her,” she said. “I didn’t want you guys freaking out because of Werewolf stuff and getting us into trouble.”
“Ginger?” Scott asked.
“A Queen I met at Jungle,” she said. “They’re really awesome about stuff like that, she made sure I was sober and everything.”
“Of course you were sober.” The sheriff squinted at her and then down at the cell phone.
“Obviously,” she said, patting her stomach.
“Stiles, this guy looks Derek’s age,” the sheriff said.
“Does he?” she asked.
“Stiles, he looks older than Derek. He looks older than Peter.”
“Stiles, how old is this guy?”
“Like thirty,” she said. “Two. Maybe thirty-four, or five. No older than thirty-seven, I think, probably. Werewolves age weird.”
“Older guys are hot, what do you want from me?”
He made a face. “You couldn’t have slept with Hale if you wanted an older guy?”
“Which—actually, no. Derek’s never offered and I’d let Silas knock me up ten times before I slept with Peter.”
The sheriff took a deep breath and massaged the bridge of his nose. Said something in Polish that made Stiles snicker and waggle her eyebrows as she replied.
“Beyond the patrols,” he said loudly, ignoring her to look back at Derek. “What’s the plan? What are we doing to this guy when he gets here?”
“Usually when this sort of thing happens we just wing it,” Scott said. “It’s worked so far—”
“Except Silas does this on the regular,” Stiles said. “So we need an actual plan.”
“Let’s not,” Lydia said suddenly. “Tonight we should be celebrating.” When everyone stared at her, she crossed her arms over her chest. “Even if you losers don’t think of something, I will, and we’ll get out of this just like we’ve gotten out of everything else. But we only get one chance to welcome the first baby into the pack, right? So we should do that.”
“Pizza’s probably gross by now—” Boyd said.
“High school student, bro, cold pizza’s a staple,” Stiles said, making a beeline for the table. Lydia was close on her heels, bumping their shoulders together. Lydia gave her a significant look that Stiles returned with a blank one.
“Oh, oh, while we’re talking about high school, you said we’d get to feel the baby by graduation. And that’s next week, and Derek got to feel it,” Isaac said.
She shrugged as she sat. “Long as you don’t get between me and pizza, knock yourself out, dude.”
Isaac beamed and knelt on the floor next to her. Put his arms around her so he could put his face on her stomach. Stiles giggled and patted his head.
“Speaking of graduation, Stiles, do you think Hamlet will be on Mrs. Schumacher’s final?” Lydia asked. Half of the question came out through gritted teeth. Lydia glared at Stiles expectantly.
Stiles cocked her head to one side, eyebrows furrowing. Then her face suddenly cleared. “Probably. You know she has a weird hard-on for Claudius.”
Scott’s head shot up from his pizza. “Shit, did we read Hamlet this year?”
“It’s on her ‘suggested reading’ list,” Lydia said after a slight pause. “Sometimes she puts that stuff on the finals to see if people read any of it.”
Scott made a strangled noise.
“Just watch The Lion King and read the SparkNotes, bro,” Stiles said. “There’s no guarantee it’ll be on the test at all, don’t stress.”
“But what else is on the list?” Scott asked. “I didn’t even know there was a list, I can’t get held back senior year.”
“All you have to do is pass, you’ll be fine.” Stiles waved him off, taking a big bite of her pizza. “Oh, man, this is the best mistake. The heartburn’s going to be killer but pizza.”
“We got you vegetarian,” Scott said. “We let the grease slide this time but I bet Mom’s got all sorts of pamphlets and stuff about what you should be eating.”
“Dad’s already started with that.” Stiles made a face at her father. “Ever since the morning sickness stopped for good.”
The sheriff shot her a mean smile. “It’s all heart healthy, too, I thought you’d be pleased.”
“When this is over I’m eating two orders of curly fries and a hamburger the size of my head and you can’t have any of it,” she said.
“Until then, soy products. You have any supplies for salad in your fridge, Derek? She really shouldn’t have more than two slices.”
“I usually eat healthy, there’s all sorts of stuff,” Derek said, sliding the rest of the pizza away to loud protests. “Help yourself.”
“I’d like to help myself,” she said, making grabby hands. “To the rest of that pizza.” She squawked when he did nothing more than give her a look. “You are about to start some kind of awful baby mama drama, you don’t even know, Derek—”
“It’s good for the baby, right?” Isaac asked, shooting to his feet. “I’ll get it, what do you want?”
“Pizza,” she said darkly.
“I’m not on your bad side,” Erica said, snatching a slice and handing it to her. “Tummy touches?”
“Yes, you’re my new favorite, go ahead.”
“But the baby,” Isaac said, bowl in hand.
“She’ll probably have room for the salad, too,” Allison said. “She’s pregnant. And it’s her choice to eat things that are bad for the baby if she wants to, I’m sure it’ll turn out okay.”
Stiles paused mid-bite. Frowned at Allison. Put the pizza down with a mutinous expression.
“I hope melted cheese falls on your stupid guilt-tripping face,” she said.
“Too cold for that,” Allison said breezily. Took a triumphant bite of Stiles’ abandoned pizza.
Stiles huffed but made no more verbal complaints as she accepted Isaac’s salad.
The expression on her face was complaint enough.
“There’s a big pack in Montana that’ll probably help us get rid of Silas in return for the baby,” Peter said. “I’m talking to one of their mid-level Betas—”
“We’re keeping the baby,” Derek said, delicately turning the page in the old text he was reading.
“Oh,” Peter said. “That does complicate things.”
“We’ll figure something out.”
“Of course we will.” Peter sat across from him. “And you aren’t at all worried about taking in another Alpha’s child?”
Derek’s eyes snapped up. “It’s Stiles’ baby.”
“It’s also Silas’s by blood. If he was a Beta it would be one thing, but as an Alpha he may still hold some sway over the child.”
“We’ll figure something out,” he said again, looking back down at his book.
Peter paused for a long while. Watched him through narrowed eyes. Leaned back in his chair. Said, too nonchalantly to be anything but purposeful, “It would help if Stiles wasn’t human.”
“Stiles likes being human.”
“She’s also taken quite a shine to being a mother,” Peter said. “She might take the bite for the baby’s sake. Her own, too. Rearing a Were as a human isn’t easy.”
“Nothing about Stiles is easy.”
Peter made a noncommittal noise.
Derek sighed and put the book down. “If this was a planned pregnancy—planned by Stiles and whatever partner she took, I mean—it would be one thing to talk to her about taking the bite. But at this stage it would be too dangerous for both of them; she doesn’t need to make that transition when her body’s already under duress. And she doesn’t need to make that decision right now, either. She’s liable to take the bite just for the baby, or because of Silas. She needs to take it for herself, first and foremost.”
“You’ve thought about this,” Peter said.
“Well.” Peter drew the word out. “It’ll be more difficult, perhaps, but I might be able to get them to come without the promise of the child. Rudy might send a few Betas, too.”
“I know it feels wrong to invite unfamiliar wolves into our territory when Stiles is pregnant, but I doubt we can take Silas and his pack on alone. He does this for a living.”
“On the regular,” Derek said with a frown. Waved a hand at the book. “We’re researching. Planning.”
“Is that what this is?” Peter asked.
Derek hesitated. Finally he said, “Sort of. I think Lydia and Stiles are planning something behind my back. Stiles has been reading this and making notes and neither of them is subtle even if I can’t quite figure out what they’re not being subtle about.”
“What is it?” Peter rounded the table.
“An old Hunter’s storybook,” he said. “She borrowed it from Allison. It’s in Old French so I’m having some trouble translating it.”
“Why would she be looking at something like that?” Peter asked, one side of his mouth curling into a silent snarl.
“It started as a homework thing, I think. A translation for French?” He frowned at the book. “It’s just short accounts of things like Gévaudan. Looks like it’s mostly about ways the hunters infiltrated packs and destroyed them.”
“That bodes well.”
“If we’re looking for ways to get rid of another pack, hunters are a good start,” he said. “Especially for a human. And it’s not like we have a lot of our pack’s old records left.”
“No, most of those burned,” Peter said thoughtfully. “But I think your mother had a safety deposit box; there might be something in there that will help. I’ll make some inquiries.”
“And in the meantime I’ll continue attempting to remember French.” Derek leaned over the book. Put his elbows on either side of it. Buried his hands in his hair.
“There’s an app for that.” Peter picked Derek’s phone up. Handed it back after a few minutes of fiddling with it. “The app doesn’t have an Old French option, so it won’t get everything, but it’s a start.”
“Thanks.” Derek scrubbed a hand over his face. “This would be easier if she used a bookmark.”
“Or left her notes in it,” Peter said, eyes flicking from the book to Derek.
“I’m not an idiot, Peter, I already checked. I even looked through the margins, but I’m pretty sure all of those notes are from other hunters.”
“You don’t think she plans to become a hunter, do you?”
“I think if Stiles wanted us dead she wouldn’t need help from ancient Argents to kill us.”
Peter nodded. “And you haven’t tried asking her?”
“If it was something she wanted me to know about, she’d have told me by now,” he said. “She’s been reading this for months.”
Peter’s eyebrow twitched. “Months? How long have you two known about Silas?”
He blinked. Frowned. “Not months.”
Peter looked down at the book. Pointed at the phone sitting on it. The words ‘earning the beast’s trust’ were printed on the screen.
“And you’re sure she doesn’t want us dead?”
“No, I understand, Rudy.” Derek bit back a sigh.
“If we’re freed up before the baby comes I’ll try to send a few betas,” Rudy said. “For now I’m afraid I can’t spare anyone.”
“You have to look after your own pack first, of course.”
“I really am sorry. And I do need to go, diplomacy waits for no man.”
“Yeah, no, I’ll talk to you some other time.”
“Take care of you and yours, son.”
“You, too,” he said weakly to the dial tone. Rubbed his eyes with his fingers. Took a deep breath through his nose and let it out through his mouth slowly.
“They aren’t coming, I take it?” Stiles asked from her spot on the couch.
“Looks like,” he said, collapsing into the seat next to her. Pulled her feet onto his lap and started massaging one of them.
“Mm, no.” She tugged her foot out of his grip and made grabby hands at him. When he leaned towards her, she pulled on him until his cheek was pressed against her belly. “Not for too long, mind you, it’s too hot for that.” She ran her fingers through his hair. “But you need baby time; it always makes you feel better.”
He grunted, already relaxing into her as the baby bumped against his face.
“We’re getting closer,” she said quietly. “Is anyone else coming?”
“Not so far, unless Peter’s not telling me something.” He sighed. “And he does like surprises so that’s a definite possibility.”
“Good surprise or bad surprise?” she asked.
“Good,” he said. “Peter’s excited about the baby, in his way. He’s not going to let Silas touch it.”
She hummed noncommittally.
“He’s been asking if it’s a boy or a girl,” he said, looking up at her without taking his cheek away from her stomach. “You still don’t want to know?”
“I like good surprises.” She smiled at him, rubbing a spot near his face as the baby kicked.
“Yeah,” he said, reaching up to do the same. Grabbed her hand and squeezed it when the baby paused. “We’ll find out soon.”
“Deaton’s getting the clinic ready now.”
“I am not having my baby at the clinic,” she said.
“Stiles, you know you can’t have it at the hospital.”
“I know. I’ll have it at the house. Or at your house.” She put a hand over his mouth when he tried to protest again. “All joking aside, you guys aren’t actually dogs, and I’m not having my baby at a freaking vet’s office.”
“No anesthesia,” he pointed out.
She rolled her eyes. “I don’t know if no one told you, but I hang with a pack of Werewolves who have the magical ability to drain my pain away.”
He snorted and relaxed against her. “If that’s what you want. But he should still be there.”
“Sure. As long as Melissa’s in charge of everything. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the dog doctor probably doesn’t know much about birthing human—or, y’know, half-human—babies.” She arched an eyebrow at him. “Unless he helped a lot with your family?”
He shook his head. “Traditionally the pack takes care of itself; no outsiders allowed. It’s one thing when someone’s sick—that was and is his job—but a birth is sacred. Private. Welcoming a new life into the pack. If there was someone in the pack who knew more about supernatural births I wouldn’t even allow him on your front lawn.”
“Territorial,” she said, tweaking his ear.
“I’m not going to start peeing on trees or anything.”
She giggled and he smiled a little against her. Closed his eyes with a soft sigh.
“He can wait downstairs with us, if you want,” he said.
“Us?” she asked. “You don’t want to be in the room with us?”
He shrugged minutely. “I didn’t figure you’d want me to be. Figured it’d be Melissa and your dad and Scott.”
“It’s your kid. I mean, you said you wanted it.”
“I do,” he said. Shifted so his chin was on her stomach and he was looking up at her. “But it’s your baby first and foremost. And your body. If you want me to be there I will be—and I’d love to be there, for the record, it’d be my honor. But if you don’t I have no right to force my way in. I wouldn’t even if I was its biological father.”
She reached down and cupped his face, thumb brushing across his cheek. “You know I’m always saying you’re the worst but you’re actually kind of the best.”
“Don’t tell Scott, he’ll be heartbroken,” he said. “And also his brain might explode, I’ve heard that’s a thing that can sometimes happen.”
She laughed. “Derek, I—” she cut herself off and shook her head, giving him an apologetic smile. “I have to take a piss.”
“Classy.” He pushed himself up and to his feet. Helped her to hers.
“That’s me, classy to the core.” She took a deep breath. Squeezed his hand and said, “I do want you to be there.”
“Then I’ll be there,” he said. Rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand. “As long as you want me.”
“I really do have to pee, though,” she said loudly, cheeks glowing red as she pushed past him.
He blinked after her. Reached up to scratch the back of his head.
“This is the most intimidating store I’ve ever been to,” Isaac said, staring up at the Babies ‘R’ Us. “Up to and including that BDSM shop Erica dragged me to for her birthday.” He flinched and ducked closer to Derek when an expectant mother shot him a dirty look.
“We haven’t even gone inside, yet,” Erica said.
“We should go to lunch first,” Boyd said. “Fill our stomachs. Gird our loins.”
“Are you actually hungry or just trying to get out of it?” Lydia asked.
“Then we can go to the diner and get something to eat,” she said, turning on her heel. “I’m not spending the next few hours listening to you whine about how hungry you are.”
“I don’t whine,” Boyd said.
“Yes you do,” Erica said. “Not as loudly as Isaac or as often as Jackson, but you totally do.”
“Hey,” Isaac and Jackson said. They were ignored.
“Also if you’re hungry, they’re hungry. I’d rather skip it altogether,” Lydia said, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “Derek’s buying.”
Derek scowled, falling into step beside her. “No I’m not. Why would I be buying?”
She gave him a tight smile. “Because I’m spending valuable time here helping you not turn your first child’s nursery into a travesty of black or plaid when I could be at Stiles’ house convincing her that I should be the obvious choice for godmother.”
“Obvious to who, exactly?” Erica asked.
“Anyone with a brain.”
“Didn’t she say Allison’s going to be godmother?” Isaac asked.
“Anyone’s mind can be changed if you work at it,” she said breezily.
“Lydia, no,” Derek said. “I’ll buy lunch.”
She flicked her hair again but dropped the subject.
“Nananananananananananananananana—Stiles, stop,” said Derek’s phone from his pocket, a recording Stiles had made of herself singing the old Batman theme until Derek spoke up. He had never figured out how to change it. He hadn’t tried all that hard.
“Hey, Stiles,” he said, pressing the phone to his ear.
“Hey,” Stiles said, drawing the word out. “Derek. Buddy. What’re you up to?”
“You know we’re shopping for the last of the nursery stuff,” Derek said. “Isaac got freaked out so we’re eating lunch so he can remember he’s a grown-ass Werewolf.”
“Rude,” Isaac said.
“Do you need something?” Derek asked the phone.
“Oh, not much,” she said with a forced laugh. “It’s just that Scott doesn’t understand phones won’t work if they aren’t on or charged, so he’s not answering, and Dad left for work an hour or so ago and he’s been off a lot lately helping with the house and stuff so I didn’t want to call him, and Melissa’s in surgery and the nurse at the front desk won’t tell her I’m calling so—”
His back went ramrod straight. “Why do you need Melissa? Are you okay? Is the baby—”
“Um, well, see, funny story about the baby.” She laughed again. “I’m pretty sure it’s coming. Like, right now. Or at least I’m pretty sure this is what contractions probably feel like; I’ve never done this before.”
“Oh my God,” Erica said.
“Stiles, we’re coming right now,” he said. “Erica, you and Boyd go get Melissa. Lydia, find out where in the hell Scott and Allison are and get the sheriff. Isaac, with me.”
“What do I do?” Jackson asked.
“Chauffer.” Lydia grabbed his ear and pulled him away. “They’re at Deaton’s, probably making out in the storage room while Deaton’s on lunch, come on. We’ll get the sheriff first, he’ll use his lights.”
“I’m staying on the phone with you, Stiles.” Derek tossed the keys at Isaac’s face and all but threw himself into the passenger’s seat. “Isaac I swear to God if you drive like a grandma right now I will—”
“I’m not going to drive like a grandma,” Isaac said, and they peeled out of the parking lot.
(Isaac only had two speeds: grandma slow or Fast and Furious. Derek regretted not trading in for the Toyota, now. It had pretty solid oh shit handles.)
“Oh, man, this really hurts,” Stiles said, breathless.
“Has your water broken?” he asked. “Stiles, how long have you been in labor?”
“I don’t know, I guess since this morning but I thought it was just gas or something since we had Mexican last night. Literally everything I know about this I learned from Hollywood and those books Dad’s been making me read. And—oh, oh God. ”
“Faster, fuck the police,” Derek said as blue lights flashed in their rearview.
“You got it, Boss.” The tires screamed as they rounded a corner.
“Please don’t get arrested again,” Stiles said.
“You kind of have a habit of getting me arrested.”
“How is this my fault? I’m supposed to have another month; this kid’s a little shit.”
“That’s definitely your fault.” He forced himself not to dig his claws into the leather of his seat as she took a sharp, pained breath. “It’s okay, Stiles, we’re almost there.”
“Yeah, yeah, okay. Please hurry.”
The car screeched to a stop. He threw himself out of it. Burst through the door without waiting to get the spare key and unlock it.
“Stiles? Where are you?” he asked, half to the phone and half to the house at large.
“In the attic.”
“What’re you doing in the attic?” He sprinted up the stairs. Leapt up into the attic.
Stiles dropped the phone and reached for him. She sat on the floor. The hand not reaching for him clutched a ratty old blanket that smelled faintly of Stiles and baby powder and cheap perfume.
“I wanted my mom to be here,” she said as he swept her up into his arms princess-style. She wrapped her free arm around his neck. Squished the blanket between them. “Derek, I want my mom.”
“I know.” He carried her down the attic steps gingerly. “I’m sorry.”
“Here, here,” Isaac said, shepherding them through the door to her room. “I put down some plastic with a blanket on top so your bed doesn’t get ruined.”
She nodded, squeezing her eyes shut as Derek set her down. Pulled him closer instead of letting him go. Pressed her face into his neck. Took a shuddering breath.
“Hey, it’s alright,” he said. Put a hand on her back and started pulling the pain away.
She nodded again. “Was my dad behind you? I saw lights.”
“Deputy Parrish,” Isaac said. “He called it in; your dad’s on his way.”
“Okay,” she said. “He probably shouldn’t come, yet. This could last for ages; I just freaked out. I’m okay, now, you guys don’t have to—”
“I’m staying,” Derek said firmly. “Until you tell me to leave.”
“Or until the baby comes. You’d look kind of weird just being here forever,” Isaac said. Held up his hands when Derek and Stiles both shot him an unimpressed look. Backed out of the room slowly. “I’ll leave now, yeah, totally leaving.”
“Stiles,” the sheriff yelled from downstairs.
“We’re in my room,” Stiles said. “Is Melissa—”
“I’m here, I’m here.” Melissa peeked in the door. “They dragged me out of surgery so I have to change my scrubs. How are you feeling, Honey?”
“I almost had a panic attack but I called Derek before it really hit so I’m okay,” Stiles said.
“Any idea how far apart your contractions are?”
“No, I was trying to count but that made me start to panic.”
Melissa jabbed a finger at him. “Derek, time it while I change.”
He nodded. “Tell me when the next contraction hits, Stiles.”
“Yeah, okay,” she said. “Is it too late to change my mind about this whole having a baby thing?”
“A little.” He gave her a weak smile and started counting when hers turned into a grimace.
“This is the actual worst, why aren’t you pain draining, what am I even paying you for?”
“You aren’t, and I am,” he said, looking pointedly at the faint black lines in his hand. “I can’t take a lot right now or I won’t be able to take as much later. There’s a limit.”
She leveled him with a look. “There’s a whole pack of you.”
“You really want Jackson up here while you give birth?” he asked, returning the look evenly.
“Ugh, no.” She made a face. “To be honest I don’t really want Scott to see my vageen—”
“For the record I never wanted to see your vageen,” Scott said. “Ever.”
“I especially didn’t want you to see it when there’s an alien squeezing out. This is some straight up Ridley Scott shit and not a single one of you can stop me from naming this baby Ripley.”
“I already said you can name the baby whatever you want,” Derek said. “But I’m warning you now that he or she will be hearing the story behind the name so be prepared for explaining why you decided a horror movie name about chest bursting aliens was appropriate.”
“Alien is a classic and Sigourney Weaver a goddess so you can go—oh, oh.”
“Oh, oh,” he said, deadpan. Then, loudly, “Six minutes, Melissa.”
“I hate you so much,” she whispered.
“Okay, if it’s six minutes we’re not quite in active labor, yet,” Melissa said, entering the room.
“It feels active to me.”
“Three minutes apart means you’re going into active labor, so you’re getting close but not quite there, yet. Why don’t we walk around for a while?” Melissa pulled her hair up into a sloppy ponytail as she spoke. “See if we can speed things up?”
“That sounds like a terrible idea, if this isn’t active labor I think I’ll just cross my legs really tight and we can perform, like, an emergency at-home caesarian.”
Melissa laughed and patted Stiles’ hand. “Up, up, kiddo. The faster we get you to active labor the faster this will be over, okay? And you can hold your beautiful baby.”
Stiles wrinkled her nose but didn’t struggle when Derek helped her to her feet. “Hollywood lied to me; why doesn’t real life have movie montage births?”
“Because then sex would probably have to be either fade-to-black or hugely boring and awkward?” Derek shrugged.
“Oh, God, don’t talk about sex,” she said with a groan. “Sex is awful; Mean Girls didn’t fully prepare me for this.”
“Wouldn’t going by Mean Girls mean you died after having sex?” Scott asked, frowning at her.
“I feel like I’m dying. This is not a drill.”
“You don’t know pain, yet,” Melissa said, patting her hand.
Stiles narrowed her eyes. “Your bedside manner is appalling, comfort me.”
“I’m here to help you deliver this baby, Hon, the wolves can hold your hand and coddle you.”
“I’m promoting you to second actual worst,” Stiles said to Derek. “Melissa’s the actual worst, now.”
“I can leave,” Melissa said. “Alan is perfectly capable—”
“No.” Stiles spoke so quickly and harshly that Melissa blinked at her, eyebrows up near her hairline.
After a bare moment to recover, Melissa said, “Then you’ll have to deal with my bedside manner.”
“Fine. But I want it noted now that it’s shitty and I’m enduring it under protest,” Stiles said. Pressed her lips together and squeezed Derek’s hand.
“So noted. Think you can make it down the stairs?”
“I’ve got a Were-stud on standby if I can’t,” she said with a big, saccharine smile. Held tight to Derek for a moment more before releasing him and taking a step down.
The rest of the pack huddled at the bottom of the stairs. Melissa glared them back whenever they tried to come up to Stiles. They swarmed her when she finally hit the last step. Their hands were everywhere, hugging and petting and none-too-subtly draining her pain away during her contractions.
“Walk and fawn, kids, walk and fawn,” Melissa said, ushering Stiles forward. “I don’t suppose there’s a treadmill somewhere around here?”
“What kind of sick Satanist cult followers do you think we are?” the sheriff asked.
“I can barely make him eat things that won’t lead to his untimely demise. Even my powers of persuasion couldn’t make him tolerate an exercise machine in the house,” Stiles said.
“It’s like you’ve never even met me.” The sheriff shook his head at Melissa.
“Do we need one?” Jackson asked. “My parents have like three, they won’t mind if we take one and it’d fit in the back of the Rancid Blueberry.”
“Blueberries are never sky blue, that moniker makes no sense,” Stiles said. “You lose, but fuck you anyway.”
“You recognized it as that monstrosity you call a car, that’s a win in my book.”
“Your book would be awful. Also I never call my Jeep a car because it’s a motherfucking Jeep.”
“I just thought it would be nice for her to be able to watch TV with us while she walks,” Melissa said loudly. “We don’t necessarily need one.”
“We are Jewish, I will not have an instrument of Satan in my house,” the sheriff said.
“You once rolled pork loins in bacon and ate them, you are the worst Jew,” Stiles said.
“If someone brings a treadmill you’ll make them leave it and then you’ll make me use it.”
“Walking is healthy.”
“Don’t use that sort of language in my house, young lady.”
“She can just walk around,” Melissa said, putting her hands up between them. “I have honestly never, in all of my years as a nurse and human being—”
“I brought a treadmill and a birthing pool,” Peter said as he entered the house, a large box under each arm. Paused in the doorway to squint at them. “What are you doing?”
“Making asses of themselves,” Lydia said. “Set the treadmill up in the living room.”
“Did you voluntarily call Peter?” Stiles asked.
“Scott’s phone was at the loft,” Peter said. “His password for that is Allison, too. If I was still his Alpha I would kick him out of the pack.”
“You were never my Alpha,” Scott said.
“Don’t say that like I want to be now that I know you,” Peter said breezily. “Your ringtone for Stiles is a Rihanna song.”
Scott blinked at him. “She can stand under my umbrella. We have literally shared an umbrella since we were in Kindergarten.”
Peter shook his head and looked at Stiles, who held up her hands.
“My ringtone for him is Spice Girls. If you wanna be my Alpha, you gotta get with my friends,” she said.
“Isn’t there a spell for this?” Stiles asked, forehead pressed against their clasped hands. “I feel like there should—ow, ow, ow, oh God.”
Derek’s nostrils flared at the scent of blood. He petted her hair with his free hand so he wouldn’t pull her off of her knees and into his lap.
“Almost there, Hon,” Melissa said. “Scott, be ready with the blanket. I can see its head.”
“I can feel its head, get it out,” Stiles said, tears hot against his skin.
Derek squeezed her hand. “Come on, Stiles, you held my fat ass up for two hours, you can do this.”
“You weren’t trying to shove your fat ass through my vagina, stop trying to be encouraging because you fucking suck at it,” she snapped. “Oh God get it out, get it out.”
“You’re doing so good, Stiles.” The black lines in his hand spread to his forearm, then up past his elbow.
“I don’t want to do good, I want to be done,” she said. “It’s burning, Derek, it’s burning.”
“We’re almost finished,” Melissa said. “And that’s the head. You’re almost done, Stiles, it’s almost over.”
“So pull it out.”
“Just a little more. Scott, quit closing your eyes and help me.”
“But it’s so gross.”
“I will fucking end you, Scott, shut your fucking mouth. Oh, God.” Her hand trembled in Derek’s.
“Okay, okay, that’s it. That’s it, Babe, you’re done.”
Scott started wiping the baby down before Derek could get a good look at it. Melissa began suctioning the fluid out of its mouth and nose.
“Dude, it’s a girl,” Scott said.
“A girl?” Stiles asked breathlessly. Derek helped her roll over onto her back and pulled her up so she was propped against the pillows and headboard.
“A beautiful, beautiful baby girl,” Melissa said. “Here you go, Mommy.”
“Oh,” Stiles said. Held the baby clumsily at first but let Melissa adjust her grip. “Hi. Hi, baby girl. Derek, we have a daughter.”
“We do,” he said, wiping his eyes on his shoulder. (He was going to cry. He was definitely going to cry, because it had been nearly half a day of moving around and draining pain away and not sleeping and she was gorgeous, they were both—) “Perfect, Stiles. She’s perfect.”
“Yeah?” She looked up at him.
“Yeah.” He put his hands on either side of her face but forced himself to kiss her forehead instead of her mouth. “You did so good.”
She gave him a quavering smile before turning to her father. “Dad, I have a little girl.”
“I’ve only ever seen one other baby as pretty as her,” the sheriff said, dropping a kiss to the top of her head, then the baby’s.
“Don’t be sappy, Dad,” she said, beaming down at the baby. “Look at her wee little pointed ears.”
“Do all Werewolf babies look like elves?” Scott asked.
Derek nodded and ran a finger along the shell of the baby’s ear. “For the first few hours. And watch.” He leaned in close and let his eyes flash red. Pulled back so everyone could watch the baby’s eyes glow gold.
“That’s really cool,” Stiles said. Relaxed back into the pillows with a sigh.
“Umbilical.” Melissa pointed at the space between two clamps with a pair of surgical scissors, which she then offered to them.
“That is nasty as hell. You do it.” Stiles wrinkled her nose and looked away as Derek cut it.
“Derek, why don’t you take her to meet her pack while we finish up?” Melissa asked. “Stiles is probably going to pass out, soon.”
“Definitely,” Stiles corrected with a huge yawn, though she made no move to hand the baby to him. “Definitely going to pass out soon.”
“First you have to tell me what I’m introducing her as,” he said.
“Clara,” she said without hesitation. “I wanted to name her after Mom and Laura but I wanted her to have her own name, too, so. Clara Joann.”
“Clara,” he said as Stiles placed the baby into his arms carefully. She sat almost perfectly on his forearm. “Hey there, little Stilinski.”
“Little Hale.” Stiles put a hand on his arm. Shrugged when he gaped at her. “She’s mine by blood, Derek. I figured I could let you have her by name.”
He shifted Clara so he could take Stiles’ hand in one of his. Brought it to his lips. “Thank you.”
She smiled tiredly and shut her eyes. “I’m passing out, now.”
“Not yet, Hon, we have to get the placenta out, first,” Melissa said.
“Okay, leaving,” he said loudly. Kissed her hand again before setting it down on the bed. “Sheriff?”
“I’ll stay and help clean up. Go on, Son,” the sheriff said. “You too, Scott.”
“Oh thank Christ,” Scott said under his breath. Followed Derek out of the room. “I honestly thought I was done seeing Stiles naked when our folks decided it was inappropriate instead of cute for us to keep bathing together. And then it, it was all.” He made a face and a disturbingly accurate hand gesture.
“Just remember that if you and Allison ever think it might be okay to skip the condom just this once,” Derek said, and pursed his lips together when Scott’s expression turned even more horrified.
“We have a girl?” Erica asked, bouncing on the balls of her feet at the bottom of the stairs. The rest of the pack had been warned not to come up the stairs unless asked once Stiles went into active labor.
“Everybody, this is Clara Joann Hale,” Derek said, tilting his arms so they could all see. “Clara, this is your pack.”
“Oh, man, look at her,” Isaac said.
Erica made a disgusted noise. “Babies are hideous, holy shit.”
“You’d look like shit if you’d just squeezed through a hole half your size, too,” Lydia said with a roll of her eyes. “She’s going to be gorgeous in a few days.”
“She has Stiles’ nose, look.” Allison poked the baby’s nose, cooing when Clara made a face. “Oh my God, she’s precious.”
“This is why Allison’s the godmother,” Boyd said, patting Erica’s shoulder consolingly. “She’s a better actress than you and Lydia.”
“I convinced an entire school I was a superficial idiot while still maintaining perfect grades, I’m a glorious actress,” Lydia said. “I just happen to be adhering to a strict no-lying-to-friends-unless-necessary policy, now.”
“When’s it necessary?” Erica asked.
“When I’ve decided it is.” Lydia stuck her nose in the air. “Because I’m always right.”
Erica curled her lip. “So the superficial thing was an act, too?”
“Not in front of the baby, girls,” Allison said. Looked up at Derek with wide, hopeful eyes like the Disney princess she (not-so-)secretly was. “Can I hold her?”
His mouth pulled to one side, but he forced himself to nod. Passed Clara to her with a tight feeling in his chest. “Make sure you support her head.”
“I’ve held babies before, Derek.”
He clenched his hands into fists to stop himself from taking Clara back.
“Hale,” Peter said, peering at the baby from behind Allison. Allison flinched and tightened her arms minutely. “I wasn’t sure there would ever be another Hale.”
“You thought she was mine,” Derek said.
“And so she is.” Peter shrugged. Sneered. “You might not be the baby father but you are officially the baby daddy. Congratulations.”
Lydia made a disgusted sound. “Please never say ‘baby daddy’ out loud ever again, it is…incredibly disconcerting.”
“Definitely takes after her mother,” Peter said without acknowledging that Lydia had spoken. Reached over Allison’s shoulder to brush his hand across the baby’s cheek. Pulled away suddenly and looked at Derek. “Tell Stiles I said congratulations to her, too.”
“I will,” Derek said. “Thanks for the treadmill. And the pool.”
Peter grunted and left, door slamming behind him. Clara jolted awake. Hiccupped. Screwed her face up and then let out an awful wail.
“Oh, fuck nuts,” Isaac said, putting his hands over his ears.
“What a dick,” Jackson said.
“Bag of dicks,” Lydia said.
“Leave it.” Derek frowned at them. (Casey was five. Tracey was a week away from her second birthday.)
“Derek?” asked Stiles’ voice from upstairs.
He sighed and took the baby from Allison. “Coming.”
“He wakes the baby, the baby wakes Stiles, we get told to leave it,” Erica said. “Goddamn—”
“Leave it, I said,” he snapped. “And come tell Stiles her kid’s fucking adorable. If she gets even the slightest inkling you’re lying you will be on diaper duty forever.”
“I know, I know, you’re starving, calm down,” Stiles said as Clara latched onto a nipple and started suckling noisily. “You are a demanding little piglet, Clare-Bear.”
“Maybe we should’ve called her Stilinski, then,” Derek said, stifling a smile when Stiles scowled at him.
“Oh, no, she’s definitely a Hale. I seem to remember her daddy slamming me into a wall to get me to do some research for him.”
“Pretty sure I just needed you to hide me from your dad.” He sat down beside her. “And also you were being a little shit.”
“I’m always a little shit, that’s hardly an excuse,” she said. Twisted so she could lean back against him. “And to be honest I don’t think that makes it any better.”
He grunted and curled his arm around the soft bump of her stomach, still pudgy with baby fat. Pulled her into his lap. Rested his forehead on her shoulder. “Silas is going to show up, soon.”
“We still don’t have any idea what we’re going to do when he gets here,” he said.
“I have…an idea,” she said haltingly. “Me and Lydia do. We’ve been working on it for a while.”
“You’re not going to tell me what it is, are you?”
“It’s not that I don’t want to, or don’t trust you, but if you know you might accidentally let something slip. Not on purpose, I mean, I know you wouldn’t do anything to put us in danger.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “If I can help…”
“All I need is for you to trust me,” she said. “No matter what I say or do. Just trust me. I know that’s not easy—”
“It is.” He turned his hand up so he could cup it around hers under the baby’s head. “I already do.”
“Stiles,” he said. “I asked to raise your kid with you. I was already planning to add a room for you in my house before I started the blueprints. I let you hang your sacrilegious bullshit in my living room.”
“What sacrilegious—that’s Mets memorabilia, Derek, you shut your whore mouth,” she said, and made some attempt to elbow him without jostling Clara.
It didn’t work. Clara snuffled and glared up at both of them even after the nipple was back in her mouth.
“Definitely a Hale, look at that scowl,” Stiles said adoringly. Looked up at him. “You’re teaching her bad habits, dude.”
“Don’t call me dude. And don’t use the baby to get us off topic.”
“Do you actually want to talk feelings?” she asked. “Should I steal an EpiPen from someone?”
“I’m not allergic to feelings.”
“You’re allergic to talking about them.”
“You’re doing the subject-changing thing again.”
“I don’t know what else there is to talk about on that subject. Lydia and I have it handled, you trust me.” She sighed. “I’m not trying to make light of that, Derek. I know it’s hard for you to trust people.”
“I’ve trusted you for years, Stiles,” he said. “With my life since the pool. With my pack since you let us tell your dad.”
She fidgeted and looked down at Clara. Mumbled, “I think maybe I need the EpiPen.”
“Quit that, greedy,” she said to the baby. Shifted so she could switch breasts. “Our kid’s turning into a brat and she’s not even a month old, yet.”
“Don’t let Jackson and Lydia near her ever again, that’ll take care of at least half the problem.”
She giggled and leaned back against him.
“You’re sure you don’t need me to do anything else?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Just trust me.”
“Okay,” he said. “Done.”
“He was sighted in the next county over,” the sheriff said as he swept into the house, side-stepping one of the many empty boxes littering the entryway. “Traveling with at least four other men.”
“He’s got an estimated pack of twenty,” Peter said. “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.”
“We’re prepared.” Stiles didn’t look up from the book propped up on the table in front of her. She scribbled something into her notebook. “Totally prepared, Uncle Scar.”
Peter narrowed his eyes at her. Looked at Derek. Jerked his head at the book.
“Stiles and Lydia have it under control,” Derek said firmly. Didn’t look at Stiles when her head snapped up. “They’ll let us know if they need anything.”
“Curly fries would be nice,” Stiles said after a short pause, gaze returning to the book. “I also need a cow.”
“What.” Peter gaped at her.
“You look like you’re expecting me to make a sacrifice. I figure this way we can at least eat afterwards. I mean I guess we could eat sheep or goat too, those are common sacrificial animals, but I don’t really know how to prepare those.”
“Baby’s about to need her diaper changed,” she said breezily, standing. Left the tome on the table but tossed her notebook at Lydia. Missed.
Lydia rolled her eyes but picked it up off the floor and hugged it to herself as she leaned back into Jackson’s chest.
“You are so full of shit, Stilinski,” Jackson said, and squawked a little when Clara let out a wail from her bedroom, a rancid smell hitting the werewolves’ noses.
“Straight up X-Men shit, fuck yeah.” Stiles waggled her eyebrows at them and flounced upstairs.
“Don’t you think we should take this a little bit more seriously?” the sheriff called up after her. “This guy kills packs for a living.”
“Stiles says she has it covered,” Derek said.
“Stiles thinks she has it covered,” the sheriff said, half yelling so Stiles could hear. “She also thought Cheerios were donut seeds until a few years ago.”
There was a loud squawk upstairs. “A few—I was eight.”
“Ten years, that’s not a long time,” the sheriff said. “My point is that the things you think are true aren’t always actually things that are true.”
“Well I don’t think I have it covered, I know I have it covered,” she said, freshly changed baby in her arms as she came back downstairs. “So you don’t have to worry.”
“I am your father and also the sheriff, it is literally my job in every capacity of my life to worry.” He crossed his arms over his chest and gave her a stubborn look they recognized from Stiles herself.
She rolled her eyes and shifted the baby to her other shoulder. “Fine. Let’s go to the War Room.”
“We don’t have a War Room,” Derek said.
“The Containment Room; it’s soundproof so you losers can’t hear us talking,” she said with a sweet smile, passing Clara to him. “Lydia, O goddess of knowledge and beauty, if you’ll bring the notebook?”
“Allison should come, too,” Lydia said as she untangled herself from Jackson. “She and her father can help with…uh, cleanup.”
“Ugh, fine, come on, Allison.”
“Don’t you think one of us should go, too? A wolf, I mean, to make sure they’re acting in the pack’s best interests?” Peter asked Derek, narrowing his eyes at Stiles when she scowled at him.
“Our best interests are the pack’s best interests, we’re pack,” Stiles said.
“Human, though.” Peter gave her a nasty smile.
“It could be interesting to let him in on it,” Lydia said, nudging Stiles with a barely concealed smile of her own; no nicer than Peter’s. “Given the givens of the plan.”
Stiles snorted, breaking eye contact with Peter to (futilely) attempt to stifle a laugh with her hand.
“It might be beneficial to have a Were who knows what’s going on, anyway,” Lydia continued, ignoring Stiles’ laughter. “Of all the Weres here, I suppose the one who faked a coma for a year is also the one least likely to accidentally give anything away.”
“And if he purposefully gives something away he’s the one no one will miss,” Stiles said brightly, fluttering her eyelashes at Peter. Turned toward the Containment Room in the basement. “Come on, then.”
“So?” Derek asked Peter after everyone else had left. “Is she lulling us into a false sense of security so she can kill us all?”
Peter rolled his eyes. “You want my opinion on the Stiles Situation?”
“Daddy just messaged.” Stiles got to her feet, thumbs clicking away on her phone. “One of his deputies spotted Silas’ car coming toward the house. Allison, you—”
“Already done,” Allison said, sliding her phone into her jacket pocket as she stood.
“Good. Lydia, you have Clara and the mountain ash.”
“What should we do?” Scott asked.
“Go out and meet them. I’m going to get everything else ready,” she said. Turned to go back upstairs before pausing a turning back. “But first…” She grabbed Derek’s face and mashed their lips together, hard and uncomfortable and enthusiastically awful for the brief moments before she pulled away.
“You, um,” he said. “Me.”
She gave him a weak smile. “I was going to wait for you to make the first move, but you’re kind of super slow, dude. Figured this way if we die today I’ve at least kissed you. Even if it was a pretty shitty—”
He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, free hand cupping her chin. Pressed his lips to hers, gentle but no less enthusiastic, especially when she relaxed into him.
He heard a strange, stuttering noise somewhere away from them. It was soft at first but grew louder and louder until he realized Stiles’ father was clearing his throat. Loudly.
“This seems like a bad time,” the sheriff said, not looking at either of them.
“The worst time, I’ve been waiting for this since I turned eighteen.” Stiles’ nose and mouth scrunched up.
“We know,” Erica said. “Next time grow some ovaries sooner and this won’t happen.”
“I think you mean grow some balls,” Scott said.
“Uh, no, ovaries are about ten billion times more metal than balls.” Erica snorted. “Seriously, they tear themselves to shreds every month. All balls do is freak out and shrivel up into your scrotum.”
“Also a pretty bad time for arguing the inherent misogyny in commonly used phrases,” the sheriff said, squinting at her a little.
“Right,” Stiles said, kissing Derek once more before hurrying upstairs. “I’ll see you guys on the flipside or in hell, whichever comes first.”
Boyd sighed. “I’m so glad I traded Doritos for shitty friends and constant life-threatening situations.”
“Me, too,” Erica said, kissing his cheek. Grabbed his hand and pulled him outside.
Derek and the others followed. Peter immediately disappeared into the woods. The sheriff and Allison made no comment, so Derek pursed his lips together and hoped for the best.
Lydia exited the house as a duo of black SUVs pulled up in front of it. She strode confidently past them and circled herself with mountain ash. He watched her close the circle and realized, suddenly, that she was also closing an even bigger circle, one that encompassed him and the rest of the pack. A sick feeling settled in his stomach.
“What is she doing?” Isaac asked out of the corner of his mouth. Derek motioned at him to shut up, eyes snapping to the first SUV as one of its doors opened.
A giant of a man stepped out—taller even than Isaac and broader than Boyd. His hair was dark and short, thick and artfully styled, with only a little gray showing at his temples. His perfectly sculpted beard, in contrast, was more gray than black. He was quickly flanked by six other men, none as tall as him but all every bit as muscled. One woman stood further back from the rest, arms crossed, light hair pulled into a severe bun at the top of her head.
“Silas,” Stiles called. Ran past them, past the mountain ash barrier, and threw herself into the mountain of a man. Silas enveloped her in his arms. Derek had never seen anyone who could make Stiles look small, but Silas did so effortlessly.
Sometime since going upstairs she had changed from t-shirt to a tight black shirt; from baggy pants to a pleated red plaid skirt; from ratty socks to black wedges made to look like tennis shoes. The sick feeling in Derek’s stomach worsened—the outfit looked like it was chosen to parallel Silas’.
“Oh my God,” said Erica, Isaac, and Scott.
“That outfit was not part of any plan I was privy to,” the sheriff said.
“And what plan were you privy to?” Silas asked, voice deep and smooth.
“The same one you were, babe.” Stiles smiled up at him, tapping her finger on his chest. “Gain the idiot pack’s trust, destroy them, and live happily ever after, baby in tow.” She turned her smile to them, a cruel twist at the corners of her mouth. “The outfit was my little touch.”
“You are malicious,” Silas said, sneering at them, red eyes glowing as they met Derek’s. His hand curled tighter around Stiles’ waist.
“Not my fault.” She arched an eyebrow at Derek. “Someone hasn’t learned yet that just because a girl kisses you and says ‘trust me,’ it doesn’t mean you should.”
“You fucking bitch,” Erica said.
“Can I kiss you?” Silas asked.
“Aw, do you trust me, babe?” Stiles fluttered her eyelashes at him. Giggled when he lifted her up. The sound turned into a muffled little grunt when he kissed her, hard and rough and nothing at all like the one she and Derek had just shared. Her arms circled around his neck.
“What the hell?” one of Silas’ betas asked. Almost before Derek could wonder what he meant, the veins in Silas’ arms turned black.
“What are you doing?” the female beta asked. Shoved past the men. Grabbed Stiles’ shoulder and pulled her away from Silas.
Silas fell to his knees, red eyes fading to brown.
The female dropped to his side, screaming and running her hands over his face. The male who had spoken grabbed Stiles by the shoulders. Shook her.
“What did you do?”
“He shouldn’t have trusted me,” Stiles said, giggling again.
“Double-crossing cunt.” The man shook her again before tossing her at them. “We’ll fucking kill you and—” He froze when she hit the mountain ash barrier and went no further.
“What,” Silas said as the woman helped him to his feet, “did you do, you useless human bitch?”
“I told you the night I let you fuck me that you shouldn’t underestimate the useless humans,” Stiles said, struggling to her feet. “And, hey, now you get to be the useless human, so I guess you’ll learn.”
“What do you mean he’s human? You can’t do that,” one of the betas said.
“I think you’ll find I did. Now.” She rolled her shoulders, flexing her hands as her nails turned into claws. “I’m going to give you and yours a head start, Silas, seeing as how you gave me one of the best orgasms of my life—and I don’t say that lightly, I might have been a virgin but I have a sex toy collection that’d make John Waters blush.”
“I should have gone with Chris,” the sheriff said under his breath.
“But if you aren’t out of my territory in the next minute my friend Lydia’s going to break this mountain ash barrier and me and mine are going to tear you to shreds.”
“If you think we won’t be back—” the woman said.
Stiles was on her in a second, sucker punching her so hard she flew ten feet back.
Stiles shook her hand, wiggling her fingers. “That still hurts, what even is the point? Then again.” She leaned down and lifted Silas up by the collar of his shirt. “I can do this, now. And you’d best believe me when I say: if you come anywhere near my pack ever again, I’ll fucking kill you. If you put even a toe over the Beacon County line, I’ll fucking kill you. And if you so much as Google my kid, I’ll rip you to fucking shreds.” She brought him closer to her face. “And trust me, babe, I don’t have to be a werewolf to work a bone saw.”
She threw him at his betas (former betas?). “Now leave. Christopher Argent will see you off at I-5. Dear Uncle Peter went to let him know you’re on your way.”
“And how do I get my power back?” Silas asked.
“Oh, you’re never going to be a werewolf again. Beauty of the spell—I can give your power to whoever I want, now. Might give it to Peter so he’ll leave Beacon Hills and quit being such a Creep Lord, but we’ll see.” She looked over her shoulder at Derek, eyes blazing red, and winked. Derek felt his own eyes turn in response, something warm and right curling its way around his heart. “I think Derek and I could rock the Alpha Pair look.”
“I’ll kill you for this,” Silas said as his betas easily herded him to one of the cars. “I’ll fucking kill you for this, Stiles. At least let me—let go of me.” He tried to jerk away from his cohorts. “At least let me see my son.”
“You don’t have a son,” Stiles said. “Not here. Her name is Clara Hale and that’s more than you deserve to know about her.”
Silas’ lip curled up into a derisive sneer. “A girl?”
“Your minute’s up,” she said. “Lydia.”
“I’m not losing my life over some little wench, your kid or not,” one of the betas said. He and three of the others climbed into the other SUV and sped off.
“Let’s go, Silas,” the woman said. “We’ll figure out a way to fix this and come back to kill them.”
“Good luck with that,” Lydia said, leaning down to break the barrier.
“Fine.” Silas managed to pull away from those of his pack left. “Fine. Let’s go.”
The other betas piled in and they left, tires squealing.
“Oh my God, that actually worked,” Stiles said, sinking into a crouch, hands shaking.
“You didn’t know if that would work?” the sheriff asked.
“We had a backup plan,” Lydia assured him as she left the barrier and knelt next to Stiles. “You okay? Are you having a panic attack?”
“No, I’m.” Stiles took a deep breath and let out slowly. “Not yet, I just need a second.”
“I’m still not entirely sure what just happened,” Scott said.
“We found a spell in that old book of Allison’s.” Lydia patted Stiles’ back awkwardly. “Or, well, she did. It was an old infiltration spell—the idea was to steal a werewolf’s powers so it was easier for a hunter to get into a pack’s den, then kill most of the pack and give the stolen power to one of the survivors. And then kill the survivor, of course.”
“It fell out of use almost immediately after its discovery,” Allison said. “Most of the hunters who used it ended up defecting.”
“But you didn’t know if it would work,” the sheriff said. “You told me you were sure it would work.”
“I was sure it’d work on a Beta,” Stiles said, hands over her face. “Alphas are different, I was mostly just hoping it’d work on Silas.”
“And if it hadn’t?”
“If it hadn’t I’d have shot him,” she said. “Allison gave me a hip holster to use and you were going to give me the Bersa Thunder .380 under your bed for my twenty-first birthday.” She groaned. “Jesus, it’s no wonder you guys are such douche canoes all the time, this is awful. It smells and it’s loud and I think my insides are rearranging again.”
“That’d be your body getting rid of your baby fat,” Derek said, wrapping an arm around her waist to help her up. “Come on, let’s get you to bed. Most bitten wolves don’t make an immediate transition from human to Alpha. Some don’t even make the transition from human to werewolf, period. You could’ve died doing this, Stiles.”
“Could’ve died anyway,” she said, leaning heavily into him. “You smell really nice.”
“You, too, come on.” He looked at the others. “Scott, you and Allison go meet up with Chris, make sure they’re gone? The rest of you run the perimeter, make sure the betas here were the only ones Silas brought with him.”
“Can do, boss man,” Erica said. “Sorry for calling you a bitch, Stiles.”
“’S okay,” Stiles said, mostly to Derek’s neck. Snorted out a laugh. “I’m literally a bitch, now.”
“Lydia, call for pizza. Once the change finishes she’s going to be hungry.”
“I’ll call every place that delivers, she’s a scary enough eater as a human,” Lydia said.
“I’m a growing girl.” Stiles giggled.
“Okay,” Derek said. Lifted Stiles into his arms. “Knew I could trust you.”
She hummed softly. “Love you, too, Derek.”
“Yeah,” he said, and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I know.”