Stiles paused from peeling potatoes to look out the window.
Scott and Isaac were running around with Dade and their two little daughters. The young Argent girls, Claire and Myrah, were four and two. They were adorable. Their light curls, cherubic faces, and glowing yellow eyes made them Shining levels of creepy, but they really were the sweetest children, much like Isaac would have been if he wasn’t raised by a psychopath.
As per usual, they were all being generally terrorized by Dade.
Stiles tried not to grin.
Dade was five and had the skills of a ninja to suddenly be in situations that seemed to be nearly inconceivable. The day he had made a paperclip chain that ran through the house and into the woods and back again had been amusing, although baffling as to how Derek owned that many paperclips. The day Dade had found their lube, doused the then one year old twins in it, and played shuffle board with them in the hallway, had been horrifying and mortifying, especially due to the other things in that drawer. The day Dade had managed to set up his dominoes in a scarily engineered way to from Derek’s office, upstairs, and out the window had made them think that Dade might be a genius, they just had no idea of what.
He was insanely curious and productive; he was learning how to clean up after his ‘experiments.’
Stiles really loved his kids. They were awesome.
“I don’t think Lydia’s boyfriend likes us very much,” Allison said coming into the room with the tiny bundle of Molly in her arms.
Stiles dried off his hands and took a peek at the youngest Argent. All the kids took Allison’s name, the triple hyphen being too confusing despite the fact that each of the girls looked like their fathers, albeit with Allison’s dimples. Molly was no exception, she had dark hair and a level of cuteness that had gotten Scott the extra cookie their entire childhood.
Stiles looked at the doorway to the kitchen and saw Lydia in the living room, hunched over the board game Go. On the other side Henry sat with his three year old siblings ‘helping’ him. The twins were strawberry blonde identical seeming twins, except for Talia was a super smart girl with a mole on her cheek and Laurence was a boy werewolf with impressive eyebrows. They were whispering advice into Henry’s ears. His nine-year old face was scrunched in an all too common look of too old concentration.
Stiles sometimes worried that Henry was a little too serious. He and Derek encouraged Dade and Henry to play together as much as possible, hoping that maybe they would rub off a little on each other. It hadn’t happened, but they were young yet.
Lydia was staring down Henry. Henry still hadn’t beaten her at anything, but he kept trying. At least this time she wasn’t doing her nails between plays, as she would do hen Henry wasn’t focusing on their many many board game experiments.
Lydia’s boyfriend Nick, one of the few that she had ever brought home, was standing a little ways away, looking like he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing.
He was dressed in jeans and a button down, and a suit coat. His wavy hair was gelled and he looked like he had no idea how he ended up in a room with three children. When Stiles had first met him, he expected Nick to be an arrogant asshole, always talking about himself. However Nick seemed uncomfortable and never once tried to make anything about him. Stiles had come to feel for the guy, the expression on Nick’s face was the same one that Stiles had felt from sixth to ninth grade, that feeling of being on the outside and trying not to show how absolutely terrified he was.
“I think he’s just unsure about what to do with a house full of children and werewolves,” Stiles said. “He’s probably the best that she brought home, give him a little bit of time. We didn’t like Isaac right away either.”
Allison dimpled. “Fair enough.”
Stiles looked back at the potatoes on the sideboard and sighed.
“Something wrong?” Allison asked, coming closer.
Stiles let out a dry laugh. “Besides the fact that Derek sees Henry off to school every day and then watches nine of the pack kids under the age of six all day long, takes care of all of our finances, and still finds the time to make me happy. Meanwhile he’s gone for ten days and I can’t even make it five of those days without begging you to come over? Asking Lydia to come stay with me while he is gone? Nah, nothing is wrong besides me sucking at parenting.”
Allison smiled at him. “You are a great dad and to be fair Isaac is the one who takes care of the nine kids while Derek takes care of all of our money.”
“But I called you,” Stiles said. “I should be able to do this by myself.”
“We have been trying to get in touch with you for days,” Allison told him. “We thought that you might be a little lonely, just like Derek is when you work doubles or there is some big crisis hits our little town.”
Stiles shrugged. “He has made them homemade applesauce and baby food, organic I might add, their entire lives. I come home from work play with them for a few hours, chase them around the house, check up on Henry’s homework and send them to bed.”
“Stiles,” Allison said with a smile. “You’re a great parent, your kids love you. You aren’t Derek, god knows the talk around town is that nobody is Derek Hale, seriously I don’t know how he does it, nobody knows how he does it, but he is the parent that we all want, that we all want to be. He also seems to have the Midas touch, nobody should compare themselves to Derek.”
“I almost liked him more when he was losing fights constantly,” Stiles said, but he was trying not to grin.
“Liar,” Allison laughed.
“He’s seriously ridiculous,” Stiles sighed. “He’s so good with the kids and he’s so good about making sure that we have time. When we can’t he colors with the kids to make me pictures or picks wildflowers with them for me. Like how does he exist, he’s awesome.”
“He’s grumpy, antisocial, argumentative, has a tendency to make big burly contractors cry, and far too over protective of you and the kids,” Allison pointed out. “But it is good that you still see him as a super hero after eight years.”
“He’s dreamy,” Stiles defended. “And perfect and mine and also not here.”
Allison grinned. “So you are saying that this is all a missing Derek thing, not a you’re the worst father ever thing?”
At that moment a mostly muddy and partially naked Dade ran through the room and threw himself at Stiles.
“Daddy,” Dade shrieked. “I found mud!”
Stiles picked up Dade and held the mud caked child away from him. Stiles looked at Isaac and Scott in the doorway. They looked sheepish and their girls were looking around their legs. Dade’s shrieking had called Talia and Laurence, they were giggling around Stiles’s knees.
“Daddy, Daddy, Why is Dade dirty?” Laurence asked.
“Can we find mud too, Daddy?” Talia begged, jumping a little.
Stiles looked at them. “No, not unless you want a bath.”
Talia and Laurence’s hazel eyes got wide and they ran out of the room, their red heads disappearing into the living room, brushing past Nick. He stepped out of their way, a little scared of them.
“No, no, no,” they screamed as they ran through the house.
Stiles shot Nick a grin. “Sorry, they’re a bit hyper.”
“They’re sweet,” he assured Stiles.
Stiles snorted. “Stick around, they’ll change your minds.”
The house was like it always was, a bit chaotic. Stiles smiled. He did love it.
“Okay,” Stiles said, taking command. “Scott and Isaac, you got my son dirty so I have to give him a bath. You two are doing the cooking while the ladies sit back and look over the children.”
“You really want Scott cooking?” Lydia asked with a raised eyebrow.
Allison took her by the arm. “Hush your mouth, Isaac would never let that happen. Help me find the wild red headed ones.”
Stiles looked at Nick. He looked lost amongst the chaos.
“Come with me,” Stiles whispered.
Nick looked a little bewildered, but he took one look at the room and quickly followed Stiles up the stairs.
Stiles took his mud covered wriggly son and threw him in the tub.
“Take ‘em off,” Stiles told Dade. “You know the drill.”
Dade smiled up angelically and began to take his pants off.
Stiles looked apologetically at Nick. “I know inviting a partial stranger to my son’s bath is weird, but you looked a little lost down there.”
Nick shrugged and sat on the closed toilet. “I guess I’m not hiding it well.”
Stiles laughed. “We were a bit much for new comers even before we began to procreate.”
Nick rubbed his face in his hands. “Lydia told me a month ago that werewolves were real and they were her best friends and family of choice. She looked at me straight in the eye. I kind of knew that it was either accept it or leave. There was no room to think she was crazy.”
Stiles started the water and took the dirty clothes out of the bathtub.
“Apparently you took it on faith,” Stiles said. “Kind of a big thing to do.”
“She’s the most amazing level headed woman,” Nick sighed. “She kind of says things in ways that dares me to disbelieve her and be very very wrong.”
“Ahh the charms of Lydia Martin,” Stiles sighed. At Nick’s worried look, Stiles smiled and continued. “And then I learned that she would eat me alive and I was a weak and scared little thing and had no feelings for her whatsoever.”
“And you moved on to a werewolf?” Nick said with a hint of a grin. “You seem like the scared type.”
Dade peered over the edge of the tub.
“My Daddy isn’t scared of anything,” Dade said, glaring at Nick.
Stiles tousled his hair and then handed him the soap.
“I’m scared of dirty little boys, so clean up,” Stiles said.
Dade looked at the soap with great hatred. “Are not.”
Stiles took a washcloth and rubbed the soap on it. “Don’t forget about behind your ears little man.”
Dade tried to stare him down. Stiles didn’t flinch. Finally Dade took the washcloth with a sigh and began scrubbing himself.
Nick was watching them.
“Yeah, this might have been a bad life choice to invite some strange man to my son’s bath,” Stiles muttered.
“She didn’t tell me until we were on the plane that she was surrogate and donor to your two youngest,” Nick said quietly. “The girl I have been dating for almost a year has this entire family that she didn’t tell me about.”
“You didn’t know about Talia and Laurence?” Stiles said making a face. “Or the boys?”
“Nope,” Nick said. “I almost didn’t believe it, until I saw her with them. Kind of hard not to immediately tell.”
Stiles rubbed the soap between his hands, creating lather and soaping up Dade’s back.
“She’s our family,” Stiles said softly. “She’s the closest thing to a mother that our kids have, but they’re our kids. It’s complicated, but she isn’t ours.”
“She’s mine,” Dade said holding out his washcloth.
Stiles took it and dunked it in the water, cleaning it off. “And she’s Henry’s and Talia’s and Laurence’s, but most of all Lydia is Lydia’s.”
Dade made a face.
“Sharing, Dade,” Stiles said, handing the cloth back to him. “Behind your ears.”
Stiles turned towards Nick. “She’s part of our family, closer than an aunt, but not quite their mother.”
“It’s still almost a little more challenging to accept than werewolves,” Nick said. “Does that make me weird? She pretty much just dropped me into the deep end of the pool and said swim through the kids and supernatural.”
Stiles snorted. “She’s probably taking the Derek Hale approach to finding out if you like her life or not.”
Nick raised an eyebrow. “And what is that?”
“Derek had Henry before we got together,” Stiles said, reaching for the shampoo and holding Dade still with the other hand. “One day he shows up on my door step with a baby and says the equivalent of ‘hold this while I go hunt down other packs’ and I had to learn very quickly if I liked children or not.”
“Looks like it worked out well,” Nick said slowly.
Dade was making typhoon waves in the tub while Stiles soaped his hair. Stiles laughed and held Dade still while he used the nozzle to wash the soap out. Dade squirmed but let him.
“The things we do for love,” Stiles said, moving to drain the tub and reached for a towel. He took a look at Nick; with that look Nick confirmed it.
“I haven’t told her that yet,” Nick mumbled, looking at the ground.
Stiles grinned. “And she won’t tell you until you know her and decide if you like all of it.”
Nick looked surprised. “Do you think that she wants more, kids I mean?”
Stiles toweled Dade off. “I would have no idea. The joy of not dating Lydia is not asking Lydia that question. She wanted to be part of our family. She offered and we said no, Derek had a little bit of jealousy and I didn’t want to block her future, but she insisted. She didn’t want to be their mom, but she wanted us to have family. Like I said it is complicated, but it doesn’t have to complicate you.”
Nick looked thoughtful. “I don’t know if I like kids.”
“We don’t know if we like you,” Dade said from beneath his towels.
Nick’s eyebrow’s rose.
“Treat them like they’re little people,” Stiles whispered. “They don’t like being treated like they’re dumb.”
Dade’s face emerged and he sulked at his father. “I can hear you.”
“Yes you’re very smart,” Stiles assured him.
Nick cocked his head. “I’m a sailor.”
Dade studied Nick with amber eyes. “So?”
“I can show you how to build boats out of leaves,” Nick offered. “We can race them in the stream.”
Dade lit up and then he looked cautiously at Stiles. “Can I?”
Stiles shifted Dade on his hip. For however wild his kids could be, they were loyal and respectful, when they knew that they should be.
“Yes, but after dinner,” Stiles told him. “Let’s go find you clothes.
Stiles looked at Nick. “Kind of looks like you can at least relate to kids.”
“No, we’re not telling him that story,” Lydia shrieked.
“But we never get new people,” Isaac said. “We’ve all heard the stories. We want to tell Lydia high school stories.”
“Did I even speak to you in high school?” Lydia retorted.
Isaac stuck his tongue out at Lydia, as did all the kids at the kid’s table.
“Stop encouraging them,” Allison said.
“Builds character,” Scott laughed.
“I think—“ Stiles began and was cut off by the front door being thrown open.
There stood Derek. He had the black travel bag that he had left with over his shoulder. Somewhere he had additionally picked up a diaper bag and a baby carrier. He also had a baby to make the ensemble complete, but no less weird.
“Honey,” Stiles said slowly, standing up. “I thought we would talk before you would bring home another one.”
“We have a problem,” Derek said, looking at everybody. “Henry, can you take everybody younger than you into the den and put on a movie? You guys can take your food with you.”
The children all looked at each other, this was under the banner of Derek’s ‘things not allowed’, but they also all knew better than to question that tone in Derek’s voice. They looked understandably confused.
Finally, Henry stood up.
“Do not spill anything,” Scott said in Alpha voice.
All the kid’s eyes widened. Stiles went over to Derek.
Derek pulled him close. “You and Lydia need to mountain ash the house and the room.”
Stiles looked startled at Derek, but years of crisis had taught him, safety first, explanations second. “Should we put the baby in the den with the kids?”
Derek shook his head. “Not yet.”
Stiles sucked in a breath, staring at Derek. The safest place in the house was the den, it was fire proof and warded. If they weren’t going to put the baby in the room, Derek wanted the baby away from the kids. If anyone was coming they were coming for the baby and would do anything to get it, he didn’t want the kids in the way.
“What did you do, Derek?” Stiles whispered.
“Let me talk to Scott, mountain ash the house, get everybody to the study,” Derek said. Stiles turned to go, but Derek grabbed his arm. “I’m sorry Stiles.”
Stiles smiled and squeezed his arm. “It’s what we do.”
Stiles turned to the room.
“I’m going to go put Molly down in the den,” Allison said quietly.
“We’ll probably need weapons they’re in the hall safe when you’re done with that,” Stiles said and then he nodded towards Lydia. “We’re going to go do the play room. We’ll put the baby in the spare room, there is wolfbane in the locked closet upstairs, you know where the key is.”
Derek had already taken Scott to the study.
Stiles turned to Isaac. “There is baby stuff in the attic, Allison took most of it for Molly, but there is a crib and some clothes.”
“She’s smaller than Molly, but we can make do,” Isaac said, looking at the baby. “They can share diapers and food for the time being.”
Everyone nodded and went about their tasks. Stiles went to the den looked in on the kids as he mountain ashed the room.
“Daddy, is everything okay?” Henry said, watching as Stiles lay down the mountain ash.
Stiles just looked at him. “You have to take care of them, okay?”
Dade came up behind Henry. “Me too, Daddy.”
“I trust you,” Stiles said.
They both eyed the mountain ash skeptically, but they went back into the room obediently.
Stiles looked worriedly at the room but met up with Lydia at the landing.
“House done,” Stiles said, but Lydia was still looking down at the dining room. He followed her gaze. Nick was there with the baby in his arms. Lydia started walking down the stairs. Nick looked up as he awkwardly held the baby.
“She was crying,” Nick said in a rush. “I picked her up and now she isn’t crying, but she looks really uncomfortable.”
Lydia smiled a little at him. “You’ve got to cradle her head a little more, hold her closer. I’m assuming that she’s a little wolf so they like to feel your heart beat.”
Nick looked terrified, but he managed to speak evenly. “So you only kidnap werewolf babies.”
“I’m sure that we didn’t kidnap her,” Lydia said and then a looked crossed her face. “Or if we did there was a good reason.”
“Your dinner parties are so much more interesting than mine,” Nick said. “Usually someone gets really drunk and starts telling embarrassing life stories or my mother and father start fighting.”
“Yep, just taking children across state lines,” Stiles said.
Isaac and Allison came down the stairs, carrying crossbows and some of the homemade bombs.
“So much better than my dinner parties,” Nick said.
“I put the baby stuff in the spare bedroom,” Isaac said.
Everyone looked at each other uncomfortably.
“This is a pack meeting,” Lydia said gently to Nick. “Maybe you can take the baby upstairs.”
Nick looked absolutely terrified for a second, but then he covered it quickly. “Is that safe?”
Stiles handed him a jar of the black ash. “Put a circle of this around you and the baby.”
Nick juggled the baby and the ash. Lydia put the diaper bag on his shoulder. He looked at Stiles.
Stiles shrugged at him. “Welcome to the deep end. Hurry up and figure everything out.”
The pack went to the study and Nick made his way upstairs.
“Do you think that he’ll be okay?” Allison asked Lydia.
Lydia smiled. “He’ll be fine. You should have seen Stiles when he was left with Henry the first time.”
“This is totally different,” Stiles defended. “We’re all a yell away.”
“Yes,” Lydia said, looking to where Scott and Derek were on the far side of the room whispering. “Why is my boyfriend babysitting a strange baby that we’ve never seen before while we have locked down the kids and are armed like we’re at Defcon 1?”
Derek looked at Scott and Scott nodded.
“I went to mediate,” Derek said. “I was mislead. I was told that there was an issue with territory lines.”
“I take it that, unless you have taken to stopping by hospitals to shop for unattended babies, that there was a bigger issue,” Lydia said.
“The Alpha of one pack had married the daughter of another Alpha,” Derek said. “It wasn’t a happy union. Nobody outright said it, but I take it there wasn’t total consent in the union and the consummation. They didn’t know how to untangle everything. Mandy, the mother, gave me the baby, she gave me full grant to take it away. She didn’t want to Omega the child, but she made it clear that she didn’t want the child in either her father or mother’s packs.”
“It would cause a war,” Scott said quietly.
“Can we even just take a child?” Isaac asked.
Derek let out a breath. “It’s legal-ish and within pack rites, but the full moon is tonight and I don’t know if her father is going to come after her.”
“Ethan, Aiden, and Cora are on their way,” Scott said. “They’re going to do some sweeps of the woods. We could call nearby packs, but they probably don’t want to get involved on short notice without background, even allies.”
“The witches wards will hold,” Stiles said. “Nothing will get on the property without the board lighting up.”
“And I’ll know,” Derek said. “Hale Territory.”
Scott nodded. “So we won’t be caught unaware, but they were coming after Derek and this Alpha fights dirty.”
“Should we move the kids?” Allison said worriedly.
“It would mean that we would be split up,” Derek said tiredly. “Divided forces might open us up to vulnerability.”
Nobody said it, but they all knew short of burning down the house that they were be safer here than anywhere else in the world. Derek was overprotective of his house, precautions had been labored over. If the burning happened there were fire extinguishers in every room. Everyone in the house knew what to do in case of fire. Derek had run drills. The kids had loved the drills. Henry was the stern boss, Dade had found new ways to get out of the house that had nearly given his parents heart attacks, and the twins had acted their little hearts out as they ran out of the imaginary burning of their house. Even Derek hadn’t been able to keep a straight face.
Isaac raised his hand. “I’ll say it. Do we really want to keep her here? She’s a potential double Alpha, is it the smartest bet to keep her here under our roof when there are people out there who want her sounds like they will kill for her. Plus long term, we have two Alphas already? Is this the smartest move?”
Lydia shrugged. “He isn’t wrong. I’ve heard of more than one Alpha in a pack and thing being fine, but two junior Alphas in a family has never turned out well.”
Stiles looked at Derek. “So you did bring her here to take her in?”
Derek sighed. “She can’t go home with her father. That is all I know. Her mother asked us for sanctuary. We can turn it down, there really is no code about it, there are no werewolf laws about this, but I cannot let that little girl go back there. It’s wrong.”
“We’re not monsters,” Lydia agreed.
Derek turned to Allison. “You’re the one with the code.”
“Oh sure, bring that up when it suits you,” Allison said, turning to Scott. Her face softened. “We protect those who can’t protect themselves.”
“We have a code. Our pack has a code; we get to decide what it is. I say we protect this girl. Any objections?” Scott asked.
Isaac cocked his head and then nodded. “Okay, the right thing sounds like the right thing. Details come after we survive the night.”
Stiles shrugged. “It’s been awhile since we’ve been in that situation.”
“I hate these nights,” Lydia sighed.
Stiles came and wrapped an arm around her. “But we’re so good at it.
Lydia just gave him a look. “Laugh it up, you won’t be laughing when you have to separate your two junior Alphas or are pacing with your little one at two in the morning.”
Stiles gave her a tight smile and looked at Derek.
“We’ll figure it out,” Derek said, just to Stiles.
“Once we survive the night,” Stiles repeated the mantra.
“Didn’t you end up with an evil girlfriend after a night like this?” Isaac said absentmindedly to Derek, going to the window.
Allison sighed and slapped him upside the head. “Still too soon.”
Isaac put a hand to his head and grinned at her. “Domestic violence is not a good thing.”
“Focus,” Scott said, his voice rumbling.
Everyone stood a little straighter.
“I’ll take bird’s eye,” Allison said.
Derek raised an eyebrow. There had been many who had made fun of the turret overlooking the house, but ever since Scott and Stiles’s Great Water Balloon’s Siege, Allison had been the only outlier.
“Its very cool,” she said, grabbing her bows and leaving the room.
Derek looked momentarily satisfied before running his hand over his face. Stiles went to his side and looked at him. Derek raised an eyebrow.
“I was just getting used to four,” Stiles said with a forced grin.
“We have the kids we’re supposed to,” Derek replied.
A loud piercing alarm rang through the house.
Derek growled, Scott was already at the door, Lydia and Isaac was already moving up the stairs to the baby and to her boyfriend.
“Isaac, Stiles, the kids,” Derek said, before following Scott.
Isaac was already out the door towards the den, Stiles on his heels. When they got to the room Myrah and Molly were already crying, Henry had the baby in one arm and the other around Myrah. Claire and Dade had their hands over their ears, watching the door, both children had already shifted, Talia and Lawrence were sitting cross legged on the floor, leaning against each other, green eyes wide, but they seemed rather well put together.
“Daddy,” Dade said coming up to the mountain ash.
Stiles looked back at Isaac who was watching his little girls cry.
“I’ll break it,” Stiles said softly.
Isaac weighed the situation. If he was inside the room he wouldn’t be able to protect the kids until the invaders got in, if they got in. If he was outside he would have to watch his girls cry and be scared. There were a lot of ifs in this situation and not a lot of certainty.
“Break it,” Isaac whispered.
Stiles broke the line and Isaac rushed in and took Molly from Henry. Stiles carefully placed the mountain ash line again and then stepped into the room. Dade was wrapped around his legs in a second. Henry nudged Myrah closer to her father and went in front of Stiles.
“We’re okay, Daddy,” Henry said proudly.
Stiles put his hand on his son’s shoulder. There hadn’t been too many of these incidents in his children’s life, but even one was too many.
Claire came over with them, watching her siblings out of the corner of her eyes. She was fearless. Talia and Lawrence stood up, Lawrence tried to take the lead, but she pushed him behind her. It didn’t matter that he was a wolf; she was a determined little one.
“What can we do?” Henry asked.
Stiles bit his lip, because this was the hard part, being in this, but not having anything to do. Outside on the porch something was happening, out in the woods something was happening, his job was to keep everyone in the house calm, which was actually a lot harder than whatever the rest of the pack was doing.
Claire jumped and Dade’s wolf nails dug into Stiles’s leg. Stiles met Isaac’s eyes.
“There are wolves in the woods,” Isaac said soothingly, explaining to Stiles. He knew full well the children could hear what was going on. “Ours and theirs.”
Myrah’s face was buried in Isaac’s shoulder and Molly’s fists were waving around, but neither one of them were crying any more.
“Our pack is above us,” Stiles said, kneeling down in front of the kids. “Our pack is in the woods, our pack is in front of our door, nobody will hurt you.”
“We have to stay strong,” Henry added seriously. “They won’t hurt us.”
Stiles smiled at his boy.
Dade looked thoughtful. “We need a flame thrower. That way we can kill the bad guys without leaving the room.”
“No more video games,” Stiles told him. “And no starting fires in the house.”
“We should clean up the plates,” Lawrence said looking around the room, nose wrinkling. “It’s messy.”
Talia looked out the doorway. “When are they going to leave? I want dessert.”
Stiles sighed; these were his children and their approach to battles.
There was a loud roar and the sound of splintering wood outside the house. It was clear enough that even Stiles could hear it.
Stiles looked over at Isaac.
“Let’s put the plates in the corner,” Henry decided. “And build a barricade.”
Stiles stood up and nodded to Henry. “Keep everyone away from the windows and doors, stay together in the middle of the room. Help Isaac, listen to him, okay?”
Henry nodded and shifted again, his eyes going red. “We’re good, Daddy.”
Stiles looked at Isaac and mouthed ‘Lydia.’
Isaac nodded. “There is an extra pacifier in the stuff I left him. The kid is crying.”
Talia looked over at Claire with pride. “Our babies don’t cry.”
Stiles ruffled her hair and then crossed the mountain ash line and looked back for a second. All the children were huddled together contemplating which furniture to put in front of the door. All of them, even Myrah seemed to be seriously discussing their plan. On a normal day there was usually yelling and more wrestling than probably was healthy for six children under the age of ten, but they were all serious and listening to each other. Isaac caught his eye and gave a little smile and shrug.
‘Go, they’re fine,’ Isaac mouthed.
Stiles turned and ran to the darkened room up the hall. He entered to find Nick sitting in the rocking chair with Lydia on his lap holding the baby. She didn’t look up when Stiles entered the room. She was quietly talking to the baby. Around them was a perfect circle of mountain ash.
Nick nudged Lydia and she looked up.
“What is going on?” Lydia asked, holding the baby closer to her.
Stiles shrugged. “Sounds like a melee in the woods. There is a lot of yelling on the front porch, but I can’t make any of it out.”
“Sometimes it is good not to have the super hearing,” Lydia said. “Or at least not to have superwolf hearing.”
“Can you hear anything?” Stiles asked.
Lydia shook her head, her lips turning up in a smile. “I hear Ella Fitzgerald.”
Stiles raised an eyebrow.
“She likes it,” Lydia said, rocking the baby. “It’s playing all around her.”
Nick looked at Lydia like there were about fifty questions that he had, but he didn’t voice any. Probably from confusion as where to start.
Stiles took a step into the room and looked at her, the child was red from crying, but Lydia’s rocking had soothed her so she was just whimpering a little bit.
“Her mother must have listened to it,” Stiles said.
There was another loud growl outside of the house and the baby began to whimper. Nick cupped her head protectively, as he eyed the circle around him.
“Is that dust really going to protect us?” he asked skeptically.
“How’s the crash course in werewolves going, Nick?” Stiles asked, as Nick pushed off a little and set the chair to rocking them.
“Would seem to be a bit outlandish and ridiculous, if I weren’t scared shitless,” Nick replied, sounding fairly good humored for a newbie.
Lydia kissed him on the temple. “We’re safe, we know what we’re doing. The house is lined with this and we all know what to do if anything happens, even the kids.”
“Do you have this all in our house?” Nick asked.
Lydia shrugged. “You remember when Deaton came and replaced the baseboards?”
“Yeah,” Nick replied.
“Well Deaton is Scott’s boss he’s a vet,” Lydia said, grinning at him.
“Let me guess, he’s more than just a vet,” Nick sighed. “Sorcerer?”
“Something like that,” Stiles laughed, giving Nick a run down of some of the protective measures. Stiles hoped as he talked about these things that Nick wouldn’t ever have to use them. Lydia was there to prod a bit when Stiles was going to take the easy answer and not give some of the gruesome details. They talked for a little bit about the ins and outs. Nick held tighter to Lydia and something in his eyes seemed to be trying to absorb all the information.
He asked a few questions with enough bravado in his voice to sound like he wanted to protect Lydia. Which was sweet in itself, but all the times that Lydia had been in danger, she had rarely relied on anyone to get her out of it.
Lydia spent most of the time watching the baby, snuggling into Nick, but seemingly trying to be ahead of the child’s needs to keep her calm. Stiles watched her out of the corner of his eye. He had never quite seen her like this.
“Are you guys always this much fun?” Nick asked listening to something slam into the children’s playground outside.
Nick aborted the baby’s cry with a knuckle at her mouth. She began to suck happily.
“Isaac said there was another pacifier in the stuff he brought in,” Stiles said, going to the pile of clothes and baby blankets that had been passed back and forth from Hale-Stilinski to Argent-Lahey-McCall. He pulled out the item triumphantly, but when he turned around Lydia and Nick were too engrossed in the baby to notice the triumphant find. They were talking to each other in soft voices.
Stiles looked at them for a second, he felt like an outsider. He cocked his head and just looked at them, rocking back and forth on the chair.
Lydia was in the safety of Nick’s arms and the mountain ash. In the middle of that all was the baby who had brought all this trouble to their door. Stiles watched as her little hands reached up to Lydia’s face. Lydia smiled adoringly down at her. Nick watched them contentedly.
“Stiles,” Isaac yelled from the den. “Derek wants you.”
Lydia looked up, fiercely at Stiles. “They can’t have her.”
“Promise you,” Stiles said softly.
Stiles rand down the stairs to the front door, Derek was there, covered in blood. Stiles didn’t stop moving until his hands were patting Derek, making sure he was okay.
“It’s not mine,” Derek said, leaning into the touch.
Stiles nodded. Derek put his arms around Stiles and leaned into his ear. “We came to an agreement.”
“One that makes me think that your peace bringing involved a bit more contact than usual,” Stiles whispered back, well aware of the sensitive young ears in the house.
“It had to be done,” Derek said. “There are kids in the house.”
“The kids are fine,” Stiles told him. “I’m not sure we’ll ever see them again after they erect their barricade, but they should be fine.”
“Good,” Derek said, knowing that they would be.
“Is everybody okay?” Stiles asked.
“We’re bloody, but they’re beaten,” Derek said.
“They’re going to leave the girl?” Stiles asked, almost in a resigned voice. “We need to go claim parental rights? Get a vow from them to stay away and take her into our pack?”
Derek pulled back and looked at Stiles and his less than enthusiastic tone.
“We have everything we need to make her happy and comfortable,” Stiles said, trying weakly to sound enthused.
“They will leave her here,” Derek whispered slowly, “But they refuse to let her foster with the Alpha or the Territory head. She’s the daughter of two Alphas; she’s going to be strong even before the likelihood that she becomes an Alpha herself. She could inherit two strong packs. They have come to accept that perhaps she will be part of our pack, they just don’t want her in a position to inherit from us.”
Stiles pulled back and searched his face.
“I don’t get it,” Stiles said slowly. “They’ll let her join us as long as she isn’t going to join us too much?”
Derek nodded. “Just about that. I think that they expect that one day they’ll get her back.”
Stiles looked at him in horror. “So they’re just going to take her away another day.”
“No,” Derek said almost violently. “She’s going to grow up though. She is the daughter of their Alphas and when their Alphas die there is a possibility of her returning. They’re worried that she’ll try to absorb their packs into ours. If we raise her as one of us, but almost independent she’ll have a choice in her own future.”
Stiles thought for a moment and then shrugged. “Just be glad they don’t send me for mediation. This doesn’t make total logical sense to me.”
“Neither does the town council meetings,” Derek pointed out. “Your customs also are strange.”
“Nobody understands it,” Stiles said. “Also those are also your customs, don’t play like you don’t have more customs than a border town.”
Derek just rolled his eyes.
“You know our pack, what do you say we should do?” Derek asked. “We can force the issue, but there has to be an alternative. Can you think of anything that will make them happy? They’ve given a lot; we need to show that we’re at least meeting them halfway. Maybe Cora, I mean she’s a Hale, but she’s not part of the McCall center?”
Stiles knew that even after all these years Derek would never trust Ethan and Aiden with something like this. It didn’t matter; a plan was already formed in Stiles’s head. A plan that was out there, but one that most likely would work.
“I have an idea,” Stiles said.
“This is going to turn out badly,” Derek intoned.
Stiles smiled and pulled Derek towards the stairs. Derek followed him soundlessly, Stiles making enough noise for the two of them.
They paused at the door. Derek’s posture changed.
“That is your solution?” Derek asked. Lydia and Nick looked up at them.
Stiles didn’t look at him, Stiles didn’t know if Derek wanted another kid, but Stiles had thought they were done. It was almost a relief that they were being banned from taking in this one. Lydia looked up at them, her eyes fierce and protective. Derek’s hand found the small of Stiles’s back.
Derek gave Stiles a raised eyebrow.
“This is your show,” Stiles hissed.
“Lydia is your show,” Derek said.
Lydia looked up at them with a cocked eyebrow.
“Do they think they’re in a Shakespeare play with asides that nobody can hear,” Nick mock whispered.
“Yes,” Stiles said. “Besides living in a house of werewolves we’re also insane.”
“Clearly,” Nick said.
Lydia was looking at the two of them. “You’re up here with the kids in the den and the bad guys outside. What do you need from me?”
Derek and Stiles exchanged a glace.
“One of you speak or you both die,” Lydia said, not liking being confused. “Your kids will be well taken care of.”
“That is kind of the thing,” Stiles said slowly. “We need you—“
“She needs a guardian,” Derek said.
Stiles looked at him accusingly. “I thought she was my business.
Derek raised an eyebrow. “You were taking too long.”
“Hello,” Lydia said, waving her hand. “Now is not the time for banter. She needs a guardian is not an actual answer to the reason you are up here.”
Stiles looked at her softly and stepped forward. “Lyds, they don’t want us, the compromise is that we don’t raise the child, or Scott and company. The pack will protect her, we can do most of the heavy lifting if you want, but we need your name. We can raise her, we can figure all that out, but they need someone else to raise her. We need you to go out there and say that she’ll have your name, we can take care of the rest.”
Lydia just looked at them and then shook her head.
“I can’t do that,” she told them softly.
“Lyds, please, they’re at the house, we need to make this work,” Stiles said.
Lydia stood up, the baby snuggling into her. “No Stiles, I can’t do it that way. When I had Talia and Laurence I wanted kids, but I was busy all the time and moving every couple of months, but I wanted the idea of kids, but now—“
She trailed off and looked at the baby then looked up at Stiles.
“You always say that you have the kids you’re meant to have,” Lydia said, standing up with the baby. “I have a two year appointment at the Sorbonne, I am stable.”
“Just like that you’ll become a mom?” Stiles asked softly. “You don’t have to.”
Lydia took a deep breath. “I knew. I never know quite how, but Derek walked in here and I knew, I knew what the rest of my life looked like.”
She turned and looked at Nick. “I’m sorry, I…she’s just so little, she needs somebody. I know…well I know that you’ll be fine without me, she won’t be.“
Nick stood up and shook his head. “You know a great many things, but you don’t know this, Lydia. You’ve asked me to take a lot on faith and I have, so now you need to take something on faith, I love you, I’m going to be with you on that plane to Paris, and we’ll figure out everything else. I get bored easily, but somehow being with you is one curveball after another and I can see myself being with you for a long time and never being bored and incase you missed it the first time, I love you.”
Lydia looked at him with wide eyes, blinking.
“I think I’m leaving you for him,” Stiles said to Derek.
Lydia turned and glared at him. “Thank you for ruining my beautiful moment. When it was time for yours I’m pretty sure that I cleared out.”
Stiles shrugged. “We all do things differently, dibs on godfather.”
“You guys need to come out,” Derek interrupted. “The father has to relinquish rights and you have to take it up. There will be a ton of paperwork in the morning.”
Stiles groaned, because as deputy sheriff, that would be what he would have to jam through the system.
Lydia held the baby to her and Nick stood behind her, arm around her.
“He won’t try to take her?” Lydia asked.
Derek shook his head. “Scott and I will be between you and him. Allison is on the roof. Cora and the twins are behind him. Stiles will be next to you. She’s one of us now.”
Lydia nodded, her eyes watery and then she took a deep breath.
“I really just signed up to be a mom,” Lydia muttered to herself.
“Keep it together, Brainy,” Nick said. “We’ll freak out in the morning. I was told that morning freak-outs are a tradition.”
“Lydia,” Derek said in his flat voice. “Do you realize you are dating a better dressed version of Stiles?”
Both Stiles and Lydia shot him looks of death. Nick just laughed. Stiles pushed Derek out of the room.
“Don’t we have life or death pack business to get to?” Stiles muttered and lead them down the stairs.
“Stay behind me,” Derek said. “Stay in the doorway. Let Scott and I do the talking. Let Stiles take care of the legal stuff.”
Lydia wrinkled her nose. “Great, mother for two minutes and already you’re marginalizing me.”
Derek stopped walking and raised his eyebrows. “I highly doubt that anyone is capable of marginalizing you.”
Lydia pursed her lips. “Derek Hale, you really are good at this.”
“I know,” Derek said with a grin.
“Stop smiling,” Stiles advised. “You’re so much better when you are growly.
They walked out the door. Scott stood there, in the darkness was the McCall Pack and assorted members of the other pack, everyone was watching as Lydia stepped forward through the lit door into the darkened porch. She held on to the baby in a death grip. Nick stood behind her. Stiles wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it, but Nick, for all his skinny jeans and starched collar seemed to loom.
Stiles felt that something right was happening. He turned to look at the big hulking man at the foot of the stairs. He was wearing a leather vest and nothing on underneath. His body was covered in tattoos and piercings. By the glow of red in his eyes, Stiles was under no illusions as to how much pain this Alpha could take.
Stiles watched Derek stare the Alpha down. He decided two things at that moment. The first was that he was going to worry a whole lot more about Derek when he went away. The other was that if any of the kids brought home a guy like this there would be a tower built and he would find some way to get a dragon, there had to be dragons.
“That the guardians?” the Alpha said, voice coming out exactly how Stiles would imagine a man like this sounded. It was like gravel and way too many cigars.
“Yes,” Derek said, arms crossed. Scott stood next to him, just as impassive.
The Alpha cocked his head and then sniffed. “She’s not a wolf.”
“Banshee,” Scott replied.
The Alpha rolled his eyes. “They don’t exist.”
“What’s a Banshee?” Nick asked.
The Alpha turned towards Nick, suddenly an almost inhuman scream echoed through the woods. The McCall pack didn’t even flinch as the other pack covered their ears and looked a little spooked.
Nick was staring at Lydia a little agape, she looked pleased. In her arms the baby was awake and making cooing laughter, reaching for Lydia. Lydia leaned down and nuzzled the baby’s nose.
“Awesome,” Nick said in awe.
“Banshee,” Derek re-stated.
“You will all go find some place to sleep for the night,” Stiles said. “Tomorrow we’re going to go to the judge and you are going to relinquish your rights. We’re going to expedite this. You will sign where I say sign.”
“And you will never see the child again,” Derek stated. “She will not have any contact with any of your people or her mother’s people until you are both dead.”
The Alpha’s lips turned into a snarl.
“These are her mother’s wishes, this is what I promised,” Derek said. “If you break this oath, the death will be at my hands.”
“Or mine,” Lydia spoke up. “I am her guardian, her life will be completely without you, which it seems will be for the better.”’
“Additionally, I have plenty of resources,” Nick said. “My family may have no power in the werewolf community, but whatever piece of land your pack is inhabiting, every person who is under you will face some pretty awful scrutiny. You and everyone you know will lose everything that they have.”
Derek looked back and him and nodded approvingly before turning back to the Alpha, who didn’t notice the look. Derek crossed his arms.
“Those are the terms,” he told them.
“We’re really good at what we do,” Scott said taking a page from the Derek Hale book and crossed his arms and loomed. “You have heard the terms. There is no shades of grey in this. She is ours as long as you live.”
The Alpha looked at Lydia. Lydia stood in bare feet amongst much taller men. She didn’t flinch at blazing of his red eyes.
Lydia cocked her head. “You don’t want her anyway. You don’t want to change diapers, you don’t want to make sure she’s fed; you don’t want to make sure she becomes a good person. You want the power that one day she will inherit from you, you want to control her.”
The Alpha just raised his eyebrows.
“I’m not going to let you,” Lydia said softly. Everyone leaned in towards her, trying to hear her. “She’s going to grow up smart and strong and have her own mind. If she wants to return to either of her lines that will be her choice. If she becomes an Alpha, she will be the Alpha of what she chooses. She will be safe and loved and protected in a way that you would never let her be.”
Nick put an arm around her and kissed the top of her head. Lydia stood tall and stared down the large and imposing Alpha. The Alpha blinked first.
Lydia smiled and nodded. She turned on her heel and went back inside.
Nick shrugged. “You guys will take care of the rest of this?”
The side of Derek’s mouth quirked. “We always do.”
Nick nodded and walked inside.
Derek looked back at the Alpha. “Do we have a deal?”
The Alpha growled low in his throat. There was a tussle and it was a second before his men were thrown to the ground.
Neither Derek or Scott flinched.
“Do we have a deal?” Scott repeated.
The Alpha was grinding his teeth, the wolf ones elongating. Stiles stepped forward, neither Scott nor Derek change position as Stiles moved within arm length of the red-eyed alpha before him.
“I’m the breakable one of the group,” Stiles said quietly. “I’m the one that you can snap like a twig. However you have come to my house, stalking our territory, putting my kids on high alert. That isn’t done in my town. You have broken werewolf custom, you have broken human customs, and I am not scared of you at all. You will let us keep the child as our ward; if you are ever here again we will use both our werewolf and legal rights. If you or your pack approach Lydia the retribution will be so swift and harsh you won’t even understand what happened before it happens.”
The Alpha before him growled, but it was almost submissive.
Stiles smiled. “I’m the one threatening you, I’m the one who will make sure it happens. Remember I’m the breakable one? They can’t be bothered; this kind of thing is beneath them. Leave, we will find you tomorrow.”
Stiles crossed his arms and smirked, staring the Alpha down. Stiles could see that the Alpha wanted to rip his throat out, but Stiles had seen enough of these bullies not to back down.
Slowly the man moved backwards.
Stiles just watched as he motioned to his pack and they all crawled off. When they were out of sight, Stiles slumped.
“Watch the woods,” Scott told the assorted members of the McCall pack. “Make sure they actually leave and don’t double back.”
Derek grabbed Stiles and pulled him into the house.
“Let’s not use that particular strategy ever again,” Derek growled.
Stiles nodded and tried not to give way to his shaking nerves. “Agreed.”
Scott came rushing in just as Allison came rushing down from the tower.
“Kids,” Allison said, putting down her bow and arrow on the hallway table and rushing into the den. Scott, Derek, and Stiles were hot on her heels.
They walked into complete chaos. The sofa was flipped over and blankets were draped over tables, many little faces were peering around this barricade.
“Mommy,” Myrah said running across the room to the doorway.
“Myrah,” Dade screeched, popping up from behind the couch. “We don’t know if it is safe. They could be possessed.”
“It’s okay big man,” Stiles said. “We don’t get possessed.”
Isaac popped up, wearing a mostly clean napkin on his head. “Nogitsune?”
Derek and Stiles glared at him.
Allison stepped into the room picked up Myrah. “We aren’t possessed, sweetie.”
Dade didn’t look convinced. He looked up at Henry who was looking at the parental units in the doorway.
“That is what someone who is possessed would say,” Henry said, cocking his head. “Step into the room.”
Allison held Myrah close. “You’re a good girl, but you should listen to Henry.”
Myrah looked like she was about to cry.
Allison cooed. “It’s okay sweetie, I’m okay. We just have to be cautious. I’m not possessed. It’s okay.”
Claire jumped up and ran to Allison. Isaac stood up with Molly in his arms. Henry and Dade didn’t move.
“Dad?” Henry said, his face stern, he kept an arm in front of Talia and Lawrence. The twins weren’t making any attempt to move; they just watched their fathers. Dade reached out to pick up a broom.
Stiles grinned at them and stepped into the room. Scott and Derek reached out their hands and slammed into the mountain ash wall.
“They can’t come into the room if I break it and they’re possessed,” Stiles said. “The wards won’t let someone possessed into the room.”
Henry nodded. “Break it.”
Stiles scratched the mountain ash away with his foot and Derek and Scott came into the room.
“You satisfied Henry?” Stiles asked.
Derek crossed to his kids. He scooped up Laurence and put a hand proudly on Henry’s shoulder.
“Good job, son,” Derek said.
Henry threw himself to hug Derek’s waist. “Everything ok?”
Dade and Talia grabbed onto the pile.
“Everything is good now,” Derek said soothingly. “You guys were very brave.”
Stiles looked at the little tower of his family. “We have good news, there is a new baby in the pack.”
Dade’s face looked thoughtful.
Derek exchanged a look with Stiles.
“Yes Dade?” Stiles asked.
“That isn’t how babies are made,” Dade said. “You told us.”
Stiles could feel Scott trying not to laugh.
“Sometimes babies are made like we told you,” Stiles said, happy that he was keeping his voice even. “Sometimes the babies are adopted, like I did to Henry. We’re still family.”
Dade didn’t look convinced.
Henry nudged him. “We’ll meet her, then we’ll know.”
Dade thought for a moment and then looked up to Stiles. “We need to meet her before she is pack.”
Stiles held his hand out solemnly. “Deal.”
Derek nodded towards Stiles. “Go get her?”
Stiles nodded and slipped out of the room and up the stairs.
“My parents are going to freak,” Stiles could hear Nick saying. “Typically they would have had four to nine months heads up on unplanned parenthood.”
“You don’t have to,” Lydia said softly. “You didn’t sign up for werewolves and parenthood.”
“Nope,” Nick agreed. “I signed up for you. You come with werewolves and parenthood apparently.”
There was a moment of silence and then Lydia laughed. “That was worthy of a romantic comedy.”
“I’m freaking,” Nick laughed.
“Me too,” Lydia replied.
“So this seems like a welcome to your world,” Nick said.
“Complete with Stiles lurking at the door,” Lydia said.
Stiles stopped hovering. Inside of the room Nick was finishing changing a diaper and Lydia was glaring at the diaper genie that they managed to find. They were on the ground around the tiny baby girl who was staring at them with big eyes.
Lydia just watched the baby and spoke softly. “Stiles this may be the craziest thing you’ve ever asked me to do.”
“Nah,” Stiles said. “I’m sure we have plenty to top it.”
Nick was watching Lydia and then nodded to Stiles. “I think I can swim.”
“You’re a better man than me,” Stiles said. “It took me years before I really thought I could do it.”
“Everything settled?” Lydia said, kissing the baby’s feet.
“Yep,” Stiles said. “The kids want to meet her.”
Lydia gave him her wide-eyed stare.
“I’m sure they will like her,” Stiles said as the baby began to thrust her arms and legs in every direction.
Lydia thought about it for a second and then stood up. She determinedly walked out the door.
Nick looked confused.
“It’s a pack thing,” Stiles offered.
“I have a feeling that you’re just going to use that for weird things that happen from now on,” Nick sighed.
“Probably,” Stiles said. “It will probably be true though.”
Nick smiled. “Lets go see if the tiny ones accept the new young to the pack.” He thought about it for a second. “They’re not going to eat her if they don’t approve, are they?”
Stiles raised an eyebrow. “Let’s go see if the tiny young accept the new pack member.”
“They will?” Nick asked, his voice breaking a little.
“Come on,” Stiles said with a little smile. “You have to watch this.”
When they got to the doorway Lydia was sitting on the floor with Henry next to her. Henry was eyeing the newcomer.
“I want to call her Madeline,” Lydia said conspiratorially with Henry. “But it’s a big name. You might have to think of something for her. You’re good at that.”
Henry leaned his head on Lydia’s shoulder and reached out for Madeline’s little hand.
“I don’t know her yet,” Henry said softly. “Madeline might fit.”
Lydia kissed his forehead. “Will you protect her like you do the rest of them.”
Henry leaned in more to Lydia. “Of course I will.”
With that the rest of the assorted children came forward to peer at Madeline who looked at them with wide eyes. They were a bit too much, but any child in the pack would get used to that very quickly.
Stiles shrugged at Nick. “See.”
Nick looked at them thoughtfully.
“It’s weird,” Nick said softly. “Of all of them, Henry seems to be the one she was most worried about.”
“Yeah,” Stiles replied. “He’s the kids leader of sorts. Besides, of all of them she is most his, Talia and Laurence may look like her, but Henry is hers.”
Nick studied Stiles for a long time while the children chirped.
“There is a story behind that,” Nick finally said.
Stiles nodded and his eyes got wide. For a second he was a little twitchy. Derek came up behind him and put a hand on Stiles.
“And that will be one that Lydia may tell you eventually,” Derek said. “But it isn’t one you can ask for. If they talk about it, it is their choice. Pack rules.”
Nick shrank back a little at the tone of Derek’s voice. Henry appeared and stood next to Stiles, Stiles hand was in his hair. Henry’s empathy and super hearing had drawn him. Whenever anything came up that reminded them of their time in the cabin there was always lots of contact. It was something that soothed the three of them.
Nick blinked, but he seemed to understand enough to realize that he shouldn’t say anything more.
“You like Madeline?” Stiles asked as Henry nuzzled into Stiles’s leg.
Henry nodded and looked up at him and shrugged, his eyes seemed to be a little worried.
“Nick is going to be help raising her,” Stiles told him.
Henry thought for a second. “Like her father?”
Stiles looked questioningly at Nick.
“Yeah,” Nick said softly. “I’m going to be her dad.”
Henry looked concerned. Dade ran over and pulled on Henry’s shirt. Henry leaned over and Dade whispered something in his ear. Henry raised his eyebrows at Dade. Dade put his hands on his hips and nodded.
Henry leaned against Stiles again. “Okay, that sounds good.”
Dade lifted his hands to Derek and Derek picked him up.
“Daddy,” Laurence said from next to Lydia. “Lydia brought us a baby.”
Talia hit him. “Dad brought the baby. Lydia is keeping Madeline.”
“Talia, don’t hit,” Derek said.
Talia crossed her arms. “He’s a werewolf.”
Stiles nodded. “Welcome to parenthood, Nick.”
Lydia smiled at the twins. “We’re only having one, Nick.”
“Deal,” Nick said, moving to sit down with her.
Stiles stole a glance at Derek and then patted Henry on the head and left the room. He walked downstairs and felt like he could breathe again.
Stiles looked at the set table and the food that had been in the open air for away to long. Stiles looked at the rising sun.
Derek came up behind him. “Leave it.”
“It’s going to smell,” Stiles said, moving to the table. “I have lived in a house full of werewolves and Talia long enough to know that cleaning tonight will be better than bitching of the delicate noses of the family.
Derek smiled a little.
“I’ll help,” Derek said.
Stiles shrugged and for a few minutes they cleaned up in silence. Finally Stiles put down a dish and sighed.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles said turning towards Derek. “I’m sorry I don’t want another kid. If we needed to I would take her in, but we have four and we never talked about a stop to the family, but I kind of thought that four was a perfect number.”
Derek just looked at Stiles with a half smile. “Stiles, I don’t want any more kids.”
Stiles stared at him.
Derek shrugged and began picking up some of the discarded dishes.
Stiles put a hand on his arm. “You didn’t tell me? I thought we were going to have a baseball team or something. You said big family.”
Derek grinned at him. “Four is big. I only had three.”
Stiles jaw dropped.
“Exactly how long have you been living in fear?” Derek asked.
“Well pretty much since you showed up on my doorstep with Henry, but never about this,” Stiles said. “I really wanted each and every one of them. I love our kids, no regrets, and I love your face when we have them and raising them and I’ve wanted each one of them, but when you showed up with Madeline I realized that I thought we had the perfect family size, but then I realized that we had never discussed if you wanted more and if you wanted more that was fine and something that we could talk about, but I like us now.”
Derek smiled. “I like us now too. She just needed not be where she was.”
“I know,” Stiles said. “I would never turn her away, but—“
“No more kids,” Derek finished. “Two more years and they’ll all be in school part of the time and I’ll have a few hours during the day, I can have a few moments without child drama. They’re all out of diapers. Stiles, I’ve spent nine years changing diapers. I’m not sorry to see that phase go.”
Stiles patted him on the shoulder. “So we’re good?”
“Yes,” Derek said pulling Stiles close. “We’re good, very very good.”
“Dadddeees,” Talia said running into the room, followed by her brothers. They ran around Stiles and Derek.
Stiles swung down and picked her up. “What is going on, munchkin.”
“Dade said she’s our sister and Henry says she’s our cousin, what is she?” Talia asked.
Stiles looked at Derek and shrugged.
“She’s going to be your sister, but with different parents,” Derek said with a smile.
“Okay,” Talia said, squirming. “Down Daddy.”
Henry reached up for her. “Let’s go see Madeline.”
With that the four children ran back to the den.
“Do our children know how to walk?” Stiles asked.
“Probably not,” Derek said, pulling Stiles back to him, biting at Stiles’s neck, growling. “We should probably work on that.”
Stiles half heartily swatted at him. “We have been up all night, the house is full of eighty-seven kids and their parents and none of them are probably going to go home tonight. Sex adrenaline from a fight needs to go somewhere else.”
Derek stepped away. “Sex adrenaline?”
Stiles thought about it for a second. “Never mind, they all have parents and know where the extra blankets are. Let’s go do it.”
Derek tried half heartedly to push him away. “That isn’t sexy.”
“We have four kids,” Stiles said. “And only four kids, we have probably ten minutes before they realize that we’re gone. We can rediscover sexy when we have time.”
Derek cocked his head. “And the dishes?”
Stiles grabbed for him again. “Ten minutes.”
Derek grinned and was already grabbing at Stiles, pulling him towards the stairs.
“I do love you,” Derek said, his voice rumbling a bit, sending a shiver through Stiles.
Stiles’s mouth was already all over Derek, who was trying to maneuver them into the bedroom.
“Stiles, you’ve gotta get up.”
“Ten more minutes,” Stiles said, burrowing into blankets and Derek. “Let’s sleep in.”
Derek laughed. “Stiles we’ve been together for eight years. I can count the amount of times that we’ve slept in on one hand and most of those were because one of us nearly died the night before.”
“Kids,” Stiles said sleepily.
“Yes, we still have four,” Derek said, prodding him a little. “We’ve always had at least one, we don’t sleep in.”
“Lets not do it that way next time,” Stiles pouted.
Derek laughed and pushed Stiles out of bed. “Next time, promise, but now we have kids and Lydia needs you to do paperwork for her kid and I am pretty sure we have about ten people under this roof that need breakfast and we never did clean up the table.”
Stiles sighed and sprawled on the floor, his eyes wide open.
“How is this even my life,” Stiles said, pushing off and going to his side, resting his head on his hand.
“Disappointed?” Derek said, leaning over the bed.
“This is even more awesome than anything that I could have imagined,” Stiles sighed, looking at his half naked, post-sleep, post-sex husband.
“Stiles if you don’t get up, everything is going to be late,” Derek said.
Stiles pushed himself up and went to the bed. “I don’t care, ten more minutes.”
Derek pulled aside the covers, as Stiles slammed against him. Derek’s hand went to the side of Stiles’s face, pulling him into a kiss.
“The lack of clothing was a good idea,” Stiles said.
“Stiles,” Derek growled. “Shut up.”
And Derek knew exactly how to make that happen.
Stiles threw open the door, followed by Lydia holding Madeline and a beaming Nick.
“Everyone, I’d like you to meet Madeline Corbin-Martin,” Stiles announced.
The whole gang was in the kitchen, the kids were setting the table and the adults were preparing lunch. Everybody turned and smiled.
The kids all came around.
“Can I hold her?” Henry asked Lydia.
“You have to be careful,” Lydia said, putting Madeline in his arms. Madeline looked at him with wide dark eyes.
“Hi Madeline,” Henry said softly as Talia and Laurence came to peer at her. “You’re home.”
Stiles went to the kitchen and leaned against the counter.
Derek leaned next to him and held up a cup of coffee.
Stiles yawned and grabbed it and drank it greedily. “There isn’t enough in the world.”
Derek was watching the bustle. The children were finishing the table and also cooing over Madeline. Isaac and Scott were teasing Allison, who was threatening them with a wooden spoon. Lydia looked happy enough to burst.
“It was quiet when it was just Laura and I,” Derek said, smiling a bit. “This is what I was used to. I grew up with family and cousins and so much noise. I never knew what it was like to be alone until I was.”
Stiles blinked sleepily. “Well, we’ll probably have another sixteen years of this and eventually grandchildren will come and my dad will probably move in at some point and you’ve built a house with eight bedrooms so we’ll probably always have this.”
Derek lips curled up into a small smile.
“You’re welcome,” Stiles said.
Derek turned to look at him. “You did this? I’m the one who stepped out of the woods.”
Stiles scoffed into his coffee. “And then came months of unhelpfulness. I’m pretty sure that I saved your life a couple of times before you became at all helpful.”
“I asked you to watch Henry,” Derek pointed out.
“I was the one who called you,” Stiles said.
“You were drunk,” Derek said.
“Yeah,” Stiles said with a grin. “Let’s not tell the kids that alcohol is what actually brought this family together.”
Stiles leaned against Derek, solid and warm against his tired body.
“It doesn’t matter,” Derek said. “Tragedy, luck, stubbornness, it all brought us here.”
Dade was at Henry’s side, helping take care of Madeline. Laurence and Talia were nearby, asking Lydia questions. Nick was trying to show Claire and Myrah how to fold napkins. Isaac and Scott were gently throwing Molly back and forth, Allison laughing and shrieking at them to stop.
Stiles smiled. “I think we did well.”
Derek tilted his head at the scene. “I think we’ve only just started.”