She finds out on the fifth of December.
The doctor's hands are cold and firm, as she holds Erica's hair back for her when she empties her stomach in the shiny metal sink beside her chair. The roll of nausea is sudden, anxious, and unending for those few minutes, until finally, it stops. It stops, and she cries, downs the paper cup of water the doctor gives her, cries some more, cries and cries until it hurts.
“Do you know who the father is?” The doctor asks, cold. Cold and detached, like it's okay if Erica doesn't know, no one here is going to judge her. It's okay, her voice says. It's going to be okay. “Do you want to talk to him first, or do you want to discuss your options now?”
She knows the options, and she's not naïve enough to give at least one a second thought. Mixed-race from two werewolves, one with epilepsy. No chance of adoption. None at all.
Termination, the doctor says, delicately, and it's that voice, that it's okay voice, the one that's telling Erica no one is going to think less of her for it, no one here at least.
“I'm not eighteen.” She mumbles. “And they'd never sign the consent.” Because they wouldn't. They really wouldn't.
They might very well throw her out though.
On the bus ride home, she presses her palm to her belly, thinks, I can't handle this.
In her bedroom, alone, she lies on her bed, and exhales, listens hard with both hands pressed to her belly, shirt rucked up to sit just under her bra.
She inhales, exhales. Listens.
Not hers. Not hers at all.
She swears out loud, squeezes her eyes shut, her throat tight and her eyes hot.
A thousand and one thoughts race through her head, wondering if lycanthropy will pass on from a bitten, wondering if the baby would get epilepsy, wondering if the baby would have curls, those crazy beautiful brown-blonde curls mixed babies get sometimes. Dark brown eyes, she knows, just like theirs. Boy or girl? She wants a girl, but she'd be fine with a boy, she always thought, had thought of names sometimes, in a silly, daydreaming kind of way, but this is no daydream.
Curls, for sure, with her hair and his. Brown eyes.
She tells Derek.
For a second, she thinks he's going to be furious, but he just sits on the ruined steps of the Hale house and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Don't they teach any sex ed in school? You don't know how to use a condom?”
“I'm on the pill!” She protests, because fuck Derek, he's not going to act like they're stupid, irresponsible kids when they weren't. She's been on the pill faithfully, has followed all the directions perfectly.
“Yeah.” Derek presses his hands together like in prayer, bites his lip, looks at her. “Who is that pill made for?”
She frowns, trying to figure out what he's trying to say, why he looks so frustrated and overwhelmed suddenly, right until it hits her like a freight train, and god, how could she be so stupid? “Humans.” She answers, miserable and afraid. “Humans, not werewolves.”
Derek nods, closes his eyes. “Humans. Not werewolves. Damn it, I thought you were smarter than this. I thought you both were smarter than this.”
“Well, obviously we're not.” She snaps, sinking down to the ground to sit cross-legged.
He's quiet for a few minutes, before he says, “It'll be a wolf. Born. If you keep it.” Like he doesn't care.
But he does, she realizes, when she looks up at him. Derek cares a lot. He's looking at her, and he's not angry at all, well, he sort of is. Not really though. The way he's looking, not at her, but at the house, it's longing, grief. Poor Derek, she thinks, not for the first time. Poor Derek, the last of his huge family left, with this great big house just sitting here. It's why he won't restore it, she knows. Why, when there's just him left?
“I don't.” She starts, stops. “I don't want to get rid of it.”
The words feel like a popped balloon in her throat, deflating everything inside and leaving her empty and afraid. Because she doesn't, she knows. She really doesn't.
“You're seventeen. Not even that yet.”
“Lots of girls manage.” She protests defensively. “It's not like I'll be the only girl in school who has a kid.” Not that there's a lot, but she wouldn't be. “And I don't want to just get rid of it, okay, I want it.” Saying it makes it all the more real, so she says it again. “I want it.”
Derek shakes his head. “Your parents are going to go ballistic.”
“So?” She doesn't care. She'll deal, she'll figure something out. She always does.
After a second, the ghost of a smile flits across Derek's face. “You'll need somewhere to live. With the kid. A job. Two teenagers can't exactly take care of a baby by themselves, you know.”
“I'll get emancipated.” She replies, firm. “I'll go on home study. I'll be a stripper. I'll figure it out.” She's not all that sure it's that easy to get emancipated, and she doesn't really want to be a stripper, but if she has to, she will. She'll prove it, to Derek and everyone else. She can do this. She can.
That smile, the one she's never really seen on Derek's face, it grows, just a tiny bit. “I bet.”
It might be the closest to approval she'll ever get from Derek, Mr. Talking-Is-For-Lesser-Beings, but she'll take it. Not that she needs Derek's approval, or anything. Derek can go screw himself.
But the next night, at dinner, her mother casually remarks to her father, “Did John tell you Derek Hale hired a contractor? He's re-building the old house, apparently. About time. I was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with him and his sister, the one who died last year? Leaving that thing up, like a goddamn tomb,” and she goes on in that vein for some time while Erica picks at her potatoes.
He's waiting for her in her room, like the creeper he is. “I don't care what Stiles says, this isn't cute.” Not that Stiles says it's cute. Stiles says it's creepy and invasive. But if she can't harass Derek, what other pleasures does she have in life?
“You tell Boyd yet?” He asks, instead of responding.
“I'll tell him.” She says, huffing. Because she will. She just hasn't worked up the spine quite yet, because how exactly do you tell your sixteen-year-old boyfriend that he's going to be a father on top of the million other things that keep going wrong in their lives? There should be a guide for this kind of thing.
Derek raises his eyebrows, smirking, like he really believes her, sure, so she scowls at him.
He scowls back, before entertaining himself by rifling through her things like the nosy weirdo he is. “House will be done in two months. You can move in then, if necessary.”
He doesn't wait for her to react, just climbs back out the window, but when she grabs his sleeve, he stops.
She doesn't know what she's supposed to say, actually.
“I'm your Alpha.” He says, like that's a good enough answer to all of it.
Maybe for Derek, it is.
Elizabeth: My god is an oath.
Tara: Elevated place.
Josephine: Feminine form of Joseph. “He will add”.
Cecil: Blind. (She crosses that one off)
Edgar: Rich, blessed. A spear.
Abigail: My father is joy.
“Erica, this is...” Ms. Morrell trails off, settles back in her chair. “Has Derek told you that the child of two bitten wolves will be a born werewolf? Like him? It's not a recessive gene.”
“He told me.” Not before he bit her, of course, but it's not like she's an idiot. In the aftermath, she'd thought about that kind of thing more, had realized her children would probably be like her, and the thing is, she's not sorry for that. Why would she be? Her children will be better than human, strong and powerful and they'll never get sick and they'll heal from every injury. Is she supposed to hate that? “I've got it under control.” She hopes, at least, because the Hale house now has a solid frame and all these rooms that are going to go up, including the ones she'll live in, and Derek had said nursery with a reverence she won't dare question.
Because she knows it wasn't just adults in that basement. She's seen the way Peter stands over the headstone shaped like a sleeping lamb, how he turns from mischievous and strange to suddenly serious and sad.
Benjamin Hale the little inscription reads. He wasn't even a year old.
She won't ask. She doesn't like Peter, but she won't do that to him.
“It'll be difficult. The Hales lived so far into the Preserve because of this. Because children can't control the shift. Do you understand that?” No, she doesn't, but Derek does, she thinks, and so does Peter, and she kind of hates Peter, really. He's a total dick. But he looks at her stomach now with an expression she can't read, nor does she want to. There's too much in it for her to bear.
“I'll handle it.”
“And what about Boyd? Will he handle it?” She asks.
Boyd had sniffed at her neck last night, frowned. “Your scent is different.” He'd said, and she'd just laughed it off, asked if he was trying to imply something, and of course he'd laughed too, said no, no, of course not.
“You haven't told him, have you?” She asks, smirking like she has an edge over Erica. “Are you afraid?”
Is she afraid her boyfriend is going to break up with her? Absolutely. Is she scared he's not going to help? Not at all, because Boyd is, if anything, the best guy on Earth, and even if he's not ready to be a father, he'll at least try. Not that he has a choice, because she gets the feeling Derek will have a conversation with him if he tries anything less. Derek is not the kind of guy she ever thought would like kids, but now, she sees the way he watches her and thinks about the burning house and how the elementary school gets out an hour earlier than the high school. She thinks about Eli and Elizabeth Hale, and they were just six.
She loves Boyd like she's never loved any other boy though, loves the way his hands sit on her waist, the way he looks at her, the way he holds her hand. She loves the way he smiles and the way he sings along to The Beatles, and how he never gets angry. She loves that Boyd is the kind of man who trusted her enough to keep running, who understood why she told him too, because she loved him and didn't want him hurt. She loves that he's the kind of man who came back anyway, the kind who took five arrows for her, the kind who never stepped out from in front of her, even though he was in pain, the kind who defended her with his own body until he fell down.
The kind who held her hand in the woods when they were terrified.
She loves that Boyd took it so slow with her it drove her crazy and made her fall so hard in the first place. That he just used his fingers first, that he was patient with her. He never begged for more, never coerced. She said stop and he stopped, every time.
She loves that Boyd protected her from the Alphas and that she wanted to protect him too. She loves that he tried, and she's a little scared to know she loves him enough that she tried too.
So yes. She's afraid. She's afraid this will be the thing Boyd can't handle. She's afraid that she'll lose this man she loves so much over this, that he'll finally hit the wall he won't climb for her.
But she's not scared of the baby she's carrying, she's not scared of what that love made. She's sixteen and far too young and far too old at the same time, and this little thing is growing in her, its little heart beating and its little lungs growing every day, little spine stretching, little fingers curling. She's not scared of this.
“Do you have the paperwork or not?” She asks, because screw Morrell. “I'm due in July. I need at least eight weeks off, so I guess that'll be what, the beginning of the school year?” Last few weeks of August, first few weeks of September. “I can start on my schoolwork after we get out, keep myself busy. That way I'm caught up when I come back.”
Ms. Morrell sits back in her chair, raises her eyebrows. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
Ms. Morrell pushes the paperwork across the desk, all of it waiting for Erica's signature.
Heather: Named for a variety of small shrubs that grow with pink and white flowers.
Gabriel: Strong man of God.
Margaret: Pearl. Patron saint of expectant mothers.
Kelly: Bright-headed, or alternatively, war, strife. (She crosses that one out too)
The insulation goes up inside the new house, followed by the walls. The floors are being sanded still, and the drywall is still showing its pieces.
“Be good for you to be over here, near a bathroom,” Derek says, walking with her through the unfinished hall. “Not too far from the kitchen. I could tell them to make this a joint room, so you can just walk in, unless you want the baby in your room?”
She's not sure, wants to ask her mother, but knows better.
“Unless Boyd is going to share with you?” He's asking more than that, she knows.
“I'll tell him soon.” She promises.
“Winter Formal is coming up.” He reminds her, one night when they're stretched out together in the back of the pick-up truck he and Derek rebuilt (Isaac claims he helped, but he mostly just stood there and handed them stuff). “You want to go?”
She doesn't fit into her jeans anymore. She's small, the doctor says, so her weight gain is a little more obvious than if she wasn't. She certainly can't fit into the dress she'd looked at for Winter Formal back in October when she'd still jumped at shadows in her room and she'd clung to Boyd with all her might. “No.”
He shrugs, pulls her in tighter. Inhales. “Babe, I'm not trying to piss you off, but you smell different.”
“Do I?” She asks, putting that edge in her voice so he shuts up, lets it go.
Florence: Prosperous, flourishing.
Terence: Unknown meaning.
James: Holder of the heel, supplanter.
Matthew: Gift of YAHWEH
Natalya: Russian form of Natalie, means 'Christmas Day'.
Stiles catches her flipping through a book of baby names in the Barnes & Noble, and if he was anyone else, of he was Scott, or Isaac, she could have gotten away with it. But Stiles possesses a kind of intuition she doesn't get, that she's never seen in anyone else. He frowns, then says, “So. Going to be a baby or a puppy?” Because he can be a dick sometimes, but in a good way, and she laughs, just a little.
He sits beside her in the aisle.
“So, should I send Boyd my congratulations?”
She shakes her head.
“No, because you haven't told Boyd, have you?”
She smirks. “Brilliant deduction, Detective.”
“Nuh-uh, don't go all Talia on me when you've got Boyd's hellspawn incubating in you.” He teases. “You considered Helena?” It's just a joke, but it makes her tear up even as it makes her laugh, right into his shoulder. “Right. Yeah.”
He wraps an arm around her, lets her laugh and cry and panic into him for a few minutes, because Stiles is genuinely a nice guy, just like Boyd. She has a type, she thinks. “I'm going to name you godfather.” She warns.
“Oh, like hell.” He protests.
“You and Derek.” She keeps going. “I'll name you both.”
Stiles stills against her, swallows, his heartbeat fluttering. “That's not funny.”
“Derek likes kids.” She says, because he does. She gets that now. Derek likes kids like no one's business, and for the first time, she's starting to realize that the way Derek acts might not be how Derek really is, deep down. That maybe he's still reeling from losing his big sister, from becoming Alpha when he was never supposed to be one, from Peter coming back when he was supposed to be dead and gone. She's starting to realize that Derek is awfully young, that all the Alphas in the Alpha Pack were older, with the exception of the twins, that maybe Derek is just trying his best and just as scared as they are. “Do you?”
Stiles shrugs. “I've never actually been around kids. Maybe. They seem kind of sticky.”
“They're not always sticky.” She says.
They sit quietly for a time before Stiles says, “You're supposed to name couples as the godparents.”
“You and Derek are a couple.” Because they are, in the weirdest way. They're not sleeping together, she knows that for a fact, but not for lack of intention. Stiles likes Derek, Derek likes Stiles, but they're both such jackasses they can't swallow their pride and prejudices for two seconds and just admit it. Not now, at least. Maybe in a little while, they'll finally get their shit together, and they'll be a couple for real. Until then, they're just doing some weird, elaborate mating ritual, a game of I-won't-say-it-first, and she's content to laugh and make fun of them until they do. “Derek will be good with the baby. You're good with Derek. So you'll be the godparents.”
Stiles doesn't say anything else for a little bit, just flips through the baby name book with her.
“What's your first name?” She asks.
He grimaces. “Don't even think about saddling my godkid with that monstrosity.”
On December 25th, Boyd brings her Christmas present to the train station. Isaac and Derek aren't there yet. It's just them.
He's bought her a copy of the New 52 Batgirl, Issue #0, signed by Gail Simone herself, and she thinks of the hours Boyd had to spend working at the ice rink for this, an she thinks of five arrows, and she thinks of him growling stay away from her to the twins, and she thinks of him stopping every time she said no.
His shoulders tense, relax. His heartbeat speeds, as he presses his palm to her stomach, and she sees the concentration in his face as he listens.
“I'm sorry.” She says, because he's not saying anything.
He looks at her, and god, she loves his eyes, loves his smile, and she loves, loves, loves, the way he says, “Baby, what are you sorry for?”
Two am on August 22nd, and she wakes them with her squalling.
“I got it,” he says, kissing her temple.
He comes back in with her cradled in his arms, lays down in their bed with her between them, where she settles back to sleep, lulled by their heartbeats, their scents.
Erica curls into her tiny body. “Your daddy has school in the morning, you little brat,” she chides, her eyes still closed.
“Daddy can handle it.” Boyd replies.