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“No. Absolutely not. No.” John is going to close the door on him. That’s the only way to stop this from happening.

Derek already has the baby half offered out between them, a look of pleading on his face.

Yes, John understands that this is partially his fault. Kind of all his fault. If we’re getting nitpicky here. Then yes, he is the one who brought the infant to Derek in the first place. But in his defense he was just bringing the baby there in hopes that Derek could rehab the baby and the baby could be reunited with her family whenever they found that family. It wasn’t like he could take her to the hospital, or child and family services when she sprouted wolf ears right in front of him. And maybe he should have known better about hoping they’d find the family since the baby was left at the door of the fire station. Usually that’s a pretty good sign that they’ve been abandoned. Ever hopeful that there would be an aunt, or uncle or grandparent somewhere in the line that would take that baby and give her the love she deserves. But it’s been two months and still nothing.

He also understands that it’s his fault Derek has a job. A job at the station. That he needs to get to. And he can’t just drop the baby off at a normal old daycare.

All of that is reading across Derek’s silent face as John sighs, reaches out and takes the baby.

“Thank you sir.”

John is too busy kissing the baby’s forehead to respond.

***

Derek has been on the job for nearly a year now. Beacon Hills deputy. It’s between him, Parrish, and the sheriff that he deals mainly in supernatural. But he’s pretty sure half the station or more is silently in on that too. The people around here aren’t stupid. They just have blinders on for survival purposes. Anyone Derek’s age or older is old enough to remember the fire. And if they’re old enough to remember the fire then they’re old enough to remember the Hale pack.

Nearly a year now, and none of the days have gone by this slowly before. Sure, he’s left the baby with John before. Sometimes Melissa. But never for this long. He’s stuck on a double after last week’s attack left the station a little short-handed. Honestly, he’s not sure how they aren’t always short-handed with the way things are in Beacon Hills. Not only is it a double, but the only call he’s had to go on was the report of a strange presence lurking in Mrs Martinez’s backyard. Said strange presence was a raccoon. He drove around for about three hours this afternoon, came back to do paperwork and get caught up, and now he’s casing the Stilinski’s neighborhood again.

The fourth time he drives by, John opens the door and leans against the frame with his arms crossed. Derek knows that look. It’s the ‘come in and quit doing drive-bys to listen for your baby, or get back to work and trust that I’ll call you if anything goes wrong’ look.

Derek pulls over to the curb, leans his head against the steering wheel for a few deep breaths. He really should just get back to work. Trust has nothing to do with this. Aside from his son, Sheriff Stilinski is probably the only person in Beacon Hills that Derek trusts blindly in every circumstance. It’s just, it’s a baby. It’s his baby. Not officially, but two months with her, and he should probably stop calling her Baby and give her a real name before she starts answering to Baby and someone puts her in a corner. Laura loved that movie.

The radio lets out a staticky whine and Derek turns it off, pushes the door open and walks up the cement with his head down. When he meets John’s eyes at the base of the steps, the man is shaking his head with amusement, “No need to be embarrassed for wanting to check on your daughter.”

Having it said aloud, having it spoken in someone else’s voice, it settles something in Derek’s bones, makes his heart thud and a warmth spread through his chest. Daughter. Derek’s daughter.

John has one arm out, waiting for Derek to be within reach to squeeze his shoulder, “She’s fine by the way. Had a small crying tangent about an hour ago, ate like a champ and then passed out.”

Derek nods, his voice has suddenly become very hard to find. Baby is asleep on her back in the pack-n-play, her little hands balled up into fists, her lips sleep-sucking. As soon as Derek leans over her, she grunts, stirs, and then emits a low happy growl and goes right back into sleep. Leaning down to gently brush lips against her forehead, he takes a deep breath of her scent. He thought at first he might be able to track her pack, and the week’s worth of trying left them coming up empty. If a wolf doesn’t want to be found they won’t be found. Now Baby smells mostly of Derek, a little hint of the sheriff, and some McCall household and pack scents lingering on her. She smells like family. As pathetic as that might sound, it’s all Derek has.

The soothing aroma of her sleep eases the worry that was building up in his gut for no good reason, he smoothes her wispy hair down with his hand and straightens up. He backs his way to the door, keeping his eyes on her as long as he can. When he meets John’s gaze he’s wearing a proud father expression and it makes Derek want to cower. His hand is on his shoulder for a quick squeeze and he’s nodding as Derek is exiting.

“See you in a few hours Son.”

***

John has just gotten the baby through her bath, put clean jammies on her, and readied her for her nighttime feeding. She’s relaxed and blinking sleepily at him when the door slams open and startles the hell out of her. She’s spitting out the bottle and wailing instantly.

“Oh shit,” Stiles announces where he’s standing at the door with his mouth hanging open, “Did you steal a baby?”

“Yes Stiles, as a partially retired sheriff, stealing babies is my specialty.”

Judging by his facial expression he’s doing the kind of mental math that means he’s in panic mode and trying like hell not to get out a calendar.

Johns rolls his eyes, “I am not this baby’s grandfather.”

“That’s so not what I was…” he trails off, blushes bright red and assures John, “I practice safe sex.”

“Yes.”

“You know that, of course, because we had the talks. All the talks. And I don’t want one of those,” he points at the baby, still wailing, “Can you turn it off now?”

And apparently his son has never been around babies, “There’s no switch,” he tells him dryly, moving the unhappy bundle to his other arm, settling her against his chest to bobble her a little. “What are you doing home?”

“Making surprise babies cry.”

“Well you’re doing an amazing job at it.”

The baby cranes her neck, as much as an infant can, mostly head butting John’s shoulder in the process and pausing in the wailing only to make a few awful pain gasps.

“I’m sorry Baby,” John tells her, adjusting her again, losing the bottle to cup the back of her head and bring her closer to his face. Her frantic little hands scrabble at his cheeks, “Okay, okay, no need to claw my face off,” he stands with her, thinking she probably just wants to get a look at the intruder.

Every step he takes towards Stiles, Stiles takes a step sideways, getting further away.

“I’m not going to make you hold her Son, I’m only going to let her get a look and a sniff.”

“A sniff?!” His voice goes up about an octave. Much to the chagrin of the wolf ears in the room. He hushes back down and stage whispers, “Is this baby a werewolf baby?”

The excitement is clearly winding up in his son and John debates just setting the baby in his grasp just to keep his arms pinned at his sides and both his feet on the floor. She will not like his flailing.

“Oh my god, Dad! Is this Derek’s baby? Derek has a baby, you said so yourself, well not in so many words, Derek inherited a baby, a baby that is still looking for a home and you’re babysitting?! You are babysitting a werebaby! Babywere? Wolfbaby? Werebabywolf.”

Stiles is stopped in his verbal tracks when John’s internal debate is over and he plops the baby in Stiles’s arms. His shock mirrored only by hers. Instantly shutting them both up. It only lasts briefly. Of course. Because this is Stiles.

“Uh, so… Dad? Kind of have no idea how to hold a baby,” there’s a panicked edge to it, but his body is staying relaxed. Baby holding 101: keeping the body loose.

“She’s a little different than typical babies,” John only has to say that much and Stiles is bringing her closer to his neck, letting her head fall gently against his jaw. Which makes John pause, it was an ear-reddening moment when Derek explained the importance of scent to a werewolf. How it wasn’t strictly a baby thing, but it was more important for them to understand trust by being allowed to rest against a person’s most vulnerable point.

She’s promptly mouthing at his collar and he’s catching her flailing fist in his lips, while mumbling, “She’s learned a lot from Derek already, I’ll have a fat lip in no time.”

John doesn’t even have time to process that his son is actually good at holding a baby before he’s already walking away from him, settling himself on the couch with her, rubbing his chin along the top of her head and babbling on about how he’s going to be home for Halloween and dressing her in a wolf costume.

***

It's really on Derek that he walked into the Stilinski house without noticing the Jeep parked in the drive, or the scent of Stiles in the air. But can a new parent really be blamed for their observational skills going to shit for anything other than the things that directly effect the baby? And after a long, boring shift, he’s not exactly feeling on edge. He just wants to gather Baby and her gear and go home, pass out for a few blessed hours that she’ll let him have, and start over again tomorrow.

If Stiles was a wolf he’d hear what Derek’s heart does when he pushes the door open and sees him tipped back in the recliner, Baby tucked up against his chin, sleeping on his chest while he silently laughs at something on his phone screen. He’s got the TV on, and he’s scrolling through his phone, papers and textbooks spread out on the coffee table.

Derek had maybe forgotten just how beautiful he is. It stops him dead for a split second, the way the reflections from the TV lights up his skin, the way his eyes are dancing with his laughter. And the scent. The sweet baby aroma mingling with Stiles.

If he had ever thought about it before, he’d predict that he’d be going in for a frantic grab to get the baby out of the arms of the hyperactive spaz before he could drop her. But right now being faced with the scenario, he’s feeling no need whatsoever to protect his baby. If anything, he’s feeling a want to melt against the wall, slide to the floor and pass out before Stiles can detect him there. Derek’s eyes are on Baby’s tiny feet, on the way Stiles’s free hand keeps cupping one and then the other, making sure they’re warm enough in quick succession. As if there’s any way her feet would get cold in the split second that his hand isn’t wrapped around one or the other.

“Dude,” Stiles’s voice interrupts the silence, “you should go upstairs and get some sleep before she smells you and wakes up.”

Derek feels his brows dip in response. No part of that is anything he’d considered. He’s just here to pick her up, bring her home, and stumble to his own bed. Then probably end up with her on his chest in about two hours.

“I got this.” Stiles insists, “My sheets are clean. You look like shit. I’m used to pulling all-nighters,” he tips his head towards his school stuff. College. That thing that Derek thought maybe someday he’d do.

Derek wants to object, tell him that he’s used to all-nighters too at this point, two months of them. He wants to tell him he doesn’t need the help, the charity, or any kind of pity that might be driving Stiles to offer this. But as he scans his eyes, lets his scent fill his senses, listens to his heart beating in opposite rhythm to Baby’s, all he can detect is honesty and a desire to stay exactly where he is. Like he’s completely comfortable trapped by a sleeping infant.

Derek has no idea what to say. So he says nothing, fills a glass of water for Stiles, sets a sleeve of crackers and an apple next to it on the side table, runs a hand over Baby’s head and goes upstairs.

***

Dad is on old guy time. So he’s up by five in the morning anyway. Just when Stiles was really starting to pass out in the recliner. He’s dozed off and on, waking himself up every time he has himself convinced that he’s about to lose his grip on the baby that he’s really not even gripping. She’s just laying there all smushed up against his chest, her warm breath tickling his neck. One hand on her back to insure she stays put, but she’s so still in sleep it’s insane.

Making the offer to Derek wasn’t something that was premeditated. Hell, the offer he made for Dad to go up and get some sleep wasn’t premeditated either. They both just kind of fell out of his mouth without any thought process behind it other than warm baby, sleeping baby, don’t want to let go. He’s not going to admit any of that though. Nope, never.

His eyes fly open when the baby is being gently removed from his chest, only long enough to meet Dad’s gaze and have him jerk his head toward the stairs. Stumbling up half blind and with one foot still in dreams, he staggers to his bedroom and face-plants.

Warm. His bed is so warm. Kind of lumpy. He has to push and tug and roll a little until he finds a non-lumpy spot, and then he’s out like a light.

***

Derek has gotten used to waking up with drool on his chest in the last few weeks. What catches him off guard is the weight of the body against him. The feeling of being pinned by something as tall as him, long and gangly. The scent of Stiles floods him when he takes a deep breath. One moment to let himself have this, take it all in. This feeling of comfort, safety and respect that he doesn’t deserve, that he hasn’t earned, that he’ll never truly have. This is Stiles. It’s not some random hook up or someone with poor intentions. It’s the first time Derek has ever woken up with someone and wanted to stay. Stay there, exactly there. To listen to him breathe, to feel his body, to hear his heart and his light snoring. To soak in his presence. But even if it was something that Derek was worthy of, it would never last. Besides, he has a baby girl to look out for now, he has a number one in his life. And he can't lose sight of that.

He extricates himself very carefully even though he’s certain that one of the many things that college has changed about Stiles, or maybe reinforced about him, is his ability to sleep through anything. But there’s a part of his mind that knows if he wakes Stiles as he’s sneaking out, it’ll get awkward. It’ll turn sour and Stiles will never fall into bed with him again in this capacity. Or any.

John lifts an eyebrow up over his coffee mug when Derek makes his way down the stairs, but doesn’t say anything. And Derek isn’t about to either. Baby’s in the crook of his arm as he’s balancing the paper, the coffee, and her.

“Thank you, sir,” Derek slips an arm under her, lifting her close and burying his face in the top of her head. She butts herself up into his neck and snuffles against his skin. He sometimes thinks she’s trying to find a place to nurse off him, since he’s the only one that’s held her enough to be her known food source. Every time she burrows he can feel her lips moving along his collarbone like she’s trying to find a nub.

“She rejected the bottle,” John tells him, handing it over.

“Oh did she?” Derek leans her back into his arm, putting the bottle up to her lips, she latches on immediately. Big eyes blinking, looking at him like he just parted the clouds and gave her the sun.

***

As previously threatened, Stiles is home for Halloween. Bearing a wolf costume for a little bitty baby. Who hates it! She hates it! At first, but once she’s out in the cooling afternoon air, she seems to be okay with the extra layer of warmth. Even though Derek very dryly told Stiles that she’s a wolf, she’s always warm.

“Yeah well enjoy it now, while she’s little and you can dress her however you want. Wait until she’s older and dressing like all the high school and college girls in…”

Derek growls enough to shut Stiles up. Sort of. He lets his eyebrow dance do the rest of the talking along with his smirk. Derek should be immune to it, but he blushes a little bit. Or maybe he flushes from pure anger at the thought of his baby girl growing up.

“This was not,” Derek reminds him, “how I wanted to dress her.”

“Oh and do tell Sourwolf, how would you have dressed this little pumpkin up? For the lack of trick-or-treating you’d do since she has no teeth yet and you’d rather glare candy into submission than dare eat it and chance destruction of your twelve pack.”

His cheeks go a little pink again, and wow, this is a new development. Stiles isn’t sure what to think of it. Derek mumbles something at the ground, adjusts Baby in his arm and jerks his head towards the sidewalk.

“Getting on with it then,” Stiles reaches out and tickles her little toes with the furry wolf paws on them. Her hat is already crooked and her fist is in her mouth, she’s making little growling noises and staring Stiles down with intent, “Woa, okay, stop with the killer glare kid, I’m trying to enhance your life with Halloween, not destroy it. Don’t tell me you’d have rather laid on the floor with your dad and read books all night. Or terrorized the trick-or-treaters that dare knock on your door… actually that sounds way more fun. Okay, so let's do one or two blocks and then head home and do that instead. The terrorizing thing, you know, scaring the crap out of middle school kids,” Stiles rubs his hands together in sheer excitement at the prospect.

***

They do not go home and terrorize the trick-or-treaters. But they do go home before too long since Baby seems completely uninterested in the whole deal. She’s busy chewing on Derek’s jacket collar, and the strings for her ears and her hands and anything and everything she can get her mouth on. When Stiles takes her in his arm, she pays him by taking a chomp of his ear.

“Good thing you don’t have teeth yet,” he tells her while he lowers her on his hip, tucking his free hand behind her head to support her so she can look up at him, “And speaking of things you don’t yet have…” his focus is suddenly on Derek and Derek has to clamp down the urge to take the baby from him before he trips over something and drops her, “A name? Baby needs a name Derek. And since I hear, congratulations by the way, that you are nearly officially hers and she is nearly officially yours now, you might want to get on with that. Kind of need a name for all that paperwork.”

“I know,” Derek grumbles more towards the top of Baby’s head than Stiles.

He’s silent for about as long as Stiles can stand to be silent, looking back down at the baby who is looking up at him, her wolf ears half off her head and her little tail tucked in between his elbow and ribs. He starts making faces at her and she blows a spit bubble. They take the last corner to the house Derek bought when he sold the loft. It’s not much, but it’s the closest thing he’s had to home since the fire.

“I thought by now something would have stuck,” Derek shrugs, pushing the front door open and taking Baby out of Stiles’s arms when she twists towards him.

“Have you asked her?”

Derek snorts.

“Obviously she can’t tell you, but she’s a wolf,” Stiles shrugs, “she’ll cock her head or howl when she hears something she likes.”

If he wasn’t holding a baby, he’d smack the idiot. Settling for an eye roll when Stiles grins at him, taking Baby back when she tosses her weight towards him.

“Start simple,” Stile shrugs, toeing off his shoes while he looks down at her, tipping her back a little so her butt is against his stomach and both his hands are cupping her back and head, “Anna? Betty? Helen? June? Emma? Julia? Marie?”

Her hand comes up in a spazz move to knock her hat off, but it doesn’t budge and she squints up his face.

“None of those,” Stiles gently removes the hat with skilled fingers and Derek takes it from his hand before he bends to remove his boots, “Rose? Natalie? Grace? Brittany? Danielle?”

She cuts out a hunger cry and Stiles starts walking towards the kitchen without taking his eyes off her. It’s like he’s suddenly achieved a level of grace that Derek thought his body incapable of, just because he’s got a baby in his arms.

“Amber? Madison? Teresa? Gloria?”

She purses her lips and then opens wide to shove her fist back in.

“Frances? Megan? Cheryl?”

Derek starts to wonder when he’ll run out of names and start repeating himself. He mixes a bottle, listens to Stiles’s voice and Baby’s gurgled, cried, or bubbled responses. At one point she lets out a scream that would make Lydia jealous and Stiles laughs, “I’ll take that as an absolute no then.”

His hand is out for the bottle as soon as Derek has it ready, shifting her to an eating position without stopping in his mission to find a name. By the time the bottle is gone and the baby is sleeping, Stiles is sunk down into the couch with his feet on the coffee table, yawning around names that Derek has long since stopped paying attention to as he takes the opportunity to do some straightening and cleaning that Baby never allows him to do when they’re home alone. And they’re always home alone. As helpful as John has been, and as often as Melissa texts to see if he needs anything, he certainly isn’t going to ask one of them to stop over and hold her just so he can match clean socks and scrub sinks.

By the time he realizes Stiles has gone quiet, it’s late and the entire house is clean. Peering over the edge of the couch quietly, fully expecting them to both be asleep, he catches Stiles wipe a tear from his cheek, then bring her tiny hand to his lips to leave a kiss on her chubby knuckles.

“You’re going to change so much again by the time I see you. Even if it’s only a month away,” his voice is whisper quiet and he has no idea Derek is within hearing range even if somewhere in his vast amounts of knowledge he knows that Derek can hear him in every square inch of this house.

“I’ll be home for Thanksgiving and by then you’ll have sprouted a tooth or two,” his fingers trace over her tiny fist until she opens it and grasps his pointer finger. His breath shakes, “How’d I get so attached, huh? We barely know each other. Is this, like, first baby syndrome or something? First pack baby, and first baby in my life and I’m going to get all emotional about everything all the time? Shit, I’m glad I only have this year left and then I’m done with higher education. And don’t tell your dad or my dad, but I’m coming back home. Here, even if it’s still Beacon Hills and all that entails, I just can’t imagine living anywhere else. Anywhere far away from pack. And you, my grumpy little Daciana…”

“Say it again,” Derek interrupts his speech and Stiles startles, the squeak he emits and the clear attempt to stifle the flailing of his limbs making Derek smile.

“What the Hale? Were you listening to all of that you creep? I was having a private conversation with…”

“Daciana,” Derek finishes.

“Yeah, it means wolf,” Stiles tips his head back, completely exposing the column of his pale throat.

“I know,” Derek moves around the couch, being behind Stiles when he’s tilted that way is nearly too much.

“Of course you do,” Stiles replies with a role of his eyes, “You know like seventeen languages.”

“It’s only five.”

“Six.”

“Five and a half,” Derek concedes.

Stiles’s grin is easy, spreading wider as Derek sits beside him, “So Daciana? You think?”

Derek lets his gaze move down the length of Stiles’s chest, taking his time to get to the baby sleeping in his arms. He takes in the sight of her pout, her chubby cheeks, her closed eyes. Lids bunching with dreams as her little fist clenching tighter around Stiles’s finger. He coos at her, she huffs and settles.

“I think,” Derek agrees. Taking the visionary route back up Stiles’s body to find his smile, the twinkling of his eyes, lighting up with mischief. And Derek should have seen it coming from a million miles away, but it’s Stiles. And Stiles is perfect. And everything Derek doesn’t deserve.

“Uh oh Hale, I just named your baby. I think that means you owe me a ring. And a picket fence. And like, another .8 of a child or something,” the twinkling in his irises is at blinding levels now. And Derek knows he’s just fucking around, but he can’t stifle the blush creeping up his cheeks. Averting his eyes and shaking his head in amusement.

“I'm only like, half serious,” Stiles adds after a moment of quiet, “We can start with a date.”

Derek’s head snaps towards him so quickly it shocks even himself.

“And I don’t want a white picket fence. Ever. Because those things are a lot of maintenance.”

Derek should be able to fall back on listening for lies, but he can’t. He’s too surprised at the offer of a date to even do so much as shut his half-open mouth.

“And like .8 of a child or whatever it is, that’s just weird. One’s fine. Or maybe two. Or fifteen if we get really good at this.”

The mischief is starting to slip, the eyes still twinkling. Derek can’t process what he means. He’s just taking the joke too far. It wouldn’t be the first time Stiles missed the point of shutting up before it got awkward.

“But first things first Hale, a date. You and me. Tomorrow night. My dad will take the baby, or we’ll take her with us if you want but that’s kind of distracting, right? Then we’d be fussing over her and not getting to experience the full morbid awkwardness of a date together,” he’s still grinning, looking directly at Derek.

Derek probably lets the offer linger there for far too long without responding. He can’t think of a single damn reason someone like Stiles would want to be with someone like him. He has nothing to offer him. He has nothing of worth, or status. He’s not even certain he’s capable of love.

When Daciana’s little sleep growl seeps into his confused fog, when that warmth settles into his chest he’s reminded point blank that yes he is still capable of love. He loves her with every ounce of his being, and maybe with the right person, with someone who’s not after him for his looks or his money or his power, or any of the things that all his past experiences paved the way for; maybe he’d find himself able to let go of that fear and jump in.

“It’s fine if you don’t,” Stiles responds quietly after the smile has slid off his face.

Derek would do anything to put it back, “Yes… I just, I… yes,” he takes a deep breath at the sight of Stiles’s lips tugging upwards again. Clearing his throat and trying to respond in a manner that’s less desperate sounding, “Sure. We can do that.”

Stiles snorts out a laugh, the blush that Derek can feel creeping up to his cheekbones a complete giveaway that he’ll probably never be capable of being smooth when it comes to Stiles and romance. But he gets the feeling that Stiles isn’t looking for smooth.

***

“Please? Please, just once. Just one kid, the next one that comes to the door, just answer it with your fangs out, or your claws. Just one,” Stiles bats his lashes at Derek who only rolls his eyes in response.

Arms crossed over his chest, but the mock grumpiness isn’t fooling Stiles. He’s already situated Dacy in the bassinet and they’re sorting through her Halloween candy - and by sorting he means that he’s eating it and Derek is glaring it to death. There’s some cheesy horror movie playing quietly on the TV, which Stiles is only mildly surprised that Derek has.

“You know you want to,” he taunts as the sounds of nearing trick-or-treaters gets loud enough for even his human ears to hear it, “Come on, the only kids left out this late at night are middle and high schoolers and we all know middle and high schoolers are assholes. Do it, do it, do it,” he chants around a bite sized candy bar that he stuffs in his mouth without even looking at the label. He spits it back out when his taste buds detect peanuts, “Gross, who even puts peanuts in chocolate? It’s like raisins in cookies. Just no, just let it be gross and unhealthy, don’t try to pretend there’s something beneficial in the globs of wonderful sugar.”

Derek snorts at him when he unwraps a taffy and pops it in his mouth to chase away the offensive taste of peanut. He’s up and off the couch before the doorbell can be rung. It’s not to keep it quiet for Dacy, which becomes very very obvious when Derek swings the door open and shifts his entire face, then growls at the kids! It’s amazing! It’s the most amazing Halloween thing ever! Stiles is laughing so hard he has tears in his eyes when Derek turns back towards him and shrugs, wondering around fangs, “Happy?”

“Totally. Totally happy Sourwolf,” Stiles manages to make mostly understandable through the snorting full-body laughter, “You?”

Derek’s face turns human, looks thoughtful as his eyes scan over Dacy’s sleeping body, then back over Stiles. His expression goes soft and it catches Stiles’s breath mid-laugh, “I’m getting there.”

Well that, that is the actual most amazing Halloween thing ever.