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Eighteen and Beautiful

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“Derek!”

He barely had the chance to turn before Stiles was barrelling into him, clad in his burgundy graduation gown and a lopsided cap on the side of his head from where he’d hurriedly shoved it on after tossing it in the air.

Laughing, Derek wrapped his arms around him, gladly taking the chance to hold Stiles. Stiles, who had been his best friend since middle school, who had been the one responsible for all his laughs and smiles, the one who he couldn’t wait to see during and after school, who’d shared every secret, every private smile, everything.

The one Derek fell in love with.

“We did it!” Stiles laughed in his ear before pulling away, eyes bright and shining and smile wide.

Derek remembered that moment, and the moment where he caught Stiles’ eye on his way to his seat, diploma in hand. Stiles had already received his- he was an honor graduate whereas Derek was just lucky to be on the field. Stiles had smirked at him and winked, and Derek had grinned and ducked his head to smile at the ground.

He remembered after all the craziness had died down, when he was standing by his truck about to get in. He’d gotten one last look at the school, and everyone else was starting to pile into their cars.

“Derek.” He heard, he turned only to be greeted by Stiles. Stiles and his old jeep parked behind him. His smile wasn’t so wide, his eyes weren’t so bright. He had the door handing open, gripping it and just staring at Derek.

Derek had swallowed tightly, his stomach suddenly felt tight and he felt a little sick.

He and Stiles had planned on attending the same college. In fact, up until about two weeks prior to that moment, Derek was set on going to UCLA with Stiles. That is, until NYU had sent him a letter in the mail, granting him a scholarship that was so large he’d be an idiot not to take it.

So he did.

“It’s not forever,” Derek said as he watched him, already knowing what was on Stiles’ mind. “We’ve got a whole summer, anyways.” he said with a forced smile.

“We’re never going to see each other again.” Stiles sighed out heavily. It was supposed to be a joke, Derek could tell, but it was done poorly and after so many years with Stiles, he could tell by the look on his face when he was holding something back.

Derek just forced another smile and shook his head. “You’re being ridiculous,” he said as he watched Stiles close the jeep door and lean against it. “I’ll call you every time I’m home. I’ll go through Stiles-Withdrawal if I don’t.” he said, pleased with the little laugh that got, but still Stiles was silent.

It was like that for a few minutes before Derek closed the door to his truck. The light outside seemed a bit duller, like the sun was setting and everyone around he and Stiles seemed to disappear. Then again, that would always happen whenever Derek was with him. He wouldn’t see anybody else. Only Stiles.

“Come give me a hug,” Derek said before he could stop himself.

The second he had Stiles in his arms, his own body felt heavy. He remembered the moment, yes, but it was foggy. At that moment, it felt like a goodbye. Like Stiles’ words were ringing true in his ear. The hug was over almost as soon as it began.

“We’ll see each other again,” Derek said as Stiles retreated back to his jeep. He stopped once he got there, turned around and gave Derek a small smiled.

“Yeah. We will.” His voice gave it away, he didn’t believe his own words.

“Bye, Stiles.”

“Bye, Derek.”

They didn’t see each other after that. Not for a long time.

 

FIFTEEN YEARS LATER

 

“Natalie, we talked about this before we got here, didn’t we?” Derek said, currently squatting in front of his four year old daughter and holding a bottle of Banana Boat sunscreen in one hand and wiping her mouth with the other. “What did I say? We don’t eat the sunscreen.” He said with patience.

“But it tasted good,” She defended, though her voice was wobbling. She was pushing at his hand until he sighed and tossed the sunscreen covered paper towel away.

Derek sighed, “I honestly, have no idea how that even taste good to you.” He muttered, drawing her in his arms once she held her tiny ones out for a hug. “No more eating sunscreen, now where’s Erica?”

Honestly, he was more angry with Erica. The rebellious teenager who’d taken to living with him after he hired her as a babysitter three years ago. She moved in with him after six months, leaving her neglectful parents behind in favor of watching Natalie and his eldest son, Jonah, full time. He claimed her as his own daughter, which Erica had no complaints about.

So, he was raising three children on his own, four if you count Erica’s long time boyfriend Boyd. He was a few years older, and worked for Derek but he was a good kid. After getting a degree in International Business Management and then receiving the proper licenses and certifications, Derek took over his uncles chemical manufacturing company. At the time, it was worth about five thousand dollars and running on a low-budget and quickly going bankrupt. It was worth nothing.

He graduated from NYU a year early, borrowed 10,000 dollars to invest in the company, and now he owns a multinational, multi-billion dollar chemical company. He produces performance and basic plastics, chemicals. The company also has several business units like water purification, agricultural sciences, and energy.

Erica nicknamed him Tony Stark, which he doesn’t find very amusing.

Coming to the reunion wasn’t what he planned. He was supposed to travel to Japan to speak with a few very important investors, instead he ended up getting talked into going on this stupid cruise with all of his children.

It’s really stressful, his phones are going off almost every minute, at least until Erica hid them, and now he’d lost Jonah, his nine year old. And his eighteen year old.

He sighed and scooped Natalie up into his arms, who was staring at the Banana Boat sunscreen like she was plotting for a way to get it back. Which, she probably was. “You’re not eating this sunscreen,” he warned her, deciding to look for the rest of his kids himself.

Derek had easily fallen for a woman who had suddenly became immensely attracted to him after he made his first million. He was an idiot and almost lost the company, and his kids. He hired a team of lawyers, gained full custody of his children and filed the strongest restraining order he could.

Derek’s children were far more important than his fortune, Kate didn’t see it that way.

Most of his classmates had congratulated him for his immediate success, many had thrown envious glances and made multiple side comments, while other had assumed Erica was his wife with their disgusted looks they threw him until he snarled that she was his daughter.

All in all, it was a shitty reunion. He was stuck on the cruise ship for another two weeks, too.

The only person he was interested in seeing, wasn’t there.

“Daddy,” Natalie said into his ear, and he turned to look at her only to have his heart melt. She had her hands curled up against her chest, her head laying on his shoulder and looking up at him with big, blue eyes. This, This is why she was spoiled.

“Yes baby?” He answered, not even caring that the water from her turquoise swimsuit was soaking into his white button down and khaki shorts.

“Want to go swimming now, kay?” she said with a smack of her lips. And since she everything she wanted, that’s exactly where he went.

He felt every muscle in his body relax when he saw a head of familiar blonde hair and a mop of dark brown curls. Erica was relaxed in a sun bathing chair, though she was sitting up with her sunglasses resting on her face, Boyd relaxing in the seat next to her while Jonah swam around with a friend he made, it looked like.

Natalie wiggled in his hands until he put her down, only to watch her run over and hop into the chair next to Erica to sit like her. He was concerned whether or not it was a good idea to let his little girl look up to Erica like that.

Speaking of the devil, she turned to grin at Derek in greeting. Derek glared and stomped over, snatching her sunglasses off her face and smirking at her, “Hey! I just bought those!”

He smiled a little sarcastically, “Did you? Oh. Huh. What did you buy them with? Wait. Let me guess. That card with my name on it, attached to my bank account.” he said, cutting off her protest with a, “No. I don’t want to hear it. I’m talking. I told you to watch Jonah and Natalie, and I found Natalie in the middle of the deck eating this!” he thrusted the sunscreen at her, and Erica had the decency to look guilty.

“She told me she was going to you, I swear I thought you were at the bar!” She said, waving to said place behind her with a wave of her hand. “I thought she learned not to wander off.”

Derek let out an impatient noise, “She’s four years old. You’ve been with her basically her whole life, you know better.” he scowled.

He turned to look at Jonah, who was happy with playing some kind of water game with a skinny and tall boy around his age, with a mess of brown hair and a curved nose and green eyes. He sighed and turned to Erica, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Look, can you manage to watch them while I run back to the room? I know this is ‘vacation time’, but didn’t I promise you and Boyd a trip alone if you watched them?” he said, waiting for Erica’s guilty nod before huffing and turning around to stomp to his room.

Maybe he was a little harsh on her, could of probably done without the loud scowl in front of everyone and he’d probably regret it later, but he was still so, so stressed. He shouldn't of come.

He sighed with relief when he finally got into the hallway leading to his room. It was empty and cold, walls painted white. When he finally got to his door number, he swiped his card and pushed it open with his shoulder.

It opened up to a large room, with a few couches on his right and a flat screen placed on a smooth, wooden entertainment center. He closed the door, to his left was a round table with five chair surrounding it, and if he walked a little further he’d get to the small kitchen.

To the left of the kitchen was the hallway that held the bathroom and two bedrooms. One had two twin beds, the other a large king sized bed. Both had smaller televisions inside, though his had a little balcony to look out onto the ocean. Luxury rooms were well worth the price.

He’d paid for Boyd and Erica a separate room, though the two spent the majority of their time in this one.

He began unbuttoning his white shirt on his way to his room, the bed was a plain white and dressers a light wooden color. He tugged the shirt off his shoulders and sighed as he tossed it on the bed along with his shorts and boxers. He slipped on his swim trunks and a soft, plain v-neck.

He tried not to think too much on why Stiles wouldn’t be at the reunion.

But Scott was there, he’d seen a quick flash of the tan boy with Allison Argent, or McCall, he supposed. But no Stiles.

He shook those thoughts away from him, it had been ages since he last spoke to him. He didn’t even know if Stiles looked the same. To Derek, he was still eighteen. Eighteen and beautiful. That’s how he remembered him.

He wandered into the small bathroom, poked through the drawers a bit to see if he could find any clues about his phone and laptop. After giving up, he headed back to his room and patted under the bed, though he was met with nothing but plush carpet. He groaned and banged his head against the carpet a few times before standing.

He glared a piece of complimentary chocolate on his pillow like it had offended him before he snatched it up and angrily unwrapped it on his way out. It was his vacation, he was allowed to eat it.

On his way back up to the main deck, he’d spotted Danny and Jackson, saw a spot of red hair with Aiden, and even Coach Finstock. (He’d desperately ducked away, he really really really didn’t want to talk to him and get wrapped up in another conversation about his missing testicle).

He got back to see his children exactly how he left them, though it looked like Natalie was getting restless where she was sitting. He approached and grinned, “Feel like swimming?” He asked her as he tugged off his shirt and tossed it onto an empty chair. Natalie squealed with delight and jumped up.

Derek ignored the eyes he felt on him. He was used to it, with his clothes on it was because people recognized him from the news or from magazine covers, interviews, media coverage.

With his shirt off, it was because of his body. So, he kept a nice body even for his age. He worked out everyday with Boyd, pushing himself and keeping himself in shape. He looked better than he did in college.

Just as he was grabbing Natalie’s hand, Jonah and the little boy he was playing with ran up to him, almost crashing him over.

Derek chuckled, reaching out to steady Jonah. “Easy there, bud. What is it?” he asked in amusement.

Jonah looked up at Derek with hopeful eyes. “Um. This is my friend Alex and we wanna go get ice cream so can we? Come on, it’s not far from here and we’ll be right back! Please dad, we’ll be fine on our own, please dad, please.”

“Yeah Mr. Hale, please.”

Derek glanced at this Alex kid, taking a second to wonder why he looked so familiar befoe he jumped at the sound of a snapping voice, “Arkadiusz Ernest Stilinski, what did I say to you about running off, huh? I’ve been looking for you the past hour and a half, you better be praying that I let you out of the room when I’m through with you. Do you have any idea what’s been going through my mind?”

The snapping and scowling voice was coming behind Derek, and Derek immediately shot Jonah a scowl, one that said you-better-not-have-anything-to-do-with-this before he turned to start speaking. “I’m sorry, he’s been with my son. I had no idea you were looking for- wait, Stilinski?”

The breath was suddenly punched out of Derek once he turned, and it seemed to stop everything because the furious parent standing slack jawed behind him was one Stiles Stilinski.

He wasn’t exactly how long they’d been staring at each other, or who moved first because suddenly the world just snapped back into place because Natalie was crying at his feet, Jonah looked guilty and Alex was complaining about how his father had used his first name.

Thankfully, Erica was by his side to scoop Natalie up and she grinned at Stiles, “Hello. Stiles, is it? God, can I just say how good it is to finally meet you? Derek’s told me about you.” she said, wickedly.

Stiles blinked from Derek to Erica, “Oh.” he said dumbly, though Derek was still standing there staring.

Stiles rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly and suddenly it was silent again.

Derek was fucked. Truly and utterly, fucked.

 

Chapter Text

“Wait so, Peter wants to start a company with you?”

Often, Stiles and Derek would drive his truck to ‘their spot’. It was on top of the highest hill on the woods, it looked out over Beacon Hills and had a breathtaking view whenever the stars would shine or sun would set and in some cases, the sun would rise.

It’s where he and Stiles spent most of their time. Like whenever Stiles brought the joints and they both got high that one time. The place where they told secrets, shared information in quiet voices.

And one time, in the dark of the night, shared a kiss.

Derek would bring mountains of blankets and piles of pillows for them to lay on. Stiles had no shame in cuddling close to Derek, and it made his heart pound against his chest every time.

Now though, Derek could feel Stiles twisting until he could fold his arms to rest them on Derek’s chest and stare up at him. “Isn’t Peter like, the least faithful in your family. You said you were one of the few who liked him and even then you didn’t fully trust him. Why would you willingly put your ideas, income, and everything else in his hands?”

Derek sighed quietly, not bothering to look at Stiles but instead kept his gaze on the sky. “It was my idea first, kind of. We’ve talked about it for forever, since we first gained interest in companies and entrepreneurship. I don’t think I have anything to worry about. And the chances of the company becoming huge are slim.”

Stiles snorted, “Derek, come on. You’re like, a genius. If you wanted, you could probably build a company from the ground up and gain like, billions of dollars overnight. Just plaster a photo of your face on your products and you should be good to go,” he grinned widely and winked ridiculously, though Derek just blushed and looked away once more.

Stiles always went on about how beautiful Derek was, inside and out. It often put a blush on Derek’s face. He didn’t think he was much. He was skinny, hardly any meat or muscle on his bones, tall, fair skin and a little geekish. (Stiles would argue about the little part).

“Alright, alright. Fine. But you could still do it, without Peter’s help. You better give me part of the profit.” Stiles teased, sitting up but keeping his palms pressed against Derek’s chest as he grinned down at him. “Oh! Whenever you become a rich famous business man, don’t forget to mention my name. Actually, don’t forget me at all. I’ll take you to all the cool travel places and I could total be your personal assistant, but I probably wouldn’t do shit so.” he grinned. “I could definitely spend the money you make. You wouldn’t even have to worry about it. Just hand it over and Stiles would take care of it for you.”

Derek scoffed, shoving Stiles off him and letting the teen roll in laughter.

Once it had died down and gotten quiet, Stiles turned his head to look at Derek. “Okay, all joking aside,” he said quietly, “I think you could do whatever you wanted in your life. You’ll be someone someday, Derek. Ask anybody. Just, don’t forget that once you’ve found your place and everything you ever wanted, come back to my door. Okay?”

PRESENT DAY / FIFTEEN YEARS LATER

“I never thought I’d see you outside of the cover of Forbes.”

Derek had his hands shoved in his pockets, slowly walking around the edge of the ship. Once they’d gotten their kids settled in, Erica volunteering to take both Alex and Jonah and Natalie, he and Stiles actually got the chance to talk. It had been quiet for the past ten minutes before Stiles had spoken up.

Derek had been on the cover of Forbes a few times, along with Time, People, GQ, and even Playboy.

Most of the pictures had been a close up of his face, with his eyes edited to look more blue and unnatural where they stared into the camera.. A few were of him in a suit, staring at the camera with an intense expression. Though one, Playboy, displayed his whole body. He was wearing a black suit, underneath a white button up, though it was halfway buttoned and his tie was loose, curled around the fingers of some young, blonde girl. He remembered, the way she’d slipped her hand under his shirt and hitched one leg around his waist as they looked into the lens. He hadn’t liked that shoot.

There had been a few others here and there- like years ago whenever he was on the Sexiest Millionaires Under the Age of 25, then it changed to the Sexiest Billionaires under 40, Handsome Billionaires in their 30’s, Youngest Billionaires: 32 under 40. The list went on. Most had to do with his looks, which he appreciated but he hardly got credit for the stuff he’d come up with, all the ways he’d helped, all the money he donated.

He finally shrugged at Stiles’ words, “My publicist scheduled those.” he felt compelled to say it, just incase Stiles forgot Derek hated being in the spotlight and thought he turned into one of the douchebags who think that now that they have money it’s okay to turn arrogant. He and Stiles hated Jackson because he acted like that.

Stiles returned a shrug of his own, and he hadn’t looked up from the ground yet. “I figured you hadn’t willingly stepped into a photoshoot. Though the expressions on every magazine were a little intense.” he finally met Derek’s eyes then, the honey gold eyes sparkling in amusement and Derek found his lips curling up.

They ended up slowing to a stop to stare out over the water. Derek wasn’t sure when it had gotten so late, but the sun had already started to set and many people had gone in to either eat or join the activities inside.

“Where are you staying these days?” Stiles finally asked.

A lot of places, Derek wanted to say. He had an apartment in New York, a vacation home in Florida, one in the Bahamas, two in Europe, a penthouse in Miami, and a loft in Los Angeles and finally, a small home outside of Beacon Hills.

“Just outside of Beacon Hills when I can. It’s more in L.A. Sometimes New York depending on what’s happening with the company.”

Stiles hummed, “Right. Hale Innovations. And then there’s Hale Enterprise, Hale International, Hale the Multi-Billionaire.” Stiles teased. “But oh, hey. L.A. Seriously?” he scoffed. “Damn. I didn’t realize we were so close, dude, I’m on the LAPD.” he beamed.

Derek breathed out a laugh, a grin brightening his face. “Stiles that’s.. that’s awesome. That’s a huge accomplishment. I’m really happy for you.” He said softly. He remembered Stiles talking about wanting to be on BHPD, though always ranting about how he’d never land a job in another huge police department.

“Yeah I mean, it’s not as great as what you’ve done but.. I’m happy. Me and Alex are happy.” Stiles said, before he trailed off in thought. Derek wanted to ask about his wife, or girlfriend. He knew what the constant questions were like, he faced them every time a camera was on him but this was different. He didn’t want to know just to have information, a part of him wanted to know if Stiles was seeing anyone.

“His mom isn’t around,” Stiles pulled him from his thoughts, looking over at Derek with a sad smile. That brought back memories about how Stiles could always read him, always knew when he had something on his mind. He wondered if he could still do it as well as he used to. “We had him, and it was two weeks after he was born I came home to find the packet of papers waiting for me on the table. She didn’t even put up a fight just.. signed full custody over to me.” Stiles scoffed and shook his head. “I’m glad she isn’t in his life. I’ve been doing a hell of a good job raising him on my own.” Stiles said firmly.

Derek smiled a little to himself, sadly. Stiles was always like that. Always a fighter.

“I’m glad Kate isn’t.” he added after a few seconds of silence, making Stiles look over at him.

“You don’t have-”

Derek cut him off, “No. Really. She didn’t have maternal instincts, I don’t think. I took care of them, all the time. Sometimes I had to bring them in to work with me. Erica is a huge help now but.. Kate was more concern about how much money I was feeding into her bank account instead of worrying about the kids.”

“You’re a great father,” Stiles said silently, sliding his hand over to curl his fingers around Derek’s wrist. “I’ve watched interviews and documentaries.. is that creepy and stalkerish? That I’ve kept tabs on you but you have no idea what I’ve done between now and the past fifteen years?” Stiles mused.

Derek snorted, “It’s not like you’d stop even if you did.”

Stiles scoffed in mock offense, mouth gaping open but Derek could tell he wanted to laugh. “Mr. Hale. Are you calling me a stalker? I know you’re not talking about the time I dragged you along to sit outside of Mrs. Pinebody’s yard because I wanted to catch the criminal-”

“Stiles, it was racoons,”

“The criminal that was causing all the dogs to bark at night and keep me up-”

“You were the one keeping me awake dragging me out at ass o’clock.”

“Blasphemy! You lie! You’re the one who came up with the idea we stake out!”

“Stiles, it was a joke.” Derek said helplessly, though he was laughing and so was Stiles.

“Okay, fine. But the doughnuts we had? Delicious. I swear I hate half of them-”

“It was more.”

“Can you please stop cutting me off? Jeez, you act like you have a billion dollars or some shit. We middle-class enjoy to finish out sentences.” Stiles teased with a beaming smile.

Derek rolled his eyes and shoved his shoulder, making Stiles yelp and shove him back. “Come on, I’m not a stuck up rich guy. I’m not Whittemore. I force my children to eat green beans and feel incredibly smug when they do. I mow my lawn..s. Lawns.” Stiles rolled his eyes with a hidden smile, “I still go outside when it’s a full moon, I tell my kids bedtime stories, I don’t let them watch PG-13 movies and I play Barbie Doll Castle Dress Up and Tea Party with Natalie.”

He paused at Stiles’ bitten back laughter. “I swear to god if you ask Erica for pictures,”

Stiles grinned mischievously, and Derek knew that look too well. He only had the chance to hiss out “Stiles!” before the other was sprinting off, leaving Derek helpless to follow, grinning widely. They’d done this a million times it seemed like. Stiles loved aging Derek on, loved making Derek chase him down, often pinning him to whatever surface was around. Stiles loved to push Derek’s buttons and then run when he snapped, a lovely game of cat and mouse.

The only surface he had was the pool, and it was still way too far to drag Stiles in. He’d have to play dirty.

Sucking a deep breath in, Derek sped up before promptly all but throwing himself on the ground once he was close enough to the pool. The loud thump made Stiles immediately stop and jerk around, and Derek groaned. Okay, that actually hurt like a bitch. “Oh my god, Derek you fucking idiot,” Stiles said once he kneeled next to him. “What the fuck? You’re more in shape now than you’ve ever been and you can’t even keep up with me on a ship without tripping? Pathetic.”

Derek gave Stiles an incredulous look, “You little ass!” He said, but then he was pouncing, throwing himself at Stiles and then they both went crashing into the pool. They came up sputtering and laughing, coughing on the water and drenched in their clothes.

“Fuck you,” Stiles laughed, scrubbing the water out of his eyes as his laughter died down a bit, turning his head up to look at the sky filled with purples and pinks, indigo and oranges, reds and blues and violets.

“I’m not a teenager anyone. You should know that, old man. Is that a wrinkle I see?” Derek teased, swimming closer to shove Stiles’ head underwater for a second. Stiles came back up coughing and laughing, slamming his fists in the water to splash Derek.

“Asshole.” Stiles laughed, and Derek was helpless to join in.

It died down, and soon they were leaning against the edge of the pool, heads tipped upwards to stare at the stars shining brightly in the sky. “Did you ever think this is what your life would be like?” Derek heard Stiles ask quietly, he turned his head to look at him, though Stiles’ eyes was fixed on the sky. “In high school, I mean. When you thought of the future, what did you think of?”

Derek took a second to watch him, how much he’d grown. He looked much older, his body was filled out, muscles covering him. He looked like a grown man, with a light stubble covering his jaw, though his face was free of wrinkles. He was aged, sure, but he still looked young. His skin was lightly tanned, every inch of him was fully developed, beautiful and nothing like Derek remembered him.

He wondered if Stiles remembered them in high school like Derek did, the way Derek had watch Stiles dance wildly at prom, hair falling in his eyes with a grin on him, beautiful and lively while Derek was playing everything but cool. Derek could still hear the sounds of the music playing, the songs that were blasted through the venue. He could still hear it, despite the waves crashing down against the edge of the cruise ship, Derek was lost in the memory of that night.

He wondered if Stiles shed tears the way Derek had whenever he left for college. He’d seen Stiles a handful of times over that summer, and most of those were just brief glances. It hurt too, the pain had clenched Derek’s chest, made vile rise and it made Derek want to scream. It made his chest tighten, his breath catch and muscles tense like he couldn’t find release because Stiles wasn’t at his side. He wanted to kick and scream at himself for leaving Stiles behind, no matter the amount of money Derek was making, nothing would take away that regret he’d felt everyday.

“I thought of you.” Derek answered silently, truthfully. It brought Stiles’ eyes to meet his own, they were closer than Derek thought, and he sucked in a deep breath.

It was the truth. In those quiet moment he’d shared with Stiles, whenever it felt like he had the world in his arms, he thought he could spend the rest of his life like that. He thought maybe, when they went off to college together, Stiles would fall in love with him the way Derek had loved him. That Stiles would open his eyes and see how better he was with Derek.

He thought that he’d get Stiles and he wouldn’t let go of him. That they’d grow together everyday, holding on tight with each other. That’s who Derek really wanted to be.

Derek wouldn’t trade his kids for anything, and if he had never gone to New York he’d probably never gotten together with Kate, would never have his beautiful children, and that he doesn’t regret. He would never regret Natalie and Jonah, and he was sure Stiles felt that same way about Alex.

“Me too,” Stiles admitted into the quiet space between them. “I thought of you, too.”