He does it with every new group of kids. He smiles, holds out the bucket and tells them to take a few pieces of candy, nods as they chorus “Trick or Treat!” and thank him. Then, just as they’re getting ready to turn away…
He roars. He lets his eyes flash, his fangs descend, and his claws pop. Their eyes go wide every time, at least one or two scream, and they run like the devils of hell are on their heels.
He turns to go back inside, a small, private grin curving his lips.
About an hour in, the largest group of kids yet clatter up his steps. There are a full dozen of them, dressed in elaborate costumes. There’s a Mad Hatter, a mermaid, Michael Jackson, and one teenager dressed in blue scrubs with patches of cotton balls stuck all over her. She sprays him in the face with a water bottle mister and cheerfully tells him, “I’m partly cloudy with a chance of rain.”
He can hear Laura in his head, teasing him about smelling like a wet dog.
He doesn’t even let the last kid dip his hand into the bucket before he’s roaring and snarling, and the mermaid screams first and trips over his tail as he runs headlong down the stairs. The rest of them follow suit, screaming and hollering and sprinting away from him.
When the chaos makes its way across the street, he snickers to himself. Then he looks down and sees one child who didn’t flee in terror, who is now looking up at him in curiosity.
“I can do that, too!” the little boy tells him proudly, and he promptly drops tiny fangs and flashes golden eyes. He growls, and it sounds exactly like a puppy playing tug-of-war with a rope toy, and Derek can’t help it, he drops down into a crouch and beams his blue eyes at the boy. The child pounces him in delight, nipping at him. Acting on instinct, Derek snaps playfully back and tickles him, since he’s too small to roughhouse with too much.
Vaulting to his feet, Derek turns to address the man standing at the end of his driveway, arms crossed over his chest as he stares Derek down. He’d forgotten for a second that the child isn’t pack, but it’s been so long since he had another wolf around that he almost doesn’t remember what it’s like.
“I’m sorry, Mister…”
The man continues to stare at him. “Stilinski. Stiles Stilinski. And that’s my son you’re manhandling. You should probably remove your hands from him before I do it for you.”
Puzzled, Derek subtly sniffs the air. Although apparently not subtly enough.
“He’s not a were,” the child pipes up. “Daddy’s human.”
Derek’s eyes flick to the man, whose stance is relaxing slightly. “You may be a were, but I still maintain I’ll kick your ass if you don’t let my kid go.”
He snorts at the mild threat, but appreciates that there’s no flutter in his heartbeat. He’d already released his grip on the boy, but he stayed clinging to Derek’s leg, so he gently shoos him away. The child finally lets go and runs to his father.
“I’m Derek. Hale,” he adds, reluctant to send the pair away. He’d like to keep tabs on any other weres in his community.
“Stiles,” the man repeats, taking a step forward to bridge the distance between them. Derek does the same and accepts the man’s outstretched hand. “My kid hasn’t seen another wolf in ages, sorry he jumped you.”
Derek glances down at the little boy, who’s dressed in black cargo pants, a blue dress shirt, a black vest with FBI written across the front, and a black hat with FBI on it as well. He has a utility belt with a flashlight, walkie-talkie, handcuffs, and a small bottle of what appears to be pepper spray. He raises one eyebrow at Stiles, who grins. “It’s fake, don’t worry. I’m not letting him take down the neighborhood kids.”
“Some of them could probably use it,” Derek comments, and Stiles snorts in agreement. “Also, no need to apologize for the tackle. I miss being around pack.” He nearly bites his tongue as the words leave his mouth; he’s not used to being so honest with strangers. With anyone, really. He blames the fact that he’s been without his pack for so long.
To take attention away from his unplanned confession, he crouches down again. “I like your costume,” he tells the boy.
“I’m dressed like Daddy,” he replies proudly, and Derek glances up at Stiles, who shrugs.
“Last year I was a college student, which wasn’t near as interesting. He was glad for the upgrade in costume options.”
Derek appraises him a little more. He’d thought Stiles was older, but a college student a year ago makes him, what? Twenty-three?
Stiles smirks. “You could try harder to not look like you’re trying to figure out if I was a teenage father.”
Blinking, Derek shakes his head. “I wasn’t thinking that at all,” he protests. “I was just surprised. You look older.”
If Derek’s honest with himself, he can admit he thought Stiles was older just because it seemed unfair that someone so young could be so damn attractive. The muscles underneath the tight t-shirt don’t belong on someone who was buried in the stacks of the college library for the past several years. And the scruff… Derek has already imagined what that would do to the inside of his thighs. It’s slightly disturbing to realize he’s had those thoughts about someone who is, apparently, about ten years younger than he is.
Stiles rolls his eyes. “I’m twenty-seven. It’s a long story.” The child, having lost interest in the adults’ conversation, starts to tug at his hand and look longingly up the street. “Hang on just a sec, Donovan.” Glancing back at Derek, he offers a warm smile. “It would be good for him to be around another wolf more often. Why don’t you give me your number and we can get together sometime?”
His eyes are twinkling, and his grin is edging toward cocky. Derek feels himself returning it as he takes the phone from Stiles’ outstretched hand and plugs his number in. “Just for the benefit of your son, right?” he says off-handedly, handing the phone back, and Stiles shakes his head.
“I meant it when I said it’s a long story. We’ll probably need a whole dinner to cover it.” His tone is smug; he’s clearly proud of himself.
“At least,” Derek agrees. “And maybe dessert, too.”
Stiles’ amber eyes darken. “I like how you think.”
“Daddy!” Donovan whines, and Stiles grins down at his son with obvious affection.
“Okay, buddy, we’re going.” He glances back at Derek and winks, and Derek feels something flare in his belly. “Happy Halloween. It was a treat to meet you.”
“Happy Halloween,” Derek echoes, waving at Donovan as the two make their way down his driveway. He finds himself smiling, a private one, as the next handful of kids head up to him with their chorus of Trick or Treat.
He’s so lost in thoughts of his impending dinner that he forgets to roar at them as they leave.