Derek felt good. He hadn't liked being…well, he hadn't been human, as it turned out, but diminished, however temporarily.
But now, he felt good. He felt like he'd finally cleared his nose, taken off his sunglasses, removed a straitjacket. He hadn't felt this good when he was an alpha; when he was an alpha, he'd always felt stretched, puffed up, taken beyond his natural limits. This, this body was all his.
It was a shame he was driving when he just got his body back, but there wasn't any good place to stop between La Iglesia and Beacon Hills, and the Sheriff and Melissa and Deaton would be anxiously awaiting the whole pack. Peter needed to be put away. There were obligations to fulfill, responsibilities to enact.
But he still felt really good.
"Do you want to talk about…?" asked Braeden.
"What's there to talk about?" asked Derek. "The deadpool is closed. Peter's stopped and Kate's on the run. We're all alive and in one piece." He tapped the steering wheel. "This is happily ever after." He rolled down the window and spit, just for good measure.
Braeden snorted and curled up in her seat. "It's not that simple, Derek. It's never that simple."
Can I talk 2 u?
Derek thought about ignoring Scott's text, but after that time he was gone for two weeks and no one noticed, he'd resolved to more fully embrace social media. Or at least texting.
Pick me up after school
That text Derek didn't respond to.
There was always a traffic jam getting in and out of the high school, so Derek didn't try to get there when the bell rang. He was glad of it when he finally did pull up to the front of the school, only to see Scott and Kira attached at the face. He looked away, but he said, "You've got five minutes, Scott," and started tapping out the rhythm of the Jeopardy! song.
The goodbyes were grossly mushy, but Scott was throwing his bag in Derek's backseat inside of three minutes, so Derek couldn't complain. "Thanks," said Scott.
"Am I taking you somewhere?" asked Derek.
"I have to be at Deaton's by five, but we could—." Scott's stomach rumbled. Loudly.
Derek licked his teeth and smiled. "I know a place."
It took ten minutes of companionable silence to get to the best fish taco stand in the county and another ten minutes waiting in line to walk away with a whole box of deliciousness. Derek handed Scott three to start before taking one for himself. They both sat on the hood of Derek's car and chewed with awed appreciation.
Derek waited for Scott to finish his tacos and reach for another one before he said, "Talk."
"I was…changing. Before Kate took me, I mean. Since we brought you back from Mexico, I guess."
Derek made an encouraging noise without saying anything else.
"More fangs. More, uh, more animal face. But not, like, more wolf-y. More monstrous."
Derek nodded. "Have you changed since we came back?" He didn't look at Scott straight on, more out of the side of his eye.
Scott shrugged, ducked his head, and scratched at the back of his neck. "Was there any need? I mean, everything's been cool since we got back. And," he shrugged again. "When I got Peter, it felt…more normal. Less…heavy."
"Bitten wolves," started Derek. "I'm not a human being who sometimes turns into a monster or a creature. I've never been anything other than a werewolf, so my change always reflects that."
"People who were bitten don't feel like that. You're feeling out what you transform into. If you join a pack, if you accept a pack, with the bite, then you get," he tapped his fingers on his knee, "it's like peer pressure? Your body knows what to do because you're following your alpha and your other pack members. But a bitten omega is…unpredictable. The kanima is an extreme form of that, but something like what happened to Kate? Not uncommon."
Scott actually raised his hand for a second, but then he seemed to notice what he was doing. "But I'm not…new. I know I'm a werewolf. I've been a werewolf since I was bitten."
Derek cocked his head. "But all the alphas you've known have been monsters."
Scott gave him a confused look, adorable frown and raised eyebrows.
"I sexually manipulated a teenage girl and repeatedly broke the bones of a child abuse survivor. All the alphas you've known have been monsters." He scratched his nose. "I like to think I'm a better person now, but only time will tell."
Derek watched Braeden walk in the room, sweep the corners with her eyes, and walk away from him. She came back sans coat, so he assumed that she'd hung it in the closet.
He drew in a deep breath, just because he could, because he could smell her from across the room, and it would work. Now, he could smell:
- Her gun
- frustation, boredom, unpleasant waiting overlaid with excitement, action prepare, anticipation
She laughed at him, and he opened his eyes. His mother would have scruffed him for closing his eyes to scent someone; he hadn't done it in years. Braeden just raised an eyebrow and said, "You should still ask how my day was."
He kept a straight face and said, "How was your day, honey."
"I need to get moving. Spent too long sitting in one place. Come running with me?"
"Ugh," he said. No smooth way to say that running with humans was boring and slow.
She smiled at him in that way that meant she was actively not making dog jokes. "You could run ahead of me and back. You'd cover more ground, but you're good for it, so." And then she bit her lip and it tumbled out: "I could put you on an extra-long leash."
He refused to react to that. He had an older and a younger sister, he knew better than to acknowledge teasing he didn't like. "I can't run around as a wolf until I get licensed."
She raised an eyebrow.
"The chances they'll capture me are extremely low, but if they do, I either have to turn into a human and escape—they might see that, the dogs might get out, and they'll definitely know something happened—I can turn into a human and stay—which winds up in a trespassing charge, at best—or I submit to being neutered. Better to pay the $100 and wear the tag. Also, frankly, if I have a tag, it's easier to pretend I'm a husky mix. Less chance of getting shot by someone who doesn't know there aren't any wild wolves in California." But he laid back on the bed where he was sitting. "I can think of some physical activity we'll both enjoy," he drawled and he smiled at her, the way he'd been getting things from people since he was nineteen and finally grew into the damn ears.
She laughed at him, but it was the happy huffing that meant she liked what she saw. "Yeah no, if we do that long enough to get my exercise, I'm going to start chafing." She started walking up the stairs to the dressing room. "I'll be back from running in about an hour. Think about dinner while I'm gone."
He'd already made dinner. Salade niçoise because he could choose decent fish again. Baked apples because he still had this fall's apples and a gigantic cinnamon stick Scott had gotten him as a housewarming present. Wine because he could really taste it again. He had a nice, inexpensive Portuguese white chilling right now. It tasted crisp and green and was only mildly effervescent. A pleasant tingle, not the harsh burn of cham—.
He blinked back into awareness when he heard her shut the door on the way out. Hmmm.
He watched Braeden try to put the last of the washing up from dinner away in a cabinet over her head. Her body made a beautiful, stretched line from her toes to the tips of her fingers, which almost reached high enough. He came close behind her and said, "Hey," before he grabbed the glass and pushed it securely on the shelf with one hand, and put his arm around her waist with the other. She'd never quite given him a black eye when he was…transforming, but she'd come close more than once.
She turned around and pulled closer to him, put her arms around his neck. "I think it's bed time," she said.
He slid his hands under her butt and pulled her up to him, kissed her deep and wet. He didn't have words for the way she tasted, but it was good to him and he reveled in it. She didn't taste like home but the safety of home. She would try to protect him with everything she had, and that meant a lot, meant everything.
She bit his lip and pulled away. "Come up a little. You've gone too far down," she said. Her voice was soft, and he couldn't hear the undercurrents. Annoyed? Worried? Amused? He decided to let it go when she nuzzled in under his ear. "Carry me to bed."
He picked her up in a princess carry and walked the fifteen feet to the bed, placed her down in a gentle and controlled way. He had the strength that made that as easy as tossing her, now. He dropped himself over her, caging her with his body. He nuzzled into the crook of her neck, the cache of scents that was her, plus the barista at Starbucks, whoever it was she'd been chasing, the park where she'd gone jogging, and the funk from her bike helmet. He trailed his nose down from there to her breasts, and that was just her, the sweat from her run, and he loved the scent because it was the most intense version of her public scent. He licked the valley of her cleavage and then rubbed his whole face in between her breasts. It was the wrong way around to really carry her scents with him, but he hadn't had a lover he wanted to wear on his skin in over a year.
"Derek," she said and pushed him away. "Take my shirt off and suck me properly, come on."
Braeden started humming while Derek pulled her shirt off over her head. He couldn't place the tune, so he just got his mouth around her nipple and sucked. She tasted good in his mouth, fleshy and warm.
She stopped humming and scratched the back of his neck, digging in hard the way he'd had to convince her to do. "What are we going to do tonight? "
"Whatever we want. I want to eat you all up." He gnashed his teeth and smiled.
Braeden pulled his head back down to her breast, but she said, "Is it because I'm not a werewolf?"
Derek made an inquisitive noise back at her but didn't move his mouth.
"You don't like when I make dog jokes, and I thought it was just because you don't like them, but you just made one."
"No," he said, "I made a wolf joke. You make dog jokes, and they're not funny." He leaned up and licked at her mouth, little begging licks. He didn't whine, though.
She opened her mouth up and sucked on his tongue. "Ok," she said into his mouth. He was pretty sure she didn't get the distinction, but he had better things to do right now.
He ducked his head back down to her breasts, then licked his way down further, to her belly button.
He licked lower still, to the crease of her thigh and abdomen, then further in, to the soft lips of her cunt. He sucked the lips in and they stayed bloomy-soft, instead of firming up like the teeth of a seeding woman. He could smell that private smell of her, the mix of sweet and piss and fleshy and Braeden. Her taste on his tongue was less complex, more about the liquid slipping from her slit, a gentle welling up of desire. He sucked a little harder on her lips, then pulled back, let them slip from his mouth. Stuck his tongue in her hole, gathered the wet of her directly. There was so much, so many things he'd never learned the words for. Humans didn't talk about the taste and smell of bodies, and wolves didn't either, just carried around on their bodies and shared directly.
Suddenly, there was pressure on his head, Braeden squeezing her legs around him. "The clitoris, Derek. Use the clitoris."
He laughed, because it sounded like something Laura would have said. She squealed, probably because he laughed directly into her hole. He moved up to suck on her clit, because she had asked, because he liked to suck things in his mouth, because he could still smell everything in there.
He realized, suddenly, that there was no reason to stay hunched over her, now that he was strong again. "Grab some pillows to put under your head," he said, as he sat up and tossed pillows at her.
"Am I really going to need five pillows to have sex, Derek?" she asked, one eyebrow raised.
"Maybe," he said. "Stack 'em." It turned out she only needed four to keep her body in a straight line, when he raised her lower body up to his mouth, as he sat back on the bed and held her there.
"Shit, that's amazing. You're so goddamn strong," she said. "I wanna try something else. Hold tight." She curled up her abdomen, supported only by the hands he had under her ass. "You can hold me like this for a while. Get back to it."
He tried, but with her sitting up, his forehead and her stomach were trying to occupy the same point in spacetime, so he coaxed her back flat, three feet above the bed, and went to town on her cunt. She was wet now, swollen with blood and heat. Her blooming circle, the inner ring of muscle to trap a seeding man's penis, was really big. "Should I hook you?"
"Mmmm," she said. "No, I could jerk myself off if that's all I was looking for. I want your whole hand. Fill me up and seed me."
"Ok," he said. "I'm going to put you down for this." He lowered her to the bed and put two fingers in her, to check how open she really was. "Can I fuck you too?"
"Yes," she said. "But kiss me, too. I want you to kiss me." She leaned forward and pressed her mouth to his, to his cheek, to his neck. "I want you to kiss me," she repeated, but she pulled away, because the next part was going to take a little arranging.
It was a little like a human game of Tetris, but they got themselves arranged in just a few minutes. They were sitting, his legs over hers, his hand in her cunt, and his soft dick cradled in the hand that was inside Braeden. "You ready?" he asked.
"I've been waiting on you," she said. She squeezed him a bit internally, just for emphasis.
That squeeze was enough to get him to slick up in response to her, and everything between them got just that much more wet and loose. "All right," he said, "I'm going."
"Coming," she said.
"Not yet," he returned and made the first push forward with his hand. He set up a counter-rhythm with his hips, pushing hand and dick together and apart inside her. He was slow and gentle with his hip pushing at first, not sure how big inside Braeden really was. She was the first blooming woman he'd had sex with, after all, and he'd never put his dick and his hand in her at the same time before.
But Braeden pushed back at him, pushed hard. "I want it," she whined at him. "The head of your dick, I want it inside my ring, come on." She pushed at him more with her hips, then said, "Lie down. I want on top; lie down." Not a whine, an order. Not one he had any inclination to disobey.
He rolled carefully onto his back, keeping his hand and his dick inside her. Braeden worked her way up carefully, so she was astride him, was grinding down on him, holding him inside. His wrist was aligned with her blooming ring now, and he could feel it swelling, getting bigger.
"Are you close?" she asked.
And the weird thing was, he couldn't really tell. He was into it, this was sexy, maybe the best sex he'd ever had, but he couldn't tell when he was going to come. Couldn't tell if he was going to come tonight. "You come," he said, ignoring her question. "Come on my cock," he said.
"Okay," she said and she did. He could feel her blooming ring clamp down on his wrist, the tight squeeze that would milk a seeding man's knot. But he stayed soft. He kept thrusting in her though, kept wanting her, kept loving the friction and the smells and the wetness between them. It felt so good, everything felt so good between them.
After a while where he kept fucking but not coming, Braeden relaxed, her blooming ring and her face, all of her really. She smiled up at him, the tension out of her body.
He made a noise, a little groan he tried to muffle.
She smiled at him, unconcerned. "I have a trick to making a blooming man come," she said. "Do you trust me?"
He swallowed, nodded. "With my life."
"Okay, pull out."
He raised an eyebrow. "You're sitting on me."
"Hmm, good point." She lifted off of him, laughing at herself. "Move your hand and lie back."
He did, but he watched her, unsure where this was going. She held her hands to either side of his still-soft dick and balls, fingers extended and stiff. Then she grabbed him, hard, fingers poking at the base of everything.
Derek came, hard, the head of his dick flaring big and open, and it felt so good. He hadn't felt that good having sex since…since he'd slept with a seeding woman, Laura's friend Stephanie in New York. "You're a genius," he said, and pulled Braeden down on top of him, to kiss her and thank her and cuddle.
Derek pulled himself up on Deaton's examination table. "I need a check up. And a license."
"A dog license?" he smiled. "That's good, Derek. That's very good. Your mother would be pleased."
Derek bowed his head. He couldn't figure out how to deal with Deaton, didn't really want to talk to him about his mother or anything like that. Frankly, if he'd had someone else to go to check him out, he would have preferred that. But his only real alternative was Marin, and she was worse. Deaton used his druidic neutrality as an excuse to fuck with people. Marin really meant it, when she said she was going to keep the balance. "So, the checkup and then the paperwork?"
"Of course. Although, it's probably easier if we do the paperwork first, and then I can do the whole exam with you in full wolf form, instead of switching back and forth?"
Derek had one of those little internal checks, the kind he got when one of his assumptions got shaked loose. "I didn't—I mean, yes, you should also check out my wolf form—but I actually wanted a check up of my human shape."
"Oh?" said Deaton. "I—forgive me for not realizing that you were making a third form transition. Although it runs in your family, I've never actually had anything to do with someone who was going through that. It's very uncommon among werewolves. From what I know of your family's traditions, anyone who showed signs of making the change was kept at home and isolated until it was complete. And the eye color change is not part of the normal transition, neither was whatever Kate did to you. I, I can guess why Peter didn't say anything, although it honestly might not have occurred to him either. He would have been quite young when your mother attained her third form, and I believe he was away from the pack when Laura began her transition as well. You were quite young when that happened."
Derek nodded in agreement. He didn't clearly remember a time when Laura didn't have a third shape. It had been one of the reasons they all believed she would be the alpha after Mom, and she'd always been his alpha-to-be. He did have a vague recollection of complaining one year that Laura got two birthdays, and his dad telling him that he would get one when he was older and had a second birth. He'd been freaked out for about a week, thinking that his dad had told him he was pregnant, and not sure how he would carry a baby without exploding. "I've been distracted lately. Caught up in sensation, or even just the memory of sensation. And I couldn't get hard yesterday. So…." He let the sentence trail on.
"You want to know if your winter is going?"
"Yes, I've always had a long winter: no more than three thaws a year. But I haven't had a real spring since before Laura died, and that's been over a year now."
"So, you're a bit overdue," said Deaton, nodding. "Okay, I'm going to get a blanket for the exam table while you get naked."
The thing about being the alpha was, Scott was sort of at a loss as to what he was supposed to be doing. That is to say, as a high school student, he knew how to go to class and do homework and do a sport and whatever. As a part-time veterinary assistant, he could wash animals and feed them and stay out of the cat room, because those fuckers did not like werewolves. As his mother's son, he was pretty good about cleaning the house or taking her an extra meal and trying to keep Stiles from eating her out of house and home. As Stiles' bondmate, he was just himself, and that was more than enough for him and Stiles.
But as the alpha, what was he supposed to be doing when no one was trying to kill the members of his pack? Like, he'd talked to Isaac about what Derek had done as the alpha, which seemed to be a lot of training on how to fight. Which was probably not a bad idea, except Liam said he knew karate or judo or whatever, so he could probably fight better than Scott. And he couldn't teach Lydia or Stiles anything about fighting as a human, because he'd been terrible at that.
What is a wolf pack?, he texted to Stiles.
A howling of werewolves… WTF. howling. Stiles, r u hi? No, like a kiss of vampires... howling of werewolves... cool name, y? No, u suck. Whats a wolf pack 4? Ask Derek maybe… Or Satomi… or Kira's mom?
Scott rolled his eyes and put his phone away. He was supposed to be filing Deaton's appointment notes for the past two weeks, anyway. He had tried to convince Deaton last year that he should get an electronic records system, or at least a spreadsheet for this stuff. But Deaton said that he gave Scott a raise instead, so Scott shut up about it. Stiles told him that he should make the spreadsheet, but Scott didn't have Excel at home, so that was kind of a no-go.
There were a lot of new rabbits for some reason, so Scott had to grab a punch of the electric green labels Deaton used for rabbit clients to make new folders. He decided that the fastest way to get everything done would be to sort the new clients by species, so he could grab all of their labels at once.
Apparently it was rat week, because there six new rats. Were people just going out and buying giant cages of small animals? No, here was a dog client. There was no picture attached to it, which was weird. Deaton took pictures of all of his animal clients, just to make sure he did surgery on the right animals. The picture for this dog wasn't attached.
Scott looked through the piles of paper he'd already sort for a loose picture of a dog, then through the stuff he hadn't sorted yet. He took a closer look at the paperwork, to see if he'd missed something. Maybe an old client had made its way into the new client pile, although the paperwork had the big yellow asterisk Deaton marked first time patient files with.
The more Scott looked at the paperwork, the weirder it was, until he realized that this was clearly a werewolf client, not a dog. Which, should he even be looking at werewolf records? He didn't need to know some guy was starting his thaw for the first time in a year, even if he didn't know him.
He could hear Deaton in with a client, but the heartbeats led him to believe it was just the vet and a small mammal, with the owner not even in the building. He got closer to the exam room, slowly, prepared to back off if this was a cat. When there was no hissing, he went in the room and said, "Uh, I don't think I'm supposed to file the werewolf paperwork. You want me to leave this on your desk?"
"Actually, Scott, come in for a second. Close the door." Deaton didn't look up from where he was inspecting the healing stitches from neutering surgery. "I know you've been distracted from academics for much of the last school year, but I was wondering if you'd given any thought to your future."
Scott tried to smile, but he was cringing internally. Before he was bitten, he and his mom had talked about him going to a CSU. But now that he was the alpha and he had to protect Beacon Hills, he wasn't sure how far away he could realistically go.
"Even before your transformation, I believe you had a real gift with animal care. I was wondering if you had given consideration to becoming a veterinarian."
Scott was glad Deaton wasn't looking at him, because he was pretty sure he had a terrible expression on his face. "I don't know. I mean, cats hate me now." He sighed. "It kind of sucks, because I like cats, but they wig out whenever I go in their boarding room."
Deaton shook his head without looking at Scott. "They're reacting to your scent as a large predator. You can moderate it. Derek could teach you."
"Yeah, ok, but the other thing. Don't I have to stay here? I mean, I'm the alpha now. Aren't I supposed to be doing…something?"
Deaton picked up the corgi on the table and started to pet it, to calm it down a little bit. "Beacon Hills survived without an alpha for six years, Scott. And if you go off to college, you'll leave it behind in better shape than Laura did. Derek will be here. I assume you'll give Satomi leave to look into the situation here from time to time. If Noshiko remains, she will be a powerful ally." He handed the corgi over to Scott. "Here, I think you both need to cuddle for a bit." He picked up the paperwork Scott had originally brought in the room. "But what I wanted to say was, if you do want to become a veterinarian, you're going to have to work harder in your science classes, but I think you have the potential to do it, and I'd be willing to write you recommendations for vet school, if you came back here in the summers and continued to work with me. I'd also help you find a practice or kennel to work with near your college. Continuous clinic work would be very impressive to the admissions committee, if that was something you were interested in. And after you got your degree, I'd help you learn practices for a wider range of supernatural clients, if that was something you were also interested in."
"What are you doing?" asked Derek.
Braeden frowned at him. "Cleaning my guns? Which I taught you about before?"
Derek shook his head and sat down across from her. He pulled the shotgun from her and started to clean it himself, to have something to do with his hands. "No, bigger. You found Kate. Peter's not trying to get his money back anymore. Satomi's pack doesn't need a guardian from the deadpool."
Braeden frowned heavier at him. "I…have a new job; one that's local. It should wrap up by the end of the week, I think. And I've heard things that make me think the Desert Wolf is coming here. I want to be here for her. If it's true." She put her revolver down and sat back. "Am I supposed to clear out now?"
Derek shook his head. "I guess my real question is: what are we doing? Because," he swallowed and looked away from her, "I'm starting a thaw. And if I can find a proper seeding partner, I think it's time to have a kid." He put the shotgun back down on the table, shrugged his shoulders back. "But I don't know where you're at with that, I don't know if children were ever something you would want, or if you would want them with me."
"God, Derek. I don't know. We just met, and now you're talking about kids." Braeden shook her head, picked her guns back up.
Derek shrugged. "I have a really long winter. My last spring was over a year ago, so…." He didn't say anything else, just picked the shotgun back up.
"Do you have an idea about the seed? Are they going to want to join your family?"
Derek sighed. "I have an idea. But I don't know what he's going to think. It's complicated."
Braeden rolled her eyes. "Life is complicated, babe."
Derek didn't say anything, just grinned down at his hands. Babe seemed like a good sign.
The sheriff's station wasn't busy when Derek came in around 11:30 on Thursday morning. He couldn't tell if the staffing was up to par or not. Considering there had been two attacks on personnel in the past year, plus the thing with Parrish, he just didn't know. They did have a deputy at the front desk. a seeding woman he hadn't met before. He turned his best smile on her and said, "I was hoping to speak with Sheriff Stilinski, if he's got a moment. I'm Derek Hale, but it's not an emergency."
She sniffed at him and frowned. "But it's not an emergency?"
He shrugged and pulled back on the smile. "Can I just go back and see if he's busy, or should you call him? Usually, he calls me, so I'm not sure about the protocol."
"Sign in and you can wait here." She pointed at a couple of chairs in the far corner. "I'll let him know." He sat and watched her not go near a phone or a walkie-talkie or even a computer to send an instant message. Derek considered acting out, but it seemed like a bad idea, considering why he was here. The problem was, he didn't have the Sheriff's cell phone number and couldn't text him to ask him to come out.
He decided to wait for a little while. After all, the Sheriff might come out to lunch on his own, and if not, the deputy on the desk might consent to place a call if Derek didn't make trouble at the front. And he'd decided that the best thing he could do before getting pregnant was to start reading baby books, so he pulled a What to Expect When You're Expecting from his backpocket and prepared to camp out.
He wasn't sure how much time had passed when he swam up out of his reading haze. A few people had gone back and forth, but no one he knew until Melissa and Chris Argent came in together. He smelled them first, before they got all the way in the lobby, and he was standing when they crossed the threshold. "What's wrong?" he asked, just as they came in the door. "You were in Mexico. Is she here?"
Derek was not expecting Chris Argent to turn completely red and laugh at him, no more than he'd expected to see Chris Argent in this place any time soon. "Nothing's wrong." He sobered up a little. "My sister didn't get very far. She was wounded and didn't have any water. It took two days to find her body."
Melissa was smiling at him, which was a little disconcerting, but then she said, "We came to pick up Keith. For lunch."
And Derek finally tuned back into his nose, which had gotten whiffs of excitement, anticipation, desire since the two of them had come fully in the room. Derek nodded and sat back down. "Can I talk to him for a minute first?"
Keith Stilinski came out of the bullpen and into the foyer. "Derek, is something—?"
"No, nothing to report." Derek shook his head. "I have a proposal for you, but it's nothing you need to skip lunch for. Can I get some of your time this afternoon?"
Keith narrowed his eyes. "Is this about any of our kids?"
Derek shook his head again. "I came to ask you for a favor, but there's no…implications to it."
Keith gave him a long look but said, easily enough, "Come by around three. I should have some time then."
Derek nodded and walked out past Argent and Melissa. He was stopped, once again, by his nose. He turned back and said, "Congratulations," to Argent, who blanched. Oops.
Argent just blinked slowly and said, "Fucking wolves," under his breath, quietly enough so that Derek was probably the only one to hear. "I hadn't told them anything yet."
Derek just shook his head and walked out. Not his problem. Although he did wonder if a werewolf's half-sibling could grow up to be a hunter and become his problem.
He was late getting home from work, thoughts filled with everything he and Deaton had talked about. He realized, abruptly, that he'd been convinced that he was broken by this wolf thing. Or, not even being a werewolf, but that being an alpha, and the protector of Beacon Hills, that all his choices were taken away. (The money had been part of the problem, too, no lie.) But now, he felt like he had, if not the future he wanted, he had the possibility of a future, the way he hadn't really felt like he had since he dreamed of killing a man on a school bus.
He was supposed to meet Kira for supper, but she wasn't the right person for this since of discovery and wellbeing. He pulled out his phone and texted Stiles.
Come to my house. Stay the night.
Stiles texted back
He made enchiladas, sloppy, not like his abuela's, but they would taste good and Stiles would eat them without complaint. He called Kira while he worked in the kitchen. "Stiles needs me tonight; I'm sorry." It should have tasted like a lie in his mouth, but it really didn't. Since he was little, he and Stiles had attributed their thoughts and feelings to one another, occasionally their actions. They had bonded so much younger than normal, before anyone had told them what it meant, before they knew that they could choose not to.
Kira said, "Is everything okay? Are you all right?"
He smiled, because he always liked people who understood that he and Stiles bled for each other. "Yeah, it's not bad, just urgent. You know?"
"Not really, but I'll take your word for it. Should I let you go?" She sighed a little as she said, the phone crackling.
"Kira, are you doing something to your phone? The connection's breaking up."
There was a quiet. He could hear her heart beat and rustling sounds, but he couldn't identify what she was doing on the other end. He could hear her breathing on the phone for just a moment before she said, "My mom suggested I get a rubber case, and I ignored her, but I think she's right. It's not smoking exactly, but my phone smells ozone-y."
Scott laughed at her, because she was ridiculous, and it's one of the things he liked most about her. "Could be worse. Stiles dropped his first cell phone in a milkshake."
"No!" Kira giggled at him.
"Yep. It wasn't even his milkshake; he managed to throw it halfway across the diner while he was trying to take a picture."
Kira giggled some more without saying anything.
"Hold on a second." He put the phone down and took tortillas out of the frying pan with a spatula. His mom had made him promise to stop touching hot food with his hands, even though he healed right after. She said she wouldn't be able to eat any more meat if she kept smelling his burning flesh, which he didn't think was fair; it wasn't like she was the one feeling any pain. But he got the tortillas out of the pan and the onions into it, and picked the phone up again. "Sorry, back."
"I was thinking about us." She didn't say anything else, let the silence hang for a minute.
"What were you thinking?"
"Well, it's more like my dad was thinking. But I think it might be fun. And it doesn't have to be really serious, even if people wait. I mean, we haven't been dating—seeing each other that long, I know. And it's not like this would be an introduction. But it would be an excuse. For a party, I mean. So, what do you think?" Kira wound up, breathless.
Scott thought he could picture her face and the way she would look at him with big, excited eyes. "I don't know what you're asking. I mean, I'm all in favor of a party, but what would it be for?"
"Oh, a, um, a metmeet. And I think I know everyone, but it's fun. It could be a fun thing."
Scott choked on air and nearly dropped his phone, but werewolf reflexes won out. "You're seeing somebody? Who? When?" For the moment, Scott decided to glide over the question of whether he and Kira were really serious enough for a metamour meeting. And the fact that Stiles and Kira knew each other and were on the same lacrosse team, so there was no one Kira would be meeting, anyway.
Kira snorted at him. "Not me, you. I mean Stiles and Derek and Liam and me, we should talk, I think."
That time Scott did drop the phone. "I am not romantically involved with Liam, Kira. That's so wrong!," he shouted as he picked up the phone. "Oh, and I'm not dating Derek, what the hell?"
Kira sounded dubious when she said, "Are you sure you're not dating Derek? I mean, does he know that? Because he was kind of…intense when you were gone. I thought we were just not saying anything because he's old." She sounded more normal when she added, "I know Liam's not your boyfriend, but he is your beta. He's important to you. I mean, you're working on it. Your relationship with him."
Scott started to say that of course he would know if he were dating Derek. And he's sure that he's not. But he's not sure if Derek's in his pack, and shouldn't he be as clear on that as he would be on a romantic relationship? "I think it would be weird to have Liam at my met metmeet. And you don't need to metmeet Stiles, you can just talk to him." He sighed. "And maybe I should talk to Derek before you think about talking to him."
Kira made an agreeing sort of hum and added, "Can I ask a nosy question?"
Scott laughed. "You mean another nosy question. Yeah."
"What's Derek's valence?"
Scott was about to say that he didn't know when he answered, "Blooming." He had smelled his valence out, even though Derek had a neutral presentation. "The nose knows."
Stiles never snuck up on werewolves, because it was impossible. But he did occasionally leap on them, and he thought about jumping on Scott, but he spotted the hot skillet in time to decide that discretion was the better part of valor, and he just put his arms around Scott's waist and smacked a giant, wet, loud kiss on his neck.
"Stiles is here and demanding attention," Scott said into the phone. "I'll call you tonight, before bed, though." A pause. "Bye." Another pause. "Yes, tomorrow." Another pause, and Stiles grabbed the phone and said, "He adores your face, but it's time for Scott to go now, Kira." He hung up.
Scott pushed Stiles away from him, but Stiles kept hold of the phone.
"Dude," said Scott, laughing and irritated at the same time.
"Dude," said Stiles in return, cheerful and chipper and just a little bit irritating. "You called me, because Kira couldn't handle it, whatever it is. I think that means I don't have to listen to the two of you say, 'goodbye, good night, I love you, no I love you more' for half an hour before I eat." He shoved Scott in the shoulder, as hard as he could, and Scott didn't move a millimeter.
Scott laughed at him again and said, "Fair," and leaned over and whuffled into his hair. Stiles pushed Scott away, pushed at Scott rather, and Scott went with it, heading back to the stove and his food, which, by some miracle (or perhaps just a supernatural nose) wasn't burning.
Stiles headed into the refrigerator to see what he could see. If nothing else, there would be the mysterious containers of white rice that Melissa kept cooking for no apparent reason. "So, what is this truth that Kira can't handle? I mean, far be it from me to complain about an entire night of Scott cuddles, but I haven't had an entire night of Scott cuddles for about six months. So, what's the occasion?"
Scott didn't say anything for a good long time, but Stiles felt like he should wait to see what the what was. Their bond was funny, in that they weren't really empathic, the way a lot of bondmates were, and they'd scored so low on telepathy that the bond counselor they'd seen when Stiles' mom died said that they were probably shielding on an instinctual level. Random chance would have given a higher telepathy score. But they also knew how to handle each other on an instinctual level, and, right now, Stiles' instincts were telling him to shut up and give Scott space.
Scott finished rolling the tortillas and covering them, put them all in the oven before he worked his way up to the sharing portion of the evening. "Deaton said. He said I can leave for college when I want to."
Stiles turned and crashed into Scott, hugging the hell out of him. "No Alpha slash nemeton jail‽ That's amazing. So, we're back to the Plan, yes!"
Scott made a neutral sounding noise. "Uh, we were still losers who only had each other in the Plan."
Stiles dismissed this with a shrug of his shoulders.
It was true that when they were ten and had first heard that college was a place you could go and live without your parents and without getting a mortgage—they had not known what a mortgage, was but they'd heard all of their parents complain about having to pay theirs—the Plan had involved going to the same college and staying in the same room playing Duke Nukem and watching Batman cartoons all day. As they'd gotten a little older and a little more aware of the world, they'd refined the Plan, with a year at the community college followed by three years of living it up at one of the UC's. Which one changed from month to month, and as Scott made the honor roll less and less, they started looking into schools close by but with lower admission standards. But the Plan had been severely modified when Stiles realized that Allison wasn't going away, then again when she did go to France and Stiles, at least, thought she might never come back. The Plan had drifted into nothingness when Stiles got first nogistune-sick, then nogitsune-violent. And it had stayed gone in the face of the dead pool, and they're feeling that "under threat" might be Beacon Hills' new normal.
"Well, I know we didn't plan on being teenage daddies, but I think we can probably just fit Liam on a futon in the living room. He doesn' need a real bed," said Stiles.
He felt Scott go still under his hands, then pull back to look at him. Scott's eyes were huge and his mouth hung open a little bit.
Enchilada recipe. This is not a recommendation, I've never made the recipe, I just needed to pick one so I could write the chapter.
Derek was tempted not to leave the loft at 2:30. He remembered his mother's admonition to leave the humans to themselves. And he didn't know if the sheriff's department had a role into which he could fit.
Maybe he was looking in the wrong direction to find someplace to be of use. Maybe he should approach Satomi, see if she had any use for him. Or maybe Braeden could use a partner in her work. His skill set wasn't unique, but sometimes all you really needed was a second set of eyes, someone to pass the watch off to.
But he wanted the Sheriff to think well of him, to not view him as the most likely suspect when a supernaturally dead body appeared (or to at least assume Derek had a good reason to kill.)
He got to the sheriff's station five minutes early, even with all of his dithering. The same woman from earlier was still on the front desk, but this time she waved him thorough without any run around. He smiled at her, a low watt version of his getting things smile, as he went back.
He hesitated at the Sheriff's door because he could smell and hear that Chris Argent was still inside.
"Come in," called the Sheriff.
Derek did, nodding at Argent as he sat down.
"I asked Chris to stay so we can keep everyone on the same page. There's too much siloing, not enough communication between groups. I know you all have great reasons to keep secrets, but that secrecy was part of why Peter got as far as he did."
Derek didn't know what to do with this declaration. On the one hand, the Sheriff was right, they were all left more vulnerable by isolation. On the other... "We can't work with the Calaveras. I can't and Scott can't. I don't know what Stiles told you about going to get me in Mexico, but they tortured Scott and Kira. I think they did something to Lydia too."
"Chris?" asked the Sheriff, and the look on his face was something complex and foreboding that Derek couldn't parse. He could smell pain wafting off of him, emotional pain.
"The enemy of my enemy, Keith. Kate set Scott and Kira up to die, and she did a major working on Derek in order to steal from the last of the Hales." Chris wasn't making excuses, just calmly stating his reasons.
Derek said, "If Kate's dead now, then there's nothing to make me work with them. Or you, if you're working for them."
"I'm not," said Chris.
The Sheriff relaxed minutely, but his face still looked thunderous. "Then do you and he not have a problem right now, Derek?"
Derek thought about it for a minute, but there was nothing lingering. The Argents had destroyed the Hales, or nearly, but Chris hadn't done it. And since they'd run into Scott, the Argents had broken all of their teeth and then some, hunting what they couldn't kill. "No problem," he said.
"Get out, Chris," said the Sheriff, without moving his eyes away from Derek's face.
"What?" said Chris rising halfway, reaching towards him with one hand.
The Sheriff closed his eyes. "We have a problem right now. I practically raised Scott; he's been my son's bondmate since they were six. We're not okay, and we're not having this out in front of Derek Hale. Get out. And call Melissa and tell her."
"I—," started Chris, but the Sheriff cut him off with a wave of his hand.
"Chris, you're going to call Melissa so she doesn't try to cut you. Get out."
Derek concentrated on being still and quiet while he watched Chris Argent pull himself to his feet, slowly, and walk out with his head held, not high, but normally, correctly. Derek could smell his distress, but he couldn't see it at all.
The sheriff took a few moments to collect himself, and then he turned his gaze on Derek. "You didnt come here to destroy my love life, I don't think. What do you want, son?"
Derek couldn't figure out how to say he was sorry, wasn't sure whether or not he had anything to be sorry for, so he just answered the question. "At the hospital, looking at the wendigo's body and kills, you told people I was a consult. I was wondering if we could…formalize that. Paperwork, ID, access."
"Paycheck?" asked the Sheriff.
Derek nodded. "The most important thing about maintaining the masquerade is to not give people a reason to check things out more closely. It's going to be odd enough to have an uncredentialed consultant hanging around the station."
"Especially since I suspect the cases I call you in on will be the sort that never go to trial," said the Sheriff thoughtfully.
"Most of them won't see an arrest. Or, they wouldn't have, with my mother. It'll be different with Scott. More stays at Eichen."
The Sheriff nodded thoughtfully. "I tried to go back through my old cases with an eye towards—with an increased awareness. But I don't really know what I'm looking for, except strange. Why don't we start out with those? You point me in the right direction on those, and we'll see about formalizing the department's working relationship with you." He leaned back and sat more heavily in his chair. "You probably will need some sort of credential I can wave at the town fathers and the FBI if they come back to check into you." He sighed. "I know that Crhis knows people who can produce the necessary paperwork. Let me think about what sort of consultant makes the most sense, and we'll get it figured out."
Derek stared at him. He knew the silence was stretching out too long, but he he honestly couldn't figure out what to say except, "Thank you, sir."
"Call me Keith, Derek. Anybody not in uniform calls me sir, it makes me feel old."
Derek raised an eyebrow at that, but he just said, "Keith."
Stiles was curled up on the bed, nose deep in his phone, when Scott came back from brushing teeth. "Anything good?"
"Just Malia saying good night," said Stiles, and the smile on his face was soft and startled, the way it usually was when he thought about her.
Scott bounced on the bed, not quite on Stiles, but close enough that he could reach out and tangle their limbs together. "Where does she fit in the Plan?"
Stiles wriggled beneath him, a full body shrug, not an effort to get away. "She's not going to college, I don't think. So maybe she can come with us?"
Scott made a mild sound of not quite agreement. "Do you want to have her baby, someday?"
"I don't know. I don't know if I really want kids, like, of my own flesh and blood." Stiles rubbed his head against Scott's cheek. "You will have beautiful babies that I will spoil rotten and hand back to you and their mother when they poop. That sounds like a good plan to me. Plan II."
Scott sighed. "I didn't used to want babies, but now, I want…I'm not sure if it's babies or betas, stiles. I just want to have people that are mine."
"You have people, Scott. You have me—."
"Always," Scott said, smooching his temple.
"—Liam, Derek, Kira, our parents, Chris Argent—which is just weird, because I remember when he literally wanted to kill you, Malia, at least sometimes. Deaton, probably. Lydia, at least until we graduate. A lot, Scott. We have a lot of people now. More than we ever thought lacrosse would get us." Stiles sighed and just relaxed into a puddled. He smelled content, which Scott liked a lot.
Scott squeezed him close, but not too hard, always gentle with mere human bodies. "No, I know there's a lot of people we're connected to. But the alpha-beta bond is something else, and I've really only got it with Liam. I need more people that belong to me. Submit to me." He shivered. "I don't know how Laura did it for six years, with just Derek as a beta."
Stiles hmmm'd thoughtfully but shallowly, in the way he had when he was falling asleep but his mind really hadn't shut off yet. "Do we know that? I mean, we know Derek is the only one who came, but do we know he didn't leave anyone behind?"
Scott thought about everything they knew about Derek and Laura and the time when Derek had been an alpha. "I think, if he had people to call, he would have gone to them when he became the alpha. There wasn't anything for him here, after he killed Peter."
"Jacksn," mumbled Stiles, and he was almost entirely gone.
Scott snorted. Nobody would have stayed for Jackson, except his parents. And maybe Lydia.
Tempting though it is, Derek's shopping cart does not get filled with all of the butters, oils, cheeses, and creams Trader Joe's can offer. He is suddenly, ravenously hungry. It's not clear to him if it's the power of suggestion or his thaw kicking in, but he hasn't even decided to get a pregnant. He's definitely not going to start fattening himself up yet.
Might go make an appointment with a physician about prenatal vitamins, though. It wasn't strictly necessary for a werewolf, but it didn't hurt.
He finished up the shopping and headed home. He never knew if Braeden would be around for meals, but he always made enough for more. He and Laura had never learned to scale back their recipes learned from their grandparents; they'd just eaten lots of leftovers. Leftovers were good for when you were depressed and couldn't get the motivation to do do more than go the refigerator and eat with the cool air making your nose numb and the crumbs faling on the floor.
That wasn't a problem here. He had even given some thought to installing a salamander, but his real estate agent had convinced him that it would only lower the resale value, because of how energy inefficient it was for even a large family. But since he'd had to put the kitchen in when he'd bought the place, he'd decided on a top of the range, near professional kitchen.
And he cooked in it, too, even if he felt foolish using only two of eight eyes. He had some thought about designating one eye for strictly herbal preparations, if he ever took up apothecary practice like his cousin Glinda.
But tonight's dinner was going to be easy. He had escaped without all of the cheese, but he did have one of TJ's frozen fettucines for dinner. He didn't feel like really cooking, and he didn't particularly feel like meat.
Derek thought his dietary preferences were going to be all over the place for his whole thaw.
He made himself a fresh salad to go with the pasta, and he was just dishing up when Braeden came in. She sniffed when she came in, but he was fairly certain that she wouldn't be able to make out what was going on the table from the door. "Pasta and salad, but no tomatoes. You want to eat now?"
She dropped her stuff in the corner where her bags stayed—maybe he shoudl get some more furniture. Where was he going to put a baby, if he had one‽—and stretched, put her hands against the wall and just pushed her hands and feet. She stood up and faced him and asked, "Do we have to talk?"
He shook his head. "I have a long thaw. And then an entire pregnancy to go through. We have time."
She nodded back at him and walked to him, rubbed her hands up and down his arms, then got herself a plate. "I have reason to believe," she started, after they ate in silence for several minutes, "that the Desert Wolf is coming to Beacon Hills."
He looked at her, waiting for her to continue. He raised an eyebrow and motioned her to go on when she stayed silent.
She shrugged. "She's dangerous. She's killed people. When I was with the Marshalls, I planned to take her in. But…," she shook her head from side to side. "Now that I'm on the inside, I know that there might be good reasons why. Hell, there might be bad reasons why but there might be better reasons not to take her in." She smiled sardonically. "Presuming, of course, that I could take her in. She's been the Desert Wolf for more than fifteen years, and I assume she was working on her master's in bad ass before that."
"I have to tell Scott," he said.
She rolled her eyes. "Yes, telling you was mostly for me to tell your alpha without having to deal with Stilinski creeper again."
He blinked at her slowly, twice.
"What? You totally called him spastic in my presence—which, by the way," she pointed with her fork, "that's politically incorrect—and you like him about as much as your Uncle Peter."
He frowned and waved that away with his hand. It wasn't true, none of the feelings he had for Peter could be encompassed by a feeble sort of word like like and none of his feelings for Stiles were strong enough. "Scott's not my alpha."
Braeden sighed heavily and redirected her attention to her plate. "It's really boring when you lie to me. Not when you're an asshole about it; I kind of like asshole-you. But trying to just," she hunched her shoulders up and down, "gaslight me, like I don't know the man behind the curtain. Don't."
"But he's not," said Derek. "He's never asked, I never offered. I'm pretty close to going omega." He sighed. "I was thinking of offering for Satomi, actually."
Braeden looks at him silently for a long minute, then starts eating again.
He takes a breath, tries to suss out her mood, but he's put too much onion in the salad and garlic in the salad dressing. He's nose blind until it gets cleared out. "Are you mad? Why?"
She blinked at him slowly and said, "Ask me again later. You agreed we didn't have to Talk with dinner and this would be part of a talk."
They didn't talk again for the rest of the night.They finished eating and Braeden cleaned up, shooed him away when he started to wash the dishes like he usually did. He tried to circle around the loft, but he felt sort of stupid. It was a big living space, but not a pacing space. He dug out the license tag which had come in the mail earlier that day and looked through his necklaces to see if he had anything wide enough for his neck when he went full wolf.
When he'd stripped and switched and padded to the door to go out, he realized that he had an opposable thumb problem. He tried standing on three feet and switching just one hand back to human, but he hadn't figured it out before Braeden came up behind him and put a hand on his head, right between his ear, and scratched him good. "Give me ten minutes to change clothes, and I'll go jogging with you."
Wolves don't bark, so he turned his head to the side and rubbed against her ribs, then sat and waited.
The difficulty with working on the sheriff's cases was that it left Derek cooped up in his loft. He couldn't take the files with him anywhere. Most of them shouldn't have left the sheriff's office to begin with, let alone been handed off to a civilian with no official status. So far he had been able to pace himself a bit, fifty minutes on the files and then ten minutes of movement, and outside at least every other hour.
The one thing he did regret about the loft was its location. There wasn't any real greenery around, and he didn't have the money to buy a neighboring building and raze it, take it down to the lot. And, honestly, this was a semi-industrial area, he wasn't sure that he could coax anything to grow well here.
Oh god, he was subconsciously thinking about a baby. He looked down at his body. It hadn't betrayed him, but it was making everything so much more confusing. He pulled himself up into some of the piping, prepared to do chin ups until he stopped thinking. It wasn't like those files had a deadline.
He wasn't expecting Braeden to come home in the middle of the day. He heard her approaching, so even though he startled and fell, he had time to pick himself up before she got to the door.
"Hey," she said, and she came up to him and nuzzled him.
"Everything all right?" he said. He could smell that something wasn't right with Braeden, but it was habit, with humans, to pretend he didn't know them through their scents.
She didn't say anything, just squeezed him tighter. Then tighter still, tight enough she might have hurt a human man. At that he picked her up, because it wasn't exactly comfortable, and walked to the bed with her in his arms. He lay them down together on the bed, and she eeled herself around him, squeezing, but nott unbearably tight.
"I haven't cut all ties to the Marshall service. To the people in the service. And tonight I got the news that one of us didn't make it out of a bust alive. I wasn't expecting it. And, it took me a long time to hear about it. Longer than I really tink it should have. I'm upset about that part too, tha tno one thought to tell me until I checked in." She shivered round him. "It's like I'm alone out here." She shook her head, then buried her nose in his neck. "I've got you and I've got me. And that's it."
He rolled them, put his arm around her and some of his weight, too. "I'm glad you know you've got me."
She sighed. "I've only half got you. McCall was there first, being all true alpha at you."
He sighed in return. The need to follow a true alpha wasn't something he could really explain to her. It was a religious imperative, but it was also just because Scott was good enough to be a true alpha. How could he not follow the best person he knew? The world needed Scott, or at least werewolves did.
Derek's plan to text people more often hadn't really worked out. He wasn't sure why he was so reluctant to use a phone in that way. It wasn't as if he liked talking on a phone any better; you couldn't read a person's scents or features to tell what they were thinking over a phone. Most telephony read anything as subtle as a heartbeat as background noise and muted it.
Maybe that was why he didn't like texting. At least a letter had smells on it.
His plan to not get kidnapped without being noticed was going better, though. Well, of course, as long as Braeden lived with him, she would notice if he were kidnapped. Odds seemed pretty high that if he were kidnapped, she would be there for it thought, and be kidnapped or killed herself.
But he also made sure to touch base with Scott occasionally. Not in the creeper way that he'd overheard Stiles complaining about. He wasn't following the kids all day when there wasn't any particular reason to be on alert. But Scott was pretty predictable: school, lacrosse, Deaton's three nights a week, and one night each for his mom, Stiles, and Kira. He seemed to keep a night for himself, and he sometimes took Liam (and even Mason, who seemed to be inextricably part of the Liam package) on his appointed social rounds.
Derek found it easy enough to get to Deaton's at the end of Scott's shift, if he wanted to say a few words. He went to lacrosse games pretty often; he still didn't think Liam's control was good enough for him to play organized sports, but it wasn't his call.
This afternoon was different. Scott had shown up at the loft, alone, and asked if he could just hang out for a little while. He'd brought a book with him—Steven King, so Derek didn't think it was homework, but who knew what they taught in the schools these days. And he'd sat on the couch and fallen asleep.
Derek was of two minds about this development. On the one hand, it was so good to have another friendly wolf in his home. He loved Braeden, and he thought that her presence might just explain why he hadn't gone omega yet, even though he had not approached Satomi about joining her back. On the other hand, what the hell was so stressing in Scott's life that he came to Derek's to take a nap? Derek wasn't so old that he'd forgotten that high school could be genuinely stressful, even without hunters trying to kill you. He himself had become an expert on naps (97 minutes was the perfect amount of time to set your alarm to wake up, sleep with a glass of water beside the bed and a piece of fruit out of reach, white noise was both necessary and a constitutional right) but he'd always slept at home. The farthest he'd ever gotten was his sister's bed, and that was either him missing her when she was off at school or him being kind of an asshole while she was home. None of his friends had ever mentioned napping at other people's houses. Sometimes the video games or physical games went on long enough that you all ended up in a sleepy, friendly pile. And those lucky members of the sophomore class who had found the protracted privacy required to engage in real sex had sometimes dozed off together afterward. But simple straight up napping? By yourself? In someone else's house? Not a thing.
So Derek bit the bullet and texted Stiles.
Why is Scott asleep on my couch?
He waited several minutes productively, grabbing an extra blanket and a glass of water for Scott, putting It on the coffee table before the book fell on the floor.
Did you put him there? He's supposed to be studying geography with me and the girls, but he didn't show.
Derek didn't believe this required an answer, so he didn't send a reply. He just put the blanket over Scott and sat at the other end of the couch. It would have been too boundary pushing—his boundaries, if not necessarily Scott's—to drape himself all over the sleeping alpha. But sitting next to him on the couch was fine.
He pulled out What to Expect, and picked back up at the beginning of the second trimester.
Derek didn't fall asleep. He didn't, you couldn't prove otherwise, no one had seen him. But he did fall into a tranquil, relaxed state, deep enough that Braeden was able to come into the loft and stand in front of him before he could consciously register her.
She had a grin on her face and her phone out and angled towards Scott. Her flash didn't go off, but her grin brightened and she flipped the phone to show him: she'd cut his eyes out of frame, and Scott's were closed, so there was no eye glare. Scott had stretched out and wriggled around so his legs were over the side of the couch and his head was now in Derek's lap. Scott was drooling softly on Derek's jeans, breath huffing warm and soft against Derek's abs. She said, "Did you adopt a puppy while I was working?"
He rolled his eyes at her and then rolled his neck, stretched out his arms. The dying light through the window made him think he and Scott had been here for a couple of hours. "He fell asleep before he could say why he was here."
"Did he say if he was staying for dinner? I really only bought enough for two, but I can make a salad or something." She leaned over and kissed him on the head.
"He didn't say, but I like salad anyway. Also, he's seventeen; as long as there's no wolfsbane in it, he can eat."
Scott stirred a little at that, flipped so he was face up. His waking up face was, of course, an adorable sunshine grin that just got bigger as he got more aware. "I will happily eat ribs with you," he said. "But I can go."
Derek reached down and put a hand on Scott's side, gave the gentlest of squeezes. "I'd like it if you stayed."
"What am I supposed to do?" asked Scott. He was standing over Derek's stove, turning some left over rice into dessert. He said it was to thank Derek for putting up with him, but Derek suspected Scott was still hungry. He didn't mind.
"Do what?" asked Derek.
Scott's face scrunched up, like he'd heard fingernails on a chalkboard. "I can feel a 'that's what she said' joke just sitting there, begging to come out. But it doesn't work."
Derek waited Scott out.
Scott sighed. "I don't know what an alpha is supposed to do. Except maybe fighiting drills and keeping Liam from biting people." Scott sighed. "What did Laura do? What did your mom do?"
Derek turned to look for ginger and cloves. He wasn't expecting to have this conversation, wasn't going to be able to have it while looking at Scott. "Laura ran. We went to the gym a lot, ran around in state parks, and moved every three months. It was not…ideal." He pulled out a vanilla bean and took the lemon oil off the shelf. He needed to use it up soon, anyway. "My mom was a writer. She wrote young adult books, mostly ghost writing. And she traveled a lot. She was a pretty big deal in the wider community." He started to pull out his almond essence, then put it back. Ginger and clove and vanillas were more than intense enough. "You don't have to do anything. My great-uncle Tommy, who was the alpha before Mom, he didn't do anything outside of our territory. He protected the nemeton, and he ran dangerous things out of Beacon Hills. But he didn't do anything. He didn't even go to church."
"He didn't even go to church?"
"Four Holy Winds church. It's usually supernatural, if it's non-denominational. Or Christian Science or Unitarian," said Derek. "Occasionally Mormon, but not LDS."
"There's a werewolf church‽" Scott stopped stirring and turned to face Derek.
Derek shrugged and brought his collection of spices over to Scott. "It's not just werewolves, although it's usually mostly werewolves. We give birth and we turn humans, so there's a lot of werewolves. Relatively speaking."
"Have you ever been?"
Derek snorts. "I was in the choir. Laura helped in the biters' nursery."
"Biters' nursery? Like baby wendigos went to your church?"
Derek leaned toward the steaming pot of rice and sniffed. He dropped the vanilla bean in, along with four cloves. He was going to need a grater for the ginger. "Nobody like wendigos, Scott. Jesus said to turn the other cheek, he didn't say cut off your hand and feed it to your enemies."
Scott plunked a lid over the rice. "Nobody asked you to put more spices in my rice pudding. Now it's going to taste funny." He leaned over and sniffed at the ginger anyway, then hissed and pulled back. "Stings."
"Your pudding isn't going to cook down if you leave it covered." Derek took his spices back and started putting them away again. "So, you know. Protect the tree and the pack. Grow the pack. Watch the hills." Derek looked at Scott suddenly, a bit of alarm in his voice. "You are planning to come back, aren't you?"
"Come back from where?" asked Scott.
"College. I just assumed you were going to college. At least to Chico or Sacramento."
Scott twisted his shoulder and looked away. "Community college first, probably. Then Stiles and me are supposed to take, um, I think San Francisco was the last place we decided on, we're supposed to take it by storm. We have a Plan."
"A plan to come back?" asked Derek. He flexed his fingers, the way you did sometimes to keep your claws in.
"Yes, definitely. Our parents wouldn't know what to do without us."
Derek managed not to say Chris Argent out loud, but he did snort, just a little bit.
"Shut up," said Scott. "Should I go to werewolf church?"
"Not if you're going to call it werewolf church. Other people get…annoyed if werewolves do too much."
Scott made a displeased face. "Eh, my mom would probably get annoyed if I went to church and it wasn't Our Lady of Peace."
Derek was confused. "Aren't you guys two blocks from St. Anthony's?"
Scott burst out laughing. "Yeah, but my mom went to Peace high school, and she'd kill me if I went to the Wild Hogs' church. She still goes to Field Day and everything."
Scott meant to make this rice pudding. I've never tried it, I just need to know the recipe when I'm writing someone cooking.
The church name comes from Ezekiel 37:9Google couldn't find any Four Holy Winds Churches, but, if you do come across one, it is not secretly run by a cabal of werewolves or other supernatural people. I made that up.
Then he ordered me, "Prophesy to the Spirit, Son of Man. Tell the Spirit, 'This is what the Lord GOD says: "Come from the four winds, you Spirit, and breathe into these people who have been killed, so they will live."'"
"I want you, but I don't really want a baby," was how Braeden summarized her thoughts. "Is that the end of us?"
Derek stuck his nose in her cleavage and wrapped himself around her. He pulled a couple deep breaths and said, "If you live with me, I'm going to lean on you to help with the baby. But I don't want you to go away."
"I could go…close. I mean I travel a lot anyway, but isn't there another floor to this place? We could finish it and I could rent it from you."
He curled his fingers around her right wrist and thought about that. He'd bought this place while he was still an alpha, with a view to making it pack housing. It was unusual for werewolves to den in a city, but it wasn't unheard of. He and Laura had checked out a few condos in New York that turned out to be dens.
"Are you going to be upset if the seed parent moves in?"
She snorted. "You can use Scott's name. And, no. I'm okay with your alpha having higher priority in your life than I do. And your cub."
"I will be having a baby. And Scott is not my alpha."
"I will be having a baby," said Derek again, slowly. He hadn't realized that he'd made up his mind, definitely, to do it.
Braeden swept her hand down his back, squeezed his hand. "The only person surprised by that is you."
He shook his head. "I meant to think about it. Deliberately."
She shrugged, pulled her arms tighter around him and snuffled into the top of his head. "You have money. No one's trying to kill you. You want a bigger pack, and this is the way you can make one now. Since you're omega," and that last bit was definitely her mocking him. "You want a family, and I'm not quite—."
"You are, though," he said, voice low and fast.
He could feel her body tense up against his, but his nose said excitement and pleasure, not rejection. "I'm not domesticated enough. You want to start a pack house, and I'm transient." She kissed his cheek, though. "I can be transient with a home base, though."
He put his mouth on her then, happy not-quite-gnawing on her collarbone. "Are you an orphan?" he asked suddenly. He realized that he loved Braeden (even if he hadn't said it [except he just had]), trusted her with his life and with Scott's, would trust her with what kids may come, but his knowledge about her past was still glancing, scattered.
She tensed up more then, twisted like she wanted to get away from him. "No, my parents and my sister are fine. We're just…estranged. My whole family's in law and law enforcement. The rebel was my cousin Abbie; she got her MSW and then started working as a guardian ad litem within five years." She sighed and relaxed, put her fingers through his hair. "When I got drummed out of the Marshalls…."
He reached up and kissed her. It was enough. Enough to make him understand how she could let him claim her as family, but not offer relatives in exchange. Which reminded him, "There were four survivors. Of the Fire."
"Oh," she said. Her fingers picked up speed, where they were rubbing on his back, and her scent evened out.
"My sister Cora ran south. My mother's last command as an alpha, she pushed a little too hard, and Cora wound up in South America."
Braeden licked her lips and sat with that for just a moment. "I take it she's made a life there. Found a pack of her own?"
"She's settled and safe there. I checked." He burrowed back into her collar bone, huffing a little. He understood Cora's decision. Hell, he'd been fucked with by a nogitsune, kidnapped, and fatally stabbed since she'd been gone. But it left him alone and unaffiliated and unhappy. Omega whispered in the back of his head.
Derek was still confused about how Beacon Hills had turned from being all about basketball to lacrosse. He'd been in high school seven years ago, it wasn't that long. Further, he didn't understand what people saw in lacrosse as a sport.
He knew that humans didn't have the problems he sometimes had on outdoor sports field, being distracted by animal life. (He'd run track in high school and managed to take out an entire relay team when he got distracted by a hawk one time. Managed to convince the coach he was dehydrated, thank god.)
But this sport was boring, a bunch of boys and Kira running around with sticks in their hands. And he couldn't even bring a book, because he was here to watch Liam and stop a massacre.
"There's a werewolf—his alpha—and a kitsune on the field and a werecoyote in the stands. Why do you do this to yourself?" asked Malia.
"If something happens and I'm not here, I'll always wonder if I could have stopped it. And lacrosse isn't actual torture. It's just boring."
Malia chuckled. "It helps if you imagine that they're squirrels. Lots and lots of squirrels."
He looked at them like that for just a minute, then blinked and shook his head. "Now, I'm hungry."
Malia waved a thing under his nose, and he bit the venison jerky before he'd done more than register the motion. It was good, not salty or full of chemicals. "Thanks."
"Mr. Tate doesn't know what to do with me, so he buys me things. Dehydrator."
Derek took the rest of the jerky from her hand and made a sort of inquisitive noise. He found Malia restful, the same way that the woods were restful. He never had to guess what she was thinking and feeling because she saw no reason to hide anything.
"Did you know Peter is my father?"
Derek felt the universe laughing at him just a little bit. He snapped up the rest of the strip of jerky and he thought about it. "I knew you smelled…clean. Easy. But I thought it was just from living in the woods." He licked his lips. "I never knew that Peter had a child. We would have looked for you. I think Laura and I would have looked for you."
Malia was quiet for a few moments, and then Kira made a pass to Scott that Scott got to Liam, who scored. The crowd exploded and Derek sat there, concentrating on not wincing. The players set up for the faceoff, and Malia said, "Are you going to be nicer to me now?"
"I want to," said Derek. "But I'll stay away if that's what you'd prefer."
Malia moved closer to him, so her coat wasn't quite brushing his arm. "Stiles doesn't like you. But Scott does."
Derek shrugged, leaned back on his hands so he was touching her coat, just a little. "Stiles is a dick. But you're not Stiles. I like Scott and not Stiles, even though they're bonded."
Malia said nothing to that for a very long time. Then she said, "I'm going to lean on you," held for just a few seconds, then did.
He moved his arm to snuggle around her, pulled her in a bit closer and more comfortably to his side.
When Derek brought the files back to the Sheriff, he'd attached three different flags to them.
Green flags were ones that didn't involve anything other.
Blue flags were ones that Derek was fairly certain his family had taken care of. He'd had to check with some people at church, and it had been difficult to explain why he was asking, but then Ms. Grentle, whose great-great-great grandmother had been a dryad, expressed sympathy for him building a family history, and it became easier. Easier to explain, if not easier to have the conversations.
Red flags were supernatural, but Derek couldn't tell when or if they'd been resolved. Thankfully, this was the smallest pile.
Orange flags were for the cases where Derek just couldn't tell. Most supernatural creatures could use a weapon just fine, and many of them had motives for death that involved things the police didn't bother to learn and write down about victims. Most of these were older though, from when his great uncle had been alpha.
Derek had attached his notes and thoughts about each case to the front of the folder with paper clips, and the sheriff flipped through a few as Derek sat in front of him, waiting for a reaction. He closed his eyes, better to smell the man, but Derek didn't know the sheriff well enough to easily interpret the quiet scent filling the room. The sheriff wasn't alarmed or upset and he wasn't overly enthused.
Derek sat in silence and listened to the noises from the bullpen, lazy gossip and very professional, very reassuring phone calls.
The sheriff put aside a thick file flagged orange and sighed. "These are apparently very useful observatins about a whole lot of things I don't know much about. And some really dumb ones about things that I am more familiar with." He steepled his fingers. "While it's clear that you are a very dedicated watcher of Law & Order, that's going to steer you the wrong way with this. Lot of ways Callfornia is different from New York, or the present is different from the past." He cocked his head to one side. "You've got a good eye for detail though. I'd like to work out some way to take you up on your consulting proposal."
"I'm happy to hear that, Keith."
The sheriff sat back in his chair. "The alternate path, and the one that would, in large way s be easier on me," said the sheriff slowly, "would be for you to sign up for the academy and join the force. I've got a lot of empty chairs to fill out there."
Derek shook his head. "That wouldn't be a good idea. I'm going to break spring pretty soon, and I'm going to plant."
The sheriff raised an eyebrow. "I thought Braeden was blooming." He coughed. "Excuse me, that was very rude and not any of my business. Forget I said anything."
"I think it's weird that they're bringing us to a restaurant," said Stiles.
He and Scott sat in the Jeep, outside Le Lapin Grillé. Stiles was frowning at the restaurant.
"You know what they're going to tell us, dude." Scott was sitting back in his seat, fingers tapping on the window frame.
"Yes, but why are they telling us in public. Do they think we'd make a scene about them being with Argent. They gotta know we guessed about the two of them."
Scott hummed thoughtfully. "Well, people go to restaurants for good things, too. Maybe they want us to think of this as a good thing: yay, they won't be alone in their dotage."
Stiles barked out a laugh and turned to look at Scott. "Dotage? Scotty, I'm a little turned on."
Scott kicked him, gently. "No, seriously. Maybe they're engaged to him."
Stiles frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. "If that's the news, I am going to throw a fit. He's given me so much grief about keeping secrets. He can't decide to get married again without telling me he's seeing people first."
Scott did his best to scoot over and give Stiles a hug in the confines of the Jeep's front seat. "You think they're going to want to live together?"
Stiles slumped down into Scott's arms. "I don't know. Not until summer, whatever it is. There's no need to disrupt our school year. If they just want some privacy, they can sleep at Argent's condo."
"And the two of us drift back and forth between mine and yours?"
Stiles turned his head and nuzzled into Scott's forehead. "We can split up to be with the girls. Or we could not split up to be with the girls, I think Malia likes Kira."
Scott huffed a half laugh and pushed Stiles over, gently, but Stiles still flailed himself into the door. "We're not going to find out what they have to tell us until we go in the restaurant."
The two of them locked arms to go in the restaurant, having decided it was an evening to be gross and couple-y, which wasn't their usual MO. This made it very easy for Scott to drag Stiles into the bathroom when he got a good whiff in the restaurant.
"Why are we here?" asked Stiles, as he watched Scott check all of the stalls for feet.
Scott leaned back against the door to the room and said, "I think Chris is pregnant."
Stiles didn't say anything, turned around and started the water running. He put his fingers in the stream of the water, imagined the cool running away with his—he didn't even know what he was feeling. "Are you sure?"
Scott came up behind him, put his hands on Stiles' shoulders. "No, but someone in there is definitely pregnant, and I think it's Chris." He leaned forward and mouthed at the back of Stiles' neck. After a moment, he asked, "Are you going to be ok?"
"No. Yes. How much does it have to do with me, anyway?" Stiles put his face in his hands.
"Let's go and find out," said Scott. He turned off the water, and took Stiles' hand, and let them out into the restaurant proper.
Kira stroked her fingers through Scott’s hair. “So are you excited to be a big brother?”
Scott turned and nipped at her wrist, nipped in a thoughtful way. (Thoughtful nipping would not have made sense to him before he became a werewolf, but it worked now. He thought maybe it had something to do with gathering scent. And, anyway, it was really more like lipping: no teeth. Kira drew her hand back anyway.) “I sort of feel like I just did with Liam, and I don’t know how well thats going. He hasn’t hurt anyone, at least.”
“Yeah, but Liam’s not the same. He’s not an actual baby. And Liam is yours, not your mom’s. I don’t, not that I’m saying being an alpha is being a parent, but your relationship to him is because of your relationship to him, not because your mom forgot to use a condom.”
“Ugh,” said Scott. “Let’s not talk about where the baby comes from, okay?”
“Okay,” said Kira through her laughter. “How did that—? No, I’ll stop.”
“Chris had a raining spring. When Allison died. They didn’t have any warning, and with all of the stress before she died, they didn’t think it would take.”
“Oh,” said Kira. “I’m sorry.”
Scott didn’t say anything, just scrunched further into her lap. “I’m not. I’m not sorry there will be a baby. Babies are good, something good came out of,” he shrugged and wriggled a little, “that whole disaster.” He pushed his face deeper in her lap and said, “I wish it were mine.”
Kira tugged just a little at the hair on the back of his neck. “Try again.”
“I’m jealous. I want a baby. I smelled Chris and it was like,” he rolled onto his back, looked Kira in the eyes, “when I was having my growth spurt the summer after eighth grade and it hurt to go into grocery stores because I just wanted to eat everything I could see.” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, and when he opened them, he knew his eyes were red, but at least he had human teeth and nails.
Kira’s eyes were wide. “But, what about school and college and…everything?”
Scott closed his eyes and shook his head. “I know. I know. Stiles and I have a Plan, and we’re going to get an awesome bachelor apartment. Or maybe not a bachelor apartment, maybe you and Malia will be there, the Plan is flexible. At one point we were going to go to Deep Springs. But then Stiles was going to go to Cooper Union and I was going to City University of New York. Stiles got a lot of college booklets after he took the PSAT the first time.”
“I always wanted to get away from my parents, but I’m not sure if I still should.” She lifted her hands from Scott and started playing with a little ball of lightning. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
“There must be more of you, though. Kitsune, I mean.” Scott frowned. “Do you have any siblings? Half-siblings. Older ones maybe.”
Kira smashed her hands together; the electricity flared and disappeared between her fingers. “Mom hasn’t said. But she doesn’t say a lot.”
Scott hummed at her and raised his eyebrows. “So, if you were going to stay close, would you go to the community college here? Or do you think your parents are going to move whereever you want to go to school?”
“I don't—should we be picking colleges together? I mean, I like you, Scott, I like you a lot, but we just started dating for real.”
Scott closed his eyes again. He had no reason to red flare at her. He wasn’t trying to keep Kira. He loved that she was her own person. But he also felt that flare of mine, and he had to take just a second to swallow it down. “I’m probably not going to school with Stiles. He’s really, really smart, and I almost failed out of last year. But we’re going to…coordinate. And there’s going to be at least one very good school within a reasonable distance of where I’m going. It would make me,” he stopped, swallowed, “I’d like it if—.” He sighed and clenched and unclenched his fingers, working very hard to keep his claws in. “The pack is going to school in the Bay area.” He swalloed, trying to pull back the growl in his voice. “Are you in the pack?” Fuck, his fangs were slipping now.
“Scott, get up,” said Kira, and she pulled one hand up, holding a ball of electricity like she was an avenging McGonagall.
Scott rolled out of Kira’s lap and kept going, off the side of the bed. He caught up himself on his feet before he hit the floor. He scrubbed at his face with his hands, doing that stupid thing where he pushed his fangs, as if that had anything to do with whether or not he had them. “I’m sorry, I just—.” He shook his head, frustrated, unwilling to say what he was feeling. He knew that he didn’t own Kira and he couldn’t drag her off to a cave and keep her. He just wanted to, really badly.
“I think maybe you should go see Liam,” said Kira, slowly.
“Liam?” Usually people who wanted to handle him or hand him off sent him off to Stiles, and vice versa.
“I think you’re still worked up about the baby. Remember, you said that Peter turned you right after he killed Laura? And that the first thing Derek did when he got the alpha power was turn three people?”
“You think I’m trying to expand my pack? I don’t even want the pack I have!” He turned away from Kira, turned back to her. “I don’t mean that. But I don’t know what to do with you guys already, how can I need to turn more people?”
Kira shrugged. “I think you need to talk to a werewolf about that.”
Scott snorted. “Liam knows even less about this stuff than I do.”
“Then talk to someone who knows: Derek, Satomi, Brett. Deaton. You’re not alone, Scott.”
There was a relief on Scott’s face when Derek approached him in Deaton’s parking lot. Derek smiled, but didn’t say anything as he approached. He usually doesn’t. He doesn’t approach Scott this way to tell him things, he’s just…keeping the lines of communication open.
“Do you have time? I’ve got some alpha stuff to work out, and I don’t really know Satomi.”
“Always,” answered Derek. “Are we going to my place?”
Scott’s face scrunched up, and he looked frustrated. “I. Don’t. Want to go to your place.” He rubbed his hand on his face. “I don’t know why I don’t want to go to your place though. I like your loft. We won’t be overheard and interrupted. Even if Braeden is there, she’s nice.”
Derek didn’t like the spiral Scott was throwing himself into, so he crouched down like a catcher. “Is this better?”
Scott looked at him incredulously, but the tightness in his shoulders disappeared and the smell of stress in the air pulled back. “Why is that working?”
“You’re an alpha,” said Derek. “And I’m guessing that you feel someone leaving.” He bit his lip and looked down. Considered and bent his head low enough to show the back of his neck. “Is it your mom?”
Scott laughed, but showily, meanly, not as if he saw any humor in the situation. “Part of it. You know about the baby, then?” He put a hand out to Derek and pulled him up. “Let’s go to my place. I don’t expect my mom any time soon. Stiles might drop by, though.”
By the time Derek got to the McCall’s house, Scott was pulling his bike around the side of the house. Derek parked on the street and Scott came back and let them both in.
Scott headed up the stairs with his bags and asked, “Do you want anything to drink? Just get it from the kitchen.”
Derek considered. He wasn’t thirsty, but sometimes Laura felt better when he let her take care of him. Laura had been pretty fucked up though; not quite as bad as he was, but he was now pretty sure that they all would have greatly benefited from moving somewhere stable and getting Peter shipped to a nursing home close enough for regular visits to happen. He was still standing there when Scott came back down the stairs.
Scott nodded Derek towards the living room couch, then headed for the kitchen. “What do you want?” he asked from the kitchen.
Derek perched daintily on the sofa arm. Scott’s scent was over all of the furniture, and he didn’t want to inadvertently take Scott’s preferred seat.
Scott came back in the room and said, “How weird would it be if we cuddled?”
“Would it make you feel better?” asked Derek.
“Yeah,” said Scott, and he sat at one end of the couch.
Derek was a little stumped because he was taller than Scott. He’d been taller than Laura, too, but they hadn’t really done this, by the time he finished his last growth spurt. “Should I stretch across your lap or sit at your feet?”
Scott looked like he was fighting with himself.
Derek split the difference, kneeling next to Scott’s legs and draping his upper body on the couch. It was weird, but it didn’t hurt, and it did what Derek wanted, which was to keep his head below Scott’s. “You can touch me,” said Derek. “We don’t smell alike, and it’s probably freaking you out a little bit.”
Scott…collapsed on him, was the only way Derek could think to describe it. Scott’s torso was pressing down on Derek’s back, and his hand was scrabbling through Derek’s hair, then he smeared the backs of both hands over Derek’s face. Derek could feel the tension ratchet back on the both of them as Derek started to smell more like he belonged where he was, with Scott. Belonging to Scott.
The two of them breathed together siilently for long enough that Derek said, “If you want to talk, we should talk. Otherwise, I’m going to fall asleep.”
“You asked about my mom at Deaton’s.” Scott sounded more annoyed than angry when he said, “So I guess you know that she and Stiles' dad got Chris Argent pregnant?”
“He was at the station when I sent to see the Sheriff about a job. Argent,” Derek specified.
“Yeah, they made a big deal about telling us, but I could smell it as soon as we got in the restaurant.”
“It’s a little weird. For a werewolf, I mean, not a human. It’s a little weird for you to be an alpha but for you not to be the parent of a new child in your pack.”
Scott tensed up, then pulled back so he could look at Derek. “What?”
“I don’t know if it’s biologicaly or cultural, but usually every child in the pack is the alpha’s. If not directly, then their grandchild. A pack is a family. The alpha has a child or three for every adult in the pack who wants one, but there aren’t any other breeding couples.”
“But what about Peter—?”
“You knew about Malia.” Derek didn’t even know what to do with that. Didn’t even want to ask why Scott hadn’t told him. “Malia wasn’t part of the pack, so Peter didn’t get kicked out. I never met Mrs. Tate. I don’t know if she and Peter broke up before she knew she was carrying.” Derek let his head sink down further into the couch cushion under his jaw.
Scott’s hand was hovering just above Derek’s neck, he could feel the heat radiating down. “It wasn’t my story to tell, man. And I’m not sure where I stand with her anyway. I don’t know where I stand with any of you, except Stiles. And mostly Liam.” Scott sighed and let his hand fall to Derek’s neck. His fingers were still on Derek’s neck.
“Did you ask her? Anyone?” asked Derek. “I know you haven’t asked me, but did you talk with Kira and Lydia, at least?”
“Talk about what?” asked Scott. His total confusion was readily apparent in his voice.
“Formalizing their place in the pack. Their place with you.” Derek lifted his head to look Scott in the eye. “Scott, who’s in your pack?”
Scott looked away, but not before Derek could see his frown, smell the stress coming off of him. “Stiles. Liam. You…?”
“Me,” said Derek.
Scott looked down at him. “I thought that when you said in the hospital about why you came back from South America. Wasn’t that you asking me, telling me, that I’m your alpha now.” His mouth twitched and he smiled.“I figured you were the Strider to my Frodo.”
“Strider,” said Derek. He didn’t even know what to do with this.
“Yeah, you know, Aragorn. Viggo Mortensen? Older, wiser, scarred by life, has his own kingdom, but dedicated to Frodo’s purpose of destroying the ring.”
Derek sighed and let his head sink down. “At least it’s not Sam. Stiles is Sam?”
“Stiles is my Legolas,” said Scott, flatly, as if this was common knowledge.
“I’m going to regret this, but what’s the special relationship between Legolas and Frodo?” asked Derek. How did they even get here?
In his most amused voice, Scott said, “Stiles is the Legolas to my Gimli. They bonded even though everybody around them was telling them they were making a bad choice. But it worked out, and Gimli was the only dwarf to go into the West.”
Derek thought about asking about Allison, thought better of it. “Is Kira in this movie trilogy?”
Even without looking at him, Derek felt Scott’s shrug next to him. Scott said, “I talked to her about the Plan, and she didn’t, she didn’t respond well.”
Having werewolves available made moving easier, but not really any less of a hassle. And moving three people at once to three different locations (even if one of them was only moving floors in the same building) made the benefits of werewolf strength that much less.
But Keith and Melissa had finally convinced Chris that happy babies were outnumbered by the adults in their lives, so he needed to move in with Keith. To have a room for a nursery, Stiles was moving into the McCall house. Melissa wasn’t going to officialy move to the Stilinski now, as no one wanted to leave Scott and Stiles to live on their own, but she probably would overnight when Keith had night shifts and she didn’t.
And Braeden was moving out of Derek’s place, and it made sense to wind up the day moving her, because she only had two large pieces to set up—a sofabed and a wardrobe courtesy of Ikea—with just a few boxes that represented stuff she’d bought in the three months since she’d moved in with Derek, plus the two suitcases she’d arrived with. And when they were done with her stuff, everyone could eat and crash at Derek’s right above her.
As predicted, even with three werewolves involved, it took all day to get everything moved. However, because Chris wasn’t being allowed to lift much, he mostly stayed at the Stilinski place unpacking, and he was comfortably moved in by the end of the day.
Stiles' new room was disorganized chaos, and it grated at him, but he planned to bunk with Scott until the following weekend and just ignore it until then.
Braeden didn’t actually have some of the ingredients of a household—Derek had had enough sheets, towels, and cooking equipment for the both of them—so she was staying the night with Derek until she got the time to actually get what she needed.
They ordered enormous amounts of food, Greek and pizza and Thai and Mexican, and a few beers and a dozen sodas to go with it. They sat around not talking much, all of the werewolves despearately hungry and throwing food down their gullets at a speed that would just miss choking, all of the humans dead-eyed and exhausted.
Stiles fell asleep in his plate. Chris had the self-control to push his plate away and stretch out on the couch he was sitting on, trapping Keith and Melissa underneath him. Liam and Scott wound up curled up together on the floor with Stiles, after Scott wiped the yogurt sauce and rice off of Stiles' face.
Derek and Braeden tossed blankets on the two piles of people, then crawled into bed. As a werewolf, Derek’s pregnancy didn’t require any great delicacy on his part, but he did need to sleep and eat enormously.
And in the morning, Scott felt incredibly happy and settled for the first time. There was a content to having nearly everyone who should be in the room all around him, their scents blending harmoniously. He was the first to wakeup, and he wriggled his way out of his pile to go and start coffee.
Braeden woke up while he was working on making the second pot. “Hey,” she said, breathed at him really.
He smiled at her without a word.
She rolled her eyes, which didn't hurt his feelings, as he now knew she wasn’t a morning person. He watched with interest as she started the oven heating up, then pulled out an enormous pot and a large sack of some sort of grain. She put water and milk in the pot, then eight cups of the grain.
And then she got out an enormous quantity of bacon, and three pans with racks on them, laid the bacon out, and put it in the oven.
Scott watched all of this activity with a dreamy smile on his face. When she turned around, Braeden couldn’t quite stop a blurt of laughter.
“I’m just so happy,” Scott whispered at her.
“Most of the pack is in the den, safe and content. Of course you are,” she said, and ruffled his hair.
skipping ahead in time because LaT asked, "What's the baby's name?"
They were only camped out in a waiting room for a couple of hours. Keith came in and out of the delivery room to give them updates, but Melissa stayed with Chris the whole time.
Chris didn’t make much noise, but he refused to get in a bed to give birth. He walked instead, waiting for the final push from the baby. Blooming men had the hardest labors, but relatively quick ones, and Chris had given birth before, so he probably wouldn’t tear again.
Scott had wanted Derek to be there, but Derek refused to be in the birthing center waiting room, saying that he didn’t want to get freaked out about doing the same thing in four months. He and Braeden camped out in the coffee shop across the street, waiting for someone to text them that the baby had arrived.
Scott spent the time curled around Stiles, with Kira rubbing his back. Liam and Mason weren’t there with them, as it was the middle of a school day. He narrated for the two of them, mostly what his mom was saying.
“I’m just glad that I don’t have to go through it,” said Stiles. “I get that he’s going to be okay and he’ll stretch back into shape really fast, but ugh,” he shuddered.
Kira nodded. “But you’re going to go through that with someone some day. Scott’s going to be holding Derek’s hand for it, soon.”
Scott shrugged between the two of them. “I don’t know if he’s going to want me or Braeden with him. He hasn’t finished his birth plan yet?”
“You have time,” said Kira absently.
“Have you gotten any further with baby names?” asked Stiles. “The last thing I heard you were still trying to find a rhyme for Talia you like?”
Scott made a dismissive humming noise. “They all sound kind of fake? I suggested we name the baby Dora, but he said his sisters would have punched him in the head for that.” His head snapped him and he started quivering. “It’s coming.”
Chris’s panting had tapered off, but now he was growling, very low but still enough for Scott to hear.
“Chris,” said Melissa, “honey, I have to get under you to draw the baby, okay? And as soon as I draw him out, the surgical team is gonna come in to stop the bleeding. Are you ready, Chris?”
He didn’t hear a response, but he assumed Chris must have nodded because he heard his mom say, “Okay, I’m just throwing down this pillow for my knees, and the light’s so I can see how our baby’s doing.” Another moment, and the next words sent a chill down Scott’s back, because he recognized his mom’s I’m not panicking because I have work to do voice, and he moved his hands from Stiles to the chair arms. “She’s not working her way down by herself, so I’m going to squeeze her down, nice and easy. This is just like trying to coax a little bit more toothpaste out of the tube. It’s not going to feel great, but it’s for the best.”
A moment, and then the growl from Chris turned into more of a keening sound and Scott found himself whimpering to match.
“You’re doing great,” said Melissa. “You’re doing great, but I don’t want our kid to get worn out being born, so I’m going to get Dan here to give me a little more room. We’re going to give you a lidocaine shot and then reopen your birthing scar, okay?”
“Yes, do it,” said Chris.
There was some grunting and some squelchy wet sounds, but no one was talking about what they were talking. Scott felt the chair crumbling a little bit under his fingers, but he couldn’t figure out how to make himself let up. Then his mom said, “I’ve got him, I’ve got him! Dan, get in there.”
People were muttering, probably to themselves, because Scott couldn’t understand what they were saying for a few minutes there.
Then someone said very clear, “Apgar 8. He looks good, Melissa.”
“Chris, the baby’s in good shape, honey. You did a great job.”
Chris, panting, just said, “Keith, did you touch the baby yet?”
“I’ve got him right here, babe,” said Keith. He sounded abstracted and pleased.
Chris said, “I want you to take him to Scott. Before any other medical personnel touch him. It’s important.”
“That’s my cue,” said Scott. He rubbed hands over Stiles' and Kira’s heads and headed back to the delivery rooms.
“We’ve got to do this fast,” said Keith, as he came out to meet Scott. “They need to do the second Apgar. But meet your brother Tyler Brian Argent. Don’t touch him, just,” he grimaced, “scent him.”
Scott leaned over to do that. He could do without it these days, Derek had drilled subtlety into him, but it didn’t seem like a moment for caution. His brother smelled a little bit of blood and pain, but mostly of sharp coal, the way that Chris and Allison both had, but with that sweet mossy undertone that Stiles and the Sheriff shared. “Hey, Tyler,” said Scott, “I love you. Welcome to the pack.”
FYI, I added a new chapter 19 before the chapter previous to this one, which used to be chapter 19 and is now chapter 20.
Derek was stretched out on his couch, head and shoulders propped on Braeden, feet getting massaged by Scott. As a werewolf, he didn’t have the same aches and pains that a human man would have from carrying a baby, but having his alpha’s and his partner’s hands on him helped him to deal with the anxiety he’d been wrestling with.
“You really don’t like Dora for a girl?” asked Scott, again.
Derek sighed, because the kid was harshing his vibe. “I really don’t. Laura and Cora hated that their names rhymed. I was glad Cora wasn’t my little brother Eric. Also, a cartoon, Scott?”
Braeden smoothed her fingers over the top of his head, but she didn’t say anything. He had the suspicion that she had opinions about baby names, but every time he’d asked her, she’d refused. “If I’m not going to do the hard parts,” she’d finally said, “I don’t really get to do the fun parent parts, either. I can be auntie—I can’t wait to be auntie!—but auntie doesn’t pick the name.”
“We should pick out a name before she’s born,” said Scott.
Derek sighed. “I don’t actually care if we do. She’s not even going to know her name as ‘you come here’ for three or four months after she’s born. We can meet her first and she can let us know.”
“She’s going to end up named Baby if we do that,” protested Scott. “Have you ever watched Dirty Dancing? Nobody should be named Baby.”
Braeden snorted above Derek’s head. “Her name was Frances. Baby was a nickname.”
“Really?” asked Scott. “Huh.”
“Look,” said Braeden, “call her Lupeña or Lobita or Cub until you figure it out, and stop having this argument. Or at least stop having it around me. Also, go with the simplest, most standard spelling you can. Braeden’s not that hard, but people are very confused by the ‘ae’ in the middle.”
“Yeah, Stiles said we should call her something standard. Or at least either English or Spanish,” said Scott thoughtfully.
“What is Stiles' first name?” asked Derek.
Scott shrugged. “I forgot. He never uses it, so the only time I hear it is the first day of school, and then it’s just the first half pronounced the wrong way. Even his dad doesn’t use it when he’s really mad. Even his mom called him Stiles. He was named for his paternal grandfather, so I think his grandma uses his legal name, but that’s it.”
Derek said, “We called Cora ‘Ulfy’ before she was born. Short for Ulfrica, which means she-wolf.” He patted his belly. “Lupeña works for me.”
Scott scowled, but he took his frustration out by rubbing harder at Derek’s feet, so that worked out.
Stiles and Scott were experimenting with Tyler and diaper changing. Could Scott smell that Tyler was about to pee and plop him in the toilet first, so they didn’t have to change any diapers? Signs (i.e. the fact that they were getting out of shower number three caused by getting pissed on by a naked, giggling baby) pointed to no, but if they stopped this experiment, they were going to have to do math homework.
“Did they ever tell you why they picked Tyler?” asked Stiles. He was holding Tyler while Scott dried off.
“It was the name my mom liked best from the L.A. Kings roster. My mom picked one name, your dad picked one name, and Chris got the last name,” said Scott.
“Your mom named our brother after a random hockey player?” asked Stiles. He passed Tyler back to Scott and started to towel himself off.
“No,” said Scott. He blew a zerbert on Tyler, then started drying the baby using the special organic baby towels Chris insisted on. “She named him after a hockey player on her favorite team.” He sat down with Tyler on his lap, so he could dry in between Tyler’s toes, which sometimes got a little rash if they weren’t totally dry. “Did your dad say why he picked Brian?”
Stiles, dry now, took Tyler back from Scott. He dangled his fingers in the baby’s face, waiting for Tyler to make a grab, and then pulling back and starting the cycle again. “It means ‘noble’ and everyone knows how to spell it.” Stiles bit his lip and said, “I told him not to name him Claude. Kids would make fun of him all the time, you know, call him a clod.”
Scott did his best to pull his bondmate and his brother into his lap, and they just cuddled for a bit. Brian got fussy, though, and Scott said, “Dude, when’s the last time we fed him?”
Stiles took his hand from Tyler’s face and put it on Tyler’s stomach. “Yeah, we should feed him again. Should probably do a diaper first. Infant potty training is not a thing.”
“I thought you said it was a real thing you saw on the internet, Stiles.” Scott looked betrayed and annoyed, and Tyler fussed some more. Scott took Tyler and shushed him while he put his diaper on.
“It is! It totally is. It just takes a while. And maybe it’s not Tyler’s thing.” He sighed. “But it would have been cool not to need use diapers.”
“We can try some more after he eats,” said Scott. His stomach rumbled. “And after we eat.”
Scott cooed at his daughter. “Oh, Lupeña, you are beautiful. Welcome to the family, baby.”
Derek came up behind him and wrapped his arms around the both of them.
Having the birth in Deaton’s office wasn’t ideal, but they hadn’t wanted Derek’s healing exposed at the hospital, and it’s not uncommon for blooming men to be caught offguard by their delivery and not have time to get to the hospital first, or even for them to just refuse to leave their homes when the time comes. No one will question when they claim a home birth.
The advantage of having it at Deaton’s was that Deaton believed Derek when he said he was fine to stand up and move around and hold his alpha and his child.
“Should I ask everyone in?” asked Deaton.
Scott looked at the room, which smelled and looked bloody and frightening. “When Derek cleans up and puts on some pants, we’ll go out.”
When they took her out, Scott’s mother was the first to approach them. “Oh, you’re huge. Bigger than Tyler was.” Melissa reached out to take her, but Scott and Derek both growled and dropped fang.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Melissa,” said Deaton. “Some new werewolf parents are more possessive than others. Let them offer you the baby, and everyone should be okay.” He looked around the waiting room and pointed to where Braeden was sitting on a waiting room chair. “Actually, Derek, why don’t you and the baby sit there. You can nurse her and let people get close to you.”
Braeden stayed right by the seat after she stood up. After Derek got Lupeña more or less attached to his nipple, he tilted his head sideways onto Braeden’s stomach. “That was hard,” he said. “Worth it.”
Scott stood on Derek’s other side, fangs still out.
Stiles approached him cautiously, but with grabby hands outstretched. “Scotty, you have a baby!”
Scott smiled at Stiles and grabbed him, pulling him to the side opposite Derek and the baby. He turned his head and buried his nose in Stiles' neck, breathing in deep. “Dude, I know. This is awesome.”
Stiles pulled back and looked down. “Um, you’re leaking?”
Scott just nodded. “Yeah, spring people are more likely to do sympathy lactation.” He sniffed extra hard. “Functional Jacobson’s organ.”
“Are you going to feed her?” asked Stiles.
“Next time, yeah.” Scott let go and turned to Derek, nuzzled the exposed stretch of his neck. “We have a baby, dude.”
“Don’t call me dude,” rumbled Derek, and Lupeña popped off of him and hiccuped. He switched nipples on her and ran his finger over the top of her head. “You’re going to have to get used to conversation, Lala.”
“Okay,” said Scott.
“Okay what?” said Derek.
“We can name the baby Lala. Lala Penina McCall.” Scott bent over even further and kissed her on the head.
Melissa approached the little family and said, “So, I can keep calling her Lupeña? Yes!”
Scott and Derek have made their agreement, but maybe Derek's not pregnant yet (scene not finished)
Stiles opened the door and said, “Scott doesn’t actually live here? I know it seems like it sometimes, but I promise, he has his own house. Or, his mom has a house. Where Scott lives.”
Kira gave him big sad eyes and said, “I came to see you.” She held up a plastic bag with the promising shapes of soda bottles and chip bags. “Metmeet.”
“Really?” said Stiles, but he backed up and let her in.
“Really,” said Kira. “Actually, no.”
“No?” He walked her into the living room, but he veered off before she sat down. “Should I get plates? Do you want ice? I am not prepared for visitors.” That was a lie, because Malia had already agreed to come over and do homework, but he hadn’t been expecting Kira, certainly.
“Ice and cups and bowls. And napkins. I got the cheezy poofs with lots of dust.”
Stiles heard the bag rustle promisingly and decided to be extra gracious and bring straws along with the other requested items. When he got back to the living room, Kira was curled up on the couch where he had intended to be, and he realized that that was where you sat to cuddle with Scott.
He didn’t say anything, just put everything on the table and sat in the wingchair closest. “And what is the occasion for this not a metmeet?”
“I’m stressing Scott out, but I can’t fix it. But you’re also stressing Scott out, and maybe you can stop being, um….”
Stiles sighed. “I’m not being a dick. Not to Scott, I don’t think.”
“Yeah, but it’s still in his general direction, since it’s his mom and his mom’s baby,” said Kira.
Stiles crossed his arms and looked away from her. “It’s Chris Argent’s baby and my dad’s baby. And they’re just,” he held out his hands and shook, not able to express his frustrations in words.
“Right. And every time you say something terrible about a baby, Scott thinks about his baby, the one he’s having with Derek,” said Kira.
Stiles looked at her, and she did have the expression of a brave little toaster. He kind of hated her for it. Hated her for interfering in his relationship with Scott, which had always been a thing that was just his and he didn’t have to share. Hated Allison a little bit, too, and felt bad for that since she was dead. And that only fed into his anger at Kira. And Derek, too, for being one damn more thing, and making one damn more thing to take Scott’s attention away. He grabbed one of the sodas off the table, noted that none of them was caffeinated and wondered if Scott had told her that could make him sleepy. He chugged a grape soda and let out a belch because he had decided to just sink into his apparent reputation as an unattractive dick. “What are you doing to Scott? And why isn’t Derek here?”
Kira looked at her hands, folded in her lap. “I haven’t told him I’m in the pack.”
“Did you tell him that you’re not in the pack?” asked Stiles.
She shook her head.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” asked Stiles. “His life isn’t going to be less stressful when the babies come.”
Kira picked up the bag of cheesy poofs, ripped it open, and stuck a handful in her mouth.
“No, really. What are you afraid of?”
Kira sighed and swallowed and grabbed a cream soda, sipped it. “I don’t want to break up with him now, but I don’t want to commit to the pack. I’m by your side if trouble comes back to town. He knows that, he has to. But I never planned to be a small-town girl, I don’t know what I want, and I don’t think I should have to make a committment when I’m sixteen because he’s a True Alpha.” She shugged the rest of her soda and tore open a bag of pretsel rods, pretty viciously. “I didn’t mean to say that,” she said more quietly. “I didn’t come here to talk about me.”
“Yeah, well, since you know how you feel, you should tell him. I’m still fucked up about…everything.” Stiles got up and sat next to her, in Scott’s seat. “He won’t hold it against you, and he’ll do his best to let you go when you have to leave.” He sighed and sat back in the sofa, tilted his head back. “I know, because I suffered through a month of dramatic reenactments of his breakup with Allison.”
She shook her head, half-turned on the couch to look at him. “He was just a beta when he broke up with Allison, though. Maybe on the verge of omega.” She took a deep breath. “He was sort of scary, when he asked me if I was in the pack, if I was going to be part of your Plan. We haven’t really talked in a couple of weeks.”
“You haven’t?” said Stiles. “Then why are you hassling me? How do you even know if I’m bothering him, if you’re on the periphery?” And why didn’t I know that you and he aren’t talking, he thought but didn’t say. Was Scott keeping secrets, or was he just too wrapped up in his own—they weren’t even problems, really. He just felt mad at his dad, but his dad and Melissa and Argent weren’t hurting him, they weren’t having a baby at him. Getting scholarships to pay for college was a little more urgent now, but it was always something he’d known he would have to do.
Kira hunched over, shielding her face from him with the top of her head. “Just because we’re not talking doesn’t mean I’m uninvolved and uninterested.”
Stiles waved his hand under her face until she looked up at him. “You can’t fix his life for him. You shouldn’t try. I'ts a losing battle. And it’s not your job.”
Kira made a face. “You having a soulbond with him doesn’t make my relationship with him not real.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. “I didn’t say anything even vaugely like that. What I meant was, it’s Scott’s job to fix Scott’s relationship. And for a guy who is actually really empathetic, he’s pretty shitty at it. But it’s his shit.” Stiles leaned back and stretched ostentatiously. “Take it from the senior met.”
a bit before Derek is pregnant but after he and Scott have made their agreement
Scott didn’t have Braeden’s phone number, even though he had a key to her home. He wasn’t sure how he should go about setting up a metamour meeting with her. He wasn’t sure, actually, if he should set up a metmeet. People who soulbonded around puberty often had metmeets in high school, but adults did it less. Either you were genuinely friends (family) or you were congenial strangers who had minimally overlapping relationships.
Scott and Derek were cuddling on Derek’s couch, listening to Pandora on Scott’s phone. “Derek, about a metmeet—,” started Scott.
“I am not hanging out for hours with Stiles when nobody’s going to die,” Derek cut him off. “He can text me if he needs to talk.”
Scott scratched the back of his neck and cleared his throat, started again. “I meant Braeden.”
“Do you want to stay for dinner?” asked Derek.
“Today?” said Scott, and his voice didn’t exactly squeak.
Derek smiled. “Do you have to get your Powerpoint together first?”
Scott scowled. “I just, I’ve never done one before. Allison and I were really broken up by the time she and Isaac got together, and Stiles never had anyone else before Malia.”
Derek shrugged, a little awkwardly with Scott lying on top of him. “It’s not that big a deal. It’s just a date with someone you’re not dating.”
“That doesn’t really help.”
“I’m not really a cheerleader. But, look, all you’re trying to do is get to know each other better because you’re both important to me and you’re going to keep running into each other in mylife. So, just be yourself. That’s all that somebody is looking to find out.”
Scott pushed his nose into Derek’s neck, because it was there, because he had started to find Derek’s scent comforting, even before they’d come to their new understanding with one another. “Are you sure?”
“Positive. And you are a great person to know, so Braeden' s not going to find out anything she’s not going to want to know. Unless you have some deep, dark secret I’m not aware of, Scott.” And Derek grinned at him.
Scott didn’t think of it as a dark secret, but he also knew it weirded people out, so he said, “Stiles and I soulbonded when we were six.”
Derek ddin’t’t react at first; his scent didn’t change from the grape-y contentment smell, even. Eventually he said, “You guys seem to be doing okay.”
“We’re fine,” said Scott. “But he’s really mad at his dad still, and he’s got a one track mind about it.”
Derek scruffed at the back of Scott’s neck without a word.
“It’s made him boring, you know? Really, intensely, boringly boring. I don’t even know what to do with that, Stiles is never the boring one. I’m boring sometimes. I couldn’t run around really well when I was little. And I know when Allison and I first got togehter, I was so focused on her that it must have been gross. But Stiles is usually all over the place. He has something to say or to talk about or….” Scott sighed. “But it’s always my dad and that fucker Argent.”
“Sucks to be you,” said Derek, in a tone that let Scott know that he meant the sentiment genuinely, however poor the phrasing. “But you’re okay with it?”
“I’m all mixed up about it. I’m glad for the baby, I really am.” Scott wriggled uncomfortably. “It’s actually a little weird to me, how much I want this baby for them. I know it’s an alpha thing, but it still feels really weird.” He sighed. “And I’m glad for my mom, that she’s with Stiles' dad, but it is so weird to know that she’s with the parent of somebody I was with. And also, he shot me that one time. I didn’t tell her that.”
“She doesn’t know that Chris shot you?” asked Derek.
“He wasn’t shooting me personally, he was shooting a werewolf he was afraid was uncontrolled.” Scott answered.
Derek said, “You know that’s not a better reason.”
“I know,” said Scott. “But sometimes you have to think of something in a way that’s not quite right, so you can live with it.”
Derek didn’t say anything to that, and Scott took it for, if not agreement, at least understanding.
“You…you’re going to be okay with me going away when is little? You’re sure?”
Derek sighed. “Scott, our lives are proof that you can’t predict what’s going to happen in someone’s life. But the plan that we’re making now, together, is that you are going to be starting at the junior college and staying in town, being a regular part of the baby’s life. And then you and Liam will join Stiles and Lydia and possibly Malia and Kira in San Francisco. And if that means I’m here doing the single parent thing for two years, we will all deal with that. And if it means I move to the Bay Area with you, that’s also a thing we’ll deal with.”
"Our hypothetical apartment is getting really huge," said Scott. "Me and Stiles, you and a baby, Malia, Liam, maybe Lydia, maybe Kira."
"We should probably look into a hypothetical house. Hypothetically," said Derek.
Scott sighed and melted further into Derek's chest. He scented him, trying to assess Derek's feelings about getting a house in San Francisco. He seemed content, pleased, warm. Scott found himself, not purring, not exactly, but rumbling a bit, deep in his chest. Deeper than Scott had really thought he had in there, but it just came out of him, free and easy, at his consort's deep sense of peace.
Scott looked up when he could hear someone approaching the door, wary because the perimeter alarm didn’t go off.
“It’s Braeden,” said Derek.
She came in a moment later, saw the two of them cuddled on the couch, and smirked. “Good afternoon, boys?”
“Good afternoon, Braeden,” said Scott, ignoring her tone.
“Scott’s going to stay for dinner,” said Derek. “I thought leftovers tonight; I don’t feel like cooking.”
Braeden shrugged. “I’m starving, so I’m not goign to wait long.”
“Shower first?” asked Derek.
Derek started sitting up underneath Scott. “Any preferences?”
“No,” said Braeden. “I’m up for anything.”
Half an hour later, the three of them sat down to some vegetable lasagne, a bit of turkey tetrazinni, corn bread, and garlic peas.
Scott didn’t know what to say, how to start the conversation.
They started out in silence, but after about fifteen minutes, Braeden, in a fake, deep voice, like she was pretending to be someone’s dad, “So, Scott, what are your intentions toward my boyfriend.”
Scott ducked his head, could feel himself almost flushing. She wasn’t anything like Chris, but Braeden’s question definitely made him think back to that first, terrible dinnear at the Argents'. “I want a larger pack and he wants a child, so we’re going to, to do that.” He didn' raise his head, but looked up through his lashes at her, then over at Derke.
Derek looked amused and pleased, smiling around the fork in his mouth.
Braeden looked cheerfully blank, with a pleasant, bland expression. “What are your feelings about Derek? Is hie just one of your betas? Or is he special?”
Scott blinked, because he hadn’t given it any thought. He didn’t htink he was in love with Derek exactly. He hadn’t thought of Derek as someone he could have romantic or sexual feelings about, until Derek asked to have his baby. But, “Derek called us brothers, once. Adn that’s not right, that’s not wahht we are to each other. But where I feel almost like Stiles and I are raising Liam, he's—not raising me, that’s not right either—but Derek is, he’s the person in the pack with the most faith in me.” He looked up and gave a half-grin. “Even Stiles thinks I’m an idiot sometimes. And Stiles is definitely more bloodthirsty, right. But Derek gives me a hand up, when I’m trying to figure out how to do this thing. And I can lean on him.” He reached out to Derek, with his left hand, just because of the way they were sitting around the table. “He’s my right hand, in the pack.”
Scott could smell Derek’s scent pick up, warm, toasty scents of happiness. And then Derek started rumbling. Scott was so startled by this that he laughed, and Braeden joined his laughter.
Sorry for all of the weird time jumping and days skipped and tiny update. I'm dealing with a thing which is, in the grand scheme of things, minimal, but it's messing with my writing. Hopefully I will do some catch up this weekend.
a bit while Derek is pregnant
As he did pretty regularly these days, Scott came by the loft after he left Deaton’s. He let himself in with the key Derek had given him, and went over to where his consort had fallen asleep on the couch. Derek was stretched out in a way that looked quite uncomfortable: one foot on the floor, head propped diagonally on the arm of the sofa, and his belly hanging unsupported in the air.
Scott couldn’t smell any food, which made him think it had been too long since Derek had eaten. He checked the fridge to find the oldest leftovers and started reheating them in the oven. (Derek was finicky about what he thought was acceptable to microwave. Many dishes got a weird texture, and he would just glare at his plate all night instead of eating.)
this takes place sometime earlier. not sure when exactly.
Melissa hung up the phone with shaking hands.
Derek was unsettled to find Chris Argent sitting in the parking lot outside of his loft. He hadn't left the Sheriff's Office that long ago, just stopped at Ralph's for milk and tea.
He checked his phone to make sure no-one had texted him about a problem, but there was nothing.
He knocked on Argent's door. "What?"
Argent looked up at him with soft, liquid eyes. "Sadly, Derek, you are the closest thing I have to a friend, right now."
Despite all appearances, Derek could not smell alcohol on Argent's breath or in the car. "I'm not bringing you up," said Derek.
"And you're not coming to my place, I wouldn't expect that. But we could get coffee, or just sit on a fucking park bench somewhere."
Derek didn't understand how Argent's relationship problems had become his problem, but he suspected listening to him was the sort of behavior Scott would approve of. Sometimes, Derek thought he should stop asking himself what Scott would do in every aspect of his life.
"I know a place with fantastic ice cream." He would rather go to a bar, which would be dim and set up with booths to hide them from other patrons, but it would be unnecessarily cruel to the pregnant man.
Argent blinked at him, absent-mindedly rubbing at the tears that fell. "It's February."
"So no-one else should be there," answered Derek.
Snow's Sugar Stop was not empty, but they could easily sit out of the hearing of the few other people in the room. They didn't speak until their server came back with a chocolate shake for Argent and a caramel sundae for Derek.
Then, Derek said, "So, what?"
"Melissa said the only reason she wasn't going to kill me is that she doesn't want to hurt the baby."
Derek nodded and made a neutral noise around his spoon.
"The problem is that I can't apologize because I'm not sorry. Not for working with the Calaveras. I don't excuse the things they did to you, but Kate was the bigger problem."
Derek still had no idea what to say, so he waved at Argent to go on with his spoon.
"But I understood why they're furious. If someone had treated Alison like that, I'd want blood." Argent sighed and sucked at his shake. "Or if she'd been hurt and no one had told me."
"So, apologize for that," said Derek.
"I didn't know myself. Not everything. And I assumed Scott and Stiles would have told them what happened."
"Yes," said Derek. "Because teenagers are so forthright."
Argent frowned and shoved his straw deeper into his milkshake.
Derek was not as surprised to see Argent sitting in his parking lot a week later. He knocked on the roof of Argent's car and said, "You should make some real friends."
Argent sighed and said, "I did make some friends. They knocked me up and then dumped me."
When he put it that way, Derek didn't have it in him to kick the guy away. "Follow me for pie."
Derek got a small apple galette, but Argent got a slice of lemon chess. It smelled really good when the server put it down, and Derek wondered if it was more uncouth to order another slice of pie or to ask Argent to trade him a bite. He decided that the smoothest move would be to order a pie to bring home when he left.
Also, the first bite of his galette was really good.
Argent didn't say anything the whole time Derek dithered over pie etiquette, just ate pie in Derek's general direction. Derek said, "So?" to get teh ball rolling.
"They didn't accept my apology." Argent made a sour face as he ate another bite of pie. Derek wasn't sure if that was the memory or the pie; he could smell the sharpness of the acid—more than just lemon, he thought—from across the table.
"Why?" said Derek, when Argent didn't keep going.
"I tried to explain—"
Derek snorted and held up the hand that was not shoveling delicious caramelized apple and flaky crust in his mouth. "You can't apologize and explain. You apologize. You admit what you did wrong. You explain what you're doing to stop it from hapening again. But you don't explain, you don't justify. That's not a real apology."
Argent frowned. "But what if I—"
"No," said Derek.
"But what if they—"
Derek pointed his fork at Argent. "You bring it up in a different conversation, at least 36 hours later." Derek took another bite and shook his head. "How were you married to—," he interrupted himself to cough, pretty sure that bitch would not go over well, "—to Allison's mother for 20 years without learning this?"
Argent shrugged. "We almost never fought. I did what she told me."
Derek didn't understand what being obedient had to do with anything. He and Laura had still fought. His parents had still needed apologies sometimes, and his dad had a biological imperative to follow his mom's orders.
Derek was startled to be greeted in the parking lot of Ralph's with the Sheriff holding a tupperware box. "Good evening, Keith."
"Evening, Derek." The Sheriff tapped the box, and Derek could smell cocoa and coconut. "Thank you from me and Melissa."
"Argent stop being an ass?"
The Sheriff bobbled his head from side to side, one eyebrow raised. "He apologized for being an ass and keeping secrets."
"Good," said Derek. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to grab the box of macaroons from the Sheriff or wait until they were handed over.
"You should come over for dinner Friday night," said the Sheriff. "Bring, uh, Braeden, that young woman who's living with you."
Derek thought he might be sacrificing what smelled like some really epic macaroons, but, "Why?"
"Like I said in my office: if we're going to protect this town, and I think we've all agreed that that's what we're going to do, we need to communicate better. The three of us, you and Braeden, the kids. Everybody. Dinner's a start."
Derek felt torn two ways about this. On the one hand, while he respected most of the people the Sheriff was talking about, he wasn't sure he liked any of them well enough for dinner parties. On the other hand, the strength of the wolf is the pack, and this pack could surely use shoring up. "Ok."
chapter not finished
"I'm having a little trouble with this converstaion, Derek. You want to, to have my son's kid. In the next two months, you want him to impregnate you?" Melissa was shaking her head, like she couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth.
"Yes," said Derek. "I'm not asking Scott to take on a bunch of responsibility. I mean, we both know Scott, if he agrees, he's going to be involved. But I don't want money and I don't need him to live with us. I have enough money to take care of a baby, I'm getting a job with the Sheriff's department, but not a full-time job, and Braeden's around," Derek mentally crossed his fingers. "It's a wolf thing, a cultural thing, that binds a pack together. The pack's children are the alpha's children."
So, Derek goes to Melissa and he says, “Melissa, this is a thing that happens with werewolves. The alpha makes all the babies in the pack.” and Melissa says, “My baby isn’t old enough to be a father!”
And Derek says, “Awkward, but I don’t really need Scott be, like, a father, just a sperm donor. I’m pretty rich and I own my own place and I’m infrequently fertile and he’s about to leave for two years and I want a baby.”
Melissa’s like, “Do you want Chris’s baby, because I’m still pissed at him, so I bet Keith would be happy with that.” Only silently in her head.
Only Derek can sort of imagine that that is what Melissa is thinking, so he says, silently in his head, “Pretty sure Argent doesn’t want his baby raised by wolves. Remember that time his wife tried to kill Scott just for sleeping with his daughter?” But silently. In his head.
Then Melissa realizes that she and Derek are not actually telepathic and are sort of staring at each other creepily and says, “Um, he’s too young for you.”
And Derek is all, “We could get married? Just for the lolz. I mean, just until I had the baby, and then after we got the birth certificate all straightened out, we could get divorced. Or we could stay married. I am not actually picky on this point, since Scott is my alpha, and my girlfriend is not the marrying kind.” Then Derek briefly thinks that Braeden may want right of first refusal, even if she doesn’t want to marry him herself, but OH WELL.
And Melissa thinks this is super-weird, but also, she wants to check it out with someone who knows more about werewolves than she does. So she says, “Give me a call in a week. I’m going to check with Noshiko and Satomi before I make up my mind about anything that is this weird. You realize this is VERY WEIRD, Derek. What you are asking?”
And Derek nods, and he gives her his best panty-melting smile.
Melissa facepalms and says, “You shouldn’t use Fuck Me eyes when you’re asking for permission to marry my son. You have turned the weirdness up to eleven.”
Derek says, “Sorry. I’m going to go. Now. Call you next week.”
I think I screwed that up, he tells Braeden, or he mumbles it into her boobs as they’re lying in bed together. “I told Melissa McCall I wanted to make her 17 year old son my baby daddy.”
“Well, why did you start this conversation with your alpha’s mom, sweetie?”
Derek groaned, because Braeden only called him sweetie when she a) thought he was being and idiot and b) wanted to be nice to him anyway. “I didn’t want to be a creeper like Kate.”
“Are you planning to burn her and the Sheriff and Argent and the new baby and that creeper Stilinski alive? Because the bar is not high for you to be less creepy than Kate.” She patted the top of his head and rocked a little from side to side.
Derek considered, briefly, explaining that he was not a baby or a pet that needed coddling, but then he realized that he was a grown ass man who would very much like cuddling, so he should keep his mouth shut about that. “The thing is, and I don’t think I even told Melissa this yet, I didn’t actually talk to Scott yet. So I hope Melissa doesn’t say anything because that would be even weirder, I think.”
“Well, there’s nothing you can do about it now, so you might as well accept it and move on.” Braeden sighed. “I kind of wish you wouldn’t talk about this in bed. It’s the opposite of sexy.”
Derek just snuffled quietly into Braeden’s boobs and let his eyes drift close.
“Derek, you asked my mom if you could have sex with me before you asked me if you could have sex with me. Not cool, man!” Scott tossed his helmet on the floor and slammed the loft’s door closed behind him.
Derek, who had been sitting at his table working on some files, winced, and turned around to face his angry alpha. “I didn’t know which of you to ask first, and asking Melissa first seemed less likely to land me in jail. You could have ordered me not to say anything to her.”
“Because that would have been a good idea! But also, I wouldn’t do that. I don’t do things like that, which you know.” Scott crossed his arms and gave Derek a pretty furious look.
“If you have time to think, you’re terrific. If you’re rushed, you kidnap a kid to tell him he’s going to be a werewolf.”
Scott rolled his eyes. “I was thinking to myself, ‘What Would Derek Hale Do?’ and that’s how I got into trouble with Liam.”
Derek scowled and turned back to his papers. “If you just wanted to turn me down, you could have sent a text.”
“I didn’t say that!” Scott walked up behind Derek and put his hands on Derek’s shoulders. “I’m not saying no. I’m saying tell me more, dude. This seems pretty sudden.”
Without really thinking about it, Derek leaned sideways and nuzzled into Scott’s hand. He felt Scott stiffen behind him, which made Derek stiffen and pull away in turn. “Sorry,” he said.
“No,” said Scott. “It's…okay? It’s okay. Touching me is weirdly good. Touching you. You know what I mean.”
“It’s grounding. It helps create the pack’s scent. You can establish hierarchies with it. Touch does a lot in a healthy wolf pack.” Much more slowly this time, Derek leaned backward, until his head touched lightly on Scott’s stomach. After a moment, when Scott stayed close, he gave over more of his weight.
“I was serious about telling me more,” said Scott. “This seems really sudden. I mean, we just got straight that you were my beta, and now you want to, uh, date me.”
“That’s not it, Scott,” said Derek, knowingly. He was sure that Melissa had been more clear about what he’d said to her, since she’d mentioned it to Scott at all.
“You want me to impregnate you. Which is weird. Because you’re almost thirty and I’m a high school junior. How do I seem like a good baby daddy?”
Derek shrugged, or tried to, but Scott pushed his shoulders down and started to massage them. “I’m not asking you to raise a child with me, Scott. But the pack’s children are the alpha’s children. I told you that before.”
“So, if I say no, you’re just not going to have any kids? That’s your plan?” Scott sounded, not skeptical, but a lot like he thought Derek was an idiot, or at least a maker of very dumb plans.
Derek didn’t answer, because he knew the answer that Scott wanted to hear, even if it wasn’t expected. He didn’t want to disappoint his alpha that way, but at the same time, he couldn’t lie. And even if Scott was happy for those in the pack to bring in children instead of bearing Scott’s, Derek wouldn’t be happy. He wouldn’t be happy to be the last of the Hales either—Cora had confided that she would be taking the Mendoza name when left her with them in Argentina—but he would live. And the pack in Beacon Hills would live. And the blood might live on through Malia, even if not the name.
“Derek, that’s a terrible plan. What if Braeden wants kids? Or your next lover?” Scott sighed and he hugged Derek.
Derek wasn’t expecting that, but he liked it, he liked it a lot. “Then they’ll find someone to have kids with adn it won’t be me, Scott. That’s what people do.”
Scott growled, just a little, but Derek cringed beneath him. “Stop that,” said Scott. “I’m not growling at you, exactly. More, the situation. I mean, Derek, I’m not ready to be a father. And I’m not ready to knock someone up and abandon him, either.”
“You’re not going to abandon me, Scott, you’re my alpha. And you would be my children’s alpha, even if I did have children from some other seed. And you’ll be Argent’s child’s alpha.”
“Will I? That kid’s going to be human, isn’t it?” Scott asked this curiously, as if he’d never given it any consideration.
Derek sighed. “You never listen. I told you when we first talked about the fire, there were humans in my pack. Stiles is a human in your pack right now.”
“Oh, yeah,” said Scott.
“So, what do I have to say? What else do you want to know, Scott?” Derek pushed away and got up from the table. He was now too agitated to sit still, but he covered it by going to his kitchen. “Do you want something to drink? I’m having water.”