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Derek loves being a dad. He really, really does. There’s no doubt about it – his daughter is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him. He loves all the ups and downs, every little piece of it. He does. He swears that he does- hand over his heart swears. But…well.

Derek hates pick up time at the local elementary school. There are too many people. Everyone is pilled together in the lobby, hands in their pockets, as they exchange stilted conversation. And Maisy likes to take her time getting to him, because she has friends and people that she needs to touch base with before she can go home for the night.

It feels like getting teeth pulled standing there, waiting, as hoards of kids rush past him. None of the other parents try to talk to him anymore, because Derek is awkward and hates talking.

But he loves being a dad.

Derek grunts when a little body collides with his. Out of messy blonde curls pops his daughter’s face. She’s smiling up at him, already working out of her backpack so Derek can carry it.

“Hi,” he says, leaning down to kiss her head. “Did you have a good day?”

Maisy nods, reaching for his hand so they can venture out into parking lot. The other thing Derek hates. “We painted clowns in art today.”

“You did?”

“Yeah, but it’s still wet so I couldn’t take it home.”

Derek nods in understanding. “That’s okay. We’ll have to find a place for it.”

Maisy sighs. “Yeah.”

Derek unlocks the car and helps her inside, setting her backpack down and waiting until she’s seated before he buckles her in. “What else did you do?” he asks, shutting her door and then sliding into his own seat.

“We added sea shells and we read Cat in the Hat,” Maisy squeals, grinning when Derek looks at her through the rearview mirror. “Tomorrow, we’re going to do Green Eggs and Ham.”

“That’ll be fun,” says Derek. “Maybe you’ll be able to eat green eggs and ham.”

Maisy looks at Derek like he’s grown horns, like the idea is ridiculous. Derek winks at her and backs out of the parking space, trying not to hit the school principal.

>

“Dad, do you know what I was thinking?”

Derek hums, shoving the watering can under the faucet. He turns to look at his daughter, eyebrows raised expectantly. “What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking we should make raviolis for dinner,” says Maisy, her little mouth twisting into a grin.

Derek taps his chin, turning to shut the water off as he pretends to think about it. “If you finish your homework, then we can make ravioli. We’ll have to go to the store, though.”

Maisy cheers, bouncing in her seat. Derek shakes his head, kissing her forehead as he passes her, watering can in hand.

In June, they started a garden on their balcony. Maisy found flower seeds at the hardware store – tiny sunflowers, daisies, zinnias, and cosmos, even a packet of tomatoes that she insisted they needed. By August, the thrill had worn off, but Derek still likes to keep them watered and taken care of, even if it’s just to see the thrill in her eyes when a flower is getting ready to bloom, or a tiny cherry tomato starts to form.

Derek keeps the balcony door open so he can hear Maisy if she calls. He waters the tomatoes first because they’re greedy, and they’re secretly his favorite plant of the bunch.

Derek can hear a commotion at his new – fairly new, they’ve lived there for two months – neighbor’s. He frowns as he tries to listen, wondering if it should be something to worry about.

A man comes stumbling out, cheeks flushed, as he laughs. He holds his hands up and Derek can’t hear anymore, as the balcony door slams shut. Derek’s frown deepens as he takes note of the tinfoil hat placed on top of the guy’s head and the too tight shirt he’s wearing.

Derek stares at his neighbor as he peeks in through his balcony door, shouting things like 'give 'em a kick', 'no, no use your sword', and 'watch out, there's one behind you.' Derek curses as he feels his pants dampen and realizes that he's emptied his watering can into one pot and it's overflowed. Great.

"Oh, hey," his neighbor says, pulling his face away from the glass to wave at Derek.

Derek doesn't wave back. "What are you doing?"

"What?" Derek points to the foil hat he's wearing. "Oh, there's an alien invasion in my apartment, and this is the only way they can't take my brain," the man says, grinning.

Derek blinks and finds that he's nodding. It's completely absurd, but Derek doesn't comment. Instead, he slips back into his apartment and locks the balcony door.

>

With a shopping bag filled with everything they need for a ravioli night, Derek feels like father of the year with how excited Maisy is. She’s got her arms wrapped around his neck, letting Derek carry her up the stairs to their apartment so they can get to their apartment faster and make the ravioli already. Derek sets her down on the floor when they reach their door so he can dig around in his pockets for his keys.

He’s got the key shoved in the doorknob when the strange man next door’s door open. Derek immediately puts his hand on Maisy’s shoulder, guiding her so she’s partially behind him as he turns to face the stranger.

“Hi,” the guy says, grinning. “Um, I didn’t get the chance to introduce myself when I saw you earlier. It’s probably a little too late to do it now, but I really haven’t seen you, and since I’m new, I don’t know, I thought maybe I should? Anyway, I’m Stiles.”

He holds his hand out and Derek eyes it suspiciously, as he cautiously removes his hand from his daughter’s shoulder. “Derek,” he answers, shaking Stiles’ hand. He has no intention of introducing Maisy, but Derek’s luck has never been great, so of course he was blessed with an outgoing daughter.

“I’m Maisy,” she says, sticking her hand out for Stiles to take. “Maisy Hale.”

“Oh, well it’s nice to meet you,” says Stiles, grinning as he shakes her hand. “Stiles Stilinski.”

“And I’m Evan,” a little voice says, running out of Stiles’ apartment. There’s a tinfoil hat on his head and dishtowel wrapped around his neck like a cape. He grins at them and Derek blinks at him before he looks up at Stiles because they’re carbon copies of each other. It’s almost like Stiles was cloned. “Evan Michael Stilinski, innergatic crime fighter.”

“Intergalactic,” Stiles corrects, ruffling the little boy’s hair. “And what did we talk about? Don’t give out your full name.”

“I’m Maisy Eloise Hale,” says Maisy, sticking her hand out now for Evan to take. Evan eyes it dubiously and then shakes his head, reaching around to pull a sword out of the back of his pants. The sword is made of foil, too. “Wow, nice sword.”

“Thanks, it’s to kill the aliens.” Maisy’s eyes go wide. “They’re all over this place.”

Stiles laughs, scratching the back of his neck. “Yeah, uh. I wanted to make sure you knew that I wasn’t, like, being serious about the invasion. You don’t have to call anyone to report me.”

Evan gasps, his mouth dropping open in shock. “Daddy, this is very serious.”

“Oh, I know,” says Stiles, holding his hands up. “But I don’t want to scare Mr. Derek. Not everyone is an intergalactic crime fighter.”

Evan nods like it’s true.

“I’m a ballerina,” says Maisy, putting a hand on her hip.

“Wow,” says Stiles, “That’s impressive.”

Maisy shrugs like she knows but isn’t going to make it into big deal. Derek laughs softly, running his fingers through her curls. “Since I was three,” she adds, holding three of her fingers up.

“Little miss ballerina, I think it’s time we head inside to start dinner, it’s getting kind of late.”

“Oh,” says Stiles, and Derek notices that he frowns briefly. “Yeah, we should probably make something to eat, too.”

“Pancakes,” Evan shouts, throwing his hand up in the air.

Stiles rolls his eyes. “He asks for that every night,” he explains. “Anyway, it was really nice meeting you, and Maisy, you’re welcome to come over and play any time. We do more than fight aliens.”

“Yeah, sometimes daddy turns into a horse so that explore the Wild West and stop bank robbers,” Evan says excitedly.

“All right, inside,” says Stiles, clapping his hands together before he starts ushering Evan away, his cheeks stained pink.

Derek watches them go, feeling his lips curl upwards when Stiles turns back to look at him.

>

“Whoa, he’s got a gun,” says Maisy and Derek whips around, already shielding Maisy before he sees that it’s Stiles in a deputy’s uniform.

“Sorry.” Stiles holds his hands up, moving like he’s scared Derek is going to freak out.

Derek wants to ask to see a permit, or something kind of verification that Stiles is actually allowed to carry that. But he remembers Evan introducing himself as a Stilinski, and Sheriff Stilinski has been the sheriff since Derek was a teenager, so Derek can only assume he wouldn’t be foolish enough to let Stiles wander around with a gun.

“Are you a policeman?”

“I am,” says Stiles, quickly moving to catch the whirlwind that is Evan rushing out of their apartment, Hulk backpack dragging on the ground. Stiles yanks the door shut and turns the knob to make sure it’s locked before he approaches Derek and Maisy.

“He’s not going to arrest you,” says Evan, nodding solemnly, like he wishes his dad would. “Not even if you don’t eat all your pasgetti. Grampy says that’s abuse of the laws!”

Stiles rolls his eyes and Derek can’t help but laugh at that.

“I never threatened to arrest him,” Stiles hisses, like he’s worried Derek is going to take Evan seriously and report him or something. “Okay, fine. I did threaten to call my dad, but that’s entirely different.”

Derek shrugs. “I think every parent uses the grandparent threat.”

“Yeah, but I’m sure other grandparents are useful. My dad takes his side and tells me he’s disappointed in me.”

Derek smiles because his parents do the same thing, unless it’s something serious. Derek’s sisters are worse than his parents, though.

Stiles follows Derek outside and into the building’s parking lot. Their cars are parked next to each other. Stiles drives an older car and not a cruiser, and Evan climbs into it after shouting bye to Maisy as he goes. Maisy waves back enthusiastically while she waits for Derek to unlock the door.

“He’s funny,” says Maisy, handing Derek her lunchbox so she can get in the car.

Stiles’ car rattles as he drives past them. He’s waving over the steering wheel and Derek nods in acknowledgement before he leans into his car to buckle his daughter in.

“He’s something, isn’t he?” he mutters.

>

Maisy chooses The Swan Princess to watch after the pizza arrives. And because Derek’s a good dad, he cuts up some apples as well. And because Maisy is the world’s greatest daughter, and Derek is so incredibly lucky, she eats the apples without complaint.

“Dad, why don’t they know she’s a swan?” Maisy asks, flipping around so she’s looking at him. “Is it magic?”

Derek breathes out, nodding. “They haven’t seen her transform yet.”

Maisy’s nose wrinkles like she’s not satisfied with that answer. “They should know.”

“Would you know if I changed into a swan?”

Maisy rolls her eyes, like Derek’s silly for even asking such a thing. “You wouldn’t turn into a swan,” she says, sitting up on her knees and cupping his cheeks. “You’d turn into a big bear.” She laughs as she says it, rubbing her hands along his beard.

“More like a wolf,” he says, snapping his teeth at her.

Maisy laughs and falls into him, resting her head on his side when he lifts his arm to accommodate her. Derek puts his hand on her head and leans down to kiss her.

“Would I be a swan?” she asks.

“If you want to be, yes.”

Maisy pats his leg as she thinks, watching as Odette finally transforms in front of the Derek onscreen. She gasps as the clouds roll over the moon, but then it happens, movie Derek figures out the swan is Odette. Maisy shakes his leg she’s so excited.

The movie carries on, all talk of animal transformation forgotten as the Maisy becomes engrossed in what’s happening on screen.

Derek runs his fingers through her hair, letting her lean against him before she tugs a pillow in his lap and lies down more comfortably. Derek pulls the Moana blanket off the back of the couch and covers her and hopes that maybe she’ll fall asleep.

Except, she hasn’t brushed her teeth yet. She’s already in her nightgown; wearing the thick fuzzy socks that Cora got her. Oh well, if she falls asleep then she falls asleep, Derek’s not going to stress about it. And there’s always the strange noises taking place next door that might keep her up.

They started at five, a quiet thumping, and a telltale sign of little feet running around the apartment. Then came the shouts and the even louder thumping. Derek waited until Maisy had left the room before he pressed his ear against the wall to determine if Stiles and Evan were playing or if he should call the Sheriff.

They were just playing, luckily.

Still playing, by the sound of it.

“I’d be an otter,” says Maisy, nodding decisively when Derek turns to look at her.

“I think you’d make a great otter.”

“Aunt Laura would be those ones with the spikes on their back.”

“A hedgehog?” Maisy shakes her head. “A porcupine?”

“Yeah, that one,” says Maisy, grinning and nodding excitedly. “And Aunt Cora would be a penguin.”

“You’ll have to tell them next time you see them; they’re going to love to hear that,” Derek laughs, patting her on the stomach. God, he hopes he’s there when she does it so he can see the look on Laura’s face.

>

The mysterious noises from next door come to a stop after a few days, and Derek’s almost grateful for it. It makes his place feel a little too quiet but that’s the way he likes it. He likes being able to hear where Maisy is at in the apartment and what she’s doing when she disappears into her room to play doctor with her stuffed animals, or when she pulls the box of cars that Laura bought her out from under her bed, or when she’s attempting to play the guitar that Isaac bought her for Christmas.

Derek likes to be able to know she’s okay even when he can’t physically see her, so not being able to hear Stiles and his son destroy aliens is a good thing, in his book.

“Okay, oranges or apples?” Derek asks, holding the fridge door open as he attempts to get Maisy to eat a healthy snack before bed.

“How about grapes?”

Derek nods, yanking open one of the drawers. “We have grapes. Good choice.”

“Thanks,” she says, taking a seat at the table and waiting as Derek washes her grapes and drops them in a bowl for her. “Are you going to eat apples or oranges?”

Derek gives her a wry look over his shoulder, chuckling to himself. “I’m not hungry,” he says, popping one of her grapes into his mouth. “Maybe I’ll eat all your grapes.”

“Nuh-uh,” she says, laughing as Derek pushes it between his teeth and cheek so that his cheek puffs out. “Dad.” She draws his name out, taking the bowl away from him, curling around it. “These are mine.”

“That they are, sweetie. You eat, I’ll be right back.”

“Got it,” says Maisy, sticking her thumb up in the air.

When Derek steps out of the bathroom, there’s frantic knocking at his front door. Maisy’s standing in the kitchen doorway, frowning with a grape pressed to her lips; Derek motions for her to wait there, as he moves towards the door.

He checks through the peephole and sees Stiles and Evan on the other side. Stiles is wearing his deputy uniform and it confuses Derek even more.

“Oh thank god,” Stiles breathes when Derek pulls the door open. “Um, so you’re going to think I’m absolutely the worst person in the world, but would it be super inappropriate to ask for a favor?”

“What kind of favor?” Derek asks, feeling as Maisy tries to stick her head in between the door and Derek’s body. “Is everything okay?”

“Evan,” Maisy cries, successfully shoving Derek out of her way. “Hi, Evan.”

“Hi,” says Evan, waving. “I’m gonna sleep here.”

“No,” Stiles laughs, gripping his son’s shoulder. “Um, no. Well, uh… Maybe? That’s kind of the favor.”

Derek frowns and finally takes in the scene in front of him. Evan is standing at Stiles’ side, clutching a plastic Spiderman, dressed in striped pajamas with slippers on his feet. Derek blinks and glances back at Stiles. “You want him to sleep here?”

“I swear I don’t normally ask neighbors that I barely know for favors like this, but my dad swears that you’re a nice guy, and you seemed cool the few times we’ve talked. Oh, and my best friend is dating your sister, who I would ask to watch Evan, but they’re not answering,” Stiles says, the words rushing out in a single breath, tumbling out of his mouth so quickly that Derek feels winded for him. “And then there’s my dad, who is also working a night shift. Oh, that’s another thing, I’m asking because I work the night shift.”

“Okay,” says Derek, nodding and trying to process all of this. “You’re working the night shift?”

“Yeah,” Stiles breathes. “And you don’t have to worry about school tomorrow, since it’s closed for professional development. If that is a concern of yours.”

Derek honestly hasn’t even thought about school, not when the neighbor that he barely knows wants him to watch his son -trusts him to watch his child.

“He’s all dressed and ready for bed. And he’ll sleep anywhere, so you can give him the couch, or yank a cushion off and throw it on the floor, he does like to do that when he thinks I’m sleeping,” Stiles explains. “He’s not allergic to anything. Uh, he’s already had a snack but I put some in this bag just in case.” He shoves a bag forward and grins; shaking it like it’ll do anything for Derek.

“We have grapes,” says Maisy, holding the bowl out.

Evan grins and takes one, biting into it and making the juices fly out.

“I mean, are you sure?” Derek asks because he doesn’t know what else to say.

“I swear I wouldn’t be here if I had any other options. My dad usually takes him when his mom can’t, and I am seriously stuck right now.”

Derek breathes out and glances down at Maisy. She grins at him and nods, giving him the okay, and, really, what else is Derek to do?

“All right, yeah, come on in.”

Stiles’ body sags in relief as he passes the bag over to Derek. Derek takes a step back and waits, watching as Stiles promises Evan that he’ll be home in the morning, and he can call if he needs anything - the station, that is, not 911.

Evan nods and then wiggles out of Stiles’ grip; he doesn’t even say bye as he disappears into Derek’s apartment with Maisy. Evan has no problem making himself at home. Derek watches as he kicks his slippers off before he runs after Maisy towards her room, bowl of grapes forgotten on the coffee table.

“You’re seriously saving my life,” says Stiles, tearing Derek’s attention back towards him.

“It’s not a problem,” Derek assures him, trying for a smile that he hopes is reassuring.

“My cell phone number is in that bag, along with the number and my extension at the station. If I don’t answer, it’s most definitely because I’m out, so just try me on my cell,” says Stiles. “And maybe call me or text me so I have your number, just so I can check in, please. And I’ll be here in the morning, after my shift and after I, uh, get some sleep, if that’s okay.”

Derek nods. “It’ll be fine. I’ll text you before you reach your car. You can call whenever.”

Stiles nods and glances over Derek’s shoulder, looking nervous. “I’m really sorry for invading your night like this. I swear this isn’t how I normally am. I normally have back up plans for my back plans when it comes to Evan – when it comes to anything, really.”

“Stiles, it’s really fine,” Derek promises, grin softening; Stiles seems to relax at that. “I’ll have him call you before bed.”

“Thank you, you’re a life saver,” says Stiles, hesitating briefly before he turns to leave, rushing down the stairs.

Derek watches him go and waits until he hears the building door shut before he locks his apartment door, shutting it quietly. He digs around in the bag and sees that Stiles included more than just his cell phone number and the station number; he added the number for Evan’s doctor, his dad, Evan’s mom, his best friend Scott, and the direct line to the closest fire department. Derek snorts when he sees it. He sets the paper down on the table and pulls his phone out so he can text Stiles.

>

Despite the sheer amount of energy in Evan’s tiny body, he’s a really sweet boy and Derek likes having him over. He likes the way he makes Maisy laugh and how in-depth their playing gets; from acting out the Paw Patrol episode Derek lets them watch while they eat their cereal, to chasing dragons in and out of Maisy’s bedroom, to building a fort using the kitchen table – all before lunchtime while Derek catches up on work at the kitchen table.

Evan doesn’t ask about Stiles but he talks to him first thing in the morning for five minutes before his attention wanders and he loses interest in the call. Stiles looks tired in the morning, so Derek tells him to get some sleep and he’ll see him later.

Stiles shows up when they’re making lunch, dressed out of his uniform. He still looks tired, but he looks better than what he did when he FaceTimed.

“Daddy,” Evan screams, rushing towards Stiles when he sees him. “Mr. Derek is making girl cheese for lunch. With carrots!”

“That sounds delicious,” says Stiles, lifting Evan off the ground and kissing his face repeatedly.

“Did you get any bad guys?” Maisy asks.

“Mais,” says Derek, shaking his head.

“No, it’s okay,” Stiles assures him, setting Evan back down on the ground. “I didn’t catch any bad guys, but I did give out a speeding ticket.”

“An exciting night,” Derek comments, smiling. He waves, using the spatula in his hand. He waits a moment before he disappears into the kitchen, flipping the sandwich he left on the stovetop.

“How was Evan?” Stiles asks, standing awkwardly behind Derek.

“Fine. He seemed content,” Derek answers, dropping another sandwich on a plate. “Are you hungry?”

“What? Oh, no, I’m fine.” Derek looks over his shoulder, waiting until Stiles sighs and then nods. “Yeah, I am.”

Derek points to a seat at the table, as he pulls open the refrigerator door so he can grab butter and cheese. The bread’s still out on the counter so he grabs two more slices and butters them, getting everything ready so he can drop it in the pan. He adds another sandwich in and then tries to finish with the kids’ plates.

“Do you want any help?”

“No, I’m okay,” Derek answers, reaching into the fridge for carrots. “Does Evan actually eat carrots?”

“He’ll eat just about anything that isn’t a leaf,” Stiles replies. “Or tomato soup. Can’t get him to eat that, for whatever reason.”

“Yeah, Maisy is on an Italian kick right now,” says Derek. “Obviously there are exceptions.” He lifts the two plates of grilled cheese in his hands and sets them down on the table. “She’s eating, though, so I’m not going to complain. Last year there was three months she wanted everything on a tortilla shell.”

Stiles laughs at that, shaking his head. “Kids are funny, aren’t they?”

Derek smiles and nods before turning back to the stove. “If you want to go and get them,” he says, pointing the spatula towards the kitchen doorway, “you can find them in Maisy’s room. Just follow the noise.”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” says Stiles, the chair skidding across the floor as he stands. “Also, um, I know I’ve said this a lot but I am really appreciative of what you did for me last night. You’re probably tired of hearing it, but you really saved my ass.”

“It’s fine, really,” Derek assures him. “It was kind of nice having someone here for Maisy to play with. So, don’t worry about.”

Stiles breathes out slowly and smiles. He looks like he wants to say something but instead he disappears, following the squeals in Maisy’s room.

>

Derek and Maisy are coloring pictures of Princess Ariel and Merida, respectively, passing crayons back and forth, when someone knocks on his apartment door.

Maisy sighs like she’s annoyed at the interruption, setting her green crayon down to glare at Derek.

“I don’t know who it is,” he says, getting up and moving towards the door. “Just keep coloring, I’ll be right back.”

“Is it Aunt Laura?”

Derek shrugs and then pulls his door open without checking. He blinks in surprise when he sees Stiles and Evan in front of him, both of them smiling and clutching a plate of cookies.

“It’s not Aunt Laura,” Derek calls, pulling the door open wider so Maisy can see.

“Oh, sorry.” Stiles falters, smile dropping slightly. “Were you expecting company?”

Derek shakes his head. “No, you’re fine.”

“We were coloring,” says Maisy, running towards the door.

“We made cookies,” says Evan, trying to yank the plate in Maisy’s direction. Stiles has to two hand it to prevent the cookies from spilling out on the floor. “You want one?”

Maisy tilts her head up to look at Derek and Derek nods. He motions for Stiles and Evan to come inside.

“Sorry to interrupt coloring,” says Stiles, taking the plate away from Evan. “Though, you don’t look like you color.”

“He’s the best colorer,” Maisy informs him. “Look at his Ariel.”

Derek shakes his head as Stiles peeks over the couch, nodding in appreciation.

“Excellent job. You’re right, one of the best I’ve ever seen,” says Stiles.

Derek feels his cheeks redden at the compliment. It’s so silly, to feel anything about his coloring skills getting complimented, but it makes Maisy smile and Stiles seems so earnest about it.

Derek leaves them to examine the coloring as he heads into the kitchen for glasses of milk. Maisy will only eat her cookies with milk and maybe he should ask Stiles, but it’s too late now, he thinks, trying to figure out how to juggle four glasses into the other room.

“And I even made the wings pink and green,” Evan is saying as Derek stumbles back into the room.

Derek sets the glasses down carefully, noticing the butterfly shaped cookie that Evan is showing Maisy.

“We also made trucks, dogs, numbers, and dinosaurs,” Evan explains, shoving cookies off the plate to show them all off.

Maisy grabs a fire truck shaped cookie and bites into it. “It’s good,” she says.

“Yeah, I made them,” says Evan, rolling his eyes like everything he makes is good and Maisy is clearly behind on the times if she’s not aware of that. “Daddy, I’m gonna eat the butterfly.”

“Eat whatever you want,” says Stiles. “Just eat over the table. Don’t get crumbs on the floor, you wild man.”

Evan grins, frosting on his cheeks.

“It’s okay,” Derek assures him. “He’s not the first person.” Derek points to Maisy to emphasize his point, with the red frosting on her cheeks and the crumbs falling from her shirt to the floor. He slides the milk in front of her and then passes a cup to Evan, who is already reaching for his second cookie.

“Yum,” says Evan, wiping his face on his arms.

Stiles snorts, shaking his head. “You’re a mess, kid.”

“I’m a hungry kid.”

“You know what would be nice with these cookies?” Maisy asks, looking at Derek. She has the look on her face she gets when she’s plotting something and Derek narrows his eyes at her, wondering what she’s about to throw at him. “A movie.”

“Yeah,” says Evan, jumping up. “Let’s find one.”

“Evan,” Stiles groans.

“It’s okay,” Maisy promises, taking Evan by the arm to the shelf Derek keeps her movies on.

Derek shakes his head, reaching for a cookie in the shape of the number four with purple frosting. “It’s fine. Unless you have something else to do.”

“Oh, um,” Stiles shakes his head, scratching the back of his neck. “No, we don’t have anything going on. I just didn’t—I just thought maybe this might seem kind of invasive?”

Derek shrugs; he doesn’t really mind it. The company is nice, Derek can admit that. And he’s curious about Stiles in a way he hasn’t felt curious about someone else in a while.

He’s not going to panic about it.

Maisy tosses Beethoven’s 2nd box on the floor as she shoves the DVD in the player.

“She only likes this one because it has puppies,” says Derek. “She really wants a puppy. I think she thinks if we watch enough movies with puppies in them, that I’ll change my mind about us getting one.”

“Better than Evan,” says Stiles. “He wants a pet snake. We’ve got a turtle – Michelangelo. I told him that’s enough. Actually, I said there were laws against getting another pet and that you have to wait at least three years before you’re legally able to get a second pet.”

“And your dad didn’t correct you?” Derek laughs.

“He would have if it were anything but a snake.”

“We can’t hear the movie,” says Evan, turning around to glare at the two of them.

“Eyes on the screen, bossy pants,” Stiles directs, nudging Evan with his foot. He smiles at Derek and shrugs, miming zipping his lips. Derek laughs.

>

Derek’s mom takes Maisy for him on Friday night. Not so much takes, as in Derek asked for it or wanted it to happen, but more so like she showed up and asked if her granddaughter was ready.

But Derek’s caught up on work, paid the bills he’s been neglecting, and is now carting a load of laundry down to the laundry room in the basement, so it’s proven to be a useful night.

Derek’s trekking back up the stairs when Stiles’ door opens. He smiles at him and waves, moving to head towards his apartment.

“Doing laundry?” Stiles asks, shoving his hands in his pockets, as he leans against the doorframe.

“Yeah. Maisy’s with my mom so I’m finally getting caught up with my to-do list.”

“Ah,” says Stiles.

“Everything okay?”

“What? Oh, yeah. Fine. Everything’s fine.”

“There’s machines still open, if you’re wanting to use one.”

Stiles head tilts as he frowns. “What?”

“In the laundry room. I have another load to do, but I always use one machine. There were still some open. Friday is usually the best day to get laundry done,” Derek explains, pointing over his shoulder in the direction of the stairs.

“No, no. I’m not… That’s not what I was wondering.”

Derek’s eyebrows pinch together in confusion. “Oh, sorry. Um, well then I guess I’ll see you.”

Derek shoves his key in the slot, aware that Stiles is still watching him. He feels his skin prickle as his nerves start to get the best of him. Finally, as he’s pushing his door open, ready to slam it shut quickly so he can escape Stiles’ gaze, Stiles shouts:

“Do you want to hang out?”

Derek turns and sees Stiles’ hands moving around wildly like he’s not sure what to do with them. He grins and then wrings his fingers together, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“Evan is at his mom’s for the weekend and my friend Scott is busy. Shit, not like you’re a second choice or something,” says Stiles, biting his lip. “I have wine.” Derek makes a face at that and Stiles laughs. “I have beer, too.”

“Beer’s good,” says Derek. “I’ll leave the door open, or did you want to go to your place?”

“My place is a disaster. The aliens are back and I haven’t had the energy to clean it up. Actually, I just got off work an hour ago, so that’s where the energy comes in. The lack of energy. But I have enough energy to hang out.”

“Okay, then I’ll leave the door open. Just come in.”

Stiles salutes Derek and then rushes back into his apartment. Derek shakes his head as he watches him go.

It only takes a couple minutes before Stiles comes back, juggling a couple bottles of beer.

“So, I haven’t actually had a beer in ages,” Stiles admits. “But I checked and these are not expired.”

“It’s been months since I’ve had one. Actually, I think the last drink that I had was on Fourth of July.”

Stiles nods like he’s remembering his own Fourth of July, a distant look in his eyes before he smiles. “My friend, Cora’s girlfriend, thought it would be fun to try and turn me into a wine mom. She also thought we should start a book club, but after I neglected to finish three books, she bailed on that idea.”

“A book club,” Derek mutters. “Doesn’t sound like Lydia.”

“No, but I think she’s trying to get me to start doing more. Like going beyond my fatherly duties to have something for myself.” Stiles explains. “It’s a sweet thought, but when we go to the library, it’s hard enough getting Evan to not put the toys in his book bag. So if she wants to read any book from the children’s section, I’m completely game for that.”

“Yeah, I can relate to that. My dad bought Maisy a book that’s kind of like a compilation of a bunch of different Disney movies turned into books. We’ve read the thing six different times already.”

“That’s why Evan and I go to the library. We get enough books to last us two weeks, then go again when we’re finished with those. He loves it.”

Derek nods and makes a mental note to give it a try. It’d be nice to support the library, but Derek also likes buying books and having them in the house.

“It’s weird, isn’t it?”

“What is?” Derek asks, looking at Stiles curiously.

“How even when your kids aren’t around, they’re all you can talk about.”

Derek smiles and nods, scratching at the label on his beer as he tries to remember the last time he had a conversation that didn’t center on Maisy or mention her briefly.

“I think it’s only natural when you care for something, in every sense of the word. Dog owners love to talk about their pets, and people love to talk about their cars, or whatever new fitness craze is happening. I guess we’re just lucky that people haven’t told us to shut up by now.”

“You’re mistaken if you think people don’t tell me to shut up,” Stiles laughs.

“You do tend to ramble.”

Stiles squints down at his beer bottle, moving it around slowly, like he’s spinning the contents around inside of it. “I think that you just make me nervous,” he admits, shrugging when Derek looks at him. “Did that make things awkward?”

Derek looks at him and tries to figure out how that makes him feel. He’s not sure, not really. It mostly feels like a chance, like an opportunity for something. “No,” he says. “You didn’t make anything awkward.”

Stiles smiles at him, all teeth, and Derek can feel a flicker of something in his stomach at the sight.

>

Derek isn’t surprised when Stiles shows up in full uniform with Evan a few nights later. He pulls the door open, waiting as Evan says goodbye and then rushes into Derek’s apartment like he’s done everyday for the last three nights.

“You’re still a lifesaver,” says Stiles.

“Am I still last resort?”

“Nope, first choice. Evan chose you over his uncle, who is across town pouting because he was looking forward to having him.”

“Well, I’ll remember that I’m lucky,” Derek jokes. “Now, go save the city.”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “I’ll be here in the morning to take him to school.”

Derek shakes his head. “No, I’ll drop him off. You shouldn’t be driving after you haven’t slept all night. Go get his school stuff.”

Stiles blinks at that, his mouth parting. “Did you just use a dad voice on me?”

“Probably, now go get it before you’re late.”

“Well, all right,” says Stiles, turning to head back into his apartment.

Derek waits for him, arms folded over his chest. Stiles rushes out a minute later, a Hulk back pack swinging at his sides. He hands it over to Derek with a grin.

“His lunch is in there, so you’ll have to put that in your fridge. His teacher likes for them to have a water bottle, which is in the side. No worries if you forget to fill it, she’ll do it.”

“You forget often?” Derek teases, setting the bag down next to the door.

“Surprisingly, no. Though, I do forget to hand in his homework because there’s no turn in. I don’t know; you just hand it over.”

“So make sure to bring his lunch, fill up and bring his water bottle, and make sure his homework gets handed in. Anything else?”

Stiles grins. “Have a mentioned that you’re a life saver?”

Derek rolls his eyes. “Have a good day at work. We’ll call before bed and in the morning.”

Stiles nods. “Thanks again,” he says before he turns to leave.

Derek watches him and waits until he hears the apartment’s front door close before he slips back inside.

>

For once, Derek finds himself in Stiles’ apartment. It’s slightly smaller than his own, a two bedroom instead of three. His kitchen and his living room are in the same space, separated by a counter with stools shoved underneath instead of a full wall like Derek’s.

It’s cramped and slightly cluttered, but it feels like the type of place Stiles would live.

There’s a toy box shoved in the corner behind the table that Derek’s really not even sure if it can be counted as a dining room, but there’s no table in the kitchen, so it must be. The toys are everywhere. Evan is standing inside of the toy box, pulling each of his toys out so that he can show them off to Maisy while she nods along impressively.

“Show off, you want blueberry pancakes or chocolate chip?”

“Raspberry,” Evan shouts, causing Stiles to still. He stares at his son, his mouth hanging open, before he rolls his eyes.

“We’re out of raspberries.”

“Banana.”

“Try again,” Stiles calls, staring at Evan with a hand on his hip. “Blueberry or chocolate chip?”

Evan sighs, staring at the ceiling before he says, “chocolate chip.”

“Maisy? What about you?” Derek asks.

“Can I have chocolate chip?”

Derek nods and she grins at him.

“Make that three chocolate chip, chef,” says Derek twisting around on his stool to grin at Stiles.

“Four,” says Stiles, tossing the blueberries back into the fridge. “But I’ll trick Evan into eating those when I put a few on his plate.”

Derek laughs, shaking his head. “Doesn’t seem like something a dad who makes chocolate chip pancakes and scrambled eggs for lunch will do.”

“Oh, well, this is the Stilinski household, and I don’t know if anyone told you or not, but we’re kind of huge rule breakers.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, and remember when I told you ages ago how Evan is on a pancake kick?” Derek nods and Stiles sighs, setting the spoon down now that he’s finished mixing the batter. “It’s turned into an only eat pancakes kind of thing. I’ve had to google ways to make pancakes with vegetables in them, which is how I discovered this thing called a fritter. No idea how close it is to a pancake, but it comes in a circle and Evan just thinks I’m being creative when his pancake comes out green and orange.”

“Kind of like Maisy’s tortilla phase.”

“Did Maisy make you eat everything on a tortilla.”

“No,” Derek admits. “She spared me.”

“Oh, if only my son would be so kind. Last night he cried for ten minutes – and I’m talking massive tantrum, kicking his legs and screaming – because I didn’t want to eat a carrot pancake,” says Stiles, turning to face the stove. “I’m surprised you didn’t hear it.”

“We heard banging but we figured you were either fighting aliens again, or attempting to stop another bandit from stealing your house.”

Stiles turns to glare at Derek. “That was when Evan decided to kick his chair repeatedly,” Stiles admits. “I tried so hard to ignore it, after I had already tried so hard to calm him down. I eventually just ate the damn thing.”

“Bad word,” Evan screams, popping out of the toy box. “We're supposed to use good words, daddy.”

“Sorry,” Stiles calls. “That’s another thing we’re working on, bad words.”

“Evan uses bad words?”

“Um, he called me an i-d-i-o-t the other day because he heard it on the playground, so we’re both making a collective effort to practice our nice words.”

“Why do I get the feeling that he’s exactly like you were as a kid?” Derek asks. Stiles turns, stack of pancakes in hand. He doesn’t look amused.

“You know that threat parents always make, where they hope you have a kid exactly like you? Yeah, that’s me,” says Stiles. “He’s a tiny little version of me. He looks—“

“Like your much, much younger twin.”

“Yes,” Stiles agrees. “Much to the excitement of his mother.”

Derek laughs and grabs two plates that Stiles’ offers him.

They eat lunch together at Stiles’ table. Evan dominates the conversation as he attempts the back-story of the Ninja Turtles – because his pet turtle is in a tank on the other side of the room and no one has asked about it but he’s going to tell everyone, anyway. It’s Maisy who gets to him stop, shifting the conversation away from mutant turtles to his favorite movie. It keeps the conversation going but it doesn’t give Derek anymore time to talk to Stiles.

Which is fine. Derek’s not, like, dying to speak to him or anything.

Afterwards, Stiles gets Maisy and Evan on the couch to watch Toy Story while Derek works on the dishes. Stiles seems stressed behind him, waiting for his chance to slip in and take over because ‘guests don’t clean, Derek.’

Stiles doesn’t win but he does toss soapy suds at Derek which probably makes him feels like he does.

“Thank you,” says Stiles. “Though, you didn’t have to do that.”

“Maybe,” Derek agrees. “But you didn’t have to invite us over for lunch.”

“Maybe,” Stiles mutters, laughing.

Derek nods, unsure about what he’s supposed to do or say now. Stiles makes him nervous, and normally he’s able to ignore that and just go along with whatever Stiles throws at him. But there’s something Stiles isn’t throwing at him right now. There’s something he’s not saying or doing, and Derek doesn’t know what to do about that.

“Guess we should get in there and watch the movie,” he says, laughing awkwardly as he tries to maneuver around Stiles.

“Wait,” says Stiles, tugging nervously at his shirt. “Um, remember earlier how I said that Stilinski’s are rule breakers?”

“Yes.”

“Right, so that kind of also includes—Well, see… Okay,” Stiles breathes out, releasing a chest full of air. “So I feel like that probably includes asking out your really hot neighbor, who also happens to be the dad of your son’s new friend, and also your own new friend. Like that breaks rules doesn’t it?”

Derek frowns, lost somewhere in neighbor and friend. “What rules?”

“I don’t know, I don’t write them. I just make sure people follow them,” Stiles admits, laughing lightly. “Kind of cop joke there.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “How about you just say what you’re trying to say in a less confusing way instead of telling cop jokes?”

“Well all right,” Stiles mutters. “You want to go out on a date with me? My dad has already agreed to watch both of our kids here, at my place, should you say yes? And he’s the sheriff so I hope that counts as some kind of, like, background check slash babysitting credential.”

Derek’s mouth goes a bit dry but he nods, his head moving quickly. Stiles smiles at him and Derek thinks okay, yeah. That’s good.

>

The sheriff seems like a nice man. Derek doesn’t, admittedly, talk to him all that much when he drops Maisy off, he’s too nervous. Not because he’s talking to the sheriff, no. Though, Derek is a little bit nervous about dropping his daughter off at Stiles’ house to be watched by someone he’s only spoken to at traffic stops.

Derek’s mostly nervous because he’s going on a date with Stiles. Stiles, whose hands are shaking as he gives Evan a hug and a kiss goodbye, while he reminds his dad that Evan going to bed on time would be a huge help and not to give him every snack in the world just because he’s got a cute face.

“I’ve dealt with you for long enough, I think I can handle him,” the sheriff says and Derek smiles, feeling out of place. “Just go. Have a good time.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles mutters, kissing Evan once more. “Seriously, bed time is eight thirty.”

“Nine,” the sheriff says, rolling his eyes. “He’s free to have his own fun. Now, leave him and go have yours.”

“All right,” Stiles sighs. “Derek, you want to add anything?”

Derek wets his lips. “Um, no. She should be fine. She might get a little whiney around bedtime, she likes to call before she goes to sleep, but it’s fine. I’ll keep my phone on vibrate.”

“Phone call to dad, got it. Stiles,” the sheriff sighs, when Stiles opens his mouth to say something. “Seriously, get out of here.”

“Yeah, get out of here,” Evan shouts, jostling the bowl of popcorn in his lap so a portion of it spills out onto the ground. “Oopsies.”

“That’s my cue, isn’t it,” Stiles laughs, leaning over the couch to kiss Evan once more.

Derek gives Maisy a kiss and then promises that he’ll get her later tonight, after she’s gone to sleep. He says that he’ll let her sleep in his bed, if she behaves herself.

And nowhere near as quickly as they arrived, Derek finds himself being escorted out of Stiles’ apartment and into his beat up old car. It stalls three times before it starts.

Derek has to work hard not to wince as the car rattles around on the way to some restaurant across town. It’s a French place that Stiles admits he’s never been to, but his best friend likes to take his wife there, so it really can’t be all that bad, if it has their seal of approval.

It turns out to be far nicer than either of them are dressed for, but they’re let in anyway, with their cheeks burning as they pass people in suits and fancy dresses.

“I swear I didn’t know,” Stiles mutters, trying to shield them with menus. “I bet some French guy is going to kick out ass later, like behind the place by the dumpsters. Try and get a good look of him so we can tell the sketch artist afterwards.”

“You’re quite the optimist.”

“No, I’m definitely a realist in this case.”

“Well, in that case, I can’t wait to get to that part of dinner.”

Stiles grins at him and then glances down at his menu. He pinches his bottom lip as he reads, his eyes scanning over the pages quickly. Half of it’s written in French, but they manage. Their waitress only rolls her eyes once when they completely butcher the pronunciation of the words.

The food turns out great, and Derek actually feels like a grown up for once as he eats it. There’s not cutting bread into triangles, or slicing someone else’s meat before he can eat his own. He doesn’t have to remind anyone to eat their vegetables and stop talking with their mouth full, though he should, because Stiles is awful about it. But it’s a grownup dinner and Derek enjoys it. Derek enjoys feeling Stiles’ feet knock into his ankles under the table. He enjoys listening to Stiles talk about how he and Evan’s mom met when they were in college and while the breakup wasn’t pretty, they get along, for most part.

Stiles doesn’t tell him the how or why it is that he has Evan more nights than he doesn’t, but Derek doesn’t mind that.

Derek thinks Stiles could read him the phonebook and he’d enjoy it. It’d annoy him to no end, but he’d enjoy it, and that’s more than he can say about anyone else besides his own daughter.

“What about Maisy’s mom?” Stiles asks, leaning back in his seat and patting his stomach; he’s so full. “Or dad, maybe?”

“Mom,” says Derek. “And she’s not around. Not entirely sure where at, but it’s fine. Kate was never the type of person to want kids or show any ounce of humanity, so it’s for the best.”

“Oh,” Stiles mutters, biting lip. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine. It’s for the best. Plus, I got Maisy out of the whole thing, so I won’t complain.”

“Does she look like her?” Stiles asks. “Sorry, I just—You don’t lookalike, and I’ve met Cora only a few times, and I’ve seen Laura around town before – your family is kind of known around town, I’m not, like, looking any of this up at work, I swear. But anyway, I’ve seen them both and you all sort of have that dark hair, grumpy face – seriously, I mean it in a nice way – thing going on.”

“I have no idea who Maisy looks like. We thought her hair would darken, as she got older, but so far it’s stuck blonde,” Derek explains, shrugging as he takes a sip of his wine. “I try not to think about Kate when I look at her, so maybe I’m just blind to it.”

“My ex wishes she was that lucky,” Stiles jokes, lightening up the mood.

They order dessert, and, afterwards, Derek feels like he needs to be wheeled out, he’s so full. After a brief argument, Stiles ends up paying after he pretends to take Derek’s card to split the check. He covers his ears like a child when Derek tries to protest, shoving his card at the waitress and telling her to run before Derek does something drastic.

Stiles keeps his hands to himself after dinner, but he does press himself against Derek’s side, causing them to walk shoulder to shoulder. Derek laces their fingers together, looking at Stiles out of the corner of his eyes, before he glances back down at the concrete. Stiles only falters briefly, before he’s right back to talking about how, despite always wanting to be a cop so he could be like his old man, he remembers how he used to look through all his dad’s case files when he’d bring his work home.

Stiles says that thinks that feeling he got when he’d offer a bit of advice that was tangible and something his dad could work with, that feeling where his dad would look at him and smile, it burrowed itself into Stiles’ bones and he’s never stopped wanting to chase that feeling.

Derek smiles and listens, nods along when he needs to, and feels content to know he’s got someone who is happy to fill in all the blank spaces that Derek’s content to leave empty; awkward silences on the long walk to a beat up car.

>

Derek doesn’t really know what to do when they reach the landing of their floor. He wonders if he should go into his apartment first, or they’ll say their goodbyes in Stiles’ living room in front of his father, or maybe they’ll say them now before Derek has to sneak inside and quietly retrieve his daughter.

“My dad, uh, promised to watch them,” says Stiles, wincing. “Sorry, that’s more than obvious. I’m just saying, if you wanted to do something, you know, before you got Maisy, we could.”

“Something?” Derek repeats, eyebrow raised.

“Oh god,” Stiles groans, palming his face in embarrassment. “I truly didn’t mean it like that. I meant like a movie, or… I’d suggest more wine but you probably don’t own any. Or just, I don’t know, talking? Talking is fine. Or maybe listening, for you, since I seem to be dominating the talking lane of this whole thing. Not like I mind, you know, you being quiet. I’m just saying that—“

Derek kisses him to shut him up. That’s really the only reason he does it. Not because he’s been watching Stiles’ mouth all evening, watching the way his tongue peeks out before he takes a bite of his food, or the way his tongue swirls around a straw before he takes a drink, or the way he’s constantly picking at his lips like he wants Derek’s full attention on them.

Definitely not because of that.

And definitely not because he’s been thinking about it for what feels like ages now, wondering what it would be like to feel Stiles mouth instead of stare at all night.

Stiles’ doesn’t disappoint, not like Derek ever thought he could. Kissing Stiles seems to cause him to melt. Derek feels as Stiles relaxes, like his brain needs something like to regroup, and Derek is more than happy to help.

“Is this a good night kiss, or?” Stiles asks, lips still moving against Derek’s.

“It’s a shut up kiss,” Derek retorts, kissing Stiles once more before he pulls away. “We can’t… Not tonight, but we could—“

“Do more of that? Please say do more of that,” says Stiles, his hazel eyes pleading.

Derek snorts and gets his apartment unlocked before Stiles plasters himself to Derek’s back.

Derek drags him towards the couch, where he drops down, tugging Stiles into his lap easily. It’s only ten, and if Stiles doesn’t have a pay-by-the-hour babysitter, then they can make the most of their time.

Stiles is giddy, grin bright and Derek can’t help but smile back at him, as he wraps his hands around Stiles’ thighs, leaning up to kiss him with the grin still on his face.

>

Stiles is quiet as he unlocks his apartment door. Derek waits patiently behind him, bouncing on the balls of his feet. He wants to touch, but he doesn’t. He has time for that. They have time for that.

It’s quarter to ten, and Maisy should be sleeping, but when the door swings open, Derek finds her standing there, grin on her face as she tries to adjust her foil hat.

“Dad, you’re not going to believe what these aliens are doing,” she says and Derek sighs, shaking his head.

Behind her, hanging off the back of the couch that the sheriff is sleeping on, is Evan, wearing his own foil hat and brandishing his foil sword.

Stiles looks horrified and Derek, all Derek can do is laugh.