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It's Insanity, but...

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It's Insanity, but...

The doorbell interrupts what had turned out to be quite the epic shoe hunt but, really, he’s grateful for the break. Or at least, he is until he heads down the stairs to grab the door, trips over a stuff animal of some kind, bashes his head on the wall and barely manages to catch himself from falling down the entire flight of stairs.

As with all things, Stiles would like to state, for the record, that this is Scott’s fault.

It was Scott who found out that the work of rogue hunters such as Kate Argent and the Calaveras had left many werewolf children orphaned. It was Scott who discovered that many of them had difficulties finding adoptive families or even stable foster homes due to their quick tempers, tendency to hear things they shouldn’t, propensity for smelling everything, and the small issue of sometimes turning into tiny werepuppies.

Yeah, apparently most foster parents are a bit freaked out by that.

But, still it is Scott’s fault. Because it was Scott’s idea that they had to help and it was Scott’s blend of resolve and puppy-eyes that had somehow convinced the over-worked social worker to allowed two unmarried 22-year old recent college grads to be foster parents.

That had been four years ago.

“Corey!” Stiles yells, stabilizing himself and grabbing the stuffed animal he’d nearly died on. “If you want to see your giraffe again, you better come save him!”

From the living room, there is a gasp and then a eight-year old werewolf flashes to Stiles’ side and snatches the toy from Stiles’ hands before Stiles can even blink. And then he is gone. Also quickly. Too quickly.

“And no shifting in the house!” Stiles calls after him. Honestly, he needs a recording of him saying those words. “Go outside and help Scott!”

Of course, it wasn’t just Scott’s fault, Stiles tells himself as he heads for the kitchen. There is Lydia, who eventually took over dealing with Child Support Service and seemed even more adept at bullying them into letting Scott and Stiles break all the rules. There is Mrs. McCall, who had moved in with hisfather and left them the house so they had more space. There’s Deaton, who had hired Scott and allowed him to work only during school hours as there was no way they could afford after school help. There’s Danny, who had convinced the company he worked for to hire Stiles remotely. Hell, he even blames Greenburg, who now works at a furniture store and gives them crazy discounts whenever they go in to buy yet another set of bunk beds.

The point is, none of this had been Stiles’ idea and so on days like today, when the house is in chaos (well, extra chaos, the house has been in a permanent state of chaos for four years now), he is completely within his rights to grumble about Scott’s stupid “saving the world” ideas and his stupid puppy eyes that had somehow roped Stiles into it.

He rubs at his forehead absently, opening the freezer. They don’t have any ice packs (the benefits of raising children whose bumps and bruises will heal in five minutes) but they always have frozen bags of French fries and that works in a pinch. A glance out of the glass doors tells him that Scott is already outside, setting up. Or, at least, he is supposed to be setting up. From what Stiles can see, their mighty Alpha is busy inhaling helium from balloons and singing to Lucy and Mato.

Stiles would go yell at him but it is Lucy’s birthday and Mato is smiling softly and even after almost a year, Mato’s smiles are rare. Besides, it looks like Ellie is spreading out the plastic table clothes and Stiles is completely confident that she will straighten Scott out in a minute.

Ellie had been with them for three years now but it had taken the ten-year old all of one week to start bossing the others around (Scott and Stiles included). There was no way to know, but Scott suspects that she had once been in line to be Alpha. Lydia is looking into it. Lydia loves her.

“Mr. uh- S-Stiles?”

Stiles jumps, tells himself that he hadn’t been smiling fondly out the window and turns to the two five year olds staring up at him, abandoning the fries as he does so.

“Just Stiles,” he says, squatting down. “How can I help you?”

Both take a step back as he moves, nervously glancing outside.

“Do you want me to get Scott?” he asks. Scott claims that all the kids adore him instantly but Stiles is, as always, more realistic. He loves them, but he’s better with the older ones, the ones who can understand and appreciate sarcasm. Scott is the master of small children. He is the one who could have them at ease within five minutes. Even young, traumatized five year olds who have only been here for a week.

“No,” Adam says, softly. “But Vonna says there’s someone at the door.”

Oh. Right. The door. He’d completely forgotten about that. He watches as Levonna shifts closer to Adam, almost hiding completely behind him.

“Oh,” he says. “That’s probably just the Sheriff and Melissa. You remember them, right?”

Dear god, he hopes it is them. This birthday party has all the kids wound up. All the kids and Scott. He needs backup.

Levonna shakes her head, leaning forward to whisper in Adam’s ear. So far, it seemed she would only talk through him. That’s okay. Given what happened to her, Stiles is surprised she talks at all.

“No,” Adam reports dutifully. “She says the smell is wrong.” His eyes had narrowed. Behind him, Vonna tenses further, eyes wide.

“Okay,” Stiles says, nodding. “I’ll go see who it is. Why don’t you two go see if Scott needs help? I think he’s setting up the balloons.”

Levonna will be comforted being around an Alpha. It won’t be as good for Adam, who actually isn’t a werewolf (just the best friend of a werewolf and the social worker had nearly cried with relief when Scott had assured her that they would take both of them) but he will be happier when she is happier. Apparently, they’d spent their three months in the state home in Nevada completely inseparable.

Stiles heads back to the door, idly tidying as he went. It is insane. They had had Pack Cleaning Hour just yesterday and the house is already a wreck. Not that he really minds but guests might cut through here and it’s as he reaches for the door that he realizes that Lucy’s version of cleaning is to put all her nerf guns behind the coat rack and-

He opens the door to the hottest man he has ever seen. He has dark hair and dark jeans and his eyebrows as big as they are, cannot hide the beautiful green-blue-gray-something eyes and his muscles are bunching as he holds an overly large black bag.

“You have the wrong house,” Stiles says, already mourning the loss of this gorgeous, gorgeous man. He and Scott had never formally given up on dating but essentially running a werewolf orphanage just doesn’t lend itself to the dating world. It’s been months since he has even been able to sneak away to the Jungle for a night and hook up with someone. Hell, even pleasuring himself is basically a stealth operation now that the kids are all home for the summer.

Again, Scott’s fault. All of it.

The man frowns at him.

“Uh, I don’t think so,” he says. “520 Maple Lane? 10th Birthday party for Lucy?”

“Oh!” Stiles says, surprised. “Oh, that is us!”

He is still completely confused what the man is doing here but he knows the details so he must be… something.

“I’m Derek Hale,” the man offers. Stiles shakes his head. Derek sighs. “The entertainer?”

“Oh, the clown,” Stiles says. “Right! Scott told me about you. Sorry, I thought you weren’t coming until 4.”

“Not a clown,” Derek says, glaring. “And I need an hour to get set up. It’s on the website.”

“Right,” Stiles said. “Makeup and stuff.”

“I don’t wear makeup,” Derek all but growls and Stiles can’t help but roll his eyes. This is just his luck. The first hot man he sees in months and he is apparently some form of child entertainer who seems to be the ultimate grouch. “Why are all the kids already here?”

Stiles blinks at him in confusion.

“What kids?” Looking around, he assumes that all of them have migrated to Scott. Good. Maybe Ellie has them finally doing some work. Though, that probably means that all the chips are already gone. He should not have put them out so early.

Derek looks at him like he’s an idiot.

“The kids for the party,” he says. “They’re all outside. I thought the party wasn’t until 4? I usually perform outside and set up. But if kids are already here, it kinda ruins it.”

He sounds very upset. Upset and a little judgmental.

“Don’t worry about it,” Stiles says, rolling his eyes. “Those aren’t the guests. Those are all ours.”

“What?” Derek says and he shoots Stiles a surprised look. He cocks his head to the side in the way that Stiles now recognizes. Scott had said he was a werewolf. It was good to confirm. “But there’s at least five of them.”

“Seven,” Stiles corrects absently. He knows it’s insane. Even Scott admits it’s insane. But neither of them have figured out how to say no. Not since they’d found Nate at only three months old wrapped in a blanket in the woods by their college campus, pack dead around him and crying and he’d stopped the moment Stiles picked him up and then they’d gone to turn him into Child Services and Scott had asked all the questions and hated all the answers and-

They are up to seven.

Really, maybe Stiles should blame Nate for all this. And he would if Nate weren’t quite honestly, the cutest and coolest little –

“Nate!” Stiles says aloud. “Oh fuck, I was letting him play in my room while I got ready!”

Nate’s four. It means he has learned to partially shift and likes chewing on things and-

“Scott’s out back,” Stiles says, waving a hand in the general direction. “He’ll set you up!”

When he gets back to his room, Nate has found his shoes and has started chewing on them.

Stiles blames Scott.

*^*^*^

Derek is confused.

The man who opened the door – Scott’s husband presumably – hadn’t bothered to introduce himself before seeming to remember one of his seven children and running away.

Though, Derek supposes, they must not all biologically belong to the two men. They can’t. Not just because the man barely looks old enough to have fathered one child, let alone seven, but because as Derek cautiously opens the door to the backyard, following more his sense of smell rather than any waved directions, he sees that none of the six children present look anything like each other. Or really anything like the man he barely sees behind a mess of balloons.

There is absolutely nothing to connect them. Nothing except…

They are all werewolves.

It’s as Derek is making this realization, eyes flitting from one child to the next that Scott finally notices him, a stranger, and his eyes flash red for the briefest instant and Derek takes a step back almost instinctively.

“I’m Derek,” he says quickly, noting that the children have all seemed to notice their Alpha’s moment of concern. “Hale- from the-”

“Dude!” Scott says and then he is beaming and shaking Derek’s hand. Derek follows his lead woodenly. Werewolves aren’t common but he’s worked a few parties for packs before. Letting another wolf on your property was a big deal. There are normally subtle tests of strength and less-subtle threats and – “So glad you could make it! Did Stiles let you in then?”

“Uh, yes,” Derek says. Scott’s ridiculously handsome husband with the moles and the hands that he waves around. Stiles. He blinks and stops that line of thought immediately. Just because this Alpha so far seems like the friendliest person Derek has ever met doesn’t mean he won’t freak out about Derek, a Beta, sniffing around his mate. “He did.”

He never should have let Laura talk him into this job. Yes, he loved magic tricks and making balloon animals was oddly soothing and he’d always loved kids but… Christ, handling the adults was the worst.

“Awesome,” Scott says. “Let’s get you set up. Do you need help? Mato and Ellie can totally help. Or Corey. He’s stronger than he looks. Ellie! Where should Derek set up?”

“Over by the swing set,” the oldest girl says, not even glancing up from where she is setting the table.

“Do you need help?” Scott asks again and it’s not normal for an Alpha to be so friendly. No wonder he has such a hot-

“No!” he practically yelps. “No, I got it.”

“Okay,” Scott says easily. “Just give a shout if you change your mind!”

But Derek doesn’t. He focuses on setting up his equipment and definitely doesn’t look over when Stiles comes outside a few minutes later with an adorable toddler on his shoulders. He definitely isn’t a little bit turned on by how effortlessly Stiles moves through the mass of children and he doesn’t find it adorable when Stiles orders Scott around even though Scott is the Alpha and Stiles is a human and he is not jealous when Scott obeys easily and pats Stiles on the shoulder as he goes to grab things from the kitchen.

He is not any of those things.

Eventually the party starts in earnest and a pack of other ten-year olds arrives (not many, but given that the youngest – Nate – seems to be in a perpetually half-shifted state unless Scott is within eyesight, Derek is guessing the party is limited to very, very close friends only) and he is relieved.

Because then he can focus on the kids and he actually does like this part of the job and in two hours or so, he can be out of here and he can put this whole thing behind him.

*^*^*^

This is a disaster.

Stiles has been in enough disasters in his life to know when something qualifies. He had been there when Scott was bitten by a werewolf and had coached him through learning to control his shifts. And then there was the whole kanima disaster and hunters and True-Alphaness and that was before they even went to college. Stiles is pretty much a disaster expert.

And this is a disaster.

Because Derek Hale is not only the hottest thing he has seen in years, but he is also amazing with the kids. There’s no paint and he’s not overly bubbly but somehow his slightly disgruntled face and scowling takes on a humorous tone and though everyone knows he is messing up on purpose, that just seems to make it funnier.

He lets the kids pick how he makes balloon animals and they are truly terrible until he somehow magically makes them awesome. He loses things by sitting on them and glares when the kids try to tell him where it is. He is grumpy and funny and impressive and he keeps the kids entertained for a whole hour nonstop and, really, it shouldn’t be surprising that Stiles is can’t stop staring.

And then Derek makes a flower and offers it to Levonna and she blushes and Adam still grabs it for her, but she snatches it the next moment and offers Derek the smallest of smiles and, holy shit, Stiles is in love.

He is in love and it is a disaster.

Because their backyard is full of kids (well, more full than usual) and Lydia is over and his father and Melissa and so he tries to play it cool. Tries not to notice when Derek finishes, but hangs around and starts teaching Mato card tricks.

Thank god that living with a house full of werewolves has thoroughly disguised his scent. Scott has assured him on more than one occasion that all Stiles really smells like anymore is pack. Stiles isn’t too surprised. He’s noticed that all the kids are more touchy feeling after he takes a shower. And when he has to actually go into work every other month or so, his return is always heralded by an excessive long pack-hug.

So, he doesn’t have to worry that he is smelling like raw lust and he might actually be pulling off something other than “crushing so hard I want to die.” There’s certainly enough to distract him. There’s grilling and cake and presents and time flies. Eventually parents start to pick up their children, and, as usual, Scott handles that particular brand of social interaction (if Stiles is being honest, they try to have it so Scott handles most brands of social interaction. He can handle the questions about their life with much more tact than Stiles, only occasionally getting firm. Meanwhile, Stiles hears the beginning of the sentence “So, you two just foster-” and the sarcasm is already pouring from his mouth.) Even though these are the parents of kids who know their family and who they trust, Stiles doesn’t doubt he will somehow offend someone.

So, Scott is dealing with the goodbyes and Stiles is just starting to clean up a few things, when suddenly Derek is standing in front of him.

For the record, his shirt is a little sticky with sweat and his hair is standing up and, really, it’s love. Eternal love. Or at least enough love that Stiles promptly loses his train of thought.

“I have to go,” Derek grunts at him. God, he should not be allowed to sound so grumpy and still so hot.

“Oh, right,” Stiles says. It has to be almost seven by now. He wasn’t even sure how long Derek was supposed to stay. “Let me just grab my wallet.”

He leads the way and Derek follows him silently.

“It’s, uh, it’s three hundred, right?” he asks, throwing dishes into the sink as he makes it to the table they keep by the phone. “We went over the budget a few weeks ago but… I mean, I have the list somewhere.”

“No, it’s three hundred,” Derek interrupts, scowling.

“Right, good,” Stiles says. He wishes he didn’t feel like a teenager again. He had graduated high school eight years ago! He was raising seven children! He was an adult! “That’s how much I got out so… yeah, that’s good.”

He pulled out the bills of his wallet and idly starts counting, just to make sure he doesn’t screw Derek over. He’s pretty sure the man has stayed longer that they hired him for anyway.

“You could totally stay and hang out,” he hears himself say. “I mean, not as a clown-”

“Not a clown.”

“Right. But I mean, if you just wanted to chill,” Stiles tries again. “I mean, they all loved you. You even got-”

His throat closes unexpectedly and he makes a point of frowning down at the bills as if he’d lost count. He hadn’t (he was raising seven children, multitasking is now his specialty) but to sell it, he starts over.

“You got Vonna to smile,” he says, finally risking looking up. “She’s only been here a week and- and it’s- she likes you.”

It’s a lame statement to make. Especially to someone who doesn’t understandwhy he and Scott have all these children, what they’ve all been through. He blushes and looks away and-

“She’s cool,” Derek says and his voice has lost its edge and gone lower. “She’ll be okay.”

He doesn’t say it like it’s just an assumption. He says it like he understands. Stiles actually does lose count.

“You’re really good with them,” Derek says and Stiles shakes his head.

“Nah,” he says, shrugging. “Scott is the magic. I just… shit.”

“What?” Derek asks. Ignoring him, Stiles counts again.

“Shit, I’m sorry,” Stiles explains. “We’re short. Fuck, I think Scott grabbed money to go get more ice cream. He’s always doing that. Hold on.”

Stiles can feel his face burning. He hates this, hates that it happens more than he likes to admit. It’s why he tries to plan out exactly what he’s going to buy before going to the grocery store. There’s just such a look of judgment and pity from people and also, of course, concern for whatever children Stiles is toting around with him that day. Like he’s the dumb kid who can’t budget and-

Being unable to pay Derek would be the worst thing to happen at this moment. Derek was somehow fooled into thinking Stiles was a good parent and now he’ll see that it’s all just a ruse and probably notice how all the kids’ clothes are worn or poorly patched and-

“Hold on,” Stiles repeats. “I think I’ve got sixty bucks in my room. Just give me one second.”

“It doesn’t-” Derek starts but Stiles is already heading upstairs. Going to Scott while he’s saying goodbye to other parents would be even worse and he’s pretty sure he has some twenties lying around… somewhere.

“One second,” Stiles repeats. “Be right back. Don’t worry.”

*^*^*^

Derek stares after Stiles, still trying to find the words to tell him that he reallydoesn’t care. He doesn’t even need the money, he just charges it because, as Laura pointed out to him, volunteering to go play with children is creepy and weird.

He’s already stayed an hour later than he’s supposed to.

And, it was totally worth it. Both because it has been a long time since he’s been around so many young werewolves and he’s forgotten how much fun that is and because he and Stiles had had this conversation. Where Stiles invited him to stay. Which he wouldn’t do, obviously, because Stiles was married and-

“Derek!” Scott says, entering the kitchen and Derek immediately flushes. He is positive he hadn’t picked up anything more than politeness from Stiles but it still feels… wrong. Like he has been caught. “Hey, did you decide to stay? We’d love to have you! We could even attempt to keep the kids away- we could have Stiles’ dad give them rides in the police car for a while.”

“Umm,” he says. “No, Stil-” suddenly he is very uncomfortable saying Stiles name aloud. His attraction might somehow come out as his mouth curves around the syllables. “I mean, your husband had to run to get money.”

“Oh, yeah, shit,” Scott replies, looking guilty. “I took some from his wallet this morning. He’s gonna kill- Wait. He’s not my husband.”

“Ah, sorry,” Derek says. “Partner?” He doesn’t know anything about preferred terms. Werewolves would use “mate” but Stiles isn’t a werewolf and-

“No,” Scott says, laughing. “No, I mean we aren’t together.” He looks thoroughly amused by this. Derek, once again, is confused.

“So you’re…”

“Just two bros raising kids,” Scott finishes. “It’s a long story. But, here,” he digs into his back pocket for a wallet and pulls it out. “How much do we owe you?”

It takes Derek a moment to answer because he feels like he’s just been slapped.

“You’re not together,” Derek repeats.

“No,” Scott says slowly. “But… the money?”

“Oh, uh, just twenty,” Derek says. It’s not true. But… well, it’s what comes out of his mouth. They are apparently two friends who have taken in seven – well, six – orphaned werewolves and… well, if he and Laura hadn’t been old enough to take care of themselves when his family died… “Twenty’s fine.”

“Cool,” Scott replies, pulling a crumpled bill from his wallet. “Here you go. Thank you so much! The kids really loved you. Even Vonna smiled!”

“Uh, thanks,” Derek says and he just knows he is blushing. Alphas shouldn’t be so lenient with their praise. And they shouldn’t just drop bombs like ‘The incredibly hot man living with me is actually not my husband and so…’

So, nothing. Derek is still a grouch and Stiles is still perfect (and maybe heterosexual) and there’s really no reason for him to still be here. Not after he takes the twenty from Scott.

“Sure you don’t want to stay?” Scott asks, tilting his head towards the back. Most of the kids have gone home but the party seems to be in full swing. With seven kids in the house, there must always be a party.

“No,” he says, already hating himself a little. “But thanks anyway.”

Scott nods.

“And, uh, tell Stiles I said bye,” he blurts and then turns bright red and then runs away.

“Will do!” Scott calls after him.

*^*^*^

The night ends as every night ends: in a werewolf pile on the couch.

They used to have two recliners and a loveseat but after the addition of Corey, it was decided they needed to upgrade so Greenburg had hooked them up with one of those insanely large U-shaped sectionals that seemed unnecessary until suddenly it wasn’t.

Stiles was never one for too much physical affection but he’d had to compromise when Scott became a werewolf suddenly obsessed with hugging (and it had gotten worse when he became an Alpha) and then he’d abandoned it completely when they’d started raising werewolf children. Now, the only thing he demands is a place in the corner so he has at least one free arm. So he is pressed against the left side of the couch, feet stretched into Mato’s lap, who claims he hates them but never moves them. As per usual, Scott sits in the middle, the others crowded around him. Even Levonna has tentatively chosen to sit so that she was in between Adam and Corey, rather than on the end.

It’s only 8:30 but it feels later. All the kids are quiet – Nate is actually dozing against Scott’s chest and Corey seems to be barely winning the fight against sleep and in a minute, Stiles is going to start the process of getting them all to bed.

“So,” Scott starts. “Lucy, did you enjoy your birthday party?”

“Yes!” Lucy says and somehow she is still bouncing with energy. “Yes! I liked Derek! Can he come back every week?”

“We’ll have to see,” Scott says, which is as close as Scott gets to a “no.” Lucy frowns at him. “He’s probably very busy.”

“I don’t know,” Ellie pipes up suddenly. “I think he may want to come back.”

Stiles frowns at her. She sounds like she knows things. Ellie knowing things is never good. But he’s too tired to interject.

“Why?” Corey asks, twisting his head to look at her. Oh god, the information is waking him back up. Stiles tries to catch Scott’s eye but Scott is watching Ellie was unconcealed interest.

Scott is the worst.

“Because I think he likes Stiles,” Ellie croons as only thirteen year olds can croon.

Stiles groans.

“Where do you come up with these ideas?”

“Do you like him too?” Lucy asks. She sounds thrilled. She sounds like her birthday has just been made. Stiles regrets everything.

“Children of the corn,” he mutters, a favorite saying of his. “No!” Scott and Mato look over at him. Stiles glares at Mato. Fifteen might be old enough to be able to hear when someone’s heart skips a beat but it is not old enough to start ratting out your foster-dad. Luckily, Mato keeps his thoughts to a small smirk and looks away.

“You don’t like Derek?” Corey asks.

“No,” Stiles says. “I mean, I like him just… not like Ellie thinks I do. And I’m sure he doesn’t like me either.”

“He does!” Ellie declared. “I heard him when Scott told him you guys weren’t married! He was excited!”

“Ellie!” Stiles says, going for strict. “What have we told you about eavesdropping? No using werewolf powers in the house!”

“I don’t know, dude,” Scott suddenly says. “He did smell a little excited.”

Stiles glares at him. Scott is the worst. First backing up Ellie and then admitting to smelling people. What ever happened to their no werewolf powers in the house rule!?

“Scott,” he growls.

“Sorry, sorry,” Scott says, sounding only half-contrite. “Never mind. Ellie, no using powers in the house. Especially to butt into Stiles’ life.”

“But he said to say bye to Stiles!” Ellie says. “You forgot.”

Scott blushes.

“He did say to tell you bye,” he admits. “I forgot.”

Scott is officially the worst Alpha ever.

“He looked at you a lot too,” Adam suddenly said and as everyone was staring at him in wonder (it was the first time he had contributed during the nightly wolf pile), Levonna pulled him over to whisper in his ear. “And Vonna says he smelled sad when he looked at you.”

“See!” Stiles says. “Sad! Not good!” (Yes, a part of him knows that he should not be arguing with seven children. But… this is his life now. He can’t escape it.)

“Probably because he thought you were married to Scott,” Mato notes and Stiles drops his head in a sigh. He’s lost control of this conversation. It’s time for bed. Bed and maybe just a little alone time before his memory of Derek briefly lifting his shirt to wipe his face while packing up fades.

“Alright,” he says, starting to extract himself from the pile. “It’s time for-”

The werewolves’ heads all tilt in practical unison an instant before the doorbell rings.

“It’s him,” Levonna says and it’s only because the room has gone quiet that everyone hears her but still… Stiles beams at her. And then frowns at the door. And then at Scott.

“Go!” Scott says and he sounds just as excited as when Stiles finally worked up the courage to ask out Lydia in sophomore year. Stiles still doesn’t move. Levonna may be wrong. Or he’s probably just- “Go!”

Scott manages to reach and arm over and shove him a bit and Stiles playfully slaps his arm away but stands anyway.

“Ugh, fine,” he groans. “I’m going. Put the kids to bed, Scott. And no one even think about eavesdropping. I’m sure he just forgot something.”

As much as he says it, his heart is still beating rather quickly as he opens the door.

Yup, Derek is still insanely hot. He’s changed into fresh clothes, a black t-shirt and is it possible to somehow get hotter in only two hours?

Stiles is suddenly very aware that he has not changed or showered and Nate had spilled ice cream on him and his hair is probably sticking up in a thousand directions and –

“Hi,” Derek says.

“Hey,” Stiles replies. And then they are silent for a minute both just staring like fucking weirdoes and-

“Um… you’re not married to Scott,” Derek says, so quickly that Stiles almost misses it.

He didn’t think it was possible but Stiles’ heart starts beating faster.

“Uh, no,” Stiles says. “Just two bros raising kids.” It’s their tagline. Their saying.

Their fucking warning label.

Stiles sighs. He can’t do this. They hadn’t meant to when they found Nate but these kids had become his life and as much as he complains and jokingly blames Scott in his head, he-

He fucking loves it.

He loves every second of running after half-shifted children and yelling at people who dare to look at their little mixed family the wrong way and waking up to let kids having nightmare sleep in his room or letting them drag him to Scott’s room because Corey often required both of them and watching youtube videos to learn how to do the girls’ hair and stumbling through a version of “The Talk” with Mato and-

He’s twenty-six and father. Of seven. It is the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard and if you’d told him four years ago, he would have laughed in your face.

But, now-

“It’s a long story,” he says. And it’s not that he doesn’t want it, but-

“Could I come play with your kids again next weekend?” Derek asks.

“Oh,” Stiles says, a little thrown aback. Goodness, he really had bought Ellie’s little story more than he thought. “Oh, uh, we can’t afford-”

Derek takes another step forward, close enough that he could now be considered in Stiles’ space.

“Not for work,” he clarifies. “Just for fun. And then, I’d-”

He stops, looks down, blushes.

“I’d love to hear that story. Your story.”

From inside the house, there is a short cheer and then crash and a yelp.

There is absolutely no doubt in his mind that his whole family is listening to this exchange.

For some reason, it makes him smile.

“Okay,” he says. “Okay, yeah, that would be good. Great.”

This time there’s more than a few claps.

“I’m sorry in advance,” he says, rolling his eyes.

That’s why he misses it as Derek leans in and gently kisses him on the cheek.

“Don’t be.”

  End (for now)