Stiles's water breaks ten miles outside of Beacon Hills.
He's sitting in a rest stop, thinking about cheese doodles and milk and sipping on a bottle of water, humming to himself. He's been feeling crummy. But not, like, having a baby crummy, and he's pretty sure he has to go to the bathroom again even though he just went, like, five seconds ago. He drums his fingers on the steering wheel and sighs and thinks fuck it, about to swing himself down out of the jeep again, but when he shifts his weight something just—gushes. Just fucking floods out of him, and at first he thinks he just had a really embarrassing accident, but it's definitely the wrong orifice for piss, and he didn't actually have to go that bad. And it just—keeps coming. Like whoa.
“Crap,” he says. So—baby. This is way too early for a baby. Like three weeks and five days too early.
He tightens his hands on the steering wheel and stares up at the blinking neon truck stop light and tries not to panic. He could call his dad, but he's only about twenty minutes from his house and maybe a half hour from the hospital – he's not even feeling contractions yet, this is totally doable.
His dad is going to fucking kill him.
Two miles outside of Beacon Hills, Stiles feels the first, gut-wrenching tightening of his abdomen and he instantly regrets trying to drive.
About one mile past the Welcome to Beacon Hills sign he pulls over to the side of the road and tries not to hyperventilate. He breathes through his mouth and hunches over as much as he can and sinks sharp teeth into his lower lip. He barely tastes the blood before it heals over and he slumps down in relief as the contraction passes.
“Okay,” he says, panting. “So this is possibly not doable.”
The road into Beacon Hills is long and dark, bracketed on either side by the preserve, a dense forest of wild things and trees. He has no idea how long he's been sitting there, parked haphazardly on the dirt shoulder, panicking and breathing and breathing through his panic, before he scrambles for his phone. He digs it out of his pocket just as another wave of pain hits him – it's like all his insides are compressing, that can't be right, and he clutches desperately at the door handle with one hand, the other squeezing his phone so hard he's pretty sure he hears a faint crack.
When he can breathe again he realizes he's crying a little, swipes his face with shaking fingers, then fumbles the phone so bad in a bid to unlock it that it slips out of his hand and into the foot well of the passenger seat.
“Awesome,” he says. “Just—freaking awesome.”
He glances up, vainly hoping to spot a headlight coming toward him, but knows he's going to have to get out of the car and walk around to the opposite side – there's no way his body is bending over that far to reach it from the driver's seat.
Unhooking his seatbelt is sort of a relief, like the internal bands of pain across his abdomen had something to do with the physical presence of the belt, but he only makes it around to his grill before another contraction hits him, doubling him over. He catches himself on the bumper, swears through a few fucks, curses his asshole ex for being unenthusiastically supportive enough to keep him in Seattle for eight months – before deciding it was all too much and taking off in the middle of the night like the biggest douchnozzle of all time.
He'd be safe at home, then, and not multiple hours into a road trip to his dad's with all his worldly possessions packed into a trailer hitched onto the back of his jeep. He wouldn't be having a freaking baby on the side of the road, he's pretty sure they brought bears back to this area; this is no place to have a bloody, screaming infant.
He doesn't see the light until after he smells wolf, but it doesn't matter either way.
Stiles blinks blearily into the bright beam of the flashlight, which is hastily dropped to reveal Deputy Cora Hale, full uniform, out for a casual stroll in the middle of nowhere.
“Hale,” he says. “Thank fuck.”
He has no idea why Cora's out patrolling the woods, but wolves are weird, and Stiles has mostly stayed away from them his whole life, despite his debilitating crush on her terrifying older brother – he's got a problem, it started with Lydia, he openly admits that. But—
“I don't think this much pain is normal,” he says, and Cora's eyes flash yellow as she rushes forward to heft him up. This much pain is probably normal, though. He's been prepared for pain. So much pain, they told him, especially since the good drugs won't work on him, but, like—he hadn't been prepared for this much pain maybe.
“Jesus.” Cora is pale and her hands on him are tight. “When did this happen?”
Stiles gives a pained laugh. “Uh. Roughly eight and a half months ago?” He clutches her arm, vaguely registers her radioing for an ambulance, asking for his dad to meet them at the hospital.
“Fuck,” Stiles says, nails popping out to dig into Cora's forearm, wrist. “This is too early.”
“What,” Cora says, and she sounds nervous, which is just fantastic.
“I'm only thirty-five weeks,” he says – he kind of yells it, yeah, but there's no need for her to flinch like that.
She pats his hand, though, and says, “That's not too early,” and she even sounds like she means it, but what the fuck does she know, has she ever passed a human bowling ball out through her pelvis?
“Fuck you,” Stiles says, but without any heat, and Cora keeps patting his hand in a there-there motion, like he's some sort of overworked poodle. Stiles hates everyone.
Especially this baby. This baby and he had an understanding – he would feed it ice cream and tacos and fries – and also string beans, for some reason, and string beans are so gross, he's made sacrifices for this little tyke, and because of those sacrifices Stiles was supposed to get a healthy, squalling tiny half-human at the end of ten months, not whatever extra fragile early thing is coming out now.
This is not fair.
Seriously, Stiles's dad is going to be so pissed.
It feels like hours before he hears sirens, slumped over the front grill of his jeep, half in Cora's arms – this is going to be so embarrassing when he thinks back on this later. This is going to taint the life of his little jujube forever – remember that time you couldn't wait to get ripped out of my nether regions and made me cling to a terrible, broody she-wolf? He's going to hold this over the baby's head for forever.
“Stilinski,” she says, and she says it so gently that he'd panic if he wasn't already panicking, because that tone of voice means—
“I'm going to die, aren't I?” He smells wolves – more than one, now, it's like they're circling in for the kill.
Someone snorts, and Stiles looks up into the handsome, terrifying face of one Derek freaking Hale, EMT, and the little muppet currently fist-fighting with his bladder is never going to live this down, oh my god.
“You're not going to die,” Derek says, more amused than the situation calls for, Stiles thinks, but he's bowled over by another wave of pain, he thinks he feels Cora's bones crunch under his hand.
And then it's, like, blissfully gone. Just, he almost faints with the sudden and immediate relief—he feels a hand on the back of his neck, he concentrates on the thumb stroking up and down his throat, he might throw up, there's this floaty, almost euphoric feeling that's making his stomach queasy, he's not sure how that's possible.
He hears Cora say, “Are you sure that's okay?” like he's stuck in a bubble, the words distorted and distant.
“Just until we get him inside,” Derek says.
The haze lifts as he's being led toward the ambulance, bright blinking lights making his head spin – he feels drugged, like he's on wolfsbane but not, like, poisonous hopefully, and he says, dreamily, “That's not okay for the baby, dude. Just say no,” and Derek chuckles.
He laughs at him, that's not right, but he doesn't have the energy to yell at him for it.
He's just about worked through the queasiness when he feels Derek's hands slip off of him, and he blinks blurrily around the ambulance, the white cabinets, the IV bag, and the pressing at his abdomen comes back in waves, a dull ache slowly, slowly rolling into pain again, until there's an excruciating crescendo of holy god.
“You pain-drained me,” Stiles says on a gasp, like how dare he do that without permission, is that even allowed, and then, “do it again.”
“Stiles, I can't—”
“Do it again now, Hale,” he reaches out, twists a fist in the front of Derek's shirt and yanks him over until they're nose-to-nose, “or I swear I will gut you a million times and laugh while you scramble to get all your insides back in before you heal.”
Derek frowns at him. His eyes flash blue – blue, what the hell? Derek better not be a murderer, that would be so disappointing – but Stiles doesn't let go, he can hear the tiny tears in the fabric he's making along the shoulder seams. Their noses bump, Derek's eyebrows are telling him to back off, but Stiles knows he can't do anything here, Stiles is having a baby, that sort of trumps everything.
“Fine,” Derek growls, and someone else says, “Shouldn't we talk to the doc first?” just as Derek's hand gently cups Stiles belly, it's the best feeling in the world, all warm and large and directly over where Stiles Jr is having a temper tantrum on his cervix.
“Awesome,” Stiles says – he can't help the smile, he knows it's a little goofy but whatever, this is the best thing that has happened to him all day. “I'm just going to nap.”
The first thing his dad says to him is, “Everything's going to be alright, son,” and then he kisses his forehead and calls him an idiot.
“Hey,” Stiles says, “I'm performing a miracle here, a little respect would be nice,” but his dad just gives him a look and holds his hand.
There's a smiling nurse hooking his tummy up to a heart monitor and he hears the rapid lub-lub of his baby's heart – she smiles even wider and says, “Everything seems fine.”
There's a big screen with hills and valleys that is apparently his contractions and he watches as it rises and braces himself. He says, “Where's Derek?” just as the nurse rounds the bed, pushing his legs up and pressing a hand to his stomach.
“Try pushing,” she says, and Stiles wants to scream and punch her in the face and he wants to know where the hell Derek is.
He squeezes his dad's hand and says, “Get Derek,” through gritted teeth and he doesn't care how desperate he sounds, or how ridiculous it is to want Derek Hale in there, because he is in massive amounts of pain, and Derek can take that pain away, because everyone else in this room is depressingly human. Where's a werewolf when you need one? They're looming around all over Beacon Hills when you don't feel like being creeped on – Stiles spent eighteen years semi-successfully avoiding Peter; he was always weirdly obsessed with foxes.
When nobody immediately moves to do his bidding, he says to his dad, “I'm going to start crying. It won't be pretty and it'll be embarrassing for both of us, trust me, there's going to be snot and helpless sobbing and I'm probably going to scream that I hate you, or that I hate penises, or that I wish,” his breath hitches, “that I wish mom were here, and all this will happen if you don't get me Derek Hale.”
He glares his dad out of the room and feels bad about it for about three point two seconds and then the pressure starts up again and the nurse wants Stiles to try pushing again and she tells him the doctor will be checking in soon and he's doing so good and if he could think beyond the feeling of having his entire lower half ripped open he would pop his claws and tear out her eyeballs.
He closes his eyes and breathes through his teeth, and then blinks them back open when Derek says, “I don't know what you want me to do,” in this really pissy voice, which is totally uncalled for.
“What do you think I want you to do, genius,” Stiles says, only there's this deep well of relief bubbling up inside of him, because Derek is his savior. He can't have the good drugs, no, but he can have Derek's magic hands all over him.
Derek is on the other side of the room, which won't work at all – Stiles waves a hand at him and says, “Come closer, come on, this is happening whether you like it or not.” He doesn't question why Derek is there, what has compelled him to listen to his dad, but he doesn't care if dad flashed his gun or threatened to arrest him or whatever because Derek is going to be his werewolf epidural, Stiles doesn't know why he didn't plan ahead for something like this, Peter probably would've done it for a couple of bucks.
Stiles's dad says, “You might as well get over here, Hale,” on a sigh, and Derek slinks over like he needed permission, which, ugh, Stiles is twenty-seven years old, his dad isn't his keeper.
Dr. Deaton swans into the room before Derek can make it all the way over, and Stiles would be more insulted that they called the town vet if he hadn't been seeing the man since the day he was born, and that he's one of only two doctors in the hospital that specializes in were health, so actually he's lucky he got him.
He's kind of an asshole, but Stiles tends to appreciate that in people.
“Ah, Mr. Stilinski, I'd heard that you'd gotten yourself in a family way,” Deaton says, and who talks that like? Seriously?
Besides Peter. Stiles is pretty sure Peter talks like that, but Peter is a 1970's cartoon villain, so that's only to be expected.
Deaton, on the other hand, just likes to be a dick.
Deaton arches an eyebrow at Derek, and Derek just arches a furry caterpillar right back.
Stiles flails at hand at him and says, “Derek,” and, “Palms on the belly, dude, don't let me down.”
“A small reduction of pain shouldn't hurt anything,” Deaton says, nodding, and Stiles could kiss him. Stiles could literally lean over and smack his lips against his, except he has a twenty pound sack of wiggly worms inside him – is he having an alien? A kitsune? No offense to Kira, but, oh god, Mom hadn't lied about having nine tails, had she? He's supposed to be a regular old red but what if he ends up with a lightning demon baby? – and he can't really move up that far.
“Don't call me dude,” Derek grumbles, but he moves a hand to Stiles's stomach, this is the important thing.
Everything else can suck it.
Stiles is so tired.
Stiles is so tired and he's crying anyway, even though he told his dad he wouldn't, but it doesn't matter because his dad is crying, too.
“This is the best thing I've ever done,” Stiles says, and he honest-to-god can't stop crying, there's a tiny, red-faced swaddled thing on his chest and Stiles will never love anything as much as he loves this baby girl. “Oh my god.”
“Kid,” his dad says, thick-voiced and he touches her head with the tips of his fingers, and when Stiles looks up at him he looks like he can't believe how amazing this baby is.
Stiles whole-heartedly agrees and he wants to hold her forever and also sleep for a thousand weeks.
A throat clearing clues Stiles into the fact that Derek is still in the room and witnessing this extended cry-fest. He's got an unreadable expression on his face, not quite frowning.
“You want to hold her?” he asks him and Derek steps away with a look of horror so profound that Stiles is insulted deep down to his soul – his baby girl is precious. “She's not a bomb, asshole.”
“No, I—I already—” Derek takes yet another step back. Then he takes a visible deep breath and says, softly, “She's perfect.”
Stiles smiles and says, “I know.”
Princess Leia Stilinski – “Tell me you didn't actually name your kid that,” Jackson says when he first sees her, but Jackson's a douche, and Lydia helpfully slaps him upside the head, so whatever – is a nightmare.
A tiny whirling storm of tears and hissy-fits and the only time she's content is when there's a bottle in her mouth, and she only sleeps every other hour for twenty minutes and Stiles has not showered in three days, he falls asleep at the kitchen counter in the middle of mixing formula, he jerks awake on the couch with her half falling off his chest – kids die that way, he'd be more alarmed if his child wasn't part supernatural and didn't keep popping into a kit – and her screams echo into the bathroom when he has to take a shit.
It's simultaneously the worst and best thing in the entire universe.
Two weeks into living with his dad, who has taken to working nightshifts and sleeping with earplugs, the traitor, Cora Hale knocks on their door.
She's in uniform, topped off with a big Hale scowl, and she's holding an enormous cake.
“Oh my god, I love you,” Stiles says. He snatches the cake and considers face-planting in it for five whole seconds before turning around and walking it carefully to the kitchen.
Prin is cradled to his chest in a Bjorn, which is basically the only way he's found that calms her down for more than five minutes at a time.
“So let me see this squirt,” Cora says, hands on her hips, standing in the kitchen doorway.
Stiles loves Prin, he does, but he's always happy to have other people hold her. He unhooks the side of the Bjorn and lifts her out and says, “The proper way to address her is Her Royal Highness Princess Leia Claudia Stilinski,” and carefully places her in Cora's outstretched arms.
“You're nuts,” Cora says, but she's smiling this fond smile down at Prin, it's both scary and heartwarming. She murmurs, “Hello, Sweetheart,” and goes to sit on the couch.
Prin is suspiciously quiet, but she's staring up at Cora with big blue eyes and she keeps pushing out her tongue and she's waving one tiny fist jerkily in the air and if that's not the cutest thing ever, Stiles doesn't know what is.
Cora glances over at him, eyebrow arched. “Why don't you get a shower, I could smell you from outside the house.”
“Har har,” Stiles says, even though it's probably true – he doesn't think he's changed his pants in at least a week and there's baby vomit all over his shirt. He's immune to the smell, it's now part of his entire being, the stank has seeped into his pores to the point where he can't distinguish it from any other smell. He definitely needs a shower. “Thanks,” he says.
She waves him off without looking up from where she's making faces at Prin. “Take your time.”
The first time Prin woke up as a fox, at just seven days old, Stiles had panicked – she's too young, right, full shifts just don't happen? But his dad assured him he'd been just as precocious, and now Stiles keeps finding Prin under the sofa, it's giving him so much anxiety he thinks he's getting an ulcer.
So he's only slightly alarmed when he gets out of the shower and finds a wolf in his living room. A giant black wolf.
He's never seen Cora - or any of the other Beacon Hills wolves, for that matter, of the very few that wander into town - in a full shift, but the black wolf growls, then ducks down with its rump in the air, nosing under the couch. He looks back at Stiles and flashes blue eyes. So. Not Cora. Hopefully Derek.
Or not, like, hopefully Derek, but those are the only wolves he's currently associated with, so it's better if the wolf is Derek and not, like, Peter. Right.
“Uh.” Stiles is suddenly conscious of the fact that he's only wearing a t-shirt and boxers. Finding clean pants just seemed too hard.
The wolf – Derek – barks.
“Oh, is she under the couch again? Yeah, that happens,” Stiles says, and he's surprisingly calmer about that at the moment, considering a giant wolf is minding his weeks-old baby. Huh.
And then a roly-poly cub with fluffy brownish-red fur comes stumbling out from behind the couch and collides with his feet. He reaches down and picks her up, snuggles her up to his neck – she snuffles, once, then shifts back into a naked pink baby and pees all over him.
Derek is sheepish when he comes back into the living room, having shifted human and gotten dressed again.
“Cora left when I showed up,” he says. “She wouldn't stop crying, so I, uh—my mom used to shift when we were cranky, as babies. I thought it'd help, but then she—” He waved his hand toward the couch, and Stiles just stares at him, wide-eyed, because that is the most Derek has ever said to him ever, and he looks so very uncomfortable to be doing it.
“Well,” Stiles says, slow, “I guess it worked then.”
Derek huffs a laugh, and then he smiles and it lights up his whole freaking face, who knew wolves could look like sunshine?
“So—” Stiles says, at the same time Derek says, “I should—”
Stiles cuts himself off and says, “What?”
“Go,” Derek says. “I should go.”
“Oh no. No way, you got her to stop crying, you're going to hold her while I make dinner,” Stiles says, passing over Prin before Derek can protest.
Derek automatically cradles her, her head fits in the palm of his large hand, it's not in any way endearing, for real. He says, “I had to be a wolf to get her to stop crying, Stiles, I don't think that counts.”
“That totally counts,” Stiles says. “Come on, man, I haven't had an actual meal in days, Dad is at the station, I'll make spaghetti and meatballs, everyone loves spaghetti.” He's not above begging. Scott is still overseas with Kira, Prin hates Jackson, and Melissa is a godsend but she's on evenings all this week. Stiles last meal was dry cereal eaten over the sink, and he's pretty sure that was yesterday.
“I'll help,” Derek says, and it's like he's magic, he shifts Prin into one arm and goes into the kitchen and starts opening cabinets.
Stiles stands there, mouth slack, taking in this amazingly domestic scene with a grumpy werewolf who, up until Stiles graduated and blew this joint, had seemed pretty intent on growling in his general direction every time he caught his scent. Weird.
And then he moves in next to him and gets out a pot.
Scotty comes home when Prin is three months old. Prin hates Scott even more than she hates Jackson, it'd be hilarious if Scott didn't give him these huge wounded eyes. She loves Kira though – who doesn't love Kira? – and so Stiles leaves her with them anyway. He needs to get out of the house before he goes crazy, even if it's just down to the coffee shop for an hour.
He gets a hot chocolate and gets out a book and nods off three pages in, slumped in a comfy wing-backed chair.
He wakes up to his phone ringing – he jerks up and fumbles it through his hands and just barely registers Derek sitting across from him before sliding his thumb over the screen and saying, “Hello?”
“Just checking to make sure you were still alive,” Kira says, cheerful.
He glances at the clock on the wall behind the counter. It's been three hours. “Oh shit.”
She laughs and says, “No worries, Stiles, everything's fine.”
He rubs a hand over his face, trying to shake off the blurriness of a too-short sleep. “Sorry,” he says, “I'll be right home.”
“No rush,” she says. “Seriously, Stiles, we've got this. Just be home by dinner.”
Dinner isn't for another two hours or so, and Stiles relaxes back into his seat. “You're the best,” he says, and closes his eyes again after he hangs up. He's got so much more time, he almost doesn't know what to do with himself. And then he remembers—
“Hey,” he says, straightening up and nodding at Derek.
Derek grunts, but doesn't look up from his book.
“You're, uh,” Stiles flounders for something to say and settles on, “Was I snoring?”
“I didn't know foxes could make that much noise,” Derek says, but there's a twitch at the corner of his lips, this is Derek trying to be funny.
He's so fucked that he thinks that's sweet.
Stiles bites his lip. He thinks—it's a bad idea, really, but. “Do you want to go for a run?”
Stiles's mom always told him wolves were too territorial, to stay out of their way, and Stiles had only listened because the only wolves he knew were grumpy assholes or stalkers or, like, possible hill people. He's sure some of the Hale family are normal, but normal also requires being seen around town, and Stiles is aware there are, like, fifty more pack members somewhere deep in the woods.
He'd never thought he'd claim Derek Hale was the social one, but there it is.
Stiles shucks his clothes as quick as he can – he's not exactly shy, but a) he just had a baby, and b) Derek has the body of a god, he'd rather not flash him his pasty, freckled ass. He hasn't shifted outside of the house in what feels like months – Derek was right, sleeping curled up as a fox in Prin's bassinet is, like, the holy grail of sleep aides.
Everything is keener as a fox – he smells dirt and decay, the first sprouts of spring, a pair of rabbits that hopped through, a bone. His ears twitch, and hot breath ghosts over the back of his neck. He ducks down just as a large, black muzzle rudely shoves up under his belly and flips him over, cold nose in his throat. Stiles twists with a yip, paws at Derek's face – Derek sneezes and Stiles takes off for the trees.
Derek is big, but Stiles is faster.
Derek howls, long and loud. It echoes through the forest and Stiles trips over his feet when several other wolves howl back. He scrambles in the slick leaves, ends up tumbling head over tail into a prickly bush. When he pops back out, shaking muck out of his ears, Derek is standing there, tongue lolling in a wolfy laugh.
Sunbeams peek in and out along the path, a lone one across Derek's back makes the ends of his fur shine like silver. Stiles slips through his front legs, nips once at his back paw and takes off again.
At six months, Prin's laugh makes the entire universe light up.
It's like sunshine and rainbows and special edition cherry m&ms came together and crowned Prin Queen of Good Feelings and Happiness. No one can stay stoic-faced in the presence of Prin's giggles, it's like she's making up for all the times at night when she's a spawn of the devil.
Stiles watches Derek give his daughter a zerbert and it's so adorable his mouth hurts from smiling and he's one step away from clutching his chest, there're probably hearts in his eyes, he's super happy his dad is upstairs in the shower right now.
It's the tenth time in the past two weeks that Derek has shown up on his doorstep. He's been steadily showing up more and more over the past few months, either a gift for Prin or a baked good in hand – he always acts like Stiles is going to send him away, shifting anxiously on his feet on the front stoop, but there's either cookies or muffins or little onsies with Yoda or Captain American on them or Leia-braid earmuffs that are three sizes too big for her, Stiles is going to welcome him and all the ways he's spoiling his baby girl and probably making him fat. He doesn't know why he was always so afraid of Derek when they were younger; Derek has proven himself to be a huge, adorable dork.
“You're staying for dinner, right?” Stiles says, and Derek looks up in surprise, like he hasn't stayed for dinner or lunch or whatever every other time he's stopped by. Stiles never wants to kick him out and Derek never looks like he wants to go. He thinks it's mostly because Derek loves Prin, but he can't really blame him.
Prin is all the good parts of Stiles, she's got big eyes and long lashes and this tiny upturned nose and he's pretty sure she has his mouth and ears even though she's currently got a layer of downy hair that's leaning more toward his asshole ex's blonde than his.
His dad assures him her evil tendencies are all him as well, which, whatever, she's still awesome and beautiful and perfect, even if he occasionally wants to lock himself in the bathroom and sob until he passes out.
Derek says, “Sure,” and Prin pats his chin and Derek mock-bites her fingers and growls and Prin flashes her eyes at him and sprouts reddish brown fur all over her face in a half-shift.
“Oh, wow,” Stiles says. It's the first time he's seen her beta form and it's the most precious thing he's ever seen, all fuzzy cheeks and pointy ears. She growls at Derek, there are tiny fangs involved, and then the fur melts back into fresh, pink skin and she giggles. “That's amazing.”
“Yeah,” Derek says, soft and fond. Stiles just wants to wrap them both up into a million hugs.
He manages to keep his hands to himself, though, and when he starts banging around the kitchen, taking out a baking dish for the chicken and all the fixing's for a salad, Derek wanders in with Prin hitched up on his shoulder, one arm under her butt.
Stiles says, “You can put her down, you know,” because he doesn't want Derek to feel like the only reason Stiles wants him there is to entertain the baby.
“I know,” Derek says, and then takes out a big bowl and frowns at the cutting board. He looks at Prin and he looks at the stack of carrots waiting to be sliced and then he looks at Prin again, like he can't decide what to do.
Stiles laughs at him - it's so cute, how can Derek Hale be that cute for real? - but before Derek can figure out his dilemma, Stiles dad walks into the room and makes grabby hands at Prin.
“Give me my grandbaby,” he says, and Prin claps her hands and practically dives out of Derek's arms and into his dad's.
Derek looks heartbroken. His arms are still up, like he can't believe they're empty, and Stiles pats his shoulder.
“She does that to me too, dude, don't take it too hard,” he says.
Stiles dad is like a magical unicorn of delight to Prin, she thinks everything he does is the most wonderful, most hilarious thing she's ever seen – he's getting smug about, but Stiles just thinks the whole situation is because his dad refuses to change her diaper.
Prin hates getting her diaper changed. It's as if Stiles is pouring acid or hot soup on her, and all Stiles dad does is sweep in when he's done and kiss all over her face and tell her what a wonderful, brave sweetheart she is and then he feeds her, and the short way to Prin's heart is to give her food.
All kinds of mushed food, she will eat anything you put in front of her and smile and open her mouth for more, and Stiles is under no delusion that this will last – Deputy Parrish's oldest will currently only eat cheese sandwiches and there's a kid he knew in Seattle that only ate the color yellow.
So he will enjoy her adventurous palate while it lasts and his dad will be the superhero until she starts putting forks in the outlets and he'll be forced to discipline her, because Stiles will not be the only one baby proofing this house when Prin gets mobile as a human. Currently she's doing this airplane shuffle on the floor; she's this close to getting her knees up under her for a crawl.
You'd think she'd get into more trouble as a fox, but she barely holds the change for a few minutes, so Stiles isn't going to worry about her chewing through electrical wires for at least another month.
While his dad makes adorkable cooing noises and settles Prin in her highchair, Derek bumps past Stiles to get to the fridge. Because apparently he knows exactly where they keep the cucumbers and bell peppers and where Stiles hides the full-fat dressing that his dad isn't allowed to have and Stiles isn't going to comment on that at all.
Stiles quit his job without notice in a fit of unprofessionalism and panic when his asshole ex left, but he doesn't think he can function enough to go on a job interview at the moment, so his dad hires him to work odd hours at the station. It's nice, it's relatively easy, and Melissa, Kira, Scott and, weirdly enough, Cora and Derek all take turns watching Prin for him.
Stiles works every other night and a few hours on the weekends and all day Fridays, and it's Friday at five when Stiles gets to the front door and smells his asshole ex all over it.
A deep well of irrational fear and rage makes his heart feel like it's going to pound right out of his chest. It's only the thought that Derek is watching Prin that saves him from outright panic. Derek would probably murder anyone who even looked at Prin wrong. And it's not like he thinks anything will happen; asshole or not, he wasn't a bad guy. Just not a very good one.
Stiles takes a deep breath and opens the door as calmly as he can – he drops his bag and toes his shoes off, like everything is normal, and when he walks into the living room he almost laughs.
Derek has his arms crossed, looming intimidatingly over his asshole ex. Jeremy is sitting awkwardly on the couch in front of him with a baby fox in his lap; she's got her paws on his chest, her nose nearly to his. He looks like she's giving him cooties, he's got a weird expression on his face, and Stiles would be offended if he cared about what Jeremy thought about anything at all.
Stiles ignores him and swoops in and scoops Prin off his lap, and normally about this time she'd switch back to being human and vomit or pee on him, but she just gives him licks on his nose and yips.
Stiles arches an eyebrow at Derek, and Derek unravels enough to shrug.
“It's been about ten minutes,” he says, and Stiles rubs his cheek along her face and says, “Oh wow, that's awesome, Prinny love,” because that's the longest she's held it so far.
Jeremy clears his throat.
Stiles looks at him and says, “Yeah?”
“I—” he shakes his head and gets to his feet and says, “Our daughter is a fox.” He sounds kind of in awe, and yeah, okay, that's a slightly better reaction.
“She is,” Stiles says, and then Prin turns into a wriggly naked baby again and she grabs at Stiles mouth and says, “Ma ma ma ma ma ma ma buh buh,” and Stiles says, “Yes, baby, I know.”
Jeremy has soft eyes; he reaches out and runs a tentative palm over Prin's hair. Stiles knows she's hard to resist, so he doesn't stop him.
“She's amazing,” Jeremy says, and Stiles grins at him, because hell, yeah, she is.
She's amazing and terrible and she's going to ruin Stiles's life and then build it back up again, he's accepted that this is the way it's going to go.
“Can I hold her?” Jeremy says. He seems earnest and sad and a little like he doesn't think Stiles will let him; and that he wouldn't blame Stiles if that were the case. Jeremy was a terrible boyfriend, but he'd been there for him, kind of, and it had been enough for Stiles at the time – he'd known they weren't forever, you can't be forever with a dude who's never watched Star Wars, for one; Scott is the one and only exception to that rule and he's only allowed because Stiles has never had any desire to sleep with him, but—
“She needs a diaper,” Stiles says, “but yeah, of course.”
It's not until later, when Jeremy leaves for his hotel and Stiles is getting Prin ready for her bath – she loves the bath, she loves getting the entire bathroom soaked, including Stiles, she thinks it's the funniest thing ever – that Stiles realizes that Derek left without even saying goodbye.
Jeremy stays for two weeks.
He takes Prin to the park and buys her a ridiculous amount of toys and takes them both out for ice cream and he even watches her while Stiles is at work a couple of times, when Derek calls to say he can't, and, okay, that's never happened before.
Stiles is well aware that Derek has his own life and a job and pack that need him and that he's not going to be around them as much as he has been forever, but he'd kind of gotten used to him being there almost all the time anyway. His days feel strangely lonely, now, even when he isn't alone.
And Stiles isn't sure if he should track him down or not, if it's any of his business what has him so busy all of a sudden, so he just lets it be.
The night before Jeremy leaves, he squeezes Stiles's hand and says, “I'm sorry I was such an asshole,” and tries to kiss him.
Which, yeah, not going to happen.
Stiles flattens his hand over his chest and pushes him back. Jeremy's frown looks like a pout, like he's trying to be cute, and it's so annoying, Christ, Stiles had almost forgotten how annoying he could be. He says, “Oh no, dude. You can see Prin whenever you want, but that,” he gestures between them, “is not happening ever.”
Jeremy says, “But Stiles—”
“Uh, no. If you want to be a part of Prin's life I'm not going to stop you.” Jeremy is Prin's dad; it wouldn't be fair to either of them. “But that's it. Okay?” Jeremy is never going to be what Stiles wants. What Stiles wants is apparently a six foot broody werewolf who's currently avoiding him. Ugh.
Jeremy sighs and says, “Yeah, okay.”
Cora is teaching Prin all her bad habits - like she needs more of them, she tore apart Mr. Whiskers the bunny during her nap, there are holes in all her baby blankets, she plays tug of war as a fox with his dad, maybe Stiles should think about limiting his dad's contact with her instead of Cora's. Cora just gets Prin to growl over her dinner and bare her teeth at the mailman, wolves are weird.
“Did she eat a mouse?” Stiles says, only slightly horrified to come home to Cora and Prin and Prin's bloody fox muzzle.
Cora at least looks a little ashamed. “It was an accident,” she says.
He's only eight-five percent certain Prin can even digest it, but more than likely she'll be throwing up all night, he doesn't know where all the adults are in his life, how did he become the responsible one here?
“Baby, baby,” Stiles says, cleaning her up with a warm cloth, and is only a little mollified when Prin turns human and seems just as pink and healthy as usual.
Cora says, “Where's Jeremy?” and Stiles shrugs.
“Went home a couple weeks ago,” he says, and he totally doesn't think that warrants a punch to the arm, ow. “What the hell?”
“He went home?” she says.
“Uh, yeah?” Stiles doesn't get what the big deal is, what, did she think Jeremy was going to move in or something? Did she think Stiles was going to go back to Seattle for him? Because he'd never do that to Prin, for one, uproot her from her family like that, Prin's even seemed more than a little sad at her limited contact with Derek this past month. And for two, Stiles is never going to forgive someone for abandoning him in his neediest hour, he's not a doormat.
Cora cackles. She outright cackles, it's one of the scariest things Stiles has ever heard, and that's including the eerily musical wolf howls that echo through the preserve every full moon.
“Okay, so that's not the most terrifying sound ever,” Stiles says, hugging Prin to his chest. Should he run for it? He doesn't think he would make it very far, though, not without shifting, and Prin's too precious to be left behind.
But Cora just heaves some breaths and leans her forehead onto his shoulder and says, “Oh my god,” and, “This is so stupid, I'm not even getting involved here,” which— Okay?
And then Prin hacks up undigested mouse parts all over his pants.
Derek starts coming around again and Stiles doesn't say anything about it because he's too afraid he'll scare him off, and Prin lights up for Derek like she lights up for his dad and for Cookie Monster and Emma Wiggle, and Stiles has a sneaking suspicion he probably does too.
It's not the best plan of action, this lack of communication they've got going on, but it seems to be working for them at the moment.
Derek shows up in the mornings with sticky buns and coffee and sometimes he sits on the back porch while Stiles and Prin tumble as foxes across the grass and the only weird thing is that Derek never joins them. But Stiles gets that Stiles and Prin aren't Derek's whole world, and this is okay, honestly, even if Stiles isn't so sure about the opposite. Prin is everything to Stiles, Prin is the sun and moon and mountains and volcanos and sinkholes and sky and air and all the monsters at the bottom of the sea to Stiles, and Derek kind of snuck in there too, unexpectedly, and maybe Stiles thinks waking up every day with Derek would be like finding out giant fire-breathing dragons still roamed the earth. It would be spectacular.
But, whatever, he'll take what he can get.
Stiles makes lasagna while Derek stacks blocks for Prin to knock down, baby Godzilla style, and stops her from crawling under Stiles's feet to trip him up when he isn't paying attention – Stiles swears she does it on purpose.
A crawling Prin gets into just as much trouble as a fox Prin, so Stiles had wrapped all the cords in electrical tape and put plastic covers over the outlets and his dad helped affix gates to both ends of the stairs and locked all the lower kitchen cabinets, but Prin somehow figured out how to open the fridge and turn on the TV and she ate all the buttons off the remote.
Stiles has nightmares of her chewing through her window screen and somehow ending up on the roof, so she never sleeps with the window open anymore and Stiles keeps her monitor as close to his face as he can.
His dad laughs at him, but apparently Stiles used to make nests out of his mom's clothes and once got lost in the basement for three days, so his dad is, like, blasé about this shit now, and also thinks it's hilarious that Prin is putting him through the exact kind of crap he pulled when he was little.
“Your sister is crazy, by the way,” Stiles says to Derek, layering in wet noodles and being totally unhygienic and licking his fingers after adding the cheese.
Prin crashes through a tower of blocks nearly as tall as her and laughs as she falls into Derek's lap.
Derek says, “Which one?” and Stiles has no idea how many siblings Derek has, there seems to be an endless amount of wolves in the woods.
“Cora,” Stiles says, and Derek nods.
“Okay, yeah,” he says, and also, “You should meet Laura,” and then, after a weird-looking grimace, “Oh wait, never mind, no,” and that means Stiles totally has to meet Laura, for sure.
A contingent of wolves ends up on Stiles back porch the day after Prin turns eleven months old. Stiles smells them before he even opens the door and three of them are still in wolf shape and almost all of them are barefoot and all their shirts are askew or misbuttoned, one is missing pants, and Stiles is pretty sure they'd been naked in his yard just minutes before they'd knocked on the kitchen door.
They're all dark-haired and beautiful and restless looking and Stiles absolutely does not want to let them inside.
The one in front bares her teeth at him. There are leaves and twigs in her curls, and she has dirt under her nails and smeared up her forearms and she reaches out to—shake his hand?
He cautiously takes it and says, “Hello?”
“Where's the baby?” she says and Stiles tries to take a giant step backward – she doesn't let go of his hand, though, only slips up to curl her fingers around his wrist to keep him pinned, and Stiles may be faster as a fox, but wolves are just that tiniest bit stronger.
He says, “Uh—what?”
“The baby,” she says, slow like he's a moron, and the stupid thing here would be to let her know that Prin is currently sitting somewhere behind him in her highchair.
Of course, Prin takes that moment to drop her bowl onto the floor and go, “Da da buh daaaaaa,” and screech in what Stiles happens to know is smugness at a mess well made.
The woman's eyes flash yellow. Shit.
She pushes past him and someone says, pained, “Laura,” and—oh. Right. That makes sense in the kind of way that doesn't make any sense at all. At least he's pretty sure Laura Hale isn't going to eat his baby, because then Derek would probably kill her.
“Princess Leia,” Laura says, standing in front of her, hands on her hips.
Prin has applesauce all over her face and hair, there are cheerios stuck to her fingers – she blows a raspberry at Laura and Laura smiles.
“You are amazing, aren't you,” Laura says, and then she clicks off Prin's straps and lifts her out of her seat and Prin pats sludge all over Laura's face and squeals.
Since Stiles hasn't kicked Laura out yet, this is apparently enough of an invitation for all the other wolves, and soon his kitchen and living room are overrun with Hale Pack members and their dirty feet and slobber – there's a giant gray wolf licking all over the front of the TV, what the hell – and Stiles can't do anything but just sit there and watch.
He calls Derek and says, “I think your entire family is here, dude,” and Derek roars, “What?” and, “Don't call me dude, “ and, “Fuck, I'll be right over.”
Derek shows up in his EMT uniform and with his partner Boyd, stoic and amused, and the wild look in Derek's eyes is probably as close to a panic as Stiles will ever see him in.
Derek says, “Oh my god, Laura,” and grabs for Prin just as Prin launches herself out of Laura's arms toward him. He swings her up in a practiced movement and settles her on his hip and Laura grins so wide her fangs are showing.
“The pack wanted to meet her, even Mom's here,” she says, gesturing toward a big black wolf that looks almost exactly like Derek in wolf form – the wolf lifts her head and sneezes at them, then goes back to nosing through Stiles's DVD collection.
“Mom,” Derek says, and holds Prin up so she hides his face. Prin tugs at his hair and knees him in the eye and giggles when he shoves her up so her tummy is balanced on the top of his head, it's so cute Stiles can hardly stand it, his life is insane.
“Okay,” Stiles says, clapping his hands together, “I'll make tea.”
The pack stays for just over two hours and Stiles is exhausted from frayed nerves, there's wolf hair all over the couch, someone broke his dad's favorite mug, someone else chewed up all the old Sunday papers – they're littered all over the kitchen - and Prin is passed out on his chest, thumb in her mouth and quietly snoring.
Derek is sitting next him, one hand on Prin's back, and looks just as tired as Stiles feels.
“Do you live with them all?” Stiles asks, because how could anyone deal with that much chaos on a daily basis? Stiles is a hot mess himself, most days, and Prin is no picnic either, but that was something else.
Derek makes a face. “There's—I have a loft in town,” he says. “Sometimes Cora stays with me. Or Peter.”
“Ugh, Peter,” Stiles says, there is nothing not creepy about that dude.
Derek says, “He steals all my toilet paper, I don't even ask.”
Stiles laughs and Derek grins at him and there are these wonky eyeteeth when Derek smiles, Stiles doesn't know how he hasn't noticed that before, Derek needs to smile always just to show them off.
Stiles stares at him, watches Derek's face slowly sober, and Stiles feels the weight of Derek's arm across his own, where he's holding Prin, and they're so close on the couch their thighs are touching, and there's this heavy silence in the air, Stiles doesn't know what to do but he feels like he should do something.
And then Derek shifts away from him and gets to his feet and says, “I'll see you later, okay?” and all Stiles can do is nod.
Stiles gets out of the house - Prin had been a cranky mess all morning; he'd just shoved her at his dad and called Scott on the way - and meets Scott at the high school. They throw lacrosse balls at each other and run around until Stiles collapses in the middle of the field, sprawled out in the grass, and breathes in mouthfuls of fresh air.
Scott looms over him and says, “Dude.”
“I'm good, just give me a minute.” He pats the grass next to him and Scott folds up his legs as he drops and accidentally whacks Stiles in the head with his stick. Stiles doesn't even flinch, Prin has a wooden mallet she likes to wave around like a conquering Viking.
Scott says, “You should move in with Derek,” totally out of nowhere.
Stiles stares at him.
Scott is looking up at the sky, picking absently at a scab on his knee.
“What?” Stiles says.
“What, like he hasn't asked you yet?” Scott scoffs, grinning down at him. “You practically live together now, just with an added Sheriff bonus.”
Stiles leverages himself up onto his elbows. “What?”
Scott shrugs. “Just—”
“How did we even get in this conversation?” Stiles says, because Stiles is the king of jumping subjects, but this one is more than a little left field.
Scott grins wider. “Kira asked me to move in with her.”
“Awesome!” Stiles holds his palm up for a high five, but—”Wait, you mean you weren't already?” He's pretty sure Scott hasn't had his own apartment for at least a year.
“I wasn't paying rent, but, like my room at Mom's house is technically still mine,” Scott says, and Stiles says, “You're an idiot, but okay.”
And he also says, “Derek and I. We're not, like, together, though,” and Scott laughs until he sees Stiles isn't laughing with him and says, “Huh?”
“Exactly,” Stiles says. There's nothing there, but there should be, it feels like they're on the edge of something all the time, but Stiles doesn't know if it's just wishful thinking or something else, because Derek never gets any closer than Prin.
Scott pats his shoulder and gives him a sympathetic frown.
Stiles shakes if off and grins, though, and says, “Come on, I think I've got a couple more sprints in me.”
Prin turns one on a Thursday.
It's a sunny-bright morning and Stiles steals quietly into her room after hearing the crackle of her voice on the monitor. From the open doorway he watches her play with her feet and her lovies, watches her bang Mr. Whiskers II against the slats of her crib and sing, “Bah bah bah la la,” and there are birds chirping and there are dust motes spinning in the sunbeam cutting across the wood floor and Stiles has never been happier in his entire life, it's so weird, he'd never been very good with kids before this.
She talks louder when she sees him, gets her knees up under her and pulls herself up to grin at him over the side of the crib. She pumps her legs up and down, like she's jumping, the mattress making crumple sounds under her weight, and Stiles lifts her out with a, “Happy Birthday, Princess,” and kisses all over her face.
This girl has made his life impossible and amazing; he even forgives her for her untimely and painful arrival. All the wolves in his life now aren't so bad, either.
He says, “One year ago today, you decided you wanted to punch your way out of daddy's body, even after we'd just made a solemn vow over cheese doodles to be best bros forever.”
Prin mouths his shoulder and giggles like it's the funniest thing ever.
His dad is making pancakes downstairs.
They have approximately four hours until the mess that is going to be her party happens; he has to go pick up the cake and balloons and clean up all her toys off the floor of the living room.
She kicks at his face when he changes her out of her jammies and Stiles pretends to eat her feet.
Prin's first birthday party is a circus, not the least because Alpha Talia Hale shows up, in human form this time, and presents Prin with a pony. An honest-to-god pony, what the hell is Stiles supposed to do with that?
The pony has the white-gray color of a northern wolf and Prin calls him Pah and falls face first into his mane when Laura perches her on his back.
“He's from our farm,” Derek says, “they don't expect you to keep him here,” and thank god for that, he guesses, but—
“You guys have a farm?” Stiles says. Where are they hiding that? How much land do they actually own in the middle of the forest?
“It's small,” Derek says, and there's a light blush on the tops of ears, Stiles has to curl his hands into fists to stop from touching them.
“Sure,” Stiles says. A small farm where Prin can keep her new pony, seriously, what the hell.
The pony is obviously used to wolves, though; he doesn't smell like fear, he just stands placidly in Stiles's backyard and eats all the heads off their daises and one of Derek's cousins shows Prin how to feed him slices of apple.
The party lasts far longer than it's supposed to – wolves tend to linger, apparently, and are deaf to unsubtle hints to kick them out – and Stiles's dad has to order pizzas at one point, and Scott has to make three separate beer runs.
When dusk falls all the wolves drift to the edge of woods at the back of the house and start taking off their clothes.
Laura says, “It's tradition,” and tries to coax Prin into shifting, and there is no way Prin is going to go scampering through the woods as a fox at twilight, it's just about twenty minutes from being full dark, Stiles doesn't think he can handle that.
Derek puts a hand on his shoulder and says, “Come on, it'll be okay.”
“Right,” Stiles says, skeptical. He has a firm grip on Prin, even though she's wiggling around to be put down, arms waving and face red with frustration.
“There are thirty-five wolves who will watch her every move,” Cora points out. “And you. And Boyd.”
Boyd is a werebear, the first one Stiles has ever even heard of, and he'd laugh at him – the name alone – except Boyd is also huge and imposing and a bear, so. Boyd can do whatever the hell he wants, Stiles is going to stay out of his way.
“She's so little, though.” Prin is approximately the size of a large squirrel still, with Stiles's notoriously short attention span; there are all kinds of ways she could get lost.
Derek says, “I won't let her get lost,” and Stiles is so gone, seriously, because he totally believes him.
Prin ends her birthday howling through the woods – well, she tries to howl, but foxes sort of scream, it's kind of terrible when faced with the haunting call of the wolf, but Prin seems proud of herself, anyway - with a pack of wolves and a lumbering grizzly bear and Stiles.
She falls asleep curled into Stiles's side in the hollow of a fallen tree, the earth is soft and damp around them, Stiles eats a particularly noisy cricket just to stop him from waking her up.
Derek licks over his head and ears and then gently huffs over Prin's tiny form before curling up on the other side. Stiles and Prin neatly fit in the curve of his body, and Stiles ends up lying along Derek's belly, head pressed close to his chest – Derek is warm and smells like pine needles and sage and wild blueberries and Stiles falls asleep like that, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
It's only slightly embarrassing to wake up naked on the forest floor with Derek still curled around him. Prin pats at his face with baby hands and then she's off, crawling into the half-light, and Stiles yawns and tries to rub the fuzz out of his brain. All he can think is thank god Derek is still a wolf, that sort of makes it a little better.
Derek's cold nose on his spine makes him flinch, and he glares over his shoulder at him, but Derek just whines and licks the back of his arm.
He says, “Come on, wolf man, up and at ‘em,” and shoves at his back when Derek tries to bury his face under his paws.
The walk back to the house is fine, even though he's buck-ass naked. Derek leads the way, and they only run into a couple of sleeping wolves, and Stiles has no idea how they managed to hide their number all this time, it's like every time he moves in this town now he falls over another wolf.
Inside, he takes Prin upstairs to get a diaper and clothes, pulls on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. He doesn't hear his dad, so he must already be at work.
Derek is starting breakfast when he gets back downstairs, clad only in the worn jeans he'd been wearing the night before. He's standing at the stove with a packet of bacon, egg carton open, he waves the spatula at Stiles as he snaps Prin into her seat. Stiles's fingers itch to trace the curve of his tattoo and he moves to lean a hip on the counter next to him.
The bacon smells delicious. It cracks and pops and Stiles doesn't understand how Derek isn't getting scalded all down his naked front until he realizes Derek has his mom's old apron on, hanging around his neck but not tied around his waist, like he was in too much of a hurry to start the food.
It's freaking endearing.
He can't—he wants this every day, okay? He needs to at least try to make that happen.
He takes a deep breath and straightens up from his slouch and Derek gives him a curious look.
Stiles very carefully takes the spatula from him and reaches over and turns down the heat on the stove and Derek lets him, lets his hands fall to his sides as he says, “What?”
Stiles says, “So, I thought maybe—” He ducks his head and rubs a palm over the back of his neck, thinks, fuck it, and says, “I thought maybe you'd like to, uh, go to dinner with me sometime. Or a movie or whatever, since we basically eat dinner together every other day, right?” His heart is in his throat and his palms are sweating and he grins a very small grin at Derek, but it slowly fades at the look on Derek's face.
“Stiles, I—” Derek pauses, like he doesn't know what to say to him, and Stiles absolutely knows how this goes, he's had plenty of rejections over the years, he'd just thought maybe, this time—but it's fine. It's absolutely fine, he'll just cry himself to sleep a few times and get over this—thing. And maybe someday he can look at Derek and his daughter together and not feel like his heart is too big for his chest.
Derek presses his lips together and shifts awkwardly on his feet and Stiles decides to just put him out of his misery, Christ, this is just unnecessarily painful for both of them.
He says, “Derek, I get it.” He waves a hand. “You don't have to—I'm not going to pressure you into anything you don't want. I know you're in love with my daughter.” Besides the awesomeness that is Princess Leia Claudia Stilinski herself, he figures it's a wolf thing, especially considering the amount of pack that are always sniffing around, now. Derek was there for her birth, he's probably been feeling instinctively protective of her all this time, Stiles is just going to have to live with that. “And that doesn't have to have anything to do with me.”
He expects Derek to be relieved, maybe still a little awkward, but Derek's expression gets dark and his eyebrows get dangerously low and he growls, “No, Stiles.”
“No?” he says, confused. After all this, how could Derek not love Prin, she's the most frustrating and wonderful being in the universe, Stiles totally knows Derek is lying.
Derek runs his hands through his hair, exasperated. He glares at Stiles and says, “No, you asshole. I'm in love with you.”
There's a ringing silence in the room.
Derek clamps his mouth shut, scowling. There's a little line in between his brows and Stiles is so stunned he just stares at it. He wants to draw his finger down it. He wants to smooth his thumbs over Derek's bristly cheeks. He wants to curl his hands around the back of Derek's neck. He wants to shove his nose into his throat and just breathe.
Finally, he says, “I'm in love with you, too,” because he is, duh, even though that's a huge crap-load of feelings that he'd been hoping to dump on Derek, like, maybe after the fifth date or something. But if Derek wants to declare love for Stiles now, Stiles is going to—he's not sure what he's going to do, actually, Prin is banging her spoon and her voice is steadily getting louder and more demanding behind him.
Derek blinks, deflates a little. “Oh.”
“Yeah,” Stiles rolls his eyes. “Oh. Why the hell else would I want to date you?”
Derek's gaze shifts from Stiles to Prin to the floor and, wow, Stiles is an asshole, yeah, but he doesn't think he's that much of an asshole.
He takes Derek's hands in his. He looks Derek in the eyes and says, “This has nothing to do with Prin. You're amazing with Prin, and her opinion's important, I'm not gonna lie. You could be a hideous troll beast and be good with Prin and that'd be fine, awesome, even, because troll beasts are kind of neat, when you get to know them, but, uh, you're not, you're you, and you're cooking me breakfast and I want to take you out to see a movie tonight and maybe stay over at your loft so long as Cora's not there, or, like, Peter, ugh, and let my dad handle Prin overnight for once.”
Derek says, “You do?”
“Yes,” Stiles says. “Yes, I do.”
Stiles loves movies but he's having trouble concentrating, Derek is sitting next to him, their arms are brushing, and Jackson and Lydia are watching Prin until his dad gets off shift and he's been checking his phone every ten minutes to see if anything is wrong.
Derek leans over and says, “She's okay.”
“But Prin hates Jackson!” Stiles says.
“Prin likes Jackson just fine,” Derek says, and it's true, Jackson has grown on Prin, especially since he got her that drum set for her birthday, but Stiles can't help thinking about all that screaming she did whenever she spotted him the first seven months of her life.
They end up leaving halfway through, because Stiles can't sit still and it wasn't a very good movie, anyway, and Derek picks up a pizza on the way back to his loft and Stiles protests with a weak, “I'm supposed to be taking you out,” but he doesn't honestly care.
They are alone.
Prin is fine, Derek keeps telling him this, and then Derek kisses him and Stiles's mind blanks out for a few hours.
“I love you,” Derek says into the back of his neck, voice muffled and breath hot on his skin. His arm is draped over Stiles, palm flattened over his heart.
Derek could tell him that a thousand times, he's never going to get tired of hearing that. He turns over and burrows his face in Derek's throat – he still smells overwhelming like sage and dirt and wolf - and says, “Me, too.”