"Derek Sebastian Hale, if you do not unlock this door right now I am going to redefine your adolescent definition ofpain." Peter stands outside of his apartment door, struggling not to let his claws spear the doorknob.
He’s been in charge of his sister’s children for less than a full day, and he is so incredibly close to losing his mind all over his oldest nephew it’s not even funny. In moderation, he loves them like crazy. In his apartment, he’s struck with the impression of a particularly effective ad for birth control.
A round of giggles strikes up on the other side of the door, and Peter realizes that all of them are laughing their perky little butts off at his predicament. He’s not going to call their mother. He will not bare his throat to the enemy.
This means war.
“Uh… Peter, right? Our mail got mixed up a few days ago.”
Peter stops short of ramming the door with his shoulder when a voice calls to him from surprisingly nearby. How did he not notice that? The potential witness is an attractive young man with an armful of groceries, short but messy brown hair and a pretty face. He wears thick-rimmed hipster glasses and a flannel shirt, and Peter feels a sudden and inexplicable urge to rip his clothes off.
“Hi. Hello. I’m afraid you find me at a loss.”
“More than one.” The man grins. “I’m Stiles, your new neighbor. I’d shake your hand, but...uh…?” He lifts his shoulders, hiking the groceries up demonstratively.
“Let me help you with those.”
“Oh, I’d hate to interrupt.”
“Please. Give me a chance to calm down before I kill them all.” He growls the last bit at the door, and another round of howling laughter is muffled through the wood.
“Sure.” Stiles laughs. “Come on, I’ll make you some tea or something.” He manages to unlock his front door and shoulder it open, nodding for Peter to enter.
Peter follows Stiles into the kitchen and sits at the island while the other man busies himself with putting away his purchases, including three boxes of sugary cereal and four different flavors of PopTarts.
“Just gimme a sec, I finally got the kitchen completely unpacked. I think Danny put the tea… up … damn it.” Stiles huffs, his hands planted on his hips as he stares at a high shelf that he is apparently unable to reach.
“Need a hand?”
“You’re not that much taller than me. How are you going to… oh.”
By the time Stiles has finished speaking, Peter’s rounded the counter and planted his hands on the other man’s hips, hoisting him up easily to reach the contents of the shelf.
Stiles retrieves a container of tea and kicks his feet a bit, and Peter sets him down. Once he’s planted back on the floor, Stiles rests his hip against the counter and regards Peter with a sly smile. “I like a guy who can hold me up.”
“What are your feelings on being held down?” Peter rumbles.
And then there’s a howling from next door. His sister’s children are a bunch of cockblocking bastards. He groans, letting his head thump forward onto the younger man’s shoulder.
“Your kids are kind of evil.”
“They’re not even mine. I just can’t say no to my sister.”
“That explains the whole locking you out thing.”
“I’m not afforded the same courtesy as their parents?”
“Sorry, but nine times out of ten aunts and uncles are just tall children.”
Peter rolls his eyes.
“The way I see it, you’ve got three options : One, you call the leasing office. They’ll let you in free the first time, but after that they start to charge. Two, you try the fire escape. Three, you let me pick the lock.”
“You can pick locks?”
“That does not explain why you can pick locks.”
“Doesn’t it?” Stiles waggles his eyebrows.
Peter goes with Option Three.
The next morning, Stiles wakes up to strange noises in his kitchen. He creeps from the bedroom with his baseball bat cocked and ready at his shoulder and finds a small mob of children gathered around his kitchen table.
The milk is uncapped in the center and there is more cereal on the table than any of their bowls. The youngest girl looks up at him with stuffed cheeks and lisps, “Oopths” through a mouth full of artificial flavoring.
Milk dribbles down her shirtfront, and Stiles can’t even be mad. One of her sisters mops at the stain, reminding her to chew with her mouth closed, Cora, good grief.
“Do I wanna ask why and how you’re all here?”
“Peter doesn’t buy Froot Loops.” The older brother shrugs. “And we tried the fire escape.”
Chapter 2: It Happens More Often Than You'd Think
The Hale kids aren’t so bad once they accept you as one of their own. Then they become wildly affectionate and terrifyingly physical. Stiles has watched Derek dislocate and relocate his own thumb at least three times, and every time the kid beams at the look of open horror on his face.
He’s glad that Peter trusts him with his nieces and nephews (even more so now that they’ve scheduled their very first date,) but Stiles is definitely not getting off easy on the babysitting spectrum. He gets along with them, and they seem to like him a lot, but that doesn’t stop him from calling Melissa to pose hypotheticals at varying levels of hysteria on four separate occasions within the first two weeks of knowing them.
Stiles is pretty sure these kids are bulletproof.
Except Cora. Bless Cora.
Cora is remarkably accident-free for a Hale kid, sitting on the sidelines and giggling while her brothers and sisters attempt to kill each other every afternoon. Stiles narrowly rescued her from being the ball in a game of hallway tackle soccer last Tuesday, and only narrowly talked Adrian Harris in 4B out of calling the police.
He does not want to explain this situation to his father.
Stiles genuinely enjoys being around the Hale kids, even when they’re out of their fuzzy little minds. Laura and Derek are thoughtful, and give great advice when they’re not whining about hormonal issues, and Cora, Mckenna, and Taylor are perfect little snugglemonsters whenever Stiles sits down. They look after one another.
So when he hears Laura say, “Holy shit!” followed by a screeching wail from Cora, he nearly trips straight onto his face during his mad dash to the kitchen.
He scoops Cora into his arms in a well-practiced motion, clutching her to him as he pulls the cell from his pocket. He’s memorized Melissa’s number as well as the number for the Poison Control Hotline and he is prepared, damn it!
He bounces Cora a little, shushing her and looking her over for injury and...her nose is red. “Okay, what happened?”
“She stuffed a Froot Loop up her nose. I was just gonna get it out.” Laura holds up a pair of grilling tongs, and Stiles seriously hopes she never reproduces.
By the time Peter comes by to pick up the kids and hit on him, as scheduled, Stiles and Cora are curled up on the couch. Cora’s entire face is cherry red, and she hasn’t stopped bawling. Stiles doesn’t look much better off. Laura and Derek have given up all pretense of joking in favor of trying to calm them both down, and McKenna and Taylor are huddled near the entryway, fingers stuffed in their ears to keep out Cora’s considerable noises.
“No no no! Stiles, what if it never comes out?! Am I gonna die?! AM I GONNA BE A NOSECLOPS!?!?”
“A what?” Derek asks.
“Shh!” Laura hisses.
At the sound of the door closing, all eyes are on Peter, who’s torn between laughing his ass off and the appropriate amount of concern. Quietly, he walks to the couch and peels Cora off of Stiles.
He walks her over to the kitchen table and sets her down gently. “Head back, kiddo.”
Cora sniffles awkwardly and complies, and Peter takes a look at the damage.
“Am I gonna die, Uncle Petey?”
“Not today, oddball.” He pats her knee and goes to grab a paper towel off the roll. Stiles hovers, biting at his lip as Peter rolls his eyes and uses his thumb to cover one nostril. “Blow.”
Cora blows into the paper towel with a loud honking sound, and the Froot Loop pops right out. “I’m saved!” She howls, and adheres herself to Peter like a particularly adhesive baby koala.
“You’re saved, squirt!” Stiles beams as Peter disposes of the towel, and Cora teeters over her uncle’s shoulder to pat at his cheek.
Derek rolls his eyes. “Come on, it was just a Froot Loop.”
“Says the kid who got toy trucks lodged up his nose on three separate occasions.”
“How do you think I learned how to do this? You got Hotwheels shoved so far up there I had to use CPR breathing to blow it back out.”
Taylor and McKenna squeal, “Ewwwww!” and Laura snickers as their brother flushes in embarrassment.
“I think Stiles has been tortured enough for today.” He tosses Laura the keys and motions for them all to head next door. Derek gathers Cora from his arms with an irritated huff, and they trample off to wreak havoc on Peter’s sofa once more.
“There’s seriously a procedure for this?”
“Unfortunately, it happens more often than you’d think. There’s even a pair of forceps designed to extract foreign objects.” He makes a pinching motion with his fingers, and Stiles laughs.
“Unreal. So you’re trained for this sort of thing, huh?”
“I’ve been an uncle for a while.”
“You think you could demonstrate?”
“Being an uncle, or sticking a pair of forceps up your nose?”
“Har har. I meant the CPR thing.”
“In that case, I’d be delighted.”
Peter is a thorough instructor. And Derek is too embarrassed to say anything when he returns to the apartment an hour later.