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No One Ever Said Parenting Would Be Easy

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Stiles paces back and forth, bouncing slightly with each step as he tries to soothe the crying infant in his arms, “Shhh, shhh.”  He brushes his lips over his daughter’s head, looking up as his father walks into the room.  Stiles takes the bottle from his hand, “Thanks, dad.”  He shifts the baby in his arms and nudges at her lips with the nipple, “Here you go, beautiful.  You hungry?”  His daughter instantly latches onto it and starts to suckle, “That’s my girl.”

The second the words are out of Stiles’ mouth, his daughter spits the nipple out of her mouth and resumes her squalling.  Stiles’ squeezes his eyes shut, frustration surging up inside him.  His father comes up next to him and rubs a hand over his shoulder, “Here, let me try.”

Stiles turns away from his father and snarks, “She’s my daughter!  How the hell am I supposed to raise her if I can’t even feed her?”

“Stiles, I know she’s your daughter.  I’m only trying to help, son.  You’re doing your best.  Believe me when I say that.”  His dad cups a hand on the side of neck and smiles, “I know you’re frustrated.  I wish there was some magic way for me to make it all better, but for now?  Let me help.”  His father holds both hands towards his granddaughter.  This time when his dad reaches for her, Stiles lets him take her.  His father croons softly, “Hey, pretty girl.  Why you giving your daddy such a hard time, huh?”

While the baby still won’t take the bottle, she does quiet in the sheriff’s arms.  There’s nearly inaudible snuffling and an occasional whimper as she settles.  Stiles stares at the pair of them, voice awestruck, “How do you do that?”

His dad shrugs, “I don’t know actually.”  Stiles chuckles when he sees that his daughter has a death-grip on her grandfather’s pinky.  “You decide what you’re gonna name her?”  Stiles shakes his head.  His father gives him a look and whispers to his granddaughter in a falsely cheerful voice, “You need a name, don’t you?  Yes you do.  Tell him, princess.  ‘Daddy, I’m nearly a week old.  I need a name, don’t I?  Yes I do.’”

Stiles rolls his eyes and huffs, “I can’t name her without Derek’s say so, dad.”

“So ask him.”  Of course when his dad says it, it makes sense.  “Go up and talk to him.  Besides, it’s dinnertime anyway.”  His dad brushes a kiss over the baby’s forehead and prods him gently, “I made two roast beef sandwiches for him and we have enough for more if he’s still hungry.”  Stiles nods and makes his way into the kitchen.  His father calls out after him, “Don’t forget to take him something other than water to drink.”

Stiles shakes his head with a laugh when he opens the fridge to see his dad has made a pitcher of the iced jasmine tea Derek likes.  He pours a glass of it and adds it to the tray sitting on the kitchen table.  Next to the plate of sandwiches, there’s a smaller plate with a rather large cookie on it.  Stiles picks up the tray and heads towards the stairs, pausing to tell his father, “Don’t think I don’t know the real reason you bought these cookies ‘for Derek’ when you went out today."

He hears his father telling the baby, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, daddy.  No idea at all.”

“I’m on to your tricks, grandpa!  Don’t think I’m not.”  The sound of his father’s laughter follows him up the stairs.  Stiles’ footsteps slow as he gets closer to the bedroom door.  He balances the tray on his hip and knocks softly, calling out, “Derek, you awake?”  There’s a lack of response from the other side of the door and Stiles opens it slowly.  He peeks in to see what kind of mood Derek is in, “I brought you your dinner.”

The mound of blankets doesn’t move and Stiles crosses the room to set the tray down on the nightstand.  He sits on the edge of the bed and there’s a faint growl from under the covers, “Leave the tray and get out.”

“Hey, come on, now.  Don’t be like that, Der.”  Stiles rubs over what he assumes is Derek’s leg, “Will you please come out and talk to me?”

The bed shifts as Derek pulls away from his touch, “Leave me alone, Stiles.  I just want to sleep.”

Stiles stands up, only to pull the covers up to slide underneath them.  He’s surprised to see Derek facing him, half his face obscured by the pillow.  “Hey you, it’s been a while.  How you been?  Sporting the rugged look I see.”  Stiles reaches to lightly scritch his fingers through Derek’s beard.

It’s no surprise that Derek pulls away with a scowl, “Don’t touch me!”

Stiles pulls his hand back and quickly apologizes, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  I forgot.  No touching.”  He licks his lips and whispers, “I miss you, ya know.”  Stiles attempts a smile and fails.  From somewhere downstairs comes the sound of their daughter screaming.  At the sound of the infant’s cries, Derek’s eyes briefly flash red, fading to blue before returning to their normal green.  “I can bring her up, if you want.  All you have to do is ask.”

Derek snarls, “I want nothing to do with that…thing.”  He bares his teeth menacingly.  “You keep it away from me.”  His nostrils flare and he snorts angrily, “If you bring it up here…”

Stiles holds up a finger to silence him.  “Don’t.”  He clenches his jaw, his whole body shaking as he speaks, “Don’t.  You.  Dare!”  Stiles throws the covers off and stands up, turning to face Derek, “You threaten my daughter and starving yourself won’t be necessary, I’ll kill you myself.”  With that, Stiles turns and heads towards the door, pausing to look over his shoulder one last time, “Hate me all you want, Derek, but don’t you dare take it out on that innocent little baby down there.  It’s not her fault you can’t deal with,” Stiles gestures around the room, “all this.”

He pulls the door open and Derek sits up to throw a pillow at him, “Get ouuuuuuuuut!”  The end of the word stretches into a howl and Stiles shakes his head when his tiny daughter answers the howl with one of her own.  The mournful little sound breaks his heart and Stiles pauses halfway down the stairs to sit.  He leans forward to rest his forehead on his knees and just gives in to the urge to cry.

 

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~

 

Stiles snaps awake, rolling onto his back as he tries to figure out what woke him up.  And then he hears it.  A tiny whimpering whine coming from the baby monitor on his nightstand.  He sits up, rubbing at his eyes and yawing as he stumbles out of the guest bedroom and down the hallway to the nursery.  The door is open and he’s speaking even as he crosses the room to the crib, “Heeeey, whatcha do-“

Stiles stops mid-sentence and just stares.  Instead of his raven-haired baby girl, there’s a wolf pup in the center of the crib.  The pup sees him and whines, shifting in place as if trying to stand.  Stiles takes a step back and his daughter whines louder.  A tiny yelping howl makes him rush forward and before he even thinks it through, Stiles is scooping the pup into his arms.  She wriggles in his grip and licks at the underside of his chin, a happy little yip escaping her.

“Hey, pretty girl, what happened?”  Stiles shifts his daughter in his arms and walks out of the nursery and down the hall to the master bedroom.  “Why you all wolfed out, huh?  Did something scare you?”  He nuzzles into her enthusiastic licks and whispers, “It’s okay, daddy’s here.”  Stiles murmurs soothingly into her fur, “Daddy’s here.  It’s okay, baby, daddy’s here.”  He takes a deep breath and his daughter whines, letting loose a scared yelp as he opens the door at the end of the hall.  “Hey, Derek?  I know you-“

Derek is coming out of the master bathroom when Stiles comes in.  His green eyes widen when he sees them and Stiles smiles nervously, struggling to keep the squirming wolf pup in his arms.  Their daughter wriggles and turns, finally noticing Derek standing there.  They both startle at the sound of their daughter’s excited bark.  Derek’s eyes flash red and he mutters, “Get out.”

“Derek, she needs you.  You haven’t been in the same room with her since she was born.”  Derek scowls and backs away from them, climbing back into the bed with a huff.  “Will you just look at her?!  She’s wolfed out and I don’t know how to get her to turn back.”

“I don’t care.”

Stiles sighs and tries again, “Babe, I have no idea what I’m doing and I know you’re scared, but I’m scared too.  I’m terrified actually.”  He swallows hard and tries to ignore his daughter’s eager whining when his steps bring him within a few feet of the bed.   Derek visibly cringes and moves to the other side of the mattress.  “I…” Stiles fights back his tears and whispers, “I can’t do this without you, Derek.  We’re supposed to be-"

Derek snarls, “I’ve told you over and over, I don’t want that thing in here!”

“Stop it!  Just stop it!  Stop calling her that!”  The pup in his arms yelps in surprise at the tone in his voice and Stiles takes a calming breath, rubbing his cheek over his daughter’s furry head, “Shhh, Tali, it’s okay.  Daddy’s sorry he raised his voice.  I didn’t mean to scare y-”

“What did you call,” Stiles glares and Derek finishes the question softly, “her?”

They stare at each other for a few tense seconds before Stiles answers, “I called her Tali.  You know, short for-“

Derek finishes his thought for him, “Talia.”  He presses his lips together and looks away, “You named her after my mom?”

Stiles shakes his head, “No.  I just needed something to call her.  She’s almost two weeks old and she still doesn’t have a name.  I wasn’t going to keep calling her ‘the baby’ indefinitely.”  He sees Derek’s nod, but most of his attention is focused on the pup in his arms.  Stiles tickles her belly, “Isn’t that right, sweetheart?”  His daughter responds to the attention and shifts to playfully snuffle at his bare skin.  She grunts softly and starts nosing at his chest, tongue lapping at his skin.  Stiles pets along her back and sits down on the edge of the bed, pulling her away with a hiss, “Tali, no!”

Talia falls back onto her haunches and whines softly.  Derek looks up curiously, “What happened?”

Stiles mutters, “Nothing.”

Derek’s eyes move to where Stiles is rubbing at his nipple and then to the wolf pup, “She bit you?”

“No, she didn’t bite me, you ass.”  Derek smirks, but it’s gone quickly.  If Stiles hadn’t been watching, he’d have missed it, “It’s just her trying to nurse.  She doesn’t understand that I, well…don’t have the equipment.”

Derek nods silently, his hand rubbing at his own chest.  Talia struggles to stand and takes a wobbly step towards Derek.  Stiles holds his breath and watches as she slowly makes it across the bed to her father.  Derek is tense, his eyes locked on the small pup and when he reaches a hand out towards her, Stiles sits forward, ready to rescue her if need be.  Scared green eyes flick up to his and Derek hesitantly asks, “She’s hungry?”

Stiles snorts a laugh, “Dude, she’s a baby.  She may be a pup right now, but yeah, she’s hungry.”  He moves closer, musing aloud, “She’s pretty much always hungry.”  Stiles reaches for her, “Come on, Squeaker, let’s go get you a bottle.”

He’s standing up when Derek’s question stops him, “Can I…?”

“Can you…?”  Stiles tilts his head and frowns, “…what, Derek?”  He looks down at him, then at his daughter and back at Derek.  Stiles belatedly realizes what Derek is asking.  His eyebrows lift, “What? You want to,” he gestures towards Derek’s chest, “nurse her?”

Derek opens his mouth and shuts it, face twisting.  He slouches down in the bed and mutters, “Never mind, it was a stupid idea anyway.”

Stiles shakes his head, “No.  It’s not a stupid idea, babe.  If you want to feed her then yeah, I’m all for it.  Totally on board, trust me.”  He climbs back onto the bed and sets Talia down on the mattress, “You have no idea how hard it is to get her to eat.”  Stiles watches as Derek sits up, rambling in his nervousness, “She won’t take the bottle half the time.  Deaton’s been helping us; trying out different formulas to see if we can find one she likes.  So far, it’s been kinda hit or miss.  Sometimes she’ll eat and sometimes she won’t.”

“How do I…?”  Derek makes an aborted gesture towards Talia and swallows audibly.  “I don’t know how to feed her."

“Well first things first.  You uh,” Stiles clears his throat, “first you have to take off your shirt.”  Derek pulls his t-shirt off and Stiles pats the mattress, giving him a reassuring smile, “Now just lay down on your side and let her do the work.”

Derek stretches out, head pillowed on one of his arms.  Talia trips over her forepaws in her rush to get closer to Derek and Stiles reaches out to right her, giving her a tiny shove on the behind.  She yips softly and bounds forward, her tiny snout lifting to sniff at Derek’s chest.  Talia’s making cute little snuffling noises and Stiles chuckles.  His daughter turns to look at him and barks before turning back to nose at Derek’s armpit.  “Stiles, I don’t think she knows what to do.”

“Oh trust me, she knows what to do.”  He smiles and waves his finger under Talia’s nose, pointing it at Derek’s nipple when he gets her attention.  Talia noses at Derek’s nipple and sneezes, promptly falling on her butt.  “Silly pup, I thought you were hungry.”  Talia yips and chews on his finger, “Were you just wanting to play?  Huh?  Is that it?  Silly girl, fingers are not for eating.”

“Maybe the reason she won’t eat is because,” Derek sighs, “maybe it’s me.”

“Hey, c’mere.”  Stiles shifts closer and cups Derek’s cheek, “It’s not you, okay?”

“How do you know?  What if the other two pups died because…” a pained noise escapes him and Stiles’ heart aches, “What if something’s wrong with me?”

Stiles leans forward and presses their foreheads together, “Oh, Derek, no.  It’s not you, Baby.  It’s not. “  He jokes softly, “Our daughter just happens to have inherited a bit of my ADHD.  Once she remembers that she’s hungry,” Talia chooses that exact moment to latch on and Derek winces as she starts to suckle.  “See?”  He smiles at Derek and whispers, “You okay?”

Derek nods, “Yeah.  It just feels weird.”  His eyes drift shut and Stiles sits up, hand petting along his daughter’s spine as she nurses.  He’s about to stand when Derek whispers, “Stay?  Please?”

“I’m just going to the bathroom.  I’ll be right back, okay?”  Derek nods and Stiles makes a quick trip to relieve himself before heading back to the bed.  He stretches out on his stomach and rests his head on both forearms.  His eyes lift to Derek’s face and he’s surprised to find his mate watching him.  He gives him a little half smile, “What?”

Stiles gets a dismissive shake of the head and a quiet, “Nothing.”

He nods and goes back to watching his daughter, who is now making these small grunting noises as she eats.  Stiles tenses when Derek reaches a tentative hand down.  He has to remind himself that his mate has every right to touch her but he still watches anxiously as Derek pets a single finger between Talia’s ears.  Stiles laughs at the look on Derek’s face when Talia whines in her throat.

He’s quick to reassure Derek, “She’s fine.  I call her ‘Squeaker’ for a reason.  Little Miss Talia, once she starts eating, doesn’t like to be disturbed.”

Derek pulls his hand away and nods, “Oh.  Sorry.”

“No need to apologize.  You didn’t know, but it’s okay,” Stiles tickles along Talia’s back, “she needs to switch anyway.”

His daughter turns to look at him and yips irritably.  Stiles keeps her from latching on once more.  Derek’s brows lift and he asks, “What do you mean switch?”

“Um, yeah,” Stiles clears his throat and gestures to Derek’s chest, “With one pup, you need to split the feed time between both sides so you don’t get…sore?”  He motions for Derek to roll forward until he’s on resting his weight on his elbows then nudges Talia to latch onto Derek’s other nipple.  His daughter is quick to get with the program and eagerly resumes her feeding.

Derek makes a face, “How do you know all this?”

Stiles shrugs, “Research.”  He smiles at Derek, “You know me; I love my research.  Deaton put me in touch with a mated Alpha pair in St. Louis.  Jennifer’s been really helpful, answering all my questions.”

The next few minutes are spent in relative silence; the only sounds are Talia’s little grunts as she eats.  Stiles pets over his daughter’s back, the touch light so he doesn’t bother her.  Talia stops nursing all on her own and Stiles turns onto his side as she stumbles awkwardly towards him to nudge at his hand.  He scoops her up and settles her close to his chest.  Talia yawns and looks around, seemingly confused.  She whines and snuffles at his hand.  Stiles shifts to bring his face close to her and whispers, “What is it, pretty girl?”

Derek looks over at them, brows furrowed, “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know.”  His daughter gives him a few whining barks and Stiles sits up, worry unfurling in his gut.  “Tali, baby, what’s wrong?”  He scoops her up and cradles her against his chest, “Tell daddy what’s wrong, yeah?”  Stiles is speaking into her neck fur and when Talia’s whiny barks get more urgent, he starts to panic.

“Stiles, I told you there’s something wrong with me!”

He looks up and opens his mouth to comfort Derek when Talia lets out a rather loud belch.  Stiles looks down at her and a nervous laugh bubbles out of him.  The wolf pup whines and then burps again, softer this time.  “Silly girl, you scared me half to death!”  He brings her up for a kiss to her nose and scolds her, “All that fuss because you had to burp?”

“She’s okay?”

Stiles looks over at Derek and nods, “Yeah.  Guess she just has to get used to the difference between the bottle and um…” he presses his eyebrows together and clears his throat, “you.”  Stiles hates that even after all he’s been through, he can still blush.  He doesn’t even notice that he’s rubbing a hand over Talia’s belly as he speaks.  “So…I uh…I guess we’ll go then and let you get back to sleep.”  Stiles stands up and heads to the door, his fingers still idly rubbing over his daughter’s belly.

They are a few steps from the door when Talia shifts back to her human form.  Stiles can’t suppress his small noise of surprise as he opens the bedroom door.  He turns to pull it shut behind him and finds Derek watching him, an unreadable expression on his face.  Stiles pauses to shift Talia up onto his shoulder and Derek’s eyes widen when he sees her.  “She shifted.”

One hand is on the back of Talia’s neck, “That she did.”  Stiles gives him a tight smile and steps out into the hall, “Good night, Derek.”  He pulls the door shut and is about to turn away when his conscience gets the better of him.  Stiles pushes the door open and steps into the room, “Thank you…for uh…for you know?”  He gestures to the sleeping infant, “I appreciate it.”

Derek is just staring at him and Stiles presses his lips together to keep from running off at the mouth.  With a nod, he turns to walk away.  From behind him he hears a quiet, “You’re welcome.”  He pulls the door shut and kisses the top of his daughter's head, murmuring to her under his breath as he makes his way to the nursery.

 

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~

 

It's an hour later and Stiles is lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling when he hears the floorboards in the hallway creak.  He sits up, tension running throughout his entire body.  Derek's shadow is visible underneath the door.  Stiles waits for the door to open, but it never does.  The quiet footsteps continue down the hall and Stiles nearly falls out of the bed in the mad rush to get to the nursery to keep Derek from doing something stupid. 

Down the hall, a door opens and Stiles trips over his feet on the way to the hallway.  Over the baby monitor he hears the cranking of Talia’s mobile, followed by the tinny sound of Brahms’s Lullaby.

Stiles pauses in the hallway and chews his bottom lip, indecisive on what to do.  His protective father instinct wins out in the end.  He heads to the nursery and finds Derek standing over the crib.  His mate looks up as Stiles comes to stand next to him and quickly backs away from the crib, “I wasn’t going to do anything.  I was just-"

“Hey, it’s okay.”  Stiles reaches for Derek and rubs a hand up his arm, fingers curling around his biceps.  He smiles up at him, “You were just watching her sleep.”  Derek nods.  “I do that too sometimes.”  Stiles tucks the baby blanket around the sleeping infant and muses aloud, “She slept in the guest bedroom with me for the first three days of her life.  I wouldn’t let her out of my sight.  Even with her in the same room, I was constantly going over to check on her, you know?”

Derek nods again, swallowing hard before whispering, “She’s so small.”

Stiles exhales a chuckle, “Yeah.”  He’s thought the same thing many times over and has said as much to his dad.  “I don’t think she’ll stay that small for long.  People keep telling me that time will fly by.”  Stiles shrugs, “Maybe that’s why I never let her out of my sight…so I won’t miss anything.”

Derek reaches into the crib and goes to cup his hand over Talia’s head, but stops just shy of making contact.  “I’m afraid to t-touch her.”  Stiles watches Derek’s face twist and he wishes he could take that insecurity from him.  “What if I hurt her?  Or what if she doesn’t like me?”  His bottom lip quivers, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“And you think I do?”  Stiles presses against Derek’s side and when his mate doesn’t pull away, he interlaces their fingers.

“You know more than me.”  Derek snorts derisively, “I didn’t even know how to feed my own daughter.”

“I know what I know because I asked.  If you were in my place, you’d have done the same thing, right?”  Derek squeezes his hand in lieu of an answer and Stiles bumps his shoulder against him.  “Don’t worry so much.  You’ll learn.  Trust me.”

Derek shakes his head and brokenly asks, “How can you so be so sure?”

Stiles turns and reaches up to push Derek’s hair off his forehead, “Because I have faith in you.”  He watches Derek’s eyes drift shut and smooths a thumb over his eyebrows.  “Always will.”

Chapter Text

Stiles yawns and rubs at his eyes, “Tali, please go to sleep.  It’s way past your daddy’s bedtime.”  His daughter pays him no mind, she simply gurgles happily and gums at his finger.  “Come on baby girl, it’s not playtime.  It’s bedtime.  That’s the time that daddy gets to do this awesome thing called sleep.”  Stiles watches his beautiful daughter and fights to keep his eyelids open.  He startles awake at Talia’s happy squeal and scoots down in the bed as he adjusts the baby across his lap.  She coos up at him, tugging on his finger.  Stiles whines softly, “Tali, please go to sleep.”

A soft knock on the bedroom door makes him sit up straighter, “I’m fine, dad.  You can head home.”

The voice that comes through the wooden barrier isn’t his father, though.  “Your dad already went home.”

“Derek?  What are you doing out of bed?”

Stiles looks over and watches the shadow of Derek’s feet shuffle underneath his bedroom door.  The answer he gets is slightly bitchy, “I’m allowed out of bed, Stiles.”

A tired laugh bubbles up and he agrees, “Yes, you are.”  Talia babbles up at him and Stiles calls out, “You can come in, you know.  There’s no need to loiter in the hallway like a creeper wolf.”

Derek opens the door and looks in, “You sure?”

Stiles nods at him and pats the bed, “C’mere.  Maybe you can convince our daughter to go to sleep.”

Derek crosses the guest bedroom and tentatively climbs onto the end of the bed, his eyes on Talia the whole time.  The infant catches sight of him and her face lights up, tiny hands reaching for him.  Stiles grins, “Who’s that, huh?  Who is it?  Is that papa?”  When Derek doesn’t reach for her, Talia’s expression changes.  She turns to look at Stiles and then back to Derek.  One chubby hand waves in Derek’s direction and when Derek still doesn’t respond, her face crumbles.  Stiles gets a split-second warning, in the form of a tiny lip quiver, before an ungodly scream erupts loud enough to cause Derek to wince.

Stiles sits up and lifts Talia up against his chest.  He stands up and starts pacing the room, “Tali, sweetheart, please stop.  You were doing so well.”  Stiles rubs a hand over his daughter’s back and crosses the room, bouncing gently.  He kisses the top of her head and whispers, “Papa just needs time, baby.”  Stiles moves back towards the bed and sighs when he sees Derek curled up in an effort to make himself as small as possible.  “I’m gonna go make her a bottle.”

Derek nods but doesn’t move from his spot.

Stiles makes his way to the bedroom door, patting softly over his daughter's diaper-covered bottom in an effort to calm her.  He turns at the last minute, “You can stay.  If you want-“ His words trail off at the sight of Derek standing by the bed with one hand pressed to his abdomen.

Derek looks up and awkwardly crosses both arms over his chest when he notices Stiles looking at the wet patches on the front of his t-shirt.  “I thought you were going to feed her?”

Stiles gapes at him and nods, “Uh, yeah.”  He takes a step towards the bed and gestures to Derek’s chest, “You okay?”  The closer he gets to Derek, the quieter Talia becomes.  He smiles and rubs a hand over her back, “She likes being close to you.”

Derek winces and takes a step backwards, “Yeah?”

Stiles nods, “Of course she does!  You’re her Papa Derek.”  He sits on the edge of the bed and pats the mattress, “Hey, c’mere.  Sit down.”  Derek looks at him suspiciously.  “You don’t have to feed her.  Not if you don’t want to.  Just watch her for a minute?”

Derek swallows hard and nods, carefully lowering himself onto the mattress.  “What do I have to do?”

Stiles turns to set Talia on the bed and stands up, “Just make sure she stays there.  She can’t do much yet so you should be fine until I get back.  Okay?”  Derek nods.  “I’ll be quick.”

“We’ll be here.”  He’s is a little surprised that Derek gives him a tiny smile before stretching out on the bed, forming a barrier between their daughter and the edge of the bed.  Stiles watches them for a few seconds and then heads downstairs to prepare Talia’s bottle. 

The chore is a familiar one by now and Stiles could probably do it without turning on the kitchen light.  He grabs one of the pre-measured bottles of powdered formula and pulls the fridge open to retrieve the gallon jug of distilled water.  The first time his father had brought home a box of the things, Stiles had laughed.  He never would have thought that he would be buying gallons labeled ‘baby water’ but here he is…pouring said water into his daughter’s bottle.  Stiles screws the nipple onto the bottle and shakes it gently as he puts the gallon back into the fridge, not even realizing that he’s humming as he warms the bottle under the faucet. 

A few minutes later and he’s jogging up the stairs.  He makes a detour to Talia’s nursery for a burp cloth before heading to the bedroom and nearly drops the bottle when he walks in.  Derek is leaning over Talia, fangs bared.  Stiles rushes forward and is about shove Derek off the bed, when he hears Talia coo joyfully.  Derek shifts back to human and when Talia waves her hands up at his face, he shifts once more.  Stiles watches as Derek noses at her chin and just barely holds himself back when Derek growls at her.  Talia squeals and kicks her feet contentedly.  Derek looks up and sees him, eyes widening at being caught.  He sits up too quickly and promptly falls off the edge of the bed with a brutal thud.

Stiles runs across the room and crouches next to him, “Oh shit!  Derek, are you okay?”  Derek nods, but refuses to look at him.  “You sure?”  Talia chooses that exact moment to express her displeasure at no longer being the center of attention.  Derek whines in response to her cries and Stiles presses his lips together, “Here, let’s get you up.”  Derek sits up slowly and Stiles lifts his chin, “Tell me the truth…how long has this,” he points to the fresh wet spots on Derek’s t-shirt, “been happening?”

Derek ducks his gaze, “A few days?”

Stiles sighs, “Baby, why didn’t you say something?”

Derek shrugs, “You have enough to worry about.  It’s not like it happens a lot…just when she cries.”

Stiles cups Derek’s jaw and opens his mouth to speak, but Talia screeches loudly.  Derek’s face twists in pain and Stiles huffs angrily as he stands, “Oh my goodness, Talia!  We’re right here!”  Stiles scoops her up and the infant instantly quiets.  “You’re such a drama queen, Tali.  Now hush.  Here.”  He offers the bottle to her and takes a frustrated breath when she turns away from it.  “Not now, Talia, please.  Just take the dam-”

“Maybe she doesn’t like that one?”

Stiles turns around and backs up a step when Derek is right there.  He takes a breath and snaps, “You want to try?  Be my guest.”  Stiles hands the bottle to Derek and thrusts the infant out towards him.  “You think you can do better, go right ahead.  I’ve had it.”  Derek is staring between him and the baby.  When Derek doesn’t take her, he sets her on the center of the bed.  “I’m tired, it’s been three days since I’ve had a shower and god knows how long it’s been since I had sex, so if you think you can do better, have at it!”  Stiles makes ‘go ahead’ motions with his hands and waits.  He’s more than a little surprised when Derek climbs onto the bed.

Stiles watches as Derek holds a finger up to his lips and tries to shush the infant.  Talia only cries louder and after a split-second of visible indecision, Derek shifts.  Instantly, their daughter quiets, eyes wide.  Derek’s voice is quiet when he asks her, “You hungry?”  He tries to offer Talia the bottle but she makes a face and refuses it.  “No?”  Derek sighs, “You don’t want that, huh?”  Stiles sees Derek glance up at him and quickly away before sitting up to strip his t-shirt off.  His hands are trembling, but human, when he reaches to pick her up.  Derek quietly tells her, “Okay, um, well, I should tell you I’ve never done this.  So…try not to move okay?”

It takes Derek a few tries but he finally picks her up, one hand under her head and the other cradling her butt.  Stiles takes a deep breath and moves around the other side of the bed, listening to Derek’s nervous rambling, “Oh.  Uhhh…hmm…not sure how I’m supposed to…”

“Here.”  Stiles scoots next to Derek and covers the hand on Talia’s butt with his own, “Move your hand, I’ve got her.”  Derek slowly does as he asks and Stiles tucks her in towards his chest, “Now, you have to hold her like that so you can see her while she eats.  Got it?”  Derek nods, adjusting his hands.  “Okay now, lift her up a little.”

Derek shifts Talia slightly and looks at him for guidance, “Like that?”

Stiles nods, “Yeah, now…” he clears his throat and rubs at the back of his neck, “Fuck, this is awkward.”  Derek blinks at him in confusion and Stiles mumbles, “I um…I have to touch you.”

Derek’s eyebrows lift and he looks down at Stiles’ hand, “Okay.”

Stiles moves closer and cups a hand under Derek’s pectoral.  Derek sucks in a breath and his eyes flutter shut.  “You okay?”  Derek nods.  “Does it hurt?”  Stiles gets a quick shake of the head.  “Look at me, please.”  Derek opens his eyes slowly.  “Now, when she opens her mouth, lift her up so she can latch on, okay?”

“Okay.”

Stiles teases Derek’s nipple over Talia’s lips and she instantly opens her mouth wide.  Derek lifts her up and groans softly when she latches on.  Stiles turns to speak against Derek’s ear, “It might hurt for a little bit, but it shouldn’t last long.”  Derek nods and leans in towards him.  Stiles moves his hand and smiles.  Talia’s gaze is locked on Derek as she nurses.  A few minutes pass and Derek still hasn’t moved away from him, so Stiles presses a kiss to the shoulder closest to him.  “You doing okay?”

Derek nods.  “Yeah.”  He turns to look at him, “Will it always feel this weird?”

Stiles shrugs, “I don’t know.  I guess you get used to it.”  He reaches to trace a finger down Talia’s forearm then cups a hand on the side of her head.  Her eyes are still focused on Derek’s face and Stiles is surprised by the surge of jealousy that comes out of nowhere.  He sits back and just stares down at his hands in silence.

“She stopped.”  Stiles looks up and follows Derek’s gaze down to their daughter.  Talia is still latched on, but her little jaw is no longer moving.  Derek looks at him, brows furrowed, “Stiles?”

Stiles leans forward and slips the tip of his finger into the corner of Talia’s mouth, twisting it gently until she releases her hold on Derek’s nipple.  He drapes the burp cloth over his shoulder and takes Talia from his arms, lifting her up to gently pat over her back.

“I guess I’ll leave you two alone, now.”

Stiles reaches out to stop him, pulling his hand back when Derek looks down at it pointedly.  “She’s not done,” he explains gently, “she just needs to burp before we switch her over.  Remember?”

Derek sits back down, “Oh.”  He nods, “Yeah.”  Stiles goes to pat Talia’s back and Derek asks quietly, “Will you show me how to…” he points toward Talia, fingers gesturing vaguely.

Stiles nods, “Sure.”  He shifts Talia and lets Derek take her, hands ready to catch her if need be.  “Put her up on your-” he prompts gently, “yeah, like that.  Now just pat her back until she burps.”  Derek touches his hand to Talia’s back and Stiles pats his forearm lightly, “Like that.  Just a little pat.”

“What if I hurt her?”

“You won’t.”  Stiles gives him a smile and offers up his arm, “but if you want to try on my arm first, go ahead.”  Derek taps his forearm and Stiles nods encouragingly, “Yeah, just like that.”  Derek reaches up and after two back pats, Talia burps softly.  Stiles grins, “There, see?  Now, hold her with your other arm and feed her the same way, just…backwards.”

Derek carefully shifts Talia in his arms, taking time to make sure she’s balanced before lifting her up slightly.  Stiles feels his heart melt when Derek whispers down at their daughter, “You still hungry?”  Talia reaches up to grab Derek’s pinky as he tries to mimic Stiles’ actions from earlier.  “Is that a yes?”  Derek’s motions are jerky but he manages to get Talia to latch on with minimal struggle, “There you go.  That what you wanted?”

Stiles watches and after a few minutes, lays back against the pillows, eyes drifting shut.  He’s half-asleep when the bed shifts under Derek’s weight, but his eyes immediately snap open.  Derek is pacing the bedroom with Talia up on his shoulder, hand pat-rubbing over her back.  His partner is speaking to her in a low voice, but Stiles can’t make out what he’s saying.  A smile lifts his lips and he shuts his eyes once more, half-listening to the sound of Derek’s voice.

He wakes up two hours later to the sound of Talia’s happy noises.  Stiles looks around and finds Derek reclined against the headboard next to him, Talia resting on his bent knees.

“Did we wake you?”

Stiles shakes his head, “No.”  He rolls onto his side, “How long has she been awake?”

Derek shrugs, “A few minutes.” 

“And she didn’t cry?”

“Nope.”

Stiles’ eyebrows lift, “Wow.  I’m impressed.”  Derek shifts uncomfortably and something occurs to Stiles, “Wait…have you been holding her this entire time?”

Derek nods, “She woke up whenever I tried to put her in the nursery.”

“Oh my…here,” Stiles sits up and takes the baby from Derek’s lap, “Tali, you know very well that you go in your crib after you eat.”  He stands up and goes to retrieve the portable bassinet from the walk-in closet, “You sneaky little…you think you can just take advantage of your papa just because he doesn’t know any better?  I can’t believe you pulled that on him!”  He drags the bassinet to the end of the bed and sets Talia down, shaking a finger at her, “Bad baby…bad.”  Talia gurgles up at him and kicks her feet as she gums at her tiny fist.

“I don’t mind.”

Stiles looks up, “What?”

“I don’t mind.”  Derek shrugs and shifts against the headboard, face twisting in a grimace. 

“Derek,” Stiles climbs back into bed, “I can tell you’re in pain, babe."

“It’s fine, Stiles.  Really.”

Stiles lifts Derek’s chin and drags a thumb over the corner of his mouth, “Where does it hurt?”  Derek shakes his head and Stiles repeats, “Where?”

“My…” he blushes and drops his gaze.

“Tell me.”  Stiles presses a kiss to Derek’s forehead, “You can tell me anything.  You know that.”

“I know.”  Derek looks up at him and takes his hand, guiding it to his lower abdomen, “Right there.”

Stiles goes to lower the waistband of Derek’s sweatpants and looks up, “May I?”  Derek nods and Stiles slides his hand under the elastic band.  He splays his hand over Derek’s skin, “Right there?”  Derek releases a soft little sigh and nods.  Stiles rubs his hand in small circles, thumb lightly caressing over the line of Derek’s c-section scar, “How’s that feel?”

“Better.”

“How about you lay back and get comfortable?”

Derek fidgets, “I can’t.  This bed is too hard.”

Stiles nods, “I see.”  He sits back, “If you want, we…I mean, you…” Stiles swallows and tries again, “You can go back to the master bedroom.”

“You’re,” Derek looks up at him in shock, “kicking me out?”

“No!”  Stiles rubs a hand over his face, “Not kicking you out.  Just, if you’re more comfortable over there, you can go back to bed.”

“Oh.”  He nods and sits up carefully.  Stiles watches him go and swallows back the lump in his throat.  Derek peers into the bassinet and waves to Talia.  She makes a tiny raspberry noise and babbles at the sight of Derek.  “G’night.”

“Good night, Derek.”

Derek nods and heads out, pausing in the doorway, “Stiles?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you,” Derek turns back, his teeth worrying over his bottom lip, “Do you want to come with me?”  He looks towards the bassinet, “Both of you?”  Stiles can’t help the surprise on his face, because honestly, the offer isn’t one he was expecting.  Derek sees his hesitation and backpedals, “Never mind, it’s okay.  Forget I asked.”

Stiles rushes over to him and cups his face, “No, Derek.  No ‘never mind’ okay?  Yes.  We’ll come with you.  Just give me a few minutes.  I’ll bring her to you and then come back for the bassinet.”

Derek opens his mouth and frowns, “You don’t want me to carry her?”

“What?  No,” Stiles looks up as he scoops Talia out of the bassinet, “I didn’t say that, babe.  Here,” He comes up next to Derek and offers the infant to him, “take her.  I’ll grab the bassinet and be right there.”  Derek’s hands reach for her and Stiles carefully transfers their daughter into his arms.  Talia squeals in joy and reaches for Derek’s face, one fist clutching at his beard.

“Why are you so fascinated with my facial hair?”

Stiles folds up the portable bassinet and laughs, “Probably because I don’t have any.  She notices the difference, I guess.”  He comes up next to Derek and jerks his chin towards the hall, “Move it, Hales.  You’re both standing between me and a trip to the bathroom.”

“Oh,” Derek moves out of the way, “sorry.” 

Stiles mouthes, “It’s okay.”

Derek gives him a brief smile and heads to the master bedroom.  Stiles hears Derek tell their daughter, “You have to promise not to hog the covers, okay?  Stiles, that’s the man you know as daddy by the way, already does that and even though I’m a werewolf furnace, I still like the feel of blankets on top of me.”  Stiles chuckles and shakes his head, listening as Derek makes conversation with the baby as if she’s an adult.  “So yeah, here we are.  Remember this room?”

Stiles sets the bassinet up by his side of the bed and ducks into the bathroom as Derek walks around giving Talia the grand tour.  He can hear Derek’s voice through the open door and he smiles, “I know you didn’t get to see much of it the last time, but this is where your daddy and I sleep.”  Stiles hears Derek’s shaky inhale, followed by a quieter explanation, “Well, we used to…until you were born.  I didn’t…I’m not sure what happened, but…after you were born, I didn’t want anyone near me.  I think I’m getting better…a little bit anyway.  I don’t sleep nearly as much as I used to and I miss your daddy a whole lot.” 

Stiles flushes the toilet and washes his hands, pausing by the open door to listen as he dries his hands.

“He’s an okay guy, your daddy.  I’m glad he’s ours, you know?”  Stiles blinks back tears and chuckles when he hears Derek whisper to Talia, “Even though he’s kinda stinky right now…he doesn’t always smell that way.  Most days he just smells like home and that’s a good smell.”

Stiles hangs the towel up and teases, “I smell that bad?”

Derek shrugs, “Not bad.  Just…more.”

Stiles scoffs a laugh, “You mean to tell me I always smell?”  He bumps Derek’s shoulder and mutters, “Geez, Hale, tone down the charm will ya?”

“I didn’t mean it like that!  I just,” Derek’s face twists and he shakes his head, “You smell like you, only stronger…and there’s an undertone of sweat.  Plus you smell like formula and Tali and kinda…” Derek looks up and away.

Stiles hooks his chin over Derek’s shoulder and urges gently, “Go on.”

Derek wrinkles his nose, “You kinda smell like dirty diapers.”

“No way!”  Stiles pulls away and sniffs at his own arm, “I don’t smell it.  Is it bad?”  He looks up and sees the smirk on Derek’s face.  Stiles squints at him, “You jerk!  I don’t smell like diapers, do I?”  Derek shakes his head.  Stiles growls at him playfully and mumbles, “You ass.”

Derek tucks Talia tightly against his chest, “Watch your language.”

Stiles laughs, “So you think you can watch the impressionable youth while I shower?”  Derek looks down at Talia and then up at him before nodding.  “Well in case you need anything, I’ll leave the door open, okay?”

“Okay.”

Twenty minutes later, Stiles steps out of the master bath feeling refreshed and utterly relaxed.  Derek is sitting in the armchair by the window, both feet up on the ottoman as he nurses Talia.  Stiles drags the towel over his chest and smiles at Derek when he looks up, “Well, look at you guys.”

“You don’t mind that I’m feeding her, do you?”

Stiles is quick to reassure him, “Of course not.  You’re the perfect one for the job, Derek.”  He drops the towel into the dirty clothes hamper and joins his family by the window.  Stiles perches on the arm of the chair and scritches his fingers through Derk’s hair.

His partner looks up, “She was chewing on my finger and making these little smacking noises with her lips.  I figured she might be hungry, so I-“

“You’re doing great, babe.  I’m proud of you.”

Derek blushes, “Yeah?”

“Mmm hmm.”  Stiles palms over the curve of Derek’s shoulder, squeezing gently, “I love how she stares at you while you’re nursing.”

“Me too.”  Derek leans into his touch, voice quiet when he admits, “It’s like she doesn’t care that I’m a fucked up, you know?”

“Derek…you’re not,” Stiles slides to the floor and kneels next to the armchair, “Baby, this wasn’t your fault.  Lots of mothers suffer from postpartum depression.  I think the reason you took it harder was because you’re an Alpha male…I don’t know, maybe the hormones were too much and…” he reaches to wipe at Derek’s tears, blinking back his own, “…losing Tali’s littermates wasn’t easy; on either of us.  I have no idea how much harder it was for you, but you have to know it wasn’t your fault.”

Derek sniffs softly and a small laugh escapes him, “You’re too good for me…you realize that?  Most mates would have taken off and left me to fend for myself.”

“Yeah well, I’m not ‘most mates.’  You should know that by now.  I happen to think we’re a perfect mated pair.”  Stiles smiles at Derek’s look of surprise, “We balance each other out, wouldn’t you agree?”  Derek ponders that for a second, nodding after a heartbeat.  “And just look at the beautiful kid we made.  We’re freakin’ awesome, dude.  She’s perfect.”  He leans forward and kisses Derek’s cheek, “Good job.”

Derek chuckles and carefully lifts Talia to his shoulder, hand rubbing over her back, He nuzzles into her neck and breathes deep.  His voice is thick with emotion when he says, “She smells like pack.”

Stiles stands up, “Well, good.”  He brushes a hand over Derek’s forehead and smiles, “You need anything?  Hungry?  Thirsty?”

Derek pats over Talia’s back and looks up at him, “Now that you mention it, I am a little hungry.”

“How about I see if there’s any meatloaf left or do you want something else?”

“Meatloaf’s fine.”  Stiles nods, pausing when Derek calls after him, “Stiles?”

“Yeah?”

“Will you see if there’s any mashed potatoes left?”

“Sure.”

“…and one of those corn bread rolls your dad makes?  If there’s any left.”  Stiles goes to leave and stops when he realizes Derek isn’t done, “And maybe some of the jasmine tea he makes?”

Stiles smiles, “Anything else?”

Derek opens his mouth and shakes his head, “No.  That’s it.”

“Be right back.”

Stiles heads downstairs and sets about preparing a plate for Derek.  He puts two pieces of meatloaf onto a plate and then adds a third one for good measure.  Stiles spoons the last of the mashed potatoes onto the plate and sets the timer on the microwave.  Sadly, his search for the cornbread comes up empty.  He’s in the middle of pouring Derek a large glass of tea when the microwave beeps.  Stiles carefully puts the food on the bedside tray and makes his way up the stairs.  Derek is setting Talia into her bassinet when he walks in.

Stiles puts the tray on the nightstand and joins Derek, “Go eat.  She’ll be there when you’re done.”

Derek moves to his side of the bed and picks up his tray.  Stiles is a little surprised when his mate returns to the armchair.  After briefly setting the tray on the floor, Derek lifts it onto the ottoman once he’s moved it closer.  Stiles sits on the edge of the bed and lies back with a tired groan.

“You’re not going to eat?”

“It’s almost three in the morning, Derek.”

“Oh yeah.”  Derek clears his throat and Stiles lifts his head, “I probably shouldn’t be eating this late, huh?”

“Babe, if you plan on nursing Talia, you can eat whenever you want.  Hell, even if you don’t, you can eat at all hours of the day.  You don’t need my permission.”  He smiles, “Now finish you food.  I worked hard on that.”

Derek’s brows lift, “You made this?”

Stiles nods and lies back down, “Well…I reheated it for you.”  Derek laughs and Stiles dozes off to the sound of clinking silverware.  He doesn’t even feel when Derek nudges him into the bed and under the covers, simply moves on autopilot and drifts to sleep with the warmth of his werewolf furnace wrapped around him.

Chapter Text

Stiles wakes up slowly, turning to rub his face into the pillow.  He groans softly and shifts onto his side, bleary eyes landing on the alarm clock on the nightstand.

7:35am

“Oh shit!”  Stiles sits up and tosses the covers off.   His left leg refuses to disentangle from the bed sheet and as a result, he very nearly falls flat on his face, catching himself at the last second with a hand around the bed post.  His eyes seek out the empty bassinet beside the bed and that’s when it dawns on him that he’s in the master bedroom.  Stiles looks around and sure enough, he’s the only one in the both the bedroom and the master bath.  He stumbles out of the room and down the hall to the nursery, only to find it empty as well.  His heart is pounding as he rushes to the stairs.

The sound of his dad’s voice reaches him about halfway down, “You want the rest of the bacon?”  Derek’s answer is a quiet little rumble, but Stiles can pretty much imagine what his answer was.  His dad, of course, does his best to reassure Derek, “I can always make more when Stiles wakes up.  If he ever wakes up, that is.”

Stiles takes the rest of the stairs at a more sedate pace, trying to not make any noise.  Derek’s voice is carefully bland when he says, “He’s awake.”  The sheriff makes a noise when Derek continues, “He’s actually loitering on the stairs.”

A few seconds later, his dad peeks around the doorway and Stiles lifts a hand to wave.  His dad’s eyebrows lift and he disappears back into the kitchen, “Huh.”  There’s a small chuckle and then, “I will never get used to the fact that you can do that.  It’ll come in handy when Talia gets older, trust me.”

Stiles scratches a hand through his hair and takes the last few steps into the kitchen.  He waves when both men look up at his entrance, “G’morning.”  Stiles crosses the room to crouch next to Talia’s swing.  He tickles her tummy, “Good morning, beautiful.  Daddy’s sorry he overslept.”  His daughter coos at him and Stiles ducks his head to kiss her bare feet, “You hungry?”  He grins down at her and pitches his voice higher, “I bet you’re hungry.  Are you hungry?  C’mere, Squeaks.”  Stiles works the buckle loose and eases his daughter into his arms.

Behind him, Derek clears his throat nervously, “I uhh…I already fed her.”  Sitles looks over at him, “She woke up crying and you were asleep and I didn’t want to-“

Sheriff Stilinski interrupts him with a hand on his shoulder, “You did very well, Derek.” 

Derek looks up at the older man, but still turns to look at him for verification.  Stiles stares at Derek, mouth falling open slightly, finally shaking himself out of his thoughts when his dad turns to glare at him.  Stiles squints at his dad, whose eyes are flicking meaningfully between the two of them, “What?”  He eventually catches on, “No…I mean, yeah, it’s fine.”

Stiles’ dad rolls his eyes in exasperation and puts the last three pieces of bacon on Derek’s plate before turning back to the stove with a huff.

Derek looks down at his breakfast and back up at him.  He lifts his plate and holds it out towards him, “You want some bacon?  It’s pretty good, even though it’s turkey bacon.”

He’s reaching out to take a piece when his dad turns around and smacks the back of his hand.  “That’s Derek’s.  If you want breakfast, you can make it yourself.”

Stiles pulls his hand back and shakes it, “Ow!  What the hell, dad?!”

His father points to Talia, “Put her down.”  Stiles looks at his daughter and back, eyes widening at the tone in his father’s voice, “Stiles.”

He bends to strap Talia into the swing, pressing the button to start the gliding motion.  Stiles taps his daughter on the nose and when he doesn’t immediately stand, his father wraps a hand around his upper arm to pull him up.  His dad starts walking out of the room, and Stiles stumbles a few steps, but allows himself to be dragged into the living room without a struggle.

His father shoves him down into one of the armchairs and hisses, “You are such an ass!”  Stiles goes to stand up and stops when he sees the way his dad’s jaw clenches.  “I swear to god, sometimes I wonder how the hell that man puts up with you!”

“Hey!”

“Shut up!  I’m not through,” Stiles presses his lips together and keeps quiet, “Can’t you see how all of this has affected him?  Jesus Christ, Stiles, all you have to do is look at the way he is around you.  He’s afraid you’ll yell at him for doing something wrong.”  His father pauses to take a breath and pinches the bridge of his nose, “You need to tell him it’s not his fault, tell him he didn’t do anything wrong, tell him how much you still love him, tell him that you’ll get through this, tell him…” Stiles opens his mouth to speak, but his father isn’t done, “tell him something…anything…just please talk to him, son.  He needs you.  They both do.”

“I know.”

“You should have seen how proud he was this morning.”  His father wipes a hand over his face, “I went in to ask what he wanted for breakfast and he was sitting in the chair by the window with Talia asleep in his arms.”  Stiles’ lips curl in a smile at that and his father notices.  “You didn’t tell me he was nursing her.”

“He wasn’t.  Not until last night.  I mean, he’d done it one other time, but I didn’t want to push him to do something he wasn’t ready for, ya know?  So I just…” Stiles shrugs, “I figured he’d come around eventually.”  He takes a deep breath and blows it out slowly, “I know I’m fucking this up, dad.  Believe me, I do.  You think I wanted all this?”  Stiles leans forward, dropping his head into his hands.  Tears spring into his eyes, “Trust me, this isn’t how I pictured my post-college life.”  A choked sob escapes him, “I’m up all hours of the night, but instead of clubbing and having fun with my friends, I’m dealing with a fussy baby.  I love my daughter, really I do, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world, but sometimes I just need a break.”  He sits back and scrubs at his eyes angrily, “I go days without sleep and then when I do sleep, I wake up more tired than before.”  Stiles shakes his head and shuts his eyes, “Derek hates me and I’m sorry that I’m such a disappointment to you but…I’m only twenty four years old!”  Stiles looks up at his father and chokes out, “Two of my babies are dead and all I want is…all I want is…” 

“Stiles,” his dad rushes forward to hug him, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, son, but you can’t keep all of this in.  You need to talk…both of you.”

Stiles sobs into his neck, “I wish mom was here.”

His dad rubs a hand over his back and whispers, “Me too, kiddo.  Me too.”

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~

“Hey, Stiles?”

“Yeah?”  Stiles is in the middle of balancing the checkbook, but he looks up at the sound of Derek’s voice.  His partner is lingering in the doorway to the office, “Whatcha need, babe?”

Derek takes a step into the room and shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans.  “I was wondering if you were gonna come downstairs for dinner?  You’ve been hiding in here for a couple of hours and well…”

Stiles takes in what Derek is wearing and swallows hard.  His partner is wearing a pale blue t-shirt that is stretched tight across his chest and about an inch too short, leaving skin visible between the bottom of the shirt and the waistband of his jeans.  Stiles licks his lips and clenches his jaw, eyes drifting shut as he struggles to calm his breathing.

Derek actually has to repeat his name twice to get his attention, “Stiles?”

“Yeah?”  Stiles opens his eyes to find Derek leaning on a corner the desk.  He smiles up at him, “I’ll be down in a minute, okay?”  Derek nods, but doesn’t leave.  Stiles reaches for the checkbook and goes back to his task, asking distractedly, “What did my dad make for dinner?”

“You dad didn’t make dinner.”  Stiles looks up and Derek smiles nervously, “I did.”

Stiles shuts the checkbook and sits back in his chair, “Oh, really?”  Derek nods again, moving between him and the desk; Stiles spreads his legs to give Derek more room.  “Did you grill up some burgers?”  At Derek’s tiny blush, he laughs, “I guess I should hurry then, huh?  Before dad eats them all.”

“Uh…” Derek licks his bottom lip, “I sent him home.”

Stiles’ brows lift, “You sent him home?  That must have gone over well, what with how much he loves your burgers.”

Derek shrugs, “I sent him home with two; plus fries, a slice of cake and enough bottles to last until tomorrow night.”

“Enough bottles to…” Stiles’ eyes widen, “You…you gave my dad booze?”

Derek shakes his head, “Nope.”

“Bottles of what, then?”

Derek sighs and hooks both thumbs into the belt loops of his jeans, leaning forward to whisper in his ear, “I ordered a breast pump online and I’ve been putting it to good use while you’ve been at work.  We have the whole house to ourselves for the night.”

Stiles sits back and just gawks, “You mean to tell me…” He looks down at Derek’s chest and back up.  Derek smiles with a nod.  “H-how long have you been…?”

“Two weeks?  Maybe a little more.”  Derek stands up and when his partner notices him focused on the sliver of skin on display, he drags his fingertips over it.  Stiles clears his throat, clenching his fists even while his eyes follow Derek’s fingertips as they disappear under the t-shirt.  Derek’s voice is shaking when he murmurs, “Stiles?”

Stiles looks up to find Derek watching him, “Yeah, babe?”

Derek’s brows lift and he looks so sad when he asks, “Do you not find me attractive anymore?”

“What?  No!  Of course I do, Derek!  Why would you ask me that?”

“Well,” he shrugs, “we’ve been sleeping in the same bed for almost two months and…” Derek’s face twists, “you haven’t touched me.  I mean…you give me backrubs and quick little kisses when you wake up and before we go to sleep, but that’s it.  I know I don’t look the same as before, but I’m trying.  I really am, Stiles…And I just wanted you to know that,” Derek takes a breath and offers quietly, “if you need to, you know…go somewhere else for help with that because I’m just not doing it for you anymore…you can.  I won’t say anything.  Just…please don’t do it in our house?”

Stiles stands up and kisses Derek silent.  His hands frame either side of his face, tongue shoving in and darting out.  “Don’t ever think that,” he licks at the corner of Derek’s mouth and smirks at the small gasp it elicits.  “I have a sexy-ass werewolf in my bed,” Stiles sucks Derek’s bottom lip into his mouth and chuckles at the whine he gets in response, “why the fuck would I go anywhere else, huh?”

Derek follows his mouth when he pulls back, “I don’t know.”

Stiles kisses him, one hand fisting in Derek’s hair as they break apart, “You will never ‘not do it’ for me, babe.”  He smiles down at the glazed look in Derek’s eyes, “I didn’t want to rush you.”  Stiles rubs his nose along Derek’s jaw and grins at the breathy little moan, “I figured you would come to me when you were ready.”

Derek’s fingers are fumbling with Stiles belt, his words tumbling out, “I’m ready, no rushing, I’m good as new, I swear.”  He nods and shoves a hand into Stiles’ jeans, “Deaton says it’s okay and-” Derek looks up, face twisted in confusion and slowly pulls his hand free, “You’re not hard.”

“Not yet.”

“But…y-you always get hard when we kiss.”  Derek’s face twists, brows pressing together, “Is it different?  Kissing me now?”

Stiles puts a finger over Derek’s lips, “Oh, babe.  You know I love you, right?”  Derek nods and Stiles kisses him softly, “Do you trust me?”

Derek whispers against his lips, “With my life.”

“Good.  Now,” Stiles takes a step back and slowly pulls Derek’s shirt up and off, leaving him naked from the waist up, “can I do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while?”  He gets an eager nod.  Stiles watches Derek as he leans forward to flick his tongue over one of his nipples.  Derek hisses, his mouth dropping open when Stiles laps over its mate.  “This okay?”

Derek nods, “Yes.”

Stiles wraps his lips around Derek’s nipple and sucks gently, grinning when Derek’s hips thrust forward.  He lifts his head and whispers, “Do you have any idea how fucking hot you look while nursing our daughter?”  Stiles drags a thumb over one slick nipple and flicks his tongue over the other one, teasing it with just the tip of his tongue before sucking it into his mouth.

Derek arches up into the contact and whines brokenly, “Stiles.”

Stiles lifts his head, letting the swollen nub to slip free of his lips, “Yes, Derek?”  He kisses a line up the center of Derek’s chest and smiles when the teasing causes him to pant against his neck.  “You wanted to ask me something?”

Derek nods and kisses him, “C-can I please…”

“Can you please,” Stiles sucks on Derek’s earlobe, pulling back to whisper, “what?”

Derek swallows hard and when he opens his eyes, the irises are glowing red, “I want to…I need,” Derek’s face is fraught with naked want and Stiles kisses him, giving Derek the time to gather the courage to ask for what he really wants.  Derek breaks the kiss to breathe out, “Stiles…”

Stiles traces his fingers over Derek’s face, “Tell me what do you need, baby.  Whatever it is, I’ll give it to you.”  He presses their foreheads together and soothes Derek when tears well up in his eyes, “Shhh, it’s okay.  I’m right here.  Tell me what’s the matter.”  Derek’s hands are trembling when they reach up to cover his, “Talk to me, Derek.  Tell me what’s wrong.”

“I…I l-love you s-so, so much.”

“I know that.”  Stiles groans softly into the kiss Derek bestows upon him, pulling away to reassure him, “I’ve known that for quite some time, babe.”

Derek gives him a watery smile and when he still doesn’t speak, Stiles kisses him.  “Did you know that I used to worry that some day I’d wake up and all this would be a dream?”  Derek shakes his head.  “I did.”  Stiles chuckles, pressing forward when Derek eases up onto the edge of the desk, “Yeah.  I was afraid, that while I was away at college, you’d come to your senses and dump me.”

Derek whispers, “Never.”

Stiles shrugs and admits, “I was scared that you’d find some gorgeous werewolf mate and decide that a scrawny human wasn’t worth your time.”

Derek smooths both hands over his shoulders and down to his biceps.  He grins and assures him, “You’re not scrawny.”

Stiles laughs, “Yeah, well, not anymore!”

Derek chuckles and shifts both hands to splay over his chest.  Stiles leans into Derek’s touch and simply lets the warmth soak through the fabric of his shirt.  His eyes drift shut and a happy moan escapes him.  He loses track of how much time passes, opening his eyes only at the the sound of his name, “Stiles?”

“Yes, Derek?”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course.”  Stiles cups a hand on Derek’s cheek, “You can ask me anything.”

Derek takes a breath and nods, steeling himself.  “Do you think there’s something wrong with me, on a cellular level?  Maybe something that caused it…our babies dying, I mean.”

“No,” Stiles clenches his jaw, “Derek.  Honey, it’s not your fault.  Deaton explained it to us, remember?”  Derek looks up at him, worry etched in his face.  Stiles pulls him into a hug, “Sometimes it just happens.”  He cards a hand through Derek’s hair and whispers, “I don’t blame you.  I never have and I never will.  If I could take all that pain away from you, I would.  In a heartbeat, Derek.”

Derek’s arms wrap around his waist, face pressing into his chest, “I’m glad it was me.”  Stiles tries to look into Derek’s eyes, but his arms tighten around Stiles to keep him in place, “Deaton said that if it had been you, it probably would have killed you.  The only reason I’m alive is because of my werewolf healing.”  Derek’s words are hesitant, but after a breath, he continues, “I don’t think I would survive if I lost you.”  His voice cracks and Stiles blinks back tears, “Losing our babies was one thing but…losing you?”  Derek’s whole body shudders and Stiles rubs a hand down along his spine to calm him, “I need you to promise me something.”

Stiles knows, even now, that whatever Derek wants, he’ll gladly give it, “What’s that?”

“Promise me that you’ll let me try again?”  Derek looks up at him, tears glistening in his eyes, “Not right away, but…someday?”  Stiles nods.  “Yeah?”

“Yes.”  Stiles smooths Derek’s hair back, “When you’re ready, we’ll try again.”  He leans in towards his mate, “I’ll fuck you so good, baby.”  Derek’s face twists in embarrassment and Stiles kisses him briefly, words filling Derek’s mouth, “I can almost see you…on your hands and knees…ass in the air as I fucking pound into you.”  Derek moans softly and Stiles grins, “You’ll come so hard on my dick…that tight little ass squeezing around me as I fill you up,” Derek’s legs tighten around him and his hands clutch at Stiles’ shoulders, “fatten you up with pups.”  At the mention of pups, Derek gasps brokenly.  “Would you like that?  Hmm?  Would the Big Bad Alpha like it if his human knocked him up again?”

Derek lets loose a sobbing moan, mouth pressing kisses up along the line of Stiles’ throat.  Both hands slide under Stiles’ polo shirt and his fingers spread over bare skin, inching the garment up slowly.  He sucks a mark on Stiles’ jaw and another just below his ear.

Stiles leans into it, head turning towards Derek for a kiss, but his mate ducks to press open-mouthed kisses to his chest instead.  He rakes his fingers through Derek’s hair, nails scratching at his scalp in an effort to get his attention.  Derek is tracing Stiles’ triskelion tattoo with the tip of his tongue and is making these small rumbling growls in his throat, but he looks up when Stiles says his name.

His irises are glowing faintly, face shifted with fangs exposed.  Stiles ducks his head to press light kisses along Derek’s brow and down along the bridge of his nose.  The skin slowly shifts beneath his lips and he lifts his eyes to meet Derek’s, “There you are.”

“I’m sorry.”

Stiles kisses him, “No need to apologize.”  He smiles and asks teasingly, “I know your control wavers when you’re excited, babe, and how long has it been since we last had sex?”

Derek’s brows furrow and he shrugs, “Two months, maybe?”

Stiles steps back, voice muffling as he strips his polo off, “Try four.”  Derek looks up in surprise and Stiles repeats, “Four.”

“That long, huh?” Stiles nods.  Derek swallows hard and gives a shaky laugh, “I guess I lost track of time while I was-“

“Hey,” Stiles waits until Derek is looking at him before telling him, “forget all that.  We can talk about it later, but right now?”  He drags fingertips along the angle of Derek’s jaw, “Right now, I want you naked on the bed.”  Derek sits up and is off the desk and walking to the bed in two seconds flat.  Stiles watches the play of muscle under Derek’s skin as he strips.  He comes to stand in front of where Derek is sitting on the edge of the bed with both hands draped over his lap.  Stiles’ voice is quiet when he says, “Get under the covers.”

Derek instantly obeys, eyes locking on his as he does.

Stiles unfastens his jeans and pushes them off his hips.  He steps out of them and looks up to find Derek staring at him.  “You okay?”  Derek nods and Stiles offers, “If this gets to be too much, all you have to do is say ‘stop’ and I will, understood?”  Again Derek nods, but Stiles needs more than that, “Say it.”

Derek sits up, bed sheet pooling in his lap, “I understand.”

“Good.”  Stiles nods and strips his underwear off before climbing into bed with Derek.  “Now, where were we?”

Derek pushes him onto the mattress and kisses him, “You were about to lie there while I sucked you off.”

Stiles hums in appreciation and lies back onto the pillows, both arms under his head, “Mmm, I like the sound of that.”

Derek laughs softly and kisses down his belly, breath ghosting along his skin.  He noses at the jut of Stiles’ hip and then presses his face into the short curls at the base of his dick.   Stiles lifts his head when Derek speaks, “Now, if this gets to be too much, all you have to do is say ‘stop’ and I will.”

He shoves a hand against Derek’s shoulder and mutters, “You better not.”  Derek snorts and before Stiles can say anything else, his partner’s mouth is on him.  Stiles’ tosses his head back, eyes squeezing shut at the feel of Derek’s lips sliding up and down.  It’s been so long since he’s had this but he hasn’t forgotten how good Derek is at giving head.  His mouth drops open in a moan, teeth snapping shut at the feel of Derek swallowing around him, “Shit, fuck!”

Derek slides up and off, lips moving along the ridge of Stiles’ cock, “I’ve missed this.”  Stiles lifts his head, hissing between his teeth when Derek licks him, “I missed your noises,” Derek grins, fangs descending into view, “your smell,” Stiles eases onto his elbows, watching Derek lick and suck at his balls, “your taste,” and he knows what’s coming even before Derek’s tongue skates back to probe at his hole.

Ohmygod!”

Derek laughs, breath gusting over Stiles’ groin and growls, sucking him down in a single go.  Stiles gasps and reaches for Derek’s hair, fisting a hand in the dark locks.  The eyes that lift to his are fully human and Stiles watches as Derek eases off him.  “I’d never hurt you, Stiles.”

“Holy shit,” Stiles falls back onto the bed with a laugh, rubbing a hand over his face, “I know that…I thought you…oh god, I don’t know what I thought.”

Derek crawls up, bracing both hands on either side of Stiles’ head, “You thought I still had a mouthful of fangs.”  Stiles shakes his head and Derek smirks, “Liar.”

Stiles chuckles, pulling Derek down for a kiss, “Cheater.”

“It’s not cheating…it’s simply using all my skills at my disposal.”

“Oh yeah?”  Derek nods smugly.  Stiles squirms, one leg coming up to wrap around his hip, “Care to show me what other skills you have at your disposal, Mr. Hale?”  Derek’s lips quirk and Stiles twists to flip their positions, hands pinning Derek’s wrists to the bed.  Stiles freezes at the grimace that Derek tries to hide, instantly releasing his wrists and sitting back, “Did I hurt you?”

“No, not hurt.”  Derek lifts up to kiss him, “I might have overdone it with the pull ups.”

Stiles arches a brow, “You’ve been working out?”

Derek drops his head back onto the pillow, squinting up at him suspiciously, “Don’t you dare.”

Stiles grins and leans in to sing-song, hips rocking side to side in rhythm with his words, “You’re sexy and you know it.”

Derek groans in exasperation, fighting a smile, “You’re an idiot.”

“Yeah,” Stiles kisses him and whispers, “but I’m your idiot.”

“Good to know, Mr. Stilinski.”  Derek wraps both arms around him and takes a deep breath, face pressing into the base of his throat, “Very good to know.”