The sound of clattering from the kitchen early Friday afternoon drew him from his home office and he narrowly avoided the mistletoe that was now hanging from the kitchen doorway. Stiles, Isaac, and Boyd had dozens of different plates and trays out and were setting up a variety of snacks. Boyd was at the oven, working over a baking sheet with some type of pizza rolls, while Stiles and Isaac were sorting food from grocery bags at the counter.
"Looks like you guys are trying to feed an army here," he commented, reaching for one of the bowls of chips only to get his hand slapped away by Stiles.
"Movie night," Stiles said, grabbing two bowls of chips and bringing them over to the far counter. "Everyone should be here within the next half hour and we can get started. You're joining us, right?"
The Sheriff took advantage of Stiles' turned back to sneak one of the chocolate covered pretzels, eating silently and holding his finger to his lips when he caught Isaac watching him. He swallowed, hiding a smile when Isaac turned away from Stiles with a ducked head. "Yeah, sure, I'll drop by from time to time. What are you watching?"
"Christmas classics," Stiles said, eyeing his dad briefly and then turning back to his task.
"Elf is not a Christmas 'classic'," Boyd pointed out as he dusted flour from his hands.
"It's a new classic," Stiles quickly defended and then nudged Isaac with his elbow. "Isaac gets it, right?"
Isaac looked from Boyd to Stiles and then back again. "It's a good movie," he offered, absently munching on one of the tiny candy bars.
Stiles sputtered. "Good movie? You're supposed to be on my side. It's a, a-"
"Classic?" the Sheriff suggested, managing to keep a straight face.
"Exactly!" Stiles said firmly, about to say more before the sound of footsteps filled the front hallway. "Pack!" He grabbed two of the bowls and made toward the sounds of people. "Hey, Erica, oh-"
The Sheriff stepped forward just in time to see Erica grab Stiles as Stiles passed through the doorway - under the mistletoe - and kiss him quickly on the lips. Stiles flailed a little, Erica taking one of the bowls from him while Jackson used his werewolf-quick reflexes to snag the other bowl and disappear back down the hall with his bounty.
Stiles waved both of his hands as he was released and then looked up at the mistletoe. "Werewolves," he said, but he was smiling.
"Mistletoe," Erica returned with a smirk.
Stiles came back into the kitchen to grab another tray of food and this time managed to pass into the hallway without being captured under the mistletoe. "Come on, scaredy-wolves," Stiles taunted. "You can't hide in the kitchen all night."
The Sheriff leaned back against the counter and picked up the unguarded bowl of pretzels, more amused than he was willing to let on.
Isaac picked up a pan of rice crispy treats and exited the kitchen, pausing in the doorway to bend down to place a kiss on Erica's cheek and to let her press her lips to his. There was a quiet murmur between them, inaudible to human ears, and then Isaac went on his way down the hall.
The oven beeped and Boyd retrieved his batch of pizza rolls and put the next tray in. The Sheriff found a spatula on the opposite counter and passed it over, receiving a shy smile and a quiet "thanks" in return. Boyd filled the serving plate neatly and walked to the hallway, meeting Erica's kiss eagerly. He handed the plate over Erica's head and then picked Erica up and walked away with her instead, leaving Allison standing looking bemused while holding a plate of pizza rolls.
"Sometimes I've learned it's just better not to ask," she said and then popped one of the pizza rolls into her mouth.
"Good advice," the Sheriff told Allison, though he'd already had to implement that same advice on more than one occasion.
Allison grinned and stepped in the kitchen to grab one of the last waiting bowls. "Are you joining us? We're starting with A Charlie Brown Christmas."
The Sheriff considered it and nodded. He wasn't needed on patrol until late that night. "I can watch for a while."
Allison bounded back out of the kitchen, leaving the Sheriff to follow with his bowl of pretzels, and he stepped cautiously past the mistletoe before stopping to move it a few feet away so people could get to the bathroom and kitchen without being accosted.
The rest of the pack had already gathered in the living room and the Sheriff saw that his armchair had been left open for him. Isaac, Erica, and Boyd seemed more interested in the variety of junk food on the coffee table than the bickering conversation of who got to sit on the couch, Allison neatly making a place for herself next to Lydia who immediately leaned in to talk with their heads close while Jackson rolled his eyes and stole one of the pizza rolls from the plate Allison was still holding. The Sheriff nodded to Derek, who was occupying the other armchair, and got a nod in return that clearly said he was here because his pack was here and not because he felt the strong desire to watch Christmas movies.
"Okay, A Charlie Brown Christmas is first, because that's just how things are, but the rest of them are up for vote," Stiles said as he backed away from the dvd player. He grabbed a bowl of caramel popcorn and came to sit on the footstool that had one of Derek's feet on it, angling so that they could share the food and both still see the tv. "Everyone ready?"
A chorus of "yes" and "press play" arose from the pack and Stiles pressed play on the remote. The Sheriff, who had seen the movie more times than he could possibly count since it was one of Stiles' favorite movies when he'd been little and he'd watched it repeatedly regardless of the time of year, found his attention more on the teens than on the tv screen. More people squeezed up onto the couch as the movie progressed, Scott squeezing in underneath Allison and Boyd sliding in next to Danny. Erica and Isaac made it about halfway through the movie before they stole a bowl of chips and came across the room to sit on the floor in between the armchairs, a blanket draped over Erica's shoulders as she rested her head on Isaac's shoulder and took chips from the bowl in his lap. The Sheriff munched on the chocolate covered pretzels, surrendering a handful to Stiles when Stiles gave him the evil eye. Giggling came from the couch when Allison and Danny danced along with the Christmas pageant music, and it was clear they'd probably seen the movie as many times as Stiles.
"What's next?" Stiles asked, but before he could get up Erica had abandoned her blanket and scrambled to the dvd player.
"A Muppet Family Christmas!" she called, changing out the dvd.
"What happened to voting?" Boyd asked, but he was smiling.
"It's Christmas, this is no time for democracy," Erica said, grinning back at him.
The Sheriff smiled and shook his head, passing the chocolate covered pretzels over to Derek as he stood. "I have some things to get done, but I'll be around," he said, thinking regretfully of the paperwork he still had to finish.
Before he'd even taken a single step Isaac had leapt into the chair he'd just abandoned, Erica landing on his lap a second later. "Dibs," Isaac said, ducking his head a little when he realized the Sheriff was still watching. Erica simply made herself comfortable instead of ceding the chair to Isaac.
The Sheriff shook his head and paused in the doorway long enough to watch the muppets start singing 'We Need A Little Christmas', humming to himself as he left because he knew the Muppets movies backwards and forwards. He paused in the kitchen, poured himself a glass of milk and snagged the half empty bag of chips that had been left behind, and made his way into his home office to get some work done. He left his door open so he could hear the distant sounds of the movie and the occasional shouts and clatter from the kids.
He ducked back out a few hours later, searching out dinner, and on his way back to his office he poked his head in the living room. They had moved onto a stop-motion animated show that he vaguely recognized and there was a figure with flames for hair dancing and singing a very catchy song about how he liked things hot.
"Okay, does that guy remind anyone else of the drought monster thing that we took out at the end of the summer?" Jackson asked, sounding more than a little disturbed.
Various members of the pack nodded. "I'm seriously disturbed," Stiles added. "Do you think whoever wrote this show knows about all of this stuff?"
"I'm more concerned that if the Heat Miser is real, what about the Snow Miser?" Danny asked. "I don't know about you guys, but I really don't want to deal with a blizzard monster."
Lydia sighed. "It wasn't a drought monster, it was a Cherufe that was lost. Do you even pay attention?"
"You have to admit it looked an awful lot like that guy though," Erica said. At some point she had migrated back to the couch to sit with Boyd and Danny had moved over to the armchair. Isaac was now on the floor next to Stiles, his head against Derek's knee.
The Sheriff shook his head and stepped back out. He hadn't heard any tales about drought monsters or whatever a Cherufe was, but he hoped that it hadn't sung and danced. His dreams were disturbing enough without adding musical monsters to the mix.
The next time he passed by the living room several of the kids were now laying on the floor and staring up at the tv, heads sharing pillows and more eyes closed than open. Derek had moved over onto the couch and was talking quietly with Isaac, The Santa Clause covering most of their conversation. The Sheriff snuck away before any of them reacted to his presence, though he doubted that his presence had gone unobserved by the werewolves who were still awake.
By the time he'd wrapped up the rest of his paperwork, the holiday having somehow doubled the stacks of cases that made their way across his desk that needed to be reviewed and signed - or in some cases, reviewed and sent back to the deputies who apparently thought that he was a teacher who was willing to fix their grammar and spelling mistakes. He resisted leaving notes to the effect of 'my teenaged son and his pack of werewolves can do better than this' and placed everything back into his file box to be transported back to the Sheriff's Department before he went out on patrol that night. He went upstairs to change into his uniform and a glance at the clock let him know it was fifteen minutes until eleven and he realized he hadn't heard the sounds of anyone getting ready to leave. Usually Allison was up and saying goodbye at ten thirty, because it took so long for everyone to finish saying goodbye and that they'd all see each other the next day.
The Sheriff went back downstairs and peered into the living room, ready to remind everyone to get a move on, and blinked as he found that everyone was asleep. Everyone except Derek.
Derek was sitting in the middle of the couch, the remote in one hand and his other arm stretched on the back of the couch to encompass where Erica, Stiles, and Scott were leaning up against his left side. To Derek's right Boyd, Danny, and Jackson were piled together, Jackson's legs over Danny's and his head resting against Derek's shoulder. On the floor Allison was in the middle of a pile of blankets, her forehead resting against Lydia's. Isaac was at Allison's back, his head at Derek's feet with Boyd's feet stretched out so they were resting over Isaac's legs.
There was a black and white movie playing on the tv and it only took the Sheriff a moment to identify It's a Wonderful Life. Derek's face was taut in the light thrown from the screen and his mouth pressed in a line as his eyes flickered from the movie and down to the sleeping group of teenagers gathered around him. The Sheriff had never particularly liked this movie, had never liked letting himself think about what could have been, and from the way Derek hand was clenching he thought that Derek probably felt the same way.
He stepped further into the living room and Derek turned off the tv without looking back, the only illumination now from the table lamp at the side of the room. The Sheriff reached down and gently shook Allison's ankle. She half sat up, clearly confused, and she blinked at Derek and then at the Sheriff. "What's wrong?"
"It's late, you have about five minutes before you need to leave if you want to keep your curfew," he said, watching as Isaac's eyes opened blearily and Lydia rolled over. "I'll drive you home, gather up your things."
Derek started nudging everyone on the couch, getting mumbled complaints and groans in response. "Up," he told them, standing and frowning when Jackson used the extra space to stretch out, Scott and Jackson shoving at each other in an attempt to claim the cushion for their heads.
Boyd was the next on his feet, Danny following with a yawn, and Stiles rolled off the couch from the other end. Allison was now sitting up, leaning against the couch as she rubbed at her eyes.
"I'll take her," Derek said to the Sheriff, as he located Allison's backpack and shoes from the pile behind the couch and passed a set of keys to Boyd. "That way I can leave her car at her house."
The Sheriff looked over where everyone was rousing themselves, Erica still out cold on the couch despite everyone moving around her. "I'll get them settled in here before I go to work," he agreed, and there was a small part of him that marveled that he completely trusted that Derek would get Allison home safely when a little over a year ago Derek had been a fugitive.
"We didn't even get to watch Elf or Rudolph," Stiles complained around a yawn.
"Tomorrow," Scott said as he blinked at the tv and then over at Stiles. "I don't like sleeping right after that movie anyway. Weird dreams."
Stiles was on his feet by this time and he gave Allison a quick hug before he started nudging people toward the stairs, each pack member pausing to say a sleepy goodbye to Allison and Derek before they ambled away. Boyd was carrying Erica, her head rolling to rest against his shoulder, and a few minutes later - after Derek and Allison had left - he reappeared downstairs and started gathering his things.
"You're going home?" the Sheriff asked, gathering a cellphone from where it had been left on the floor.
Boyd nodded. "Have to be at work at five and my parent's house is closer," he said as he laced up his boots. "It's not that far of a run, but Derek doesn't like us running across town in the middle of the night alone. He doesn't say it, but-" Boyd shrugged.
The Sheriff nodded as he put on his own shoes, wondering a little at Boyd's work hours. "Drive safe."
Boyd grinned. "Derek's car," was all he said, holding up the keys before he was out the door.
Pausing at the window, the Sheriff watched the Camaro pull off the side of the street and disappear more quickly than the werewolves disappeared from the backyard into the woods. He scrawled a note on the pad of paper on the kitchen counter, letting everyone know that he would not help the pack get out of any speeding tickets they received and that the living room should be cleaned up in the morning. Collecting his box of files, the Sheriff backed out of the house, content that most of the pack was safe at home for the night.