"Laura Victoria McCall, come down from that tree this instant," Allison said. "Your Uncle Stiles and Aunt Erica will be here very soon and your room is not clean."
"Mom," Laura said from slightly lower down the tree, slowly making her way down, claws on her hands and feet digging in all the way, "I just had to do this one thing and then I was going to clean. Promise."
Allison plucked her from the side of the tree when she was down low enough and carried her, upside down, into the house. As soon as Laura's feet hit the floor she stomped off toward her room. Allison smiled and went to see how Scott was getting on with dinner.
She found Scott chopping vegetables and adding them to their salad bowl. A pile of burgers and steaks sat on a platter next to him, waiting to be taken out to the grill. Allison knew there were hot dogs in the fridge as well for Laura, and maybe for Stiles. Stiles hadn't visited in a while, but Allison was never sure how grown up she should be expecting him to act. Though, granted he had just graduated, gotten married, and had a child, so maybe her data was a little outdated.
"Nervous?" asked Scott.
Allison nodded. Stiles had run into Erica, of all people, at college. He hadn't come home for years because he didn't want Scott to smell her on him. She'd been living as an omega for years. But then they got pregnant, decided to get married, and then, finally, decided to move home. "I never got to apologize in high school," she said. "I was awful to her. Stiles says that she's fine. That she understands. But, I still feel bad about all of it."
"High school was awful for all of us," Scott said, scraping the seeds and juice of the tomato he'd just chopped up into the salad bowl. "I'm nervous too. I hope adding a new wolf to your pack is instinctual because Derek never explained how it was done."
"I'm sure it will be fine," Allison said, and started to wash the dishes Scott had made so far. She had no idea how he always made so many dishes whenever he was cooking, but it was best to stay on top of them or they would run out of knives before he was done.
"Baby wolf," Laura said, kneeling on the couch next to Erica and peering down at the baby in her lap. She wiggled her fingers in front of his face and turned it into a little song, "Baby wolf baby wolf baby wolf."
"Derek," Erica told her. "He's too little to grab your fingers yet, but he'll hold on if you put your finger into his hand."
"I can't believe you named him after Derek," Scott said.
Stiles laughed. "I know you never really warmed up to him, but I wanted to remember him somehow. We miss him even if you don't."
"Nah," Scott said. "Just, it's going to be pretty funny if our kids start dating."
"When will he be old enough to climb trees?" Laura asked. “I want Uncle Stiles to help me build a tree house because Daddy says he and Uncle Stiles built one when they were little like me. But, I have to find the very best spot first.”
“Derek can’t help yet,” Stiles said, “but Erica makes houses for people all the time. Maybe she could help you find the best place for a tree house?”
The look Laura turned to Erica with was so star struck Allison nearly burst into laughter. The smile Erica gave her back just made the laugh stick in the back of Allison’s throat. Hope. Longing. “That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Allison said, and then both girls were grinning at her instead.
“Why did you name her Laura?” Stiles asked Allison later as they were cleaning up from dinner. Scott and Erica were out running under the full moon, and the children were asleep.
There was only a little bit of salad left. Allison added some salad dressing to it and found a fork. “Scott told me about the night he was turned, and about finding her buried later. It seemed fitting to keep her memory, like continuing the pack lines even though there aren't any Hales left. Her middle name is Victoria, after my mother.”
Stiles nodded. “If we ever have a little girl she’ll be named after my Mom too,” he said. “I miss her even more now, sometimes. There are so many things I wish she was here to help with.”
“Mom wasn't all that nurturing,” Allison said, “but having a child makes me think of her sometimes too. So much of the pack has lost family. I’m glad you’re back with us now. Pack isn't quite the same thing, but it’s close.”
“Want to make brownies or something?” Stiles asked. “Erica always wants dessert after she gets back from full moons.”
Allison smiled. “I usually make Scott pancakes. He tends to stay out all night. The batter is already made and in the fridge. We can put chocolate chips in it though, if you want.”
She could see Laura’s tree out the window behind the sink. “I think it’s going to be okay,” she said. “I was worried it would be awkward, or weird, but it’s good to have you back home. Erica is great, and Laura and Derek are going to be friends. I can’t wait for you to get a chance to catch up with the rest of them. I think this is going to be good.”
“Yeah,” Stiles said. “That first year was awful, but that was a long time ago now. It’s good to be home.”