Derek leans against the brick wall and watches the hordes of children swarm down the steps.
He still feels a little out of place in comparison to all the other parents milling around, he knows he sticks out, but he can’t bring himself to care. He’s not here being a creeper as Stiles would say, he’s here for far more important, valid reasons.
He picks up on two of the four heartbeats more familiar to him than any others in the world and his gaze flicks to one of the side doors swinging open.
“Dad!” Violet’s shriek fills the playground and she barges past several dawdling toddlers to run at him.
He grins and catches her easily, pulls her up on his hip. “Hi.”
“Dad, you will never guess what I did today.”
She rolls her eyes at him in a way that so closely resembles Stiles he’s going to have to give him a firm lecture later about doing it too often in front of their kids. They’re picking up bad habits.
“How was your day?”
“Really good, can I please tell you what I did now?”
“I thought you wanted me to guess?”
She scowls at him and then fumbles with her bag. “Can you lemme down please? I gotta show you something.”
He lowers her gently to the ground and she pulls open her bright red backpack, nose disappearing inside.
“Where’s your brother?” Derek can hear Flynn’s heartbeat, knows he’s still inside and perfectly content, but he’s still happier when he can see both his children at the end of the day. Just to know they’re safe, and here.
“’S’talking to Mrs McCall about turtles still.”
Derek raises an eyebrow and looks up to see Allison appear, head ducked to hear what Flynn’s ranting earnestly about. Honestly, only a Stilinski kid could get worked up about turtles.
Suddenly, his view is blocked by a woman with white pearly smile and a lot of blonde hair.
He straightens up, glancing over the woman’s shoulder to check on Flynn’s progress and Allison waves at him— Flynn still hasn’t finished talking—before he turns to face the newcomer.
“Hello,” he says flatly.
“You must be Violet’s father, I’m Grace’s mom, Elaine.”
“Elaine,” he echoes. “Can I help you with something?” he says after a few seconds of silence filled with her looking at him expectantly.
“Oh,” she looks surprised and then smiles brightly. It’s a dangerous kind of smile, all teeth; the kind of smile Erica uses when she needs something; like his Camaro for the weekend or for Stiles to help her with her thesis first thing on a Sunday morning. Derek is immune to that smile— he likes his car in one piece and his husband in his bed. He knows how to say no to this smile.
He just wishes she’d sort of take a few steps backwards. He drops a hand to the top of Violet’s head and starts twisting her bow in his fingers. He’s not using his child as a shield or anything, he’s really not. It’s just always nice to know she’s there.
She’s four and doesn’t yet reach his hip in height but she’s still pretty damn feisty when she wants to be.
“As you probably know it’s Grace’s birthday next weekend and I was hoping we could confirm whether or not the twins will be attending?” She leans in towards him as if sharing a secret and Derek tries to subtly move backwards. “Obviously there’ll be refreshments for the parents if they wanted to stick around, lend a hand? I’d be so grateful…”
Derek feels his eyebrows twitch together and then Violet shoves a piece of paper at his leg. “Found it, dad.”
He drops down beside her, shooting Elaine what he hopes is an apologetic smile (because Stiles has warned him about glaring at the general public now they have kids who are growing up in it).
“It’s not that scary isn’t sexy, Derek, trust me, you know it’s my thing. But most people seem to think it means you want to murder them, in fact, I totally did ‘till I figured out the difference between murder and sex me up good and proper. It’s all in your eyebrows, once you know how to read them. But you can’t be mean to the townsfolk now, we have to pretend to be civilised if the kids don’t want to feel like pariahs.”
Derek suspects Violet’s already taken a dislike to people in general but he can’t encourage that.
So he smiles up at her. “I’m sorry, Debbie—”
“Right, Stiles is actually in charge of the twins’ social calendar; I can’t really confirm or deny their presence at this point.”
“Stiles? What an unusual name!”
“Yeah, you have no idea.” He bows his head to look at what Violet had wanted to show him and hopes the woman takes a hint. She seems to if the slight huff she gives and click of her heels disappearing suggests.
He focuses on his daughter; relieved the interaction is over and wonders how Stiles does it every day. “What you got there?”
“I drew a picture.”
She pushes it at Derek and blinks nervously at him. Slowly, Derek unfolds it and his heart clenches. She’s drawn their family which, he should be used to by now. He knows every freckle on Flynn’s face, knows when Violet’s hungry or cranky or jubilant, he knows how to get Teddy back to sleep without waking Stiles up and why Dora the Explorer’s word is paramount in their household; that you should always wake a sleeping Stiles with coffee or the promise of something dirty; that Erica cries whenever there’s even a hint of emotional music on the television; that Boyd hates the smell of lemons; that Isaac supports the Miami Dolphins because he loves the underdogs; and that when Scott’s sad Derek’s likely to find him in their tree house rather than his own home.
He’s spent ten years breathing a life with Stiles and his family but it still hits him in the chest when he sees it on paper. That he has this life.
He traces his fingers along the spindly stick figures that he guesses are meant to be himself and Stiles, (lots of black scribbles that are presumably meant to represent his beard and Stiles has a giant red crayon smile) Flynn and Violet (identical save for the fact Violet’s hair is longer) and Teddy (who is literally a blob), and then over the rest of his pack (Scott and Isaac look practically the same with lots of curly hair and Jackson has giant triangle eyebrows). It’s actually a pretty accurate drawing. It’s better than any photograph he’s ever seen too.
“It’s beautiful,” he says softly.
Violet beams at him and he kisses her cheek. “Come on; let’s go rescue Mrs McCall from Flynn.”
“Why is she Mrs McCall at school but not at home?”
“Because she’s your teacher and that’s how you address a teacher.”
“I thought an address was where you lived?”
“It is, it’s also a way you can speak to someone.”
Violet frowns like she’s trying to make sense of the description; he’s seen that frown a thousand times on Stiles’ face, then suddenly she brightens, just as Stiles does, and nods. “Ok.”
Flynn looks up from his serious discussion with Allison and his face lights up. “Dad! Dad! Today we were learning about reptills—rept—”
“Reptiles,” Allison corrects gently.
“Yeah, dad, they’re so cool!” Flynn flies at his legs and he catches him by the arm, swings him so he’s rested on his free hip.
“They are? Why are they cool?”
“Jealous?” Allison teases.
He glowers at her and she waves, turning away laughing and murmuring that he shouldn’t forget dinner with herself and Scott on Friday.
Like Stiles would let him.
“So, tell me about reptiles.”
Flynn’s learnt how to unbuckle his seatbelt and is out of the car, bursting with all of his interesting facts about turtles for Stiles before Derek opens his door.
Flynn skids to a stop and totters back over to him.
Violet’s squirming in her seat, struggling with her own belt and Derek reaches over and flicks it open for her.
She leaps from the car, following Flynn up to the house and he wonders for the millionth time if they’re really not werewolves with how enthusiastic they always are. It’s like they never get tired. Stiles flings open the front door, grinning and the unlimited energy in his kids makes sense again.
“My wayward travellers return! Babios!” Stiles has Teddy draped over his left shoulder and shoves his cellphone in his pocket as Violet and Flynn vie for his attention.
“Dad, dad, look at my picture!”
“Did you know turtles lay like a hundred and twenty eggs, dad?”
“Wow,” Stiles says, glancing over their heads to smile fondly at Derek. “That’s gotta be an effort. Violet sugar, you wanna help me put your gorgeous picture on the fridge?”
Derek clambers up the steps, leans over the twins’ heads to kiss Stiles hello.
“Hey, hot stuff.”
Derek snorts and gently prises the sleeping baby off Stiles’ shoulder. “Hey, how was your day?”
Violet and Flynn are screeching at each other in the background; something about who gets to pour the milk and they both wander into the house, following the noise.
“Good, lazy,” Stiles grins impishly. “There may or may not have been a four hour nap in there at some point.”
“I don’t know how you get any work done, ever.”
“I do it in my sleep. Besides, now I don’t have an attractive, unemployed person wondering around distracting me all day you’d be amazed how much I get done.”
Derek scowls at him, deposits Teddy in his crib set up in the kitchen and helps lift Violet up onto the counter. She carefully pours an even amount of milk into Flynn’s cup and then into her own.
“Good girl, well done,” Stiles murmurs, ruffling her hair.
Violet hops off the counter and she and Flynn head for the den to watch Tom and Jerry.
“I wasn’t unemployed,” Derek whirls round at Stiles the second the twins are out the door.
“Fine, not working by choice for eight years, choosing instead to distract me at every turn by stripping and having his way with me on every surface of our house? Better?”
Derek hums, eyeing the fridge, thinking of all the times he and Stiles have spent naked and rutting up against each other with their backs to it.
Stiles shuts the fridge with a snap and comes to stand in front of him, fingers tugging at his tie. “Though I must admit, I’m all for suit wearing, picks up the kids on his way home from work, Derek too. I like all versions of Derek.”
“Glad to hear it,” Derek says drily, kissing him before heading upstairs to change.
He’s in and out of the shower in ten minutes, and pads into the bedroom, tossing his towel in the direction of the hamper. He can hear Stiles cooing down at Teddy as he wakes up and demands his father’s attention. Can picture him bending to pick up their youngest, pottering around the kitchen preparing dinner, commentating to their son the whole time about why they’re not having tobasco sauce because it makes daddy sneeze.
He digs in the dresser for socks and decides they should really maybe do laundry when all he can find are Stiles’ stupid novelty Moose and Squirrel ones.
There are photographs and papers littering their dresser, ones from Allison and Scott’s wedding, Derek and Allison dancing, Scott and Stiles throwing confetti at each other, Erica looking serene in a beautiful gold bridesmaid’s dress; Isaac holding a tiny Flynn and beaming in the hospital; Lydia looking triumphant at graduation with her arms draped over Stiles and Boyd’s shoulders; Stiles asleep with both twins on his chest; Derek deep in discussion with the Sheriff as Teddy reaches up to grab his grandpa’s nose. There’s an old Polaroid of Derek and Stiles sitting on top of the jeep watching fireworks from when they were still dating, it’s worn around the edges from being stuck to college dorm walls and various apartments before settling on the dresser. Stiles has his legs thrown over Derek’s lap and he’s laughing, reaching forward to wrap his arms around Derek’s neck, and Derek’s smiling softly back at him, neither of them are aware of the camera.
Derek sweeps the letters and papers off the dresser so the photographs are the only thing on show.
He reads through a couple of letters Stiles has abandoned and then drops them off in the office, pausing to glance at a post it note from Erica reminding him they’re going surfing on Saturday.
Derek thinks back to the last time they all went to the beach—Stiles starting a debate about werewolves versus sharks, Erica convincing an entire volleyball team to buy her drinks all day and Violet trying to bury her plastic bracelets as treasure before braining Jackson with her spade and grins to himself.
It’s bound to be chaotic.
Jackson had pouted for days.
“So, what did my dad eat for lunch?” Stiles hollers from the kitchen and Derek starts, shoots off a text to Erica and then jogs downstairs, pulling on a soft old sweater as he goes.
“I wasn’t even in for lunch, how am I supposed to know? I had a meeting with Saldana about the reach out program.”
“Just thinking of you going into classrooms and telling kids not to do drugs,” Stiles shoots him a mischievous look. “Gives me shudders, those poor kids won’t even touch coffee for fear Detective Hale’ll come after them.”
“Ha ha,” Derek sits at the table, lets Teddy tug at his glasses before sticking them in his mouth. “They won’t taste good,” Derek warns. Teddy beams back at him and Derek’s heart thuds hard against his chest. “You’re just like your dad,” he bemoans when Teddy continues to chew on the plastic.
Gently, Stiles pulls the glasses from Teddy’s vice like grip and replaces them with floppy bunny. He dries them and then slides them back onto Derek’s nose.
“’S’what I’m here for, boo.”
Teddy makes a gurgling noise and Stiles whirls around and yells boo again. Teddy screeches and Stiles grabs at him. “I’ve got you now, kid, you’re in my clutches and I’m never letting go. Wicked Witch of the West is gonna make you eat mashed peas for dinner, oh ho.”
“How sadistic and cruel of you, making sure your child eats his greens,” Derek says amusedly, flicking through the paper and then tossing it to one side to watch Stiles whirl the baby around the kitchen.
“He’ll never recover,” Stiles sits down opposite him, balancing Teddy on his knees. “You’ll never forgive me, right?”
Teddy smiles again and smacks Stiles on the forehead.
“Nooo, the villain has been slain!” Stiles drops to the floor, waving Teddy in the air, triumphant. “I dieeee.”
“You’re gonna give him nightmares.”
Stiles pops his head up and grins at him. “Nah, maybe a hero complex, just like his daddy.”
Derek glares at him and then screws up the sports section to throw at his stupid, smiling face.
“Kids, kids,” Stiles yells. “Wash up, and get your butts in here for dinner.”
“Butts,” Flynn sniggers from the den.
Derek rolls his eyes. “You’re giving them bad habits, you know.”
Stiles scrunches up his nose. “As opposed to teaching them how to lurk in dark corners and jump out at unsuspecting teenagers?”
“Oh shut up, that was like ten years ago.”
“You could use it as an insurance policy after the drugs talks,” Stiles says thoughtfully, yanking the chicken out of the oven. “Like, any kids you hear of doing drugs get a midnight visit from the terrifying Derek Hale.”
Derek jabs him in the side as he joins him at the kitchen counter and Stiles squirms away. “It was just a suggestion.”
“I’ll show you a suggestion.”
“Dad!” Flynn lunges at his legs and begins telling him about the Tom and Jerry episode they were watching whilst Violet sets the table.
(Derek hands her the placemats as she’s still too small to reach the top drawer and Stiles handles cutlery).
Teddy oversees the arrangements from his high chair and bangs his spoon when he feels he’s been ignored for too long. Stiles sweeps out four plates with veg and chicken, drops a kiss to the top of Teddy’s head and then pushes Flynn’s chair closer to the table for him.
Flynn nods and digs in as Violet takes the lead on dinner conversation.
“Alright,” Stiles zips up Violet’s coat and nods at the door. “You’ve got half an hour and then you guys are bathing, ok? There are baths in your future, are we agreed?”
“I hate baths.”
“I know, baby but ya gotta stay clean.”
Violet fixes huge dark eyes up at Derek and he shakes his head. “I’m on your dad’s side, baths are good.”
She glares at them both and for a second, Derek is convinced they’re going to have a very stroppy four year old on their hands, when Flynn peels out the door and into the back yard.
“Last one out is a loser, Violet.”
Violet screeches and yanks out of Stiles’ hands to follow her brother outside. “It doesn’t count. You cheated! Dad!”
“How about you both race to the fence and back,” Stiles suggests, leaning against the door frame. Derek wraps an arm around his waist and they watch the twins disappear off down the grass.
“Yeah, I got pretty good at being a mediator over the years,” Stiles replies drily, twisting to smirk at him.
“We weren’t that bad,” Derek protests.
“Pretty sure at one point you and Scott were going to wrestle in the mud and everything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for you all dirty and covered in mud but Scott,” Stiles pulls a face. “I really don’t ever need to see that. Or him writhing anywhere near you and your body covered in mud.”
His eyes go distant and Derek grins, bites at his shoulder. “Lose your train of thought?”
Stiles twists to kiss him and then ambles down the steps of the back porch to where Teddy’s attempting to eat a plastic truck. “You have got a thing at the moment haven’t you, crazy wolf?”
Teddy makes a pained noise and grabby hands, demanding the truck back.
“Only if you promise not to eat it,” Stiles says firmly, stretching out in the sandbox next to him.
Derek pushes the twins on their rope swing and considers the yard, wondering if they could fit a slide in for the summer.
When it starts to get dark, Stiles disappears inside with Teddy and Derek tunes in to Stiles giving a surprisingly accepting Teddy a bath. Of all three of their children, Teddy is definitely the most agreeable to being clean, which seems ironic considering he’s the one who eats crayons and throws potatoes at the wall.
“Higher, dad, higher!”
Violet rolls her eyes and Derek tries not to laugh, she looks exactly like him when she does that. “Please.”
“Danke,” he says easily in return.
“What does that mean?” Flynn demands.
“It’s thank you in German.”
Flynn frowns. “Why is it different?”
“Because people in other countries talk in different languages.”
Holy shit, he actually has no idea how to answer that?
“When you grow up in a different place, you learn a different way to do things, say things. You brush your teeth at a certain time but Alicia brushes her teeth at a different time.”
“Is that because Aunt Allison and Uncle Scott are German?”
“No, they’re just different kinds of parents.”
“Like you and Daddy are both boys,” Violet says wisely.
“Yeah, kind of.”
Flynn nods like he’s accepting the situation and then leaps from the swing.
“Can we see if there are any snails in the bucket?”
God his kids have such gross fascinations sometimes.
From inside Stiles makes airplane noises and Teddy gurgles happily. Stiles launches into an explanation of why planes stay up in the air just as Violet taps at one of the poor, helpless snail’s shells, curious to see what’s inside.
Makes sense really.
Despite their protests both Flynn and Violet accept their fate eventually and pile into the bathroom with Derek. He lets them splash about, attacking each other with the dumb plastic wolves Erica brought them back from Colorado while he shaves.
He gets rid of some of the haywire scruff and deems it acceptable.
Stiles likes the beard, Derek likes the beard; he doesn’t really care if it makes him look like a mountain man. Lydia can keeps her complaints to herself.
“Alright,” he drops down beside the bath and lets Violet pat foam all over his face.
“No, Santa’s older than me.”
He hears Stiles snort from the door and turns to glower at him. Stiles snaps a photograph and flees the scene before Derek can drown the camera.
Both Flynn and Violet are giggling like they’re in on the adult jokes and he shakes his head, smiling ruefully at them both.
“Come on, out you get before you prune.”
Once they’re both wrapped in towels they bury into his sides and he rubs a hand along each of their backs, trying to dry them off.
“Why I do declare,” Stiles says loudly. “It seems our children disappeared and we’ve gained two moles!”
They both snigger and squirm against Derek.
“I can’t believe it,” Derek says incredulously. “One minute they were here, the next, moles.”
“Well, we better go looking for them,” Stiles tickles at the two towels and both Violet and Flynn shriek, heads reappearing.
“Oh my god,” he yells in surprise. “They were here the whole time?! I could have sworn there were moles under those towels.”
They both leap at him and he collapses on the tiles, letting them jump on his chest. Derek leans against the wall, watching fondly.
“Little help?” Stiles wheezes eventually and Derek rolls up off the floor, sweeping Flynn up and into a fireman’s lift.
“Uh huh, bed time.”
“I don’t want to go to bed,” Violet’s stating behind them.
Stiles hums and looks down at her apologetically. “And I’m really sorry about that, sweetie pie, but if you don’t go to bed your eyes’ll fall out.”
“No they won’t!”
“They will, mhm, daddy had a friend that once didn’t go to sleep for four whole days and his eyes just, rolled right out of his head.”
Instead of sounding disgusted, Violet asks what they looked like.
Stiles is about to launch into a vivid description when Derek collapses on Flynn’s bed, with Flynn and throws a book at Stiles’ head. “What about a story with a little less blood hmm, daddy?”
Stiles sticks his tongue out at him and then settles onto Violet’s bed with the book in hand. “You wanna read with me?”
She nods, eyes serious as Stiles opens up The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
Stiles finishes the milk carton and drops it in the recycling bin. He stretches up, yawning, looking sleepily content. Derek’s gaze zeros in on the flash of skin revealed as his tee shirt lifts up and he automatically reaches out a hand to stroke across it. He trails his hand over the fine dusting of hair leading into Stiles’ shorts and Stiles sucks in a breath.
“Is this your way of distracting me so I don’t make you take out the garbage?”
Stiles twists round to wrap his arms round Derek’s neck. “You wanna do it together, baby? You want me to hold your hand all the way to the sidewalk and everything?”
Derek pushes him away, no heat in the gesture but he does glower at him. “It’s your turn anyway.”
“Na uh, I made dinner. I fed you, you clean up; that’s the deal.”
“What deal is this and when did I agree to it? Did you suggest it during sex?”
“Nope, it’s in the details on the marriage licence. I always told you to take a look at the fine print. See what happens when you don’t listen to me?”
Derek flicks his ear and heads outside to drag the bin out.
He can hear Violet muttering in her sleep and thinks it’s a blessing Flynn’s a heavy sleeper. Teddy snuffles and tosses over in his cot, Stiles is padding round the nursery, clearing up toys before he flicks off the side light and heads into their bedroom, texting someone.
Probably Scott to continue their discussion on Family Guy versus American Dad.
They have extremely long, serious debates over it.
Seriously, sometimes Stiles texting so furiously keeps Derek awake, or worse, prevents sex.
He locks up, house suddenly hushed and stumbles sleepily along to their bedroom, checking in on the twins and Teddy as he goes. Stiles grins at him when he closes their door, tosses his phone on the bedside table next to their wedding picture and his watch.
“All the chickens in their nests?”
“Yeah, you think Teddy’ll sleep through?”
Stiles shrugs, one of the sleeves on his tee shirt sloping off his shoulder. “Miracles have happened before.”
Derek nosedives onto the bed and buries his head against Stiles’ side. “So, did you write anything today?”
Stiles strokes his hand through Derek’s hair almost unconsciously. They’ve always been touchy feely in ways other couples he knows aren’t. He just likes to know Stiles is there, solid, human, and unbreakable to Derek. He curls an arm over Stiles’ waist, kisses his hipbone just because it’s there.
“Yeah, a bit. Translating Polish to Korean is a bitch, man. Especially when there’s a one year old who’d rather draw all over the carpet than listen to you explain pronouns to him.”
Derek snorts. “So, Erica wants to go surfing at the weekend?”
“Mmm,” Stiles shuffles until he’s lying down, switches off the sidelight and curves his hand round Derek’s neck. Derek doesn’t bother to move, just leans into the touch.
“And some kid in the twins’ class is having a party, her mom asked me about us going to help today.”
“I bet she did,” Stiles says, sounding like he’s laughing.
Derek sits up and stares at him. “What?”
“Derek, you’re the hot, ‘mysterious’ parent, they’re all gonna want you at their kid’s birthday parties just to watch you eat cake. I don’t blame them. You look hot when you eat cake. Mmm, cake,” he adds drowsily.
Derek jabs at his ribs and Stiles squawks. “What?!”
“She was hitting on me?”
“Yes, sweet naïve husband of mine, she probably was.”
“In front of my kid.”
“Schoolyard moms, baby, that’s what you get.”
“Well, we’re both going to pick them up tomorrow.”
“’Kay,” Stiles yanks on Derek’s shirt, pulls him on top of him. “Look at you all, defending my honour and shit. ‘S’hot.”
Derek smiles, kisses his cheeks, hands running through his hair. Stiles sighs into it, eyes still closed. “Yeah, keep doing that.”
Derek bends to kiss his collarbone, mouthing at the delicate skin at the bottom of his neck.
“Yeah,” Stiles slurs before his hands go limp and his breathing evens out.
Derek pulls back. “Stiles? Stiles.”
Stiles’ eyelashes flutter at him and Derek huffs out a laugh, rolls to the side and lets Stiles shuffle against him, head lolling onto Derek’s shoulder, Derek’s pillow.
He can’t bring himself to care.
When Teddy wakes at four, Derek goes and sits by the window with him, explaining about the stars and how Teddy isn’t allowed to tell his dad but Derek named a star after him for their anniversary next month.
Derek is surprisingly romantic sometimes, so Scott can shut up.
He wakes up with Stiles removing Teddy from his arms, yawning and patting the sleeping baby on the back before gently placing him back in the crib.
“What time is it?” he croaks.
“Six thirty,” Stiles whispers, pulling him back into the bedroom. “Get rid of your pants, we’ve got half an hour tops before anyone else wakes up.”
When they show up at the school gate at two the next afternoon, Stiles waves enthusiastically at an extremely shocked looking Elaine, and then fidgets with a large hickey on his neck until she moves to stand about as far away from them as possible.
Derek can’t help but smirk and drapes an arm over Stiles’ shoulders, pulling his shirt up until the bruise is barely visible.
“We’re so ruining our kids lives,” Stiles mutters under his breath.
Derek shifts Teddy around on his hip, let’s him chew on his tie and shrugs. “They’ll do ok I reckon.”