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How to Pass a Take-Home Exam

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The frown Sheriff Stilinski has been wearing since he walked in on Derek Hale using his only child as a pillow only deepens when Hale says, “This is it, on the right.” It can't lead anywhere but the abandoned train depot. A few times a year, especially around Halloween, this place turns into the closest thing Beacon Hills gets to a rave. The parties are always full of teenagers looking to get shit-faced, to hook up and freak themselves out with the bare bones of the building, and have been since before he became Sheriff.

The parking lot was never finished so it’s all gravel and it crunches under the tires as they pull in. There are no lights save for his headlights and now that he's thinking about it, there hasn't been an incident out here in the last few months. He'd know.

They sit in the car for a long moment while Stilinski breathes deeply and tries to figure out what exactly they're doing here because this cannot be where Hale lives. He doesn't know what game Hale is playing with him but after the last few hours, he's got zero patience for it.

Then Hale clears his throat and says, “Are you going to let me out, sir?” in a voice that belies his age. He's barely twenty-three which is still, Jesus, so fucking young. Glancing in the rearview, Stilinski can see him fidgeting behind the grate in the backseat.

“I said I was going to take you home.”

“Right,” Hale agrees. “So, can you please let me out?” He waves a hand at the door. There are no handles on the inside.

“This is home?” Stilinski can't hold back his incredulity. Hale can't actually be living here. The place hasn't even been on the city power grid in ten years.

“Look, if this is about the squatting, I can pay the city for back rent or something.”

“Or you could, I don’t know, use that rent on an apartment.”

“Just let me out,” Hale says. His voice is raw but he's not begging and doesn’t flinch.

He takes the key out of the ignition, climbs out, and opens the backdoor for Derek. The young man is all strong limbs and hooded eyes as he slides out and gets to his feet. In the shadows, Stilinski can almost see the animal in him but when he drops his head the moonlight cutting across his features made him seem suddenly, painfully young.

“I'm sorry,” Hale says, hands shoved in the pockets of his jacket. “About everything.” He turns without another word and walks into the depot.

Stilinski watches him go and stands in the parking lot, waiting. He can see the faint outline of Hale's Camaro in the darkness. He tells himself that he's just waiting for Hale to climb in and gun the engine. Once he's sure that Hale can get himself the rest of the way safely he'll leave.

He stands there a full five minutes before he admits that he's being ridiculous. The guy is a werewolf. An actual, howl at the moon, fur and fangs werewolf. He can take care of himself.

Except that Hale hasn't gotten into his car. Stilinski moves to the front of the cruiser and sits against the impact grill, waiting, because he's not falling for this. Derek Hale is a supernatural creature and he's dating his son. Anyone who can keep up with Stiles has to have a veritable textbook worth of sneaky plans. Well, he's not having it. Stilinski is just going to wait until he sees Hale get into his car and drive off to wherever home actually is.

Only, an hour goes by, and then two, and Hale doesn't come out. There's not a hint of movement outside. Stilinski peers through the twilight and thinks about the dust and rusty metal and exposed rebar he knows is down there. The whole place is a giant lawsuit waiting to happen and no one in their right mind would live there. Right?

Only Stilinski isn't sure that Hale is in his right mind.

The boy is pregnant after all, and Jesus, isn't that a kick in the teeth. Stilinski can't imagine. He'd been shocked enough when his wife found out she was pregnant with Stiles and she had all the appropriate plumbing. Throw in magic and whatever sort of crazy issues come along with being built so...different... he can't imagine Hale's firing on all cylinders.

Then again, Stilinski has to admit to himself that it’s possible that Hale never was. After all, he remembers the fire, the boy Hale had been half a decade ago faced with the worst news anyone could ever recieve. Stilinski had been on duty that day; he'd been the one to pick him and his older sister up from the high school. Laura Hale was newly 18, the only reason they didn’t both end up in the system, but Hale had been Stiles' age and as he sat with his hands clasped together in the sheriff's station, he had looked nothing so much as broken.

That same broken expression had been in Hale's eyes as he sat at Stilinski's kitchen table and looked at Stiles as he said “family.” His expression had held a little hope but mostly was filled with old grief on top of brand new fear.

Stilinski gives it another five minutes anyway. Just because he wants to be wrong, because he wants to be on the safe side.


He locks the cruiser and takes off towards the door of the depot. With every step down into the bowels of the building, Stilinski stokes the fire of his anger. His son lying to him about Hale. The situation with the Whittemore boy. The attack at the station that got so many of his men and women killed and that he is now dead sure Hale was involved in. The fact that he's going to be a grandfather before he turns fifty and his wife is never going to get to see it.

He gets to the bottom step and has time to growl, “I don't know what kind of crap you're pulling Hale,” before he sees them. It's Hale and Isaac Lahey, sitting around one of those little open fire camping grills, the ones that are only slightly bigger than a microwave, with two cans of Campbell's soup and a few hot dogs sitting over the fire. They look small. They look like children.


The two of them look up and their eyes glow in the low light – Hale's a burning red, Lahey's a clear gold. They could kill him, he thinks suddenly. They could rip his throat out with their teeth even if he could pull his gun before they get across the space between. They won't though, because they're scared of him.

It reminds him of his dad, of the time he took him hunting up in Canada when he was a kid and they saw a huge monster of a bear. Stilinski could still remember being afraid, of groping for his father's hand and trying not to make any noise. “Don't sweat it kid,” his dad had whispered. “It's more afraid of us than we are of it. Most animals are, no matter how sharp their teeth.”

“What do you boys think you're doing?”

Neither of them says anything at first then Isaac shrugs and says, “Making dinner.” Like this is normal. Like an orphaned teenager and a twenty-something exonerated murder suspect making soup and franks over an open fire is something that happens once daily and twice on Sundays. He's getting a headache, the kind that usually only Stiles at his very worst is able to generate.

“No. What do you think you're doing here? This is private property.”

“It's public property,” Hale counters, “And we're just trying to get some dinner. Some of us had long days.” He darts a look at Isaac who scoots just a little closer and maybe he growls. No, definitely. The Lahey kid is growling, low in his chest like a cat would purr, only this sound is all warning.

“Because you two... live here. Together?” Seriously, if this kid had Stiles knock him up and is cheating on him? Stilinski is going to kick his ass up and down the stairs of the depot.

Hale just shrugs. “We make it work.”

“You make it work.”

“Yeah,” Hale replies, his tone cool and even. “We do. No one pokes around and stumbles into something they shouldn't see. We're safe and Isaac gets to stay in school and out of the system. Isaac, go get your report card for last the last nine weeks.”

Stilinski open his mouth to protest but Isaac is gone and back before he can speak. A familiar piece of blue paper is shoved into his hands and the parental instinct overwhelms all his others and he looks down at it. The first two semesters look like someone took the alphabet and just shook it until the letters fell out. Then the new year divides the page and it morphs into a line of A's, A-'s, and a B+. All of them are from after Lahey was murdered, when he would've taken up with Derek Hale.

“See?” Hale demands. “He's fine.” His voice is still coming from his chest with an angry edge. “We're fine.” He manages to stand up even straighter. “Pack takes care of itself.”

“Pack,” Stilinski repeats. “Is that what you're calling this little band of misfits I'm going to have to assume includes my son, his best friend, and the boy he kidnapped a month ago?”

The young man doesn't blink or flinch or bow his head. He does, however, have the good grace to flush a little. Good. He can work with that. Sixteen years of parenting has taught him nothing if not that a little healthy embarrassment goes a long way.

“Right. I'm assuming that you know about everything?” Stilinski asks Isaac.

Hale answers for him. “He does.”

“Then he knows that this hole in the ground is no place for a...”he waves a hand at Derek “You know. Werewolf person. Whatever. This is no place for you when you're in your condition. So go get your things and let’s go. It's late and I'm tired.”

“My things.”

“Yes. Your things. Do you need a definition?” Honestly. The guy is like the anti-Stiles. He didn’t think such a thing existed but lo, it does and lo, it is his problem now. “Any items that may belong to you. Get them. Put them in a bag or a sack or carry them in your strong wolfy arms and haul your butt up to the car. You're not gestating my grandchild here.” He jerks his chin at Isaac. “Same goes for you.”

“But I'm not gestating anything,” Isaac says and both Hale and the Sheriff glare at him. He ducks his shoulders and sighs. “Fine.”

“Good boy. See, Mr. Lahey can follow simple directions.” Stilinski folds his arms over his chest and fixes Hale with his best all-powerful-lawman gaze. “Now how about you?”

“I'm fine,” Hale says again. He's got a lot of conviction and hell, he probably believes it.

Only Stilinski's life is all about recognizing lies when he hears them. He gets them all day, every day - from suspects, from his deputies when they roll into work late, from the little old ladies who he catches going 60 in a 45 zone, and more recently from his son, although he thinks there will be less of that now.

He knows that he is being blatantly, unquestionably lied to. Hale, no, Derek, is not fine. He's the opposite of fine. He is young and terrified and in over his head and trying to play dad to a teenager while he comes to grips with the idea of being a parent for real.

“Get your things or I will leave and come back with the city zoning commission and about seventeen of my guys to mark this place off when they condemn it. Then a bunch of bright yellow machines will roll up and tear the place down and you'll have to come with me.” He shrugs. “Your choice.”

Derek licks his lips. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because you can't live like this.” Stilinski says. Then he sighs. “And because Stiles was right. You're family now and the Stilinskis take care of their own. So, congrats – you've got a new pack now.”

Florescent lights wash Derek out. He watches Stilinski with his grim, gaunt features held taut. Then he turns on his heel and walks away, towards the back of the depot after Isaac.

Stilinski walks to the stairway and leans against the banister, waiting. He needs a drink. He needs to wake up from this crazy dream his life's become. Instead he pulls up the floor plan of his house in his mind's eye and tries to figure out where, exactly, he's going to put the two of them. He's only a little surprised to realize that he's figured out the basic logistics before either of them return.


Stilinski looks down at the three boys on his couch. Stiles is on the left, Isaac on the right, with Derek in the middle. They look as shaken as he feels. Good.

“Rule one, no lying. None. I don't care what it is. I don’t care if an angel of the lord descends from heaven and tells you that he's here to take you on a roadtrip to stop the apocalypse. You don't lie to me about it.” Stilinski declares, holding up a finger.

Stiles nods. “That's fair.”

“Oh, it's more than fair. Number two,” He holds up another finger, peace sign style. “Curfew. Eight pm. That goes for all of you. If you're going to be late – you call. You will then tell me why. If it's not life or death, you'll get home or you'll tell me where to pick you up. Number three-”

“Mr Stilinski that's a little intense,” Isaac protests. “I mean, Derek's like almost thirty.”

“I'm failing to see how that's relevant,” Stilinski shoots back. “That's rule two. You're both going to follow it.”

“I just turned twenty-three,” Derek says under his breath. “And it’s fine.”

“Number three, you two get to school on time every morning and you keep your grades up or you won't like the consequences. Trust me. Derek, if you don't work, you'll be coming into the station with me. We've always got paperwork that needs filing. Everyone puts in a full day. Number four, no sex in my house while I'm in it. You're obviously going to do it anyway. I don’t want to hear it, or see it, or smell it, or have any awareness of it at all. Pretend I don’t know and act accordingly.”

“Dad, it's not-”

“Negotiable? Correct.”

“No, Dad, me and Derek-”

Stilinski holds up a hand. “Don't want to know. I'm not going to know. Stop.”


“Nope. That's the rule. The end. Five is that you will sleep, eat, and do chores. This isn't a slumber party. You're not going to be up whispering at all hours and you're not here for a free ride. You're here because you need stable lives. You boys obviously can't do that for yourselves so until you can, you've got a brand new dose of structure. Rule six is that I'm allowed to make new rules as I see fit. So.” He drops both hands to his sides. “Any questions?”

“Hey, Dad, are you going to outlaw dancing too?”

Lord save him from smart mouths and Kevin Bacon movies. “Stiles, do I look like I'm amused?”

“No, hear me out. That McCormick kid, he's going to throw a party in the empty warehouse downtown. You know what those kinds of shenanigans can do to our fair town.”

Derek's teeth are dug into his lower lip and he's shaking. Isaac's body is wracked with violent coughs. Neither tactic is effective at hiding their laughter.

“Yes. And loud rock music and secular books.” He rolls his eyes. “Derek'll be in the guest room and until I get another bed in there, Isaac, you can sleep on the couch. That work for everyone?”

“Works for me. I've slept in worse places,” Isaac says. He gives Stilinski a small smile. It's pretty impressive, with the wide, bright eyes and the sweet face. He's sincere about the sleeping situation and Stilinski doesn't think he's talking about the depot either.

“Right,” Stilinski says slowly. “I'm going to go get something deep fried and full of saturated fat. The three of you are going entertain yourselves until I get back, allowing me to leave secure in the knowledge that by ten sharp, everyone who's got school in the morning will be in bed.”

A chorus of 'yes sirs' meet his ears and he nods before fishing his keys out of his pockets. He needs curly fries and a burger and he needs some time to think. He drives across town to his and Stiles’ favorite greasy spoon and orders a bacon cheeseburger with a large curly fries and a Coke. He eats it with complete focus, like it will save him from the chaos his life is going to become. When nothing is left on his plate but bread crumbs from the bun and the little burnt fry pieces, which are just a waste of good potatoes in his opinion, he feels a lot better about life. Optimistic even.

His optimism lasts until he walks into the house. Stiles is shouting loud enough for him to heard downstairs.

“-and you think I decided that? Jesus, Derek.”

Stilinski takes the stairs two at a time and stops at the top. It's close enough that he can hear everything. He is fully prepared to burst into Stiles' room if things get too heated. He doesn't care if it’s his personal life. This is his son and Derek Hale is a freaking werewolf. He's allowed to be concerned.

“And I don't want to be here just because you and your dad feel obligated.”

“This isn’t an obligation! Well, it is, but not like you think. Derek, seriously. You're-”

“I know what I am. Don't you think it's bad enough that I dragged you into it because of the cub? Do we have to make it worse?”

“Oh my god. You say that like I don't want you here. Both of you. I mean, seriously, even if you weren't living like a hobo, this is better. You guys should be here with us. That’s how pack works right? Better together? Well this is together so shut up, okay? Just shut up.”

“And the fact that your dad thinks we're fucking doesn't bother you?”

“Okay, one, he has a decent reason to. I mean, hi, the puppy only exists because fucking happened. There was fucking and it was-”

“Don't,” a third voice says. Isaac, Stilinski realizes. “Please don't say what the sex was like. I don’t want to know. No one wants to know. I've had enough trauma today.”

Oh. Well. Derek and Stiles are fighting like that with Isaac in the room. Any guilt Stilinski might have felt for eavesdropping evaporates. Obviously, it can't be that private a conversation.

“Don’t call it that. Our baby is not a goddamn puppy,” Derek snarls.

The sound is low and gravely and almost inhuman. It's the first time Stilinski has really heard anything wolfish from him. Goosebumps rise on his arms in the animal instinct of warning that is older than speech. This is a predator and his lizard brain knows. He takes another step forward, just in case.

“The puppy,” Stiles snaps. “Because I'll call it whatever I want.”

Stilinski smiles. It's a cute nickname, all things considered. He'll probably use it, once he can actually say, out loud, that he's going to be a grandfather, that his son is having a baby less than a year after being allowed to drive. So. Later. He will call “it” the puppy.

“And two, he doesn’t think we're fucking. He thinks we're in a relationship.” Stiles pauses and then says, “There is a difference.”

“I know that.”

“Okay. So.”


“So, I don't know. Is that something you want? Because, you remember right? You felt it. You said you felt it.”

“Stiles. You are sixteen.”

“And? Obviously that’s old enough for you to bend over for me-”

“TMI, Stiles. Seriously.”

“To be your kid's dad, to save your life, repeatedly may I add. Why am I not old enough to talk about this?”

“Because you're young and stupid and you have no idea who you are let alone what you're doing.”

“Oh, fuck you.”


“Why are so afraid to talk about this?”

“I'm not.”

“You are! Your eyebrows are doing that thing where they makes an upside down V that means you’re scared.” There's a pause and then, “Derek, talk to me. Seriously, at this point, if you can't, who the hell can you talk to?”

Before Derek can answer, the door to Stiles’ bedroom opens and Isaac slips out. He lifts his chin at Stilinski before padding over, silent on bare feet. He clears his throat. “Hey Mr. Stilinski. What's up?”

Stilinski rolls his eyes. “Oh not too much.”

Isaac ducks his head and sighs. “Yeah. They- I think they need to work some things out.”


“I know you've been listening. I could hear you coming up the stairs. They're too in their own drama to notice. Listen, do you think you can wait a little longer to burst in?” Isaac asks. “I heard your heart beat speed up when Derek growled.”

“I'm giving them five minutes.” Stilinski says, like he's giving Isaac a gift. That’s all he was willing to wait anyway. Isaac nods as Derek begins to shout back.

“At sixteen you should still be excited that you're allowed to drive. You should spend your time with your friends playing video games and lacrosse. You should be obsessing over that girl, Lydia, and joining the freaking yearbook committee. You've got SAT and ACT prep, lab projects, thinking about where you want to go to college.”


“So you don’t get how important those things are until they're taken from you. I've been where you are, okay, thinking I knew what I wanted when she was just using me to get what she wanted.”


“It cost me everything. Everything. Bad enough that I used you once, that you're going to be stuck with me for the rest of our cub's life because I was too desperate to figure something out on my own. But I'm old enough to know better. I'm old enough to know what this could do to you and I can't be that person, do you get that?”

“Derek, you're not Kate. Right? It was Kate?”


“You're not Kate. So fuck you for comparing yourself to her on this. And fuck you for saying I'm stuck. You gave me an out. I told you I didn't want it. I still don't want it. I want my kid and, if you want, I want to try and see how things can be with you. You're not using me. Jeez, can you even hear yourself?”

Case files flip through his brain at rapid speed and land on the Hale fire, Kate Argent, a Derek who would've been sixteen, maybe only fifteen. She'd have been older than Derek is now. Stilinski can feel his jaw clench and Isaac holds up a finger and mouths, One minute.

Fine. But he's counting.

“Yes. That's why I'm trying not to be like that,” Derek replies and he sounds hopeless, like the kid he just accused Stiles of being.

“Yeah. You're not. If you were like her, you wouldn’t give a shit about me and what I want. You'd be trying to convince me to do whatever it is you want. Seriously, screw her. She wouldn't want you to get the chance at another family anyway. “

“It's not that simple.”

“Um, yes. It is. It's just that simple. You've got damage, and I respect that but I'm not letting that psycho dictate my life. So just, think about it. Think about maybe, I don’t know, more of that whole wolfy cuddle thing. Just to start with.”

Stiles is met with silence, which could mean anything. Derek is the type to burn his anger at a low volume, Stilinski remembers from the questionings after Laura Hale's death. Before he can begin to worry Isaac whispers, “They're hugging. I'm pretty sure that's a yes.”

He can feel his eyebrows try to jump off his forehead at that. “You can hear that? From here?”

“Yeah. I can hear their feet and arms move, the fabric rustle, and stuff. If you still want to go in, now'd be a good time.”

Stilinski doesn’t run for Stiles' bedroom; that'd be undignified. It's more of a power walk. He does throw the door open like he's running a drugs bust. He's surprised to see Derek with his back to the door, curled over and bent so that he can press his face into the curve of Stiles' neck. Stiles has one arm around his shoulders and the other in his hair, petting his hair.

It's not the way he would've pictured them, with Derek being so much bigger. Then again this whole day has been beyond imagining. Why would that change now?

Them jumping apart, at least, is exactly what he was expected. The predictability is a small mercy that helps him set his Dad face firmly in place before he says, “Boys.”

“Dad!” Stiles goes bright pink between one heartbeat and the next. It's kind of impressive. His mother used to blush like that, when he caught her by surprise. He bites back the smile at remembrance and does his best to hold his glare in place. He is, after all, still upset with the whole situation.

“Son. Derek.”

“Isaac,” Derek snarls. “What happened to watching my back?”

Isaac slid into the room sometime in the last five seconds and now stands off to the left of the group. He shrugs. “I was watching. I figured Mr. Stilinski didn’t count as a threat.” Isaac shoots him a smile. “You're not a threat are you, sir?”

“Nope. Harmless. I just wanted to let you boys know I've changed my mind.”

“You can't kick them out,” Stiles blurts, as if jumping to conclusions was an Olympic sport and he was trying desperately to qualify for the finals. “They just got here and you saw the creepy train station warehouse thing they were living in. Please, Dad, I'll be so good I swear.”

“Define good, oh underage, lying, out-of-wedlock-pregnancy-causing son of mine.”

“Um. I'll actually mow the lawn this week,” Stiles offers.

“Like you said you would a month ago?”


“That shouldn't be a question.”

“Fine. I'll take out the garbage for the rest of forever, and I don’t know, you can have red meat once a week.”

“You know, you should've let me speak first but, hey, you've got a deal. Now what I was going to say is that I've changed my mind about the sleeping arrangements. You and Derek are going to take the guest bedroom and Isaac will stay in here until you boys can move the furniture.”

Stiles blinks at him owlishly. “Move the furniture.”

“The two of you won't fit on a twin,” Stilinski expands. Derek goes so stiff he can feel it from two feet away. “And it's occurred to me that separating you is a bit like shutting the barn door once the horse has gotten out.” He lifts a finger and points it directly into his son's face. “Don't make me regret my decision.”

“Sheriff,” Derek begins and god, he really is just so very young. “I don't want you to think-”

“You boys don't want to?” Stilinski asks, keeping his voice level and gentle like he would with any victim, because that’s what this young man is. He's a victim who never got the treatment or care he deserved. Stilinski's going to try and fix that now, within reason. “If you don't, say the word and we can go back to the old plan. I just need to know where to throw the extra pillows.”

He watches as Derek engages in a desperate, silent conversation with Stiles that is all narrowed eyes and twitching mouths. After over a minute of silence, Derek nods. Stiles grins like he used to, with his whole body.

Stilinski smiles too. He didn't do this to push a decision on either of them. If the two of them are grown enough to make choices about whether or not to have a child, they're old enough to choose how they want to relate to each other. He did it because at some point while he was in the hall listening to the way they fought, so much like he used to fight with his wife – two people who care too much about each other not to clash – Stilinski changed his mind. He doesn't want to be the immovable object in the way of what is clearly an unstoppable force.

Today, Stiles started to build something. He can see that now. Stiles has started telling the truth again, reaching out where for the last few months he'd been pulling back. Trying to stand in the way would only crack the repairs they've begun today. He wants to be an ally for his son, to be a part of the family that's he's already seeing create itself. This seems like a decent first step.

“Okay. Stiles, help me get the stuff out of the linen closet. I don't want you to have any excuse not to obey curfew.”

A second later, his arms are full of Stiles. He clings a little, Stilinski can feel it, and he hugs Stiles back just as tightly. His son doesn't say thank you, doesn't say anything at all but that's all right. He doesn't need to.