"Over here!" a voice in the Coffee at the Corner of Main and Main called out as the Sheriff entered the shop.
He scanned the crowd until he saw a hand waving at a table in the back corner. He made his way over, smiling and greeting the folks he recognized and ducking under holiday decorations that were hanging from the ceiling.
"Sorry I'm late," he told her as he took off his jacket and placed it over the back of the empty chair. He had been waylaid by a rather persistent man seeking advice on what to do about a neighbor who never returned the ladder or tools he had loaned him. The Sheriff had finally advised the man not to loan things to that particular neighbor and explained that he was late for an important meeting before excusing himself and fleeing.
"Don't worry about it," Melissa said, smiling as she pushed a cup in his direction. "I haven't been here long myself. I went ahead and got your coffee because the line is so long."
"Thank you," he said, taking a moment to doctor his coffee.
He and Melissa had been meeting a few times a month ever since the whole werewolf situation had come to light. At first it had been a way of working through their joint shock and concern without alarming or alienating their children, and their conversations had mostly focused on re-examining the past year with new eyes. Gradually it had moved to a more proactive set of conversations; making sure they were both on the same page and figuring out what they could do to keep everyone safe. Not to mention it was nice to have an occasional conversation with someone 'in the know' who wasn't a teenager. They hadn't found an opportunity to meet within the last two weeks, both busy with the increased duties that the holidays brought to their jobs - fortunately there hadn't been any werewolf related emergencies in the past little while.
When the Sheriff was settled, the sound of carolers outside waxing and waning as patrons entered and exited the coffee shop, Melissa smiled and asked "Dare I ask if the kids decorated your house too?"
The Sheriff laughed. "You too? Mistletoe?"
Melissa shook her head but she was smiling. "No mistletoe, but I have lights that flash to some kind of rock metal version of Carol of the Bells. My neighbors keep shooting me dirty looks when I back out of the driveway."
"I'm reasonably certain my neighbors think I've lost my mind, though I was spared the musical accompaniment. You might suggest to Danny that he hook it up to a timer so the music and lights stop after ten or eleven at night," the Sheriff suggested, secretly thankful his house had escaped some seasonal song on endless repeat.
"I'll keep that in mind. Everything okay with your group for the moment?" she asked.
The Sheriff nodded thoughtfully. "They seem to be alright. I haven't seen anyone come home with their clothes bloody and shredded in a few weeks. Yours?"
Melissa frowned ever so briefly in the way that meant she was considering whether or not to say something. "Good, for the most part. I've had the girls over more frequently this past little bit, even when Scott has been out with Stiles and Isaac. Any thoughts?"
The Sheriff had noticed that Lydia had spent most of the nights that week sleeping in the pack bedroom, and Erica had stayed over until her mom was due back yesterday evening. He wasn't even sure if Lydia's mother was in town at the moment. "Lonely with the holidays, I would imagine," he said, Melissa nodding regretfully. Isaac had once told him that almost none of the pack had parents who were at all aware of their children. He had thought it was a typical teenager exaggeration - this was before he had learned that Isaac very rarely exaggerated anything and far more frequently understated a situation - but then he had come to find that most of the other parents of the pack members truly had little time or attention for their children. The Sheriff knew he and Melissa weren't exceptions, they both were occupied with demanding jobs and long hours, but after hearing about their children nearly dying several times over the course of the last year they had both decided to delegate some of their responsibilities when they possibly could and to keep in better contact when they couldn't be there in person.
"I was thinking of taking a group down to the city to shop on Sunday," Melissa said, sipping at her coffee. "Thought I would check to see if you'd like to come." It was entirely clear that she was angling for a second adult to help contain the insanity.
"Unfortunately, I'm working a double on Sunday," the Sheriff said, fully ready to throw Melissa to the wolves if she was planning a big shopping trip. He'd keep the kids out of legal trouble, house them, wait up in the night to make sure they were safe, and Melissa could handle patching them up, hassling them about their grades, and taking them shopping. It was why they were such a good team.
Melissa grinned, clearly on to him. "That is unfortunate."
The Sheriff shook his head. "I'm taking the lot to the tree farm and that's the best you're getting out of me," he said, though he couldn't help but smile back at Melissa.
They spent the next twenty minutes going over their plans and schedules for the next two weeks and touching base on any minor issues they'd noticed. The Sheriff walked Melissa out to her car and checked the time. He was on patrol for the next three hours and then home in time for dinner, all of which felt perfect for a moderately chilly December afternoon.
"Sheriff Stilinski," Derek greeted, causing the crowd of teenagers in the doorway to twist around and give their own sheepish greetings.
"What seems to be the trouble?" the Sheriff asked, watching expressions ranging from embarrassed to stubborn all shift to slightly uncertain.
"Derek is disrespecting the rules of the mistletoe!" Stiles shouted from somewhere further in the house.
Derek rolled his eyes and looked incredibly put-upon. "And just whose bright idea was it to put the mistletoe in the doorway?" he asked, the slightest edge of a growl in his voice.
The Sheriff tipped his head to the side to look past the kids and sure enough the mistletoe was hanging just beyond the front door.
"We'll never tell," Allison chimed in from inside the house. "Now hurry up and kiss them. Danny and I are making hot chocolate and if you don't want Jackson and Stiles to eat all the marshmallows you'll get in here soon."
Scott groaned from where he was squished between Isaac and the doorframe. "Come on Derek. We can smell the hot chocolate."
The Sheriff was about to intercede and say no one had to kiss anyone when Derek leaned down slightly to place kisses in quick succession on the foreheads of Scott, Isaac, Boyd, and Erica. Derek looked to the Sheriff warily as the pack squirmed past him.
"I'm all the way out here," the Sheriff said. "Though I might suggest you put that somewhere out of the way."
Derek nodded and reached up to retrieve the mistletoe, giving it a considering look before he stalked off with a particularly mischievous glint in his eyes.
The Sheriff shook his head and went inside, pausing by the kitchen to take in the kids gathered around the counters. "No more mistletoe in entrances and exits. It's a fire code thing," he said and then left before they could question him on the subject matter.
"No way is that legal," Stiles said, sounding more amused than anything else.
"Hang on, I'm Googling it," Danny said, and when the Sheriff came back in the kitchen - sans weapons, jacket, and boots - he found half the pack gathered around Danny's phone.
"Legal or not, the rule stands," the Sheriff said as he was passed a cup of hot chocolate with so many marshmallows floating on top that he couldn't see the drink itself.
Stiles grinned as he walked by. "I suppose that means I can't put the mistletoe in my bedroom window. Dad, we got take out, yours is in the fridge."
"Thank you," he said, waving as the rest of the pack filed out with their own drinks. After a few minutes of sipping at his hot chocolate and paging through the newspaper, he found the food that had been brought home for him and rolled his eyes as he realized that Stiles must have bossed the rest of the pack into making sure no one ordered him french fries or anything with cheese. He settled into his chef's salad and mashed potatoes, though he did dig through the fridge until he found the real butter at the back. Half an hour later he was finished eating and done with the newspaper, and had just finished tidying up when he heard music coming from the living room.
He wandered down the hallway and leaned in the doorway, watching and listening as Lydia, Jackson, and Danny sang Angels We Have Heard On High. Scott and Allison were squished together in one of the armchairs, listening happily. Isaac, Erica and Boyd were all sprawled on the floor, Erica's lips bright red from the candy cane she was sucking on. Stiles, Lydia, and Danny were all on the couch, Jackson sitting on the floor with his fingers intertwined with Lydia's. Even Derek looked absolutely content, munching on a candy cane with small snaps as he watched his pack. The mistletoe was nowhere to be seen.
Lydia and Danny both laughed when they finished the song, Jackson tipping his head back to look up at them. "Weren't you in the choir too, Stiles?" Jackson asked.
Stiles blushed lightly. "Yeah, for a year or two. I don't really remember the songs."
The Sheriff nodded to himself, remembering when his wife had taken Stiles with her to church every Sunday - whenever the Sheriff had asked her about it she had just said that they could use all the help they could get, and Stiles had seemed to enjoy the children's choir during the years he'd been a member.
"Pick one," Erica called, rolling to her side so she was facing the couch. "Your favorite."
Stiles made a face at her, his tongue red from the half-eaten candy cane he was holding. "Fine. Uh. The Holly and the Ivy."
"That's your favorite?" Danny asked, getting a light swat on his thigh from Lydia for his trouble.
"Yes, that's my favorite. I'm not singing it alone," Stiles said, looking slightly embarrassed.
"I'll start," Lydia said, and she smiled at Stiles and began singing. Stiles joined her by "of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown" and Danny and Jackson jumped in at the chorus.
The Sheriff listened as they went through all the verses, all the while wondering if Stiles remembered that The Holly and the Ivy had been Stiles' mother's favorite carol, and if that was the reason it was Stiles' favorite. He backed away, leaving the kids to it.
Later, when Stiles came bounding into the kitchen, the Sheriff looked up from the file he was looking through and watched as Stiles rummaged in the fridge for a snack.
Stiles looked up and smiled. "New moon tonight, they're all pretty mellow. I don't think we could have ever convinced Jackson to sing carols otherwise."
The Sheriff returned the smile fondly, his earlier question about Stiles' choice in carols lingering unasked on his lips. "Good to hear," he finally said.