The first time Stiles dresses Caleb up in a ridiculous outfit Derek thinks it’s a joke. He comes home from work one day and is greeted by the sight of their newborn pup in a zebra onesie complete with ears and a tail.
Derek doesn’t say anything. He just stares at the pup while Caleb stares back at him, Derek’s finger held tight in his grasp. Derek’s heart does back flips at that because for something so tiny he’s so strong and Derek is amazed by all the little things he manages to do even though he’ll never admit it aloud.
“Look,” Stiles says all cheery like he hasn’t just spent an entire day alone with a baby just shy of three weeks. “He can be a part of the pack now. Run alongside his wolven brethren.”
“Dressed as a zebra?”
Stiles’s takes a deep breath. “They didn’t have any wolf outfits! It was this or a lion and I didn’t think lions and wolves got along unless they do? Is there like werecats? Like a werelion? And you guys get into fights over who’s the best were because I think you’d win and –”
“Stiles,” Derek says not because he’s annoyed but because he knows if he lets Stiles continue they’ll be here all day.
“So you don’t like it?” Stiles asks and his face falls, just a little. If someone didn’t know Stiles they wouldn’t have noticed it but Derek does. He’s spent enough years watching Stiles to know everything about his face and no, Derek didn’t stalk Stiles he just watched him a lot. Very closely.
“He’s pack Stiles,” Derek says in his I’m-The-Alpha-Listen-To-Me voice even though it rarely works on his mate, “you know he’s pack. He doesn’t need a ridiculous outfit to prove that he is.”
Caleb lets go of Derek’s finger and makes the tiniest of noises before he closes his eyes to presumably go to sleep. Derek’s finger feels weird without his son’s tiny fingers wrapped around it.
Stiles’s face perks back up. “His outfit isn’t ridiculous,” he says. “You just don’t have any sense of baby fashion. Dressing up as exotic wild animals is the newest trend. Lydia said so.”
“You’re lying,” Derek says but he bumps his forehead gently against Stiles’s. “You can’t lie to me, it’s impossible. And I don’t think it’s safe to dress him as a wild animal. The full moon is coming. Someone might try to eat him.”
Stiles’s heart flutters but only for a second. “Don’t kid about that! And anyway wolves don’t eat zebras. They don’t even interact in the wild. They don’t even live on the same continent!”
Derek laughs, gruffer than he means to, and gently takes Caleb from Stiles.
The second time, well, Derek can’t really say he’s surprised. He is mated to Stiles Stilinski-Hale for God’s sake.
Derek exits the kitchen, bag of chips in hand, and finds Caleb on his play mat being cooed at by Jackson. Jackson is pretending to blow raspberries on Caleb’s tummy and Caleb is reacting with absolute joy because 1) he’s a baby and 2) he’s practically in love with his Uncle Jackson who shares the same sentiments.
Derek isn’t surprised to see Jackson playing with the baby. Jackson is pack and pack means family and family, to them, means constantly being around. Caleb has a support system bigger than the Empire State Building and Derek knows if anything were to ever happen to him and Stiles there’d be at least six people volunteering to take Caleb in. Melissa McCall would probably scare everyone into submission to claim guardianship over the baby once she gets rid of John Stilinski, of course.
(Melissa McCall, when it comes to her biological son and all the ones she ended up accidentally adopting when Scott revealed himself to her and she became extended pack, might be the scariest woman Derek has ever seen and that’s saying a lot seeing as he’s taken on Victoria Argent and been raised by a she-wolf. Nothing gets between her and her pack.
And well, John Stilinski, when it comes to his son and now his grandson, might be the most intimidating man on Earth especially when he has a gun. And now that he knows about werewolves he knows exactly what to do to scare a pack into submission.)
It’s what Caleb is wearing that has Derek stop walking.
“Why is my son dressed as a mouse?”
Caleb stops baby giggling. He goes quiet before he manages to roll his head up and to the side to see Derek and then breaks out into a grin and wiggles his butt in excitement. The baby books Stiles practically shoved down Derek’s throat the minute they found out they were expecting say that at three months old Caleb can now identify who his parents are by sight and sound.
Jackson shrugs. He kisses at Caleb’s round cheeks and mouths at his leg. Caleb stops looking at Derek to try and grab Jackson’s nose. Derek thinks twice about Melissa and John being the last two to battle it out for Caleb. Jackson’s a top contender.
“He was like this when I got him,” the beta finally says after he lets Caleb get his nose a few times.
The only other person to handle Caleb today has been Stiles. Where or how Stiles keeps getting these ridiculous outfits Derek doesn’t know. He also doesn’t know why Stiles keeps insisting that their pup needs to be dressed up like an animal in the first place.
“It isn’t very exotic,” Derek says.
Jackson looks up at him. Derek isn’t sure if Jackson is trying to give him his legendary I am judging you face or if it’s because he’s making as little effort as possible to lift his head away from the baby. “Why does it need to be exotic?”
“According to Stiles, who gets all his baby fashion trivia from Lydia, dressing your child up as an exotic animal is the newest fashion trend.” Derek knows he sounds like an idiot as soon as the words leave his mouth. He blames Stiles.
Jackson is now definitely giving Derek his I am judging you face. Derek decides to take this as a defeat and instead nudges Jackson out of the way with his feet. Jackson makes grumbling noises but moves anyway and Derek takes his place in front of his son. Caleb grins at him, always happy to see one of his dads, and then proceeds to be amazed by the sounds the chip bag makes in Derek’s hand.
“Stiles,” Derek says, voice even, “Stiles I have to draw the line somewhere.”
Stiles side-eyes Derek. He has Caleb between his legs and Caleb, the ever brilliant baby, is sitting up without needing Stiles to support him. Stiles is a cautious parent though and his hand is in place ready to catch the baby if he gets ahead of himself and topples forward. He has also dressed their baby up as a monkey.
“What?” Stiles asks. “I got it as a backup costume!”
For Halloween Caleb was a pumpkin of all things. A pumpkin.
Caleb chews on his key ring and flings the hand not holding the ring to his mouth around. He’s trying to talk around the ring but all he can do is make noises that sound like gibberish. His eyes are a bright brown, exactly like Stiles’s, and when they both pin their eyes on him Derek loses any argument he had.
He internally melts when Stiles leans forward and rubs his cheek against Caleb’s. There’s something completely and utterly sappy about seeing his mate and his pup together and it fills Derek with warmth he hasn’t felt since he was a child. His wolf screams pack and family and ours.
Derek settles down next to Stiles and his wolf rumbles in content. Caleb turns to look at him and almost tumbles over in the process but Stiles steadies him with a well-placed hand. When he looks up at Derek from under the hood of his romper, equipped with floppy monkey ears, Derek has to admit that he looks, well, cute.
Derek is exhausted when he arrives home. There’s an ache in his bones from fixing cars and wrangling werewolves who should really know better by now. Sometimes Derek just wants to crack their skulls together and be done with it all.
He opens the front door and expects – well, he doesn’t know what he expects but it certainly isn’t what he sees.
Stiles has Caleb in the air for Eskimo kisses. Even from the doorway Derek can smell how clean the baby is – he probably just had a bath – and can feel a sense of warmth and tiredness radiating from the pup. He has a bear onesie on Derek has never seen before, a light brown thing with rounded ears on the hood but no little tuff of fur for a tail.
All the ache in Derek’s bones evaporates. His shoulders sag in relief and he shuts the door before an invisible force leads him towards his family. When he’s close enough Stiles leans into his weight and kisses him while Caleb yawns but manages a smile. Derek takes a deep breath and inhales their scent; Stiles smells like wood and honey and Caleb, Caleb doesn’t have his own distinct smell yet. He smells of Stiles and Derek, copper and wood and honey, but the smell is strongest not on Caleb’s skin but on his clothes.
Derek inhales again and Caleb makes a noise like a little growl but it comes out more like a gurgle more than anything else. He’s been trying to imitate the noises he hears around him and with a house filled with werewolves it’s little growls and rumbles. Being a baby and human makes it difficult for him.
“I know he’s pack,” Stiles says, weary. “But he’s not – he isn’t a werewolf, Derek. I just want him to feel like he belongs.”
Derek takes a shaky breath. Stiles is so – he can be so stupid sometimes. “He’s pack Stiles, just like you are. It doesn’t matter that he isn’t a werewolf. You’re an Alpha Stiles. A human Alpha.”
Stiles mumbles something that Derek can’t quite make out. “Say that again.”
“Yeah but you know, he’s got it in his DNA,” Stiles says meekly. “He’s supposed to come out all hairy and crying to the moon and trying to eat poor innocent bunny rabbits-”
“That was one time!” Scott yells from somewhere in the house.
“- not all human and fragile.”
Derek blinks. Sometimes he isn’t sure what to do when faced with Stiles’s insecurities. He knows a good partner would spew words of encouragement and reason but Derek fails at words at the best times. He isn’t good at expressing his own emotions let alone dealing with someone else’s.
“All pups are fragile,” is all he manages to say.
Stiles’s nose twitches like he was expecting Derek to say something else. “I know all babies are born fragile but if he was born a werewolf –”
“He’d still be fragile.” Stiles’s nose twitches again. Derek takes a deep breath. “My pack – they had humans in it. My dad was human, Stiles. My younger sisters were all human. It didn’t make them weak. It didn’t make the pack weak. A pack without humans is weak. My dad and my sisters gave us an anchor. They helped to keep us human.”
Stiles makes a noise that says he’s badass and totally trying not to cry manly tears of man tears (Stiles’s interpretation of the noise, not Derek’s). Derek just makes a low growl and kisses him, Caleb, who’s fallen asleep between them, pressed comfortably against their chests.
“I guess I need to get rid of all his animal costumes now,” Stiles says when he’s managed to collect himself and curse Jackson and Scott out who have been listening the entire time from Scott’s room.
“Why?” Derek asks because he’s secretly grown fond of them. And because the ladies at the local donut shop give him extra donuts on the house when Derek pulls out his wallet and shows them pictures of Caleb all animaled out.
Stiles blushes and balances Caleb on his hip. It’s the blush that tells Derek that Stiles has been sneaking around making secret sneaky plans. “I read online at this forum made for new werewolf parents with human babies,” Derek rolls his eyes here because seriously? Why did John think giving Stiles internet access was a good idea? “That it helps the baby feel like they’re apart of the pack if they get to have their own special animal skin. And the online costume stores never had any wolf costumes so I thought why keep Caleb confined to one skin? We’d be limiting his life choices, Derek! I couldn’t do that. Not to my baby.”
“You read online that Caleb would feel more like he was a part of the pack if you gave him an animal costume and you were afraid we’d be limiting his life choices so basically you brought an array of animal costumes to make him feel like pack. Even though he’s already pack. And he already knows that he’s pack.”
“Well,” Stiles says and gets all uppity. “When you put it like that it just sounds stupid.”
Derek sets his mouth in a straight line to keep from laughing. Stiles lifts his nose in the air and turns on his heels. “I got you free donuts Hale! Free. Donuts.”
“It was your plan all along,” Derek says and cracks.
“Exactly,” Stiles whispers dramatically.