By the time Stiles was twenty he was used to his life being uprooted. He was five when his parents packed up and moved from Beacon Hills to Virginia because mom liked the weather better, seven when they found out that his mom had cancer, almost eight when they moved to Chicago for specialized treatment, nine when he lost his mom, and on his tenth birthday his dad packed them up again and they made the long move back to Beacon Hills and the house they had left behind.
It was hard for Stiles to readjust to the slow pace of the town and even harder for him to make friends. He had always had trouble staying still and when that combined with the anxiety and panic attacks after his mom’s death, the other kids in school stayed away from him. Unless they were pushing him around, then they all seemed to gravitate toward him.
His loneliness evened out when he started going to an after school study session every day so his dad wouldn’t have to rush from work to pick him up. On his second day Lydia Martin walked into the room and Stiles was immediately smitten. His crush lasted about five minutes, Lydia was brutally strict about messing around during study time, but they somehow managed to forge a rocky friendship. Stiles wasn’t as interested in studying, he remembered pretty much everything that he had ever read, and Lydia was hellbent on running the world through mathematical prowess someday.
By the end of that year the small moments of friendship with Lydia after school weren’t enough to keep him going during the school day and his dad finally agreed to sign the forms to him to start homeschooling. He figured he would be fine without any social interaction, probably graduate early and start meeting people once he went to college. He didn’t expect Lydia to start showing up at his house every day, begrudgingly admitting that she studied better with his “incessant fidgeting” to keep her on task.
Their friendship only grew over the next few years. She was Stiles’ only social interaction besides his dad, and Stiles was the only person who knew exactly how smart Lydia was and how hard she tried for the things she wanted. It was a good balance for them, Stiles didn’t slowly go insane or start talking to himself, and Lydia had at least a little challenge to keep her brain sharp. Soon enough even Lydia was admitting that they were best friends.
Stiles was eighteen and just finished with high school when his life changed in what was probably the biggest way yet. His dad was late enough coming home from work that Stiles was starting to worry and didn’t have anymore work to do to distract himself. He hated when his dad was too busy with his police duties to even call and say that he would be late. Every hour that passed brought him one step closer to freaking out.
At almost eleven, he heard the door open and quietly close from where he was nervously dusting in the living room. He threw the rag he was using off into the little laundry nook and went to meet his dad in the entryway. He pulled up short when he saw that his dad wasn’t alone like Stiles expected him to be, but rather holding one sleeping toddler on his hip while another slowly trailed after holding his hand.
“Help me put them in the guest room, then I’ll explain.” The Sheriff said before Stiles could open his mouth.
Stiles nodded and let his dad pass him the little girl, who shifted around to a comfortable spot on Stiles’ shoulder but remained asleep. His dad lifted the little boy and led the way to the guest room. It wasn’t much, just a bed and a closet, but the kids settled into the bed without a fuss and curled around each other.
“We’ll be right down the hall all night if you need us.” his dad whispered. The boy just stared up at him with solemn eyes and gripped the pillow under his head tightly.
Stiles followed his dad back down the stairs and out to the car. He recognized the worn-out look in his dad’s eyes and waited for him to speak rather than barrage him with questions.
“Deputy Fisher and I found them in the woods around eight. They were alone. We think we found their parents a few hours later.” He said finally, rummaging around in the back of the police cruiser.
“They weren’t… alive. Were they?” Stiles asked, hands balled into fists at his sides. He knew the pain of losing a parent, couldn’t imagine losing both as a toddler, and he knew that his father would have to be the one to tell the kids eventually, if he hadn’t tried to already.
“No. No, they weren’t alive.” He sighed. “We think they might have all gotten lost. Maybe on a picnic or something. Ran into a wild animal. It wasn’t pretty.”
Stiles immediately moved forward to hug his dad. Beacon Hills was a quiet town, yes, but there were enough accidental deaths and random murders that, as the sheriff of the town, his dad had to work through. Those cases were always the hardest, were always the ones that stayed with them the longest. There was always a look in his dad’s eyes when he mentioned them, like they were ones that he just couldn’t save, and he knew it.
“We’re the only foster certified house in town. I told the social services worker they could stay here until the case is closed or we could figure something out. I hope that’s alright with you.”
Stiles nodded and released his dad from the hug. They brought two small bags of clothes and a few toys that the social worker had had on her when she took the kids in for a check up. There wasn’t much for them but they could always buy more if they ended up staying for more than a few days.
His dad only stayed up for a few more minutes, long enough to tell Stiles that he still had to go in to work the next morning . It meant that Stiles would be stuck at home with two toddlers that he had no idea how to care for, but they both knew that it was more important for the sheriff of the town to be on the case than at home babysitting.
In the morning Stiles woke up to four brown eyes staring at him and a small finger poking at his cheek. He gave his brain a second to start working properly and really looked at the toddlers for the first time. He had no idea how old they were, his dad said that the local doctor guessed they were around a year and a half but without birth certificates it would be nearly impossible to tell.
The girl was the one poking him, her hand clumsy the way only a child could be. Her hair was blonde and tangled high up on her head. What had to be her brother was sitting a bit behind her, but still looked interested in the elasticity of Stiles’ cheek. They had the same brown eyes, but his hair was a light brown. They were cute kids, but kids that Stiles had no idea how to deal with nonetheless.
“Hugry.” The girl said insistently, her finger digging harder into Stiles’ cheek.
“Yums.” The boy agreed quietly.
“Right.” Stiles muttered “Food. Children need food to survive.” He sat up and winced when he saw the time. “Children need food to survive at five in the morning. Alright.”
The kids scrambled off the bed and Stiles let them go first down the stairs and into the kitchen. Once he lifted them both into chairs at the table he realized that he had no idea what he should be feeding two young children for breakfast. He ruled out pancakes or french toast because he didn’t want them loaded up on sugar all day. Cereal was out because all they had was generic wheat flakes, and he highly doubted that would go over well.
They were sitting patiently at the table when Stiles turned a contemplative eye on them, but he figured it was only so long before they started getting frustrated.
“You wouldn’t happen to know what you usually eat for breakfast, would you?” Stiles asked them, though he figured that getting an answer was a longshot.
The girl, Stiles made a mental note to ask his dad if he knew their names yet, shrugged at him, which was what he expected, but the boy looked at him with narrowed eyes for a long moment before nodding.
“O’meal.” He said decisively.
“Oh meal.” Stiles repeated incredulously. “Oh meal. Ohmeal. Oh. Oatmeal!”
He rummaged through the cupboards for a minute before emerging victorious with two bags of instant oatmeal. The kids laughed at his triumphant dance and he thought that just maybe this would be easier than he expected.
By the end of the day he had been proved wrong. Breakfast was like the easy first level of a multi-level video game that doubled it’s difficulty with each stage that you passed. Throughout the day Stiles found himself comforting the kids while they screamed over seemingly nothing, changing diapers, and trying to think of new things to keep them entertained when their patience for him grew thin. By the time they were in bed and his dad was getting home Stiles was about ready to run screaming for the hills.
“Did you find anything out about them?” He asked when his dad slouched down on the couch next to him.
“Their names are Scott and Erica, no living relatives that we could find, and they are about two and a half years old. Twins, but their birthdays are a day apart.” He sighed and turned to look at Stiles. “They have nowhere to go.”
“If the social worker takes them… where will they end up?” Stiles asked.
“Depends on if and when they could find a family to adopt them. They would probably be placed in a foster home, most likely separated. Either they’ll get adopted or they’ll bounce around the system until they’re old enough to be on their own.”
“There’s no way to make sure they stay together? It seems so unfair to take them away from each other after this.”
Stiles could feel his dad looking at him, and he wanted so badly to stop his eyes from burning, but he had spent the whole day with Scott and Erica and there was no way they wouldn’t be negatively affected by being taken away from each other.
“There is one way.” His dad said, still watching his face. “But it really depends on if you’re okay with it.”
“We could foster them. Though in all honesty… with the hours I have to put in and the nature of my job. It would be more like you were fostering them. You don’t have to decide right now, I know you’re tired and it’s a lot to think about. But if you think we can do it… I’m willing to pull the strings to make it happen.”
That night Stiles stayed up reading article after article about fostering and adoption and raising kids in general. He laid awake for hours after that trying to decide if he was capable of being a parent at eighteen, though if there were sixteen year olds out there who could do it then he should at least have a shot. He fell asleep and tossed and turned through dreams of potty training and sicknesses and screaming.
When he woke up to two sets of big brown eyes staring intently at his face he knew that his mind was made up. So with a deep growl he surged up and chased the two screaming and laughing toddlers out of his bedroom.
“Daddy, DADDY, DADDY!!”
Stiles instantly crouched down and braced himself when he heard Erica’s voice getting closer and louder, but he still rocked backward and let out a quiet ‘oomf’ when she jumped into his arms. He had no idea how she got up to that speed every time, but he had stopped questioning it about a year ago.
A lot had changed over two years. After a year of fostering the twins he had sat down with his dad and talked through his plans for adopting them. It was a big step in his life but he couldn’t handle the thought of them being taken somewhere else. It really hadn’t taken him long to fall in love with them.
Then other things started changing. He got a full time job as a programmer at a business that let him work from home, and he started renting a little three bedroom house not far from his dad’s place. The Sheriff had taken to being a grandfather like a fish to water, spoiling and treating the kids, who were now almost five years old, whenever he saw them.
“What’s wrong, Princess?” Stiles asked Erica, setting her down and absentmindedly straightening the bow in her hair.
“Scotty’s bein mean to me.” Her lips pulled down into an exaggerated pout. “He said I couldna help ‘im get ready.”
“Mmhhmm.” Stiles nodded thoughtfully “And what were you trying to help him with?”
“Shoes!” Erica wiggled her toes against the floor for emphasis and giggled when Stiles swooped in and started tickling her.
“How about this, you go in the kitchen and start getting your breakfast ready and I will go help your brother get dressed.” Stiles ruffled her hair and smiled as she giggled out her agreement and ran toward the kitchen.
“No sharp knives, Erica. I mean it!” He yelled when she disappeared around the corner. He only started making his way up the stairs when he head her muffled ‘okay, daddy’ from the other room. In the two years that Scott and Erica had been with Stiles they had taken hundreds of pictures. At first Stiles just wanted tangible memories for both him and them, if they ever went to another home, but after awhile it became more than that. The pictures lined the walls of his house now.
The majority of the pictures were of the kids, posing or laughing or hamming it up for the camera somehow. Others had his dad, him, sometimes Lydia when she wasn’t too busy with college to drop by and visit them. Their little family lived on the walls of the house and, in Scott’s bedroom and Erica’s bedroom, copies of the only picture Stiles and his dad could find of their birth parents sat on bedside tables in bright gold frames.
When Stiles made it to Scott’s room he was not surprised to hear angry muttering coming from the room. Scott often had trouble finding his clothes or shoes and hated asking for help. Stiles let out a quiet laugh at the sight of Scott’s little sock covered feet sticking out from under the bed.
“Hey buddy.” Stiles said gently, trying not to scare him. “Do you need some help finding something?”
“Nu-uh.” Was Scott’s response, muffled but still coming through as disgruntled.
“Hmm. Okay. Well then I’ll just let you do your thing then.” Stiles pushed off the wall and slowly walked three steps.
“Wait.” Scott wiggled backwards out from under the bed. He sighed and looked up dramatically through his bangs at Stiles, clutching a blue shoe to his chest. “I losed my shoe.”
“I see. We’re going to have to leave soon, why don’t you wear your boots? We can look for your other shoe when we get back.” Stiles asked, kneeling down in front of Scott.
“No! I wanna wear the blue one. Wanna match you.” Scott pushed off the ground and ran to the closet, tearing through the shoes on the bottom shelves to look for the little blue shoe that matched the pair of Converse Stiles was wearing. They had bought matching shoes a month before, out at the mall together while Lydia visited and took Erica out for girl bonding time.
Scott had been quiet and clingy from the very beginning, preferring to stick tight to Stiles after a month had passed and they were still living with him. It had only gotten worse after their fourth birthday. By that point they were officially part of the Stilinski family. The month or so leading up to it had been touch and go, full of screaming and fighting and a lot of crying, some of it by Stiles, feeling overwhelmed after Scott and Erica had finally fallen asleep.
The day itself had been fine, great even. Lydia was there to shower them with gifts and Stiles’ dad had taken the day off of work to take them all to an amusement park. They all had fun and were exhausted by the time the sheriff dropped them off at Stiles’ house, still new to them at that point. The kids had fallen right asleep, leaving some time for Lydia and Stiles to catch up over some wine and ice cream. It was almost the perfect day.
Almost perfect, that is, until the screaming started. It was inhuman and possibly the worst thing Stiles had ever heard. They let the wine glasses fall to the ground to get to Erica and Scott. Nothing in the entire world would have prepared Stiles for the site of his kids with fangs and claws snarling as they leapt at each other. It was so different from when they would wrestle over toys, violent and horrible. There was no way Stiles would ever be able to forget it.
He would also never forget the way Lydia pushed him aside, her surety in pulling them apart and injecting them each with a murky liquid that calmed them immediately. Stiles was rooted to the spot but she was calm as ever, putting them to bed and sending a text at the same time. She was the one pulling him away from Scott and Erica’s bedroom. She stayed with him while he broke down and made sure he pulled out of it before he needed to be a father again.
The week after was strange. Erica seemed fascinated by the changes that were happening to them, using her claws to spear food and spending half of her time with hair sprouted on her face and a mouth full of teeth. Scott, on the other hand, seemed afraid any time he shifted even a little and immediately started crying if he couldn’t shift back to his regular self quick enough.
Lydia stayed until the end of the weekend, but she pulled him aside before she left and told him that he had an appointment at Hale’s Kindergarten, a private school just outside the town and that he had better show up to it with Scott and Erica because she pulled a lot of strings to get it for him. There were things he wanted to ask her but she just kissed his cheek and patted his face before leaving him alone with his kids. Who were apparently werewolves.
The meeting at Hale’s was what they were leaving for, after Scott found his shoe (under the entertainment center in the living room) and both of the kids were fed and fully clothed. Stiles had done some research and Hale’s Kindergarten was highly rated, though seemingly impossible to get into. According to Lydia that was because it was exclusively for new young or new werewolves, invitation only. The thing Lydia failed to explain was how she had gotten him an invitation.
The school was in the middle of the forest, and Stiles figured that even if his kids hadn’t started sprouting fangs and claws he would think it looked like a werewolf school. There were kids running through the trees and a stone path leading to the front office building.
Stiles gripped Scott and Erica’s hands tightly while they walked up to the building. Once they got close to front sign everyone else started to slow down to watch them. His kids were oblivious, oohing and ahhing over every rock or branch on the ground. Stiles tucked his head down and made a mental note to take them to see nature more often. Though, he thought, he wouldn’t really need to if they ended up at the school.
A very pretty dark haired woman met them at the door with a smile. Scott and Erica stilled to stare up at her, and she grinned wider when their eyes started glowing a bright yellow.
Stiles sucked in a breath and tugged gently on on their hands, used to a week of asking them to stay human. He looked back at the woman to apologize but was stopped short when he saw her eyes glowing as well.
“It’s okay, Mr. Stilinski.” Her eyes faded back to a nice green and she turned her smile to him. “We like to let the children express themselves through their shift here. They learn control at a much faster pace when they’re comfortable with it. I’m Laura Hale, I’ll be conducting your interview today, though I don’t see any reason why your children wouldn’t fit right in.”
Stiles released Scott’s hand and shook Laura’s numbly. She led them through the room, surprisingly empty for a school, and into a back office. Scott and Erica immediately ran to a table on the side wall covered in toys. They paused before grabbing things and looked back to Stiles, who nodded to them after Laura gave him the okay, and then they started playing, completely ignoring the adults.
“Usually we would start out interviews here with conversation about your pack and the kid’s alpha but Lydia told me about your particular situation in advance. I have to admit, Mr. Stilinski, this interview is strictly a formality at this point. We actually drew up the admission forms for you last night.”
“Really?” Stiles asked “I mean, you don’t even know us. I don’t know how Lydia knows you and you don’t know if what she told you was true. It seems a bit premature to just let us walk in and join up. I don’t know if I would feel okay leaving my kids here every day if that’s your process for choosing students.”
Laura was silent for long enough that Stiles started thinking about what he had said. Maybe, he thought, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to insult a werewolf when you’re trying to get them to teach your children.
Then Laura started laughing.
“I assure you, Mr. Stilinski, our process is actually quite involved for others. Most people who come here are from smaller packs spread out across california. They have to go through several interviews and if needed we send someone out to their territory to make sure they’re not hiding anything from us. We’re also one of the most secure schools in the city, definitely the most secure one in the werewolf community. We actually have two members of a prominent hunting family on our roster. They teach classes and their daughter attends school here. Your children would be much less safe if allowed to run wild in a public school.”
She glanced over at Scott and Erica, but they were so engrossed in the toys that they didn’t even look up.
“Lydia is good friends with my younger sister, we all trust her implicitly. She told my sister and I about the circumstances that formed your family. We agreed to keep it between ourselves, but you should know, if you decide not to enroll your children here then you will all be in some level of danger. Werewolves without an alpha are among the most hunted creatures in the world. Children who grow up without an alpha tend to have much more difficulty learning control. They would be almost ninety percent more likely to accidentally injure someone. It really is within your best interests to enroll here. Not only will we teach your children, there is the possibility that we would be able to find a local alpha that would be happy to let you in their pack.”
She seemed so sincere, so passionate about Scott and Erica’s safety, that Stiles almost distrusted her on principle. He realized, though, that he most likely felt that way due to the small amount of people that he loved and trusted. He wasn’t used to people wanting to help him.
“If I’m honest, this time two weeks ago I wasn’t even aware that werewolves existed. I don’t know how to teach them what they need to learn, so it isn’t really a question of ‘if’ I decide to enroll them or not. It has to happen. I just need to know that they’ll be safe and taught everything they’ll need to know, for werewolf and human standards.” Stiles said, trying not to fidget in place. The more he thought about it, the more he was aware that the woman in front of him was a predator and he probably looked like easy prey. He definitely felt like easy prey.
“Our school is current with California’s curriculum and our teachers all have degrees in the areas that they teach. Everything is one hundred percent legitimate.”
Stiles weighed his options for another minute, but in the end he knew that it wasn’t really a choice. It seemed as soon as his mind was made up, Laura was pushing a small stack of papers over with a bright smile.
It only took three minutes to sign the papers and commit to the fact that his life would never be what it was just two weeks before. As soon as they were Laura printed two sheets and put them in front of him.
“Here is the class schedule for the kids.” she gestured to the sheet on the right. “I went ahead and put them in the classes taught by my siblings. That’s the best way that I can guarantee that they’ll be taken care of.”
Stiles nodded along, only half glancing at the sheet of paper. It looked like a regular school schedule, only all of the names of the teachers were Hale. He wondered just how close Lydia was to the family that she got them such preferential treatment.
“And this,” Laura switched over to the sheet on the left “this is your class schedule.”
“My schedule?” Stiles asked, suddenly interested in studying the paper.
“Yes. We have a set of classes for adults who are new to packs, ones that were either turned later in life or married into it. There are a lot of things that you’ll need to know about werewolves if you want to raise your kids to be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, the only person teaching those classes right now is my uncle.”
“Unfortunately?” Stiles gripped the pen still in his hand so tightly that his fingers started turning white. In his experience, people saying ‘unfortunately’ in reference to a person meant that a situation involving them wouldn’t end well.
“He’s… difficult sometimes. Usually my mother or father would be teaching them but they’re traveling right now. There really shouldn’t be a problem.”
Laura smiled in what she probably thought was a reassuring way, but it only made Stiles’ stomach turn.
“And if I don’t want to take these classes?”
“They’re mandatory, I’m sorry. We need to make sure you know how to raise your children. For their safety as well as the safety of everyone around them.”
There was an unspoken ‘or we’ll have to take them away from you’ that set Stiles on edge. He knew what the consequences could be if he let them run around unchecked. He wasn’t an idiot and didn’t need to be treated like one.
Erica and Scott seemed to realize that Stiles was done and quietly left the toy table. Laura smiled warmly at them as Stiles rose to his feet and gathered the papers in front of him.
“So we will see the three of you on Monday?” Laura asked, rummaging around in her top drawer.
“We’ll be here.” Stiles promised, grimacing when Laura pulled out two lollipops. The kids cheered and she laughed, lifting the bag enough for Stiles to see the sugar free label and winked at him.
A few weeks later Stiles was immersed in research about werewolves. A lot of what he was learning was practical knowledge: pack politics, different roles wolves and humans could play, and how to not offend an alpha. It was interesting but not enough to really keep his focus.
Peter Hale, Laura’s uncle, seemed to take a liking to him from the start and gave him access to an internet database full of more in depth information. He made Stiles to promise not to tell anyone; Stiles had agreed half because he really wanted to learn everything and half because Peter had been leering at him for a good ten minutes and he wanted to get away as quick as possible.
He thought Laura had made him feel like prey, but she was nothing compared to Peter.
Scott and Erica were thriving in their class. Every day they raced to show him what they had learned in class from ‘Mister Derek’ and how he was so smart and nice and ‘daddy you should be in our class, mister Derek could teach you how to be a wolf like us!’. To be honest Stiles was a little jealous of the man was commanding so much affection from his children.
The first week of school was all about keeping werewolves a secret. Peter had used vaguely threatening language and stared at each human in the room, of which there were three, and then cheerfully moving on when they all flinched away. The main point Stiles came away with was that unless he was in an actual pack he couldn’t tell his dad or anyone else about what the kids were, and even if he joined a pack he would have to check with that alpha to see if his dad would be welcome.
It was hard, Stiles wasn’t sure how to explain why he was at the school all day at first. Eventually he just started saying that he was volunteering and let his dad make jokes about him being too attached. It sucked to keep something that huge from the one person who had always known everything about him.
Lydia, on the other hand, know all about werewolves. In fact, Stiles learned from his time at the school that she was currently dating one. Cora Hale taught a mix of physical education and physical control over their shift. She had approached Stiles, curious about him after hearing so much from Lydia. Cora was fantastic. She was sarcastic and dry witted, and Stiles thought she was perfect for Lydia.
That didn’t mean that Stiles wasn’t going to put Lydia through Hell the next time she came to visit. Stiles could understand not saying anything about werewolves, after he learned how secretive they were, but they always told each other when they started dating someone. Stiles was the first one to know about Aiden during Lydia’s freshmen year of college, and he was the one there when it ended with an explosion. Lydia had been the only one who knew about Stiles’ tumultuous one week relationship with Heather, and his immediate rebound with Danny that had somehow turned into a two month thing. Lydia not ever mentioning a thing about being with Cora (for three months!!) was unacceptable.
Stiles expressed as much over the phone during his break the third week of class.
He always sat out on the side of the building, close enough to see Scott and Erica running around with their friends, but far enough that the other people in his class wouldn’t think he was accessible. He really wasn’t interested in being buddies with any of them. They all asked questions about Scott and Erica that he didn’t really want to answer.
“You’re paranoid, Stiles.” Lydia’s voice sounded tired, but she was accepting daily phone calls as part of her punishment. “You should just make friends. These people are all in the same boat as you. They know what you’re going through.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Lydia.” Stiles sang out her name loudly, smothering a laugh when Cora’s turned immediately to him. She glared at him and he gave her a little wave.
“You’re in a class for humans who just found out about werewolves, how can I be wrong?”
“You’re wrong because these people are all married or engaged or seriously dating a werewolf. They’re invested in a totally different way. I’m invested in this for the rest of my life. I’m never going to be able to walk away like they can. It’s just… It’s different.” Stiles sighed, letting his gaze drift around the big courtyard. Everyone had their break at the same time, so there were people milling about all over.
Lydia’s answering sigh faded into the background when the number one most attractive guy Stiles had ever seen in his life wandered into view. Stiles took a sharp breath and tracked the guy with his eyes as he stopped for a second to exchange words with Cora and then moved on toward the kids.
Stiles’ eyes narrowed as his kids ran up to the guy and started talking animatedly to him.
“Stiles if you don’t answer me in three seconds, I swear to god I will hang up this phone.”
“There is a super attractive guy talking to my kids right now, Lydia. I think I’m going to have a stroke.”
“Oh? I suppose you’re suddenly feeling sociable then.” Lydia scoffed, her computer keys clicking loudly in the bathroom. “I can let you go if you so need to ‘get all up in that’”
“Shut up. I said that once and I was being ironic.” Stiles hissed, getting up and moving closer to the courtyard. Not to see where the hot guy was going, to push Erica on the swing oh lord, but because the sun was… better… there.
“I’m seriously going to pass out. Lydia, this guy is a solid eighteen on a one to five scale and he is playing with my daughter.” Stiles groaned. “I’m thinking really impure thoughts about him around children I am going to such a deep level of Hell.”
“Hmmm. I think you need to remember something.” Lydia cut in, still typing up whatever genius level work she was doing.
“That all of my relationships have ended in tears and things being thrown at my head, and most guys aren’t going to want to date a guy with kids?” Stiles shot back.
Lydia laughed, always something Stiles loved to hear. “Sweetie. You’re surrounded by werewolves.”
Stiles’ head shot up and he bit back a swear. Cora was bent over laughing by the playground and when Stiles dared glance over at the guy he was trying to look nonchalant but even Stiles could see that his cheeks were red.
“I’m going to go crawl in a hole and die.” Stiles whispered, ducking around the corner and knocking his head against the wall.
“Aw, sweetie. It’s not that bad.” Lydia cooed “Maybe he likes the attention.”
“I doubt it.” Stiles grumbled then sighed, peeking around the corner to see that people were starting to file away into buildings again. “It could be worse, at least I’ll never see him again.”
Lydia made sounds of agreement.
“Anyway I have to get back to class before I actually burn up and die of embarrassment. Have fun doing things I probably don’t have the brain capacity to think of.”
“Love you, too.” Lydia sang back, “good luck with your new boyfriend.”
Stiles aggressively hung up and took a minute to be thankful that this was probably a fluke and that he would never embarrass himself in front of that guy again.
Of course, Stiles never was very lucky. He liked to pretend that he was, though, and for one whole day he truly believed that he would never again see the extremely hot guy that his kids seemed to like.
Then Laura told him that he needed to have a conference with Scott and Erica’s main teacher, the wonderful Mister Derek, and Stiles figured that it was time he put a face to the man his kids raved about every school night. She told him to just pick Scott and Erica up at the classroom instead of having Cora watch them until his class was over like usual, and that Derek would be expecting him.
It took all of ten seconds for him to realize that Laura was a filthy liar and Derek had no idea that Stiles was going to be there. Unfortunately the realization came after he tripped past the door entering the classroom and ran into the bookshelves by the door, knocking over a huge tub of markers. As soon as he looked up to apologize it clicked in his head and his words died in his throat.
Mister Derek was the super hot guy and Laura was a terrible horrible person.
Scott and Erica were sitting on either side of Derek Hale, giggling at Stiles as he gaped, surrounded by markers. Derek himself looked almost shellshocked, eyebrows lifted and mouth slightly opened. Even his teeth were cute.
Stiles groaned before dropping to his knees and started scrambling for markers. He could feel his face heating up as he mentally cursed Laura for tricking him, and himself for not realizing before then that it was a trick. There was a green marker that had rolled under the shelves, so he dropped down further to reach under and grab it. When he sat back up with it clutched triumphantly in his hand he realized that he was just making himself look like even more of a fool.
Scott and Erica, used to their dad acting strange, had gone back to their work. Derek was just sitting and staring at him, cellphone in hand.
Stiles stood and put the tub of markers back on the shelf. He walked closer to the table and his heart melted a little. There were scraps of furry fabric all over the table and a sewing machine in front of Derek. Scott and Erica were both carefully stitching buttons onto the faces of lanky stuffed wolves. He skimmed his fingers over the tail of the one Scott was working on and smiled warmly when Scott beamed up at him.
“You having fun, buddy?” Stiles asked, sitting down on the other side of the table.
Scott nodded and then held his wolf and needle out to Derek.
“Can you cut the string, pwease.” Scott asked. Derek shook himself and snipped the thread with his scissors.
“Tank you.” Scott murmured, already focusing on the next button. Erica was finishing her second.
“So. I’m guessing that you didn’t ask Laura to schedule a parent teacher conference with me.” Stiles finally said, after the silence got to be too awkward.
“No.” Derek replied “Cora told me that she had plans and couldn’t watch them and that I was the only one available. My sisters like to meddle.”
Erica finished her sewing and Derek tied and cut the thread for her. She thanked him and climbed out of her chair to move around the table and sit on Stiles’ lap. She snuggled into his chest and he reflexively wrapped his arms around her.
“Hi daddy.” Erica said, leaning back to kiss his cheek.
“Hey, princess. Did you have a good day?” Stiles asked, smiling at her when she nodded enthusiastically.
“Mister Derek maded us wolves!” She said cheerfully. “This is Buttercup! Like tah candy but not with tah peanut!”
She shoved said wolf up into his face and he oohed and ahhed encouragingly. When she pulled the wolf away Stiles looked up and found Derek staring at them with red cheeks and an almost wistful look in his eyes. When he saw Stiles looking up he cleared his throat and stood, clearing up the scraps of fabric.
Stiles was about to suggest that he just take his kids and leave when Derek spun towards the door and frowned. A second later Cora stuck her head in, not even trying to hide her grin.
“Hey big brother, my plans just happened to be cancelled so I can watch the kiddos.”
Derek scowled and threw a book at Cora. She caught it easily and laughed.
“Not very professional, Derek.”
Erica, done with Stiles now that he wasn’t the newest person in the room, scrambled off his lap and ran over to Cora to show her the wolf. Scott held his wolf up to Stiles and wiggled out of his seat to stand next to him.
Stiles obediently snipped the thread for him and handed the wolf back.
“What’s yours named Scott?” Stiles asked softly.
“Toffee. The good kinds grampa has.” Scott replied, hugging the wolf tight.
Scott tugged Stiles down to give him a kiss on the cheek and then bounded off to circle Cora with Erica.
Cora shot a smile and a wink at Stiles and ushered the kids out of the room, yelling over her shoulder that they would be on the playground. Scott and Erica’s answering screams of happiness made Stiles smile as he turned back to Derek. The scowl on Derek’s face made his smile fall as he remembered that Derek had definitely heard what he said on the phone to Lydia, and that Laura and Cora were evil meddlers, and that Derek was probably just too nice to tell Stiles that he wasn’t interested. Or straight. Or married. Or dating.
Stiles let out an awkward laugh and started fidgeting with the sewing machine.
“You can go first.” he said after another prolonged silence.
“I’m sorry that my sisters tried to trick you. They like to think that they know best out of everyone. We can have that meeting if you want, since you’re here?”
Stiles nodded and followed when Derek gestured. They walked past tables and cubbyholes, into an office area with two desks and a door leading off into another room.
“I share the building with Mr. Argent. He teaches some classes for the older students.” Derek explained, pulling out the chair opposite one of the desks. “Did you have any questions?”
“Uh. Not really? When I was in school the teachers were the ones who had things to say. I guess… How are Scott and Erica adjusting? Are they doing well? Are they good… werewolves?” Stiles blushed and physically stopped himself from playing with the cup of pens in front of him.
“They’re doing fantastic, actually. They’re both very bright, and it’s always easier for the younger ones to adjust to the idea of being a mythical creature. Scott has been having a few issues with the shift, he implied during a conversation that we had that he’s afraid that he won’t ever be able to be human again if he lets go.”
Concern must have shown on Stiles’ face, because Derek was quick to continue.
“It’s actually a very common fear. Eventually he’ll see that there isn’t any danger of that. We’ve been learning about anchors this past week, what to pull on to come back to our human sides. When Cora told me to watch Scott and Erica I thought it might be a good idea to make the wolves, kind of as a physical anchor. Just until they figure out what their personal ones are. It’s what my mom did for me when I was a kid.”
“So you didn’t make the wolves for everyone in class?” Stiles asked, leaning forward slightly. “Just for my kids?”
Derek nodded and Stiles tried to fight back another smile.
“Thanks. It hasn’t really been easy, for me or them, so it’s nice knowing that someone here is doing something to make it a bit easier.”
“I know how the kids are doing, but how about you? How are you adjusting? It must be difficult changing your worldview, even when people that you love are involved.” Derek asked, flicking his eyes up to Stiles’ and then back away.
Stiles realized that the whole time Derek had been trying very hard to look anywhere but him. He figured that they should probably clear the air between them if Derek was going to be teaching Scott and Erica for the foreseeable future.
“I think that I should apologize for what you might have overheard me saying the other day.”
Derek pulled a face that Stiles didn’t understand, eyebrows somehow going both up and down. Stiles blushed and scratched the back of his neck.
“I don’t think it’s really a secret that you’re very attractive. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable or embarrassed you. Sometimes I say things without fully thinking them through, especially when I’m talking to Lydia. I just hope that we can move past the soul crushing embarrassment and at least have a professional relationship as a parent and teacher.”
Derek was blushing again and Stiles couldn’t help but be confused and endeared. Everything that he knew about Derek, mostly things he had heard from his kids though Lydia had been sneaking in little tidbits about Cora’s older brother since she obviously knew and was in on the whole trick, only made him more attracted to him. He was already exactly the type of guy that Stiles went for, physically, but he also had the audacity to be a great brother and kind to Stiles’ kids.
But none of that meant that Derek was into him, or even into guys. Or that he would be okay with a guy verbally appreciating his appearance.
“No, I. It wasn’t. That was actually flattering, even though my sisters have been having a field day with it.” Derek admitted, laughing dryly. “They like to try and put me in situations that might make me look stupid, so be prepared for more unexpected meetings.”
“Yeah, I’ll be on my guard now.” Stiles laughed.
They talked about what Stiles was learning in Peter’s class and how it was growing up with Laura and Cora as sisters. By the time Cora and the kids came back to the building they were laughing and drinking weak coffee from what looked like a stolen hotel bathroom coffee maker.
She looked smug while Stiles shook Derek’s hand and he made sure to knock their shoulders together when he passed her. She laughed and shoved him toward the door.
“Get out of here, Stilinski. I promised your kids you’d get them burgers and milkshakes.”
Erica let out a shrill scream and latched onto Stiles. Scott grabbed onto him too, just with less fuss.
“I wanna choc’la and Scotty wanna b’nana! Daddy, pleeeeeaaaaasse!!” Erica started climbing up Stiles’ leg, nails like tiny pinpricks in his skin.
“Erica, sweetie. No claws in the squishy human daddy.” Stiles said, picking her up the rest of the way and resting his free hand on Scott’s head.
“I guess if Miss Cora promised then I can let it happen this one time.”
Their cheers drowned out anything else he might have said, so he just waved and walked out with his kids. He thought, for a minute, that he heard growling behind him as the door swung shut, but he put it out of his mind as he hooked Scott and Erica into their car seats.
Over the next month Stiles started seeing a lot more of Derek. He would pop up during breaks and spend a few minutes chatting. He volunteered to watch Scott and Erica after class every friday so Cora could drive out to visit Lydia for the weekend. He even taught a few classes for Peter, when his uncle couldn’t be bothered to turn up to class, or maybe Peter had just been corralled into the scheme.
Stiles knew that Lydia was on the verge of putting a ban on conversations about Derek, which was all part of his plan to get back at her. After a week straight of nagging and accusing she had admitted to helping Cora and Laura try to push them together, and her punishment was a constant stream of chatter about Derek’s arms and Derek’s eyes and Derek’s laugh.
The real problem came during lunch one day, one of the rare days when Derek actually sat with him to eat. Stiles had finished his food and Derek was telling him about the first class he had ever taught. Stiles kept sneaking chips out of Derek’s bag and Derek kept slapping Stiles’ hand, but he never moved the bag or said anything.
“So.” Stiles said, stretching and stealing the last chip. “How did this whole school for special little werepeople get started? Whose idea was it, was it passed down from your grandparents, who else works here? I have many questions.”
“It’s complicated.” Derek said, crumbling his trash into a ball while his face hardened a little. “Well, not really. It just doesn’t reflect well on me.”
“You don’t have to tell me if it’s bad. I won’t judge you if you tell me, but I’m not going to drag it out of you.”
Derek shifted and tightened his grip on his trash, before looking off to the side and deflating. Stiles followed his gaze and saw Cora standing off by herself watching them and saying something.
“Okay,” Derek sighed. “When I was a teenager I met this girl. She was older and I thought she was the best thing to ever happen to me. She wanted me to keep us a secret from my family, just until I was eighteen, but I told Laura and she told our mom. Kate, the girl, she got mad or something. She burnt down our house.”
“Jesus.” Stiles whispered, forgetting himself for a minute and reaching across the table to cover Derek’s hand.
“No one got hurt, thank god. The house burned down but that wasn’t anything we couldn’t get over. After the investigation we found out that Kate was part of a hunting family. Hunters usually have codes so they can’t go around unchecked and killing innocent people, but she was crazy. She thought she would be considered a hero or something if she took out a whole pack on her own. She was sloppy, and went to jail for a lot more than just arson. My parents realized that there was a need for younger wolves to learn about hunters and the dangers associated to just existing. So they started the school, and we all got degrees so we could teach here, make sure what happened with Kate wouldn’t happen again.”
Stiles couldn’t think of anything to say, so he just stayed silent and tightened his grip a little on Derek’s hand. They sat together in silence until the lunch break was over, and when they had to get back to their classes Derek left with a quiet thank you and a small smile.
It hit Stiles, sitting there with his hand still outstretched, that he was head over heels for Derek. Full on, wanting to go on dates and hold hands and have stupid nicknames, into him. He was screwed.
Normally Stiles wasn’t as horribly aware of how bad of an idea his crushes were, but with Derek he could feel it from the first realization.
Derek was a great person, and whenever they spent time together he seemed to loosen up a little bit more. They even had each other’s phone numbers, and spent most of the time they weren’t together texting each other.
They had a pretty easy pattern for their friendship. They would hang out during lunch at the school, text each other after they went home, sometimes they would also text while getting ready for work, and they ignored anything and everything that Cora or Laura said when they walked by. It worked for them.
What wasn’t working was Stiles’ stupid habit of falling for people who wouldn’t or couldn’t ever feel the same for him. Every time Stiles thought that maybe Derek was feeling the same way Derek would pull back ten thousand steps. It happened too many times to be just a coincidence.
Stiles had started hanging out in Derek’s classroom while Derek finished working and Cora played with Scott and Erica on the playground. They would sit in the little office area and drink slightly burnt coffee from the crappy machine, sometimes talking but mostly sitting in a comfortable silence for long periods of time.
Then Stiles had found a video online that he knew Derek would love, and he crowded around to Derek’s side of the desk. They were still pressed together and still giggling softly when Chris Argent walked in, eyebrows raised.
Derek had slid his chair back like the computer was on fire, and stuttered out nonsense. He ushered Stiles out pretty quickly after that, and then left the campus right after class for three weeks with nothing but a small grimace and a wave to Stiles when he showed up at the door. His responses to texts were monosyllabic and came across as tense, so Stiles figured that Derek just wasn’t comfortable with people thinking that he was friends with a parent and student.
They went back to just having lunch together, sitting at what had long been considered ‘their table’ and chatting companionably.
Stiles wasn’t quite sure why sitting together at a small table in public every day was okay but laughing together in Derek’s office was off the table after one person saw it happen, but he was willing to take what he could get.
Laura was the one who invited Stiles to Derek’s birthday party, and that should have been his first hint that it would be a bad idea. The second hint would have been when she made sure that he knew it was an adult only party and to find a sitter for the kids.
Stiles left Scott and Erica at his dad’s for the night with a stern reminder that their grandpa couldn’t know about their ‘inside wolves’, as they’d taken to calling it, and a promise to give Derek the gift they had made for him. They had both nodded solemnly and clutched their stuffed wolves even tighter to their chests when he left.
When Stiles finally showed up at the Hale family house (Derek and his sisters all had apartments but events were always held at the house according to Laura) the party seemed to be in full swing. Cora and Lydia met him at the door, completely ignoring his indignant squawks over the fact that he hadn’t even known Lydia would be in town. They wasted no time in getting him into the parlor and putting a drink in his hand.
Derek was chatting with a few people that Stiles recognized from around the school, but his eyes had flicked away from them and landed on Stiles as soon as he entered the room. Not wanting to be rude, Stiles just gave a small wave and stuck close to Lydia while she put his two gifts on the table with the rest.
She smirked knowingly at him as her fingers smoothed down the best ribbon he could find on the bigger box. Stiles tried to pretend that she didn’t remember how he had gone all out on Danny’s birthday when he was still in the beginning thrall of his crush.
Thankfully Lydia wasn’t quite harsh enough to say anything about it in a house full of werewolves.
Derek eventually made his way over to where they were standing next to the gifts in the next room. He kept getting stopped by people on the way, even though it was by no means a large crowd. When Derek finally came to a stop next to Stiles he sighed and nodded a thanks to Cora for immediately handing over a drink.
Cora turned towards Lydia and drew her attention away, effectively cutting the guys out of their conversation. Stiles saw right through it and one glimpse of Derek rolling his eyes told him that Derek did too. Still, they turned away from the girls and toward the room of people, standing in companionable silence.
“Happy birthday, man.” Stiles said, suddenly remembering that he hadn’t yet.
“Thanks. It’s not as big a deal to me as Laura likes to make it.” Derek replied, gesturing to the room full of people. “I would much rather have a dinner with a few people or something.”
“Then why do you let her throw you a party?”
Derek laughed. “I lost a bet a few years ago and now she gets to plan my birthday until I’m fifty. This is pretty tame, one year she hired twenty strippers.”
Stiles laughed into his drink and tried to imagine Derek in a party hat surrounded by gyrating strippers. It only made him laugh harder and start to choke on air. Derek joined in on the laughter and his hand warm on Stiles’ back was enough to calm Stiles down so he could breathe.
“I honestly don’t know if I want to be Laura’s best friend or if I’m utterly terrified of her.” Stiles said thoughtfully.
“Oh definitely terrified.” Laura suddenly whispered into his ear, materializing behind him without a sound.
Stiles jumped about a foot into the air and crushed his drink cup in his hand, sloshing liquid all over his and Derek’s shirts. It took him a good two minutes to calm himself down, breathing ragged.
He could vaguely hear Derek snapping at Laura over the blood rushing in his ears, and he could feel Derek’s hand on his chest against his still racing heart.
“He’s human, Laura. You could have given him a heart attack.” Derek sounded angry, and when Stiles looked up he could see that Derek’s eyes were electric blue.
“I obviously didn’t know he’d freak out like that, Derek! If I did I never would have done it.”
A glance over at her confirmed that her eyes were bright yellow as she stared back at Derek. Cora cleared her throat from where she was hovering in the doorway.
“People are getting antsy out here, maybe you guys could sheathe the claws and be better hosts.”
Stiles choked out a laugh, startling Derek and Laura out of their staring contest.
“I’m fine.” He insisted. “Sometimes surprises get me a little more than they should.”
Laura at least had the decency to accept his half-assed assurance and move on with a quick clap on the back. Derek let out a low growl as she walked away, and she just flipped him off without turning back.
Derek kept one hand on Stiles’ chest and the other settled low on his side. Stiles wanted to tell him that he really was fine, but he also wanted to keep Derek’s hands on him for very selfish reasons.
“I should probably go home and change my shirt real quick, this one needs to be washed.” Stiles grimaced, swearing over the fact that he had chosen to wear a light blue shirt instead of one of his darker ones. “It’ll only take me like half an hour and then I can be back.”
“No,” Derek said, already tugging him towards the stairs “I have a room here still, there should be a shirt that fits you. No need to drive home.”
His tone didn’t leave any room for argument, so Stiles just nodded and followed Derek up the stairs.
Derek’s room was right off the side of the stairs, and Stiles laughed as soon as the doors closed behind them.
“Shut up.” Derek grumbled.
“No way, Derek. Was this your room in high school? Are all of these baseball posters yours because man. This is just. So typical high school jock that I’m almost afraid you’re going to push me up against a locker and steal my lunch money.”
Derek grumbled under his breath and started rummaging through the dresser. Stiles kept laughing and looking around the room while he stripped off his button up. There were pictures in frames of a much younger smiling Derek and a few sports trophies up on shelves. It was all very charming, and when Stiles realized that the room had gone quiet he had a warm smile on his face.
When Stiles turned back around Derek was just standing there with a green shirt in his hand.
“Thanks.” Stiles said, moving back over to Derek and taking the shirt from him. It was soft to the touch, obviously loved and worn often. The thought of wearing one of Derek’s favorite shirts made Stiles’ face go warm, and Derek’s fingers brushing over his made something low in his stomach clench.
Derek’s eyes lowered slightly and he swayed forward the slightest bit before breathing in harshly and forcefully taking a step back. Stiles was left standing stupidly with the shirt in his hand and a bare chest. Derek turned to fiddle with the dresser drawer and Stiles slipped the shirt over his head. It fit loosely around his shoulders and the sleeves fell just past his wrists.
“I can wash your shirt after the party and get it back to you at the school.” Derek said, turning back around and dragging his eyes up Stiles’ torso.
“No rush.” Stiles blushed and tugged at the hem then gestured back at the door. “We should probably get back to the party before your sisters send a rescue mission.”
Derek nodded and lead him out, his hand returning to the small of Stiles’ back. Stiles could feel Lydia and Cora watching them as they walked down the stairs, and Laura met them at the bottom to press another drink into Stiles’ hand and quietly apologize again.
Stiles just nodded and tried not to feel disappointed when Derek was whisked away to socialize with the other guests.
The party went off without a hitch after that. Stiles mostly stuck near Lydia and Cora, chatting with Derek and Laura when they got a second away from the other guests to stand with them.
When the time came Derek oohed and ahhed appropriately over his gifts. They were mostly teaching supplies and things that were nice but didn’t really show an emotional attachment of any kind. Laura got him a car washing kit, at which he rolled his eyes but still smiled fondly. Lydia and Cora went in on a box of video games that made Derek pause and go through them to read the backs.
Derek laughed quietly when he opened the top line coffee maker from Stiles. Lydia’s eyes were drilling a hole in the side of Stiles’ face but he just blushed and smiled back. When Derek opened his gift from Scott and Erica everyone awwed and Derek’s eyes softened. It was just a coffee mug, but they had each picked a side and drew all over it with sharpies. It was a mess of colors and smudged shapes, but it still brought a proud smile to Stiles face as he remembered their faces screwed up in concentration as they worked.
Laura swooped in after Derek said thank you and took the mug away to the kitchen for ‘safe keeping’. The party moved on after that, but Derek stuck by Stiles and the girls for the rest of the evening.
By the time everyone else had left the party, it was almost ten. They had moved to the less formal living room and stretched out on the couches in there. Laura had taken the lone recliner, leaving the loveseat for Cora and Lydia to curl up on and the longer couch for Stiles and Derek. They were just sitting and talking until Cora started yawning.
“I should probably start driving home.” Stiles said, trying to get up the motivation to get off the very comfortable couch.
“Noooooo!” Laura yelled, jumping up and running to the kitchen and back. “I bought alcohol! Stay, drink!”
“But I drove.” Stiles argued, weakly if he were being honest. “And my kids…”
“You can sleep here! There are guest rooms. C’mon, Stiles. Lydia is staying, we’re all gonna sleep here. When’s the last time you had a fun night out?” Laura opened one of the bottles she had started bringing out and waved it in front of his face.
Stiles looked at Cora and Lydia, who had stood and started to pour their own drinks, but it was a look at Derek, who was trying to look disinterested but somehow still came off as looking hopeful, that made him sigh and grab the bottle.
“I’m uncomfortable with such a peer-pressuring bully running the school my kids go to.” Stiles mumbled. “I’ll have to call home and tell them goodnight or they’ll worry.”
Lydia nodded at him, probably remembering the first time Stiles had tried to stay out all night. It had ended with Scott and Erica screaming and crying while Lydia tried desperately to get ahold of him. Their therapist had told him that the trauma stemming from whatever happened in the woods made them think that he wouldn’t come back if they didn’t know where he was.
The girls all left the room to get some snacks together, but Stiles shook his head when Derek asked if he needed privacy.
The phone only rang twice before his dad’s girlfriend answered. Melissa had moved in next door after Stiles’ mom had died, and he grew up in and out of her house while his dad worked hard. She had helped out with Scott and Erica a lot while they were still very young, and they already called her grandma. She had started dating Stiles’ dad right after Stiles had moved out, and they were probably closer to being engaged than even they realized. Stiles knew that she was spending the night more often than she was sleeping at her own, and he was happy about it. He knew he wouldn’t ever be able to call her mom, but they had a very familial relationship and he loved her as much as his kids did.
“Hey Mel, it’s me.” Stiles said, shifting deeper into the couch.
“Stiles! Is something wrong? We thought you might be home by now.”
“No, sorry. We’re going to hang out and have some drinks. I’m going to sleep here for the night and I wanted to say goodnight to the kids.”
“Aw. That’s a good idea. I’ll put them on for you. Have a good time tonight, love you, Stiles.”
“I love you too.” Stiles replied, glancing over when Derek stiffened slightly. He frowned when he saw the hard line of Derek’s mouth, but he didn’t have a chance to ask if something was wrong before Scott and Erica were yelling into his ear.
When he was done saying goodnight and hanging up his phone, the girls had come back in and were setting up an impressive spread of food and alcohol. Derek shifted forward and grabbed a bottle of beer and sprinkled something into it.
“Werewolves can’t get drunk with plain alcohol, we have to add a bit of wolfsbane to it to feel anything.” Cora explained when she caught him watching. She smiled and added a bit to her own drink before swirling it all together.
Derek was stiff next to him for the first few drinks, but after awhile he was laughing and participating in the conversation. Eventually his arm wound up behind Stiles, and their legs were pressed together even though there was plenty of room on the couch.
Stiles was starting to feel warm inside, partially from the drinks but mostly from the causal touching and Derek’s laugh loud and carefree in his ear. It was enough to let Stiles ignore Lydia’s gaze on them for most of the night.
Laura went off to bed around two in the morning, smacking a wet kiss onto Derek’s forehead and ruffling Cora’s hair as she stumbled past them. They heard her trip on the stairs and start giggling until she disappeared into her room.
They decided to disband not long after that, and Derek offered to show Stiles to one of the guest rooms while Cora chased Lydia up the stairs.
The guest room was at the end of the second floor hall, across the house from where the other bedrooms were. Derek muttered something about privacy for guests and told Stiles to just wait while he went to find something for Stiles to wear to bed. While Derek was off getting the clothes, Lydia slipped into the room and shut the door behind her.
“I don’t wanna talk about it.” Stiles mumbled from where he had flopped onto the bed, face mashed into a pillow.
“Too bad. You never mentioned that you’re completely in love with him.”
Stiles jackknifed on the bed and threw the pillow at her.
“They’re werewolves, Lydia. Shut up!” He hissed, heart hammering into his ribs.
Lydia just rolled her eyes and whipped the pillow back into his face.
“I’ve been here before, idiot, the bedrooms are all soundproof. They wouldn’t be able to hear us even if they were right outside the door.”
“I’m torn between really wanting to know how you know that and desperately wanting this conversation to be over so I can pass out and not have to think anymore.”
Lydia sighed and moved to prod Stiles until he rolled onto one side of the bed. She settled in next to him and pulled his arm around her.
“I know you don’t want to talk about it.” She said quietly. “I know better than anyone. But you’re so far gone for Derek that you’re trying to woo him and I don’t think you even realize it.”
“I don’t know what he’s thinking, if he likes me as a friend or if he would be interested in more.” Stiles admitted, curling closer to Lydia. “I don’t want to mess it up again. If. If I started something with him, I would want it to last. It’s harder than it ever has been, Scott and Erica love him. I don’t want to ruin that for them if it doesn’t work out.”
“He’s just as gone on you as you are on him. I promise. Cora said that she’s never seen him so into someone before.”
Lydia sat up and looked down at Stiles. “Just give it a try. I’m positive, and you know that I’m never wrong.”
Stiles smiled and Lydia leaned down to kiss his cheek before rolling herself off the bed.
“Now. You’re going to get your move on with the hot werewolf that’s been standing outside the door for at least three minutes without knocking because he doesn’t think he’s allowed,and I’m going to go have some fun with my own hot werewolf waiting for me down the hall.”
“You think you’re so smart, Lydia Martin. There is no way you’re right about this.”
Lydia smirked and pulled the door open, reaching out to pat Derek’s shoulder when he blinked confusedly at her.
“I don’t have to be a werewolf to know things, sweetheart.”
She brushed past Derek and smiled wickedly as she pulled the door closed behind herself.
They stared at each other, Stiles sitting mostly upright but still splayed out on the bed and Derek standing rigidly by the door clutching a pair of sweatpants, until Derek took a small almost stumbling step forward. Then everything started moving faster.
Stiles knew that he moved somehow, toward Derek, but he only ended kneeling on the end of the bed. Derek’s hands were fisted in Stiles’ shirt as soon as he reached him, pulling him closer, and Stiles’ hands found purchase on Derek’s shoulders a fraction of a second before they were kissing.
Stiles let out a pleased sound and slid one of his hands up until he could feel Derek’s stubble under his palm. The prospect of some very nice and slightly embarrassing stubble burn in his immediate future made him shift his grip, lacing his fingers behind Derek’s neck, and pull him in to deepen the kiss.
That seemed to be what Derek had wanted, and he shifted his grip down to Stiles’ waist and started crowding him back up the bed until he had Stiles under him. Derek was sliding his hands up under Stiles’ shirt when he pulled away to leave a trail of kisses down over Stiles’ jaw and to the base of his neck.
Stiles let out a breathless laugh but tugged on the back of Derek’s shirt when he felt a bit of teeth.
“Try not to leave a mark.” Stiles muttered. He was thinking ahead to the morning, knowing he’d get snark from Lydia already for Derek staying in his room.
In a heartbeat Derek’s comfortable weight was gone. Stiles pushed himself up onto his elbows and watched as Derek backed away, looking stricken.
Derek shook his head and edged closer to the door. As he curled his hands inward, Stiles caught a glimpse of claws.
“This was a mistake.” Derek rasped. “We were drinking and we made a mistake.”
“No.” Stiles said, starting to get upset. “We’ve been leading up to this ever since we met, Derek. This isn’t a mistake. You know that it isn’t.”
“I thought I could do it. I thought this might be okay but I can’t. I can’t Stiles. It’s just wrong.” Derek spat back.
“It sure didn’t feel wrong to me.”
Derek just made a strangled sound and gaped at Stiles like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Like he hadn’t been the one to kiss first.
Stiles watched as Derek shook his head and then slip out the door, letting it click shut behind him. There was a moment where Stiles thought that Derek might come back and maybe even try to explain what had just happened, but the door stayed shut and the room stayed empty.
Stiles let out a frustrated yell, if only because he knew that the room was soundproof and he could. When enough time had passed that he knew Derek wasn’t going to come back, he got up and changed into the sweatpants that had been lying almost forgotten on the floor and tried to fall asleep, figuring that he could talk to Derek in the morning.
When Stiles made his way down the stairs, still upset and slightly hungover, he found himself the subject of three pitying stares. If his brain had been running at full speed then he would have figured out what was happening before he opened his big mouth and asked it Derek had come down yet.
“Sweetie.” Laura started, leading Stiles into the kitchen gently and pushing him into a chair at the table. “Are you hungry?”
Cora groaned and Lydia rolled her eyes, while Laura looked sheepish and turned away quickly to put together some food.
Stiles turned his gaze to Cora and Lydia, knowing at least one of them would give him a straight answer.
Cora opened her mouth, but all that came out was: “I’ll make you some coffee.”
“Derek left.” Lydia said, matter of factly. Cora and Laura turned in unison to hiss at her about being harsh, but she just waved them off.
“I’ve known Stiles for years, so I know better than anyone that he hates being babied.”
Stiles nodded, but his brain was still stuttering over what her words meant.
“Derek woke up not long ago and went home. Back to his apartment. He said that you could either keep the clothes or leave them here to be washed, he doesn’t care.” Lydia’s voice was steady, but her hand shook slightly as she placed it over his. “I’m sorry for what I said last night, Stiles. If I had known he would be like this I never would have said anything.”
“He’s still our brother, Lydia. Don’t be too hard on him.” Laura said, thumping a plate of muffins down on the table.
Lydia’s eyes took on a hard glint, but Stiles stood up before she could say anything.
“Thanks for offering breakfast, but I think I’m just going to home.”
He walked out of the kitchen before they could say anything and went back to the guest room to change quickly. He left the house without going back to say goodbye, because honestly he just couldn’t think. His mind was focused entirely on getting back to his family and forgetting that he ever put himself out there for Derek to hurt.
When he got to the car Lydia was leaning against the driver’s side door. She was still barefoot and in pajamas, tapping her fingers gently against the glass of the window. Her arms came up immediately when he got closer and he stepped into her hug without a second thought.
“I am sorry. We’ll figure out what happened okay?” She whispered into his shoulder.
“You don’t have to worry about it.” Stiles cringed slightly at the raspiness of his own voice. “I know what happened. We kissed, then he told me it was wrong and a mistake. The best thing to do is to just forget it ever happened. I’ll be done with my class soon and then he won’t ever be forced to be in the same place as me again.”
Lydia shook her head and pulled away, resting a hand on his cheek.
“Do you need me to come with you?” she asked, eyes flicking between his face and the house.
“No,” he sighed. “Go back to Cora. I just want to go spend some time with my kids.”
Lydia nodded and pressed a kiss to his cheek before moving away and letting him climb into his car. He gave her a little wave as he drove off, and she watched him leave until his car disappeared from sight.
His dad was at work when he finally got there, but Melissa let him in. She took one look at him and pulled him into a hug.
“Scott and Erica are watching a movie.” She said after they pulled apart. “Go watch with them and I’ll make you guys something to eat.”
Stiles smiled weakly and then went to the living room where Scott and Erica were cuddled up on the couch.
They let out quiet surprised noises at the sight of him, and he nestled himself in between them. He felt better almost immediately as they both snuggled up under his neck, and he decided not to let it get to him. If Derek didn’t want him then he didn’t want him. It just was what it was, and he just needed to try his best to get his life back to normal.
Over the last month of his ‘werewolves for humans’ class, things most definitely did not go back to normal.
Peter stopped leering and making jokes that would probably have been deemed too sexual for school campuses anywhere, much less one that held children, and had ceded several points to Stiles even when they both knew that he was wrong.
Laura had taken to bringing him lunch and cupcakes and inviting him to eat with her in her office. Stiles had denied every time and sat defiantly at the same table that he and Derek had claimed. For the first few weeks Derek would come out of his classroom and then freeze at the sight of Stiles sitting alone, but eventually he just stopped coming out to look.
Cora was the only Hale who didn’t treat him any differently. The first day back after Derek’s party she had punched him in the arm and told him that Lydia had warned her not to coddle him. It was surprisingly heartwarming.
The weeks dragged on in that month. Stiles hadn’t realized how lonely his life had actually been before he met the Hales, but going back to being on his own for the majority of the time was hard.
He still had Scott and Erica, who seemed to have realized that something was going on, as they rarely mentioned Derek when they were talking about their day. They had started making friends, so Stiles was just on the receiving end of things like “Boyd knows howta icekate and he said his birthday is gonna be atta ring!” and “Allison’s daddy works at tah scool and she smiles real pretty.” (Stiles was pretty sure Scott was in the throes of his first crush, but he didn’t even want to think about that for another few years.)
He also still had the Hales, to a degree. They invited him out with them and he knew that they still considered him their friend, but it was just awkward around Derek, and not at much fault of Stiles’ either.
In an effort to get some sense of normalcy back, Stiles kept saying yes when Cora or Laura would ask if he wanted to get drinks or hang out. Derek would be there most times, Stiles figured that they just never told him when Stiles would be there, and he would just stand or sit awkwardly and not make eye contact with anyone until eventually he just left early.
By the last week of class they were able to at least be in the same room together without every conversation stalling out because Derek wouldn’t talk to a group with Stiles in it and Stiles wouldn’t shut down whenever Derek was anywhere near him. It got better, though it was nowhere near what Stiles had wanted.
Stiles decided to be a proper adult about it, and when he left the school with a silly little ‘diploma’ that stated that he graduated from a school of the occult, he set up a nice dinner at his house.
He invited Lydia, Cora and Laura originally, but only moments after sending them texts he sent one to Derek as well. As an afterthought Stiles sent a text to Cora so she would know that he invited Derek as well.
Within an hour the three girls had all responded saying that they would go, and he had an ominous sounding text from Laura saying that Derek would be there and he would be a decent human even if it killed him.
Stiles just took it at face value and planned a dinner for five even though Derek never responded to the text himself. He sent the time and his address to Cora and Laura and put it out of his mind.
The dinner was a few nights later. Stiles dropped Scott and Erica off with his dad again and spent most of the morning cleaning and then buying food what he needed, so he didn’t have time to panic until the chicken was in the oven and there was nothing left to occupy his mind.
He was contemplating opening one of the bottles of wine that he had splurged on when the doorbell rang half an hour early and he felt like his heart had flatlined for a minute. After assuring himself that it had to be Lydia, that no one else would know him well enough to know that he would be ready way before the actual time that he invited them for.
He opened the door with a flourish, but his smile fell when he looked up from his bow to see Derek standing awkwardly on his doorstep in a nice sweater and holding a bottle of wine.
“Oh. I’m. Sorry. I thought you were Lydia.” Stiles straightened up and rubbed the back of his neck as he felt his face heat up. “Come in, you’re a bit early but go ahead and make yourself at home.”
Stiles moved out of the doorway to let Derek in. Derek still hadn’t said a word, but at least he wasn’t glaring ar Stiles or trying to stand in a corner and be invisible. After showing Derek to the living room, Stiles took the bottle of wine and made his escape to the kitchen.
Once he was out of Derek’s sight he whipped out his cellphone and started texting Lydia frantically. As soon as he got a text back from her saying ‘I didn’t plan it.’ he knew. After sending Cora and Laura both scathing text, though he figured it was more Laura’s idea, he made his way back to the living room.
“You can leave if you want.” He offered, watching as Derek jumped a little where he was looking at the framed photos on the wall.
“Do you not want me here?” Derek asked, the first words he’d spoken to Stiles in over a month.
“It doesn’t really matter either way, but your sisters decided to meddle again. No one else is coming. So it’s either leave or have dinner with me. And I think we both know which one you’d prefer.”
Derek looked slightly hurt but Stiles was past caring. He just wanted to have a nice dinner with his friends and they took it upon themselves to ruin it. He let his eyes slide past Derek’s face and onto the set of pictures he had been looking at.
Stiles smiled slightly, remembering how it felt when Melissa and his dad had put them up as a housewarming gift. They had framed the adoption papers for Scott and Erica, and surrounded them with pictures of the three of them. Dressed up for the courthouse, messy cake faced birthday pictures, all very family fun style.
“I thought you were with someone.” Derek said quietly. “I knew Scott and Erica weren’t biologically yours, but I just figured that you were dating or engaged to their mom or something.”
Stiles gaped at Derek, who had turned back to the photos and was looking softly at them.
“I don’t know why I never asked. Or why I never even thought that maybe you had adopted them. I just liked you so much, and I tried to make myself think that you were just really friendly. And then we kissed, we kissed and you asked me not to mark you and I thought it was so you could go home to be with her and she wouldn’t know.”
“Derek I. I haven’t even dated anyone in like two years. I kept getting such hot and cold signals from you that I didn’t even know what to think.” Stiles touched the inside of Derek’s arm softly and lowered his voice. “When you kissed me I thought everything was coming together. I was thinking ahead to the morning and the jokes that they would make if I went down with a hickey. Then you were gone and you’ve been gone ever since. It really hurt.”
Derek looked pained, so Stiles slide his hand down to tangle their fingers together.
“I think I understand though.” Stiles said. “I respect that you didn’t want to be some kind of werewolf mistress or whatever, and I see now that you stopped talking to me so that neither of us would be tempted.”
Derek nodded, fingers clenching tight around Stiles’ for a second.
“I think I can forgive you for that.” Stiles said, leaning closer to Derek. “I think we should start over. Maybe try this again when you know that I am single and one hundred percent into you and I know that you’re into me and not a total jerk.”
There was a moment where Stiles’ heart was beating overtime and he thought that Derek might actually say no and leave, but then he was being pulled in gently and Derek was kissing him again.
It was better this time, standing with their bodies pressed together and knowing exactly what they both want. Stiles still stopped it when Derek’s hands started creeping up his shirt.
“I have a proposition.” Stiles said, feeling breathless and so very happy.
Derek nodded at him to continue before going back in to kiss the same spots on Stiles’ neck that had gotten such a good reaction last time.
“I have enough chicken for five people in the oven that should be done right about now. How about we have our first date here, and if it goes well I can call my dad and ask him to keep the kids overnight again.”
Derek let out a noise of agreement and then proceeded to give Stiles the biggest hickey he had ever had in his life.
Stiles laughed at the proud look on Derek’s face when he pulled away, and kissed him one more time before running off to the kitchen to make sure that the chicken wouldn’t burn.
The next morning Stiles woke up with a smile, face pressed into Derek’s shoulder. He knew that they would have to get up before too long and probably talk about what they were doing and what they both wanted, but for that moment he just closed his eyes and let himself enjoy it.
He felt Derek shift, and then there were lips on his.
“My sisters have been sending me texts for hours. Apparently Lydia and Cora picked up Scott and Erica and they’re holding them hostage until we bring them breakfast.” Derek said, lips brushing against Stiles’ throat.
“Well” Stiles murmured “I do love my kids.”
“Shower and then muffins?” Derek asked.
“Shower, and then muffins and coffee.” Stiles replied.
Derek laughed and they both rolled out of the bed to face whatever Cora, Lydia and Laura would throw at them.
-One year later-
Watching Erica climb all over Derek while Scott sat in Stiles’ lap made Stiles’ heart start beating harder again. Derek quirked an eyebrow at him and Stiles just blushed and hid his face in Scott’s hair.
Derek was holding Buttercup up in the air, and Scott was holding Toffee tightly to his chest.
Stiles grinned and gently scooted Scott onto the couch before moving over to where they other two were playing. He lifted Erica off of Derek and put her onto his own shoulders, getting her up closer to where Derek had Buttercup held.
Derek smiled when their faces were brought so close together, and Stiles smirked and leaned in to kiss him.
Erica grabbed Buttercup while Derek was distracted, and Stiles smiled through the kiss when he heard her and Scott cheering over her victory. Though it wasn’t long before she was poking the side of his head.
“Gross daddy. Stop kissin Derek, we’s just babies!”
Stiles and Derek broke apart, laughing too hard to keep the kiss going, and they both converged on the kids, becoming tickle monsters.
Derek had fit right into Stiles’ little family, the way Stiles had always felt that he would. It gave Stiles the best feeling to watch him interact with Scott and Erica in their house, right under the spread of photos that had helped them figure everything out. They had even started another set in the months since. Derek had stencilled the word ‘family’ onto a wall, and the pictures surrounding it were of four people, instead of three.