Stiles wakes up on a Friday morning with a craving for Froot Loops, and an erection. These two things are not at all related. The most immediate concern, Stiles takes care of in the shower. The other one finds him on his hands and knees digging into the back of the cabinet under the sink because he’s sure that’s where he hid the cereal. He finds it right behind the cockroach baits and the rat poison, which is exactly where he left it, because his dad would never think to look for it there. Only an idiot would hide breakfast cereal behind the D-Con.
An idiot, or a genius.
What? He keeps it in a sealed Tupperware container. There’s almost no chance of cross contamination. Almost none.
Stiles leans on the kitchen counter while he eats his Froot Loops. And maybe gets his groove on to some classic seventies disco on his iPod. And maybe he doesn’t even care that he dances like an idiot, because there’s nobody here to see him. His dad’s at work but Stiles is meeting him for lunch later, it’s the end of the school week, and for once he’s not falling over shit because he’s frantic about running late. He’s still got half an hour before he needs to go and pick Scott up for school, and that’s just enough time to fuck around watching a few Youtube clips about fainting goats.
It’s a good morning.
Stiles is pretty sure nothing can spoil his mood, not even Harris and the pop quiz he’s going to spring on them today in chemistry. (Stiles has contacts in the teachers’ lounge.) He’s studied, he’s pumped, he’s on a sugar high and a disco high, and he’s ready for whatever the day is going to throw at him.
It’s Friday morning and it’s raining men.
A rumble of thunder makes itself known above Stiles’s one-man disco, and he pulls his earbuds out.
Well, it’s raining something.
Or trying its hardest. It’s dark outside--when did that happen? It was sunny when he got up, but the weather has definitely turned quickly. The sky has that weird greenish sort of tinge that Stiles thinks means hail. Hail, of all things. He wonders if he should check an actual weather report instead of just sticking his head out his bedroom window.
Stiles can’t actually hear any rain yet. Still, he grins at the aptness of his choice of song, because serendipity FTW.
He hunts through his bedroom for the keys to his Jeep.
There’s another brief rumble of thunder somewhere in the distance, then the wind picks up and chases the clouds away. When Stiles finally makes it downstairs again, keys in hand, the day looks bright and sunny again.
The whole thing probably only lasted ten minutes.
Stiles heaves his backpack onto his shoulder. He heads out the front door, still humming The Weather Girls, and almost trips over something on the front porch. He flails, spins, barely manages to catch himself, and ends up balanced awkwardly on one foot, twisted like a pretzel as he looks down at what he almost fell over.
That’s a baby.
Someone has left a baby on the front porch.
Stiles stares at it and silently demands it either make sense, or go away immediately.
It doesn’t do either.
Weirdly, this is not the first time this has happened.
Stiles was six that time. For a wonderful, magical hour he’d thought that all his prayers for a baby brother or sister had been answered, but instead of his parents welcoming the baby with open arms, they’d phoned the ambulance, the sheriff at the time, and Child Services. It turned out later that the baby belonged to a scared teenager who’d listened to Deputy Stilinski give a talk about internet safety at the high school and somehow extrapolated from that one hour lecture that he’d make a great dad for her as yet unborn infant. Which he would have--Stiles’s dad is the best--but not really the point.
When he’d been six, Stiles had felt cheated that they didn’t get to keep the baby. Clearly the baby was the best thing to ever happen in his entire life.
Now, ten years later, he’s not at all as excited by this turn of events.
“Um, hey there,” he says, crouching down beside the baby. It’s in a cardboard box. Seriously. A cardboard box. And it’s not new. The baby, that is. The cardboard box looks pretty fresh. The baby is pretty big, and not red and squishy like the new ones. This one looks like it’d be big enough to crawl. Stiles has no idea how old that makes it. Pretty weird age to be abandoned though.
The baby smiles at him, and, okay, yeah, that’s pretty damn cute. Then it reaches out its fat starfish hands, and Stiles is lifting it up.
“Hey,” Stiles says again. “Are you a boy baby, or a girl baby?”
It’s in a green onesie, which doesn’t give much of a clue. And, unless he really has to, Stiles isn’t going to investigate any further. So far the baby’s not stinky. It’s not cold either, so it can’t have been out here for very long. Stiles’s dad only left for work about an hour ago too, so the baby definitely arrived after that. He wonders if whoever left it there even knocked. He wouldn’t have heard, over his iPod.
Stiles holds the baby up to his chest, one arm under its backside and one hand on the back of its downy hair. It has dark hair and dark eyes. It looks familiar somehow, except maybe all dark-haired, dark-eyed babies look the same, and it’s still totally smiling at him.
“You have the cutest smile in the world,” Stiles tells it. He’s not at all self-conscious about talking to a baby. He also talks to random dogs, stray cats, and, occasionally, garden gnomes. It’s not like he expects an answer. “Yes, you sure do.”
The baby beams at him.
As soon as Stiles is satisfied it’s big enough to hold its own head up, he slips a hand into the pocket of his jeans and pulls his phone out. It takes a little dexterity to unlock the screen and scroll through his contacts, particularly when he’s swaying his hips from side to side and humming because he’s pretty sure that’s what you should do with babies. Babies love to get their groove on.
“So, I‘m gonna call my dad, and he’s gonna come and give you a ride in a police car. How awesome is that?”
The baby blows a spit bubble. “Buh!”
“Nice one,” Stiles tells it. “High five!”
The baby sticks its arm up, and Stiles bursts out laughing because that’s totally something he’s planning to teach his hypothetical kids. Of which there will be four, because you need at least five people to form a raid group in WoW, and Stiles will be their leader. Stiles holds out his phone, and the baby smacks its hand against it.
“Of all the abandoned porch babies I’ve ever met, you are definitely my favourite.”
The baby beams again, and wriggles.
“Okay, so maybe you should go back in your box while I call my dad.” Stiles makes a face when he hears himself. “Wow, how terrible does that sound? But hey, it looks fairly cozy in there.”
The baby grabs his t-shirt in a spitty fist.
Stiles squats back down, and unpeels the baby’s fingers from his shirt. He sets the baby back down inside the box. “What’ve you got in here, hey? No note? That’s a pretty awesome teddy bear though. And hey, a blanky.” He tugs it out, and for the first time notices the smell. Smoke? Overlaid with the sharp, fresh smell of ozone. “I had a yellow blanky like this when I was a baby, except mine had a…”
A duck with a crooked leg.
Stiles freezes as a fold of the blanket falls open and reveals the embroidered duck in the corner. The blood roars in his skull, but he’s not going to freak out, because this is a prank, obviously. Scott is punking him, or the universe fucking is, because this is Stiles’s baby blanket. This is the one his mom bought when she was pregnant, and embroidered the duck on herself. His dad has told him the story a million times, because his mom was terrible at sewing, and she had all these plans when she was pregnant to make everything for the baby’s room herself, but she only got as far as the duck embroidery before she gave up and ordered the rest of the stuff from Walmart.
This is Stiles’s blanket, and it smells like smoke, and he can see now that the edges are charred, and it came in a box with a baby who looks familiar.
More than familiar.
“Oh, fuck,” Stiles whispers.
The baby blows another spit bubble.
The baby looks familiar because it’s him. It’s him.
He grabs the baby and the box and rushes back inside the house.
“Scott? Pick up. Fucking pick up.”
Of all the weird shit Stiles has had to come to terms with since discovering werewolves were a thing, an actual thing and not just a movie thing, this is probably the weirdest. Okay, because werewolves make a kind of sense, if only historically. There’s hundreds of years of legends about them, so it stands to reason that there has to be some basis in fact, even if once upon a time there was just this really angry hairy guy that the other pitchfork-wielding villagers hated. Which, frankly, is the theory Stiles would have gone for before seeing Scott actually wolf out that first terrifying time.
But this? This is new. Stiles’s background in classic horror movies and Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons won’t help him with this. This is a baby. A baby him. This is time travel, and Stiles isn’t ready for time travel. All he can think is he has to stop the baby from squashing any bugs. Because there’s a ripple effect, right? Or butterflies causing hurricanes.
Shit, no, that’s chaos theory. Or is it?
Oh god. Now is not the time to be concentrating on that. There is a baby. A baby, and Scott is still not answering his phone.
The baby sits on Stiles’s bedroom floor, fiddling with its fingers, which it apparently finds fascinating.
“Pick up, pick up, pick—”
“Scott! You need to get over here now. It’s an emergency! A full on crazy super-fucking-natural emergency!”
“Are you okay?”
“Um…” Stiles doesn’t know how to answer that. He pinches the bridge of his nose and stares down at the baby. “I don’t think I’m in physical danger, but I’m freaking out!”
“I’m on my way, dude! Just hang in there, okay?”
“Okay.” Stiles ends the call and concentrates on his breathing. Because it’s going to be hard enough to explain to Scott exactly what’s happening without having to filter it though a panic attack.
He can do this.
Of course he can.
“Oh, holy fuck,” he whispers to the baby, and the baby regards him with those dark Stilinksi eyes and blows what is apparently the latest in a sequence of never-ending spit bubbles. “Holy fucking fuckstick.”
The baby squeals.
Stiles wouldn’t call Scott stupid or anything, mostly because they’re best bros, but he’s pretty sure that Scott’s calm acceptance of Magical Appearing Baby Stiles isn’t zen-like or anything, it’s because Scott literally doesn’t understand the situation enough to panic. Smart people would panic, just saying.
Stiles is panicking. He’s pacing his bedroom, pinching the bridge of his nose, and saying “fuck fuck fuck” under his breath.
“Dude, it’s so cute,” Scott says, giving the baby his best puppy-dog eyes. “So cute.”
Stiles stops pacing for a second. “You mean I’m so cute.”
Scott looks uncertain. “I don’t know. He doesn’t exactly smell like you. Well, he smells kind of like you, but kind of not.”
“Like a different version of me,” Stiles says. “From an alternate timeline!”
Scott makes his dubious face. It’s the one he usually saves for chemistry. “I don’t know what alternate timeline versions of people smell like.”
“Exactly. So you can’t discount it!” Stiles shakes his head. “Dude, it’s not like I want to be right about this. It’s just that I know I am.”
And he’s about to prove it.
They head for his dad’s bedroom. Scott sits down on the floor, holding the baby by the hands as it pulls itself up, then drops down onto its backside, then bounces up again. If only Stiles had kept that sort of activity up, he could have the thighs of the Hulk by now. The baby makes sounds of spitty delight whenever it stands, and Scott looks just as fucking delighted. Stiles is pretty sure that fantasies of tiny little McCall-Argents are dancing through Scott’s head right now.
Stiles rolls his eyes and starts to pull shit out of the bottom drawer of his dad’s dresser. He’s really, really hoping that he doesn’t find anything he’ll need brain bleach for—yes, fine, okay, his dad is a single man with needs, but Stiles doesn’t want to know what those needs are—the fear of which would usually preclude him from rummaging around in his dad’s bedroom, but this is an emergency.
He finds his baby album first, and flips it open.
It hits him like a punch to the guts: his mom. She looks so young, and so pretty, like she’s been lit up from within by happiness. She’s holding a baby in her arms: a squishy little weird red thing, mouth twisted up in a yawn or a cry or something.
Tears prick Stiles’s eyes. It’s been years since he looked at his baby album, and this is the reason why. It hurts. It’s supposed to hurt less and less, but Stiles isn’t sure that’s true. It just hurts in a different way as he gets older.
He turns over a few pages, until he finds a photograph of himself at about six months old. He’s sitting in the backyard, wearing nothing but a diaper, and grinning at the camera.
He looks up at the baby, then back to the photograph, then up to the baby again.
He slides the album over toward Scott.
“Oh wow,” Scott says, breathless with wonder. “It is you.”
Stiles would have said that all babies looked alike, but not all of them come wrapped up in his yellow blanky. Speaking of which…Stiles pulls his yellow blanket out from the drawer. He balls it up and flings it at Scott. Scott deflects it by using the baby as a human shield, which, bad babysitter. Bad.
Stiles shifts over toward him and reaches out to take the baby so that Scott can inspect the blankets. “Every comic book I’ve ever read tells me that the universe should begin collapsing in on itself the moment we touch.”
The baby gums its fist.
“But since I already picked you up, I think we’re okay.”
“Dude, you also shouldn’t sleep with some hot woman because she’ll turn out to be your grandmother,” Scott says helpfully.
“Not exactly the same scenario,” Stiles points out.
Scott shrugs, and spreads the baby blankets out on the floor. “Okay, these are totally the same, except this one smells like smoke. And also like the smell in the sky before a thunderstorm.” He runs his fingers along the discoloured edge of the baby’s blanket. “This has been burned. How do you think that happened?”
Stiles smooths the baby’s downy hair into an interesting whirl. “Let’s just add it to the metric fuckton of shit that does not at all make sense.”
Scott tilts his head suddenly.
Moments later, Stiles hears a knock on the door.
“Derek’s here,” Scott announces.
Scott is at least decent enough to look shamefaced. “You said you had a supernatural emergency. I figured he might be able to help.”
“Great,” Stiles says. “Well, this day just keeps getting better and better.”
Halfway down the stairs, Stiles becomes aware of the smell.
“Oh, oh shit.”
“Yep,” Scott says, his nose wrinkling. “That’s shit all right.”
He takes the rest of the steps at a leap, leaving Stiles holding the baby.
In theory, Stiles would much rather change a baby’s stinky diaper than spend several excruciating minutes in the company of Derek Hale. Because ugh, Derek Hale. Derek has a stupid perfect face and a stupid hot body, and he mostly communicates with Stiles by growling, scowling, or pushing him into hard surfaces like walls, lockers and, that one time, his steering wheel.
Derek is a total dick, actually, and Stiles prefers to avoid him wherever possible.
In practice though… oh god, this is going to be too disgusting for words. Stiles has the baby lying on a towel on his bedroom floor while he goes through his drawers looking for something, anything, he can sacrifice as a diaper.
That’s how Scott and Derek find him: a wet washcloth in one hand, a threadbare Beacon Hills Sherriff’s Department Family Fun Day 2011 t-shirt in the other, and a look of grim determination on his face.
Derek strides forward into the room, glowering.
“Dude, you’ll scare it,” Stiles exclaims. “This is probably why I’m so intimidated by you now, isn’t it? You gave me this childhood trauma!”
Derek actually growls.
“Holy shit! What is wrong with you? You’ll terrify it!” Stiles is prepared to bundle the baby into his arms and protect it from the big scary werewolf, but the baby proves him wrong by squealing with what is either unrestrained delight or wind, and holds its grabby hands up toward Derek. Stiles wonders if his responses to terrifying werewolves have always been this fucked up. From babyish giggles all the way through to inappropriate fear boners. “Holy shit, what’s wrong with me?”
“That is not you,” Derek says, forcing the words through his clenched teeth. His eyes flash, and then he reaches down and grabs Stiles by his t-shirt. He pulls him to his feet and drags him close. “Just how much of a spark are you, Stiles?”
“What?” Stiles flaps a wet washcloth at him. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“How. Magic. Are. You?”
“Clearly not at all, or you’d be too scared to manhandle me!”
Derek looks down at where his fist is twisted in Stiles’s shirt, as though surprised to see it there. He loosens his grip and pushes Stiles back slightly. His face is pale, and he looks even more constipated than usual. Which is saying something. He jabs his finger against Stiles’s chest. “You did this.”
“Dude, I didn’t do anything! I know how to sprinkle mountain ash around, barely. I don’t know how to time travel!”
Derek looks like he’s about to pop a vein in his temple. “You didn’t time travel.”
“Look, I don’t want to interrupt,” Scott interrupts, “but mini Stiles really does stink.”
Derek glares at him. “Then change it!”
Scott throws Stiles a sympathetic Sorry-dude-I-tied-to-distract-him look, and takes the washcloth and the old shirt from Stiles so that Derek can continue to molest him. And not in a fun way. “Fine!”
“Tell me what you did,” Derek says, and there’s an actual note of desperation in his voice, and Stiles gets the feeling that something is very, very wrong here. More wrong than appearing on his own doorstep as an infant time traveller.
“Derek.” He shows Derek his palms. “I didn’t do anything, okay? I swear. I just stepped outside and almost tripped over it. But that baby looks exactly like me, and it came wrapped in my blanky, and Scott says it smells the same as me, and—”
“Similar to you,” Scott interjects from the floor. “Not exactly the same. It kind of smells like something else too.”
“Like pack,” Derek growls out.
“No….” Scott sniffs, then makes a face. “Okay, so that was mostly poo. But before… it was something else before. Something familiar.” Scott has the onesie unbuttoned and peeled up. He grips the tab of the diaper and visibly braces himself for the hell he’s about to unleash.
Stiles looks back to Derek. “Yes, but I smell like me, so maybe I smell like pack too! Like, retroactively!”
“That makes no sense,” Derek growls. “It’s not you, Stiles.”
“Prove it!” Stiles snaps back, because seriously, what the hell other explanation is there?
Derek glares at him, all muscle and sinew and barely-contained rage.
“Um…” Scott says from the floor. “Um. Stiles!” His voice comes out like a strangled squeak.
Stiles looks down.
And omifuckingod. It’s not him.
Scott’s got the diaper off.
The baby’s a girl.
Fifteen minutes later, Stiles has double bagged the dirty diaper and crossed the street to dispose of it in a neighbour’s trash can. Because gross. Now he’s sitting slumped on his bed with Scott beside him and Derek slouching against the wall, while the baby plays with a plush Yoda which is a collectable, by the way, and shouldn’t really be getting baby drool all over it. But he’s being a generous host, or babysitter, or whatever.
So the baby isn’t him. But she looks just like him and she has his blanket. Well, her slightly singed version of his blanket. And clearly whatever’s going on, Derek is blaming him.
Scott scoots off the bed and sits down on the floor next to the baby. He smiles when she burbles at him, and leans down to inhale her scent. Then frowns. “It’s weird. It’s kind of like pack, but kind of not pack too.”
Stiles loves Scott like a brother, but eloquence is not his forte.
“It’s kind of like… kind of like you, Stiles, but also kind of like…” He jerks back like he’s been stung, and looks frantically from Derek to Stiles and back again. “Holy shit! She’s yours!”
“What?” Stiles almost chokes. “Mine?”
“No.” Scott shakes his head. “Yours.”
Stiles points at Derek. “His?”
“Yours,” Scott breathes, eyes wide.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Derek snaps out. “Ours. She’s ours, Stiles.”
“Ah,” Stiles says over the buzzing noise in his skull, while he waits for the universe to stop punching him repeatedly in the face and balls. “Can we go back to when time travel was an option, please?”