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Prince Among Wolves

Chapter Text

“I’m pretty sure you’re exaggerating the cost a little bit,” Stiles groused, one hand scrolling through online job postings while the mechanic on the line with him continued to list the multitude of things that were magically wrong with his jeep. Stiles wouldn’t put it past the guy to try and write off ‘unicorn in the alternator’ as one of the many fixes to add to the bill.

“Okay, yeah, how long? Are you serious? What about a payment plan? Right, so can I take it to another mechanic, because that’s ridiculous. What? Well, I didn’t tell you to start working on it already. Oh my God, fine.” Stiles practically chucked his phone at the desk by the time he hung up on the mechanic, anger boiling up within him.

It was bad enough that rear-ending someone due to failed brakes was considered his fault, but that the mechanic they’d taken the car to refused to release his jeep until all repairs were paid for? Stiles was already at his wit’s end and it was still the second week of summer.

Stiles rocked his chair back and forth, staring at his cell phone for another long second and then snagging it to dial his dad. Sure, dad was working, but Stiles knew ‘working’ usually consisted of lurking speed traps for a few hours before moseying down to the precinct to do paperwork.

His dad picked up on the third ring and Stiles sat up, staring blankly at the job ads on his computer screen. “Hey father o’mine--”


Stiles choked on air for a second, struggling to think of what he wanted to say. He floundered and then scoffed. “I can’t just call my favorite dad up and see how his long, hard word day has been going?”

Another pause, and then a pained sigh. “What do you want, Stiles? I’m working.”

Stiles fiddled with a pen sitting nearby, shrugging despite the fact that his father couldn’t see it. “I was just wondering if you’d be open to the possibility of me taking out a loan? I could pay it off by cleaning things? You’d have your own indentured servant.”

“You already are my indentured servant,” his father pointed out dryly, “I pay your tuition and you do my laundry and make food, remember?”

Curses. “Well, you know. Maybe I could power wash the roof? Your cruiser’s looking kind of dirty and all.” Stiles dropped his pen to click around on the computer, pulling up a list of job postings that had been put up earlier that day. Wouldn’t hurt to stay on top of things in case his father--

“You said you wanted to be independent. That means paying for your own problems, son.”

Stiles dropped his head, whimpering mournfully into the phone. “Cruel and unusual punishment, dad.”

“Just think of it this way. You can spend your summer being responsible instead of partying until your fall semester.”

Picking his head up, Stiles snorted loudly and scrolled to a job marked ‘Need Babysitter’ somewhere around the top of the listing. “Okay, yeah, like I was going to party anyway,” he muttered bitterly.

“I’ve adjusted to the idea that your form of partying is playing Xbox Live with Scott all night or doing nothing but playing Borderlands and drinking Code Red all weekend.”

Wow, it was almost sad how predictable Stiles had apparently become. Then again, Stiles liked to think of his life as simple and drama-free; when there weren’t any blackout thunderstorms, at least. “Touché.”

“I’m going back to work now,” his dad said slowly, “try to avoid jobs with questionable legality, please.”

“You make things so hard for me, dad.” Stiles feigned dismay, gasping for good measure.

“It’s how you know I love you.”

“Uh huh, yeah,” Stiles laughed, bidding his father goodbye before hanging up and glancing over the ad that he’d pulled up.

--Looking for full day/evening sitter. 2 twin boys age 4. Must have exp. w/werewolves. Must be human. No pedophiles. No teenage girls. Pay negotiable. --

Stiles was absently grateful that he was already holding his cell phone, otherwise he would have made a mad scramble to get it. Scott was a werewolf, and had been one since high school. Stiles had been the person who had helped him all through his change, and Stiles was very human. He was also not a teenage girl or a pedophile. He was so qualified, and babysitting jobs could pay a whole heap to do nothing but watch a bunch of kids and feed them on occasion.

He dialed the number listed at the bottom, leg bouncing in anticipation as it rang. The longer it took, the more tense he got until the voice mail picked up and a very irritated sounding man came through on the recording.

“I’m not here. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you at my convenience.”

The second Stiles heard the beep, he sucked in a breath. “Hi, hey--hello, my name is Stiles. I’m calling about the ad you put in for the sitter. I was wanting to see if you still needed someone. My name is Stiles Stilinski. I’m 23 and I’m a student at BHU. I’m off for the summer so I won’t be taking classes until the fall--oh, I’m human. My best friend is a werewolf.” Stiles struggled to think of anything important he needed to add, fidgeting with his highlighter and popping the cap on and off as he talked.

“He’s a cool werewolf, uhm. I like kids, kids are great. I used to go volunteer at the pediatrics ward at my friend’s mom’s work. My friend who is the werewolf. I also babysat for my neighbor’s kids when I was in high school and I don’t like to give sugar to kids and I follow schedules for nap times and I know how to change a diaper. Not that I’m saying your kids don’t know how to change a diaper, but in case of emergency, that knowledge is there,” he sucked in a sharp breath, biting on his tongue and wincing.

“So, if you still need someone, please let me know.” Stiles listed off his phone number and then his email address for good measure, thanking the faceless man for his time and hanging up just a half second after he heard the notification telling him that his voice mail was getting too long. He released a long sigh, dropping the phone back down and then leaning back in his chair to stare up at the roof. He could babysit, right? All he had to do was look up some blogs about taking care of boys and baby werewolves and he’d be totally fine.

Just to be on the safe side, though…

“Hey Scott?” Stiles waited for the rustling on the other line to die down, belatedly impressed that Scott had actually answered on the first try. “How hard do you think it is to babysit werewolves?”

“Uh,” Scott answered intelligently, repeating it and then drawing it out a third time like he was actually going to think about it, “I don’t know man. Like, you would have two evil monsters on your hands around the full moon, probably. Are you sure you should be around kids? You might give them sugar poisoning or something.”

Obviously Scott was not Stiles’ friend because of his deep and analytical understanding of Stiles as a person. Mostly, Stiles figured the majority of their friendship hinged on comic books, fart jokes and the appreciation for nice butts.

“That’s what blogs are for, man. No better baby advice than the blog of a stay-at-home mom trying to make life easier for her fellow parents. Plus, there’s a baby channel on discovery or something. I totally got this.”

“Okay, man, but don’t call me if you end up becoming a giant chew toy or something. I’m supposed to hang out with Allison and Isaac this weekend. We’re going mini-golfing.”

Stiles rocked back in his seat, stifling a groan. He would never understand the exact dynamics of their weird threesome romance/bromance that had turned Stiles from the awkward third wheel into the hobbling spare tire on the back that was only used during major blowouts.

He muttered as much to Scott before hanging up and staring at the clock on his laptop. Might as well kill a few hours applying to some retail jobs and googling things about werebabies.

It was well beyond nightfall when Stiles’ phone started to ring with a number he didn’t recognize. At first, he contemplated the likelihood of it being a misdial, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to answer.


A gruff, unfamiliar male voice barked over the other line, “can you come by tomorrow to sign paperwork and take a drug test?”

“Whuyh?” Stiles floundered, jumping forward so fast in bed that he slipped and flailed off the side in a painful heap. “I’m sorry, who is this?”

A lengthy pause and then, “the one you called about the sitter job.”

“Oh, yeah!” Stiles rolled onto his stomach, trying not to grunt too loudly as he pushed himself to his feet. “Yeah, I can take a drug test. What time do you need me to come by? Is before eight okay?” His dad left for work at eight, so Stiles could catch a ride with him instead of trying to get one from Lydia or Scott, who were slightly less reliable when it came to transportation help.

“Seven would be better. You get a trial run. Bring yourself, a driver’s license, and social security card. I can pay you fifty an hour.”

“Fifty?!” Stiles cried, choking on air and tripping over his pants in a mad dash for his desk.

An irritated growl. “Take it or leave it.” The guy made it sound like he was offering some kind of ridiculously stingy price instead of an insanely generous one. At this rate, Stiles wouldn’t even have to take out an extra student loan by the time school started up again. He could have his car paid off before the end of the summer.

Finally dragging himself to his desk, Stiles snagged a pen and a piece of scrap paper. “No, fifty is perfectly fine. What’s your address?”

Stiles copied down the information given, as well as a phone number and a list of things they wanted him to bring.

“Once that’s taken care of, you can start sitting tomorrow.”

Double-taking, Stiles stared down at the paper in front of him and then up at the half-finished wiki article on how to deal with the notorious boy ‘jelly leg’ syndrome. “Kind of soon, isn’t it?”

“You’re the sheriff’s son, I trust you know what would happen if my kids aren’t well taken care of when I get home tomorrow.”

Oh damn. It was terrifying how quickly this guy did his research. Then again, you didn’t have to look very far for a Stilinski in Beacon Hills given that there were only three, and one was in the obituaries.

“Uh, well. You don’t have to worry,” Stiles laughed awkwardly, tapping his pen on the paper and then chewing on the corner of his thumb. “I can’t thank you enough for this job, dude. My car’s brakes went out and I nailed someone the other day so I thought I’d have to be busting my chops all summer and then--”

“I don’t really care why you need the money. Just be here on time tomorrow.”

The line went dead and Stiles almost winced at the abruptness of it. Well. Hopefully this guy’s kids weren’t as rude as their father was. Stiles grabbed a sliver of tape from his desk drawer, sticking the list on the side of his monitor and then going back to what he was reading. He had to at least cover how to deal with temper tantrums if he was going to be babysitting two twin boys in just a few hours.

After frying his brain on the pbs website, as well as wikipedia and a handful of parenting blogs, Stiles set his alarm and shot his father a text message to let him know he’d be a chauffeur in the morning. However, he was far too anxious to sleep, and ended up spending a good few hours sitting on his bed jiggling his legs with anxiety before he was up again and at the computer. A little more research never hurt anyone.

Stiles’ alarm went off the next morning with no regard for the minimal amount of sleep that Stiles had gotten. It was loud and blaring, vibrating itself right off of the desk and onto a stack of game cases. Stiles groaned, loud and pained, and rolled just as gracefully out of bed.

He leapt up, though, when he remembered why his alarm was set in the first place. Excitement was the best kind of way to bat away any vestiges of sleepiness that might have been pulling Stiles back to the bed. He hurried to get ready, hopping in for a quick shower and using bar soap only (Scott complained when he’d first turned that body cologne was strong to a werewolf’s nose) and then gathering the things needed to fill out paperwork before he thundered downstairs where his father was sitting at the kitchen table.


“Let’s do this,” Stiles nodded, inhaling shakily and then letting it out with a shake of his arms and shoulders to try and knock off some anxiety that kept clinging to him.

The house they pulled up to was at the end of a long driveway hidden halfway into the mountains. Stiles now understood the point of the numbers he’d been told to memorize, because it was what unlocked the gate blocking the rest of the house from access. Stiles was running a few minutes late by the time his father finally dropped him off, just because of the distance. He rang the bell once after jogging up the stairs, bouncing on the heels of his feet and waiting for the owner of that gruff and irritated voice to answer.

The door swung open and, instead of any form of man on the other side, there was a girl with wavy blonde hair and a crying boy on her hip. She released a loud sigh of relief, hand shooting out to grab Stiles’ wrist and drag him inside. “It’s about time. This is above my pay grade--” she stumbled, her right leg suddenly trapped in the arms and legs of the other boy, this one not crying and looking more needy than anything. She sighed, taking the sobbing child from her hip and shoving him at Stiles.

“Here, you take this one.”

Stiles did as he was told, holding the kid at arm’s length when it screamed and kicked at him. He contemplated what exactly he was supposed to do, before he ignored the girl trying to lead him out of the foyer and set the kid down.

Jelly legs made it impossible and the kid crumbled like a sack of peas. Stiles set him on the floor, let the kid kick and scream for a second before suddenly the arms were up again and grabbing at Stiles. Apparently the desire to be held by anyone was stronger than the need to dismiss a stranger.

Stiles picked him back up again, arms hooking under the shoulders and then pushing the bottom for support until he had the kid cradled into his chest, crying loudly into his ear. Those chubby arms went around his throat, hugging him tight. Stiles rubbed his hand down the boy’s back, rocking him and finally heading after the blonde woman. The screaming had died down into hiccupping cries by now, and when Stiles finally found where he was supposed to be going, there was just whimpers and sniffles in his ear.
Stiles could already tell this was probably going to be a handful.

“There you are. Oh, look, he likes you. Awesome. Okay, I need you to sign these and give me your license and social security card. I’m gonna make copies so we can get your background check out of the way.” The next few minutes were a flurry of activities, mostly because Stiles had to do everything left handed since he currently had an exhausted boy half-passed out in his arm. By the time it was all said and done, the woman--apparently a secretary, not a sitter--left Stiles with an emergency contact list, a booklet full of meals and what the boys could and couldn’t have, and a farewell of, “call me, Erica! Don’t call Derek unless it’s an emergency!” as the door slammed shut behind her.

Stiles glanced around, but he couldn’t find the other boy anywhere in the kitchen. He didn’t even know their names, because Erica, apparently, had just wanted to give Stiles the bare essentials before running off to do her actual job. He heard the sound of a television being turned on, and followed it into the living room. The boy in his arms sniffled, fingers curled into Stiles’ collar as he sniffed again and then rubbed his nose up under Stiles’ ear, smearing snot everywhere while snuffling like a dog. Or a werebaby.

Shuddering, Stiles bit back the urge to dry heave and push the kid’s face away from his ear. Instead, he rounded the couch, taking a seat next to the other boy with a loud and melodramatic sigh. The one on the couch was wearing a blue tee with shorts, while the one in Stiles’ arms had a black tee and shorts. A small, but extremely helpful difference.

“Hi,” Stiles said to blue tee, wiggling the fingers of the hand not supporting the child in his arms. “I’m Stiles, what’s your name?”

Blue tee crinkled his nose, leaning into Stiles’ space and sniffing before saying. “Andy. You smell funny,” with that, Andy slid off the couch like a worm and onto the floor, watching Stiles suspiciously. Stiles, normally, would have felt a little offended, but he had a feeling that Erica was a werewolf just like the boys and their father. It was possible she was their mother, but Stiles didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. This wasn’t Desperate Housewives.

“I bet I smell funny because I’m human,” Stiles pointed out, wincing at the loud and tired yawn that the other boy gave off in his ear. “Unless I smell like farts. Do I smell bad? I didn’t even fart today.” Stiles put a heap of false indignation in his voice, scowling for good measure like he was very upset at this fact.

Andy grinned, laughing squeakily and then shaking his head. “No, not bad. Funny.”

“Smells good,” muttered the sleepy one on Stiles’ shoulder. Stiles preened and Andy made a face.

“Olly’s nose is broken.”

Olly huffed into Stiles’ throat and Andy scooted closer so that he could stare at Stiles with wide, curious green eyes. His hair was a mop of black, sticking every which way like he’d spent all morning rubbing a pillow on it just to make it look that way. “Are you old?”

Stiles snorted, shaking his head as Olly squirmed to get into a position where he could watch the conversation. “I’m not that old,” he informed Andy, reaching for the remote control to try and flip for a station with some children’s shows on it. Olly whined, reaching for it with wiggly fingers and Stiles handed it over.

“You must be old,” Andy said seriously, bringing both hands up to press against the top of his head. “Your hair is short! Are you going bald?”

Olly, standing on Stiles’ thigh and propped against his chest and shoulder, fiddled with the remote. He was still breathing a little heavy, nose stuffed from crying and mashing his fingers against the channel button without actually looking at the television. Stiles didn’t have the heart to take it from him just yet. He had to get on their good side first.

“I like short hair,” Stiles said. Andy made a displeased noise, tugging on his own dark locks and scrunching his nose up like the concept was displeasing.

“Short hair is stupid.“

Stiles laughed before he could stop himself, the movement jostling Olly into grunting and sliding into a plop on Stiles’ thigh. “You have short hair!” Stiles pointed at Andy, mostly because it wasn’t uncommon for kids to claim their dislike for something just to be confrontational. Andy released a distressed noise, jumping up to his feet and waving his arms around like what he was about to say was of the utmost importance.

“That’s because daddy makes me! I want long pretty hair! Like ‘punzel!”

Oh, this was an interesting development. Especially because Andy looked genuinely upset that he couldn’t be allowed to grow his hair out. Time for a subject diversion because Stiles was not ready to deal with another boy meltdown already.

“I like Rapunzel! What else do you like?”

It was like opening a floodgate for conversation. Andy was going a mile a minute listing anything and everything he had ever liked, making sure to point out minute details in some of his preferred shows that he didn’t particularly care for. Every now and then he would take a breath and Olly would use that moment to quietly inform Stiles of his own favorite cartoons.

Within the span of fifteen minutes, what Stiles could decipher from half-garbled boy babble was that Andy loved fairy tales and princesses and anything to do with a happy ending, while Olly was a huge fan of outer space and ocean life. It made things a little easier for Stiles to already tell a difference between the two.

Andy spoke in higher tones, sometimes squeaking when he got too excited about stuff, and always gesturing if he thought maybe Stiles might not understand. Olly, on the other hand, was more focused on making sure he knew the words to express what he wanted to say, and so he took his time and didn’t stumble over his words and phrases the way Andy did.

Stiles finally got them situated in front of some Disney reruns of House of Mouse after they wore themselves down talking about anything and everything. It gave Stiles a chance to return to the kitchen and grab the papers that Erica had left him. One paper in the booklet had two names on it, and a list of ‘favorite snacks and meals’ under each one. Those names were Oliver Hale and Andrew Hale.

Well, at least it was reassuring to know that their father was a little more creative than Stiles had initially assumed. Olly and Andy as nicknames were a little less surprising.

Venturing around the rest of the house, Stiles found half the doors to be locked up and the other half with child-gates that were bolted in. Well, at least it was werebaby proof. The upstairs was blocked off as well, so Stiles really only had access to the kitchen, living room, laundry, garage, and a hallway that lead to a bathroom and the boys’ rooms. Stiles only chanced a quick peek into each one to see a proverbial vomit of toys and stuffed animals everywhere before he decided it would be best to act like he’d never seen any of it to begin with.

Returning to the living room, Stiles wasn’t particularly surprised to see the both of them had started to fidget with boredom. It wouldn’t be long before they were causing havoc if Stiles didn’t do something soon.

“Do you guys wanna play a game?” Stiles asked. Andy’s head shot up, shooting Stiles a thousand watt smile and nodding.

“I wanna be princess! I’m ‘punzel!” With that, Andy rolled off of the couch and shot out of the room. Stiles was left scratching his head in confusion, ready to ask Olly what his brother was talking about when Andy came running back in with a bedtime blanket sitting on his head, the blue fabric dragging on the floor behind him.

“I’mma princess!” Andy cried again, flipping a corner of the blanket over his shoulder and pointing to Olly. “You are th’ knight!”

Stiles looked Olly, who seemed to accept his fate as he slid off the couch and waddled towards the bedroom hallway. Stiles glanced at Andy, feeling only the tiniest bit confused. Far be it from him to discourage gender equality, but usually boys didn’t like being called girls.

“Don’t you mean prince?”

Andy stared at Stiles with wide eyes, looking like his entire world had been crushed. “No! PrinCESS!” he shrieked, and then let out an earth shattering wail as Olly came back in with a plastic sword. Stiles frantically tried to remedy the situation, reaching out to pick Andy up but getting tiny clawed hands slapping at him instead.

“Don’t cry, Andy!” Stiles exclaimed, “you can be a princess! I’m sure there are princess boys, too! You can be whatever you want!”

“I’m not a boy!” Andy wailed, plopping onto his bottom and dragging the blanket off of his head to hold it tightly. Stiles had a feeling this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. The fact that the kid was freaking out so bad over being called a boy opened up a whole can of worms that Stiles was completely unprepared for. Andy sniffled and Olly came close to crouch down, tiny mouth pursed into a frown.

“Issok, Andy. I know you’re no boy,” Olly said quietly, kissing his brother on the forehead. Andy peeked an eye open, whimpering and then shoving his face into his blanket. Stiles decided it was time to intervene.

“Andy,” he began awkwardly, sitting down next to the boy. “I’m sorry I said you were a boy.”

“Really?” Andy squeaked, looking up at Stiles with watery eyes.

Stiles nodded profusely, because he was not going to discourage this kid from being whatever he or she wanted to be. He’d seen enough articles about this kind of stuff to know that, even if it was something of a phase or maybe more permanent, telling Andy it was wrong was never the way to go. “Uh huh. I’ll even make you a crown if you want me to. That way you can be a real princess.”

It was like Stiles had brought Christmas on months early, and Andy’s face lit up with excitement. “A crown?” he squeaked incredulously, sitting up so fast he nearly knocked Stiles in the chin with his head. Stiles laughed, nodding and then shrugging.

“Of course. What’s a princess without her crown? Do you have a dress to go with it?”

Andy’s face fell, and that just wouldn’t do.

So that’s how, three hours later, Stiles found himself playing castle in the living room with a fort made out of pillows with a princess wearing an aluminum foil crown and a blue bed sheet toga-dress. Of course, Stiles was the prince in danger, so he just had to swoon and sigh in his pillow fort while Andy swung around a sword at Olly the knight (Olly, said Andy, was a bad knight and needed to be put in time out for hurting the prince, AKA: Stiles) with a battle cry fierce enough to rival Xena herself.

That, of course, was when the front door opened and all Stiles heard was an infuriated roar of, “What the hell is this?” just as Andy’s pillow shield smacked him in the face and he sent the entire pillow fort crashing to the ground.

Chapter Text

It was like a sudden surround sound when both of the boys screamed, “Daddy!” at the tops of their lungs. They scrambled over the pillows and Stiles was pretty sure he had a foot up his nose for a second before twin sets of feet thundered across the living room towards the entry.

Stiles struggled to his feet just in time to see the both of them smack into a leg each of the man standing there with a look that seemed to be torn between annoyed and horrified. He had a briefcase in one hand and a cell phone in the other, and now he had a child clinging to each of his legs while talking a mile a minute in high-pitched babble.

Stiles tripped over himself to get around the couch. He picked up Andy first, practically prying the kid from his father’s shin, and then did the same with Olly. They were both a bit heavy, and Stiles barely had a grip on them when both boys were reaching for their father. Mr. Hale curled the phone in close, muttering, “I need to call you back,” and hanging up.

Looking at Stiles, Mr. Hale’s focus turned to the living room. The guy was insanely attractive, with dark hair and a perfectly tailored suit. His eyes were pale, the same shade as Olly’s, and his face must have been cut straight from marble and stained with a permanent half-day shadow of stubble. Stiles maybe was gaping the tiniest bit, but he wasn’t entirely surprised that this guy was the father of the two adorable boys in his arms.

“So,” Mr. Hale began lowly, “your first day watching my sons, and you destroy the living room.”


Andy and Olly both started giggling guiltily as Stiles glanced to where the couch pillows were all over the place, scattered with various sheets and things like that. It looked like a disaster now that Stiles and the boys had knocked the original structure down. He glanced back to Mr. Hale, smiling sheepishly. “It’s just a pillow fort,” he said, hoping the guy understood that much. Stiles realized that, considering how rich Mr. Hale seemed to be, and how immaculate the house had been, it was likely that the guy was a stickler for cleanliness.

“Daddy,” Andy whined, reaching out and snagging the corner of Mr. Hale’s suit. He gave it a tug, “Daddy, daddy, daddy,” his voice grew more frantic with each word until Mr. Hale sighed and plucked him right out of Stiles’ arms with no effort at all. Damn werewolf strength.

Stiles already thought his arms were going to fall off from just keeping the two on his waist. He adjusted his grip on Olly, watching as Andy grinned wide and cupped his hand around Mr. Hale’s ear.

In a stage whisper, Andy loudly said, “Diles said I dun hafta be a boy!” Stiles needed to work on stressing the importance of pronouncing people's names correctly before they made everyone thing Stiles was part of a dishwasher or something.

The expression on Mr. Hale’s face was something along the lines of an agitated porcupine and a parent who had just been informed that their child was going to go prostituting for the holidays. Stiles’ heart sank just the tiniest bit. It seemed like the whole ‘girl’ thing really hadn’t ever been addressed.

Stiles grinned, shifting Olly’s weight in his arms and saying with pride, “Andy’s the bravest princess in Beacon Hills, you know.”

“I see…“

Olly nodded furiously, his forehead bumping Stiles’ chin just the tiniest bit. Mr. Hale’s frown grew, and a loud sigh escaped him as he shook his head and plucked the aluminum crown from Andy’s head.

“My crown!” Andy cried, reaching out for it even as Mr. Hale approached the kitchen and tossed it into the trash. “Daddy!”

“It’s time to stop being a princess, Andy. Lunch time means you have to be a boy again.” Mr. Hale said firmly. He didn’t sound angry, just exasperated. Like Andy was just trying to play more games. Stiles scowled, and then flinched when Andy released an earth-shattering screech and punched his father right in the mouth with a flail of a fist.

Holy God.

Mr. Hale’s face grew dark and Andy kept screaming, kicking and punching him in the neck. For a split second, Stiles was terrified that Mr. Hale was going to do something violent, but all he did was grab the hand that was hitting his face. With forced calm, he looked at his son and said firmly, “you can be a princess again after lunch,” in a voice that made Stiles think that it was already hard enough for him to just admit such a thing was allowed in the first place.

“I dun wanna!” Andy writhed, fur sprouting all over as he snarled and growled, kicking his father and then trying to bite him. Mr. Hale merely moved his head and arm out of the way when necessary, but he looked like he was a few seconds away from snapping entirely and losing all patience.

“Don’t be mean, daddy!” Olly yelled. Mr. Hale looked livid as his eyes locked on Stiles, because Olly was now hiding his face in Stiles’ shoulder. Good grief, Stiles had started an accidental mutiny.

He wanted to intervene, but Stiles had a feeling that it was likely he might just make everything worse. Andy was having a full on tantrum now, screeching and fighting against his father, face wet with tears while Mr. Hale tried to get him to stay still.

“I said I dun wanna!” Andy sobbed, “Dun wanna be a boy!”

“Yeah!” Olly shouted, “Andy’s not a boy, daddy! Don’t make him!”

Mr. Hale ignored both of his children, approaching the kitchen counter and lifting Andy up like a doll. He forcefully set him on the counter, lifting again when Andy’s knees buckled and making the child stand up. His held Andy tight, a low, animalistic growl escaping him.

“Stop it right now,” he snarled, and Stiles could see the way his eyes flashed a bright red color. It was like magic; Andy choked on a sob, hiccupping and stuffing a tiny fist into his mouth. Mr. Hale waited until he was quieted before continuing.

“The both of you had better behave from now on.” This wasn’t the same voice as any Stiles had previously heard. It was half-human, accented by a glint of fangs. Olly had gone utterly still in Stiles’ arms, and Stiles had a feeling Mr. Hale had totally alpha’d out on his children.

Andy whimpered, and Mr. Hale started tugging at the makeshift toga-dress that Stiles had rigged from an old bed sheet. Andy didn’t protest, sniffling and crying quietly as his father pulled the thing off, leaving him in just his pants and tee shirt once again. Completely the boy he’d been just hours before.

Olly turned his face into Stiles’ shoulder, whispering, “I don’t like it when daddy yells,” with a sad voice.

Stiles had to agree entirely. It seemed like the man didn’t really know how to act with his kids, but at least he wasn’t particularly violent with them. Stiles wasn’t sure what he’d do if the guy had turned out to be abusive. It wasn’t like 147 pounds of sarcasm was any match against a pissed off werewolf. Not to say Stiles wouldn’t fight to the death for the kids if it came to it.

Mr. Hale folded up the sheet, lifting Andy and then setting him on the floor. Stiles followed suit with Olly, and the two boys gravitated towards one another. “Go get washed up for lunch,” he told his boys.

Olly grabbed Andy’s hand, pulling him down the hallway as Andy continued to sniff back his tears. Once they were out of sight, Stiles turned to awkwardly face Mr. Hale. “Uh…”

“Your paperwork went through,” Mr. Hale interrupted, “I came to see if you wanted to set up direct deposit or if you wanted cash at the end of every week.”

Stiles leaned up against the counter awkwardly and Mr. Hale turned to give him a long, assessing stare. “So…I’m not fired?” Stiles asked, grinning uneasily. Mr. Hale seemed mildly taken aback, his pinched brows coming apart at the same time he sighed softly and glanced to where the boys had gone.

“I’m not going to fire you just because Andy had another tantrum. He does it all the time because he never wants to stop playing.”

Stiles was quick to jump to Andy‘s defense, “I don’t think that’s what--”

Mr. Hale’s cold look cut Stiles’ words off before they completely escaped him. “I’ve talked to the other sitters, I’ve talked to a therapist. He does it for attention. I don’t want you to encourage that behavior, or I’ll reconsider your employment.”

It would have been like a slap to the face, if the man’s words hadn’t sunk in. Did he really listen to what others told him instead of what his own children were saying? “Mr. Hale--”

“Derek.” Mr. Hale interrupted, looking a little surprised at himself. He shook his head. “Mr. Hale is what they call me at the office. I don’t really want to feel like I’m at work when I’m not even there.” In that moment, Stiles caught a glimpse of years of stress weighing on the man’s shoulders. They couldn’t have been very far apart in age, but whatever this guy did for a living, it took a toll on him.

Before Stiles could try to explain what might have been going on with Andy, the boys were coming back. He didn’t even know how to word what was swimming in his head, anyway. He doubted that Andy was really acting out for attention. Stiles had gone through his fair share of shitty therapists and doctors. He wouldn’t be surprised if whoever Derek was taking his kids to was just spewing bullshit to ensure more and more appointments as time went on. Then again, Stiles had really only spent a day with the boys.

Maybe once he knew Andy and Olly better, Stiles would be able to bring it up again with their father. Right now, he was little more than an observer.

Derek helped both of the boys into the small booster chairs on one end of the table, gesturing to the refrigerator. “They have juice in the fridge.”

Stiles took his cue, looking into the fridge for the juice while Derek headed for the pantry and grabbed the supplies needed for peanut butter sandwiches. It was scarily domestic, and so sudden that Stiles felt a little detached from reality as he watched Olly and Andy’s father dole out the right amounts of peanut butter and jelly onto the slices of bread.

It was almost unsettling how quiet the boys were being, though.

“Put them down for a nap two hours after lunch,” Derek capped the jars, grabbing two more slices of bread to cover the sandwiches. He looked up at Stiles, gaze intense and assessing. “No play time before naps, or they won’t sleep. No Spongebob. Caillou or Little Bear are fine. No story time either. Storytime is bed only, not naps.” Derek’s attention snapped to the table, expression fond for just a second. “Don’t let Olly convince you otherwise.”

Olly gave a small, guilty grin as Andy scrubbed at his teary face. Derek cut the sandwiches into triangles, setting a plate in front of each boy. Stiles set the juice boxes down next to the plates as Derek returned to the pantry.

“You can help yourself to whatever is in the kitchen as long as you’re here, and there’s a guest bedroom for you on days that I work late. It’s down the hall from the boys’ room and the key is next to the back door.” Derek pulled out what looked like the supplies for a protein shake, carrying them over to the blender sitting in the corner by the stove.

“Well,” Stiles attempted, watching the boys eat while Derek started to measure things out to put into the blender. “I‘m glad you know all this. It makes things easier for me.”

“Only what I’ve had the other sitters write down.” Derek said, and flicked the blender on. The boys winced, dropping their sandwiches and covering their ears as it went on for another minute or so. They resumed eating once Derek shut it off again and started to pour his drink into a bottle.

Stiles watched all of it with a weird, depressed feeling in his heart. “So… you won’t be around that often?”

Derek looked at Stiles, one eyebrow rising up high as he capped his shake. “I’m the sole owner of the Center for Lycanthropy Control and Regulation. What do you think?”

If Stiles had any kind of reply that was halfway intelligent, he was saved by Andy squeakily exclaiming, “Daddy is busy ‘cus he’s important!” as Olly nodded furiously in agreement. Derek looked like his children had just reached in and pulled his heart right out of his chest, staring at the two of them blankly in shock. It did sound like something they said due to having been told that over and over again, and just the thought of how this family really worked made Stiles want to curl up in his bed and cry for days on end.

Glancing back at Stiles, Derek schooled his face back to an expressionless mask. “Erica usually will be the first one who answers if you call her with any problems,” he explained, implying that he must have been too busy to take very many calls for anyone other than clients or serious issues. “She can handle almost anything you throw at her, so feel free to text her or call her if you have to.”


Everyone’s heads snapped up, locking on the large form of a dark-skinned man standing in the doorway. He, vaguely, reminded Stiles of Mr. Bubbles from Lilo and Stitch, what with the dark skin, suit and shaved head with a pair of shades perched on top of them. Guy looked like he could snap some necks with a flick of one giant hand. Derek glanced at his watch, sighing loudly and then reaching for his briefcase.

“One second, Boyd.” He tugged out some papers, handing them to Stiles. “Here are the forms to set up direct deposit if you want it.”

Derek grabbed his protein shake and his briefcase, crossing over to Olly and Andy to give each of them a quick kiss on the head. “I’ve got to get back to work,” to Stiles, he said, “make sure they’re in bed by seven.”

It was like flicking the switch from calm and right back into chaos. Derek didn’t make it two feet before Olly and Andy were both struggling to climb out of their seats. “Don’t go, daddy!” they cried. Stiles had to run over and grab the both of them before they made it to their father. The two released long, mournful howls as Derek headed out of the room with tense shoulders and not a single look back.

Stiles earned himself a few scratches before he could get the two calmed down enough to settle back into their seats. Andy’s lip was wobbling, fingers picking at the crust of his bread like he wanted to eat but he didn’t want to at the same time. Olly pushed his plate away entirely, arms pillowing his head on the table. He sniffed once, and then sighed in a way like he was just accepting what life threw at him.

It wasn’t hard to figure out that Stiles was going to be more of a permanent fixture in their life than he’d originally anticipated. This wasn’t exactly what he’d signed up for when he took the job, but he had a feeling that nobody else planned on being there for these kids. He might as well make the best of a bad situation.

“So do you want to watch Little Bear, or Caillou?”


By the end of the week, Stiles could already tell the food in the pantry and fridge had yet to be replenished. He had no idea who was supposed to stock it up, but he wasn’t about to face one of Olly’s meltdowns because they were out of raisins to go with snack time. That had been horrifying enough the first time when Stiles just couldn’t find them. He didn’t want to think about what would happen this time around.

Derek was more of an enigma than Stiles had anticipated. He was out the door when Stiles’ dad would drop him off, and he was always getting home after bed time and shooing Stiles out before any conversation could really be held. Not that Stiles ever really wanted to stay. Night usually had Derek looking like he’d been hit with a few trains and some wolfs bane bullets. Stiles didn’t even have the heart to do much other than bid the guy a good night and head on home.

He never came by for lunch after that first day, nor did either of the boys really seem to bring it up. The worst time for Derek’s absence was always at night, when they would ask Stiles repeatedly to bring their father home before they fell asleep. More than once, Stiles had been pinky-sworn into telling Derek to come into their rooms when he got home and give them goodnight kisses, even if they were fast asleep.

Stiles could barely stand the look on Derek’s face the first time he’d relayed the message.

Pulling up Erica’s number in his phone (because she seemed to be the only one who knew where anything was in the Hale house), Stiles shot her a text message asking about who did the grocery shopping.

Waiting for her reply, he ventured back into the living room where Olly and Andy were building a castle out of toy blocks. Stiles had picked up a cheap dress from Goodwill the other day, and he couldn’t help but smile at the memory of Andy’s reaction when Stiles had presented him with the purple and green little girl’s dress with a matching purple hair clip. Stiles was pretty sure the kid had almost cracked one of Stiles’ ribs from how painfully tight the hug had been. The only deal was that the dress and clip were only allowed when Derek wasn’t home.

It had been hard to explain that to Andy. Stiles didn’t have the heart to explain to the kid that his father believed grown ups over his own kids. He‘d had settled on telling Andy that he was so pretty with the dress that ‘daddy thinks you’re playing dress up. He gets confused and then it hurts his head when you try to tell him that it’s just you, and not a princess. You don’t want his head to hurt, because nobody likes when their head hurts’.

So far, it had seemed to work well enough that Stiles hadn’t gotten any angry phone calls in the middle of the night or early morning while Derek was home.

Stiles’ phone rang right before he asked if he could join in on the building project. He answered to Erica on the other line.

“Just write down a list of what we need and I’ll send someone to do the shopping.”

Sitting on the couch, Stiles watched Andy start to build a moat around their awkward tower that looked more like a jenga stack than anything. “We could use a few hours out of the house. I don’t mind taking them out with me. Can you just pay me back later?”

There was a pause as Erica tutted thoughtfully. She hummed, and then said, “There’s an emergency credit card under the fruit basket. No more than $300 for the next week, and only healthy foods.”

Stiles’ brain stuck on the ‘$300’ for a long moment before he blurted, “Does that include the cost of the taxi?”

Erica laughed loudly, like Stiles had just performed an entire stand-up comedy skit for her, and Stiles would have felt miffed if it weren’t for her next words.

“Just take one of Derek’s cars. There’s four in the garage. The keys are by the door.”

“What? Really?” Stiles blurted, sitting up so fast he caught the attention of the boys. They watched him curiously for a few seconds, before Olly shrugged and threw a block into their tower, knocking it over. Andy shrieked out a laugh, doing the same with the second tower and turning their castle into the aftermath of Godzilla 2000.

“Yeah,” Erica said, sounding confused. “How have you been getting to work, anyway?”

Of course, Stiles remembered his first conversation with Derek, when he’d tried to tell his story, only to get shot down. Maybe he should have tried talking to Erica about it sooner. “My dad drops me off before work. My car’s in the shop for the summer.“

This time, Erica released a huff and grumbled something under her breath. Stiles was pretty sure he caught Derek’s name, and the word ‘Scrooge’ somewhere in there, but he wasn’t positive. “Just use one of Derek’s cars from now on. I’d suggest the Hummer, since we can write the gas and miles off on his taxes, anyway. Just make sure to save the gas receipts.”

Stiles was pretty sure he’d just lost the ability to speak at all. He vaguely heard himself thank her before hanging up, but he was in a haze of newfound love for rich people and their love for writing off taxes. He felt himself grinning, jumping off of the couch and throwing his hands up.

“Who wants to go shopping?!” he cried excitedly. Andy released an ear-shattering scream of excitement, throwing up the blocks in his hands and then running out of the room.

“Shopping!” Andy bolted back in the room, his face now furry and hair sticking every which way from it’s bushiness. “Shopping!” he made a lap around the couch, climbing up it and vaulting off with his arms reaching for Stiles. “Shopping!” Stiles caught him with a grunt, their heads bumping together almost painfully. This didn't affect Andy at all, though, because he was apparently on an 'we're going shopping' adrenaline high that could rival any teenage girl.

“Stop screaming!” Olly cried, covering his ears and shaking his head. “Too loud!”

“I’m not screaming!” Andy screamed over Stiles’ shoulder, wrapping his arms around Stiles’ shoulders. “I’m shopping!”

Belatedly, Stiles wondered if these kids had ever actually gone out in public. He laughed, though, because Andy had become a wiggling worm of excitement while Olly was still trying to organize his blocks together.

“Come on, let’s get cleaned up and then we can go get some food. If you’re good, you each can get some toys.”

It was like offering them a mountain of candy, or injecting them with adrenaline. Andy squirmed out of Stiles’ arms like a jellyfish, scurrying over to Olly to try and grab as many blocks as he could. Stiles could totally get used to the idea of bribery to get things cleaned up. In ten minutes flat, all the toys had been put back into the storage box and all of the pillows replaced (albeit crookedly) onto the couch.

Even Stiles took notice of how all of their toys didn’t seem particularly individualized. They mostly had cars, blocks, a few bouncy balls and matching remote-controlled helicopters. It was likely Derek had gone to the store and asked for all the things little boys liked, without thinking to ask his own sons.

Stiles was starting to realize that Derek really had no idea how to be a father, despite how hard he seemed to be trying.

That didn’t matter, though. Stiles knew, as he ushered the two into the garage, that he would just have to be the best damn babysitter these boys could get to make up for it.

If part of that included putting a bit of a dent in Derek’s wallet, well, nobody really needed to know that.

Chapter Text

When Stiles pulled in outside of Toys-R-Us, he was only passively amused to open the back door to Andy writhing around and pulling at the harness of his booster seat with tiny, irritated growls escaping him.

“I’m stuck!” Andy wailed after a second, flopping with a tiny whine. Stiles thanked the Lord for small favors (like mini-werewolf proof booster seats) and unbuckled him with a smile. He helped Andy out and then reached over to do the same with Olly. Holding a hand each, they headed into the store. Stiles took a second to find the sign that lead them towards the most important thing Stiles could think of.

Child harnesses.

Stiles already knew from experience that he was nowhere near as fast as Olly or Andy when they zeroed in on a target. If he was going to keep taking them out in public, he needed an advantage. He brought both boys to the display, grinning. “Which one do you guys want?”

“What are they?” Olly asked, reaching for a blue harness and inspecting it like he could actually read the package.

“They make it so you don’t get lost in the store,” Stiles said vaguely. Andy snagged a purple one that had a princess crown on the chest piece, waving it at Stiles.

“I like this one!” he shouted, a little unnecessarily loud. Stiles took the harness, nodding seriously. Andy seemed satisfied knowing he was getting exactly what he wanted, and moved next to Olly to help his brother pick one out. There was a black one a little higher up, it had stars all over it and a crescent moon to boot. Stiles plucked it from the display, bringing it down to the boys’ height.

“What about this one?”

“Oooh!” Olly cooed, taking out of Stiles’ hands, staring, and then hugging it and jumping up and down before he started to hop in a circle around Stiles. “Yes! Stars and moon! I wan' it! It’s got space 'tuff!

Stiles grinned, handing the princess harness back to Andy and saying, “let’s pay for this stuff and then I’ll let you guys pick out one toy each. How’s that sound?” which caused both boys to screech out, “yay!” as loud as they possibly could. Stiles winced, shooting apologetic looks to the other people nearby, and then taking a hand each and heading for the checkout.

He let Andy and Olly put the harnesses on the conveyor belt, and then paid for them with Derek’s credit card before pulling the two aside so he could hook them up. Olly looked uncomfortable, like he wasn’t really sure what was going on, while Andy squirmed and pulled at the harness. Of course, he then looked up and started to scan the aisles just as Stiles finished and let out a loud gasp.

“Princess stuff!” With that, Andy bolted straight for the bright pink and purple aisle. The only problem was that Stiles was holding onto his harness. He was also only expecting the pull strength of a regular child and not a werebaby. He was completely unprepared to nearly have his arm dislocated when Andy shot down the aisle, the wrench just enough to pull Stiles over and send him crashing to the ground as he lost his hold on the harness. Stiles‘ knees and chin bashed into the tile, his head spinning wildly.

Olly crouched, his little hands pressed against his knees as he peered down at Stiles with wide eyes. “Diles, are you okay?”

Stiles grunted, pushing himself to his feet and picking up the handle to Olly’s harness. “I’m okay, thank you for asking,” he said, smiling down at the little werewolf. Olly returned the grin, following Stiles as they headed down the aisle to where Andy was practically drooling over a display of Rapunzel toys. Stiles crouched down to pick up Andy’s harness leash, a little miffed that he was being entirely ignored.

“Andy, you can’t run off like that,” Stiles said sternly, just the tiniest bit embarrassed that he had been so unprepared for the strength of a little werewolf that Andy had managed to actually drag him to the ground from just running while Stiles was holding the harness. He’d have to brace himself next time, probably to the degree of someone walking a great dane or bull mastiff.

Andy peeked up from staring between two boxes of dolls. His eyes went wide as a cute, confused pout came to his lips. “But… the ‘punzel stuff’s here.”

Stiles sighed, gesturing down. “Look at my knees, Andy. You did that when you pulled me over,” he grabbed the hems of his shorts, pulling them up to show the angry welts he’d gotten from hitting the ground. Andy released a distressed sound, putting the boxes down immediately.

“I’m sorry!” he cried, and then rushed over, grabbed Stiles’ right leg, and plopped a big wet kiss right over the welt. Stiles wanted to die, watching as Andy repeated it with Stiles’ other knee, releasing a loud, ‘mmmmwah!’ of a lip smack at the end, just for emphasis. He was two seconds away from lifting Andy up and smothering the kid in kisses when Olly pushed his brother aside.

“No Andy. Das' not how you kiss booboos,” he proclaimed, and then smushed his mouth against Stiles’ knee, rubbed back and forth with more of an ‘ubwaah’ noise than the typical kissing sound. He did it again with Stiles’ other leg, complete with the weird rubbing thing, and then stood back with a proud look on his face.

Ugh, Stiles was going to go into cardiac arrest from the amount of adorable these kids exuded.

Also, his knees didn’t hurt at all, like they’d somehow sucked the pain right out of him. He remembered Scott mentioning once or twice the ability to take someone’s pain was something a werewolf could learn over time, and how it was instinct for others.

A huge, overwhelming swell of affection hit Stiles and he crouched down, dragging both boys into his arms. They squeaked simultaneously, but Stiles was too busy hugging them to death. “Thank you guys so much, I feel all better now!” he cried, and then started to smack loud, wet kisses all over their cheeks. His ears rang with a set of squeals from each one, Andy giggling high and loud and squirming while Olly cooed and squirmed his arms up to hug Stiles’ neck tightly.

“Ew!” Andy cried, “Your mouf is all wet!” even as he wriggled, he laughed when Stiles squished another big kiss right on his cheek. “Lemme go, Diles!”

Stiles let out a big fake growl. “Never! You’re mine forever! All mine, ha ha ha!” with an evil laugh, Stiles buried his face into Andy’s throat and blew a huge wet raspberry. Andy shrieked, kicking and pushing at Stiles’ face so fast that half his fingers went into Stiles’ mouth.

“That’s gross, Diles! No! Lemmego!”

“Say please!” Stiles crowed around Andy's fingers before he spit them out with an exaggerated, "bluh!"

“Pleeeeeeeease!” Andy whined, almost elbowing Olly in the face. Olly wasn’t really fighting it, he was just kind of cuddling the side of Stiles’ head while Andy continued to have a giggle fit and tried to sound annoyed at the same time. Stiles had no idea how he’d gotten so absolutely attached to these two already in just one week.

Sighing loudly and dramatically, Stiles said, “oh fine!” and let them go to watch Andy scrub at his face with a silly grin. Olly let out a whine, pulling at Stiles’ shirt and staring with big, wet eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“Can I have another hug?”

Just melt Stiles’ heart, why don’t you? Stiles swept Olly up into his arms without another word, earning a happy noise from the child. Olly pressed their cheeks together, releasing a soft and delighted growling rumble as he rubbed up against Stiles’ jaw with a big snuffle. Stiles rubbed a hand down Olly’s back soothingly. They probably didn’t come to the store often, so all of the strange sounds and smells might have made Olly need a familiar scent to help him adjust.

“Aw, that’s so precious,” cooed a nearby woman. Stiles peered up at her, grinning and standing with Olly in his arms. Andy had already returned to inspecting the doll display, but Olly was more preoccupied with sniffing at Stiles’ throat and rubbing against it.

“I know, right? Getting paid to sit for them is like a bonus,” Stiles grinned, turning to rub his nose against Olly’s cheek. Olly made a delighted sound, wriggling as close as he could. The kid was probably the biggest cuddler Stiles had ever met. Ever since day one, Olly was always wanting hugs and kisses. It worked out well for Stiles, because he just had to hoist Olly up on his waist and carry him around a few times a day and it usually prevented any tantrums from happening.

Stiles didn’t want to think about the fact that Olly needed the affection just to keep from being in overwhelming states of emotional distress. He didn’t want to think about it because it made him kind of hate Derek, and Stiles knew that Derek was just doing what he thought was best for his kids. Even if he was going about it entirely the wrong way.

The woman looked confused for a second, tilting her head and breathing in heavily through her nose before her eyes widened. “Oh! I thought they were yours…” and then her eyes trailed to the harness on Andy that was just sitting on the ground, looking like she wanted to say something else when Andy ran over with a doll box in his hands.

“I want this one!” Andy exclaimed, shoving it up so Stiles could look at it. Stiles plucked it from his hands, inspecting it with a very serious expression. In reality, he was looking for a price, but he’d rather Andy think that he was checking for doll quality than whether or not it was in their budget. The woman stepped over, crouching down and smiling at Andy. Olly tensed in Stiles’ arms, curling a fist into Stiles’ collar, apparently startled by the stranger approaching them.

“You look very cute,” she said to Andy, “Did your mommy pick out that dress?”

Andy, who had started to fluff out the edges of his dress at the compliment, went utterly still and looked over at Stiles and Olly with confusion, like he wasn’t sure how to answer that. Stiles, himself, didn’t know the status of their mother enough to really correct the woman. He opened his mouth to tell her he’d been the one to get the dress when Olly quietly interrupted.

“Mommy is a gold diggin', blood tirsty hoah who will never see a single hair on our heads,” he said, dead serious. Stiles choked on air, coughing on a laugh as Andy nodded enthusiastically.

The woman looked horrified and Andy leaned in close, cupping one hand to his mouth to stage-whisper, “daddy said so!”

Good Lord. Derek was going to get Stiles mauled in a public store. He was suddenly very glad he’d implied that they weren’t his kids, because this lady looked ready to rip Stiles’ eyeballs out with her bare hands. Stiles quickly bent down to grab the leash to Andy’s harness, giving it a tug. “Hey, we still need to get Olly a toy, because I am a great babysitter! With no influence over what your father says to you! Look! Space ships!”

Stiles was thankful that Andy dutifully followed Stiles out of the metaphorical fire with absolutely no protest. If there was one thing he was going to do, it was to corner Derek one of these days and give him a verbal lashing about things you can and can’t say around your children. Stiles bet half his paycheck Derek just assumed that neither of the boys would be able to remember or recite half the words that had actually come out of Olly’s mouth.

When they came up to the boy’s section, Olly practically slimed his way out of Stiles’ arms and made a beeline for the practically obscure section that held some toy space shuttles and an astronaut or two. Most everything in the aisle was dinosaurs, action figures, or other particularly violence-themed toys. While Olly meticulously picked through the selection (wandering over to the ocean-creature display for just a few moments), Stiles quietly read the back of the Rapunzel doll box to Andy.

Olly approached with a small package in his hands nearly ten minutes later, holding it out to Stiles with a look of determination.

“Is this what you want?”

Olly nodded, letting Stiles take it and examine the package that listed the various types of glow in the dark wall stickers of planets and stars. It was actually pretty neat looking, but it wasn’t something Olly could play with.

“You sure you want this, buddy? You only get one thing. Don’t want an alien or an astronaut?”

“No,” Olly shook his head, taking the package back from Stiles and hugging it with a tiny, pleased puff to his chest. “I want this.”

“All righty. Hey--” Stiles gestured a few rows down to where there was housewares for children, “Let’s get you some stuff for your rooms.”

Within a half hour, they were heading for the checkout with a toy, a quilt, and a night-light for both Olly and Andy each. Andy had picked out a teal comforter covered in various colored flowers and birds, while Olly had gone for a dark blue one littered with fishes and a huge octopus in the center. Olly’s night light was plain navy with star-shaped holes punched in it, while Andy had gone with just a simple giant pink heart.

Stiles was pretty sure that he’d never seen the two of them so excited. By the time they were putting their things on the conveyor belt, Stiles had each leash wrapped tight around his wrists because he was afraid one of them was going to explode and run around screaming out of sheer joy.

Loading up the car, Stiles had to pray to the higher powers that they could get in and out of the grocery store within the hour. He didn’t want to miss their lunch time, because no food meant two extremely cranky werewolf children. No amount of raisins and pretzels could satiate their bellies the way a sandwich and a cookie could.

Luckily, Stiles was a master of pinching pennies and already knew where everything was in this particular store. With Andy sitting in the basket of the cart and Olly up by the handlebars, Stiles maneuvered in and out of each aisle, grabbing the essentials and even preventing a few attempted smuggling of things into the cart. Half of them were just for the sake of being sneaky, because Stiles was pretty sure Andy didn’t actually want four containers of beef bouillon.

Stiles should have noticed Olly’s increasingly agitated behavior, though. He’d been too focused on keeping grubby werebaby paws from snitching food and not focused enough on the way that Olly had begun to fidget and huff. With Andy happily ensconced in a pile of foodstuffs, Olly was a little less content in his seat by Stiles’ hands.

Trying to nip the crankiness in the bud, Stiles pulled the cart out of the way and bent down to press a hand to the top of Olly’s head. He pet down, cupping the back of his skull. “We’re almost done. Do you want some raisins?”

“No,” Olly whimpered, his eyes growing wet. Oh no, this was not good.

Stiles rubbed the back of Olly’s hair affectionately, scratching a little behind his ear just like he knew Olly liked. “How about some juice?” Stiles always brought emergency juice and snacks. It was one of the many reasons that he had no dignity today because of the giant diaper bag that he had sitting on his hip.

Olly whined, pushing Stiles’ hand off of his head with another noise of discomfort. “No!”

“What would you like?”

“No!” Olly cried, his ears growing pointed and fur puffing out around them. A single body-wrenching sob escaped him before Stiles could even try to stop the meltdown from engaging. Stiles had half a second of preparation before Olly keened and then let out a cry that soon escalated into an ear-shattering wail.

Andy’s hands flew up, slapping over his ears because they had gone through enough of Olly’s meltdowns to know that the screaming wasn’t going to stop any time soon.

Tears streamed out of Olly’s eyes, wetting his face and sticking to the fur on his cheeks. He'd even let loose his tiny fangs that Stiles could see clearly because of the open-mouthed cries. Stiles shoved his hands into Olly’s armpits, hauling him out of the cart. He barely had Olly up to his chest before little arms were winding around his neck and Stiles could feel the pinprick of claws when Olly clutched to Stiles’ shirt.

Stiles’ ears were already ringing from the intensity of Olly’s screaming. He pressed kisses to the child’s temple, rocking him back and forth and rubbing his back, trying to at least calm him down enough where people weren’t staring murder at them. Nothing worked, and Olly kept sobbing loudly, heaving for air at any chance he could. Stiles wanted to die of mortification.

An employee came up soon enough, trying to remain calm as he asked over Olly’s crying, “I can set your cart aside if you want to take him out of the store until he feels better.”

Relief struck Stiles and he nodded, gesturing at Andy. “That would be great, thank you so much,” he said as Andy shakily stood up in the cart, letting Stiles use his free arm to lift him up and set him on the ground. Andy’s bottom lip was starting to wobble, in that way that meant ‘my ears are hurting and my brother is crying and I am not happy’. He wouldn’t cry, though. Stiles was grateful that Andy was a bit of a trooper when it came to Olly’s meltdowns. Stiles needed to reward the kid about it more often.

Taking Andy’s hand (to which Andy pinched his ear against his shoulder and used his free hand to cover his other ear), Stiles hurried out of the store and towards the car.

Olly was still going strong when they got in the car. Stiles got Andy situated in the passenger seat, turning the engine over and putting on some Disney tunes from the mp3 player he had hooked up to the stereo, and then settled in the driver’s seat with Olly in his lap. Andy seemed content to play with his new Rapunzel toy, a little less bothered now that Olly was starting to lose his voice.

Rubbing Olly’s back, Stiles continued to kiss the side of his head and mutter words of comfort, grateful when he caught the signs of the wind-down. Olly hiccupped, sobbing quietly, and then loudly again, before he began to settle.

Another few minutes passed before the storm had finally blown over and Olly practically went limp in Stiles’ arms. He snuffled, rubbing his cheek into Stiles’ throat with a tired rumbling noise and then dragging his face up to repeat the action against Stiles’ jaw. Stiles rubbed his back, petting it gently and letting the child seek whatever comfort he needed.

He was seriously going to have to have a talk with Derek about the lack of cuddling he seemed to be giving his children. Sundays were Stiles’ day off, but Stiles seriously doubted that Derek was the type to be down for some hardcore snuggling with anyone--even his own kids. The dude had a stare that could crumble buildings.

After Olly had properly calmed down and Stiles had made sure to confirm that they could return to shopping, they headed back into the grocery store. This time around, Stiles made sure to include Olly in on a few food selections just to make sure that he didn’t get too bored or agitated again.

It was a little past their normal lunch time when they got back to the house, so Stiles immediately set them both up at the kitchen table and got them something to eat before he put away all of the groceries. Once that was done, Stiles put Princess and the Frog on the TV for Andy and then let Olly drag Stiles to his bedroom to put up his new glow in the dark stickers.

Olly was meticulous about the placement of each sticker, wanting to make sure they were all stuck somewhere that could be seen easily by Olly in bed, but also by anyone who came into the room. By the time he was satisfied, Stiles could hear the sounds of Mama Odie singing loudly on the living room television to Tiana and Prince Naveen.

Stiles and Olly joined Andy for the rest of the movie, though Stiles quickly became a human pillow for both boys the second he sat down. Stiles didn’t mind, because it was kind of comforting when they snuggled up to him like they cared about him as more than just a babysitter. It made Stiles’ biological clock start ticking, a sudden longing that these boys were his own making Stiles bring his hand up to rub each of them on the back gently.

By the time the credits were rolling, both Olly and Andy had passed out asleep, snuffling loudly into Stiles’ chest and belly. Stiles carried Olly to bed first, tucking him in under his new ocean quilt, and then doing the same with Andy. A little early for naptime, but they’d had a busy morning, so it was understandable.

Stiles hunkered down in the living room, pulling out his laptop and grabbing his cell phone. Scott was out with Allison, and Stiles needed someone who knew what’s what about werewolves because he was seriously getting concerned about how often Olly and Andy would get extremely irritable for no reason. They expelled so much energy during the day, and Stiles would play with them constantly and give them as much attention as he could, but there were still many times where nothing he did would help their spirits. He was hoping it was just some sort of werewolf thing, which was why he called the second biggest expert on his phone’s contacts list.

“Hey, Lydia, got a minute?”

A hum and then, “It depends on what this minute will be used for.”

“I was wondering if there was anything special Jackson did when he got uh, agitated?”

“Besides sex?”

Stiles choked on a laugh, and it turned into this kind of exasperated groan. There was a reason he didn’t ask Scott for advice. Scott’s answer to everything was ‘Allison’ or ‘sex with Allison’ and it was utterly unhelpful. “Yeah, besides that.”

“What’s wrong?”

Stiles pulled up his browser, grabbing Google from his bookmarks. “I was just wondering if you had any advice on helping me deal with the kids I’m babysitting for. I play with them like, all the time, dude, and they still get super pissy sometimes. Like they're bored, even though they've been doing stuff all day long.”

“Well, why don’t you just quit, if they’re that hard to manage?” Lydia asked. The mere thought of it made Stiles’ heart clench for some reason. He couldn’t abandon them, that would be stupid and cruel. No, Stiles would rather figure out some sort of solution for all of this, instead.

“No, I get paid mad money for this. Also, I’m a prince, now. So I have a duty to my kingdom of two.”

“Aw, that’s disgustingly cute, even for you,” Lydia simpered, though Stiles could detect the amused affection in her voice. He rolled his eyes, typing in ‘how to deal with 4 year old werewolf children’ on Google’s search bar.

“Hah, yeah. Anyway,” Stiles said dryly, clicking on the first link that appeared, “I’m running out of options.”

“Stiles, sweetie, sometimes kids have fits and you can’t do anything. Oh, the joys of parenthood.”

Stiles groaned, and not at what Lydia was saying, but at the website he’d pulled up. This happened way too often. Half the time he tried to run a search on anything werewolf, the website that always showed up first was owned or funded by Derek’s company. It made Stiles feel stupidly bad for Andy and Olly when their father was never there for them, but because of him, Stiles had an easier time dealing with the boys and their little werewolf quirks.

“You know,” Stiles muttered, “given how many times I end up using one of Mr. Hale’s company websites to research things on werewolves, you think the guy would be a better dad,” not that Derek was a terrible father--well, he was, but it wasn’t intentional. He just had no idea how to be a parent, or something. Stiles didn’t really interact with him enough to know for certain.

Lydia snorted, “The Hales are old blood, you can’t honestly be that surprised that half the stuff about werewolves came from his family's company.”

This was true. Derek may have been one of the only ones left of his clan, but back before the wolfsbane epidemic, Derek had been part of a huge family with ties into every single aspect of the werewolf community. The Hales had been one of the first real named packs in California, formed hundreds of years ago. It was scary, when Stiles really thought about it, to know that Derek, Andy, Olly, and Derek’s uncle were the only survivors of a once-prosperous and highly influential pack.

Then again, they also weren’t the only ones who had suffered from the epidemic. Stiles could still remember when it had happened. It wasn’t very long after his mom had died. Some retired hunter had been cultivating monkshood out on his property for years--which hadn’t been a problem, at first. He grew various types, some were used in Aconite Wine (a popular werewolf drink because it was, essentially, the only thing that could truly get them drunk) and others used in various types of medicine and cures.

The problem was when a huge storm hit, littering the town with monkshood. There was pollen, flowers, every single part of the plant scattered all over the place. Nobody knew the water system had even been poisoned until werewolves started getting deathly sick and some of the humans would start to hallucinate.

It was also what started a wave of turnings. Werewolves suffering from fits of dying insanity had started to invade the towns, biting and turning humans in a desperate bid to preserve their legacy. That’s how Scott and Jackson had been turned, as well as a bunch of other kids in Stiles’ grade.

Most of the werewolves hadn’t survived. There was only so many antidotes that could be given out, and sometimes the cure wouldn’t take and they still died. It was painful to even think of what Derek had gone through, a teenager helplessly forced to watch his family perish all around him.

Stiles shook the thought off before he got ridiculously depressed about it, instead cruising through Google until he found a blog run by a human mother with three kids, one of which was a werewolf. Thank holy Jesus, it was a goldmine. She was married to a turned werewolf, and all she did was talk to other moms about the differences between human and werewolf children.

“Hey, I think I got something,” Stiles said, perking up as he clicked around on the navigation bar.


“This lady says that werewolf kids need more stimulation for their senses. Like, they gotta work that wolfy nose and stuff.”

Lydia made a thoughtful sound, like what Stiles recited suddenly made a heap of sense. “I can see that,” she said, “you know when Jackson turns into a bigger jackass than normal, he usually goes for a hike out in the woods. I asked him about it once and he just blew me off, but I bet you he was just playing around out there like a big puppy or something.”

The idea of Jackson romping around in the forest had Stiles cracking up before he could stop himself.

“I don’t really want to know what you’re thinking of right now,” Lydia informed him, “so instead I’m going to suggest you come up with some activities to help stimulate their werewolf side.”

Sometimes Stiles was extremely grateful that he hadn’t really pursued after Lydia during her breakup stint with Jackson back in sophomore year. He had a feeling that, if he’d been a rebound, they’d never have become good friends like they were now. She helped him in so many ways that he was sure he’d be struggling without her, and he knew for a fact that Lydia always came to him before anyone else when something was truly bothering her. Other than Scott and Allison, Lydia really was one of the greatest friends Stiles could ask for.

Even now, Stiles doubted he would have been able to come up with as many ideas as Lydia. By the time he was off the phone with her, there was now a list of activities for Olly and Andy that challenged their other senses. He couldn’t wait to hide the cups of trail mix for them to sniff out, or to stash his socks, shoes, and overshirt in various places to try and confuse them during another game of hide and seek.

When they woke up after their nap, though, they were going to play an altered version of go-fish that Lydia had suggested. Stiles almost wanted to kiss her when she came up with the idea to lie about the cards so the boys had to use their ears and noses to tell if Stiles was being honest or not. He had a feeling they were going to love that game the most.

The other activities he would try out tomorrow. Last Saturday, Derek had stayed in the office, but this time around he was going to be working from home. With this new set of activities, Stiles hoped desperately that it was enough to keep Olly and Andy out of their father’s hair.

Honestly, he wasn’t going to try too hard, because Stiles knew Derek was only staying home this time around because Stiles had made sure to tell Derek, in great detail, about how his sons had cried for hours when they woke up Saturday morning and their father wasn’t there. Stiles had even gone on to tell Derek about how distressed his children had been to have gone two days without seeing their father. Derek’s attempt to argue with ‘they could smell me around the house’ had been utterly shot down when Stiles told him how Andy had asked if Derek hated them.

Derek had looked like he’d been gutted when he’d heard that. He then he’d looked sickened when Stiles relayed that Olly had told Andy that Derek didn’t hate them, just that they were babies and that their father didn’t have time for babies. Sure, it had been a low blow, and Stiles may have exaggerated the details to a great extent, but it was the fact that what he’d said had shaken Derek so badly that he was actually going to work from home that made Stiles know it was worth it.

Stiles was going to fix this damn family before the fall semester, if it was the last thing he did.

Chapter Text

Usually when Stiles showed up for his shifts, Derek was on his way out the door and the boys were both still in bed. This Saturday, though, Stiles had completely forgotten that Derek wasn’t going to be in the office until he let himself in the house and nearly had a heart attack at the sight of Derek sitting at the kitchen table in pair of pajama pants and nothing else.

Stiles couldn’t even act like he wasn’t startled, because the amused smirk he was shot from over a mug of coffee was sign enough that Derek had heard Stiles’ heartbeat ratchet up the second he’d entered the kitchen. Stiles cleared his throat, tossing his keys on the counter and breezing right past Derek for the coffee maker. There was even enough left for Stiles to pour himself a mug.

Normally he wasn’t really the type of person to drink coffee--his Adderall didn’t mix particularly well with it if he had too much--but Andy and Olly could be a handful on some mornings and it was better to be awake and prepared than to be taken by surprise.

“Morning,” Stiles said sleepily, dumping a load of sugar into his cup and following it up with a splash of milk.

“Morning,” Derek responded, his voice sleep-rough in a way that made Stiles’ brain do crazy things. Stiles took a seat at the kitchen table, pulling out his laptop and opening it. He sipped at his coffee while it booted up, sighing and smacking his lips. Derek gave him a perturbed, disgusted look, and Stiles didn’t have to even look at his mug to know that the man drank his coffee black, or at least close to black.

“Sleep well?” Stiles attempted for conversation, even though Derek looked like he was particularly immersed in the business column of Beacon Hills Herald. Derek peeked at him over the top of the paper, clearing his throat and grabbing his mug for another sip.

“Olly had a nightmare and spent the night in my room,” Derek said. Stiles would have thought he was annoyed about it, but there was a small twitch in the corner of his mouth, and a tightness in the way he held his mug, that meant that Derek had felt responsible in some way. “Andy woke up in the middle of the night and joined us.”

Now that was an image that Stiles would have paid to see. He was sure the boys had slept better last night than they had all week. It made Stiles’ stomach flutter to think about Olly and Andy curled up asleep with their father. Derek’s chest was muscular, but it looked soft, like a firm pillow. Stiles temporarily entertained the idea of what it would be like to be able to rest his head on Derek’s chest, and then almost had to punch himself in the crotch just to stop that train of thought before it got way too out of hand.

Instead, Stiles bit down on the corner of his lip and said, “Olly always does better if you hold him when he’s upset, anyway.”
Derek grunted, nodding and going back to his paper. Stiles logged in on his laptop, already accessing the house’s wifi and pulling up his messenger. If he was going to be stuck sitting across the world’s hottest dilf, he was going to tell some of his roleplay buddies so they could understand his pain.

“Does…does Andy ever hit you when he’s mad?” Derek blurted, setting his mug down and staring at his newspaper. Stiles waited for a second, but his eyes didn’t move.

Struggling for a way not to offend the guy, Stiles tapped and rubbed his thumb over the rim of his coffee mug. “Not really. Andy doesn’t have tantrums if you keep him occupied.”

“I do,” Derek blurted, eyes going wide, “I--,” his voice dropped, hissing, “do you have any idea how many times I’ve watched Rapunzel?”

Stiles almost choked on his coffee, but he somehow managed to swallow the mouthful he’d been sipping at. He shook his head, waving vaguely at Derek. “That’s a movie. Anyone can watch a movie with a kid. Do you play hide-n-seek? What about castle? Andy likes to be the princess, but he wants to be the one who saves everyone.”

Derek made a face, like he didn’t really like that idea. Stiles really hoped they weren’t about to argue over whether Andy was allowed to play ‘girl’ games or not.

“It’s too late at night to get them riled up playing games.”

Stiles shrugged, setting the mug down. “Maybe if you got home earlier, then you could play with them more.” A low blow, but it was nothing but the truth.

The newspaper crinkled when Derek stiffened, his brows pinching together and his upper lip curling back into the tiniest of snarls. “I have responsibilities,” he said sharply, “in case it escaped your notice.”

“Oh, I noticed,” Stiles said lightly, remembering all of the times this week Olly had cried at the door after Derek had left, or how Andy never wanted to go to bed unless completely assured that Derek would come in to kiss him goodnight when he got home. “I noticed how you seem to think your job is your only responsibility, and not the two children currently sleeping in the other room. You know, your sons?”

Derek slapped the paper down on the desk, a low and inhuman growl punching out from his chest. “If you think for one second I don’t worry about them every minute of my day, you’re so fu--”

“Mmmnh, daddy?” Andy appeared in the kitchen, holding tiredly to a blue baby blanket and shuffling over in his pajamas to where Derek sat. Derek instantly fell silent, ignoring Stiles’ shocked look to turn and scoop Andy up and settle the child into his lap. Andy made a content noise, snuggling into his father’s chest. Derek went back to reading his paper and sipping his coffee, keeping one arm still so that Andy could remain curled up, blinking sleepily and yawning every now and then. Stiles knew Olly wouldn’t be far behind--the kid was always up within a minute or two of Andy.

Like clockwork, Olly emerged with a much more disgruntled look on his face than Andy. Olly was not a morning person, and it was almost adorable when Stiles would see that confused, squinty pout that Olly directed at everyone before making a beeline for Stiles.

Stiles leaned back enough for Olly to clamber onto his lap and get settled. They’d developed a ‘wakeup’ ritual after the first few naps where Olly would come snuggle Stiles until he was properly awake. Stiles clicked around on his laptop, resting one hand against Olly’s back as the full-on cuddle session commenced.

Olly pressed his face into Stiles’ chest, nuzzling up to his neck and then all the way across his collarbone with a tired grumble. Stiles rubbed Olly’s back soothingly as his entire upper body became a giant pillow for Olly to mumble smear his face on.

Stiles glanced up after Olly finally dropped against him with a sleepy huff, surprised to see Derek staring at him so intensely that it made Stiles feel instantly nervous. Olly burrowed into Stiles’ throat and Derek’s intense expression took on an almost murderous look that was also torn halfway into utter bewilderment.

“Uh,” Stiles cleared his throat, grabbing his coffee and taking a sip from it. His hand hesitated on Olly’s back, where he’d been sliding it up and down the boy’s spine, and Olly made a sleepy whine before squirming until Stiles started up again.

When Derek spoke, his voice was pitched extremely low--though Stiles may have been distracted by the way his pecs twitched when he adjusted Andy in his arms. “Do you know what he’s doing?”

Momentarily, Stiles entertained the idea that maybe morning cuddles were a foreign concept. He then realized that every time Olly started to rub his face anywhere, Derek’s face twitched. With one hand on the back of Olly’s head as a tiny nose snuffled it’s way along his chest and armpit, Stiles shrugged. “…cuddling?”

Frowning, Derek shifted Andy in his arms and, well, Stiles really was having inappropriate thoughts about those biceps, okay. He couldn’t help it. They were really nice arms. “He’s scent marking you,” Derek said. All dirty thoughts instantly went down the drain as Derek’s words hit him.

“What? No he’s not.”

Stiles knew how territorial werewolves could be. Just knowing he’d been letting Olly scent mark him could lead to a disaster if Derek took it the wrong way. Instead, Derek lifted Andy up, who was no more than a sleepy lump, and rested the boy’s face right into his throat. Andy’s arms instinctively came up, a sleepy grumbling noise escaping him as he started to nuzzle and burrow his face into Derek’s throat the same way Olly did to Stiles.

Derek’s eyebrows did this thing where they looked like they expected Stiles to have some sort of revelation. Stiles felt more dead than anything, and also extremely guilty. He couldn’t necessarily tell Olly to stop with the scent marking. It was something he did every time he woke up. It seemed to be comforting. The one morning Olly hadn’t gotten a chance to cuddle, he’d been cranky for two hours before Stiles had lifted him up and carried him around the house like a baby.

There was a long beat of silence, only filled by the rumbling of two little werewolves, and Derek looked more and more constipated as he tried to think of what to say. Stiles knew this stuff didn’t happen often. Scott rarely would scent mark him, and only if he was feeling particularly affectionate.

Olly settled into his lap again and Stiles ran a hand over his head. Fiddling with the handle to his mug, a thought struck him and he blurted, “anyone want pancakes?“

Both boys perked up, and then Derek--Derek’s eyebrows twitched and his back straightened just the tiniest bit. Stiles had to bite down on a grin. It looked like the love of pastries ran in the family.

“Pancakes!” Andy cried, voice muffled from where his face was buried in Derek’s shoulder. “Pancakes!”

“Yes!” Olly agreed, trying to say something else and being cut off with a yawn. He shook his head sleepily, rubbing his face and then pulling on Stiles’ shirt. “I want some!”

Stiles grinned, pushing himself out of his seat and hauling Olly up too, readjusting the child to rest on his waist. This was one of the few times he wished that he had a woman’s curves, if only to make it easier to tote Olly around during the day.

“Pancakes it is,“ Stiles confirmed, grinning when Olly and Andy both cheered loudly.

Derek cleared his throat, shifting Andy and slowly coaxing the child to sit in his lap again. “There’s strawberries in the fridge,” he offered, his eyebrows rising up the tiniest bit in hope.

Aw, Derek wanted pancakes too. Well, Stiles wasn’t one to disappoint. With Olly on his waist, he had to perform a bit of acrobatics to open the fridge and find the drawer with the half-empty container of strawberries. Sure, Stiles knew they were there--he’d been the one to buy them--but he had a feeling telling Derek that might usurp his station as head of the house or something else alpha-y.
“Who wants strawberries on their pancakes?” Stiles asked, giving Olly a bounce to let him know he was also being asked.

“Me!” Olly raised both arms in the air, grinning sleepily and then wobbling on Stiles’ waist. He threw his arms around Stiles’ neck to keep his balance, huffing his morning breath into Stiles’ face. Stiles couldn’t even grimace because it was kind of cute anyway.

“I don’t!” Andy shouted from Derek’s lap, wiggling and throwing his hands across the table. “Dey get mushy!”

Stiles nodded seriously, searching the cabinets for the materials needed to make pancakes. Olly grunted, squirming and then sliming his way out of Stiles’ arm to toddle over to the table. Derek reached out, running a hand over his head and then pulling back to turn the page in his newspaper.

Stiles, now with both hands free, washed and cut the strawberries before deciding they needed some music. Andy was squeakily informing Derek of the importance of yesterday’s episode of Tailspin and Olly was--

Trying to filch Derek’s coffee.

Breezing over to the table, Stiles swept Olly up in his arms while plucking the mug out of his hands. “Oh no you don’t, buddy, I can barely handle you on a regular basis.”

“I’m tirsty!” Olly protested, whining and reaching for the mug. Derek had this shocked look on his face, like he had no idea how a four year old had managed to steal a mug from an alpha werewolf. Stiles had to bite back a grin, jostling Olly a little and then poking him in the nose.

“You shoulda said something, buddy! Want some juice?”

Olly frowned, and then pinched his eyebrows together in this serious expression that looked almost identical to his father’s. He crossed his arms, huffed, and then nodded like he was going to have to settle for something other than the same thing his dad was drinking. “I guess.”

Stiles opened the fridge, snagging a juice box and handing it to Olly before carrying the other over to the table for Andy. Derek took it from Stiles, their fingers brushing and making Stiles’ entire hand feel like it was on fire. Stiles didn’t like that feeling, and he had to stop himself from wrenching his arm back entirely at the sensation. Derek popped the straw into the box, handing it to Andy in his lap. Stiles set Olly down at the table, pushing the chair in so he could reach it to rest his arms on, and then grabbed his laptop.

He browsed through the recently-added selection of calmer music, and ended up going with a play list of songs that his mother had played when he was a kid. Olly was particularly fond of Paul Simon, and it made Stiles’ heart ache to remember dancing around his own kitchen while his mom sang with the music and cheered him on.

Stiles was flipping the last of the strawberry pancakes when Andy’s voice suddenly dropped off from the middle of his story about the book Stiles had read them for bedtime (the original How to Train Your Dragon, thank you very much) and Stiles paused to listen.

“Daddy,” Andy began, waiting until Derek grunted in acknowledgement. Stiles peeked over his shoulder, seeing Andy curled up with his eyes drooping sleepily on Derek’s shoulder. “How come I have to be a boy?”

The pancake Stiles was flipping slid off of the spatula, making a loud splat on the pan. Stiles hissed, biting back a curse and struggling to fix it and giving up halfway through. Derek was silent, and the longer he went without saying anything, the more anxious Stiles got.

“Sometimes we can’t be the things we want,” Derek responded quietly, mug clacking as he set it down. He must have been taking a drink from it to give himself a chance to think. “We all have to grow up some time.”

God, Derek really was deluded into thinking this could only be a phase. One that had to be ignored and prevented.

The sigh Andy released was far too pained for a child. Stiles had to stop himself from watching to see what he did. It made something inside of him wrench when all Andy said was, “I dun wanna ever grow up if I hafta be a boy,” with a tiny voice.

That wasn’t the sound of a child sad that they had to stop playing house. That wasn’t the sound of a child accepting that they couldn’t jump on the bed anymore. That was the sound of a child realizing that their father was never going to accept them.

That was so fucking not okay.

Stiles finished the last of the pancakes, his brain going a mile a minute, thinking of what he could do--of what he could say--without losing his job. Finally, he brought over the food, taking note of the startled look on Derek’s face when he got his own plate full of strawberry pancakes. His surprise only grew when Stiles came back to top off his coffee too.

Catching Derek’s stare, Stiles gave him a bright smile, “Can’t work on an empty stomach. Even princesses know that, right, Miss Andy?” Stiles looked over to Andy, who had been lifelessly poking at his food after being shifted to his own seat from Derek’s lap.

Andy’s face lit up in an instant, looking delighted at the nickname, and he nodded furiously. He glanced over, giving Derek an uneasy look, but then beamed right back at Stiles, chirping, “right!” and then stuffing a forkful of pancakes messily into his mouth.

It wasn’t hard to realize then and there that it was entirely likely that Andy wasn’t going through a phase. The way that Andy acted, the way Andy always wanted to be the femme fatale in all of their games, all of it pointed to the heart of a little girl. The clarity hit Stiles suddenly, and it was like watching the last bits of whatever boy he’d seen in Andy just disappear as Andy hummed and struggled not to make a mess while eating.

Even in his head, Stiles couldn’t help but think of Andy as a girl. That was okay, though, because she was. She was the most badass princess in all of Beacon Hills, as far as Stiles was concerned.

Derek had looked ready to say something, but apparently the way Andy was practically glowing was enough to get him to shut his mouth. He looked confused. Like he wasn’t really sure what he was supposed to think.


After breakfast, Stiles sent Olly and Andy to get washed up and brush their teeth, sitting back at the table and shutting the music off.

Derek was picking at a lone strawberry on his plate, sliding it across a puddle of maple syrup and pointedly not looking at Stiles. That was fine, Stiles could do the talking. He had a feeling that whole ‘scent marking’ issue with Olly was going to help keep Derek from firing him outright.

“It’s not that hard,” Stiles managed to say, closing his laptop and resting his elbows on the table. Derek shoved the last strawberry in his mouth, giving Stiles a blank look like he had no idea what they were about to discuss.

Stiles sighed, shrugging and glancing down at the table. He used a napkin to wipe at some syrup on the table, grimacing at how it just left a sticky patch behind. “To let Andy be what she wants.”

“Andy’s a boy,” Derek cut in harshly.

Snapping his eyes up, Stiles was glad he’d forced himself to look at Derek. Derek didn’t look mad, he looked terrified. “Whatever those doctors are telling you means nothing if you don’t ask your own child first.”

Derek snarled, tensing and hissing out, “I doubt a licensed psychiatrist is going to lie to me.”

“How do you think some of them get their money? Kid keeps doing what you don’t want, you keep coming back, huh?” Stiles butted in, already feeling a surge of protectiveness, a desire to fight for Andy.

Derek opened his mouth, a noise leaving him like he was going to talk, and then he just…didn’t say anything. He frowned, trying again to speak and then growling low in his throat.

“The full moon is tonight. You should leave before six to be on the safe side.”

Smooth change of subject, Mr. Hale. Very smooth.

Stiles gestured vaguely, arms flailing about, just to know that he was well aware that Derek was avoiding the issue. Derek continued to blankface him and Stiles sighed. “Are you going to be fine on your own?”

Derek looked at him flatly and Stiles bobbed his eyebrows in a fashion that he was well aware was mockingly similar to what Olly and Derek did when they were expecting an answer. Derek didn’t notice, or didn’t care, because he said slowly, “they have cages.”

Stiles was taken aback, because he really didn’t like the idea of Olly and Andy being caged up during the full moon. Derek seemed to catch the look of horror on his face because he quickly added, “their old cribs become cages. They’re still learning how to find an anchor.”

“Can’t you be an anchor?” Stiles asked, and Derek visibly flinched.

“I’m… trying. It’s hard when I’m always working. I’m not… I’m not--”

“You’re not home enough for them,” Stiles interjected. Derek stared, swallowing dryly and then giving him a stiff nod. Stiles made an ‘mhmm,’ sound that let Derek know that he was well aware of this, and Derek exhaled a sigh and stood.

“I’m working on it,” with that, Derek walked out of the kitchen. Stiles maybe took that moment to consider how much of Derek was a bad father and how much of him was just incompetent. He also made sure to ogle the way Derek’s back muscles flexed and that he had one of those sexy set of dimples at the base of his spine.

It wasn’t like Derek was going to be around enough for Stiles to be able to do this whenever he wanted, anyway, right?

After the kids were cleaned up and Derek had changed into a set of comfortable day clothes and holed himself up in the downstairs study, Stiles set about teaching Andy and Olly the art of coloring inside the lines.

They were making progress--Stiles only had to remind them seven or eight times in two hours that, “daddy’s working, you can’t see him until lunch time,” before Andy finally gave a loud, aggravated sigh, and chucked her crayons across the table. Olly made an affronted sound, picking them up and putting them with his own crayons.

“Andy?” Stiles watched Andy stand up and stomp straight for the entertainment center. She ignored Stiles, grabbing the familiar case for Rapunzel and flouncing out of the room. Oh no, not again.

Stiles gave Olly a quick rub on the head, scrambling to his feet to chase Andy down. He found her in Derek’s study, setting the Rapunzel DVD on his lap. “Daddy,” she whined, pulling at his shirt. Stiles made a move to grab her, but Derek held his hand up to let Stiles know he could handle it.

“I need to finish this, sweetie,” Derek said quietly, stumbling over the last word. Stiles almost had a heart attack hearing it. It was such an endearing term, one that Derek would previously never use. He wanted to cry for Andy, because this had to mean Derek was trying, right?

Andy, it seemed, didn’t care about any affectionate words in the face of being ignored for work. She pulled at his shirt again, letting out a loud whine of, “Daddyyyyyy,” that had Derek shooting her a warning look. Stiles started to move in for an intervention when Andy dragged in a shuddering breath and sank to the ground on her bottom. She pulled the Rapunzel case back onto her own lap, sitting her head on Derek’s thigh with another sigh.

Derek clicked around on his laptop, typing with one hand while the other came down to start petting Andy’s head, his giant palm running over the short strands of her black hair--cut identical to his own and Olly’s, but always messier.

It seemed they were both content with their set up, so Stiles slipped out of the room, making sure to leave the door wide open in case Derek needed him to come and fetch Andy. He settled back in with Olly, and they started to make up their own galaxy as per Olly’s request. They had reached the planet with two moons called ‘Borgle,’ when Stiles heard the snap of a laptop being shut firmly.

“Okay, go turn the tv on,” Derek said loudly, probably to give Stiles some warning. Stiles was very grateful for the warning, because Andy came streaking into the room with a loud screech of excitement and tripped over the living room rug. If Stiles hadn’t been standing to put the DVD in for her, he’d wouldn’t have had the chance to reach up and stop her fall.

“Tanks, Stiles!” Andy chirped. Stiles wanted to preen over the fact that Andy had said his name properly, but he was too busy trying to stop Andy from squirming out of his arms with excitement. Derek came into the room while Stiles was holding Andy up to the BluRay player to put the disk in. The television was a giant flat screen HD monstrosity, one that took up a good portion of the living room. Stiles had no complaints, though, because it just meant that they could sprawl almost anywhere on the couch and still be able to watch without any trouble.

Once they had the movie running, Stiles sat down just a few cushions down from where Derek was lounging with two little werebabies cuddled up on his stomach and chest. It was cavity-inducing, because Olly was snuffling Derek’s shoulder hesitantly while Andy demanded Derek sing with her this time around. Derek grunted something that could have been agreement, and turned to kiss the top of Olly’s head.

The sound that escaped Olly was something Stiles rarely ever heard. It was so happy that Stiles had to slouch down in his seat just to keep from choking on a swell of emotion.

When the first song came up, Stiles had to stop himself from choking on a laugh because Andy started to swat Derek on the stomach until he begrudgingly muttered out the lyrics in a half-hum. Stiles had a feeling that, if he weren’t there, Derek would be a little less mortified about knowing all the words. Andy was more than happy, taking one of Derek’s hands and swinging it up and down in her lap while they sang.

Not long after, Olly slid off of Derek’s lap and climbed across the couch over to Stiles. Stiles didn’t even think about it, picking his arm up so Olly could curl up under it with an ear over his heart, and setting his hand on a tiny shoulder. He rubbed Olly’s arm, already used to being used as a human pillow, and kept watching the movie. It was when he felt the itch of someone watching him that he looked over to see Derek staring again.

Olly giggled at something on the movie--making Stiles peek up to see Flynn getting nailed with a frying pain by Rapunzel--and burrowed deeper into Stiles’ chest. Derek made a noise, something soft and confused, and Stiles instantly jostled Olly in his lap.

Bending down, he said quietly, “Why don’t you go snuggle with daddy?”

Looking up absently at Stiles, Olly gave him an owlish blink before tilting his head. “Andy has daddy,” he said matter-of-factly, “so you’re mine.”

Oh God. That probably was not a good thing. Actually, the look on Derek’s face could have meant it was good or bad. All Stiles knew was that he’d never seen a werewolf look so gutted before. It made guilt and pain coil inside of him, Stiles’ heart clenching. He smiled at Olly, though, kissing him on the head. “Yeah, buddy, you’ll always have me,”

Shooting Stiles a triumphant grin, Olly plopped his head right back onto Stiles’ shoulder, snuggling in and resuming the film. Stiles chanced a look at Derek, giving the man a helpless shrug when he found himself on the receiving end of intense stare 2.0.

Whatever. If this is what Derek needed to get his head in the game, Stiles was totally okay with that. Besides, Mr. Harris used to stare at him all the time back in high school, and Stiles had a feeling there were a lot creepier intentions behind that stare.

After the movie, Derek reluctantly went back to work and Stiles went about hiding plastic cups with trail mix around the living room and kitchen for Olly and Andy to find.

The rest of the morning was a little less eventful. They all ate lunch together, with Andy telling Derek about their game of finding the snacks, and Olly proudly pointing out how he had found three of them before Andy had. Derek listened intently, nodding where he needed to and adding compliments and congratulations where necessary.

Olly and Andy went down for their naps a little later than usual, already starting to get edgy and agitated from the effects of the full moon. Stiles felt run ragged by the time four o’clock rolled around. He was lounging on the couch, debating if he also should take a nap, when Derek meandered into the room with his hands in the pockets of his slacks and his arms looking way to sexy in the rolled-up sleeves of his Henley.

“You can head on home. I’m done with work for the day,” Derek said quietly, shifting from where he stood next to Stiles’ sprawled form on the couch.

Stiles lifted his head, giving Derek a suspicious stare. “You got this, man?”

Derek snorted, confirming, “Yeah, I got this.”

Pushing himself up into a sitting position, Stiles peered around for his laptop bag. He went about getting ready to leave when a thought struck him and he had to turn to face Derek. Derek, who had just been standing there and watching him the entire time. Weird.

Stiles fidgeted with the strap of his laptop bag, blurting out, “you don’t have to be careful with them.”

“What?” Derek asked sharply.

Shrugging, Stiles gave a vague gesture to the hallway that lead to the boys’ room. “Kids bounce back…you just have to keep showing them you care, that’s all.”

Derek made a face, his shoulders tensing and his back going rigid. He suddenly seemed a whole lot bigger than just the one inch of height he had on Stiles. “You don’t really know what you’re talking about.”

Says he who sees his kids maybe three days out of the week. Stiles had to stop himself from scoffing at that, and instead gave Derek a pointed look. “I know you love your kids,” he said, enjoying the taken aback look that flickered over Derek’s face. Apparently he hadn’t expected that. Good. Stiles liked to keep ‘em on their toes.

When Derek continued to remain speechless, Stiles went in for a follow up hit. “I also know that they need you to prove that to them every single day. This?” Stiles gestured to the house, to the open DVD case on the table and to the way the couch blankets were still ruffled from when Andy had gotten cold and Derek had pulled one over her near the end of the movie. “This needs to happen all the time, dude.”

Stiles looked back at Derek, his eyes hardening. “You lose this now, and you’ll never get it back.”

In all honesty, Stiles didn’t want to know how he would have turned out if he hadn’t always had his mother and father there for him as a kid. To grow up knowing little more than a few days of love from his only parent? Stiles didn’t want that to happen to Olly or Andy. They were great kids, and they deserved a lot better than what they were getting.

Whether or not his words really got through to Derek, Stiles wasn’t sure, because all Derek did was nod his head towards the door and say, “I think it’s time for you to go home.”

Stiles left feeling helpless. He knew there was something inside of Derek that had great potential--he saw the way Derek acted when he really opened up to his kids. Why couldn’t Derek just realize that?

Of course, when he showed up the next day, he almost wished he’d never said anything. Apparently Derek had decided a good post-full moon breakfast was going to iHop and stuffing his children full of waffles laden with powdered sugar.

Stiles tried desperately to acknowledge that Derek had made an attempt with his kids, he really did. It was just hard to remember that when Andy released a battle cry to rival Xena and vaulted off of the back of the couch and right onto Stiles’ back while Olly screamed and remained wrapped around his leg like an octopus.

Chapter Text

“No, daddy,” Andy protested, smoothing out the sides of her bright purple and teal dress and ducking her head away from Derek’s grasp, “that’s now how you do it!”

She slid off of Derek’s lap, wrestling the candy-shaped hair clips out of his fingers and hurrying to where Stiles was trying to coerce Olly into finishing his cheerios. “Diles, can you do my hair?” she asked, holding up the clips. Stiles reached out, unclasping the one in her hair and then brushing her short bangs aside to re-clip it.

“Did you ask your dad to help you?”

Andy made a face, leaning in and whispering loudly, “daddy makes it look ugly.”

Stiles tried not to laugh as Derek made a face and stood up. He took a sip of Olly’s juice (earning a noise of protest from Olly and subsequently getting him to steal it back and possessively start gulping it down) and then set about clipping up Andy’s hair to the best of his ability.

“His hair is too short for clips,” Derek grumbled, watching Stiles clip them right above one another. He crossed his arms, huffing as Andy reached up to use her fingers to inspect Stiles’ handiwork and nod in approval.

Looking over at Derek, Stiles shrugged. “Her hair is short because you make her cut it,” he pointed out, brushing past the older man. He headed for the living room, intent on picking up a few stray toys before Derek left for work. It made his life easier if either of the kids decided to have a fit at the absence of their father if there was less clutter for Stiles to walk through to get to the couch for comfort-cuddles.

Derek followed, watching Stiles toss some blocks and dolls into the storage bin in the corner. “Andy’s hair was never an issue before you came.”

No matter how much Stiles wanted to laugh in Derek’s face, he kept from doing so. Instead, he flipped Olly’s blanket onto his shoulder and turned to stare Derek down. Did this guy really think Andy didn’t care about her hair? Or did he never notice the times Andy used her baby blanket to pretend she had long hair like Rapunzel or any other girl her age. “Are you sure about that?”

Glancing at his watch and scowling, Derek gave Stiles a flat look. “You seem to forget which of us is their actual father.”

This time, Stiles did scoff. He passed by Derek, moving to take Olly’s blanket into his bedroom. “And what a great job you’ve done--” Stiles choked off when he was grabbed roughly by the upper arm and shoved up against the wall. Derek’s eyes flashed red, a low snarl punching out of his gut when he slammed his fist into the wall next to Stiles’ head. Stiles flinched, because he had a very distinct feeling that only Derek’s will alone had stopped that fist from going straight into his face.
“The only reason you still have this fucking job is because my kids are attached,” Derek hissed, shaking Stiles roughly by the arm, “so you’d better watch what comes out of that mouth of yours before you take it too far.”

Heart thundering against his ribs, Stiles struggled not to reek too badly of fear, sucking in a nervous breath. “Maybe it’d be a little easier if you actually tried to be a better father,” he said lowly, anger rising up inside of him. Did Derek really think he had a right to get mad? Stiles saw what his absence did to Andy and Olly; the fact that Derek cared more about what Stiles thought of him as a father, and now how he actually performed as one, made Stiles’ blood boil.

Derek’s nails dug into the wall, claws scratching up the paint and drywall with a crackling noise. “I don’t need you telling me how to raise my children.” he snapped, jerking Stiles and shoving him up against the wall so hard that Stiles’ head spun. “I’ve let you get away with enough. It stops here.”

The fact that Derek was so incensed had Stiles’ words dying on his tongue. He had to stop and think about how Derek must have felt, and that in itself made guilt and shame hit him like a truck. It wasn’t like Derek was necessarily a bad father on purpose, he just didn’t seem to know exactly how to be a good one.

“No!” Olly’s scream came from across the room and Derek and Stiles snapped their heads around to see him running over. “Daddy, no!” Olly cried again, running right into Derek’s leg and punching him in the knee with both of his tiny fists. “Don’t hurt my Stiles!”

Any other day, Stiles would have been happy to note that Olly had gotten his name right, but he was a little more distracted with how horrified Derek looked when Olly continued to hit his leg. Olly rarely lashed out when he was upset, preferring to break down into tears, and the fact that he was doing it to protect Stiles made something deep in Stiles’ gut churn with guilt.

Olly sobbed out another, “stop it, daddy!” while he kept beating his fists against Derek’s thigh. Derek quickly wrenched his hand off of Stiles’ arm, reaching down to pick Olly up and getting a punch to the chin instead.

Derek looked like he’d been punched right in the heart, wrenching away from Olly and then trying to reach out again before he hesitated. Olly looked ready to swing at him again and realization struck Stiles like a freight train. Derek wasn’t mad at Stiles for telling him how to be a parent. He was mad because he was losing his children to their babysitter.

Scooping Olly up into his arms, Stiles reached up to wipe at the distressed tears on the boy’s face. “Your daddy wasn’t hurting me,” he said earnestly, receiving a startled look from both Olly and Derek. Olly sniffed, rubbing at his face.


“Yep. He was just mad because I hurt his feelings, is all.”

Olly’s eyes went wide, looking to Derek (who was giving Stiles a suspicious stare) as if asking for clarification. Derek flitted his eyes down to Olly and then nodded slowly in agreement.

Making a noise of disdain, Olly turned to give Stiles a very displeased frown. “You’re not my friend anymoah,” he said seriously, and then turned to reach out for Derek. Stiles handed Olly over, making a dramatic sigh like Olly’s declaration had broken his heart.

Derek slowly reached out, handling Olly like porcelain as he curled the child into the crook of his arm. He looked entirely confused as Olly reached up to wrap his arms around Derek’s neck and proclaimed, “I’m sorry I hit you,” before smacking a wet kiss on Derek’s cheek. Derek rubbed at Olly’s back, quietly muttering forgiveness and then giving Olly a tiny grin.

That’s when Andy finally made her presence known, reaching up with wiggling fingers at Derek and giving a whine before she hopped in place. “Daddy,” she whimpered, pulling on his pants. Stiles lifted her up, placing her in Derek’s other arm and stepping back. It was a scene that had Stiles’ heart aching. Both children were curled into Derek’s embrace, their legs tangled together and their faces resting on each of his shoulders. Derek looked overwhelmed by them, like he didn’t know who to focus on first. Stiles had to bite back a grin at the way Derek dazedly walked towards the couch, sitting down and adjusting his kids so they could keep clinging onto him.

Just watching how they would interact was enough for Stiles to realize that Derek did care; he was just clueless. Stiles glanced at the clock on the cable box, surprised to see that Derek normally would have left already. Instead, he was still sitting with Olly and Andy on the couch, letting Andy inform him that Stiles wasn’t allowed to do her hair any more if he was going to be mean to Derek. Derek’s small, pleased grin made something burn deep inside of Stiles.

Derek stayed even after Andy’s attention span had her climbing out of his lap and running to grab one of her Rapunzel dolls from the toy bin. She brought it back over to him when he didn’t get up right away, shoving it into his hands and demanding that he practice learning how to style hair with Rapunzel as his test subject.

In the past week, the combined effort of both Stiles and Derek had filled the bin up with toy sea animals, three barbies (all of them with modest clothing, as per Derek’s demand), a giant plush astronaut, an electronic baby with the batteries removed out of the back, a sticky octopus that Olly loved to throw at the wall and make Stiles retrieve for him, a space shuttle, and three different toy variations of Rapunzel.
Olly grabbed the remote, still curled up into Derek’s side, and turned on the TV before staring blankly at the news channel and then frowning. Stiles knew that frown. It was the frown of a child who just realized that he couldn’t decide what to watch.

“Want me to put on Wall-E?” Stiles chirped from the other end of the couch, mostly clicking around StumbleUpon to keep himself entertained. Olly sighed loudly, dropping the remote and shaking his head.

“Treasure Planet?”

Olly made a face, and then Stiles remembered how terrified he had been of the scorpion villain. That movie wasn’t really one that they watched very often. Stiles wracked his brain for the other movies that Olly liked to watch. “Planet 51?”


“Little Mermaid?”

Olly’s face lit up and Stiles knew he’d hit the jackpot. Andy seemed equally excited, her face breaking into a grin. Technically, Little Mermaid was Andy’s movie, but Olly was always very interested in it when Stiles would put it on. It was probably all of the ocean-life that had him enraptured. That, and Olly was totally going to grow up to be a romantic.

He’d be a heartbreaker when he grew up, Stiles had no doubt.

“I’ll get it!” Andy cried, scrambling off of Derek’s lap and falling over in her haste. Her head cracked against the coffee table and Stiles leapt to his feet as she released a cry of pain. Derek was there first, hauling her up into his arms while she wailed and held her forehead. Stiles didn’t even think, reacting like he did every time they got hurt and kissing right on the already-fading red mark. Derek tensed, clutching to Andy while she whimpered and sniffed.

“Your kisses don’t work like daddy’s,” she said miserably--like she did almost any time he attempted to kiss her boo-boos. Stiles sighed, petting her short hair and trying his hardest to ignore the way he could feel Derek staring holes into him.

“That’s because your daddy loves you so much that his kisses are like magic,” Stiles said seriously, watching as her werewolf powers kicked in and the tiny swell of a bump began to go down.

Andy made a face like she wasn’t sure she believed Stiles’ claims that her father was magic. “I guess so,” she mumbled, squealing when Derek dragged her in and pressed a gentle kiss to the healed skin of her forehead. She beamed up at him, wriggling to be put down now that she was no longer in need of magic healing kisses. Derek set her down and she headed for the DVD shelf, pulling them out one by one in search of the Little Mermaid case.

Stiles turned, startled to see Derek looking at him expressionlessly. Feeling more than a little ashamed of his earlier behavior, Stiles looked away and shrugged. “Sorry about... That stuff I’ve been saying… I just… didn’t understand.” In reality, it was more that Stiles assumed what he saw Derek do with the kids around him was how he always acted. The more Derek stayed instead of worked, the more Stiles saw that there was a lot he didn’t know went on between the three Hales behind closed doors.

Derek glanced at his watch, exhaling slowly. “I forget I’m not the only one who cares about them anymore,” he murmured, arm dropping as he glanced up at Stiles. There was an awkward moment of silence, one that Stiles felt should be filled with words, but he couldn’t think of anything to say. Derek stood there for another second, and then cleared his throat. “I need to go into the office, now.”

With that, Derek backed up and turned, heading for the kitchen where he’d left his briefcase after they’d had breakfast.

This time, when Derek left for work, Olly and Andy only cried for ten minutes before they settled back down and resumed watching their movie. Even then, the entire mood for the day still felt a little off--especially when Stiles thought about the way Derek had stiffened when Stiles had kissed Andy on the head, or how Derek had acted like Stiles was practically replacing him. It might have been a werewolf thing; which meant that Stiles needed to call his main informant of all things furry and bitey.

“Sounds like a territory thing,” Scott said, voice muffled on the other line. Stiles sighed, wiping a bit of juice off of the kitchen table and dropping his voice down so that baby superhearing couldn’t pick him up over the sound of Sebastian the crab nearly being murdered by a homicidal French chef.

“It’s not like they can make me pack, Scott.”

“Well, actually, they can.” Scott countered, sounding almost smug about the fact that he actually knew something Stiles didn’t. “Derek said that they were scent marking you, right?”

Dread settled in Stiles’ gut as he dropped the washcloth in the sink. “Yeah,” he said slowly, “what’s your point?”

“Scent marking is to make you smell like pack.”

“Dude, I’m human, in case you forgot.”

Scott made a dismissive noise. “Doesn’t matter, man. Pack is pack--human or wolf.”

Stiles had absolutely no idea what to do with that information. It wasn’t like he could tell Olly or Andy that they weren’t allowed cuddles or hugs anymore, could he? Derek was their alpha and their father. If he wanted them to stop, then he had to be the bad guy. Stiles didn’t get paid enough to break the hearts of children.

He kind of didn’t want to really think too hard about the fact that Olly and Andy apparently wanted him in their family so much that they were trying to mark him as pack. Thanking Scott absently, Stiles hung up and scrubbed his palm over his face. He had absolutely no idea how to even process the information he was being given.

Stiles wanted to say this was above his pay grade, but he made $50 an hour so, really, it wasn’t.

Thinking about the gravity of the situation just made Stiles’ gut clench. He needed to get out of the house--and he needed to take the kids with him. They all needed some space, and a bit of fresh air. Maybe all this cabin fever was what was causing all the possessiveness.

Probably not, but taking them to the park for the afternoon couldn’t hurt.

In theory, going to the park shouldn’t have hurt. Stiles, however, hadn’t thought about the fact that Andy and Olly weren’t the only young werewolves in town. He also hadn’t even considered the idea that maybe girls and boys had a different scent.

At least, not until Andy was having a screaming fest with one of the older boys on the playground who kept throwing mulch at her and calling her names.

“You’re a boy! You’re a boy! Stop being a weirdo!” the kid chanted, hanging upside-down from the monkey bars, hair sticking every-which-way as he chucked bits of wood at Andy, having apparently stashed a bunch of wood chips into his pockets.

Stiles wanted to intervene, but he knew for a fact that the kid’s dad was watching his every move--like if Stiles tried to stop the mocking, he was going to get beat up for it. Stiles was half tempted to risk his life in order to stop the tears that were rising in Andy’s eyes, but he didn’t know what would happen if he wasn’t conscious to watch over the kids.

“Shut up!” Andy wailed, jumping up and down in a frustrated stomp. The boy clambered down from the monkey bars, laughing mockingly. Olly was growling in Stiles’ arms, claws digging into his shoulders and his fur puffing out around his jaw and ears.

“You’re not a girl! You’re a liar!” the boy teased, which was really the last straw for Stiles. He shifted Olly on his hip, stomping over just as Andy took two furious steps forward and punched the boy right in the nose.

In a movie, Stiles would have been cheering Andy on. In real life, however, beating the crap out of a kid for bullying you was apparently frowned upon in society. Andy tackled the screaming boy to the ground, punching him in the face again as the kid’s dad jumped to his feet.

“Andy, use your words!” Stiles cried, hurriedly setting Olly down and rushing over before things got out of hand.

“Okay!” Andy shouted as the kid’s nose started to bleed. “You smell like poopy an’ lizard breff! You’re ugly too!”

Stiles wrenched her off of the older child, ignoring her kicking and screaming protests as she roared, “I’m not a boy!” with a wolfish snarl and a flash of bright blue eyes. Stiles shushed her, petting at her hair and thanking the higher powers that she’d at least beat up a fellow werewolf, because the kid was already starting to heal as he sobbed loudly into his father’s arms.

The father, though, looked utterly livid. “You need to stop feeding that boy your sick fantasies. What would his parents say if they knew you were ruining their son?”

Anger hit Stiles in a rush and he rubbed Andy’s back when he felt her still, knowing she had heard everything the man had said. “I’m sure her father would wonder what kind of parent just watches their kid bully his daughter!”

Stiles turned on his heel before the guy could say anything else. The rest of the parents were already watching, a few of them with expressions like they wanted to get in on the argument, and Stiles really didn’t want to know who’s side they were taking. Andy didn’t need to listen to anyone but Stiles or Derek.

“I’m not a boy,” Andy whimpered into Stiles’ throat, breath hitching as she clutched to the collar of his shirt.

“I know, baby girl. That doesn’t mean you need to hit them for being stupid heads.”

“I’m sorry,” Andy said, though Stiles didn’t think she was actually sorry at all. He didn’t blame her, though. If he wasn’t expected to be a responsible adult, he’d have been cheering her on the whole way.

“Stupi’ heads with lizard breff!” Olly piped up from Stiles’ feet, having run over the second the yelling had stopped. Andy grinned into Stiles’ throat, giggling just the tiniest bit. Stiles almost sat back down on the bench when the older woman who was there with her grandchildren released a horrified noise.

“You need to stop this nonsense. Who knows how messed up that boy will be in a few years if you don’t stop,” she hissed, as if talking quietly was going to make it harder for Andy to hear what she was saying. Olly, fingers curled into Stiles’ pant leg, pointed at her with a distressed noise.

“Stop being mean to my sister!” he cried, looking ready to bite the woman’s throat out at a moment’s notice. Stiles pressed his hand against Olly’s head, bringing it against his leg to try and calm him. He looked the woman down, realizing in that exact moment that, compared to a lot of parents? Derek was a fucking amazing father, and Olly and Andy would grow up to be strong and wonderful because of his support. And until the day Derek could be there all the time? Stiles would be the one cheering them on.

“There is nothing wrong with Andy, because she will never grow up being told she’s wrong and that she can’t be anything she wants. She’s loved way too much for anyone to break her heart like that.” Stiles looked at where Andy was staring up at him with wide eyes, giving her the biggest grin he could. “She is the most perfect girl in the entire world.”

With that, Stiles took Olly’s hand and led them off of the playground and towards the car. They didn’t have to put up with the rest of the world’s ignorance. Sure, when they went to pre-school come fall, there would be issues, but Stiles was sure Derek would nip all of those problems in the bud.

In the great words of half the internet, haters were gonna hate.

Regardless of how awesome Stiles felt with their epic storm-out of the park, he made sure to text Derek the second that they got home. He didn’t go into much detail, just saying that Andy had beat up another kid at the playground for calling her a boy. Part of it was to see Derek’s reaction, and another part was so that he was at least slightly informed if he came home and the kids tried to talk his head off with stories of their afternoon.

As per Andy’s request, they set up the pillow fort in the living room for a play game of castle. Andy was in her room, changing into a more ‘princess appropriate’ dress when Derek texted back.

I’m starting to get the feeling I was being lied to by Andy’s therapist.

It was a loaded comment, for sure. There were so many things Stiles could say to that. He could regale stories of doctors telling his dad that Stiles would never be able to live on his own, and how they’d told Stiles he needed to be independent and fight his dad at the same time. It had caused a two year long fight between he and his father before they realized the doctor was the source of it, and that the fighting had also been the reason for bi-montly visits.

He could tell Derek about prejudice and ignorance and hundreds of other things, but there were so many words in his head that he knew nothing he said would really come across through a text the way it should.

In the end, as Andy re-entered with a bright purple dress covered in sparkles, Stiles only replied to Derek’s text with the words, it happens, before he tucked his phone away.

“Diles is Prince Flynn!” Andy exclaimed, displaying a half-crumpled aluminum foil tiara with a flourish and then gesturing for Stiles to put it on. Stiles grinned, taking the tiara and smoothing it out before putting it on.

“I thought Flynn was a bandit?”

“You are a prince,” Andy said firmly, staring at Stiles with such an intensity that Stiles was just the tiniest bit frightened. He nodded in agreement as Olly whined and climbed into Stiles’ lap to reach for his tiara.

“I want to be a prince!”

Andy scoffed, tugging on Olly’s ankle. “You can’t be a prince ‘cuz den you gotta kiss me!”

“Ew!” Olly screeched, just before Andy pulled too hard and sent Olly tumbling off of Stiles’ lap. He hit the ground with a thud, wailing loudly as Andy covered her mouth with a dramatic gasp. The doorbell rang as Stiles scooped Olly up into his arms, peppering kisses on his face to try and distract him from the momentary pain until he healed. Olly whined and Stiles resorted to drastic measures. With one hand holding Olly up, he used the other to pull up the astronaut t-shirt Olly was wearing, blowing a loud raspberry that made Olly’s sob turn into a squealing laugh.

“Stiles!” Olly whined, laughing when Stiles blew on his stomach again. He slapped at Stiles’ face, giggling loudly when the doorbell rang again. Relieved that the crisis was averted, Stiles shot Andy a work that told her ‘we will have words when I come back’ and he lifted Olly onto his hip.

Before answering the door, Stiles detoured to the kitchen, snagging a juice box and struggling to open it for Olly while he headed for the foyer.

Opening the door revealed a woman who looked a little older than Derek, her light brown hair curled over one shoulder and eyes locking instantly to where Olly was cradled into Stiles’ side and tearily sucking down his juice.

“Uh,” Stiles cleared his throat after another beat of silence, instinctively tightening his arm around Olly. “Can I help you?”

The woman, who had continued to stare at the boy in Stiles’ hold, flitted her eyes up to lock on Stiles’. In a heartbeat, she was grinning and cocking her hip out, one hand resting on the curve of it with a level of confidence that made Stiles wary.

“Well hey there, cutie. My name is Kate Hale,” she reached a hand out and Stiles took it, wincing at the strength of her grip when she practically wrenched his arm in a shake.


“Derek’s wife?” Kate offered. Stiles stared at her hand, the one still holding onto his own, frowning at the sight of her ring finger. It was completely void of jewelry--there wasn’t even a tan line like she had recently removed a wedding band. Even if there had been a ring, Stiles knew enough that Derek wasn’t married. Whatever was going on, it wasn’t good.

He withdrew his hand, moving to grab the door. “I’m sorry, Mr. Hale isn’t married,” he began, starting to shut the door. “You’ll have to come back later when he’s home.”

Stiles didn’t even get it completely closed before her hand shot out and slammed into the wood, forcing it back open. Kate leaned in, eyes narrowed as she hissed out, “I have visitation rights. It‘s my turn with the boys.”

In the past month and a half that Stiles had worked for Derek, that had never been a single second in which a mother was ever mentioned (outside of offhanded comments from Erica and that whole store fiasco with Olly). That, in itself, was enough to raise hundreds of alarms in Stiles’ mind. He crushed Olly to his chest, ignoring the whine of discomfort as Kate reached out to try and take him from Stiles. Olly whined, leaning away with a whisper of, "she's scary," that had Stiles' gut burning with dread upon hearing just two words that were complete proof that this woman was no one of importance to Olly or Andy.

Stiles wrenched back, instinctively slapping her hand away. “I’m sorry. You’re going to have to wait until Mr. Hale is home. Until then, you’re trespassing, because you aren‘t on the emergency contact list. I‘m sorry.” Without even pausing to breathe, Stiles rushed through his words as he pushed at the door, using his hip and weight to shove it closed when she tried to push it open again. The handle barely clicked before he was flicking the lock.

There was a rap on the door as Kate knocked again and then hit the doorbell switch. “Come on, sweetie. I haven’t got all day just to wait for my own kids. Be a good boy and open up.”

Stiles didn’t even hesitate to grab his phone, dialing Derek’s name with shaking hands and bringing it to his ear.

“This is Hale.” Stiles had never been so grateful to hear Derek’s grumpy voice as he was in that moment, with some crazy woman at the door, fiddling with the lock.

“There’s some lady here who says she’s your wife. Dude, seriously, if she’s right, you really need to work on your taste in women. She’s freaking me out.”

There was a pause, and then Derek slowly asked, “did she tell you her name?”

“Uh,” Stiles scrambled to remember what she’d said, rocking Olly just the tiniest bit to keep himself from having a complete nervous breakdown, “Kate? Kate Hale?”


Chapter Text

“That is not reassuring, just so you know,” Stiles breathed, bouncing Olly on his hip and then heading back into the living room where Andy was half a foot from the television, staring unblinkingly at a rerun of Tailspin, remote control half-dangling out of her fingers while Baloo struggled to fly his plane through a storm.

At least she had taste.

“Take the kids and go down into the basement. It’s reinforced.”

Stiles couldn’t even help himself, he stopped dead in the middle of the living room, pulling the phone away to stare at it before he brought it back to his ear. “You built a panic room in the basement? What are you, Bobby Singer?”


Of course. Why did Stiles even expect Derek to watch television. It’s not like Supernatural had the best of reviews. There were a lot of werewolves that had voiced their dislike for a poor representation of the lycan community. Stiles didn’t really watch it for anything other than the gay undertones and violence.

“Nothing--just. Is she going to break in the house? Who is she? Are we in danger?” that was when Stiles started to realize what was going on. Whatever was happening, it wasn’t good, was it? Derek never worried about anything. He paced the living room, setting Olly down when he started to whine and squirm, and then shook his arm out to try and relieve some of the tension.

“She won’t break in the house--I don’t think she will--but she might try to get you to come outside again.”

“That’s not helping, Derek!” Stiles cried, his voice cracking at the very end against his permission. Olly and Andy glanced up from the TV, watching him with mixed looks of anxiety. Stiles quickly ducked out of the living room, forcing himself to remain calm so that his heart didn’t start tripping into double time.

“It’s not to keep you safe; it’s to keep me from worrying. Just do it.”

For a second, Stiles genuinely thought Derek had meant he was worried about Stiles, and then he remembered Olly and Andy, and felt ashamed that he’d assumed Derek would be worrying about anyone other than his children. For just that second, Stiles had felt a warmth in his gut and his heart had hiccupped because, of course, he had somehow developed a tiny crush on Derek in the past few weeks.

Stiles liked to blame it on that warm and fuzzy feeling that came from watching Derek hold Andy and Olly with a look on his face like they were his entire world.

Clearing his throat, Stiles headed for the foyer to grab the diaper bag that was sitting next to the shoe rack. “Can you at least tell me what I’m up against?” he asked, grabbing the bag and carrying it towards the kitchen.

“Nothing. She’s just--”

“A gold digging whore who is never supposed to see a hair on Olly or Andy’s heads?” Stiles blurted before he could stop himself, remember the one and only time he’d ever heard a mention of their mother. Derek went utterly silent, so much that Stiles had to check his phone to make sure the call hadn’t been dropped. He set the diaper bag on the kitchen counter.

“Just a heads up, Olly likes to parrot things because he’s a four year old and that’s what they do. By the way, we need to have a little chit chat about things you can and can’t say to your children.” Stiles tossed some crackers and juice boxes into the bag, grabbing an apple for himself and a bottle of water. He hadn’t the slightest clue how long Derek expected them to be down there, so it was best to be prepared.

“Stiles,” Derek snarled, “not the time for this--”

“I‘m going, I‘m going,” Stiles interrupted quickly. He really didn’t want to piss Derek off twice in one day, “I’m just getting some juice and crackers before I lock myself in a panic room with two four year olds.” he slung the diaper bag onto his shoulder, carrying it into the living room and quickly tossing in the first toys he saw. Andy and Olly were watching him, probably aware of how anxious Stiles was and that his heart wasn’t exactly beating normally. Stiles reached both of his hands out, the phone cradled against his shoulder and diaper bag strapped across his chest, and Olly ran straight at Stiles’ legs and clung to them. Stiles lifted him up with a grunt, setting Olly on his waist and reaching out to take Andy’s hand.

“Just hurry,” Derek barked. Stiles headed for the basement, taking care not to go so fast that Andy tripped over herself.

“I’m hurrying. Can’t you hear the sound of my heavy breathing?” he fumbled with the door, getting it open and leading his hand forward so Andy could walk in ahead of him.

He shut the door quickly, leaning back against it and exhaling slowly and shakily. The way Derek was acting was totally not helping at all.

Stiles.” Derek said, voice urgent.

“I’m freaking out a little, okay? Just bear with me.“ Stiles snapped, finally reigning in his panic to turn and flick the lock on the door.

Derek made a soft noise, one like he had a lot to say and didn't know how to say it. “She’s… she’s not a good person, Stiles. She tried to take them from me,” he said quietly, in that soft voice that always made Stiles’ heart ache. It was the voice he always used when he was talking about Andy and Olly, the one with pained, terrified love and affection. Stiles felt his gut twist, wondering temporarily what it would feel like to have Derek talk about him with that kind of voice. He shook his head, dispelling the thought before it could finish forming. Stiles was not feeding his imagination and making his crush worse. It was bad enough that the stupid thing had practically sprung up out of nowhere--worming it's way into Stiles' heart somewhere between watching Derek help Andy cut her food, and arguing with him over parenting methods. Normally he was fine with ignoring it, but the panic of the situation and the stress of the day had just made everything amplified.

“I know, man. I figured,“ he replied, moving to sit down on the cot and then help Andy climb up next to him. Both children were silent, Olly clutching to his shirt and Andy pressed up into his side. Stiles hoped desperately that they couldn’t clearly hear what Derek was saying on the other line when he spoke again.

“She tried to hurt them.”

Stiles forgot to breathe, shock hitting him from out of nowhere. “What? You mean, like, postpartum style?” just thinking about anyone bringing harm to Olly or Andy had Stiles reaching out and running his hand over Andy’s head, brushing the soft hair back and letting it fall against her forehead again. She pressed into his palm, snuffling at his wrist and leeching off of the small form of comfort. Olly whined, planting his face into Stiles’ throat and snuffling. They could both tell something was wrong. It was clear as day.

“She tried to have a third trimester abortion after I found out she was only with me so she could steal company information and give it to a network of werewolf hunters.”

Well, if that one didn’t shoot him right in the gut. Healthy abortions were one thing--especially if it was early on and for the health of the mother--but to kill your almost fully-formed unborn children because things weren’t going according to plan? How fucked up was that? Did she not care at all that she would have been just a few months away from having two healthy babies?

“Jesus,” Stiles breathed, taking his hand off of Andy‘s head to fumble around in the diaper bag, “way to rip the bandaid off,” he muttered, because he’d noticed that Derek did have this thing for just dropping bombs at a moment‘s notice. He handed Andy a juice box, helping her get the straw out of the wrapper and popped into the box before he did the same with Olly.

“Are you in the basement?”

Stiles handed Olly his juice box, grinning at how Olly eagerly started to suck it down. If there was anything that Olly loved more than cuddles, it was juice. That’s when he realized something, and dread filled him. “Yeah, but…on a scale of one to ten, how pissed would you be if I told you I left the back door unlocked?” which was completely unintentional. He never locked it, mostly because sometimes Andy and Olly got the ‘jiggles’ as Stiles called it, and needed to be unleashed into the back yard to get out their energy before they broke something in the house.

“Stiles!” Derek barked, an edge of panic to his voice that paled in comparison to the anger Stiles could hear.

“What? We’re in the panic room!” Anxiety clutched at his lungs, sucking the air out of them. Olly must have sensed his distress, because he released a tiny grunting whine and settled into Stiles’ lap so that he could rub his face all over Stiles’ shoulder, sucking his juice slowly. Andy pressed against his hip, curling up so that Stiles had to put an arm around her because there was no room for it anywhere else.

“And what if hunters break into the house? Do you have any idea how much the black market pays for werewolf children?!”

“…wh-what?” Stiles felt sick to his stomach at the mere thought, but there was no way Derek could be telling the truth, right? Then again, it doesn’t sound unrealistic. Hunter extremists were essentially the KKK of werewolves; no telling what they would do if they had a little one in their possession. He swallowed heavily, staring down at the way Olly and Andy were pressed in close to him, uneasy and nervous at the way Stiles was behaving.

“Just, FUCK, stiles. You’re so -- just… don’t move, okay? I’m coming home now. Call me if ANYTHING happens.” Derek hung up before Stiles could even form a protest. Stiles sighed, setting his phone down and leaning against the wall with both kids still snuggled up to him.

“Your dad can be a poo head sometimes,” he declared--not even bothering for intelligent vocabulary at that point. He felt utterly drained from everything that had happened since that morning.

Andy, playing with the hem of her dress with her empty juice box sitting nearby, shrugged in a move that was far too adult for a little kid like her. “On’y sometimes,” she confessed. Olly slurped at his juice, nodding into Stiles’ throat in agreement.

Letting out a long breath that he didn’t even realize he’d been holding, Stiles brought a hand up to brush at Olly’s hair. “Well… I hope you guys like me because you’re stuck in this room with me until your daddy gets home.” he said, grinning down at Olly’s big, wide eyes.

“I love you!” Andy cried, standing up and then throwing her arms around Stiles’ neck to lay a big, wet smack on his cheek. He supposed it was intended to be a kiss, but it felt more like Andy had just smashed her face against his cheek and hoped for the best. She shifted, trying to climb onto his leg to give him another kiss when Olly shrieked out, “ow! That hurt, Andy!” and pulled his hand up to his chest, dropping his juice. It tumbled off of the cot, hitting the ground with a splat.

Stiles was barely trying to understand the situation when Olly sniffled as Andy, still holding onto Stiles, stared in shock at her brother. “I’m sorry, Olly!”

“No you’re not!” Olly cried, turning and shoving at her so that she fell right out of Stiles’ lap and onto the cot.

“Woah!” Stiles lunged, picking Olly up just as Andy howled, wolfed out, and swung at Olly, scratching him in the face and catching Stiles in the hand. Stiles was still trying to process the blood welling up on his skin. while Olly screamed and dug his newly-formed claws into Stiles’ arm. Stiles dropped him without thinking, watching as Olly fell forward and scrambled after Andy.

It was a flurry of screaming, howling, claws and biting before Stiles finally managed to grab the both of them by the backs of their underwear and wrench them away from one another. Normally he would cringe at the idea of giving two children wedgies to stop them from fighting, but there was no other way for him to break it up without getting seriously hurt in the process.

Stiles had absolutely no idea where the sudden rage of a thousand toddlers came from, or why it had to manifest when they were trapped in, essentially, a panic room. However, he had been down this road enough times to know that no amount of reprimand was going to get through that initial haze of animalistic rage that overcame Olly and Andy when they were full-on fighting. No, he had to be underhanded.

“I’m bleeding!” he cried, choking on a fake sob and sniffling, “you hurt me!”

Olly was the first to freeze, Andy still growling and gnashing her teeth. He lifted his head, sniffing the air as Stiles said, “it hurts, and I’m human and I can’t heal.” By now, Andy was starting to calm, her eyes dimming to their normal, human color. “You guys hurt me,” Stiles added sadly.

“Andy stepped on my hand!” Olly cried, struggling to be let go, pulling at his pants with small, grunting noises. “I di’in’t do it!”

“Did too!” Andy shouted back, not even bothering to fight the wedgie. She was more focused on being the innocent party. “It was a axe-a-dent!”

“Was not!” Olly screamed, and that was just about enough for Stiles. His ears were hurting and he had gashes on his face, throat, and arms from these two. Today was not a good day.

“Time-out, then.” he said firmly, “because neither of you even told me you were sorry.”

Olly stared at Stiles with a horrified look, eyes wide as saucers. Very rarely did Olly get put in time out, considering he was the more mellow of the two, and the very idea seemed to shake the whole foundation of his world. Stiles had exactly two seconds to register the whining sound before Olly burst into tears.

“But-” Andy tried to protest, and Stiles shot her with a look that clearly portrayed that Stiles was not up for any debates. Her bottom lip wobbled, face screwing up as a loud wail escaped her. Oh no, Stiles was having none of that shit today. Crying children were nothing in the face of a babysitter scorned. It didn’t help that Stiles was well aware that Olly had a penchant for crying his way out of things, and that Andy had tried a few times to mimic the technique in moments of desperation.

He let go of Andy, but only to shove his hands under Olly’s arms and lift him up. Instantly, Olly wrapped his arms around Stiles’ neck, sobbing loudly as Stiles carried him to one corner of the room. His claws came back out, ripping into Stiles’ shirt as he clutched to him, screaming when Stiles tried to put him down in the corner. Stiles, without a doubt, loved these two with all of his heart. That didn’t stop him from wanting to smother the kid when he would react this way. Stiles already knew the second Olly sunk those claws in that this was another shirt ruined, and sighed to himself when Olly noodle-legged the moment he was put on the ground.

Stiles took a second to attempt to get his shirt free, but gave up and wrenched Olly off so that his collar snagged and ripped. He tried to set Olly down again, but it was a pointless effort as the child went limp. That was no matter, because the floor was completely clean and new, which meant he could just let Olly flop there while he continued to wail out his sorrows of the accursed ‘time out.’

Standing, Stiles turned to see Andy frozen like a deer in the headlights, trying her best to look like the innocent party. This too, was common. She liked to make herself out to be the perfect princess, and that any wrongdoing was never her fault.

Stiles pointed to the opposite corner of the room. Normally, he’d tell her verbally to go sit there for time-out, but Olly was screaming so loud that it was hard to even hear himself think. Andy’s bottom lip trembled, her fingers curling into the fabric of her purple plaid dress. Again, Stiles pointed, hoping she would just give in like she usually did.

It was probably the stress of the day that caused it, but instead of obeying, Andy’s face pinched up before a tiny sob left her. “M’Sorry Stiles! Dun wanna go t’time-out!” she protested, hopping a little in place and stomping her feet. Stiles sighed, stepping forward and picking her up. She started to lean into his arms, but then realized he was carrying her for the time-out corner, and instead screamed.

“No!” she roared, kicking and clawing in Stiles’ arms, “I don’t wanna! No!”

Stiles was starting to get used to the mauling of a werebaby temper tantrum, he really was. That was probably why all of the scratching and kicking and punching in the world did not stop him from plopping Andy in her corner and spinning her to face the wall. She leaned forward, pressing her face against the concrete and sobbing loudly. They wouldn’t get up; Stiles knew this because the only time they’d tried to leave time-out, Stiles had refused to talk to them or play with them all day. The distress that came from the neglect had been enough for them to know that fighting back was not worth the resulting punishment.

Stiles sat down on the cot with a sigh, sagging just the tiniest bit. He felt like just giving up and taking a nap. Too bad he would set an awful example if he curled up on the cot and just stopped monitoring time-out. They didn’t fight back, but Andy would sure as hell try to aggravate Stiles into lessening the amount of time she was forced to spend in the corner.

In the end, Andy’s crying died down first, even while Olly was still going strong. His screams echoed off the walls, deafening in the small room as Andy stood up and started hopping. Stiles kept an eye on her, one hand cupping his ear to try and drown out Olly’s wailing. He even sat up as she began spinning in circles, keeping close watch when she swayed after the fifth circle. Instead of continuing, she wobbled back down onto her bottom, sniffling and kicking her feet out. Today wasn’t a day for her to get so dizzy she ran into the wall, it seemed.

“Stiles, can I come outta time-out?” Andy asked over Olly’s sobbing. Stiles shook his head.

“It hasn’t been ten minutes yet, Andy.”

Olly hiccupped, coughing and sobbing quietly while Andy released a loud, pained sigh. She picked at her dress, whining and then pulling at it. Stiles was tempted to tell her to keep it on, but she hadn’t even pulled it halfway off when there was the sound of a door slamming upstairs, followed by the thud of feet running towards the basement.

“Is it ten minnis yet?” Andy asked when Stiles stood up to unlock the door for, undoubtedly, Derek.

No, Andy. I’ll let you know when time out is over.” Stiles opened the door and had less than a second to breathe in relief when Derek burst past him and made a beeline straight for the closest child.

“Daddy!” Andy squealed, reaching up just as Derek wrenched her into his arms. Olly immediately ceased crying, just in time for Derek to haul him up as well. Stiles could only stare in a dumb haze as Derek practically crumpled to his knees, clutching both children to himself in a manner that looked almost brutal. If it was painful at all, neither kids gave any indication as they clutched to Derek, both releasing soft noises of delight when Derek started to rub his face along their cheeks.

As heartwarming as the scene was, Stiles couldn’t help but feel seriously frustrated. He was bruised and cut up because of their little tantrums, and then all of his work trying to get them separated and put in time out was completely ruined by Derek’s appearance.

Stiles stepped over, putting his hands on his knees and bending down. “Hey, dude. Did you not see the time-out corners? Come on, I look like I just came out of Jurassic Park III and you’re making them think that’s totally okay by--”

Whatever Stiles had been saying completely oozed out of his brain when Derek snapped his head up--eyes burning red--and pulled his hand from behind Olly’s head to smash his palm into Stiles’ face. He didn’t just touch Stiles, he smeared his hand down Stiles’ forehead, rubbed it over his nose and mouth and then down to his neck and throat.

Derek’s hand was Still on Stiles’ clavicle, rubbing up to his jaw line when Stiles finally managed to release some sort of noise that could have possibly been confusion. It was like breaking an invisible line, and Derek’s eyes flickered back to their plain teal and brown hue. He stared at his hand in horror, like it had betrayed him, and then wrenched it away from Stiles as if burned.

There was a long, awkward moment where Stiles tried not to focus on the electric warmth of the skin Derek had touched while Derek struggled to look like he wasn’t completely freaked out. Then, Stiles opened his mouth and Derek looked away to resume hugging his children.

“Thank you for taking care of them,” he grunted out, hands large against Andy and Olly’s backs.

“Uh, it’s my job,” Stiles’ head was still reeling, caught in those seconds where Derek’s hand on him had been the only part of his body he could focus on. He could still feel those fingers, callused and warm, like a brand on his body. It was way too intense for Stiles, considering he only had a tiny crush on Derek.

Well, he hoped it was just a tiny crush.

“It’s not your job to care, but you do anyway.” Derek pressed a gentle kiss to Olly’s forehead before he tilted his head to snuffle at the boy’s temple. It was so reminiscent of a wolf that it took Stiles by surprise. Sometimes he forgot that Derek was also a werewolf--his control was a hundred times better than his children’s.

Children who had yet to utter any other noise than small happy growls as they continued to snuggle into Derek’s arms. Children who Stiles did care about. He cared about them so much that he couldn’t really argue with Derek about it at all.

Instead, he sighed, “since I care so much, could you please explain who that was and what just happened?”

Derek took a moment before even reacting, dragging in a deep breath with his face buried between Andy and Olly’s shoulders, and then he lifted them up. “Okay,” he said, walking out of the room without another sound. Stiles followed him upstairs and into the living room, watching Derek get the children settled in front of the television and putting on Caillou for them. He gestured for Stiles to follow as he headed for the back of the house.

First, Derek locked the back door, gesturing for Stiles to do the same with all the windows in the room. Then, without warning, he said, “I payed her five million dollars not to have the abortion and to give me custody of the bo- the children.”

“Five MILLION?” Stiles spluttered, his brain struggling to even wrap around the mere idea of so much money. Derek grunted, walking through the house and systematically locking all the windows.

“She took it, and then fought for custody after some --some whack job hunter told her how… how much werewolf children could sell for,“ Derek paused, jaw clenching as he shook his head to dispel whatever thoughts were knocking around in his mind, and then reached for the front door to lock it again. He flicked the deadbolt, swallowing heavily. “Kids… kids with powers like ours, who don’t know right from wrong yet? Their minds are like clay… moldable to what you want. She doesn’t care that they’re our children.”

Derek hesitated, his hand falling from the lock before he leaned in and pressed his forehead against the door. Stiles had never seen him so distraught before in all the time that they had known one another. It made Stiles want to do things, like hug him, or rub his back and tell him it would be okay. Stiles didn’t get those kinds of feelings--at least, not with anyone except Andy, Olly, and his father.

He licked at his lips, watching Derek for a moment and trying to figure out what he could even say. It made him wonder how Derek knew this; what Derek had heard or seen that made him so sure of what he was saying. The question was out of his mouth before he’d even thought it through. “Are you sure?”

Derek didn’t say anything for a long moment, jaw flexing before he opened his eyes and looked at Stiles. It wasn’t a glance or an angry scowl…it was intense and observant. Something that made Stiles’ skin crawl and his lungs refuse to cooperate properly.

“You’re hurt.”

Taken aback, Stiles had to take a second to assess the situation. Apparently Derek either didn't want to talk about this anymore, or he had actually not noticed the state of Stiles‘ face and arms before. Both were likely possibilities. It could even be a combination, when Derek was concerned. “Uh, well werebaby tantrums don’t mix well with fragile human skin,” he pointed out.

Derek kept staring, his mouth pursing into a thin line. It was hard for Stiles not to notice the little details when he did that--the way Derek’s brow puckered when he was focused on something, or how his nostrils would flare when he breathed in through them. Right now, Derek looked like a combination between confused and something else that Stiles really couldn’t identify. It made his skin crawl in a way that wasn’t entirely unpleasant.

Finally, Derek rolled his eyes, sighed, and walked away with a gesture for Stiles to follow.

They headed for the hallway bathroom, Derek shoving Stiles into sitting up on the counter while he rummaged around in the cabinet under the sink, procuring a dusty red first-aid kit that looked like it had never been opened.

“Wow, I didn’t even know you had one of those,” Stiles teased. He couldn’t help himself. A first-aid kit in a house of werewolves seemed almost absurd. Derek glanced up at Stiles, and then back down to the kit, unzipping it and setting it on the counter next to Stiles’ hip to stare at it’s contents.

“There was a chance Andy and Olly could have been born human,” was all he said in explanation, rifling around to try and find the right items. The kit was decently loaded, from things like betadine, gauze, and medical tape, to even an epi-pen and ipecac tucked in the corner. It looked like Derek had a vague idea of what to do, but the way he was frowning showed that he had either forgotten how, or had never really used a first aid kit before.

Deciding to save Derek the agony, Stiles reached into the kit, grabbing the alcohol wipes, Neosporin, and a pack of rainbow-colored bandaids. Derek took the bandaids first, staring at them and then at the smile Stiles shot him. He snorted, setting the box down and ripping open the first packet of wipes. “Tilt your head back,” he said, pulling the wipe out. Stiles bared his throat, almost jumping at the sharp inhale that came from Derek, and then tried not to jerk at the icy feel of the alcohol wipe dabbing at the deep cut that led down from his jaw to his throat.

“She never wanted anything to do with werewolves. She hates our kind, wants to wipe us out. I didn't know, at the time-- I didn't know that all she wanted was a way into the company.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Stiles watched Derek hesitate from where he was folding the now-bloody wipe to a clean section before he brought it to Stiles‘ cheek. Stiles felt flushed, like every breath he took was oozing the slight attraction he was feeling. Derek was entirely too close, focus intense as he dabbed each cut with a gentle determination. Stiles knew Derek didn't interact with humans much, could tell with the way that Derek acted like too much force could possibly break Stiles.

That’s when Derek looked him in the eyes with so much emotion that Stiles was taken aback, heart tripping in his chest. “You can’t let her in. If she comes back, if she ever even looks at them, you call the cops,” he said firmly, still holding the wipe to the cut on Stiles’ brow, “Call me. Just don’t let her have Olly and Andy. Do you understand?”

Derek didn’t move an inch, not until Stiles realized he was waiting for an answer. Stiles had been so caught up in Derek’s words and expressions that he’d completely forgotten to respond. He nodded quickly, swallowing the lump in his throat and watching as Derek finally pulled away, setting the dirty wipe down and reaching for the Neosporin.

“Why didn’t you get a restraining order?” Stiles managed to ask.

“The money I gave her would have been brought up….” Derek actually looked ashamed of himself--jaw ticking as he clenched it, eyes refusing to connect with Stiles’--and dabbed the cream onto each of the cuts with small swipes. “It was company money…money I’m still trying to earn back.”

Suddenly, it made a lot more sense why Derek was never home. It made so much sense that Stiles kind of wanted to kiss him right then and there. Instead, he waited until Derek reached for a bandaid, ducking his head so that Derek caught his eyes.

“You did the right thing, because you’re a great dad,” and he meant every single word of it.

Derek watched him, slowly peeling the backing off of first bandaid. He broke eye contact first, staring at his hands, voice quiet when he finally spoke.

“Thank you,” when he looked up again, the corner of his mouth was pulled up into a smile. A tiny, pleased smile that was for Stiles and no one else. There was a crinkle in his eyes, a softness in his brow, and an overall happiness that radiated him in a way that Stiles had never before experienced. It was like he had spent years waiting for someone to assure him that he wasn’t fucking up, that he wasn’t ruining his kids. That single crook in his mouth was enough to wreck Stiles in ways he had never really experienced before, and it wasn’t even big enough to show his teeth.

Stiles dragged in a breath, lungs expanding as understanding struck him and he felt his gut drop and his heart clench.

Stiles wasn’t running the risk of falling for Derek.

He’d already fallen.

Chapter Text

The first time Stiles had seen Derek wearing reading glasses, he’d been utterly confused for two days until he’d snuck them on later to find out they were essentially fitted magnifying glasses.

The effect of seeing them on Derek's face was the same now as it was then. Utterly distracting.

“Stiles,” Derek repeated for the second time, setting his coffee down and peering at Stiles over his laptop. “Did you need help?”

Stiles fumbled with the plate of eggs, trying to sprinkle a bit of cheese on them and almost dropping it when he slipped his finger right under the spot where the eggs had heated up the ceramic. He cursed, setting it on the counter and shaking his hand. “No,” he said, sucking on his finger to try and ease the burn, “I’m good. Kids up?” the one thing Derek was good for in the mornings was giving Stiles a two-minute warning when Olly and Andy would come stumbling in looking for food and cuddles.

Derek stood abruptly, walking around the table and grabbing Stiles’ wrist. “Don’t do that,” he snapped, giving Stiles a shove towards the sink. “You’re supposed to be the adult here.”

Sighing, Stiles ran his hand under the sink, even though the pain was already gone, and watched Derek carry the two plates of eggs and toast over to the table. When he came back to start filling up the next two plates from the skillet, he made a pass by Stiles to bring one hand to the back of Stiles’ neck. This was something Stiles was still getting used to; Derek’s increased touching. It had been a few days since the appearance of Kate, and every day since then, Derek had made sure to swipe his hand over Stiles every so often--be it from a rub on the head, a pat on the shoulder, or the occasional full face palm.

“Get the juice,” Derek said, squeezing the back of Stiles’ neck and then pulling away like it was the most natural action in the world. Stiles was barely getting the hang of keeping his body under control when Derek would get up in his space with the intent of scent marking.

That’s what Stiles figured it was, but he couldn’t be sure. Olly and Andy used their whole bodies to hug Stiles and rub his throat and shoulders when scent marking him. Derek limited it to touches of his hand. Was he letting Stiles into the pack? Or was he only doing it enough so Olly and Andy would recognize Derek was the alpha or something?

Stiles had absolutely no idea, but his heart could only take so much of it.

He headed for the fridge, snagging the orange juice for himself and Andy, and apple juice for Derek and Olly. Derek slid the other plates onto the table, looking thoughtful as he went for the silverware drawer. “I watched that show you told me about, with the chemistry teacher.”

Stiles perked up, fumbling with the lid to Olly’s cup (shaped like a space shuttle with a slot for a straw so Olly could wander around with it when need be) and grinning. “Breaking Bad? What’d you think?”

Derek made a face, taking the cup from Stiles and opening it himself. “Too intense for me, but the thing with the pants was funny,” he filled the cup up with juice, capping the lid again and handing it for Stiles to take to the table.

“That’s cool,” Stiles said, glancing at the clock and taking note that Andy and Olly would have to be woken up if they didn’t get out of bed soon. “It’s not for everyone. Have you ever watched Firefly?” he set Andy’s Tiana cup down next to her matching Princess and the Frog plate. Derek hummed for a second, pausing mid-step to bring some napkins to the table.

“Didn’t they make a movie out of it?”

Stiles beamed and snagged the salt and pepper, resisting the urge to hug Derek. “Yeah, it was called Serenity. It’s a good show; you might like it.”

Lifting his head, Derek peered in the direction of the hallway--a sure sign that the kids had woken up. “Write it down for me and I’ll look into it on my break sometime,” he said absently, just as Olly and Andy sleepily trudged into sight. Stiles set the salt and pepper on the table, crouching when Olly reached for him with a whine.

Derek hoisted Andy up as well, petting some of her hair from her eyes while she snuffled into his naked shoulder. Derek never wore a shirt until he was showering to leave for work. It was probably one of the most aggravating things for Stiles, because he wanted to pay attention to everything except that dark thatch of hair leading down from Derek’s navel and into the line of his sleep pants.

Realizing he was staring at Derek’s happy trail while thinking about it, Stiles quickly turned away and sat down at the kitchen table. He gave Olly another minute of sleepy cheek rubs before kissing his head and setting him in his booster seat so he could eat his breakfast.

After eating, Derek disappeared into his room to get ready for work while Stiles cleaned up the kitchen. Both Andy and Olly were sprawled on the couch, hands on their stuffed bellies as they lazily watched some morning cartoons.

On his way out the door, Derek stopped to kiss both kids on their heads, rubbing a hand through their hair. When he passed Stiles, he nodded and then reached out to pat the side of Stiles’ neck and drag his hand away so that his fingers lingered until the last possible minute.

Stiles’ lungs were still struggling to draw air as the door shut behind Derek.

He wandered into the living room, joining Andy and Olly to catch up on the latest excursion of Oswald the octopus. They only had the attention span for an episode or two, so by the time things drew to a close, Andy was rolling off of the couch and crawling for the toy bin to rummage around. Olly scooted down the couch to where Stiles was sitting, grunting and climbing into his lap like it was the feat of the century.

“M’tummy hurts,” Olly whined, lying with his upper back against Stiles’ stomach and his belly sticking out. Stiles cooed, reaching out to rub Olly’s stomach.

“You asked for seconds,” he pointed out, fingers running over Olly’s outie belly button as Olly squirmed and whined again. “I told you it would give you a tummy ache.”

“I was hungry,” Olly wriggled onto his side, breathing heavily as he tried to maneuver himself into a more comfortable position. Andy approached with a giant magnetic drawing tablet. She climbed onto the couch next to Stiles and Olly, giving it a shake to erase the remains of her last doodle (a butterfly that Stiles thought looked more like a bumblebee) and set the tablet on her lap. Olly moaned, and Stiles resumed rubbing at his stomach.

“Do you want me to get you the heating pad?” he asked. Olly shook his head, face buried into the crook of Stiles’ elbow.

“Juice,” Olly mumbled.

“Juice will make it hurt more,” Stiles said gently. Olly whimpered and then sighed in defeat, muttering, “okay,” sadly. Stiles couldn’t help but snort softly under his breath at how pathetic he sounded, an overwhelming wave of affection hitting him as he watched Andy fumble with the drawing pen before she started to scribble.

Once Olly‘s stomach felt better, the first thing he did was demand they go and play in the yard. Stiles barely had time to grab a Frisbee and a basketball before he had little hands hustling him out the door. The Frisbee didn’t go over that well (it never did after the first handful of failed attempts), but the basketball and hoop in the driveway was enough to keep both kids occupied for the better part of the morning.

Stiles nearly had a heart attack when he saw an unfamiliar car coming up the road. He grabbed the basketball the second it was near him, putting it down and gesturing for Olly and Andy to come close. He hadn’t expected Kate to return, but now he felt foolish for taking the children outside within a week of her attempted visit.

“Stiles?” Andy asked, “What’s wrong?” she pulled at his jeans and Stiles shuffled them both behind his legs as the dark blue SUV pulled up into the long driveway. He crouched, putting an arm around both Andy and Olly in preparation to lift them and dash into the house when he actually caught a clear glimpse of the person in the driver’s seat.

“Oh, Jesus Christina, it’s just Erica,” he breathed, barely slurring his curse into something a little less blasphemous when he remembered he was in the presence of children. Relief made him slump to his bottom in the middle of the driveway while Erica parked and climbed out of her car.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Erica pointed out, shutting the door as Olly and Andy shrieked her name and went running for her. “Oh my God! Andy, look at you!” Erica screamed, dropping to her knees and dragging both children into her arms. She rubbed their cheeks together for a second before pushing them away and petting at Andy’s hair.

“Aren’t you the most precious thing?” she gasped out, grinning wide as Andy beamed, “Look at that dress! Did you pick that out?”

“Yes!” Andy cried, throwing her arms up and spinning in a circle so Erica could see the way the little purple and green sun dress twirled around her ankles. Erica cooed again as he dragged Olly in to give him a big, sloppy kiss on the cheek. He yelped, wiping at where the lipstick had smeared all over his face while Andy laughed loudly.

Standing, Erica brushed imaginary dirt from her jeans, flicked her hair over her shoulder, and sidled Stiles with a smirk. “I’d hate to say it, but you’re doing a pretty good job with these two,” she said. Stiles stuffed his hands into his pockets, grinning bashfully and then shrugging.

“They just needed someone to listen to them,” he pointed out. Erica walked up to him, pinching his cheek and then wriggling it firmly.

“That’s exactly why I hired you,” she said, letting go when Stiles started to cringe at her superhuman grip on his face and patting the red mark she left behind. “That’s also why I convinced Derek not to fire you three different times for sassing him.”

She brushed by, heading for Andy and lifting her up and then flouncing into the house. Stiles gaped, sputtering for words while Olly pulled on his hand insistently. “I do not sass!” he cried, lifting Olly up and following after the sound of Erica’s cackling.

“What are you doing here, anyway?” Stiles asked after he closed and locked the front door. He turned around, double-taking when he realized she was nowhere in sight.

“Derek left his address book here and I need the number of one of our clients. Figured I could swing by and see the babies while I nabbed it,” Erica’s voice came from Derek’s study, and Stiles followed it just in time to see her coming out with Andy on her hip and a small brown journal in the other. She turned, rubbing noses with Andy.

“Besides, I could use a few hours off from being around your cranky old daddy, huh?” she said, grinning when Andy giggled and bumped their foreheads together gently.

Stiles frowned, putting Olly down when he started to wiggle. “Is he crankier than usual? He seemed fine when he left earlier.”

“Well, you and the kids are here,“ Erica carried Andy into the living room, pausing to spin her around in the air, “and his uncle is at the office. Guess which one puts him in a bad mood.”

Andy squealed as she was tossed up and caught again, and Stiles soon found himself the target of Olly’s puppy eyes. Stiles was okay for toss-up, but there were times when the kids got too excited and wolfed out and then he ended up with a few new scratches on his arms before the end of the day. “What’s wrong with his uncle?” Stiles reached out for Olly to climb into his arms, tossing him up (though not as high as Andy was getting from Erica) and catching him into a hug.

“Derek’s splitting the company with him, but Peter wants more control than Derek’s willing to give. You have no idea how grating it is on my nerves to hear those two fighting for hours on end,” Erica sighed, bringing Andy down to press kisses all over her face. Stiles, his arms already a little sore, drew Olly in close to give him a tight hug and kiss his temple. Olly rumbled in delight, tiny arms wrapping around Stiles’ neck.

Reaching for one of Andy’s hands, Erica inspected them and released an extremely dramatic gasp. “I thought you were a princess!” she cried with false horror. Andy’s eyes went wide, and she began to nod furiously.

“I am!”

Lifting Andy’s hand, Erica tutted. “A real princess should paint her nails to match her dress,” she said seriously. Andy’s face fell immediately, pulling her hand out of Erica’s grasp and crossing her arms so her fingers were hidden from sight.

“Daddy doesn’t have nail polish,” she said sadly.

“Well,” Erica huffed, bouncing Andy on her hip and grinning, “that’s what Walgreens and Daddy’s credit card are for,” she reached up, poking Andy in the nose and smirking. Andy looked confused, face devolving into a pout, and Erica rolled her eyes. “I’ll get you nail polish, sweetie,” she barely finished her sentence before Andy was throwing her arms up and shrieking in delight at a decibel that even Stiles had to wince at.

Erica was a whirlwind of power that had Stiles’ head spinning as she bustled around the house, snagging the diaper bag to toss in some snacks and juice. Stiles was still trying to tie Olly’s shoelaces when she came back with the bag on one shoulder and keys in hand.

“Have you even put Andy’s shoes on yet?” she asked, brushing past him to where Andy was struggling to get her feet into her flashing pink sneakers. She knelt, grabbing firmly to Andy’s ankle and pushing the shoe all the way on without the bat of an eye at Andy’s soft whine of discomfort.

Stiles barely had Olly on his feet when Erica hoisted Andy up with both shoes now on and tied. “Let’s roll, boy wonder,” she jingled the keys at him, flouncing out the door while Stiles was still trying to decide if he should grab Olly’s stuffed octopus or not.

Deciding that they wouldn’t be out long enough for Olly to really need his octopus, Stiles followed out the door, making sure to lock it behind himself.

After they had the kids buckled in and the car rolling it’s way to the main road, Stiles started to fidget. Erica was a werewolf; one who knew Derek as well as Stiles did. If anyone knew how to explain his behavior and maybe some of the Kate situation, it was probably her, right? Only, Stiles kind of didn’t want to know more than he already did about Kate, because that was a whole can of worms he wasn’t prepared to open up.

Erica reached down to flick off the radio, shooting Stiles a suspicious glance out of the corner of her eye. “All right, pipsqueak. You’ve been silently freaking out for the past five minutes. Start talking.”

“Does Derek touch your face?” Stiles blurted, almost jumping out of his seat when Erica barked out a loud, shocked laugh. “I mean, not…well… he just…touches my face sometimes. When I hold the kids, he’ll take them after I put them down just to hold them. Which is good, I guess. It’s just that he didn’t use to do that.” Stiles paused, thinking hard as Erica waited for him to continue.

“He also didn’t use to do the face-touching thing, either. That part I’m still confused about. I tried asking him, you know. He broke a cantaloupe with his bare hands. It was like I asked him if he likes to stick his--erm… love rocket… into vacuum hoses or something.”

“Love rocket?” Erica echoed, snorting loudly. Stiles shrugged helplessly.

“I don’t know, dude. Two weeks ago he wasn’t rubbing his hand on my face and throat, so it’s not like he’s the most predictable guy in the world,” he muttered under his breath, slinking down in his seat when Erica laughed again.

Once she’d calmed herself down enough to breathe properly, Erica flicked her hair over her shoulder, turning into the parking lot for Walgreens. “It could be a pack thing,” she explained quietly, “Derek is an alpha without a mate, with two children who are attached to you. There’s a chance he’s started to see you as a beta, even though you’re human.” Erica looked thoughtful as she spoke, like the words were coming to her at the same time the realization was. Stiles hadn’t honestly expected what she’d told him, but it made more sense than anything else he could think up.

“Huh, seems legit,” he agreed, lips turning down in the corners and eyebrows rising. They parked, slipping out of the car and grabbing a kid each before making their way into the store.

Stiles barely had a second to blink before Erica was plucking Andy out of his arms and shoving Olly in her place. “Here, take this,” she grunted, and then disappeared around the corner and off to the cosmetics section with Andy. Looking down, Stiles was happy to note that Olly looked just as disoriented as he felt.

“Want a toy?”

Olly’s grin was answer enough, and Stiles carried him to the section of the store that held a fair amount of toys for almost all ages. There wasn’t a very large amount of space-themed things, but Olly was content to slime out of Stiles’ arms and inspect the display of pirate ships they had up.

“I want this one,” Olly picked up a box that contained a medium sized ship in it. Stiles almost agreed--because it was a pretty badass looking ship--but then he realized that it came with ten very small pirate figurines. Pirate figurines that would be extremely painful for Stiles to step on if Olly forgot to clean up after himself, which he did a lot.

“That ship is lame,” Stiles scoffed, picking up a smaller, plastic-looking ship that had all of the parts glued in place. “This one is better,” which was true in the way that it was less hassle for Stiles.

Olly scowled, clutching the box to his chest. “Is not,” he protested vehemently, “this has moah pirates! An’ that one s’blue!”

Stiles looked at the ship in his hands, surprised to note that yes, it did have a surprising amount of blue paint on it. Still, Stiles had his feet to defend.

“This one will be more fun to play with,” he pointed to the flag with the skull and crossbones, trying not to take note of how it looked so cheap it’d probably fall off the second they got it out of the box.

Olly gasped, dropping the box and jumping up and down. “You ah lying!” he shouted. Stiles winced, throwing a hand out and waving it around in a desperate attempt to quiet Olly’s affronted screeching.

“I’m not lying!”

“Yes you ah! Your heart went ba BUM, so you lied!” Olly looked ready to throw a tantrum, but Stiles was too busy having a mini aneurism over the fact that Olly had actually used his senses to pick up on Stiles fibbing about the ship.

“You heard my heart?” he asked, grinning and putting the ship down. Olly nodded, looking cross as he picked the ship up and huffed. “That’s so good! I’m so proud of you! You can get this ship just because you did a good job hearing my heart!” Stiles tried his hardest to ignore the way Olly looked far too smug for a four year old.

“I know,” Olly nodded, grabbing Stiles’ hand and pulling him over to the plastic toy bin. “We gotta get mermaids, now.”

“Mermaids? Why don’t you get a shark?”

Olly’s nose crinkled and he gave Stiles a flat look like Stiles was the dumbest person in the world. “Stiles,” he sighed, “sharks eat pirates.”

“Oh,” Stiles said absently, mouth twitching into a smile. “I didn’t know that. I’m very sorry.”

“It’s okay,” replied Olly, lifting up a giant floppy octopus toy and holding it up to his box like he was trying to decide if the two toys could go well together. Andy and Erica came into the aisle with a bag of their purchases dangling from Andy’s elbow. Stiles reached out, fluffing Olly’s hair and then giving in to the urge to style it up into a little duck butt at the front.

“Time to go, buddy. Those what you want?” Stiles grinned when Olly nodded after another moment of contemplation, “I’ll carry the ship, but can you carry the octopus for me?” Olly nodded, toy in one hand and reaching up to grab Stiles’ fingers with his other before they headed for the register.

By the time Derek came home for lunch, both Olly, Andy, and Stiles had all gotten a mini-manicure (though Andy had done Stiles’ nails so his looked more like he’d dipped this fingers in paint) and Erica was lying on the couch with her feet in Stiles’ lap while he studiously painted her toenails. She’d weaseled him for ten minutes before pointing out that she had painted Andy and Olly’s nails, and it was her turn.

Derek came up to the couch, slowly curling his hands over the back of it and frowning. “Why are you even here?” he asked Erica roughly, looking more annoyed than angry. Erica grinned, pooling her hair up into her hands and then letting it fall around her shoulders again. She wiggled her toes in Stiles’ lap and Stiles swatted at her ankle to keep them still. If he was going to do this, he would rather do a good job than have her give him hell about it later.

That wasn’t helping the hot burn of mortification rising on the back of his neck in a warm flush with the knowledge that Derek was seeing him in his moment of weakness.

“Andy needed a woman’s touch,” Erica said flippantly, sitting up and pulling her feet out of Stiles’ lap,” and besides, look at Stiles’ cheeks; they’re baby soft now. I taught him the power of facial scrub.” Erica snagged Derek’s wrist as Stiles fondly remembered his half hour of peace where he’d lounged on the couch with a facial mask and cucumbers while Erica painted Olly and Andy’s nails. He almost jumped out of his skin when Derek’s palm was pressed roughly up against his cheek.

“I don’t--huh,” Derek said thoughtfully, cutting himself off as he started to poke and prod at Stiles’ face. Stiles was still trying to process that Erica was encouraging the molestation of his face when Derek’s hand abruptly changed course, palm squishing up against Stiles’ temple and rubbing down to his jaw and then back up again.

Now that he thought about it, Erica had probably planned this all along. He grunted when Derek’s fingers scratched against his scalp, eyes fluttering as he barely stopped himself from groaning at how nice it felt. Derek pulled away, hand dropping and a soft huff leaving him. Stiles peeked up just in time to see Derek rolling his eyes at the both of them as he said, “it’s time for lunch,” and walked out of the room.

After lunch, Derek barely wasted any time with dragging Erica back to the office with him, mostly with threats of ‘telling Boyd you were cheating on him with my babysitter’ that had Erica squawking and rushing to get her keys and shoes back on.

With the house a little quieter and both children fed and glued to the television, Stiles pulled out his laptop to check on his bank account and his fall classes. He still had some time to change his courses; and there were a few online classes he wanted to look at.

The more he thought about it, the more Stiles felt nervous about going back to school. It wasn’t the classes--he had almost all of his credits and enough scholarships that he could go for another year after his degree-- but the idea of leaving Olly and Andy with some other babysitter who wouldn’t know them the way Stiles did. He started to think about what would happen after he was gone, about who would care for them, and if Derek would keep trying to be more involved in their lives the way he was now.

Stiles didn’t even realized he’d switched completely to online courses until he was logging out of his school email and blankly staring at the new tab he’d opened in his browser. A quick glance at the clock told him that it was time for naps, and Stiles shut his laptop and stood with a stretch. “Alright, buddies, time to snooze,” he yawned, cracking his knuckles and then frowning when both children let out loud whines of protest.

“Come on, don’t be like that,” Stiles cajoled, reaching down to pick Andy up from where she was laying in front of the television. She shouted, kicking out and wiggling until Stiles lost his hold on her and she dropped to the ground.

“No!” Andy screamed--and with that, she was off running across the house, shouting a chant of, “no nap! No nap! No nap!” until Olly was up and joining her.

Stiles was too tired to even argue, and he stood with a sigh. “Okay, outside then,” he crossed to the back door, opening it up and watching two werebaby blurs shoot out into the yard. It was likely that Erica’s presence had gotten them a little riled up, or maybe it was just one of those days where they didn’t need to take a nap, Stiles had no idea. Either way, the two of them were tussling in the back yard like a pair of puppies.

“No claws!” Stiles called out, watching as Olly climbed on top of Andy with a yipping giggle before they both started to roll all over the lawn in a flurry of fur and human skin.

The thing about werewolf kids was that they had twice the amount of energy that normal humans had. It was well past four by the time they were worn out enough to lose their shift and leave Stiles with two exhausted children covered in dirt and grass, sprawled sleepily in the back yard. He hustled them both back into the house and into the bath before they all curled up on the couch in front of the television.

Technically, it was past nap time, and Stiles usually didn’t let them go to bed early because then they were up in the middle of the night. The only problem was that he’d stayed up too late the night before, and with Little Bear’s calming voice coming from the television, Stiles found himself drifting off against his better judgment.

He woke up to the feeling of something brushing his cheek, and groaned before opening his eyes to see Derek with his hand gently rubbing Olly’s back. Olly, who was curled up on Stiles’ chest, while Andy was squished between the back of the couch and Stiles’ side.

“W’time’s’it?” Stiles mumbled sleepily, blinking as Derek continued to pet Olly’s hair. He looked upset and confused, like there was something bothering him greatly.

Suddenly, Stiles wished he could ask about it. He wanted to ask Derek about his day, wanted to wake up to Derek kissing him with a teasing, ‘morning sleepyhead’ like it was something that happened all the time. His heart ached, and Stiles brought a hand up to rub at his face in hopes of distracting himself from the things he couldn’t have.

“It’s a little after eight,” Derek said quietly, picking Olly up and cradling him in the crook of his arm. “You can head on home. I’ll put them to bed.”

Stiles pushed himself up, catching Andy when she rolled into his lap, and then handing her off to Derek’s other arm. “Okay,” he croaked, a little taken aback when Derek just turned and walked away. Normally he’d at least pat Stiles on the head or shoulder before leaving. Had he done something wrong?

Worry niggled in the back of Stiles’ head as he gathered his things. There was no telling what was going on in Derek’s mind. It could have been anything from work, to annoyance at messing up the children’s sleep cycles, to feeling territorial after Erica had been around getting her scent everywhere.

Stiles was putting his sneakers on when Derek came back into the room, still looking frustrated. “Be here early tomorrow,” he said, making Stiles hesitate in opening the door. When he didn’t elaborate, Stiles nodded and bid him goodnight. He was halfway out the door when Derek’s hand landed heavy on his upper back, patting once and then withdrawing.

“Uh, night,” Stiles repeated, slipping out the door and trying not to smile at the wave of relief that hit him from that single touch. Whatever was bothering Derek, it wasn’t Stiles’ doing. That was all he needed to know.

Chapter Text

“How did you know Allison was the one?” Stiles tossed up the hackey sack, hearing it hit the ceiling with a satisfying thud before it came back down. Scott glanced up from his computer to peer curiously over to the bed, watching Stiles for a moment before narrowing his eyes.

“I thought you said you didn’t like Lydia anymore?”

“I don’t!” Stiles sat up, throwing the hackey sack at Scott and frowning when Scott plucked it out of the air with a skill that only a werewolf could possess. “It’s not about Lydia.”

Scott’s face broke into a grin. “So you like someone else? Who?”

Panicking, Stiles’ mind scrambled for the first thing that might deter Scott from prying. He leaned off the bed, hand wiggling as he reached for the hackey sack until Scott handed it over. “It’s just for one of my buddies online. You know, he’s got this huge chance of making a name in the gaming business--he’s got a demo in the process-- and his birthday is coming up. I figured I could write him some sort of fan fiction about his game characters that are supposed to be in love, but you know.. I really only have the whole Lydia thing to go off of and that wasn’t really love.”

Stiles peeked up from where he was picking at some loose threading on the hackey sack to see Scott staring at him blankly, and then frowning like he wasn’t sure if Stiles was telling the truth or not. The thing was, Stiles did have an online friend in the process of making a game, and he had written the guy fan fiction for his birthday…but that was back in April.

“I don’t know, dude,” Scott sighed finally, turning back to his computer so he could resume wandering around a mountain in Skyrim, “I just…”

“Oh, come on, Scott,” Stiles groused, throwing his arms up, “any other time I ask you to talk about Allison, my ears are practically falling off.”

Scott shrugged, clicking through his inventory on the game. “I just, I wanted to be around her all the time. I would be happy without sex if I knew that I would be able to hold her in my arms, to see her for the rest of my life. I just want to be with her.”

“Define ‘be with’,” Stiles urged, only to get an aggravated sigh from Scott.

“That’s the thing. There’s so much that you can’t put into words. It’s not just love… it’s like… you know that you’ll never be the same without them. You want to see that person grow old, and you want to do it with them. Jesus, Stiles, she could have irritable bowel syndrome and I wouldn’t care that all she did was poop because I love her.” Scott looked away to stare at Stiles, eyes wide like he was trying to mentally transfer the concept of love in a way that Stiles could understand.

“So that’s nice,” Stiles said lightly, “you even love her when she poops.” he didn’t know how to feel about that, not when the idea of being ten years older and brushing his teeth while Derek used the bathroom was actually not something he was weirded out by, but wanted.

With a roll of his eyes, Scott turned back to his game as a troll came on screen and started to attack him. “It’s hard to explain,” he muttered, like Stiles couldn’t wrap his head around it. The problem was the opposite, though. Stiles was fully aware now that he was way too gone on Derek and his family for having worked with them just a handful of months.

“No, it’s cool. I get it,” Stiles said, and then pushed himself to his feet. “Hey, I gotta head home and sleep. Derek wants me in early tomorrow. I think it has something to do with that crap at his company,” he grabbed his backpack, hoisting it on his shoulder as Scott paused the game to turn around and look him dead in the eyes.

“Do what makes you happy, man, but if you’re gonna write this guy a fic… I mean… don’t you think you should at least meet him in person before you think you’re in love with him?”

Stiles sputtered, hand flying up to slap himself in the forehead before he gave into the urge to deny it. As awkward as it was for Scott to jump to the idea that Stiles had an online boyfriend, it was a better excuse than anything else Stiles could think up. He shook his head, slipping out of the room and trying to look as embarrassed as he felt.

It was wholly unsettling how fast and how attached he’d gotten to Olly and Andy, and even more with Derek. It didn’t help that there was already a significant change in the way that Andy and Olly behaved because of Derek’s increasing presence in their lives. Olly was having less spontaneous meltdowns already, and Andy had gotten more independent and confident in herself to where Stiles didn’t need to keep a constant eye on her.

And Derek.


Just thinking about Derek drove Stiles completely out of his mind sometimes. He was so proud of Derek, and how hard he tried to be there for his kids that Stiles was loving him more and more for it against every alarm in his head that told him it was a bad idea and that he was getting in too deep.


It took hours for Stiles to fall asleep, his mind spinning and twisting with new worries and desires that he didn’t want to have in the first place. He was beyond exhausted when he got up the next morning, moving in a state between waking and sleeping as he showered, dressed, ate, and climbed into his borrowed hummer to head over to the Hale house.

Derek was already out the door by the time Stiles pulled into the driveway. He only stopped to tell Stiles, “the boys are still asleep, I’ll try to be back by dinner. Tell them I’m sorry,” and rub a hand down Stiles’ arm and climbing into his camaro and driving off.

Stiles headed inside and settled into his morning routine. Andy and Olly were up within the hour, and Stiles only had to deal with ten minutes of whining about Derek’s absence before they quieted and ate their breakfast. The day was rather uneventful compared to one prior; Andy spent half the morning running around the back yard with a whiffle bat, hitting at an imaginary dragon while Olly struggled to keep his hula hoop going.

They had ham sandwiches for lunch with ‘ants on a log’ and sugar free juice before curling with Stiles in front of a few episodes of Peter Rabbit before naptime.

Half an hour before supper, Derek texted Stiles to let him know he was running late, adding on that Boyd had picked him up something to eat, and to go ahead and feed the kids. Stiles felt a little bad breaking the news to Olly and Andy, but from what he’d gathered through the few texts he’d gotten over the day, Derek was going over heaps of contracts with his uncle to officially give him 25% of the company. It was a huge deal, one that merited Derek falling back to his old hours of working from dawn until dusk.

The amount of moping in the house was just getting ridiculous by the time their plates were cleaned. It was making Stiles feel depressed just looking at the way Olly and Andy were listlessly looking at the door every few minutes to see if they could hear Derek pulling in the driveway yet. They needed a distraction; a rewarding distraction because they had behaved a lot better about Derek not being there for dinner than Stiles had anticipated.

“Who wants to make cookies?” Stiles blurted, whirling around to see Andy and Olly pop their heads up like excited puppies.

“Me! Me me me me!” both of them cried, scrambling out of their seats to jump around Stiles in dizzying circles. He laughed, trying not to trip over either of them and struggling to get to the pantry.

“Okay, okay! Let me get the stuff! I need a big bowl and the measuring cups. Can you get them for me?” Stiles watched his little helpers as they scrambled for the cabinet with all of the cooking supplies in it. Andy went for the mixing bowls, sitting on her hands and knees to reach far enough to grab one of the bigger ones. Olly was on his tippy toes next to her, hand rooting around in the kitchen drawer that had the dry measuring cups. His tongue flitted out, wiggling around as he knocked spoons, a whisk, and a spatula out in his search. Stiles grabbed the flour, sugars, baking soda and salt from the pantry, carrying them to the kitchen table and lifting Andy up so she could stand on one of the chairs and set the mixing bowl down.

“Got it!” Olly finally cried, running over with the measuring cups clacking around in his hand. Stiles grinned, thanking Olly as they were set on the counter and then tapping his chin thoughtfully.

“What else do we need?” he mused, pulling his phone out of his pocket and pulling up Derek’s name from his contact list to shoot a quick text of, we’re making cookies, just fyi, before tucking it away and nodding. “We don’t need chocolate chip cookies, do we?”

“No!” Andy and Olly protested with dismay, scrambling to cling to Stiles’ legs as he was heading for the fridge to grab the eggs. “Noooo! Please, Stiles, please?!” they begged. Stiles laughed, stumbling and then dragging his new legs weights along with him, snagging the eggs and bringing them back to the table.

“I guess, since you guys asked so nicely,” Stiles mused, even though he already had a bag of chocolate chips sitting next to the brown sugar--it didn’t hurt to tease a little. His phone buzzed and he pulled it out, heart clenching when he read, pulling in the driveway now, from Derek.

God, sometimes they were so much like a family that it physically hurt him.

Derek came in through the front door just as Stiles was putting his phone back into his pocket. The only reason Stiles knew this was because he went from having Andy and Olly latched onto his legs like living weights while he tried to crack the eggs into the mixing bowl, to having them scream, “daddy!” and run for the front door.

Stiles gathered up the egg shells, dumping them in the trash as Derek came in with Olly on his shoulder and Andy under his arm, the two of them talking a mile a minute. Derek set them down at the table, turning and looking at the growing mess of the kitchen. “Are you sure you’re making cookies? It looks like you’re just making a mess, to me,” he said skeptically. Stiles scoffed, dumping a cup of flour into the bowl and pointing to the sticks of butter so that Olly could hand him them over.

“Obviously you don’t know how to make cookies, then,” Stiles pointed out, grinning when both children started to giggle. Derek hummed, peering into the bowl and then grabbing the bag of chocolate chips and dumping the entire thing in. “Hey!” Stiles cried, pushing at Derek’s arm to try and stop all of the chips from making it into the batter. He wanted to save some of them for pancakes, after all.

“It’s not chocolate chip cookies unless you use all the chocolate chips,” Derek pointed out smugly, using his hip to nudge Stiles out of the way and gesture for Andy to climb across the table to where he was. She did it quickly, knocking utensils this way and that before Derek picked her up and sat down with Andy on his lap. Stiles rolled his eyes, dropping in the last teaspoon of vanilla extract as Derek helped Andy to coordinate the giant spoon in her hand so she could stir it.

“I wanna stir it!” Olly protested, clambering out of his seat and running over so he could try to climb into Derek’s lap with Andy. Derek kept one hand around Andy’s stomach while she struggled with the batter, and turned to rub a hand on Olly’s head with the other.

“You have to wait your turn,” Derek said gently. Stiles shrugged, sitting down next to them and grabbing another spoon.

“Come here, Olly,” he hoisted the child up into his lap as Derek let out a sudden gasp and bent over to look into the batter.

“What’s that?” he asked with over-dramatic curiosity. Andy stood up on his legs, peeking into the batter bowl and frowning.

“What’s what?” she exclaimed, frowning when Derek pointed into the bowl. She bent in closer, squinting and then shrieking when Derek scooped a finger full of dough and smeared it on her nose. Stiles couldn’t help but laugh with Olly and Derek as she whined and rubbed at her face before taking the dough and rubbing it all over Derek’s mouth. “Gross, daddy!” she shouted, giggling as Derek made a mock shout of dismay when his face was covered in cookie batter.

Olly scrambled forward, shoving his hand into the bowl before Stiles could stop him and then whirling around and slapping a handful of dough right into Stiles’ cheek.

Derek’s laugh was loud and shocking, echoing across the kitchen with the giggles of his children as Stiles slowly reached up to pull the dough from his face and stare at it with, mouth gaping open. He glanced up and Olly squealed, “oh no!” when Stiles tried to get him back. “Daddy, help!” he scrambled off of Stiles’ lap like a worm, running around to Derek’s chair when Stiles’ chased him.

That’s when Derek’s business cell went off, trilling loudly over the sound of their laughing and shouting.

It was like putting a silencer in the room, the laughter dying down as they all watched Derek pull his phone out with a frown. He stood, setting Andy down and walking out of the room to answer it.

“Daddy just got home,” Olly whined, jumping up and down in place in a motion Stiles knew often would prelude a tantrum. He quickly wiped his hands and face on a paper towel, scooping Olly up and setting him in his booster seat.

“Maybe they’re just telling him he’s doing a good job. Here, it’s your turn to stir,” Stiles pushed the bowl towards Olly, “Andy, c’mere so I can wipe your face, sweets.”

Andy slipped out of her chair, following Stiles to the kitchen sink so he could wet the paper towel and wipe at her nose and cheeks. She was rosy-faced and grinning again by the time Stiles was done, joining Olly at the table so they could keep mixing the dough into something bakeable. Derek slipped into the kitchen, making a beeline for his children and kissing them both on the head.

“Daddy has to go get something from work,” he said, sounding pained even as he spoke--like it was the last thing he wanted to do. “I’ll be back soon,” the look on Derek’s face belied that he wasn’t sure if that was true or not. Most likely, he had no idea when he would be back.

Andy and Olly started to voice their protests, and Derek rubbed them a little shy of forcefully on the heads. “No crying, or you don’t get cookies,” he said, grinning when they both fell begrudgingly quiet. Stiles frowned.

“It’s already six, they’re really going to make you go back into the office?”

Derek shrugged, “lots of messes to clean up right now,” he explained, reaching out and pressing his hand to the side of Stiles’ throat before sliding it down to his shoulder and squeezing gently. “I’ll try to get back before ten.”

Olly and Andy dragged Stiles to the door to see Derek out. The last light of the day peeking out over the treetops as a fog rolled in from behind the house, adding an eerie bit of darkness with the cloudy sky overhead..

There was a river that ran through the forest surrounding the estate; one that Stiles was hesitant to take the children to because of how fast moving it was. It caused a lot of fog in the mornings and at night, though, which added another bit of difficulty in navigating the long road up to Derek’s house.

Once Derek’s car was out of sight, Stiles spent a few minutes trying to get the children inside. The both of them started arguing profusely and Andy even made an aborted attempt to hit Stiles. He lifted them both up, carrying them kicking and screaming into the house, shouting their hatred of Stiles and how much they wanted their father. It had been a while since the two of them had reacted so badly to Derek leaving, but Stiles figured it made sense since Derek was supposed to be home for the night.

Sitting the both of them in the living room, Stiles grabbed the remote while Olly wailed and Andy slid off the couch to lay on the floor and kick her feet, shouting, “I want daddy! I don’t wanna watch TV!” at the top of her lungs.

Both children were wolfed out to the nines, all claws and fur as they rolled and screamed. Stiles sighed, turning the TV on and heading for the kitchen to let them cry their problems to Dora the Explorer. He finished mixing up the batter, pulling out the pans and spraying them down before laying the dough out and turning the oven on. By the time the cookies were in and the timer was set, the screaming had died down into the sound of snarling and yips.

Stiles washed his hands in the sink slowly, straining his ears and hearing the sound of ripping fabric that had his babysitter senses going wild. He shut the sink off, drying his hands on his jeans and hurrying into the living room.

“What are you guys--” Stiles trailed off, startled to see Olly on the arm of the couch, clawing at it while he growled loudly, baring his little teeth--eyes glowing bluer than Stiles had ever seen them--at the coffee table. Andy was under the table, curled up and yipping at Olly, her whole body shaking violently.

He’d never seen either of the kids freaking out this badly, but his first instinct was to go after the closest child. Kneeling down, Stiles reached a hand under the table for Andy. “What’s wrong, baby?” he asked, pressing his hand to her shoulder. Andy snarled, whirling around and sinking her teeth into his arm so deep that Stiles could feel his skin breaking, blood welling up around her mouth as she clawed at his arm and yanked--still biting it.

“Oh my God!“ Stiles screamed, wrenching out from under the table so fast that his head hit the underside of it. Andy came with him and Stiles grabbed at her mouth, prying her teeth out of his arm. He dragged it to his chest, stepping out of the way while Andy snapped her bloodied teeth and, wow, Stiles was fucking terrified at the sight of a four year old with fangs and blood on her face.

“What the fu--” Something hit his back and Stiles barely had a second to register the sound of Olly’s snarl before claws were scratching at him and he was being bit again as Olly’s teeth sank into his shoulder.

Stiles did the first thing he could think of, which was to writhe around and pull at Olly’s legs to try and dislodge him while wailing, “Unhand me, you zombie child!” as hysteria bubbled up inside of him.

It seemed like his shout was enough to startle Olly, who let out a little howl and then leapt off of Stiles and landed on the couch in an awkward flop of limbs. Stiles brought his hand up to his shoulder, stumbling back until he hit the window. He could hear thunder outside, the sound of rain pattering against the glass, and then he realized something.

Whirling around, Stiles flung open the curtain, staring at the cloudy sky and searching it desperately. That’s when he caught sight of it; the full moon, hidden behind storm clouds and almost concealed entirely from sight.


Knowing that neither child had an anchor, Stiles fumbled for his phone, pulling it out while Andy and Olly were distracted by sniffing one another and rubbing their cheeks together. He’d typed out half of the text whenever Olly let out another snarling howl and Stiles almost jumped out of his skin to see those glowing eyes staring at him. He dropped the phone, arms coming out like he could stop the little werewolf from advancing.

“Olly, don’t. It’s me, Stiles, remember me?” he asked shakily, blood dripping from the bites and cuts on his arm. Olly, on all fours, released a yowling noise and lunged forward. Stiles yelped, stumbling back when Olly hit him in the stomach. He hit the ground, holding Olly’s squirming and growling body, wincing when claws slashed at his face.

“Come on, Olly. You’re hurting me, please stop!” Stiles cried, choking on an actual sob. He dragged Olly into his arms, squeezing him so tight that it made it hard for the child to move around. Teeth nipped and gnawed at his throat before suddenly, Olly went utterly and completely still. “That’s it, you know who I am, buddy. Come back to me,” Stiles begged shakily, hearing and feeling as Olly sniffed at his throat in deep huffs.

“Good boy, I love you, come on, Olly,” he encouraged, eyes focused onwhere Andy was pacing back and forth, watching them unblinkingly.

Stiles rubbed a hand down Olly’s back, sobbing in relief when Olly weakly mouthed at his throat and then, in confusion, turned into Stiles’ throat and said, “Stiles?”

“Yeah,” Stiles choked, heart thundering in his chest as he felt the fur and point of Olly’s ears starting to recede back into a human face.

“Hurt! Stiles hurt!” Olly exclaimed, pulling back and staring at Stiles with large, watery eyes. He sniffled, reaching for Stiles’ bleeding shoulder and whimpering. “I hurt you!” as Stiles grabbed his wrist. Stiles shook his head, reaching out to run a palm through Olly’s hair. The last thing he wanted was for Olly to take his pain. His entire body was on fire, heartbeat roaring through the sluggishly bleeding bites and cuts all over him.

“You didn’t mean to,” he said quietly, “you controlled your shift all on your own, Olly. I’m so proud of you.”

Whining, Olly’s face scrunched up as big, fat tears slipped out of his eyes. He rocked into Stiles’ chest, sobbing out, “I’m sorry!” and clutching to Stiles’ shirt.

“It’s okay, baby,“ Stiles soothed him, kissing at his temple when Andy’s growling reached a crescendo. Stiles had half a second to look up before Andy was lurching forward. Olly whirled around in Stiles’ arms, howling, “No, Andy!” and slashing his claws across her face.

Andy stumbled back, blinking and gnashing her little teeth, pawing at the blood on her face as it slowly began to heal. Stiles frowned, hissing, “Olly, don’t hurt your sister!” and ignoring the fact that Olly looked taken aback at the reprimand. He crawled over to Andy, pulling her clawed hands from her face. It was mostly healed, but Stiles dragged in a deep breath and hoped for the best as he leaned in to kiss over the injury--like he always did.

Slowly, the claws that had been digging into his palms began to recede. He exhaled in relief, kissing Andy’s forehead when she weakly said, “Stiles?” and then looked up at him with scared bewilderment.

Relief hit Stiles like a truck and he sagged back, giving her a crooked grin. He felt utterly exhausted, pulse roaring in his ears and pain in every part of his body. Still, Stiles ruffled her hair. “Yeah, sweets. How are you feeling?”

Whining, Andy snuffled into Stiles’ hand as Olly came up and crawled into his lap, face rubbing all over Stiles’ stomach. “I’m sorry,” said Andy, kissing the cuts on Stiles’ arms to try and heal them. Stiles pulled his hand back, sighing.

“It’s okay, honey. How about we take a bath, though?” because they both had blood on their face and it was probably one of the creepiest things Stiles could come up with when he remembered that it was his blood they were wearing.

Even though Olly and Andy seemed okay with this, it was a struggle to get them into the bath because of their refusal to let him go. It was only after they were settled in the tub with Stiles on the toilet, cleaning his wounds, that they started to calm down.

It was probably the most adorable thing in the world, watching the two of them splashing around excitedly, almost like babies again. Stiles figured it had something to do with the full moon and their more primal side, but Stiles didn’t mind watching them squeal and splash at each other while he finished bandaging himself up to the best of his ability.

Luckily, the bites weren’t as deep as he’d thought, so he didn’t have to think about calling Derek off of work to take him to the hospital for stitches or something.

Stiles had barely put away the first aid kit when Andy and Olly finally started to calm down. He wrapped them up in their towels, drying their hair and then helping them both get dressed when they refused to let him out of their sight. Stiles was exhausted, and he wanted to cry in relief when both children started to yawn loudly.

“Stiles,“ Olly whined, latching onto Stiles’ leg while Andy pulled on her night gown and pajama pants, “wanna sleep.“

“Sure, buddy. Want me to tuck you in?“ Stiles reached down, lifting Olly up and receiving a whine for his efforts. Olly shook his head, snuffling into Stiles’ throat and rubbing a cheek against his collarbone.

“Wanna sleep wiff you,” he mumbled. Andy came over, nodding and pulling on Stiles’ shirt frantically.

“I wanna sleep with you too!” she exclaimed. Stiles sighed, but nodded in understanding. It made sense that they didn’t want to lose their anchor; and Stiles wasn’t up for round two of Who Wants to be a Werebaby Chewtoy.

The only problem was that there was only one bed in the house big enough to fit more than one person.

That bed happened to belong to Derek.

Stiles didn’t even have to think about it for very long. He doubted Derek would be too mad about it--not when he realized he’d completely forgotten about the full moon and had left Stiles to fend for himself. Derek’s scent would probably help the kids fall asleep anyway. “How about we all sleep in your daddy’s bed, huh?” he asked, grinning at the enthusiastic nods of both Olly and Andy. The timer for the cookies went off and Stiles detoured into the kitchen to take them out, shutting the oven off and then having Olly and Andy help him wrap up the rest of the batter and put it in the fridge before heading for Derek's room for bed.

Derek’s bedroom was locked, but he had a key above the door for Stiles to use to get into. It was mostly to keep the kids from wandering in there and hiding when Derek wasn’t home. Stiles kicked his shoes off while Andy and Olly climbed onto the bed. He contemplated keeping his jeans on, and then decided against taking them off in case the kids woke up wolfy and Stiles needed a layer of defense against their clawed feet.

Climbing into the bed, Stiles gingerly settled himself up in the center of the bed. He dragged Olly into his chest while Andy climbed over his stomach to get to his other side and curl under Stiles’ arm. Yawning again, Stiles ran his hands over both their heads, petting their hair from their foreheads as he found himself on the receiving end of more sniffing and sleepy cheek rubs.

He was almost completely asleep when the sound of the front door opening and slamming shut. He could hear Derek shouting first Stiles’ name, and then Olly and Andy’s. Before Stiles could even call out their location, Derek was bursting into the room and freezing dead in his tracks, eyes widening comically.

Stiles brought a hand up, putting his finger over his mouth in a shushing motion to keep Derek from talking. It wasn’t every day the kids fell asleep so easily--if they woke up now, the sight of their father would get them riled up all over again.

“This is a little above my pay grade,“ Stiles whispered, yawning and trying desperately to ignore the clawing relief that shot through him at just the sight of Derek standing there, looking like he’d run a mile. This couldn’t get weird; Stiles was not going to handle it if things got too weird. He needed Derek to be okay with this and to not freak out.

“Come on, big bad alpha. It’s bed time,” he gestured to the bed and then to the kids, hoping to signify that, since he was home, he might as well join in on the cuddle pile. Stiles himself had experienced more than one full-moon pack puddle thanks to Scott and Isaac. He knew it was a form of comfort, like being in a safe place.

Derek continued to stare, eyes raking over Stiles and locking in on the huge bandage Stiles had taped to his shoulder. Stiles swallowed heavily, his heart skipping a beat at the intensity of Derek’s focus. Andy shifted, sighing sleepily into his chest, and Stiles tightened his arm around her.

“Dude, come on. I’m tired as all get out. Can we just do this nap pack thing and never speak of it again? It’ll be like the full moon version of Vegas.”

When Derek continued to remain motionless, Stiles sighed, shifting Andy so he could move his arm and pat the bed with an expectant stare in Derek’s direction. It seemed to be enough to get Derek moving, and he awkwardly advanced towards the bed, shucking his suit jacket, and then his tie, slacks and shoes. He pulled up the covers, slipping under them as Stiles moved Andy so that she and Olly were in between Derek and himself.

Hesitantly, Derek brought his hand up, brushing it over Olly’s cheek. Olly snuffled awake, nose and cheek rubbing into his father’s hand, pressing up into the contact. Derek touched his children like they were made of glass, hands ghosting over their heads and bodies as gently as he could, watching as they wriggled and moved in closer to him before drifting off to sleep again.

Stiles let his head drop against the pillow, yawning, “that’s a good papa wolf,” and then letting his eyes start to droop. He blinked them awake, started to see Derek watching him again, hand hovering the bandage on Stiles’ forearm. Stiles shrugged when Derek gave him a concerned look, muttering, “s’not so bad,” and closing his eyes.

The last thing Stiles felt before he drifted off again was a pair of callused fingers caressing against the inside of his wrist and palm.

Chapter Text

The worst kind of dream to have is the kind that ties in with the state of your physical body. That was why Stiles spent a good minute struggling to drag himself out of the throes of a nightmare where a wolf cub that dream-Stiles knew to be Olly was viciously biting at his throat. When he finally gained a fair amount of lucidity, he realized the pain had been realistic because his injuries from the night before were throbbing and aching in a way that suggested he get up and take some painkillers.

The only problem was that someone’s face was pressed into his throat--and it was not the face of a child. He could feel the rasp of stubble against his throat and shoulder, a soft sandpapery scrape that made Stiles almost shudder from the sensation. Instead, he dragged in a sleepy breath that bordered on a yawn, blinking his eyes open and trying to figure out exactly was going on.

He was lying on his back, covered in a nest of blankets with one arm threatening to fall off the side of the bed. He couldn’t feel the press of little bodies against his own anymore; meaning Andy and Olly were either on the other side of Derek, or gone from the room entirely.

Speaking of Derek…

There was an arm slung over his stomach, a callused thumb brushing just under his ribs, and Derek was a hot line all up against his side, cheek on Stiles’ shoulder and breath warm against his jaw. The longer Stiles was awake, the more he realized just how intimate the position was, and just how much he was enjoying it.

Of course, the sound of Stiles’ heart beat ratcheting up must have been enough to wake Derek, because he shifted and awoke with a snuffling noise. Instead of moving, though, Derek shifted closer, rubbing his cheek against Stiles’ shoulder in a way that reminded him of Olly, and then murmured sleepily, “wher’r th’kids?”

Luckily, months of taking care of two werewolf children with a penchant for pointing out any odd smells they picked up on made it a little less impossible for Stiles to try and think of boner-killing things as Derek’s thumb rubbed up and down his side. “Prolly watching TV,” he mumbled, almost jumping out of his skin when Derek chuffed and dragged his hand away.

As much as Stiles wanted to bring that hand back, it was a little less aggravating on his injuries without a 200 pound werewolf cuddling up close to him. Then there was also the part where Stiles had a big fat schoolboy crush on Derek and cuddling was not something his heart could take.

Derek made a noncommittal noise, chin and cheek scraping gently against Stiles’ shoulder one last time before he rolled out of bed. The way he stumbled awkwardly towards the bathroom, one hand scratching at his side, was proof enough that he wasn’t even fully awake. The upside was that Stiles got a fantastic view of Derek’s ass, and sent a short prayer of thanks to the higher power for having boxer-briefs put into existence. The master bathroom shut and Stiles allowed himself to relax when he heard the sound of Derek going pee. He brought one hand up, scrubbing at his face and cursing himself for getting aflutter over the fact that he, apparently, become pack enough to be on the receiving end of sleepy cuddles.

Stiles had spent the night at Scott’s enough to know that it was a werewolf thing to hold onto one another in sleep. He was pretty sure he’d never forget the time Isaac had also stayed the night and Stiles had spent ten minutes slapping gently at Isaac’s hand on his hip at three in the morning before suddenly both Scott and Isaac had crushed him between their bodies. The sniffing part he could live without having ever experienced.

When Derek came out after finishing his morning routine in the bathroom, he approached the bed smelling like bar soap and toothpaste, and grabbed the covers to pull them up to Stiles’ shoulders. Stiles kind of wanted to protest because his eyes hadn’t been completely closed, just close to it. Instead, the words were lost on his tongue when Derek brought a hand out and grazed his fingers over one of Stiles’ bandages, frowning at the spots of blood.

“Get some more sleep,” he said quietly, standing there for an awkward moment before he turned and left the bedroom. Stiles didn’t move right away, but he finally let out a long breath, turning gingerly onto his side and burying his face into his pillow. Even though the kids had slept with him last night, Derek’s scent was the strongest above anything else. Stiles’ heart ached just to breathe in the musk of his cologne and body wash, and couldn’t help but curl the covers in tight and wonder what it would be like to wake up like this every morning.

It hurt to think like that for too long; especially knowing that Derek was treating him like family--werewolf family. He knew well enough from Scott and the day they covered werewolves in sex ed that intimacy was natural to a pack, but was very commonly platonic; scent-marking, cuddling, caressing, could all be interpreted as natural between werewolf pack mates.

As much as Stiles liked the touching and the attention, it hurt all the same. It hurt in a way Stiles really didn’t know how to deal with because none of his relationships had lasted long enough for Stiles to feel the same emotional connection he did with Derek and the children.

Maybe it was time to ask his dad for advice. His dad seemed proud enough that Stiles was working a steady job--but it also meant that they saw less of each other. Outside of the occasional chat before or after work, the most Stiles saw of his dad was on days Derek sent him home early or let him come in late, and his dad happened to be off shift at the same time.

Just thinking about it made Stiles feel guilty; he was all his dad had. It might not hurt to bring Andy and Olly to the house some time so his dad could meet the two reasons why Stiles never had any spare time for father-son bonding. He was pretty sure his dad would love the kids, anyway.

Guilt abated, Stiles let himself drift off to sleep for a little longer.

When he woke up again, only an hour had passed, but he felt more rested than he had earlier. Slipping out of bed, Stiles had to wince at the way the bites and scratches twinged on his body. He shuffled his way out of the master bedroom, passing Derek in the living room on his laptop and the kids watching TV, and made a beeline for the kitchen--where a pantry full of medicine was located.

He was popping a handful of ibuprophen when Derek stepped into the kitchen.

“They hurt?” he asked, frowning. Stiles shrugged, licking his lips and sipping at his orange juice.

“Not as bad as you’d think,” he said, a thought hitting him and making him frown, “I’m not going to turn, am I?”

Derek snorted, shaking his head and leaning his hip against the counter to watch Stiles drink his juice. “No, they’re betas; they can’t turn you.”

Stiles, despite having two werewolves for friends, one for a boss, one for a sometimes-friend (Erica was growing on him) and babysitting two miniature werewolves, really couldn’t grasp the concept of the whole alpha/beta/omega hierarchy. With Scott and Isaac, it didn’t really come up, and so he just never thought to ask.

“Didn’t betas turn people during the epidemic?” he asked.

Derek made a face, “if that were true, the whole town would be crawling with werewolves,” he pointed out. Stiles made a thoughtful noise, rinsing out his glass and sticking it in the dishwasher. Derek gestured for him to follow and Stiles trailed after him, following the path to the bathroom.

“So like--what determines an alpha? I thought my friend Scott was an alpha, but apparently he isn’t? He’s not an omega, though?” Stiles hopped on the counter while Derek went rooting around for the first aid kit again, kicking his legs just the tiniest bit.

“An omega has ties to no one,” Derek began, standing up and dropping the kit next to Stiles’ leg before turning to give Stiles’ shirtless body an assessing stare. “There are such things as beta packs; just like alpha packs.”

“Ah,” Stiles said intelligently. Derek rolled his eyes, lip twitching like he was hiding a fond smile, and he reached out to start removing the bandaging on Stiles’ shoulder.

“Being an alpha is like…having a certain, but rare, blood type,” he began, frowning like it was hard for him to properly explain the dynamics. Stiles craned his neck to look at the wound on his shoulder, sighing in relief to notice that it wasn’t as bad as he had thought it was last night. Thank god four year olds had small teeth.

“You can become an alpha by killing one, or by inheriting it. It’s like…getting an HIV positive blood transplant, if that makes sense.”

“So being an alpha is like having AIDS?” Stiles joked, earning a flat look from Derek.

Instead of dignifying Stiles with an answer, Derek made sure to rip off the bandaging for the bite on his arm with a little extra force. Stiles yelped, feeling his arm hair being wrenched out, and had to glower at the smug look on Derek’s face. He waited until Derek had re-cleaned both bites before speaking again.

“Uh, so, are we going to actually treat last night like werewolf Vegas? ‘Cuz there’s this thing where I’m wondering if--”

“You are,” Derek interrupted, not even looking up from where he was swabbing antibacterial ointment onto Stiles’ shoulder.

Stiles, momentarily confused, fish-mouthed for a second, “bwuh?”

Tossing the q-tip into the trash, Derek grabbed a new bandage and began to gently lay it over Stiles’ shoulder. “You’re their anchor,” he said softly, eyebrows pinching together like it was hard for him to wrap his head around the words. “You’re…I could feel it--when I came into the room last night,” he paused, head lifting and eyes locking with Stiles’.

“You’re pack.”

Suddenly, Stiles couldn’t breathe. His heart was roaring in his ears and his face felt hot. He was pretty sure his eyes were bugging out of his head, and by the time he forced himself to drag in a shaking breath and exhale, Derek was looking at him with apprehension.

“If…,” he began hesitantly, fingers slowly moving to grab a bandage for Stiles’ arm, “if that’s too much for you, I understand.”

Swallowing dryly, Stiles wanted desperately to tell Derek how much he wanted that--but not in the way it was being offered. Instead, he dropped his gaze to where Derek was finishing up the bandage on his arm. “I don’t know,” he confessed quietly, guilt eating away at him.

Derek didn’t stare, not really, he just watched Stiles as if trying to understand the implications of his words. After a beat, he nodded, finishing off the last of the bandaging. “If you want out, just let me know. We can work on weaning you off the kids--it’s not…uncommon for a human or even a werewolf to disown their pack.”

A pang of hurt shot through Stiles as Derek looked away and pursed his lips. “I know that school starts soon for you, but if you could--”

“I’m working on it,” Stiles blurted, not quite sure if he wanted to tell Derek about the online classes just yet. It was a huge implication--just as big as Derek claiming him to be pack. It was just too much, too soon. So instead, Stiles shrugged weakly when Derek shot him a confused look. “The school thing, I mean. I don’t want to quit at the end of the summer; this is a great job and I’m kind of in love with yo--your kids,” and fuck, Stiles had almost screwed that all up by fumbling his words.

Derek didn’t catch it, though. He was too busy looking relieved that Stiles was willing to compromise with the children. Grinning thinly at Stiles, Derek started to pack up the first aid kit with a soft, “thank you.”

Slipping off the counter, Stiles winced at the tenderness of his injuries. He brushed it off to shoot Derek a smirk, “might as well give this pack thing a try. I did say on my scholarship applications that I’m always open to new things, anyway.”

Making Derek laugh was worth the playful shove he got--one that was a little too forceful from werewolf strength and had Stiles bumping into the wall.

From there, things fell into a new routine that felt as natural as the last one. The only real difference was that Derek didn’t seem as uncomfortable when he would pat or touch Stiles. It was also apparent that both Olly and Andy had picked up on the change.

Stiles didn’t realize how much being an acknowledged packmate meant until Andy had been in the midst of a tantrum and Stiles had snapped at her in his frustration. Instead of her sassing him back, she instantly started to quiet, staring up at him with watery eyes and a face red from screaming, before apologizing and bursting into tears.

Other than having it a little easier in getting the children to listen during tantrums and fits, and Derek being more accepting of Stiles’ position in their life, it was mostly the same as before. Stiles almost forgot that there was any sort of problems going on outside of the Hale house until one afternoon when coloring-time was interrupted by the doorbell ringing.

Though Stiles did abuse Derek’s card to sometimes order quirky t-shirts or some of the harder to find toys for Olly and Andy online, he hadn’t made any recent purchases to warrant a postman coming to the door. Erica and Boyd usually let themselves in with their copies of Derek’s key, and there was literally no one else that would bother the huge journey up the driveway to come knocking at the door.

Still, it was possible that maybe Derek had ordered something, or that someone had gotten lost on their way up to the mountains.

Stiles set his crayon on the table and headed for the door. He couldn’t see anyone outside the peephole, but it had a huge blindspot because of the ridiculous sign hanging on the door that said ‘NO SOLICITORS’ on it.

When he opened the door to see Kate standing on the other side, he immediately started to close it.

Of course, just like last time, Kate slammed her hand against it and shoved Stiles back with the force of her push. She stuck her head in, a snarl on her face as she instantly started talking. “Look, kid. I don’t know what their dad told you; but he won’t let me see my own boys. Just because my family is a bunch of hunters, doesn’t mean I am one,” she forced out, slipping her boot in the doorway so that Stiles couldn’t close it no matter how much of his weight he threw into it.

Stiles fumbled for his phone in his pocket, heart racing a mile a minute while Kate continued to talk.

“I’m getting real tired of him acting like a child just because I broke up with him after having the boys. He wasn’t exactly husband material, you know? I don’t see why I’m being punished because he’s still nursing his wounded pride.”

Just for a moment, Stiles hesitated with his thumb still scrolling through his contacts for Derek’s number. He looked up to see Kate watching him with wide eyes--like she was just pleading for him to understand. It threw him for a loop; possibly because he had heard nothing good about this woman, and had expected more psychosis and less desperation.

Kate curled her fingers around the door and Stiles absently noticed how nice and well-maintained her nails were. She tried to push it open more but Stiles jammed his toe up under the door, thankful that he’d worn his skate shoes because they just barely fit.

“Just a few hours with them, that’s all I want,” she pleaded, breathless from the energy it was taking to try and just get in the doorway. Stiles frowned, and she brought a hand up to tuck some of her hair behind her ear. “I don’t have a lot of money, but I can give you what I have. I haven’t seen them since they were babies--never saw them take their first steps, or heard their first words,” and that’s when Stiles’ hesitation left him in a heartbeat. There was no way she had already spent five million dollars in just a few short years.

“He won’t let me see my babies, don’t you understand?” Kate cried, sniffing like she was on the brink of tears just from thinking about it. Again, Stiles felt conflicted. Could it be possible Derek was lying about all of this? Lying about the money, even?

That’s when he heard the children laughing in the other room, and Andy’s voice calling for him, “Stiles! Stiles, we can’t play castle without a prince!” she called. Stiles almost turned to answer her, when he realized something.

Kate wasn’t affected.

The sound of her children laughing--of them begging to play, it didn’t affect her at all. She was so busy trying to get Stiles to listen to her, to sway him to her side, that she didn’t even seem to care that her babies were just in the other room. Any normal parent who truly was going mad with the need to see their kids would be beside themselves in this sort of situation.

It wasn’t much to go off of--but it was enough for Stiles.

Dragging in a deep breath, Stiles reached up to pry her fingers off the door as gently--but forcefully--as he could. “I’m sorry, but I’m not paid enough to get involved in Mr. Hales’ personal life,” he said thinly, tucking his phone into his pocket so he could use both hands to push the door while trying to nudge her foot out of the frame. “If you come by here again, I’m going to call the cops.”

That was the exact moment that the ‘longing mother’ façade was dropped, and Stiles saw her for the snake she was.

“The cops?” she scoffed, rolling her eyes, “Call them for what? Tresspassing? I’m not inside the house, sweetie,” she sneered, grabbing Stiles’ wrist and holding it just tight enough so he could feel her nails dig into his skin.

“Harassment,” Stiles spat, wrenching his arm out of her hold, “because all I have to do is ask my dad, the sheriff, to put your name on file,” and with that, he kicked her toe as hard as he could, knocking it out of the frame.

“Don’t come here again!” he shouted, almost slamming the door on her fingers when she pulled back just in time. He flipped the locks on the door, hands shaking, and then rested his back against it to look at the new crescent marks on his wrist.

Just another mark to add to his growing list, it seemed.

This woman, though, she was bad news. Bad news in a way that she wasn’t just messing with Derek anymore--she was messing with Stiles, because Stiles was pack and the kids were his responsibility.

Which meant he needed to get the kids out of the house for the day, because he didn’t feel safe by himself with two werewolf children.

He wanted his dad.

Actually--that was a great idea. He had already thought about taking Olly and Andy to his house anyway; now with Kate on the prowl, it’d be safer there than it would be at Derek’s.

With that in mind, he headed into the living room, grinning and clapping his hands together. “Hey, do you guys wanna meet my daddy?”

Of course, even with all the time it took to get both of them bundled in the car and all of their supplies packed (blankets for nap time, snacks, some toys, movies, and coloring books), Stiles’ dad was still working for another couple of hours. It was probably a good thing, because Andy and Olly seemed to be entirely overwhelmed to discover an entire house besides their own that smelled completely of Stiles. Not only did it smell like Stiles, but it smelled like his father, Scott, and faintly of Isaac.

Well, Stiles assumed that’s what his house smelled like, but he wasn’t a werewolf so he couldn’t be sure. Either way, Andy and Olly were completely preoccupied with touching everything and anything in Stiles’ room that they could get their hands on. It was only when they tried to climb his dresser to grab the photo of his mother that Stiles finally decided to reign them in and take them downstairs to play some video games.

It took a few attempts to get his old N64 running, but after he blew in the cartridge for Kirby and the Crystal Shards a good four times, he finally got it to work. Pink blobs that made cute noises and turned into cool stuff seemed like a good enough game to keep them entertained. It was either that, or something a little more violent--and Stiles avoided violent shows and games like the plague. It was bad enough that Andy had managed to beat the shit out of him with a frying pan the one time she asked to help him make pancakes.

When the game grew too complicated and boring to keep their attention, Stiles busted out the building blocks and cleaned off the coffee table. They were halfway through building a castle when the door opened and Stiles’ father came in through it.

Instead of being cheerful and happy to meet him, though, the kids seemed shy. Olly crawled up into Stiles’ lap right when his dad came over, and Andy ducked down under the coffee table.

“Well, hi there,” dad said, smiling and reaching a hand out to shake Olly’s. Stiles had texted him beforehand about the kids, so he’d made sure to take his gun off in the car. Olly stared at his hand for a second, and then buried his face into Stiles’ shoulder.

Stiles laughed, rubbing Olly’s back and shrugging at his father. “Come on, Olly, it’s just my dad,” he coaxed, catching sight of Andy peeking at the exchange from over the top of the coffee table. Olly gave a halfhearted shrug, turning his face deeper into Stiles’ shirt.

Turning to smile at Andy, Stiles’ dad tried her next. “So you must be the princess,” he said, still smiling. Andy brought her arms up on the coffee table, hiding shyly behind her hands and then nodding.

“Well,” Stiles’ dad began, nodding seriously, “you are much better behaved than Stiles was when he was little,” and that just seemed to be the catch to get their focus. Instantly, he had twin sets of eyes watching him, Olly peeking out just enough to show curiosity.

“Dad, no,” Stiles pleaded--because he knew exactly where this was going.

Andy spoke first, pulling one hand off of her face to whisper, “what did he do?” in a conspiratorial voice.

Olly practically perked up the second Stiles’ dad started to laugh, both twins grinning a little at his easiness.

“Well, he hated potty training,” he began, earning a giggle from Andy, “and he didn’t like to wipe his butt--” this time, both kids burst out laughing. Stiles shushed them, but it was in vain as their high pitched tittering filled up the room. It was only made worse when Stiles’ dad leaned in to stage-whisper the last part.

“--and when his mommy wouldn’t come wipe his bottom for him, he would rub it all over the walls like a big baby, and stink up the entire bathroom.”

Stiles groaned in mortification as his ears almost bled at the loud shrieks of laughter from both Andy and Olly. He shot his dad a dirty look, earning an innocent shrug in return. Stiles poked Olly in the stomach, and then did it again until Olly was squealing and giggling so hard he had to suck in a breath every now and then between laughs. “If you tell your daddy that story, I’ll tickle you to death!” he threatened, pinching and wiggling his fingers across Olly’s belly.

“No!” Olly cried, gasping for air and wiggling in Stiles’ arm, “No!” this time, he managed to roll out of Stiles’ grasp, and ran straight for Stiles’ father, practically jumping up into his arms to escape the tickle torture. His dad seemed surprise, but he easily held Olly while the child caught his breath back, all grins and laughter in the safety of Stiles’ father’s arms.

The look on his dad’s face was one Stiles didn’t really recognize. He looked almost sad as he held Olly, but he was smiling like he’d met an old friend. Maybe the kids would be good for his dad--maybe he missed being around children. This could be good for all of them.

Andy climbed under the table, pulling on his dad’s pant leg and then loudly asking, “will you save us from the tickle monster?” in a way that had his dad looking beside himself with delight. He nodded seriously though, lowering himself to the couch with a grunt and then letting Andy climb up next to them while Olly got settled and then sniffed curiously at his shoulder.

“Well, I’ll try my best. He’s been poisoning me with lots of vegetables lately, so I’m not at my strongest.”

Scratch that; his dad was a terrible influence.

Chapter Text

Stiles barely remembered to text Derek with his house address before lunch time rolled around. It would have been bad news if Derek came home to the smell of Kate and his children missing. He wasn’t really sure how to explain exactly why he had taken Olly and Andy to his house--not without bringing Kate up. Derek would figure it out either way, but it was never fun to try and tell someone bad news through a text message.

So he waited until Derek pulled up into the driveway, and jogged out to meet him. “Hey,” he began, talking before Derek had even gotten out of his car. “So miss crazy pants showed up at the house again, that’s why we came here. My dad’s the sheriff, so I figured this would be the safest place to go.”

Derek froze halfway to shutting his door, head snapping to stare at Stiles with a look of disbelief.

“Kate came back?” he asked sharply, slamming the car door closed and then clenching his jaw, palm resting on the roof. “Did she do anything?”

“I didn’t even let her in the door,” Stiles assured, “I told her if she came by again, I’d get a restraining order for harassing me.”

The front door opened, twin screams of, “daddy!” echoing across the block as Andy and Olly ran for Derek. For a second, Stiles was worried Andy was going to fall in her mad rush to get to Derek, but she righted herself easily enough and kept running. Derek crouched down, picking them both up into his arms and holding them tight. He stood up, letting both children snuffle into the starch fabric of his suit.

“Thanks,” Derek said, his frown still evident. “I know you didn’t sign up for her--”

“I’m pretty sure you didn’t sign up for crazy either when you were with her,” Stiles pointed out, grinning as Andy and Olly finally sniffed their fill and began talking a mile a minute.

Stiles was perfectly happy to let Derek carry the kids inside while they chattered--pressing his side up against Stiles’ to rub their bodies together in a manner that suggested it was his hands-free form of scent marking. That’s when Olly’s words and mischievous look pinged on his radar.

“Daddy, Stiles’ daddy said when he was lil' he would--”

“Eat lots of candy!” Stiles cried, jogging forward and plucking Olly out of Derek’s arms. He spun Olly in the air, dragging him in tight and rubbing their cheeks together while whispering, “remember the tickle monster, Olly. He likes to eat up little boys who don’t keep secrets.”

Olly and Andy let out matching gasps of horror, and Derek had a very distinct look on his face like he planned on waiting until Stiles wasn’t around to interrogate and possibly bribe his children for some stories they had learned from their morning at the Stilinski house. Stiles hoped desperately that their short attention spans caused both Andy and Olly to forget the horror stories, but he knew it wasn’t likely.

“I’m sorry!” Olly cried, “I won’t tell!”

“That’s right you won’t,” Stiles assured, reaching up to pinch Olly’s nose and wiggle it until Olly was slapping at his hands with a giggling whine.

When Derek grabbed the diaper bag, Stiles frowned. “I can take them back later, you can eat lunch here; it’s fine.”

Peering up, Derek frowned and glanced at his watch before putting the bag on the couch. “We’re going out to lunch,” he explained, reaching up to pet Andy’s head and brush her bangs out of her eyes. “They have an appointment for a hair cut at two,” he added.

Andy went from content to upset in the blink of an eye. She jerked back, pushing Derek’s hands from her face and shrieking, “no!” at the top of her lungs. Derek, confused, had to fumble her when she began to kick and writhe. Even for a werewolf, Derek was no match for the writhing of a hysterical toddler. Stiles had to put Olly down on the couch to come help when Andy was hanging upside-down from Derek’s arms, kicking her feet and reaching for the couch like it was her only way of escape.

“She doesn’t like hair cuts,” Derek grunted, taking a foot to the throat and reaching for Andy’s shoulders. Stiles had to wince in sympathy when he ended up getting a handful of werebaby claws dug into his arm for his efforts. Stiles put his hands under Andy’s arms, plucking her up and holding her in the air as she continued to kick and scream.

Derek decided to just let Stiles keep holding her while he gathered everything into the diaper bag and then lifted Olly up. In that time, Stiles had managed to get a better grip on Andy and had avoided a black eye from a rogue fist. He tried to put her on his hip but she just kicked him in the thigh, so instead he put her under his arm while she wailed and carried on with her tantrum.

That’s when Stiles had an idea. Obviously Andy was expecting the same boy cut she had been getting for the past however-long, and Stiles wasn’t going to let that fly. He picked her up again, carrying her to the couch and sitting down with her. When she tried to get away, he hauled her into his lap. “Do you want a hair cut?” he asked.

“No!” Andy screamed, hiccuping and sniffling. Stiles reached into his pocket to grab an emergency napkin, wiping at the snot under her nose and then pulling her in when she tried to squirm away. His ears were starting to ring.

“Okay,” Stiles said, watching Andy cough on her tears and then quiet to blink owlishly at him. Derek had this expression like he wanted to argue that the appointment was already made, but Stiles ignored him in favor of wiping at Andy’s cheeks.

“Did you know that Rapunzel cut her hair?” he asked. Andy scowled, shaking her head and grunting when Stiles pinched her nose with the napkin. She took it from him, holding it and blowing into it before folding it to scrub her face. Stiles grinned, taking it from her and thanking her. “Yep. She had to cut her bangs so she could see. So can daddy take you to get your bangs cut too? You don’t wanna be blind, do you?”

Andy’s eyes went wide, and Stiles brought his hand up to cover her eyes, “you’ll have so much hair you’ll never see anything!” he teased, relieved when Andy giggled a little and pushed at his hands.

When Andy didn’t give him an answer, Stiles jostled her a little and pinched her cheek. “so is it okay if we take you to get your hair cut? It’s just a little bit so it’s not in your face.”

Slapping at Stiles’ hand, Andy released a grievous sigh and said, “okay,”.

A look to Derek to make sure it was okay showed Derek just staring at them with an unreadable expression. Once he noticed he had Stiles’ attention, though, he nodded curtly to let Stiles know that what he did wasn’t overstepping his bounds.

The haircut went over better than expected after Stiles helped Andy explain what she wanted to the hair dresser. There were a few tears shed during the initial process, but when the stylist brought up the mirror to show a cute pixie cut instead of the short boy crop, Andy’s tears were instantly gone.

On the car ride back to Stiles’ house, with Andy and Olly passed out asleep in the back of the camaro, Derek clenched the steering wheel and then reached for the radio to turn it down.

“Erica said I need to show Andy I’m okay with…her being a her,” he said stiffly, in that manner he always used when talking about something he wasn’t quite sure about. Stiles sat up, interest piqued.

“You’re doing a pretty good job already,” he pointed out, “better than before.”

Derek shook his head, exhaling heavily through his nose. “No--not really. I don’t think she gets it. I think she’s waiting for me to…for me to make her be my son again.”

That‘s when Stiles realized that they were actually, legitimately talking about it. “Do you want her to be?” he ventured.

Derek swallowed. “I don’t want her to be bullied,” he said weakly, “I want her to be happy.”

Stiles reached for Derek’s shoulder, squeezing it even when Derek gave him a surprised look from the corner of his eye. “Dude, I think she’s pretty happy knowing you’re not going to make her stop being what she wants to be,” he said, smile coming to his face. “Being bullied by some kids at school is a cakewalk for a kid who has her dad backing her up the entire way.”

“But how do I tell her that?” Derek cried softly, “she’s four! It’s not like we can have a serious heart to heart about this and I know she’ll be able to comprehend all of the issues she’s going to have!”

Stiles glanced back, but the kids were still out cold, and took his hand from Derek’s arm before he let it wander. “Then show her, don’t tell her.”

Derek side-eyed him and suddenly, Stiles remembered an article he’d come across online. A smile came to his face before he could stop it.

“I think I have an idea.”

Two days later, Derek was making it well known that he didn’t care for Stiles’ ideas. In fact, he was loudly voicing his complaints from the other side of the master bathroom.

“I’m going to fire you. I’m withdrawing our contract. You’re a terrible babysitter. I don’t know how I ever thought you were pack.”

Stiles couldn’t help but grin wickedly, leaning back against the foot of the bed and crossing his feet at the ankles. “That’s okay,” he said flippantly, knowing Derek could hear him in the bathroom. “Next time Andy goes streaking through the house, you can be the one to catch her and make her put clothes on again.”

Stiles didn’t have to possess super hearing to pick up the sound of Derek’s amused snort. “Nudity is natural for a werewolf,” he scoffed, cursing as a thud came from the bathroom. He’d probably tripped over himself. Stiles couldn’t help but burst out laughing--partially because he knew exactly what was going on in the bathroom, and partially because Derek hadn’t even been convincing at all in his claim about nudity.

The door opened just as Stiles caught his breath, smiling like a madman when Derek popped his head out. He could see fondness there--a familiar look that Derek often got when he was feeling particularly like the alpha he was. Stiles wanted to kiss him, then, to kiss him and hold him and breathe him in.

Until Derek stepped fully out of the bathroom and Stiles took a gander at what he was wearing.

A while back, Stiles had read an article about some kid’s dad wearing dresses to encourage his son that it was an okay thing to do. So Stiles had taken a leaf out of #1 Dad’s book. Which was exactly why Derek was standing before him in a deep purple bridesmaid dress that they had gotten from the thrift store.

It was the only one they had found that could fit Derek’s broad shoulders--with a broach near the clavicle and a halter that wrapped around the neck instead of over the shoulders. It cinched just under Derek’s pectorals and made it look like he almost had breasts. The rest of the dress was long and flowing in the typical manner of a princess gown, and it brushed just above the toes of his bare feet.

Stiles suddenly couldn’t breathe because he was laughing so hard. Sure, Derek’s arms and collarbone happened to be the epitome of sexy, but he looked so awkward and out of place that it just made the entire ensemble utterly ridiculous. Derek crossed his arms, biceps bulging, and he turned to walk back into the bathroom.

With a shout, Stiles leapt up, hooking a finger in the back of Derek’s halter and pulling him back. “Oh no, buddy, we already got the dress. You’re doing this. For Andy.”

Derek turned to give Stiles the bitchiest face of all bitchfaces. “I can’t just tell her?”

Grinning, Stiles reached a hand out to pat Derek’s chest and then brush away a bit of lint on the dress. “Actions speak louder than words,” he pointed out. Derek swatted at Stiles’ hand.

“You just wanted to put me in a dress,” he snapped. Stiles shrugged--because that wasn’t untrue--and then stepped back to grab the two presents on the bed.

“You’ll never live it down.”

“I kind of hate you.” Derek informed him grouchily. Stiles laughed, lifting the presents for Olly and Andy.

“Preaching to the choir, buddy,” he smirked, saluting to Derek and then marching out of the room to execute phase one of their plan.

Olly and Andy were both in front of the TV, Olly playing with his toy space shuttle and making it run over some of his fish toys while Andy watched Franklin the Turtle with detached interest and brushed the hair on her Rapunzel doll. Stiles pulled out the two gifts, the crinkle of paper catching their interest faster than anything Stiles could have said.

“Presents?!” Andy cried, jumping up off of the couch while Olly pushed himself to his feet. They both ran over to Stiles, hopping in circles around him like excited puppies while Stiles attempted to at least reach the coffee table. He finally gave up, laughing and handing Olly and Andy their gifts.

Olly’s present was a planet picture book and a plushie of Dory from Finding Nemo, but Andy’s was the one Stiles was focused on.

When she pulled out the new purple dress with a shriek of delight, Stiles grinned and said, “now you match.”

“Huh?” Andy looked up from fawning over the dress.

Stiles moved the boxes out of the way while Olly snuggled with his new toy. “Want to see the rest of your present? Cover your eyes.”

Both children threw their hands up to cover their eyes and Stiles felt a pang of guilt because this part was for Andy only. He would make sure to play astronaut with Olly later, and give him extra hugs and juice as well.

Derek stepped out of his bedroom, dress swaying around his legs as he approached with a cheap dollar store tiara on his head, and another one in his hands that was meant for Andy. Derek’s face turned into a myriad of expressions before he nodded at Stiles.

“Okay, open your eyes,” he said softly, watching Andy pull her hands down and stare at Derek with a blank look on her face. Derek looked horrifically uncomfortable, but he still stammered through the line they had rehearsed.

“It’s okay to be a princess, if that’s what makes you happy,” he said stiffly, brandishing the tiara like a peace offering. Stiles gave Derek a thumbs up, and then looked to see Andy still staring speechlessly at her father.

The first sound she made was a tiny hiccup of a sob. It had all eyes on her in a heartbeat, and Stiles watched in horror as her face screwed up and she burst into tears. Panicking, Stiles crouched next to hear, pressing his hand to her back and taking the dress from her when she crinkled it in her hands. He rubbed a hand down her spine, setting the dress aside. “What’s wrong baby?” he asked, watching as Andy nearly dissolved into hysterics, “why are you crying?

Derek looked like he was going to have a coronary, the tiara stiff in his hands and his body rigid--he was probably freaking out because he had no idea why his daughter was so upset.

Sucking in a shuddering breath, Andy rubbed at her eyes and cried out, “Daddy loves me!’ at the top of her lungs, like it was the most mind-shaking realization she’d ever had.

Stiles froze, and he turned to see Derek looking utterly devastated. It was like someone had ripped out his heart and put it through a shredder. That look was gone quickly, though, because Derek surged forward, dropping to his knees and dragging Andy into his arms like a rag doll.

Andy curled up into his grasp, her arms wrapped around his neck and her body looking unbelievably tiny in his embrace. He cradled her to his chest, hands huge against her back while they clung to one another and Andy continued to sob loudly. He shushed her, bouncing her gently and rocking back and forth. “It’s okay, honey, daddy loves you,” he said quietly, eyes clenched so tight that Stiles could see the tears being squeezed out of them as Derek kissed at her head and neck and continued to rock her.

“Daddy is so proud of you, you’re such a good girl,” Derek whispered, barely audible over the sound of Andy’s crying. Stiles had to look away from the scene, feeling himself tear up, and he rubbed at his nose while glancing over at Olly.

Olly, who was standing there with Dory hanging limply from his fingers, watching the scene with a tiny, confused frown.

Stiles stood, moving over to lift Olly up into his arms. Olly let himself be lifted, but he kept watching Derek and Andy holding one another. He dropped his Dory plushie, bringing a hand up and fisting it into Stiles’ shirt. Stiles rocked him, swaying back and forth as Olly stared at Derek and Andy before peering up at Stiles with a distressed look.

“Daddy loves me too, right?” he asked quietly. Stiles struggled to breathe, bringing a hand up and rubbing it over Olly’s head.

“Of course he does, Olly,” he assured vehemently, leaning in and kissing Olly’s head. Olly made a tiny noise in the back of his throat, and Stiles rubbed his lips over Olly's temple in a typical scent marking fashion. “He’s just trying to show Andy that he knows she’s a girl and that he’s sorry he was ever mean to her,” he added.

Olly sighed, shrugging and saying, “okay,” before resting his head on Stiles’ shoulder.

Derek stayed home from work that day, spending all morning playing house with Andy and Olly, and only changing out of his dress when lunch time rolled around. They all exchanged stories over sandwiches; Stiles regaling the time Olly had fallen asleep in the middle of snack time and woke up with raisins all over his face.

The kids went down for their nap with little fanfare--though Olly clung to Stiles for a good ten minutes before Stiles had finally gotten him to lay down and sleep.

It was bordering on domestic bliss, with Stiles playing on his laptop and Derek doing paperwork at the coffee table while the kids slept. Every time Stiles looked up lock eyes with Derek, he had to smother a grin at the memories of that morning. Derek wasn’t much better, because he had been all smiles and cuddles with both children for most of the day.

When the kids woke up, Stiles closed his laptop in preparation for sleepy snuggles. Andy made a beeline for him first, much to Stiles’ surprise. She did take Olly’s place sometimes, but he would have thought that she’d go straight for Derek given their bonding earlier.

Olly stumbled over himself when he realized Andy was climbing up on the couch and into Stiles’ lap, still rubbing at his eyes and his frown increasing. Stiles put a hand on Andy’s back, listening as she started to animatedly tell him about the dream she’d had where Stiles was an abominable snowman. When she leaned in to press her cheek to Stiles’ shoulder, she only rubbed once before Olly let out an unearthly screech.

“NO!” he screamed, running over and grabbing Andy’s leg. Stiles didn’t even have time to react when Olly physically dragged her from his lap. “No Andy!” he cried, pushing her onto the ground and hitting her in the cheek with his fist.

Andy jumped, and then burst into shocked tears. Derek leapt to his feet when Olly jumped on Andy and hit her again. He quickly scooped Olly into his arms, ignoring the child’s screams and protests. Andy was crying loudly and Stiles bent down to lift her up.

Sobbing, she put her arms around his neck and Olly went ballistic. He started thrashing, biting at Derek’s hands and scratching him. “No ANDY! NO! MINE!” it was the first time Stiles had heard Olly so upset he couldn’t articulate anymore. Derek seemed just as confused as he did, while Andy continued to cry onto his shoulder--despite that her body was healed by now.

When she rubbed her cheek on Stiles’ shoulder, Olly screamed like he was dying, clawing like mad in Derek’s arms. “No! Let go LET GO!” he sobbed, reaching for Stiles and making grabbing hands.

Derek’s eyes went wide and he held Olly out to Stiles like an offering. “Switch.” he demanded.

Stiles stared blankly and Derek snarled, “Stiles, put her down.”

“What? Why?” Stiles’ head was reeling with confusion, still trying to register the fact that Olly was having his first violent tantrum.

“Put her down now.” Derek’s voice held no room for argument, and Stiles quickly set Andy on the couch. The second his arms were free, Derek was shoving Olly into them. Stiles didn’t even have to put his arms around Olly because he was clinging to Stiles like a monkey.

Olly was instantly calmer, whining and crying into Stiles’ throat, clutching him like a lifeline. Stiles sat down, rubbing at his back and making soothing noises while Derek kissed at Andy’s face to make her ‘booboos’ feel better.

Andy pushed herself out of Derek’s lap, crawling over to Stiles and frowning. “Why did you hit me, Olly!? That hurt!” she exclaimed. Olly tensed, squeezing his arms tighter around Stiles’ neck.

Stiles looked helplessly at Derek, shrugging when he was given an equally confused face. Nonetheless, he continued to rub Olly’s back as he fell into his usually meltdown that consisted of endless crying. Andy reached for Olly’s hand, and Olly wrenched it away.

“You don’t get him too!” he screamed into Stiles’ throat.

“You have to share, Olly!” Andy argued. That’s when Stiles realized they were talking about him. He gestured at Derek, trying to get him involved in the argument somehow, but Derek was staring uselessly like a deer in the headlights.

Olly lifted his head, sniffling and slapping at Andy’s hand when she tried to reach for him again. “You don’t share daddy!” he screeched.

Derek looked stricken, face paling and his jaw tensing. Stiles could see him visibly swallow, like he was trying to ingest what he was hearing and suffering pain from it. Standing, Stiles took Olly out of the living room, rocking him and carrying him for the kitchen. Being around Andy wasn’t helping him calm down and Olly was struggling to breathe through his tears.

He caught Derek following out of the corner of his eye, and turned the second he was in the kitchen. Derek watched as Stiles paced around the room, looking like he wasn’t really sure what to do. Stiles walked over to him with the intent to hand Olly over for the daddy hugs he really needed, but even with Derek’s hands under his arms and Stiles trying to pull him off, Olly refused to let go. It was like trying to pull off a persistent leach.

Shrugging helplessly, Stiles pressed a kiss into Olly’s temple. “Daddy’s here, he wants to give you a hug; will you let your daddy hold you?” he asked. Olly shook his head furiously, little claws digging painfully into Stiles’ neck and shoulder.

The more Olly protested, the more distressed Derek started to look. Stiles rubbed a hand up and down Olly’s back, trying a third time to pry him off. This time, Olly screamed and dug his claws in more deeply so that it was actually painful for Stiles to pull him off.

That alone was enough for Derek to back off. He looked heartbroken, like he’d lost Olly already. Stiles didn’t want Derek to think that--he didn’t want Derek to ever think that he was losing one child just because he was trying to be there for the other. It wasn’t fair at all.

Derek’s expression changed, though. He went from upset to determined, mouth thinning and a scowl of focus coming to his face. Stiles stood there rigidly as Derek surged forward, wrapping his arms around Stiles and dragging him into an embrace with Olly crushed between them.

Stiles’ breath hitched, tensing and then forcing himself to relax as Derek held them as tightly as he dared. This made sense--as much as Stiles was loathe to admit. Hugging Stiles had Olly still in his comfort zone, but it also showed that Derek wanted to be there. Olly was actually starting to calm, breathing heavily and probably being soothed by the scent of his father mingled in with Stiles’.

Oh, how it hurt, though. It hurt because Stiles could feel Derek’s hands, strong and warm, pressing into his back. He loved it, wanted it more than he could afford. Where there should have been worry for Olly because of the situation, Stiles could only long for another chance like this to present itself because he wanted this again and again.

He was so screwed.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t exactly surprising when Stiles woke up the next day to a text from Derek stating that he was taking another day off and bringing the children on a trip to the beach. Stiles couldn’t recall them ever having a family day--let alone one where they took the three hour trip out to the coast to have some fun in the sun.

Stiles made sure to text back an affirmative, telling Derek to have fun and even adding a smiley face for good measure. What he wasn’t expecting was the reply text.

‘You’re coming too. Be ready by 9.’

There were a lot of feelings attached to that text. Stiles was sure he’d read it at least four times and felt things ranging from excitement, to anxiety and confusion. The last thing was depression after remembering that Derek paid him to watch the kids, and that he probably needed Stiles’ help on a trip like today’s.

He didn’t think about that, though. Instead he thought of the ocean and how he was totally down for a beach day if he was getting paid to sit and roast in the sun and sand.

Actually, it happened to turn out that Stiles was not as up for beach day as he had thought. Okay, no, that was a bad choice of words. The sight of Derek in swim trunks made Stiles way too ‘up’ for beach day and by the time he saw Derek’s nipples bounce with the flex of his chest, he had to shove his face into Olly’s throat and try not to sob pathetically. Olly was oblivious, though, because he was more focused on studiously holding onto the towel and bucket that Stiles had given him.

They’d stopped at a small seaside store first, and Stiles had stocked up on sunscreen (more for himself than anything), as well as some beach toys and a new bathing suit for Andy to replace her little trunks from a few months prior. Derek had actually helped to choose, picking an orange and pink two-piece that had a skirt for the bottom.

“To hide… you know…” he’d muttered softly when he had shown the swimsuit to Stiles.

Sometimes Stiles thought he wasn’t falling in love with Derek, and then the guy would pull shit that made Stiles’ heart ache in new ways each and every time. The look on Andy’s face when she had come out of the dressing room was reflected on Derek’s own at the sight of his daughter in her swimsuit, hopping excitedly around the store and spinning in circles.

They’d headed straight to the beach after the store, and Derek had shoved almost everything into a massive beach bag that made his biceps flex sinfully when he lifted it up. Stiles was stuck with Olly and some extra towels, feeling horrifically inadequate when Derek hoisted Andy up like she was a sack of peas and let her sit on his shoulder before marching them all onto the sand from the parking lot.

They set up far enough from the water that there could be sufficient castle building with minimal water damage, but not so far as to make it a struggle to retrieve water in case a moat was required for their castle. Stiles thought he was home free after he developed a habit of keeping his eyes on Derek’s face the entire time, but then Derek had to sit in the sand while scooping out bucketfuls for a castle and make Stiles itch to reach out and swat off all of the sand stuck to his rear and maybe sneak in a grope or two.

Stiles wasn’t skin and bones by far; years of lacrosse and running around on campus had toned his body down and given him the tiniest definition in his chest. Still, the hours of video games and snacking down on food meant for werewolf children had made his belly grow a little soft. He couldn’t help but feel self conscious when Derek lifted Andy onto his shoulder with a laugh and all the muscles in his stomach twitched from the movement.

Even Derek’s happy trail was better than Stiles’. That was just pathetic.

Maybe Derek noticed Stiles’ moping, or maybe he just was feeling evil. All he knew was that one minute Stiles was sitting there, innocently making a horse in the sand (that looked more like a pinata) and then the next, Derek and the kids were teaming up to get Stiles buried under the sand.

“Come on, now, let’s not be too hasty,” Stiles attempted to reason, hands coming up before he remembered his only line of defense was a 3 inch plastic blue shovel. All Derek did was laugh and then Andy and Olly were releasing primordial war cries and tackling Stiles into the sand.

He struggled--albeit very weakly and dramatically--and pleaded, “please, princess, don’t bury me!” to Andy. Andy, of course, struggled to move her bangs from her forehead without getting sand on her face, and then dumped a bucketful of sand onto Stiles’ stomach.

“Dun’ be sucha baby,” she commanded, nodding seriously in approval when Derek started to pat the sand down. Olly was at Stiles’ feet, scooping sand onto his ankles and legs and giggling when Stiles wiggled his toes and tried to poke him with them.

“I can’t help it, princess!” Stiles moaned, “I think you got sand in my butt!” This proclamation had both children bursting into laughter and Derek rolling his eyes dramatically before firmly patting down the sand on Stiles’ hips. It was supposed to be done in jest, but all Stiles could think about was how they were one layer of sand away from an almost-intimate encounter.

“It’s in his butt!” Olly shrieked, giggling with his hands still trying to get Stiles’ feet buried. Stiles kept moving his feet, laughing when Olly climbed on his legs with a shout of, “hold still!” and tried to resume his task.

Andy was in the process of dragging heaps of sand onto Stiles’ shoulder when a flock of gulls landed nearby with loud warbling. She gasped, jumping up and bolting after them with a scream of, “Birds!” and kicking sand all over Stiles’ face in the process. Derek burst out laughing, low and heavy while Stiles attempted to spit sand out, tongue wagging and a grimace on his face.

“Looks like the birds are more important than the sand in your trunks,” Derek teased, reaching up and dusting his hand off on his hip before he tried to wipe the sand from Stiles’ mouth and cheeks. Except that really only made it worse since he hadn’t gotten his hands entirely clean. Stiles cringed, and tried not to focus on the brush of Derek’s fingers over his lips. When one thumb circled Stiles’ bottom lip to flick away sand, Stiles realized his dick was starting to react to the touch and hurried to remedy it.

“Rrrhaaaah!” Stiles cried, “I am the Sand Monster!” he started to push himself out of his gritty prison, shaking sand everywhere and letting out another roar as Olly released a playful scream and bolted for the water as soon as Stiles reached for him.

Andy’s reaction to Olly’s cry was to echo it with a scream of her own, joining her brother in his escape to the ocean. Derek jogged next to Stiles, and the both of them grabbed a child each. Stiles hauled Olly up into his arms, curling him in close and blowing on his laughing belly before making loud nomming sounds. Derek hoisted a shrieking Andy into the air, tossing her high and then spinning her around.

He lowered her, grinning as she laughed out a loud, “no!” when her feet hit the water. She kicked and splashed, clinging to Derek’s arm like a leech.

Stiles crouched down until he and Olly were half submerged, unable to help himself from letting out another ‘monster’ roar. “I love the taste of baaabies! Grawwr!” and started to nom dramatically onto Olly’s throat.

“No!” Olly cried, laughing and squealing when Stiles blew another raspberry, “Daddy help! I’m being eated!” he wailed, pushing at Stiles’ face with another giggle.

“Oh no!” Andy shouted, pawing her way up onto Derek’s shoulders and wrapping an arm around his forehead before pointing to Stiles. “The sand monster is eating my brufah!”

Derek, cringing against little fingers poking into his eye and nose, released a patheticlly fake growl of, “nobody eats my children!” and shoved both hands into the water to send a wave of splashes at Stiles and Olly.

“Ach! Splash attack! My weakness!” Stiles cried, holding Olly up in the air and then sinking underwater with a gurgling noise. He waited until Derek plucked Olly from his hands before surfacing and shaking water from his face and head.

Olly and Andy were both being held tight in Derek’s arms, singing their praises to his rescuing abilities while Derek preened and gave Stiles the smuggiest of smirks known to man. Stiles made another roar, splashing loudly towards the Hale family. Olly and Andy both latched onto their father’s head from where they sat on a shoulder each, squealing to deafening levels the closer Stiles got.

Derek‘s hand shot out like a flash, snagging Stiles‘ wrist while the other wrapped around his hip. Stiles had a half second to wonder if Derek was going to drag their bodies in close when he felt a foot kick behind his ankle and he was shoved down into the water.

Figuring he should play dead this time, Stiles was content to remain under the water until his lungs began to burn. He contemplated coming back up, but there was a hand coming into the water and groping around before snagging on the side of his swim trunks and wrenching him up. Startled, Stiles coughed on water, wiping it from his face while Olly cried, “did you drown-ded?”

Laughing, Stiles blinked saltwater from his eyes and almost jumped out of his skin when Derek’s knuckles brushed his abdomen before snagging the elastic of his swim shorts, pulling them up higher on his hips from where they had been pulled dangerously low. He shot Derek a thankful look, because the most mortifying thing would be if he flashed everyone on the beach, and then shook his head at Olly.

“Nope!“ Stiles hoisted Olly from Derek’s shoulder, setting him on a hip and taking on a serious look, “your dad was just saving me from the evil sand monster that possessed me.”

Even though neither of them had any idea what Stiles had just said, Andy and Olly cheered and threw their hands up in the air. Derek, however, was staring at Stiles’ stomach. Stiles felt his heart clench and his stomach do a little flip --who thought being checked out by someone could turn him on so much?--and then he looked down and grimaced at the seaweed stuck to his belly.

Picking it off with a laugh--half in shock, half at himself for thinking Derek might have been looking at him for any other reason--he brought it to Olly’s face and wiggled it around until Olly shouted, “Ew!” and slapped it out of Stiles’ hand. The abused seaweed plunked back into the ocean, disappearing quickly from sight.

“I think it’s time for lunch,” Derek blurted, clearing his throat and then frowning at the loud whine that Olly let out. He squirmed, exclaiming half-worded protests about wanting to stay in the water and Stiles, wanting to avoid a meltdown, jostled him affectionately.

“Want to set up the cooler? I could use Olly’s help catching fish. Olly seems like he’d be good at that, right buddy?”

Olly’s face lit up and he nodded enthusiastically, looking ready to plead with Derek if he had to.

Instead of denying Olly, Derek merely adjusted Andy into his arms, brushing her wet bangs off of her forehead and shrugging. “I like catching fish,” he said-- sounding almost uneasy. It didn’t take a genius to see the way Derek was looking at Olly. Things were still a little raw from the day before, and Stiles had left the Hale home late last night because they’d had so much trouble getting Olly down for bed without a fuss.

Stiles sometimes forgot how little Derek got to interact with Olly. It had become to natural to let himself be latched onto that he never thought to ask Derek how he felt about it. Watching Derek look longingly at his own son right then was enough for Stiles to hum and ask Olly, “wanna help your daddy catch a fish? He’s got butter-fingers,” he teased, watching Olly mull over Stiles’ offer for a moment before nodding seriously.

After making the switch, Stiles half-carried, half-danced Andy across the water and towards the shore. They reached their umbrella, settling down on the blanket as Andy began to dig excitedly through the cooler with the intent to select the right food for everyone. When Stiles looked up, he forgot how to breathe upon seeing Derek with Olly in the water.

In reality, it was nothing outside of a father/child interaction--but it was seeing Derek and Olly that made Stiles ache, made him want to cry with how much he really loved this family.

Derek had his arms around Olly’s stomach, chin hooked over a tiny shoulder as they waded into deeper water. With Olly pressed close into his chest, Derek merely watched his son grasp at the water in an attempt to catch the minnows they had seen swimming about earlier.

They moved in slow circles, following the ebb and flow of the water while Derek tried to encourage Olly. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what he was saying when Olly nodded, frowned, and suddenly wolfed out with a puff of hair. Derek was smiling wide, kissing Olly’s head firmly as his son clawed at the water.

The sound of Andy shutting the cooler was enough to draw Stiles’ attention back to her. She was frowning at the sandwich bags in her hand, unsure of what to do with them. That’s when Stiles noticed that her hair was dripping water everywhere, including in her face.

“Here,” he grabbed a towel, wrapping it around her body. She let out a surprised noise, laughing when Stiles plopped a second towel on her head and began to scrub furiously.

Giggling, Andy flailed inside her towel prison. “Stiles! Stooooop thaaaaat!” she cried, voice wobbling dramatically in pitch when she dragged out her words.

“All dry!“ Stiles tugged the towel down, but only enough to duck in and smack a wet kiss to the tip of her nose. Andy squeaked and grinned, pawing at Stiles’ cheeks and then kissing him right back on the nose before rubbing hers against his in an Eskimo kiss.

The sound of squealing and cooing drew their attention to the group of teenage girls nearby. Stiles felt himself grow hot, feeling oddly vulnerable at the idea that someone had seen him so intensely affectionate with Andy. Five months ago he’d have never been caught alive being so openly affectionate with a child; now he couldn’t help it.

Andy flourished under the attention, though. She preened, making a show of putting her arms around Stiles’ neck and planting a kiss on his cheek with a loud, ‘ubuwaah!’ that the girls going off into titters once more.

“Is she your daughter?” one of them called, attempting conversation. Of all the questions he might have expected, that wasn’t one of them.

Shaking his head, Stiles played with some of Andy’s salt-fried hair, attempting to smooth it down. “Naw, I’m just the sitter. Her dad’s out in the water with her brother,” he gestured behind himself to where Derek was in shallow water, sitting with Olly in his lap and digging up handfuls of sand to find seashells.

Judging from the noises of admiration from the girls, they had no qualms about Derek being the daddy. At all.

Andy frowned, swatting Stiles’ hand from her head and proclaiming, “you’re daddy’s boyfriend!” so loudly that the nearby girls laughed in shock.

Stiles gaped, and then struggled to find words. “Uh, not exactly, sweetie,” he managed. Luckily, the teenagers took pity on him, one of them even standing and coming to crouch in front of Andy.

“What’s your name?”

Andy puffed her chest out, preening in a fashion eerily familiar to a certain alpha. “Andy,” she said, palming her swim skirt and straightening it like she was preparing for a royal audience.

The girl grinned at Stiles, and then said to Andy, “that’s a pretty name. What’s it short for?”

“Andr--” Andy began, but then stopped and scowled. Stiles realized right then that she probably was so used to the name Andy that she hadn’t thought of the origin. Just thinking about the name Andrew had her showing signs of distress. She stumbled over her words, like she wanted to have a full name but hated the one she was given.

“Andrea,” Stiles blurted, “right, sweets?”

Andy snapped her head up to look at Stiles, face splitting into a blinding grin. “Yeah!” she exclaimed, turning to look at the girl. “And’ea!”

Stiles wasn’t expecting her to climb up into his lap, but he caught her easily as she jumped up and down on his legs and shouted, “My name is And’ea!” like a battle cry. The girls were watching with signs of amusement, but the one closest stood up suddenly.

“That’s a really pretty name, Andy,” she said, and then headed back to her friends just as Olly’s scream echoed across the beach. Stiles whipped his head around, started to see Olly howling and kicking at Derek, hitting him in his distress.

Stiles put Andy back on the blanket. “Why don’t you get the drinks?” he said, and then stood and hurried to where Derek was trying to calm Olly down from his tantrum.

He cursed softly, realizing maybe it was too soon for him to be hugging Andy so much after last night’s events, but when he reached Derek and tried to grab Olly, he barely pulled back in time to avoid being clawed. Derek snagged Olly’s hand, eyes flashing red and a low growl escaping him.

“Stop it,” he barked, so sharp and unlike the father he had become in the past few months that Olly quieted with a startled look. Derek sighed, pressing a kiss to Olly’s forehead while his son sniffed and looked at Stiles like he’d been betrayed. Derek reached forward, pressing a hand to the join of Stiles’ shoulder and neck. “Pack,” Derek said firmly, “he’s pack.”

Olly frowned, and Stiles let Derek lift his hand up and press it to Olly’s cheek. “Uh, yeah, buddy. I’m pack, remember?”

Though he didn’t seem entirely satisfied, Olly let it drop, nodding tearily and clinging to Derek as they headed back to their umbrella. Andy had attempted to set out lunch, each sandwich with a water bottle and all set in a circle. Stiles was kind of proud of her; he knew she got it from always helping Stiles with lunch during the afternoons.

No matter how many times Stiles tried to ask Derek--and even the kids--what had transpired, he really didn’t get any clear answers. The best that Stiles could figure was that it had something to do with the girl that had come over and that Olly wasn’t fond of strangers (which Stiles already knew).

Once they’d eaten, Stiles let Derek take the kids to the shore to build a sandcastle and hunkered down on a towel to take a nap and hopefully put some color on his pale skin. There was something about the sound of the ocean and the chirrup of seagulls that had Stiles getting sleepy--especially after eating. It was so calming that it brought out his inner laziness.

Of course, he probably napped for maybe all of fifteen minutes when he awoke to the feeling of water being drizzled onto his stomach. It was quickly followed by twin giggles that had Stiles cracking one eye open suspiciously. Derek was standing over him, tightly holding to a bucket that was full to the brim with seawater. Stiles stared, and Derek gave the bucket a slow tilt that dripped more water onto Stiles’ chest and stomach and had Andy and Olly tittering evilly nearby.

Derek looked ready to dump the whole thing and Stiles rasped out, “I will murder you in your sleep, don’t you dare,” as he reached down to rub at where the water was tickling at his stomach and ribs.

Andy started to hop, flailing her arms around and clapping, “Time to wake up, Stiles! Wake up, wake up!” so loud that if Stiles had still been asleep before, he wouldn’t be now.

Groaning dramatically, Stiles threw his arms up and stretched. His toes curled and his back arched as muscles warmed by the sun were pulled at to a point where it sent a tingle down Stiles’ spine. He was about to flop when Derek decided he was done waiting and dumped the entire bucket onto Stiles--the water cold from having been sitting for so long. Stiles let out an entirely masculine shriek, jerking into a sitting position and gasping for air while he was laughed at by the children.

“No sleeping on the job,” Derek said, plopping the upended bucket over Stiles’ head like it was the proper thing to do.

Derek was never this playful. It was kind of a turn-on.

However, Stiles was not someone who woke up all sunshine and rainbows when someone dumped a bucket of water all over him. In fact, Derek totally needed to be put in his place. Stiles lunged forward, grabbing a fistful of sand with one hand and the elastic of Derek’s swim trunks with the other. Even for a werewolf, Derek had no time to react when Stiles crammed the sand down the front of his shorts.

At first, there was no reaction other than Derek jerking and staring blankly at Stiles in a state of ‘did you really’ shock. Then he let out a growl and Stiles didn’t even have time to screech and run before he was being tackled into the ground, sand kicking up everywhere.

The children started to cheer, their cries garbled into mish-mashes of Derek and Stiles’ names because they apparently didn’t want to pick favorites in a wrestling match.

However, no amount of academy training from his dad, or sparring with Scott, could ever prepare Stiles to hold his own against Derek. The best he could do was to wrap around Derek’s back like a monkey and try to choke him out. Derek merely grabbed Stiles’ arm, pried it off, reached back and Stiles felt himself being bodily manhandled onto his stomach.

Stiles tried to get up--he couldn’t look weak in front of the kids; they’d never take him seriously--when Derek sat on his hips and shoved his face into the sand. Stiles was torn, because he didn’t like being forced to eat beach dirt, but on the other hand, Derek’s thighs were strong on either side of his body, and his weight was so warm and heavy that Stiles could already feel himself starting to get hard.

The sand in the face won out, though, and he spat some out before shouting, “mercy!”

“Werewolves show no mercy,” Derek said flatly, and then pressed forward with his entire fucking body to keep Stiles pinned. That only made Stiles’ boner even worse because every movement had him rubbing hard up against the sand. He sucked in a sharp breath, wincing at the jab in his spine and mentally cursing Derek for having to take his phone everywhere with him.

“Seriously,” he wheezed, “your cell phone is stabbing me in the spine and I don’t get paid enough to eat sand.”

Derek froze, sitting back quickly and allowing Stiles to sag onto the ground in relief. He let out a soft snort, climbing off of Stiles and going back to the children to pick them up and play with them. By the time Stiles’ dick went down enough for him to come over, he’d watched the teenage girls not-so-discreetly tucking away their cameras and chatting with one another.

Even as the day drew to a close, Derek seemed a little more distant. Stiles wondered if his comment on ‘getting paid enough’ had been too much. He didn’t want Derek to think it was about the money, after all.

Olly was asleep even before they headed back for the car. He’d left the castle to come lie down and just passed out before Derek or Stiles could really register what he was doing. It was sign enough to pack up, and Derek kept Olly asleep on his shoulder while doing his best to help Stiles get everything put away.

The trip back home had Andy snoozing in the back as well, both children snuffling softly, wrapped up tight in their blankets to keep from getting chilly. The first hour, only the radio filled the silence in the car, and then Derek finally turned it down once he seemed to figure out what he wanted to say.

“Is it just the paycheck?” he asked quietly. Stiles lifted his head from the window, blinking tiredly. The sun and water combined had drained him as much as it had the kids, and he had almost been asleep when Derek had started to talk.


“…are you just here for the paycheck?”

It was a question Stiles had both expected and equally assumed would never be asked. He was so surprised by it that he made an unintelligible noise trying to find the right words. Derek clenched his teeth, thumbing the steering wheel and staring straight ahead.

“They--they’re attached to you; they think you care about them.”

That was enough to have Stiles sitting up, pushing himself away from the window in his mad effort to change Derek’s train of thought before it got too far derailed. How could he even think Stiles didn’t care? Seriously--Stiles had sassed Derek so much over the kids that this should be written in stone.

“I totally do, dude. They’re probably the best kids I could have asked to sit for--I mean, yeah, I need the money…but I would have quit ages ago if I didn’t love them. Which I do. I adore your kids, man. Totally worth the scars they’ve given me.”

It wasn’t apparent whether Stiles’ claims comforted Derek or made it worse. An expression crossed his face like someone had shoved a tampon dipped in aconite under his nose, before he relaxed just the tiniest bit, exhaled, and nodded.

Despite how uneasy Derek still seemed, Stiles felt better knowing at least one confession of love had cleared the air.

Chapter Text

To make up for the impromptu beach day, Derek had spent the entire week heading to the office two hours earlier. Today was no different, complete with Derek making sure to let Stiles know he’d be staying after as well, and that he was free to do whatever he wanted for dinner (as if Stiles didn’t do that before). Still, being granted permission was like Derek’s way of saying ‘go crazy’. Stiles took it as an excuse to take the kids grocery shopping (other than the fact that their raisin supply was already low).

It was also a good reason to get out of the house, given how mopey Andy and Olly had been ever since waking up to find that their father had already left for work. Now that he knew Andy was the runner and Olly would stay by his side, Stiles made sure to keep her in the front of the cart and let Olly lounge in the basket amongst the bread and cereal. He was nibbling on some cookies that Stiles had brought along, fingers sticking out the bars of the cart and wiggling around.

Stiles was rounding the cart to the frozen foods section when he caught a familiar face. Smiling, Stiles leaned down and said to Andy, “my friend Allison is here,” before he lifted an arm up and called her name.

Allison turned, grinning. “Stiles!“ she called out, beckoning with her hand until Stiles started heading for her. He was almost there when someone walked around the corner that made Stiles’ blood run cold.

Kate tossed a package of blood sausage into Allison’s cart, looking so normal that Stiles would have never known the kind of person she was if he hadn’t experienced it first hand. Stiles’ fingers tightened on the cart when she looked up, instantly locking on to Stiles and the children.

Her children.

The way Stiles could see Kate’s face light up from across the aisle was the complete opposite of comforting. She curled her fingers into Allison’s cart, dragging it along and approaching with a look in her eyes like everything had just fallen into her evil clutches.

Allison, oblivious, leaned forward to gesture between Kate and Stiles. “Stiles, this is my aunt Kate,” she said, smiling nervously like someone always did when introducing family to friends. Stiles was all for feigning ignorance when Kate merely chuckled.

“We’ve met; he works for Hale, after all,” she said vaguely, stepping closer and locking in on Andy and Olly. Stiles was suddenly terrified. Olly was too far away, sitting in the basket and watching the exchange in confusion. He felt like a parent being forced to watch their child in danger, chest seizing up when Kate let out a theatrical coo of, “oh, how adorable are these two?” and reached into the cart with the intent of lifting Olly up.

Stiles surged forward, slapping her hand away at the same time Olly whined and hid deeper into the mountain of groceries in the cart. Kate didn’t recoil, she just looked at Stiles in shock and slowly lowered her hand, while Allison let out a strangled noise.

“She wasn’t going to hurt him, Stiles,” she tried for. Stiles knew Allison had no idea what was going on, and he knew she was just trying to keep the peace, but that didn’t stop him from putting himself between the cart and Kate.

“Werewolf kids and all,” he said quietly, voice strained, “can’t smell like anyone but me,” and this excuse seemed to be enough for the people watching in shock to go about their shopping. Kate just laughed and put a hand on her hip.

“Honey, if that were true, then the world would be a lot more segregated,” she retorted dryly, head titled just enough to the side that some of her dark blonde hair curled over her shoulder and into her face. In that second, Stiles wanted to cry when he realized that Andy and Olly had her chin and lips--and that the little smirk on Kate’s lips was familiar in a way that Stiles couldn’t bear to think about.

Stiles dragged in a shaking breath and muttered, “yeah, well tell that to their dad.”

It was, apparently, the wrong thing to say. Kate perked up like someone had turned on a light switch in her brain. “You know what, I think I will,” she agreed, reaching past Stiles and setting her hand on Andy’s head, palm dragging down in a fashion that couldn’t be anything other than scent marking (Stiles knew this because Derek did it to him all the time).

Stiles wished he could say he didn’t flip out just the tiniest bit, but that would be a lie. He felt violated on Derek’s behalf--angry and frustrated that this woman could try to force her way back into the children’s lives when they didn’t even know who she was. Andy was rubbing at her cheek in confusion, nose crinkling like she didn’t understand the reason a stranger would mark her the way her father, brother and Stiles did.

He grabbed Kate’s hand, shoving it away from Andy as quickly as he dared and hissed, “okay, woah. Not cool--you think I don’t know what you just did? That is so far over the line and you know it,” while pushing the cart just enough behind him that the kids wouldn’t be in her reach. He kept his fingers on the basket, though, because Olly had stood to clutch to his hand with a nervous whine.

Kate was watching Stiles like he was some kind of interesting specimen, and Stiles felt the anger in his gut grow hot. Allison seemed ready to die of mortification, but he could tell she knew there was something else happening that she shouldn’t be interrupting.

“I already told you that I’d file a restraining order if you came by Derek‘s house again,” Stiles said lowly, “running into us in the store and scent marking his kid? You really think that’s smart?”

His breath hitched when she leaned in close, palms resting on his throat and dragging up to cup his jaw. She dug her fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck and Stiles couldn’t move if he tried--her grip was as strong as Derek’s.

“Sweetheart,” she whispered, thumbs caressing Stiles’ cheekbones in a way that should have been intimate but only made his skin crawl, “I think it’s utterly genius.”

Stiles had never wanted to hit someone as hard as he did Kate when she leaned in to press her lips to his forehead. Her nails were sharp against his skull, just shy of breaking skin when she finally pulled away and loudly said, “I didn’t mean to upset you,” so that Allison could hear her ‘apology.’

He didn’t know when his hands started shaking, but Stiles could only watch as Kate returned to Allison’s cart and flippantly said, “I think that’s all we need for dinner, don’t you?” and dragged her niece away. Stiles felt weak-kneed, and he rested some of his weight onto the cart for support as Allison turned around to mouth apologies at Stiles before they disappeared around the corner.

In his twenty years of life, Stiles had always envisioned himself as strong-spirited; someone who would always face their fears and never let anyone get the best of him. To know that another human; someone who Stiles had only met in the past couple of months, could leave him so unsettled that he had no witty comebacks….was fucking terrifying.

Kate wasn’t someone who could really hurt Stiles--but she could hurt Derek, Olly, and Andy; and Stiles wasn’t sure what he would do if something were to happen to them.

Whirling around, Stiles reached down just as Olly was stretching up for him. Dragging him into his chest, Stiles clutched to Olly and then moved so he could pull Andy’s head in for a kiss. Neither of them knew who Kate was, and Stiles planned on keeping it that way.

Once everyone was calm (mostly Stiles; the kids were just confused more than anything), Stiles pulled out his phone to see a string of texts from Allison. He didn’t even know how to begin to answer her questions, so he put his phone away and focused on finishing shopping first.

After they got home and put everything away, Stiles first sent Allison a few texts giving her the most vague information possible--just that Kate had been with Derek and Derek wanted nothing to do with her-- and then spent almost fifteen minutes agonizing over how to tell Derek he was going to come home smelling his ex-wife all over Andy.

Instead of getting lunch ready, Stiles finally mustered the courage to text Derek, don’t be mad but we ran into kate at the store. Kids are ok tho.

With Andy and Olly enraptured with Wall-E, Stiles wandered into the kitchen to nose about and decide on what he was going to make to eat. His phone went off and Stiles had to take a minute to wonder if Derek actually went out of his way to use caps when he read, DID SHE TOUCH YOU.

Technically yes, but Stiles was pretty sure Derek was more concerned about the children’s wellbeing. He’d been touching Andy as much as possible since they’d come across Kate--going so far as to bribe Olly with yogurt raisins if he kept snuggling his sister on the couch during the movie.

naw, we’re good. is what he settled on answering with. It would be better to wait until Derek got home to explain because Stiles really wasn’t in the mood for a) the panic room or b) Derek barging into the house in a panic for what would be the third time since Stiles started working for him.

are the kids ok. Derek messaged back. Stiles pulled some eggs out of the fridge for egg salad sandwiches and fumbled with his phone.

Yeah. They didn’t even pay much attention to her. She was trolling me. Stiles set a pot of water on the stove, cranking it up and then peeking into the living room where the kids were snuggled into the couch watching Wall-E. Overwhelmed with affection, Stiles hurried to put the eggs in the water before making his way into the living room just as his phone chirped.

I’ll be home in two hours.

Stiles frowned at the clock, sitting down next to Olly and Andy. It was barely one; when Stiles had first started working, Derek used to work until nine, sometimes later, and occasionally all-nighters. Being home at three was pushing it, even with how many hours Derek had already cut back now that he was starting to shift the company ownership over to his uncle.

Laying down on the couch, Stiles reached for the little pile of limbs that made up the twins, dragging them onto his stomach and hugging them like he would a massive cat. With his arms hooked around their bodies, and Olly and Andy arranged so they could curl into his body and still watch the movie, Stiles sent Derek another message.

we havent eaten yet. come home for lunch, check on the kids, and go back. if you come home at three, they won't go to bed and I am not dealing with cranky kids. Not even bill gates could pay me enough for that.

When Derek texted back ok just as Stiles was playing with Andy’s hair, he couldn’t help the punch to the gut that came with realizing exactly how domestic things had gotten between all of them.

The sad part was that it really was natural for Stiles to refer to the Hale’s as ‘home’. Not home like with his dad; but a second home all the same. He was there so much that it couldn’t be anything else--especially given how deeply attached he was to the kids and to Derek. The thought terrified him when Stiles realized how badly he wanted that; how he wanted to call this place home all the time.

Except when Derek came home, the first thing that happened was for Andy to demand a hug and for Derek to comply. No matter how hard Stiles had tried to get rid of Kate’s scent, it was pointless against Derek’s nose. The worst part was that Stiles hadn’t even gotten the chance to explain what had occurred.

In fact, he wasn’t even aware that Derek was hugging her until he heard the low growl of, “you said she didn’t touch you,” from behind him. He dropped the lettuce that he’d been preparing for their sandwiches, turning around and staring at Derek in surprise.

“She didn’t hurt us,” he blurted, gut dropping into a painful burning sensation that always happened when he was caught in a lie or when he knew something bad was going to happen. Derek was standing there with Andy in his arms, hand rubbing her back and his nose crinkled in disgust. “That’s what I thought you were asking; and she didn’t. I stopped her.”

Derek’s face twitched and he murmured something into Andy’s ear before setting her down. Stiles was so focused on watching her clamber out of the room that he almost jumped out of his skin when Derek snapped, “did you think I wouldn’t smell it? Or did you assume that you could just cover her scent and I wouldn’t care?”

Stiles pressed back against the counter, throwing his arms out in desperation, “I was going to tell you--”

“When?” Derek shot back, “after I caught the scent? Or how about when I came home one day and my children were gone?”

It was worse than a slap to the face, and Stiles couldn’t even force himself to speak over the ache of hurt that burned inside of him. It was one thing to wonder if he really was considered pack; but for Derek to practically tell Stiles he wasn’t trusted to keep the children safe was like sticking a thin knife right under Stiles’ ribs. Derek was struggling to control his breathing, looking a half second away from strangling Stiles for merely existing.

“It’s not like that,” Stiles started, only to cringe when Derek moved forward like he really was going to resort to violence. There was a loud crack and Stiles flinched so badly that the kitchen was only filled with the sound of their breathing. He slowly opened his eyes to see Derek’s palm against the fridge where he had slammed it, and had to use all of his self control not to sag in relief.

“Do you know how many times I’ve heard that?” Derek hissed quietly, “how many times I’ve been promised their safety and wellbeing, only for it to be thrown back into my face for some fucking easy money?”

Stiles couldn’t speak even if he wanted to. Derek dug his nails into the side of the fridge--surprisingly human, despite his anger--and lurched forward until he was crowding in close to Stiles.

“Don’t treat me like an idiot,” Derek rasped, “not when you don’t know half the things I have gone through for those two.”

Stiles dragged in a shaking breath, his heart thundering in his chest. “I’d rather die than see them hurt,” he said softly--and that was the truth. He had no idea what Kate was capable of, but he would never hesitate to put himself between her and the children like he did at the grocery store.

Derek stared him down, eyes flitting all over Stiles’ face like he needed to see, as well as hear, the way Stiles was telling the complete truth. Stiles swallowed, trying not to take note of their proximity, and continued. “I wanted to wait until you came home to tell you, because I wanted you to see them and know they were safe before you heard the whole story. You asked me if it was just a paycheck and it isn’t. It’s so much more than that, Derek.”

Derek narrowed his eyes, nostrils flaring as he scented Kate all over Stiles’ throat and face. He went completely still, one hand coming to curl around Stiles’ shoulder the second he realized that Stiles had put himself between Kate and the children. Whatever Derek was picking up, it was enough to make him lift his head and scowl.

“Are you hurt?” Derek asked quietly, one hand coming up to rest on the same spot that Kate’s palm had been only hours before. Stiles struggled to breathe right, his mouth feeling painfully dry. He knew this was supposed to be a pack thing; a family thing, but that didn’t stop his body from reacting like Derek’s touch was passion itself.

“It was in the middle of a grocery store--with her niece. All she did was get way too touchy feely for my liki--” Stiles trailed off when Derek’s hands dragged up his throat and over his face. They didn’t stop there, rubbing firmly at Stiles’ jaw and cheeks, and then over his forehead like Derek was trying to wipe away all traces of Kate.

“Kind of like that,” Stiles muttered absently, stomach flip-flopping despite his attempt at sounding irritated, “only less annoying, and more creepy.”

Derek flicked Stiles’ ear, palms scrubbing over his head and snippily telling him, “if you or the kids smell like her, they get used to her sent,” and then pausing to lean in so close his nose brushed Stiles’ upper lip as he dragged in a deep sniff.

Stiles wanted to sob from the sheer sexual tension that he was probably leaking everywhere. Derek didn’t even react to it--and Stiles knew there had to be some kind of scent coming from the way his dick twitched when Derek got that close to him--and instead brought both palms up to smear them across Stiles’ cheeks and mouth one last time.

Standing back, Derek nodded to himself. “Now you smell tolerable,” he said, and then walked away like he hadn’t just been one bad 80’s pickup line from a Wolfman porno right in the kitchen with the kids sitting nearby.

Stiles stared blankly as Derek sat down at the table and called Andy and Olly in to come sit down with him. He continued to stare as Derek looked up at him, flicked his eyes to the half-finished sandwich, and then back to Stiles as if to say ‘finish my sandwich.’ Which, okay. Stiles could do that. Making food was easy and it did not require extensive introspection like conversation did.

Returning to the sandwich, Stiles finished adding the lettuce and tomato before doing the same with everyone else’s. A quick request had Andy and Olly scurrying to get their cups out of the living room so Stiles could fill them up again.

Setting the plates down, Stiles took that moment to look Derek dead in the eye and say, “I think we need to have a talk about your--” he paused, making a groping hand motion that had Derek’s eyes widening, “--problem…like; boundaries, man. You used to have them.”

Not that Stiles particularly cared about the lack of boundaries, but it was bordering on torture sometimes. Derek pulled his plate in close as the kids came back with their cups. He helped Andy pour herself a cup of sweet tea while Stiles filled Olly up on some apple juice. “They made you pack,” Derek said, chastising Andy gently when she didn’t hold her cup still enough. “This is what pack does.”

“Is Erica pack?” Stiles wondered--mostly since he saw her the most out of anyone else involved with Derek other than Boyd. Boyd liked to stay in the shadows and loom at Stiles, but he figured that was because he was still annoyed about the time Stiles had asked if he was emulating Cobra Bubbles from Lilo and Stitch and Erica had burst out laughing.

Derek set the tea down, watching Andy take a tester sip and grinning when she said, “yum!”. Olly was already chowing down on his sandwich when Derek finally shrugged and said, “sometimes.”


“Not when she wants to go on shopping sprees,” Derek said bitterly, taking a vicious chomp out of his sandwich. That was the second that Stiles figure they were basically not going to discuss the face groping outside of Derek implying it was something he had to do. He didn’t really mind; Stiles had a feeling that Derek was still trying to process what had happened earlier to really initiate any type of deep conversation anyway.

After lunch, Derek sat down on the couch with the twins, holding each of them close to his body so he could get in some scenting-time before heading back to work. When the front door opened, Stiles leapt up in a fit of startled terror, shutting his laptop and wielding it like some sort of weapon. Everyone who lived in the house was already home and--

“It’s Boyd,” Derek muttered, and the children giggled at how Stiles had taken on a battle stance with the charger chord still attached. Just as Stiles sheepishly set his laptop back down, Boyd came into the room, pushing his sunglasses up on his head as Andy and Olly screeched his name. They scrambled off the couch, running for him in a mad dash.

“Is something wrong?” Derek asked, watching Boyd bend down so each child could latch on to one of his arms. Boyd stood, lifting the kids up like they were toy monkeys wrapped around his forearms.

“You shut your phone off so I had to come get you,” Boyd said, taking on a bodybuilding pose and lifting both children up and down, their giggles drowning out Stiles’ nervous sound at seeing them hauled around so effortlessly. “Peter’s been messing with the accounts since you left. We should head back before he starts to get too nosy.”

Derek scowled, pushing himself into a stand and heading for the entry where his wallet and phone were. “Has he touched anything?”

Boyd and Stiles followed--Stiles more to make sure the kids wouldn’t fall while Boyd swung them back and forth like a living jungle gym--as Derek hurried to get ready to leave again. Boyd grunted, tossing Olly up like he was a stuffed animal and catching him all with one arm as Olly squealed and giggled. “Erica’s keeping an eye on him, but you know how her patience goes.”

Derek grimaced, taking Andy from Boyd when she reached out. “Head on back, I’ll be there soon,” he ordered, reaching out and clasping arms with Boyd just long enough that Stiles knew it was probably a pack thing for an outside member.

Boyd left after a hug each from Olly and Andy, and Derek rushed to get his briefcase together from where he’d taken some things out while on the couch with the children. Before he headed out the door, Derek hesitated and looked to where Stiles was waving at him with the kids.

Suddenly, Derek was marching back over to Stiles, reaching out and hooking his arm along Stiles’ neck and shoulder. At first, Stiles thought Derek was going to pull him into a kiss, and his heart went wild when Derek leaned in.

He had to exhale sharply when all Derek did was rub their cheeks together; stubble rasping as he pulled away just as quickly as he‘d leaned in. Stiles couldn‘t help but gape when Derek inhaled deeply and then reached for Andy and Olly to do the same.

Standing, Derek looked torn between staying and leaving. Instead, he grabbed at Stiles’ shoulder firmly. “Call me if anything happens.”

“Duh,” Stiles grinned reassuringly, “I’ll protect these kids with my life, dude.”

Derek’s expression fell into one of stoicism, mouth curling in the corners before he said, “I know,” in a way that told Stiles that, despite what had happened earlier in the kitchen, Derek really did trust him to keep Andy and Olly safe. It was a huge weight off of Stiles’ shoulders, and he clapped Derek on the shoulder before shooing him out the door.

After all, it wouldn’t do to leap into your employer’s arms and declare your undying love for him and his children. Stiles was pretty sure that only worked in romance novels.

No, his life was far from a romance novel…but at least he had a nice set of abs to look at in the meantime.

Chapter Text

It was like everything fell back into place soon enough. Derek had security cameras installed around the property within two days of Kate’s second appearance; but other than that, it was like they had fallen into a familial routine. Derek shifted 25% of the company over to his uncle Peter and went down to working eight hours during the weekdays, and the rest he did from home.

Part of it was a need to spend time with his children, and the other part was (Derek confessed begrudgingly over carrots and dip snacks one Saturday afternoon) because he was getting stretched too thin and it was wearing on him emotionally. Either way, it was amazing to see the changes that had begun to happen in just a handful of months since Stiles had been hired on.

What really blew Stiles’ mind was that Derek had started to turn his phone off for dinner and story time. He’d even gone so far as to shut it off and demand Andy hide it from him on one particular day where he’d come home aggravated about something or other. Then it sometimes became a game for Derek to find where she’d hidden it--though he never got frustrated when he would have to ‘beg’ her to tell him where his phone was.

For Stiles, his online classes started with little fanfare. Sure, he had an entire week before anything was actually due, but it was easy to crank the work out during naptime or when Derek had the kids distracted for an hour or two. He didn’t even bother mentioning it to anyone; mostly because he knew the implications of what that kind of change would do. No normal babysitter shifted their entire life around for two kids--no, that was what someone did when they were in too deep.

Stiles didn’t care, though. He was okay with being super nanny first and focusing on school second. It was amazing just to watch Derek ease up every day that passed when he got to be around his children more. There were times when he would get to his wits end (more than once, Derek had begged for Stiles’ help in trying to catch Andy during one of her fits where she decided to streak naked around the house, screaming and knocking down anything that wasn’t glued in place or too heavy to topple over), and there were times where Derek could do nothing but watch his kids with this look of amazement on his face.

Stiles was pretty sure he had that own look sometimes, but it wasn’t the same as Derek’s. As much as he wished it was possible, Stiles knew he’d never get the opportunity to openly look at Andy and Olly like they were his children--the loves of his life.

It was just after lunch on a day like any other when Derek came into the kitchen where Stiles was sweeping up some rogue cheerios and dropped his head against the fridge with a thud. “I don’t know how you do it,” he muttered tiredly, pressing his face into the cool metal just as Stiles turned to get a look at him and burst out into surprised laughter.

Derek had a cluster of rainbow clips in his hair and planet stickers all over his face. He looked like a Barbie left victim to the wiles of young children. Stiles was only in the kitchen for ten minutes; christ, those kids could make some chaos.

Stiles walked over, setting the handle of the broom against the counter and reaching up to peel a sticker of Saturn off of Derek’s forehead. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, and Stiles was becoming an expert at de-snickering. Derek tended towards biting his nails when he was working, and it was easier for Stiles to pinch them off than for Derek to scratch at his skin until he could get the sticker to move.

“The paycheck is a bonus, but I’m really here for the cuddles. They do wonders for the ego.”

Derek released a loud, full belly laugh just as Stiles was trying to extricate Jupiter from his cheek. He grinned, cupping Stiles’ cheek suddenly and rocking in. Stiles didn’t think--so startled that he instinctively leaned back just before Derek’s mouth would have touched his. It had been so natural--if Stiles weren’t so skittish against sudden movements, there was a likelihood Derek might have just kissed him.

Realizing that’s exactly what Derek had been trying to do, Stiles tried to rock back in with a sense of desperation in his chest. He couldn’t lose this moment; couldn’t fuck this up.

Derek jerked away, a look of growing horror on his face that made Stiles’ gut churn and a bile rise up in his throat. The hand on Stiles’ face was wrenched back like Stiles was fire himself. Derek went completely rigid, staring half at Stiles and half at his hand like he didn‘t really understand what he‘d done or why.

“I need to get back to work,” Derek said sharply, the laughter and easiness of the moment gone in the blink of an eye. Stiles struggled to breathe, left speechless. It had to have been an accident for Derek to act that way. Had Derek only tried to kiss him on instinct? Stiles couldn’t help but wonder if he repulsed Derek so much that the realization of what almost happened was enough to send him back to work just to get out of the house,

It was like all the brightness in the kitchen had been sucked out--drained away as Derek turned on his heel and marched out of the kitchen. Stiles was left with a sharp pain in his chest and a reeling head as Derek went into the living room where his children and briefcase were.

By the time Stiles managed to unfreeze his feet to follow, Derek was packing his paperwork away, leaning in and letting Andy take the clips out of his hair. He stood, pulling the kids into his arms and kissing them each on the head. He’d gotten the stickers off on his own, and Stiles could see the fading scratches on his cheeks in their place. Stiles tried not to think too much about it, instead watching as Derek ruffled the children’s heads and made his way out the door.

When Derek passed by Stiles to leave, he didn’t stop--didn’t touch Stiles, or even look at him--just walked out the door like Stiles wasn’t even there.

Stiles waited an hour before texting--just a picture of Olly asleep on the couch with his bum in the air--but got nothing in response. He didn’t let it get to him; maybe Derek was having some sort of crisis or something…yeah.

The more Stiles thought about it, the more he wondered if maybe Derek was panicking because he did feel something for Stiles. It was hard not to get his hopes up but it was plausible that Derek was maybe falling for him right back. It would explain the kiss and subsequent panic, especially given Derek’s obliviousness to hidden signals. If they could just talk about it when Derek came home, maybe Stiles could stop another misunderstanding before it got out of hand.

Except Derek didn’t come home for dinner. His phone went to voicemail and Stiles’ texts to him were left unanswered. He tried the house phone but it was no better, and that left Stiles with one extra plate of food and two confused children who kept asking him when their father was coming home.

It was all Stiles could do to answer, ‘soon,’ instead of ‘I don’t know.’

The longer time passed without Derek, the more Stiles started to panic. He was an alpha--one of the only ones left in Beacon Hills-- with a psychotic hunter of an ex-wife who was back in town and literally anything could have happened to him. Stiles was helpless at home, and he was probably one speed dial away from calling his dad and asking them to put a cruiser out in search of Derek’s car.

Andy and Olly were hell to get down to bed. It took all of Stiles’ ability to white-lie his way around a werewolf just to get them to believe that Stiles knew Derek would be coming home soon. Olly had a tantrum the first time Stiles left his room, and it was only by carrying them into Derek’s room that he could get the kids to even settle.

They ended up both curling up in Derek’s bed because the idea that they’d wake up without their father was too distressing for them to stay in their own rooms. It made Stiles wonder how bad things had been before he’d started working for Derek.

Three bedtime stories, two glasses of water, eight kisses and five ‘nighty night’s later, Stiles finally managed to slip out of Derek’s room and shut the door without Andy or Olly bursting into tears and begging him to come back.

He barely made it to the couch before the panic attack hit. It wasn’t a bad one--just enough to leave him with weak legs and a gasping need for air. He couldn’t feed his panic; couldn’t think about Derek dying, about the kids falling into Kate’s hands. Stiles had to keep positive, had to hope that maybe Derek’s phone had died and he was just working late.

Still, anything could happen. Stiles was pretty sure it was just a normal day when the first werewolves started to die off from the epidemic. It hadn’t been instantaneous, and Stiles had spent almost a week at home with his mom because his parents were too afraid of Stiles being killed or bitten.

Stiles didn’t want to think what would happen if Derek went rogue--be it from poisoning or something else. He knew the kids were supposed to be given to Derek’s uncle, but that didn’t stop the slight panic that Kate might fight for custody. It was a great idea, kill Derek and take the kids and--

Stiles sucked in a ragged breath, reprimanding himself for letting his worries get the best of him. He pressed against the back of the couch, muttering the lyrics to ‘veggie veggie fruit fruit’ under his breath like his mother had once done. It was just enough to get Stiles back onto a level of rational thinking, and he shakily wiped at his face before giving his whole body a shuttering wiggle--arms and legs getting flopped around to try and knock out some of the tension that had built up.

Even a little attack had Stiles feeling weak. He wanted to just climb into the guest bed and sleep forever--but he knew that he’d never be able to get any rest if he didn’t get some sign of assurance that Derek was okay.

By the time Stiles heard the sound of a car pulling up into the driveway, he was scrambling for the door and wrenching it open just as Derek rolled his way out of the back of a cab. It wasn’t hard to tell from the way Derek stumbled to the passenger window and shoved the driver a handful of cash that he was drunk--possibly wasted.

The scent of aconite wine was potent even as Derek shuffled his way towards the door. Stiles was glad for the warm fall air in that moment, because that made it possible for him to stand there, barefoot and in his t-shirt and jeans, and watch Derek squint up at him in surprise. The gravel shifted under Stiles’ toes as the anger and terror that had been boiling inside of him finally came bursting out.

“You have children!” he cried, more of a whisper-yell than an actual shout, “what the hell is wrong with you?”

Stiles felt hysterical; raw from his panic and drained from hours of reassuring Andy and Olly that their father was on his way home. Just to see Derek alive and well, drunk as a skunk, was like a slap to the face. He’d spent hours worrying for nothing--and the rage wasn’t just his own. He was angry for Andy and Olly--and for himself for thinking maybe that Derek cared about him and needed time to work his thoughts out.

But no--he just wanted to drown himself in werewolf liquor and let the only two family members he had left that cared about him go out of their minds with worry.

Derek seemed taken aback, standing there dumbly and staring, just letting Stiles rant and rave like he had nothing to say. “You don’t get to do this, Derek! You don’t get to fuck off and go missing for hours! Do you have any idea how terrified Andy and Olly were that you weren’t going to come home?”

Stiles shoved forward, driveway gravel digging painfully into his feet as he pushed at Derek’s chest to try and get some kind of reaction. “How many times has that happened? How many times have you just abandoned those two because your head is so far up your ass that you can't even see that there are two small children here that love you?!”

It hurt so fucking much to see Derek barely bat an eye--like he’d fallen into some glazed stupor. It hurt so much to know that Stiles had reached the point where he’d rather lose his job than let Derek get away with doing this to Olly and Andy; to himself.

“You are their WORLD, Derek," Stiles croaked, voice hoarse from trying to keep himself from screaming at the top of their lungs, “and each time you do this, you’re going to destroy it more and more until there’s nothing left. We were doing so good, dude. What the hell happened?”

“We?” Derek rasped, pushing forward until Stiles was stumbling back to the door, “we?” Derek grabbed Stiles’ shirt, dragging him in close before Stiles could react.

“You act like you own me,” Derek hissed, breath reeking of alcohol and the distinct bittersweet stench of monkshood, “you talk to me like you’re better than me, like you fixed me--like I don’t know you want me.”

That was not the direction Stiles was expecting their argument to head in. His breath hitched and it took all of his self control not to shove at Derek and run and hide in the house out of sheer mortification. Derek knew--had known--and any hopes Stiles had ever entertained of them being together were shattered like glass.

“You can’t deny it,“ Derek said, one palm pressing against Stiles’ chest, adding pressure until Stiles was forced to hear the way his heart was rocketing against his ribs. “I smell it on you every time I touch you--” ducking down, Derek mouthed sloppily at Stiles’ throat, wet, sucking kisses that made so much noise that Stiles was terrified it would wake the kids up more than the yelling, “--know you want this.”

“Stop,” Stiles breathed, even when Derek dragged his mouth up, pressed it to the corner of Stiles’ lips and then leaned in to kiss him.

It was everything Stiles wanted and hated all at once and it hurt. It hurt more than anything Stiles had ever experienced in his entire life. Derek’s mouth against his, wet and open and tasting of liquor was like someone had injected poison into Stiles’ heart and let each pump spread the toxins through him until he was left shaking against the door.

He couldn’t do this--couldn’t let Derek poison him from the inside out. It was like he was rotting away with each misunderstanding and fleeting moment between them that really meant nothing at all. It took less than a second for Stiles to realize he was better than this--was stronger than the part of him that wanted so badly to let Derek keep kissing him.

“Stop!“ Stiles gasped, twisting his head to the side and trying to push at Derek’s chest. He curled his fingers into the lapel of Derek’s suit, using it to fortify himself as he clenched his eyes shut. “Stop it,” he said, more firmly this time, “don’t fucking--”

“All you ever do is make me listen to you,” Derek said hoarsely, “make me do the shit you want, make me change for you--and the one time I do what you want without you asking, you tell me to stop?”

Derek cupped Stiles’ face, trying to pull him back in for another kiss. Stiles grabbed Derek’s wrists, pulling them and then snapping his elbow up until it smashed against Derek’s cheek. Derek jerked back and Stiles pressed himself as hard as he could against the door, hurt and frustration and anger twisting up a hurricane in his heart.” This isn’t what I want,” he snapped-- because it wasn’t. He didn’t want Derek to use him for sex.

He wanted Derek to love him.

Even though any form of injury Stiles might have caused was healed by now, Derek still kept his palm over the spot Stiles had hit him. “I hate you,” he spat the words out like a bullet straight through Stiles’ chest, “I hate that you came in here and changed our lives and now you throw this in my face like--what--,“ Derek let out a bitter, sharp laugh, “like you're better than me? Is that what it is?” Derek’s hand curled into Stiles’ shirt, shoving him so hard into the door that it rattled and Stiles’ toes were barely scraping the welcome mat.

Each word was like a knife in Stiles’ gut, twisting deeper and deeper. Stiles kicked out, toes flaring in pain when they hit Derek’s knee, but it was enough to get Derek to lower him down. Even then, when Stiles tried to protest, Derek shook him silent, “just because I didn't-- I didn't get that my own child was different? That I tried to help him and do what people said and I didn’t understand? Does my ignorance make you better than me? Does it make me a bad father? is that what it is? I’m not good enough for you?”

Stiles felt like a wire stretched beyond it’s limits. He was tired and raw and he just wanted to go back like none of this day had ever happened. “Fuck you, Derek,” he snarled, hands curled into Derek’s coat to try and make them seem more equal. Each breath came in as a wheeze, panic blinding him the longer this went on. He was desperate to fix this, desperate to try and undo the damage wrought. “You don’t-- you made me pack--”

“The children made you pack!” Derek roared, hand slamming into the wall next to Stiles’ head and rattling the door with how loud the crack of his fist had been, “They dragged you into this fucking family whether I liked it or not. You're everywhere! When I'm not at work, I'm either asleep or here where you are!”

Derek was dangerously close, looking half a second from wolfing out on him as he hissed out, “Everywhere I go, you're there, I can't get rid of you,” like it was the deepest, darkest confession that Derek had ever hidden from Stiles.

It was like being gutted; like Derek had taken his claw and shoved it right under Stiles’ ribs and wrenched out everything held purpose for maintaining life. It must have shown on Stiles’ face--a shocked, pale and broken look--because Derek was stumbling back and struggling to speak.

He shook his head frantically, hands trembling as he reached for Stiles like he was going to apologize. The only problem was that there was screaming coming from the other side of the door, the handle jiggling before it was wrenched open and Olly burst out of the house screaming.

It was like watching a scene in slow motion, Olly thundering towards Derek with his octopus plushie in one hand and his other hand curled into a tiny fist. “Don’t be mean to my Stiles!” he cried, punching Derek in the leg and the hip and wherever he could reach. Stiles had this sinking feeling that, if his heart made a sound the second it had been broken, the children had likely heard it as well.

Derek was staring numbly at Olly, head lifting to see Andy hovering in the doorway in her nightgown, looking distressed and clutching to her Naveen frog plushie like a lifeline.

“Andy,” Derek croaked, reaching down to try and grab Olly’s hands. Olly wrenched away with a howl and Stiles crouched down to scoop him up. Olly’s octopus slapped him in the face in the child’s mad scramble to cling to Stiles’, a sob of Stiles’ name escaping him.

Stiles ignored Derek; it wasn’t hard to avoid eye contact. He buried his face into Olly’s throat, squeezing his eyes shut and wishing it was sweat he felt pressed back against his eyes--all while knowing it was his own tears. He rocked Olly, swaying back and forth and then pressing against the wall when he felt Andy’s arms hesitantly close around his leg.

“I’m sorry,” Derek said from somewhere nearby. Stiles shrugged, dragging in a shaking breath as he sat down and let Andy climb into his lap.

“Stiles,” Derek urged, “Stiles, you have to understand, that’s not what I--”

“I get it,” Stiles interrupted, turning his head to wipe his face on his shoulder and then pressing a kiss to Olly and then Andy’s head. They were warm in his arms, shaking and sniffling in obvious fright over what had occurred. “I got it loud and clear, man.”

Even though he got the message, that didn’t make it hurt any less. Stiles had never needed anyone like he needed this family. Yeah, he was Scott’s best friend and Lydia’s hopping buddy; but he’d never really known what it was like to have someone rely on him before (babying his dad was more out of a need to take care of someone than anything). To have these kids and their father look to Stiles for help gave Stiles such a great sense of purpose and belonging that he knew he was finally in too deep.

He couldn’t get any more attached. He just couldn’t--Stiles was too young to feel this way; it was too much, too soon, and too strong.

This was the last time he’d let himself hold the children, because there was no way he’d be able to return tomorrow like none of this had ever happened.

Derek was still apologizing, spewing excuses like being drunk and tired and how his word had come out wrong, and Stiles was done.

He wrapped the children tight in his arms, rubbing Olly’s back and whispering soothing words to the two of them, waiting until Derek stopped talking. The second there was a moment, Stiles closed his eyes and swallowed against the lump in his throat--the swelling there that begged him not to say the words already leaving his mouth.

“I--I’m putting in my resignation tomorrow,“ and fuck if Stiles didn’t purposefully use a word he knew the kids hadn’t learned yet. He knew because he always liked to teach them new things every day--trying to catch them up to the other children their age for when they got into pre-k next fall.

Not that it mattered now.

Derek’s eyes widened, already locked with Stiles, and looked so utterly stricken that it took all of Stiles’ self control not to retract his statement. Instead, Stiles tilted his chin as defiantly as he could, tongue darting out to lick his lips and taste the salt of his own tears dried at the corners. “I have to get ready for when classes start, you know? I can’t be doing this and studying. It’s a lot of work--and, you know. My jeep’s paid off and all, so I don’t need the money anymore.”

“I thought you said it was more than just the paycheck,” Derek said quietly--sounding so lost and broken that Stiles almost forgot he was still drunk off of the wine from whatever bar he‘d gone to. Stiles shrugged, rubbing his cheek against Olly’s head and closing his eyes.

“School is more important. I can‘t multitask kids and getting my degree,” no matter how hard he tried not to, Stiles couldn’t stop the way his chest clenched at the lie--the way Derek’s eyebrows ticked was enough of a tell that they both knew he was lying. It was the worst feeling; to be caught in a fib you didn’t want to tell and for someone to act like they didn’t know it.

He almost wanted Derek to protest--to fight for him or beg him to stay. Apologies were nothing if Derek couldn’t just give him a reason to stay. That’s all Stiles needed.

Stiles lifted his head, hoping to see something in Derek’s eyes. He wanted hurt, pain or maybe anger.

All he saw was a broken man accepting defeat.

Derek sighed, crouching down and pressing his palm against Andy’s head, stroking her hair and then tucking a few strands behind her ear. “They’ll miss you,“ he said quietly, looking at Stiles like it was the only reason Stiles needed to stay. Maybe a month or two ago, it would have been--but now? Not so much.

Derek had learned so much about Andy. They’d worked hard to understand her and let her do what made her happy. They’d talked about counselors, and Stiles had looked up websites on transgender children and how to deal with gender identity at a young age. Derek had taken all of it, had bookmarked the websites, had discussed therapy methods with doctors, and had done it all for Andy.

Olly was just as well off--especially after his breakdown. Involving Stiles and Andy Derek always made sure to hold him just as much as Andy, made sure to give him toys now and then and always made sure Olly had his turn with the TV and with picking out the bedtime story. Stiles was still the first person Olly went to, but he was starting to warm up to his father in ways he hadn’t before. Maybe it would be good if Stiles was gone--maybe it would take out the thorn keeping them from being a proper family.

Stiles swallowed back the bile in his throat, shrugging once and then exhaling. “They’ll get over it,” he said, the words bitten out because of how hard it was to even think of being forgotten by them in just a few years. Derek didn’t look like he was much better off, eyes filled with so much guilt Stiles wanted to shake him and remind him of the things he’d told Stiles earlier.

“Are you sure about this?”

“Just think of it this way,” Stiles pointed out, handing Andy over, “instead of being everywhere you go, you’ll never have to see me again.”

As much as it pained him to think about it, Stiles would never forget the stricken look on Derek’s face when he hoarsely croaked out, “okay.”

Chapter Text

Derek fiddled with the iron’s dial, switching it from cotton to silk in hopes that his shirt wouldn’t get burned, but that he could still flatten out the wrinkles in the chest where Olly had curled Derek’s shirt into his fists during an earlier tantrum. It was nearing midnight already, and Derek still had four more suits to get through before he could even think about getting to sleep.

The past week was harder than anything Derek had ever experienced. Without Stiles there it was as if every behavior switch in the children's brains had been shut off, leaving Derek scrambling to find a sitter who wouldn’t quit on the first day.

It's almost unbearable to remember the initial heartache and shock that rendered Derek speechless and immobile as Stiles had yelled at him that night. He had taken so long to even react to Stiles' words that all he could muster was anger to hide the pain in his heart. Sure, Erica’s advice hadn’t really been the best, but after an entire bottle of her suggested ‘liquid courage’, Derek had been more focused on getting home and asking Stiles to stay forever than actually thinking about what it would look like to Stiles.

And oh, had it been bad.

Just thinking about the way Stiles had pushed at him; Stiles’ voice turning him down with no pity for Derek’s feelings at all. It was enough to make Derek want to press the iron into his palm to distract himself from the pain in his heart.

Still, there was no turning back time. There was no way to rewind things--no way to go and tell his past self to remember to charge his phone at lunch, or to only drink a little wine, to talk to Stiles about the ‘almost kiss’ before running home drunk to spew his emotions like…well…like a lonely drunk with attachment issues.

All he could do now was try to keep going, try to be there for the children in place of Stiles, and hope for the best.

The one thing he knew no amount of trying would fix, though, was the way Derek sometimes wanted to claw his skin up just to feel some sort of punishment for what he put Stiles through that night. It was sometimes suffocating--the guilt and mortification that he felt each time he tried to call Stiles and was sent to voice mail. He had nearly thrown up in his office when Stiles finally caved after the third day and had emailed him to curtly say,

You have nothing to apologize for. My work was done. I have other priorities to focus on as you, obviously, do as well.

The smell of burning fabric dragged Derek out of his thoughts--of the embarrassment of remembering how excited he had been in the cab at the idea of asking Stiles to be with him--and Derek looked down to see that he had started to singe the collar of one of his best suits. He cursed, pulling the iron back and thumbing at the burn to try and distract himself from his own thoughts.

The sound of Andy’s sobbing was what really distracted Derek. He shut off the iron, pushing it aside so he could get out of his room. He had to get to her before she woke Olly up and made him start up too.

Pushing her door open, he tried to ignore the way all of her posters and princessy things had been taken down and hidden away. It was a surprise, to say the least, when Derek had come home one day to see it all gone….but each child had their way of coping with a loss, and Derek figured having a room full of stuff that was bought by Stiles was not going to help Andy forget him. It must have been why she would go through with hiding the stuff she loved.

“Andy, what’s wrong, honey?” Derek asked softly, sitting down on her bed and letting her sob and crawl into his lap. He rubbed a hand down her small back, kissing her cheek and reaching up to wipe at the tears on her face. “Why are you crying?”

Moaning sadly, Andy snuffled into Derek’s shoulder and said, “want my froggy,” with a sniffle. Derek glanced around the room, still holding her and rocking her, and tried to find the frog plushie that she usually slept with. Derek had originally been repulsed by the doll, wondering if it was supposed to be high or something, until Stiles explained that it was ‘Prince Naveen’s suave face. He’s a ladykiller, Derek,’ to him like Derek was a total idiot.

“I don’t see it,” Derek looked again, turning to search the bed and see if maybe it had gotten knocked under a pillow, “did you leave it in the other room?”

Suddenly, the volume of Andy’s cries ratcheted up and she clutched to her father. Derek was torn between panic at the loudness of it, and panic at wanting her to stop being so upset. Lifting her up, Derek carried Andy out into the living room on a quest for the toy.

“What did you do with it, baby?” Derek asked when he had searched every nook and cranny with no success.

“Gigi took it!” Andy warbled. Derek felt his gut drop and his lungs burn hot. Gigi was what their most recent sitter went by (because Gertrude was too difficult for the children to pronounce), and though she was an elderly woman with a sharp smile…she was also a werewolf who was strict in the traditional ways. Upon hiring her out of desperation, Derek had undergone harsh, backhanded comments about young alphas ruining tradition by having pups out of wedlock. He hadn’t cared for her words, but she had been the only person that was able to deal with the violence that came from the children’s temper tantrums.

Stiles, apparently, was the only human who didn’t quit the second he got a miniature set of fangs sunk into him.
Realization that the woman had probably noticed Andy wasn’t entirely a girl--from scent or something else--made Derek turn to his daughter and frown.

“Andy… did Gigi take your other stuff too? The posters and your dolls?”

Face buried into Derek’s neck, Andy hiccupped on a sob and nodded.

Derek had never wanted to beat up a little old lady so badly in his life. He sucked in a sharp breath, exhaling slowly and then patting her on the back. “We’ll find him, don’t worry,” and headed for the front door. The trash didn’t pick up until the morning and Derek wanted to thank the higher powers that he had hired her only a couple days prior; there hadn’t been a garbage pickup since her arrival.

First, Derek checked the bins, but there was nothing in there but kitchen garbage and some broken glass from the lamp that Olly had kicked over on Tuesday. Andy was curled up into the curve of his arm, head on Derek’s shoulder and breathing heavy as she started to calm a little. When Derek started to walk across the lawn (he should have worn slippers; cold grass was not pleasant, even for werewolves) for the garage, she shifted enough to watch where they were going. The garage had been an add-on back when Kate had still been early on in her pregnancy with the children, when he’d still been ignorant. Derek had hired someone to build it because Kate refused to leave her car parked outside overnight like Derek did with the camaro.

Since then, it really only served as more of a massive storage shed than anything.

When he saw the cardboard box that was dust-free compared to the ones full of his family’s old belongings that Derek couldn’t part with, he wanted to sag with relief. Instead, he bounced Andy a little and said, “look, baby, your stuff is in that box!”

Andy perked up, but stayed in Derek’s arms while he knelt down and rifled through the box. It took a few minutes but Derek soon realized that it was mostly full of the missing DVDs from the shelf (Rapunzel, Tangled, Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and a few others), her quilt, night gowns, all of her dresses, and a few toys from the bin. The posters and frog were missing, and so were some other toys Derek couldn’t remember off the top of his head.

Lifting out Andy’s baby blanket, he let her take it and then cringed when she asked, “where’s m’froggy?”

“I don’t know, honey,” Derek said plainly, “it’s not in here--but we can get you a new one tomorrow.”

That was not what Andy wanted to hear. Derek hardly had a moment to catch the hitch in her breath before she whined and shook her head furiously. “I want ‘im now!” she cried, and then burst into tears again.

Derek wished he could be infuriated; filled with anger and ready to file a lawsuit…but he couldn‘t. He had a distraught child in his arms and at that moment, she was the most important thing to him. Derek pressed apologetic kisses to Andy‘s head and temple, carrying her back into the house and bouncing and rocking her in his arms when he reached the front door.

The last time he had genuinely had to deal with Andy crying this much had been back during Derek‘s ‘maternity leave‘. He had taken it before realizing just how in-debt the company had become. Back then, Derek had spent day and night caring for his two baby boys who were nothing but blobs of crying and poop--and the brightest fucking smiles Derek had ever experienced in his life.

This Andy, though, Derek had absolutely no idea how to comfort. No amount of bouncing and kisses and whispered words was calming her down. He stood outside the front door, rocking her and trying to at least lower her sobbing to where Olly wouldn’t wake up.

“Please stop crying, honey,” Derek begged, his exhaustion of the past week creeping up on him. He rubbed Andy’s back, “please, Andy.”

All Derek got for his efforts was some drool on his naked shoulder as Andy continued to wail. Derek sighed, going inside and making a beeline for the kitchen. He struggled to get a small cup of hot chocolate (something his mother used to make him as a child when he was upset) when the sound of whimpering caught his ears from across the house.

Oh no.

Olly’s bedroom door opened and Derek barely had time to set the milk down and shut the stove off before Olly was sobbing quietly in the living room. “Daddy,” he whined, “daddy!”

Derek rushed to reach him as Olly started snuffle into his palms like he was holding back his tears. “Daddy, I want Stiles,” Olly pleaded. Only Derek couldn’t give him Stiles; just like he couldn’t give Andy her frog toy; just like he couldn’t keep anyone in his life except two children who were forced to be dependent on him.

“Stiles isn’t here,” Derek rasped, finding himself sinking to the ground before he could really register what was happening. Olly lost all his resolve, lip wobbling and eyes going wet and then the first of many wails escaping him. Derek scooped Olly into his arms, struggling to stand with a crying child on each hip. He was so tired--he hadn’t slept properly in days, had been run ragged at work and at home, and he just was done.

Heading into the guest bedroom, Derek maneuvered the children under the covers before climbing in and pulling them onto his chest. When he pulled the quilt up, Stiles’ faint scent encompassed them and both Andy and Olly’s cries instantly seemed to die down. The longer it went, the calmer they got until Stiles’ scent, like a soothing balm, was able to help lull them--and Derek--to sleep.


First thing in the morning, after Derek got himself and the children showered and dressed for the day, he decided to have a chat with their sitter before heading out. She was probably in her 70s to 80s, with white hair pulled into a messy bun and layers of fur and cloth that reminded Derek of a distant relative who insisted they should just hunt for food and clothes instead of going to the store.

“Gigi,” Derek greeted her when she came in just after breakfast. Gigi nodded back, frowning at the sight of Andy in one of the dresses they’d fetched from the garage, but not saying a word about it.

Derek stood, gesturing for her to follow until they were alone in the living room. He turned the baby monitor onto white nose (that had taken a while to dig out of his closet) and then facing the elderly werewolf. “I saw you took some of Andy’s things.”


“You had no right to do that; especially throwing some away.”

“I‘m sorry, Mr. Hale. I just felt the toys weren‘t appropriate for Andy,” Gigi said kindly, her smile thin-lipped. Derek wished desperately that he could growl and snap at her, intimidate her into begging forgiveness…but he couldn’t. He wasn’t sixteen anymore and he wasn’t so foolish as to behave like a petulant child.

All he could do was narrow his eyes and ask icily, “They‘re children‘s toys. How are they inappropriate?”

Gigi clasped her gnarled hands together, head inclining towards Derek as if she had a secret to tell. “I think you know, sir.”

“Get the fuck out of my house,” Derek spat, the words bursting out of his chest before he could even fathom trying to fire her in a more professional manner. How was it that he had let Stiles get away with so much, and all this woman had to do was throw away a few toys and Derek wanted her gone for good?

Oh yeah. Stiles did it because he wanted the children to be happy. He’d done so much for Derek’s family and now he was gone.

Gigi stared,, spluttered protests, and Derek wasted no time in getting her out of the house after pulling a $10 out to cover her gas expenses for driving to the house. Looping back into the kitchen after she was gone, Derek at where Olly and Andy were sleepily eating their cereal. They were still exhausted from the night before--but that made it easier for Derek to bolster himself on the idea of taking them into the office. He had meetings all afternoon, but Erica got along well enough with them, he could probably foist Andy and Olly onto her until he was done with the meetings.

The trip to the office was almost scarily simple. Derek had to help them both get dressed because they were so tired, which mean that the drive was filled only with the soft snuffles of Olly’s half-snores and Andy’s heavy breathing. He pulled into the parking garage, thankful that executive parking meant he didn’t have very far to go to reach the elevator with a diaper bag on his hip (full of toys, snacks, movies, and a portable dvd player) and two snoozing children in his arms.

The look on some of his employees faces was almost unsettling when Derek was trapped in the elevator with a few interns. At least he could ignore their gaping stares in favor of pressing his nose into Olly’s hair and kissing his temple as he rocked them to keep either one from waking up until he at least got to give them over to Erica.

Erica’s face was a mixture of horrified and disbelieving when Derek stepped into her office with them--which almost made all of this worth it.

“Are you crazy?” She hissed, “you have three meetings today--how are you going to watch them? What happened to the sitter?”

Derek frowned, pushing Andy into her arms and then setting the diaper bag on her desk. Erica instantly caught on, shaking her head and trying to shove Andy back at him. “Oh no, buddy. You pay me to redirect phone calls and answer emails pretending to be you; not to babysit your children.”

Frustration rising, Derek pulled Olly’s blanket out of the diaper bag, flicking it open and then laying it on the ground beside Erica’s office chair. “Consider it a means to keep me from firing you after your amazing advice lost me the love of my life, hm?” Derek set Olly on the blanket, jaw clenching and his chest burning at the memory of it all. Erica looked startled, pulling Andy back into her arms and looking away.

“I didn’t--”

“It’s fine,” Derek interrupted, sighing and running his hand over Olly’s head. At least the children had slept through his outburst. “You didn’t make me drink the wine.”

“Well,” Erica cringed, “I kinda did.”

Derek stared at her, because sometimes he wondered why people ever bothered to come up with more reasons why they should be blamed for something. Then again, Erica was his beta and she probably got it from him.

When Erica only shrugged helplessly, Derek rolled his eyes and then took Andy to lie her down on the blanket with Olly. He crouched in, kissing the both of them gently on the head and then hesitating before rubbing his mouth and hand along their small cheeks, scentmarking them just enough to get rid of Gigi’s lingering smell.

Standing, Derek gestured to the children one last time, “watch them until I’m done with the meetings,” he said before heading out.

Erica released an indignant sound, shoving her head out the door and whisper-shouting at him, “if I wanted children, I wouldn’t be on the pill!” just before Derek disappeared down the hall towards the conference room.

The first meeting wasn’t so bad, other than Peter constantly putting up an unnecessary commentary in Derek’s ear during the presentation. They discussed the pros and cons of funding the project--one designed to create a chemical that could be used to slow the werewolf healing process. It would be a great scientific step forward for things like plastic surgery and an easier method of tattooing and body modification.

Derek, despite Peter and a few other chairmen voicing their reluctance, was eager to put the approval forth. Who knew how advanced it could be in, say, twenty years. In case Andy ever needed surgery for something, now Derek knew that she would still have a chance at getting it.

It was halfway through the second presentation on the proposal to get funding for clinics catering towards expectant mothers when the loud scream of a child broke echoed across the entire building. The entire conference room fell silent and Derek’s gut sunk down somewhere to his feet.

He could recognize the sound of Andry’s tantrum battle cry anywhere in the world.

While everyone in the meeting started to look around in confusion, Derek slowly sunk down into his seat, hoping that the scream would be the end of it. He buried his face behind a palm, cringing when another scream and crash followed.

Derek tried desperately to pretend he couldn’t hear the sounds of shouting coming from down the hall, but now the entirety of the conference room went to the door to investigate. Peter had been suspiciously absent for the past ten minutes, and Derek should have known his uncle going near the children would end in disaster. Peter was, if nothing, an instigator.

When he reached Erica’s office (and the source of the wailing), his secretary was nowhere in sight and Peter was standing in the corner with his phone out and pointed at the desk. The desk where Andy was standing on the chair, screaming, “No! NO!” and swiping everything off in a clatter of pens and paperwork.

Olly, at least, wasn’t crying. He was just standing in the corner with his hands over his mouth dramatically. Derek didn’t know which child to go for first when Andy wailed, “I hate you!” and swung her arms in such a huge arc that she knocked Erica’s computer monitor off the desk. The screen cracked and Andy’s shrieking increased over Olly’s loud gasp.

“You broked it!” Olly cried, “Andy!”

Derek swooped forward, hand reaching out to grab Andy when she vaulted from the chair with a screech that made Derek’s ears ring. He tried to grab her again, desperate to stop the madness, when she ran around him, grabbed the chord for the monitor, and bolted out of the office as fast as her little werewolf feet could take her.

He felt lost, frustration welling up and making Derek want to burst into exhausted tears as he watched his daughter go bolting through entire office with a computer monitor smashing and thundering behind her. It only got worse when people started to poke their heads out of their cubicles and offices, wondering where the origin of the screaming and crashing was coming from.

Derek looked down at Olly, but all his son did was throw his hands up in the most innocent ‘it wasn’t me!’ pose that Derek had ever seen him do.

Erica chose that moment to come bursting back in, her hair wild and chest heaving as she pointed an accusing finger at Peter. “You said you would watch them while I took a piss!” she shrieked. Peter shrugged, holding his phone up and wiggling it about.

“I am watching them,” he said easily, tucking his phone into his blazer and strolling out of the office while Erica seethed. Andy was still screaming, and Derek got ready to go after her when her screaming abruptly cut off in a loud choking grunt.

Erica and Derek looked out to see Boyd’s hand rising from the maze of cubicles, holding Andy like an offering to the gods. Or to Derek’s thinning patience. Boyd pulled her back down, and there was more yelling that soon died down as he headed back to Erica’s office. By the time Boyd reached them, Andy was curled into his large embrace, crying softly and coughing every now and then.

When Boyd went to hand her over, Andy clung to his shirt and whined. It hurt, but Derek had a feeling that she was more terrified of Derek being mad at her than anything. He reached out, sighing loudly.

“Come here, honey,” he said, getting a hand under Andy’s arm to pull her out of Boyd’s hold. She whimpered, sniffling and then twisting and reaching for Derek like a needy monkey. Derek tried to ignore how all of his employees were watching, instead taking Andy back into Erica’s office and gesturing for Boyd to shut the door.

“I di’in’t do it,” Olly proclaimed softly, coming over when Derek sat in Erica’s chair. “Uncle Peta did!”

Derek kissed away Andy’s tears, rocking her as she finally started to calm, and looked down at Olly in confusion. Boyd crouched down next to Olly, brushing his head and asking, “What did he do?”

Olly fidgeted, scowling and huffing like he was having trouble remembering all the words they wanted him to repeat. After a second, he whined and pointed at the trash can and cried softly, “he said it was cuz Andy was bad! Andy‘s not bad! Andy‘s my sister!”

Dread filled Derek’s stomach as Boyd approached the trash can and frowned. Andy was quieter now, sniffing and whining a little when Boyd pulled out the decapitated body of her favorite Rapunzel doll. Derek felt infuriated, but he kept his anger in check and turned to look down at Andy. “We can fix it,” he said firmly, “and get her a new dress, too.”

Andy’s head snapped up, eyes wide and cheeks ruddy as she stared up at him. “Really?” she whispered, as if afraid to hope. Derek nodded and Andy sniffed again with a moan of, “okay.”

As much as Derek wanted to punish Peter, he had too much on his plate. He didn’t really want to involve the company, and after a week of running on too-little sleep and trying constantly to keep up with work and the children, Derek was too tired to deal with it.

“Boss?” Boyd piped up, lifting the doll and it’s head, “want me to put this in the kid’s bag?”

Derek nodded, “yeah, and schedule someone to key Peter’s car next month,” he sighed, earning a snort from Boyd. Passive aggression had always been Derek’s favorite method of dealing with things, anyway.

Right now, more than anything, Derek wanted Stiles.

He wanted Stiles to rant and rave, to talk about injustices and go mouth off to Peter until Derek had to pull him away and act like he was mad at Stiles for saying all the things that Derek couldn’t. He wanted Stiles to be the one to hold Andy, to tell her she was beautiful and to somehow whip up some temporary fix for the doll just to make her smile.

He wanted so much, and was left with nothing in return.

They ended up leaving the office early. It was a little later than the normal lunch time, but Derek had been so busy issuing out apologies and letting some of the employees coo over the children that he’d lost track of time. Derek made a point to swing by one of the nearby drive-thrus on their way home.

“What do you guys want?” he asked, trying to read the menu when they were three cars back in line. Andy sighed from her spot behind Derek, feet kicking the back of his seat hard enough to make Derek bounce as he looked over his shoulder at them.

Olly stared forlornly out the window, hands fidgeting in his lap. Derek reached back, poking him in the leg and prompting a sad noise out of his son. “Stiles,” Olly muttered crankily, scooting as far down in his car seat as possible.

Biting back the desire to swat Olly (because Olly wasn’t the only one who missed Stiles, despite how much he thought otherwise), Derek took a calming breath. “Well, Stiles isn’t here. Tell me what you want to eat.”

“I want Stiles too,” Andy piped up, throwing her hands in the air like she could magically conjure him from nothingness. Derek growled, hand curling into the steering wheel before he looked around to see if any cars were blocking him in. Seeing that he was free, Derek pulled out of the drive-thru. If the children were going to be difficult, they could just wait to eat until they got home.

Of course, even though they had refused to cooperate earlier in Derek’s attempt to feed them, that meant the last ten minutes of the ride was hell. Olly kept whining about being hungry, and Andy wouldn’t stop kicking the back of Derek’s seat and going on about how Stiles would have gotten her a doll and that Stiles liked to hug Olly when he cried, and that Stiles always played Raffi for them to sing along to.

Derek’s patience finally snapped near the end. He slammed on the brakes at a red light, whipping his head around at the same time he pounded his hand against the empty passenger seat. “Stiles isn’t coming back!” he cried, voice cracking, “now be quiet until we get home!”

At first, Derek thought he’d gotten the silence he had wanted all along. There wasn’t a peep from the back seat for the time it took him to turn around and start driving again when the light went green, and then Olly whimpered and Andy let out a sob.

He turned the radio on, cranking up the volume to try and drown out the sound of their screaming. He couldn’t do this--he just wanted to go home and sleep forever and let the children take care of themselves. He couldn’t though, and no amount of exhaustion or depression was going to make Derek ever fathom the idea of abandoning his children.

Pulling into their driveway, Olly was still wailing his lungs out while Derek parked, got out, and fetched them from the back. Andy wasn’t as loud, still sobbing a little, but Olly was deafening as he howled the entire trip into the house and even through being put in his booster seat at the kitchen table.

Derek tried to tune out the crying, hurrying to make the sloppiest, fattest PB&J sandwiches known to man. He put a handful of baby carrots on each plate, grabbing the children’s glasses and putting some juice in each one. Andy was completely calmed down when he handed her food over. She dug in with gusto, stabbing her carrots messily into the gut of the sandwich and then chomping on it once there was goo all over it. Olly, however, was still having a fit. When Derek set the cup down, he screamed and slapped it over, making juice spill everywhere.

Derek rushed to clean it up, his suit staining orange when it got all over his stomach. He sighed, searching the pantry for Olly’s space shuttle cup and filling that up, the lid screwing on tightly so when Olly swatted it, nothing happened.

“Come on, Olly,” Derek pleaded, sitting down tiredly in his own seat and bringing a carrot to Olly’s mouth, “I thought you were hungry?”

“No!” Olly shouted, and smacked the carrot out of Derek’s hand. Andy was munching innocently on her own food, plate a decimated massacre of bread and jelly, but at least she was eating.

Looking up, Andy licked peanut butter messily from her hand and then made a loud sound of disappointment, “Daddy! You din’t get him any raisins!”

Oh, how Derek wanted to flip the table and storm out in a fury. Instead, he sighed and stood up. It took him a good couple minutes to find the tin of raisins in the pantry, and when he upended it on Olly’s plate to make a small mountain of them on his sandwich, it was like turning off a switch.

Quieting, Olly snuffled, wiped his face, and then started to eat with no noise other than a few sad whines.

Derek exhaled shakily, ears ringing, and dragged his feet all the way into the living room. The kids could eat on their own, because he needed to go sit down for a little while.

He didn’t even realize he’d fallen asleep until he awoke to the sound of childish whispers.

“Daddy?” Andy breathed, shaking his leg gently. The shaking stopped and Derek almost drifted off again when Olly piped up next.

“Shh, he’s sleeping!”

Derek kept his eyes shut, trying to remain relaxed so, maybe, they would just watch TV or something and let him be for a little while.

“He’s daddy! Daddys don’t need naps,” Andy hissed.

“Maybe he needs a nap cuz you broked stuff.”

“Daddy breaks stuff and doesn’t need a nap,”

“Maybe Daddy’s broked too,” Olly said quietly, releasing a pained noise that almost had Derek opening his eyes.

“I don’t want Daddy to be broked.” Andy whimpered, and Derek felt her hands grabbing onto his fingers and shaking his hand a little.

“Stiles says cuddles fix everythin’,” Olly offered. There was a moment of quiet, and then the couch shifted as the children climbed up onto it. Derek shifted, yawning and picking up his arms when Andy and Olly snuggled up under them and against his chest. Olly echoed his yawn, cheek rubbing Derek’s stomach as he curled his fingers into Derek’s shirt.

“Daddy, I miss Stiles,” he murmured sadly. Derek pulled them in tight, holding them in his arms in a way that meant he’d never let them go.

“Me too, baby,” he muttered, letting Andy and Olly snuffle into his shoulders and throat and falling back asleep.

The sound of his phone trilling loudly in his pocket was what woke Derek up. He jerked, catching Olly before he tumbled down Derek’s chest, and shifted until he could get his phone out.

The caller ID flashed Stiles’ name and Derek’s heart froze in his chest. He rushed to answer, thumb shaking as he flicked it over the screen and pulled his cell up to his ear.

“Stiles, I’m so--”

“This is Stiles’ dad,” Sheriff Stilinski cut in. Derek cringed, but exhaled slowly. The reason Stiles had been hired in the first place was because Derek knew the sheriff personally due to the company being a direct correspondent in werewolf/law enforcement relations. His heart sank, and it took him a second to really try and compose himself after such a sudden disappointment.

“Is Stiles okay?”

A grunt, and then a sigh. “I don’t know what caused you to fire my son, but he misses those kids like hell,” Sheriff said firmly, “now… I don’t normally call in favors, but I know you owe me more than a few.”

Derek tightened his arm around Andy and Olly, “I do.”

“Well, Stiles is getting stitches right now--”

“What?” Derek barked, sitting up so fast that this time he did knock Olly off. Olly rolled, hitting Andy and then whining before he wiggled his way down next to his sister. “Is he okay?”

“He’s fine,” Sheriff assured, sighing again. “It’s just that… the kid’s been miserable all week. I know he was just a sitter, but he loved those kids…”

“They loved him too,” Derek assured, swallowing back the urge to say, ‘and I did too,’ for fear of getting himself shot the next time he had to stop by the station. Sheriff snorted, muttering something under his breath that Derek couldn’t pick up over the phone.

“If it’s not too much to ask, do you think you could bring ‘em by for a little while? He’ll be on painkillers, but I think he could use the cheering up.”

Derek wanted to cry, wanted to thank the sheriff over and over again because this was exactly what Derek needed. Stiles refused to talk to him--but if his father was the one who invited Derek in, then he had to listen. Derek had fucked up a lot, and he knew that sometimes Stiles’ pride kept him from trying to fix arguments, but if they could just talk, there might be another chance hidden somewhere.

“Of course,” he breathed out, clearing his throat and then sliding just enough so the children were fully on the couch. He stood, stretching his legs and shaking his limbs out. “When would be a good time.”

“He’ll be home soon--are you busy in two hours?”

Derek looked at the clock, surprised to see that it was already six. “Yes, that’s fine, nine is okay.”

The kids had napped plenty long; they'd still be awake when eight rolled around. He doubted they could sleep through seeing Stiles again, anyway.

“You sure?”

Looking to where Andy and Olly had curled up together on the couch, Derek’s heart panged at the thought of letting them see Stiles again. That pang became an ache that burned through his entire core at the thought--the hope--that he could somehow fix this.


Chapter Text

To say Stiles had misjudged how badly he would miss the children would be an understatement. The entire week dragged by with a deadened ache sitting heavy in his chest, making it hard to even want to do anything outside of lying in bed on his computer and coming out only for food and to use the bathroom.

Stiles had told his dad that Derek had fired him, but that was because it was easier than trying to explain the fight and how Stiles and Derek were apparently suffering the world’s largest miscommunication in the history of ever.

Either way, that didn’t make the pain any less. Sometimes he would walk around expecting to hear giggles or to feel hands pulling at his arm and begging to be lifted up. Instead it was just silence that was only broken by Scott and Isaac coming by a couple times during the week to try and cheer him up.

Stiles knew that they were just being good friends, but it hurt when Scott or Isaac would reach out to grab his shoulder or neck. Most of the time it was an instinctive movement--trying to replace Derek and the children’s scents with their own…trying to subtly erase all signs that Stiles had ever been a member of that broken pack.

That’s pretty much what Derek and the children had been at first…and Stiles had tried with all of his heart to bring them together. He’d gotten himself in too deep and that’s when it had come to the breaking point. Stiles couldn’t even bear to think about Derek for fear of losing his breath in a way that was entirely unpleasant. He had left with no closure, no goodbyes. Just a kiss to Andy and Olly’s head after tucking them in, and trying his hardest to ignore the soft, pained plea Derek had made that was really just Stiles’ name.

Stiles had practically run out the door; grabbing his things and heading out to where Scott was waiting outside to pick him up after a call from Stiles.

Yelling at Derek had been a bad idea in the first place, because resorting to anger never got anywhere. The way Derek had looked haunted Stiles--how he had seemed so stunned that the words were barely registering. Stiles knew he had overreacted, that he had said things that came across just as wrong as Derek’s words had.

Quitting in the midst of an emotional fit was probably the most idiotic decision Stiles had ever made. Stiles had left and he was pretty sure the children were beside themselves. Actually, Stiles was positive that they were. Derek had left him a few text messages and voice mails, all of them filled with apologies for things he said but none of them taking his words back.

Stiles wondered if Derek even remembered half of what he said

He may have also taken a page out of Derek’s book and gotten gloriously shitfaced when things came to be too much. Yeah, it had been in the middle of the day, but couldn’t help it--he was only human. The more time he thought about that night, the more he realized how epically he had helped screw things up.

The only downside was that trying to take a shower while inebriated had resulted in Stiles slipping and cracking his head open on the bathroom counter. The alcohol had helped the pain but had made the bleeding twice as bad. It hadn’t been one of Stiles’ most shining moments to lay naked on his bathroom floor with a hand on his head, warbling for his dad while trying to stop the room from spinning.

Which would be why Stiles had ended up chilling in his dad’s cruiser, high on painkillers with his head throbbing from the three stitches that he’d needed, waiting for his dad to come back from picking up some rubber gloves in the store. Apparently they didn’t have the necessary equipment to clean up the mess of blood Stiles had left all over the bathroom. It was only a stroke of luck that he hadn't used the giddy buzz of hydrocodone to blather on to his dad about Derek and the children. Instead, Stiles had used it to remember them much more fondly than he had in the past week.

On the upside; he wasn’t drunk anymore.

Now Stiles was sitting in his room on his laptop, trying to do some homework while riding the high of his painkillers. The upside to them was that it made him a little emotionally numb as well, which kept his depression at bay. He missed the children something awful; missed Derek just as much. This was probably some process of mourning--like getting over a bad breakup that he’d been responsible for.

The doorbell rang and Stiles almost wanted to get up just to text Scott and tell him--for the fourth time--that he was fine and did not need any special wolf mojo, but decided he didn’t feel like fetching his phone from the desk. Instead, Stiles sighed and strained his ears to try and hear if his dad was talking to Scott and if Isaac had come along. If anything, their company would be nice. The sucky thing about the meds they gave him was that they weren't strong enough to make him feel anything other than a little numb and high, which meant Stiles wouldn't be out of it enough to justify avoiding any mother-hen lectures from Scott.

Dad knocked on his door, head peeking in to say, “you’ve got some friends here to see you,” with a sly smile in the corner of his mouth. Stiles frowned, because Scott and Isaac practically let themselves in whenever they wanted. In that moment, as his dad started to open the door, Stiles knew.

He knew, and he suddenly couldn’t breathe or even feel his hands or face from the burning in his chest when the door was pushed open to reveal Derek standing there with the twins in his arms. The side of Stiles’ head throbbed with the tension, stitches aching while Stiles tried to swallow the massive, suffocating lump in his throat.

Andy let out a screech of Stiles’ name, wriggling out of Derek’s arms and running straight for the bed. Stiles helped her up, dragging her small body into his arms before he could even think about what he was doing. It was like the weight on his chest that had been slowly crushing him day by day was finally lifted. Andy was talking a mile a minute, her voice loud and trembling before she broke off into tears. Stiles rubbed her back, his entire body shaking in disbelief.

How had this happened? How had they known? Was this some sort of sign? All Stiles had to do was pine hard enough and the whole Hale family would appear?

“I’m fine, sweets,” Stiles rasped, stroking Andy’s hair while she continued to cry. Stiles looked up when he realized that Olly still wasn’t on the bed, heart breaking to see Olly holding onto Derek for dear life and shaking his head furiously.

Stiles held a hand out, trying to silently beg Derek to hand Olly over. Derek rubbed his hand down Olly’s back, muttering something into his ear that had Olly shaking his head and sobbing out, “no!” like it was the worst thing to possibly happen to him. That hurt more than anything Stiles could fathom. Olly didn’t even want to see him--he must have felt so betrayed, and there was nothing Stiles could do to make up for it.

“Olly,” Stiles pleaded, shakily rubbing Andy’s back and trying to get her settled into his lap more comfortably. Olly made a broken noise, whimpering and hiding his face into Derek’s throat. “Olly, I’m sorry,” Stiles tried again. Suddenly he needed Olly in his arms, needed to hold him and be assured that he was okay. It was an urgent, panicky feeling that made Stiles’ heart pick up and his lungs constrict.

Derek took a step closer, and then hesitated. Stiles gestured for him to come closer and it was like finally snapping the tether that held Derek trapped in the doorway. He crossed the room, sitting on the foot of the bed and saying softly, “Come on, Olly, don’t you want to see Stiles?”


Stiles winced, head throbbing and body shaking as he said, “Olly, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to leave. I love you,” and those were the magic words, because Olly scrambled out of Derek’s arms and ran across the bed towards Stiles. He tripped over Stiles’ leg, falling face first into his stomach, but Stiles quickly hauled the child up into his arms. Olly wailed, throwing his arms around Stiles’ neck and clutching to him.

Andy’s sobs muffled down into heavy, uneven breathing as she clung to Stiles. Olly, however, wasn’t getting any better. He was hysterical, crying so hard that his face was red and each breath was sharp and pained. When Olly started to cough, Stiles rubbed his back and peppered kisses on wherever he could reach. He brought both arms around the children, heart aching just at the feeling of having them in his arms again. It was terrifying how much it felt like they were his own children.

“It’s okay, Olly,” Stiles soothed, “I love you, I’m sorry I left. You’re okay, I love you,” he started to rock them both, turning and kissing Andy on the cheek and temple and whispering the same sentiments to her. When Olly finally, finally calmed down, Stiles used the corner of his bed sheet to wipe tears and snot from his face, cleaning him up and kissing his forehead before resting back against the headboard with the children on his chest and lap.

Looking up to see Derek staring at him was not something he expected. Stiles had been so absorbed in Andy and Olly’s distress that he hadn’t noticed Derek’s. Derek didn’t look upset, he looked devastated.

“Come back,” he blurted, like their lives were on the line if Stiles didn’t agree, “please come back.”

Those words did something inside of Stiles, made his very bones ache and his jaw hurt from how hard he was clenching it. This was exactly why he had ignored Derek’s pleas--because there was no way Stiles could turn him down, not when he looked so desperate. Stiles’ hand stilled on Andy’s back, the other still brushing over Olly’s head.

Derek shifted, making an aborted gesture with his hand like he didn’t know how to express what he needed. “I’ll raise your pay--let you pick your hours. You don’t even have to sit full time. I just--” Derek choked, mouthing wordlessly and then dropping his eyes to where Olly was still crying into Stiles’ shoulder. He looked like it was physically painful to see his children so upset, like he was being tortured with each second that passed.

“They don’t eat, they don’t sleep… none of us are happy without you and they keep fighting me,” Derek breathed, “they bit the last two sitters and just--please. Come back.

And there it was, right? That’s what Stiles had been waiting for? For Derek to beg forgiveness and to have him come back? Wasn’t he supposed to be pleased?

No. Stiles wasn’t pleased; wasn’t angry or smug or any of the other emotions he should have felt at Derek finally breaking down in front of him like this. Stiles just felt horrified. Horrified, guilty and distraught.

What had he done? He’d nearly broken this family all over again, and Stiles was pretty sure that no matter how hurtful Derek’s words had been, Stiles had hurt him back just as bad by leaving the way he had.

“I shouldn’t have left,” Stiles rasped, swallowing the pain in his throat that made it almost impossible to talk. Just thinking of what the children must have gone through in his absence made a bile rise up in his throat.

"I don't care that you left, just come back," Derek blurted out, sounding half out of his mind as he curled his fingers over the top of Stiles’ foot, just a layer of blankets separating their skin. His hand was shaking, grip firm, and it sent an electric shock all the way up Stiles’ leg and straight into his rapidly beating heart.

Stiles clutched to the children, the word, “okay,” practically punched out of him.

It really was that simple. Stiles wondered if the entire visit was some elaborate dream. Andy and Olly spent an hour telling him in excited, garbled childspeak about their time with the other sitters, their visit to Derek’s office (what Stiles would have given just to see that happening. Judging from Derek’s face, it must have been particularly memorable) and the mean sitter that had taken all of Andy’s toys away. If it weren't for his medication and the dull ache in his head, Stiles would have pitched a fit and demanded they go to the store for new toys right away. He hoped later, once things started to go back to normal, that maybe a trip could be made to the store and Stiles could get the children some gifts and things as an apology for leaving.

What Stiles remembered more than anything was the way Derek’s hand resting on his ankle the entire time felt like a brand he could never get rid of.

By the time Derek finally had to leave, it took at least a hundred assurances that Stiles would come in the morning. Stiles had ended up giving Andy and Olly one of his shoes each with the explanation that he had to come over in the morning if he wanted to get his shoes back.

Stiles had arrived early, making a beeline for the kitchen to start in on breakfast like he’d always done. With the children still sleeping, Stiles felt suffocated in the kitchen while Derek sat at the table and watched him with endless scrutiny.

“I’m sorry,” Derek finally said, his voice a sleepy gravel that made shudders go down Stiles’ spine, “what I said… it was out of line.”

Stiles turned the burner off, twisting around and leaning against the counter. “Do you even remember that night?”

Taken aback, Derek’s eyes went wide and Stiles could see the way his bare chest expanded with a sudden nervous sigh. “Most,” Derek admitted, “but not all of it.”

“You said you hated me, man,” Stiles croaked, giving a weak laugh and gesturing vaguely, “I thought you didn’t want me here any more.”

No matter how stricken Derek looked to hear his own words laid bare, Stiles wasn’t in the mood to see it. He turned back around, flicking the burner on once more and going back to flipping the eggs he was frying up. He heard Derek get up--chair scraping on the wood of the kitchen floor--and clutched to the frying pan like he could just Rapunzel his way out of an upcoming bad situation.

Derek’s body was warm as he hovered in close, but Stiles refused to look up. Instead, he grabbed some pepper, dashing it onto the eggs and pushing them around the pan.

“I was angry at myself,” Derek muttered, reaching up and wrapping his fingers around Stiles’ shoulder, “I was projecting and I shouldn’t have done that...I could never hate you.”

Stiles glanced up, finding it hard to breathe at how close Derek had gotten. “Yeah, well I guess I make a better punching bag for your issues, huh?” he asked bitterly. Derek’s fingers tightened, and he leaned forward to turn the burner off and force Stiles to face him.

“Don’t talk like that,” Derek said harshly, “don’t talk like you think you deserve whatever I did to you. I forced you and you--you stopped me…and I acted like a child.”

Stiles wanted to shrug, but Derek’s hold was firm. It was like he was trying to keep Stiles from fighting against his instinct to self-blame. He ducked his head, breathing in slowly and closing his eyes. “I still shouldn’t have left like that,” he admitted weakly, “so I guess we both fucked up.”

When he lifted his head, Derek was close--too close. Stiles felt suffocated with this painful urge to lean in and kiss him, but he couldn’t. He didn’t want a repeat of last week, to find out if it had really all been lust. It was terrifying and daunting and Stiles didn’t even have the courage to just ask Derek how he felt.

“If that’s what you want to think,” Derek said lowly, watching Stiles’ every move. Stiles pulled out of Derek’s hold, twisting back to the food and trying to ignore the way the back of his neck and ears burned.

“Yeah, works for me,” he said weakly, and wanted to weep in relief as the children sleepily stumbled into the kitchen before Derek could move any closer than he already was.

Derek worked from home for the entire day, mostly holed up in his office, but coming out every now and then to hover while Stiles played with the children. There was a few times that Stiles had needed to push the children onto Derek and lie down when his head bothered him too much, but he made sure to turn down any offers Derek made to send him home. The worst thing that could happen would be for Stiles to suddenly leave all over again. They ate lunch and Derek was still quiet as ever, only answering when someone would directly as him a question. The way he watched Stiles was unsettling--like he was trying to pick apart Stiles’ brain. It was intense and overwhelming when Stiles had spent the past week in relative solitude.

When it was time for him to go home, Stiles couldn’t. The children refused to go down for bed, constantly pleading that Stiles might not be there when they woke up. Finally, Derek had enough.

“I can pay you for the night,” he offered, Olly clinging to his arm and looking at Stiles like he was about to betray him all over again. Stiles swallowed back the lump in his throat, shaking his head and trying to ignore the way guilt ate away at him.

“You don’t have to… it’s my fault they’re like this,” he said quietly--because it was. That night he had just left and never come back. To do that to these children, who had already suffered enough abandonment only months before, made Stiles hate himself all over again. “I’ll stay.”

Derek’s shoulders sagged in relief, mouthing, ‘thank you,’ and then hurrying to inform the children that Stiles would stay the night if they went to bed.

Stiles took the guest room (surprised to see the sheets rumpled like it had been used recently), going to bed early after hours of exhausting himself playing with the kids when he had gotten used to slacking off and doing nothing for the past week.

He woke up to the sound of crying children. Blearily, Stiles caught that it was just past one in the morning on the bedside clock as he rolled out of bed. He followed the sounds of sobbing, knocking on Derek’s bedroom door and then letting himself in to see Andy and Olly clutching their father and crying their eyes out. Derek looked disoriented, holding them and blinking tiredly.

Stiles didn’t really think, he just walked forward until he reached the bed. Derek had half a second to stare at him in sleepy surprise before Stiles climbed in on the other side of the bed. He gently eased the children off of Derek and instead between them so that they were sandwiched between Derek and Stiles’ bodies, flinging one arm over both their tiny forms and nuzzling into Olly’s hair when he clung to Stiles’ t-shirt. Stiles rubbed Andy’s back, kissing Olly on the head and feeling Derek’s arm mirror his own by draping over the children.

Stiles barely registered the back of Derek’s hand stroking his stomach before he fell right back asleep.

He woke up in increments, first sensing the feel of two small bodies snuggled into his side, and then the warmth of soft sheets and the sound of an overhead fan creaking while wind blew in from an open window. The room smelt like a combination of musk, baby powder, and fresh air; so comforting that Stiles almost didn‘t want to get up at all.

Stiles opened his eyes slowly, staring down at Olly and Andy under the protection of his arm, and couldn’t help but feel a sharp pang in his gut that wished desperately that these two were his children.

“Thank you.”

Stiles looked up, surprised to see Derek sitting in an office chair at the other end of the room, typing on a laptop in nothing but his boxers. Stiles felt his heart stutter, but ignored it in favor of sitting up properly. Andy snuffled, face rubbing into his stomach before she fell back asleep.

“You shouldn’t be thanking me,” Stiles denied quietly, “I’m the one who left you here with no sitter and no explanation to the kids.”

“It was my fault,” Derek countered, “I said things I didn’t mean, and acted out of line.”

Stiles really didn’t want to start playing the blame game, especially because if either of them won, it would still leave a whole lot of pained, awkward silences to be dealt with. He sighed, rubbing a hand down Olly’s side and shrugging. “Everyone screws up,” he said, “that doesn’t mean I should have left.”

Derek stared for an exorbitant amount of time, his fingers stilling on the keyboard, before he shut the laptop and quietly murmured, “I have to go into the office today.”

It took a second for Stiles to register what he meant, and then he laughed awkwardly, “oh yeah, let me just--” he tried to wriggle his way out from under the children, but Olly’s whine was loud and pained when he got shifted off of Stiles’ chest. Derek snorted, getting up and coming over to lift Olly off the bed. Stiles grabbed Andy and they carried the kids into the living room to sit with Stiles while Derek got ready for work.

Stiles turned the TV on, pulling a blanket over Olly and Andy and then heading in the kitchen to make breakfast. They got up halfway through, coming into the kitchen and climbing up into their chairs to sit and watch Stiles cook.

Stiles made sure to finish Derek’s food first, sliding his fried egg sandwich onto a plate just as Derek came into the kitchen in full business gear, briefcase in hand. His face lit up when Stiles slid the plate towards him, looking excited to see that he had food waiting for him. Stiles couldn’t help the small coil of want in his gut, missing all of this terribly and simultaneously wishing there were more to it.

Before getting his sandwich, Derek headed for the table to kiss both Andy and Olly on the head. He came back to reach for Stiles, hand freezing right before he started to do his customary scenting-touch that he’d always done before. The hesitation was obvious--and so was the conflict in Derek’s eyes. He didn’t know if it was okay anymore.

His guilt grew, and Stiles exhaled before stepping forward and pressed his cheek into Derek’s palm.

The look of shock on Derek’s face was almost comical, eyes daring to Stiles’ face and then to where his palm was curved over his cheek and jaw. Stiles could hear Derek’s breath hitch, and he practically nuzzled into the soft skin of Derek's hand, seeking more pressure as he said, “I’m pack, right?”

Derek nodded.

“Sometimes pack messes up, but that doesn’t make us no longer pack, right?” God, was he nervous. He was pretty sure his heart was going to beat out of his chest. He needed things to be okay--needed to verify that the things Derek said that night were not true, that this, here and now, was really what Derek felt.

With a heavy swallow, Derek gently stroked his thumb over the high point of Stiles’ cheekbone. Stiles let his eyes fall shut, tilting into the feeling as he heard Derek softly exhale, “yeah, you’re pack.”

Stiles was pretty sure that, if this were a movie, he would have opened his eyes to Derek kissing him. Instead, he felt Derek’s hand pull away, and just barely heard Derek muttering about being home for lunch before he was heading out of the house.

Stiles tried to calm his heart, but fuck, he had missed that so much. It was like being away had increased the sensation tenfold. Just a single touch from Derek had him clammy and shaky, wanting and wishing for what he couldn’t have.

The children--despite Derek’s claims that they had been utter hell all week--were on their best behavior all morning. Stiles almost wondered if they had been replaced by weird alien clones…until Andy had punched Stiles’ block castle over with a cackle, which was sadly reassuring.

When Derek came home for lunch, Stiles made sure to have everything ready. His heart almost jumped out of his chest when Derek not only slipped into the kitchen quietly, but came up behind Stiles at the sink to press a hand against his lower back.

“Need any help?”

“N-no, food’s all ready,” Stiles rasped, shrugging his shoulder to the four plates on the counter, “just washing my hands.”

Derek hummed, “we can eat in the living room today. The kids are watching a movie anyway.”

Stiles nodded, gesturing for Derek to take the plates, “I’ll get the drinks,” he said, and then started to dry his hands off while Derek miraculously balanced all four plates full of made-from-scratch pizza (thank you internet) out into the living room.

Stiles got milk for the twins and water for himself and Derek before remembering Derek’s apparent distaste for water. He poured a cup of apple juice instead--because if Olly got his love of juice from anyone, it was Derek. The guy had some sort of secret pleasure for the drink. Stiles knew this because they were always short juice boxes every week no matter how many times he tried to ration them.

“What days do you need off for school?” Derek asked, taking the cup when Stiles handed it over and staring in surprise at the juice inside. He sipped from it, putting on a faux look of disgruntlement but then taking a second, bigger gulp when he thought Stiles was focused on setting down Andy and Olly’s cups on the coffee table.

Stiles sat himself on the couch, contemplating if he should get napkins and then deciding the tissues on the end table were good enough. He avoided eye contact with Derek, shrugging and grabbing the tissue box, “I actually have online classes,” he admitted weakly, “they started two weeks ago.”

Handing Andy and Olly some tissues to wipe the pizza off their face when they were done eating, Stiles tried not to let his guilt get to him. “I… yeah. I don’t need any days off.”

Derek was silent, watching Stiles over the rim of his cup, pizza untouched on the end table beside him. Stiles felt his heart skip, turning to the TV instead and grabbing the remote so he could crank up the volume.

A little over halfway through the movie, with the children curled up in between Derek and Stiles, Olly let out a whine, squirmed, and whispered, “I want juice,” loudly.

Stiles snorted, reaching out to pat Olly’s tummy, “of course you do, buddy,” he teased, feeling an overwhelming ache of fondness for him. Derek reached for the remote, pausing the movie while Stiles stood up to take in the dirty dishes and get some juice. Stiles could hear the children asking Derek random questions, mostly because The Princess Bride had a lot of stuff that went over their heads.

Stiles filled up Olly’s cup and then Andy’s as well. Just for good measure, he did the same with Derek’s, sipping some off the top and then heading back into the living room.

“Here you go, my darlings,” Stiles said, dramatically handing over the cups. Derek stared blankly when Stiles tried to give him the juice, taking it gingerly and looking surprised that Stiles had even thought of him as well. Stiles, feeling smug, wriggled back into his seat and grabbed the remote control to try and find the play button.

Derek made a pained choking noise and Stiles glanced up from the remote. “You okay, dude?”

“Marry me,” Derek gasped out, just as Stiles hit the play button.

Stiles fumbled the remote, dropping it and whipping his head around to stare at Derek. He felt lightheaded, like he was trapped in a dream as the movie played loudly and Derek’s eyes never once wavered from where they were locked with his own. “What?” he breathed out on a half-whimper, desperate for something to make sense.

Putting his cup down, Derek sucked in a sharp breath, “We don’t have to-- I just want you to stay in our lives. Nobody else knows us, no one understands us. I know you don’t feel that way about me, and that’s okay, I understand. I don’t expect--”

“Who says I don’t feel that way about you?” Stiles felt hysterical, like he was about to shatter into a thousand tiny pieces if he didn’t remember to breathe. Derek went deathly still, face expressionless in that way that always meant he was too overwhelmed to react. “I mean, if you want to be heterosexual life partners, I guess we could…” Stiles trailed off, suddenly feeling unsure the more Derek went without responding.

Olly lifted his head, tilting it and frowning, “Stiles? Yuh heart is goin’ super fast,” he pointed out, pressing a worried little hand to Stiles’ chest.

“I’m fine, Olly,” Stiles muttered, his voice wavering as he continued to watch Derek for any sign of reaction. “I’m just excited.”

“I’ll fix it,” Derek blurted, “it needs more juice.”


Derek leapt to his feet, “you need more juice to help your heart,” he grabbed Stiles’ wrist, wrenching him to his feet and dragged into the kitchen. Stiles stumbled, wanting to laugh and cry and leap in the air all at once. He was dizzy with so many sensations that it took all his self control not to break into hysterics. Derek cared about him. Derek wanted him-- and suddenly everything was brighter and more intense than Stiles could ever recall.

They hit the kitchen and Stiles had a half second to head for the fridge to actually get juice when Derek pressed him up against it. Stiles sucked in a sharp breath, blinking and opening his eyes just as Derek pressed their lips together in a near frantic kiss. Stiles’ mouth parted, gasping out the startled noise that had been bubbling up and having it muffled into the seam of their lips. Derek dug his hands into Stiles’ short hair, clutching to his head and kissing and kissing until Stiles was sure he was going to die from the overpowering passion that came with it.

Stiles pawed at Derek’s shirt, curling his fingers around the silk tie he’d decided to wear and using it as a means of grounding himself. Derek’s tongue flicked out, licking at his top lip and then nipping before kissing apologetically at his mouth in urgent butterfly touches that grew deeper and deeper with each passing second.

Arching, Stiles vaguely registered the sound of some of the pictures getting knocked off of the fridge when Derek shoved a hand up under his shirt. Stiles gasped, teeth scraping at Derek’s mouth and then biting at them instinctively.

“Stiles, you knocked down princess daddy!” Andy whined from the entry. Stiles jerked back so fast his head cracked against the fridge door while Derek shoved his face into Stiles’ throat, panting heavily. Stiles' head roared in pain and a wave of nausea hit him as he struggled to say something without sounding like he'd just concussed himself.

“Sorry Andy,” Stiles croaked, “uh… why don’t you go back and watch the movie?”

“I want more juice,” Olly chirped, holding his cup in the air and Stiles really hoped that their angle made it look like Derek was just vigorously scent marking him and not shoving his tongue down Stiles’ throat. The throbbing in his head made it hard to focus without squinting, but Stiles studiously tried to ignore it as best he could.

Letting his hand fall out from under Stiles’ shirt, Derek sighed and turned to take the cups from the children. “You get water,” he said firmly, and Stiles had a feeling it was more as to get his revenge for interruption than to actually moderate their sugar intake. Considering the juice was sugar-free, Stiles was pretty positive, actually, and that made him extremely giddy to think about.

Stiles got himself a cup of water and took one of his painkillers while Derek helped the children. When he tried to go back into the living room with Andy and Olly, Derek dragged him back with a hand on his bicep. Stiles was a little more prepared this time for the kiss, but was still thrown for a loop when Derek kissed him slow and desperate this time. His hand was hot against the back of Stiles’ neck, lips touching Stiles’ with a near-reverence that left Stiles shaking in a way he had never experienced. He brought a hand up, clutching Derek’s wrist and kissing back with everything he had.

This time, when Derek pulled away, he pressed their foreheads together. “Please stay,” he breathed, eyes closing and taking in a deep breath, “please stay forever.”

Nothing could have prepared Stiles--no amount of wishing and daydreaming and hoping could have ever prepared him to hear those words. He choked, sobbing out a laugh and nodding tightly, “yeah,” he chuckled, “jesus, Derek, yes I’ll fucking stay. You jackass--how the fu--”

Derek kissed the curses right from his mouth, their teeth clacking from matching grins. Stiles didn’t want it to ever end.

Chapter Text

No matter how much it all seemed like some kind of fantastical dream, Derek still had to go back to work eventually. Until then, Stiles would remember this as probably the best hour of his life, even if all he did was curl up against Derek’s side in front of the television with Olly and Andy in their laps. It was the little things that made Stiles’ heart pound; the way Derek would randomly kiss the back of his ear, or rub a hand up his side and rub his nose against the back of Stiles’ head.

When the phone call finally came--no doubt Erica or Peter having a fit about Derek being over an hour late from his lunch break-- Derek went utterly still, palm hesitating halfway to rubbing up Stiles’ side. Stiles tilted his head up from where it was pressed into Derek’s chest. “Don’t you need to answer that?”

Reluctantly, Derek reached into his pocket, pulling out his cell and answering it with a grim, “this is Hale.”

Stiles couldn’t pick up what the person on the other line was saying, too distracted by Olly wriggling and grunting in an attempt to burrow even further into the small space between Derek and Stiles’ bodies. Stiles reached a hand up, petting Olly’s head and tucking a few locks of hair behind his ears as Derek finally hung up on whoever he’d been talking to. It didn’t take a genius to know what the conversation had been about, and Stiles sat up slowly.

“Gotta go back to work?”

“Yeah…” Derek shifted, trying to maneuver the children off of his lap. Andy and Olly let out identical whines of protest (ones that Stiles kind of wanted to echo with his own) but willingly let their father up off of the couch.

While Derek went to get his things together, Stiles made himself comfortable on the couch now that he was the only pillow left for the children. Olly was yawning loudly, fingers curled into Stiles’ shirt, and Andy wasn’t much better with the way she kept stretching and then flopping against him. Once Derek left for work, Stiles would probably put them down for their naps and maybe take one of his own to help with the mild throb of a headache that he’d had for the past hour.

Derek came back in with his suit jacket and tie in place, bending down to kiss Olly and Andy on the head. Stiles grinned crookedly, feeling a little awkward, and opened his mouth to say goodbye when Derek hooked a hand behind his neck and pulled him into a slow, loving kiss.

Stiles’ breath hitched, lips tingling as Derek leaned back just enough to mutter, “see you tonight,” before he stood up, smiled fondly down at them, and then headed out the door.

For some reason, despite the fact that it was a sentence Derek had said hundreds of times, it felt like there was a heap of implications beneath it when Derek’s hand had been burning hot against his skin and his teeth had just barely nipped the corner of Stiles’ lips.

Stiles’ head was still reeling even by the time both Andy and Olly had drifted off to sleep. Their snores were soft against the hum of the television, and Stiles suddenly felt wide awake. Finally alone to his thoughts since early that morning, he couldn’t help but think over the insanity that was his day so far. Derek’s words rolled around in his head on repeat until Stiles was practically itching inside of his own skin. He maneuvered around the sleeping lump formerly known as Andy, grabbing his phone out of his pocket and giving into the temptation to text Derek.

could we put off the wedding until after I graduate.

Though the text was meant as a joke, Stiles nearly dropped his phone when Derek’s reply popped up to read, as long as it isn’t a spring wedding.

It made him grin like a total idiot. Yeah, they had a ton of issues to work out--and Stiles knew right now that they were both avoiding the huge elephant in the room that was what had occurred the week prior--but he didn’t care right now. He didn’t care because he had missed this banter almost as badly as he’d missed the children. He never thought he’d be able to have this; be able to flirt so openly with Derek and have no fear of repercussions.

breaking my heart, buddy.

only the best for the super nanny. Derek texted back not a minute later. Stiles snorted so loud that Andy whined and rubbed her face against his stomach--smearing drool everywhere. He felt a sharp pang somewhere deep in his stomach. These children were Derek’s, but they were also HIS. Derek wanted him to be a part of their lives. Their family. Fuck. It was so much all at once. but it felt so right that Stiles wasn’t even terrified at the intimacy of it all.

He sat up, setting his phone on the couch so he could pick Andy up first, carrying her to her room and tucking her in for her nap before doing the same with Olly. It wasn’t the first time Stiles wished he had a camera; utterly endeared at the sight of Olly hanging from his arms like dead weight and snoring softly.

After tucking Olly in, Stiles headed back into the living room and sat down with his phone in both hands. He stared at Derek‘s last message, fingers hovering the keys while trying to think of what to say. There were so many different ways he could take the conversation in that moment, but there was only one way he really wanted to steer it.

do you kiss most of your nannies? Stiles sent it before he could stop himself, exhaling the nervous breath stuck somewhere in his chest and pulling up Scott’s name on his contact list. He was in the middle of asking if Scott was free to hang out later in the week when his phone buzzed with Derek’s reply.

only you.

Stiles’ face split into a grin, cheeks hurting as he hurriedly answered with, good.

He might have graduated three years ago, but Stiles suddenly felt like he was in high school all over again. Realizing his last message was, essentially, an awkward conversation ender, Stiles sent Derek another text telling him, just put the kids down. They were totally wiped.

Scott texted Stiles back with an affirmative, listing when he was free from work and class, and if Isaac could hang as well. Stiles let him know it was okay before opening the text he’d gotten from Derek.

it’s good they’re sleeping. They haven’t slept well in the past week.

Guilt hit Stiles right in the middle of the chest, knowing it was his fault that Olly and Andy had gone through such a rough week. If only he’d gone about it better--or if he’d waited until things had calmed down instead of running away.

I’m sorry.

don’t be. Derek responded immediately.

It was frustrating that Derek didn‘t know how to accept an apology, that he constantly took the blame for everything--even if they were both at fault. im sorry because I shouldn’t have up and quit like that. It was stupid.

given what I remember from that night, you had every reason to quit.

Anxiety crushed around Stiles like an invisible fist, recalling the way Derek had sounded, the pain of being pressed up against the house, how the autumn wind had been the only thing to soothe the flush of humiliation in his face. did you mean what you said? About hating me? That I was in the way?

Stiles turned the television on, flipping nervously through stations and almost dropping his phone when Derek finally responded. no. jesus no. I don’t even remember why I said it. I thought you didn’t want me. I was being a drunk idiot.

I figured. He’d hoped.

if you don’t want to do this I understand.

He stared at his phone in disbelief, starting at least eight different messages that were some varying degree of self-depreciating before he realized what Derek was really doing.

are you giving me an out?


The anxiety that had been taking hold of him was replaced with anger and frustration. He didn’t want this to be how every conversation went; with Derek doing something, hating himself, and then never apologizing because he was so focused on what he’d done wrong that he didn’t even think about how to properly fix it. Stiles had no idea if it was a pride thing, or if Derek had just never thought that an apology would solve anything and therefore didn’t try.

well fucking don’t. im not leaving. And fuck you for thinking I would.

Stiles dropped his phone on the couch, standing up and taking a deep breath. Getting angry wasn’t going to get anywhere because Derek would just get hostile right back. He’d found that out plenty of times already. Heading into the kitchen, Stiles got himself some juice, pouring half a cup and sipping at it until he didn’t feel so aggravated. There was no way he was going to turn this into another argument--not if he could help it, and not so soon after they had just gotten things out in the open.

His head started to throb and Stiles rubbed at the back of his skull, counting to five. He put his juice on the counter, heading back into the living room to hear his cell phone buzzing loudly as someone called him. Stiles wasted no time in snatching it up, barely glimpsing at Derek’s name before he answered with, “shouldn’t you be working?”

“You have every right to want to leave,“ Derek didn’t just say it, he practically demanded that Stiles just accept what he was saying.

Stiles curled his hand into a fist before shoving it into his pocket. He stood for a moment, jaw clenching before he turned and dropped down onto the couch.. “Why? Because running away is the perfect solution, right?” he snapped back bitterly.

“You‘re not running away,” Derek protested.

“But YOU are,” Stiles tried to keep his voice down, tried to keep himself calm if only for the sake of his growing migraine.

“I‘m giving you options!” Derek cried, voice loud even through the phone.

“What makes you think I need them? I left because I thought you didn‘t want me anymore--not because I didn‘t want to be with you and definitely not because of the children!”

“Look, I‘m sorry, okay!”

Stiles choked, his heart seizing in his chest and all the air leaving him in a whoosh. It was like a massive weight had been taken off of him. The burning in his gut that had been there during the entire conversation was gone so suddenly that Stiles had to lay back against the couch just to process the sheer relief he was being overwhelmed with.

A soft, pained sound came from the other line, “Stiles?”

Stiles breathed--really breathed-- for the first time in over a week, his voice shaking when he uttered, “that’s all you had to say.”

Derek was quiet for a long time before he finally blurted, “I’m so fucking sorry. I should have never put you through that.”

Stiles made a strangled noise, scrambling for the words to articulate what he needed to say. They all caught in his throat, half-formed sounds that sounded pathetic even to his own ears.

“Tell me,” Derek urged, sounding so earnest that it would have been possible for Stiles to ignore him.

Sagging into the couch, Stiles mumbled, “you’d better get me a nice wedding ring if I have to talk about feelings.”

“Would you like to have batman engraved on it?” Derek teased, and it shouldn’t have made Stiles’ heart clench the way it did, but the fact that Derek remembered Stiles’ obsession with the Batman franchise was enough to make his stomach flutter all over again.

“Does that mean you’ll be my superman?”

“If you want.”

Stiles knew he was grinning like an idiot, fiddling with the remote control and thumbing mindlessly over the buttons. Derek was quiet, waiting for Stiles in that obnoxiously patient manner that always made Stiles’ skin crawl with the urge to just talk the silence away. He sighed, dropping the remote onto his leg.

“I’m not good with family,” he croaked, “It’s always been me and my dad since my mom died. I’m just this annoying babysitter and you’re going to realize that and get tired of me one day,” there it was--the thing that had been hiding in the back of his mind, haunting his every action no matter how much he ignored it.

Derek doesn’t saying anything, and the longer he’s quiet, the more anxious Stiles started to get. He curled his hands into fists, unclenching them and feeling the tingle in his nerves. “Yeah, it‘s stupid,” he mumbled, “sorry--never mind. I just think too mu--”

“What do you think of a winter wedding?”

Stiles choked on a laugh because yeah, of course Derek wasn’t good at this either. Neither of them had much track record for previous relationships--and Stiles was amazed he was just figuring that out.

“Okay, but I’m not wearing a dress,” he said.

“Already wore one once,” Derek replied dryly, “it’s your turn.”

“Aw, but you make such a beautiful princess,” Stiles cooed with mock sorrow, picking up the remote again and bouncing it against his knee.

“Andy is the princess.”

Stiles’ heart clenched, “yeah. Yeah she is.”

“--and you’re her prince.” Derek added solemnly.

“Yeah,” Stiles snorted, overwhelmed with a sudden affection for Derek and his tiny pack of two, “I’m a regular prince among wolves.”

Derek huffed in amusement, his voice gentle as he muttered, “will you stay tonight?”

Stiles couldn’t say yes fast enough.

After Derek hung up to go back to work, Stiles felt like the entire day was dragging to a point where he found himself constantly checking the time. When Derek finally came in through the front door, Stiles had to stop himself from jumping up with Andy and Olly as they ran screaming through the house for their father.

Derek lifted both children up with a grin, peppering their faces with the exact kind of playful kisses that made kids squeal and squirm. Stiles came over at a more sedate pace, hesitating just a few feet away when he realized that he had absolutely no idea how to greet Derek now that they were together. Derek glanced up from where he was scenting Olly’s cheek, watching Stiles calmly.

He must have looked like an idiot, standing there when he’d worked for Derek for months and what they had now was beyond just a fling or a tester relationship. Dragging in a breath of encouragement, Stiles grinned, “welcome home,” he chirped, crossing the distance and giving in to the desire to finally kiss Derek hello like he’d always dreamed about.

Pulling back, Stiles had a good second to admire Derek’s dumfounded look before the man was lurching forward--completely ignoring Andy and Olly in his arms--to kiss Stiles back. Stiles’ heart leapt up into his throat and he grinned against Derek’s mouth, tempted to sneak in a bit of tongue when Olly shrieked, “ewwww!”

“No, Stiles! It’s my turn with daddy!” Andy shouted, her little fingers pushing at Stiles’ face until he was forced to pull back so that Andy could rub her cheek happily against Derek’s. Stiles laughed, his chest feeling like it was going to explode from some kind of weird, exhilarated sensation.

Pinching Andy's cheek, Stiles wiggled his hand a little, “you’re lucky you’re a princess, otherwise I’d send you to the dungeons for hogging your daddy,” he teased, having exactly one second of composure before he cracked up laughing at the scandalized look on Andy’s face.

Opening his eyes to see Derek staring at him only made Stiles’ face burn and the back of his neck tingle. He smiled, feeling ridiculously shy for no reason, and gestured to the kitchen, “hungry?”

“Starving,” Derek agreed, sniffing the air with a hum when he caught the scent of pork chops wafting through the house. They settled down at the table, the room filled with the clinking of silverware and the muffled chatter of Andy and Olly attempting to tell Derek about their day while also fitting as much mashed potatoes as they could into their mouths.

After dinner, Andy and Olly sat at the table with a pack of crayons and coloring books while Stiles cleaned up the dinner dishes and Derek disappeared to take a shower. It was almost the same routine they’d always had, the only difference being when Derek emerged dressed in a pair of sweatpants and nothing else. Stiles was trying to scrape at an unruly pan when warm arms slipped around his stomach, Derek’s chin resting on his shoulder.

“Missed you,” Derek mumbled tiredly, giving Stiles a gentle squeeze. Stiles, even though his heart was thundering in his chest, turned to rub his nose against Derek‘s--because he could.

“You were only gone for a few hours, dude,” he pointed out.

Derek sighed, pulling away but not before planting a kiss behind Stiles’ ear, “I meant this past week,” he said, and then went to join Andy and Olly at the table.

When bedtime finally rolled around, the both of them crowded onto Andy’s bed with her and Olly. Derek narrated the story, letting Stiles help with the voices until they were interrupted by sleepy snuffles. Stiles almost didn’t want to get up--curled tight into Derek’s side with Andy and Olly just within arm’s reach. He scooted off the bed, lifting Olly and carrying the sleeping child to his room to tuck him in. Olly, of course, woke up just enough to demand two kisses and for Stiles to close his closet door before he went back to sleep.

By the time Stiles was back out in the living room, Derek was waiting for him. He hesitated, struck again by that anxious feeling of not knowing what to do. Gesturing vaguely, Stiles shrugged, “I guess I’ll get some homework done if you want to watch TV or something?”

Stiles headed for his backpack sitting against the couch when Derek gently grabbed his wrist--just tight enough to keep Stiles from immediately pulling away. Stiles hesitated, looking up as Derek asked, “is it due tomorrow?”

Swallowing, Stiles shook his head, “not until next week.”

Derek stared for a long moment, eyes searching Stiles and his fingers loosening like he was waiting for Stiles to pull away. Stiles didn’t, and he soon found himself being tugged closer to Derek. He walked forward, letting himself be pulled in until they were kissing; each second slow and aching and everything that Stiles had been waiting for.

Wrestling his wrist free from Derek’s hold, Stiles cupped his face, fingers scraping against two-day stubble as his lips parted, pushing and nipping with increased fervor. Stiles moved, coaxing Derek into walking back until he was crowded up against the hallway wall. Stiles felt greedy and overwhelmed at all once to know this was something he could have--something he could do all day, whenever he wanted.

Derek pulled away, indulging Stiles when he surged forward to steal one last kiss, and then smiled. It wasn’t a big smile, just an upturn at the corner of his lips, but it was one meant only for Stiles’ eyes and that alone was enough to rob the air from his lungs.

“Come on,” Derek said quietly, grabbing Stiles’ hand and heading for his bedroom.

Stiles felt like his skin was wired up to an electrical socket, nerves alight with nervous anxiety as they tumbled into Derek’s bed, lips crashing together once more. Stiles straddled Derek’s hips, hands trying to reach everywhere all at once while Derek mostly focused on the press of their lips and the gentle scrape of his fingers against Stiles’ scalp.

Curling his fingers into the elastic of Derek’s sweatpants, Stiles started to tug them down when Derek jerked, gasping, “wait, wait,” and grabbed Stiles’ hand. Stiles leaned back, breathing heavily and feeling a sense of panic well up inside of him.

“What’s wrong?”

Derek shifted his hand, sliding it down Stiles’ arm until he could lace their fingers together. “I… I need to take this slow,” he rasped, looking up at Stiles and frowning, “we just…I need this to not be about sex.”

Shame hit Stiles like a punch to the gut. He glanced at their hands, thumbing over Derek’s knuckles and nodding, “yeah, dude. I get it. I mean-- we don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

“I want to,” Derek interrupted, “but the last time I rushed into sex, things didn’t exactly turn out that great.”

Kate. Of fucking course. She didn’t even have to be near them and she was still in their lives. Stiles swallowed, nodding again, “yeah, no, it makes sense. We just… got together today--”

Derek reached out, cupping Stiles’ cheek and forcing him to look up so that they locked eyes, “we’ve been together for a while, I think, even if we didn’t realize it.”

It didn’t make a lot of sense to point that out if Derek was trying o argue as to why they needed to take it slow. Stiles opened his mouth to say as much, but Derek was pulling his hand in to kiss Stiles’ knuckles. “Andy and Olly love you. If it weren’t for you, I don’t know where I would be-- probably still working fifty hour weeks and taking Andy to sessions with a therapist who cared more about money than her happiness. Olly would still be crying all the time because I wouldn’t know how to talk to him, and my family would be falling apart. You kind of saved us.”

Stiles was pretty sure he’d forgotten how to breathe, watching as Derek rubbed the very edge of his lips over each finger. Derek was looking at him as he did it, holding Stiles’ palm like it was made of cherished glass.

“This is new, for the both of us. If… if I have all of you at once, I’ll be distracted and I can’t afford that with the children and my job right now.”

It was probably the most flattering, unrealistically loving thing Stiles had ever heard in his life--and it was most likely true. Stiles’ face split into a grin, crawling up Derek’s body and dropping down until he was draped on top of him.

“You like me,” he sang airily, nose bumping Derek’s chin as he tried to get comfortable, “you like me a lot.”

Derek quirked an eyebrow, “I thought that was established.”

“Mmmh, but hearing it wouldn’t hurt,” Stiles shifted, kissing at Derek’s throat before he squeaked when Derek snagged the back of his neck and pulled his head up.

“I like you,” Derek growled, kissing him, “I like your awful taste in movies,” another kiss, this time with a nip of his teeth, “I like your laugh, your smile, the way you hold my children, the way you argue with me and can be so fucking annoying because you‘re always right--” Derek rolled them over, ignoring Stiles’ laughter to push him down into the mattress and kiss away his smiles. Stiles threw his arms around Derek’s neck, snickering whenever Derek made one last guttural noise of irritation and muttered, “I like that you like me,” before focusing on the press of their lips.

They had all the time in the world, Stiles realized, because there was no rush to any of it. Each kiss was as languid as the last; soft touches and softer caresses that were more intimate than sexual. Even when Derek nibbled at his throat, sucking gently and kissing over the red welt that Stiles knew would be there the next day, it was just like coming home after being away for an unbearably long amount of time.

Each touch helped fill in the last pieces to the scattered puzzle that had been Stiles’ heart for the past couple of months. Stiles never wanted it to end--wanted to cherish and memorize each second because he knew things would never be the same after this.

Stiles struggled to stay awake even as his eyes drooped and he spent more time yawning than actually kissing Derek. He fell asleep feeling warm and full in a way he’d never really experienced before.

Chapter Text

After a week of drizzling autumn weather and hardly any sunlight, Stiles wasn’t surprised Derek took the first dry and sunny day that came to call off work Stiles had his laptop set up on the patio table, half hidden beneath the porch’s awning while Derek rolled around in the yard with Andy and Olly.

It was really the first time all week that Stiles and the children had really gotten to spend time with Derek. He was in the last process of splitting ownership with Peter and had spent countless hours pulling up contract after contract to fine-tune what his uncle could and couldn’t access as the new CFO.

Stiles was trying to finish up his homework as quickly as possible, feeling a sense of longing to just run out into the yard and join in on the game. Both Andy and Olly were in their beta forms, all furry cheeks and tiny fangs as they ran screaming around the yard while Derek chased after them.

It was only the second time Stiles had ever seen Derek in any shifted form, and the first time he’d been fully awake for it. To see Derek’s eyebrows disappear beneath a pronounced forehead and for his face to sprout with long sideburns of fur had made Stiles burst out laughing from sheer surprise. Derek had shot him a particularly dark glower and stomped off into the yard to play with the kids. He hadn’t meant to laugh but it had been a knee-jerk reaction to the change.

Now that he’d had some time to think about it, all Stiles could think about was trying to get Derek in bed and convince him to shift. It would be a new experience to at least kiss Derek when he was all fangs and pointy ears. It might be fun to pull him in by the fur at his jaws.

Alas, Stiles still had half an essay to write before he’d allow himself to play with Andy and Olly. Derek was on his hands and knees, growling playfully and trying to sound menacing at the same time. Andy was blindingly fast in her shifted form, dodging Derek’s every swipe. Olly, on the other hand, seemed more focused on screaming and flailing. Stiles had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing whenever Derek hauled the boy up into his arms, making loud chewing noises as he nipped and blew raspberries into Olly’s stomach.

It quickly devolved into tickling, with Olly gasping and punching Derek right in the nose so suddenly that Derek reared back with a startled barking noise. Olly sat up, giggling as Andy dashed over and grabbed onto her father’s arm.

“Doggy daddy!” she cried, “go doggy daddy, pleeeeeease?”

At first, it didn’t make sense what she was asking, and then Stiles remembered Derek was an alpha and almost all alphas had a wolf form. Some were more animal than others, though. Stiles had never seen Derek in any form other than his beta one.

Derek, rubbing his nose, shook his head. “Andy, it’s not time for doggy daddy,” he said gruffly, leaning down to rub their cheeks together apologetically.

Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Stiles sat up in his chair and called across the yard, “I think it’s a great time for doggy daddy!”

Olly stood up, hopping in front of Derek as he and his sister started to chant, “doggydaddy!” together in rapid childspeak until Derek sighed loudly and slumped his shoulders in defeat.

Stiles cheered with Andy and Olly while Derek stood and gave him one of his best glares and wrenched his shirt off. Stiles gaped--not at the angry shirt throwing, but at the hair that was rippling and growing down Derek’s chest, stomach and arms. It was mesmerizing to watch the way his shoulders shifted and rolled, hair spreading down his nose and jaw moving forward into the shape of a snout. Derek turned, back facing Stiles as he started to pull his jeans off with fur sprouting down his spine. From his tailbone grew more skin, bare at first, but rapidly filling with fur as it became a long, dark tail.

It was gross, but at the same time it was kind of cool to see Derek’s legs and arms begin to shift as well, bones cracking and rearranging while Derek grunted in discomfort. He got onto all fours just as the final stages of the shift completed, shaking his body and then stepping out of his underwear as it fell off his canine body.

Andy let out a loud squeal, climbing onto Derek’s back without a second thought. She wrapped her little hands around his ears, tugging and causing Derek to flinch and whine. Stiles shakily closed the lid on his laptop, head spinning, and said, “Andy, if you pull his ears, you’ll hurt him.”

“Sorry, daddy!” Andy cried, throwing her hands from his ears and then winding her arms around his neck to hug him tightly. Derek’s tail started to sway to and fro in a half-wag and he began to trot around the yard like her own personal steed. Olly followed after them, reaching out to grab gently onto Derek’s tail and swing it like a jump rope.

Stiles stood up, overcome with the need to at least touch Derek--to kind of verify that he really had just witnessed an alpha’s full form shift for the first time. Olly had moved to try and climb onto Derek’s back as well, but with the way Derek was bracing his legs and shaking with the strain of letting Olly pull himself up, it was likely his body wasn’t designed to support that much weight.

“Hey you,” Stiles reached out, scooping Olly up and swinging him around, “don’t you wanna ride on my shoulders instead? I’m way taller than your daddy, and I smell better!”

The pout on Olly’s face turned into a grin, reaching out in the universal sign for ‘hug me!’. Stiles pulled him in, squeezing tight. “See? No wet dog smell here, h--ahh!” Stiles yelped at a sharp and sudden pain on his right butt cheek. He whirled, looking around as Olly and Andy shrieked with laughter to see Derek bounding away with a madly wagging tail.

“Dude, did you just bite me?”

Derek yipped and Stiles’ tush felt very violated all of a sudden. “Rude,” he snapped, rubbing at his behind. It didn’t really hurt that much--no more than a slap or pinch. In reality, Stiles was totally okay with booty bites if it meant Derek was feeling playful. Months ago, it was harder than pulling teeth to even get him to smile.

Watching Stiles and Olly from the other end of the yard, Derek lolled his tongue out while Andy set her head on top of his and grinned at Stiles. “Daddy got you,” she sang, “on the BUTT!”

Stiles growled, far less terrifying than any of Derek’s, shifting Olly until he was being piggybacked. “Oh, it is on, buddy. I‘m going to go Kung-Fu Panda on your furry butt,” he said, crouching onto his knees and then crawling forward.

They played for a good hour, all four of them covered in grass stains as they tussled and rolled around in the yard until Stiles found himself exhausted and out of breath. He finally had to call for a breather just to flop against the grass while Andy and Olly played hide and seek with one another--making sure to keep away from the property line.

Derek trotted over, flopping on the ground beside Stiles and then licking at his elbow. Stiles picked his arm up and Derek took it as permission to lay his head across Stiles’ stomach. Threading his fingers through Derek’s thick fur, Stiles pet him tiredly, muttering, “I’d like it better if the licking were with human-you,” and earning a groaning huff from Derek.

Stiles grinned, tweaking Derek’s ear before stroking a palm down his back. He brought one arm behind his head, sighing and looking up at the clouds, listening to the sounds of Andy and Olly giggling as they chased one another around the yard.

As badly as Stiles wished that moment could never end, it had to when Derek’s ears perked up and he lifted his head to look towards the house. Stiles sat up and Derek stood to trot back to his clothes, shifting back and getting dressed without a single word.

“Derek?” Stiles got up just as Derek wrenched his shirt on over his head, “what’s up, dude?”

“Someone just pulled up to the house,” Derek explained. Stiles’ gut sank, knowing their time together was likely getting cut short by some sort of work related issue. They hustled the children in the house, just to be on the safe side, and Derek went to answer the ringing doorbell while Stiles tried to coerce Andy and Olly into taking a bath.

Stiles tried not to think about who could have come over, and hoped desperately that it was no one that would drag Derek into work for the day. They‘d hardly gotten to spend any time together since Stiles had spent the night a week ago. What they had was still new and there really hadn’t been a chance to work beyond the usual family time and a stolen kiss here and there.

Andy and Olly finally gave into the bath and were splashing around in the tub with some of their toys whenever Derek poked his head into the bathroom.

“Peter’s here,” he said softly, grinning at the sight of Stiles giving Olly a shampoo mohawk while Olly drove his plastic space shuttle through the water. Andy chattered to a rubber duck with a bow, making it float back and forth in her hands.

Stiles brought up a cup of water, tilting Olly’s head back to rinse his hair off. “Do you have to go in to work?”

“No, we just have to revise some paperwork. It should only take an hour or two. Should be done by lunch.”

“Oh, alrighty then,” Stiles tried not to sound too relieved, shooting Derek a smile, “you get on that and I’ll get these two squeaky clean.”

Derek nodded, hesitating in the doorway for a second before he left and shut the door. Stiles washed and rinsed Andy’s hair next, letting the two of them play about for a little longer before he drained the tub and busted out the biggest, fluffiest towels in the closet to dry them off with.

Stiles hustled both children back into their rooms, leaving Andy to dress herself (something she was very adamant in doing on her own) and helping Olly with getting his favorite overalls on and the shoulders snapped in place. Andy came in once she’d pulled on a pale blue dress covered in purple cartoon flowers and bumblebees, practically climbing all over Stiles with her hairbrush and clips in hand.

“Stiles, can you do my hair?” she pleaded, waiting for Stiles to sit on Olly’s bed before clambering up into his lap. Stiles took the brush, holding it up and sighing.

“It would sure be nice if someone said ‘please’ around here,” he said dramatically, grinning.

Andy reached up and grabbed his cheeks, pulling on them and whining out a long and needy, “puh-leeeeeeeease?” that completely melted Stiles’ heart.

“Okay, fine, but only because you said please,” he brushed her hair, even though there wasn’t yet much of it, and curled the long bits behind her ears, sweeping her bangs to the side and out of her eyes. He fastened the two candy colored clips on the side of her head, making sure they helped to hold some of her bangs from her face, and gave her a pat on the shoulder to let her know he was all done.

“Can we play tea-time?”

“Ask Olly if he wants to play tea-time,” Stiles gestured to where Olly was rooting around in his toy bin for the perfect thing to play with. Andy walked over to her brother, kneeling down next to him and putting her arms around his shoulders.

“Olly, will you play tea-time with us?”

“Okay,” Olly agreed, picking up a giant rubber shark, “can Chomp play?”

“Chomp can play.”

Olly grinned, wiggling the shark around and then turning in Andy’s arms to hug her back. Stiles’ breath caught in his throat, overwhelmed for no reason at all as they rubbed their cheeks together and then stood to hurry into Andy’s room to find her tea set.

Derek and Peter were sitting at the kitchen table when Stiles and the children came out to set up their plastic parlor. Stiles had Andy and Olly pick spots around the coffee table instead, reminding the both of them to keep quiet as a place was made for Andy, Olly, Stiles, Chomp and Rapunzel.

It was only ten minutes after Andy had poured Stiles’ first cup of fake tea when Derek abruptly stood, shoving his chair away.

“I think I can read this without your help,” he hissed, stacking the papers together and plucking his glasses from his face. Stiles couldn’t help but watch, confused, as Derek brushed past his uncle and headed for his study, slamming and locking the door and leaving Peter standing awkwardly in the kitchen.

Not wanting to get caught staring, Stiles quickly turned back to Andy and Olly, and pretending to sip his tea. He kept one pinky out, listening to Andy explain to her brother the importance of not letting dragons have any of your cookies and how they could explode if they ate too many.

“Is it all cookies or just chocolate chip?” Stiles asked, plucking a plastic chocolate chip cookie from the toy plate in the center of the table and dipping it into his invisible tea. Andy huffed, tucking some hair behind her ear.

“All of ‘em, duh,” she sighed, rolling her eyes.

Stiles didn’t realize Peter had come into the living room until the man suddenly piped up from behind them.

“If I recall correctly, Derek has two sons.”

Stiles went still, calmly setting his cookie down after he ‘bit’ into it and peering at Peter over his shoulder. “It’s okay, everyone makes mistakes.”

Andy prattled on obliviously, chastising Olly for sipping his tea without his pinky poking out. Peter’s gaze was sharp and calculating, watching the children in a way that made Stiles’ skin crawl with anxiety. He turned his focus to Stiles, smiling thinly. “I see. Well, this behavior is to be expected. After all, mental illness does run on their mother’s side of the family.”

Shocked, Stiles gaped at the man, eyes darting to Andy. It was a huge relief to see she hadn’t really paid attention to what Peter was saying, too busy trying to figure out how to make a shark hold onto a teacup to really listen in on grownup conversation. Looking back at Peter, Stiles felt a surge of protectiveness overcome him and clutched to his cup.

“I don’t know, man. Derek turned out okay and he’s related to you.”

“Must have skipped a generation,” Peter said airily. Stiles gave Peter the tightest, most simpering grin he could manage, mentally reminding telling himself he couldn’t get mad. This guy was Derek’s uncle and Stiles knew it would be treading thin ice to cause any sort of confrontation if he could help it. It didn’t help that the whole situation felt like some sort of test--like Peter was just seeing how far he could push before Stiles snapped.

“Unca Peet, do you wanna play?” Andy asked suddenly, holding up her teapot and waving it around. Peter came closer, palm resting over the back of the couch and then wiping some imaginary dust or lint from it.

“I’m sorry, dear, but Uncle Peter doesn’t like to play girl games because he’s a boy.”

Even though Andy shrugged, unbothered by it, Stiles couldn’t help but slam his teacup down on the table. His throat felt painfully tight and he had to swallow before he could force out the words.

“You know, I think Uncle Peter has something he needs to go do,” he said with as much false cheer as he could muster. Turning to face the aforementioned man, Stiles narrowed his eyes and said firmly, “you can leave. Now.”

Peter didn’t even bat an eye, tilting his head in a fashion eerily similar to the way Derek would sometimes do. “I think I’m fine right where I am.”

The way Peter would deflect Stiles’ words like they were meaningless made Stiles’ skin crawl in a bad way. He wanted to punch this guy in the face, or at least have Derek do the punching. The problem there was that if Derek got pulled into this, it would only escalate. He had to try to control the situation--before Peter did something to upset Andy or even Olly. Stiles was not in the mood to have his great day ruined by Derek’s antagonistic uncle.

“Hey Andy,” Stiles began, “why don’t you go show Olly how to braid your big Rapunzel’s hair?” he suggested. Big Rapunzel was what they’d taken to calling this larger head model with hair you could brush and style. It sat on Andy’s vanity and had been used many times to teach both Derek and Stiles how to braid hair in anticipation for when Andy’s would grow out.

Andy pouted, “but we’re having tea time!”

“Andy,” Stiles repeated firmly, “please.”

She seemed to catch on that Stiles wanted them to leave the room. Even for a four year old, Andy had a sharp wit when she wanted to. She also had a streak of sass bigger than Derek’s on a bad day, because she let out a dramatic sigh of, “okay,” and rolled her eyes, taking Olly’s hand and leading him towards her bedroom.

Stiles waited until he heard her bedroom door shut and then pushed himself to his feet. He kept his voice low, for once grateful for the soundproofing Derek had put in his office to help drown out distracting noises. “Just because you’re Derek’s uncle doesn’t mean you can say crap like that about his kids and think it’s okay.”

Peter quirked an eyebrow, shrugging innocently. “I was only making an observation.”

“Yeah, well you can observe the door,” Stiles snapped, “and how easy it is to walk right out.”

Chuckling, Peter shook his head and turned around with a dry chuckle. At first, Stiles thought he was actually going to leave, but he was only disappointed to see the man wandering back towards the kitchen. Stiles followed, watching as Peter picked up a framed photo of Andy and Olly that sat next to the coffee maker and inspected it. “I don’t know why you feel the need to be offended,” he said, putting the picture down and looking back at Stiles.

“They aren’t even your children.”

Stiles’ gut bottomed out, hands curling into fists as Peter kept talking.

“Given how unfortunate their conception was, I’m amazed my nephew even hired you in the first place. You’re just a human, you see. You could never love and protect them the way--”

Peter didn’t have time to finish before Stiles’ fist was flying towards his face. The only issue was that Stiles was just a human, and Peter wasn’t. He grabbed Stiles’ wrist, wrenching on it so fast that Stiles tripped forward. It was a blur of movement before a hand caught the back of his neck and Stiles’ face was slammed into the marble counter. Stiles’ head flared in pain, his shoulder screaming when Peter shoved his arm behind his back. Stiles gasped, clenching his eyes shut and wheezing.

Peter bent in close, waiting until Stiles stopped squirming before he spoke into the shell of Stiles’ ear. “Don’t think you’re important to this family. You’re just the means to an end--someone to keep the children out of Derek’s hair while he does his job.”

“Fuck you,” Stiles spat, jerking and trying to break free of Peter’s iron grip. He wanted to scream and yell for Derek, but he knew for a fact that starting a fight between Derek and his uncle was the worst thing that could happen at that moment.

Chuckling, Peter dragged his nose along Stiles’ neck, murmuring, “why bother? My nephew seems to be doing a good enough job of that on his own.”

Stiles clenched his teeth, breathing heavily through his nose as the hand that wasn’t holding Stiles’ arm hostage came up, pulling at the collar of Stiles’ shirt to expose his throat. “You have so much potential, you know. I’ve seen the way you’ve changed him--the way you’ve manipulated my family and wormed your way into their lives….” a sharp claw traced the vein in Stiles’ throat, sharp and dangerously close to cutting his flesh open. Suddenly, the touch was gone as Peter pulled away.

“I should thank you,” Peter mused, watching Stiles push himself off of the counter and roll the pain out of his shoulder. “After all, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have a single say in the company and my poor nephew would still be working those long, stressful hours.”

All hope Stiles had of telling Derek later went crashing to the ground. He stared, chest aching with the stomach-burning realization that Peter was right. They both knew if Derek found out about anything that had just occurred that he would throw Peter out the door and that things would go back to the way they had been months ago.

And fuck if that doesn’t hurt. Stiles didn’t even have to question the knowledge that Derek would go to the ends of the earth to protect his family, even if that meant almost killing himself by doubling up his workload again just to keep Peter out of their lives.

The door to Derek’s office opened just as Stiles was rubbing away the last of the soreness from his cheek. His glasses were sliding down his nose, paperwork in hand as he muttered under his breath and used a pen to keep from losing his place.

Peter pressed a hand to Stiles’ shoulder, giving it a squeeze that should have been reassuring but felt more like a warning. Stiles wanted to wrench away, but Derek glanced up at that exact moment. He frowned, head tilting to the side.

“Is everything all right?”

Stiles swallowed, his heart going into double-time and causing Peter’s thumb to dig in painfully. When Derek’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, Stiles blurted, “yeah, peachy keen,” and practically wrenched his shoulder free.

He hurried out of the room, sidestepping Derek’s reaching hand without thinking. If Derek touched him, he’d break and tell Derek everything. He couldn’t afford that--he had to at least wait until there was a chance for him to explain things in a way that he could at least keep Derek from doing something irrational in his anger.

Stiles could feel Derek’s eyes on him the entire time, following him until Stiles finally slipped into Andy’s room to see them on the bed with one of Andy’s books between the two of them. Shutting the door, Stiles let out a weary sigh and took a second to let the sound of Andy and Olly bickering over how to say certain words be used as a calming agent.

The shaking in his hands didn’t stop right away, and Stiles finally had to walk over and sit down on the bed because he was overcome with a crashing wave of fatigue. He was so mad and frustrated that it made his bones ache with the urge to push Peter out of a moving car. The fact that he was helpless only served to make Stiles feel even more miserable.

“Stiles?” Andy’s soft voice distracted him and Stiles looked up to see both children watching him with worry. Olly pushed away from his sister, crawling over until he could clamber up into Stiles’ lap. Stiles wrapped his arms around Olly, giving in to the need to cling tightly to him. Andy came over quickly, wriggling her way under his arm so that Stiles had an armful of wiggling, fretting children.

“I love you guys so much,” Stiles breathed, suddenly terrified at the prospect of somehow losing this; of losing them. It was irrational and Stiles knew deep down that there was no way he’d willingly give them up again, but the thoughts and the fear were still there.

Olly rubbed his face into Stiles’ throat and Andy pressed a sloppy kiss to his cheek as they both made their exclamations of love.

“I love you more than Mister Noodles!” Olly proclaimed, which was a lot coming from a kid who was always dragging his stuffed octopus wherever he could go. Andy released a noise of agreement.

“I love you more than Froggy!” she cried, “more than ‘punzel and Bear too!”

“Aw,” Stiles laughed, feeling teary-eyed, “you guys really love me more than all of your toys?”

“Duh!” Andy shouted while Olly nodded. Stiles sniffed, pulling them in tight and giving them a big squeeze before he started to smother the both of them in big kisses until they were squirming and giggling from it.

It was amazing how quickly Andy and Olly could bring Stiles’ mood up. He reached for the book they’d been reading, settling the children in his lap so they could all see the pages and letting Olly show him where they had left off.

They stayed in Andy’s room, reading through two copies of the Bernstein Bears before Stiles stopped at the sound of the front door shutting. He leaned in, pressing a kiss to Andy’s temple and softly asking, “is Uncle Peter gone?”

Olly and Andy nodded and Stiles sagged in relief.

“What did he say to you?”

Stiles snapped his head up, breath hitching at the sight of Derek standing in the doorway with a scowl on his face.

“Nothing.” Stiles blurted nervously, turning and running his fingers through Olly’s hair to try and keep himself distracted. “Just some stupid stuff. I think he’s jealous because I’m young and beautiful and he’s getting gray hairs.”

Derek stepped into the room, hands curling into fists and then uncurling. “Stiles,” he repeated, voice slow and stiff, “what. Did he say.”

Turning away from Olly, Stiles sighed and said again, “nothing important, Derek,” because he needed Derek to drop it. He needed time to process the situation and Stiles really wasn’t in the mood to deal with any more werewolf drama if he could help it. Derek didn’t move for a long moment, looking close to infuriated, and then he shut his eyes and forcibly relaxed his shoulders.

When he opened them again, he was calmer, head jerking in a tiny nod of acceptance before crossing over to sit down on the bed with them.

Andy wasted no time clambering into Derek’s lap and getting comfortable with her head pillowed on his chest. Stiles shifted the book over, wriggling in until his thigh and hip were pressed up against Derek’s. Derek leaned in, turning so that his lips brushed Stiles’ ear.

“We’re talking about this later,” he murmured.

“Yes dear,” Stiles hummed, petting Olly’s head. He turned, giving Derek a kiss and then surging forward to steal a second and a third one. Each kiss was longer and lingered more and more until Derek’s frown finally disappeared. Begrudgingly, Derek kissed back the last time and then turned to pull the book in close and find the sentence that Andy was indicating they’d left off at.

As Derek started to read, Stiles couldn’t help but let out a soft sigh of relief to know that, just for a little while longer, he could have this.

Chapter Text

Derek narrowed his eyes, leaning in closer to look at the screen of Stiles’ laptop. It was still early--the kids digesting their breakfasts in the living room with some reruns of Playhouse Disney. Since Derek still had a few minutes before he needed to head into work, Stiles had decided it was as good a time as any to bring up the subject of hormone treatment in Andy’s future.

“Is it dangerous?” he asked, shoulder bumping Stiles’.

Stiles shook his head, “it’s a hormone blocker, not a remover. It won’t hurt her and it’s completely reversible. If anything, it gives everyone more time to decide.”

“You’ve thought a lot about this.”

“I get bored during naptime.”

Derek fell silent and Stiles turned back to his laptop to pull up another page detailing hormone injections.

“When she gets estrogen around fourteen or fifteen, that’s when she really starts to physically become a girl…” Stiles glanced up at Derek, his words trailing off when a pair of lips pressed against his own. Derek kissed him, slow and lazy, muffling away any and all words that tried to escape Stiles’ mouth. Stiles let him, returning the kiss and enjoying the few minutes of alone time they had. Derek cupped his cheek, giving Stiles one last peck that was loud in the quiet kitchen, before he finally pulled back with a tiny smile.

“Thank you.”

“For what?” Stiles grinned back despite his confusion. Derek shook his head, leaning in and stealing another kiss.

“Being you,” he answered, standing up and ruffling Stiles’ hair. “I have to get to work.”

“Hey,” Stiles turned in his seat, watching Derek head for the fridge to grab his protein shake. “Is it cool if some friends come over? They’re great with kids and… well… it’s my best friend--I think it’s be good if he got to meet Andy and Olly sometime.”

Shaking up his drink, Derek contemplated Stiles’ request for a moment. “It’s fine--you mean Scott, right?”

Stiles couldn’t help but grin at the fact that Derek actually remembered, “yeah, and Isaac too, probably.”

Derek sipped at his protein shake. “Don’t break anything.”

“You say that like I’m throwing a party.”

“With you?” Derek crossed back over to the table, reaching out to fluff Stiles’ bangs, “it’s always a party.”

“Hah. You’re hilarious,” Stiles swatted at Derek’s hand, “go to work.”

“Mhm,” Derek hummed, snagging Stiles’ hand and moving it away so he could steal a kiss. “I’ve got a lunch meeting, but I’ll be home around six,” he muttered, releasing Stiles’ hand and walking backwards out of the kitchen like he was trying to keep looking for as long as possible.

Stiles rolled his eyes, pulling his phone out to text Scott about coming over.

Isaac and Scott ended up being a hit with the children. Andy took instantly to Isaac, falling in complete adoration with his clumsiness and ability to construct any castle with her building blocks. Olly spent a good hour hiding in Stiles’ side before he finally was coaxed out by Scott’s charm and plethora of knowledge involving sea animals that came from being a veterinary assistant.

While Scott had gotten a lot of family and friend support after he’d been turned, Isaac hadn’t been so fortunate--instead falling back to the care system provided by The Center for Lycanthropy Control and Regulation. It was a little unsettling to see him in awe of Derek’s house in the same way a person would be when interacting with their favorite celebrity.

He settled down after the initial half hour of looking around the house in amazement, finding himself dragged into a round of tic tac toe with Andy. Scott, on the other hand, switched his focus from drawing sea animals with Olly, to Stiles.


Stiles looked up from his coloring page, “huh?”

Scott gestured to Stiles’ person, mouth twisting into a grimace. Olly picked up his crayons and paper and shuffled over to Stiles to climb into his lap. Stiles made room for him, rearranging Olly’s legs so they were both comfortable and that Stiles could continue coloring even while Olly took up most of the space in front of him.

“I don’t know sign language,“ Stiles pointed out, “and I don’t think that was actually sign language, anyway.”

Looking thoughtful, Scott shrugged and waved a hand at his throat. “I guess I know why you un-quit.”

Stiles’ hand shot up to his neck, fingers touching where he’d completely forgotten that Derek had eagerly bit and sucked a hickey into his skin that morning when Stiles had shown up. He felt his skin burn hot--Andy and Olly had been completely oblivious about it and he hadn’t thought about the fact that Scott and Isaac would notice it eventually. A big purpling bruise poking out of his shirt collar wasn’t exactly subtle, after all.

“Yeah,” Stiles said intelligently, shrugging, “I mean, well, you know.”

“I get it,” Scott interrupted, fiddling with his crayon. “You’re happy, man.”


Andy let out a delighted laugh as she beat Isaac for the third time. Isaac stared down at the tic tac toe paper in confusion.

While Stiles pet Olly’s hair absently, Scott gave him a nod. “Yeah, I mean. It’s hard to explain, I guess. You just… feel better?”

“What, does being a werewolf come with psychic powers, now?” Stiles teased, even though, in a way, he kind of understood what Scott was trying to say.

Scott rolled his eyes, reaching across the table to steal one of Stiles’ blue crayons. “When you stopped working for them, you kind of just stopped trying. Like, dude, seriously? I think you only showered one or two times that week.”

“I totally showered more than two times.” Stiles protested, even though he couldn’t honestly remember if that was true or not. Scott snorted in that way that meant he knew Stiles was lying but he wasn’t going to argue.

“Yeah, sure you did,” he muttered with a smothered grin. “Anyway, me and Allison are gonna go bowling tonight. Wanna come?”

Stiles entertained the idea of turning him down, if only because that meant he could spend some more time with Derek when he got home, but decided that he missed Scott too much to say no.

“Yeah, dude. I’m game.”

Scott’s smile was blinding and delighted, not even dimmed when Olly reached across the table to take all of his yellow crayons. “Cool.”

It was a couple hours later when Isaac and Scott left so that Stiles could put Andy and Olly down for their naps. Scott had to meet up with Allison for a late lunch with her family and Isaac had laundry to do. Stiles wasn’t sure how much of their excuses were true and how much were said in a panic when Andy started to pitch a fit and run streaking through the house at the mention of naptime.

Luckily for Stiles’ stress levels, as soon as Isaac and Scott left, Andy settled down and went to sleep with much less fuss than she’d initially been putting up. Olly was a little easier, if only because Stiles just had to give him a few extra kisses on the head and tell him how well he’d behaved and that Stiles was proud of him.

The rest of the afternoon up until Derek came home was passed by with hide and seek, a round of castle, and two hours in the back yard. Even Stiles felt exhausted by the time Derek walked in the front door and scooped Andy and Olly up for their ‘welcome home’ kisses. Stiles got a kiss of his own--which was still something Stiles was trying to wrap his head around--and they all settled down at the dinner table with the takeout that Derek had brought in with him.

“How was work?” Stiles put some noodles onto Andy and Olly’s plates, making sure to pick out the onions for Andy as he did so. Derek grunted, making his own plate and shrugging.

“Peter’s been hell,” he began. Just hearing Peter’s name made Stiles’ gut twist, and if Derek noticed, he didn’t acknowledge more than flitting his eyes up to lock with Stiles’ before going back to his plate.

“Yeah?” Stiles urged quietly, dumping sweet and sour chicken onto his own plate.

Derek paused mid-chew of an egg roll, thought for a moment, and then shook his head. “He’s trying to take more of the company than we agreed on. I…don’t trust him enough for that.”

“He does seem a little skeevy,” Stiles admitted weakly, “he broke Andy’s doll that one time.”

“And he did something to you,” Derek added, eyes lifting, “that you won’t tell me.”

Stiles’ gut clenched like lead ice had been dropped into it. He sucked in a sharp breath, forcing a tight smile and taking a forceful bite of chicken. “Nothing to tell, sweetheart.”

At Derek’s frustrated stare, Stiles ducked his head down and dug into his food.

The subject didn’t come up again until after Andy and Olly went down for bed. Stiles was heading into the living room to pack his things up when Derek caught him by the elbow.

“Scott’s not picking you up for another hour .”

“Yeah, but I was gonna get my stuff ready so we could make out for a little bit,” Stiles blurted, because when all else failed, blunt honesty seemed to work well with Derek. Derek made a face between amusement and exasperation before he sighed.

“Are you going to keep avoiding this? Why won’t you tell me what he did?”

“I don’t want to,” Stiles said truthfully, scrambling for an explanation without bringing up any inkling of what had occurred. He dragged in a deep breath, pulling Derek‘s hand from his elbow and intertwining their fingers. “I don’t want to because, for once, I would like a few days without any drama, okay? I just…I want to enjoy what I have. So excuse me for trying to keep it that way.”

There was truth in his words, too. He did long for a few days of peace. He wanted just a week or two where the biggest worry of his life was what to make for dinner, and not who he would have to go head-to-head with that day.

Derek looked down at their hands and then dragged his eyes up to lock with Stiles’. “Okay,” he said softly, “for now.”

Relieved, Stiles grinned and pulled Derek in for a much-deserved kiss.

When Scott finally showed up to pick Stiles up, it was with great reluctance that Stiles woke up from his power-nap on the couch with Derek’s thigh as a pillow. They had been talking about Andy and Olly starting school next fall, but between the calm atmosphere and Derek’s fingers carding through his hair, Stiles had drifted off like a babe lulled to sleep.

Derek saw him off at the door with a parting kiss and a reminder not to drink too much since he still needed to watch the twins tomorrow. Scott was driving his mom’s car (which meant he was ‘dressed to impress’ since his beat up beamer left something to be desired on most days) and greeted Stiles with a wry grin at the sight of his kiss-swollen mouth.

“Yeah, dude. You totally turned into one of those pornos where the dad bones the babysitter.”

“Better than the porn about the lonely cat guy who works at a veterinary clinic. Wait. They don’t have one. Because your life sucks too much to make into a porno.”

Scott made an affronted noise, pulling onto the main road. “I feel like you’re insulting my cats.”

“That’s what you got from that?”

“Krypto and BamBam are nicer to me than you are.” Scott pointed out, “they love me unconditionally.”

“I still don’t get why you named the cat after the kid and not their dog. You had the potential for a theme with Krypto.”

“Dude,” Scott cried, “we’ve had this argument like, five times!”

“Okay, okay. Jeez.” Stiles slunk down into his seat, biting back the urge to grin and harp on Scott just for the sake of being difficult. He’d missed their easy bickering--even if it was over something as mundane as what Scott had named his cat and why. He had that with Derek, but it wasn’t the same. This, with Scott, was familiar and natural in a way that only came from years of knowing something. There was also the added aspect that conversations with Scott weren’t charged with loads of sexual tension like with Derek.

The car ride’s conversation went over topics varying from which gaming console was superior, to the probability of choking on Cocoa Puffs when Scott finally pulled into the bowling alley. Stiles’ heart felt lighter than it had in months now that the weight of his and Derek’s relationship was gone and he was able to spend some quality time with his best friend.

That happiness was like breathing a new life into Stiles, giving him a second-wind after an exhausting day with the twins and trying to avoid discussing Peter with Derek. He couldn’t wait to see Allison and give her the biggest hug to make up for almost two weeks of not being able to see her.

Stiles’ excitement at seeing Allison again drained out of him like water through his fingers when he saw the woman sitting next to her by their lane.

Kate laughed at something Allison said, flicking a few blonde locks over one shoulder and smiling. Her grin only widened when she caught sight of Stiles and Scott, eyes landing on Stiles like he was her favorite toy in the world. Stiles didn’t feel much better than a mouse caught between a cat’s claws, especially when Scott was pushing him forward obliviously. He was pretty sure the intent was to introduce Stiles to the only person that could effectively ruin his night with just a few choice threats.

Threats that involved things like Derek, Andy and Olly‘s wellbeing.

Despite how Stiles’ feet felt glued to the ground, having a werewolf for a best friend meant that Scott had no problems manhandling Stiles towards the two women saving their spot.

“I need bowling shoes,” Stiles squeaked desperately, trying to find at least some reason to avoid going over to Allison and Kate. Scott huffed.

“Dude, you texted me your shoe size earlier, remember? They already got our shoes. Come on, man. You’re making me look bad. I want her aunt to like me.”

Of course, since Scott didn’t know about Kate’s history as being an evil child-snatcher, he would see nothing wrong with getting on Kate’s good side. Stiles would really rather not. In fact, the only side of Kate he wanted to get on was the one where Stiles pushed her off a cliff.

Resigned, Stiles allowed Scott to guide him to their lane, greeting Allison’s apologetic look with a tight smile and taking the bowling shoes she handed him. Kate mostly ignored Stiles in favor of gushing over Scott’s eyes and face and general existence. It made Stiles sick to his stomach--just thinking of the way she would have used those same words on Derek. Even the idea of her touching him and being intimate with him…it made Stiles’ stomach burn with unease.

He loved Andy and Olly with all of his heart, but he did not love the woman who gave birth to them. Just listening to her act like nothing was wrong--talking and teasing with Allison and Scott--it made Stiles even more determined to keep her away from the children and from Derek. He wouldn’t let her break this family up. He wouldn’t let her hurt them again.

Not when they were his now.

Most of Kate’s behavior stank of falsities, like a front put up to make herself more likable. She would flick Scott’s bangs or squeeze Allison into a sideways hug, but always made sure to politely include Stiles into the conversation. It was like she was mocking him, saying ‘here I am, and there’s nothing you can do. I’m everywhere, poisoning the people you love. You’re helpless.’

When Scott decided it was time to get nachos and that he needed Allison’s help carrying the food, Stiles used it as an excuse to escape to the bathroom. There were two restrooms in the bowling alley, but Stiles went to the one close to the front desk because it was more secluded and had the added protection of a security camera in every direction. They’d been installed two years ago and Stiles was only aware of that fact because his dad had been the one leading the investigation on the gunpoint robbery that had resulted in the cameras.

He hid in the stalls for ten minutes, texting back and forth with Derek--who was apparently staying up past his normal bed time. Stiles had no idea why, because even though they were now in a relationship, Derek was cranky when he didn’t get enough sleep, and all they were talking about was if Nathan Fillion was more entertaining as Captain Hammer or Captain Mal.

When enough time passed that Stiles figured Scott and Allison were back, he stuck his cell into his pocket and wandered back out of the bathroom. He wasn’t expecting to bump into Kate upon exiting. Then again, it was less of a bump and more of Kate standing outside the restrooms, arms crossed and shoulder leaning against the wall.

“About time. I was starting to think you’d drowned yourself from a swirlie or something,” she chuckled. Stiles stiffened, reflexively dropping down a hand to his pocket where he’d stuck his phone. Kate pushed herself up, stepping in close to him. “I bet you were the king of swirlies in high school, right? Getting them, I mean.”

“If we’re judging based on personality,” Stiles began tightly, “I’d assume you were one of the kids who had to pretend to be someone else. Why? I don’t know, probably because nobody liked your real personality enough to be your friend. It‘s kind of toxic--like that kid in class who never showers.”

The only outward sign that Kate gave to Stiles’ words affecting her was a thinning of her smirk as she shouldered herself in close. “Come on, sweet cheeks,” she said lowly, “tell me about those cute boys. I want to know everything.”

“You would if you hadn’t tried to kill them before they’d been born. If you actually cared about them as more than experiments.”

Kate snorted, rolling her eyes dramatically. “He sure does play it up, doesn’t he? So how much is he paying you for this. You’re what, the super nanny with a side of sweet ass for daddy wolf?”

“He’s not paying me,” Stiles hissed, swallowing thickly and then struggling to keep his breathing calm. “Unlike some people, I actually have a heart.”

The smirk on Kate’s face widened as she reached out to flick one of the buttons on Stiles’ plaid overshirt. “You’d have to be paid to put up with his depressing attitude. ‘Boo hoo, my whole family died and I’m all alone. I don’t trust anyone because I have all this responsibility because I‘m practically an orphan.’ Come on,” Kate drawled, upper lip curled in disgust. Stiles curled his hands into fists, willing himself not to break his personal rule on violence against women.

Grabbing the lapel of Stiles’ overshirt, Kate gave it a tug as she ducked in until to whisper, “whatever he’s paying you? I can double it. Just let me see my kids.”

Incensed, Stiles pried her hand from his shirt and backed up to try and get around her. “You couldn’t pay me five million dollars to let you see those kids. You lost that chance a long time ago, lady,” he snapped, cringing when her hand snapped out and grabbed his shoulder.

“He’s got you wrapped around his finger, doesn‘t he? What are you, a sympathizer? After him like a bitch in heat…” Kate snorted, upper lip curling in a sneer, “Allison doesn’t know any better yet, but I do. He’ll hurt you. He’ll kill you one day. They all do. That’s what they do. They’re monsters; just a bunch of dogs that will go rabid one day.”

Stiles tried to pull his shoulder free but Kate dug her nails in and dragged him close.

“Don’t touch me!” he barked, goosebumps rising up along his arms and the back of his neck. His entire body was overcome with the need to shudder--to shake off the thing touching him.

Kate smirked, sliding her palm along his chest until her fingers curled loosely around his throat. She squeezed once in warning before adjusting her hold so it looked more like a lover’s caress to any passerby. “I thought all boys loved older women?”

Stiles shifted his focus, glancing over Kate’s shoulder to clarify that, yes, they were in the security camera’s line of sight. Most of his anxiety left him in a rush when he realized it, and it helped to give him the nerve he needed to put a hand on her collarbone and push with enough force that she had to lean back out of his space. “Yeah, sorry, but I’m not really down for an STD from the silent film era.”

The smirk on Kate’s face dropped into a dark, annoyed look. She moved back into Stiles’ personal bubble, brushing her fingers down his chest and grabbing his hip with her other hand. “Honey, you wish you could have some of this.”

“The only thing I wish for right now is a restraining order,” Stiles gritted out, “and that’s exactly what I’m going to get.”

Kate snorted.

“No, really,” Stiles urged, “you should probably check for security cameras more often. I know they didn’t have those during when you and your fellow australopithecans were in their prime, but hey, times are changing.”

In an instant, Kate went from self-assured to taking on a more infuriated and disbelieving expression. Stiles pointed up and she turned her head.

“Installed them two years ago after the second robbery. Snazzy, huh?”

Slowly, Kate pulled back. “Cute,” she huffed, “but good luck getting anyone to believe you didn’t want it.”

“Well,” Stiles dug hs hands into his pockets, turning his mouth down in an exaggerated frown, “I’m pretty sure my dad will believe me and since he’s the sheriff, that really helps my case.”

While Kate was in her ‘buffering’ stage of coming up with a response, Stiles pushed past her to head back to their lane. He suddenly wanted to be gone--to be anywhere but near Kate or even Scott or Allison who didn’t really understand the situation. He hopped down to where Scott was sitting and holding Allison’s hand, interrupting their coupley-eye-fucking.

“Hey, I’m not feeling too hot,” he said, glancing back to where Kate was heading over, “I’m gonna head home. Derek’s picking me up.”

“Aw, dude, really?” Scott groaned, mouth opened for more protest when Allison jumped in.

“Yeah, that‘s fine. You know, you were starting to look pretty tired. We can always hang out later, right?”

When Allison glanced over to her aunt warily, Stiles caught on in a moment that she knew exactly why he wanted to leave. God, he could kiss her for being so brilliant. Scott had to marry her, or Stiles would disown him.

“Yeah, sounds good. Talk later?”

“I’ll call you, dude,” Scott promised, “just like, gimme your schedule or something, okay?”

“Will do!” Stiles backed up, shoulder-checking Kate accidentally and then waving to Scott and Allison as he made a beeline for the exit. He fumbled for his phone while he walked, hitting Derek’s number on speed dial and bringing it to his ear.

“Did you lose already?” Derek answered, sounding just the tiniest bit teasing.

Stiles sucked in a sharp breath and he suddenly wanted to cry just from hearing Derek’s voice. Instead, he blurted, “I need you to pick me up.”

Derek’s tone changed instantly. “Are you okay? Is something wrong?” There was a rustling on the other line, like Derek had been lying down before Stiles had called him. Stiles, momentarily, wondered if he’d been playing around on his tablet before tucking in for the night. He tried to shake that thought, stepping outside and cringing at the cold bite of wind that had been kicking up all evening.

“Mostly,” he sighed, “I just. Yeah. I ran into someone and I would really rather not be here.”


Stiles entertained the idea of not telling Derek about Kate…but he’d honestly had enough of lying to last him a lifetime. “Uh. Well. Let’s just say the cameras have enough for us to get a restraining order.”

Kate?” Derek barked, sounding more shocked than Stiles could ever recall.

If Stiles’ chuckle was a little hysterical, that was neither here nor there as he laughed and then whimpered, “I don’t even know what’s gong on with my life anymore.”

“Don’t move, I’ll be there in ten.” Derek commanded, his voice shaking like he was already jumping into a pair of pants and hurrying out the door.

“Dude,” Stiles said faintly, “the bowling alley is like twenty minutes away.”

I’ll be there in ten.

Derek hung up and Stiles stared at his phone, felt a pang of fondness for Derek’s gruff form of a worry-wart, and then dialed his father.

It took two tries before his father picked up, having been preoccupied with finishing the paperwork for a drunk driver. They chatted about this and that for a moment before Stiles recapped the entire ordeal at the bowling alley--with a smidge of explanation about Kate and Derek‘s history--and then awaited his father’s input.

“Sounds like solid evidence for a restraining order,” dad muttered, “if you want, I can get ahold of the security tapes from the grocery store you mentioned? It’s all electronic now. They should still have the video stored in their database. If anything, that’ll just get you a better ground for your case.”

“You’re the best, pops,” Stiles grinned, “seriously. I love you, like, more than I love video games.”

“That’s a helluva lot, son. You sure about that?”


“Mhmm. I just want you to know we’re going to go at her with everything we’ve got, okay? Nobody touches my son like that and gets away with it.”

Stiles felt his heart clench, startled by the sound of tires squealing. He glanced up to see Derek’s camaro peeling into the parking lot and bit down on a smile. “So.. Uh… about Derek…”

“Nobody touches my son against his will.” Dad clarified.

“Glad we had this talk.” Stiles waved at Derek as he pulled up to the front of the bowling alley. He headed for the passenger door as his dad muttered things to one of his deputies.

“I’ve got to get back to work. I’ll keep you updated on that restraining order, okay?”

“Sure thing. Love you.”

“You too.”

Stiles hung up, opening the door to Derek’s camaro and sliding into the car. He grinned at Derek’s scowl, reaching for his seatbelt on instinct. “Hey--that was my--”

Derek grabbed the back of Stiles’ head, turning it and pulling him into a kiss.

It wasn’t like any of their normal kisses. This was one was bruising and demanding as Derek’s palms shoved their way across Stiles’ face and throat, leaving a burning and claiming path in their wake.

Stiles returned the kiss with as much enthusiasm as one could muster when entirely confused by their boyfriend’s aggressiveness, until Derek started to wrench at his overshirt. He pushed and pulled, hands scraping everywhere until Stiles had to pull back enough to gasp out, “calm down, Cujo,” before Derek was biting at his bottom lip and down his chin.

“I can smell her on you,” he breathed harshly, teeth clamping down on Stiles’ throat right where Kate’s hand had been only a little while ago. He didn’t bite to hurt, he bit to bruise, kneading at the skin and sucking hard enough to make Stiles release a ridiculously high pitched moan when the sensation shot straight to his dick.

Shoulder twinging, Stiles squirmed and pawed at Derek’s arm. “Dude--du-oh God. Derek, we’re in the parking lot. We can’t--FUCK--” Derek bit down again, higher up on Stiles’ throat while his hand started to rub soothing circles over Stiles’ chest like he was trying to calm a skittish animal.

Stiles weakly punched his arm into Derek’s shoulder, hissing, “jackass,” halfheartedly. He was only placated when Derek’s teeth eased up and his hand came to a stop over Stiles’ heart, a gentling weight against the way it was thundering against his ribcage.

It wasn’t long before Derek started to settle. He pressed slow, apologetic kisses to Stiles’ throat, trailing a path up Stiles’ neck before ending up at his mouth. Derek nibbled gently on Stiles’ upper lip, tugging it as he finally sat back to admire his work. He waited until Stiles was looking at him to firmly state, “you’re coming over.”

Stiles exhaled, chest clenching in nervous excitement as he weakly replied with, “okie dokie.”

The first thing Derek did when he got Stiles back to his house was to practically strip him and manhandle him into the shower. Stiles didn’t even need to ask to know it had something to do with eliminating the last of Kate’s scent. That being said, he had absolutely no complaints when he turned around from sticking his head under the warm spray to see Derek--gloriously naked--stepping into the shower with him.

“Holy shi--uh, fancy meeting you here?“ Stiles squeaked, voice cracking when his eyes were drawn to the thick, dark trail of hair on Derek’s stomach that led down. He had to snap his eyes up to keep from getting an eyeful, and that was only because he figured they were in the shower to get rid of Kate’s scent and not for hanky panky.

That is, he thought that until Derek pushed him up against the wall so that they were chest to chest and proceeded to mouth at Stiles’ neck and run his hands down Stiles’ back until his fingers were brushing the dip in his spine.

“She touched you,” Derek hissed into Stiles’ jaw line, palming his ass and then dragging his hands up until he was crushing Stiles to his chest. “She touched you.”

“It’s okay,” Stiles blurted, “she didn’t get away with it,” he tried to keep his voice calming, hand brushing the back of Derek’s head in a slow pet. “She didn’t hurt me.”

“--but she could have. Just like she could have taken the children.”

“Oh,” Stiles said weakly, because this wasn’t a possession thing. It was something else. It was something that Stiles was kind of terrified to really think too deeply into. Derek was putting him on the same level of importance as Andy and Olly. Derek was making him invaluable in a way that Stiles’ stomach and chest hurt when he started to dwell on it. It was overwhelming and intense and way too much to worry about when Derek’s mouth was starting to kiss a path down his chest.

It seemed like Derek was more than finished talking, but that might have been because he was too busy biting kisses into Stiles’ hips. Each nip was followed up by a lingering swipe of his tongue and a press of his lips, making a path closer towards Stiles’ crotch. Stiles almost whined for something to happen when, finally, Derek’s hand was wrapping around Stiles’ half-hard dick like it was something made to be worshiped. Stiles pawed at the shower walls, warm water trickling over his shoulders and dripping onto Derek’s head as he leaned in and wrapped his mouth around Stiles’ cock.

Stiles didn’t even know what to do--if he should rock into Derek’s mouth or if he should stay there and shake his way through the overwhelming rush of sensations. Derek’s mouth was burning hot, eyeteeth tapping every so often in that way that meant this was something Derek didn’t do much. It gave a pained thrill to the overall feel of it, and when Derek would suck too hard or squeeze too tight, Stiles only had to tighten his hand in Derek’s hair for him to ease off.

Each suck was like a yank, a tug trying to wrench his orgasm out of him. Stiles was reduced to a panting mess, legs trembling to keep himself standing. Derek massaged at his thigh with one hand, the other tight around Stiles’ shaft--squeezing every so often in a way that had Stiles’ back arching and his stomach fluttering.

Stiles only had a creeping warming sensation and a tenseness in his muscles to warn him of his impending climax. He tugged at Derek’s hair, breathing out, “I’m gonna blow, dude, fuck, Derek.

Derek pulled off with a loud pop of his mouth, cheek brushing the head of Stiles’ cock. His hand sped up, moving faster as he kissed at the underside of Stiles’ dick just as Stiles tensed up and came with a low groan. Stiles shook and quivered, spilling all over Derek’s hand in messy ropes.

“Holy shit,” Stiles whimpered. Derek mouthed at the inside of Stiles’ thigh and Stiles was pretty sure he was falling apart at the seams when Derek nipped and sucked a hickey at the skin right up by his groin.

Once he was satisfied with marking up Stiles’ thigh, Derek stood, stealing Stiles’ mouth into a kiss. Stiles reached down, fumbling for a second until he palmed at Derek’s cock--hard and heavy between them. Water was spraying against their heads, making a messy waterfall down their shoulders and chests as Derek chased after Stiles’ lips like a man starved.

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles panted, squeezing Derek and trying to get a good enough angle to try and bring him off.

With a groan, Derek batted the showerhead out of the way, hiking Stiles’ leg up to his hip and slotting himself into the perfect position to start fucking up into the vee of Stiles’ hips. Stiles dug his fingers into Derek’s hair, returning Derek’s kisses with fervor and rocking into each thrust of Derek’s hips until Derek was coming in messy squirts all over Stiles’ stomach and chest.

“You smell so good,” Derek panted into his mouth, kissing him and then reaching down to smear his cum all over Stiles’ torso. Stiles was too preoccupied by Derek sucking on his tongue to protest--even when Derek started to swipe that same hand over Stiles’ throat and shoulders. He knew it was some kind of marking thing, but he was pretty much nothing but goo at that point to even question the productivity of rubbing jizz all over his chest.

He felt completely drained by the time Derek pulled away to grab the soap. Each touch was slow and firm, Derek’s fingers seeking out the sore muscles in Stiles’ back as he completely soaped him down. Stiles felt almost like a puppet, leaning into Derek’s arms while he was guided under the spray to be rinsed off.

“Man,” Stiles muttered, groaning as Derek rubbed shampoo into his hair, “I think I’m going to sleep forever. I’m so tired. Oh my god, how am I gonna keep up with you.”

Derek snorted, gently washing Stiles’ hair. “We’ll build up your stamina.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles let out a dramatic sob, feeling more excited than anything for the anticipation of even more sexy-time with Derek. He just hoped that Derek didn’t drain him like this every time. Stiles usually felt energized after sex--but now he just wanted nothing more than to take a nap right in the shower.

Derek chuckled, shutting the water off and getting out to fetch towels.

When they crawled into bed--Stiles in Derek’s boxers and a t-shirt, and Derek in some sweatpants--Derek didn’t spoon him. Instead, he maneuvered Stiles onto his back and then practically draped himself over top. It was like he was trying to smother Stiles, snuffling up to him and kissing at his throat and earlobe.

Stiles looped one arm around Derek’s hips, skin hypercharged with each touch and nuzzle from Derek. It didn’t feel sexual at all, but not platonic either. It just felt natural, like coming home to Derek’s caress was something that happened all the time.

He fell asleep feeling more loved than anything else in the world.

Chapter Text

Stiles woke up feeling so hard that he was pretty sure his dick was going to fall off if he didn’t do something about it soon. He was trapped in that bleary state between asleep and awake, where every blink brought him closer to the edge of sleep again. His sheets were softer than normal, and there was a heavy weight along his back that helped to press him down into the mattress. Stiles couldn’t really remember what he’d been dreaming about, but it must have been something good if he woke up to find himself sleepily rutting against the bed.

Groaning quietly, Stiles curled one hand into a fist, holding the sheets tightly, and rocked his hips in an attempt to relieve the ache between his legs. It wasn’t until the weight against his back moved that Stiles was able to wake enough to register that he wasn’t even in his own bed. He stilled, trying to quiet the sound of his own sleep-heavy breathing.

Derek snuffled, wriggling and bearing down against Stiles’ back like he was some kind of massive pillow. His half-open lips were pressed against Stiles’ shoulder, and his face was smushed enough that Stiles could feel the very edge of Derek’s teeth on his skin.

None of these things were helping with Stiles’ current predicament.

Cracking an eye open, Stiles waited a moment for the sleep-fog to clear from his eyes so he could read the bedside clock, which told him it was barely six in the morning. He was lying on his belly, one leg hiked up and the other sticking out with Derek draped over his back—a massive weight, and probably the cause for Stiles’ heavy breathing.

Derek shifted and Stiles was struck with a flashback to their day at the beach.

“That was not his cell phone,” he whispered angrily at himself, vividly recalling three things from that moment; the weight of Derek’s body, the taste of sand in his mouth, and something poking him in the back in a way much like what Derek’s dick was doing right now.

Thinking about Derek’s junk only made Stiles’ imagination roam into dangerous territory. He was sleepy enough that a few stray thoughts had him slipping into a waking dream that involved Derek’s hands, coffee, and then sex on what Stiles’ subconscious decided Derek’s office desk must have looked like. He woke himself up when he let out another soft moan and squirmed enough in his sleep to unsettle Derek’s arm from his back and make it slide down to his hip.

Derek’s breath hitched and Stiles struggled to stay awake when he heard him tiredly snuffling at the air like he was attempting to register the scent. Stiles shifted, his cock so hard that the head of it had gotten trapped in the elastic of his borrowed boxers. It hurt so nicely that Stiles had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop himself from making any noise when the fabric rasped right against the sensitive spot along the underside of his cockhead.

“Stiles?” Derek muttered in a tired, sleep-rough hum, dragging his palm up Stiles’ back in a way that had Stiles’ hips giving an instinctual twitch back into Derek’s hand. Stiles huffed, able to feel the moment-long transition Derek underwent from asleep to awake, because his hand started to travel down Stiles’ spine before palming at Stiles’ ass with a sleepy grope. Stiles let out a strangled choking noise and arched his back just enough to part his legs into a more comfortable position. Derek’s chest was vibrating with a low grumbling noise, nose rubbing up along the back of Stiles’ neck. He sounded content, happy to just press and massage his fingers into Stiles’ skin, dragging them between Stiles’ asscheeks as much as he could with boxers impeding him.

It was entirely too surreal, the way Derek mouthed sleepy kisses into his shoulder and continued to rub his ass like it was some kind of everyday routine. Stiles twisted his head, giving Derek enough room to snag one earlobe between his teeth and nibble on it. Stiles’ entire body felt like it was on fire, lungs constricting and breath tight as Derek’s fingers shifted and pressed against his hole, teasing him through the fabric of his boxers. He hissed, muffling a groan into his wrist and rocking his hips into the touch.

“Wanna fuck you,” Derek mumbled tiredly, like he wasn’t halfway to fingering Stiles already, and then kissed the back of Stiles’ ear and nosed at it in a puppyish manner. Stiles rolled his hips back until Derek’s fingers were almost pushing inside, boxers rasping against his skin. He clenched his teeth when a shudder shot through him right from the base of his spine and made his arms and legs break out into gooseflesh.

“Yeah,” he croaked, almost losing his voice in a yawn that came from nowhere, “yeah, ok. I’m so down for this.”

Derek stilled, halfway in the middle of nibbling a hickey onto Stiles’ shoulder. His breath came in fast and sharp, and Stiles was ready to wiggle his way around and ask Derek if he was okay when the body on top of him retreated abruptly. “De—” Stiles yelped when Derek scrambled over his body, foot catching on the sheets and taking away every ounce of werewolf grace as he faceplanted onto the floor with a loud grunt. Stiles didn’t mean to, but he burst out laughing—quickly covering his mouth as Derek stumbled to his feet and hurried to lock the door.

“Oh my God,” he gasped out, biting the corner of his lip and hoping the pain would be enough to keep him from cracking up again when Derek whirled around with sleep-mussed hair and a half wild look in his eyes that made Stiles instinctively turn on his back. Derek’s dazed expression quickly turned predatory and Stiles didn’t even have to think about it before he was shimmying out of his underwear.

He didn’t get a chance to kick them off before Derek was there and clambering up onto the bed. Stiles tried to wiggle his foot and get the boxers off of his ankle, but it was futile when Derek was caging him in with his body and kissing him breathless. Stiles tilted his head up and looped his arms around Derek’s shoulders, grinning into the kiss as Derek dragged his palms greedily up Stiles’ sides.

“So does this mean you...fell for me?” he mumbled. Derek snarled, biting the corner of his mouth in reprimand and then pinching his side when all it did was made Stiles laugh softly. The pinch tickled more than anything, and Stiles jerked to the side and breathily muttered his apologies through a snicker.

“Shut up,” Derek growled, tweaking his hip again and making Stiles yelp and playfully punch him in the chest. Derek pulled away, sitting on Stiles’ thighs and staring down at him with a thoughtful look. Stiles didn’t like that look, and he liked it a lot less when Derek’s eyebrows pinched in the center in that evil, mischievous way they got sometimes when he was teasing the children.

Tugging at the hem of Stiles’ shirt, Derek pulled it up and off so that Stiles was laying bare beneath him. Stiles felt exposed under the way Derek was staring down at him, neck growing hot and his hands coming up to instinctively cover his nipples like that would save his dignity in some manner. “I don’t like that look,” he said, narrowing his eyes warily at the way Derek’s gaze dragged along every inch of his body.

“Good.” Derek said, and then poked him in the side. Stiles jerked, trying to wriggle free and slapping at Derek’s hand when he realized he was trapped under the massive weight of one fully grown werewolf sitting on his legs. That evil look was back full force as Derek grabbed his sides and dug his fingers in, flexing them and making every single ticklish spot on Stiles’ stomach go wild. Stiles bit back a shriek, arching up and writhing to try and escape Derek’s touch. Derek’s hands danced along his sides, mouth pulled back into a tiny grin as he continued his relentless assault.

Stiles pawed at Derek’s arms, trying to buck him off and then panting out, “mercy!” with an embarrassingly high-pitched cackle. Any attempt to beg Derek to stave off his attack was muffled when Derek ducked down and kissed him. His hands stilled as he did so, palms huge and warm when they finally settled on Stiles’ hips. Stiles gasped for air, smiling helplessly into the kiss even as he grumbled, “asshole.”

Instead of answering, Derek’s thumb stroked softly at the curve of his hip and his mouth pressed feather-light kisses to Stiles’. He rocked his body, bearing down onto Stiles and rutting against him. He grabbed one of Stiles’ legs, pulling to the side so he could settle in between his legs for a better angle. Stiles trailed his fingers along Derek’s back before finally hooking them into the elastic of his sweatpants to push them down. He was distracted for a moment when he got two handfuls of Derek’s ass, making a delighted sound into the kiss and grinning when Derek flexed instinctively into his hands.

“Like that?” Stiles hummed, resting his head back against his pillow while Derek nodded and started to tap slow, lingering kisses down his chin and jaw. Stiles dragged his hands up Derek’s back again before bringing them down once more to pull at Derek’s pants. Derek shifted, grumbling into Stiles’ throat where he was trying to nibble a hickey into his skin, and then sat back to climb off of Stiles long enough to shuck off his pants. Stiles was pretty sure his mouth started watering when Derek’s cock bounced free, thick and hard between his legs.

Derek didn’t waste another second, climbing back onto the bed and kissing a slow path down Stiles’ chest and stomach. He stopped around Stiles’ belly button, snuffling and kissing the soft muscle there before nuzzling his cheek under Stiles’ navel. Stiles reached down, threading his fingers through Derek’s hair and scratching gently at his scalp. Derek took another second to hug his abdomen before he started to push Stiles over onto his stomach. Stiles rolled easily, peering over his shoulder, a sudden yawn overtaking him. “Dude, hurry up before I zonk out or somethin’.”

“I could make a lot of jokes about waking you up, if you want,” Derek offered, leaning over to the bedside table and rustling around in the top drawer before he pulled out a small tube of KY.

Snorting, Stiles scooted his knees closer to his chest, wiggling his ass in the air and flexing it for good measure. “I’m pretty sure you have more important things on your agenda.”

Derek paused, reaching out and pressing his hand against Stiles’ right butt cheek, squeezing and massaging it almost tenderly. “I wouldn’t call it an agenda...” he said faintly, “it’s just...” he trailed off, bending down until he could kiss softly at the base of Stiles’ neck. He took a second to nuzzle the tip of his nose there before kissing again. “Right.”

“Huh?” Stiles tried to twist and look over his shoulder, but all he could see of Derek was his hair as he kissed down Stiles’ spine while kneading his ass. It felt great, and Stiles was starting to worry he might blow his load before they even got to sex, but that didn’t stop him from wondering what Derek meant.

Shaking his head, Derek kissed the dip above Stiles’ tailbone. “This. Us. It’s just right, isn’t it?”

“I--I guess,” Stiles stammered as Derek clicked open the lube. “I mean, I think I get what you mean.” Stiles rolled onto his back, splitting his legs wide so Derek could get a hand between them while he watched the look of concentration that came over his face. “It’s natural. Sometimes I forget we haven’t done this already. I mean, dude, we’re pretty much already married--unnh,” Stiles broke off with a groan as Derek slipped a finger inside of him, twisting and wriggling it around.

“Go on,” Derek urged, hiding a grin in the way he kissed Stiles’ knee and started to pump his finger in and out of Stiles. Stiles shot him a withering glare, dropping his head against the pillow and clenching down around Derek’s finger. Derek nipped his leg in retaliation.

Throwing an arm over his eyes, Stiles forced himself to relax. “Are we really going to have a heart to heart before sex?”

“If you want.” Derek pushed in another finger, making Stiles’ inner walls flutter for a second before he stopped fighting the sudden intrusion. Stiles rolled his eyes, peeking down at Derek and almost forgetting to breathe at the way Derek was looking at him like he’d hung the fucking moon or something.

Stiles closed his eyes again, face burning, and shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t think I could have this.”

“...but you do,” Derek urged.

“Yeah,” Stiles agreed faintly, “which is like...crazy hard to believe sometimes. I just...wanted you and the kids all for myself and now I do, but that makes me sound like a creepy possessive person and --I don’t know, dude. Ignore me. I don’t know what I’m saying.”


Stiles jumped when Derek abruptly added a third finger, pushing in and twisting and curling with a wet noise from the lube. His fingers brushed Stiles’ prostate, sending a jolt up his spine and making Stiles’ right foot twitch. “Huh?”

“If I spent any of the last five months ignoring you,” Derek began, stretching Stiles with each push of his fingers, “things would be a lot different than they are.”

“Uhm, ohfuck,” Stiles clenched down when Derek’s pinky wriggled inside of him with a twist, “nnh, I think that’s a good thing?”

“It is,” Derek confirmed, nuzzling Stiles’ knee and then pumping his fingers. Stiles panted, each movement shooting a thrill up his spine and making heat flush up his chest and his cock twitch against his stomach. He brought a hand up to card through his hair, wiggling his ass when Derek curled his fingers and then pushed just right in a way that had Stiles’ breath leaving him in a woosh.

Grinning, Derek bent down to kiss Stiles’ gasping lips. “It’s a very good thing.”

“Yes, let’s speak in vague terms right before buttsex,” Stiles croaked, sighing when Derek pulled his fingers out and left his ass clenching on empty air. Derek reached for the lube, hesitating for a moment and frowning. Stiles knew that look, and he laughed and poked Derek in the side with his big toe. “Dude, my best friend’s a werewolf, you don’t have to give me the big talk about condoms and super healing. I know already.”

Derek gave him an odd look, “I knew that,” he said, “I was wondering which way I should fuck you.”

“Oh,” Stiles replied, suddenly feeling a mix between mortified and insanely turned on. “Well. I think you’ll have like, a bajillion chances to fuck me in all possible positions so uh, let’s not get too complica--oh okay fuck, Jesus, yes this works-- oh my God,” Stiles clutched the sheets as Derek pushed in slowly, opening him up inch by inch. He kept one palm on the base of his cock, the other pushing Stiles’ left thigh wide to give himself enough room to move. Apparently he’d gotten tired of Stiles’ chattering.

Pawing at Derek’s shoulders, Stiles clenched and forced himself to relax at least three times before a soft noise from Derek had him shuddering and going still enough to let Derek push the rest of the way in.

“Oh yeah,” Stiles groaned, “that’s the stuff.”

“Pun intended?” Derek rasped, the corner of his mouth quirking as Stiles cackled and then groaned when the movement of his stomach had Derek’s cock rubbing against his prostate.

“Yeah, we can go with that,” he breathed, dragging his hands down Derek’s chest and then up again, admiring the way his muscles flexed and rolled beneath his fingertips. Derek bent down, stealing a kiss and then giving his hips a sharp and sudden rock forward. Stiles hummed in contentment, momentarily entertaining the thought of just staying like this with Derek for the rest of the morning. Derek must have had other ideas, as he kissed his way down Stiles’ neck and nibbled at his collarbone before thrusting again.

With the sheets bunched around them like a nest, Derek’s body was practically a furnace when pressed in close. Sweat made their stomachs stick together,beading at Stiles’ temples and behind his ears with each downward thrust Derek gave that drove them closer and closer.

Stiles wiggled a hand in between their bodies, getting a hand around his dick and willing himself not to blow his load too early on. Derek sucked kisses into his throat, picking up his pace into a steady rhythm of in and out that only stuttered when he would get too distracted trying to make the biggest hickey known to man on the curve where Stiles’ shoulder met his neck.

“Does it feel good?” Stiles blurted, muscles fluttering around Derek’s cock. Derek grunted, nodding and nosing up against Stiles’ jaw.

“Feels great,” he mumbled, pulling away to straighten his back. Stiles rested against the pillows, a yawn overtaking him as he gave himself a few lazy strokes. Derek watched with a hungry look in his eyes, and then hooked both hands under Stiles’ knees and pushed them up until they were nearly to Stiles’ shoulders.

“Hnngh,” Stiles wheezed, “I don’t bend that way--”

“Sorry,” Derek eased back a little, shifting Stiles’ legs and then pulling them up onto his shoulders and dropping down to cage his hands on either side of Stiles’ head. “Sorry.”

“Shh,” Stiles snuck a hand up to press his finger against Derek’s mouth, “shhh child. No more tears, only sex.”

“Shut up,” Derek snapped at his finger, nipping it and then snapping his hips forward. Stiles’ hand moved to grab Derek’s elbow, fingers digging in when he started to fuck into Stiles in earnest. Stiles grabbed Derek’s other elbow, ankles hooking behind his shoulders and toes curling as Derek started to piston right against his prostate. Each thrust was sending a white shock of pleasure up Stiles’ spine. He muttered a litany of curses under his breath, shoving one hand down between his legs to get a hand around his cock.

“Gonna come?” Derek asked softly, slowing down for some sharper, deeper thrusts before he sped up again. Stiles shrugged one shoulder, grinning around a moan and stroking himself in time with Derek’s thrusts.

“I might,” he hedged, laughing when Derek growled and ducked down to bite kisses into his mouth before staggering his thrusts to shift his weight and get a hand between their bodies. He curled his palm over Stiles’, coaxing him to stroke faster, to squeeze tighter.

Kissing Stiles, Derek began to mutter softly, “you feel amazing--you’re so tight, so good. I love how you feel, love when you talk, it’s so good,” in a way that sounded almost reverent. Each word made Stiles’ nerves burn and his lungs constrict. It was like Derek was trying to pull his orgasm out with his words alone.

“Okay,” he whined, choking down a moan and panting, “okay, yeah, yeah, yeah oh God oh--” Stiles clenched, climax ripping through him and making all of the muscles in his stomach tense as he spilled all over their hands in messy ropes. “Shit,” Stiles sagged against the bed as Derek continued to rock into his body, kissing the side of Stiles’ knee as he leaned back to rub Stiles’ cum all over his stomach, making a complete mess of things.

“That’s nasty,” Stiles griped, “I’m not cleaning that up.”

“Mmh,” Derek hummed, still thrusting slow and lazy, like half of his frenzy had been a desperation to get Stiles off alone. Stiles slid one leg off of Derek’s shoulders, catching it in the crook of his elbow and rocking up into Derek’s thrusts. He was going to wring Derek’s orgasm out of him if it was the last thing he did.

“Man,” Stiles reached out, pushing his hand against Derek’s stomach so he could grope at the muscles there, “when I top, I’m going to rock your world.”

“You sure?” Derek teased, grabbing Stiles’ hand and bringing it up to kiss his fingertips. “I think it will be the other way around.”

Stiles scoffed, “yeah right. You’ll be begging for it.”

Derek looked thoughtful, and then he slowly pulled out, cock bouncing up and hitting his stomach--shiny with lube. “We’ll see about that,” Derek muttered, wandering into the bathroom. Stiles stared at his ass as he walked away, mouth agape.

“Dude! We weren’t done yet! Are you going to rub one out in the bathroom? Not cool, man!”


Derek came back out, holding a wet cloth and approaching the bed. He took a few seconds to wipe Stiles’ belly off before grabbing the lube and dropping it onto Stiles’ stomach. “Get to work.”


“You’re going to rock my world, right? Prove it.”

Stiles groaned, flopping back against the bed. “Oh come on, man. I’m totally beat. I don’t even know if I can get it up again. I’ll probably fall asleep on top of you. I’m only human!”

At first, Stiles thought Derek was going to relent and give Stiles a few hours to recuperate, but no. It was probably the werewolf part of him that gave Derek infinite stamina and a dick harder than a trigonometry final, because Derek sighed in annoyance, grabbed the lube to squirt some on his hands, and started to open himself up.

“That’s not fair,” Stiles whined, “can you at least turn around?”

Derek glowered, as if to say, you would get a free show if you weren’t being lazy, and then grunted and shifted his arm. Knowing Derek, he was probably abusing his super werewolf healing to prep himself as fast as possible. Stiles was tempted to actually get up and try to at least get a good peek in, but his legs and arms felt like jelly and he really was tired.

“Butthole,” Stiles grumbled, and then squealed when Derek apparently finished what he was doing and all but leapt onto Stiles.

“I can go rub one out in the bathroom if you want,” Derek offered, reaching for Stiles’ limp cock and giving it a few teasing strokes to fatten it up. Stiles squirmed, already feeling sensitive after having gotten off not long before, but he shook his head.

“No bathroom sessions needed,” he said vehemently, “you can use my dick all you want. It has a name. If you talk to it, I’m sure it’ll get hard faster. You can call him--”

“Shut up.”

“Okay, fine. Don’t use his name. Are you this rude with all your bed partners.”

Derek glared, and yeah, it was likely that being so tired and riding on a post-orgasmic high had Stiles saying some stupid shit that he normally kept from spewing out of his mouth. He gave Derek a sheepish smile, pushing himself up so he could steal a kiss.

Mollified, Derek returned the kiss and snuck a few of his own before he pushed Stiles onto his back when he deemed Stiles’ cock sufficiently hardened. Stiles had a half second to watch Derek climb up his torso and rise up on his knees before he was sinking down onto Stiles’ dick in one swift drop.

The squawk that tore from Stiles’ lips was entirely accidental. He wasn’t expecting to go from the cool bedroom air to tight, slick heat in the span of two seconds flat. If his dick hadn’t been hard before, it was now--especially when Derek’s inner walls clenched and fluttered around him. He pawed at Derek’s thighs, hips aching to thrust up into the suffocating clutch of Derek’s body.

Derek grabbed one of Stiles’ hands, bringing it up to his lips and kissing the inside of his wrist. Stiles groaned, twitching his hips up as Derek nipped his palm and then kissed the pad of his thumb and began to slowly bounce himself on Stiles’ cock. Stiles curled his fingers around Derek’s jaw, rocking up into his body while Derek rode him slowly. Derek snuffled into his palm again, mouthing at the heel and reaching for Stiles’ other hand to push it down towards his cock.

Stiles knew a cue when he saw one, and wasted no time in stroking Derek slow and firm. Derek settled Stiles’ hand on his hip, reaching out to brace himself on Stiles’ chest and then rising up and lowering himself in quick little rolls of his hips. Stiles dropped his head back against the sheets, breath coming out in short rasps. “I think you’re gonna break my dick,” he whined.

“You’ll heal,” Derek muttered, kissing Stiles on the nose and sitting back to set a pace that worked best for himself. Stiles could feel sleep pulling him under, but he blinked rapidly to wake himself up. If he noticed Stiles’ moment of dozing, Derek didn’t say anything in lieu of rocking back and finding that perfect angle with a soft grunt. He started to rock, not pulling off fully and instead grabbing Stiles’ hand to help stroke himself off.

“Come on, man,” Stiles coaxed, “you got this,” he squeezed Derek’s cock around the head, thumbing the slit and snapping his hips up. There was a slight shudder in Derek’s body, a quiver in his arms that let Stiles know he was close to the edge. Stiles used the last of his energy to push himself up, fucking into Derek’s body with fast, sloppy jabs that had Derek tensing and then clamping down on Stiles’ cock as he came messily all over their bodies.

Stiles whined, wiggling and thrusting to try and get himself off a second time in the heat of Derek’s body--loose and pliant from his recent orgasm, save for the occasional spasm of muscles. It was almost enough, and then Derek reached down and tweaked Stiles’ left nipple and Stiles came with a shout, clutching to Derek’s thighs like a lifeline.

He came down in increments, struck with an impossible wave of sleepy fatigue as Derek climbed off of him. “I’ve died and gone to heaven,” he moaned, “my body is merely a vessel for otherworldly pleasure, now.”

A soft snort came from Derek as he went to fetch another cloth while Stiles watched him tiredly. “I love your butt.”

“Thanks,” Derek said, coming back spunk-free and in a pair of clean boxers. He sat on the bed, taking his time wiping Stiles down and sniffing occasionally until he was satisfied. He pulled off the sheet they’d soiled, carrying it into the bathroom with the dirty wash cloths and coming back with a fresh one. Stiles didn’t move, and so Derek ended up rolling him onto one side of the bed, putting the sheet down, and then pushing Stiles onto the fitted side to finish the other end.

“Such a good husband,” Stiles murmured, rolling onto his belly and grabbing the nearest pillow to snuggle up to. Derek snorted, and there was a moment of shuffling before a wet cloth pressed right between Stiles’ asscheeks. It was cold, and Stiles yelped and tried to wiggle away as Derek gently wiped at his hole and the underside of his balls.

“It’s cold!” he whined tiredly, but only got a gentle swat on his bottom for it. That made Stiles grumble and settle down as Derek finished and then disappeared again. He was almost entirely asleep when the bed dipped and a warm body draped itself over his back. Derek took a second to nose around at the back of Stiles’ neck, making a whuffing breathy noise before kissing behind his ear and settling in to sleep.

Some time later, the warm weight of Derek’s body left and Stiles registered the sound of whining children on the other side of the door. He felt Derek’s lips press against his temple before the bed shifted and Derek got up. Stiles drifted off to the sound of happy chatter on the other side of the door and Derek’s voice chastising Andy and Olly for being so loud when Stiles was trying to sleep.

He woke up again when the bed was jostled and a small body climbed it’s way over his legs before settling on his stomach. Stiles cracked an eye open, staring down at Olly’s wild mop of black hair. He panicked for a second, worried about the smells that Olly’s nose would pick up, before remembering that Derek had spent nearly a half hour wiping him down until he was satisfied. Wrapping an arm around Olly’s body, Stiles kissed him on the head and then shifted so Olly could happily snuffle into his throat.

“Mrrh,” Olly grumbled sleepily, curling up into the tiniest ball a little four year old could muster and then wrapping his arms around Stiles’ neck. Stiles hummed in agreement, patting him on the back while Olly continued to scent mark at his jaw and neck. After another moment, Olly let out a second, more contented rumble. “Y’smell good,” he murmured, voice cracking on a big yawn, “mine.”

Stiles looked down at Olly, head craning to try and see his face. It proved futile with how deeply he’d buried his face into Stiles’ neck, breath already evening out into a sleepy doze. Stiles figured it was another werewolf thing, but he’d talk to Derek about it later. He curled both arms around Olly’s body, hugging him loosely and nestling back into the bed with a tired sigh.

He was almost asleep when the door cracked open again and Derek came in bearing a steaming mug of coffee. Stiles sat up as best he could with Olly draped over his chest, grinning when Derek handed him the mug. It was so normal--so much like a family--that Stiles was hit with the overwhelming need to burst into tears because this was real. Instead, he gave Derek a tiny smirk and said, “gotta love a man who knows how to serve me.”

Snorting softly, Derek gave Stiles’ head an affectionate shove before pausing and looking thoughtful. He reached out, fluffing Stiles’ short bangs and then playing with them for a minute before an unbearably fond expression crossed his face. He leaned in to steal a kiss, maneuvering Stiles’ mug so he could steal some coffee as well, and then snagged Olly up to carry him out of the room and let Stiles wake up and shower in peace.

Stiles didn’t get up right away, though. He slunk down in the bed, rolling until he was pretty much wrapped up in the sheets, and then stuffed his face into Derek’s pillow. He bit down on a grin, recalling vividly the entire night and the way Derek had held him so intimately--so lovingly-- even long after, when Stiles had been practically asleep.

This was real, this was his. Waking up to Olly snuggling him was just a reminder of that fact. An uncontrollable wave of giddiness hit him right in the gut and Stiles curled up with a tiny, happy noise before shoving his face deeper into Derek’s pillow and inhaling the scent of his shampoo and sweat. Yeah, he could get used to this.

Eventually he got up, taking a quick shower and stealing a pair of Derek’s sweatpants and another shirt before shuffling his way out of the bedroom. He followed the scent of food, sipping idly at his coffee (Derek had made it with a little too much cream, but Stiles wasn’t complaining) and smiling when he saw Derek at the stove and the children at the kitchen table. Andy was scribbling in a coloring book, hoarding all of the purple crayons, while Olly was looking through an encyclopedia on marine life, poking and tracing the glossy photos of sharks and fish that covered each page.

It was a long moment of indecision for Stiles--did he want to pester the children first, or Derek?

Derek ended up winning out, but only because Stiles caught sight of tray of chopped strawberries next to the oven that had him scooting his way on over. He set his mug on the counter, taking a second to admire the way the muscles on Derek’s back flexed when he flipped a pancake, and then pressed himself all up along those same muscles while slinging his arms around Derek’s belly. He hooked his chin over Derek’s shoulder, watching him shuffle some of the pancakes around and letting his palm rub up and down the soft expanse of muscle on Derek’s abdomen.

“No strawberries for me,” he murmured, rubbing his cheek against Derek’s jaw and taking pleasure in the thrill that came from the rasp of stubble. Derek tilted his head, leaning enough to the side so that he could steal a kiss hidden in the corner of Stiles’ mouth.

“I know,” he rumbled, putting down the spatula to settle his hand over the one Stiles had snuck up his chest, “even though strawberry pancakes are delicious.”

Stiles crinkled his nose, scoffing, “they get mushy.”

“Yeah!” Andy piped up from the table, “super mushy! Like gross poop mushy, bleh! No stra’burries ever!”

“Yeah, what she said,” Stiles laughed, even as Derek rolled his eyes and went back to flipping the pancakes.

Stiles took another moment to press up against Derek’s back before giving him a kiss behind the ear and then making his way to the kitchen table to sit with Andy and Olly. Andy handed him her least favorite crayon (medium ‘poo’ brown) and a corner of a picture she had apparently decided was a lost cause for majestic coloring. Stiles doodled stick figures of Derek and the twins on it while Andy began to blather on about the dream she’d had, and how Thomas the Tank Engine was not a rocket, but a tank--but not a tank that went boom, he was a tank that went ‘choo choo’.

Derek set the pancakes down once he was done cooking them, and Stiles got up to fetch the drinks as Derek cleared the table of all activities to make room for breakfast.

After eating and washing up, they migrated into the living room to zone out to some morning cartoons in a pile of limbs and full tummies. Derek was at the bottom, smothered by Stiles draped across his lap and the twins curled up into his sides with Olly sitting on Stiles’ hip at an awkward angle that looked uncomfortable. Things didn’t stay that peaceful for much longer, though, because as soon as all the sugar from their juice and maple syrup started to work through Andy and Olly’s tiny bodies, they began to wiggle and squirm. That turned into fidgeting, which ended up with Olly oozing off of Stiles and crawling over to his toy box.

One minute, Stiles and Derek were watching the twins start to play house, and the next they were faced with two screaming and excited balls of energy. Derek tried for a good minute to calm them down, even going so far as to bribe with new toys, but gave up when Andy threw a toy frog and nailed him in the face with it, screamed, and ran down the hall.

Olly chased after her, echoing her screams and swinging around a fairy wand like it was a lightsaber.

“What just happened?” Derek asked softly.

“Sugar rush.” Stiles said solemnly, cringing at the crash from down the hall and two identical shrieks. The rush of thundering feet followed soon after as Andy and Olly bolted back into the room with their blankets tied around their necks like capes. Andy ran for the toy bin, grabbing a bouncy ball and flinging it at Olly and then clambering up the couch. She jumped up and down on the cushion, yelling and laughing at the inflections in her voice that came from the bouncing motion. Olly (who hadn’t gotten hit by the ball) was spinning in circles, holding his cape out and making it swirl with his movements.

From his spot next to Stiles, Derek watched them with a terrified expression. Each time Olly started to sway towards something breakable when he began running in circles around the coffee table, Derek cringed. Andy flopped on the couch and Olly wobbled before stumbling his way towards the hall with a warbling shout. Stiles only looked away for a second, turning to grin at Derek, and then a loud thud had both of them jumping up in surprise.

Olly was laying on the floor with a dazed expression as blood started to trickle out of his nose from where he’d run into the wall. It was a tense moment, nobody sure of how Olly would react. He sat up, breath hitching, and then smeared his little fist over his mouth as a tiny whine came from deep in his chest. “Buh,” he whimpered, staring at the blood on his hand--even though his nose was probably already healed. Another hiccup, and then Olly threw his head back and wailed, “papaaaaa!” at the top of his lungs. Stiles froze halfway to running to him, something clenching tight in his chest as he turned to look to Derek.

Derek rushed over to Olly, scooping him up and cradling him close as Olly continued to cry and scream. He made soft shushing noises, using his thumb to swipe away the blood on Olly’s top lip. Olly kicked and squirmed, shaking his head and trying to get free of Derek’s arms. “No! I’wan’ poppy!” he moaned, “poppy!”

Confused, Derek looked over to Stiles and then back down to Olly. He slowly held Olly out to Stiles like an offering of tears and snot. Olly whimpered, sobbing a little and making grabby hands at Stiles.

“I’m poppy?” Stiles said weakly, walking forward and taking Olly from Derek. Olly didn’t waste a second in clinging to him like a monkey, shaking with sobs. Stiles’ breath hitched, shock wearing off after another moment before it gave way to a suffocating feeling of elation. He rubbed Olly’s back, bouncing him a little and grinning at Derek like a madman. His eyes were burning, and Stiles was pretty sure he was about to burst into tears right alongside Olly.

Andy bounced over, pulling on Stiles’ shirt insistently. “I want poppy hugs!” she cried. Stiles burst into tears, hiccuping on a laugh and dropping down to his knees to drag Andy into his arms. Derek was there in a heartbeat, huge arms engulfing all three of them and holding them tight.

Stiles wasn’t even sure where he ended and the others began. Olly was cradled tight against his body and Andy was trying her best to wiggle up next to her brother while Derek refused to let any of them go for even a second. Olly snuffled, mumbling something into Stiles’ throat that had Stiles biting his lip, sniffling back some tears, and then turning to kiss him on the head. “What was that, buddy?”

“C’n you put tha wall inta time out?” Olly asked meekly.

“Sure thing,” Stiles grinned, kissing Olly’s temple again and peering up at Derek. “Mind doing the honors?”

Derek stared for a long and painful moment, as if questioning if Stiles really wanted him to put their living room wall into time out. Stiles jerked his head (because his hands were full of snuggly werebabies) and bobbed his eyebrows expectantly.

Frowning, Derek pulled away and stood, dusting invisible dirt from his knees and awkwardly walking towards the wall. There wasn’t even a sign that Olly had run into it, but Derek knelt down in front of the space his son had smacked into and cleared his throat. “You need a time out, wall.” he said stiffly.

Stiles snorted, biting the corner of his mouth to keep from cracking up entirely. Olly peered over from under Stiles’ chin, watching his father with a judgmental look. Derek glanced back at them and then to the wall again.

“That wasn’t very nice of you to hit Olly.”

Olly made a noise of disdain, “I dun fink he’s sorry.”

Letting out a sharp laugh, Stiles rubbed Olly’s back and called over to Derek, “you gotta make him feel really bad about it. Master the art of guilt tripping.”

“You would know, wouldn’t you,” Derek muttered under his breath, hands flopping uselessly at his sides as he glanced up at the roof like it could answer how this had become his life. Staring at the wall again, Derek scowled.

“You are a bad wall.”

“Oh my God,” Stiles laughed, standing and carrying Olly over while Andy ran to go get Olly’s octopus. “Here, you take this,” Stiles handed Derek Olly, “and let me work my magic.”

Olly threw his arms around Derek’s neck, resting his head on one broad shoulder and watching Stiles expectantly.

Stiles rubbed his hands together, pulling on the knees of his jeans so he could crouch down in front of the wall and give it his best disappointed frown. “That wasn’t nice at all, wall. Olly was just playing and you hurt his nose. You made him bleed! What if he broke something? He can heal but that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. He was really good today-- he even washed his hands and didn’t make a mess at breakfast. You made him cry, wall.”

There was a tiny, strangled noise from behind him and Stiles turned to see Derek turning red in the face like he was trying not to laugh. Stiles glowered at him, smiled at Olly and then turned back to the wall to scowl. “You need to go to time out. Ten minutes. Ah-ah! No buts, mister wall! You made Olly cry! Ten minutes. I’m going to let Olly count, too.”

Stiles waited a beat and then nodded. “All right then. Olly, don’t forget to let wall out of time out in ten minutes, okay?”

“Okay!” Olly peeped from Derek’s shoulder.

Standing, Stiles hauled Andy up and brought her over so she could give Olly his stuffed octopus. Derek grabbed Olly’s chin, tilting it up so he could inspect his nose for any missed bits of blood. He used the bottom of his shirt to wipe a few flecks from the corners of Olly’s nose and Stiles took that moment to oggle Derek’s abs shamelessly. Derek caught him looking and Stiles hid his grin in Andy’s hair, giving her a tight hug.

“You’re such a nice sister,” he cooed, rubbing his nose against her temple.

Beaming, Andy proclaimed, “nobody hurts my brufah!” before leaning out of Stiles’ arms to smack a kiss on Olly’s cheek. Olly grinned, hugging his octopus. Derek pulled Stiles in close, ducking forward to peck him on the lips.

Stiles didn’t ever want this to end.

Chapter Text

With Halloween just around the corner, the weather had only just begun to dip into that crisp state of almost-cold; which was a temperature perfect for hustling wee werewolves out into the backyard for a few hours to help them burn off some energy. Stiles had situated himself on the patio table again, making sure to keep an eye on the twins while simultaneously texting his dad about the restraining order on Kate and trying to get an essay cranked out before Derek came home.

Lately, Andy and Olly had been easier to keep occupied since two massive packages mysteriously appeared on the doorstep the week prior. Derek later opened them to reveal a set of electric ride-on cars in their respective shades of hot pink and dark blue. Andy’s scream was bloodcurdling when Derek busted out the Rapunzel decal and slapped it on the hood, and Olly plunked down and blubbered when he got his own set of stars and planets to spatter all over his own car.

Stiles couldn’t help but grin to himself, remembering the way Derek had been so delighted with at their reactions--like being the cause for their happiness was a gift just for himself. It was even better when Andy and Olly had started zooming around the back yard and Derek had pulled Stiles aside just to bury his face up against Stiles’ throat and hold him tight. It might have been a simple gesture, but Derek had held him like he was made of something precious and fragile--something adored.

The advantage to having little werewolves around was that they were free miniature alarm systems. When Andy pulled her car to a sudden stop and scrambled out with a squeal, echoed only by Olly’s, Stiles knew Derek was home.

He shut his book, hopping to his feet and jogging after them to keep up with the fast toddling of Andy and Olly on a warpath. They ran around the side of the house, arms stretched for Derek even as he struggled to get out of his car with his briefcase and empty coffee mug. He saw the twins coming, though, and quickly put both items down to grab Andy at full speed. Olly was right behind her and Derek knelt down on the gravel driveway to hug both of them tightly.

When Stiles finally caught up, it took him less than a second to realize Derek was clutching to his children with a near-desperation. He hovered, waiting until Derek got whatever it was out of his system, and then knelt down to pick Andy up while Derek grabbed Olly.

“Something wrong?”

Derek frowned, shaking his head to let Stiles know he would tell them later. Stiles shrugged, rocking in to Derek’s personal space to peck a kiss into the corner of his mouth. Derek didn’t react much, seemingly distracted by his thoughts as he carried Olly into the house with Stiles right behind him.

After a good half hour of family time together, Derek had the twins plunked down in front of the TV while he pulled Stiles into the kitchen. It took him a second to find his words, and when he did, it was like each syllable was forced between his teeth. “Peter posted a video of Andy having a tantrum in the office.... it’s not going over well with the public.”

“Not going well as in...?” Stiles pushed, moving to lean up against the counter next to Derek and bump shoulders with him. Derek’s frown deepened.

“As in...things are being said about my ability to provide for my children--and if I really deserve to be head of my parent’s company.”

Stiles snorted, shaking his head and blurting, “no offense, but your uncle is a total asshole. I’m not even surprised--it sounds like something he would do.”

Derek twisted his head, staring at Stiles in a way that reminded Stiles that, yeah, there was kind of a huge elephant in the room about Peter and what he’d said to Stiles that they were supposed to be ignoring.

“What did he say to you?”

Stiles shrugged, wondering why his palms felt sweaty and his heart was speeding up when he wasn’t supposed to be making a big deal about this. “Not to me, really. Just… stuff about Andy...and I might have mouthed off.”

“Define ‘mouthed off’.” Derek snapped, though there was more tired acceptance than aggravation in his tone. Stiles shifted from foot to foot, shrugging for the umpteenth time like he could shake off the anxiety that came with the prospect of confrontation. Derek’s jaw twitched, pushing off from the counter heading for the coffee maker. Stiles picked at a hangnail on his pinky, absently watching Derek prep the coffee maker.

Flicking the machine on, Derek turned around and gave Stiles a flat stare. “So you’re just not going to say anything, then?”

“It doesn’t matter. It’s over and done with.” Stiles reasoned, chest tight.

The scowl was back on Derek’s face, this time deeper and more frustrated than ever. “Why won’t you tell me?”

“Why would I tell you? What would that accomplish? Dude, if you fire him or whatever, you pretty much go back to working all the time!” Stiles blurted, gesturing vaguely and then crossing his arms before he did something stupid like swat Derek on his ridiculously muscular chest. The next sentence came out of his mouth involuntarily when he hissed, “I’d rather take a counter to the face than have the kids lose you again.”

The mug Derek had been pulling from the cabinet let out a deafening crack before falling to the counter and shattering. Derek was still holding the broken pieces of the handle he’d snapped when he whirled around to stare at Stiles with a disbelieving look.

“You what.”

Stiles cringed, scrunching his face up and peeking over at Derek. “Theoretically speaking?”

Derek looked ready to rip the counter out and throw it through a window, the way his eyes were practically bugging out of his face. “Really, Stiles? Because it sounds like this was a theory that Peter put into practice.”

Oh yeah, Stiles forgot about the fact that werewolves had that annoying habit of knowing when people were lying. He shrugged, “well, in the great words of Rafiki, it’s in the past--”

Stiles.” Derek put down the broken mug pieces onto the counter a little more forcefully than necessary.

“What, Derek?” Stiles hissed, “you can’t exactly tell me that you wouldn’t have done something crazy to get back at him, would you?”

“What did he do?” Derek crossed over to him, reaching out to grab his upper arm. “Did he hurt you in any other way? What did he say to you?”

“In his defense, I did kind of deserved it? Well, no, I didn’t...but...” another shrug, “I didn’t like what he was saying about I tried to punch him in the face and he shoved my head into the counter. I kind of forgot the whole super reflexes thing you guys have.”

Derek reached up, cupping Stiles’ temple and rubbing a thumb over his hairline like he could stroke away the pain that would no longer be there. He hesitated, finger brushing the light scar from where Stiles had knocked his head weeks ago. “You should have told me.”

“No, I shouldn’t have.”

Pulling away, Derek sighed like Stiles was being the difficult child in their discussion. “I had a right to know-- he’s my uncle, and he hurt you, and he said things about my daughter.”

“Telling you wouldn’t change anything! He still would have said it! He’s testing you, seeing how far he can push, don’t you see that?”

“Don’t you see that?” Derek bellowed, throwing his arms out. His voice was loud and sharp, cutting straight through Stiles and making him cringe involuntarily. “Don’t you see that letting him get away with those things isn’t going to stop him from doing them again? Or do you think just ignoring it is going to make it go away!”

“It doesn’t matter!” Stiles snapped back, “It doesn’t matter because he’ll win either way! At least if I don’t tell you, I don’t run the risk of forcing you back to working those ridiculous hours again! Do you really want to lose all of this so easily?”

“That’s not the point, Stiles!” Derek slammed his hand into the counter. The broken mug bits rattled and one tipped off the edge, hitting the ground and shattering into even smaller pieces. An ear-splitting howl came from the entry and both men turned to see Olly falling to his bottom as he burst into tears. Andy was standing next to him with wide, frightened eyes. In her hands was a movie case, fingers white-knuckled with how tightly she clutched it. She must have been wanting to ask them to watch a movie with her and the shouting had frightened them both. Guilt flooded Stiles, knowing that one of the worst things he and Derek could do would be to fight in front of the kids.

Derek hurried to pick Olly up, shushing him and rocking his small body as he squirmed and kept crying. Stiles quickly came over to lift Andy up, holding her tight while she wound her small arms around his neck.

“Are you going to leave again?” Andy asked in a tiny voice. Stiles felt his heart break, and he shook his head while brushing her bangs from her forehead. They were getting long--growing out into a cute, wispy style that gave her an impish look.

“No, sweets,” Stiles assured, “we were just arguing about something--like you do with Olly when you think you’re right and Olly thinks you’re wrong.” Olly was still going strong, sobbing into Derek’s throat and tearing at his shirt with little claws. Stiles headed for the living room, glancing back to see Derek following before he looked at Andy and gave her a small smile.

“Hm,” Andy snuggled into his lap, watching as Derek continued to try and comfort her brother. “Daddy broke a cup.”

“Yep,” Stiles confirmed, “he’ll clean it up, too. Here, why don’t you trade spots with your brother? I think Olly needs some poppy cuddles.” It sent a thrill through him to say those words, and he smiled before he could stop it when Andy obediently wiggled out of his lap and Derek handed Olly over. Olly instantly clung to him, small fingers curling into Stiles’ shirt.

“Please dun fight with daddy!” Olly pleaded, sniffing loudly. Stiles reached for a tissue from the box on the table, handing it to Olly so he could use it to wipe his nose.

“It’s okay, Olly. We’re not fighting anymore. Everything is fine.” Stiles assured. Olly scrunched up the tissue, slowly bringing it to his face and blinking at Stiles with big, wet eyes.


Stiles nodded, “I promise.”

It seemed like that was enough to satisfy Olly, because he made a tiny sound of contentment and then blew his nose. Stiles waited until he handed the dirty tissue over, taking it and leaning to the side to dump it in the trash can by the arm of the couch.

When Stiles glanced up at Derek, he was expecting Derek’s ‘we’ll finish this later’ face. Instead, what he saw was begrudging acceptance--like Derek finally understood what Stiles had been getting at about how Derek was needed at home more than anything. It was a huge weight off of his shoulders, enough that Stiles could truly focus on holding Olly and comforting him without worrying about the future. There was a teeny bit of pride swelling somewhere deep inside of him to know that Derek’s stubbornness wasn’t winning against his love for his family, and maybe even for Stiles.

Unthinking, he reached out to grab Derek’s hand--the one closest to him, resting on Andy’s leg. Derek twisted his palm up, lacing their fingers together. Stiles couldn’t help but grin a little in relief and a little in encouragement. Derek peeked over, the corners of his mouth pulling into a return smile of his own. They’d get things straightened out, as long as they had each other.

Most nights, Stiles either went home or stayed over depending on his dad’s work schedule and how much homework he had. After putting the twins to bed, Stiles lingered for as long as he could before knowing his dad would be waiting for him to come home. Derek saw him to the door, holding Stiles hostage in the doorway for as long as possible with tiny, feather-light kisses until Stiles finally pulled away and headed for his jeep.

He spent the evening watching reruns of NCIS with his dad, bickering over a case of Blue Moon (which Stiles had nabbed on his way home, snickering maturely over the name the entire time he was in the purchase line) and a bag of tortilla chips with the healthiest salsa Stiles could find at nine on a Thursday night. Unlike his high school days, Stiles was already getting exhausted by the time they’d gone through their fourth episode, spending more time yawning than actually sniping comments back and forth with his father.

Going to bed with a belly warm from beer and a heart light with the special, unique contentment that came from being with his dad, Stiles fell asleep quickly and easily.

He showed up at Derek’s bright and early the next morning, setting up coffee for Derek and then waking him by sitting on the bed and using his lips to tickle the sensitive spot just behind Derek’s right earlobe. It was probably one of his favorite things about getting up early--that, and the moment that Olly and Andy would inevitably come demanding wakeup cuddles.

Olly was crankier than usual when he got up, whimpering and refusing to let go of Stiles even when Derek was heading out the door. He kept his face in Stiles’ chest all morning and spoke in as few words as possible--most of them mumbled. Andy took it in stride, letting Olly hog Stiles’ attention and occupying herself with attempting to build the biggest castle in the history of ever with her and Olly’s combined Legos.

It was afternoon by the time Olly finally pried himself away, and that was only because he didn’t like the way Andy was building the towers on her castle and felt the need to police her against using all the colors willy-nilly. The peace didn’t last long, because after lunch, Olly pitched a fit the second Stiles tried to put him down for his nap.

Stiles didn’t figure it out until he sat down on the edge of Olly’s bed and noticed a dark spot in the center of the bed. He stared, leaning towards it and giving a sniff. He didn’t need werewolf senses to pick up the stench of urine--and he didn’t need werewolf hearing to catch the way Olly’s breath hitched loudly before he burst into tears from his spot in Stiles’ lap.

“Olly,” Stiles began softly, reaching up to wipe tears from his cheeks, “did you wet the bed?”

Olly blubbered, pushing Stiles’ hands away and scrubbing his eyes, nodding furiously as he bawled harder. “M’sorry!”

Chest clenching, Stiles cradled Olly to his body, rocking him and making loud shushing noises. “It’s okay, Olly, it’s okay. It happens, it’s not bad. You’re not in trouble.”

“I din’n’t mean to!” Olly cried, shoving his face into Stiles’ collarbone. “I’m not s’posed to no more!”

“Hey,” Stiles cupped the back of Olly’s head, stroking his soft hair, “everyone has accidents, that’s okay. You just didn’t wake up to go potty in time, that’s all.”

“No,” Olly moaned, curling up into a tiny ball, “I hadda bad dream an’ I di’n’t wanna get up.”

“Ahhh,” Stiles said lowly, heart aching for the small child in his arms, “that’s even more normal. Sometimes I get so scared when I’m awake that I almost pee myself, you know!”

Andy peered into the room and Stile made a shooing motion at her, holding a finger to his mouth to let her know she shouldn’t make a peep. Sometimes Olly got easily embarrassed if Andy was around when he did something wrong. He got competitive with her, and this was definitely something Stiles knew Olly would not like Andy to find out about. Andy put a hand over her mouth in a mimic of Stiles’ gesture, and then nodded before popping back out of the doorway. Most likely, she’d gone back to her room and was going to wait for Stiles to come tuck her in.

Stiles rubbed Olly’s back, mentally telling himself to reward Andy later for behaving so well. He ducked down to lay a kiss on the crown of his head. “Wanna tell me what your dream was about?”

Olly shifted, shrugging his shoulders a little and sniffling. There was another beat of silence, and then he quietly whispered, “I hadda dream you nevah came back.”

Stiles’ heart shattered into a thousand, million pieces as Olly whined and curled in close. He wrapped his arms around Olly, shaking his head and taking a second to find his words. “Olly... I’m so sorry you dreamt that. I promise I’ll never ever leave again, okay?”

Desperately, he hoped it was a promise he could keep. Knowing that his fight with Derek had affected Olly so deeply that it stuck with him even after Stiles had gone home. Olly must have gotten up in the middle of the night and realized Stiles wasn’t there, and it had scared him into thinking that a repeat his and Derek’s falling out was going to happen. Stiles could still remember the way Olly had sobbed and screamed into his arms after he’d finally seen Stiles again. That couldn’t happen again--it shouldn’t have even been in Olly’s mind at all.

Olly shoved his face into Stiles’ throat, breathing in with a stuffy nose and making little whuffing noises as he nodded and used Stiles’ scent to calm himself. Stiles gave him a little longer to calm down before carrying him into Andy’s room. Andy was already snuggled in with her Rapunzel doll, and Stiles pulled the covers back to tuck Olly in with her.

“Can Olly nap with you, sweets?”

Andy nodded, sleepily turning and throwing her arm over Olly’s shoulder. Olly snuffled, snuggling in close to Andy. Stiles pulled the quilt over them both, bending down to give each child a kiss on the head before he got up and headed back into Olly’s room.

He changed the sheets, putting a fresh pair on and throwing the soiled ones in the wash before going to call Derek.

The first call went to voicemail, so Stiles spent a half hour cleaning up before calling again in case Derek had been in a meeting. This time, when Derek picked up, Stiles blurted out the first thing that he’d been thinking.

“Olly wet the bed last night.”

A pause, and then Derek said, “I thought they were over that.”

Plopping on the couch, Stiles sighed. “He had a bad dream...did he come to you at all last night?”

After a second of uncomfortable silence, Derek muttered, “I told him to go back to his own bed,” in a sheepish, guilty voice. Stiles held back the urge to smack his forehead, instead flopping back with a grunt.


“I thought he just wanted to sleep with me again!”

“Come on, dude! You didn’t stop to think maybe he had a nightmare?”

“Are you seriously blaming me for Olly wetting the bed?” Derek snapped, sounding hurt more than anything.

Stiles didn’t feel like he was blaming Derek for what had happened, but he sure as hell felt kind of pissed that Derek had turned his son away in the middle of the night. Wasn’t it a parent’s prerogative to give stupid o’clock cuddles when needed?

“No, but I’m totally blaming you for making him go back to bed last night instead of seeing what was wrong.”

“I was tired, Stiles!”

Standing, Stiles crossed his way over to the kitchen to get himself some juice. “That’s not really an excuse. I mean, come on. Every parent has to put up with the nightmares and kids crawling in the bed at night when they’re upset. You can’t just tell him ‘no’ because you’re tired.” He cursed when some of it got on the counter, setting the phone between his ear and shoulder and looking for a paper towel to clean it up.

“I’m not perfect, Stiles,” Derek said wearily, the fight already gone out of him. It was such a stupid, simple thing to say, and it drove Stiles out of his mind.

“You don’t have to be perfect to take care of your kid. He wouldn’t go down for his nap because he didn’t tell me about the bed until I tried putting him to bed. He’s napping with Andy because I have to wash his quilt and air the mattress out. He cried for like, an hour.”

An aggravated noise came from the other line before Derek mumbled, “I’m still figuring this all out.”


“I’m nothing like I was last year, Stiles. Sometimes I forget, okay? I forget and then you do a really good job of making me feel like shit about it.”

Stiles tensed, hand tight around his cup of juice as it froze halfway to his mouth. He clenched his teeth, chest aching with guilt and a burning sensation that he couldn’t really identify. “Sorry,” he spat, “I didn’t realize you hated me that much.” Derek didn’t hate him, though, and Stiles knew that. Still, it didn’t stop his mouth from blurting out things just for the shock value in an argument.

“You know that isn’t true,” Derek growled, “you know more than anything that I don’t hate you.”

“Yeah...” Deflating, Stiles sipped at his juice, “I know. I just...”

“I get it,” Derek interrupted, “I do. There’s a lot going on right now, neither of us are really...”

“Rational?” Stiles grinned despite himself. He set his juice down, heading for the hall to peep in on the children. Their naptime would be over soon, but sometimes they got up early if they weren’t too tired.

“Yeah, that.”

“It’s fine, I said some stupid stuff too. Don’t feel so bad. I know you don’t hate me.” Stiles creaked the door open, chest freezing when he caught sight of an empty room.

“I don’t. I lo--”

“The kids are gone.” Stiles blurted, having pushed his way through the room to try and find some trace of them. “Hang on, I just--” Stiles rushed out of the room while Derek demanded answers on the other line. He shouted for Andy and Olly, scouring the living room, Derek’s room, and even the guest room for them.

There was nothing.

Derek was screaming through the phone, and Stiles brought it up to his ear, “Derek--Jesus, Derek, the kids are gone.” Just saying it was like flipping that switch from panicked to full blown terrified hysteria as he wrenched open the back door and stared into the empty yard. “Fuck. Fuck--they’re gone, Derek!”

“Stiles, you need to calm down,” Derek snapped, “you can’t find them if you’re panicking. Did you look in the yard?”

“The yard’s empty, Derek!” Stiles screamed, choking on a sob when a thought hit him. “The river.”


“Fuck, the river!” Stiles didn’t think, just dropped the phone and bolted through the yard and towards the river that wasn’t far from the house. Andy and Olly were so little--they couldn’t swim yet. Stiles knew they wouldn’t be able to keep themselves up in a fast current. They might have been werewolves, but they were still practically babies.

There had been so many times that they had begged to play in the water but Stiles had refused because the water ran too fast for it to be safe for them. Some tiny, rational part of Stiles told him that Andy and Olly would never go to the river unsupervised--but it was outdone by the larger part telling him that his children were gone and he needed to find them and save them before it was too late.

He reached the river with a loud scream of Andy’s name, followed quickly by Olly’s. With winter just around the corner, the current was faster than ever as it rushed over rocks and stone. Stiles didn’t think, leaping in and hoping that maybe they had just slipped and were somewhere under the water. He didn’t know how concussions worked with werewolves, but he did know that it could, at the least, daze them long enough to let the river sweep them under.

The river was ice cold, robbing Stiles of the breath in his lungs. He choked on Olly’s name, splashing and struggling his way downstream the best he could. “Andy! Olly!” his voice was growing hoarse, clothes sticking to his skin and body already shivering violently. He ignored it for the panic eating away at him, fingers scrabbling through the water, desperately searching for the small bodies he was equally terrified to find.

Stiles didn’t know if he was sobbing or if it was just water splashing up on his cheeks, feet slipping over rocks and his palms getting scrapes and cuts each time he tried to remain upright. “Andy! Olly! Andy, where are you? Olly, please!”

He was quaking, body soaked and chilled to the bone. Each breath was like icicles stabbing into his lungs, wretched and heavy. They weren’t here--there was no way they would have floated faster than Stiles could run downstream.

The only other place they could have gone would be down the road--the road that was open and exposed and practically begging Kate or someone else to come find them and take them away.

Stiles dragged himself out of the water, jogging his way towards the house. He went around the side, doing his best to ignore how the weight of his watered down clothes was making his entire body feel a thousand times heavier than normal. His breath was coming in short, wheezing gasps--he’d lost the children and Derek was going to hate him. Derek would kill him if Stiles didn’t end up killing himself from sheer exhaustion, first. He might have had a restraining order against Kate, but that wouldn’t stop her from being able to take the children if she came across them.

He hit the forest next to the road, stumbling and trying to look for small footprints--shaking when he realized there were too many fallen leaves to even be able to find any.

“Andy! Olly!” Stiles called out, coughing and then tripping over a root that had him crashing to the ground. He couldn’t breathe, coughing again and then hacking until he started to heave dryly. Stiles pushed himself to his feet, stumbling and sucking in a pained, sharp breath before he pushed himself to keep going.

“Olly! Andy, where are you?!”

The sound of tires screeching on the road had Stiles freezing in place. He squinted, peering through the trees and almost bursting into tears when he recognized the sleek black shape of Derek’s camaro. The driver’s door opened and Derek clambered out, hands cupping his mouth as he shouted Stiles’ name in a loud bellow. Stiles swallowed heavily, heart ready to beat out of his chest as he stumbled his way towards the road.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he wheezed upon breaking through the trees, “I lost them, Derek. I lost them!”

Derek shot forward and Stiles barely caught a glimpse of Andy and Olly peering at him through the dark, tinted windows of the camaro’s back seat. Every last iota of energy that Stiles had been clinging to left him in a rush of relief. “Jesus-- holy God,” Stiles sobbed, legs giving out. He would have crashed to the ground if Derek hadn’t reached him just in time to catch him. Stiles couldn’t stop trembling, eyes locked on Andy and Olly in the car.

“Fuck, Stiles. You’re soaking wet.” Derek cried, lowering Stiles to the ground as he barely kept himself from hyperventilating. Derek caught on quickly, sliding his arms around Stiles’ back and holding him tight, one hand warm as he rubbed it along Stiles’ back.

“They’re okay, we’re okay. They’re fine, Stiles. They were walking down the road. I found them when I was heading home. Everything is okay. They’re safe.”

Andy and Olly scrambled their way out of the car, rushing over and crawling all over Derek until he moved enough so they could squeeze in and cling to Stiles.

Shakily, Stiles pulled them into his arms as Andy cried, “we thought you di’n’t want us any’moah!”

The laugh that came from Stiles was more hysterical than anything. He swallowed it back, shaking his head furiously as Derek dragged all three of them into his arms. They didn’t stay like that for very long--not when Stiles’ tremors were getting so bad that his teeth began to rattle. Derek stood, quickly hustling them into the car. He didn’t even make a peep when Andy and Olly sat in Stiles’ lap in the driver’s seat instead of getting into the back. They were only going up the road, anyway.

Derek still cranked up the heating in the car, side-eyeing Stiles every chance he got and frowning deeper and deeper at the way Stiles shook and clutched to the children. He bustled them all into the house as soon as he pulled up to the driveway. When Andy went for the couch, Derek pointed down the hall, “No. Both of you go to your rooms. You scared Stiles half to death and you made me come home from work because of it.”

Stiles expected them to protest, but instead Andy drooped like a kicked puppy as she took Olly’s hand and they shuffled their way down the hall with sniffled apologies. Stiles had never seen them so ashamed in all his life. It was kind of nice to know that making Stiles worry out of his mind had been enough of a guilt trip for them to actually obey punishment without hesitation.

Without wasting another second, Derek pushed and hustled Stiles towards his bedroom. He shut and locked the door before turning and practically wrenching Stiles’ shirt off. “Get out of those. I can hear you shaking from across the room.”

Stiles had no qualms in obeying, instead shucking out of his jeans and boxers while Derek shifted through his drawers for some of Stiles’ spare things that had gotten left there at some other point in time.

“I’m sorry,” Stiles rasped, putting on the clean boxers and t-shirt Derek gave him. “I panicked. If I had just walked down the road--”

“Shut up.” Derek snapped, pulling the comforter off the bed and bundling Stiles up in it. He shoved Stiles onto the bed, making him sit before going to get a towel from the bathroom.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, Stiles watched silently as Derek came back and started to scrub at Stiles’ hair. He didn’t have a lot of hair--but it was still just enough that it dripped ice water down onto his face and neck. The look on Derek’s face was intense as he wiped away all the excess water. Finally, he sighed, “You didn’t do anything wrong, Stiles. Christ, you’re...”

Derek hesitated, kneeling down between Stiles’ legs and pulling the towel down so it rested around Stiles’ shoulders. “You’re a great father,” he said vehemently--in much the same way Stiles had said to him all those months ago.

The breath in Stiles’ lungs left him in a woosh, heart thundering rapidly against his ribs as he reached out to drag Derek into a kiss. Derek surged up, cupping his face and pushing him against the bed. Stiles went with it, legs falling apart so Derek could slot between them as he kissed back with fast, frenzied gasps coming between each press of their lips. Derek bit and sucked and kissed like a man starved, palms burning hot as they roamed all over Stiles’ body.

Stiles didn’t want this to end, wanted to soak Derek up and never let him go. Derek’s teeth bit into his mouth, leaving it bruised and swollen and marked so fully that Stiles was pretty sure his dad was going to give him disapproving looks for days.

Just when Derek’s hands were fumbling to pull Stiles’ boxers down, Andy’s voice was loud and screechy as she hollered out, “Issit ten minnits yet?!”

It snapped the mood in half, and Stiles wrenched away from Derek’s lips with a cackle. He buried his face into Derek’s throat, grinning like an idiot as a swell of affection hit him right in the gut until he felt ready to burst. “Kids,” he chuckled, “gotta love ‘em.”

Derek pulled away, just enough so he could stare down at Stiles with a fond look. He reached up, the back of his knuckles tracing the curve of Stiles’ cheek. “Yeah,” Derek’s thumb brushed the underside of Stiles’ eyelid as he came down to steal a gentle kiss, whispering, “you too,” into Stiles’ mouth before sealing their lips together.