"Hey, bud...why the long face?" Derek asked as he approached Claud.
"I wish you didn't have to go." Claud said sadly.
Derek smiled at his young pup and moved to sit next to him.
"I know. I wish I didn't have to go either." Derek said as he ran his fingers through Claid's previously perfectly combed hair.
"It's Christmas Eve! We've got things to do at home!" Claud insisted, as he pouted and crossed his arms over his chest.
Derek leaned down and kissed Claud's forehead. "I know. And trust me when I say this, bud, I would like nothing more than to stay and spend time with you and your sisters."
"And Tata?" Claud pressed.
"Wouldn't be Christmas without him."
"Why do you have to go?" Claud furrowed his brows in the 'only Derek Hale's son' way Stiles often said.
"Business, baby. You're constantly hearing how we're a very strong and powerful family, right?" Derek asked.
"And noble! Like King Arthur's knights!" Claud replied with a happy smile. Derek would tell stories about their family, when Cora visited, she would add things too. Plus Stiles loved reading Arthurian legends to Claud, and since Lydia compared Derek to Arthur and Stiles to Merlin, he's loved them even more.
"Right. And just like the Pendragon's, the Hale's have a lot and just like Arthur has to make sure everything is as it should be so Camalot can continue to be the amazing place it is, I have to do the same."Derek explained.
Claud sighed, "Still wished you could do this after Christmas..."
"I know. But while Peter, Cora, and I take this little trip, you're the man of the house. Means you're in charge of taking care of your sisters and Tata. Can you do that for me, buddy?"
Claud straightened and saluted Derek, looking as serious as a little kid could, "Yes sir!"
"That's my boy." Derek said proudly.
"That's perfect, baby." Stiles praised as Claud placed the ornament on the tree.
Claud smiled happily at Stiles before running over to take the next ornaments Stiles had ready in his hands. The little wolf walked back to the tree, two ornaments in hand and paused to stare at the tree. He'd gone with his dad and grandpa to chop it down themselves. He even helped tie one of the knots that kept the tree in place on top of the car they were using. Then he watched with his Tata, Arya, and Laura as his daddy and grandpa set the tree up. The following day he helped his daddy bring down boxes from the attic that had the Christmas tree decorations. He helped untangle the lights with his Tata, and then watched his daddy put them on. The ornaments came next and they all helped, minus the babies because they were sleeping by the time it was time to decorate the tree. Claud was a big boy and got to stay up a bit longer.
They only had one box of decorations left and Claud and Stiles would finish the tree while Derek was away. Sadly, it was the only time their family lawyers could meet together.(The Hale family properties all being properly divided to whoever was in charge of what, but it was still one 'Hale' property, and Derek, Cora, and Peter each had their own lawyers to help manage their own cut and business.)
Claud placed the ornaments where he thought would look good. Then he went back to the couch and saw his Tata staring fondly at some of the new ornaments they bought a few weeks ago.
"Do you think they'll like em?" Claud asked as he sat on the floor, at Stiles's feet.
Stiles looked from the two ornaments in his hand, to Claud and then ruffled his hair. "I'm sure Arya and Laura will love them. Their big brother picked them out and he knows them better than anyone."
"Not true...you know all of us bestest!" Claud exclaimed.
"Best, sweetie." Stiles corrected. Derek sometimes told him to just let Claud be a kid, kid made mistakes. But Stiles argued that it was his duty as a parent to guide his children correctly. And one should never underestimate the power of an excellent vocabulary.
"Right, right." Claud nodded, always taking Stiles's lessons and corrections to heart. Then he looked back at the ornaments. They were both crescent moons, but one was yellow and the other was baby blue. His own was a howling wolf, which was already on the tree in between his daddy's Triskelion and his Tata's baseball bat.
Their tree had a personalized ornament for everyone. Grandpa had a sheriff's badge and Grandma Melissa had a poinsettia that represented her Mexican culture. Scott had a pair of lacrosse sticks in an 'X' formation with his number on the sticks, and Kira had an orange fox. Lydia had an angel and Malia had coyote. There was an arrow with Allison's name carved into it, a yellow wolf with Erica's name on it, and an ice skate with Boyd's name on the blade. Isaac had an Eiffel tower, and even Jackson had an ornament on their tree in the form of Big Ben. Hell, Danny and Ethan had matching Hawaiian tiki totems with their names that they sent over from the island they were staying at. Liam had an actual lacrosse ball with his number on it made into a ornament, and Hayden had a deputy's badge since she joined the force just like her sister. Peter and Cora also had Triskelion ornaments, in their own colors and metals. His daddy told him that the Hales had a similar tradition, and each time a new member was born or added, when it was near Christmas time, their own personalized version was made.
(Though Claud and Derek didn't really like it, Parrish also had an ornament of a black dog with a flame embroided on it on their tree. Even if it was stealthy hidden within the branches and covered by a candy cane cage.)
"It's almost perfect." Claud explained proudly, hands on his hips, admiring the tree like a businessman admiring a successful project.
"Almost? What's missing?" Stiles asked, though he could already guess.
"Daddy needs to be here to help put the star on top." Claud answered.
"Can Laura and Arya have a taste?" Claud asked as he sat on the counter and licked frosting off his fingers.
Both girls were in their highchairs, watching as Stiles and Claud, with the help from Isaac, build gingerbread houses. Isaac looked at Stiles as he waited for a reply.
"Sure, give them each a wooden spoon. It'll entertain them while we try not to ruin this." Stiles said as he added the last wall to the house they were building.
Claud smiled as he grabbed the wooden spoons Isaac handed him and dipped them into the frosting. Then he let Isaac lift him off the counter after setting the bowl of frosting aside. Isaac gave Claud an airplane ride, which had the little wolf in giggles, before placing him in front of the girls and giving each a spoon. The girls had learned to grip their own spoons back in November, but still had some trouble. Arya already had more frosting on her forehead than on the spoon. Laura dropped her spoon but not before licking some off. Now she was trying to get as much from what was around her mouth and on her hands.
"Der ba!" Arya cried happily when she saw Derek enter the nursery. She tried to crawl towards him, but in her excitement, she fumbled onto her belly.
Derek gave a fake sigh of annoyance as he tried, in vain, to correct her, as he picked her up. "Daddy, princess. I'm daddy."
Both girls had needed a bath after their little frosting party, and Arya had gotten hers first. Laura was still in the bath herself. Normally Derek and Claud would be able to help Stiles give the girls a bath at the same time, but with Derek away, it was just easier to bathe one little Hale-Stilinski baby at a time.
Arya poked Derek's cheek as she argued with him, "Deeeeeeeer ba!"
"You're as stubborn as your father." Derek muttered.
"Ta!" Arya exclaimed happily with a nod before nuzzling into Derek's neck.
Derek just shook his head and smiled, nuzzling back and kissing the top of her head, "Come on, your brother's ready to place the star on top of the tree."
"Claw?" Arya asked when she heard the word 'brother'.
"That's right princess, Claud."
The girls were all cleaned and safely in the play pen, watching as Claud rested on Derek's shoulders and Stiles passed over the star topper. Claud topped the cheer and cheered as Stiles connected the star with one of the extension cords and the star lit up. When he was placed on the ground, Claud went to his sisters and retold the story of how their daddy and tata first obtained the star.
Derek and Stiles watched with smiled on their faces. Derek pulled Stiles towards him, pressing Stiles's back to his chest, both pairs of hands resting on Stiles's protruding belly. They turned to each other and smiled even wider.
"Merry Christmas, Derek."
"Merry Christmas, Stiles."