Melissa tries to keep Derek at ease. She gives him all the updates on his and his baby’s health like it was just another check-up. But Derek cuts right through her niceties.
“It’s not what you think.”
He’s lying on his side, one arm pinned on the bed, hand cupping his underbelly, the other hooked onto an IV drip, wrapped around his baby bump as if shielding it.
“What did you think I was thinking, Derek?”
Head turned away from her, from the world it feels like, Derek spares the doctor a quick glance.
“Stiles gave me a choice, back when we were just starting all of this. He would have supported me either way.”
Melissa puts her patient chart away and moves closer to the omega. “It’s normal to change your mind. Especially for someone in your position.” Young, unmated, barely graduated, the omega ob-gyn has seen it one too many times.
Derek shakes his head. He runs a hand over the arc of his belly, relishing the feel of it, a quiet sigh escaping his lips. “I want this baby. We wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”
“Then why didn’t you say anything?” Melissa carefully pressed on.
Raised voices can be heard from behind the door. It sounds like Laura, Talia, John and Stiles are breaking into another argument in the hallway.
Derek doesn’t even flinch or turn towards the yelling.
“They’re always like that,” he says, speaking over the noise, tone resigned and worn. “Ever since we found out about the pregnancy, everyone’s been fighting all the time.”
Tired eyes looking down his own hand stroking circles on his belly, Derek went on. “My family never really liked Stiles, especially Mom and Laura. They think he's not good enough for me. They actually told me Stiles was bad for me and that he would ruin my future. Can you imagine? With this baby...that’s the kind of family I’m trapping Stiles into, one that hates him and treats him like-”
The baby flutters inside him, and Derek reminds himself to breathe.
“Stiles said he could do it, that it didn’t matter how my family treats him, he was going to stay with me because he loves me and the baby. And that’s what matters. That’s what’s important. But that can only last for so long, right?” Pained eyes turn to Melissa and the child-like helplessness behind them breaks her heart. "Sooner or later he’ll get tired. He’ll regret choosing me, he’ll regret keeping our baby.”
Derek’s voice breaks, he tries to swallow past the lump in his throat but for the first time in a long time someone was asking him, paying attention to him, listening to him. “Everyone, even the Sheriff, they’re all putting the blame on Stiles. But I was the one-” For the first time in a long time, he was being heard. So he lets it all out. “I was the one who was careless. I was the one who missed my shot. It’s my fault .”
A whimper escapes him, his bottom lip trembling. He runs a shaking hand down his stomach, the baby inside still alive and thriving, thankfully stronger than Derek’s own weak will.
“Stiles isn’t ruining my life,” he confesses, “I’m ruining his.”
Melissa looks on with growing concern as the distressed omega curls further in on himself.
In Derek’s head, the same dilemma that’s been plaguing him since revealing the pregnancy continues its vicious cycle.
I love my family. My family hates Stiles. I love Stiles. Stiles is my family now. He always will be. I love my family. My family hates Stiles. And on and on it went, until Derek cried himself to sleep again.
Stiles takes Derek’s cold hand in his and kisses the back of it.
He stays like that, bent over the hospital bed, watching Derek sleep with his lips still pressed on the omega’s cold skin when he hears Melissa and his Dad walk in the room.
He gives Derek’s hand one more kiss and reaches over to push away the stray hairs on his face. That face which was supposed to be glowing and happy, not sickly pale from stress and heartache.
Stiles talks to stop himself from crying again.
“You know, when we started talking about having our own family, Derek would always be so excited about having kids,” Derek sated and sappy, snuggled into his arms, the pair of them cozy in their unmade bed, he can’t help but smile at the memory, “He loved the idea of it, you know? Carrying a little Stilinski-Hale in there, being spoiled rotten 'cause he’d always guessed we’d be the first to give you and Talia a grandchild.” Stiles says, throwing a subdued smile at his dad.
“He’d tease me about how much of a horrible overprotective alpha I’d be, and how he would just laugh at me for being such an outdated stereotype.” What an image. Derek beautifully heavy with their child, laughing carefree and light-hearted. Unburdened. Healthy. Thriving.
Stiles caressed Derek’s cheek, more hollowed out and sallow than he’s ever seen it. How didn’t I notice?
“I can’t even remember the last time I saw him smile.”
How the fuck didn’t I notice?
- The day before -
Stiles remembered coming into the room worrying about Derek sleeping through dinner. He remembered that weird, rusty smell greeting him upon opening the door, the way it made unease rise in the pit of his stomach, his instincts immediately telling him something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong.
He remembered reaching out to Derek, calling his name and shaking him a little. When Derek, usually a light sleeper, remained stubbornly asleep, Stiles sat on the bed to wake him up harder. He leaned his hand on the mattress and then...
...an awful, wet squelch.
Stiles remembered turning on the lights, still in denial, distractedly thinking,‘Oh Derek must’ve wet the bed, he’s going to be so embarrassed but it’s going to be fine. I’ll change the sheets and it’s going to be fine.’ Then he turned around.
And there Derek was. Lying on the bed, on his side, curled away from the door. Blood, so. much. blood. surrounding him from the waist down.
Stiles vaguely remembered the rest.
He remembered calling out Derek’s name in shock. He remembered turning Derek’s body and seeing the blood on Derek’s hands, on his own. He remembered calling for help.
“Cora!!!” he roared, “Call 911!!!”
“What?” Cora yelled back at him.
The door slammed open as he tried to pull Derek in his arms. “Call. 911.”
Cora might have screamed then. She might’ve cursed, might’ve cried. Stiles can’t really remember, he didn't really care. All he knew was he held Derek in his arms, still trying to wake him, trying to tell him, I’ve got you. I’m here.
It’s going to be okay.
We’re going to be okay.
- A few hours before -
It was a rare moment of calm in the Hale manor, temporarily also known as the Hale-Stilinski warzone.
Talia, Sebastian, and Laura were out on a grocery run, the Sheriff was still on shift, and Peter was off god knows where. It was just Cora and Stiles inside the house, Derek decidedly staying out of their way, choosing to sit alone in the back porch. The chill from the air was easier to deal with than the chill between his mate-to-be and his little sister.
Ever since they announced their unexpected but very much wanted pregnancy, this has been their set-up. Derek’s parents insisted that he and Stiles get mated so their child would at the very least not be ‘a bastard in the eyes of the law, I know you don’t care about what people say but think about the legal repercussions for your child in the future!’
To appease his parents and to earn some much-needed brownie points with Talia, Stiles went along with it. Even with Talia’s condition that they stay in the Hale house for the duration of Derek’s pregnancy. ‘God knows what sort of food you boys eat up there. This way, we can make sure you get the right nutrition and check-ups. Besides, I’m sure Stiles would be alright with shifting to online courses. ’
The ‘since he was the one who knocked you up’ was unspoken but heavily implied.
It was fine, in the beginning. Stiles would just deflect and swallow whatever thinly veiled insult Derek’s mother, sisters, or uncle had for him. Derek would apologise for them whenever they got the chance to be alone, and Stiles would just smile and brush it off, the young alpha desperate to make it work with his omega’s family.
Then one night, the Sheriff came by for dinner with the Hales and check on his son.
John had always been a mild mannered man for as long as Derek’s known him. Usually kept to himself, made snarky jokes like his son, and was never easily triggered. But Derek guessed things, or rather people really did become different once they become parents, because the moment Talia threw in her first non-insult of the night, John was quick to call her out.
It all snowballed from there.
Voices were raised, words were said. Even Stiles jumped into the fray to defend his father.
Ever since then, it was either World War III or the Cold War in the Hale house. Now, the Sheriff dropped by as often as he could, meaning whenever he wasn’t on shift. He'd claim it was just to say hi to his boys and future grandchild, but Derek knew. It was to make sure his son had someone on his side, someone better than a vulnerable, pregnant omega.
Derek looked out into the preserve, sighing.
It’s always going to be like this, he thought to himself. The fights, the shouting, the tense silences. The outright contempt.
Derek can’t remember the last time someone talked to him without an agenda, without someone trying to make the other party look bad. He can’t remember the last time he sat with his family, his entire family, including Stiles and John, and they all just enjoyed each other’s company. Without him helplessly sitting in the background as the people he loved yelled and threw jab after jab at one another.
Sitting out there in the cold was the first time in a long time that Derek got a moment of peace to himself. A quiet where no one was shouting, ranting, or arguing, a quiet where Derek could actually hear himself think.
Everyone’s always going to be miserable, he contemplated, all because of my mistake.
This whole mess started because of him. It endured because of him. Because Stiles loves him, because his family loves him, because he loves his baby.
He looked down, ran his hand over the curve of his burgeoning belly and cradled it with a sad smile.
No one’s really happy with us here, baby. Little flutters sprang on the spot under his hand making him huff a quiet laugh. Yeah, everyone would be better off if we just ...fluttered away.
And the universe seemed to agree. It seemed to be giving Derek a hand.
“Mm-” Derek bites down on his lip as that familiar twinge on his back returns. It’s been bugging him since yesterday, and with the cramps he didn’t sleep through last night and the growing wetness between his legs, he was pretty sure what was happening.
And he wasn’t going to stop it.
Instead, he breathed, waiting for the ache to pass before he hauled himself up. He turned around and there, right where he was sitting down, Derek saw a spot of red on the armchair’s faded blue cushion.
They’d barely notice, he thought morosely.
“C’mon baby. Let’s go to sleep.”
Derek passed Cora in the kitchen with no problem. His little sister was too busy hunting for snacks in the fridge to pay him any mind.
It’s Stiles that catches him just before he gets to the stairs.
“Hey,” his alpha greeted while pulling him in in a loose embrace. Amber eyes look over him as Stiles brows furrow with worry, “You okay? You look a little pale."
Derek placated him with a smile.
“Yeah.” Don’t tell him. “Just a little tired.” Don’t worry him. “I think I’m gonna go for a nap.” It’s for the best.
“Alright. But call me if you need anything, okay?”
Derek nodded, leaning over for one last kiss from his alpha. Then he pulled away and didn't look back.
He shut the door and right on cue fire crawled up his back, wrapping all around his belly. It knocked the wind out of him, almost sending him to his knees. Still, he struggled to make his way to the bed.
It’s okay, baby, he thought, trying to soothe the little one inside him. I’m right here with you, it’s okay.
Derek laid down on his side and held onto his belly as more cramps came.
It hurt. It hurt so bad he had to bury his face in the pillow next to him to muffle his whining.
I’ve got you, baby.
Derek felt his body balk and tremble at the strength of the contractions taking over him. He bit his bottom lip until he tasted blood so he wouldn’t make any noise to alert his alpha and sister.
On and on the pain came in waves, and Derek rode them out never making a sound.
Papa’s right here with you. Just us two.
Until the pain was gone.
Your Daddy loves you.
Until Derek was at ease in the silence.
Papa’s right here with you.
- The present -
Derek opens his eyes, and there Stiles is, his beautiful doe-eyed alpha holding his hand, kissing the inside of his wrist, whispering sweet nothings to his skin.
Derek moves a finger and those big amber eyes focus on him.
Melissa’s words echo in Stiles’ head as he stares at Derek, now awake. She mentioned things like depression, hormones, high cortisol levels, complications, and, perhaps Stiles’ personal favorite, “End this stupid family feud before you kill my patients, or so help me god.”
Looking at Derek looking back at him, seeing those hazel eyes, really seeing them for the first time in a long time, he recognises hesitance, fear. That's when it dawns on Stiles how much he absolutely cannot disregard Melissa’s words at all.
With a tight grip on Derek’s hand, the young alpha chooses his next words carefully.
He could say a million things to Derek. He could ask the omega why. He could ask him what did he do wrong as an alpha to make Derek try to leave him like that. He could tell Derek how much it hurt him, absolutely terrified him to his core seeing Derek bathed in his own blood, in their baby’s blood. He could tell Derek how that image will be giving him nightmares ‘til the day he died.
He could tell Derek he’s sorry.
But Stiles has been selfish enough. Stiles has lost track of what’s really important for long enough.
What they needed in that moment isn’t guilt tripping or tear-filled yelling. They needed a fresh start.
And fresh starts begin with the most asinine things. So Stiles goes with that.
There are dark circles under his eyes, Derek’s dried blood is still caked under his fingernails, and his hair is a knotted, twisted mess, but he gathers every ounce of strength left in his body, and smiles.
“Hey,” Derek rasps back at him, voice small and shaky, his own tentative smile in place.
Stiles blinks and Derek’s smile drops. Suddenly those hazel eyes are darting away. “I’m sorry,” Derek begins to say but Stiles cuts him off.
“No,” his other hand delicately cups Derek’s cheek, making Derek keep those eyes on him, “You do not apologise, okay?”
Derek bites his lip and says nothing but his eyes overflow with shame.
“No, Derek. Don’t,” Stiles gaze softens, turns beseeching. “We were the dumbasses. Don’t put this on you.”
“I should've just said something,” Derek insists. Stiles shakes his head to that.
“No. We were the ones who got stuck so far up our asses, we forgot about the two people that brought us all together in the first place. So this is completely on us, okay?”
Derek doesn’t say anything, but Stiles can read that silence.
“We’re going to change,” the omega furrows a skeptical brow at that. “We are! Your mom and my dad are actually talking like decent, civil adults outside right now. Talia agreed that maybe it’s best if you lived with us for awhile, less people in the house, less stress. In exchange, Dad begrudgingly agreed to Talia sending someone over to child proof every nook and cranny of Casa de Stilinski."
Derek snorts, an indelicate sound that gives Stiles so much joy.
“How’d that conversation go?” The omega muses.
Stiles smirks, remembering the negotiation between the two older alphas. “Like pulling teeth,” he admits.
They both chuckle at that, picturing their parents have something close to a Mexican standoff in a hospital hallway.
After a moment the laughter dies down, and the two young men are left looking at each other. They both look exhausted, like they need a thousand years of sleep, but there’s a soft smile on Derek’s face, one that Stiles feels reflected on his own.
Stiles strokes the back of his finger on Derek’s cheek.
“We’re gonna be okay,” the alpha promises.
The omega breathes a sigh of relief. “Yeah.”
Derek takes his alpha’s hand and places it on the side of his belly where the flutters have popped up again. “Somebody’s awake.”
“She’s moving?!” Stiles exclaims, excited.
Derek’s smile only grows, “Just little flutters, like bubbles in my belly. And it might still be a boy, you know.”
Stiles then proceeds to babble at his stomach, telling the baby all the reasons why it’d be more awesome if they were a girl. And then proceeding to babble how much Stiles would love a boy just as well.
Yeah, Derek thought, watching his alpha croon sweetly at his belly, We're going to be just perfect.