Stiles shifted his Jeep down to second gear as he hit the dirt road leading to the Hale house. He was going as fast as he could over the pot holes without breaking an axle. 10 minutes ago he had been sitting at his desk in the apartment he shared with Scott studying ahead for his Deviant Behaviors class when he got a text from Derek that sent him into crisis mode.
911. Get here now.
Derek didn’t text him for much so Stiles knew it must be something serious. He had rushed out of his room, barely throwing his sneakers on before he was hauling ass toward the Hale house. He pulled up in front of the recently renovated house and slammed the Jeep into park. The second he got out he heard the sound of wailing. What the hell?
Racing up to the porch and bursting through the front door he found the entire pack standing awkwardly around a box that was screaming bloody murder. The eyes of the werewolves standing around the box were met his as he stepped into the room. They were all shifty and uncomfortable.
“Oh thank God,” Erica said moving towards him. “We thought you’d never get here.”
Stiles stepped forward to the box cautiously. “What the hell is that? Is that a baby?! In a box?!”
He was closer now and could see the flailing arms of the child. When he got even closer he saw the pointed ears and wrinkled forehead as well.
“Oh my GOD!” He yelled. “That is a werewolf baby! There is a werewolf baby in a box!”
Stiles pointed an accusatory finger at Derek. “What did you do?”
Derek who had remained unsurprisingly silent as this revelation occurred, finally stepped in, “We know, Stiles and I didn’t do anything. It won’t stop crying. You have to make it stop crying.”
Stiles gave Derek an incredulous look. “Dude are you serious? You called ME to take care of a werebaby? You’re a werewolf! Where did it even come from anyways?”
Stiles sent Derek another suspicious look.
“Just make it stop, Stiles,” Derek ground out impatiently. “I can’t take the screaming anymore.”
Stiles saw a little hint of red around Derek’s eyes and realized that all the wolves were taking an offensive stance around the screaming box. Boyd looked like he was ready to run and Isaac just had a frightened yet disgusted look on his face.
With a huff Stiles looked back at the wailing bundle. “Okay, okay. Have you tried feeding it? Changing its diaper?”
He looked from Isaac, to Boyd, to Derek and then finally to Erica. Each of them had this guilty look on their faces and Erica even shrugged her shoulders.
“Seriously guys? Seriously?!” Stiles said in exasperation.
He leaned down over the box and carefully wrapped the flailing arms into the yellow blanket, taking care to not get scratched by the tiny claws, before picking the baby up from the box. He immediately held the infant close to his chest, resting the fluffy little head in the crook of his neck, thanking God the thing didn’t appear to have teeth yet.
The baby continued to cry so Stiles shifted it a little further down so that this time the baby’s face rested in the hollow of his throat and began murmuring softly to it. The baby nuzzled his face in Stiles’ neck for a moment before settling in. A few seconds later the crying had lulled to a small whimper, the baby’s forehead smoothing out and the ears returning to a more human shape.
Looking around accusatorily from wolf to wolf, Stiles whispered angrily, “Somebody better start telling me what the hell is going on.”
To say Derek looked relieved would be an overstatement for sure, but the tense lines between his thick eyebrows smoothed out and he did look a little less anxious. He walked over the table next to the box and picked up a crumpled brown piece of paper.
“I came home from a run and I found the box with the baby inside and this note attached,” he began. “But it doesn’t make any sense.”
“What does the letter say?” Stiles prompted.
“Alpha, by the time you read this I’ll probably be dead,” Derek began to read. “I’m sorry to do this but hunters have been following me for over a month. I was shot two days ago with a bullet laced with wolfsbane and I’m afraid I won’t last much longer.” After this Derek paused, his brow wrinkling again. “I’ve heard your mate is powerful and I hope that she will raise my son as her own. I’m sorry.”
Derek folded back up the paper at looked up at Stiles, confusion written all over his face. “The mother didn’t leave a name. Or what pack she was from. I scoured the woods but her scent fades at the road.”
Stiles had started swaying back and forth in a comforting motion and the whimpers had stopped completely. He pondered the letter for a moment before commenting.
“You don’t have a mate. I mean, unless you have something to tell us?”
“No,” Derek ground out.
“So she obviously has the wrong Alpha. I mean seriously, who in their right mind would leave a helpless baby with you? It had to be a mistake.”
Erica let out a small laugh and Derek’s eyes narrowed at her to shut up. He let out a low growl.
“Yes, Stiles. I managed to figure that one out on my own.”
“So what do we do with him?” Stiles asked as he continued to sway back and forth.
The baby had completely fallen asleep in his arms, with his face buried in Stiles’ neck. Poor little guy must have been exhausted from all that crying. Now that he had stopped crying, Isaac had come closer to examine the werebaby a little better, peering over Stiles’ shoulder in curiosity.
“I don’t know,” Derek said with a sigh. “I’ll need to start tracking down the contact information for the Alphas near here to see if they are missing any pack members. Maybe I can talk to Deaton and see if he can help.”
“Yeah, but what if she was an Omega? What if she didn’t have a pack?” Stiles pondered. He had to slap Isaac’s finger away from trying to poke at the baby. He gave him a glare. “It would explain the hunters going after her.”
Derek ran a hand through his hair and sighed in the universal sign for “I have no idea.”
“Okay, okay,” Stiles said thinking aloud. “There isn’t much we can do right now about finding where he came from, so we’re stuck with him for now.”
Stiles had gone from swaying to full on pacing. You could see the wheels turning in his mind.
“Isaac, go to the kitchen and get me a pen and paper,” he directed and Isaac turned around and fetched it for him.
Shifting the baby a little bit so Stiles could use his right hand, he started making a list on the paper Isaac had brought him. Isaac was invading his personal space, per usual, standing close and watching him and reading as he wrote.
“Formula? Diapers? Pacifier?”
“Yep,” Stiles said as he continued to write awkwardly while balancing the boy. “We are going to need supplies if we are going to take care of this baby.”
They group looked nervously up at their Alpha, hoping for some input, but Derek’s face remained blank and didn’t give away any hint as to what his official stance was on this decision. Stiles finished writing out the long list of baby supplies they were going to need and handed it to Erica.
“Erica, get the pack credit card and take Isaac to the store and get the stuff on the list. And anything else you think we might need,” he directed. “Boyd, we are going to need a crib of some kind because we obviously can’t keep him in a box like an abandoned puppy. Trying going to the local second hand store and see if they have anything nice and cheap. He won’t be staying long with us.”
Derek’s brow furrowed again. He was really going to have to stop that or else he was looking at some major wrinkles in his future.
“I have something that might do.”
Stiles paused for a second looking at Derek curiously, but went with it. “Okay, then Boyd I need you to go to my house and grab my laptop. We’re going to need to do some serious research,” Stiles said with a sigh. “Because I don’t know anything about babies.”
With the pack off on their errands, Derek had disappeared off into an odd corner of the house leaving Stiles alone with the baby.
The child was still sleeping peaceful and it gave Stiles a chance to really look at him.
Sitting on the edge of the couch he pulled the baby boy off his chest a little and examined his round little face. His skin was an olive tone, not pale like Stiles’ but not quite as tan as Scott’s. His little pink lips puckered together with a large cupid’s bow curving into his top lip and his mouth formed an adorable “o” through which he was breathing. He had a thick head of dark, curly hair which combined with the olive skin led Stiles to believe he might be Italian or something similar. He carefully traced the curve of the infant’s cheek with his finger and slowly outlined the baby’s mouth. When the child felt Stiles finger at the corner of his mouth, he turned toward it and tried to start sucking on it.
“You’re probably hungry, huh little dude?” Stiles whispered.” I know that feeling my man. I feel like that all the time. You gotta hold on a little bit longer though. Dinner is on its way.”
The baby’s brow furrowed a little bit in his sleep and then turned his head back.
“I’m sorry it’s been a rough day for you, but we are going to take good care of you. Uncle Stiles is right here and nothing bad is going to happen to you, I promise,” Stiles finished the sentence by placing a soft kiss on the child’s forehead.
Stiles hadn’t heard Derek come into the room and didn’t know he had been standing there watching the whole interaction. He also missed the look of complete and utter hopelessness that crossed Derek’s face when Stiles made his promise. As an Alpha, he knew exactly how hard it was to keep promises like that.
Finally Derek moved in closer, letting his presence be known and Stiles looked up from the child and stared at him. Derek had a glower to his face that made Stiles instinctively pull the baby even closer to him. When Derek saw this protective gesture he blinked and let his expression change into his usual blank look.
“Come on. I have something to show you.”
Derek led Stiles up the stairs to the second level and hung a left. Stiles hadn’t been up here since the remodel and he was impressed with the work Derek had done. The whole half of the house had been restored back to what Stiles imagined the original house had looked like. Mahogany floors shone beneath their feet and the walls were painted a light brown. Derek had even invested in some quality furnishings and paintings that decorated the hallway and billowy drapes in a cream color framed the big windows.
They came to the end of the hallway and Derek paused, turning a brass key in the door and opening it, gesturing for Stiles to enter. Stiles stepped into the dark room still cradling the baby and Derek flipped a light switch behind him.
Stiles could immediately tell that this was Derek’s bedroom. The whole room was decorated in masculine blacks, reds and tans. The huge king sized four poster bed stood predominantly in the middle, made with a deep red bed spread that contrasted with his black pillows.
The only thing that stood out was the cherry wood crib that was placed in the far corner of the room. Stiles walked towards it and saw some scorch marks at the base of two of the legs, but otherwise it looked sound.
“It was my cousin’s,” Derek said from behind him. Stiles turned and looked at him.
“He was two when…” Derek let the sentence die off but Stiles knew how it ended. When Kate burned them all alive.
Stiles tried to alleviate the heaviness. “Hey man, that’ll be great. We’ll just throw a blanket down and he’ll be good to go.”
Derek nodded absently. “I put it in here because I remember how my aunt and uncle had to get up every few hours when my cousin was born. I figured it would be easier if it was in here because he would be closer. Maybe you could stay a few nights, just until I figure this whole thing out?”
Stiles stood stunned. He had pretty much assumed when he was the first person to even think about picking up the baby that he was going to be caring for the infant on his own. It hadn’t even occurred to him that Derek would step up and take responsibility as both the adult and the Alpha in this situation. Yet here he was standing 3 feet away from a crib and talking about taking turns with Stiles during the night. Stiles could tell that this was hard for Derek by the way Derek’s eyes kept shifting between the baby and Stiles, looking questioningly.
“Yeah that sounds great,” Stiles affirmed looking again at the crib and back to Derek, hoping to make it seem like it was no big deal.
But it was a big deal. In that moment Stiles saw the first true glimpse of potential from the Alpha.