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Is Forever Enough?

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Stiles doesn't recognize the number the text comes from. Nor does he recognize the address sent. He does understand what 'diapers for a 5 month old, bottles, formula, wipes, anything else you can think of' means, though. Still, it would be a clever way to trap him, so he calls the number before he does anything else.

The moment the call is answered, he hears a baby's cries. Then, "Stiles. Please." Peter's voice. Then more crying, more of a wailing, really.

It's the baby's pleas more than Peter's that make up Stiles's mind.

"You better not have kidnapped it," Stiles mutters before ending the call. Not once does he wonder why Peter called him, of all people.

Peter doesn't have much of a pack these days. He has family in Derek and Cora, and he considers them pack. But they don't live close by these days and he can't call them for sudden emergencies that pop up out of nowhere.

The only other person he thinks of as worthy of the 'pack' title is Stiles, even though the boy doesn't know it. Stiles probably doesn't even think they're friends. But labels don't matter to Peter — the boy is his, and his wolf agrees. So when a squalling baby girl is dropped off at his doorstep at the ungodly hour of ten in the morning, there's no one else Peter can think of to call.

So he does, after he brings the baby in its car seat/carrier inside and reads the accompanying letter.

There's no bag with the baby. Only a blanket wrapped around her, which is already soaked because of a leaking diaper. She's cold and cranky and furry all over. She's crying nonstop and Peter doesn't exactly know what to do in this situation. If the note is to believed, the shifter baby is his own daughter. His pup. But Peter hasn't taken care of a pup in ages, not since Talia's youngest was this age.

The reminder is painful.

He strips out of his shirt and puts the wet blanket aside. He wraps his daughter in his shirt. She responds to the warmth and is curious about the new scent. He picks her up into his arms and tries smiling at her. "Hello, Malia."

She looks up into his face. She seems to like his voice so he keeps talking.

"I'm Peter. Your father." He thinks he sounds ridiculous so he's grateful only the pup is present to hear him. "Your mother… had to go away. So here you are, with me. You poor, unfortunate child."

Stiles knocks. Well, he bangs a little with one of his many bags. Peter opens the door almost immediately, and there's a lot of nakedness going on. Peter has lost his shirt — wait, no, the baby is wearing it like a blanket. The baby is otherwise naked, it seems.

"I don't know why you thought I'd know what a baby needs, but thank god for the internet once again, okay?" Stiles barely realizes what he's saying because his eyes are glued to the furry baby. "Definitely not a human baby, then?"

"Meet my daughter, Malia," Peter says. "She needs a bath but I think wipes and a diaper will have to do for the time being."

"She's so… furry. Wait, daughter? You spawned?"

At least Malia isn't screaming at the moment. She's actually kind of cute, with little pointed ears and soft-looking fur all over her body.

"Stiles, focus. Wipes and diapers. Did you get them or not?"

"Oh, yes, I did!" Stiles says, and drops the bags he's carrying to start rooting through them. He did buy a bunch of baby things. Peter seems to be peering into the bags as Stiles finds the diapers and wipes. "You said five months but I wasn't sure how much she weighed since these things go by pounds. So luckily the internet has a lot to say about weights and… but then she's not exactly a regular kid, is she? I never thought I'd ever see a werebaby. She's… well, cute."

Peter is holding the baby close against his chest now and the image is more adorable and attractive than it has any business being. Peter's got one hand under his daughter's bottom and the other cradling her head and he's never looked less like a murdering psycho in Stiles's memory.

Stiles opens the pack of diapers and pulls one out, then hands it and the wipes to Peter.

"While I'm doing this you can go wash a bottle and fix her formula," Peter says, as if this is the most natural progression of events.

Stiles can only gape. "You're… kidding, right? Tell me you're kidding, because I have no clue how to make a bottle for a baby. I know nothing about babies. Scratch that, I know about half an hour of information courtesy of the research I did while buying this stuff."

"The directions are on the back of the packaging. Did you buy liquid or powder mix?"

"The liquid was more expensive but the internet told me it tastes better?"

Peter nods like this is information he already has. Damn, Peter is acting like he knows all about babies already and suddenly Stiles is feeling self-conscious and stupid. Over a baby. "Stiles, just take it into the kitchen and make it before she starts crying again."

"Um. Don't bottles have to be boiled?" Stiles asks, remembering that from… somewhere, sometime.

"She's past the age of having to worry about that, plus she's a shifter. Very resistant to germs. Detergent and hot water should be enough for the bottle. Now let me change her diaper."

And then Peter lays the baby down on his sofa and changes her quickly and efficiently while Stiles can only stare. At least, until Peter looks up and raises an eyebrow, and then Stiles scoots off into the kitchen to make a bottle.

Washing the bottle is interesting because he has to figure out how to put it back together once it's clean. Not to mention the regular dish sponge doesn't fit in the bottle, so Stiles mostly shakes it around and hopes he cleans it well enough. The nipple is a little tricky to put together with the round cap, but once he gets it he feels dumb because it's extremely easy and how did he not just know how?

Then he makes the formula. It's a concentrate, so he heats bottled water to add to it. The back of the can warns against heating bottles in the microwave, which hey, he's learning new things all the time. Not fast enough, though. He's almost done when he hears the baby — Malia, Peter called her — start to cry.

"I'm here! I've got it!" Stiles calls, racing back into the living room. Peter gives him an unimpressed look but then acts like he wants to hand over the crying baby.

"Wait, what?" Stiles says. "No way. I don't know how to hold it! I've never held a baby in my life!"

Peter is now raising both his eyebrows. "Just sit down next to me." He pats the sofa cushion.

The baby is wearing a clean diaper now and is just as fuzzy as she was earlier. She doesn't look happy, though. Stiles sits beside Peter and watches her cry, his heart practically breaking.

"I don't know what to do," Stiles says helplessly, but Peter is already putting the baby in his lap, so that her head is at his knees and her little feet push at his stomach as she cries.

Peter rolls his eyes and puts his hand over Stiles's where he's holding the bottle. Then he guides the nipple to Malia's open mouth. He doesn't just stick it in though, the way Stiles would be tempted to do. Instead, he just taps her bottom lip with the nipple and her little hands fly up to grasp at the bottle.

"Oh," Stiles whispers as Malia begins to suck at the nipple hungrily. She makes a mess. There's milk going everywhere. "Is it safe for her to be lying down like this with it? Shouldn't I be holding her…?"

"This is fine, for now," Peter says. "Next time you can hold her in your arms."

"Okay," Stiles says, still mesmerized by Malia's fuzzy face. Her eyes lock on his own and something weird flips over in his heart. This is Peter's baby, he shouldn't be having weird feelings about holding Peter's baby. Except… he is. "Wait, why is there going to be a next time? I thought you just needed someone to do an emergency diaper run."

"She's a shifter," Peter says, like that explains everything.

"...Aaaaand that means, what?"

Peter huffs. "She needs more than one person. She needs her pack around her if she's going to grow up strong and healthy and happy."

Stiles makes a funny face at Malia and she giggles around the nipple, milk dribbling everywhere. It gets in her pointed ears and in the crease of her neck. "She's going to need more than just baby wipes. I picked up some baby wash though, and shampoo, so- Wait a minute." He looks at Peter and frowns. "I'm her pack? I just met her!"

Peter takes a breath and lets it out, the same way Stiles does sometimes when he's nervous about answering a question. Which makes what Peter says next even more interesting. "She's my pup. My pack is her pack."

"And I'm your pack?" Stiles asks slowly.

"You. Derek. Cora. Malia, now," Peter says. He's not looking at Stiles as he says it.

Stiles wants to point out the obvious, that he's the only one in that group not a blood relation. He's not a Hale. He's not a werewolf. Why would Peter even…? But it also makes Stiles feel good. Proud, sort of. He nods and doesn't comment further on the subject. Instead, he says, "So you want to tell me why she's with you now?"

Peter pulls a piece of paper from somewhere and hands it to Stiles without comment.

"This… is really bad," Stiles says after reading, an understatement of all understatements. Apparently there's a wacko hunter after the baby.

Malia is really sucking down her formula fast. Stiles is worried about indigestion. Peter drapes a towel over his shoulder and picks Malia up from Stiles's lap once she's done. "Watch what I do," he says, and begins to pat the baby on the back. She burps. She… spits up formula with her burp. It's gross. Stiles says so. Peter rolls his eyes. "She's a baby. It's normal."

"You're really good with her," Stiles says. He's watching the way Peter holds her, the way his hands look so big and protective on his pup. Gentle, too, though. Especially when he runs a hand over her wispy-haired head and kisses her nose.

Stiles doesn't know what his heart is doing right now but he's not sure he likes it. There is no way in hell he's gonna fall for Peter Hale just because the man looks good holding a baby.

"Can I hold her?" Stiles finds himself asking. And Peter hands his child over as if that's a perfectly reasonable request, that his baby will be safe with Stiles. No one has ever trusted Stiles this much before in his life.

Malia's not a newborn, so she's not quite breakable, plus she's a shifter — werecoyote, the letter says — so she's probably pretty sturdy. But Stiles is still worried. He holds her like she's fragile and he's careful not to drop her.

He can't look away from her eyes. "Look at those eyes. Big and blue, just like yours," Stiles murmurs. Malia looks at him, then sticks her fist in her mouth. While looking at him. "I can stick my fist in my mouth, too, little girl. I just don't."

Malia grins and flashes her eyes at him.

"Whoa! What....?" Stiles looks at Peter, who's been watching them both the whole time.

Peter smiles. "She likes you."

"Or she's trying to intimidate me," Stiles says. He looks back down at the baby in his arms and says, "Are you trying to show who's boss? Because I'm stubborn. Might take you longer than a few seconds and…" He trails off as Malia starts laughing, her whole body shaking in Stiles's arms as she does so. His heart does a flip. "Yeah, okay. You're the boss."

Malia lets go of her fist and grabs his shirt. She seems to try to pull herself closer.

"She wants to scent you," Peter says.

"What?" Stiles asks.

Peter smiles and drags his hand down the side of Stiles's face. Stiles has both hands full and can't do anything to stop him. It's weird, just… outlandishly strange. "Scenting," Peter says, and does it again. "Now let her rub her face on you."

Stiles stares down at the baby and then does as he's told. Malia lets out a soft, content sound when her cheek rubs against Stiles's. Peter makes a similar sound and Stiles is left wondering just what twilight zone he entered when he walked into Peter's apartment today.

"Werewolves are so weird," Stiles says, blushing a little.

"Get used to it," Peter says. "Plus, don't forget our little Malia here is a coyote, not a wolf."

Stiles doesn't fight him on the 'our'.

Peter watches Stiles with his pup. The pup he didn't know he had until a few hours ago. But, she's his. She doesn't quite carry his scent yet but she will. He recognizes her mother's scent on her, a weekend fling he had some time ago, when he was newly resurrected and in need of some positive human contact. Well. Maybe not so human. Abigail was likewise looking for something with him, and together they had fun.

He didn't hear from her again until now. He had no idea he was a father.

He has mixed feelings about that. He values family. Craves pack. But is he the type of person who should even have access to a child? He's not sure. He's not a role model and he's not nurturing. But maybe, with Stiles's help…

Stiles holds the pup as he should, like she's precious. Talking him into helping with her shouldn't be too hard. Stiles seeks a place to belong as much as Peter does, people to take under his wing. Peter may not need that kind of protection, but Stiles has loyalty not usually found in humans anymore. It's a type of possessiveness a wolf can appreciate.

"So. Someone's after Malia, or just her mother?" Stiles asks.

Peter has read the letter a few times by now and thinks he understands. "Both, it seems. The hunter thinks he's in love with Abigail and wants the pup out of the way. I don't know how safe we are in Beacon Hills, yet."

Stiles looks up. "We might have to leave town, you mean."

"You'd come with us?" Peter isn't sure he heard that right.

Stiles looks down at Malia. The he leans in close and scents her like a wolf parent would, and kisses her forehead. Malia squeals with happiness and Peter's heart clenches. He hears Stiles's heart speed up and the boy's natural scent goes as bright as the pup's. "Until I know she's safe? Yeah. She's my pack, right?" Stiles looks up, face serious. "That's what you said."

"I did," Peter says. He doesn't mention how it might be too much, too soon for Stiles, or how the responsibility isn't one he needs to take on. He's much too selfish for that.

"Then I'll do what I can to protect her," Stiles says.

"Thank you," Peter says, and means it from the bottom of his heart.