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Prince Among Wolves

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“I’m pretty sure you’re exaggerating the cost a little bit,” Stiles groused, one hand scrolling through online job postings while the mechanic on the line with him continued to list the multitude of things that were magically wrong with his jeep. Stiles wouldn’t put it past the guy to try and write off ‘unicorn in the alternator’ as one of the many fixes to add to the bill.

“Okay, yeah, how long? Are you serious? What about a payment plan? Right, so can I take it to another mechanic, because that’s ridiculous. What? Well, I didn’t tell you to start working on it already. Oh my God, fine.” Stiles practically chucked his phone at the desk by the time he hung up on the mechanic, anger boiling up within him.

It was bad enough that rear-ending someone due to failed brakes was considered his fault, but that the mechanic they’d taken the car to refused to release his jeep until all repairs were paid for? Stiles was already at his wit’s end and it was still the second week of summer.

Stiles rocked his chair back and forth, staring at his cell phone for another long second and then snagging it to dial his dad. Sure, dad was working, but Stiles knew ‘working’ usually consisted of lurking speed traps for a few hours before moseying down to the precinct to do paperwork.

His dad picked up on the third ring and Stiles sat up, staring blankly at the job ads on his computer screen. “Hey father o’mine--”

“No.”

Stiles choked on air for a second, struggling to think of what he wanted to say. He floundered and then scoffed. “I can’t just call my favorite dad up and see how his long, hard word day has been going?”

Another pause, and then a pained sigh. “What do you want, Stiles? I’m working.”

Stiles fiddled with a pen sitting nearby, shrugging despite the fact that his father couldn’t see it. “I was just wondering if you’d be open to the possibility of me taking out a loan? I could pay it off by cleaning things? You’d have your own indentured servant.”

“You already are my indentured servant,” his father pointed out dryly, “I pay your tuition and you do my laundry and make food, remember?”

Curses. “Well, you know. Maybe I could power wash the roof? Your cruiser’s looking kind of dirty and all.” Stiles dropped his pen to click around on the computer, pulling up a list of job postings that had been put up earlier that day. Wouldn’t hurt to stay on top of things in case his father--

“You said you wanted to be independent. That means paying for your own problems, son.”

Stiles dropped his head, whimpering mournfully into the phone. “Cruel and unusual punishment, dad.”

“Just think of it this way. You can spend your summer being responsible instead of partying until your fall semester.”

Picking his head up, Stiles snorted loudly and scrolled to a job marked ‘Need Babysitter’ somewhere around the top of the listing. “Okay, yeah, like I was going to party anyway,” he muttered bitterly.

“I’ve adjusted to the idea that your form of partying is playing Xbox Live with Scott all night or doing nothing but playing Borderlands and drinking Code Red all weekend.”

Wow, it was almost sad how predictable Stiles had apparently become. Then again, Stiles liked to think of his life as simple and drama-free; when there weren’t any blackout thunderstorms, at least. “Touché.”

“I’m going back to work now,” his dad said slowly, “try to avoid jobs with questionable legality, please.”

“You make things so hard for me, dad.” Stiles feigned dismay, gasping for good measure.

“It’s how you know I love you.”

“Uh huh, yeah,” Stiles laughed, bidding his father goodbye before hanging up and glancing over the ad that he’d pulled up.

--Looking for full day/evening sitter. 2 twin boys age 4. Must have exp. w/werewolves. Must be human. No pedophiles. No teenage girls. Pay negotiable. --

Stiles was absently grateful that he was already holding his cell phone, otherwise he would have made a mad scramble to get it. Scott was a werewolf, and had been one since high school. Stiles had been the person who had helped him all through his change, and Stiles was very human. He was also not a teenage girl or a pedophile. He was so qualified, and babysitting jobs could pay a whole heap to do nothing but watch a bunch of kids and feed them on occasion.

He dialed the number listed at the bottom, leg bouncing in anticipation as it rang. The longer it took, the more tense he got until the voice mail picked up and a very irritated sounding man came through on the recording.

“I’m not here. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you at my convenience.”

The second Stiles heard the beep, he sucked in a breath. “Hi, hey--hello, my name is Stiles. I’m calling about the ad you put in for the sitter. I was wanting to see if you still needed someone. My name is Stiles Stilinski. I’m 23 and I’m a student at BHU. I’m off for the summer so I won’t be taking classes until the fall--oh, I’m human. My best friend is a werewolf.” Stiles struggled to think of anything important he needed to add, fidgeting with his highlighter and popping the cap on and off as he talked.

“He’s a cool werewolf, uhm. I like kids, kids are great. I used to go volunteer at the pediatrics ward at my friend’s mom’s work. My friend who is the werewolf. I also babysat for my neighbor’s kids when I was in high school and I don’t like to give sugar to kids and I follow schedules for nap times and I know how to change a diaper. Not that I’m saying your kids don’t know how to change a diaper, but in case of emergency, that knowledge is there,” he sucked in a sharp breath, biting on his tongue and wincing.

“So, if you still need someone, please let me know.” Stiles listed off his phone number and then his email address for good measure, thanking the faceless man for his time and hanging up just a half second after he heard the notification telling him that his voice mail was getting too long. He released a long sigh, dropping the phone back down and then leaning back in his chair to stare up at the roof. He could babysit, right? All he had to do was look up some blogs about taking care of boys and baby werewolves and he’d be totally fine.

Just to be on the safe side, though…

“Hey Scott?” Stiles waited for the rustling on the other line to die down, belatedly impressed that Scott had actually answered on the first try. “How hard do you think it is to babysit werewolves?”

“Uh,” Scott answered intelligently, repeating it and then drawing it out a third time like he was actually going to think about it, “I don’t know man. Like, you would have two evil monsters on your hands around the full moon, probably. Are you sure you should be around kids? You might give them sugar poisoning or something.”

Obviously Scott was not Stiles’ friend because of his deep and analytical understanding of Stiles as a person. Mostly, Stiles figured the majority of their friendship hinged on comic books, fart jokes and the appreciation for nice butts.

“That’s what blogs are for, man. No better baby advice than the blog of a stay-at-home mom trying to make life easier for her fellow parents. Plus, there’s a baby channel on discovery or something. I totally got this.”

“Okay, man, but don’t call me if you end up becoming a giant chew toy or something. I’m supposed to hang out with Allison and Isaac this weekend. We’re going mini-golfing.”

Stiles rocked back in his seat, stifling a groan. He would never understand the exact dynamics of their weird threesome romance/bromance that had turned Stiles from the awkward third wheel into the hobbling spare tire on the back that was only used during major blowouts.

He muttered as much to Scott before hanging up and staring at the clock on his laptop. Might as well kill a few hours applying to some retail jobs and googling things about werebabies.

It was well beyond nightfall when Stiles’ phone started to ring with a number he didn’t recognize. At first, he contemplated the likelihood of it being a misdial, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to answer.

“Hello?”

A gruff, unfamiliar male voice barked over the other line, “can you come by tomorrow to sign paperwork and take a drug test?”

“Whuyh?” Stiles floundered, jumping forward so fast in bed that he slipped and flailed off the side in a painful heap. “I’m sorry, who is this?”

A lengthy pause and then, “the one you called about the sitter job.”

“Oh, yeah!” Stiles rolled onto his stomach, trying not to grunt too loudly as he pushed himself to his feet. “Yeah, I can take a drug test. What time do you need me to come by? Is before eight okay?” His dad left for work at eight, so Stiles could catch a ride with him instead of trying to get one from Lydia or Scott, who were slightly less reliable when it came to transportation help.

“Seven would be better. You get a trial run. Bring yourself, a driver’s license, and social security card. I can pay you fifty an hour.”

“Fifty?!” Stiles cried, choking on air and tripping over his pants in a mad dash for his desk.

An irritated growl. “Take it or leave it.” The guy made it sound like he was offering some kind of ridiculously stingy price instead of an insanely generous one. At this rate, Stiles wouldn’t even have to take out an extra student loan by the time school started up again. He could have his car paid off before the end of the summer.

Finally dragging himself to his desk, Stiles snagged a pen and a piece of scrap paper. “No, fifty is perfectly fine. What’s your address?”

Stiles copied down the information given, as well as a phone number and a list of things they wanted him to bring.

“Once that’s taken care of, you can start sitting tomorrow.”

Double-taking, Stiles stared down at the paper in front of him and then up at the half-finished wiki article on how to deal with the notorious boy ‘jelly leg’ syndrome. “Kind of soon, isn’t it?”

“You’re the sheriff’s son, I trust you know what would happen if my kids aren’t well taken care of when I get home tomorrow.”

Oh damn. It was terrifying how quickly this guy did his research. Then again, you didn’t have to look very far for a Stilinski in Beacon Hills given that there were only three, and one was in the obituaries.

“Uh, well. You don’t have to worry,” Stiles laughed awkwardly, tapping his pen on the paper and then chewing on the corner of his thumb. “I can’t thank you enough for this job, dude. My car’s brakes went out and I nailed someone the other day so I thought I’d have to be busting my chops all summer and then--”

“I don’t really care why you need the money. Just be here on time tomorrow.”

The line went dead and Stiles almost winced at the abruptness of it. Well. Hopefully this guy’s kids weren’t as rude as their father was. Stiles grabbed a sliver of tape from his desk drawer, sticking the list on the side of his monitor and then going back to what he was reading. He had to at least cover how to deal with temper tantrums if he was going to be babysitting two twin boys in just a few hours.

After frying his brain on the pbs website, as well as wikipedia and a handful of parenting blogs, Stiles set his alarm and shot his father a text message to let him know he’d be a chauffeur in the morning. However, he was far too anxious to sleep, and ended up spending a good few hours sitting on his bed jiggling his legs with anxiety before he was up again and at the computer. A little more research never hurt anyone.

Stiles’ alarm went off the next morning with no regard for the minimal amount of sleep that Stiles had gotten. It was loud and blaring, vibrating itself right off of the desk and onto a stack of game cases. Stiles groaned, loud and pained, and rolled just as gracefully out of bed.

He leapt up, though, when he remembered why his alarm was set in the first place. Excitement was the best kind of way to bat away any vestiges of sleepiness that might have been pulling Stiles back to the bed. He hurried to get ready, hopping in for a quick shower and using bar soap only (Scott complained when he’d first turned that body cologne was strong to a werewolf’s nose) and then gathering the things needed to fill out paperwork before he thundered downstairs where his father was sitting at the kitchen table.

“Ready?”

“Let’s do this,” Stiles nodded, inhaling shakily and then letting it out with a shake of his arms and shoulders to try and knock off some anxiety that kept clinging to him.

The house they pulled up to was at the end of a long driveway hidden halfway into the mountains. Stiles now understood the point of the numbers he’d been told to memorize, because it was what unlocked the gate blocking the rest of the house from access. Stiles was running a few minutes late by the time his father finally dropped him off, just because of the distance. He rang the bell once after jogging up the stairs, bouncing on the heels of his feet and waiting for the owner of that gruff and irritated voice to answer.

The door swung open and, instead of any form of man on the other side, there was a girl with wavy blonde hair and a crying boy on her hip. She released a loud sigh of relief, hand shooting out to grab Stiles’ wrist and drag him inside. “It’s about time. This is above my pay grade--” she stumbled, her right leg suddenly trapped in the arms and legs of the other boy, this one not crying and looking more needy than anything. She sighed, taking the sobbing child from her hip and shoving him at Stiles.

“Here, you take this one.”

Stiles did as he was told, holding the kid at arm’s length when it screamed and kicked at him. He contemplated what exactly he was supposed to do, before he ignored the girl trying to lead him out of the foyer and set the kid down.

Jelly legs made it impossible and the kid crumbled like a sack of peas. Stiles set him on the floor, let the kid kick and scream for a second before suddenly the arms were up again and grabbing at Stiles. Apparently the desire to be held by anyone was stronger than the need to dismiss a stranger.

Stiles picked him back up again, arms hooking under the shoulders and then pushing the bottom for support until he had the kid cradled into his chest, crying loudly into his ear. Those chubby arms went around his throat, hugging him tight. Stiles rubbed his hand down the boy’s back, rocking him and finally heading after the blonde woman. The screaming had died down into hiccupping cries by now, and when Stiles finally found where he was supposed to be going, there was just whimpers and sniffles in his ear.
Stiles could already tell this was probably going to be a handful.

“There you are. Oh, look, he likes you. Awesome. Okay, I need you to sign these and give me your license and social security card. I’m gonna make copies so we can get your background check out of the way.” The next few minutes were a flurry of activities, mostly because Stiles had to do everything left handed since he currently had an exhausted boy half-passed out in his arm. By the time it was all said and done, the woman--apparently a secretary, not a sitter--left Stiles with an emergency contact list, a booklet full of meals and what the boys could and couldn’t have, and a farewell of, “call me, Erica! Don’t call Derek unless it’s an emergency!” as the door slammed shut behind her.

Stiles glanced around, but he couldn’t find the other boy anywhere in the kitchen. He didn’t even know their names, because Erica, apparently, had just wanted to give Stiles the bare essentials before running off to do her actual job. He heard the sound of a television being turned on, and followed it into the living room. The boy in his arms sniffled, fingers curled into Stiles’ collar as he sniffed again and then rubbed his nose up under Stiles’ ear, smearing snot everywhere while snuffling like a dog. Or a werebaby.

Shuddering, Stiles bit back the urge to dry heave and push the kid’s face away from his ear. Instead, he rounded the couch, taking a seat next to the other boy with a loud and melodramatic sigh. The one on the couch was wearing a blue tee with shorts, while the one in Stiles’ arms had a black tee and shorts. A small, but extremely helpful difference.

“Hi,” Stiles said to blue tee, wiggling the fingers of the hand not supporting the child in his arms. “I’m Stiles, what’s your name?”

Blue tee crinkled his nose, leaning into Stiles’ space and sniffing before saying. “Andy. You smell funny,” with that, Andy slid off the couch like a worm and onto the floor, watching Stiles suspiciously. Stiles, normally, would have felt a little offended, but he had a feeling that Erica was a werewolf just like the boys and their father. It was possible she was their mother, but Stiles didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. This wasn’t Desperate Housewives.

“I bet I smell funny because I’m human,” Stiles pointed out, wincing at the loud and tired yawn that the other boy gave off in his ear. “Unless I smell like farts. Do I smell bad? I didn’t even fart today.” Stiles put a heap of false indignation in his voice, scowling for good measure like he was very upset at this fact.

Andy grinned, laughing squeakily and then shaking his head. “No, not bad. Funny.”

“Smells good,” muttered the sleepy one on Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles preened and Andy made a face.

“Olly’s nose is broken.”

Olly huffed into Stiles’ throat and Andy scooted closer so that he could stare at Stiles with wide, curious green eyes. His hair was a mop of black, sticking every which way like he’d spent all morning rubbing a pillow on it just to make it look that way. “Are you old?”

Stiles snorted, shaking his head as Olly squirmed to get into a position where he could watch the conversation. “I’m not that old,” he informed Andy, reaching for the remote control to try and flip for a station with some children’s shows on it. Olly whined, reaching for it with wiggly fingers and Stiles handed it over.

“You must be old,” Andy said seriously, bringing both hands up to press against the top of his head. “Your hair is short! Are you going bald?”

Olly, standing on Stiles’ thigh and propped against his chest and shoulder, fiddled with the remote. He was still breathing a little heavy, nose stuffed from crying and mashing his fingers against the channel button without actually looking at the television. Stiles didn’t have the heart to take it from him just yet. He had to get on their good side first.

“I like short hair,” Stiles said. Andy made a displeased noise, tugging on his own dark locks and scrunching his nose up like the concept was displeasing.

“Short hair is stupid.“

Stiles laughed before he could stop himself, the movement jostling Olly into grunting and sliding into a plop on Stiles’ thigh. “You have short hair!” Stiles pointed at Andy, mostly because it wasn’t uncommon for kids to claim their dislike for something just to be confrontational. Andy released a distressed noise, jumping up to his feet and waving his arms around like what he was about to say was of the utmost importance.

“That’s because daddy makes me! I want long pretty hair! Like ‘punzel!”

Oh, this was an interesting development. Especially because Andy looked genuinely upset that he couldn’t be allowed to grow his hair out. Time for a subject diversion because Stiles was not ready to deal with another boy meltdown already.

“I like Rapunzel! What else do you like?”

It was like opening a floodgate for conversation. Andy was going a mile a minute listing anything and everything he had ever liked, making sure to point out minute details in some of his preferred shows that he didn’t particularly care for. Every now and then he would take a breath and Olly would use that moment to quietly inform Stiles of his own favorite cartoons.

Within the span of fifteen minutes, what Stiles could decipher from half-garbled boy babble was that Andy loved fairy tales and princesses and anything to do with a happy ending, while Olly was a huge fan of outer space and ocean life. It made things a little easier for Stiles to already tell a difference between the two.

Andy spoke in higher tones, sometimes squeaking when he got too excited about stuff, and always gesturing if he thought maybe Stiles might not understand. Olly, on the other hand, was more focused on making sure he knew the words to express what he wanted to say, and so he took his time and didn’t stumble over his words and phrases the way Andy did.

Stiles finally got them situated in front of some Disney reruns of House of Mouse after they wore themselves down talking about anything and everything. It gave Stiles a chance to return to the kitchen and grab the papers that Erica had left him. One paper in the booklet had two names on it, and a list of ‘favorite snacks and meals’ under each one. Those names were Oliver Hale and Andrew Hale.

Well, at least it was reassuring to know that their father was a little more creative than Stiles had initially assumed. Olly and Andy as nicknames were a little less surprising.

Venturing around the rest of the house, Stiles found half the doors to be locked up and the other half with child-gates that were bolted in. Well, at least it was werebaby proof. The upstairs was blocked off as well, so Stiles really only had access to the kitchen, living room, laundry, garage, and a hallway that lead to a bathroom and the boys’ rooms. Stiles only chanced a quick peek into each one to see a proverbial vomit of toys and stuffed animals everywhere before he decided it would be best to act like he’d never seen any of it to begin with.

Returning to the living room, Stiles wasn’t particularly surprised to see the both of them had started to fidget with boredom. It wouldn’t be long before they were causing havoc if Stiles didn’t do something soon.

“Do you guys wanna play a game?” Stiles asked. Andy’s head shot up, shooting Stiles a thousand watt smile and nodding.

“I wanna be princess! I’m ‘punzel!” With that, Andy rolled off of the couch and shot out of the room. Stiles was left scratching his head in confusion, ready to ask Olly what his brother was talking about when Andy came running back in with a bedtime blanket sitting on his head, the blue fabric dragging on the floor behind him.

“I’mma princess!” Andy cried again, flipping a corner of the blanket over his shoulder and pointing to Olly. “You are th’ knight!”

Stiles looked Olly, who seemed to accept his fate as he slid off the couch and waddled towards the bedroom hallway. Stiles glanced at Andy, feeling only the tiniest bit confused. Far be it from him to discourage gender equality, but usually boys didn’t like being called girls.

“Don’t you mean prince?”

Andy stared at Stiles with wide eyes, looking like his entire world had been crushed. “No! PrinCESS!” he shrieked, and then let out an earth shattering wail as Olly came back in with a plastic sword. Stiles frantically tried to remedy the situation, reaching out to pick Andy up but getting tiny clawed hands slapping at him instead.

“Don’t cry, Andy!” Stiles exclaimed, “you can be a princess! I’m sure there are princess boys, too! You can be whatever you want!”

“I’m not a boy!” Andy wailed, plopping onto his bottom and dragging the blanket off of his head to hold it tightly. Stiles had a feeling this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. The fact that the kid was freaking out so bad over being called a boy opened up a whole can of worms that Stiles was completely unprepared for. Andy sniffled and Olly came close to crouch down, tiny mouth pursed into a frown.

“Issok, Andy. I know you’re no boy,” Olly said quietly, kissing his brother on the forehead. Andy peeked an eye open, whimpering and then shoving his face into his blanket. Stiles decided it was time to intervene.

“Andy,” he began awkwardly, sitting down next to the boy. “I’m sorry I said you were a boy.”

“Really?” Andy squeaked, looking up at Stiles with watery eyes.

Stiles nodded profusely, because he was not going to discourage this kid from being whatever he or she wanted to be. He’d seen enough articles about this kind of stuff to know that, even if it was something of a phase or maybe more permanent, telling Andy it was wrong was never the way to go. “Uh huh. I’ll even make you a crown if you want me to. That way you can be a real princess.”

It was like Stiles had brought Christmas on months early, and Andy’s face lit up with excitement. “A crown?” he squeaked incredulously, sitting up so fast he nearly knocked Stiles in the chin with his head. Stiles laughed, nodding and then shrugging.

“Of course. What’s a princess without her crown? Do you have a dress to go with it?”

Andy’s face fell, and that just wouldn’t do.

So that’s how, three hours later, Stiles found himself playing castle in the living room with a fort made out of pillows with a princess wearing an aluminum foil crown and a blue bed sheet toga-dress. Of course, Stiles was the prince in danger, so he just had to swoon and sigh in his pillow fort while Andy swung around a sword at Olly the knight (Olly, said Andy, was a bad knight and needed to be put in time out for hurting the prince, AKA: Stiles) with a battle cry fierce enough to rival Xena herself.

That, of course, was when the front door opened and all Stiles heard was an infuriated roar of, “What the hell is this?” just as Andy’s pillow shield smacked him in the face and he sent the entire pillow fort crashing to the ground.