Stiles woke up without a body besides him. He could feel the cold curl of panic cramp his gut and crawl up his spine before he opened his eyes, before he registered the pain of his body and his immobilized arm.
He opened his eyes blearily and couldn’t remember how to breathe. He just wanted to breathe.
“What is wrong with him?” Derek said. “Where is the nurse call button?”
“Kiss him,” he could hear Lydia from far away. “It’s a panic attack.”
Stiles choked on his empty throat. He could only imagine the incredulousness on Derek’s face.
“It always worked in high school,” Lydia said. “Just do it.”
Stiles felt warm familiar lips on his. He could feel the warm hands on his body. He felt whole again. The lips tested around his, they were feather light but a firm presence. Stiles opened his mouth and the kiss deepened. Stiles twitched and kissed back. A breath filled his lungs and he let out a contented sigh and relaxed under Derek’s hands.
Stiles opened his eyes a little and saw Derek’s worried face.
“Hi,” Stiles said a little breathlessly. “Nice to see you.”
Derek traced his finger over Stiles’s hairline. “Don’t move much. Your arm is broken and you have IVs giving you fluids.”
“I’m alive?” Stiles said in wonderment.
Derek grabbed Stiles’s hand. “Please don’t poke your face or bandages. It took hours to clean and wrap you.”
Stiles grinned a little. “You know me.”
Derek’s fingers dug into Stiles’s skin. They just looked at each other letting the fact that they had skirted the edge of losing each other.
Derek broke the silence and the grave moment, he released Stiles. “You spend a lot of time kissing Lydia in high school?”
Stiles lifted his hand and waved back and forth. “It happens. Life, death, kissing Lydia.”
“I think I am insulted,” Lydia said.
“I think that I’m on drugs,” Stiles said, pulling Derek in for another kiss, Derek humored him and then pulled back.
Stiles lazily opened his eyes and looked around. Lydia was sitting on a chair, Dade was on her lap, watching Stiles. Dade was still and had his amber eyes focused Stiles, tracking his every motion. That was something Stiles had yet to see in the last eight months. Even when he was sleeping Dade was rarely still.
Stiles scratched at the golden ring around his neck. He looked down and one of the wards was also around his neck.
“I’m blinged out,” Stiles muttered.
“Scott and Isaac are on their way with some witches,” Derek said glaring at the jewelry as if it personally offended him.
“Where is Henry?” Stiles said, his voice taking on an urgent tone.
This time sound a lot less panicked, but he still wasn’t quite stable.
Derek kissed him, this time with more function than finesse, it was just something he was doing in case. Then he leaned down and gave Stiles a little kiss, sweet and just between them. He stood up and went to Dade and Lydia in the chair..
“He’s four and newly an Alpha. You’ve been out for two days. Allison and your father took him out,” Derek said, watching them. “He was climbing the walls and driving everyone crazy.”
Derek brought Dade over to Stiles.
“Be gentle,” Derek told Dade.
Derek carefully placed Dade on Stiles’s bed. Dade looked up at Stiles with concerned eyes.
“Hey little man, I’ve missed you,” Stiles said with a smile.
Dade moved with more restraint than Stiles had ever seen. Dade just curled into Stiles and began to suck on his thumb.
“It only took me being beaten to calm him down,” Stiles remarked.
“Not funny,” Derek barked.
Stiles jumped back a little. Derek reached out a hand tentatively. Stiles leaned into his, but he still looked a little pale.
“Henry put the fear in him,” Lydia said. “Some part of Dade is reacting to Henry.”
Derek and Stiles exchanged a look.
Lydia stood up. “Looks like parenthood got that much more complicated.”
Stiles looked up worried at Derek. “We can stay right? There can be two Alphas in a pack, Scott’s inner wolf isn’t going to eat Henry.”
Derek shook his head vehemently. “A pack is a pack. It’s made up of whatever a pack decides to let in. Scott can spend one on one time with Henry, both to show who is dominant and also to show that Scott considers him still part of us.”
Stiles sighed. “Oh good, that is good.”
Dade sucked on his thumb and Stiles moved a little, feeling his whole aching body. Everything was there. Nothing was missing. Not any more.
“How are you Lydia?” Stiles asked.
Lydia held up a hand to show a metal brace. “I got kidnapped at all I got was a few bruises, a broken thumb, and a sprained wrist. You’re the one showboating with the dehydration and arm fractured in two places, and all the bruised ribs.”
Dade popped his thumb out of his mouth and squealed.
“It isn’t as cool as it sounds,” Stiles told Dade.
Dade just gave him a slobbery grin and reached out for Stiles. Derek’s hand went abort the attempt for touch that would probably hurt Stiles, Derek looked at Lydia expectantly.
“What do you want me to do?” Lydia asked.
“You’re the baby whisperer,” Derek said. “You say some part of Dade is responding to Henry, I say he’s responding to you. He likes you.”
Lydia sighed. “I have a PhD, I’m working on my second. I’m way overqualified to be your babysitter.”
Derek smirked a little. “We only want the best. We have a four year old Alpha and Dade. There is no such thing as overqualified.”
A nurse walked in and suddenly the mood in the room changed. Three pairs of eyes focused on the newcomer, none of them welcoming.
“You’re awake,” she said smiling at them. The three adults in the room just looked at her warily. She stepped forward to the machines attached to Stiles. He flinched. Derek growled a little as Stiles became more and more uncomfortable.
Lydia stepped between the nurse and the Hale-Stilinski clan who was actively glaring at her.
“We’ve had a great trauma,” Lydia told her. “We’re not receptive to new people. I believe that his file says that only Melissa McCall is to come in here.”
The nurse’s smile faltered and Dade began to growl.
“Really, leave us,” Lydia said. “He’s fine and awake. Please find Melissa if you need anything.”
The nurse slowly backed out of the room.
“I think she was more scared of Lydia than you,” Stiles commented, reaching out for Derek.
Derek sat gingerly on the bed and sprawled on it. “I have teeth.”
Lydia chomped her teeth. “I use mine.”
“He used his pretty well the other night,” Stiles pointed out.
Lydia nodded. “Yeah you did.
She came and sat on the other side of Stiles, looking at Derek with grateful eyes. “Thank you for coming for us.”
Derek tilted head and nodded. “Thank you for being there.”
She turned towards Stiles. “We made it.”
“We kept breathing,” Stiles agreed. “We kept going until we got out.”
Derek leaned in towards Stiles and closed his eyes. Lydia lay down on the bed. Derek and Lydia looked a little awkward, but none of them could move. They needed to pile together. Dade made happy noises and squirmed a little.
For just a little bit they lay together. Dade made little noises and played with Derek’s fingers.
“Running water,” Lydia sighed grabbing Dade’s feet.
“Beds that aren’t infested,” Stiles said running a finger over Dade’s chubby arm.
Dade let out a little howl and Derek ran a hand over his head.
“Knowing where everyone is,” he added softly.
Stiles sighed happily.
The moment was broken when Derek opened his eyes and looked at the door.
“Incoming?” Lydia asked, sitting up primly. Derek followed her lead and stood up in his looming stance. Stiles looked at them and then at Dade who had perked up.
Stiles watched the door. He heard them before he saw them. Two werewolves coming down the hallway were surprisingly thunderous. An almost bearded Scott showed up at the doorway first, followed by a strange woman and backed by a tired looking Isaac.
Scott gave Lydia a hug and then looked at Stiles.
“We were so worried,” Scott said, holding onto Lydia.
“As I can tell by the extreme scruff,” Stiles said.
Scott let go of Lydia and gave her a smile. “Thanks for your directions. We found the coven pretty easily.”
Lydia looked over at Stiles and all replies died on her lips.
Stiles had a pallid look to his face. Derek stood behind him, a hand on Stiles’s shoulder, the hand was clawed and Derek’s eyes were glowing blue. He hadn’t completely wolfed out, but there were stirrings of a growl in his chest.
The woman didn’t look up, didn’t move. Isaac didn’t take his eyes off of her.
“Take it off him,” Derek commanded. “If anything happens to either one of them, anything, you will live a long time and what happened to them will seem like an all inclusive vacation.”
She didn’t move a muscle, just spoke quietly. “We were under the Alpha’s threat. We owed him a debt.”
Derek growled, deep and menacing.
“You owe us a debt now, I estimate three,” Scott said, his voice pitched low and Alpha.
She looked up at Stiles, who hadn’t looked away from her.
“No,” he said steadily, feeling in control with the pressure of Derek’s hand on his shoulder. “You owe us a debt for each of the lives we don’t take in your coven. For every person who had a hand in this you owe us.”
She nodded. “We do.”
Derek’s fingers relented a little.
She looked at Dade in the curve of Stiles’s arm.
“Can I ask?” she said hesitantly. “About the boy?”
Derek’s finger’s clamped down again. Stiles didn’t flinch, he just rubbed his cheek along the back of Derek’s hand. It was soothing enough that Derek moved to wrap himself around Stiles.
“He’s alive,” Stiles said calmly. “Which is why our peace bringer isn’t going up to your coven and tearing all of you limb from limb.”’
Her face showed relief. “We are glad. We will be in your debt. We always repay our debt.”
“Even when it causes harm to other people’s lives,” Derek growled. Stiles leaned further into him. Stiles could feel the vibrations of Derek’s chest as he held Dade right to him.
She nodded, her face crumpling.
“You will not do that anymore,” Scott said. “Your first debt to us is that you will never hurt another human being when you repay your debts. You will never hand over children to madmen.”
She turned to look at Scott. “Thank you.”
When she turned back to the hospital bed there was some relief on her face. Stiles turned towards Derek, his face had slid back into his human visage.
“Take these things off their necks,” Derek said, his voice still as cold as ice, but less aggressive.
The woman stepped forward. She stood in front of Stiles and lifted her hands. She paused for a second and looked at Derek, seemingly asking permission.
“Lydia take Dade,” Derek said a little more softly.
Stiles moved a little to let Lydia take Dade from his arms. Dade fussed a little bit, but Lydia hushed him. Stiles could feel his heart beat speed up as the woman reached out for him. Derek’s arms came around him.
“Close your eyes,” Derek whispered in his ears. “I’ve got you.”
Stiles leaned back into him. He closed his eyes and felt the soothing presence of Derek behind him. He felt the morphine in his bloodstream soothe his aching body. He ignored the chanting in front of him, the new hands touching his neck.
The thought of someone touching him made him feel ill.
“Remember that time we were up against the fairies?” Derek said. “And for some reason they liked you? I never asked you how you did that.”
“I am very charming,” Stiles said, his voice still coming out a croak.
“They were swearing revenge on Allison,” Derek said, his breath heart against Stiles’s neck. “Yet at the same time they were leaving you flowers, Deaton said that they were trying to court you.”
Stiles opened his mouth.
“Stiles, the fairy jokes weren’t funny then and they aren’t now,” Lydia said.
Stiles felt the metal around ease and then give. His eyes flew open and the metal was once again a flat piece of gold in her outstretched hands. He felt Derek’s arm relax around him and then gently take off the charm around his neck.
“You’re safe now,” Lydia said, putting Dade back next to him. Dade seemed to be fascinated by the shiny object. He looked about two seconds from leaping towards it when Derek put a restraining hand on him.
“Take hers off,” Derek said, but his voice had lost all of its bite. “And get these away from us.”
Stiles didn’t realize that he was shaking until Derek reached for his morphine drip and pressed the button. There was a warm rush through his veins. He blinked a couple of times and watched as Derek moved behind Lydia and put both hands on her shoulders. She sat tall, but one of her hands snaked out and held on gently to Stiles’s leg. Dade yawned and sucked his thumb on Stiles’s chest.
His last thought before unconsciousness took him was that this is what he wanted. This is what he had wanted every night.
Stiles didn’t make it through the night before being in the hospital became unbearable. He woke up, morphine hazed in the middle of a panic attack three times before Derek raised hell, Stiles needed to be home. Melissa pulled some strings to get Stiles released. The hospital thought that they were insane, but the group of them had enough frequent flyer hospital miles that they were allowed unconventional treatment.
Stiles was still mostly unconscious when he was wheeled to the door. Derek picked him up and put him in the car. Scott and Isaac had already taken the boys to the house.
“There went the last of my dignity,” Stiles muttered. “I’m just the damsel.”
“Stop being stoic,” Derek said, buckling his belt. “You’re very big and strong.”
“No more drugs,” Stiles said, leaning against the headrest.
“No more drugs,” Derek promised.
“And I’m very very manly,” Stiles said, eyes closing.
“And the bravest person I’ve ever met,” Derek said, then gently closed the door.
Stiles woke up startled, he was on a bed that was too big.
“Henry,” he gasped.
Warm hands skimmed his skin.
“He’s downstairs curled up with Scott,” Derek’s voice said soothingly. “They’re asleep.”
Stiles groaned as his pain came back. Derek’s hands flattened on him and the pain abated. Stiles curled into Derek.
“Lydia,” Stiles said.
“She’s with Allison in the guest bed room,” Derek said, listening a little bit. “They’re still awake, talking about nothing.”
Stiles breathed in and curled more into Derek.
“Dade,” Stiles murmured.
“Sacked out on the couch with Isaac,” Derek said, holding Stiles close.
Stiles felt himself relax.
“You’re safe,” Derek said, not letting go a bit. “They’re all safe.”
“They all have their people,” Derek said, sniffing along Stiles’s hairline.
“And you are my people,” Stiles said, trying to get closer to Derek.
Derek just held him closer. “I am your people.”
Stiles closed his eyes.
“We don’t get many of these moments.” Derek murmured
There was a rumble that Stiles knew was laughter. “The almost dead moments? the moments where I’m absolutely terrified that I’m going to have debilitating PTSD and not be able to be normal ever again? The worry that I’ll never sleep a full night again.”
Derek held him closer. “I will be here. For all those nights.”
Stiles opened his eyes and looked up at Derek, silhouetted in the dark.
“I have you,” Stiles said.
“Can’t get rid of me,” Derek said. “Trust me, I’ve tried.”
Stiles laughed, but it turned into a sob. “Have I ever thanked you?”
“A couple of times,” Derek said.
“I should say it more often,” Stiles said.
Derek looked down at him and nodded, biting his lip. “I never thought I would hear it again. I’ve never been able to shut you up, but the thing that drove me to the edge is that I wouldn’t hear you again.”
Stiles sniffled and spoke his confessions quietly into the still night.
“I gave up,” Stiles said. “Every night I gave up. Benny broke me, every single time. I would go to bed and stare up at the ceiling, listening to Lydia and Henry and I hurt so much. I just was so tired and so scared that tomorrow it would hurt worse.”
Stiles shuddered. Derek’s fingers traced gently at the underside of Stiles’s jaw. It was gentle and soothing.
“But you didn’t,” Derek said.
“No,” Stiles said, breathing in deeply. “Every night I wanted to die, but every morning I woke up to Henry’s face, his little smile. He would wake me up and ask me for a story and ask me to play checkers.”
“He’s amazingly resilient,” Derek said. “All he needed to know was if Scott still would accept him. He just needed to hear that as long as he recognized Scott as his leader that he was still a full fledged member of the McCall Pack. Then he asked for jello and had all the nurses at the hospital around his finger and he was telling me knock knock jokes.”
“Kid never got tired of those,” Stiles said. “We have to work on his sense of humor.”
“You’re going to blame me for this, aren’t you?” Derek asked.
“Yes,” Stiles said. “But I think it is too late. He has the Hale sense of humor, which is none.”
Derek laughed. “I wish you could have met Laura, you would change your mind. She was always making sure that we laughed, even when things were hell.”
Stiles buried his face in Derek’s chest. “That is what I wanted. Every night. The rare sound of Derek Hale laughing.”
Derek kissed his forehead. “You have it.”
“I kept going because Henry was grinning at me,” Stiles said. “Every morning without fail. We would play and maybe Benny would come by maybe he wouldn’t. Maybe something new would break and maybe it wouldn’t. Some days it hurt so much to do something like hold onto my son, but we made sure that he would still smile.”
“He’s a happy boy,” Derek said with a smile.
“He’s amazing,” Stiles said. “You’ve done a great job.”
Derek intertwined their fingers. “Pretty sure I had help.”
“You sweet talker,” Stiles sighed.
“Allison had to pry me away from Dade the other night,” Derek said. “When I got back he was always with me. For the last few weeks…”
Derek trailed off and Stiles felt an ache in his chest, he could only imagine, he had imagined a few times, he was sure that the last few weeks in this house had been unbearable.
Stiles looked up at him, Derek was bathed in moonlight. Stiles committed this moment to memory.
“I don’t know how you’ve gone on when everything seems against you,” Stiles said finally, running his hands over Derek’s muscled arm. “You’ve lost everything again and again and yet you’re still here, preaching peace, and kicking ass.”
Derek looked down at the bed. “I didn’t think about it. After the fire I had Laura, some part of me, probably the boy my mother raised, thought that it could get back to normal. If I kept going it would hurt less, I could put Kate behind me, I could have a family.”
Stiles moved his hand up to cup Derek’s face.
“And after?” Stiles asked.
“I need you to speak too,” Stiles said. “I can listen.”
“I wonder sometimes,” Derek commented. “When Laura died, I nearly forgot, but I was here and I remembered family. I thought if I tried hard enough I could get to that place again. I thought that I could have a house of noise and people who cared.”
“And now you do,” Stiles said.
“I always hoped I would be here,” Derek said.
“In bed with a broken, mentally scarred, human?” Stiles asked.
Derek pulled away. Stiles whimpered at the loss and the jarring of his bones.
“Sorry,” Derek whispered, his hands going to Stiles and taking some of his pain. “But you don’t get to say that about yourself.”
Stiles looked up at him, he could feel the tears welling up, he could feel them spill over, even as he couldn’t feel his own pain any more.
“You’re my family,” Derek said.
Stiles closed his eyes. “And I’m home.”
Derek curled into his neck and sniffed. Stiles didn’t know if it was crying or scenting. Probably a bit of both.
“I’ll marry you,” Stiles said.
Derek pulled away startled and Stiles gave him an awkward grin.
“I was scared,” Stiles confessed.
Derek raised his eyebrows.
“I accept your incredulity as a reassurance to my continued dashing persona,” Stiles said.
Derek’s eyebrows raised a little higher. “That was a lot of words.”
“You should see me high,” Stiles said. “The sentences that I can string together would befuddle James Joyce.”
“I’ll pass,” Derek said. “I’d like to hear a little more about this change of mind of yours.”
Stiles sighed. “I didn’t know why, I couldn’t really tell you before, but I’ve had a lot of time to think about it lately.”
Derek looked at him suspiciously. “This isn’t because you were about to die is it?”
“No, well kind of,” Stiles said. “You made this little place in your life for me. Boyfriend I was pretty sure that I could do, I mean I’ve never been overly successful at it, but I could probably fake my way through that and dad, well I had been worried about that for awhile, like if I fed Henry McDonalds or if I bought him toys from China I would be back at my dad’s house.”
“Because I so often dump people?” Derek intoned. “You know me so well.”
“Emotions don’t usually respond well to logic, quit trying to make all of this rational,” Stiles snuggling into Derek. “I figured it out eventually, I finally really felt like Henry was mine and then we had Dade and I got that. I was sure of that.”
“So you could be a boyfriend and father, but husband still seemed like a little much?” Derek said.
“My mother has been dead for over twenty-five years. He still wears her ring, longer than he was married to her,” Stiles said. “Marriage is something I take seriously.”
Derek pulled Stiles closer. “I completely get that.”
“You’re just you, I kept waiting for you to realize that I was Stiles, that I was always going to be the one who said ‘kill them’ or that I was always going to be the one who talked us into bad situations.”
“And you didn’t think that I liked that part of you?” Derek asked.
“You like being annoyed?” Stiles asked.
“Apparently,” Derek said.
“I knew that, I thought that you would get over that,” Stiles said.
“If it hasn’t happened it probably won’t,” Derek pointed out. “You rarely agree with me about pack business, but you haven’t left yet, even when we’ve gotten into screaming matches about it.”
“That is the thing,” Stiles said. “That is why I will marry you, because I realized that somewhere along the way we had taken on the best of each other. You can win a fight, when the important things are on the line. I can talk peace when fists are flying into my face, just like you, just like your mother. I realized that this isn’t about me any more, I’m terrified, but you seem sure and Henry seems sure, the pack is sure, and I’m sure I want it.”
Stiles closed his eyes and whispered. “I just want someone who will wear the ring I gave them for the rest of our lives. I just want you to.”
Stiles could feel Derek’s smile against his forehead. “Then that is a yes.”
“Sorry it took so long,” Stiles replied.
“You always take longer, but you get there,” Derek teased.
They lay there for a minute, just being.
“The boys still okay?” Stiles asked.
Derek listened for a moment. “Dade is still sleeping, Henry is awake and asking Scott if you and I have to obey him now.”
“Scott better be telling him that we’re his parents and he still has to eat vegetables and make his bed,” Stiles yawned.
“Scott is handling it,” Derek said.
“Good,” Stiles said sleepily.
Stiles opened his eyes when he felt someone crawling into bed.
“Be gentle Henry,” Derek said, reaching a hand over Stiles to steady him.
Henry’s green eyes looked at Stiles. “You still hurt?”
“Just a little,” Stiles replied. He looked over to the doorway and Lydia stood there in her pajamas, carrying Dade.
“The boys couldn’t sleep,” Lydia said. “The trio is trying to get all the sleep they can before their own little bundle of joy comes.”
Stiles lifted the edge of the blanket. “The more the merrier.”
“We’re going to need a bigger bed,” Derek muttered, pulling Henry to him and tickling his son. “They’re not going to be tiny forever.”
“I’m not tiny,” Henry piped up.
Lydia yawned. “We know little man. You’re a big bad Alpha.”
“Grrr,” Henry said, dissolving into giggles.
“What do you want to watch?” Derek asked, reaching on the bedside table for the clicker.”
Dade’s head popped up from the blankets, looking at Henry with wide pleading eyes, his other form of getting what he wanted.
“Nemo it is,” Derek said turning on the tv.
Dade clapped his hands at his brother.
Lydia curled up. “Sleeping now.
“Now don’t be sad,” Henry said to Dade. “The beginning is sad, but it gets better.”
Stiles stroked Dade’s hair as he sucked on his thumb and nodded to Henry. Dade probably didn’t really get the movie more than the fact that there were talking colorful fish and they had seen it close to seventy times, but Henry said that to Dade every time.
Stiles caught Derek’s eye and then they grinned and settled in to watch the movie.
“Hey guys,” Derek said softly. “Stiles and I are getting married.”
Lydia’s eyes popped open. “You’re not planning anything. This is my deal.”
Derek cocked his head. “The day is all yours. I’ll take the lifetime.”
Stiles was watching Henry, who seemed confused.
“You aren’t happy buddy?” Stiles asked.
“Yay?” Henry said shrugging.
Derek and Stiles watched Henry’s lack of reaction, in shock.
Lydia burrowed deeper in the pillow. “They don’t know anyone besides the twins who is married and they don’t like the twins.”
Derek and Stiles looked at each other.
“Let them watch the movie,” Lydia said sleepily. “Explain later.”
Stiles started laughing and then groaned as the laughing shot spikes of pain through his body. Derek reached over and Stiles felt relief.
Derek’s hand stayed in Stiles’s hair and the boys snuggled in and watched the movie.