Allison hitched Rose onto one hip, both arms wrapped around the five year old as she stepped out onto John and Melissa’s driveway and nudged the car door shut with one foot. The diaper bag was on one shoulder, her purse was on the same shoulder, and Rose’s miniature backpack was hanging from one elbow. She paused at the front of the car, watching Stiles with a small smile. “Why do I have the feeling that munchkins will be snatched by overenthusiastic family members the second we appear?”
“Because that’s the way it usually works.” Stiles smiled back from the other side of the car, then leaned down to unfasten Robin from her carseat. “And because we haven’t seen them for more than ten minutes since August.” He shrugged. “Except for the obvious. Work doesn’t count.”
Allison laughed quietly. “It’s not like they don’t understand. Your dad and Melissa definitely understand. And if my dad says he doesn’t, he’s lying.”
“Would you two get in here?” Lydia demanded, holding the front door open. “Breakfast is on the table and I have three cranky toddlers demanding Cheerios, but I said we had to wait for you.”
Allison grinned, making her way inside. “Did you make Rose’s favorite omelet?” She asked, jiggling the girl in her arms and grinning when Rose clung to her tightly, giggling.
“You mean the one with brussels sprouts and onions?” Lydia teased.
“No, Aunt Lydia!” Rose shrieked, squirming down from Allison’s grasp. “I don’t like that stuff.”
Allison laughed. “Are you sure? Didn’t Daddy tell you that brussels sprouts and onions will help make you big and strong, like Uncle Scott and Uncle Derek?”
“But not in an omelet!” Rose protested. “Mommy, that’s not nice.” She stomped off to the kitchen.
Lydia grinned. “I made hers with cheese and bacon.” She said quietly. “She hasn’t changed her mind on that being her favorite, has she?”
Allison looked at Lydia in amusement. “She tried to convince me to make cheese and bacon muffins, with cheese and bacon pancakes for dinner last night, and then begged me to follow it up with bacon ice cream with a cheese topping for dessert. I had to explain to an extremely pouty five year old that I had no intention of letting her have a heart attack at that age.”
“It’s vegan cheese and bacon.” Lydia laughed. “No danger of her keeling over today.” She heard a crashing noise in the kitchen and turned instinctively. “Samuel Merlin Hale, stop throwing things on the floor.”
There was a protesting shriek of disapproval and another crash. Allison winced. “Oh, that sounded like something broke. Where’s Derek?” She asked, frowning.
Like his name was all he needed to appear, Derek came out of the kitchen with two children wrapped in his arms with a third wrapping his arms around Derek’s neck. He looked unamused. “Sam broke a vase. With cheese. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, but I have it on video and saw it with my own eyes.”
“Be impressed later.” Lydia murmured, reaching out for Sam, the triplet clutching Derek. “I think it’s time for you to lay down.”
“No lay down.” Sam shook his head, his eyes wide. “No.”
“Yes.” Lydia set Sam down in the portable playpen in the living room. “By the way, John and Melissa went out to vote and get a cake. I was told not to tell you, but I think it’s obvious that you’re going to win, Stiles. That tends to happen when nobody is actually running against you.”
Stiles smiled. “We’ll still have to watch the results. There could’ve been a write-in candidate, Lyds. We don’t know.” He lowered Robin toward the couch and dropped her playfully, trying not to laugh when she huffed at him and went into the kitchen to find her sister. “Scott and Malia aren’t here yet?”
“They’re off again this week.” Lydia frowned. “And the only reason I know before you is because Malia decided this without telling Scott, while he was asleep. I got a text about an hour ago. I don’t even bother telling anyone anymore because you know they’ll be back together in a day.”
Allison frowned, setting down the bags she was carrying and nudging them out of the way. “Probably, but for god’s sake, while he was sleeping? What set her off this time? Was he snoring?” She moved toward Stiles, sitting down on the couch and tugging him down beside her.
Derek sighed. “It seems she may have… had a panic attack or something? I’m not clear on the details.”
Stiles frowned. “That doesn’t sound like her. Or maybe... do you think she’s pregnant again?” He wished his best friend’s relationship wasn’t so complicated. “I might be busier today than I thought.”
Derek shook his head and set Ariel and Sawyer down on the couch before corralling them between himself and their mother. “No idea. If she is, I would have imagined that she’d have told one of us by now. She was thrilled about Jaina, so I don’t know what would make having another kid different.”
“The fact that they’re always arguing?” Stiles guessed. “Well, the fact that she’s always arguing with him, anyway.” He knew that saying it would probably start an argument between the other pack members, but it still frustrated him that Malia liked to pick fights about everything she could, with Scott.
Allison grimaced. “She is extremely argumentative.” She murmured. “I heard her arguing with Cora about the best way to cook a steak, and then start an argument about how to eat it after they’d agreed on how to cook it.”
“She’s got a thriving business, finding people who belong together.” Lydia mused. “It’s just strange that she can’t figure out what she wants. But let’s stop talking about her and get the kids cleaned up, so that they can watch cartoons and we can eat.”
“Sounds good to me.” Allison said, standing up. She bent down to kiss Stiles, smiling, then straightened and went into the kitchen. “Robin, Rosie? Time to get - oh dear god.” Laughter sounded. “Stiles, get your cell phone out, we need pictures!”
Stiles got up from the couch and went into the kitchen, smiling.
Lydia glanced over at Derek, then leaned toward him for a kiss. “You know, by the time the poll results are in, we’re going to all be crowding in here and barely have enough room to breathe.”
Derek raised an eyebrow, peering down at her for a moment before kissing her back slowly. “I do know that. We’re going to be practically glued together.”
“It’s been a long time since we’ve all been in one place. I’m not complaining, I know we’re all busy. It just feels strange sometimes, not being as close as we were.” Lydia murmured. “And it has me worried.”
Derek stroked her back gently, his forehead pressed lightly against hers. “We’re all adults, with jobs and children and lives of our own,” he began softly. “It isn’t always ideal, but sometimes things get in the way of constantly being together, the way we used to be. It doesn’t mean we aren’t all still family; it just means we’ve grown. There was a time when my family were living altogether in the same house, practically in each other’s pockets… That was well and good for us at the time, but it wasn’t going to last long. Even if the fire hadn’t happened, we all would have gone off in our separate ways.” He kissed her again softly. “We still loved each other.”
Isaac sat back in his seat and dropped his napkin on his plate, smiling. “Thank you for dinner.” He nodded to Melissa and John. “I’m going to do the dishes, but I expect one of you to help me.” He remarked dryly. “Stiles, you’re not busy, are you?”
Stiles stuck his tongue out at Isaac and got up from the table, going into the living room.
“Would you two stop it?” Lydia threw a piece of lettuce, coated in salad dressing, at Isaac. She grinned when it stuck to his face.
Liam flailed backward, grimacing. “Oh, god, that’s disgusting.” He started laughing. “Stay away from me.”
John snorted, putting his head in his hands. “Now, now, children…”
“Hey, after today, we have to be serious grown-ups.” Malia smiled. “Because Stiles is going to win. He kind of has to. And then we’re...” She shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Scott didn’t look up from his plate, still smarting and annoyed from Malia’s recent self-mandated break-up with him. “Adults.” He muttered. “We’re adults. We still have to follow rules, and Stiles still has to uphold them, just like Dad does.”
John’s cheeks flushed a little, and he ducked his head with a small smile. It was a reaction he had any time one of the pack members referred to him that way, but it was especially important in Scott and Stiles’ case.
“If you’re going to whine and pout about me breaking up with you again, I’m going in the other room.” Malia stared at Scott. “I didn’t come here for this.”
“Nope, you came here for the free food.” Scott snapped. “You can keep your seat at the table. I’m going into the living room. Excuse me.”
“Scott!” Melissa chastised, looking a little furious with him, but Scott stomped out of the room with his plate before she could say anything else. She sighed and leaned back in her chair.
Malia made a face, but got up and walked into the living room.
Stiles put a hand on Scott’s shoulder and looked up at Malia. “You should go. This whole thing you keep doing... it’s not helping. We’ll take care of Jaina, so you don’t even have to pack up her stuff. Just go.”
“I don’t even know what I did to you this time.” Scott muttered, glaring at her. “But you keep breaking up with me, so obviously, it’s me. Do you just not want me around that badly? You couldn’t even say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to be with you anymore, let’s break up,’ you had to wait until I was asleep before you even made the decision? What the hell, Malia?”
“I just want things to be better than how they are.” Malia murmured. “I don’t get why nobody else understands that.”
Stiles’ teeth clenched, but he knew there was nothing he could say with a house full of kids around to hear it.
Scott stared at her, swallowing roughly. “Then I guess it’s never going to be better, as long as you’re here, with me. Is it?” He blinked and stood up, shaking his head. “I gotta go.” He mumbled. “I’ll see you later, Stiles. Congratulations, man, really. And... I’d go get Jaina, but I think Malia’s probably going to do that.” He looked at his girlfriend for a moment, and then sighed. “Tell Mom and Dad I said I’d see them later.” He walked out.
“What the fu- Scott!” Stiles sighed. “Okay, we were all here, waiting to celebrate my win, but okay, go home. Nevermind that I told...” He turned toward Malia as he spoke, “you to get the hell out of here, you’ve got to stay and antagonize Scott until he leaves. Just get out.”
Malia grabbed her coat. “You’ll really watch Jaina?” She asked cautiously.
“Yes. Leave.” Stiles scowled as Malia left the house.
Allison crept inside the living room and sat down beside Stiles with a sigh, patting his knee. “They aren’t just going to get back together, are they?” She asked, frowning.
“I don’t think they will, this time.” Stiles agreed. “I know Scott’s the Alpha, but I swear to god if he calls a pack meeting or some other family thing and she shows up? I just... I’m tired of it. He deserves better than she’s treating him and I don’t think she even means to do it, she’s just... she’s just pissing me off.”
“I know, honey.” Allison murmured, pressing a kiss to his cheek and leaning against him. “I am not going to even pretend I understand what the hell is going on in her head, but I’m not going to be shocked in the slightest if it’s because she didn’t think she’d be a mom this young, or that she’d be in a monogamous relationship with an Alpha at this point in her life or something. Scott does deserve better than he’s gotten from her, and he’ll get it, I’ll make damn sure of it.” She closed her eyes and rested her head against Stiles’.
Stiles put his arm around Allison and turned up the volume on the news when it started. He wanted them to hurry up and get to the election results, but he knew how this worked in the past and it would be another three or four hours before the full count was in.
“Everyone finish eating and come in here, please!” Allison called over her shoulder before burrowing against Stiles’ side, her eyes focusing on the TV as well. She’d been so ridiculously proud of Stiles when he’d decided he wanted to be Sheriff, and she’d done her best to stand at his side and support him through everything, particularly when Mendoza, their former instructor, had attempted to call Stiles’ run ‘nepotism at its finest.’ John had been furious and had railed at the former instructor until Melissa had been forced to hitch both arms around John’s in an attempt to drag him away.
Stiles glanced at Allison, smiling because he could practically read her mind. “He’s not eligible for the write-in vote, either. They won’t let him. Anyone voting for him is an automatic non-vote.”
Allison smiled back at him. “Best thing your dad ever did was that background check on that man.” She paused, frowning at her words. “I mean, he’s done lots of good things better than that, but - never mind. Mendoza needed someone to tear him down a few thousand notches.” She murmured, and lifted her head to kiss Stiles. She scrunched her nose up, beaming. “I’m so proud of you.” She said out loud.
“Well, he shouldn’t have lied about how much he earned in a year.” Stiles muttered. “And I’m glad my dad was the one that called him out for it, because after how he treated me and you, it was pretty much necessary.”
Allison nodded. “I’m just glad he’s out. If they’d made that ass the next Sheriff, I’d beg you to take us to another state.” She looked up at him and smiled. “I don’t know about you, but I kinda like it here.”
“I wouldn’t live anywhere else.” Stiles agreed, smiling.
Lydia dropped onto the couch, beside Allison. “All of the young kids are asleep, Felix and Jordan are helping their dad with the dishes - Isaac, not Liam - and Cora and Jackson should be on their way over.”
Allison leaned back, budging her shoulder against Lydia’s. “Good. Where did Liam go, then?”
“I don’t know, probably to go tell Malia to stop it?” Lydia guessed. “Five years of this is five too many. It’s obviously because she wants to get married, but she’s going about it all wrong.”
Allison stared at Lydia, dumbfounded. “She wants to get married? How do you get a desire for marriage out of the way she’s been acting? I honestly thought she was bored with Scott and was trying to get him to dump her so she wouldn’t have to dump him!”
Lydia stared at Allison. “How often am I wrong?”
Allison paused, then sighed and rolled her eyes. “Point zero-zero-zero-one percent.” She scowled. “So she’s causing all of this heartbreak for Scott, all because she wants to get married to him, but doesn’t realize she can just walk up to him and ask him to marry her?” She frowned. “Poor Scott.”
“Malia tells us everything, though.” Stiles frowned. “Actually everything. I know what underwear she’s wearing today because she was griping about it during lunch.”
“It’s the thong again, isn’t it?” Allison muttered, rolling her eyes. “I told her to stop wearing them if she wasn’t used to them - anyway.” She blinked and shook her head at herself. “Why wouldn’t she tell us about this, if it was as simple as marriage?” She asked.
“People have different motivations for their abnormalities.” Isaac spoke up as he walked into the living room and sat on the floor, in front of the couch. “Did you win yet?”
Stiles shook his head. “Fifteen more minutes before they get to that, I think. And it’ll probably just be to say the results won’t be in until ten tonight.”
Allison threw her feet up onto the couch to make room for Isaac, tucking them over Stiles’ legs and sighing. “Boo. It’s not like we don’t know that Stiles won, but for god’s sake, I wish they wouldn’t draw it out.” She stared at the tv for a moment, and then looked down at Isaac. “Okay. So what would your motivation be for not telling Liam you wanted to get married, if you two were in this scenario?”
“We were, for about two weeks.” Isaac admitted, shrugging. “And I knew that getting married meant more of a commitment and the possibility of coming home to a man with a sometimes violent temper. But we put a punching bag and some weights in the basement, where I’ve never liked going anyway. He can work out his frustrations down there and come back up to spend time with me when he’s calm. So I guess she’s afraid. Maybe because she doesn’t want to be like her dad. Or your mom. Maybe she thinks marriage means wandering eyes or going insane.”
Allison’s mouth fell open and her eyes shut. She exhaled, pressing a hand to her forehead. “Oh, god.” She murmured. “I think I need to have a talk with my sister.”
Stiles pulled Allison close for a kiss. “Go now. This is inevitable, as far as we know. If it turns out differently, you can meet me at home and console me.” He smiled. “We’ll celebrate something, either way.”
Allison smiled, cupping his face to kiss him back. “I love you. Kick some ass.” She glanced at Lydia and Isaac gratefully. “Thank you.” She murmured, before turning to leave.
“I love you, too.” Stiles called out to Allison, squirming a little to get away when Isaac took her spot on the couch.
“Have all of our wishes come true?” Lydia glanced at the two men sitting with her. “I think they have, now.”
Liam entered the room, followed by Derek, John and Melissa. “What wishes?” He asked suspiciously, and dropped down to the floor, resting his head in Isaac’s lap.
Derek moved to Lydia’s side, sitting on the arm of the couch next to her and wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
“You were there when we made them.” Lydia muttered, rolling her eyes. “Scott wanted Malia to have a successful business, I said I wanted Isaac to find inner peace, and Allison tried to get us immunity from all illnesses, but the Fates kinda compromised on that one.”
Liam rolled his eyes at Lydia in return. “Like I was gonna remember that. I’m shocked you did. You’ve got a really good memory. Like an elephant - ow.” Liam looked up at Derek and scowled at the older man.
Derek smirked down at him, shaking his head. “Don’t call or compare my wife to an elephant ever again, whether you’re trying to be complimentary or not.”
Liam stuck his tongue out at Derek, then tilted his head back and looked up at Isaac. “So, what do you think? Is Lydia right? Did your wish come true?”
“I didn’t make one, she made it for me.” Isaac smiled at his husband. “I’ve got you and our two kids, so I’m gonna have to say yeah, I’m happy. I don’t like when you leave your underwear on the floor, but I’ll just have to suffer.”
Liam let out a startled laugh. “Well, that’s where they usually end up anyway, I was just cutting out the middleman.” He teased, wrapping an arm around one of Isaac’s legs.
“That’s what a real argument looks like?” Lydia laughed. “When’s the last time we had one of those, Derek?”
Derek squinted down at her, tilting his head thoughtfully. “When we went to Sydney, before I got you pregnant with the triplets. You wanted to go see the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, I wanted to go to the beach and surf. You called me a surf bum-slash-meathead because I didn’t back down, and then you followed me to the beach anyway, cursing at me.” He looked fond as he recollected it. “Wasn’t that the night the triplets were conceived?” He teased her, wrapping his arms around her and pressing a kiss to her throat.
“I believe most people refer to that trip as our honeymoon.” Lydia laughed. “And I’m pretty sure we argued about the nursery.”
Derek’s eyes glazed over a bit. “You’re right, we did. We absolutely did. Those were both very, very good nights.”
“Shut up.” Stiles muttered, turning up the volume on the tv as the screen started displaying the local election results. “I haven’t been this anxious about an election since Dad’s.”
“I don’t understand why.” Jackson muttered as he came in. “You’ve got it in the bag. Everyone knows it’s going to be you.” He dropped down onto a chair across from Derek, holding an arm out to Cora as she curled up against his side, tucking her feet underneath her.
“But we don’t know that.” Stiles muttered. “Half of this town hates me for one reason or another. If there’s a write-in candidate that they want to win, I might not.”
Cora kicked her foot at him, eyes watching him gently. “You’re the best choice for this town. And if there are idiots here that are so determined to hate you by voting in someone who doesn’t give a shit and has absolutely no experience and would frankly just as well turn this town into a fucking crater as keep it safe, then I’m sure as hell not gonna sit back and let them. Buck the fuck up, buttercup. They’d be stupid to choose anyone else over you.”
Lydia nodded at Cora’s words, her own tone sharp when she spoke. “Where’s this lack of confidence coming from? I’ve heard all about the way you react to actual threatening situations, and I’ve seen some of that with my own eyes. You have two great kids and an incredible wife. You’ve convinced at least half a dozen teenagers to turn their lives around, and some of them became adults and they’re sitting in this room with you. You’re the best person for this job. Say it.”
Stiles made a face, but decided to comply with Lydia’s demand. “I’m the best person for this job.”
Cora punched the air and hollered, “Say it again!”
“I’m the best person for this job.” Stiles repeated. “Now shut up, seriously, they’re about to tell me I won the election.” He turned the volume up a little more, pointing at the tv as his name came up at the bottom of the screen.
Allison came rushing in, nearly skidding to a halt. “Have they called it? Did I miss it?” She threw herself down beside Stiles, wrapping her arms around one of his tightly, staring at the TV nervously.
“Now for the result of the Sheriff’s election.” The newscaster peered down at her paperwork as the information began to tally across the screen. “And in a landslide victory, the position of Beacon County Sheriff goes to V - Vl - Stiles Stilinski. Mr. Stilinski is of course, the son of our former Sheriff John Stilinski, who announced his plans to retire earlier this year. Congratulations to our new Sheriff!” She smiled genuinely at the screen. “Moving on, here are the results for…”
Allison had thrown herself at Stiles five seconds into the newscast, squealing and pressing kisses to Stiles’ face. “I love you! I am so proud of you!”
John was laughing. He wrapped his arms around them both from behind, pressing a kiss to the top of Stiles’ head. “All of that worry for nothing. I’m so damn proud, Stiles. Congratulations, son.”
Stiles laughed, putting his arms around Allison. “Well, I know I was being pessimistic, but can you blame me? This town is always so...” He trailed off when his cell phone rang and stood up as he answered, making his way toward the kitchen where things were quieter. “Hello.” He smiled to himself, unable to resist adding, “Sheriff Stilinski speaking.”
“Did I call - oh! You won! I wish I was calling to congratulate you, but we’ve got a problem out here in the Preserve. You were just the first person I thought of calling, since I knew I could reach at least two of you at once.” The dispatcher sounded apologetic, then went back to a business tone. “Well, Sheriff, a jogger called in to report a body near one of the trails.”