Five years ago, Stiles never intended to come home again.
He had walked out the door of the house he’d grown up in and refused to look back. Okay, maybe one look. One glance as he drove away in a Jeep that was packed to the gills for college. Stiles remembers seeing Scott and Derek standing on the porch, Scott looking like someone had killed his best friend, and Derek glaring like only Derek could.
And maybe that was true for Scott. Things had changed, and it had been in ways that Stiles couldn’t ever fix. His dad was dead and as far as Stiles was concerned, his life in Beacon Hills was over. He needed to leave. Start over. Become something different and walk the fuck away from all the supernatural bullshit that had changed everything.
So yeah, that totally explains why Stiles is now carefully closing the door on his brand new Kizashi (hey, it’s practical with a bit of kick in the engine, and it was cheap as hell during the big Suzuki inventory sell off) and touching the button to lock the door, parked right in front of what used to be the Stilinski house. He checks the windows (rolled down slightly) and the distance from the curb (should be safe, and the street’s not a busy one), then he reluctantly makes his way to the door.
It feels strange to ring the doorbell on what used to be his house, and he wonders if Scott left the key hidden under the garden fairy his mom stuck in the middle of the flowers what seems like forever ago. He knows they still live here; Scott sends him a Christmas card every year, and every year Stiles sends something back that says absolutely nothing about his life. For five years, that has been his only connection to Beacon Hills.
He hears the footsteps, and when the door doesn’t open, Stiles waves his hand in front of the peephole. “No reason to be afraid,” he says, knowing perfectly well that any member of the pack ought to be able to hear him through the door. “If anyone ought to be afraid here, it would be me. After all, you guys are the ones with the supernaturally long and pointy teeth.”
The door opens and Danny leans against the frame. “Not me.”
Okay, so that wasn’t on Stiles’s list of expected things to be happening. “What are you doing in my house?”
“It’s not your house,” Danny reminds him. “It belongs to the pack.”
“Which you are not a part of.”
Both eyebrows go up. “Oh, so you’ve been keeping up on pack politics? It’s been five years, Stiles. A lot has changed in that time.”
And doesn’t Stiles know it. Beacon Hills seems like a lifetime away, and just being here is reducing him to the memory of a lanky kid who couldn’t sit still or stop talking, and who never quite knew what to say to people. “Scott sends cards.” Because that’s a helpful piece of data for Danny. “Seriously, you live here now?”
Danny’s laugh is dry. “I live here now. And I bet Scott says about as much in his cards as you say in yours. Merry Christmas. Haven’t broken a leg yet skiing. Don’t let the wolves eat the tinsel; it’s bad for digestion. Love, Stiles.”
“And you love me so much you memorized it,” Stiles quips, although he thinks that one might have been a couple of years ago. It’s definitely not from last Christmas, which was spent in hiding and about to go on the run, shortly before the panicking really started. That card had been even more neutral than before, hoping Scott wouldn’t try to find him.
Which, of course, explains why he’s here on Scott’s doorstep.
Stiles sighs. “Look, is Scott around? And is there any chance he’ll talk to me?”
“Scott’s at work.”
And that would be the voice that Stiles doesn’t want to hear. That gruff growl that is probably audible all the way to the curb. Stiles risks a glance back at the car, one ear cocked for sound, looking for any sign of movement. Nothing. He’s still safe.
“Hi, Derek, nice to see you again, too.” Stiles edges into the doorway, nudging it wide enough to see Derek lurking behind Danny. Silence, for a moment, then Danny moves out of the way, disappearing back into the house and Derek looms over Stiles.
Tries to loom. They’re almost the same exact height, and the looming thing isn’t working so well. In fact, it worked a lot better when Stiles was still young and impressionable. A lot’s changed in five years.
“What’re you doing here, Stiles?”
“Nice way to say thank you for the house,” Stiles points out. “Can’t a guy come home to visit his friends?”
Derek’s smile is filled with teeth. “You’ve said maybe ten words to all of us in the last five years, Stiles. In fact, you gave the distinct impression that you were giving us the house because you wanted nothing at all to do with the pack anymore. So yes, I think you want something.”
That’s when Stiles hears a noise.
He sees Derek’s ears perk up, knows Derek hears it too.
The high pitched, tired, petulant call of, “Daddy!”
Stiles hesitates. Stay here and finish this out? Or capitulate and go back to the car where Molly seems to be more than awake as another call comes. He can see her small fist against the window, tapping, then waving as she smiles brightly.
And oh God, because yes, Derek sees her too.
Stiles swallows hard. “Look—”
Derek’s nose flares as he sniffs the air.
“There’s an explanation—”
Derek pushes past Stiles, stalking down the walkway. He leans his hands against the top of the car, his forehead pressed to the glass, nose just barely brushing the open slit where Stiles had left the window partly rolled down. He inhales again, his entire back rising with the breath. “Stiles.” His name is a low growl, rumbling as Stiles comes up behind him.
Stiles smiles at Molly, but she doesn’t seem afraid, her head cocked, watching Derek watch her.
“Why did you bring another pack’s pup?” Derek growls. “Why did you bring her here?”
“See, you’re not asking the right questions, Derek.” Stiles wedges one shoulder between Derek and the car door so he can yank it open and lean in, quickly unsnapping the car set. Molly tumbles into his arms and Stiles lifts her. Even at four, his daughter is small boned and easy to carry as she wraps her arms around his shoulders and holds on tight. Now she plays shy, glancing at Derek before burying her face against Stiles’s shoulder.
“This is Molly Stilinski. My daughter.”