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3 Idiots and a Baby

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There were a million different scenarios which flooded Stiles’ mind after Scott quite literally dragged him out of his warm comfortable bed on the insistence that Derek needed them in the preserve. Or, more accurately, Scott was supposed to fetch Stiles and bring him to the burned out shell of Derek Hale’s childhood home. Each scenario grew more and more dire the nearer they approached the house. A witch with a bone to pick, an enraged tree spirit, or fuck...another alpha pack.

This, Stiles decided, his brows climbing ever increasingly towards his hairline as he peered down into the cardboard box on Derek’s rickety porch, was decidedly not one of them.

“What is it?” Scott asked, his head cocked to the side with his patented bewildered squint set in place.

Stiles didn’t need to look up to feel the force of Derek’s put upon eye roll, instead puffing out the breath he’d been unconsciously holding in, hands resting on his hips to make himself feel a little more centered. “That Scotty, would be a baby.”

“But like a…human baby?” Scott asked, bending at the waist to peer down further into the basket at the pink swaddled lump, the infant somehow still miraculously asleep.

“No, idiot,” Derek snapped. “A werewolf baby...and don’t touch it, the last thing we need is to get our scent on some other Were’s pup.”

This time Stiles did glance up, fixing Derek with a look so smug and mocking it required direct eye contact for full enjoyment on his part. “Pup? Seriously big guy?”

Derek squinted further at him, his mouth clenched so hard it actually clicked. “Shut up.”

“But how did it get all the way out here?” Scott continued, completely oblivious to the eyebrow war going on between Derek and Stiles. “And like…who would just leave their baby at an abandoned house in the woods? Did they leave a note or anything?”

Derek nodded, chin jerking towards the corner of an envelope which was only just peeking out from where it had been wedged beside the blanket. The heavy knit had been carefully tucked around the baby, likely so it couldn’t roll over. Could it even roll yet? It looked pretty tiny. Stiles made a mental note to check Google as soon as they got the whole note issue sorted.

“Well let’s have it big guy,” he huffed, waving a hand towards the box and the note within. “What does it say?”

Derek huffed again, as though the mere fact Stiles continued to draw breath did him a disservice. “I don’t know, Stiles.” he bit out. “Like I said, I don’t want my scent, or the scent of any of my betas, getting anywhere near it. That’s why I called you.”

Stiles flailed, feeling a bit exasperated himself. Christ almighty, it was like pulling teeth with this one. “Well you should have said dude, jeez!” He moved forward with excessive caution, scared to wake the hitherto sleeping infant, even though their shouting had apparently not been sufficient cause for that thus far.

Derek snapped his fingers impatiently at him, prompting a petty desire in Stiles to make a dog joke at the Sourwolf’s expense. It was only overridden by the stronger desire to know what exactly was written in the note, so Stiles managed to contain himself.

With as steady a hand as he could manage, Stiles plucked the note from the box, taking a few steps back before he opened it. Using his phone for some extra light, Stiles peered down at the note, frowning as he skimmed the first few lines of the typed message.

“Dude, what does it say?” Scott asked, leaning over his shoulder.

Stiles hastily licked his lips before reading aloud. “I, Svetlana Kravec, being of sound mind, do transfer guardianship and parental rights of my daughter to my late friend Talia Hale’s surviving children, Derek and Laura Hale....It’s signed by two witnesses and a notary public-” Stiles and Scott both stared slack jawed at Derek, who immediately took two long strides forward to snatch the paper out of Stiles’ limp hand and read it himself...several times.

Stiles reached back into the envelope and pulled out another folded piece of notebook paper, thick from something else inside. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head when he found a stack of crisp hundred dollar bills and a handwritten note which simply read “Please protect her, don’t trust Alpha McCormac.” He thumbed the paper over for any other notations, but found none. “Well that’s cryptic,” he murmured to himself even as Derek took the second note from him as well.

“Do you know who that is, Derek?” Scott asked, leaning over Derek’s shoulder to scan the note along with him.

Derek shook his head, brow furrowed. “No, but Peter might...he was more involved with pack dynamics than I was back then.”

Stiles and Scott offered twin groans at the mention of Derek’s esteemed uncle. Zombiewolf had kept mostly to himself in the past few months, but they all knew better than to take his absence as any effort on his part to respect their repeated wishes for distance. Going to Peter for information was always tricky, as anything he agreed to freely part with usually came with some little angle for himself.

“But what are we going to do with it in the meantime?” Scott asked, eyes dancing between Stiles and Derek. “We can’t exactly leave the kid in a box on your porch, dude.”

Derek shrugged. “Sure we can,” he countered. “I didn’t ask for this, and I definitely don’t want to inadvertently start a pack war. We have no idea how established this other pack is...this whole thing is just asking for trouble we don’t need and aren’t equipped for.”

“So you’re what, just going to leave her here to die?” Stiles scoffed, immediately calling what he hoped was Derek’s bluff. “How the hell is that your logical alternative?”

“I’m going to call CPS and report an abandoned baby,” Derek snapped, chin jutting toward the box as he crossed his arms defensively under the twin looks of horror he received from Scott and Stiles. “They can at least place her with a foster family. Maybe your dad knows a good social worker who could help.”

Stiles rolled his eyes dramatically at the sheer lunacy of that suggestion. “Oh yeah, great idea big guy. Let’s just hand the werewolf baby over to the local authorities! What could possibly go wrong there.”

“Can it like….shift yet?” Scott asked, peeking back down into the box. “What if it gets all wolfy.”

“She’s too young to shift,” Derek insisted with a slight shake of his head, face pinched as he avoided both their eyes. “Born wolves are more resilient than human babies, but we don’t shift until we reach puberty.”

“Yeah, but don’t you think people will notice that the kid doesn’t get sick? That she heals at a ridiculously accelerated rate?” Stiles countered, arms crossed over his own chest as he took a step into Derek’s space. “And at some point she’s going to shift. It’s still a huge gamble, and you know it. After the lengths you took to make sure Scott didn’t get caught back in High School, do you seriously expect us to believe you’re just going to let loose a werewolf baby on Beacon Hills Social Services?”

As if on queue, a displeased snuffle sounded from the box. All three looked down to see the baby start to squirm, little body shifting beneath the blanket and face pinching in displeasure. Her sparse little brows furrowed, cheeks squishing as two mittened fists jerked from beneath the blanket. A few breathy grunts were all that heralded her distress, Scott and Stiles jumping back on reflex when the first wail broke out from within the box.

Scott’s face crumpled, his eyes wide and gentle as they looked from the box to Derek. “We’ve got to do something, Derek...she’s just a helpless little baby.”

Derek glowered at them both, arms folded over his chest. “We are doing something, we’re giving her to people who will know how to take care of her-”

“Um...hello? Werewolf, remember?” Stiles groaned, gesturing wildly down at the box.

Derek took two long strides closer, voice hushed through gritted teeth as the baby continued to wail. “Exactly, Stiles. She’s a werewolf from a pack we don’t know, but whose Alpha was dangerous enough for her mother to risk everything to bring her here. We don’t know if he’s looking for her, or how strong his pack is…but we aren’t strong enough to invite that kind of trouble.” He waved the folded notes in Stiles’ face for emphasis. “The woman who wrote these may have known my mother, but I doubt she knew our pack now consists of a few mismatched wolves, a banshee, and a human.”

The baby’s wails intensified, her face near purple from desperation. Stiles stood a moment, torn between Derek’s hardened stare and Scott’s helpless pout until he couldn’t take it any longer. He wrenched his arm from Derek’s grip when the older wolf halfheartedly tried to hold him back, forcing a broad grin as he crouched down to the box and reached inside.

“It’s ok, kiddo, it’s ok. The big bad wolf isn’t giving you away just yet…” He tilted his head to survey the wriggling form below, the face all scrunched wrinkles and toothless maw. She was shaking with the ferocity of her sobs, mittened fists trembling on either side of her head. She looked so small, tiny and fragile, and Stiles felt woefully unprepared as he reached down and pulled back the knit blanket. He felt Scott brush past him, heard him argue in hushed whispers with Derek, but opted to ignore them and focus on the swaddled ball of rage before him.

“Who’s a good...baby?” he simpered brightly, faltering on the words as he struggled to think of what to say. Stiles’ experience with newborns was brief to say the least, limited to his home economics class where they’d been given dolls to “parent” for a week. Stiles had gotten a C for dropping the doll four times, which he now realized was a severe misapplication of generosity on the part of his teacher. He’d babysat for Wanda the dispatcher a few times at the station, but her son had been at least a year old and not so...floppy.

He remembered to support the baby’s neck as he lifted her, trying to stay as chill as possible as holy shit...this was so not a doll. The baby was squishy and light, warm and wriggling and so alive, her head wobbling precariously in Stiles’ unsure hold. “Holy shit...ok...yeah...you’re ok...we’re all ok here…ohmygod”

The shaky words only seemed to mount the poor thing’s distress, her little legs tucked up defensively and arms still trembling as she continued to wail. Scott and Derek had maneuvered closer to him, both of them carefully tracking his every movement, uncertainty knit into their faces. Seeing as they were offering absolutely nothing in way of assistance, Stiles opted to ignore them and carefully drew the baby towards his chest. His heart nearly stopped when his fingers shifted and her head began to loll back, relief washing over him like an icy wave when he only just managed to correct his hold.

She stayed curled like a little pill bug, legs drawn up close to her body and fists still clenched beside her face. Careful as he could, Stiles brought her up the rest of the way, one hand resting below her diapered bottom and the other behind her head. She slumped against him, fuzzy head tucked beneath his chin, her warm skin wet with her tears against his neck. She was still crying, trembling in his hold as he shushed her. He bounced her, movements stilted and awkward until they began to somehow work. She snuffled, face nosing against him in her attempts to squirm, but she didn’t yet have the required coordination of her little limbs.

He had no idea how many minutes had passed since he first picked her up to when she finally began to quiet, but it was without doubt the most focused Stiles had ever been in his life. He whipped his head around, fixing Scott with a wide eyed flash of excitement. He would have fist pumped in triumph if he had a free hand, grinning wide when Scott did it for him. Such a bro.

Derek was still directing full bitchface at him, which Stiles thought was totally uncalled for, but then the older wolf’s nostrils flared in distaste and Stiles realized the stoney expression wasn’t entirely directed at him. Then Scott wrinkled his nose, actually taking a step back. “Dude…” he cringed, pointing at the baby’s bottom.

Stiles frowned, craning his neck to look around her before the smell finally hit him. “Oh god.” Shit. That was totally shit he was smelling. He spun around, looking for something….anything. “Scottie Boy, get me that blanket.” He inclined his head towards the box, and moved to the jeep. “Derek, get my keys out of my pocket.”

Derek flinched away at the request. “What?” his brows furrowed into a solid line, looking like Stiles had just told him to punch himself in the face.

Stiles rolled his eyes, head lolling back with an exaggerated groan. “Keys. Pocket. I want to open the tailgate to change her diaper.”

Derek steadfastly put his hands in his own pockets, not moving forward an inch. “With what, genius? We don’t exactly have supplies, do we?”

“Wet wipes in my glovebox, ‘genius’.” Stiles snapped back, whispering in his attempt to not agitate the baby further. “I’ve kept some in there since our messy werewolf shenanigans back in high school. I should have a blanket in there too.”

Derek’s head fell back with a groan, eyes rolling as he finally stepped forward with the most obvious reluctance he could master. “Which pocket?” he asked through his teeth, mouth an unhappy line.

Stiles jutted his hip forward, indicating it with a nod. Derek was still staring at his pocket like it contained something which would bite him, so Stiles waggled his hips a bit. By that time Scott had returned dutifully with the blanket, and with a quick “I got you, bro” he’d reached into Stiles’ pocket and withdrawn the keys.

“Thank you ‘Scottie’, my one true friend,” Stiles emphasized with a glare at Derek. He gently bounced the baby, hand cupping the back of her silky head, but she was squirming again, chin trembling as she worked up another set of throaty wails. “It’s ok!” he insisted, the panic creeping into his voice doing little to soothe her. Careful not to trip, he followed Scott to the truck where his friend had just opened the tailgate and laid out the blanket. By the time Stiles had her on the blanket, she was full body trembling, fists clenched on either side of her face as she kicked weakly. Her little voice shook as she cried, race red and eyes scrunched closed.

Stiles could feel Scott and Derek hovering behind him as he set the wet wipes aside and rubbed his hands together to warm them, grateful that she was still too young to do more than squirm in place. He was just reaching for the fastenings of her onesie when Scott slapped a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

“Dude…” Scott started cautiously. “I don’t think you can change her diaper.”

Stiles snorted, shrugging Scott’s hand off. “Pretty sure I can, Scott,” he countered. “I used to babysit Wanda’s son at the station, I changed him a few times and he could actually move.”

Stiles was about to resume his effort before Scott stopped him again, puppy-earnest face twisted in clear discomfort. “Yeah but...I mean...she’s a girl.”

Both Stiles and Derek faced Scott at that, Stiles blinking rapidly as he drummed up some sort of a response. “Those werewolf powers are keen as ever, buddy,” he quipped. “What are you getting at?”

Scott’s eyes darted back and forth between Stiles and Derek, as though he were baffled they hadn’t caught on yet. Scott leaned in close, voice lowered conspiratorially. “She has, like...lady parts,” he whispered, eyes cutting towards the wriggling form on the blanket. “It’s not decent.”

Stiles heard Derek groan aloud behind him, head turning to catch the tail end of Derek’s eye roll before it resettled into the man’s classic bitchface. Derek may have been exasperated, but Stiles thought Scott’s reluctance was kind of adorable. “Yeah, well, she’s a ‘baby’ Scott, and we’re all dudes here. It’s not like she can change herself, and if I don’t she’s going to keep crying and probably get a rash or something. Besides, dads change their daughters all the time, right? Moms change their sons.”

This seemed to appease Scott, who made no further objections as Stiles managed to work her onesie off and set it aside. He took a deep breath before going to the diaper, knowing it would be bad when Scott and Derek both took two firm steps back and covered their noses. It still wasn’t prepared for the smell which emitted from the opened diaper.

Stiles gagged, rearing back on a cough. “Holy...god! What the-” He held his breath as best he could, head craned back as far as he could manage while he lifted her tiny legs with one hand and slid the too full diaper out with the other, wiping as much of the sticky yellowish goop off her as possible. He realized too late that he couldn’t get to the wipes without setting down the diaper, but he didn’t want to put the soiled mess on the blanket or anywhere near his tailgate. Just in case. He held the diaper out towards Derek, telling the werewolf to take it.

“Go fuck yourself,” Derek offered helpfully, the neck of his shirt pulled up over his nose, hand still clasped over his nose and mouth for good measure. Derek took a quick step back when Stiles finally just tossed the dirty diaper on the ground, figuring they could deal with it later. Neither of the two losers offered to help him as he used every last one of his wipes to clear the poop from her butt, thighs, and everywhere else it had drifted. The dirty wipes ended up on the ground with the diaper, and Stiles felt a little frisson of delight at the irritation wafting off Derek at Stiles’ desecration.

Once Stiles had carefully wiped his hands off, he looked down at the baby, naked and somehow even more upset than she was before. Her tiny toes splayed out in her distress and her chin trembled with her desperate sobs. Stiles fanned her dry with a hand, looking around for something to use as he came to the sinking realization he had no other diapers to put on her. “Shit…”

“Can you just put her clothes back on?” Scott asked, practically wringing his hands as he looked down at the belligerent infant. “Her mom left money, we could go buy some diapers before she does anything again.”

“It’s eleven at night,” Derek reminded them with a huff. “Where the hell are you going to buy diapers?”

Stiles left them to bicker amongst themselves and instead made an executive decision, wrapping her in the blanket and refolding it twice until she was sufficiently swaddled to his liking. “Walmart’s open 24 hours, we can go get some stuff there.” He stooped to slide a hand under her neck to support her head, the other under her butt before he lifted her back towards his chest, mouth wide open with a goofy smile in hopes of distracting her. It didn’t work. Stiles had to admire her stamina, for such a tiny thing, she was putting up a good fight.

Derek eyed them both with his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his leather jacket as they got ready, Stiles bouncing the baby and cooing at her in a sugary soft voice while Scott retrieved her cardboard box. Derek’s jaw clenched when Scott closed the tailgate, legs splaying into his ‘I’m the Alpha’ power stance as he listened to the two of them chatter about the supplies they’d need. “You’re seriously doing this?” he asked, frustration mounting. When they both just gaped at him, he took two strides forward, unblinking as he looked eyes with first one and then the other. “This isn’t a game, this is another pack’s cub. Neither of you know even anything about babies...if anything went wrong and they found her…” Derek trailed off, let the implications hang between them.

“Nothing will go wrong,” Scott insisted, naive in his sincerity but genuine all the same.

Stiles though grew irritated, eyes narrowing as he studied Derek. “What other option do we have, big guy, I mean really?” The baby coughed in his arms, cries interrupted by a wide yawn, her eyes drifting shut even as she struggled to open them back up. She was losing steam finally, settling her hot little face against his collarbone, mouth pursing in a suckle.

Derek’s face softened the slightest bit. “This isn’t something you can just back out of when you get bored,” he said. “She’s not a lost dog, Stiles, she’s a baby...and if you really do this, if you take her in and take care of her, she’s going to grow attached. That’s a big deal with werewolves. Once she bonds with you, you can’t undo it. If you decide you can’t handle it, it’ll traumatize her.”

Stiles sighed, his previous frustration melting at the sincere concern in the man’s voice. Derek was not a bad person. A hard-ass? Yes. A pain in the ass? Absolutely. But Derek was one of the most selfless people Stiles knew, often forsaking his own wants and needs for those of his pack. His point was a valid one, absolutely, but Stiles still didn’t see a way around it. He looked down at where the baby was resting against his chest, her eyelids drooping and nose still curled with attempted sobs she was too tuckered out to make any longer. Her nostrils flared against his bare skin, brow wrinkling as she seemed to consider it. She was so small in his arms, so scared, and it completely broke his heart. His decision to take her home might be a gamble, but it was one he was willing to make, that he had to make. He wouldn’t even consider the alternative. Her mother had trusted Derek’s pack for a reason, and Stiles intended to do his best to live up to her expectations, even if they were of someone else.

He said as much to Derek, who still did not seem comfortable with the whole idea, but nodded his begrudging acceptance. “I’m going to talk to Peter, see if he knows anything about her Alpha. Keep her in the box if you can, don’t hold her too much. Just...think about it for a day or two before you get in too deep, ok?”

Stiles nodded, glancing over to see Scott watching him. Scott offered a small smile, his support enough to build some more of Stiles’ flagging confidence. He could totally do this, and he wouldn’t be completely alone.

He just hoped his dad wouldn't kill him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Stiles felt stupid walking through the doors with the baby in his arms, nervously glancing down now and then to double check that she was covered properly by the blanket. He supposed that a naked baby in a blanket was probably not the weirdest thing to walk through the sliding doors at Walmart, but considering she was a werewolf and the whole point of this was to keep her ‘away’ from DCFS, it paid to be cautious.

The baby aisle was...insanity.

Scott and Stiles gaped at the rows and rows of various foods, powders, snacks, and juices. There was at least three shelves of powdered formula alone, various brands with colorful labels swimming before them, each with different number and age range. They picked up various canisters, reading over the labels until their eyes were ready to cross, the baby a slack weight in Stiles’ arm while she blessedly slept. She’d screamed her head off the whole way in the car, just dozing off a bare minute before they’d parked. Stiles had hoped to quickly grab some formula and a bottle and prepare it before she woke up, but now he was beginning to doubt the feasibility of that plan.

“Which do we get?” Scott mused aloud, more to voice their mutual confusion than in expectation of an answer. They scanned the rows several times, inspecting various cans before they both took their phones out, Stiles to read online reviews of which was best, and Scott to call his mom.

Melissa proved the true winner. After a few harried questions about whose baby it was and how the hell she ended up in Stiles Stilinski’s care, she finally calmed enough to answer them. Stiles could almost telepathically see her look of matronly disapproval when they didn’t even know her age or weight, but with a quick and careful jostle he estimated she weighed about the same as the ten pound bag of rice he always bought from Costco. Melissa guessed she was between one and two months and would need an infant formula with an iron supplement in it.

“Don’t forget to sterilize the nipple before feeding her,” Melissa’s voice rang tinny and trepidacious over Scott’s speaker after she explained the ounce to body weight ratio for feeding and the importance of using distilled water. “You’ll need to do that until she’s three months old at a minimum...werewolf or not.”

Melissa continued with advice about easy flow bottle to prevent gas, checking the temperature of the formula on the inner wrist to make sure it wasn’t too hot, and only letting her sleep on her back. Scott and Stiles both looked at each other, mouths drawn in mirrored grimaces. This whole thing was getting more and more complicated. As if on cue, the baby jerked in Stiles’ arms, lower lip pouting out as her brows furrowed unhappily.

“Oh no…no no go back to sleep, five more minutes,” Stiles begged in a little singsong, rocking her and patting her butt, both of which proved completely ineffective when two seconds later she was opening her mouth again with a pitiful cry.

Scott grabbed three canisters of the formula his mom had suggested, quickly thanking her before hanging up. The diapers were thankfully just down the aisle. Scott insisted they get the organic cloth wipes, and they ended up with three sizes of name brand diapers because the suggested weight range of each was so close, and the despondent infant didn’t really allow for adequate browsing time.

Stiles finally had to devote both arms to holding her still as she’d somehow managed to worm some limbs free, a bare leg frog kicking while she pushed ineffectively at her own face with one mittened fist. Scott kept darting these little panicked looks at her as they made their way through the aisles, picking up the essentials. When they had everything they needed to make a bottle or change a diaper, they hauled ass to the checkout, ignoring a few pointed glares from fellow late night shoppers.

The lady at the checkout kept stealing glances between Scott and Stiles before pursing her lips down at the screaming baby as she scanned their items. Stiles rocked the baby in his arms, adjusting the blanket back over her jerking limbs before the disapproving woman could get a good look. Once they had their items paid for, they raced over to the attached coffee shop which was also thankfully open 24/7.

The woman manning the counter was thankfully bored enough to help them out, rinsing the new bottle and rubber nipple with boiling water to clean and sterilize each, and helping them work out the right temperature for the water to mix with the powder. When the bottle was finally ready, and they had shaken drops of formula against the inside of their wrists to test the temperature about three times each, Stiles shifted her in his hold and raised the bottle to her wailing mouth.

It took a few nudges of the rubber nipple before she caught on, but once she latched greedily her eyes widened, cries silenced for the first time in what felt like hours. Stiles’ head shot up to meet Scott’s, his friend’s giddy grin matching his own delight. If he had a free hand, they would have fist pumped. “Crisis averted,” Stiles said with an exaggerated sigh, glancing back down to watch the baby ravenously suck down the formula.

“You guys seem a little out of your depth,” the woman behind the counter mused, glancing back and forth between them with raised brows. “Are you together?”

Scott giggled at that, nudging Stiles before he thought better of it. Thankfully Stiles had a good grip and the baby wasn’t disturbed. “No, just friends” he finally said in answer to the puzzled barista, indicating the baby with a nod of his head. “It’s a foster situation, came up really suddenly. I didn’t think I’d be placed with an infant when I signed up, but duty calls, right?”

Scott was gaping at him in a way that made Stiles want to shove him, but thankfully the woman seemed to buy his story, even cooing a little as she looked down at the baby. The baby’s eyelids were beginning to droop, fatigue setting in now that her hunger was somewhat sated. She had to be completely exhausted after her extensive row, her flushed face still tacky with her drying tears. She continued to suckle even when her eyes finally closed, breaths huffy and irregular from her prior anxiousness.

“What’s her name?” the lady asked, leaning forward over the counter to peer at her.

Stiles gazed down at her, at her long dark lashes and silken tufts of black hair, the sharp peak of her upper lip. “Milena,” he said, the name rolling off his tongue before he’d even registered it had come to him.

A few moments later, when they’d put all the bags in the car and seated themselves, Scott turned to him, a cautious look on his open face. “Wasn’t that your mom’s middle name?” he asked, reaching out to help Stiles pull the seatbelt around and buckle it when his friend struggled to do so with the baby in his arms.

Stiles nodded, going for nonchalant but missing when he found he couldn’t meet Scott’s eyes. “It just popped in my head,” he said with a shrug, looking down. “But I think it suits her.”

They had their next freakout when she puked all over Stiles.

Scott actually had to pull the jeep over, the both of them frantic as Stiles raised the baby to his chest, patting her back as more milky fluid bubbled out of her mouth and oozed down her chin.

“Oh my god, did we poison her?” Scott asked, brows in his hairline and hands hovering above Stiles’. They both grimaced as they looked down at the mess soaked all down the front of Stiles’ shirt and splattered across the blanket.

“Oh god, it’s so warm,” Stiles groaned, grimacing as he looked down at the spit up. “It went down my shirt, Scotty...ugh, it’s so slimy.”

The baby seemed as startled by the goings on as they were, her head jerking as she came awake, arms coming up to rub the spittle about her face and legs bunching beneath the soiled blanket. Her breaths quickened, a small whine breaking free as she began to gently cry again, not that Stiles could blame her this time.

“Ok....” Stiles said, taking a deep breath and wracking his brain for any memory he could of his Home Ec baby care lessons. “I think this is ok....I think babies just throw up a little after eating sometimes...”

“You think?” Scott asked, a little shrill and far from sounding convinced.

“Oh my god, Scotty, you took the same class I did, don’t you remember either?” Stiles snapped, grimacing as his minor movements made his shirt stick to him in a most unpleasant way.

“I got like a D in that class,” Scott grumbled. “And it was like eight years ago, dude...I’m calling my mom.”

Thankfully, they had not poisoned her, but Melissa reminded them that they had to burp her after every feeding, and said to keep an eye out for any rash or indication she was allergic to the iron in the formula. She threw out a few more tips while on the phone before telling them to both take deep breaths and get it together, her sharp tone enough to cut through their panic and get them back on the road to the Stilinski house.

Stiles had thought the worst was over until they were walking to the front door. His arms were tingling from holding the baby for the past couple hours, his back stiff and protesting as he stood waiting for Scott to find the right key on his keychain, when he felt something warm spreading against his fingertips. He frowned, craning his neck to try and see beyond his bundle when it dawned on him that the warmth was also ‘wet,’ realizing what it was just as the first few drops began to plop against the porch.

“Oh my god!” Stiles started, shoulders burning as he held his arms out, trying to create some distance. “She’s pissing on me, Scott help!”

Scott whirled, bags dropping heavily down onto the porch as he reached forward and put his hands under the baby’s head and back, helping support her weight as Stiles held her out, the urine dripping quite freely now from the dangling ends of the blanket. They both stared down at the baby propped precariously between them, her face scrunched sleepily, one eye cracked as she yawned and hiccuped.

“We need to figure the diapers thing out before she poops again,” Stiles mused to himself, to which Scott nodded in sage agreement.

Scott cocked his head to the side, leaning forward to scan over Stiles’ already filthy clothes. “Did she get any on you, bro?”

Stiles glanced down himself, unable to see in the dark, but not feeling any patches which felt particularly fresh or warm. “I think I dodged that one. Not that it matters, pretty sure I’ve got every other bodily substance…”

Scott snorted. “Welcome to foster fatherhood, I guess.”

They ended up rinsing her very carefully in the kitchen sink, the both of them practical powder kegs of anxiety every time her head fell back in their unsteady grip. The baby was already vocally unhappy when they took her out of her blanket cocoon, and her distress only grew amidst their fumblings. She was full body trembling by the end of it, her little fingers and toes splayed nubby chin vibrating from the intensity of her sobs. All three of them were only too happy for the whole ordeal to be over.

Stiles asked Scott to hold her for two minutes while he ran to fetch a towel and a fresh shirt for himself. He put the wriggling baby into his friend’s arms himself to ensure Scott had a secure enough grip on her, and still barked out a laugh at the panic in Scott’s eyes when he finally let go and took a step back. He sprinted up the stairs for the towel, snatching a clean shirt out of the dryer just as Scott pitifully called up the stairs to him. He changed quickly, still in desperate need of a shower but happy enough for the time being to no longer wear his crusty shirt before clambering back down the stairs. He gave his arms a good shakeout before taking the baby back, her nose turning into the bare skin at his clavicle as she attempted to curl the rest of her body against him like a pillbug. He had the towel draped around her, a hand beneath her butt keeping her in place while the hand behind her back and head kept her neck supported. She calmed a bit once back in his arms, little fingers curling weakly against his shirt.

He held her for a moment while he sent Scott to get the bags off the porch, looked down into her slitted eyes and noted the pursed suckling of her mouth. She was probably getting hungry again, probably never really was sated the first time they fed her after puking most of her formula up. While Scott set up everything they’d bought for a diaper change, Stiles managed to get a saucepan from the drying rack one handed and fill it half with water, setting it on the stove to heat.

They laid her out on a towel on the kitchen table, a the baby a wriggling pink lump of misery yet again when naked once more and away from the comfort of Stiles’ body heat. Stiles and Scott quickly compared the three packages of diapers they had bought, held up one of each beside her until they decided which looked best like it would fit. This part Stiles at least knew how to do, thanks to his forced babysitting sessions at the station, this baby was just much smaller and more floppy than Wanda’s son had been. He worried about lifting her legs too high, or bending her wrong, or putting the diaper too tight. Stiles finally gave in and quickly searched “how tight should a diaper be” on his phone, and with Google on his side he was able to finish the diapering process with a degree of confidence.

Once completed, Scott dug into the bag and pulled out a soft grey onesie with pale pink stars on it. While a little large on the baby, it fit her well enough for the time being. “We should make a list,” Stiles said aloud. “Of stuff to get tomorrow for her.”

Scott nodded, grabbing a notepad and pen while Stiles picked the fussing baby back up and went about cleaning and preparing a bottle for her. He had Scott measure out the formula into the bottle and shake it while they brainstormed, the both of them testing the temperature before they moved into the living room to feed her.

“Burping cloths,” Scott said, scrolling through a list they’d found on a list of suggested gifts for baby showers. “For when she spits up.”

“Ugh, yes,” Stiles agreed, wedging a pillow under his elbow with his knee so he could prop his arm up while he fed her, moaning aloud at how good it felt to have actual lumbar support when he leaned back in the armchair. “More bottles, a carseat, some blankets…”

“Another billion wipes,” Scott mused.

“Two billion.”

Scott drummed the pen against the notepad, biting his lip as he watched Stiles feed the baby. “You still sure about this?” he asked. “I know it sounds stupid, but it kind of only just dawned on me how big a deal this is…”

Stiles sighed in agreement. He wasn’t having second thoughts, but he definitely was getting a clearer picture of what he was in for. He looked down at the baby - Milena, his brain supplied again, at her drooping eyes and splotchy cheeks, felt the frightened patter of her heart beneath his hand where he braced lightly against her chest to hold the bottle, and felt this protective surge course through him. “I know it’s probably crazy, but I want to try, Scott.”

“It’s definitely crazy,” Scott chimed in agreement, brows rounded as he looked down at the feeding infant. He looked sheepish then, head bowed before he looked back up at Stiles. “A bit too crazy for me? I don’t think I can play daddy number two after all, dude. I’m sorry but I am so not cut out for this stuff. Uncle all the way though, I’ll be the best freaking uncle.”

Stiles couldn’t think of what to say, so he just felt his fist out for Scott to bump.

After they’d managed to feed, burp, and successfully change her one more time, the baby finally passed the fuck out in Stiles’ arms. Scott went out to get her box from the car, both of them figuring it was a safe enough spot for her to sleep for the night once her blanket was clean. Once Scott left and Stiles was truly alone with the baby for the first time, the reality of the situation finally began to really sink in. This was a baby, a living breathing mini were-person who would rely on him for her every care for the next...well for a long ass time. This crazy night he’d just had was only the beginning, and it wasn’t even over.

Stiles took a deep breath alone in the middle of the living room, one more for good measure, then got to work. He managed to grab his soiled shirt off the floor with his toes and pull his leg up high enough that he could grab it without having to bend forward and shift the baby too much. He took that, her piss and puke covered blanket, and her old onesie and tossed the lot into the washing machine. All the while she was remained out cold, her mouth pursed in sleep and occasionally twitching, forehead finally relaxed and face losing the redness which had seemed permanently stained into it in the past hours.

With the laundry running, Stiles trudged down the hall to his bedroom. He stood in the doorway a moment, took in the clothes on the floor and the rumpled bedding he distinctly remembered jerking off in the night before, and then turned and kept on walking down to his dad’s room. He changed his dad’s sheets far more frequently than he did his own, and figured the top of his comforter would be as clean a place as any to leave her while he finished washing her blanket.

Stiles carefully lay Milena in the middle of his dad’s bed, up near the headboard. “I’m just gonna choose to believe my dad doesn’t beat off for my own personal sanity, how does that sound?” he cooed at the sleeping baby as he built a pillow barricade around her. Google had told him that babies couldn’t even roll over until three months old, but he wasn’t about to take chances. He stood with his arms extended over her for several minutes just watching her sleep, waiting to see if she’d move. She just lay there, arms sprawled beside her head and legs tucked up towards her diapered butt.

Satisfied she’d be safe alone for two minutes, Stiles quickly sprinted downstairs to get her box and a can of coke for himself from the fridge. He checked back in on her, finding her in the exact same position before setting her box in his own bedroom. He then grabbed his laptop and tossed it into his computer chair, which he promptly wheeled over to his dad’s bedroom. Stiles set up his chair at the end of the bed, moving some of the pillows so he could see Milena properly before sitting back in the chair and propping his feet on the bed, his computer in his lap. He worked on the shopping list he and Scott had started, scoured Amazon reviews of car seats and other products they needed to find the best ones, found a few Mommy blogs which looked promising and had helpful tips and favorite brands.

Stiles was so absorbed in his research that he never heard the front door open, or the heavy footfalls up the stairs. He did however look up when his dad’s broad frame filled the doorway, the Sheriff’s lined face scrunched with confusion when he saw Stiles sitting at the foot of his bed. His confusion only confounded when he followed Stiles’ nervous eye flicker to the head of his bed to find the sleeping baby there.

John stood in the doorway, brows steadily climbing towards his hairline as he gaped at the sleeping infant. Finally he raised his hands in surrender, his head shaking as he backed up with a tired “I don’t even want to know.”

Stiles swallowed, wincing at his father’s retreating form before the Sheriff stopped and turned back. “Actually,” he said, striding forward with a hand raised. “I really do. What the hell is going on, who's baby is that? Cause I know it’s not yours.”

Stiles scoffed, jaw falling open as he blinked rapidly, swallowing as he stalled for time. “She could be mine…” he squeaked.

“You don’t exactly have childbearing hips,” his dad retorted, head cocked and arms crossing as if he were bracing himself for the excuses about to come forth.

Stiles scoffed, flushing at his dad’s sarcastic insinuation. “Yeah, well...I could have this whole secret werewolf girlfriend you know nothing about. She could just not be ready to raise a child and left her on our doorstep.”

The Sheriff snorted, painfully unimpressed and obviously losing patience. “You don’t have a werewolf girlfriend, Stiles, or any girlfriend for that matter. You are many things, but subtle will never be one of them.”

Stiles rolled his eyes, shutting his laptop with a little too much force.

John strode forward towards his bed in full Sheriff stance, hands on his hips and entire face pinched in concern. “So she’s a werewolf? Why doesn’t the pack have her? Like Scott, or Derek?”

Stiles fixed his dad with a pointed look, eyes narrowing. “You really want to know why Scott doesn’t have her?”

John sighed in acquiescence, a hand rubbing down his face. “Derek then...what is this baby doing here in my bed?”

Stiles made a helpless gesture towards the baby on the comforter. “I uh….change your sheets a lot more than I change my own. Nothing’s set in stone yet, Dad. Derek was just weird about keeping another werewolf’s baby, and I figured as the pack human I could play Switzerland and keep her while we figured things out.”

John covered his face in both his hands now, sighing heavily before centering himself with a deep breath. “Jesus, Stiles....it’s a baby, not a lost puppy. You need to contact social services and make sure it’s properly taken care of.”

“She’s also not an ‘it’, while we’re on the subject,” Stiles cut in, taken aback at his dad’s reaction. His dad was usually the patron saint of lost causes, after all he’d put up with Stiles for the past twenty four years. Granted, it was after two in the morning and his dad had been working for about sixteen hours, but he still seemed uncharacteristically gruff. “She’s a baby, dad...and in case you didn’t hear me before, she’s a werewolf. You want to explain that one to potential adoptees?”

John sighed heavily, his shoulders slumping in obvious resignation to the situation. He held his hands up in surrender, looking more weary than Stiles remembered seeing him in a long time. “Ok,” he sighed. “I’m too tired to deal with this right now...do you at least have what you need to get through the night?”

Stiles nodded. “Scott and I picked some stuff up earlier, and I’ve got Melissa on speed dial. We’ll be fine.”

His dad nodded, whether in acceptance or resignation Stiles couldn’t tell. “We’ll talk in the morning, ok?” John suggested with a groan, fatigue etched into his face. “When I can at least think straight.”

Stiles’ head bobbed with his eager nod, glad his dad was going to giving in at least for the night. He carefully gathered the baby into one arm, grateful when she stirred but did not wake up, and with his free hand dragged his computer chair behind him back into his own room. He offered his dad a sheepish smile and weak “goodnight,” wincing when his dad shut the door on him with little more than a roll of his eyes.

Just as Stiles was getting fresh sheets out of the linen cabinet, the baby began to stir again, squirm in his hold, her plump cheek squishing up where it pressed against his chest as she whined. Her normally tucked legs pushed out straight, feet even pointed, her breath quickening with a little cough. Stiles bounced her in the hall, still standing in front of the open closet as he tried to shush her back to sleep. He could feel the disapproval radiating from his dad’s room, so he quickly grabbed what he needed and made a hasty retreat for his own room. He set a clean blanket down inside her box and then lay her inside, hoping she would quiet while he made his own bed.

He stripped his bed in record time, grimacing at the stiff patches he encountered as he wadded up the old sheets, but by the time he’d managed to tug the fitted sheet into place, she had progressed from fussing to full on crying. Stiles leaned over her box, trying to distract her with silly faces and wild gestures with no success. He picked her up again, noting how her diapered butt seemed warmer and squishier than before. A quick sniff test told him she’d taken another dump, so he slunk back downstairs to change her diaper and fix the next bottle.

After feeding, burping, and changing her yet again, Stiles finally got her to fall back asleep. They were sitting in his computer chair, his feet propped up on the desk and the baby sleeping against his chest. Milena was curled up in her fetal position with her hot little cheek smushed against his collarbone, her open mouth pursed and dark hair tickling his chin where it stuck up. She felt so small, curled as she was into a little ball, but she was finally fully relaxed. Stiles had his computer propped on his lap, one hand below her butt and the other gently rubbing her back when he wasn’t scrolling down on the parenting blog he was currently reading.

He’d probably been going on adrenaline up until that point, but it was definitely wearing off. Stiles’ eyes felt dry and heavy, and he found himself having to force them open now and then, not realizing he’d closed them. He didn’t want to move, worried he’d wake the baby, but he also wasn’t about to attempt sleeping in his computer chair with an infant. Carefully he stood, sure to hold her secure at the butt and neck so she moved as little as possible, and brought her to her box. She inhaled sharply as he began to set her down, and he froze at least three separate times, waiting until she quieted again before resuming the movement.

He got about two hours of sleep before she was up again, and then maybe an hour more. By the time Scott called a little after 9am, Stiles was bleary eyed with a brewing headache. The buzzing phone woke the baby, who immediately voiced her displeasure with more renewed crying.

Scott promised to be by in an hour, which meant Stiles probably had two. He brought the baby and her box down into the kitchen, grimacing in sympathy as he hurried past his dad’s shut door and heard displeased grumbling from within. He’d tried to keep the noise down the night before, even stuffed his old sheets under his door to try and dull the sound, but for such a tiny thing the baby had a set of pipes on her that in the dead of night seemed to rival Lydia’s Banshee wail.

Stiles managed to hold Milena so he could brace the bottle on his chin while he fed her, freeing one hand to make a pot of coffee. It wasn’t a perfect system, and the bottle slipped several times, leaving her fussy and splattered with formula. He managed to spill coffee grounds everywhere in the process, but once done he held her more securely and let her finish the bottle. Once burped, he put her back in her box so he could make breakfast for himself, cracking a couple extra eggs in when he heard his dad stirring above.

By the time his dad hobbled down the stairs, Stiles had a plate of eggs and wheat toast ready for him, along with a cup of black coffee, just how he preferred it. Stiles liked his own drowned in sugar and cream, and was just adding the last spoonful when John finally entered the kitchen, looking like he’d gotten just about as much sleep as Stiles. He took one pursed lipped look at the box before sighing heavily and easing himself down into one of the kitchen chairs, head in his hands. “I was hoping to be a little more rested for this conversation,” he began, fingers carding through his short hair. “But from the events last night I’m guessing that won’t be happening for some time, so let’s talk now.”

Stiles grimaced, pushing his dad’s coffee cup towards him before taking a sip of his own. “Ok Pops, whatever you say,” he offered weakly.

John pointed a finger at the box. “So this baby is a werewolf...where are her parents? Is her pack from around Beacon Hills?”

Stiles carefully explained about how she was left at Derek’s old house the night before, and why Derek was worried about keeping her himself. He showed his dad the notes which had been left in the box, which his dad read over several times in full ‘Sheriff’ mode, complete with serious brow and business mouth. His dad kept peeking over the edge of the box at the sleeping baby, so Stiles finally took advantage of his curiosity and carefully lifted her out of the box. His dad made no move to hold her, but Stiles could tell he was being critiqued in his own technique of how he carried her and held her against him. She stirred, eyes cracking open and arms trembling before her as she struggled to wake up, her tiny fingers curling slightly around Stiles own when he pressed it against her palm.

“So this is the reason I got about two hours of sleep last night,” John said, but despite the exasperated tone, Stiles could see the amusement shining behind his eyes.

“This is indeed the reason,” Stiles mused, adjusting her in his arms so she could look out. He didn’t know how well she could see, being so young, but her eyes were wide how, her head jerking as she struggled to hold it up. “Her mom just wanted her to have a chance, and trusted us to take care of her. Derek’s looking into her pack, and we could always find another pack to take her, but I wouldn’t feel right giving her up unless I knew for sure she’d be safe.”

John’s face softened at that, seemed to understand the sentiment, recognize it as one he himself would likely share in a similar situation. He raised his coffee cup, taking a long sip before setting it back down again. They ate together in relative quiet a few moments, the both digesting the conversation and giving John a moment to think it over. “Babies are a lot of work, Stiles,” he said, nodding towards the dirty bottles lined up on the counter. “You can’t just keep this kid in a cardboard box...and you and Scott have never even taken care of a dog, much less a child.”

“I know that,” Stiles insisted. “I was up all night reading, found some good books to help me out...and Scott’s coming to get me in a bit, we’re going to pick up some more stuff for her. I just....what am I supposed to do, turn her away cause it’s a big job? Besides, you don’t give me enough credit for keeping the pack alive since high school, that was a tall freaking order…”

“But still different,” his dad insisted, not unkindly. “She doesn’t look much older than a month or two, some babies don’t exactly sleep through the night until they’re a year old...I don’t think you did til you were two, if ever.”

Stiles snorted.

“Not to mention I had your mom,” John said, the words heavy on his tongue. “Is Scott going to be spending the night to help you? Is Derek? Any of the rest of the pack?”

Stiles promptly avoided eye contact, busying himself with scooping some scrambled eggs into his mouth. “So I’ll sleep more during the day and ask for their help then. Single women raise kids on their own all the time...Wanda did, and her kids turned out awesome.”

“Wanda also had nine months to prepare for her first born,” John interjected, mouth. “And this whole situation seems to be way more set in stone than you initially insinuated...whatever happened to finding her another pack?”

Stiles shrugged, looked down at her dark hair as he idly played with her foot. “You know how you just get feelings sometimes? I have a feeling about this...it just, it feels right. Like I’m supposed to do this.”

John snorted, leaning back in his chair and taking another long drink of his coffee. “This was night one, tell me that again on night fifteen and it’ll be a little more convincing.”

“Har har,” Stiles grumbled, giving her foot a little squeeze when she kicked in his hand, her eyes wide and spit bubbling between her lips.

John took a bite of toast, pushing his eggs about with his fork before reaching for the pepper. “If she’s going to stay with us, she’s going to need a name.”

Stiles shifted in his seat, giving her a little bounce when she whined at him. “I kind of already have one…” he edged out, suddenly very worried of how his dad might react to the news.

John waved his hand, still chewing, indicating that Stiles should come out with it.

“It’s Milena,” he said, palm resting on her belly to hold her in place as he sat up a bit.

His dad’s fork dropped back to the plate, air all out at once as his gaze shot over to Stiles. His mouth hung open, eyes glassy and so wounded Stiles was momentarily cowed into silence. “Your mo-” John’s voice broke off, and he swallowed, mouth tight when he spoke again, brows furrowed in hurt. “Your mom’s middle name? Did you...did you think I’d let you keep her this way? If this is your way of guilting me into this, Stiles, I-”

“No!” Stiles quickly interjected, his own face heating as he saw the wetness in his father’s eyes. “No, Dad I swear, I just...it just popped into my head. She kind of reminds me of mom, with her eyes and her nose. It wasn’t like that, I’d never use her like that.”

John nodded, shoulders rounding as they slumped. He wiped a broad palm over his face, clearing his eyes with a shake of his head. He reached forward with a nod, clasping Stiles on the shoulder before he stood and took his dishes to the sink. “If you’re planning to leave the house, you should take a shower,” he said as he rinsed off his plate. “I can keep an eye on her for ten minutes, but you better get me some earplugs at the store. You may be ready to give up your nights sleep, but I’m not.”

Stiles grinned, thrilled with his dad’s seeming acceptance, and quite frankly also for the chance to get clean. “Oh my god, you’re my hero. I’m still covered in puke and piss from last night. It’ll only be like 10 minutes I swear, and she’ll probably be fine in her box.” As if to demonstrate, he laid her down inside and tucked her soft blanket around her, tickling her tummy when her little arms and legs twitched like she was trying to flap them. He was just about to leave the room when his dad’s voice stopped him.

“It’s a good name,” John said softly, hands in the pockets of his sleep pants. “And I think if you commit to this half as well as you commit to everything else you do, you’re going to be a great parent...temporary or otherwise.”

Stiles couldn’t help the dopey smile that spread across his mouth, his eyes itchy as they heated in a rush of emotion. He rushed forward, arms out for a hug which his dad seemed ready to return until he held up a hand at the last second.

“Did you say puke ‘and’ pee?” his dad asked, brows furrowed with mild disgust as he cautiously surveyed Stiles’ stained shirt.

Stiles recoiled quickly with a nod of understanding. “Yeah” he agreed, giving his dad a double thumbs up. “Let’s hug it out after I shower.”

Chapter Text

After the formula fiasco, Stiles made sure to know the exact make and model of car seat he wanted before they set foot in Target. He also bought an infant sling, as his right arm was starting to twitch from holding the baby almost around the clock. The groan he made in the middle of the store when they tested the sling was apparently too close to orgasmic for their fellow patrons from the looks he received, but Stiles couldn’t have cared less, it was ‘that’ good to have his arms free again. Best fifty bucks Stiles felt he’d spent in his entire life.

With coffees secured for themselves and a diaper change for the baby, they made their way to Stiles’ store, a natural remedies shop aptly named ‘Practical Magic,’ which he owned with Erica. The shop was nothing glamorous, just a little place with dark wood floors that creaked and a damp smell that never really went away, but it was their little haven. Their partnership had risen out of a happenstance of convenience, but had thus far worked out beyond either of their wildest predictions.

When Stiles had graduated with a degree in herbology and no clear plan on how to use it, he’d jumped at Deaton’s suggestion of opening a natural remedies shop. The shop itself was small and charming, with land for a garden behind where Stiles could grow herbs and plants. It had all been perfectly exciting to plan and set up, and incredibly overwhelming to actually execute. It turned serendipitous that Erica had been between jobs at the time. She had originally agreed to fill in for a few weeks while Stiles tried to find a business partner, neither considering the possibility that she could fill the role as she lacked any real business experience, but three years later the two of them were making a fine go of it. Erica had an almost hypnotic way with the customers and kept Stiles on track of orders, two feats Stiles himself was quite miserable at.

True to form, Stiles and Scott entered the shop to find Erica sat behind the counter, feet propped on the desk with a box of Triscuits in her lap and her phone in her hand. She didn’t even bother to look up at them when they came in, snack squirreled in one cheek as she called out “I know the dick you were smoking wasn’t Scott’s, so what’s the big emergency, Batman?”

Stiles shifted Milena’s car seat into the other hand as his eyes zeroed in on what exactly she was digging her crackers into. Reaching down with an angry scoff, he snatched up the jar in question, glaring down at his nonplussed coworker. “Did we not talk about eating the merchandise? Shave butter is not food...there’s cream cheese in the fridge, good god woman-”

Erica merely rolled her eyes and leaned forward to snatch the jar back from his grasping fingers, digging another Triscuit into the greenish Creme before popping it into her mouth. “Take a pill, Stiles, it’s all organic and you know I’m weak for avocado.” After chewing and swallowing, she narrowed her eyes up at Stiles, all business once more. “So what’s the deal...or was it actually Scott who rocked your world so good you couldn’t come into work today?” She levelled sultry bedroom eyes on them both as she shimmied her shoulders at a blushing Scott.

Stiles took the opportunity to lean down and unbuckle a slumbering Milena, hauling her sleep-sweaty little body up against his chest. She gave a small discontented wheeze, cheeks and lips squished up as she squirmed her way into her typical curled up position. He carefully cupped her diapered butt and peach soft head, twisting his body to the side so Erica could get a proper eyeful.

Erica’s jaw stilled mid chew, her brows arching up in what looked like concern. “That’s a baby.”

“Yeah,” Scott chimed in with a cheery chirp. “A werewolf baby.”

Erica’s brows climbed even higher, the box of Triscuits finally set aside, gross open jar of totally-not-food-omg shave creme deposited next to it. She stood, arms crossing so she could lean forward over the counter and to peer suspiciously at the baby, who was beginning to suckle in her sleep. “Who the hell gave you a baby, Stiles?”

“Derek, actually,” he quipped, drawing breath to explain everything when Erica barked out a rather undignified laugh.

“Who would give ‘Derek’ a baby,” she replied, incredulous at the mere suggestion. Stiles cringed inwardly, but couldn’t quite blame her after the lackluster performance the born wolf had made as her “on again, off again” Alpha.

Erica’s brows didn’t settle all through the retelling of the night before, her eyes darting between Stiles and Scott as they took turns cutting in. Her worried expression didn’t improve when Stiles shared his plan to take care of the baby while they looked for a more permanent long term solution, tilt of her head almost pitying as she glanced down at where Stiles was stroking the tiny girl’s back. Erica ran the tip of one manicured nail gently along the chubby line of Milena’s flexing foot, but quickly stepped back when Stiles offered to let her hold the baby.

“Uh uh,” she said, shaking her blonde hair as she slumped back into her chair. “I don’t do babies.” She resumed her prior position with her feet up on the counter, smug smile tugging at her full mouth which quickly turned into a self satisfied grin as she winked. “Don’t worry Batman,” she cooed, lashes fluttering. “I’ll hold down the fort while you play house with Scott.”

With the shop sorted for the time being, Stiles and Scott made their way to Derek’s to see if he had managed to get any information out of Peter. By the time they made it to Derek’s apartment, Milena was a thousand percent done with doing errands. She was a little rage ball in her car seat, tiny fingers splayed and chin trembling as she wailed. Stiles had Scott get the new sling ready as he lifted her out of the car seat, babbling at her consolingly as he gently bounced her, letting her snuffle wet against his throat. She huffed against him, watery eyes squinting and fingers curling against his shirt. The baby calmed somewhat quickly as Scott extracted the sling from its box, her eyelids drooping and cheek mashed hot against Stiles’ collarbone.

Scott had to hold her so Stiles could strap the ridiculous harness onto himself. It was for no more than twenty five seconds and with arms outstretched, but the instant Stiles handed her off, Milena’s little face crumpled and she emitted the most pitiful wail. Scott had just stared helplessly at her, jaw slack and brows rounded. “Dude, hurry up!” he chided, darting a quick glance to Stiles, who was still trying to figure out the snaps.

Once she was properly strapped in and back with her preferred human, Milena quieted back to her displeased hungry mewlings. Scott grabbed her backpack and they made their way into Derek’s apartment.

Derek’s building looked just as borderline dilapidated as ever from the outside, but the inside was much nicer than it was back when they were in high school. There were throw pillows now, couches with unbroken frames, the holes in the walls were patched, and there were stainless steel appliances. It all had this industrial look which seemed intentional and less a symptom of neglect. There were even a couple tenants living in the lower levels.

Derek’s scowling bitchface was primed and at the ready when he opened the door to greet them in his trademark tanktop and jeans, instantly zeroing on where the baby was fastened against Stiles’ chest with the grimmest of distaste. “You really never listen, do you.”

“Nope!” Stiles chirped, popping the ‘p’ sound as he pushed past Derek, smirking when the werewolf took a quick step back to avoid touching the unhappy baby. He winced when Derek slammed the door behind Scott, stalking past them with his shoulders squared. Stiles hoped that freaky werewolf healing protected against high blood pressure, cause *damn*.

“So...did you talk to Peter?” Scott asked, breaking the awkward silence in a much more gracious manner than Stiles was about to. He moved into the kitchen area as he spoke, handing Stiles the backpack when he made grabby hands for it.

Stiles pulled out everything needed for a bottle, the task made awkward by the sling still strapped to his chest and the wailing infant inside of it. He finally gave up, motioning for Scott to put water in Derek’s kettle as he got to work unstrapping the harness. He felt Derek’s disapproving glare on him, but chose to ignore it, groaning as he lifted Milena out of the sling and palmed her butt to see if she needed changing, her reddened cheek hot where it squished against his neck. He saw Scott sheepishly glance over his shoulder as he filled the kettle at the sink, but Derek only crossed his arms and leaned back against the fridge, not denying them access but also not offering any sort of assistance or approval.

“I talked to him,” Derek admitted, jaw barely moving as he spoke. Stiles knew how frustrating conversations with Derek’s esteemed uncle could be, so he doubted all of the werewolf’s moodiness could be solely attributed to them at that moment.

“And…?” Stiles wheedled, head bobbing as he waited for Derek to continue. He bounced Milena, who had calmed a bit with the skin on skin contact, but was still trembling from her displeasure. He winced when a line of drool began to ooze down his neck only to disappear inside the neckline of his shirt, which he immediately used to wipe it away with his spare hand. “You are so gross,” he quietly chastised the baby.

Derek’s jaw clenched, obviously not pleased with the information he was about to impart. “He’d heard of the Alpha.”

Stiles and Scott both stood a moment, expecting Derek to continue. When they were met only with extended silence, Stiles’ head fell back with an obnoxious groan. “Do go on,” he insisted, free hand waving in an anxious circle.

Derek’s jaw clicked as he ground his teeth, arms tightening across his chest. “The McCormick pack is from the east coast. They’re an old pack, never leave their territory. Peter says the Alpha is more like a cult leader, expanding the pack is his main priority, but only gives the privilege of siring pups to himself.”

Scott and Stiles exchanged an eyeroll.

“Sounds like a charmer.” Stiles directed Scott how to fix the bottle with hand gestures while he bounced the baby, definitely not liking the direction this new information was taking. “So what else did Uncle Undead share with you.”

Derek chose to ignore Stiles’ quip, but his nostrils flared in a telltale signal that he wasn’t pleased with what he had to divulge next. “Peter seemed convinced that they wouldn’t leave their territory, which means the threat to us seems to be minimal.”

Stiles and Scott exchanged a mutually excited glance. “That’s good!” Scott piped up. “I mean, that’s what you were worried about most, right?” Scott tossed the completed bottle to Stiles, who managed to catch it with a free hand. After shaking out a drop on his own wrist to make sure it was the right temperature, he immediately up ended it into the fussy infant’s waiting mouth. Milena squirmed for a second, red face scrunching in displeasure before a smear of formula on her lip attracted her interest. She immediately latched on, sucking hungrily and finally quiet. Stiles groaned in relief, ignoring Derek’s glare as he flopped down into an armchair.

Derek’s pinched expression didn’t improve. Stiles gandered that his werewolf healing was the only thing keeping him from the biggest ulcer on medical record. He held up the note Milena’s mother had left in her box, shaking it a little for effect. “This here? This is a contract her mother made with my pack, which means by pack law no one else can take her.”

Scott sat on the arm of Stiles’ chair, arms crossed over his chest. “Not even if it’s better for her? Like...say we find a pack who has a couple that would adopt her, who’s had other kids and knows what to do.”

Derek shook his head.

“What about her mom?” Stiles asked, patting her diapered bottom as she continued to eat. “Can she take her back?”

“In theory,” Derek relented. “But she won’t”

“Cause that’s pack law?” Scott asked.

“No, cause she’s dead.”

Stiles’ gaze immediately dropped to the baby cradled in his arm, painful memories rising unbidden as he felt that severed bond. Milena continued to nurse, none the wiser, but her eyelids were beginning to droop as she came down hard from her tantrum.

“So what are our choices?” Scott asked, rounded with concern.

Derek focused his glare on Stiles as he angrily shoved the note into his back pocket. “We had one, but thanks to Stiles here we now have none.”

Stiles’ brows furrowed at the slight. “What did I do?”

Derek’s hand cut through the air as he gestured to where Stiles was holding the baby, particularly where their bare skin was in contact. “We can’t give her back to her original pack because you imprinted on her, genius! I told you to leave her in the box.”

Scott stood abruptly, a true bro. “What, you wanted to give her back to crazy cult-wolves? Hell no, dude. No Way.”

Derek crossed his arms, clearly exasperated that neither of them seemed to understand the underlying point he was apparently trying to make. “I didn’t like it either, but this isn’t some minor thing, Scott. This isn’t some fancy new toy you have the luxury of getting bored with. This is a living thing...a baby that’s going to grow up. This is a decision that’s going to affect the rest of your lives, and I don’t think you two genuinely realize that.”

Loathe as he was to admit it, Stiles knew Derek had a point. He and Scott had quickly been realizing how minute their knowledge was on the subject, and would have been completely sunk without Melissa’s help and hours of dreary eyed research on Stiles’ part. It was daunting, a massive commitment which would change the course of his life completely. Scott already admitted that he wasn’t cut out for fatherhood just yet, and Stiles hardly begrudged him. Erica was definitely out when it came to baby duties, and Derek had made his opinions on the matter crystal clear.

Which left him.

Since they’d left High School and things had considerably calmed, Stiles hadn’t had to put much thought into his life. Things had just sort of fallen into place. Even when Derek had returned from his three year hiatus with his sister Cora, there weren’t many ripples in the pond that was his existence. Like everything else that had fallen into his lap though, this felt right. He may not have werewolf “imprinting” as Derek had bitched about, but he still felt a draw to the small baby currently milk-drunk in his arms.

“It is what it is,” Stiles finally said with a shrug. “Her mom trusted us, and as you said, we don’t have other options. You don’t want her, I get it, but I do.” He swallowed hard, let the words fill his mouth before he finally spoke them, as clear and confident as he’d hoped. “I’m keeping her.”

Derek eyed him carefully, in all likelihood listening for any telltale blip of insecurity in his heartbeat. Stiles was determined not to give him the satisfaction of one.

“You sure about this?”

Stiles nodded in the affirmative before carefully adjusting Milena to his chest so she could sleep against him. As if on cue, the baby jerked with a little cough before promptly spitting up thick white formula down the front of Stiles’ shirt.

Stiles’ nose curled in distaste at the sickly sweet scent, keenly aware of how both Scott and Derek took a hearty step back with matching grimaces. He sighed, plucking the tacky wet material from where it was clinging to his chest before forcing himself to stand straighter, puffing out for confident affect. “Still sure!”

Chapter Text

“Dude, this one rocks in 8 different patterns and plays classical music. She’ll grow up to be smart as shit.”

Stiles leaned over and glanced at the price tag, grimacing when he saw the number attached to the motorized baby bouncer Scott had been eyeing. “Considering all the stuff we have to buy, she can make due with the economy model.”

Scott nodded amiably, depositing the basic bouncer into his already near brimming cart. It was ridiculous really, far more than they probably needed, but Stiles preferred to be prepared, especially after feeling so ill equipped the past few days. They’d walked through the isles, tossing diapers, wipes, baby shampoo, burping cloths, formula, and something aptly called “Butt Paste”, along with all the other accompanying accessories Stiles had found listed on his favorite mommy blog.

Milena was in her sling, completely milk drunk by design, lips pursed from how her face was mashed against Stiles’ chest. He found himself palming her diapered butt while he walked, patting her in a way she’d seemed to like the last couple days. It all started because he was terrified that she would slide out of the sling, pictured her fragile little body hitting the floor until he was near paranoid, but as he grew more comfortable he noticed she seemed soothed by the extra contact, so he generally had a hand on her back or rump.

They picked out a basic crib and some bedding, Scott threw in a few soft blankets and a giraffe that played music when a string was pulled. They grabbed her a few more sets of clothes too, fielded a few looks from fellow shoppers with their excitable outbursts “dude, look!” Stiles tossed a few packs of earplugs into the cart for his dad before they headed for the checkout, guilt heavy in his stomach as he thought about the dark circles under his dad’s eyes after a night of intermittent wailing. He and Scott shared a mutual grimace at the final total, grateful for the money Svetlana had left in Milena’s box. Stiles figured he’d still rack up plenty on his credit card in the process of caring for the baby, but the brief reprieve was much appreciated.

One diaper blowout and a quick trip to snatch practically every available parenting book from the shelves at the last surviving Barnes and Noble later, they piled back into the car and headed back to Stiles’ house to start setting up his room as a proper nursery.

The sheriff popped in while they were putting the final touches on the crib frame, leaning against the doorframe without fully stepping inside the bedroom. Scott was trying to fit the crib pad with the waterproof cover while Stiles got the railing screwed into place. Stiles eyed him carefully, cursing his father’s poker face as the Sheriff surveyed the scene before him, took in the reality of their new shared existence.

Scott broke the undercurrent of tension with a cheery wave, proudly displaying the bounty they had procured. John just nodded, and while it increased Stiles’ mounting guilt, he didn’t declare any worry or objection. Instead he looked down at his feet to where Milena was laying in her box, big eyes alert and body squirming as she took in the brightly colored mobile that Stiles had duct taped to the cardboard. Her feet kicked jerkily in her footed onesie, fingers clenching where her arms were splayed beside her head. Stiles did manage to catch how the corner of his dad’s mouth twitched when he took in the gigantic floppy bow attached to her headband, and before leaving he did reach down and give her soft rounded cheek a little stroke. It eased the pressure on Stiles’ conscience just enough, the pressure eased further when he set the packet on ear plugs on his dad’s bedside table.

Once everything was set up and put away, Stiles felt on top of things, his optimism continuing as he laid Milena down in his brand new crib for the night. He had a hot plate and several bottles of distilled water for late night feedings, figuring it would be more efficient than having to walk down to the kitchen every time she was hungry. He praised his own ingenuity when she woke at ten, cranky as hell and ready for a change.

Stiles didn’t let his optimism falter when he realized she’d had a blowout, the freshly washed bedding beneath her damp and discolored. He laid her out on a towel on his bed to wipe her clean, wedged pillows around her while she air dried so he could gather the soiled clothes and linens and toss them in the washer. His dad was ambling up the stairs when he dashed back to his room, finally back from his shift at the station. John peeked into the room again as Stiles put fresh bedding on the crib pad and fished out a new diaper.

“Did you make sure she’s dry first?”

Stiles’ head whipped around at the sound of his dad’s voice. “Yeah, I mean she’s been laying here for a few minutes, she should be good.”

John shook his head, stepping into the bedroom for the first time that day to pluck the diaper from Stiles’ fingers. “She’ll get a rash,” he said, catching her little feet in one hand before moving her legs back to fan at her bare butt.

“Will she? I mean, she’s a werewolf and all,” Stiles said as he watched, blunt nails scratching into his hair.

His dad leveled him with a look, still fanning. “It won’t hurt any,” he said, his voice soft as he looked down at the squirming little blob before them. Milena’s arms were splayed out, her head jerking slightly as she tried to coordinate her movements. “You had such sensitive skin, we had to put cream on you after every change,” John said, still looking at the baby as he lifted her legs to slide the diaper under her butt. “If she gets red at all, put some cream on.”

“Yeah, I got a few different types at the store,” Stile assured him, watching as his dad opened the tabs and tugged them gently across her round little belly. “Is it supposed to be that tight?”

John looked at him again, a subtle mix of fondness and exasperation. “You want it tight enough that she doesn’t leak,” he said. “So long as you can fit a finger along the top, you’re fine.” He placed a hand atop her belly to hold her in place before gesturing to the pile of clean clothes from their shopping haul. Stiles immediately scrambled to find something, opting for a soft navy onesie covered in little gold stars. He watched his dad open the bottom snaps before gathering it all into one little bunch, easily slipping it over her head before she had time to make a fuss.

“You almost look like you’ve done this before,” Stiles commented, earning himself a snort.

“Once or twice,” his dad said, popping her little fists through the armholes before buttoning the snaps. He lifted her with a groan, Milena’s eyes wide and little brows furrowed as she was passed back over to Stiles. “You never were that easy, though,” John quipped, patting Stiles on the shoulder before heading back towards the door. He caught sight of the little makeshift bottle station before he left though, eyes narrowing when he saw the hotplate. “Dammit Stiles, just….don’t burn the house down, ok?”

“Roger!”

John heaved a heavy sigh before exiting with a tired little wave.

Stiles totally killed it the first night. He’d been pretty well rested and his hot pot totally worked. He managed to stay up most of the night, on top of things and able to keep Milena’s crying to a minimum by accommodating all of her needs as they arose. By the time the sun came up though, he was nodding off, eyes dry and limbs heavy. He managed a brief power nap between feedings, waking to the smell of a full diaper before the wails even kicked in.

Stiles brought her down in her bouncer so that he could make himself some breakfast and rinse the bottles from the night before. His dad was down in the kitchen when he got there, already in full uniform and about to head out.

“Thanks for the earplugs, kid,” John said, giving Stiles a little salute as he took a sip.

Sleepy as he was, Stiles still managed to beam at him, thrilled that another part of his plan had fallen into place successfully. He was almost grateful for a house to himself once his father left, able to relax a bit now that he wasn’t on constant noise control. Once she’d been fed, burped, and changed again, Stiles crossed his fingers for a solid two hour nap for the two of them. He’d thought the power nap revive him, but three power naps later he was even more tired than he’d been that morning.

By the end of the day he felt crusty and smelled sour enough that his dad actually offered to watch the baby so he could shower. Stiles could have kissed him, almost did but his dad held him away at arm’s length. A hot shower and lots of scrubbing helped him feel a little more refreshed and human, even if he was still tired.

He changed in the bathroom, fully expecting to find his dad and the baby in his room, but upon returning he found it empty. He furrowed his brows, wandering to his dad’s room before he began to feel a little pit of worry bloom in his belly. No way his dad would leave with Milena, absolutely no way.

Despite his confidence he missed a few steps on the way down, nearly smacking into the doorframe as he scooted into the kitchen. The rush of relief at seeing his dad was brushed aside as he took in the sight of his dad at the sink, one arm extended down to carefully cradle Milena while the hand was wringing a sponge. It took a second more for him to register that his dad was talking to the baby, voice hushed and gentle in a way Stiles wasn’t sure he ever recalled hearing.

“-two people, and just as soon as we had him clean and were lifting him out of the tub, Stiles peed all over his poor mom. After that we leaned him forwards, but he still got me good a few times while I was changing his diaper.”

“What you guys talking about?” Stiles ambled into the kitchen, peering over his dad’s shoulder to see Milena half submerged in the kitchen sink, her head resting back on his dad’s forearm while John gently wiped at her neck rolls. He reached forward and stroked the inside of her extended palm, smiling to himself when her tiny fingers finally curled to latch on.

“Your first bath. She was a little fussy when I first got her in the water, but I think she likes listening to people talk.” John briefly glanced over his shoulder to offer Stiles a withering look. “Isn’t it just your lucky day?”

Stiles offered him an exaggerated laugh, keeping the volume down at the last second so as not to disturb the peace. “She freaks out when Scott holds her, she must be able to smell we’re related or something.”

“Or she just can sense Scott doesn’t have the first clue what he’s doing.”

“Also possible.”

They stood side by side at the sink, Stiles a much needed second set of hands when it came time to wash her head. Milena’s face scrunched up when she was moved for the first time, chin quivering in warning but she calmed quickly, eyes closing as John gently palmed the warm water against the back of her head.

“I always loved giving you baths,” his dad said, cutting through the silence. “Working all day I didn’t get to spend as much time with you, but after my shift I’d come home and we’d have our bonding time while I bathed you. Your mom helped at first, she was always terrified you’d slip underwater, but once she realized I wasn’t going to drown you she was happy for the little break.” John smiled to himself, obviously lost in his own memories. They almost never talked about Claudia anymore, the memories no longer so much painful but rather not the subject of daily conversation. Stiles tilted his head, letting it rest on his dad’s shoulder for a second or two.

The second night went fairly well, but Stiles was exhausted. This time he tried to sleep while the baby slept, jerking awake at every little cry and whine. By the third night, he was sluggish from fatigue, irritated at any car door or or loud noise that woke her up. On the forth night she was fussy from gas, squirmy and discontented no matter what he did. Stiles literally begged her to go to sleep, rubbing his dry eyes and biting his lip to keep from getting emotional. He nearly fell asleep holding her in the chair, jerked back to full consciousness by his dad walking down the hall on the way to bed.

Scott came by the next day to help out, and Stiles had been desperately looking forward for a change to shit and shower in peace, maybe take a 2 hour power nap, but Milena broke down in sobs every time Scott tried to hold her. He finally got her set up in her bouncer and just let her scream while he took a quick shower, Scott an anxious wreck even after 5 minutes. Melissa even came by in a moment of saintly benevolence, but despite her best efforts the baby continued to wail any time Stiles left the room. The only other person she seemed comfortable with was John, but his dad was pulling doubles and Stiles didn’t want to push his luck.

He nodded off while warming water for a bottle, jerking awake when his forehead thunked against the mounted microwave. He winced when Milena let out a piercing wail from her carseat on the floor behind him.

“Calm down, calm down,” he said, absolutely not begging. Once the bottle was mixed, he set himself down in his dad’s recliner, cradling the baby in an arm and groaning in relief at how the pillow beneath his arm took the weight off. Once Milena was latched and eating, Stiles swiped through his phone with his spare hand and found Erica’s number.

“Hey Bat-Daddy,” she purred in greeting. “How’s it going with the sprout?”

“Sleep depriving, but good.” A perfectly timed yawn garbled the last few words, eliciting a snort from Erica. “I just wanted to check in...I know I totally spaced but things have been crazy.”

“The shop’s fine” she drawled. “Had good business the last few days, I had to reorder more jars for the night cream.”

“Need me to mix more?”

“I had your notes from last time, managed to whip up a batch myself last night.”

Stiles sank back, relieved that things were going well even though he’d left his business partner in the lurch.

“Knowing your propensity to bite off more than you can chew, I had my own little contingency plan,” Erica admitted, smug. “Malia’s been helping me out with the stocking the past couple days, and Kira’s coming by to help me jar up product tonight.

Stiles perked up at the name, an impish smile quickly splitting his face. “Oh is she?” He waggled his brows, knowing Erica would be able to sense it through the phone.

“Don’t” Erica snapped, confirming every suspicion.

“Coming over for an intimate little one on one-”

Stiles cackled to himself when the line abruptly went dead, regretting the intensity of his own amusement when Milena abruptly spat out the bottle’s nipple. He sat up at once, gently bouncing the baby in his arm and rubbing the bottle against her mouth to gain her interest once more.

The euphoria from the phone call unfortunately did not last, and by the time Stiles had burped the baby and heaved himself out of the recliner, his eyelids were heavy once more. Unfortunately, his needs were not granted as he spent a fourth night once again almost entirely awake, covering windows with pillows to block out unwanted lights and noises and keep the baby from rousing. In the morning, he found himself being jerked awake by his dad’s heavy hand, the baby screaming in the background. His whole body felt leaden, eyelids sticking when he tried to open them.

“I’m up,” he rasped, tripping over his own two feet as he stumbled for the crib.

“I’ll bring her down,” his dad cut in, stopping him with a hand to his arm. “One foot in front of the other son, ok?”

Stiles nodded, leaning on the wall as he tried to clear his head. He didn’t think he’d ever been so tired in his entire life, this was like finals week five times over and without the payout of a break at the end. He hated the way his dad side eyed him cautiously as he gulped down a cup of coffee, the baby pitifully whimpering in his arm. “I’m fine,” he insisted, feeling compelled to placate his concerned father. “Just tired.”

“Just nothing,” John countered. “You need sleep, kid.”

Stiles shuffled over to his dad, hunching down to put his face by the baby. Milena’s little fingers clumsily thumped against him, mouth open like she did when she tried to suckle on his nose. “Hear that, Missy? You need to let me sleep today, Sheriff’s orders.”

She gurgled, little sparse brows flexing when she couldn’t reach her goal. Her legs began to kick enthusiastically, fingers clenching into little fists when Stiles reached forward to bop her nose.

She didn’t let him sleep.

He cried actual tears while changing her diaper in the afternoon, body so past fatigued he was losing control of his emotions. He was wiping sticky greenish poop from her butt when the tears started falling, completely unbidden and without provocation. He shook his head to clear it, laughing at his own ridiculousness.

“You’re so gross,” he teased her, his voice thick in his throat as he grabbed one chubby flailing foot. She gurgled in reply, spit bubbling up around the fist jammed in his mouth as if to prove his point.

He allowed himself to lay with his head pillowed on his arm while they had tummy time in the living room, his heavy lids closing a few precious seconds at a time while Milena grunted next to him. He wanted to keep her up longer to wear her out, but his favorite parenting book had warned against that, so he finally bit the bullet and let her nap, standing above her crib and rubbing her round little tummy until she nodded off. Stiles barely made it the few steps to his own bed before he was out, his gangly limbs splayed diagonally across the mattress.

It felt as though a noise at the window woke him instantly, but when Stiles opened his eyes, the room had darkened. He barely had a chance to rub the spit from his mouth when another noise at the window had him lurching straight out of his bed in panicked surprise only to find none other than Derek Hale stepping into his bedroom.

“Derek, what the fuck!” Stiles hissed, only just managing to keep his voice down.

A choked whimper sounded from the crib, attracting both of their immediate attention. Stiles threw his head back dramatically, hands dragged down his face to stifle the scream he wanted to release just as Milena emitted her first wail. “No no no no-” he begged in a pathetic and fruitless whimper, body heavy as he shuffled his way to the crib. “Please don’t cry.”

“You seem to have things under control,” Derek snipped, standing just before Stiles’ window with his hands in his pockets.

“Did you seriously just come here to wake up the baby and piss me off?” Stiles snapped, volume less in check this time as he lifted the crying infant from her crib and tucked her in pillbug form against his chest. “Cause if so, there’s the window.”

Derek’s face remained frustratingly blank, so Stiles ignored him and instead tended to the baby. He bounced and shushed her, hoping she would pass out again. He squinted hard, trying to clear his blurred vision and instead managed to disorient himself, stumbling back a step as he righted himself. When he opened his eyes, Derek was standing right in front of him, nearly sending him stumbling back again in surprise.

“Jesus!”

“You look like shit,” Derek noted. “How long has it been since you slept?”

Stiles sat back down on the edge of his bed, adjusting Milena to the crook of his arm, scrubbing a hand down his face with his free hand. “How many nights have I had her now?”

Derek snorted. “Still secure in your decision?”

Stiles glared at him, dry eyes narrowing. “Absolutely.”

There was a beat that hung awkwardly before Derek sighed and began shrugging out of his leather jacket.

Stiles blinked, eyes tracking the werewolf’s movements in confusion. “What are you doing?”

Derek simply extended a hand towards Stiles, waving it insistently when Stiles just gawked at him.

“What?” Stiles asked, a little shrill.

“Give her to me?”

“What? No!” Stiles recoiled slightly, leaning away from Derek and moving the baby back to his chest. Her little fingers splayed, nostrils flaring in displeasure at being jostled.

Derek’s mouth pinched as he heaved a heavy exasperated sigh. When he spoke it was through his teeth, strained and slow as though he were speaking to an ill behaved child - or an idiot. “You need to sleep, Stiles. Just...I’ll stay in here if you want, but get some rest.”

Stiles wanted to argue, opened his mouth to argue, but every sinew in him was screaming to lie down.

“She won’t like you,” he warned.

“I’m not Scott,” Derek reminded him, eyes narrowed to display the offense taken.

Reluctantly, Stiles loosened his grip on the baby, allowing Derek to lift her from his arms. He immediately regretted his decision when Milena’s face crumpled, nose curling as she began to redden and shake. He began to reach forward to take her back, but Derek had already turned her against his chest, face as impassive as ever. Milena squirmed against him, trying to rebel, and while Derek emitted a soft growl Stiles finally did leap to his feet once more. Before he could reach her though, she quieted. Stiles stood, gaping at Derek as he watched the baby’s eyelids flutter shut, her little fist balled against the hair peeking out from the top of Derek’s v-neck.

Derek’s brows lifted in a self-satisfied ‘told you so’ before he strolled over to Stiles’ desk chair, propping his feet on Stiles’ desk once he sat down. He only glanced back up at Stiles when the boy remained rooted in place. “Don’t get any ideas,” Derek said. “This is a one time thing just for tonight...so take advantage while you can.”

It felt odd to climb into his bed while Derek fucking Hale sat in his room, but once he felt the cush of his mattress beneath his knees, Stiles pitched forward into his pillow face first and was asleep almost as quickly.

The room was still dark when he woke, the only light a soft glow coming from his desk. He blinked to clear his eyes only to find Derek still sitting there with his feet up, Milena resting slack atop his chest. Stiles blinked again, almost sure he was dreaming when he saw Derek reading one of his parenting books. Deciding that things weren’t dire enough to require consciousness on his part, Stiles rolled over and closed his eyes once more, easily falling back into much needed sleep.

The next time he woke, it was to a hand shaking his shoulder. It took Stiles a moment to fully come to, too groggy to properly respond to the fact that Derek was touching his shoulder. The baby’s whimpering helped drag him into full consciousness, and Stiles finally registered that Derek was standing above him, Milena in one arm as he shook Stiles awake.

“Sorry but...she’s hungry. I don’t know where you keep stuff.” Derek said, voice soft and sounding surprisingly genuine.

Stiles nodded, rising up onto his elbow and rubbing the sleep from his eyes with the heel of his hand. He staggered when he finally rose to his feet, would have fallen back onto the bed if Derek hadn’t reached out to grip his upper arm and steady him. Stiles offered him a weak wave before staggering to his makeshift bottle station, which Derek gave an unnecessarily judgemental onceover. Stiles chose to ignore him and pull out a jug of distilled water.

He was ready to take the baby and feed her, but Derek merely shook his head, shoving him back towards the bed. “One night, remember? I can do it.”

“You have to burp her-”

“I know,” Derek tossed over his shoulder, already heading back to his post at the desk.

The next time Stiles woke up, it was to sunlight streaming into his eyes. He leaned up on his elbows to avoid it, expecting to see Derek still sitting there, but the seat was empty. Stiles almost panicked when he saw that Milena wasn’t in her crib, but calmed when he saw that her bouncer was also gone. Panic curbed, Stiles was able to register the fact that he felt more rested than he had all week, possibly longer. Incredible what a solid REM cycle could do.

After a quick change of clothes, Stiles ambled down the stairs, smile spreading as his dad’s voice began to waft up from the kitchen. John was singing along to the radio, nowhere close to the right key, and making coffee if the welcome smell was anything to go by. He must have heard the creaking steps because he stopped singing, the radio turned down so he could call out “that you, Stiles?”

Stiles entered the kitchen to see his dad standing by the sink, piece of toast in one hand and a chubby baby in the other. Milena’s bouncer sat abandoned on the table, two empty bottles next to it. He scrunched his face up at the question, beelining for the coffee pot. “Who else would it be?” he asked, fetching a mug from the cabinet.

“Normally no one, but a certain brooding Hale emerged from your bedroom this morning while I was getting ready for work.” John fixed Stiles with a long suffering stare which Stiles pointedly ignored, eyes rolling at the ridiculousness of his dad’s suggestion.

“Nothing to get excited about, I assure you,” he said before taking a long swig of the too hot coffee. Derek came by last night for baby duties. If he were remotely interested in sexual favors though, I’d give them to him after the amazing sleep I got.”

“You sure that’s a good idea?” John asked, brows furrowed in full Sheriff mode.

Stiles rolled his eyes while taking another drink. “Derek doesn’t want to sex me dad, oh my god-”

“No, the-” John sighed heavily while likely trying to eradicate what Stiles had just said from his memory. “Letting Derek watch Milena. He wasn’t so thrilled with the idea, as I recall.”

Stiles whipped his head around, mouth tight with the effort to fight down the grin threatening to split his face. “Are you...was that first name basis with the baby?”

John rolled his eyes while taking another bite of toast. “What am I supposed to do, stick with third person? You gave her a name, Stiles, I might as well use it.”

As if on cue, Milena squirmed in his dad’s arm, one eye squinting as her little fists shook in the air. It was definitely her “working on a gnarly shit” face, so Stiles stepped forward and extended his arms, long fingers wiggling over her belly in a tickle until her mouth opened in delight. It was then that Stiles noticed the onesie she was wearing, or rather the words ‘Grandpa Knows Best’ written across the front in an elegant purple scrawl.

“Oh yeah,” he said, nodding. “You’re absolutely keeping things neutral, pops.”

His dad honest to god flushed, lips pursed as he avoided eye contact in the least discreet way possible. “She had a blowout,” he offered by way of explanation, shoving the remainder of his toast into Stiles’ still gaping mouth before walking back to the coffee pot.

Stiles chewed and swallowed in record time, gleefully trailing after his dad. “And that manifested in her drawer?”

“It was on sale at Target,” his dad continued, pouring his coffee. “Don’t get so excited.”

“Oh my god.”

John turned back to him, completely unimpressed by the impish delight on his son’s face as he handed him the baby. “She did a doodle, you change her this time, Sleeping Beauty” he said in an obvious attempt to reclaim the upper hand.

Obvious and fruitless, as far as Stiles was concerned.

He took one of Milena’s plump little wrists in his hand, helping her wave to his dad as he put his gunbelt on. “Say bye bye to Grandpa, sweetie!”

John snorted, opening the door only to throw “tell your boyfriend to take his shoes off next time” over his shoulder before closing it firmly behind him to secure having the last word.

“Dammit,” Stiles sputtered indignantly with a short flail of his head, turning Milena in both hands so she was held up at eye level. “I guess Grandpa got the upper hand after all.”

Chapter Text

When Derek had said it was a one time thing, Stiles had taken him at his word, so he was genuinely surprised when Derek came back through his window a few nights later while Stiles was holding Milena in bed and watching Top Chef on his laptop. He and Scott had taken Milena to the preserve that afternoon, her big eyes wide and alert with all the bird sounds and smells of the forest. The outing had taken a lot out of her, as she had been steadily napping for the past two hours.

“Hey-” he offered in stilted greeting, unable to completely mask the confusion he felt. “What’s uh - going on, big guy?”

“I was in the area,” Derek offered in explanation. Stiles knew it was complete bullshit, but didn’t take him to task on it.

Derek hovered by the window, hands in his pockets as he slowly surveyed the room. “It’s a mess in here.” He inclined his chin towards the piles of clothes and blankets on the floor, the stack of books that had tipped next to the bed.

“You’re welcome to clean it if it bothers you so much,” Stiles replied with a sugary sweet smile. He figured Derek would get bored and leave, but furrowed his brow when Derek stooped to grab a handful of clothes.

“Uhhhh….” Stiles drawled, eyes trailing Derek as he bent to pick up another handful. “What uh- what you doing there, buddy?”

Derek inclined his brows like it was the most stupid question he’d ever heard. “It bothers me,” he said, maintaining eye contact as if challenging Stiles to question again.

Stiles blinked, completely unprepared for the surreality of the situation.

Derek set the accumulated bundle on the bed before starting on the spilled pack of clean diapers. “I’d think someone as clumsy as you would be grateful to have all these obstacles removed.”

“Oh ha ha,” Stiles tossed back, turning up the volume on his laptop just to spite the wolf. Fine, if Derek wanted to clean his room, he wasn’t going to stop him. He kept marathoning while Derek started a load of laundry, found a box for the diapers, and stacked his books carefully on an actual shelf. Stiles even went downstairs to make Milena a bottle, just to escape the insanity for a moment, only to come up and find Derek folding onesies.

“You should get a dresser,” Derek pointed out when Stiles walked back in. “You could put all her stuff in there.

Stiles was too stunned to make any sort of witty retort, so he just nodded. “Probably a good idea.”

Derek left with a pointed “don’t get used to this” shortly thereafter, only to return again the following night. Stiles only knew he was there because a bottle of infant gas relief drops were sitting on his desk when he returned from bathing Milena with his dad, and when he questioned both his dad and Scott, neither took credit for it being there.

Stiles considered texting Derek with updates the next day, his thumb hovering over the contact, but it felt too strange, too outside of their typical dynamic.

He managed to go visit his shop in person the next day, Milena all swaddled in the cloth sling Melissa had dropped off for him. The second he stepped through the door and was struck by the strong scents of the mint, rosemary, and chamomile he kept potted along the window sill, the ginger he kept stored in a cooler, the peppermint sticks he kept on the counter for himself and guests. He popped one in his mouth, a little overwhelmed by the realization of just how much he’d missed his shabby little shop.

Despite his absence the past week, Erica had been completely truthful about things running smoothly. Nothing was out of place, the shelves were well stocked, the books were all done. He’d found his business partner in the back boxing an order for shipment. She was dressed to the nines as usual, her heels abandoned on the floor beside her. It was a relief when Erica seemed just as perplexed by Derek’s behavior as he was, her brows furrowing deeper and deeper and Stiles told her the events of the past week.

“Why would Derek even care?” she asked. “Didn’t you say he wanted to hand her over to the cops? And besides, it’s not like being a part of our pack has ever really mattered to him.”

Stiles winced, knowing the statement was likely an oversimplification, but not without warrant. Derek had kept his distance from the pack since he returned from his travels with Cora, but Stiles often wondered if that was because he didn’t see himself as part of their more close knit unit. “I think he was more scared than anything,” Stiles offered finally as an explanation. “Milena comes from this crazy cult pack...I think Derek was just worried that they were going to come after us.”

Erica shook her head in confusion. “And now he’s not?”

Stiles shrugged, he really didn’t know the first thing that went through Derek’s head. “I guess not.”

Erica’s lacquered lips spread in a cocky grin. “Does that mean the pack gets both a new mom and a dad?”

Stiles rolled his eyes at her, waving her off as he made his exit. “God, you and my dad both-”

He made his dad lasagna with salad as a completely transparent thank you for all the help he’d given with the baby. His dad accepted it without much comment beyond a knowing smirk, holding a wide eyed and drooling Milena in one arm while Stiles dished up. They chatted while they ate, John giving her a bottle when he was done with his own food. It felt good, normal even. It was nice to see his dad so relaxed, chat about little nothings rather than have to trip over an explanation. He told his dad about his shop visit, and his dad recounted trying to get a statement from a woman who seemed more interested in eyeballing Parrish than giving a description of the hit and run driver who had rear ended her.

They were mid laugh when Milena spit up all down Stiles’ front.

John was generally happy to help, but also only too happy to back out once things got messy. He did offer to take care of the dishes while Stiles got cleaned up though, so Stiles carefully tucked his shirt up to keep any drips at bay and hurried towards the stairs.

The surprise at seeing Derek in his room had lessened, but still lingered. He stopped just inside his bedroom doorway when he saw the wolf sitting on the edge of his bed. “Oh-” he started, dying off when he followed Derek’s line of sight and realized that his stomach was bared where he was holding his shirt up. He swallowed down the instinct to cover himself, because despite Derek’s wolfie penchant for running about in various stages of undress, Stiles even wore a t-shirt at the beach.

“The uh- the baby vommed all over me,” he said in explanation, still stuck at his own doorway.

Derek’s brows rose at the mess decorating Stiles’ front.

Stiles rolled his eyes, refusing to allow Derek’s looming to cow him in his own domain. He crossed the room in three strides, holding Milena in front of him with both hands. “Here,” he said, handing Derek the baby. “At least be useful while you’re here so I can take a shower. Why don’t you wipe her off and change her clothes....make sure and clean her neck rolls too, it gets stuck in there.”

Stiles snatched some clean clothes from his half open drawer before Derek could protest, immediately skirting to the bathroom. He waited a few moments once behind the closed door, listening for any sounds of distress from Milena or bitching from Derek. A minute passed, then another. Milena gave one short little unhappy cry before stopping, and Stiles could just picture her little face, scrunched and unhappy as Derek wiped drying spit-up from her chin. She hated being dirty, but hated the process of being cleaned even more.

A little flabbergasted at his apparent ability to boss Derek around, Stiles gave a little fist pump, victory turning curling into a grossed out wince when the action tugged at where the puke on his shirt was drying and affixed to his chest.

He texted Derek the next day, ‘if ur coming tonight SW bring me spicy pork from the Wok’. He waffled over sending it a moment or two, almost regretting it once it was sent, but if felt silly to be so wary after Derek had been at his house more than Scott the past couple weeks. When Derek didn’t reply, Stiles figured he was simply being ignored. He even took out some chicken to thaw when he got home once Milena was down for her nap.

Stiles was washing bottles in the sink when he heard the front door open. There was just enough time for his stomach to sink down to his feet in panic before Derek came into view, white bag in his hand bulging with the boxes inside and a bottle of soda in the crook of his arm. Derek froze in place when he saw Stiles, or rather saw how Stiles was standing there like a deer in headlights, hand on his chest to quell his rapid heartbeat. “What?” Derek asked, irritated at Stiles’ surprise.

“You nearly gave me a heart attack!” Stiles accused, incredulous at Derek’s attitude.

“Why?” Derek asked, and when Stiles’ eyes just bugged out further he rolled his own eyes and raised the plastic bag. “You told me to bring this, idiot.”

Stiles then noticed the label adorning the side of the bag, jaw dropping a bit when he finally put two and two together. “You actually-”

Derek’s eyes rolled again in full Hale dramatics. “Shut up and get some plates.”

They ate dinner at the table together, silence heavy between them with their baby buffer missing. Stiles rubbed absently at his neck, the tendons throbbing from the hours of holding Milena. Derek picked at his food like a sulky teen, which Stiles found the most surreal of the whole experience. He’d almost expected him to eat with his hands, or slurp or something. Erica and Scott both ate like complete slobs, but apparently that couldn’t be attributed to their wolfiness as Stiles had initially assumed.

They both perked up when Milena began to cry, but it was Stiles who got to his feet first. “Can you make a bottle?” he asked, and when Derek nodded he went upstairs to retrieve the unhappy infant.

It was Erica who first suggested that Stiles have Derek babysit for him, though Stiles guessed it was more a dare than anything, a taunt uttered with the assumption that Stiles wouldn’t actually go through with it. Derek had been helping out though for a few week, and Stiles knew he’d been putting far more on Erica’s shoulders than was fair at the shop. Derek knew how to make a bottle, how to burp her, how to change her diaper. He knew about the importance of tummy time, but that she had to sleep on her back. It’s not like Derek had any real obligations during the day which would require his attention, he was really the most obvious choice of sitter.

Crazy as it was to admit, Stiles could trust Derek Hale with an infant’s life, it was just leaving the house to allow him to do so which proved hard.

Stiles hadn’t even left the room yet when the guilt began to sink in. “She likes her silky when she gets upset,” he said, pointing to the large squares of green fabric he’d sloppily sewed together in semblance to one his mother had made for him when he was little. “I just rub it on her cheek when she gets fussy at naptime.”

“I know,” Derek said. “I did it last night….twice.”

Stiles nodded, patting Milena’s diapered butt while she drooled into the neckline of his shirt. “She probably will need to eat in an hour.”

Derek nodded, taking a step closer.

Stiles lowered his cheek down to press against the downy tufts on Milena’s warm head, other hand spanning across her back. Her tiny nails scratched against his chest when she curled her fingers, he’d need to cut then later that night. “I’ll be gone about five hours-”

“I know.” Another step.

“If there are any problems, just call-”

“We’ll be fine.”

Derek was right in front of him then, expectant. “You told Erica noon, you’re gonna be late.”

Stiles nodded, still not moving.

“Stiles.”

With a sigh, Stiles pressed a kiss to the side of Milena’s head, giving her butt a last little pat before adjusting his hold and handing her over to Derek. She was wide eyed and alert when Derek settled her in the crook of his arm, but she was calm, unphased by the changing of the guard. Stiles reached a hand out to gently squeeze her chunky foot, tiny toes splaying like they always did. Stiles actually felt his throat begin to get tight.

“I’m going to need proof of life photos,” he said, forcing himself to look away. “Like….hourly.”

Derek just rolled his eyes.

The drive to work was complete torture, Stiles had to constantly fight the urge to turn around and get the baby and her bouncer. He could probably get some work done, right? Totally! When he ran the idea by Erica on the phone though, she called him a loser and hung up on him, so he took a deep breath and kept going.

The store was a welcome distraction, there was enough for him to do that he didn’t have much time to feel sorry for himself or second guess things, though when he peeked at the clock and saw two hours had gone by, he shot Derek a text asking for his requested proof of life.

His phone chimed a few minutes later, but all he was graced with was an HD photo of a gnarly shit smeared in a diaper. It caught him off guard enough to make him snort out loud, ease his tensions just a bit. They eased further still when he was graced with a second photo of Milena trying to shove her entire fist into her spitty mouth.

He heard the wheels of Erica’s chair before he saw her leaning back in her chair to peer cautiously down the hallway at him. “You doing all right, Momma bear?”

Stiles tapped his pen against the table he was standing by. “Swell,” he chirped.

Erica leaned back further in her chair. “Well then stop clogging the shop with your anxiety stink and go mix more hand cream.”

Stiles waved finger guns at her, happy to have some sort of agenda to occupy himself for a while. He gradually was able to get back in the flow of things, happy to immerse himself in his many pots of oils and dried herbs, take clippings from the live plants lining the walls. Derek diligently sent him regular photos, a surprising development but also greatly appreciated. It felt good to get into the usual banter with Erica, answer emails from clients. It felt like maybe this whole crazy thing could really work.

He stayed at the shop until closing time at seven, leaving with a sense of accomplishment and a gurgling stomach. He picked up dinner on his way home, sure Derek hadn’t bothered to make anything on his own and feeling a little guilty that he hadn’t left him anything. He ordered pizza and salad from the place in town he knew Derek had used, ordered the biggest meat lovers special they made. He had to stop himself from stealing a slice twice, his stomach cramping from its desire to consume it. His excitement mounted as he walked up to the front door, eager to see Milena again after their hours apart and not too proud to admit it.

“Hey!” Stiles called quietly when he opened the door, not sure if the baby was sleeping on not. He was shutting the door behind him when he saw Derek coming down the stairs, Milena awake in one arm. As they drew closer, Stiles could see her little nostrils flare on an inhale, her alert dark eyes widening in excitement as her arms began to flap.

Stiles felt the stupid grin, let it slip his mouth wide as he dropped the dinner boxes on an armchair, his messenger bag hitting the floor with a thunk. He extended both arms, fingers waggling excitedly as Milena squirmed in Derek’s arm, little legs bunching up before kicking back out again. “Did you miss me, stinkpot?” he asked in a singsong voice, tickling her rounded belly until she grunted happily, wide social smile spreading across her toothless mouth.

Derek stood while Stiles lifted her from his arm, watched him blow a kiss into her belly before lowering her to his chest. Stiles supported her neck so he could look into her face and enjoy her excited expressions, laughing when she flopped forward and landed open mouthed on his chin. “You’re such a weirdo,” he teased, wiping her spit off on his shoulder.

He only then realized that Derek wasn’t in the room anymore, he and the pizza boxes had absconded to the kitchen, where Stiles could hear dishes clattering together. He felt bad again, realizing he’d all but ignored Derek after the wolf had done him a serious solid, another in a growing list of solids, and quickly made his way to the kitchen.

“Hey!” he said, reaching out to take the plates from Derek with his free hand. “You sit down, I was going to get dinner ready.”

Derek rolled his eyes, pulling the plates back out of Stiles’ hand. “I’ll set, you dish.”

Stiles was going to hold Milena while they ate, but she fell asleep soon after they sat down. Derek put her bouncer on the table so she was in easy reach, allowing them both to relax and eat. It also gave Stiles a chance to really look Derek over, and he was surprised by how tired the wolf looked.

It didn’t take much prodding for Derek to admit that they had a rocky start to their day. Milena had a meltdown shortly after Stiles left which lasted for several hours and was the cause of his delay in photos. “She’s bonded to you, I knew it was a possibility since it was her first real separation. I rubbed a shirt from your hamper on her face to get her calmed down,” Derek said, leveling a quirked brow at Stiles. “So I really hope there wasn’t jizz on it.”

Stiles felt his cheeks pink, unable to help but imagine Derek tentatively sniffing his shirt. “What’s the point of wolfey senses if you can’t sniff out of a little jizz,” he mumbled before stuffing his mouth with salad. He didn’t miss the small secret smile tugging at Derek’s mouth though, even though he’d ducked his head.

After dinner Stiles cleared the dishes and put the leftovers in the fridge while Derek lifted Milena from her bouncer, saying they might as well put her in her crib since she was sleeping so hard. Stiles nodded, washing his hands while Derek stood in the doorway, hand splayed against the baby’s back while she breathed hard against his neck.

It was quiet as they walked up the stairs, such a peaceful moment that Stiles was caught off guard by the muttered “oh shit” behind him. He turned to find Derek standing a few steps back, one arm bowed out in front of him while the other still supported Milena....whose adorable white onesie was now streaked with glistening all up the back with yellow-brown wetness.

And so was Derek’s hand and t-shirt.

Stiles could only shoot out a finger childishly. “It’s dripping!” he said, waving at Derek’s front where thin baby shit was still oozing from Milena’s gnarly blowout.

Derek quickly grabbed the hem of his shirt, folding it up to try and contain in, baring his abs. “Move,” he ordered, starting back up the stairs again. Stiles flailed as he spun, eager to get out of Derek’s way and keep as much of the mess off the hardwood as possible. They hurried to the bathroom, both pausing once there to further plan their attack.

Derek winced as he looked down at himself. “I can feel it in my waistband-” he mumbled in distaste, brows knit together as he obviously did everything not to inhale the scent which was rapidly making itself known.

“Oh my god...um...tub. Let me get her tub and I’ll wash her while you shower.” Stiles fluttered around like a hummingbird while he gathered her washcloth and soap. He stopped when Derek held the baby out, accepting her as gingerly as Scott had that first night, nose wrinkling at the thick smears. He was about to ask Derek what he was doing when suddenly the wolf pulled his soiled t-shirt over his head.

“Uh…” Stiles gaped, momentarily stupid by how Derek’s movements pulled his skin over his ridiculous abs and built pecs. “Wha-what-?”

Derek’s fingers were working at the button of his jeans when he paused long enough to indicate his head towards the shower. “Just get it going, I’ll wash us both off.”

Stiles blinked. “Both?”

Derek rolled his eyes, indicating towards the shower again with intent. “It’ll be easier and I don’t want to stand around covered in shit. Just get it going, idiot.”

Stiles looked down at the baby in his hands, doing the mental gymnastics of how to rearrange her without similarly getting slimed in blowout while still fulfilling the request. He could hear the rustle and clink of Derek’s jeans hitting the floor before movement caught his eye again. Derek was standing there in dark boxer briefs, gross dark smears maring the skin above the waistband and his forearms. He seemed to get Stiles’ predicament and motioned to take Milena back, deftly unhooking the bottom of her onesie with one hand before working it over her head. She didn’t like this in the slightest, chin trembling as the little sobs started.

Stiles quickly washed his hands before turning the taps in the shower, adjusting the water so it was warm but not hot, changing the stream from his usual intense pulse to a more gentle rain setting. By that time, Derek had managed to get her soiled diaper off and tossed in the garbage, Milena now an unhappy pillbug curled naked against his bare chest. Her face was splotchy while she cried, head feebly attempting to lift itself from Derek’s chest but lacking in the muscle strength or coordination, so inevitably flopping back down again. Her poor little butt and back were covered in poop, she even had trickles down her legs and a smear on her left foot.

“God, you’re so gross,” Stiles lamented in sympathy, reaching out to cup the back of her head, the only place that seemed relatively safe. He was so caught up with the baby that he almost missed Derek hooking a thumb into his underwear, averting his gaze just in time before the wolf pushed his boxer briefs. He spun again when his new position put him in direct line of sight of the mirror, immediately stooping to gather the discarded filthy clothes on the bathroom floor. “I’ll just throw these in the wash,” he said as he heard the curtain rustle as it was pulled aside.

He ran down the hall to where the laundry was hidden in a closet, hoping Derek’s clothes wouldn’t shrink when he turned the temperature setting all the way up to disinfect them, tossing a little more detergent in as a hail Mary before finally closing the lid and starting the machine. He snagged a bottle of cleaner and roll of paper towels from the linen closet before heading back to the bathroom to catch any remaining droplets on the tile floor. The shower was still going, but Milena’s wails had calmed to just a few random grunts and interjections. Stiles nearly jumped out of his skin when the curtain moved again, pulled aside a few inches so Derek could lean his head through.

“I need her soap and a rag,” he said, dark hair plastered to his forehead, tendrils of water rolling down his cheekbone and nose.

Stiles quickly scrambled to comply, snatching the baby wash from the counter before fishing a clean washrag from the shelf by the tub. Derek reached through the curtain to accept them, naked hip pressing up against the open flap as he did so. Stiles quickly averted his gaze, not wanting to be a perv when Derek had taken one for the team and was washing shit off himself and Stiles’ baby, but damn. He was only human and while growing up he had often been too scared of Derek to really consider him as anything other than the skulking creeper wolf he was, their recent closeness had given Stiles new opportunity to be reminded time and again that Derek Hale was hotter than the surface of the fucking sun.

Milena’s cough brought him out of his own head, and he stepped forward, concern knitting his brows. “Is she ok?”

“Yeah, just got a little water spray in her face.” Derek’s head poked out of the shower again. “She’s done, can I give her to you so I can finish?”

Stiles tried not to make a face at the immature things the idea of Derek ‘finishing in his shower’ sounded like, and instead grabbed one of her soft towels to swaddle her in when Derek handed her over.

“Are you all clean?” he asked excitedly, when Milena was handed out to him through the curtain, reaching for her while ‘don’t look at Derek’s dick don’t look at his dick sweet Jesus don’t look at his dick’ repeated on a loop in his head. Milena began to fuss again once she was removed from the warm cocoon of the shower, but she was blessedly diarrhea free and safe to cuddle once more. Stiles tossed a clean towel over the shower rail for Derek before going to his room to get the baby dry and dressed.

By the time Milena was lotioned, diapered, and had one kicking foot stuck into a pair of pajamas, Derek stepped in with the towel wrapped low around his hips, hair tousled and damp from being rubbed dry.

“Feel better?” Stiles asked, busying himself with getting Milena’s wriggling foot into the other leg of her jammies.

“Definitely cleaner.” Derek leaned down to crook a finger against her bare belly, just barely tickling. “Let’s not do that again, ok?”

Her brows rounded, mouth pursed as she flapped her chubby little arms.

“Can I borrow some clothes?” Derek asked, mouth close enough to Stiles’ ear to send shivers down the back of his neck. He hadn’t realized they were huddled that near together.

Stiles swallowed, popping Milena’s arm into a sleeve. “Yeah...can you finish dressing her? My stuff won’t fit but my dad’s will.”

Derek nodded, taking over as soon as Stiles stepped away. He dug through his dad’s drawers and withdrew a pair of stretchy sleep pants and an old BHPD t-shirt. He stopped when he got to the boxers, unsure if it was weirder to offer Derek his dad’s underwear or expect him to freeball. Did he offer the article of clothing his dad’s genitals had 1000000% touched, or the ones that had likely only been touched indirectly. The thought of Derek’s dick touching where his dad’s had was enough to make him shudder and retreat sans boxers, cheeks aflame from his own ridiculousness.

Derek didn’t say anything about the lack of underwear, just thanked him and tugged the pants up under the towel. Stiles totally didn’t notice that he could see the crown of Derek’s dick pressing against the front of the pants. That would be rude, and invasive. He also didn’t pout when the t-shirt covered Derek’s ridiculous v-cut from view. Stiles was a veritable paragon of personal boundaries.

Milena was on her back, arms splayed to either side of her head and mouth slack from sleep. She was out like a light, her blanket tucked carefully along her sides. Stiles resisted the urge to stroke down her cheek, not wanting to disturb her, and instead appeased himself by tucking her fluffy Flamingo that Scott had bought her up against her side. When he turned back around, he found Derek sitting in his desk chair, head resting against his fist.

“Tired?” Stiles asked stupidly, as it was obvious from just looking at him that Derek was exhausted.

Derek nodded. “Long day,” he offered in explanation, rubbing his eye with the palm of his hand. “Just hit me.”

Stiles tapped his mouth with his pointer finger, tossing a quick glance at the clock. “Do you want to go lie down?”

“It’s fine,” Derek said, immediate like a reflex.

“You can if you want,” Stiles offered again. “It’ll be another hour at least til your clothes are done.”

He’d expected Derek to go lay down on one of the couches downstairs, figured the wolf would be happy for some alone time all things considered, but instead Derek just walked the five paces to Stiles bed and flopped down face first into the pillow. It took Stiles a second to fully register that Derek Hale was laying in his bed, and a second more to feel genuine empathy because he knew that level of tired first hand. If Derek didn’t mind his dirty sheets, then Stiles didn’t mind him catching a much earned nap.

Stiles turned off all but the soft bedside lamp to better allow the two wolves their rest, happy to putter around on his laptop for a little while and finish up a little last minute work after switching the laundry to the dryer. When it was done he brought everything back to the bedroom, but found Derek still fast asleep. Instead of waking him, Stiles simply folded everything, putting Milena’s clothes away and leaving Derek’s on the corner of the desk.

By midnight, Derek was still out, his face hidden but his shoulders rising and falling in a slow tell-tale rhythm. Stiles wasn’t sure what to do as he himself was getting tired, but then the baby woke for a bottle, and he busied himself with feeding her for another twenty minutes. Once she was burped and tucked back into her crib, Stiles’ own lids were drooping. He glanced nervously at the bed, bit his lower lip as he placed a careful hand on Derek’s shoulder in a gentle attempt to rouse him without success. He even managed to drag the comforter and sheet out from under Derek without him so much as twitching. Stiles then shook him harder, but Derek just growled a little and clutched the pillow tighter.

“Oh hell no, sourwolf,” Stiles hissed in a harsh whisper. “You are not banishing me from my own bed-” Crouching low, Stiles pushed on Derek’s shoulder with all his might, shoving him as far to the middle as he could. Derek finally moaned low in his sleep but shuffled over to the other side, quickly burying his face in the spare pillow there and resuming his slumber.

“More like a bear than a wolf,” Stiles grumbled taking off his jeans before slipping into bed beside Derek wearing his briefs and t-shirt.

The bed was warm from Derek’s body, the pillow smelling faintly of baby wash from Derek’s hair. His old mattress sagged under Derek’s weight, meaning Stiles had to consciously lay flat to keep from tipping into him. It was odd to try and sleep next to another person, to feel the heat from another body against his legs, a draft where the blanket bridged between them. Even when Scott had slept over, they generally had their own space. He couldn’t help but be -aware- of Derek, of every place they touched or were close enough to touching that he could still feel it.

“Go to sleep.”

Derek’s voice was muffled by the pillow and sleep slurred, but it was enough to break through his ruminations. Stiles drew the blankets up around them before flipping onto his own stomach, nose tilted just enough into his pillow to breathe in the scent Derek left behind as he closed his eyes and finally drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Stiles groggily was aware of crying, but movement on the bed not caused by himself ripped any remains of sleep from him. He jerked, managing to elbow the figure moving above him in the jaw. Derek grunted - ‘Derek’ grunted, stilling above him in the darkness while Milena’s soft cries rang in the background.

“You want to change her that bad?” Derek asked, voice rough from sleep.

“Sorry I...you startled me,” Stiles mumbled, lowering his elbow so Derek could climb over him and exit the bed. He rolled onto his side, the room too dark for him to see much, so he just listened to the rustle of Derek lifting the baby from her crib, the crinkle as he changed her diaper. She hiccuped a few times, grunted when he tried to put her back in the crib, but Derek remained there a few moments, likely rubbing her back to entice her back to sleep.

Stiles must have closed his eyes again, because he opened them when he felt a dip in the mattress at the side of the bed before Derek hefted himself back over Stiles. Derek paused before settling back down, his breath warm against Stiles’ ear when he whispered, “if she poops it’s your turn.”

Morning came too soon. Stiles woke slowly, head fuzzy like he was hungover. He was vaguely aware that his face was wet, that his pillow seemed harder than usual. He wrinkling his nose in distaste when something tickled his nostril, his head jerking up off the pillow when the sensation only intensified. He wiped at his face groggily, eyes still closed, grimacing when his palm found a smear of drool at the side of his mouth.

Stiles’ eyes flew open at movement in the bed next to him. It took a second to realize that he was staring at Derek’s naked chest, and another second to register that the stuff tickling his nose had to be Derek’s chest hair...which also meant that the glossy wetness smeared across Derek’s pec was Stiles’ own drool….from where he’d been sleeping on him.

Stiles’ eyes whipped over to Derek’s face, relief flooding him that Derek seemed to still be asleep. The wolf’s arm was splayed across the pillow on Stiles’ side, his other arm curled above his head. Stiles somehow had managed to wedge himself almost sideways on the bed, one leg dangling over the edge at the knee and the other tucked up in a way he knew would cramp when he tried to extend it.

And oh god, he had drooled all over Derek’s fucking chest in his sleep.

Stiles gingerly took up the flannel sheet pooled at waist level, eyeing Derek carefully as he dragged a corner up to delicately dap at the drool. He froze at any shift or change in breathing on Derek’s part, beyond mortified when Derek’s nostrils flared and he started to flex his arm as he began to wake. Stiles did the mature thing and fled, all but lept from the bed to retreat to the bathroom.

He made it down the hall before he jerked to a halt at the sound of his own name. It had been his dad’s voice, no mistaking it, and it had sounded no nonsense. A quick pat to the groin assured him there was no morning wood to further embarrass him, so he slunk into his dad’s bedroom only to be greeted to the sight of his father standing fully dressed with Milena squished up in one arm. She was full dressed as well, complete with socks and her white bow headband. Her lips were pursed and spitty, her cheeks plump and chin slightly doubled from the position she was held in. She looked adorable, but a glance at his dad’s face kept Stiles from going over to squeeze her feet like he wanted to.

“Morning...Pops,” Stiles offered weakly, knowing he sounds completely guilty and pathetic despite having done nothing wrong. “Something-” and now can the rapid eye blinking of anxiety. “Something up?”

His dad’s mouth pincheed, brows raising just enough for Stiles to know he was being judged and found wanting. “I went to get Lena this morning,” he said, inclining the baby bodily for emphasis.

Stiles blamed the grogginess for the fact he hadn’t yet put two and two together and realized that his dad had not only been in his room, but definitely saw Derek in his bed. Probably with Stiles on top of him.

“Dad-”

“Really, Stiles? Did you seriously have sex with Milena right next to you in the room?”

“What?!” Stiles’ voice was much more high pitched than he’d intended, his mouth gaping open at his dad’s suggestion. “Oh my god, dad, Derek and I didn’t have *sex*.”

His dad’s brows raised just that bit higher that Stiles knew he was not impressed. Stiles rolled his eyes, hands slapping over his heated face to hide it from view as he groaned in frustration. “Lena shit all over him last night, so I washed his clothes and let him borrow some of yours. He got tired and fell asleep, then I got tired and fell asleep. Just two grown men sleeping next to each other, no funny stuff.”

They both stood a few feet apart, staring each other down in a mini standoff of wills, each waiting for the other to crack. They both looked over at the sound of a cough, just in time to see Derek shuffle past the bedroom to the bathroom, one hand ruffling his thick dark hair while the other scratched at his abs.

Stiles realized too late that his dad had switched to watching him watch Derek, his stupid Sheriff’s eyes glinting in triumph when Stiles finally forced himself to tear his gaze away from the space Derek had recently occupied.

“You should really see someone about that dirty mind,” Stiles snipped arms crossing defensively over his chest. “Unbecoming of an officer of the law.”

His dad rolled his eyes, sauntering past him with the air of a man who thought he’d won an argument. “And you should drool less on your werewolf boyfriend, unless that’s his thing.”

Be the time Stiles found his nerve and wandered back into his bedroom, Derek was full dressed again in his own clothes and pulling his leather jacket on. Stiles hovered in the doorway, unsure of how to break the silence. His hesitation must have been plain on his face, because when Derek looked up at him he smirked a little, almost in spite of himself.

“You could stand to drool a little less,” Derek deadpanned.

Stiles flushed, but was finally able to enter his own room again. “He’s so dramatic,” he groaned. “Sorry if you heard that mess....he just is really protective of Lena.”

“And you,” Derek added.

Stiles nodded, unable to disagree no matter how pissy he might be. Silence hung between them for a moment, Derek fiddling with the sleeve of his jacket while Stiles rubbed idly at the back of his own neck. “Thanks again,” he said before he could chicken out. “For watching the baby yesterday, it was a huge help.”

“No problem” Derek said with a little shrug, like it really wasn’t.

“My dad’s home til later this afternoon, so he offered to bring her to the shop on his way into work,” Stiles said. “You deserve a lazy day after getting shit on and everything.”

Derek snorted, hands pushing into his jacket pockets as he shifted his stance. “Pretty sure it goes with the territory,” he said, bemused.

“Yeah, but you didn’t sign up for that,” Stiles replied before he could think better of it, immediately hoping it didn’t come off as bitter or judgemental. He didn’t hold Derek’s initial reservations against him at all, knew Derek’s reasons were sound even if Stiles hadn’t completely understood them at the time.

Derek looked like he’s about to say something, but stops, expression frustratingly unreadable as per usual, but he didn’t look angry. Stiles felt his pulse quicken when Derek finally looked at him again, obviously about to speak.

“Can I borrow some toothpaste before I go? Morning breath.”

Stiles tried to keep his deflation low key, nodding quickly to cover up his disappointment. “Yeah, of course. I keep mine in the left drawer next to the sink, mouthwash is in the cabinet.”

 

-------

Stiles and Erica were boxing up orders when his dad came in to drop Milena off before work. She was milkdrunk in her carrier, and Erica couldn’t help but laugh at how sweaty she was from sleep, how ridiculous she looked with her oversized bow drooping onto her face. John sat on the edge of Erica’s desk for a while, the three of them chatting quietly while they worked in comfortable camaraderie while Milena slept in her carrier. Stiles lurched for the phone when it rang, grimacing at the loud noise and ducking from the room to take the call, hoping against hope it wouldn’t wake the baby.

Milena was still sleeping when John finally left for work, and Erica moved behind the counter when a few women walked into the store. Stiles kept the lights dim in his office so the baby could sleep, the door cracked so he could hear if she woke up. He started the afternoon optimistic, hoping Milena would sleep another hour or so, but that dream soon came to a grinding halt as her wails echoed into the front of the store.

The sling appeased her for a little while, Milena was content to stare wide eyed at the new sights around her as Stiles tended to his plants and re-stocked some shelves, but these tasks were all awkward to manage with a baby strapped to his chest. He bounced his knees while he straightened some face cream, but it soon wasn’t enough to appease her.

“Holy on, honey,” He whispered in a singsong when she started to fuss. He got a little bit more done before had finally had to stop and fix her a bottle, the break much longer than one he would normally take. After the bottle he rocked her in his darkened office, his jacket wedged under the door to keep the voices from the shop to a minimum. Another twenty minutes later he was back in the office to change her, pointedly avoiding Erica’s unimpressed stare as he hurried past her. That look turned out to be nothing compared to the pure horror when Stiles had to rush past her to get to the dumpster out back with a soiled diaper, both hands clasping over her nose and mouth as she gagged out “sweet Jesus!”

“Light a candle!” Stiles called over his shoulder.

Erica lit ten. It was definitely overkill but Stiles wasn’t about to tell her so.

Stiles was in the middle of an order over the phone when Milena started wailing from the office. He nervously glanced over his shoulder a few times before Erica finally tapped him on the shoulder and gestured for him to hand the phone over. He barely concealed his sigh of relief as he explained to the customer that he had to step away, but Erica would finish her order. He rushed to the office, knowing the customer could hear the reedy cries over the line even when Erica moved to the other end of the store.

“You know this isn’t going to work long term,” Erica said later, leaning into the office where Stiles was sitting on the floor with his laptop to return email while Milena did tummy time atop a pile of order forms.

Stiles deflated. “I know.” He set the laptop to the side, leaning forward to pluck a highlighter from Milena’s death grip before she could get it anywhere near her open mouth. He drew her into his lap, let her face out so she could still look at her surroundings and occupy herself. “I know, I’m sorry...I don’t know why I thought it would work but I swear I did.”

Erica smiled then, not at all unkind. “Of course you did, Batman. You had good intentions, but you’ve never been around kids really. Now we need to get realistic about what we’re going to do.”

Again, Stiles couldn’t argue.

Erica tilted her head, blonde hair falling over her shoulder and Stiles could just tell some real shit was coming. “I thought Derek was watching her for you during the day?”

Stiles snorted. “Yeah, once. I can’t exactly expect him to do it every day.”

“Well it’s not like he’s got anything else to do.”

The way she said it was so finite, so absolute that Stiles was left momentarily gobsmacked. For a split second he thought she was just being mean, his mouth was even open to say just that, but she rolled her eyes at him and steamed right ahead.

“Oh come on, my reluctant Alpha has spent more time with you in the past week than he has with his own pack in like eight years. He’s been there more than Scott, and I know how much McCall moons over that baby...oh and don’t think John didn’t tell me about your little sleepover.” She waggled her eyebrows. “So let daddy wolf take care of sprout while Packmom brings home the bacon, ok? Everyone wins.”

Stiles must not have look convinced because Erica actually stepped into the office and crouched down before him, a hand cupping either side of his face, squishing his cheeks just a bit. “I love you, but you can be so dense. Don’t overcomplicate things.”

Her advice rang through his head the rest of the afternoon, on the way home from work, and while he made a simple supper of frozen lasagna for himself and a bottle for the baby. Erica’s statement that Derek had nothing better to do still seemed spiteful to him, but it wasn’t inaccurate. Stiles didn’t know all the details, but he knew Derek didn’t have to work thanks to his family’s insurance money, that he lived simply but still managed to afford the occasional lavish splurge. The idea was also echoed in the fact that Derek had already done far more than Stiles had ever in his wildest dreams expected.

Derek been there so much already, and really aside from his dad, there was no one Stiles trusted Milena with more. He was good with her, patient and unflappable. Even explosive diarrhea hadn’t sent him running for the hills. Stiles supposed Erica was right and he really shouldn’t overthink things.

With Lena all clean and changed into soft footie pajamas, Stiles settled himself onto a mound of pillows in bed, the baby resting back so she was cradled by his tucked up legs. She was alert, feet kicking against his belly and hands fisted at her sides. Her nostrils flared excitedly every time Stiles brought a fingertip towards her, waving it in front of her face to attract her attention. Her little fingers curled, the intention to grab there but the coordination still lacking. Her mouth opened wide when he booped her nose, spit dribbling onto her chin as she cried out in excitement.

“You’re such a dork,” Stiles teased, booping her nose again. He played with her feet for a while, pushing her chunky legs up and down until she began pushing against his hands herself. “Big strong girl!”

Stiles kept eyeing his phone, hoping it would light up with a message from Derek, giving him an excuse. As time went on and he was squeezing Milena’s wriggling foot, he could almost hear Erica’s exasperated “don’t be a pussy, Stilinski!” and finally forced himself to reach over and grab it. He could initiate. He could totally initiate!

Stiles: Hey Sourwolf! Any chance you’d want to babysit some more?

Derek was there the next morning to watch Milena, then again the following afternoon. That second night he ended up napping on Stiles’ bed again, resulting in another exhausted bout of bedsharing. The following day Derek showed up with a toothbrush, “just in case” he claimed, but it still earned him a smug look from his dad upon later discovery.

Stiles had never explicitly asked or even implied that Derek should sleep over, but the wolf began to do so with increasing frequency. If forced under duress, Stiles would have to admit it was both nice and terrible. It was great to have another person to take turns with the baby at night, he was more rested than he’d been in weeks and it was great to be able to spend even half days at the shop uninterrupted.

On the other hand...

Derek wore stupid thin sweatpants that Stiles could totally see his dick through. It was distracting and hard to not focus on when they were together, and he felt like a complete pervert thirsting while his infant adopted daughter was less than three feet away. Derek was also, beyond every fathomable expectation, a cuddler. A few nights, Stiles had woken up as the little spoon, with Derek wedged up close behind him, arm like an iron bar about his waist and breath gusting soft and warm against Stiles’ neck. Derek slept hot, burly shirtless chest like a furnace against Stiles’ back, thick thigh pressed between Stiles’ legs, almost nudging his balls.

It got even more awkward one morning when Stiles woke to the not entirely unfamiliar press of Derek’s morning wood against his ass. His first sleepy instincts were apparently slutty ones, as he arched back against it before putting two and two together and realizing that Derek’s hard dick was intimately nestled between his boxer clas asscheeks. Upon full waking realization of the situation, Stiles immediately scooted his hips forward and away, mortified to realize that he too was in a similar state of chub.

Without a backwards glance, Stiles hightailed it to the bathroom before Derek could wake up and make a similar realization. When cold water wasn’t enough to “subdue” his excited state, Stiles took matters directly in hand and quickly jerked off. If he maybe pressed the tip of one finger into himself to get the job done, that was between him and the bathroom tile. Or so he’d thought.

It was all too telling when Derek wouldn’t make eye contact as soon as Stiles returned from his shower. He was hovering by the crib, which wouldn’t have been suspicious except for the fact that Milena was still conked out. Stiles flushed deep red when Derek wouldn’t look at him, when he realized that with his stupid werewolf hearing Derek had -totally- heard him jerk it in the shower, but the second he opened his mouth to say something Derek all but fled into the bathroom himself.

Stiles worried he’d fucked everything up, suddenly sick with the thought he’d rocked the boat just as things were going so well. His heart sank when Derek made an excuse about having some errands to run, spent the rest of the day anxious that he wouldn’t be back again that night. Odd how quickly he got used to having another person share his space, when he’d normally needed so much of it to himself.

Milena was fussy all day, feeding off his nervous energy. Stiles tried to get himself under control, knowing she was just too in tune with his emotions, but he couldn’t help the endless ruminations. Yeah, the thought of Derek’s dick touching him in any way caused Stiles’ to short circuit a little bit, but he liked having Derek there as his own personal heated blanket. He liked being able to groan and slap Derek’s chest if he didn’t want to get up with the baby, and Derek would heave himself out of bed without complaint and take care of it. He just liked it.

His dad came home around dinner time, one little joke about Stiles’ vegetable of choice earning him a snapped reply that left John’s brows raised both in surprise and disapproval. Stiles apologized, but John still took the baby from him, telling Stiles to “go up and take a bath or something” and to come back down when he was ready to be around people again. Stiles wanted to protest, but instead he just went upstairs as told. He considered taking a more relaxing shower than the one he’d had that morning, but instead just went to his bedroom and flopped down on his bed.

Stiles stared at the ceiling for a while in the too quiet room, foot tapping against the mattress as an outlet for his nervous energy. He chewed at the side of his thumb, unsure what to do with himself. He glanced at his phone only to find a stupid screenshotted facebook meme from Scott and nothing else. Stiles tried to distract himself with a game for a few minutes before giving up with a groan. He rubbed the heels of his hands against his eyes, hating the uncertainty that was rotting away at the pit of his stomach. Stiles hadn’t felt this insecure since he was a teenager, had practically forgotten how to handle it. Sitting in his childhood bed, staring at the ceiling, he almost felt like that sixteen year old kid again.

Noise downstairs caught his attention, muffled voices, first his dad’s and then Derek’s.

Stiles shot up in bed, ears perking as he strained to hear what they were saying. Seeing as he wasn’t a freaking werewolf with magical senses though, he couldn’t make any of it out. Stiles finally had to resort to creeping down the stairs to hear what was going on, realizing about halfway down that Derek could totally hear him and he might as well just join them rather than look even more like a creeper than he had that morning. He rounded the end of the stairs to find Derek and his dad seated at the kitchen table, both of them eating, with a third plate untouched across from his dad.

Milena was in Derek’s lap, her eyes going wide and alert when Stiles got close enough to smell. Both Derek and his dad looked up when he reached neared the table, Derek looking almost sheepish and his dad brandishing the shittiest wolfy grin of self satisfaction.

“Ready to rejoin the living?” John asked, inclining a hand towards the spare place setting.

Stiles reached a hand up to rub the back of his neck with a nod, sitting in the chair his dad pulled out for him. Milena was gurgling, legs kicking excitedly when Stiles was close enough for her to see, spittle running down the side of her wide open mouth.

“At least someone is happy to see me!” Stiles grabbed one of her feet and pretended to eat it, smiling wide at her shriek of delight. He couldn’t help but look up at Derek then, an almost unconscious action, but he found Derek looking back at him, lids a little hooded and head bowed, barely there smile only just visible. Stiles didn’t know when it had happened, but he noticed then that his entire body felt looser, like he could finally breathe again.

The rest of dinner went smoothly. John finished eating first, and took the baby while Derek and Stiles finished up. He was more chatty than usual, keeping the conversation going and engaging both Derek and Stiles. It took Derek a little time to warm up, his answers first brief and quiet but gradually more comfortable.

“Hey, where’s your mom’s recipe box?”

The question caught Stiles off guard, and he couldn’t help but blink at his dad in confusion for a second or two. They both missed Claudia and loved her, they just didn’t talk about her, especially since his dad had stopped drinking. “Y-you mean the wooden one?”

“Yeah,” John said, tone still easy and conversational as he lifted Milena so she was ‘standing’ upright in his lap, her little feet pressing against his thighs to practice putting her weight on them. “I was thinking we could make her pierogis this weekend, have Scott and Erica over so we could all eat together. Melissa too if she’s not working, it’s been too long since we all got together.”

Stiles was almost too baffled to notice Derek withdrawing. They hadn’t made his mom’s family pierogi recipe since before she passed away, really since before she’d gotten sick. He swallowed, finding it hard with the thickness in his throat. His dad had suggested it so offhandedly, like it was nothing. It had been his dad who had hidden the box away in the first place, too painful to keep in the potential line of sight. “We haven’t made those in forever,” Stiles felt compelled to point out, despite the obviousness.

John lifted Milena under her arms, holding her up eye level so he could make an exaggerated face at her and earn himself a squeal. “Well I’d like Lena to learn about her grandma one day, so we might as well start practicing now, right missy? Grandpa is fuzzy on the dumplings and will need a few trial runs.”

Stiles blinked, not wanting to ruin his dad’s good mood with his own rush of bottled up emotions. “Well she’s not even onto solids yet, pops, so you’ve got time.”

“You’re coming too, Derek,” John said, standing from his seat and handing the baby to the wolf in question. “And no more hiding in Stiles’ room at mealtimes. If you’re here, you eat with us.”

Derek nodded, expression unreadable. John didn’t seem phased though as he picked up his dishes and took them into the kitchen.

Some of Stiles’ prior tensions returned as dinner wound down. His dad had gone up to shower while he and Derek were in the kitchen, both of them dragging their feet to finish cleaning up. Derek finally asked if Stiles needed help giving Milena a bath, which he gladly accepted. They washed her in the sink, Derek holding her up while Stiles gave her a good scrub-down with a soft cloth, paying special attention to her sticky neck rolls.

Stiles was practically screaming internally by the end of it, needing to know if Derek was going to leave again. Never one to have the strongest impulse control, Stiles finally couldn’t help but just blurt out “so do you want to stay over?” while they were dressing her up in his bedroom.

Derek looked a little caught out, brows lifting a bit, maybe from the slightly harried edge to Stiles’ voice, but finally he nodded. “Ok.”

They lay in bed with the baby for a while, watching some tv on Stiles’ laptop. Stiles took a video on his phone of Milena trying to suckle on Derek’s nose, both of them laughing at how jerky and uncoordinated she was and how desperately she seemed to want his nose in her mouth. Derek grimaced when she gummed him, lamenting at how nasty and plentiful of spit it felt.

“Such a gross baby,” Stiles teased, patting her diapered butt with a laugh.

Stiles told himself everything was still fine when it was time to go to sleep, despite the fact that he was suddenly aware of every place he and Derek touched once they were both lying on their respective side of the bed. Both of them usually started on their stomachs facing opposite directions, even though they woke tangled together. This time they were both on their backs, staring awkwardly at the ceiling with the blankets pulled up to their armpits. The cramped mattress forced them close together, their shoulders pressed flush and one of Derek’s knees was bent just enough to nudge against Stiles’ thigh. Every brush against one another sent static through Stiles, shocking him back to full alert wakefulness. It had never been this stagnant before, and Stiles knew if they didn’t clear the air soon, Milena would start to smell it and get fussy.

The mattress squeaked when Stiles rolled onto his side, he propped himself onto one arm even though it was really too dark in the room for him to see much of Derek’s face. “This is stupid,” he finally whispered so as not to disturb the baby. “So we both jerked off, guys do that. Doesn’t mean we have to make it weird.”

“...Ok” came the hushed response.

“So relax and stop making it weird.”

“...Ok.”

Stiles squinted in the dark a little longer, trying to make out Derek’s expression and wishing Milena had a brighter nightlight. Feeling he’d made his point, Stiles flopped all the way around so he was in his traditional stomach position. He balled his pillow under his head and let one knee droop over the edge of the bed like usual. He bit his cheek to keep the smug grin that crept up when he felt the mattress rustle beneath Derek’s own shifting.

They fell into an unspoken routine after that. Stiles wasn’t working full time yet, but the shop was doing fine, and Erica was more than happy to bring Kira in when she needed an extra pair of hands. Derek babysat while he was at work, and spent most nights at the Stilinski house. They ended up having the big dinner with his mom’s special recipe after all, his dad even took a personal day to help cook and spend time all together. John put Derek to work on potato duty while Stiles shredded the cheese and diced the shallots. John worked on the dough himself, singing along with the radio as he kneaded it. Milena was in her bouncer, beyond entertained with the many sights and sounds before her.

As much as Derek had opened up with the Stilinski men, he shut down just as quickly once the rest of the pack began showing up. He stuck to the background, focused on caring for the baby rather than insert himself into the bustling conversation. Scott and Erica were a little standoffish at first, both of them unsure how to act around Derek, momentarily unsettled to find their estranged Alpha so at home the the Stilinski’s. When Derek disappeared into the kitchen to fix Milena a bottle, Stiles caught Scott tracking Derek’s every move, watching the familiarity with which he collected everything from the various cabinets.

“Dude, exactly how much has Derek been here, lately?” Scott asked, doing his “Scott’s Best” version of a whisper which was not in the least bit quiet or subtle. The way Stiles shrugged must have been less than convincing, as Scott’s eyes just widened further in disbelief. He shoved against Stiles’ side, brows climbing into his hairline. “Dude...I knew he was helping but this is just…”

“I know,” Stiles replied, actually whispering.

“He’s so domesticated, it’s freaking me out,” Erica hissed later, carrot crunching obscenely loud between her white teeth as she watched Derek help John and Scott set the table. “Are you putting out? How did this happen?”

It was Erica who first threw out “mom and dad” in reference to Stiles and Derek during the conversation at dinner. It was without malice, lacking any of her usual bite, and Stiles took it as a positive sign, especially since she also stopped tensing up every time Derek looked in her general direction. Even Scott admitted before leaving that Derek wasn’t so bad after all, and that the evening proved far less awkward than he’d been anticipating. He even suggested making a group dinner a regular thing.

After the big dinner, the Pack Mom and Dad joke became a regular thing. It was the kind of ridiculousness he expected from Erica, but when Scott started saying it Stiles knew it wasn’t going away. When even Kira cracked a Pack Mom joke while they were at the shop, Stiles resigned himself to his new official title. Not that he minded it, if questioned under duress, Stiles would admit it was actually kind of cute. If anything, it made him all the more aware of how close he and Derek were getting. Every time Derek put a hand to the small of his back to direct him, the comfortable way they brushed past each other in the morning, the heat of Derek beside him at night. Sometimes Stiles had to stop himself from pressing a little peck to Derek’s cheek when saying goodbye, the gesture just felt so natural, but it was still beyond anything they’d done before.

Peter Hale standing on his doorstep was a definite shock.

Stiles was opening the front door to take the trash out only to find Derek’s undead uncle on his front porch with a cardboard box in his arms. He had that smarmy closed lipped smile plastered across his face, immediately raising Stiles’ hackles. Peter may have been on his best behavior over the past few years, but Stiles never could fully trust someone he couldn’t read, and Peter just always looked too pleased with himself for Stiles to relax completely.

“Well isn’t that service, I didn’t even have to knock.”

Stiles was shaken from his reverie by Peter’s voice, realizing a second or two later that he’d been spoken to. He blinked, but Peter didn’t say anything else, just stood there staring back at him.

“You’ve uh...got a box.”

Peter smirked, almost fond. “Astute as always Stiles.”

“Do I want to know what’s in it?”

“Well it’s not exactly for you, but if you would give it to Derek I’d appreciate it.” Peter’s white teeth were bared this time, wolfish smile positively delighted.

Stiles blinked at him, mouth pouting in confusion. “Why-”

“You see, Stiles, I find I’m quite enjoying the bachelor life now that you and my dear nephew are playing house, and I think I’d prefer it if the situation became a little more permanent.” Peter gleefully reached forward with the box, passing it to Stiles. He stood and watched when Stiles nearly dropped the box which was ‘much’ heavier than Peter made it seem.

“Jesus Christ, did you seriously put everything he owns in here?” Stiles sputtered, nudging the box back into balance with his knee so he could adjust his grip.

“Turns out he had quite a bit more than I anticipated,” Peter said, conversational and friendly, like he wasn’t throwing Derek out of his own apartment.

“You’re such an asshole,” Stiles said. “Typical Peter, always looking out for himself and screw Derek, right?”

Peter snorted, eyes rolling like Stiles had said something adorably stupid. “I’m saving him the trouble of making up excuses to stay where he wants to be. Derek isn’t good at asking for what he wants. You of all people should know that.”

Stiles didn’t know what to say in response, his prolonged silence enough of a cue for Peter to turn on his heel and return to his car, tossing “you’re welcome” over his shoulder with a cheeky little wave. Stiles almost waved back, he was that stunned, but managed to stop himself just in time. He left the trash bag on the porch and instead hauled the box upstairs, grunting and wheezing the entire way. It was loud enough that Derek was leaning out into the hall through Stiles’ bedroom door, Milena trying to eat her fist in his arm.

“Was that my uncle?”

“Yeah...Zombie Wolf came bearing a gift.” Stiles waddled down the hallway, his back screaming at him as he hauled the box into his bedroom and managed to dump it on his bed. Derek wandered up behind him, brows knit together in confusion as he watched Stiles pull open the flaps to reveal the contents. They both leaned forward to peek at what was inside, Stiles was still a little shocked to actually see mundane things like clothes, a hairbrush, a photo album, a spare pair of shoes.

“So I guess you’re moving in!”

Derek’s head tilted towards him, brows arching even further. “What?”

Stiles folded his arms over his chest, hating Peter for leaving him to do his dirty work even if he may have had less than terrible intentions after all. “Apparently your uncle likes your apartment and has usurped it.” His guts churned a bit as he watched a flurry of emotions cross Derek’s face, unable to remain silent when the wolf’s green eyes rounded in hurt.

“He thinks you like staying here, and he’s saving you the effort of going back and forth,” Stiles blurted out, fingers drumming along his arms as a nervous outlet. “If you want to tell him to go fuck himself, go for it, but you know-”

Stiles almost couldn’t stand the way Derek stared at him, pale eyes wide and expectant as he patiently waited to hear what alternative Stiles was offering. Stiles wasn’t sure how to delicately broach the subject, how to possible convey the jumble of things he was feeling when even he wasn’t quite sure which end was up at the moment.

“Do you want to just live here? With us?” was what Stiles’ mouth eloquently settled on. “Because that would be ok, you know...if that’s what you want.”

Milena sneezed, catching both of their attention and startling even herself. Derek adjusted her when she started to fuss, raising her to his shoulder so he could rub her back. He nodded then, first to himself and then up at Stiles. “Ok.”

Stiles exhaled through his nose, arms uncrossing so his hands could rest on his hips. “Ok!”

“Only-”

Stiles’ heart stopped at Derek’s sheepish tone, mind already whirling with all the caveats that might come up.

“Can we get a new bed? Your mattress sucks.”

Stiles would have thrown one of Derek’s own shirts in his face if he wasn’t holding the baby. Fucker.

Chapter Text

“Ba da da da!”

Stiles winced when Milena excitedly slapped her hands onto the tray of her high chair, her little mouth open like a hungry bird as she watched Stiles stir her bowl of avocado puree. Deaton had recommended they move on to solids at her six month checkup. Rice cereal was a favorite, as was pumpkin, and today they were venturing onto something new. She flapped her hands while she watched Stiles, feet rubbing together below her tray as she babbled excitedly. That was a new development too, and Milena was only too thrilled to explore the new sounds she could make at high volumes.

“Are her rubber bands down here?” Stiles asked to Derek, who was taking a picture of the baby on his phone.

“Yeah, want me to do her poof?”

“Yeah, I have a feeling this is going to go all over her face,” Stiles said, smile smug as he inclined the bowl.

Derek snorted, fishing in his pocket for the soft little bands that were gentle on her hair. Milena’s hair was much longer now, thick and dark with a penchant for growing forwards into her eyes. They had found it was easiest to just gather it on top of her head in a little poof, the tuft of hair that stuck up atop her head making her look like a pineapple. Stiles’ hands tended to shake a bit, a side effect of his meds, and Derek had managed to get her coif down to a science. He had her poofed and ready in a matter of seconds, her face scrunched in irritation that her food had been even temporarily blocked from vision.

“Someone’s hungry.”

“She’s always hungry,” Stiles countered, pulling the chair beside her out with his foot. Derek sat opposite, phone at the ready to capture her reactions for John. Milena’s eyes were a little wild when Stiles finally held the lime green plastic spoon up to her mouth. Like always, Milena’s face scrunched as she tried the new puree, tongue sticking out as she first pushed the mush all the way out of her mouth before shoving it back in with a finger.

“Is that good?” Stiles asked in a high octave sing song.

“She always looks so grossed out,” Derek mused, chuckling when Milena smeared green all across her mouth. “Like we’re torturing her with food.”

“This isn’t nearly as bad as the peas,” Stiles countered.

“Nothing was as bad as the peas.”

“I mean you make that face at me all the time and you like me just fine.” Stiles stuck his tongue out in delight when he caught Derek flicking him off from his peripheral vision as he spooned some more green goop into Milena’s mouth. She immediately spit it back out, her chubby little fingers dragging through it before raising to rub the pure into her hair before either Derek or Stiles could stop her. They both groaned aloud, even though when it came to dinner time food in the hair had become more of a standard than an aberration.

“Guess it’s bath night,” Derek said with a smirk, thumbs tapping against his phone screen, presumably sending John some photos from Trial Avocado.

Baths were so much easier now that she could sit up unassisted. She was still wobbly, sitting up was relatively new and she occasionally fell over, but for the most part she could just sit with her chunky legs splayed in shallow water and do just fine. It was easier to just hop into the shower with her, but she loved to sit in her bath and slap the water or gum her rubber froggie. They had to be careful now, she had two little teeth poking through on the bottom, and Derek already was paranoid she was going to chew through the rubber. Stiles was too, but he relished his one chance to play the “chill” parent, at least outwardly.

They both knelt on the bathroom floor, Derek supporting Milena under one armpit while he rubbed her down with body wash while Stiles worked the shampoo into her hair. He flattened in between both palms, giving her a soapy mohawk. Milena babbled at both of them while she worked, little repetitive noises of varying volumes until she remembered how fun it was to lick her frog toy. Her face wrinkled when they tipped her back to rinse her hair, a few crocodile cries dramatically slipping out until she was righted again for once final body rinse.

“Good girl, all done,” Stiles cooed brightly at her while Derek fetched her towel. He’d unplugged the tub and was babbling along with the Milena by the time Derek returned to scoop her up and bundled her into the towel. Stiles rinsed the rub out quickly so the bottom wouldn’t be slick for his dad later before joining them once more in the bedroom.

The new bed and frame had been one of the most expensive personal purchases Stiles had ever made, outside of his shop. Derek had pitched in, insisting that since he’d be sharing it he might as well share the cost, but it still made his heart skip a beat. The purchase had been well worth it though, the bed of significantly higher quality than the dingy spring mattress he’d been sleeping on since junior high, and now that Milena was sleeping a solid six to eight hours a night Stiles was getting some of the best sleep of his life. Amazing what a little pressure point relief and memory foam could do.

The mattress was also larger. So much larger. When ordering online, they’d been starry eyed with thoughts of personal space and the ability to fully extend their legs without their feet dangling off the end of the bed. Stiles had figured it would be a tight squeeze, but he hadn’t realized just how tight. They’d realized they may have made a mistake when they got the frame assembled and it took up almost the entire room. Stiles had to take his desk out just so that they could fit the frame together completely and still have room for the crib and dresser. They’d stared at it a moment, arms crossed and heads cocked, stared again when they got the new mattress out of the box and waited as it slowly expanded.

“God it’s big,” Stiles had mumbled as he surveyed the finished product.

“So big,” Derek had agreed.

John had just poked his head in with Milena and snorted, head tossed all the way back in his amusement. “Oh Jesus, Stiles, you didn’t measure did you.”

It was almost comical how little space was left in the room. They had to shuffle around, turn to the side along the walls, but it was completely worth it. Not only was it beyond comfortable, but it served as home base for tummy time, story time, nap time, Netflix binges, and diaper changes.

Changing times have gotten a lot more interesting too. Milena could roll over now, and she never stopped trying the second they got her on her back. One of them was usually on spotting duty while the other wiped and dried her as quickly as possible. The same went for changing clothes, she liked to babble and wriggle, often popping a leg free just as soon as they worked it into her pajamas.

Stiles distracted her with peek-a-boo while Derek stuffed her flailing limbs into her jammies, Milena’s smile going from concerned to broad every time Stiles’ face reappeared from between his own hands. All clean and dressed, Derek popped a pacifier into her mouth and settled into bed with her for some story time. All the parenting books stressed how important reading time was for infant language development, so they made sure to read to Milena every night. Derek had been reading her the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and most nights Stiles liked to listen in, but that night he opted to bust out some work emails down in the living room instead. He lingered in the bedroom doorway a second or two though, listened to the quiet timber of Derek’s voice as he read in the soft glow of the bedroom. It was tempting to go back in and join then, but doing work now meant he’d have more time with them during the day, so Stiles forced himself to step away and head downstairs.

Stiles settled down on one side of the couch with his laptop, his feet on the coffee table and a bottle of beer sweating beside them. He looked up from his computer every time he heard a cry break out from upstairs, but they were quickly quieted down and he hackles didn’t rise like they would have a few months ago. He knew Lena was probably just resisting being set down into her crib, but Derek was better at leaving her to self soothe than he was he so quickly returned his attentions to matters at hand.

A sharp pain sliced through the arch of his foot, the third he’d had that evening. Stiles rolled his ankle, extending his foot forward before pulling it back to try and stretch it out. They’d taken Milena to the preserve for a walk that afternoon, the excursion far longer than Stiles had anticipated or than his long outdated footwear could keep up with. It had been fun though, watching Milena respond to the birds around them, having Derek point of places he used to play with his siblings when he was kids, see their initials carved into a massive tree. Derek had grabbed his arm to help him up a steep hill, and Stiles swore his skin had tingled for a solid hour afterwards.

By the time Derek finally ambled down the stairs, Stiles was done with his work and had moved on to Pinterest, the TV quietly playing in the background. Derek flopped down onto the couch beside him, arms spread out along the back of the couch.

“How did it go putting her down?” Stiles asked.

Derek shrugged. “The usual. She fussed when I put her in the crib but she quieted pretty quick.”

“She has to be tired, that was a lot for her today and she didn’t get as long a nap in this afternoon.”

Derek nodded in agreement before leaning forward to steal a drink from Stiles’ beer. “What are you doing?”

Stiles angled his laptop so Derek could see his Pinterest page and the many colorful images adorning it. “Checking out some recipes for Thanksgiving dinner.” After the success of their pack dinners, John had shocked them by suggesting that they host Thanksgiving for everyone. While Stiles had initially been a little daunted by the sheer scale of work involved, the fear was giving way to excitement as he planned recipes and got replies to his Facebook invites.

“Anything good?” Derek’s arm slid behind Stiles’ neck as he leaned over even further to get a good look at the screen, skin warm through his Henley. Stiles couldn’t help but be aware of the closeness, even if it was something he was more accustomed to these days.

Stiles showed him what he’d found thus far, doing some mental math to determine how many batches of each he would need for the amount of people they were expecting.

“Could I make the stuffing?” Derek’s voice was small, hopeful, his eyes focused on the screen still which in Derek speak meant he felt nervous about asking. “I used to make it with my mom every year...haven’t made it since the fire but I still remember the recipe.”

“Yeah sure,” Stiles said, keeping it casual. “That would be awesome, and probably way better than the boxed shit I was going to make.” He wiggled his toes against more impending stiffness, wincing when he felt his calf begin to cramp. He shifted his legs, arching his foot again to fend off the stiffness.

“You ok?”

Stiles flexed his foot again, nodding. “Just time to get more supportive shoes. My feet are mad at me from the walk today. This happened once back in high school, I just got some better sneakers it went away.” It dawned on him then that those shoes he bought in high school were the same ones he’d worn that day. Jesus, he really didn’t change things up much, did he…

A little squeak of surprise slipped from between his lips when his body was suddenly moving, legs swinging to the side from Derek’s grip on his ankles as they were relocated from the coffee table to Derek’s own lap.

“What-” Stiles’ question was cut off by a rather indecent groan as Derek dug a thumb into the arch of his foot. “Oh my god…”

Derek just smirked, dragging his thumb up the underside of Stiles’ foot before pressing firm against the ball of it, right between the bones. It sent tingles all up Stiles’ foot, creeping up over his ankle and calf...and then a little further north.

He hoped it wasn’t too obvious when he set his computer in his lap.

“I’m going to make you regret letting me know you can do this,” Stiles warned him, opening up a new tab to browse for shoes, settling back against the cushioned arm of the couch. Derek only offered a snort in return, but continued his ministrations, his own feet propped one atop the other on the coffee table before him.

Stiles ended up closing his computer but leaving it in his lap as there wasn’t a blanket around to hide beneath. He and Derek watched some Law and Order SVU from the DVR, his feet left pillowed in Derek’s lap once the wolf was done massaging them, his hands resting warm atop Stiles’ bare ankles. The long day finally caught up with them both as they sat slumped against the couch and watched the show in silence. Stiles’ lids began to droop and he almost announced that he was ready for bed when he heard a key in the front door.

They both looked over their shoulders to greet John as he came in the front door. John raised a hand in greeting, but looked pointedly at Stiles’ feet in Derek’s lap when he rounded the couch and caught sight of them. He didn’t say anything, but he did offer Stiles a knowing onceover before undoing his gun belt and slouching into his easy chair with a groan. John asked how Lena had liked the preserve, and Derek shared some of the photos they had taken that day. John put his glasses on to look at them, big dopey grin on his face as he scrolled through the camera roll.

“Did you invite Peter to Thanksgiving yet?” John asked when he handed the phone back to Derek. The question caught Stiles completely off guard, but it must have been something that the two of them had spoken about privately, because Derek just nodded.

“He declined,” Derek said, tone indicating this was the answer he’d anticipated. He glanced to Stiles, likely feeling the weight of his gaze and knowing he wanted an explanation. “Your dad suggested I invite him to dinner. I figured he wouldn’t come-”

“Still worth offering,” John insisted.

Stiles’ brows furrowed, confused. “Do you want him to come?”

Derek shrugged. “He’s family.”

“He’s done a lot in the past,” Stiles reminded him.

“I did a lot too,” Derek said, regret heavy in his voice. “I’m willing to move forward but...I think he’s still scared to let anyone in.”

“You can always keep trying, son,” John assured him. It was a little surreal, as Stiles knew that no one disliked Peter more than his dad, but Stiles supposed he shouldn’t be too shocked. John and Derek had obviously talked about this together before, so there had to be something John found redeemable in Peter to make him so agreeable to this plan. Not to mention the fact that his dad obviously had grown to like Derek a great deal over their months of cohabitation, and John was willing to put aside all sorts of differences for people he cared about.

It made Stiles give the matter some real consideration too. He never in a million years would have foreseen his future as one that included regular contact with Peter Hale, but if Derek really wanted to rebuild ties with his uncle, and Peter did at least seem to be on improved and stable behavior, then Stiles supposed it was a concept he was going to have to get used to. He tried to picture it, Peter sitting at the table, maybe even sneaking a face at Milena to make her giggle. Once Stiles fell down the contemplation rabbit hole, he could imagine that Peter would be good with kids. Not that he’d be dropping Lena off for babysitting anytime soon, but he might pay good money to see Peter change a blowout or two.

It was obviously something that mattered to Derek, he could see the hurt Derek tried to push down the rare times he spoke about it. So Stiles swallowed his pride and ended up texting Peter himself a few days before Thanksgiving to remind him he was welcome. Though delayed, Peter actually sent a reply that read ‘maybe next time.’ It felt like progress, and Stiles took it as permission to hound him in the future, something Stiles fully intended to do.

Thanksgiving began a chaotic mess. They had both gotten up at ass o’clock to throw a gigantic turkey in the oven and get going on the sides. Derek had left bread torn up in pieces out overnight to air dry on trays, but there was plenty of peeling, washing, and chopping to keep them busy for most of the morning. They kept things quiet until John woke up for a short shift, promising he would be back to help a bit before dinner. Being the Sheriff, holidays did not grant him the luxury of guaranteed time off, but he assured Stiles that he had pulled some strings to clear a few hours that evening.

Milena was fussy in the morning until they turned the Moana soundtrack on. The second the chorus of Shiny hit, she began kicking her feet in her bouncer, her hands waving before her as a wide grin split her face. She shrieked in delight, prompting a couple replays until Derek finally distracted her with food. They couldn’t afford to get sick of the soundtrack when it was one of the only things that chilled her out without fail.

Erica showed up early with Kira and a couple bottles of wine. She offered to help and actually seemed to mean it, peeling carrots and mincing garlic while giggling with Kira. She tentatively smiled at Derek when he offered her a glass of wine, even asked after the total dad Toyota Derek had bought about a month ago. The Camaro was in storage, safely tucked away for later, but Derek was a total dork about his new car, told Erica all about the safety rating and proximity alerts. She kept tossing Stiles stealth glances while nodding, eyes occasionally widening in lingering bewilderment.

“You’re such a fucking dad,” she chuckled into her wine as she took a sip, patting Derek on the shoulder in almost fond condolence.

The turkey was dry, the mashed potatoes had way too much garlic in them, and they ended up with about eight pumpkin pies because everyone seemed to bring one, but there was plenty to eat and everyone enjoyed themselves. Derek’s stuffing turned out delicious, earning him multiple compliments. John ate almost an entire jar of jellied cranberries himself, sharing one little spoon with Milena who immediately made a crumpled displeased face. Allison and Kira both cooed all over her, laughing with John at her expressive faces while Stiles and Melissa talked about how things were going at the shop.

Scott happily chatted at Derek and Erica before joining in with Allison and Kira, leaving Derek and Erica to sit and pick at their plates in reserved silence. Stiles was about ready to save them when Derek leaned in and said something that made Erica smirk, the corner of her red lips tugging up almost against her will. She leaned back in her seat, covering her mouth while she laughed.

It turned out to be a great night, everyone left stuffed to the gills with tupperwares of leftovers and high spirits. Despite the long day, Stiles was sorry to see the evening come to a close, gave everyone an extra long hug and a promise that they would host again next year. Melissa had insisted on staying to help do dishes, and with her efficient bossing of John and Derek they were done and dried in almost no time. Stiles took the time to feed Milena, who was long overdue for a nap and crabby as hell, rubbing at her eyes and turning her head to avoid her bedtime bottle until her face was sticky with milk.

“Lena needs to go to bed,” he said finally, standing and hoisting her against his chest. John and Melissa kissed her cheek to say goodnight, Melissa then kissing Stiles’ in turn. Stiles said goodnight to everyone and was slipping upstairs when he heard his dad mention to Melissa that they should host Christmas too.

“Don’t offer things you don’t help with, old man!” he yelled down the stairs, finally feeling tired.

John apparently had been bitten by the holiday bug though. Stiles came home from work to find Derek in the garage digging through cardboard boxes, sent by John on a mission to find the old Christmas lights while John watched the baby inside.

“You know those lights haven’t been used in like….fifteen years, right? They either don’t work or are filled with mercury or something.”

Derek looked helplessly at the open boxes around him. “Oh,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck.

They ended up getting new lights from Target, and a new tree, and some decorations. John made it quite clear that he wanted to be present for the tree trimming, so they waited for a night when he wasn’t pulling a double. Stiles pulled up some Bing Crosby on his phone and got everyone eggnog while Derek started assembling the tree. John came in with Lena in an obnoxious christmas dress and twin pineapple tufts, a shoebox in his free hand.

“Look what I found,” he said, setting the box on the coffee table before sitting on the couch. He lifted the lid, revealing items that gave Stiles a static shock of nostalgia.

“Where did you find those?” he asked, picking up one of the ornaments he had made for his mother back in preschool, brightly painted bits of pasta and pine cones slathered in glue and chunky glitter. A paper plate wreath with little cotton ball ornaments. They had stopped putting ornaments up when Claudia started showing symptoms and needed more attentive care. He got a little choked up as the box revealed photographs of his early Christmases, of Stiles sitting in Claudia’s lap, bright smile shining on her face as she helped him open a present.

John told Milena about each ornament as he pulled them out, showed her Stiles’ first Christmas bell, the little house he and Claudia got to commemorate buying their first home together, the glass police car Claudia had gotten John to celebrate his promotion. Stiles and Derek put the ornaments on the tree while John found them ornaments, the room warm with the soft glow of the red and white lights wrapped around the tree. When they’re all done John’s eyes are misty, his hand stroking Milena’s back as he surveys the finished product.

“Looks good, boys,” he said, voice a little rough. “We should have been doing this stuff...I should have-”

“We can now, dad,” Stiles insisted. “We will.”

John pulled him into a one armed hug, still managing to nearly squeeze the air out of him. The kiss he pressed to Stiles’ temple was wet and a little gross, but Stiles happily returned it. John released him, but only long enough to wave a hand at Derek and pull him in with a, “you too, son.”

Derek froze for a second, stiff in John’s bear hug before he raised a hand to awkwardly rest against John’s arm in acceptance. John released him to squeeze his shoulder before sitting in his chair with Milena in his lap so they could ‘look at the tree’ together.

Despite John’s insistence that they not waste money on each other, Stiles couldn’t help but notice the growing mountain of presents under the tree as the month wore on. He knew the vast majority of them were for the baby, but he finally had to threaten his dad’s credit cards with a pair of scissors for him to knock it off when the mound grew to a certain size.

“There is literally no room in the house, dad,” Stiles insisted. “She’s not even one yet, you need to chill. Who the hell is even wrapping these? I know it’s not you.”

In the end, his dad won out and they hosted dinner agains on Christmas eve. It was just as fun as Thanksgiving, maybe even more so since they were were able to relax a bit after the success of their first foray into hosting. John went through some of the photos he’d found with Melissa, both of them fawning over the much younger images of their kids. Erica shoved a Santa hat on Derek’s head while they were passing out gifts, and despite making a frowny face he didn’t immediately take it off. They found that of all the expensive gifts they’d bought for Milena, nothing delighted her as much as the wrapping paper and ribbons.

Melissa insisted on taking a family photo for Milena’s first Christmas, her phone already in hand while she ushered John and Stiles towards the tree. Derek had been there and tried to back away, but John blocked his way and nudged him around again. “Go stand next to Stiles,” he insisted, already handing Stiles the baby so the two of them were squashed in the middle.

Stiles looked over at a sheepish Derek, gently hipchecked him to get his attention while he adjusted the wriggly baby in his arms. “We accept you, one of us,” he teased, hoping it would ease some of the angst whirling through Derek’s puppydog eyes.

“Get closer, guys” Melissa ordered, phone held up before her.

Stiles hoped the dim lighting would hide his blush when Derek’s chest crowded against his shoulder, the werewolf’s hand resting warm just above Stiles’ hip. His dad’s hand was on his shoulder, the men on either side of him a solid presence. Milena flopped her arms, displeased she’d been taken away from her paper. John tickled her foot until she shrieked with laughter, which Melissa took as her cue.

“Say cheese!”

Things got back to normal pretty quickly after the holidays and the new year. When Stiles wasn’t busy with the shop he was busy with the baby. Derek was officially one of them as John had started going in to pee in the morning while Derek was in the shower. Stiles knew Derek had officially integrated when the wolf finally did the same to John in return at Stiles’ bidding. Downside of having one bathroom is that necessity required everyone to get rather chummy with three adults trying to all get ready at the same time.

Not that there weren’t benefits to the arrangement. Derek found he liked cooking, and with the two of them cleaning was far easier. John got to enjoy the fruits of their efforts and provided free babysitting, which seemed like a win win for all involved. It was a tight squeeze though with three grown men in the small house, not only in the overstuffed bedroom and lone bathroom but in the cramped kitchen as well. Adding all of Milena’s toys and accessories to the mix only made organization more interesting.

For some reason, it still caught Stiles off guard to catch Derek scrolling through houses on his laptop. They were chilling on the bed after setting Milena down for the night, both of them tired and nearly ready for bed themselves. Stiles had been in the shower and come in to find Derek propped up against the headboard, computer resting on his lap. When Stiles flopped down himself he happened to catch the screen and was unable to keep his findings to himself.

“You’re looking at houses?”

Derek nodded, right clicking on another listing. “Something with a bedroom for Lena. Even if Peter hadn’t usurped the loft it wouldn’t work for a baby or toddler.”

Stiles pulled his knees up, fingers knit in his lap. “Yeah,” he said, mouth a little dry.

“I’d just been thinking…” Derek started, trepidatious and obviously searching for Stiles’ reaction. “Lena’s fine in here now but there aren’t exactly spare rooms to put her in when she gets bigger. Long term this house just doesn’t work for the four of us. It barely does now while she’s a baby.”

Stiles wanted to tell him it was wrong, that while they were practically all bouncing off one another in the close quarters, he loved it deep down. He found immeasurable comfort in the chaos, and had grown so accustomed to it that he couldn’t imagine Derek not being there. Further still couldn’t imagine Milena not being with him for a second, felt the air catch in his throat at the thought of his baby being somewhere else for any length of time. How could Derek think he’d be ok with this?

“Wouldn’t it be nice for your dad to have his own bathroom to destroy?” Derek asked with a wry little smile, nudging Stiles’ shoulder. “Not have to worry about him coming in while we’re in the shower any more.”

“You want us to come?” Stiles blurted out, warmth blooming in his chest.

Derek’s brows furrowed, like he didn’t understand the question at first. “I’m not an idiot, John’s never going to let us take Lena anywhere without him.”

Stiles felt silly then, ridiculous for doubting the little family they’d spent all these months forming. He grinned wide, wiggling a shoulder against Derek’s to let him know all was well. “I've been living with my dad’s war crimes for decades now, so count me in on these civilized houses with multiple bathrooms.”

“You think he’d leave though? Your dad? Would you?” Derek asked. “I know you’ve been here your whole life, and I know your mom-”

“It’s just a house for me,” Stiles cut in. “Honestly, home has just been where my dad is since my mom died. You’re right, we need more space and I just want to be with my family.” Stiles leaned over so he could rest his head on Derek’s shoulder. “Show me your favorites.”

Derek went through the list of saved houses, showing Stiles the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the features he liked, but each one seemed to have something he disliked as well. Either it was too far into the city, or the lot size was too small, or the bedrooms were too small, or the layout was wrong. Stiles found many of the reasons more excuses, like Derek was looking for things to dislike rather than finding genuine hangups.

“So what’s really wrong?” Stiles asked. He knew Derek had money, could renovate something and make it his own if he really wanted. There had to be something. He knew he was right when Derek slid a glance his way, shoulders slouching down a bit against the headboard of the bed.

Stiles nudged him with his shoulder, did his best not to make too big a fuss as it only made Derek shut down more when it was something he found genuinely important.

“I keep comparing them,” Derek finally admitted, begrudging as it was. “To my old house...where I grew up.”

“The one in the woods?” Stiles asked, doing his best to avoid any descriptions of ‘charred wreckage’ that immediately came to mind. “Where Milena was left?”

Derek nodded.

Stiles reached over to scroll through the houses Derek had saved again, not that he had Derek’s frame of reference in mind. “So what is it that these lack?” he asked. “Not enough woods for wolfy needs?”

Derek snorted, closing the laptop on Stiles’ fingers. Without the light from the screen, the only illumination in the room was the soft glow of Milena’s nightlight, which they mostly kept so Stiles didn’t trip when he had to go to the bathroom at night.

“No really,” Stiles insisted, setting the laptop down beside the bed and leaning on his elbow to look down at Derek. “What is it?”

Derek huffed a deep breath through his nose, arms crossed defensively over his chest. Stiles worried he would just clam up but finally he spoke again, quiet and reserved. “The land is part of it...it was nice to be able to run around outside, wolf out without worrying about being seen, and Milena is a wolf, Stiles. We need to think about her needs as she grows up.”

Stiles bit his lip, a little cowed by the comment. It was true, he knew nothing about raising a young werewolf, and was lucky to have a born wolf like Derek to help him along the way. He had no idea the kinds of obstacles they were going to need to overcome, but even as a human child, he himself had boundless energy. Their yard had been small and his parents hadn’t liked Stiles to be outside unsupervised, so he often resorted to literally bouncing off of furniture. It had not been appreciated by his parents, and certainly not been enough to satiate him.

“It was just the house too, the layout and all the bedrooms. We had a big basement that ran the length of the house, plenty of storage and not something you find often around here. There was real wood...it just felt like a home. These are all nice, but they all look like someone else’s house.”

“Are you thinking about rebuilding it?” Stiles asked, treading carefully.

Derek paused before shaking his head. “It’s a lot of work,” he said, dismissive and too quick.

“You have the money,” Stiles reminded him.

“And a lot of bad memories,” Derek countered, but still too aloof, as he often acted when trying to hide how he really was affected by something.

Derek was clearly hung up, so Stiles patted his shoulder to ease his tensions. “Don’t need to decide tonight,” he said amiably. “Just think about what you really want.”

They got ready for bed, each of them completing their nightly routine without issue, but Stiles could tell there was still a great deal whirring in Derek’s mind. He kept his observations to himself, merely brushing his teeth and washing his face, knowing that when Derek was ready he would say something.

The confession came sooner than Stiles anticipated. They were laying side by side in bed, Stiles on his belly and Derek on his side, arm curled under the pillow beneath his head. Stiles’ eyes were closed, his mind already on the coming day even as he tried to calm it enough to sleep when Derek’s quiet voice quickly drew his attention.

“I want to rebuild my old house,” Derek murmured.

Stiles angled himself a little more towards Derek, knee tucking up a few inches under the covers. “Ok.”

“I want to make new memories there...good memories,” Derek continued, some of that previous trepidation gone even though his voice was still so soft. “I want to raise our daughter where she can learn about her grandparents, her aunts...with all of us together.”

Stiles felt a shiver run down his spine, couldn’t help but launch himself at Derek. Without giving it much thought he kissed Derek, the lineup of their lips a lucky outcome given Stiles’ enthusiasm and the darkened room. He’d thought about Derek, considered kissing him, but hadn’t really allowed himself to imagine it given the deeply entwined nature of their relationship. The rough prickle of days old stubble was a newer experience for Stiles, but Derek’s lips were soft and warm as they pressed against his own, a hint of wetness at the center. Stiles could feel heat from Derek’s breath against his nose, hear a sharp inhale and pulled away, worried he’d overstepped.

“I’m sorry,” he babbled. “I shouldn’t have-”

His words were cut off when Derek’s fingers wound at the back of his head, tugging him back down to mash their lips together once more, this time a little less perfectly aligned but with increased vigor.

It took Stiles’ brain a moment to come back online and reciprocate, but when it finally did he did so with gusto. He was shy to touch Derek at first, despite the fact they’d grown so close, but there was a lingering tense of trepidation before he lay his hand on Derek’s firm chest, the skin beneath the t-shirt so warm under his palm. Then it was like all the tension melted from him, like he could finally breathe again as Derek kissed it. Like that final piece had clicked into place.

Derek had him on his back then, was pressing kisses along his jaw down to his throat. Stiles felt lit up like a live wire, sparking and bright, almost ready to burst out of his own skin as he bit his lip to try and contain his own mounting excitement. Naturally, his mouth kept flapping of its own volition.

“That house needs to happen soon, like really soon...so we can get going on those new good memories” he babbled. “And my dad needs a father in law apartment above a garage or something so he can’t hear my gross sex noises...cause I don’t think any of us could handle that long term…”

Derek sagged against Stiles, dropping his body weight almost hard enough to knock the air from him. Stiles was about to complain when he noticed that Derek was shaking a little, the tell tale little bursts of warm air against neck as the man tried to contain his laughter.

Stiles shrugged him with a shoulder, brows furrowed. “Don’t stop!” he hissed. Or rather, he tried to, but it came out a squawky little whine rather than anything bordering authoritative.

“Why?” Derek asked, husky voice doing things to Stiles’ insides even though he could tell from the wolf’s tone that he was about to be made fun of. “So you can talk about your dad some more?”

“I mention my sex noises and that’s your take-away?”

A whimper commanded both of their immediate attention. Stiles’ pointer finger flew to his mouth to command silence, not that it did much good. The whimper turned into a cough which turned into another whimper, and before either of them could roll either eyes the first weak cry rang out. Derek’s head dropped to Stiles’ chest in defeat, the both of them groaning aloud.

“Fuck,” Stiles moaned, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

“Not tonight,” Derek commiserated, sounding just as miserable at the slap of parental reality. He leaned up to give Stiles one more soft kiss on the lips before he was pushing off of Stiles to stand. Stiles hated the loss, felt cold and alone as he watched Derek move towards the crib.

“Not kidding by the way,” he called out after Derek, voice still a little quiet given the hour. “Gonna need you to get on it with the house.”

“Yes sir,” Derek said, lifting Milena from the crib.