"This is the place," the cab driver says, and Stiles looks at the house in shock. It's huge. Not the modest home he was expecting. Derek never gave him any indication that he came from money, but that's just another reminder that he didn't know Derek as well as he thought he did.
Immediately, Stiles gets a mental image of being thrown from the property, labeled a gold digger or something. Rich people, in his experience, are entitled assholes. Stiles knows how he looks.
He won't panic right now, though. He's got to go through with this. He doesn't have another option. He rests his hand on his belly and closes his eyes.
The cab driver shifts around in his seat. "You okay?"
Stiles takes a deep breath and nods. "I'm fine. Will you help me with my bags?"
While the driver gets his luggage from the trunk, Stiles heaves himself out of the cab. It's hard to do with his heavily pregnant belly, but he manages it. He focuses on taking the steps to the front door. The walk is too short, though it looked long from the cab.
He's been practicing what he's going to say to Derek for weeks. Part of him wants to really lay into him for disappearing after Stiles's heat, but he doesn't think that will get him anywhere. You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar, his mom always used to say.
He's full of vinegar, though. He's pissed off, and he doesn't think he's wrong for it. But this situation has to be handled right, or he won't just be a teenage pregnancy statistic, he'll be a homeless one.
He rings the bell just as the door is opening. He blinks at the woman standing there. She's beautiful, with a commanding presence. An alpha, Stiles can tell. He gulps.
"Hi, I'm… I'm looking for Derek?" Stiles says nervously. For a moment he wants to run back the other direction.
The alpha looks at him, at his luggage, then back to him and at his huge belly. Stiles ducks his head, feeling ashamed and scared. If this doesn't work, he'll be…
"I'm Talia, Derek's mother," the alpha says, cutting off Stiles's hopeless thoughts.
Of course she's his mother. She's gorgeous, and Derek is gorgeous. The genes are strong. Stiles puts his hand on his belly and wonders what the baby is going to look like. If she'll have Derek's eyes or Talia's freckles or-
"Derek's not here," Talia says.
"I'll wait. I really need to talk to him," Stiles says, forcing his voice to stay even. He wants to cry.
"What's your name?" Talia asks, and Stiles flushes. He's forgotten his manners entirely, and his mom would've been ashamed.
"Stiles Stilinski. I'm a… a friend of Derek's," he says, and that's… is it a lie? How well did he know Derek, really? He'd been infatuated with him, definitely, and Derek had seemed to like him back. When Stiles asked him to be his heat partner, Derek hadn't even hesitated to say yes.
But then Derek left, and Stiles hasn't seen him since. Two months later when Stiles knew for a fact he was pregnant, Stiles tried to call Derek, but his phone was disconnected.
"Well, Derek is in South America, and we have no way of communicating with him right now," Talia says, and it's like she's dropped a bomb.
Stiles has a sudden wave of dizziness. His vision starts to go dark around the edges, and he reaches out for something to hold on to. "Oh no," he whispers, grabbing the doorframe.
He doesn't have anyone else to go to. His mom died when he was ten. His dad just a few weeks ago, in the line of duty. He has no one, not even this scrap of a dream. He'd been hoping Derek could help him out for awhile, but now…
He doesn't even realize he's crying until Talia's arms are around him and she's holding him in that bittersweetly familiar mom way.
"Hush, sweetheart, it'll be okay," Talia says softly.
But it won't. It won't be okay.
"Is there someone I can call?" she asks.
Stiles cries harder. "I don't… There's no one left."
He's out of money, too. He used the last of his cash on the plane ticket to California and the cab ride. He has enough for a meal, maybe, and after that he's empty. He's an eighteen year old pregnant, broke, homeless omega without an alpha. He's pathetic.
He cries and cries. Talia somehow gets him inside and murmurs low, but Stiles can't hear what she's saying. Maybe she's not even talking to him. He doesn't care. He's so lost and broken-hearted, and he just wants someone to be strong for him because he can't do it anymore.
He cries himself out until he's just empty and so, so tired. Someone brings him some cool water, and that makes him feel slightly better. But he doesn't know what to do now.
"You'll just have to stay with us," Talia says. "We have room. And that's my grandchild you're carrying, do you really think I'd turn you out?"
"I didn't say it was Derek's…" Stiles says, voice raspy, wet eyes wide.
"Oh, honey, it's obvious. Plus I can smell it."
Stiles blinks. Of course. Derek was a werewolf, it stands to reason his family is too. Stiles just never thought about it.
"Who's been taking care of you?" Talia asks kindly. "You look sick but-"
But not as bad as he would if he's been without an alpha since Derek left, she means. Stiles nods and chokes up again. "My dad. He was helping. But then he got killed." Stiles takes a shaky breath. "He was a cop. He got… got shot."
"Oh, sweetheart," Talia murmurs. "How long has it been?"
"Three weeks." Stiles closes his eyes and leans into Talia's embrace. It's not the same as it would be with family, but being this close to an alpha is helping him feel better.
"Well, you'll be okay now. Plenty of alphas in the pack." She smiles as if that takes care of everything.
"You don't know me, though," Stiles says in a small voice.
"I look forward to changing that," Talia murmurs. "We'll make sure you and your pup are healthy and happy. And I'll send a message to Derek, see if we can get him back here." Her tone of voice changes a little when she says that, like she's angry.
"He didn't know." Stiles feels some instinct to defend Derek. He's not his alpha, but he is the father of his baby.
Talia only hums.
Stiles yawns. He's hungry, but he's more tired than anything else.
"Let me show you to the guest room," Talia says. "You can take a nap before dinner."
"That sounds… amazing," Stiles says, smiling a little.
"We'll get everything sorted soon," Talia says. "For now, just get some rest. Try not to worry."
The guest room he's brought to is warm and cozy, and Stiles falls asleep almost as soon as his head touches the pillow.
The first thing Peter notices when he comes home from work is the scent. Pregnant omega, strange, and yet… not. He should go straight to Talia to find out what's going on. Instead, he follows the scent, and it leads him right to the guest room.
The door is slightly ajar. If it were closed, maybe Peter would have let it go. But it's not, and…
And there on the bed is the most beautiful omega Peter's ever seen in his life. He's not under the covers, just lying on top like he was too tired to get into the bed. He's still wearing all his clothing and even a thin jacket, though his shoes — a pair of worn red Chucks carelessly dropped at the foot of the bed — are off. He's obviously pregnant, maybe seven months along. One long-fingered hand is draped gracefully over his belly, holding his child to him. He can hear their heartbeats, both the omega's and the pup's. But it's the scent that draws Peter nearer.
He smells like pack. A little like Derek but uniquely himself. Underneath the scents of stress and grief is something sweet that Peter just wants more of.
And the omega's face, that draws Peter in, too. His eyes are closed so Peter can't be sure of the color, but his lashes are long, and his nose has the perfect little upturn to it. He has beauty marks Peter wants to touch with his fingertips, and a delicious-looking mouth, lips that look kissable, with a lovely cupid's bow. His hair is short and tousled. His skin is fair, though paler than it should be. There are circles under the omega's eyes, and Peter is already worried.
As much as he'd love to stand and stare all day, he wants to know more. So he backs out of the room, already missing the quiet sound of the omega's breath, and looks for Talia.
On his way to find her, he puts two and two together and realizes Derek must be the pup's father. And since Derek is out of the country and has been for six months, and since the omega smells like stress and other negative emotions, by the time Peter is in front of his sister, he's fuming.
"What has your son done now?" he asks her as he storms into her office.
Talia rubs her temples. "I see you've met Stiles."
Peter shakes his head. Slots the name into his memory. "He's sleeping."
Talia frowns. "He's exhausted, the poor thing." She sighs. "And I don't think I need to answer your question as the answer is obvious. And Stiles is all alone. He's been without an alpha influence for three weeks now."
Peter's jaw doesn't drop, but it's a very near thing. That long? The lovely omega has been without alpha support and care for that long? "What happened?"
"His father just died. Apparently, he was killed on his job as a policeman. Stiles is all alone." She's repeating herself, which means she's just as upset as Peter is.
"Not anymore, he isn't," Peter says.
Talia's eyes widen. "Well, no, but I wouldn't expect you to say so."
Peter would be the first to admit he's not a people person. He can manipulate them, has fun bending them to his will, but he doesn't particularly like them. Especially humans. He shrugs nonchalantly, trying not to show any weakness. "Well, the pup is pack, and that makes Stiles pack, so of course he's staying," Peter says it briskly, without any emotion, but Talia sees right through him.
"He's vulnerable right now, Peter. I don't want you playing any of your games with him."
Peter puts a hand over his heart. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."
Talia frowns. "Peter."
"I haven't even met him yet," Peter says. "I don't think I deserve this suspicion."
Talia's silent for a moment then sighs. "Yes, of course. You're right. I'm just feeling very…" She trails off, but Peter knows what she means because he's feeling it, too.
She nods. "He's just so fragile right now. He cried in my arms when he realized Derek wasn't going to be here to help him. He's missing his father — he smells of grief so strongly. And he's so young."
"Well, he has us now," Peter says. He reaches out and touches his sister's arm. "We'll give him everything he needs."
Talia clasps his hand and smiles. "Of course we will. Thank you. Now, we should get started on that. Joe should be about finished with dinner. I'll wake Stiles for it. He's come so far, I doubt he's eaten all day."
"Where's he from?" Peter asks.
"Hasn't had a chance to say," Talia says with a small frown. "He must have been in New York to meet Derek, but whether that was home or not, I don't know."
"He looks almost too young to have been in college," Peter says.
"We'll find out soon enough," Talia says. "But we have to be careful not to overwhelm him with questions."
Peter agrees, but he's dying to know more. To know everything about the sweet-smelling omega. The mention of Derek has him frowning again though. "Have you sent a message for my wayward nephew?"
"Of course," Talia says. "But you know he's out of contact even with the pack in Peru. I talked to the pack alpha, and she said he was out on the Amazon, speaking with some shaman. Something about an upcoming ceremony he's participating in?"
Peter rolls his eyes. He'd bet good money that the boy is out taking hallucinogens and 'expanding his mind' when he should be back in college, preparing for his future. Or now, home with a very pregnant omega who could very much benefit from a stable and responsible alpha. "When is he supposed to get back?"
Talia shrugs helplessly. "I don't know. Mara said it could be a few weeks. I didn't tell her about Stiles, but maybe I should have. I did tell her it was important, though."
Peter sighs. He's tempted to call the alpha back and beg her to send someone to find Derek. He's sure Talia is thinking the same thing.
"I'll go check on dinner," Peter says.
"I'll get Stiles." She looks a little sad. "I wish I had better news for him."
"It's not like we're running short on alphas around here," Peter points out. "I think it'll be fine." Even though he wants to wring Derek's neck for leaving a pregnant omega behind, whether he knew about the situation or not.
Stiles hears a low tapping, but he ignores it. He's comfortable. He's tired. Five more minutes won't hurt anything.
"Stiles," a voice says, coaxing him awake.
He blinks his eyes open and is confused at first. The room isn't familiar, and neither is the voice. But then his eyes focus, and it all comes back.
"Talia?" he asks, his voice a low croak.
She smiles. "It's dinner time. I thought you'd want to eat."
He rubs at his face with both hands and then maneuvers himself to sit on the edge of the bed. "Yeah, I'm starving. Thanks."
He stretches, then stands up, only having a little trouble with it because of his belly. He follows Talia into the dining room but stops at the door when he sees the people inside. Usually, Stiles is fine with strangers, but these are Derek's relatives, and by now they all know about him. Maybe they even witnessed his breakdown when he arrived. He blushes but lets Talia give him a gentle push into the room.
"Sit right here," Talia says to him, and he finds himself sitting down with Talia on one side of him and a handsome man on his other. A handsome man who's smiling at him.
"You must be Stiles," the man says, holding out a hand. "I'm Peter, Talia's brother."
Stiles shakes Peter's hand. It's warm and firm, and it's nice to have the attention of a good-looking alpha on him. His eyes are very blue, not like Derek's or Talia's. It's almost difficult to look away, but Stiles does, blushing some more.
There are others around the table, and Talia introduces them. Her mate, Joseph ("Call me Joe"), is another alpha. Stiles is shocked, but he tries not to show it. He doesn't know many alpha/alpha pairs. Joe sees his expression and laughs.
"Werewolves are more open to possibilities than a lot of humans," he says. "I met Talia in college, and I just knew."
Talia smiles. "He says he knew, but what he means is that he took a month of gentle convincing before he'd even agree to go on a date with me."
"Gentle?" Joe asks incredulously, and Stiles smiles. Everyone else at the table laughs, and Talia continues introducing them. He's heard of Laura from Derek, but she's much more beautiful than her pictures. Cora is his age. Matt is twelve. All of them are alphas.
Which makes sense. Alpha/alpha pairs usually make more alphas. Omegas born to alpha couples are very rare.
"Tell us about yourself, Stiles," Talia says once Stiles has greeted everyone. She says it warmly, not at all a demand, and Stiles doesn't mind.
"Let the boy eat first," Joe says. "He's obviously hungry."
It's true, Stiles feels like he's starving. He hasn't eaten since the plane, and then he just picked at his in-flight meal. He's a bit lightheaded, to be honest. And the food looks wonderful. It's roast beef with vegetables, and it smells like heaven. Stiles looks at Talia, and she smiles.
"Of course. Eat. Joe is an excellent cook."
Talia takes a bite of her food, and everyone else starts to eat as well. If Stiles didn't figure it out before, he'd take this as a clue that Talia is the pack alpha. Stiles doesn't know a lot about werewolves, but he knows enough to get by. Maybe the Hales won't mind answering some of his questions later.
He eats. The roast practically melts in his mouth, it's so tender. And the vegetables are cooked just right, not mushy like a lot of people do. The carrots even taste more like carrots than Stiles usually tastes, and he doesn't know how that's possible unless-
He swallows and asks, "Do you have a garden? They taste so fresh."
Laura grins. "I grow them myself. I have a big vegetable patch around the back of the house."
"Our Laura is a botanist," Talia says proudly.
Laura rolls her eyes, but she's still smiling. "Not quite. My major is botany, but my dream is to own my own nursery. I'm working at a local nursery this summer. But the owner is set to retire in the next couple of years, I have some hope I can graduate and then…" She trails off and shrugs. "Anyway, the carrots taste good, right? They've got that buttery flavor to them."
Stiles nods. He can taste the difference between Laura's carrots and ones from the produce section at any supermarket. The flavor is stronger, but only in a good way. Stiles would go for another helping if he weren't already full of roast and baby potatoes and his first serving of carrots.
It's been awhile since he's eaten so much. Not since his dad died. His dad would've loved this meal, especially the roast. Stiles regrets that he didn't let his dad eat more red meat. Years of watching his diet to ensure heart health, and then he gets killed by a bullet. Is that irony or just bad luck?
"Oh, honey, what's wrong?" Talia asks.
Stiles blinks and tears roll down his cheeks. Dammit. "Sorry. I just. I was thinking about my dad, and…"
He feels a warm hand settle on his back, and he presses into the touch. He looks to the side and sees Peter giving him a concerned look.
Stiles tries to smile. "I'm sorry."
"We understand," Talia says.
"It's still fresh, of course you're still grieving," Peter murmurs. His hand rubs Stiles's back gently, and Stiles does his best not to lean into the man even more. He wants to, but he's not sure it would be welcomed.
But then Peter asks, "May I hug you?" and Stiles blushes.
"Please?" Stiles says the word so softly, he wonders if Peter can hear, but then the man is pulling Stiles into his arms and holding him close, rocking him a little, and Stiles breathes in his unique alpha scent and lets himself be lulled.
Stiles doesn't know why the Hales are being so kind to him. They're giving him a place to sleep, food to eat, and holding him as he cries. Is it just because of the baby?
The baby. Stiles and his dad had a plan, okay? They were going to raise the child together. They were going to give it a good life. His dad had been so happy, so proud of his growing grandchild. Stiles felt secure knowing his dad supported him so fully.
And then his dad got killed, and Stiles's whole world crumbled. He feels like he's broken into pieces, but he can't be broken, not if he's going to have a baby.
Still, he cries. Stupid hormones. Stupid… everything.
He clings to the alpha holding him and, somehow, that makes it better.
Stiles stops crying and pulls away after a few long minutes. Peter doesn't want to let him go, but he realizes he can't just keep holding the omega forever. Cora disappeared for a moment but comes back with a wet washcloth for Stiles's face. Stiles thanks her, looking bewildered.
It's like he doesn't know what to do with kindness.
Peter takes the washcloth out of Stiles's hand and wipes the omega's cheeks, presses lightly against what must be burning eyes. Even with a pink nose and weep-red eyes, Stiles is beautiful. Peter's having some sort of reaction to him. An unfamiliar softness. He's never felt like this for an omega before or anyone who wasn't family, really. It's unnerving.
"Thank you," Stiles whispers.
Peter nods. "It's nothing." He glances at Talia, sees her watching him with raised eyebrows. Peter quickly looks away. His sister rarely misses anything.
"I swear I do more than just cry a lot," Stiles says with a little laugh. He looks around the table. "But since none of you know me yet, I guess I'm making a bad first impression."
Talia runs a hand over Stiles's hair. "It's fine. You're more than entitled to cry. You're going through so much, and I remember what pregnancy hormones are like."
Peter snorts. He remembers what she was like when she was pregnant, too.
"When's the pup due?" Matt asks.
Stiles answers promptly. "September 14th."
Peter does a quick calculation. Derek must have left for the winter holidays right after spending Stiles's heat with him. And Derek had gone traveling right after the new year.
"How old are you?" Cora asks. "Did you go to school with Derek?"
Stiles nods. "I'm eighteen. I graduated high school early and met Derek last fall when I started college. I thought… I mean, we were friends. I thought we were." He whispers the last sentence, but everyone hears.
"I guess you didn't finish your last semester," Laura says. Peter's thinking the same thing. Without an alpha to support him emotionally, there's no way Stiles would have been able to stay in school.
"I dropped at the end of February, as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I went right home to my dad." Stiles's breath hitches.
Talia puts her hand over Stiles's. "You're not alone anymore."
Stiles smells of grief, but also of hope. It's subtle but it's there, just a hint of brightness. Peter hopes that scent grows to overpower the other negative emotions.
"What were you going to school for?" Laura asks. "What was your major?"
"I just started, so I was taking general classes until something caught," Stiles says. "So far, nothing really grabbed me." He's quiet for a long moment. "I wasn't… I didn't expect to get pregnant. I mean, I want kids, but… it was always for someday."
"Our emissary is also a skilled midwife," Talia says. "When was your last check-up?"
Stiles blinks. "Oh, I was seeing a human OB. Is a midwife better if the baby's a werewolf? Is there any way to tell if she is?"
Talia blinks. "She?"
Stiles gives a small, private smile and cups his belly. "Yeah. The last ultrasound confirmed it."
"Have you thought of names?" Laura asks excitedly.
Talia clears her throat. "There are some subtle ways to tell if the baby is a werewolf. Does she seem more active during the full moon?"
Stiles frowns. "Um, I haven't kept track of the full moon, so I don't know."
Talia starts talking about how werewolf pups need more nutrients in utero, and Stiles begins to smell guilty.
"Oh, I haven't… I guess I didn't think about that, either. I'm tired a lot, but I thought it was because I didn't have an alpha."
"It could be that," Talia says. "Or it could be a combination of factors."
Peter can't stand the guilt-scent. "You've been doing the best you can. Don't beat yourself up about it."
Stiles gives him a grateful look, and it makes Peter feel even softer and more protective toward the omega. Then Stiles yawns, and everyone scrambles to be the one to take him back to bed. Cora wins after she glares everyone down.
Peter watches them walk away, an ache in his heart for no discernible reason.
Stiles gets to know all the Hales, one on one and in groups. He learns that Cora just graduated high school and is taking a gap year before she goes to college. He hears more about Laura's dream of running a nursery, and that she wants to have a small landscaping business on the side, too. He learns that Joe is a carpenter and artistic woodworker, not just an excellent cook. Talia is on the city council, and that takes a lot of her time. And Matt, who's out of school for the summer, likes to curl up beside Stiles on the sofa and — with permission — waits to feel the baby kick. He smiles hugely every time and constantly reminds everyone that he's going to be an uncle.
And then there's Peter.
Stiles knows Peter works at city hall doing something important, but the details are fuzzy. He knows Peter likes to play tennis and basketball to stay in shape, though he's a werewolf and Stiles isn't sure that's really the case. Maybe he just likes the sports. Together, they've played chess twice, and Stiles has won both times, though he thinks Peter went easy on him and there was some other purpose behind the games. Stiles doesn't know what. They had some good conversations, though, and Stiles could actually feel himself relaxing enough to be himself and snarking at the alpha a little.
And he knows Peter is unfairly attractive, and smells good, and gives comforting hugs, and never looks at Stiles like he's a pregnant teenage omega statistic. None of the Hales do, and that's precious to Stiles.
Stiles likes Peter, but he liked another Hale not that long ago and as the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy.
Not that it matters. Stiles isn't at his most attractive, and Peter probably likes lithe omegas with delicate fingers and tiny waists. Still, Peter seems to go out of his way to spend time with Stiles, and as the month wears on and Stiles gains a little more confidence with the Hales, Stiles starts to gravitate toward Peter, too.
Stiles gets his checkup with Dr. Deaton, an omega who is not just an emissary and accredited midwife, but also a veterinarian. He may be an overachiever, but he's kind and patient and answers all of Stiles's questions about childbirth and what Stiles has to look forward to.
He likes that he's going to give birth at the Hale house. Joe gives up his home office and moves his desk into Talia's office, freeing up space near the guest room for a nursery. It's shocking at first, and then even more so when Talia mentions how the cub will have plenty of space now to grow and play.
"We can really stay?" Stiles asks tremulously.
Talia hugs him. "Oh, hon. You're pack, now. Family, if you'd prefer." No one contradicts her.
Stiles cries again. This time, Joe holds him through it. He smells a little like Derek and a lot like a protective alpha, and Stiles may cling just that bit harder because of it.
Not having an alpha mate is hard sometimes, but being around a house full of alphas helps him through it. Matt is tactile and adorably protective, even holding Stiles's hand as he goes down the front steps as if he'll lose his balance at any time. Laura embraces him both physically and emotionally, giving him lots of support and a listening ear when Stiles needs it. Cora is the most prickly, but even she will give him hugs if she thinks he needs one.
And when Peter's not at work, he's almost always right there, especially if Stiles is feeling down and missing his dad. Peter and Talia lost both their parents, too. They're understanding when Stiles says he feels so alone, even when he's surrounded by the pack.
It's early, still dark, and Stiles takes himself out to the front porch to watch the sunrise. Somehow, Peter knows where he is and joins him, presenting a cup of decaf coffee with just the right amount of Stiles's favorite creamer.
"I thought maybe I'd name the baby Claudia, after my mom, but…" he trails off and wonders if Peter understands.
Peter nods. "It's a lot to put on such a new person."
Stiles lets out a breath. Yes, that's exactly it. "So maybe… something different. Something that means new beginnings, or… something."
The new day begins to come into view in the form of pink and orange light in the sky. Stiles has a thought, looking at it, but maybe it's silly. There's a star still shining brightly in the sky, shining despite the light coming in over the horizon.
"Do you know what star that is?" Stiles asks Peter.
Peter smiles. "Not a star. That's Venus."
Stiles is not naming his baby Venus. There's only one woman who can carry that name with grace and dignity, and that's Venus Williams.
Peter tilts his head. "Also known as Inanna in Sumerian."
"Inanna Dawn Hale," Stiles whispers, trying it out on his tongue.
"Not Stilinski?" Peter asks.
Stiles shakes his head. "I don't know. Names are important. She should have a strong name of a strong pack."
Peter wraps his arm around Stiles's shoulder, and Stiles leans into him, reveling in the comfort. Peter says, "You're stronger than you know."
Stiles huffs a laugh. "I don't feel strong."
"But you are," Peter says, and his tone says, Don't argue with me, I'm always right. It makes Stiles laugh softly.
He thinks a little longer. "Maybe Dawn Inanna Hale-Stilinski. What do you think?"
Peter smiles, soft as the sunrise. "I think it's beautiful."
The more time Peter spends with Stiles, the more he's convinced the omega is perfect for him. Once Stiles lets go of his initial wariness and the fear he'll be kicked out of the house at any time, he starts to loosen up. He talks. A lot. But not about inane or shallow subjects. Stiles is intelligent, and he knows a lot. In fact, he knows something about pretty much everything, and anything he doesn't know he's eager to learn more about.
It makes for some interesting conversations.
He's a smart-mouth, too. The way he lobs a playful insult is beautiful. The way his lips twist into a smirk to rival Peter's own is enchanting. Peter spends a lot of time thinking about those lips. Stiles's smile is just so… kissable.
Stiles may have lost his fear of being himself around them, but he's certainly leery of making a romantic connection. It's obvious in the way his scent goes sweet and receptive and then immediately bitter like he's closing himself off the moment he realizes he's flirting.
Peter would never hurt him, not intentionally, but Stiles doesn't know that. He has experience with Hales, and Peter could slice Derek to ribbons for leaving Stiles alone and vulnerable, without even checking up on him just in case. He had to have known it was a possibility.
Peter slides it into conversation one morning, and Stiles shakes his head. "I was on the shot. I told Derek I had the birth control covered. There was no way for him to know."
He sounds like he's trying to convince himself, as well.
"Birth control isn't a hundred percent effective, and he should know that," Peter says, trying not to growl.
Stiles shrugs. "Ninety-nine percent is pretty high."
"It's not so much during heat, though," Peter points out. "I looked it up. Your fertility was at a high, and man-made chemicals have a hard time competing with that."
Stiles looks away. "Derek didn't want to use a condom. I thought it would be fine. I meant to get Plan B just in case, but… I forgot. This is a case of two dumb kids being irresponsible, you can't put it all on Derek."
Peter does growl then. "I just wish he was here. It's not fair to you."
Stiles looks at him, and Peter feels like he sees something in him that's not there, not really, because Stiles smiles softly and smells pleased and Peter can't suss it out. "But I'm not alone. All of you are doing so much for me. I don't think you know how much it matters."
"I'll help you in any way I can," Peter says honestly.
Stiles swallows audibly. Takes a breath. "Peter, will you… do you want to be my birth partner?"
"Of course," Peter answers, without hesitation, without even thinking what that position might entail.
Stiles smells like happiness and relief now. "Thank you," he says, soft wonder in his voice. "Dr. Deaton is coming over this afternoon, so… if you could be there…"
Peter takes Stiles's hand. "I will be. What time? I'll leave work early. Take the afternoon off."
Stiles looks at their hands and threads his fingers with Peter's. "He's coming at two."
"I'll bring something for lunch. Do you want anything in particular?"
"I've been craving a Subway sandwich with lots of jalapenos."
"Anything else?" Peter asks, taking mental notes.
"A strawberry milkshake. I've been craving spice and strawberry nonstop, I don't know why." He starts to say something more but then blushes. "You have to get to work. I'll be right here."
"What were you going to say?" Peter asks.
Stiles shrugs. "It's silly. I just thought… with the spice and the strawberry, maybe Dawn's going to have red hair." He laughs softly. "Probably not, with her genes."
Peter squeezes his hand. "You never know. My mother had deep, deep auburn hair, almost black, but in the sun it was like fire."
"You loved her a lot," Stiles says. "Was she an alpha, too?"
Peter smiles. "No. She was a strong, capable omega. An activist for omega rights before it was fashionable. She was a Hale. My father took her name, just like Joe took Talia's."
"That's amazing," Stiles says. "I wish I could've met her."
Peter looks at Stiles, at his bright, inquisitive eyes and thinks of his indomitable spirit. "She would have loved you very much."
Stiles feasts on the sandwich and milkshake Peter brings him for lunch. It tastes so good, especially when he drowns the heat of the jalapenos with the frosty strawberry treat. It's the perfect combo, and even though he's full to bursting once he's done, he wishes it wasn't over.
There's a little time before Deaton comes over. Stiles feels… weird. He wants Peter to be his birth partner; he trusts him, but he's scared he's having more feelings for the alpha than he should. And that complicates everything. He's in no position to be having dreams, not now.
Even if Peter smells like safety and comfort. Even if his hands are warm and capable. Even if his alpha musk makes Stiles want, which is probably all just hormones at the moment.
"Are you okay?" Peter asks.
Stiles gives him a small smile. "Just thinking."
Peter doesn't push, which just serves to make him more attractive.
They sit in companionable silence until Deaton arrives, and then Stiles starts to feel nervous. What if Peter doesn't really want to do this? What if he's just humoring Stiles? But once Deaton starts talking about the birth and the alpha's part in it, Peter listens. His face goes intense, he nods, he asks questions. Stiles starts to breathe easier.
Deaton checks on Stiles and the pup, and Peter is attentive to that, too.
"She's strong. You said she was active during the full moon?" Deaton asks.
Stiles nods and rests his hand on his growing belly. "She's a werewolf, then?"
"Give me a moment," Deaton says and closes his eyes. His hands hover over Stiles's body, and there's a slight warm sensation on Stiles's skin, like sunlight coming through a window. Deaton opens his eyes. "I can feel her energy. Definitely a shifter."
And Stiles has thought about it, of course he has ever since Talia brought up the subject. But he's human, he has no idea how to raise a werewolf. He looks over at Peter, who's smiling and looking… proud? Happy, definitely.
Stiles guesses he's pleased that the pack is expanding. And Stiles is reminded, then, that he belongs in the pack now. He has support if he doesn't know what he's doing.
He's going to need all the support he can get.
That evening, Joe surprises Stiles with a cradle. It's made of oak and stained a rich brown. There are carvings, at the head and foot, of the moon and constellations. It's small enough to fit in the guest room so that Dawn won't have to be as far as the nursery yet. Everyone understands Stiles will want to be close to her at first, and that she'll need him to be close as well.
After receiving the cradle, Stiles starts to nest in earnest. He doesn't have money, but Talia tells him to set up a gift registry anyway. For the shower, she says. Stiles wasn't expecting a shower, had been thinking of trying to get to town to a thrift store for baby things, but it's Peter who talks him out of that.
"She'll want to be surrounded by pack scents, not those of strangers," Peter says. Talia overhears and brings down boxes of baby clothes from the attic, most of them Matt's but some Cora's as well. Stiles goes through them, marveling at how tiny the newborn-sized things are.
There are blankets and crib sets as well. There are still a lot of things to buy new, but there are many pack items to start with.
It all feels unreal. Even when Dawn does somersaults in the womb, her being out and in his arms seems far away.
"She'll be here before you know it," Laura says with a grin. "I can't wait to hold her. To see her for the first time… aren't you excited?"
"I'm scared," Stiles admits. "I don't know how to… to be a parent. I don't know how to change diapers. I don't even know how to give her a bath, what if I drop her in the tub, what if-"
Laura cuts him off with a hug. "Oh, hon, why didn't you say so earlier?"
And then everyone chips in to teach Stiles how to take care of babies. Deaton gives him lessons on breastfeeding. Peter comes home one day with a baby bathtub, and together they practice with an old doll.
Stiles doesn't know what he'd do without all the help, but he thinks about how his dad was going to teach him all this, and it makes him sad. He'd been so happy that he was going to be a new grandfather. He'd been looking forward to spoiling her rotten, he'd said.
Stiles will just have to keep his father alive through stories. Dawn will know about her grandpa, and how much she'd been loved even before she was born.
Talia and Peter suddenly have an influx of work at city hall. A big box store wants to move a distribution center into Beacon County, and while that sounds simple enough, it's anything but. Talia is working nonstop, it seems, and Peter is right behind her.
Which means Stiles gets less alpha attention. Joe and Cora try to make up for it, to pick up the slack, but they have lives, too. Cora has friends other than Stiles, she's allowed that, and it shouldn't make Stiles jealous of insecure. Laura is working a lot at the nursery, learning the business end of things from the owner.
Matt is a sweetie, though. He's out of school too, and spends as much time as he can with Stiles. It's not the same, though. He's an alpha, yeah, but he's only twelve. He doesn't give Stiles the same bone-deep sense of security that someone like Peter does.
So maybe that insecurity leads to stress. And stress leads to Stiles's body doing stupid things, like going into labor early.
At first, he doesn't really notice. His back hurts, but it's been doing that a lot lately. But then it starts hurting in intervals it's impossible to ignore, and the cramps he had earlier and thought nothing of are much more than eating something that didn't agree with him.
He's six weeks away from his due date. He's alone in the house with Matt, and he's six weeks away from his due date, and he needs Deaton now.
"Matt," Stiles says, trying to keep the frantic worry out of his voice. "I need you to bring me the phone." He doesn't know Deaton's number. Shit. "No, wait, run and get your dad from his workshop."
But Matt's a werewolf, and Stiles can't keep his sudden fear-scent hidden. His eyes go wide. "Is it the baby?"
Stiles swallows hard and nods. "Go get Joe."
Matt runs out of the room, and seconds later, Stiles hears the back door slam. He tries not to hyperventilate because he knows that'll just make things worse.
"Not yet, not yet," he whispers frantically. He looks at the clock on the wall. Counts time. How long did that last pain go for? How long between them? He's not sure. Too long, and not long enough.
At least his water hasn't broken. That's a good sign. He knows once that happens, then the baby has to come. Right now there's a chance Deaton can stop the labor. He closes his eyes and wishes really, really hard for someone to hold his hand. He's so scared. He doesn't know what he'll do if Dawn comes early. She might be a werewolf, but she'd still be small and vulnerable. Maybe too much, maybe...
He can't think of the worst-case scenario. He scrubs at his eyes and says, "Hang in there, pup."
Not much longer and then Joe comes barrelling in, Matt on his heels. "I called Deaton," Joe says. He sits down next to Stiles on the sofa, careful not to jostle him. "I'm going to tell Talia next."
"And Peter," Stiles says, grabbing Joe's sleeve and tugging him closer.
Joe nods and wraps an arm around Stiles. "And Peter. I'll send out a group text, okay?"
Stiles nods. Matt sits on his other side, and they settle against each other to wait.
Peter is too frantic to drive. Fortunately, Talia has a level head. She's worried too but somehow is able to keep it together. Peter's another story. He's so upset he's shaking. He tells Talia to drive faster.
When they get home, Deaton is already there. Stiles sees Peter and reaches out a hand toward him.
Peter hurries to his side and looks to Deaton for answers.
"Stiles went into premature labor," Deaton says. "I was able to stop it, for now, but Stiles needs to be careful. I'm recommending bed rest until the birth."
"Is Stiles okay?" Peter asks.
Deaton smiles. "Yes. He and the pup are going to be fine. He'll be a little tired, maybe loopy for awhile, but fine. As long as he stays in bed and doesn't do anything to exert himself." The last sentence is directed at Stiles, who rolls his eyes and giggles.
"Loopy?" Talia asks.
Deaton frowns at Stiles. "One way to stop premature labor is by giving the patient alcohol. I didn't have any on hand right away, so I did the next best thing — I performed a spell with the same effects. To put it bluntly, Stiles is drunk."
Everyone looks at Stiles, who gives a little wave and a goofy smile.
"Is that safe for the pup?" Peter asks.
Stiles puts a hand on his belly. "Shh. She's sleeping."
"Definitely better than the alternative," Deaton says. "I'm serious about the bed rest, though. And… I hate to say it, but I think Stiles has been suffering from a lack of alpha attention recently. I'd prefer someone stay with him at all times. An adult alpha when possible."
Peter glances at Matt, sees that his head is bowed. He smells miserable. Stiles speaks up before Peter or Talia can.
"Hey, kiddo," he says, gesturing at Matt, beckoning him closer. His words are slurred but reassuring. "You saved us, you know? You stayed strong for me, and that's the best thing you could've done."
Talia runs a hand over Matt's hair. "I'm proud of you."
Deaton clears his throat and speaks to Stiles. "Wait another hour or so, and then if everything is still stable, you should go to bed."
Talia nods. "We'll take turns staying with you, Stiles."
"I'll stay first," Peter says.
No one argues. Talia even smiles.
By the time the hour is up and Deaton pronounces him safe to move, Stiles is nodding off on Peter's shoulder. He wakes when Peter hefts him up into a bridal carry.
"Hey, what's this? I can walk," Stiles grumbles but does nothing to pull away. He puts his head on Peter's shoulder, still grumbling. It's adorable, and Peter can't help but be charmed yet again.
"Just taking you to bed," Peter says and delights in the way Stiles's heart stutters.
"A little presup- persump- presumptuous," Stiles says, slowing down so he can pronounce the word. He's still drunk. Peter finds it adorable.
"Taking you to bed so you can rest, darling," Peter tells him. It's not a long way into the guest room, and Peter lays him on the bed carefully. "There."
Stiles looks up at him with a goofy smile. "I like when you call me that. And sweetheart. You call me that, too, sometimes."
"You've never stopped me," Peter says, unable to not smile back. He's smitten, totally.
"Because I like you," Stiles whispers.
Peter smiles. "I like you too, sweetheart."
Stiles closes his eyes. Then he frowns, just a little. "Help me with my pillows?" Stiles has to lie a certain way, using certain pillows, before he can get comfortable. Peter just happens to know exactly what he means. He helps assemble everything in the bed, but Stiles is still frowning. "You're not gonna go, are you?"
"No, I'm staying." Peter sits on the bed, his back against the headboard. "Deaton wants to make sure you have nonstop alpha support from here on out, to keep you from getting stressed again. Remember?"
"Right," Stiles says. He opens his eyes and tilts his head back so he can see Peter. "Thank you."
Peter runs a hand over Stiles's hair. It's getting longer. "Anytime you need me, I'll be here."
"But you have work," Stiles says. "You have that big thing you're working on. You and Talia both."
"Talia has plenty of people at city hall to do her bidding," Peter tells him. "She'll barely realize I'm gone. I'll start working half days."
Stiles blinks up at him, looking almost like an adorable owl. "You'll do that for me?"
There's nothing I wouldn't do for you. "Yes. Now hush and get some rest. Close your eyes."
Stiles blinks again. "My face is a little numb?" He makes a few faces, obviously testing his theory.
Peter rolls his eyes fondly. "Darling, go to sleep."
Stiles doesn't like that he can't spend mornings out on the steps with Peter. He misses spotting Venus in the backdrop of early morning light. He misses the quiet sips of coffee, both of them too tired to do much talking. He misses it, but he doesn't have to miss Peter, because Peter rarely leaves his side.
"Another game?" Peter asks two weeks into Stiles's bed rest.
Stiles gives him a dry look.
"Sick of chess, then?" Peter puts the board down and sits beside Stiles on the bed. "What do you want?"
"To go for a walk," Stiles tells him honestly. He can go as far as the bathroom and back, but that's all he's been allowed. "I'm tired of looking at these walls. How's the nursery coming along?"
Peter takes out his phone and scrolls through his gallery. "Here, look. We've got everything ready for her."
Stiles looks at the pictures with a little smile. He wishes he had more to do with setting up the nursery himself, but he likes that the Hales are working so hard to ready everything for Dawn. He knows she'll be welcomed into the pack with loving arms wide open, and that's everything he could wish for her. Well, he wouldn't mind her having a father, but he tries not to dwell on that.
Peter puts his arm around Stiles's shoulders. Stiles turns into the embrace, burying his face in Peter's neck. He smells so good there, and the scent of his alpha pheromones calm Stiles from the stress he wasn't even aware he was carrying.
The next day, Peter brings him an Xbox One and a bunch of games to go with his TV. It's not as good as being able to move around freely, but it does help a lot.
Peter wouldn't admit it out loud, but Stiles's premature labor shook him. Now, when he spends as much time with him as he can, he can't help but think he could have lost him. Deaton may not have said as much, but Peter knows omegas still die in childbirth, and that fact haunts him.
What if Matt hadn't been there to run for help? What if something went seriously wrong with Stiles and the pup? The pack can't lose them. Peter can't.
It worries him, how antsy Stiles is, the scent of frustration coming off him in waves since he was confined to his bed. Cuddles help. Stiles is tactile, and he likes Peter's scent. Peter is trying not to read too much into that, but it's difficult when Stiles is making grabby hands at him and then huffing at his throat like his alpha scent is a drug.
It's not quite enough for him, though. There's a soft layer of sadness in Stiles's scent that never goes away. Peter blames Derek for this, for Stiles's feelings of abandonment. He knows the others have figured it out as well, that everyone has tried to make up for Derek's absence, but Stiles is still an unbonded pregnant omega. He's going to be sad.
"What has you so grumpy, Peter?" Stiles asks him. He's been sleeping up until this point, but now he opens one eye and stares into Peter's face like he's seeing into his soul.
"I was trying to think of some way to get you out of your room without putting you at risk of labor again," Peter says. It's not quite a lie.
Stiles blinks, then smiles. "Think of anything yet?"
"I can always carry you," Peter replies, smiling back. "I wouldn't mind."
"What about outside? Can you carry me out there?" Stiles asks. "If I could just, I don't know, sit in Laura's garden or something, that'd be so much better than this."
"I'll ask Deaton," Peter promises.
Peter raises his eyebrows. "I suppose I could…"
And Stiles has no clue how much Peter would do for him, does he? It's probably for the best. Peter nods and gets his phone out of his pocket. "I can call him now."
Stiles grins, and his scent brightens. Peter can't help but feel proud for being the cause of that. He takes the call in another room because he has something else to ask Deaton. Maybe something special will make Stiles's happy scent overwhelm the sad.
"A picnic?" Stiles asks, delighted. Peter sets him down gently on a quilt in a grassy area of the yard, close to Laura's vegetable garden but closer even to a lot of beautiful flowers Stiles hasn't had a chance to truly appreciate. On the quilt is a spread of food he can reach without any exertion.
He investigates the burger set next to a side of curly fries. Inside the burger is speckled cheese — must be pepperjack — and several slices of jalapeno peppers. He reaches for the drink and takes a sip, grinning when he tastes icy, creamy strawberry.
He looks at Peter and grins even wider. "You're the best, Peter Hale."
Peter is obviously pleased with his reaction. His cheeks are even a little pink, though Stiles knows better than to call attention to the fact.
"Sit down with me!" Stiles says, wriggling with happiness.
"Of course." Peter sits next to him and puts an arm around him. "Everything good?"
Stiles answers with a mouth full of fries. "Everything's perfect." Or at least that's what he tries to say. It comes out more of a garbled mess.
Peter seems to understand anyway. He laughs and kisses Stiles's hair. The whole scene is almost romantic, but Stiles knows better than to take it that way.
There are pillows to recline on, and a gentle breeze whisking away his perspiration. It's a warm day but not too warm. It's perfect picnic weather.
Perfect napping weather too, he soon figures out. Once he finishes his lunch, he yawns and snuggles down on the pillows. He pulls Peter in closer and snuggles with him, as well. Soon he's asleep, dreaming sweet dreams of sunshine and flowers.
The weeks drag on, but they do eventually pass. Peter keeps surprising Stiles with new ways to keep from going mad with cabin fever. He carries him outside a lot, nearly every day. When Peter can't do it, Joe or Talia does. Sometimes it's Laura, and she brings him out to talk to while she works on her garden.
Stiles and Laura have a bluetooth speaker outside today, and they're loudly singing along with Mr. Brightside when Stiles feels someone watching him. He turns his head, and his eyes widen in surprise.
Derek's standing on the outside of the garden looking lost. He drops the bag he's holding, and his eyes go to Stiles's belly and to his face, and Stiles…
Stiles struggles to stand up from his pillow and blanket nest.
"Now they're going to bed, and my stomach is sick-" Laura sings but stops when she sees him. "Stiles, you know you can't do that, what's wrong?"
"What…?" Derek says softly, and that's when Laura sees him. And once she does, she gets up and launches herself at him. Her punch lands squarely on his jaw and Stiles watches in horror as Derek flies back and hits the ground hard.
"Oh my god, Laura, what are you doing?" Stiles yelps. He gets to his feet and hurries over to Derek, trying to help him up, but Derek just looks stunned, though it's quickly changing over to anger.
He turns that anger on Stiles. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Don't you dare speak to him like that, you shit!" Laura says and looks like she's about to hit him again.
Stiles stands between them as best he can. He doesn't like this at all. He doesn't know why Derek is mad at him, but it's upsetting and he lets out a soft whimper. Laura immediately comes closer and wraps her arms around him.
"It's okay. It's gonna be okay. Let's get you back to bed, okay?"
"You… you shouldn't have hit Derek," Stiles says haltingly. Something's wrong. He thinks it before he knows it's true, but then the first big cramp hits and he feels something hot and wet between his legs and, oh god, if it's blood he's going to die. He can't lose his pup, he just can't.
"Oh shit," Laura says, and picks Stiles up in her arms. "We're getting you inside and calling Deaton right now."
"Is it blood?" Stiles asks fearfully.
"No, but I think your water just broke," Laura says.
Derek is following them into the house. Stiles buries his face against Laura's chest, not wanting to see if he's still angry.
"Call Peter, too," Stiles says. He suddenly needs him very badly. He's still two weeks away from his due date, and he's scared.
"Of course I'll call Peter," Laura says. "And everyone else, for that matter."
Stiles doesn't know why Laura is carrying him but he's not about to protest. Being held by an alpha is helping keep his anxiety and fear down, though it's still threatening to give him a panic attack. He breathes the way Deaton taught him, deep breathing designed to help with contractions, and wishes his birth partner was here now.
Laura is about to lay him down in his bed when Stiles stops her. "There's a closet full of rubber sheets and shit for this. I don't want to ruin the bed."
"We can buy a new mattress," Laura grumbles, but she sets him down anyway.
"Will someone please explain what's going on here?" Derek yells.
"What does it look like, idiot?" Laura says, rounding on Derek like she wants to hit him again. "Stiles is having your baby after you fucking left him for nine months!"
A bolt of pain runs through Stiles, and he whimpers. He's not sure if it's a contraction or the reminder of being an abandoned omega.
"It's okay," Laura says immediately, turning her attention back to Stiles. "I'm going to call Deaton. Everything's going to be fine."
"Peter's my birth coach. I need Peter," Stiles says, trying not to cry. He can't believe how scared he is. He thought he was prepared for this.
"My baby?" Derek says quietly.
"I need to change, this is so gross," Stiles says, attempting to hold himself together. "And the bed needs making. With the-"
"Rubber sheets, I know," Laura says. "Derek can make the bed." She gives him a venomous look. "Or is that too much responsibility for you?"
"Laura, stop, you know it's not his fault," Stiles says weakly.
Laura grumbles, goes to the closet, and then throws a pile of waterproof bedclothes into Derek's arms. She points at him threateningly. "Make the bed."
Derek scowls but obeys.
Stiles doesn't know what to do. He definitely needs to take his pants off, but he thinks he'll wait until Derek's done so he can shoo both alphas out of the room.
Laura finally takes out her phone. "Mass text, then I'm calling Deaton," she explains, and Stiles nods. Derek's making the bed awkwardly, looking back at Stiles every now and then with bewilderment on his face. Stiles knows he just found out, but he wishes he'd hurry up and process everything since Stiles is way past the acceptance stage and needs a little more something at the moment. Understanding. Support.
Laura looks impatient with her ear to the phone. What if Deaton doesn't answer? What if Stiles has to go to the hospital for the birth?
"You took your time, didn't you?" Laura says into the phone, and Stiles sighs in relief. He puts his hand against the wall while Laura tells Deaton what's happened. She gets off with him and smirks at Stiles. "Peter's already calling," she tells him, then swipes at her phone to answer him. "His water broke… Fine." She hands Stiles the phone. "It's for you."
Stiles takes the phone and lets out a breath of relief as soon as he hears Peter's voice.
"How are you, sweetheart?" Peter asks.
"Are you coming?" Stiles asks him. "I need you here."
"Of course I'll be there. Talia and I are leaving city hall right now."
Stiles nods, even though Peter can't see it. "Derek's here," he blurts. "He just… showed up." He doesn't know how to explain how upsetting it was. Is.
"Did he now," Peter says in a low, menacing voice. Derek looks up from the sheets, his eyes wide. "And is that the reason you're going into labor two weeks early?"
"Don't hit him," Stiles mutters. "Laura already did that."
Peter's silent for a moment. Derek finishes up with the bed and Stiles puts the phone to his chest. "Okay you two, out. I need to change."
"Can I have my phone back?" Laura asks as Derek quickly leaves the room.
"Once Peter gets here," Stiles says. "If that's okay. I just feel better talking to him." He makes a pleading face at Laura, and she smiles.
"That's fine." And then she leaves and closes the door and Stiles is alone and scared.
He puts the phone back to his ear. "I'm gonna put you on speaker while I change. Are you driving?"
"Talia is. Don't worry about us, sweetheart."
Stiles puts the phone on speaker and sets it down. He maneuvers himself around to take his soaked pants off. "Water breaking all over yourself? Kinda gross."
"I don't doubt that." Peter huffs a laugh, or at least that's what it sounds like.
Stiles puts on his most comfortable t-shirt. It's big on him because it's actually Peter's, but Stiles doesn't care. He likes the way the worn cotton feels against his skin, and it probably smells a little like Peter still.
He gets in the bed. "Okay, well, I'm all ready for this. Hurry up and get here already." He tries to smile, but he's glad Peter can't see it. He's sure it's wobbly.
"We'll be there as soon as we can."
Stiles turns speaker off and cradles the phone against his ear. "Good. 'Cause I can't do this without you."
Once Peter gets to the house, Deaton is already there. Which is fantastic because Peter's just about as anxious about this birth as Stiles is. He rushes to Stiles's room, pausing just a moment to glare at Derek, and then he's at Stiles's side — the only place he wants to be.
He can hear Talia and Derek speaking in the hallway, but he tunes them out. Focuses on Stiles.
"You're doing fine," he says, and Stiles grabs his hand.
"I'm scared," Stiles whispers.
"I know. But I'm right here, and Deaton knows what he's doing. We're going to meet her soon, I know you want that," Peter says.
Stiles nods quickly. "But the whole pushing her out thing, that's scary. I don't know if I can do this."
"You can, you can do anything, sweetheart," Peter says, a little helplessly but as firm as he can. He kisses Stiles's temple and nuzzles his head.
Stiles squeezes his hand. "I don't know how you can have so much faith in me."
Because I love you, Peter thinks but doesn't say. He just smiles.
"Are you keeping an eye on the clock?" Deaton asks, and just like that, Stiles has another contraction.
Stiles closes his eyes and hisses, and Peter starts to draw his pain. Stiles shakes his head. "It's not too bad yet. Save it for the big ones."
"I have some herbal tea if you want to try that, as well," Deaton says.
Stiles nods. "Yeah, anything. It just feels like cramps right now, but I know it's gonna get much worse."
"I'll go brew it for you," Deaton says. "Call me if you need me, but it's early yet. I think you two have it covered for now."
Once Deaton is out of the room, Stiles looks at Peter with gratitude. "Thank you for staying with me."
"I'm your birth partner, where else would I be?" Peter asks.
"Thanks for that, too. For… all of it," Stiles says. He licks his lips nervously. "I know I'm not easy to put up with all the time-"
"You're lovely," Peter says, cutting him off.
Stiles scoffs. "I'm not." But his cheeks pink up, even more than they were already, and he's beautiful.
"Anyone would be lucky to be with you," Peter says, a little too honestly.
Stiles's eyes widen, and his mouth falls open. "Peter, are you… I mean, do you think…"
Peter leans in and kisses his forehead again. "I think we should talk about it after your daughter is born."
"Right, because now is definitely not the time to talk about relationship status or… or anything. Okay. Okay, right."
There's some awkward silence for awhile, and Peter has no idea what Stiles is thinking. But he can't think of anything to say himself, either. Deaton comes back with the tea, and it stinks but Stiles seems to enjoy the taste.
After some time, Peter glances at the clock and puts a hand on Stiles's belly. It's hard and straining against the shirt he's wearing, Peter's shirt. "Almost time for the next one."
Stiles squeezes his hand and takes a deep breath. "Okay." Together they breathe through it. When it's over, Stiles pants and shakes his head. "Next one, you're taking the pain."
Deaton hums. "The tea should start working, too, so you can rest between the contractions."
"Rest, sweetheart," Peter murmurs.
Stiles frowns. "I don't see how I can possibly rest when I'm having a baby here."
Deaton smiles. "Close your eyes and focus on relaxing."
"How can I relax?" Stiles asks incredulously.
But Peter positions himself behind Stiles and lets him lean back on him. He pets Stiles's hair and murmurs reassurances in his ear, and soon Stiles is relaxed. He even dozes a bit before the next contraction, which isn't as bad for Stiles when Peter takes the pain.
Hours pass this way, and while Peter feels himself flagging, he knows it's worse for Stiles.
"Not much longer," Deaton murmurs after checking Stiles's dilation. "You're almost there."
"I can't," Stiles says seriously. He grabs Peter's arm and pulls him closer. His grip is strong, considering how weak he looks. "Peter, I can't do this. I have to stop now, okay?" His eyes are wide and he smells of fear. Fear and pain. Peter doesn't know what to do. Deaton never mentioned anything like this.
"Darling, you can do this. I know you can. You're strong," Peter says.
Deaton hums and smiles. "The only way out is through," he says to Stiles. "It's almost time to push."
Stiles gulps. "I don't want to push! I want to rest, just… can we finish this tomorrow or something?"
"I don't think there is a choice." Peter wipes sweaty hair off Stiles's forehead. "Just think about the pup. You want to meet her, right?"
Stiles's eyes are the kind of wild only exhausted people have. Peter does his best not to worry. Stiles asks, "What if she doesn't like me?"
"She'll love you," Peter assures him. He looks at the clock. "Does he push this time?" The second hand is ticking away, and the next contraction is almost due.
Deaton nods. "You'll know what to do."
"Oh god, oh god," Stiles says, "I'm not ready, I'm-" He cuts himself off with a cross between a grunt and a scream, and Peter does his best to pull the pain but it's intense.
"Push!" Deaton says, and Stiles bears down, holding onto Peter's hand tightly.
"You're doing it, you've got this," Peter tells him.
Peter can't see what Deaton sees, but when he says the pup is crowning, Peter believes him. Stiles lets out a sound like an enraged animal and is pushing again before Deaton opens his mouth to tell him to.
Stiles screams, then, and Peter watches as Deaton catches the newborn girl. Stiles whimpers and pants, wild-eyed.
And then the most beautiful sound comes, the loud, upset wailing of the pup, and Stiles beams. He pushes his shirt up and holds out his arms for his newborn, and Deaton places her on Stiles's chest before doing anything else. She's goopy and streaked with blood, her thick hair plastered to her misshapen head.
"Oh god, she's beautiful," Stiles says, and he starts to cry, holding on carefully to the tiny little flailing child. "What time is it?" He murmurs the question and looks at the clock himself. It's morning, time for the sun to be coming up, and Peter can see the dawn peeking in the window. "Perfect," Stiles says. He looks at his daughter and kisses her head. "Don't hate me, but I'm naming you Venus. You can handle it. You're Venus Dawn Stilinski-Hale, and you're perfect."
Deaton cuts the cord quickly and does other things, even delivers the afterbirth without any problems. Peter is barely paying attention. His eyes are only for Stiles and Venus Dawn.
Stiles looks up at him and smiles. He looks so tired but so satisfied. He's the most gorgeous he's ever been. "Do you want to hold her?"
She's quiet now, making soft jerky movements with her balled fists. Of course he wants to hold her.
"Just a moment. I need to check her over." Deaton produces a small flannel blanket and wraps her up in it, then takes her over to her cradle. Stiles's eyes follow every movement, and Peter kisses Stiles's temple.
"You were magnificent," Peter says, and Stiles finally looks at him.
"I feel like I could do anything now," Stiles says.
Peter smiles at him and drops another kiss onto his forehead. "I think you can."
Deaton brings the bundle back and Stiles motions Peter to take her. He does, cradling her head and neck with one hand and her butt with another. She's so tiny. She makes a soft, discontent noise and Peter pulls her against his chest. She wants the warmth, he thinks, and probably scent. He figures he smells enough like Stiles that she'll be content with him. He's right.
She opens her eyes, the dark blue of newborns, and he smiles at her. He doesn't think she can focus on him yet, but he swears she can see him. His heart turns over, and he knows without a doubt that he would do anything for her. He'd live and die and kill for this pup, just as he would Stiles.
"Hello, Venus," Peter says, as soft as he can manage. He wants to say more, to bless her with a good life or tell her how strong and courageous she will be, or just say how much he loves her, but the words get trapped in his throat. He feels tears burn in his eyes and he blinks them away. He's helpless to say anything more than, "Hello there."
Stiles sleeps, knowing Venus is safe with Deaton and Peter. He wakes when Talia enters the room, smiling sleepily when she gets a look at her first grandchild. It's amusing to him to see these strong alphas go weak and teary-eyed over such a small pup. Talia even comes over to his bed and kisses his forehead.
"Thank you," she says. "She's beautiful."
Stiles smiles up at her, too exhausted to do much else.
"May I ask Derek in to see her?" she asks.
Stiles hesitates, but as much as he hates the feeling of abandonment that came with Derek taking off and not checking in with him, Derek didn't actually do anything wrong. "Okay."
Talia smiles. "I'll bring him in." She looks like she wants to say more, but she just smiles and leaves.
"Are you sure?" Peter asks.
Stiles looks over at him. Shrugs and sighs. "He's her father."
Peter gives him an inscrutable look. "He doesn't have to be."
Frowning, Stiles opens his mouth to ask what he means, but then the door opens again and Derek walks into the room, one hand rubbing at his neck. Then he just stands there, looking lost, until his eyes fall on Venus in Peter's arms. Then his face goes noticeably paler.
Derek swallows hard and walks closer. "I didn't know."
Stiles bites back a sarcastic retort, but Peter's not so circumspect.
His voice is cold when he says, "If you had and left Stiles alone, you can bet you'd be in a lot worse state right now."
"Do you want to hold her?" Stiles asks, trying to ease the tension.
Derek is staring at Peter, but he blinks when he hears Stiles. "I… Yes. Of course." He reaches out to take her, but Peter hesitates.
"Peter?" Derek asks, and then Peter hands her over. Carefully.
Stiles doesn't get the same feeling of family and rightness seeing Derek hold Venus. He looks over at Peter and sees him watching Derek carefully, as if he's going to drop the baby at any moment. Or maybe steal her away.
"What's her name?" Derek asks.
"Venus Dawn Stilinski-Hale," Peter says, a little proud, before Stiles can even open his mouth.
Derek frowns but doesn't comment on the name. Good. Stiles is too tired to kick him. Though he's sure Peter would do it for him if needed.
Derek looks down at Venus's face and just looks… confused. "She's so small."
"She was two weeks early," Peter says.
Derek shakes his head. "I'm sorry."
"You didn't know," Stiles says. "I was on bedrest, but… you didn't know."
"Not that. This. I can't do this. I'm sorry," Derek says and hands Venus back to Peter. He shakes his head as Venus begins to cry, unused to being shuffled back and forth so much already.
"What?" Stiles asks, completely lost.
"I can't be a father," Derek says and leaves the room quickly. Peter looks after him with murder in his eyes.
Venus keeps crying.
Stiles wipes tears from his own eyes, completely sympathetic to his pup's plight. "Maybe I should try to feed her?"
"Relax first," Peter says softly, obviously trying to do the same. "She'll pick up on your mood."
His milk hasn't come in yet, not really, but Stiles has something even better for Venus. The colostrum his body is producing is perfect for keeping her safe, protecting her from any illness. Deaton told him that werewolf babies can still get sick, and that breastfeeding her right away is the best thing to prevent that.
Breastmilk will come in soon enough, and Stiles isn't sure if that's going to work out. A lot of male omegas have trouble producing enough milk. But this he can do. He wants to.
He takes Venus from Peter's arms and hums to her. She calms when she catches his scent. Stiles gently touches her cheek. "Hey, pup. You hungry?"
Her mouth opens, and she starts rooting. Stiles laughs softly and rucks up his shirt to give her access.
He's talked about breastfeeding with Deaton, so he knows, in theory, what to do. But theory and practice are two different things, and getting Venus to latch on correctly takes a few tries, and the failures make Stiles wince.
But then she's latched on right, and he has another problem. "Ow, what the fuck? Peter!"
"What, sweetheart?" Peter asks.
"Pain, take it, oh my god I feel like I'm in labor again," Stiles says. Deaton glossed over this part, he thinks, where his uterus will cramp to expel blood and resize itself, and how breastfeeding will release hormones to make it happen faster. 'Cramp' was an understatement.
Thankfully Peter moves fast and drains the pain. He frowns. "That's a lot."
Stiles whimpers. "I hope this doesn't happen every time I feed her."
He's sore and exhausted and he really doesn't want to go through that kind of pain again. Not like this.
"I'll just have to stay close so I can take the pain," Peter says, shrugging as though the offer is no big deal.
Stiles wants to kiss him, but the thought is fleeting. He focuses on Venus, on her rhythmic sucking, proud that he's able to do this for her. Her dark hair is clean and dry now, and it's a lot for a newborn. He can't stop touching it, marveling at how soft it is. Like goose down.
Venus slows down, her breath evening out even more. She's sleepy — she's been through a lot today. So has Stiles, and he feels every minute of it. His eyes begin to close.
"I'll put her down?" Peter asks softly.
"Mhm," Stiles says. He watches through half-lidded eyes as Peter carefully takes Venus and puts her in the bedside cradle. Then Peter lies down next to him and drains more of his pain so that every ache and twinge is gone and all he can do is float into sleep.
He thinks he hears Peter say something else, just a whisper, but he's not sure because he's tumbling headlong into a sound sleep.
Peter waits for the right time to tell Stiles how he feels, but it doesn't seem to come. Not yet. Stiles is always surrounded by pack, and while their intentions are good, it doesn't give Peter any time alone with Stiles — and when they are alone, Stiles is too exhausted for a serious talk. So… not yet.
Peter is usually a patient man, but about this? He wants to speak to Stiles as soon as possible. He wants to talk to Derek too, though. Make sure he knows where Peter stands. But with Derek avoiding Stiles and the pup as though they're contagious, it might take some work to bring him in.
Or he can just ask Talia to make sure it happens. Which is what he does. Venus gets a tour of the house with Talia and Joe, and Derek gets practically shoved into the room with Peter and Stiles.
When Derek steps into the room, he smells like anxiety and an emotion very close to fear. Peter shakes his head at him.
"What's this about?" Stiles asks. He looks more rested today, sitting in the rocker instead of the bed, and his eyes are bright and alert. He smells like anxiety as well, though, and Peter wants to cuddle and cover him in his own scent until it goes away. But they need to talk first.
Peter glances at Derek before he bends to his knees in front of Stiles. Stiles's eyes widen, and his heart starts to beat wildly.
"I've been in love with you from the first moment I saw you," Peter tells him. Stiles's eyes go even wider, and he opens his mouth, but Peter can't let him say anything yet. He's making this declaration and he's going to get through it, but only if he does it all at once. "I love you, and I love Venus, and I want to be your alpha. I want to be a parent to Venus if you'll let me. The two of you mean more to me than anything, and I'd move the world for both of you if you need it. And I think…." He clears his throat. Looks into Stiles's stunned eyes. "I think you love me, too."
"I really do," Stiles says roughly. His eyes are wet but no tears fall. He reaches out to Peter but doesn't touch, as if he's afraid to, or doesn't know how. Peter takes his hand and presses it against his cheek, then moves it so he can kiss Stiles's palm.
Then Peter looks at Derek. "I don't think you want to be a father. Am I wrong?"
Derek silently shakes his head.
Stiles laughs softly. "Here I thought that would just tear me apart, but…" He looks at Peter, his face so open and vulnerable. "Are you sure?"
"I know you're afraid," Peter tells him. "I know you're scared I'll leave like Derek left, but I swear that will never happen. I love you, and I love Venus, and I want us to be a family."
Derek clears his throat. "I think I'd make a good uncle. Or cousin, if you'd rather do that. I love her too, but I can't… I'm not ready to be a father yet."
Intellectually, Peter understands where Derek is coming from. But his heart doesn't get how anyone could look at Stiles and Venus and now want them completely.
Stiles nods. "I think you'd make a good uncle, too. And I hope we can go back to being friends. Eventually. If that's not too awkward."
Derek grins. It's wide and happy, and all his anxiety-scent is gone. "I think that'd be great." He looks at them and then at the door. "And I think that's my cue to leave. And maybe go take a better look at my niece now that I'm not scared to death of her." The last is said in a low tone that makes both Peter and Stiles snort in laughter.
When Derek closes the door behind himself, Peter and Stiles just look at each other for a long time. Both smiling. Both happy.
Stiles finally breaks the silence. "I don't know what to say." He sounds giddy.
"Can I kiss you now, if we're done talking?" Peter teases.
"You know me, I'm never really done talking, but a kiss does sound good so-"
Peter cuts him off mid-thought. He's smiling, they both are, and it makes their first kiss irrepressibly sweet.
Stiles sighs happily. "I hoped. But I was afraid, you know?"
"I was afraid to hope, too, darling. But you give me courage."
"I really do love you," Stiles says. He pulls and tugs at Peter until Peter's sitting in the chair and Stiles is in his lap. "This is… this is the happiest I've ever been in my life. I have you and Venus and a family again…" His expression goes melancholy for a moment. "I wish Dad was here to see this."
"I think he can. I'm sure he's been watching out for you," Peter says. He's not usually so sappy but he's in the mood.
It's worth it when Stiles beams at him and leans in for another kiss. This one lingers, and Peter deepens it, tasting Stiles's mouth and slicking his tongue against Stiles's. Stiles moans and wraps his arms around Peter, and it's perfect.
The next days and weeks are tiring but full of laughter and love. The pack is thrilled about Stiles and Peter's relationship, and Venus is often the center of attention. Matt loves her, loves holding her and telling her stories. Laura takes her outside and tells her about her plants. Cora acts like she doesn't have time for babies, but Stiles often catches her whispering to Venus — secret conspiring he can't make out.
Derek tells Venus about his travels, and Stiles is glad she doesn't understand yet because he really doesn't want to explain to her how her uncle Derek is an idiot who thinks taking hallucinogens in the Amazon is the best way to expand his mind. It's good to see them together, though.
Talia and Joe are the most doting grandparents he's ever seen. (They keep the grandma and grandpa titles by unanimous vote.)
Peter is trying to teach Venus to say 'Papa.' Stiles laughs and tells him she won't speak for months yet, but Peter just says he's starting early.
Stiles and Peter are so in love, and so happy with their pup. Stiles has never had a serious relationship before, but Peter makes it easy. They're best friends and devoted to each other, to their family, and that seems to make all the difference.