“How do I look?” Stiles asked, eyes never leaving the mirror. He licked his long fingers and flattened down the stray hairs of his sideburns, wild arm movements causing the slightly too loose sleeves of his suit jacket to slide upward toward his elbows, exposing slender wrists.
“The same as you looked ten minutes ago,” Derek answered distractedly, still reading the morning paper over his bowl of shredded wheat, “like a kid going to his first funeral.”
“You’re not even looking,” Stiles sighed, exasperated. “It’s my first court appearance, and I want to look trustworthy.”
“Then you should have just worn your uniform,” Derek responded, mouth half full of cereal.
“You know you’re not supposed to wear your uniform in court unless you’re already on duty,” Stiles shot back, fiddling with the wonky knot of his tie, trying to get it to look halfway decent, but only managing to partially strangle himself in the process. “Didn’t you read your deputy handbook?”
“Not all of us have had that thing memorized since we were five,” Derek griped softly, but still loud enough for Stiles to hear the insult. He pushed back from the breakfast bar and went over to his partner, who looked like he was seconds away from asphyxiating himself in front of the hall mirror.
“Please stop,” Derek said, swatting Stiles’ flailing hands away from the offending piece of silk. “You’re going to kill yourself, and I really don’t want to fill out the paperwork.”
“Sorry my untimely death would be such an issue for you,” Stiles growled out in the tone that years of experience told Derek that his partner was nervous and uncomfortable in his own skin.
“Yes,” Derek teased, “how tedious that would be.” He stood behind Stiles and deftly loosened the boa constrictor from Stiles’ long neck. “Time of death: way too fucking early when his partner wasn’t even on shift. Cause of death: fatal lack of fashion sense.”
“Oh ha ha, very funny Hale,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes.
“Do you want me to fix this for you, or not?” Derek asked curtly, but with a hint of amused affection.
“Yes, please,” Stiles groaned. “I don’t want to be late.”
“It’s traffic court, Stiles,” Derek said, tugging the end of the tie through the loop he had just made. “You know half of the defendants don’t even show up.”
“Well,” Stiles said gruffly, turning around to look Derek in the face, “if you hadn’t won rock, paper, scissors, it would be you going to court on your day off, so have a little compassion.”
“It’s not my fault you always throw paper,” Derek said, giving Stiles a once-over before heading back to his breakfast.
“It’s the most surprising choice! I was trying to throw you off your game!” Stiles argued, slipping a set of handcuffs into his pocket and sliding his service weapon into the chest holster under his jacket.
“It’s not surprising if you always pick it, dumbass!” Derek called back, shaking his newspaper out and holding it in front of his face, making it clear that the conversation was over.
“Fine,” Stiles whined, throwing his hands up in the air in exasperation. “Next time it’s a quick game of Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land. You can’t possibly find fault in one of those.”
“Actually…” Derek began, flicking the top of his paper down so he could see Stiles again.
“No! I don’t want to hear it! I’m leaving now!” Stiles called, grabbing his travel mug of coffee and sliding the loft door open.
“Dinner later?” Derek called back, just as Stiles was patting his pockets, making sure he had everything.
Stiles smiled widely, loving when Derek got all domestic on his days off. Sundays were usually set aside for checking in on the construction of the new Hale house. Stiles hadn’t officially been offered a room there yet, but he was pretty sure it was only a matter of time. Derek would be bored without him. “You bet, Sour Wolf. You’re going to owe me something really amazing after I nail all these perps for you.”
“Ick, please don’t nail any perps in the courtroom. No one needs to see that. Although I bet Judge Hastings would enjoy it.”
“Ew, don’t be gross! She’s like 80 years old!”
“Stiles!” Derek yelled, raising his eyebrows and tapping his wrist, even though he didn’t have a watch on.
“Fuck me! I’m late! Make me that lemon chicken later?”
“I’ll go to the store,” Derek said with a fond sigh, lips quirking around the edges a little as he went back to his paper, not reading a word until he heard Stiles’ Jeep start up and round the corner.
“I don’t know what you expected, Stiles,” Derek said, eyes on the road. “They both work odd hours. If you go by the amount time they actually spend together, they’re practically newlyweds.”
“I expected to still be welcome in my childhood home, not to see my dad’s bare ass when I stop by for lunch!” Stiles practically screamed.
Derek winced at the high pitched sounds coming out of his partner’s mouth. He shook his head to stop the ringing in his ears. “It’s not against the law for consenting adults to have sex on their lunch hour.”
“No,” Stiles protested, gearing up for another rant, “you know what should be illegal? Seeing your step-mother’s nipples!”
“Melissa is a beautiful woman,” Derek said, honestly and reasonably. “I don’t know what you’re complaining about.”
“Yes, she is a beautiful woman,” Stiles argued, “and if I had been twelve years old, it may have been the best day of my life! But now that beautiful woman is married to MY FATHER! How am I ever going to look at them again?”
“Maybe you should let them catch you having sex with someone and just even it out. You know, a quid pro quo where everyone has seen everyone naked,” Derek suggested, only half serious.
“And who exactly do you think I’d be having sex with?” Stiles asked, crossing his arms over his chest and raising his eyebrows in what Derek recognized as a very familiar move; Stiles’ Derek impression. “Huh?”
Derek thought for a few seconds before coming to the conclusion that he hadn’t heard Stiles talk about a date in at least a year, maybe two, ever since Melissa moved in with the Sheriff and Stiles sought refuge at the loft. “I don’t know,” Derek said, backpedaling out of the inevitable sad, sad bachelor conversation. “You could always take Erica and Boyd up on that threesome they’ve been offering since high school.”
“As eye-opening an experience as that would probably be,” Stiles said with a slightly cocky smirk, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. I wouldn’t last five minutes with those two. They’d rip me apart.”
“But what a way to go,” Derek commented, looking away from traffic for a few seconds to flash a blinding grin at Stiles.
Stiles sputtered, nearly choking on the coffee he had just sipped out of his travel mug. “Excuse me, Mr. Alpha Wolf, but did you just admit that you’ve thought about screwing two of your Betas? Is that what I’m hearing? Who knew you were so open minded?”
“I just meant that it might not be a bad idea for you,” Derek corrected, shaking his head as he took a turn onto Walnut Street. “You haven’t been out with anyone in forever. Maybe it’s time to give being the meat in a werewolf sandwich a try. I bet Boyd is nice and gentle… like a teddy bear. It probably wouldn’t hurt at all.”
Stiles’ mouth hung open. Derek slowed the cruiser to a stop at a red light and turned to him, staring him down for a full minute until he broke into a full bodied laugh.
“Oh my God,” Stiles crowed, tossing his head back against the headrest and swatting a long arm out to catch Derek in the ribs. “Since when did you grow a sense of humor, Sour Wolf?”
“Since I’ve been spending 24 hours a day with you for the last year,” Derek said, pulling onto a side street where they would lay their speed trap. “Think of it as a defense mechanism. If I didn’t start finding you funny, eventually I would have killed you.”
“Thanks?” Stiles said, scrunching up his nose at his partner.
“You’re welcome,” Derek said, smiling cheekily, pushing the driver’s seat back and settling in to wait for unsuspecting speeders. He sighed heavily, closing his eyes and quirking his head toward the window, listening closely. “She did actually kiss me once, you know,” Derek said, tone just shy of casual.
“Who? Erica?” Stiles asked, wondering what the clenching feeling in his stomach was. Probably the shitty coffee they were drinking.
“No, Judge Hastings,” Derek said, deadpan. Flicking his eyes to the side and opening them just the tiniest bit so he wouldn’t miss Stiles’ reaction. “Yes, Erica.”
“How did I not know about this?” Stiles asked, still shocked.
“I don’t know why you would. It was ages ago, and it wasn’t a big deal,” Derek assured him, mouth still quirked in a satisfied smirk. “More of a power trip than anything.”
“Ages ago when?” Stiles wondered, mind still reeling. He kept trying to picture it, but all he could see was Derek’s stern face being blocked by a wild mass of blonde curls and cherry red painted claws.
“When I was training the Betas before their first full moon,” Derek said, face falling slightly. “AKA, when I was trying to prepare them for hunters and the threat turned out to be Jackson in a lizard suit.”
“Why did you kiss her?” Stiles asked, mouth going dry at the thought. He quickly took a gulp of coffee, scalding his tongue in the process.
“I didn’t,” Derek corrected him once more. “I told you. She kissed me. I was trying to get them to go for the unexpected attack and she just jumped me,” he said, thinking back.
“Sounds like Erica,” Stiles muttered. “When in doubt, use sex as a weapon.”
Derek eyed Stiles, face pinched in displeasure. “Don’t talk about her like that.”
“I didn’t mean it as a bad thing,” Stiles clarified quickly. “It’s definitely effective. You can practically hear male brain cells dying whenever she walks in a room.”
“I was never interested in her, if that makes you feel better,” Derek said, rolling his head back and forth against the headrest, stretching and cracking his neck.
“Why would it?” Stiles asked, forcing himself to take another nonchalant sip of coffee. At this rate, he’d need to request a bathroom break before they broke for lunch.
“I don’t know,” Derek said, turning his head just far enough that Stiles could see how far his eyebrows were raised. “It always seemed like you had a thing for her.”
“I was fifteen,” Stiles argued, shaking his head. “I had a thing for anyone who would have me and most of the people who wouldn’t.” Stiles thought back to his parade of hopeless crushes, including but not limited to Lydia, Danny, Heather, hell even Jackson barged into his teenage mastubatorial fantasies every once in a while. He had definitely seen Erica in a new light when she revealed she had a crush on him, but by that time Stiles’ bleeding heart had already moved on to a certain Alpha werewolf with magical eyes and chest hair that made his mouth water.
Thank God that phase of his life was over. After Jennifer and a few others, Stiles had placed Derek firmly in the heterosexual column of his orientation notebook, all the way in the back, deep in the woefully-out-of-your-league section. He wasn’t sure he would have been able to live with Derek if he had still been pining after him.
“Whatever you say,” Derek said, turning back to look out his window at passing traffic.
“Her and Boyd have a really great thing going right now,” Stiles said, beginning to gnaw on the edge of his thumbnail. “I would never jumble up the pack dynamic like that, even if I wanted to.”
“Such a gentleman,” Derek snorted, reaching for the handle that would recline the back of his seat. Ten minutes went by. Stiles alternated between bouncing his knees up and down and flicking his handcuffs open and closed as quickly as possible. Derek barely moved at all, used to the soundtrack that was Stiles’ fidgeting.
“I can’t believe we’re stuck on speed trap duty all week,” Stiles complained, pulling a brown paper bag out from under his seat. Derek’s nose twitched when the sickly sweet scent of strawberry frosting hit his nose. “At least tomorrow will be interesting.”
“Tomorrow?” Derek asked, eyes still closed, wishing Stiles would finish his doughnut faster so the smell would fade. “What’s tomorrow?”
“October 30th,” Stiles said with his mouth full, rainbow sprinkles settling in the creases of his uniform shirt.
Derek stared at him silently, crossing his arms, which Stiles recognized as the universal symbol for “stop speaking in Stiles and start speaking in English.”
“Man,” Stiles said, picking the sprinkles off his shirt and popping them into his mouth. “You weren’t even fun when you were a teenager, were you? October 30th is Mischief Night!”
“Hmm, well let’s see,” Derek began, arms still crossed, but holding up consecutive fingers on his opposite elbow as he spoke. “I couldn’t drink or do drugs, I had to hold back in sports, I had to control my shift whenever I got excited or felt strong emotions, and,” he paused for dramatic effect, “oh right, I had to keep a huge, deadly family secret from everyone I knew… Something I could only talk to my family about until they all burned to death. So no, I guess I wasn’t any fun.”
Stiles gaped. Derek could still see a few sprinkles on his tongue. Stiles swallowed heavily and licked his lips. “I’m sorry,” he said, rubbing his lips together in between words. “You know that’s not what I meant, right?”
“Yeah,” Derek sighed, not wanting to be upset with his partner for the rest of the day. “I know.”
“That must have been really hard,” Stiles said, flexing his fingers around his coffee mug, nearly bringing himself to reach out for Derek’s arm, but not quite. “No wonder you’re such a fucking goody two shoes,” he said, lips curving into a broad smile as soon as Derek huffed out a semblance of a laugh.
“And you’re a spastic, nosy, detective’s kid who doesn’t know when to stop digging,” Derek shot back, pushing against Stiles’ bicep with his elbow.
“Guilty as charged,” Stiles grinned, shooting finger pistols at his partner. “Now can you take me to Rosie’s? This nosy, detective’s kid needs to take a whiz.”
Derek rolled his eyes with a heavy sigh, but put the cruiser into drive anyway.
“Can you put the sirens on?” Stiles asked, smile growing even broader as he teased Derek. “This is a definite bathroom emergency.”
Derek didn’t dignify that with a response, but he did press down a little harder on the accelerator as he bit the inside of his mouth, shaking his head.
“I hate kids,” Derek said definitively as he turned back toward the cruiser. “Did they have to get the hair?”
“I’d be more concerned about the ass than the hair, to be honest,” Stiles replied, flicking a bit of stray shaving cream off Derek’s epaulet.
Derek shot daggers at Stiles as they continued back up the walkway. Stiles was surprised Derek wasn’t sporting fangs to go along with his death stare. “I can’t believe we weren’t allowed to hold them.”
“It was juvenile vandalism,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes. “Scott and I did much worse to Harris when we were that age. Plus, those kids will be doing community service all winter until their little adolescent fingers freeze. That’s not enough for you, Sour Wolf?”
“It was criminal mischief, and assaulting a law enforcement officer, and no, it’s not good enough,” Derek insisted, stopping when he got to the cruiser and peering over his shoulder to check out the damage. He and Stiles were both covered in eggs and shaving cream. Their cruiser had been too until Derek dropped the kids off at their house and insisted they hose off the car after getting scolded by their parents.
“It’s not their fault you provided such a tempting target,” Stiles said, snickering as Derek struggled to pick bits of sticky egg shell off the ass of his pants.
“Are you saying I have a nice ass?” Derek asked, fighting a snicker when he noticed that one of the kids had written “loser” in shaving cream across Stiles’ shoulders.
“Why should I stroke your ego? It’s big enough as it is,” Stiles said, digging through the detritus of several fast food lunches for some spare napkins. He passed a few to Derek before craning his neck and wiping at the shaving cream on his throat. His hair was a lost cause. Eggs and hair just didn’t mix. Stiles needed a shower, pronto.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Derek snapped, giving up on his uniform in favor of laying a pile of napkins out on the car seat so he could sit down without dirtying the leather.
“It means, you’ve got an attitude that entices opposition. One word out of your mouth and those kids were just dying to knock you down a peg,” Stiles said, unbuttoning his uniform shirt to wipe off his collar bones. “I’m familiar with the feeling.”
“Oh, like your approach worked so well?” Derek scoffed, getting into his seat and slamming the door, forcing Stiles to get into the car as well if he wanted to hear what he was going to say.
With an exaggerated gesture that swung his head back and forth in a full body roll, Stiles hopped into the passenger seat. “Yes, oh wise one? Care to lecture me about decorum?”
“You pulled silly string out of your pockets and started hitting them back!” Derek yelled, starting the car with the angry jerk of a wrist.
“Well I thought you’d prefer that to me pelting them with those organic brown eggs you have in the fridge. You keep bitching about how much we spend on groceries, and I listened. Seriously, roommate of the year over here,” Stiles argued, fighting to keep the smile off his face.
“You escalated the situation!” Derek shot back, pulling out onto the street and heading for home. “I was handling it.”
“Sure you were, cupcake,” Stiles laughed, patting Derek on the shoulder. He made a face and tried to wipe his sticky hand off on Derek’s thigh, but couldn’t find a clean place. With a gagging gesture, Stiles just ended up spreading the mess around and gluing his fingers together.
“I want a new partner,” Derek said, voice weary. “One who doesn’t need a babysitter.”
“Hmm,” Stiles pondered, tapping a long finger to his chin. “Well, we’ve got Allison, who is about a month away from maternity leave and requires about three milkshakes a day to satisfy her baby cravings…”
“I’ll take Boyd then,” Derek said quickly, pulling into the parking lot of their building. “He’ll need a new partner while Ally is off anyway.”
“Boyd listens to books on tape,” Stiles informed him smugly, a self-satisfied smirk on his lips as Derek parked the car and killed the engine. “You wouldn’t last a day.”
“What’s wrong with just reading a physical book?” Derek protested, wincing at the squishy feeling he got when he pulled himself out of the cruiser. “Are there no more traditionalists in this world?”
“I think the word you’re looking for is technophobe,” Stiles corrected, patting Derek on the shoulder before making a show of bending over and peeling the corner of a napkin off of his partner’s ass.
“Stop looking at my butt!” Derek scolded him, angling his body away from Stiles as he got in the rickety old elevator.
“I can’t help it,” Stiles said, biting his lip. “Those kids had impeccable aim.”
“I bet your underwear is soaked.”
“You can have the first shower,” Stiles said when they finally got to the loft, unlocking the door and sliding it open. He made a sweeping gesture that Derek followed inside, peeling off his shirt as he headed toward the bathroom. “Then we’re watching Cabin in the Woods!”
“Stiles! It’s been a long day. I’m going to wash off, and then I’m going to bed,” Derek said, crossing his arms over his stomach and pulling off his tank top before reaching for his belt buckle.
“Come on, old man,” Stiles chided, stripping off his top as well before heading to the fridge for a few beers. “I got you candy corn…”
“Fine!” Derek called back, whatever he said next drowned out by the sound of water hitting tile.
“You know you love me!” Stiles yelled up the stairs, as he grabbed a family sized bag of Reese’s out of the freezer.
After pulling the night shift, Stiles and Derek were able to sleep off their candy comas and roll into work at 2 p.m. Unfortunately, that was prime trick-or-treating time in Beacon Hills, and the Sheriff pointed them directly out the door to oversee one of the more popular neighborhoods.
“Be on the lookout for lost kids and petty theft,” John had told them, while shooing them out of the station. “If you see anyone with eggs or shaving cream,” he added, raising his eyebrows in Derek’s direction, “call for backup. Clearly you two can’t be trusted.”
“I have no idea what you’re insinuating,” Stiles said, letting his mouth flop open and closed in fake offense.
“Come on,” Derek said, grabbing Stiles by the shoulder and steering him out the door. “Let’s get this over with.”
“Drive or walk?” Stiles asked, twisting out of Derek’s grip once they got outside.
“Drive,” Derek said easily. “I’d like to have a getaway car on standby in case we need to make a quick escape.”
“Are you really so afraid of kids?” Stiles asked, smirking as Derek patted his pockets, looking for his keys. “You were a kid once, right? You didn’t just spring out of your mother fully grown, complete with beard and bushy eyebrows?”
“Very funny,” Derek said, peering into the squad car to see if he left the keys on the seat.
“Looking for something?” Stiles asked, twirling the missing key ring around his pointer finger, hip cocked to one side.
“Stiles,” Derek groaned, rolling his head back on his shoulders. “What did we say about picking my pockets?”
“That if I get the drop on you, I get to drive?” Stiles asked innocently, tossing the keys up in the air and catching them behind his back.
“I’m pretty sure that’s not what we agreed on,” Derek argued, holding out his hand for the keys.
“I’m pretty sure your exact words were, ‘I don’t care as long as you get in the damn car!’” Stiles quoted, grinning when Derek admitted defeat and walked around to the passenger side.
“It was 2 a.m. and I was tired,” Derek said with a sigh, waiting for Stiles to finish his happy dance, complete with exuberant fist pumping, before he could get inside the car.
“Come on,” Stiles chided, winking at Derek as he pushed the seat back, a subtle reminder that Stiles was now the taller of the pair. “Puny human sneaks past the Alpha werewolf with superhuman senses? That deserves a bit of a joy ride.”
“Fine,” Derek said, tossing his head back on the headrest. “Just drive, will you?”
“Yes, Sir, Office Hale, Sir,” Stiles quipped as he found a Journey song on the radio, cranked it up, and peeled out of the parking lot, singing as loudly as he could, waiting for Derek’s lips to curve into a reluctant smile.
“Put them on, Derek,” Stiles ordered, hands on his hips.
“I can’t take you seriously while you’re wearing those,” Derek replied, leaning against the cruiser with his arms crossed. Stiles could almost hear the fabric of Derek’s uniform whine in protest.
“It’s Halloween! Where’s your sense of whimsy?” Stiles asked, adjusting the Loki horns he had crafted onto a headband for himself.
“I’m a werewolf turned cop that leads a ragtag pack of orphans,” Derek said, rolling his eyes for the hundredth time that afternoon. “How much more whimsy do I need?”
“Clearly, you need this furry pair of wolf ears that I made you,” Stiles insisted, shaking the headband at his partner.
“Stiles,” Derek groaned, “I have my own wolf ears. I don’t need fake ones.”
“Let’s see ‘em then,” Stiles goaded him, making a circular gesture with one hand.
“It’s broad daylight,” Derek protested, nodding his head in the direction of the wave of kids that were making their way down the block from the elementary school.
“It’s Halloween!” Stiles said again, wondering how many times it would take for Derek to lighten up. “It’s the one day a year you’re allowed to look all wolfy, and you’ve never taken advantage of it?”
“It’s not a party trick, Stiles,” Derek said, terse enough that Stiles held his hands up in surrender and tossed the wolf ears into the open window of the cruiser.
“My apologies, Sour Wolf,” Stiles said, sidling up next to Derek to lean against the car. “Loki just can’t help himself sometimes. He loves mischief.” Stiles moved his head like a cat rubbing up against its owner until his Loki horns knocked into Derek’s shoulder.
“Should have worn those last night, then,” Derek said, moving out of the way and tilting his head to the side to give Stiles a pointed look.
“You are such a killjoy, Hale,” Stiles said, just as a group of kids came up to the squad car.
“Trick-or-treat,” they said in unison, voices high with youth and excitement.
“We’re on duty, kids,” Derek told them, standing up tall and puffing out his chest. “We don’t have any candy.”
“But he has ears on,” a little boy dressed as Spiderman pointed out, getting nods and mutterings of agreement from the rest of the kids.
“He’s got a point, Derek,” Stiles said, crouching down a little to reach the kids’ eye level, knees cracking audibly. “I am Loki, God of Mischief!” Stiles said with bravado, throwing his voice low. “Who comes to my keep seeking provisions?”
The kids stared, dumbfounded, either unsure of what Stiles had just said, or wondering if they had stumbled upon a legitimate crazy person. Stiles grinned, but received nothing in return. He ducked into the open window of the cruiser and pulled out a giant bag of candy. The kids’ wide eyes grew even larger when they saw the bag, waiting patiently to be given the loot.
“One for you, Your Majesty,” Stiles said, dropping a mini snickers into the pumpkin basket of a girl dressed as a princess. “One for you, zombie kid. One for you, ladybug. One for you, Ms. Witch. And two for you, Spiderman,” he finished, whispering conspiratorially. “You’re Marvel now, and us super heroes gotta stick together.”
“Whatever you say, Cop Loki!” the kid replied, accepting the candy and then waving goodbye as the rest of his group ran off to the next house.
“Isn’t Loki the villain in the Avengers movie?” Derek asked, still leaning against the car with his arms crossed.
“Misunderstood protagonist,” Stiles shot back with a wink, hoping Derek would be in a receptive mood and wouldn’t snap at his teasing.
“A huh,” Derek said, rolling his eyes. “I thought you were more of a DC guy anyway.”
“I am, but have you seen Tom Hiddleston lately?” Stiles asked, eyebrows raised. “He could make a nun sin. He’s got this dance he does with his hips like…” Stiles continued, clasping his hands together above his head and starting to gyrate.
“I get it,” Derek said immediately, covering his eyes with his hand. “You can stop now.”
“Is that a blush I see, Deputy Sour Wolf?” Stiles asked, poking Derek in the arm until he pulled his hand away.
“I’m just embarrassed for you,” Derek told him, but the tips of his ears were still tinged pink.
“Trick-or-treat!” another group of kids said, coming up behind the pair.
“Be nice,” Stiles hissed at Derek, reaching into the car for the candy again and thrusting it into Derek’s chest, forcing him to grab it or let it fall to the ground.
Derek groaned, but grabbed the candy anyway. With a sour expression and air of resentment toward his partner, Derek stared the children down. There were three boys, practically quaking in their light-up sneakers. Derek made fierce and terrifying eye contact with a devil, a pirate, and a vampire in turn while dropping handfuls of chocolate into each of their pillow cases.
“Happy Halloween,” Derek said with a grimace, like the sentiment literally pained him. Stiles looked on, catching a slight twitch in Derek’s neck an instant before he shifted his face. Ears pointed, eyes glowing their bright Alpha red, Derek bared his fangs and roared.
Two of the boys screamed bloody murder. The vampire actually fled, sprinting off down the block to catch up with the rest of their group while the pirate merely jumped back a few feet. The devil, however, gushed. “Woah!” he yelled, face lighting up in pure wonder. “Are you magic? Do it again! Did you see that, Heath? That was AWESOME!”
The self-satisfied smirk on Derek’s face only lasted a fraction of a second before he groaned in the back of his throat. A harsh, regretful noise escaped his mouth as he turned back to Stiles and raised his eyebrows. “Help!” he mouthed at his partner.
Stiles flapped his hands in a circle around his head, mouth gaping open. “What?” he mouthed back at Derek.
“This is your fault,” Derek ground out through his teeth. “Fix it.”
“Heeeey kids!” Stiles said, sliding between Derek and the still babbling boys. “What are your names?”
The devil opened his mouth to answer, but the pirate slapped his tiny hand over his mouth and said, “no talking to strangers! What is wrong with you?”
“I’m not a stranger,” Stiles said, pointing at the name tag that was pinned to his uniform shirt. “It says right here, Deputy Stilinski, at your service.”
“That could be fake, Cam,” the pirate hissed to his friend, never taking his eyes off Stiles.
“You think the car is fake too?” the devil asked, tone sarcastic. Stiles almost wanted to laugh at them. You couldn’t buy that kind of paranoia. He found it adorable.
“It could be decals,” the pirate insisted, desperately trying to convince his friend to be sensible.
“And the big flashy lights?” the devil named Cam asked, still doubtful.
“You can buy anything on the internet these days,” the pirate said, smacking him in the arm.
“We don’t even have a computer,” Cam reminded him. “How do you know what you can buy on the internet?”
“I read,” the pirate huffed.
“That is so not the point, Heath,” Cam said, rolling his eyes. “Who cares if they’re real cops if they’re like… magic or whatever. Can you do it again? Please, please, please?” he asked, turning to Derek.
Derek ducked his head, face heating up while he thought of how to deny anything had even happened. “No,” he said, clearing his throat and looking down at his feet. “That was a one time thing.”
“What do you mean, a one time thing?” Heath asked, ducking and turning his head upward like a pigeon, trying to get Derek to look at him. “Come on! Do it again!”
Derek groaned, “Stiles!” again, begging his partner for backup.
Stiles slid forward again, one hand on his hip and another scratching the back of his hair as he thought quickly. “It was a one time only Halloween spell,” he settled on, after eliminating several other, less convincing options.
“A spell?” Cam asked, mouth falling open in surprise.
“Yeah Stiles,” Derek said, questioning. “A spell?”
“Yeah…” Stiles said, making it up as he went along, “we have a friend who is a magical… veterinarian… and Derek is afraid of children, so he put a spell on Derek so he could scare kids away… but only for Halloween.”
“But it’s still Halloween--” Cam pointed out.
“You’re afraid of kids?” Heath asked, instantly suspicious. “But you’re so…” he puffed out his chest, held his arms out wide to mime Derek’s muscles, and then waved his hand above his head parallel to the floor, indicating his height.
“Umm…” Stiles carried on, digging the hole even deeper. “Deputy Derek had a bad experience with a couple of deranged munchkins last Halloween, and he’s been jumpy ever since.”
“But it’s still Halloween,” Cam repeated, hung up on Stiles’ earlier point. “Don’t spells usually last 24 hours?”
“Who are you,” Stiles said, disbelief on his face, “Professor Flitwick? I’m pretty sure kids find out that they’re wizards when they’re eleven.”
“But we’re eight and nine!” Heath said, eyebrows scrunching up as he mulled that over. “We could still turn out to be wizards in a few years.”
“Eight and a half!” Cam corrected his friend, adjusting his red domino mask and flattening his brown curls down.
“Let me tell you something, kid,” Stiles said, eyes narrowing at the boys, “if I didn’t get a Hogwarts letter, you’re definitely not getting one. The world is a cruel, cruel place. You should get used to it.”
“We know that,” Cam said with a heavy sigh too old for his years,” trust me.”
“Look,” Derek said, straightening his spine and finding his voice again, “we need to get back to our police work now, so how about we help you guys find your parents?”
“We don’t have parents,” Heath said immediately, crossing his arms. The gesture looked more humorous than defiant when his puffy pirate sleeves got tangled up.
“Who are you out with, then?” Derek asked, hoping no one in town would let their eight year old kids out alone, even if it was still daylight. “Your grandparents? Older sister or something?”
“No,” Cam said, folding his arms and stepping up next to his friend in an act of solidarity. “We don’t have any family. We live at the Roslind House.”
“I’m your family,” Derek heard Heath whisper in Cam’s ear, getting a small, grateful twist of the mouth in response.
“Roslind House?” Derek mouthed at Stiles while the two boys' continued whispering to each other.
“The orphanage,” Stiles muttered, just loud enough for Derek’s ears.
Derek’s face fell. Stiles could almost see the lost teenager under the bushy beard and eyebrows. Laura had made sure that Derek was fed and clothed, but Stiles knew a sibling couldn’t ever truly replace a parent, let alone two of them. Derek’s loss… tragic wasn’t a big enough word to describe it. Scott and him knew that from personal experience.
The change in Derek’s demeanor was almost instantaneous. Stiles had never seen anything like it.
“It’s really nice that you’re looking out for each other,” Stiles said, trying to turn the conversation back around. “I have a best friend that’s like a brother to me, too.”
“Cameron? Heath?” a voice called from down the block. They could make out the vague shape of a tall blonde woman in the glare of the setting sun. “Come on boys! We’re leaving!”
“Can’t you do it one more time?” Cam asked, panic filling his voice. “We won’t tell anyone! We swear!” he said, holding out his pinky.
Derek tilted his head to the side, weighing the options. He really wanted to see Cam smile again. The heartbroken look on the boy’s face was making his chest hurt. Deciding to keep his secret to himself, Derek held out the rest of the bag of candy, and handed it to Heath.
“Keep our secret, and share this with your wimpy vampire friend, and we’ll see, okay?” Derek said, voice softer than Stiles had ever heard it.
“You’ll come visit us?” Cam asked, eyes lighting up again.
Stiles smacked Derek in the arm, raising his eyebrows at him and silently saying, “don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“Yeah. We will,” Derek said, mouth widening into a smile. “Some time next week.”
“Awesome!” Cam said, holding his hand out for a high five.
Derek crouched down, slapped his hand, and straightened Heath’s pirate hat. He looked up at Stiles and inclined his head, prompting his partner to do the same.
“Bye Deputy Derek! Bye Deputy Sti-- Stiz--” Cam struggled to read the tag on Stiles’ shirt.
“Just call me Stiles,” he offered, sighing as the boys waved and ran back up the street.
As they left, Derek’s face soured into a frown.
“What’s the matter?” Stiles asked, pushing into Derek’s shoulder with his own.
“I can hear what they’re saying,” Derek said, nodding toward the kids as they rejoined their group down the street. “Heath is telling Cam that we won’t come… that adults always lie.”
“Well, he’s not wrong,” Stiles said with a huff, shrugging his shoulders.
“This time he is,” Derek said, voice fierce with determination.
“I just don’t understand why you’re going to spend your only day off hanging out with some brats,” Erica groaned from her seat, which was splayed out across Boyd’s lap and all three of Derek’s couch cushions.
“I don’t understand why you aren’t at your own apartment,” Derek said, kicking Erica’s feet off the armrest as he walked by. “Stiles will slap you if you eat all of his double stuffed Oreos, and I won’t stop him.”
Erica huffed in annoyance, but put her feet back up, reaching toward the coffee table to grab the remote. “Oh please, you know you made a room for me and Boyd in the new house, don’t even try to lie.”
Derek ignored her, going over to the staircase and shouting, “Stiles! Are you ready?”
“Relax!” Stiles shouted back, appearing on the catwalk with his shirt half on. “It’s not like we have an appointment or anything.”
“Where are you guys going again?” Boyd asked.
“Derek and I have a hot date,” Stiles said, hopping down the stairs two at a time, nearly killing himself in the process.
“With each other?” Erica laughed, pointing between them both. “Can I watch?”
“Erica!” Derek yelled, “If you’re just going to make fun of me, get out of my apartment.”
“You’re leaving, so I’m staying,” Erica said, snuggling further into the couch.
“Do not fuck on my furniture,” Derek said, pointing his finger at Erica and then leveling Boyd with a stern expression. Boyd shrugged his shoulders innocently as Stiles grabbed his keys and pulled Derek out the door.
“No promises!” Erica called back.
“I don’t know what you’re expecting me to do with them,” Stiles said, following Derek up the walk leading to Roslind House. It looked a bit more run-down than he expected, paint peeling and plants overgrown.
“You certainly act like you’re eight years old on a daily basis,” Derek said, pushing the doorbell before he noticed a little note saying it didn’t work. “It shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for you.” He knocked on the door, wiping flecks of paint off on his jeans while they waited for a response.
“Looks like this place could use some updating,” Stiles said, gesturing around his feet to the weeds coming up between the gravel. “Why don’t you just make a donation and save some time?”
“They don’t just need you to throw money at them,” Derek said stiffly, lowering his voice when he heard footsteps approaching the door. “They need someone to care about what happens to them.”
“Yeah, and your face just screams lovable teddy bear,” Stiles snorted, cutting his laugh off abruptly when the door opened.
“Can I help you?” a surprisingly attractive young woman said, looking Derek up and down thoroughly before casting her eyes to Stiles.
“Yeah,” Derek said, flashing that toothy smile that made Stiles cringe. “I’m Derek and this is my partner Stiles. We met Cameron and Heath the other day while they were trick-or-treating and promised we would come for a visit. Is that alright?”
The woman’s eyebrows raised when Derek called Stiles his ‘partner,’ but schooled her face quickly. “Heath?” she asked skeptically. “He wanted you to come visit?”
“Well maybe not so much him as Cam,” Stiles said, squinting up at the woman. Something about her just didn’t sit right with him. He wasn’t sure if it was the severe cut of her jaw or the fact that she hadn’t introduced herself yet, but something felt off about her.
“Come on in,” she said, pulling the door open further.
Her face said, this is something I’ve got to see, but Derek tried to ignore the attitude.
Things were a bit more cheerful inside, but not as much as Stiles had hoped. The walls were painted cheery colors, but had faded over time, the happy murals looking derelict and uninspiring. There weren’t many children inside, but the weather was nice, so Stiles assumed they had a playground out back, or at least he hoped.
“How many kids do you house?” Derek asked, seeing only a few kids tucked into corners reading.
“Right now we have 26, but we had as many as 45 at one point,” she said, pointing into a bedroom that had several sets of bunk beds and looked to sleep about ten at a time.
Derek raised his eyebrows at Stiles, but followed the woman into her office anyway.
“I’ll just need you to fill out some paperwork if you’re going to be spending time with the children,” she said, gesturing for them to sit down in the two chairs opposite her desk. The name plate said Vivian Pickerbush. Stiles scowled at it, but wasn’t sure why.
She handed them a few forms and pens and asked to see their IDs.
Stiles sat back and reached into his jean pocket, pulling out his badge holder. With a smirk, he handed the whole thing to the woman, letting her flip the leather open to find his driver’s license and police badge.
“You’re a cop?” she asked, eying the badge.
Derek held his out as well. Stiles rolled his eyes when she deliberately brushed his hand with her fingers when reaching for it.
“You’re both cops?”
“And my father’s the Sheriff,” Stiles said, eyes still narrowed suspiciously. “I think he can vouch for our trustworthiness.”
“I’d say so,” she muttered, looking over the IDs to copy over the numbers. “Same address?”
“Yes,” Derek said, not sure why that would be odd. “But it won’t be that one for long. I’m building us a house outside of town, so we’ll be moving in a few months.”
“How lovely,” she said coolly, handing the badges back and filing the forms away in a drawer. “The children are outside. I’ll show you.”
“Thank you, Vivian,” Derek said, flashing his fake smile again.
Stiles was right. There was a playground outside, as well as a sprinkler and a few picnic tables set in the shade of a large maple tree. The sunlight did wonders for Stiles’ dwindling opinion of the orphanage. The sound of kid laughing and shouting filled the air of the small, fenced yard, and brought a glimmer of life to the place.
Vivian left them in the yard, after explaining to the other supervisor who they were. Holding his hand over his eyes to shield the sun, Stiles searched for the boys, finding Heath reading a book in the shade while Cameron pestered him.
“Come on, Heath!” Cam whined, pulling on Heath’s arm in an effort to get him up from the ground. “Play catch with me!”
“When I’m done with this chapter, dude,” Heath said, not looking up.
“Want to play with me?” Derek asked, coming up behind Cam.
“Deputy Derek!” Cam yelled, running forward to hug him around the knees.
Derek backed up laughing. “Ooof!” he huffed like Cam had knocked the wind out of him.
“You came!” Cam squealed, curls flopping down over his eyes as he practically shook with excitement.
“I said we were coming,” Derek said softly, crouching down so he could look Cam in the eyes.
“I told him you wouldn’t,” Heath whispered to Stiles, who had sat down next to him under the tree.
“That’s okay,” Stiles told him as he watched Derek grab a spare baseball mitt from a plastic crate and run off into the distance with Cam. “I wouldn’t have wanted to get his hopes up either.”
“He doesn’t seem to get it,” Heath said, slipping his finger into his book to keep his place. “He doesn’t get that no one is coming for us. They never were and they never will.”
“How long have you been here?” Stiles asked, figuring it had to be a while for Heath to have become so jaded by the system.
“Six years,” Heath said, eyes cold and piercing. “Car crash. Killed my parents and my two older sisters.”
“Cancer,” Stiles said, pointing to himself, “still have my Dad though.” He shielded his eyes and looked out to the yard again until he could point in Derek’s general direction. “House fire. Killed eight people. He lived with his sister for a while, but she died too.”
“Blows,” Heath said, feigning indifference.
“Totally,” Stiles agreed, wondering what had happened to Cam’s parents. “What are you reading?” he asked, looking for a neutral subject for the boy who clearly didn’t think very much of him.
Heath flipped his book over to reveal the battered cover of a copy of Harry Potter the the Prizoner of Azkaban.
“Ohh, that was my favorite one,” Stiles said, looking to see how far Heath had gotten. “It’s a little above your reading level, isn’t it?”
“Just because I live in an orphanage doesn’t mean I’m an idiot,” Heath snapped,
“I know that,” Stiles said, looking sideways to see Heath’s expression. He looked resigned, like it was an opinion he had heard far too many times. “Who says that to you?”
“People at school, kids… some teachers,” Heath admitted, twisting his lips in disapproval.
“They should know better,” Stiles said, offended for this kid who had clearly been through enough already without being picked on. “You know who else was an orphan?” Stiles asked, tapping the cover of Heath’s book. “Harry Potter,” he said with a wan smile. “And no one ever thought less of him. He saved the world from Voldemort when he was just 11 years old. Well him and his two best friends. How long has Cam been here with you?”
“Just over a year,” Heath told him, nodding over in Cameron’s direction. “He just had his mom, but she died last year. Something bad, like painful bad. He doesn’t talk about it.”
“I get that,” Stiles said, nodding sadly. “I don’t like to talk about my mom either. And Derek definitely never talks about his family. Sometimes it’s best to just remember them the way they were… when things were still good.”
The pair sat quietly for a few minutes, watching Derek and Cam toss a baseball back and forth before Stiles broke the silence again. “What part are you up to?” he asked, pointing to the book again.
“Sirius is just telling Harry that he can come live with him if he wants,” Heath said, biting the inside of his cheek when Stiles looked back at him with a pinched expression, mouth set tight. “It’s okay… I’ve read it before. I know it doesn’t really work out. It never does.”
“Well Harry gets to stay with the Weasleys a bit after that at least,” Stiles offers, wishing his first conversation with the kid wasn’t quite so depressing.
“He does?” Heath asked, looking sideways at Stiles, apprehensive.
“Yeah. Have you not gotten to the fourth one yet?” he asked, face brightening a bit.
“We only have the first three here,” Heath said, looking back at him sadly. “And Ms. Pickerbitch won’t let us take books from the library anymore.”
Stiles laughed at the nickname before covering it with a cough and straightening his face. “You don’t like her much either?” he asked, wondering how badly things were really going for the boys at Roslind House.
“I don’t think anyone’s ever liked her,” Heath said uncharitably, looking up as Derek and Cam came walking back in their direction.
“Maybe that’s why she’s so angry all the time,” Stiles suggested. “It can’t feel good to know no one likes you.”
“Maybe,” Heath agreed tentatively, forcing a smile onto his face when Cam came closer.
“Cam here has got a great arm,” Derek said, pulling his hand out of the too-small glove to ruffle the boy’s curls.
“That’s great,” Stiles said, wishing there was some way he might be able to put a smile as bright as Cam’s on Heath’s face as well.
“And he said there’s a few board games over there that we could all play together,” Derek said cheerfully, pointing at the picnic tables where a dozen or so other kids were sitting.
“Sounds good,” Stiles said, pulling himself off the ground and holding a hand out to Heath to pull him up.
Heath looked quizically at his hand for a few seconds before grasping it and allowing Stiles to pull him up. Seeing how Derek had already been having fun with Cam, Stiles lifted Heath’s feet a foot off the ground for a few seconds before lowering him back down. Heath looked suspiciously at Stiles before dropping his hand and turning away.
“What are we playing?” Derek asked, as they found a free table and sat down.
Cam disappeared for a few seconds, rifling through a large Tupperware container until he came up with a familiar looking box.
Stiles grinned widely, knowing he was in for a rant when he and Derek were out of earshot of the kids.
Cam was holding Candy Land, smile shy, but present, as he laid the board out on the table. “We don’t have all the pieces, but if you have a quarter or something, we can all play.”
Derek pulled a nickel out of his pocket and placed it on the starting space, flashing Cam a broad, genuine smile as he watched Stiles shuffle the cards.
“Because it’s not a real game, Stiles!” Derek argued on the elevator trip back up to the loft.
“What do you mean it’s not a real game? There’s a board, pieces, and cards. There’s a winner and a loser. I think that qualifies as a game.”
“There’s no strategy! There are no decisions to make! Nothing can affect the outcome,” Derek whined, rubbing at his forehead. “The game is literally over the second you finish shuffling the cards. You might as well just stop playing at that point.”
“I would have paid good money to hear you explain that to the boys,” Stiles said, unlocking the loft’s door and sliding it open.
“Maybe next time,” Derek said, following him inside.
“You want to go back?” Stiles asked, flopping down on the couch, but not before checking the cushions for any incriminating stains.
“Don’t you?” Derek shot back, raising his eyebrows at Stiles. He looked serious, but his face was open in a way that made him look at least five years younger.
“I guess so,” Stiles said, thinking about his conversation with Heath. “I need to stop by my Dad’s before next time though. I need to grab a few things for Heath.”
“Make sure you knock loudly this time and wait for them to answer,” Derek reminded him, not interested in listening to another rant about how Stiles had seen his father’s balls.
“Sir, yes sir,” Stiles said, saluting to Derek with one hand and reaching for the remote with the other one.
Derek sat down next to him on the couch, handing him a can of Mountain Dew. The pair settled in to watch the latest episode of Bones that was saved on the DVR.
After signing a truly staggering amount of paperwork, Stiles and Derek had leave to take the boys to the zoo. Derek made a quick stop at the construction site Sunday morning, thus clearing his schedule, and hopped in the passenger seat of the Jeep so they could drive to the orphanage.
“You should really buy a new car,” Derek grunted at Stiles as he yanked ineffectually on the jammed seatbelt.
“Why?” Stiles asked, slamming the gear shift into drive. “How often do you think I’m going to have minors bouncing around in the back of this thing?”
“I don’t know, I just think maybe you should take better care of yourself and the people that unknowingly get into your motorized death trap.”
“Roscoe is not a death trap,” Stiles said, genuinely offended. “She’s a collector’s item.”
“The seatbelts in the back work, right?” Derek asked, giving up on his. It’s not like he would get hurt terribly much in a crash anyway, but he wanted to set a good example for the boys.
“Yes they do, Captain Safety,” Stiles assured him as they swung by Roslind House for Cam and Heath.
Vivian looked skeptically at the Jeep, but allowed the boys to clamber into the backseat anyway, only saying, “have them back by four,” as they pulled away. Normally they would have had to go on several supervised, short outings before they were allowed to take the boys on their own, but it seemed that enough of the people around town had been able to vouch for them. Being a cop came in handy sometimes. Stiles secretly thought Vivian had just been distracted by the sight of Derek in uniform and had forgotten the protocol.
“So…” Stiles began, still not quite sure how to talk to the kids, “what’s your favorite animal? I like wolves.”
Derek raised his eyebrows in Stiles’ general direction, but answered the question anyway. “I like the elephants,” he said, glancing into the backseat to catch the expressions on the boy’s faces.
“Penguins!” Cam said excitedly, knees bouncing up and down as he tapped his feet on the vibrating floor of the Jeep.
“What about you, Heath?” Stiles prompted.
Heath clearly said something, because Stiles could see his mouth moving in the rearview mirror, but he hadn’t heard anything at all. Clearly having heard what Heath had said, Derek’s lips curved into a smile as he fought back a laugh.
“What was that, buddy?” Stiles asked, eyes brightening at the way Derek’s face had lit up. Stiles spent most of his days trying to get Derek to make that face, and Heath had done it with no effort at all.
“He likes panda bears!” Cam called out, grinning broadly. “He loves them because they’re so cute and cuddly.”
“Panda bears are awesome,” Stiles assured the boys, nose twitching in amusement. “Nothing to be embarrassed about. Everybody likes panda bears. They’re ferocious and antisocial, just like somebody else I know…”
“Do you like bears, Derek?” Cam asked, Stiles’ dig going completely unnoticed.
“Sure!” Derek said, turning back in his seat so he could see the boys. “Black bears are my favorite. You can still see them in the woods I grew up in sometimes. But you have to be really careful not to bother them. Especially the mama bears.”
Derek’s voice had gone completely soft as he explained the finer points of wildlife safety to a riveted Cam and a barely tolerant Heath. Stiles couldn’t believe the transformation that occurred when Derek was around these boys. Not only his expression, but his entire body relaxed. Stiles began to wonder how many younger cousins Derek had had, and if they had inspired the same gentleness.
“Come on, Derek!” Cam squealed as soon as they made it through the gates. “We can go see the elephants first, because they’re your favorite!” He skipped off happily, following the gigantic elephant footprints that were painted on the walkway.
Derek raced after him, followed at a distance by Heath and Stiles. “Well they don’t have panda bears here,” Stiles explained, “they’re endangered, and I think the closest ones are in San Diego. But there are sun bears we can check out later. They’re really cute, and they climb way up high in the trees to nap.”
“Sounds great,” Heath mumbled, but followed after the group anyway.
“Look, I get that you don’t want to be here,” Stiles said, watching Derek and Cam get further away as he slowed down to level with Heath. “You think I’m lame, and the zoo is stupid, and everything blows, but Cam is really happy to be here. So you think you could just pretend? For him?”
Heath rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, actions which Stiles was completely impervious to at this point.
“Just for today, alright? Just for today, you’re out in the world. You don’t live in an orphanage, you don’t have to deal with Ms. Pickerbitch or the other kids, and you get to eat whatever you want, and do whatever you want. So just try to enjoy it, okay?”
“Okay,” Heath said, dropping his arms, but rolling his eyes again when Stiles fist pumped. “But just for Cam.”
“Sure. Just for Cam,” Stiles agreed, feeling like the phrase was the 8 year old equivalent of ‘no homo.’ “Now. The world is your oyster. What do you want to do?”
“Want to see how many ice cream cones we can eat before Derek and Cam find us?” Heath asked, conspiratorially, wondering if Deputy Stiles was really as fun as he let on.
“Now you’re speaking my language,” Stiles said, grabbing Heath’s hand and dragging him to the nearest food vendor.
“I can’t believe you puked!” Cam howled as Derek and Stiles ran Heath’s shoes under the sink of the men’s room. Heath had made it to an astounding seven ice cream cones before the other two had caught up with them and insisted they ride the Serengeti Safari train.
“Hey,” Stiles said, passing Derek a handful of paper towels. “Show a little respect for our reigning ice cream cone challenge champion.”
“I would if he didn’t smell so bad,” Cam argued, still giggling while Heath sat on a bench in the shade, sipping on a bottle of water.
“I don’t know how you can smell him over all the poop that’s in this place,” Derek muttered, determining the shoes were as clean as they were going to get before heading back to Heath.
“I’m sorry I got sick,” Heath said, looking down at his dirty socks.
“No worries,” Stiles said cheerfully, handing him back his sneakers. “Mightier men have been slayed by a mere five ice cream cones.”
“Really?” Heath asked, velcroing his shoes back on.
“Oh totally,” Stiles said, patting him on the shoulder. “One time my buddy Scott had two popsicles and sprayed puke all over a carousel.”
“Gross!” Heath said, pulling a face.
“Cool!” Cam shouted at the same time, drowning out his friend.
“You feeling better?” Stiles asked, sliding onto the bench next to Heath.
“Yeah,” Heath said, standing up quickly and then clutching his stomach. “Maybe we can sit and watch the otters for a while?”
“Sounds great,” Stiles said, smiling softly.
Ten minutes later when Heath complained that he couldn’t see the otters, Stiles swung the boy up onto his shoulders. Short little fingers wound their way into Stiles’ hair as Heath caught his balance. When Cam asked to be picked up too, Derek complied. Stiles looked over at them. Derek’s arms were crossed around Heath’s ankles, holding him in place. Stiles winked, smiling broadly at the sight of Derek with Cam. Swallowing around the sudden tightening in his throat, Derek swore he heard his own heart skip a beat.
Taking the boys out every Sunday became part of their weekly routine, and Derek was impressed to find that Heath slowly warmed to Stiles. Cam, as easy going and exuberant as always, had no problem enjoying himself, but Heath took a little more coaxing. After a few more Sundays out touring parks and the aquarium, Heath finally admitted to Stiles that all he really wanted to do was go somewhere quiet where he could read.
Happy that Heath had felt comfortable enough to open up, Stiles took him to the library while Derek and Cam went to the movies. Three hours later, Derek found them exactly where he had left them, curled up together on a pile of bean bags in the children’s section, sharing a well-loved copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Stiles hadn’t been able to sleep knowing that Heath didn’t have access to the rest of the series, and had found his old copies at the Sheriff’s house.
“Ready to go?” Derek asked softly, not wanting to bother the other library patrons. “I thought we could have dinner before we went back to Roslind House.”
“Five more minutes,” Stiles hissed, flipping the page when Heath tapped him on the back of the hand. “Harry is just about to show some moral fiber.”
“Sure,” Derek said easily, knowing exactly what Stiles was talking about. “Let’s go find some Cam Jansens for you,” he said quietly to Cam.
“What’s a Cam Jansen?” the boy asked, hopping in place until Derek took his hand.
“You’ll see…” Derek whispered, bringing Cam over to the easy-readers section.
“Thanks,” Heath said, pushing his shoulder back toward Stiles, nudging him when he finished the chapter.
Stiles took the gesture as an affectionate one, and squeezed his arms tightly around the boy as he closed the book.
“Stiles!” Heath whined, trying to squirm his way out of the hug. “Hugs are for babies.”
“Who told you that?” Stiles asked, loosening his grip on the boy.
“Everyone ever?” Heath responded gruffly, pushing himself off the floor.
“Well ‘everyone ever’ lied to you, because hugs rock and Stilinskis are the best huggers in the world,” Stiles said, waving Derek and Cam over to the library exit when they finished checking out their books. “Derek? Tell Heath that Stilinskis give the best hugs.”
“I hate to break it to you,” Derek said, grabbing Cam’s hand before following Stiles through the parking lot and back to the Jeep, “but Boyd is an exceptional hugger.”
“I don’t think you’ve fully evaluated the candidates,” Stiles said, waiting until the boys were out of traffic before practically throwing himself at Derek, long arms wrapping neatly around his back in an all-encompassing hug. Stiles went so far as to run his hands up Derek’s back to his shoulders, and pull the wolf in close, resting his chin on Derek’s shoulder and tilting his head until their temples rubbed together.
Derek’s breath caught the instant he was enveloped in Stiles’ heat, something squirming unpleasantly in his stomach when Stiles’ breath brushed his neck. It was over before Derek knew it, though he was sure it had been a solid minute of his body pressed flush to Stiles’ before the other man withdrew, grinning like a maniac.
“Now stand here and tell me that that wasn’t the best hug of your life,” Stiles said defiantly, hands on his hips.
“I have to admit,” Derek said, ducking his head into the Jeep to lock eyes with Heath. “But he wasn’t lying. That was the best hug ever.”
“Victory!” Stiles yelled as both boys laughed. He hopped into the driver’s seat of the Jeep and did a euphoric little wiggle, winking again at Derek as he started the car and turned toward the diner.
“I’m dying,” Stiles whined, flopping onto the couch as soon as he made it in the door, clutching his stomach.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have had that third milkshake,” Derek said reasonably, raising his eyebrows until Stiles moved his feet off the third cushion, giving him a place to sit.
“I swear that kid has a separate ice cream stomach,” Stiles moaned, trying not to jostle himself too much. “I just can’t compete.”
“Maybe you should stop trying to challenge him to eating contests,” Derek said, reaching for the remote and scrolling through their DVR. Masterchef sounded like a bad choice with Stiles in his current state. “You’re setting a bad example.”
“We were bonding!” Stiles argued, but was cowed by Derek’s raised eyebrows. “I know,” Stiles groaned, struggling into a sitting position, “at least they’re not my kids. I just get to spoil them one day a week and then send them home for Ms. Pickerbitch to deal with.”
“It feels like they are, though,” Derek said under his breath, eyes fixed on the television. He could almost feel Stiles’ gaze boring into the side of his head, but refused to meet his eyes.
“What did you say?” Stiles asked, turning toward him, eyes wide.
“You know what I said, Stiles,” Derek told him, selecting an episode of The Last Ship, hoping there would be some explosions to distract his partner from the conversation they were absolutely not going to have right now.
“I know what you said,” Stiles agreed, snatching the remote out of Derek’s hand and shutting the TV off. The click of the electronics sounded harsh in the otherwise quiet room. “I’m just not sure what you meant by it.”
“I think you feel it too,” Derek said, finally turning to look at Stiles, “even if you pretend not to. This isn’t some game to me, and it’s definitely not a game to them.”
“I know it’s not a game,” Stiles said, offended that Derek thought he was merely toying with the boys’ emotions. “That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”
“I know, I just…” Derek trailed off, rubbing his forehead with both hands, frustrated that the right words weren’t coming to him.
“What?” Stiles asked honestly, pulling on one of Derek’s wrists until he could see his expression again.
Derek’s heart pounded in his chest so loud he figured even Stiles could hear it. He inhaled deeply and let the air out slowly through his nose, trying to keep his voice even. “When we take them places, and spend time with them, and make them smile… it feels like…”
“It feels like they’re yours,” Stiles finished for him, licking his lips before snagging the bottom one between his teeth.
“No,” Derek said, taking Stiles by surprise. “It feels like they’re ours.”
“Oh,” Stiles said simply, mouth still slightly open while he contemplated Derek’s words.
“I think you feel it too,” Derek said softly, tilting his head in Stiles’ direction, unconsciously tuning his hearing to the beat of Stiles’ heart. “When you read to Heath, or hold him in your arms, or take his hand when we cross the street… I know you feel something.”
Stiles was still silent. He didn’t know what to say. His heart said that Derek was right. From the minute Stiles had seen Derek smile at the boys on Halloween, he had known that there was something special about them. When he saw Cam bounce in excitement or Heath accept his touch, something warm filled his chest.
But he was terrified. He was beyond terrified because he was pretty sure he loved them. He loved the boys. He wasn’t sure when it happened, only that it had. There was no doubt in his mind that Derek loved them as well, but love didn’t make you a family. The law made you a family. Legally, they were nothing. Having accepted Derek’s premise, Stiles needed to know what Derek thought the next step was.
“What are you saying?” Stiles asked, voice croaky. “Do you want to foster them? Can we even do that here?”
“No,” Derek said, looking around the loft, “we couldn’t do it here. I don’t even know if they would let us do it at all.”
“But we need to check, right?” Stiles said, words tumbling out of his mouth now that he had gotten going. “We need to find out what we have to do, because they could close the orphanage, or put them with another foster family. Derek, they could split them up! What do we do?”
“I don’t know,” Derek said, hanging his head in his hands once more. “I don’t know what the rules are. It could take years for us to become approved foster parents.”
“No,” Stiles said, voice edging toward frantic. “We can figure this out. We just need to calm down and do some research. They make terrible people foster parents all the time, it can’t be that hard.”
“Really, Stiles?” Derek asked, lifting his head to shoot a wounded look at Stiles. “You think that’s going to make me feel better right now?”
“No,” Stiles said, jumping off the couch to pace around the room, hands flailing madly. “But we’re cops. They know we’re good people. We’ll probably be shoo-ins. We just need to find the right forms and it’ll all be fine. Help me find my laptop!”
“Wait, Stiles!” Derek shouted over his partner’s babbling, grabbing his arm to still him. “Just wait. I don’t just want to foster them. I want to adopt them.”
“No, come on Derek,” Stiles cried, pulling to free himself so he could start looking for his laptop. “You can just like sniff it out or something, I totally spilled coffee on it yesterday.”
“Stiles,” Derek said, shaking his head in exasperation. “You’re not listening to me. We just need to call Lydia.”
“Oh yes!” Stiles exclaimed, throwing both of his arms up in triumph, taking Derek’s with him. “It’s so convenient having a lawyer in the pack.”
“You are such an idiot,” Derek laughed fondly, picking Stiles’ phone up off the coffee table and smacking it into his open palm.
Stiles didn’t even wait for Lydia to answer before he started talking. “Hey Lyds!” he called, fumbling with the phone until he got it on speaker. “We’ve got a case for you.”
“Is it something good?” Lydia asked. Stiles could practically hear her twirling her hair around her finger as she listened. “I’m getting bored with this whole legal thing. I’m thinking about doing medical school next.”
“How long do you think it will take you to get us an adoption? Well… two adoptions,” Stiles asked, holding his breath while Lydia formed her answer.
“Who’s us?” she asked, thinking the conversation would be going a lot faster if they were on Skype. Stiles’ body language spoke faster than his mouth ever could.
“Me and Derek.”
“Oh, no time at all… provided you get married first,” she said.
Stiles looked at Derek, waiting to see what his expression was before he gave one himself. It was crazy. They couldn’t get married. For one thing, Derek barely tolerated him, and for another, Derek was painfully heterosexual.
Derek’s eyes narrowed, his face blank, waiting for Stiles to make a move, one way or the other.
“I’m waiting…” Lydia’s tinny voice reminded them that they were not having a private staring contest.
Derek inclined his head, just slightly.
Stiles shrugged his shoulders a fraction of an inch, curving his mouth downward.
Derek raised his eyebrows and turned his palms up raising them slightly.
Stiles nodded, mouth set firmly.
“When can you get here?” Derek asked Lydia, who squealed in excitement.
“Three hours,” she said, and ended the call.
“First things first,” Lydia said, three hours and four minutes later as she swept into the loft, wheeling a small suitcase behind her. “We’ll need to head to the county clerk’s office first thing in the morning to get your marriage license.”
Derek and Stiles stared, dumbfounded. The situation sounded a whole lot more serious coming out of Lydia’s mouth in person than it had on the phone.
“I made you an appointment at the courthouse for tomorrow morning,” she said, rolling her suitcase in the corner and kicking off her heels. “All you need is a witness, and you’ll be good to go.”
“Want to ask your dad?” Derek asked, thoughtfully as Stiles looked on with abject horror.
“No!” He shouted, a little too loud for the hour. “We are not dragging Dad into this. We need him to keep some sense of plausible deniability.”
“I’ll do it,” Lydia said, going to the freezer and pulling out a bottle of vodka, hoping it would calm Stiles down a bit. She grabbed glasses and a bottle of ginger ale and headed back to the couch. “But Stiles does have a good point. You’re going to need to get your back story together if you’re going to make it believable. And it needs to be foolproof because if there is a way to slip up, Stiles will find it.”
“Hey!” Stiles said, offended. “How do you know it will be me that messes up?”
“You’re way more emotional and you broadcast your every thought through your body,” Lydia said, matter-of-fact, pushing a drink toward Stiles and a plain glass of ginger ale toward Derek. She thought he looked a little queasy and that it might calm his stomach.
“She’s not wrong,” Derek agreed, sipping on his soda and leaning back against the couch as the other two hashed out the details.
“You’ve been seeing each other secretly for two years,” Lydia started, having apparently thought of everything already. “It had only been a few months before the Sheriff and Melissa got married, but when Melissa moved in with the Sheriff, you decided it wasn’t too early to start living together.”
Derek raised his eyebrows at the suggestion, but played along. He supposed it was possible that he had been already dating Stiles at the wedding. They had danced together a few times and sat together at the head table with Scott and Allison. It was plausible, if not believable.
“You’ve been keeping it quiet this entire time because you didn’t want to cause trouble at work. Your father would have had to split you up if he found out you were together, so you didn’t tell anyone, not even Scott, Boyd, or Allison.”
“How do you expect him to believe that Scott and Allison didn’t notice we’ve been together for years?” Stiles asked. “I mean, Scott’s oblivious most of the time, but Allison isn’t. She’s a cop too! It’s her job to notice that kind of thing!”
“You’ve been incredibly discreet,” Lydia said, like Stiles would have had no problem hiding his affection for his partner.
Derek huffed, clearly just as skeptical of the idea as Stiles was.
“There’s no way I’ve been sleeping with,” Stiles gestured up and down at Derek’s physique, “that, for two years, and kept it to myself!”
Derek raised his eyebrows at Stiles and frowned.
“Maybe you love Derek and are sensitive of his feelings. You know he doesn’t like being used for his looks,” Lydia said pointedly, accepting a tiny nod of thanks from the Alpha in question.
“Scott is going to kill me,” Stiles moaned, flopping back on the couch with enough force to spill some of his drink.
“How are we supposed to act?” Derek asked, taking the situation a tad more seriously than his pseudo fiancé.
“I wouldn’t do anything differently,” Lydia said, twirling her ankle, glad to be out of her heels.
“What do you mean, don’t do anything differently?” Stiles cried, pulling himself back up from his prone position to look incredulously at Lydia. “How is that going to convince anyone?”
“Anyone who looks twice at you two could tell that you care about each other,” Lydia said, barreling right on through Stiles’ pity party. “Derek isn’t very demonstrative, so obviously you keep your hands to yourself in public out of respect for him. You have a right to keep your relationship to yourselves. Just put the rings on, and go about your business.”
“Rings?” Derek asked, embarrassed to say that he was actually looking forward to picking them out.
“Already taken care of,” Lydia said, pointing to the purse that she had left in the corner on top of her suitcase. “You’ll love them, don’t worry.”
Derek nodded, suddenly feeling overwhelmed. Fake marrying his roommate was probably not what his parents had envisioned for him. He almost felt guilty until he thought of Cam and Heath. All the lying felt like it would be worth it to have them as part of his family. His parents surely would have understood that. At least he hoped they would.
“There’s one other thing we should discuss before we go to bed,” Lydia said, straightening up in her seat until Derek and Stiles leaned in toward her, paying close attention. “You’re going to need to work on touching.”
“Touching?” Derek asked, heartbeat already picking up. The way Stiles’ breathing had caught didn’t help things much either. Lydia was right, he did wear his emotions on his sleeve. You didn’t have to be a werewolf to tell what Stiles was thinking.
“Yes,” Lydia said, not budging an inch. “You don’t want your first kiss to be when you say ‘I do’ or when everyone you know is watching. So I think you should practice.”
“Practice?” Stiles said, gulping audibly.
“Yes,” Lydia said again. “It’s really not that difficult of a concept. People have been doing it for thousands of years. Practice it enough so that it doesn’t look like Derek is stiff as a board and about to murder you, alright?”
Neither of them answered. They didn’t look at each other either, not even a glance, eyes stuck on Lydia as she stood up from the couch and went to grab her things.
“I’m going to give you two some privacy,” She said, heading upstairs to sleep on Stiles’ bed, no doubt planning to make him sleep on the floor when he finally called it a night.
Derek waited until he heard the click of the bedroom door before he relaxed, turning toward Stiles.
“So…” Stiles started, ducking his head and scratching the back of his head again. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“The kissing, or the marrying you?” Derek asked, voice calm and even, which made Stiles supremely unsettled for some reason.
“Either?” Stiles asked, unsure. “Both?”
“Well,” Derek said, flicking his hazel eyes over to Stiles to gauge his expression. “I’m sure. But I want you to be 100% on board with this before we go any further.”
“How can you be so sure?” Stiles stood up immediately, nearly vibrating on his feet as he paced the length of the room. “You do realize you’d be legally married to me? A man,” he clarified, wondering if the fact had actually escaped Derek’s notice for all these years. “You don’t even like men!”
“I never said that,” Derek said, a little quieter than he meant to. He had meant to sound sure, to make a point, to prove that Stiles didn’t know as much as he thought he did, but it came out kind of weak.
“I’m sorry,” Stiles said, pausing in his lap of the room to stare at Derek. “I think I just hallucinated. Did you just tell me you’re attracted to guys?”
“I think so,” Derek said, again, kicking himself for sounding so unsure. “Just because I’ve never dated a man doesn’t mean I wouldn’t.”
“Are you kidding me?” Stiles asked, hands up and head thrown back like he was shouting at the heavens. “Life is so not fair!”
“What are you talking about?” Derek asked, curiosity outweighing his conviction.
“Nothing,” Stiles said quickly, turning his back on Derek as he continued his circuit of the room. “It’s nothing.”
“So you’re just worried about me here?” Derek asked, not quite understanding what Stiles’ point was. “If you think I’m ashamed to be with you, I’m not.”
“Well that’s very comforting,” Stiles said, glancing back over to Derek before turning away again, “but that wasn’t my point.”
“What’s is your point?” Derek asked, fighting the urge to stand up and chase Stiles around the room until they could have this conversation face-to-face.
“What happens when we move into the new house? And we try to foster the boys?” Stiles asked, arms flailing as he thought of more and more problems with their plan. “Are we going to stay in the same room? Sleep in the same bed? They’re going to know that we’re not together! You know they do home visits, Derek! We’re going to have to make this very convincing!”
“I know that,” Derek said, standing up and walking behind the couch so he could get a better look at Stiles every time he turned around. “But I don’t think the adoption agents expect you to have sex in front of them. And I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to fuck in front of your kids, Stiles!”
“Oh God, eww,” Stiles said, pretending to gag, “don’t even say shit like that.”
“So what are your other concerns?” Derek asked mildly, hoping his tone of voice would temper Stiles’ anxiety a bit.
“We’re going to have them in our home for like ten years,” Stiles pointed out, trying to convey the seriousness of the undertaking. “What happens if you want to date someone else? We’re talking about a really long con here, Derek! I may have pulled some pranks in my life, but I’m not convinced I can pull one off for an entire decade! We’re going to have to convince everyone, including my father, the detective!”
“You can date if you want,” Derek offered reasonably. “But I won’t.”
“What?” Stiles asked, wondering if his face looked as shocked as his voice sounded to his own ears. “You’re not going to date for a whole decade? Are you insane?”
“I want to give them a stable home,” Derek said, “I want to be a good father. You can date if you want, as long as no one notices.”
“What does that make me then?” Stiles asked, not comfortable with the idea that Derek thought he needed to be celibate to be a good parent.
“It makes you young,” Derek said reassuringly. “I’ve had my fair share of bad relationships. I can take a break for a while.”
“If you’re not dating, I’m not dating,” Stiles said, completely baffled by the words that had come out of his own mouth. He had not just said that.
“You really don’t have to do that, Stiles,” Derek said. “I’m fine with it.”
“No,” Stiles said, suddenly a lot more sure of himself than he had been a minute ago. “I’m not going to have you be more committed to this family than I am. We’re in this together.”
“Okay,” Derek said. Noticing that Stiles had finally stopped pacing, Derek came up beside him and touched his shoulder.
“Okay,” Stiles agreed, nodding fiercely like they had just vowed to bring the one ring to Mordor. “Now about this whole kissing thing…” Stiles said.
Derek backed up, letting his hand fall from Stiles’ shoulder. “I don’t think that’s really necessary. We’re both adults. We can make it convincing.”
“No offense, dude, but I don’t have that much trust in your acting capabilities,” Stiles said, nudging Derek slightly on the bicep. “Your nose twitches when you smell something you don’t like, and I don’t want that something to be the thought of kissing me, so we are going to practice.”
Derek stared him down for a minute, but Stiles didn’t budge. Not wanting to stand there all night if Lydia was going to have them at the Clerk’s office at the crack of dawn, Derek relented. “Okay fine! How do you want to do this?”
“Well… how would you kiss me after we’re married?” Stiles asked, placing the ball firmly in Derek’s court. He wasn’t going to be the one to lean in first, just to be shunned by the still-probably-heterosexual Derek.
“Soft, chaste, close-mouthed,” Derek said after a beat.
Stiles rolled his eyes. Trust Derek to describe a kiss instead of actually giving him one. “Show me,” Stiles said, gesturing for Derek to come closer. When he made no move to, Stiles gestured wider saying, “come at me, bro!”
God, Derek hated when Stiles used those kinds of friendly monikers with him. He wasn’t sure why, but they grated on his nerves. Derek would have kissed Stiles just to shut him up, which is exactly what he ended up doing.
Stepping in swiftly, Derek fit a large palm around Stiles’ cheek and pulled him close, pressing his lips to Stiles’ firmly, but briefly.
Stiles’ stomach swooped. He opened his mouth in a gasp, but then remembered what Derek had said about keeping it ‘chaste’ and closed it quickly on Derek’s bottom lip.
This could not be happening. Stiles wouldn’t let it. He would not allow a five year old crush to come sweeping back into his life with one little press of the lips. Just to prove his point, he pulled back, honey brown eyes meeting Derek’s hazel and said, “okay fine, that’ll work for the wedding. But what about after? How are you gonna prove to Erica that we’ve been sleeping together?”
Derek exhaled sharply through his nose. He could see Stiles’ point, but he had thought that was a damn good kiss. At least it had felt perfect to him. It was everything a kiss should have been. It was the stuff of fucking fairy tales and Stiles was just tossing it aside like it was nothing.
“Probably like this,” Derek said, stepping forward again, this time wrapping his arms around Stiles’ trim waist, pulling him in even closer to his own body. He tilted his head, capturing Stiles’ mouth in what may have been the best kiss of his life. They parted and met, parted and met, lips catching on each pass. A shiver ran down Derek’s body and he could feel the skin on the back of his neck tingling as they touched.
Finally getting with the program, Stiles brought his arms up from his sides to tangle in Derek’s hair, gripping the back of his head fiercely. When Derek pulled back for a second to tilt his head to the other side, Stiles yanked him back in, barely letting Derek catch his breath. He caught Derek’s bottom lip between his teeth and nibbled, tongue swiping over the same spot a second after.
Derek slowed them down, pushing gently at Stiles’ hips to separate them before either of them could feel the other’s arousal too closely. Stiles didn’t let go as easily, continuing to suck on Derek’s bottom lip until he was forced to take a breath.
Pulling back to look at his partner, Stiles noticed how little of Derek’s usually mystical eye color was visible. He could almost feel how swollen his lips were, and licked them thoroughly, enjoying the sensation of how they were slightly numb and tingly. His eyes followed Derek’s hand as it reached up to wipe at his mouth.
“What would you do if you wanted to send Scott screaming from the room?” Stiles asked, willing and eager to see what else Derek could do.
Sensing the challenge and not wanting to back down, no matter how much he thought it might hurt him later to be so close to Stiles, Derek trailed his hand up Stiles’ waist. When he reached Stiles’ hairline, he grabbed a fistfull of Stiles’ hair and pulled his neck to the side, latching onto his pulse point with his mouth.
Derek worried the spot with his teeth, licking a trail up to the sensitive patch behind Stiles’ ear before biting down again. Spurred on by the gasp he heard, Derek righted Stiles’ head and attacked his mouth, bringing both hands up to cup his face.
Stiles started making little broken off moans coupled with tiny little jerks of his hips toward Derek. Even if Derek couldn’t feel Stiles’ erection, he would have been able to smell it. Wondering when the scent of Stiles’ arousal started bringing out his own, Derek nudged Stiles’ knees apart and slid one of his thighs into the space he just made, giving Stiles something to rock against as he plunged his tongue into his mouth.
Stiles’ mind completely fogged. For a few minutes, nothing else mattered except the lips sucking on his tongue and the hard thigh between his legs. He felt himself edging toward orgasm, but wanted it to last. He didn’t want to come in his pants like he was fifteen years old again and Derek had pushed him up against his bedroom wall.
Pulling himself back from the brink, Stiles urged his mind to clear. He would not play this game of gay chicken with Derek. He had been egging him on, practically daring him to touch his body, and Derek had complied, not wanting to be proven straight by his non-compliance. They couldn’t start off a marriage like this. Stiles wasn’t going to let Derek win by being the one to come when they were just kissing to prove a point. He wouldn’t stoop so low. If Derek wanted to sleep with him, he would just have to man up and actually say it, not just fall into a friendship with benefits because Stiles didn’t have the good sense to stop it before it started.
Stiles pushed Derek away, closing his legs and backing up. He didn’t even want to know what he looked like just then. He could practically feel the mop of sex hair on top of his head. “Yeah,” Stiles said, ignoring the huskiness of his voice. “I think that’ll work.”
“Yeah,” Derek agreed, eyes wide as he searched Stiles’ face for any sign of interest. Finding none and smelling the shame and disgust that was rolling off of Stiles, he straightened his back and schooled his features. “I think we’ll be fine,” he agreed, crossing his arms and staring Stiles down.
Stiles didn’t want to be the one to blink first. He couldn’t tell what kind of game they were playing anymore, but he definitely felt like he was already losing. Gathering himself, Stiles bit the inside of his lip and nodded. “See you in the morning,” he said, and headed to the bathroom. He could imagine what would happen if he tried to get into bed next to Lydia with an erection, and didn’t think he could bear the teasing.
“Okay so,” Lydia said, forcing Stiles into the back seat of the cruiser. She refused to sit behind the grate like a common criminal. “We’re going to the courthouse. I’ll be your witness. You’ll get a quickie marriage, and then it’s off to your dad’s for lunch.”
“But,” Stiles started to argue, face against the grate, only to be flicked on the nose by Lydia’s shiny red fingernail.
“No arguments,” Lydia said, voice stern. Derek tried to hold back a laugh. He had been tempted to flick Stiles’ nose on more than one occasion and enjoyed the way he shook his head and scrunched up his face in reaction to Lydia’s direct hit. “I’ll go with you and try to mediate, but they’re expecting you at twelve thirty.”
“This is going to be terrible,” Stiles whined, already dreading the pending conversation. “My dad can smell a lie a mile away. He’s going to know something is up.”
“He’s not going to know anything,” Lydia assured him, checking her lip gloss in the flip down mirror. “You are going to distract him and Melissa with the idea of being grandparents, and they’ll forget all about how you eloped without telling them.”
“Oh my God!” Stiles screeched, slipping his long fingers into the holes of the gate and pulling like he could get to Derek by sheer force of will. “Derek! We’re eloping?”
“I was aware,” Derek said, voice calm and even, in direct opposition to Stiles, whose rant was quickly going from agitation to full meltdown.
“Dad is going to kill us!” Stiles moaned, throwing his head back against the seat in exasperation, arms still outstretched. “We’re literally two miles from his house and we aren’t inviting him to our wedding? Melissa is going to be so mad!”
“Dad and Melissa love me,” Derek pointed out, flicking the turn signal and pulling onto Main Street where they would find the courthouse. “They’ll be so happy I’m officially part of the family they’ll forget to be mad at you.”
“Plus,” Lydia piped in from the front seat, “you can tell them they can throw a big wedding party after things are settled with the boys.
“I don’t want a big wedding party!” Stiles continued to whine, knowing Lydia would insist on planning the event herself and that it would end up being a spectacle of epic proportions.
“For the record,” Derek said, pulling into a parking space, “I don’t want a big wedding party either.”
“Maybe a joint wedding slash adoption party, when the paperwork goes through,” Lydia offered, throwing her makeup back in her clutch and releasing her seatbelt.
“I think you mean if the paperwork goes through,” Derek said, cutting the engine and rushing out of the car to let Stiles out of the backseat before he started trying to break his way out.
“You doubt my legal acumen?” Lydia scoffed, flipping her hair as she lead the couple into the building. “You will be eating your words, Derek Hale.”
“I’ll be happy to eat anything you want once those boys are safely in our home,” Derek said, raising his eyebrows pointedly.
“Derek,” Stiles said, poking his partner in the stomach, “don’t give her that kind of power. She could do something horrible to you.”
“He’s right,” Lydia agreed easily, holding the door open for the men. “Never underestimate a girl with a J.D.”
“Noted,” Derek said stiffly, waiting for Lydia to lead them to the right office.
She checked them in with the front desk and led them over to a few wooden benches that were lining the hall outside the judge’s chambers. They were polished within an inch of their life and Stiles spent several minutes testing how far he could slide if he took a running start.
“Hale and Stilinski?” someone called as the door to the chambers opened. Lydia held her arm out, gesturing for them to go inside and meet their fate.
“I’ll be right behind you,” she whispered to Stiles, catching his hand and squeezing it with her own as he passed her.
“Thanks, Lyds,” he said seriously, squeezing back as tight as he dared and following his partner inside.
The actual ceremony was over before Stiles knew it. He swore it couldn’t have been more than five minutes before he was signing on the dotted line, slipping a simple, gold band onto Derek’s finger, and pressing a quick kiss to his husband, repeat, husband’s dry lips.
Lydia clapped along with a few other staff members when the judge pronounced them married, and Stiles just stared. He stood there, frozen, staring at the band that fit perfectly on his finger. It was done. It had happened. He had been there, and yet, the entire thing seemed to have passed him by in a colorful blur. He didn’t even flinch when Derek kissed him, and couldn’t be sure if he had reciprocated or not. It was all over so fast. Single, one minute, married another.
“Stiles?” Derek asked, touching him on the forearm, pulling when he didn’t get a response. “Are you okay?”
“Uhh,” Stiles said, still staring at his ring finger, mind having not caught up to the rest of the world yet.
“Are you alright?” he heard another voice ask, pulling back slightly when Lydia’s face swam into view, a lot closer than he expected.
“Fine, yeah, fine,” Stiles stuttered, eyes flicking between Derek and Lydia, both of whom were wearing looks of concern. “What now?”
“Do you want to change your name?” Lydia asked, getting a wide-eyed look from Derek. “We can do it here now if you want,” she told him, wrapping small fingers around Stiles’ wrist and leading him from the judge’s chambers. Another couple was already waiting outside of the door.
“Yeah,” Stiles said, shaking his head until the world came back into focus. “Let’s go.”
“Yeah?” Derek echoed, completely bewildered. “You’re changing your name?”
“Why not?” Stiles asked, filling out the form Lydia had handed him. “I’ve been meaning to change my legal name to Stiles for years now, and I’m sure it would help with the adoption if we had the same last name, so I can do both.”
“If you’re sure,” Derek said, narrowing his eyes at the form when Stiles wrote down his legal first name.
“No peeking, husband!” Stiles said, smacking Derek on the shoulder until he backed up a few steps.
“Don’t you think I should know what your real name is?” Derek asked, the curiosity nearly killing him. “We’re married now. We’re going to have to do a little debriefing, don’t you think?”
Stiles rolled his eyes, handing the form to the woman at the desk and getting a receipt to use as a temporary ID until his new license came in the mail. “Here you go,” Stiles said, holding the receipt out to Derek. “My real name is Stiles Hale. Now you know.”
“I can’t believe you just did that,” Derek said, pulling the paper out of Stiles’ fingers, scrutinizing it.
“Why not?” Stiles asked, taking the paper back and fitting it into his wallet behind a few dollar bills. “Scott doesn’t even know my real name, so I don’t know why you think I would tell you.”
“I’m your husband,” Derek protested, folding his arms over his chest.
“Only legally,” Stiles said, grinning broadly. “If you want to know my real name you’re going to have to consummate it,” he quipped, waggling his eyebrows at Derek teasingly.
“Save it for the honeymoon, gentlemen,” Lydia said, leading them back out of the courthouse and into the parking lot.
Stiles ran ahead of her, opening the door to the backseat, gently ducking Lydia’s head and pushing her in. “Husbands get shotgun on their first married ride.”
“Don’t make me hurt you, Stilinski,” Lydia scowled, but got in anyway, fixing the top of her hair.
“That’s Hale, to you,” Stiles said, laughing as Derek got in the car and headed to the Sheriff’s house.
“Don’t antagonize your lawyer, husband,” Derek said, frowning slightly.
“Oh don’t worry,” Lydia said. “I’m dying to see you two as fathers. Nothing could stop me from making that happen, not even this idiot.” She slid over on her seat until she was behind Stiles and blew until she ruffled his hair.
The ride back to Stiles’ childhood home felt way too short. Before he knew it, Derek was letting Lydia out of the car and walking around to the passenger side, tapping on Stiles’ window to get his attention.
“Are you okay?” Derek asked, eyebrows scrunching together in his typical look of concern. He opened the door, waiting anxiously for Stiles to find his motor function and pull himself out of the car.
“Yeah, we’ll be fine,” Stiles said, more to himself than to Derek.
Following some instinct he didn’t know he had, Derek grabbed Stiles’ hand, twining his fingers with Stiles’ as they climbed the front porch steps and rang the doorbell.
“Hey boys,” John said, pulling the door open, “and Lydia Martin! What a surprise!”
Lydia stepped inside first and let herself be pulled into a hug by the Sheriff. She didn’t have much reason to go back to Beacon Hills since her mother remarried, so it was always nice to feel welcomed by someone who actually noticed her absence.
“Hey Melissa,” Lydia waved, barely able to move her hand as she was still being embraced by the Sheriff.
“Hi Lydia,” Melissa said, continuing to set the table and pull a pitcher of water out of the fridge. “Long time, no see.”
“Yeah,” Lydia said, smiling when John let her go. “I wasn’t planning to be home until Christmas, but Stiles and Derek needed my expertise for a little project.”
“Oh yeah?” John asked, pulling out a chair for Melissa first, and then Lydia, “what’s that?”
“Stiles?” Lydia said, smiling encouragingly at Stiles, who looked petrified, sitting straight up in his chair in a most unnatural way. “Why don’t you tell your father what’s going on?”
Stiles sat there for a long minute, so long that John and Melissa leaned forward, hoping to spur him into an explanation. “We’d like to make you guys grandparents,” he said finally, going for the angle that Lydia had suggested earlier.
John looked directly at Lydia, and then down at the table, like he could see through it to her abdomen. “You’re pregnant?” John asked, voice a lot higher than he would care to admit.
“You had sex with Stiles?” Melissa asked, feeling like that event would have been much more surprising than Lydia being inseminated. Stiles hadn’t had a chance with her in high school. As much as she loved Stiles like her own son, there was no way an adult Lydia would have gone there.
“No, and no,” Lydia said, smirking slightly, waiting for Stiles to talk his way out of the hole he had just dug.
“No,” Derek spoke up when he found that Stiles was just flapping his mouth open and shut like a fish, but wasn’t able to actually produce any sounds. “Stiles and I would like to adopt two boys from Roslind House… together.”
“So we needed Lydia to help us with the paperwork,” Stiles said, finally finding his way out of his stupor. “Their names are Cameron and Heath,” Stiles added, looking imploringly at his father, willing him to understand how serious he was. “Cam is eight and Heath is nine.”
“Eight and a half,” Derek corrected, smiling at Stiles like they were sharing an inside joke.
“Yeah, he’d want you to be very clear on that,” Stiles said, letting his mouth twist into a smile as he pictured Cam. “He’s eight and a half.”
“We’d like to parent them together,” Derek said, wanting to make their plan clear to John and Melissa. He had no intention of letting them think Stiles was going to do this alone. “So we’re going to file for an adoption.”
“Together?” Melissa asked, motioning between the two men. “How can you do that if you’re not… you know… together together?” John squinted his eyes, looking at Stiles first, and then at Derek like he knew where this was going.
“Well…” Stiles said, not sure what the best way to put it. “We are together.”
“Together together,” Derek added, again, wanting to be clear.
“Since when?” John asked, snorting in disbelief. If Stiles had been sleeping with Derek, he would have told the whole world as soon as it happened.
“Since you guys got married,” Stiles said, going off the script that Lydia had laid out for them. She had planned things properly. If he followed her lead, they might just make it out of this conversation alive.
“Let me get this straight,” John said, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms, clearly unconvinced. “You two,” he gestured between them again, noticing that they weren’t touching or even leaning toward each other, “have been dating for the past two years? And you didn’t think to tell us that?”
“Well…” Stiles started, following his father’s eyeline. He leaned forward, catching Derek’s eye in what he hoped was an adoring way, and laid his palm on Derek’s thigh.
Derek, catching on quickly, quirked his lips slightly to the side, and put his own hand down on top of Stiles’, threading their fingers together.
“We didn’t want you to split us up at work, Sir,” Derek said, evening out his expression when he lifted his head to look at the Sheriff. “We know you’re not supposed to date your partner.”
Stiles smiled, knowing he wasn’t going to convince his father if he was nervous. He needed to bring back the bravado. “But we weren’t clear on what the policy was for married partners.”
Stiles dropped that bomb and let it lie, smirking as he watched his father’s eyebrows creep higher and higher on his forehead. Melissa looked just as flabbergasted, laying her hand on John’s shoulder in a show of solidarity.
Wanting to make his point, Stiles went for broke. He leaned into Derek’s shoulder, and pressed his face to Derek’s jaw, whispering in his ear, “go with it.”
Derek let his mouth curve into a smile, playing along and wondering when he became such a good actor. He moved his head up and down, rubbing his stubble across Stiles’ smooth skin, allowing Stiles to peck the skin below his ear and bring their hands together, palm to palm. When Stiles pulled back to smile at his father, Derek brought their hands out from under the table and let them lay on top, turning his wrist until his wedding band showed.
“Uhhh…” Melissa said, eyes widening even further when the light reflected off Derek’s ring. “Congratulations?”
“Thank you, Melissa,” Derek said genuinely, smiling broadly at her, and then turning to peck Stiles on the lips. It really was a good idea for them to practice, because Stiles wasn’t sure he would have been able to keep a straight face in front of his father if they hadn’t already discussed what they were doing.
“You… what?” John said, looking to Melissa like she could explain it to him.
“Mr. Stilinski,” Derek said, rubbing his thumb back and forth across Stiles’ wrist, “I’d like you to meet my husband, Stiles Hale.”
“WHAT?” John shouted, pushing his chair back from the table and getting up to pace the length of the kitchen. “You’ve got to be kidding me, kid. There is no way you two are married. I don’t believe you.”
“It’s true,” Lydia said, reaching into her purse and pulling out a piece of paper. She unfolded the marriage license and turned it around, pushing it into the middle of the table so Melissa could see it. “They’re legally married.”
“Today?” Melissa said, tapping her finger at the top of the certificate. “You two idiots got married today?”
“Well…” Derek said, licking his lips and looking at her with a dreamy face, “we really wanted to get started on the adoption paperwork, and Lydia said things would go a lot smoother if we were married. So…”
“So you just woke up this morning and got married?” John shouted, throwing his hands up in the air. “This isn’t Vegas!”
“No,” Stiles said seriously, bringing his other hand up on the table to clasp around Derek’s. “You need to apply for a license. We’ve been thinking about this for a while.”
Derek couldn’t believe his ears. He knew Stiles was a good liar, but it sounded true almost to him. There was no way the Sheriff was a better lie detector than an Alpha werewolf.
“I guess this calls for a toast!” Melissa said with somewhat stilted enthusiasm, heading to the fridge for a couple of beers, knowing there wasn’t anything fancier. She hadn’t let anything over 10% alcohol into the house since they had gotten married.
“Melissa!” John hissed, crossing his arms again when she tried to hand him a bottle. “Tell me you don’t believe this.”
“Are you asking me if I think your son and deputy over here faked a marriage certificate and are trying to perpetrate a fraud to become the legal guardians of two orphans? Because that’s what it sounds like you’re asking me.”
“Don’t you want grandsons?” Melissa asked him, holding out the bottle again and shaking it at him.
“Well… yeah, but--”
“No buts,” Melissa said sharply, making sure everyone had a drink before raising her bottle in the air. “To the Hales! May all your legal endeavours go smoothly!”
“Really, Melissa?” Derek asked, raising an eyebrow at his… mother-in-law… was that really accurate? It just hit him all of the sudden that he was looking at his family, his parents. He hadn’t just married a person, he had married into a family.
“Isn’t that what your point was?” she asked, taking a gulp of her beer. “If you didn’t want to adopt I bet you wouldn’t have gotten married until Stiles tricked you into it.”
“I don’t know about that…” Derek hedged, secretly believing that if Stiles had asked him to get married, he would have said yes whether they had been together or not.
“He didn’t put up too much of a fight,” Stiles said, smiling fondly. “We really want to be these boys’ dads.”
“Do you have pictures?” Melissa asked, falling into her role of doting grandmother quite easily. Allison was due soon, so she was really just getting a head start.
Derek wriggled his hand until Stiles let go and then fished his phone out of his pocket. He searched for a few seconds before finding one he had taken of Stiles and Heath sharing a book at the library. “Here’s Heath,” he said, passing the phone over to Melissa, whose eyes lit up. “He’s been at the orphanage for six years already.”
“Oh my God,” Melissa said, covering her mouth with her free hand while she looked at the photo. “John, look.”
John came over, a bit reluctantly, and leaned over Melissa’s shoulder to look at the phone. His eyes widened a bit when he saw the look on his son’s face. There was love there. It wasn’t hard to see. “You want him to be yours?” John asked, already knowing what the answer would be.
“Ours,” Stiles corrected, as Melissa handed the phone back for Derek to find a picture of Cam.
“And this is Cam,” he said, handing over a photo Stiles had taken of Cam sitting on top of Derek’s shoulders, holding a baseball in one hand.
“He’s beautiful,” Melissa said immediately. She looked up, finding the right expression on her husband’s face and asked, “when can we meet them?”
Derek and Stiles looked at each other, holding hands again, not sure what to say.
“I’ll see if I can arrange a trial visit once I get some of this paperwork submitted,” Lydia said, thankfully taking the pressure off the couple. “They’re unable to discriminate against gay couples for adoptions, so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble.”
“We’ll let you know when we have them for real,” Stiles said, smiling fondly at Derek, who lifted their hands and pressed a kiss to Stiles’ wedding band.
“Well then,” Melissa said, standing up from the table again, “let’s have lunch!”
Lunch proved to be an all day affair, and when they finally made it back to the loft, Stiles was dragging. Their first performance as a married couple had been emotionally exhausting, and he wanted some time to recharge before they had to put on an encore. He let Derek and Lydia walk ahead of him, barely finding the effort to shuffle his feet across the concrete floor of the hallway.
Derek pulled the door open and stepped inside, only to stop dead in his tracks. Stiles, eyes nearly closed in exhaustion, walked right into his back and stumbled. Derek turned quickly and caught him before he could fall over, heaving his dead weight back into a standing position.
Derek let his hand trail down Stiles’ shoulder and settle on his wrist, pulling his husband into the loft so he could see the problem. Their night was far from over.
The entire pack, including a disgruntled looking Allison, was gathered in the living room. Derek was surprised he didn’t see an intervention sign strung up over the windows. It seemed Melissa had let the cat out of the bag before they had even left the Sheriff’s house.
“So guys,” Scott said, tone cool and detached, “what’s new?”
Stiles could feel himself wincing involuntarily. He had known this was going to be bad. Bros didn’t keep big stuff like this from each other, especially not bros turned brothers. Scott had told Stiles about Allison’s pregnancy before he had even told his mother. He was in huge trouble.
“We have an announcement to make,” Stiles said, stepping forward, hand clasped together with Derek’s. He opened his mouth to continue, but Erica cut him off.
“Save the love declarations, Stilinski,” she snapped from her perch across Boyd’s lap.
“It’s Hale now,” Derek said, clearing his throat, “actually…”
“You’re kidding!” Isaac laughed, stopping just short of pointing at Stiles and mocking him outright.
“We’re not actually,” Stiles said with a put-upon sigh. “We got married this morning.”
“Bullshit,” Jackson growled, pointedly not looking at Lydia. The two hadn’t been together in years, but he still found it difficult to accept.
“No, it’s true,” Lydia said, purposefully drawing attention to herself. “I was their witness.”
“Oh, we believe that they got married today,” Allison piped up from where she was leaning against Scott, a pillow supporting her aching back. “We just don’t believe that they’ve been together for years and managed to hide it from us.”
“We’re pack,” Erica said, letting the word hang in the air for a few seconds. “If you were together, you would have told us. We would have known.”
“We would have smelled it on you, at the very least,” Scott pointed out, crinkling his nose at the thought. He was clearly hurt, Stiles could hear it in his tone of voice.
Stiles swallowed audibly, squeezing Derek’s hand tighter, needing the support. “Derek wanted to be discreet.”
“Don’t blame this on me,” Derek hissed at Stiles, though he didn’t know why he bothered, everyone in the room could hear him anyway.
“We wanted to keep working together,” Stiles said, sticking with the story. “So we didn’t say anything. We were going to tell everyone once the house was done,” he added, hoping that made any kind of sense.
“There is no way you’ve been sleeping in the same bed and we didn’t notice,” Isaac said, still hung up on the fact that none of them had been able to smell anything.
“Derek figured out that if we showered together, our scents would be so intertwined you wouldn’t be able to tell we were together,” Stiles improvised. He had no idea if that was true, but honestly, he was the resident werewolf expert, and it sounded plausible.
Derek blushed furiously. Lydia laughed at him.
“Come on,” Lydia said, pointing at the couple. “I don’t know how you can look at these two and not know that they’re madly in love with each other. How many times have they saved each other’s lives? They’ve been living in each other’s pockets for almost two years now.”
“You knew,” Scott accused, making sure Allison wouldn’t fall over before he stood up from the couch. “You knew the whole time, didn’t you?”
“That these two were in love?” Lydia asked, scoffing. “Of course I knew. It’s obvious.”
Derek didn’t hear a lie.
His heart sank. How was it that he didn’t hear a lie? That should have been a lie. Stiles and Derek didn’t love each other like that. Sure, they loved each other, but they weren’t in love with each other. But those were the words she had used, and he hadn’t heard a lie. None of them had.
“I’m going to need some proof,” Jackson snarked, raising his eyebrows at the pair in a clear challenge. “I don’t believe that Derek would ever go for skinny little freak Stilinski.”
“Hale,” Stiles muttered under his breath again, but no one paid him any mind.
“Don’t talk about my husband like that,” Derek growled, flashing red eyes at Jackson, who ducked his head slightly, but then found his voice again.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” he said, crossing his arms. “I’m not going to believe it until I see it.”
“What do you want me to do, mount him right here in front of you?” Derek asked, temper rising.
“Yes!” Erica yelled as the rest of the group shouted, “no!”
“Sorry to ruin your fun, but what we do in private is our own business,” Derek said cooly, rubbing his forehead and beginning to wonder when he and Stiles might get to be alone in their own home again.
“Just kiss him,” Scott suggested, hand still laying comfortingly on his wife’s shoulder, even though his anger was palpable.
Stiles raised his eyebrows at Derek, silently telling him that Scott’s request was probably the most reasonable one they were going to get from their pack of assholes. Derek sighed, but nodded, grabbing Stiles’ wrist and pulling him in.
Stiles’ breath hitched when Derek wrapped his strong arms around his waist, broad hands moving upward to form to the curve of his back. He wanted to be embarrassed. He knew the room was otherwise silent, and every single person had heard the way he had lost his breath the second Derek had touched him.
Forcing himself to get with the program, Stiles lifted his arms, wrapping them around Derek’s neck. He absolutely did not make a whimpering noise when Derek ran his nose from his collar bone, all the way up his neck, and to the pulse point behind his ear. He could feel himself getting hard already, and knew the wolves could probably smell it. They were right. There was no way he and Derek had been together for two years and Stiles had been able to keep his arousal hidden the entire time.
Sucking in a deep, shuddering breath, Derek rubbed his stubbled cheek against Stiles’ throat. Stiles could hear the scraping of the hair against his skin. It sounded far too loud, like all the air had been sucked out of the room, taking the ambient noise with it. The sensation gave him the chills and he fought to keep his body still. He wasn’t going to shiver at Derek’s touch, that was just too embarrassing. He didn’t need anyone else to witness how easily he could be undone by this man.
Nudging his jaw gently with his nose, Derek pushed Stiles to arch his neck, baring his throat for the wolf. Stiles assumed Derek was making a point to the rest of the pack, but at that moment, he couldn’t have cared less. His very existence narrowed down to the small point of heat that was Derek’s nose on his throat, and the way Derek’s hot breath huffed against his skin.
Going for broke, Derek trailed his tongue up the curve of Stiles’ throat, skirting over his cheek before he reached his husband’s mouth. Stiles let out a little meep of surprise and pleasure as Derek captured his mouth. It was all tongue and teeth and heat. It was stubble scrapes and the hot wetness of Derek’s tongue making its way into Stiles’ throat.
This was not at all what they practiced. Sure, Stiles had brushed the tip of his tongue across Derek’s lips to get a feel for how far he could press his luck, but he hadn’t shoved it down his throat! Derek was sucking on his tongue now, and it felt like he was sucking something else.
Stiles couldn’t keep up the pretense, not while Derek was breaking all the rules. He pushed his hips firmly against Derek’s and swiveled his lower body in a slow grind. Derek responded immediately, letting his hands fall lower, pulling Stiles’ in by the ass cheeks until they were flush against each other. There was no doubt about it. They were officially dry humping in front of seven other people, who, being the perverts that they were, just sat there, watching the show.
Derek heard Jackson and Isaac making bets about how long it would take Stiles to come in his pants, and growled low in the back of his throat. The sound reverberated through Stiles’ throat. It almost felt like it was his vocal chords that were making the noise themselves. Not wanting to give the pack the satisfaction, Derek lowered his hands even further, grasping each of Stiles’ thighs directly under his ass, getting a solid grip.
Not missing a beat, Stiles wrapped his long legs around Derek’s waist and let himself be lifted from the floor. Derek’s mouth never left his as the wolf made his way to the spiral staircase, and ascended two steps at a time. If Stiles had any blood left in his brain, he would have been impressed by how Derek managed to traverse the stairs without looking. He vaguely heard Scott ask, “should we go?” to Allison as Derek carried him to his bedroom.
There was some shuffling downstairs as a few of them left. Stiles was too distracted to care. He was much more interested in the way he bounced on Derek’s bed when he was dropped there, unceremoniously. Stiles had never been allowed in Derek’s room before. Until now, he had been convinced that Derek was living in an actual wolves’ den. He expected to see nests of moldy blankets on the floor, not a painfully neat room.
The bed was made, or at least it had been until Stiles had fallen on it, mussing the sheets. Stiles was pretty sure he saw hospital corners at the edges. There were half a dozen bookshelves, stuffed to bursting with novels that, from a cursory glance, seemed to be in alphabetical order by author. The nightstand held only an alarm clock and one framed picture. Stiles dared a glance at it, and saw that it was a double frame. One side held a Hale family photo, slightly charred around the edges, and the other held a pack photo that the Sheriff had taken at Stiles’ high school graduation. Derek was smiling fondly, looking over his Betas with pride.
The click of the door locking shocked Stiles out of his thoughts, causing him to flail slightly on the bed. Derek sat down on the edge of the mattress and looked at him with frantic, mad eyes.
“Erica, Jackson, and Isaac are still downstairs!” he hissed.
Stiles wondered if the wolves could actually still hear Derek’s words through the locked door and the loft’s ceiling. By the blind panic in Derek’s eyes, Stiles assumed that yes, the Betas could hear every word they said.
“What do you want to do?” Stiles hissed back, thinking that could have at least passed as a come-on if Derek and he had been together for a few years already.
“We have to--” Derek cut himself off, making a hand gesture that Stiles didn’t recognize. He was smacking his palms together and wiggling them like snakes.
“Make tortillas?” Stiles whispered, completely baffled.
“What? No!” Derek hissed again, wondering when Stiles had become so dense. Usually they didn’t need many words to communicate. Maybe Derek’s tongue down his throat had broken him. He’d have to remember that in the future; Stiles lost 100 IQ points when he had a boner.
“Then what’s--” Stiles asked, making the gesture back at Derek in confusion.
Sighing, Derek made a hook with his right pointer finger, held it to his cheek, and moved it downward.
“You need a root canal?” Stiles asked. Of course Derek knew ASL, why wouldn't he? The man was full of surprises. Stiles was a little curious where he had learned sex signs, though.
Derek just raised his eyebrows and widened his eyes like he couldn’t believe how stupid Stiles was being. Shaking his head and sighing again, Derek made a circle with one hand and stuck the pointer finger of his other hand through it, repeating the gesture a few times.
“Ohh!” Stiles said, eyes widening as Derek hit himself on the forehead with his palm. “You really want us to--” he made the snake pancake gesture again.
“No!” Derek hissed, looking over his shoulder at the door like Erica was listening at the other side with a glass to her ear. “I want to--” and he pointed at his ear and then put an open palm under his chin and moved it outward like he was miming “sing.”
“Ohh!” Stiles said, thankful they were finally on the same page. He backed up on the bed to make room for Derek and then patted the mattress next to him.
Derek crawled over to him and kneeled up straight on the mattress. He gripped the headboard with both hands and then started shifting backward and forward on his knees.
Stiles’ brain short-circuited for a few seconds as he watched Derek’s hips move. Realizing what Derek was insinuating, Stiles kneeled and grabbed Derek’s chin in his hand, forcing him to look at him. “What makes you think you’d be on top?” Stiles mouthed, offended.
Derek shrugged his shoulders a little bit and twisted his head until Stiles let go of him. Not giving up so easily, Stiles grabbed Derek’s body again, turning him and pushing him down on the mattress until he was straddling Derek’s hips.
Smirking slightly, Stiles kneeled upright, gripping the headboard like Derek had done before, keeping a few inches of space between their hips, for modesty’s sake. “You ready?” Stiles asked, voice at full volume.
Derek looked confused, but nodded anyway, not trusting himself to sound convincing.
“Aww babe,” Stiles crooned, batting his eyelashes at Derek, “you don’t need to be quiet. Let them hear you.”
Derek shook his head hard, giving Stiles a dirty look.
“Suit yourself,” Stiles said, starting to roll his hips with enough force that the entire bed began to move. “You won’t be able to hold out for long.”
Derek closed his eyes and… tried to think of England.
Stiles wasn’t just making love to the air not three inches from his dick, he was spouting out some of the filthiest dirty talk Derek had ever heard. He wasn’t sure if that was typical for Stiles, or if he was just putting on a show. And really, Derek wasn’t sure he wanted to know. He let himself pretend for a few minutes that this is what it would actually be like, getting fucked by Stiles, something that he had never done with anyone before. He’d never even thought about letting someone else do this.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, Derek!” Stiles cried, not pausing in his movements. “God baby, you’re so hot, so tight. You like that, don’t you? You like my cock splitting you open? You want it harder? Think your little hole can handle it?”
Derek ground his teeth together. He opened his eyes and looked up at Stiles. Sweat was starting to bead on his temples and he had his eyes closed, head tossed back revealing the elegant curve of his neck. His adam’s apple was protruding, bobbing tantalisingly every time he swallowed. Derek wanted to bite it. He actually felt his canines start to protrude from his gums. Clenching his hands into fists, he fought the sensation, calling on his anchor to bring him back from the brink.
“God, look at you…” Stiles said dreamily, not helping Derek’s control at all. “You were made to take my dick. Look at your hot little hole just swallowing me up. Your ass is incredible, Derek. I could do this all day.”
“Fuck,” Derek muttered, wishing Stiles would move his hips just a few inches forward until they were actually touching. He was so hard he was sure it would only take one good thrust to make him to come in his pants.
“What, baby? I can’t hear you,” Stiles said harshly. “Tell me how you want it.”
Derek groaned, biting down hard on his lip. He wanted to answer, but he didn’t know if he dared. He wasn’t sure what was going to come out of his mouth if he opened it.
“Please, Derek,” Stiles whined, getting frustrated. “I want to hear you.”
Licking his lips and letting out a sigh, Derek finally relented. “Harder,” he said quietly, almost too quietly for Stiles to hear, but he knew the Betas would be able to make it out.
“What was that, baby?” Stiles asked, looking down at Derek with a smirk, stopping his hips. The bed rocked a few more times before it lost its momentum and stilled.
“Fuck me harder,” Derek said, trying to keep his voice as flat and even as possible. It was no use, the moment he and Stiles locked eyes, Derek lost all modesty. He really was dying for Stiles to fuck him, and was upset to find that no matter what he said, Stiles didn’t comply. “Harder, Stiles.”
“That’s not how you ask,” Stiles teased him, grinning down at Derek. “You know what you have to say.”
Derek stared back, wondering if he actually knew the right answer, or if this was some sort of dominance thing that he was unaware of. “Please?” he barely got out, voice sounding gravely and broken. “Please, babe… fuck me harder.”
“Was that so hard?” Stiles asked, slowly starting to move his hips again. This time, they didn’t do quick jerks back and forth. They did sinuous circles, twisting and curving into what Derek just knew would be an incredible grind, deep within his body. He felt his hole clench, wishing Stiles was actually inside him. Derek’s eyes widened at the sensation. He had never bothered touching himself there before, but Stiles was giving him all sorts of ideas.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Derek started to chant under his breath,
“That’s it, baby,” Stiles answered, starting to roll his hips forward until they were just barely brushing Derek’s. “Take it. Just like that.” He rocked harder and harder, slamming the headboard into the wall with such force Derek was sure it was going to break. “You ready?” he asked, smirk widening.
“Yeah,” Derek heard himself answering, not even sure where the words were coming from. “Give it to me.”
Stiles snapped his hips forward once, twice… on the third thrust he stilled, panting heavily.
Derek groaned, wishing Stiles would just drop his weight on top of his body, knowing that contact would be enough to finish him off.
Stiles dismounted, finding the open space next to Derek and flopping down onto his back. There was a beat of silence, then Stiles started laughing hysterically, shaking the entire mattress. He didn’t stop for several minutes, ending on a wheezing sigh when he finally ran out of breath. Derek took that time to will his erection down.
Stiles turned toward him, propping his head up on his hand and saying, “so… was it as good for you as it was for me?”
Derek practically whined in desperation. He got up from the bed, swinging his arms around to stretch. “They’re gone. I’m going to take a shower,” he said, holding out a hand when Stiles tried to push himself off the bed. “Don’t. I think you need to sleep here from now on. We need to make this as convincing as possible.
Stiles raised his eyebrows, but nodded in agreement. He watched Derek walk into the bathroom, taking a minute to admire his husband’s ass before he flopped back down on the mattress with a sigh.
Once they had broken the news to the pack, it seemed like the entire town knew. The tale of their unexpected nuptials had spread like wildfire. Within twelve hours, Stiles and Derek had been congratulated by at least 20 people. It took them over an hour to get out of the supermarket on Sunday evening. They were stopped by well-wishers in every aisle and by the time they made it home, Stiles was convinced that the check-out boy must have made an announcement over the loud-speaker when he saw them coming.
Stiles was surprised to hear that his marriage to Derek was in no way surprising to anyone else in town. More than one person told him it was, “about time he locked that down,” and a few others lamented the fact that Derek was off the market. Regardless of whether they were happy or disappointed, most of their acquaintances barely batted an eye at the fact that they were married. Stiles wondered what it said about them that their marriage was so easily accepted. What kind of signals were they sending that everyone had already assumed they were boning?
Their downstairs neighbor, Ms. Newton had actually left them a congratulatory apple pie by their front door, and once that happened, it seemed like every little old lady in town was dying to ply them with food. Stiles’ desk down at the station had become a daily buffet of casseroles and baked goods.
While annoying, Derek could see the underlying good intentions that went along with their current popularity. Things didn’t go quite as well when they made it back to work on Monday morning.
“But, Dad!” Stiles whined, flopping himself into his father’s desk chair as dramatically as possible.
“It’s Sheriff or Sir when we’re at work, son, you know that,” John said with a sigh, rubbing his forehead.
“Then why aren’t you calling me Deputy Hale?” Stiles asked, not one to accept a double standard.
“That would be a bit confusing, wouldn’t it?” John pointed out, chuckling a bit at his own joke.
Derek, who was standing at attention in the doorway, and was taking the news a bit better than his husband, laughed as well.
Stiles rolled his eyes and his father interrupted him before he could get going again.
“You know I can’t let you work together unsupervised anymore,” John said for what must have been the fifth time. “It’s county policy. It’s not my fault.”
“So we need a babysitter? That’s ridiculous!” Stiles argued, unable to believe how calm Derek looked. “We’ve been together for two years without causing a problem. No one’s complained about our work. What makes you think we’re just going to start going at it in the cruiser now that we’re married? Wouldn’t it be the other way around?”
Derek snorted, turning the outburst into an unconvincing cough.
Stiles shot him a wounded look, but carried on complaining as if nothing happened. “Who is it anyway?” he asked, using his heels to spin himself around in the chair like he had as a kid.
“That’d be me,” a low voice said from behind Derek, who moved aside to let Boyd into the room.
“Ally’s started her maternity leave early, so Boyd’s on his own for the next few weeks. He’ll be keeping an eye on you two,” John said, waiting for the inevitable argument from his son.
“Temporarily… right, Sir?” Stiles said, leaning forward expectantly.
“I don’t know what you expect me to do about it, Stiles. I know how you love to ignore this fact, but I’ve been elected to this position. I work for the people, not for you.”
“I’m one of the people!” Stiles exclaimed, hopping out of the chair and going to stand directly in front of his father. “Don’t I get a say?”
“Look,” John pleaded, wondering when he was going to be able to get back to his actual job, “think of it as a probationary period. If I get a good report from Boyd when Allison gets back from her leave, I’ll talk to the regulatory board and see what I can do.”
“That sounds fair,” Derek said from where he stood, now leaning nonchalantly against the doorframe.
Stiles opened his mouth to argue again, but Derek cut him off.
“No, Stiles,” he said, moving closer to his husband. He nearly touched Stiles’ shoulder, but wasn’t sure what type of contact would be alright at work. They had practiced the kissing, but they hadn’t laid down any rules about affectionate touching. “That’s more than fair,” he said, turning to John and holding out his hand.
John shook it and said, “plus I’m not sure how much longer you’ll be able to be partners anyway. You can’t both work the same night shift and take care of the boys.”
“Boys?” Boyd said softly, raising his eyebrows at Stiles.
“We’ll explain later,” Stiles muttered back, not wanting to get into it. The pack knew they had been spending a lot of time at the orphanage, but they had no idea Stiles and Derek had become so serious about adopting their two favorite kids.
“Yes,” Boyd said, brokering no argument, “you will.”
“Boyd’s going to ride with you,” John said, clapping the man on the shoulder on his way out of his office, “get going.”
“Shotgun!” Stiles yelled, running out of the station before Boyd could catch up to him. “Partner-husbands get to sit up front, it’s like an unwritten rule!”
Boyd sighed heavily, but let himself into the back seat anyway.
Things went fairly smoothly with Boyd on the trio’s first day together. He didn’t say much, content to listen to his book on tape off his iPod while they set up their speed trap. Things got a little more interesting when they stopped at the diner for lunch.
“The turkey club with a garden salad and water,” Boyd told the waitress with a bright white smile. There was a reason they sent Boyd whenever there was older woman to charm. Everyone in town melted whenever they saw his smile.
“Meatball sub and cheese fries, and a strawberry shake,” Stiles ordered, tapping his fingers against the edge of the table.
“No,” Derek said immediately, staring Stiles down. “You’re not eating that.”
“What are you talking about?” Stiles argued, mouth turning downward in anger. “I’m a grown man, I can eat whatever I want.”
“If you eat that tomato sauce you are going to get heartburn so bad you’re going to be miserable all night, and we were going to go visit the boys after work,” Derek told him. The waitress raised her eyebrows, looking between the two men with her pen poised. Boyd just chuckled.
“So what?” Stiles said, not letting on that he was now rethinking his order. He forgot how upset his stomach had gotten last time he ordered a sub at the diner. Serves him right for marrying such an observant bastard.
“So, I don’t want to listen to you whine about it all night,” Derek said, leveling Stiles with a stern look. “He’ll have the chicken caesar and a Coke,” Derek told the waitress, who promptly wrote it down, shaking her head as she did so. “And I’ll take the special and an iced tea.”
“Coming right up,” the waitress said, clicking her pen and walking back to the kitchen.
“Wow,” Boyd said, looking between the two men with fond exasperation. “You guys are married. I don’t know how I didn’t notice it before.”
“You usually don’t spend all day with us,” Derek pointed out while Stiles feigned offense.
“We’re no more married than we were a week ago,” Stiles pointed out, clinking the salt and pepper shakers together until Derek reached across the table and stilled his hands.
“I guess…” Boyd said, eying the pair suspiciously. “What is this about going somewhere after work?” he asked, pulling a gum wrapper out of his pocket and disposing of his gum.
“We haven’t seen the boys at the orphanage since we got married, and we have all our adoption paperwork filled out,” Stiles told him. The excitement shone through in his voice, and Derek grinned in response. “We just have to hand it in to Ms. Pickerbitch and see what our next steps are.”
“Remember not to call her that to her face,” Derek whispered to Stiles, knowing that would be all it would take to get them banned from Roslind House for life. “We actually really need to talk to Heath and Cam,” he said quietly. Stiles could tell that he was nervous. “We need to ask if they actually want to come live with us. They might say no.”
“They won’t,” Boyd said with confidence. He didn’t know the boys, but he was pretty sure they weren’t going to do much better than Stiles and Derek for parents.
“I hope so,” Stiles said, reaching across the table to take Derek’s hand, letting their wedding bands clink together.
“Let us see what they say and maybe next time you can come meet them,” Derek suggested, talking to Boyd, but keeping his eyes on his husband.
“What’s this?” Vivian asked as Derek pulled out a chair for Stiles and then sat down opposite her desk.
“We’d like to apply for an adoption,” Stiles said, handing a manilla folder to Vivian.
“Two adoptions,” Derek corrected him, smiling that fake smile at Ms. Pickerbush. It made Stiles want to gag, but he refrained. If Derek’s fake charm got them two sons, he would learn to deal with it, at least as it pertained to Vivian.
“You’re serious,” Vivian said, flipping through the folder and raising her eyebrows at the two men. “You know Heath has been trouble in the past, and Cam won’t go anywhere without him.”
“We want them both,” Derek said, suddenly very serious. “We’d like to know what we should do next.”
“Well…” Vivian began, looking between the paperwork and the couple in front of her. “We’ll need to wait a few weeks for the paperwork to go through the agency. Then, if the boys are willing, we would need to do a home visit, to make sure the space is adequate for the boys, and if all goes well, we go to court and make it legal.”
Derek let out a relieved and apprehensive sigh. She made it sound so easy. Stiles could already see a few kinks in that plan.
“Will the house be ready in a few weeks?” Stiles asked Derek, under his breath.
“I’ll make sure it is,” Derek said, smiling, and taking Stiles’ hand from where it laid on the armrest of his chair.
“I see congratulations are in order,” Vivian said, catching the glint of gold on Derek’s ring finger.
“Thank you,” Derek said, flashing his teeth at the woman again. “We’re very happy.”
“I’m sure you are,” Vivian said coolly, narrowing her eyes at Stiles’ nervous expression.
“Can we go tell the boys the good news?” Stiles asked, pulling an excited look onto his face, even though he was still eying Vivian suspiciously.
“Of course,” Vivian said, getting up and gesturing for them to leave her office, “I believe they’re in their bunk. Number three.”
“Thank you,” Derek said, pulling Stiles along by the hand.
When they made it to room three, Derek tapped on the door lightly. He heard a soft, “come in,” and pushed the door open with his palm.
“Derek!” he heard Cam’s voice first. The boy was sitting with Heath on the top bunk of the bed on the far left. There were three other bunk beds in the room. Stiles could only imagine how annoying that would be. If he had seven roommates when he was eight years old, they would have murdered him in his sleep.
Derek let go of Stiles’ hand just in time to catch Cam, who had launched himself out of the bunk at Derek. Stiles looked down at this hand, confused as to why it suddenly felt cold. Catching Heath’s eye he walked over to the bed. The bunk was level with his chin, meaning he could fold his arms on the mattress and peer over at Heath. “How’s it going?” Stiles asked, not wanting to enter the boy’s personal space unless he got an invitation.
“I was just helping Cam read his mysteries,” Heath said, flipping the slim paperback over to the cover and holding it up for Stiles to see.
“Ahh,” Stiles said, grinning at the boy, “The Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones. That’s a good one.”
“It’s alright,” Heath muttered, inching to the edge of the bed until his legs were hanging off. He and Stiles watched Cam attempt to tackle Derek to the ground. Little did the kid know that Derek was more than he appeared. He wondered how much Derek had to hold back his strength to be gentle with the boy. It made his heart clench just a little watching him roughhouse with Cam. It came so naturally to him, like he had done it thousands of times before when he was young.
“We have something we’d like to ask you guys,” Stiles said, waiting until Cam and Derek had come to a natural stopping point, which happened to be Derek facedown on the floor with Cam straddling his back, hands raised high in the air in triumph.
“What’s up?” Cam asked, dismounting so Derek could get up. Smiling broadly, Derek picked Cam up under the arms and hefted him back into the top bunk where he and Stiles could look the boys almost eye to eye.
“We were wondering how you would feel about coming to live with us?” Stiles asked, taking some of the pressure off of Derek, whose nervous smile looked plastered on his face. Stiles was pretty sure he was much closer to throwing up than he let on.
“Both of us?” Heath asked, always suspicious of any foul play.
“Of course, both of you,” Derek assured him.
Cam and Heath shared a look. Cam seemed excited, but unwilling to answer until he knew how Heath felt about the situation. Stiles was proud of the boys. It was good to see how loyal they were to each other. That trait would be very important if they were to join the Hale family. Eventually Derek would have to trust them enough to let them in on the family secret, and Stiles was optimistic that their loyalty would extend to Stiles and Derek once they felt like family.
“You want to adopt both of us?” Cam asked, not quite believing his ears.
“That’s the plan,” Stiles said, giving Cam a reassuring smile. “We’ve filled out the paperwork. It might take a long time, but we’re going to try our best. Hopefully in a few weeks you guys will be able to come stay with us for a weekend and see if you like it.”
“Can we have a minute?” Heath asked, mouth tight as he looked between Stiles and Derek.
“Sure,” Stiles said, grabbing Derek’s hand and pulling him out of the room. “Just yell when you’re ready for us to come back.”
Stiles closed the door behind them, releasing Derek’s hand. Derek sighed and leaned against the wall right next to the door. Stiles could tell by the way his ears twitched that he was listening in to the boys' conversation.
“Come on, Sour Wolf,” Stiles said, pulling Derek a bit further away and into the playroom. “If they’re going to be pack, you’re going to have to learn to trust them. You can’t be their dad if you’re going to always be listening at closed doors.”
“Like your dad never listened at your door?” Derek said, crouching down to sit in a child sized chair that was situated in front of a low table with a jigsaw puzzle laid out on it.
Stiles went over to join him, knees almost up to his ears as he folded himself into another tiny chair. “I don’t think he needed to bother. I was loud enough to be heard through the entire house,” Stiles told him, picking up an edge piece and expertly fitting it into its place on the opposite side of the table.
“What do you think they’re talking about?” Derek asked, wiping his palms on the legs of his jeans in a nervous motion. Stiles had never seen him so out of sorts.
“They’re talking about us, obviously,” Stiles said, selecting another puzzle piece and turning it a few times before placing it. “But try not to worry so much,” he said, patting Derek on the knee, “they’re probably just worried it’s too good to be true. And it might be. None of us should get our hopes up. The adoption might not go through, and then we’d all be devastated. I understand that. I know we’re going to be just as upset as them if this doesn’t work out.”
“You’re going to be such a great dad,” Derek said, watching Stiles peruse the puzzle pieces with focused intensity. He was staring, he realized, but it was hard for him to look away from Stiles’ long fingers as they fluttered over the pieces, making piles of like colored ones and then fitting them together with ease. Stiles was his husband, after all. He figured that meant a little bit of admiration was to be expected, maybe even appreciated.
“You will be, too,” Stiles assured him, flicking his eyes up to meet Derek’s for a few seconds before he went back to the puzzle. “They’d be lucky to have you.”
“You think?” Derek asked, eyebrows crinkling together above his nose in the concerned look that Stiles secretly loved.
“I know,” Stiles said easily, smiling up at Derek, and then catching the boys coming over to meet them behind his back. “What’s the verdict?” he asked, pleased to see that Cam at least had come to sit down next to him at the table. Heath however, stared them down, arms folded across his chest in a gesture that was much too familiar to Stiles.
“You’re really serious? You want to adopt us?” Heath asked, looking intently at Derek and then Stiles in turn.
“We’re really trying,” Derek said, trying his best to be cautiously optimistic. “We can’t promise that it will work out, but we can promise that we’re doing everything we can to make this adoption happen.”
Heath looked suspiciously at Stiles’ fingers where he and Cam were comparing puzzle pieces. “You got married for us?” he asked, too observant for his years.
“We got married because we love each other,” Derek replied easily, smiling when Stiles nodded repeatedly. “But we also thought it would help. It shows the adoption agency that we’re serious about being a family.”
“You didn’t invite us to the wedding?” Cam asked, an unhappy look souring his face.
Stiles backtracked before he saw Cam’s lower lip start to wobble. “We didn’t have a real wedding, we just went to the courthouse and a judge married us. But I’ll tell you what,” he said, leaning in closer to Cam, “if this adoption goes through, we can have a big party at the new house and invite everybody.”
“Really?” Cam asked, overjoyed at the prospect of Stiles and Derek’s nuptials. Stiles couldn’t help but laugh. He suddenly found himself excited for a Lydia Martin planned extravaganza that he never had any intention of being involved in.
“Of course,” Derek said, turning away from Heath’s look to smile at Cam. “You guys can be in it if you’d like to.”
Stiles nodded his agreement to this as well, wondering when it had become his duty in life to make these two kids happy. He had never expected Derek to agree to a wedding, and here he was, promising the world to Cam like it would be no hardship for him to stand up and profess his love to Stiles.
“Do we get our own rooms?” Heath asked, raising a questioning eyebrow to Stiles and Derek.
“Of course,” Derek told him, standing up and gesturing for Heath to take his chair while he found another one. “We can decorate them however you want. But the house isn’t done yet, so you’ll have to be patient, okay?”
“I can wait,” Heath told him, reaching for a puzzle piece that he knew to fit the one Stiles was holding.
“So that’s a yes then?” Stiles asked, eyes lighting up when he could see the excitement Heath was hiding behind his skepticism. “You want to be a family?”
“I think that would be okay,” Heath allowed, twisting his lips as he reached for another puzzle piece.
“YES!” Cam screamed, leaping out of his chair to hang off of Stiles’ back. “I want a dinosaur room!”
“Okay, buddy,” Stiles said, having never seen Cam so affectionate with him before. “You got it.”
“So, what do you think?” Derek asked sheepishly, hands fit into the back pocket of his jeans as he watched Stiles trail his hand along the new marble counter of the kitchen.
“You’re kidding, right?” Stiles said, eyes taking in the sleek stainless appliances and the cut glass of the backsplash tiles. “It’s incredible. You really didn’t have to do all this,” he said, turning back toward Derek. “You know the kids would have been fine with a playhouse, not a mansion.” The house really was huge. Derek had made room for not only Cam and Heath, but the rest of the pack could easily fit in the spare bedrooms.
“It’s not a mansion,” Derek said, looking around the room at all the unique little details he had picked out. “It’s just right.”
“They’re going to love it,” Stiles told him, voice soft and earnest.
“That’s good,” Derek said, coughing to hide the emotion in his voice. “Did you like the master bedroom?”
“Yeah, it’s great,” Stiles said, having found no issue with the enormous bedroom and walk-in closets.
“So you’ll move your stuff in?” Derek asked, in a half concerned, half nonchalant tone that Stiles couldn’t quite identify.
“Yeah, I mean, that was the plan, right?” Stiles asked, eyeing Derek, trying to suss him out.
“Yeah. Keep up appearances,” Derek said, words coming out terse and uneven. “Want to go pick out some furniture for the boys’ rooms?” he asked, changing the subject entirely.
“Sure. Then we can bring our stuff over,” Stiles agreed, still wary of the fact that he couldn’t figure out what Derek’s true feelings on the subject were.
“Sounds like a plan,” Derek said, exiting the kitchen to head for the front door, not making eye contact with Stiles for the rest of the ride to Ikea.
After five hours and several thousand dollars of Derek’s money, they had finally managed to haul their loot inside and assemble one bed. Stiles had insisted on getting the twin beds, not full sized ones, already accusing Derek of spoiling the kids.
Stiles glanced down at his watch and pulled himself to his feet. “We’re going to be late if we don’t leave soon,” he told Derek, holding out a hand to pull the other man off the floor. They had promised the boys a trip to the batting cages, and Cam had been babbling non-stop about it for days. Stiles wasn’t much into baseball, but he could tell that it was something that Cam and Derek really enjoyed, so he and Heath played along for their benefit. His high school weapon of choice may have been a baseball bat, but he was better at hitting werewolves with it than baseballs.
When they got to the cage and had both boys decked out in helmets, Stiles couldn’t help but snap a few photos. Derek went inside with Cam, put the ball machine on the slowest setting, and showed Cam what to do.
He whispered a few words in Cam’s ear, clapped him on the shoulder, and moved back, smiling as he pressed the button to release the balls. Cam had the most adorable, determined look on his face for all of three seconds before a ball came flying at his head and he screamed. Stiles was exceedingly proud of himself for getting it all on video, Heath chuckling in the background.
“It’s okay, try it again,” Derek coached him, smile never leaving his handsome face as he pointed back to the base on the floor, waited until Cam was back into position, and then launched another ball at the boy.
Cam swung several times, each one more wild and off center than the last. With a defeated shake of the head, he went back over to Derek saying, “I can’t do it. Can you show me?”
“It’s alright, you’re getting better,” Derek lied, tapping Cam on top of his batting helmet. “I can’t bat without a helmet on, though, so just keep trying.”
“Please, Derek!” Cam whined, holding the bat out for him to take.
“Oh, look what we have here,” Stiles said, holding up an adult sized helmet for Derek to take. “Looks like you’ll have to show us what you’ve got, Hale.”
“You know, that nickname doesn’t mean as much when it’s your name, too,” Derek pointed out, but took the helmet anyway, wiggling it until it slipped on over his ears. He handed the remote to Stiles, and then got into position.
Stiles took a minute to imagine Derek in a pair of tight baseball pants instead of the snug pair of dark wash jeans he was wearing before he pressed the button.
With a loud crack, Derek hit the ball, tossing an exasperated look at Stiles, who obligingly turned up the speed. Every time he hit a ball, Derek would look at Stiles, egging him on. “That all you got?” Derek called over the mechanical whirring noise, smirking at Stiles.
If Stiles didn’t know any better, he would think Derek was flirting. But no, that couldn’t be it. Derek was just great at baseball and liked to show off. “You got it,” Stiles called back, cranking the machine up to the highest setting and letting it run.
Ball after ball shot out at Derek. He hit them all with an earsplitting crack, crack, crack. Eventually, the machine ran out of balls, and Derek pulled the helmet off his head, tossing the bat back to Cam and grinning madly at Stiles.
“Show off,” Stiles muttered, doing his best to suppress the smile that was fighting its way on to his face.
Derek winked at him. He honest-to-God winked at him. Stiles was pretty sure his chest was about to explode. Derek flirting with him just wasn’t even fair. How was he supposed to keep their marriage PG if Derek was fucking winking at him. They needed to set some boundaries. Stiles’ heart couldn’t take it if Derek was going to keep looking at him like he actually liked being married to him.
Cam went back up to bat and managed to hit a few balls by the time the night was over. Heath cheered him on, content to watch with Stiles from behind the chain link fence.
When they were finished, Stiles took Cam by the hand and led him and Heath to the men’s room while Derek returned the equipment. A group of mothers eyed him appreciatively from a picnic table a few feet away, and Derek sighed inwardly. He had thought a wedding ring would have been a deterrent to the ladies, but no. A leggy blonde made her way over to Derek while he was waiting for someone to come back to the desk and return his license.
“I saw you in the cage,” she said, smiling up at him, “you’ve got a great arm.” The woman actually trailed her hand up Derek’s arm and squeezed his bicep appreciatively. Did these people have no shame?
“Yeah, thanks,” Derek said, moving back a step so that his arm was pulled out of her grasp.
“I’m Suzie,” she said, tossing a quick glance back at her friends, who waved at her in encouragement. “My son Paul plays on the team at Beacon Hills High.”
“That’s great,” Derek said tersely, not really in the mood to be hit on by someone who had to be at least ten years older than him.
“Maybe you could come to a game sometime,” she carried on, fluttering her eyelashes at him. “Show him a few tricks.”
“I’m married,” Derek said, beyond done with the conversation. He leaned forward over the counter to see if he could catch a glimpse of whoever worked there and beg for their intervention.
“You seem too young to be tied down,” Suzie insisted, reaching for his arm again. “She can’t possibly be giving you everything you need.”
“I can assure you,” Stiles said, grabbing the woman’s wrist and practically ripping it off Derek’s arm, “he’s quite well satisfied.”
Derek let out a sigh of relief as Stiles came up to his side, leaning into his body and pressing a solid kiss on his lips. He had never been so thankful to be fake married. Sensing no resistance, Stiles pushed forward, slipping his tongue into Derek’s mouth until he got an exasperated huff from the woman.
“This is my husband, Stiles,” Derek said, not even turning to look at the harpy who had been sexually harassing him. He wanted Suzie to know he only had eyes for his husband.
“And these are our boys,” Stiles said, getting way too much pleasure out of the situation, “Cam and Heath.”
“You know, you really shouldn’t touch people without asking first,” Heath said to the woman, crossing his arms over his chest as Stiles wrapped an arm around his shoulders in an affectionate gesture.
“It’s not nice,” Cam chimed in, raising his arms up in what Derek knew was the signal for “pick me up.”
Derek complied, lifting Cam onto his shoulders. Stiles grabbed his hand when he held it out, pulling Derek in close to his other side.
“Ready to go?” Stiles asked Heath, who was still glaring at Suzie.
“Yeah,” Heath said, letting Stiles steer him back to the parking lot. “Let’s go.”
Throughout the next few weeks, Derek and Stiles recruited the pack to help them outfit the rest of the new house. Derek’s enthusiasm was edging toward obsession. He was determined to have everything perfect for when the boys arrived. Stiles was cautiously optimistic. He didn’t think he would be able to take it if something went wrong and Derek ended up brokenhearted. That thought kept his own feelings buried down deep underneath his worry for Derek’s.
“I thought you guys had moved into the loft,” Stiles said, glaring at Erica and Boyd as he hung a framed Marvel print on the wall.
“We did,” Erica said, flipping through the channels on the new flat screen that Derek had bought for the living room.
“Then what are you still doing here?” Derek asked, holding up other framed pieces on the stretch of wall next to Stiles, watching him shake his head “no” at several before nodding his acceptance of the last one that Derek picked out.
“We wanted to make sure you and your husband were settling in alright,” Erica said, still suspicious of the entire ruse.
Stiles tried not to let her barbs bother him. She had no way of knowing that Derek and Stiles weren’t actually together. All he had to do was keep up appearances, and they would have no reason to doubt their relationship. He was already sharing a bed with the man, what more could the Betas really expect?
It was cruel and unusual punishment, forcing Stiles to wake up plastered to Derek’s side, lips always pressed against his arm or neck in a thoroughly embarrassing way. Stiles now had to include a cold shower in his morning routine, just to keep the dirty thoughts at bay. On more than one occasion he had woken up to feel Derek’s morning wood pressing hard against his ass, and the temptation to grind back into him was getting harder and harder to resist.
“We’re fine, Erica,” Derek said, holding his hand out for the hammer and busying himself with hanging another frame. “In fact, you’re kind of ruining the honeymoon by being here all the time.”
“Hey!” came a voice from the front door. Derek could smell immediately that it was Scott. “Allison sent me out for chicken wings. Can I hang here for a while?” Scott asked, plopping himself down at the foot of the couch.
“Sure, buddy,” Stiles said, going to the kitchen to grab a few more sodas.
“I know it’s like really close to her due date,” Scott said, gratefully taking a can from Stiles’ outstretched hand, “but I’m pretty sure she’s going to murder me before the baby gets here.”
“What did you do?” Derek asked, pushing at Erica’s legs until she made room for him on the couch.
“Nothing!” Scott called, too exhausted to explain, “nothing, I swear.”
“It will all be fine in a few days,” Stiles assured him, finding space for half of his ass on the arm of the sofa. “I’m sure she’s just anxious for the baby to be born.”
“She’s not the only one,” Boyd muttered, eying Stiles and Derek.
“He’s right,” Erica chimed in, wondering when Isaac would be back with dinner. “It’d almost be funny if it weren’t so sad. You guys have been nesting like a couple of pregnant ladies.”
“No, we haven’t,” Derek said, looking to Stiles for confirmation.
“Maybe just a bit,” Stiles allowed, looking around at how there were still so many finishing touches Derek wanted to put together before the boys visited. They hadn’t even been granted permission for a weekend visit or home inspection yet, and Derek was already freaking out. “We’re just really excited to be a family. And we don’t want Cam and Heath to sleep in that orphanage a night longer than they have to.”
“You can talk all you want about how much you love each other,” Erica said, looking at Scott and Boyd to back her up, “but there’s no way you’ll be able to convince me that your marriage isn’t just a sham to fool the adoption agency.”
“It does seem odd that you wouldn’t even have mentioned it,” Scott agreed, looking apologetically at Stiles. “Especially if it’s been going on for as long as you say.”
“Maybe we just didn’t want to deal with your constant commentary on our relationship,” Stiles said, jumping up from the couch so he could look at his accusers. “If we wanted your opinion, we’d ask for it. You have no idea how much easier it was to be together before any of you found out.”
“I’m not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth our marriage in our own home,” Derek said, getting up from his seat to stand next to his husband. “Listen to my heartbeat and tell me that I wouldn’t die for Stiles, that I wouldn’t kill for him. I can’t believe you have the balls to sit there and tell me that I don’t love my husband.”
Erica still looked defiant, but wasn’t able to come up with a retort. Scott and Boyd had the good sense to look sheepish about what they had been accusing their Alpha of. Isaac, of course, chose that moment to come into the house holding a pile of pizzas.
“You want to take a shot at us, too?” Derek asked, suddenly furious. “You come into my house and tell me I just married Stiles because I was desperate to be a father?”
Isaac stared at the group, dumbfounded. He had no idea what he had just walked into, but he’d also never been one to shy away from putting in his two cents. “It is a little odd that you suddenly want to adopt a brood of children. You’ve never talked about wanting kids before. And you definitely never hinted that you might be gay. Especially not for Stilinski.”
“Hale!” Derek corrected the same time that Scott asked quietly, “how many is a brood?”
“Stop fighting!” Stiles yelled, grabbing the pizzas out of Isaac’s hands and slamming them down on the coffee table. He went back to Derek’s side and slipped his hand defiantly into Derek’s.
“You listen to me, and you listen good,” he told the wolves, leaving no room for argument or interruption. “I love Derek. I’ve loved him for years, and any idiot with eyes has probably been able to see that. Now we’re trying to start a family together and all you guys want to do is tear us down. I’m not going to take it from them,” he said, gesturing at Erica, Boyd, and Isaac, “and I’m definitely not going to take it from you, Scott. I think you’d know what it feels like to want to be a father. Derek deserves this, and so do I.” He sighed, rubbing his forehead wearily. “Now I think it’s time for you all to leave.”
The Betas stared at Stiles, none of them moving a muscle as they watched Derek’s arm flex, squeezing Stiles’ hand. Derek caught Stiles’ eye, trying to convey his thanks in nothing but a look. Stiles looked into Derek’s hazel eyes and understood.
“Leave!” Stiles yelled, making a shooing motion with his free hand. “Now! And don’t come back until you can be happy for us. Be happy for your fucking Alpha!”
Erica flew up off the couch, flipping her hair over her shoulder with a sour expression. Boyd followed her silently, pulling Scott up off the floor as he headed for the door. Isaac looked up at Derek, shame written all over his face.
“It’s fine,” Derek said, voice low and foreboding. “Just go.”
When he heard the door close, Derek dropped Stiles’ hand and went to lock it.
Stiles dropped down heavily on the couch and flipped the top pizza box open, reaching for Scott’s unfinished soda. Derek headed to the kitchen for plates as Stiles queued up one of their shows on the DVR.
“They believed you. How come they didn’t think you were lying?” Stiles asked, pointedly not meeting Derek’s eyes.
“I’m the Alpha,” Derek said, taking a big bite out of a slice of meat lover’s. “How come I didn’t hear your heart skip when you lied?” Derek asked, turning Stiles’ question back around on him.
Stiles chewed for a minute, steadying his breathing and thinking of the right words. “I learned to lie to wolves years ago,” he said, taking another bite of pizza instead of elaborating. Little did Derek know that just then was the very first time Stiles had ever done it successfully.
Stiles was sweating. He woke up practically stuck to Derek’s back. The wolf radiated heat like a furnace, and tended to sleep in only his tight black boxer briefs. Stiles listened to his slow, even breathing for a while, making sure Derek was still deeply asleep before he pulled away, sliding his arm out from under Derek’s neck and praying he wouldn’t wake up before Stiles’ erection was free and clear.
Rummaging in a pile of dirty laundry, Stiles found the tee shirt he had been wearing the night before and slipped it over his head as he padded silently from the bedroom. He grabbed his laptop from the coffee table and headed to the office; a cozy little nook that Derek had decorated in rich leather and dark wood.
When the computer booted up, Stiles immediately clicked on his Skype icon and called Lydia. If ever there were a time for girl talk, this was it.
“It’s early, Stilinski,” Lydia said, rubbing her eyes, her hair pushed back in a soft cotton headband. She had clearly just been sleeping.
“That’s Hale to you,” Stiles said, still getting a kick out of correcting people when they misnamed him.
“Whatever. What are you calling me for?” she asked, tapping away at her blackberry, probably checking her email. “I’m supposed to be in court in two hours and I’m going to need a double espresso before then.”
“I have a problem,” Stiles started, rubbing his face vigorously with both hands before speaking again.
“Oh honey,” Lydia said, moving the laptop over to her vanity so she could start applying her makeup, “what else is new?”
“Very funny, Lyds,” he said, leaning back in the leather armchair, stretching his arms up over his head. “I think I finally learned how to lie to werewolves last night.”
“Oh, really?” she asked, pausing mid-sweep of eyeliner to glare at him.
“I told that pack that I was in love with Derek,” he said, sighing heavily like it was the worst admission in the world.
“And then?” she asked, twirling her eyeliner pencil in a circle, gesturing for him to keep talking.
“And then he asked why he didn’t hear a lie, and I panicked.”
“What did you do?” Lydia asked, already imagining the worst.
“I told him I learned how to lie to werewolves a long time ago,” Stiles said, squeezing his eyes closed and then squinting at Lydia, waiting for her to start yelling at him.
“That’s such bullshit,” Lydia said, frowning at Stiles through her webcam. “You are the worst liar in the world. That’s why you needed me to convince your dad you were really married. He can see right through you every time.”
“Well Derek was lying, too!” Stiles countered, determined to prove that it wasn’t all his fault. “He said he could lie to his Betas because he was the Alpha.”
“Well that’s just ridiculous,” Lydia agreed, knowing she and Stiles had done enough research to prove that wasn’t true at all. “Everyone knows that’s bullshit.”
“Then how come everyone thinks he’s in love with me?” Stiles cried, exhausted and wound tight. There were only so many cold showers he could take before his body protested by spontaneously combusting from pure sexual frustration.
“I cannot believe how stupid you are being right now,” Lydia said, moving on to her mascara. “If anyone’s a worse liar than you, it’s Derek. That man has the most expressive face of anyone I’ve ever met.”
“Derek’s not gay. He said he was just acting,” Stiles insisted, knowing Derek would never willingly be with someone like him. “He just really wants to adopt the boys and he’s trying to pull out all the stops to convince everyone we’d be good parents.”
“You’re going to be great parents. That’s not the issue,” Lydia assured him, pausing in her morning routine to look seriously at Stiles. “If you think Derek isn’t head over heels, deeply in love with your scrawny ass, then you’re an idiot. No one is that good of an actor. It’s all truth.”
“He can’t be in love with me, Lyds,” Stiles said, voice suddenly much softer, weighed down with longing. “I’d know. I’ve been living with him for years and he’s never shown the slightest bit of feeling toward me. No one falls in love that fast.”
“Oh honey,” Lydia said, realizing that Stiles was much further in denial than she expected. “It wasn’t fast. It was slow. Like glacier slow. Derek doesn’t give his heart away easily. And it’s been yours for a very long time.”
“It’s just impossible, Lydia. He’s him and I’m me. We don’t mesh,” Stiles said, again rebutting every one of Lydia’s points.
“Do you think Derek invites just anyone into his home? Into his life?” Lydia asked, making Stiles take pause.
“The pack is always here. He’s even made rooms for them in the new house,” Stiles said, still not getting her point.
“Derek keeps the Betas around because they’re pack. He couldn’t turn his back on them any more than he could on his own children,” Lydia said, wondering how long it would take her to explain Stiles’ own husband to him. “He may have been young and stupid when he bit them, but now they’re pack. You…” she trailed off for a second, a small smile spreading across her still unpainted lips. “You he chose himself. He didn’t need you. He wanted you. He chose you and he chose the boys. He’s sharing his home with you… building it for you. You’re who he wants to spend his life with.”
“I just don’t get it,” Stiles said again, not sure if he would ever understand how Derek’s mind worked.
“It’s not something you get,” Lydia said, voice soft and comforting now, even a thousand miles away. “It something you feel. Just do what you feel and everything will work out fine.”
“What I feel like is screwing him six ways to Sunday,” Stiles said, groaning as he tossed his head back. “I swear, if I wake up with his ass pressed into my dick one more time…”
“Patience, Stiles,” Lydia said, using the webcam to apply her lipstick. “Maybe start a little slower than screwing six ways to Sunday.”
“I don’t know what to do,” Stiles lamented, not ready to head back into the bedroom and crawl back into bed with the man he was dying to touch. “He touches me, and kisses me, but it’s all part of the act. I don’t think he would know what I was trying to do.”
“I think you’re going to have to use your words this time, babe,” Lydia said, letting her curls fall out of her headband. She combed them with her fingers before clipping the sides back in a very professional look.
“Words are what get me into trouble,” Stiles said, letting his chin fall into the palm of his hand, thinking. He watched Lydia step out of the frame and come back a few minutes later, dressed for court.
“You’re better at this than you think you are,” Lydia said, putting a sweep of blush along her cheekbones and stepping back to make sure she was ready to go. “He’s in love with you for a reason.”
“Thanks, Lyds,” Stiles said, giving her a thumbs up when she spun around for him, looking fierce in a stunning skirt suit and ruffled top. “Knock ‘em dead.”
“I always do,” she said, leaning over her laptop to end the call.
Stiles closed his computer and put it aside, stretching his arms above his head and scratching at his happy trail before he headed back upstairs. He leaned against the doorframe of the bedroom and peeked in, listening to Derek’s heavy breathing from where his face was smushed into Stiles’ pillow, which he was clutching tight in his arms.
Closing his eyes for a second, Stiles inhaled the scent of their new home, which was warm and smelled like sleeping late on a cold day. He exhaled out on a sigh, padding back over to his side of the bed and slipping in. Sensing the shift in the mattress, Derek released his hold on Stiles’ pillow, allowing Stiles to lay back for all of three seconds before Derek was wrapped tight around his torso, the brush of his beard scratching Stiles’ chest through his shirt.
With a low rumble of contentment, Derek settled back in. Stiles exhaled heavily, wondering if he would be able to sleep at all with the contents of his dreams tucked in tight against his chest. He closed his eyes, wishing the universe would cut him a break and put him out of his misery. Angling his hips away from the object of his desire, he hooked his chin over the top of Derek’s head and fell asleep curled up in the Alpha’s embrace.
Two weeks of domestic bliss later found Stiles and Derek welcoming Ms. Pickerbitch and another social worker into their new home. Derek gave them a tour, pointing out all the little improvements they had put in and beaming when they took a look at the bedrooms that the boys would sleep in.
Stiles let Derek take the lead, busying himself with making a pot of tea while the ladies followed Derek around. They were shown the grounds and the tire swing that Derek had insisted on putting in the week before, and then took a quick peek into Stiles and Derek’s bedroom. Somehow, Derek thought that if they just saw the way their laundry was piled together and how their toothbrushes sat in the same holder, then they would be convinced that Stiles and Derek were the perfect couple and would make ideal parents. Stiles tried not to snort every time Derek pointed at a pack photo and spoke about Stiles’ father and what a great supporter he had been of their relationship.
After a half hour that felt more like a week, Ms. Pickerbitch and Ms. Wainwright took seats on the sofa while Derek poured tea. Stiles had never seen the wolf so domestic. It would have warmed his heart if he wasn’t finding the act Derek was putting on so hilarious.
“Could you tell us about your friends and family?” Ms. Wainwright asked, pulling out her notepad and leaning it against her thigh. “We just want to get a sense for who will be around the children if they were living here.”
“Well my dad remarried about two years ago. Melissa is a nurse at Beacon Hills Memorial and she happens to be my best friend Scott’s mother, so now we can officially call ourselves brothers. Scott’s wife Allison is about to have their first child, and I’m going to be her Godfather. Then Derek has Boyd, who also works at the station with us. Boyd’s wife’s name is Erica, and our other friends Isaac and Jackson are here all the time. My other friend Lydia lives on the coast, but she grew up here, so she visits often.”
Stiles took a breath, figuring that was more than enough of an answer to Ms. Wainwright’s question. Sadly, the depth of Stiles’ answer made Ms Wainwright turn to Derek, asking about his family history. “And you, Mr. Hale?” she asked lightly, unaware of the weight of her question.
“My family is mostly deceased,” Derek said plainly. Stiles reached over and took his hand, squeezing his husband’s fingers lightly and giving him an encouraging smile. “My sister Cora and Uncle Peter live in South America, but they do come up for the holidays every few years.” Derek stopped talking, unsure of how to continue, or of he needed to elaborate at all.
“Derek and I have much more of a found family,” Stiles said, giving Ms. Wainwright a small smile, turning the attention away from Derek. “Boyd, Erica, and Isaac… I went to high school with all of them. None of them had very stable home lives. Some of them were abused or neglected. Jackson was adopted and Lydia’s parents divorced and made her choose which one to live with. They all needed someone to care about them… to care about what happened to them and to give them a home… and Derek did that.”
Derek stared at Stiles in disbelief. He made it sound so selfless. All Derek had done was turn a bunch of parentless teens into supernatural creatures and terrorize them into submission, but Stiles made it sound like he was some sort of saint or something.
“Stiles is exaggerating,” Derek said, giving Ms. Pickerbitch a false smile.
“I’m really not,” Stiles said, squeezing Derek’s hand again, hoping Derek would let him say what he needed to say. “Derek may not have even noticed he was doing it, but he fed them, he put a roof over their heads, and he protected them every step of the way. When Isaac’s father died, Derek took him in, and he put Isaac, Boyd, and Erica through college and trade school, whatever they wanted to do. Derek is going to be a great father. He’s already been one for years in my opinion,” Stiles shot Derek a soft, knowing look. “I think if you asked any of our friends, they would tell you the same thing.”
“Have the boys met your father, Mr. Hale?” Ms. Wainwright asked, looking fondly at Stiles. For a second, Stiles felt like he had won. Whatever game they were playing with the social worker, Stiles was pretty sure he had her on the ropes.
“We will when we have them over for their first home visit,” Stiles assured the ladies, clinching the deal with his persuasive word choice. “More tea?” he asked, holding up the pot and smiling widely.
Derek caught his eye and mouthed, “thank you,” while he passed the milk and a tray of cookies.
Much to Stiles and Derek’s surprise, it took only two weeks for the adoption agency to set up a weekend stay for the boys. Derek had spent much of that time flitting around the house, baking cookies and fluffing pillows, determined to have everything perfect for Cam and Heath. Stiles looked on in amused horror, begging his husband to calm down. Usually chaotic flailing was Stiles’ thing, and watching Derek do it instead was unsettling, to say the least.
“They’re going to love it here,” Stiles said softly, trying to reign Derek in. “I promise. They won’t love it any less if the sheets aren’t ironed or the windows are a little smudgy. They’ve been living in an orphanage for years, Derek. You don’t need to try so hard.”
“What if they don’t want to stay?” he asked, wiping the counter off for the third time that morning.
Stiles walked over and stilled Derek’s hand, wondering if this was how everyone else felt when he started obsessing about something. “They will. They love you. Try not to worry so much about--”
The doorbell rang. Derek sprinted into the hall, Stiles hot on his heels. He pulled the door open to find Ms. Pickerbitch standing there, prim as ever, with one hand on each of the boy’s shoulders. Cam was practically vibrating in place, so excited to get inside, while Heath looked around with barely concealed apprehension, fidgeting with the straps of his backpack nervously.
“You made it!” Stiles said, grinning, while Derek exhaled heavily. Apparently he hadn’t been sure Ms. Pickerbitch would actually show up with the boys.
“I’ll be back for them at 7 p.m. on Sunday,” Vivian told them, not releasing the boys until she had finished speaking. “You’re not to let the boys out of your sight, and you will call me if you have any problems.”
“We’ve got it covered,” Stiles assured her, flicking his eyes between Derek, who was itching to rush forward and wrap Cam up in a hug, and Heath, who was still shifting around nervously, wondering what was inside.
“I’m sure,” Ms. Pickerbitch said, nearly sneering at Stiles as she tapped the boys on their shoulders and backed away, heading to her car.
Stiles pulled the door open. “Come on in,” he said, smiling reassuringly at Heath as he led them into the living room. “We’ll give you a quick tour, then we’ll go over the rules.”
“Rules?” Cam asked, voice slightly muffled by Derek’s arms that were tight around his body.
“Just a few. Nothing to worry about,” Stiles said, leading them through the kitchen and pointing out the first floor bathroom. Heath followed him up the stairs, Derek and Cam following slower, as Cam had jumped on Derek’s back and was enjoying a piggy-back ride.
“This is your room,” Stiles said, opening the first door on the left and letting it swing open for Heath to see.
Heath’s eyes went wide as he took everything in. Stiles didn’t want to presume what Hogwarts house Heath would prefer, though he had a suspicion that the boy was a Gryffindor, so he had gotten a large decal of the school crest and the Marauder’s Map to decorate the walls. Everything else was fairly plain, but there were several empty bookshelves just waiting for Heath to fill them with his favorites. Stiles was already looking forward to a trip to the bookstore. It broke his heart that Heath had never been able to save his favorites or start his own collection.
“I wasn’t sure what you would like,” Stiles said softly, as Cam babbled in Derek’s ear about all the cool stuff that was inside. “But when you live here for real we can go shopping and decorate however you want. I wanted you to have room for all the books we’re going to get you.”
“It’s great, Stiles,” Heath said, running his hand over the smooth wood of the bedpost, peeking in one of the closets to find extra sheets. There was a Jack and Jill bathroom that connected to Cam’s bedroom, which already had some basic toiletries and towels laid out for them to use.
Heath took another lap of the room, mouth pinched tight in an expression that Stiles couldn’t decipher, hand running across the wall, tracing the outline of the Hogwarts crest. In an unexpected show of trust, Heath removed his backpack and laid it on the floor in the closet, sliding the door closed before he turned back to the rest of the group.
“Let’s see Cam’s room,” he suggested, voice croaking slightly. Stiles nodded and led them back into the hall to the next bedroom. As soon as he opened the door, Cam darted inside, voice high with excitement as he began naming all of the dinosaurs that were on his walls and bed sheets.
“Look!” he exclaimed, running over to his sheets and pointing down at one of the cartoons, “it’s a triceratops!”
“Cool, Cam!” Heath said, reaching deep down to conjure up excitement for his brother. Just because he was still anxious about the situation didn’t mean Cam shouldn’t be able to enjoy it. Cam threw his backpack down on the bed and then stood on it himself, taking on deliberate hop, and springing himself off the bed and straight at Derek.
Derek, who had gotten used to this routine by now, caught him effortlessly and zoomed him in circles around the room while Cam made dinosaur noises and flapped his arms like a pterodactyl.
“Maybe we should give them a minute,” Stiles said, opening the door and leading Heath back into the hallway. “Do you want a drink? We have chocolate milk.”
“Sure,” Heath said, counting the rest of the doors in the hall, wondering what all the other rooms were. “Which one is your bedroom?” he asked, not wanting to bother anyone else in the house in case he needed something.
“Ours is this one at the end of the hall,” Stiles said, leading Heath there and opening the door to reveal his and Derek’s collective mess. They had only been living there a few weeks and Stiles had yet to do any laundry besides his uniforms, content to leave piles of dirty clothes in various corners of the room. “The rest of them are just guest bedrooms for the rest of the pack… I mean family. I have a brother now, and a lot of our friends stay over for the holidays and stuff,” Stiles quickly corrected himself, wondering if he had blown their cover or not. He knew Heath was a lot more intelligent than he let on.
“I assume it’s you that’s the messy one,” Heath commented, looking around the room at the books and other personal items that were lying around. He stopped for a minute on Derek’s side of the bed, staring at Derek’s charred family photo.
“You’d be right,” Derek said from the doorway, Cam wrapped around his back again. “Stiles hates doing laundry, and I refuse to do it for him.”
Heath stopped dead in his tracks, arm still outstretched where he had been reaching to pick up the picture frame for a closer look. Sensing his hesitation, Derek stepped forward and picked up the double frame, handing it to Heath. “This is your family?” the boy asked, finger tracing the wood. “What happened to them?”
“They died,” Derek said softly, lips pulling into a tiny smile when Cam pressed his face into the back of his neck in an affectionate gesture.
“Cora’s still around though,” Stiles pointed out, tapping his long finger on Cora’s face. Heath quickly looked at the other photo, recognizing Stiles easily, and then carefully placed it back on Derek’s side table exactly as he’d found it. “Maybe you’ll meet her at Christmas next year. I’m sure she’d love to come for a visit, right Derek?”
“Right,” Derek said, bouncing Cam on his back to adjust his grip on the boy’s legs. “My uncle Peter would love to see us with kids.”
“You’ll have to watch out for him, though,” Stiles told the boys, exiting the bedroom and heading back downstairs to start dinner. “He loves to lie and mess with people.”
Derek thought for a minute, and wanted to argue with that statement, but found himself unable to. In all honesty, Derek thought Stiles was wrong about his uncle. Peter was manipulative, for sure, but he almost always caused trouble with the truth, or at least a twisted version of it. It wasn’t often that Peter straight out lied.
It had only been two years ago that Peter had last visited, putting his feet up on the coffee table in the loft during the pack’s New Year’s party and asking Derek if he had, “finally put Stiles out of his misery.”
When Derek asked him what he was talking about, Peter had only replied, “that boy’s been in love with you for years. I don’t know how you could have missed it. I figured you weren’t interested and had let him down easily by now.” Peter had glanced at Stiles, who was nursing a beer in the corner of the kitchen, and surveying them with an amused look on his face. “But it looks like he’s just as infatuated as ever. Pathetic,” Peter had concluded, walking away to let Derek dwell on his words.
And Derek had dwelled on them, for all of ten minutes before he brushed Peter’s words off as yet another prank. He hadn’t thought about the exchange at all until a few short months ago when Stiles had stared at him, mouth open, when he had said he might be attracted to men. It had apparently been something that had crossed Stiles’ mind before, and Derek had never noticed.
He didn’t think Stiles had ever had feelings for him. Who would move in with someone they had a crush on? Wouldn’t that just be daily torture? Seeing that person every day, and sharing your space with them must be claustrophobic and painful. Surely Stiles wouldn’t have subjected himself to that for the last two years, and then agreed to take it one step further by actually marrying him. No one could be that masochistic.
Stiles caught Derek’s eye while he was pouring out glasses of chocolate milk and shook the container, asking if Derek wanted one. Derek shook his head, partly to tell Stiles no, and partly to shake the thought of Stiles being in love with him out of his mind. That was a thought for another day. This weekend was supposed to be entirely about the boys, and Derek was going to make sure he wasn’t distracted by anything else.
“What’s for dinner?” Cam asked, stomach rumbling loudly after he finished his chocolate milk.
“Does BBQ chicken sound alright?” Derek asked. He had been concerned about having food the kids would like. Stiles had tried to convince him that chicken nuggets and pizza bites would have been fine, but Derek wanted them to get healthy, home cooked meals while they stayed with him. Having never tasted anything Derek cooked that he hadn’t liked, Stiles let him buy whatever made him happy, knowing it would turn out alright in the end.
“Sounds great! I’m starving!” Cam said happily, holding out his cup for more chocolate milk.
Stiles rolled his eyes, but filled the glass anyway. “I can show you how to make the famous Stilinski family cheesy potatoes to go with it!” Stiles added, wanting dinner to be a bit fun for the kids. He bet they never got to eat anything good at the orphanage, and his mom’s potatoes were the best thing in the world.
“Cool,” Heath said, lacking the enthusiasm of Cam, but happy all the same. Stiles knew Heath could put away a pound of potatoes himself, and looked forward to sharing a meal with the boy again.
“Okay,” Stiles said, clapping his hands together, “rules!” Heath and Cam looked skeptical. Even Derek had no idea what Stiles was going to stay. “No leaving the house without one of us,” he said, holding up one finger. “We’re cops, so there are guns in this house,” Stiles said, holding up his second finger. “They’re locked up in a safe and aren’t loaded, but I just want you to know that they exist. If you see one, don’t touch it. Go get one of us and we’ll put it away. If you guys start living here full time, we’ll show you how they work. Safely. But for now, keep your hands to yourself.”
Derek nodded, having not thought to give a gun safety lecture when the boys came for the weekend. Stiles must have gotten a similar set of rules from his dad when he was a kid. “And third,” Stiles said, holding up his third finger. “If you’re scared, or not feeling well, you tell us. There’s no secrets in this house.”
“Does that mean you’re going to tell us how you made Derek’s eyes glow on Halloween?” Cam asked, bouncing up and down in his chair. “You promised you would tell us the secret and you just said there’s no secrets in this house, so you have to tell us!”
“That’s a family secret,” Derek said slowly, not sure how to get out of the conversation. It was usually Stiles’ job to talk their way out of sticky situations.
“When you guys are officially part of the Hale family, we’ll let you in on the family secret,” Stiles said, getting a shaky nod in response from Derek. “Deal?” he asked the boys, holding out his pinkies for each of them to shake.
“Deal,” Cam said, figuring that was the best he was going to get, and shook Stiles’ pinky.
“Do we have to change our names if you adopt us?” Heath asked, mouth twisting like he still hadn’t made up his mind about how to feel about it.
“Only if you want to,” Derek said, getting up to get himself a glass of water. “Stiles did when we got married, but you don’t have to. We want you to be who you are. You don’t have to leave your old family behind just because you get a new one.”
Stiles smiled, and then shook his pinky out at Heath, who nodded and hooked his pinky around Stiles’ in a solemn vow.
A few hours and several servings of chicken later found all four boys laying across the couch and each other, watching “The Incredibles.”
By the time Frozone was looking for his super suit, Cam was out cold, stretched across Derek’s chest. Derek wasn’t even watching the movie anymore, he was content to watch Cam sleep, delicately running a soft hand through the boy’s curls, convinced that the motion had been what had put him to sleep in the first place. Heath was barely awake. Stiles could see him watch the movie for a few minutes at a time, closing his eyes in between scenes.
“I think we wore them out,” Stiles whispered, looking to the end of the couch where Derek and Cam were snuggled together.
“I blame the potatoes,” Derek said softly, dragging his eyes away from the sleeping Cam to look at his husband.
“LIES,” Stiles hissed angrily, “those potatoes are a fucking masterpiece and you know it.”
“No swearing in front of the children,” Derek said, raising his eyebrows at Stiles.
“They’re asleep!” Stiles shot back, voice still low.
“Maybe they absorb it while they’re dreaming,” Derek replied.
Stiles opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again. “Are you kidding me? If that worked, Scott would have passed European history.”
“Whatever,” Derek said, not having the energy to argue about what he had read in a parenting magazine the week before. “Should we bring them up to bed?”
“We haven’t seen Syndrome get killed by his cape yet,” Stiles said, turning back to the screen. “Don’t you want them to absorb the happy ending into their dreams? What kind of father are you, Derek?”
“Fine,” Derek said, settling back into the couch, hoping not to wake Cam as he adjusted his position.
A few minutes later, the movie ended, and Stiles got up off the couch. Heath yawned, but followed him up the stairs, ready to go to sleep in a real bed for once.
“Cam?” Derek whispered, not really wanting to wake the child up. “It’s time for bed, buddy.”
Cam just moaned and tucked his face further into Derek’s chest to avoid the light. With a fake sigh of annoyance, Derek wrapped Cam up in his arms and stood up, carrying the boy up the stairs. He had put his pajamas on after dinner, so apart from brushing his teeth, Cam was ready for bed.
Seeing Derek carrying Cam, Stiles went to the boy’s room and pulled back the dinosaur comforter so Derek could lay him down and tuck him in. Stiles watched as Derek kissed Cam’s forehead, patted down his curls, and said goodnight before shutting off the light and lightly closing the door.
Heath had finished brushing his teeth and was getting into bed. Stiles peeked into his room, and seeing that the light was already off, just whispered, “goodnight,” to the older boy and closed the door. He didn’t think Heath would appreciate goodnight kisses even if Stiles had planned on giving him one.
Stiles followed Derek to their bedroom, shutting off the hall light as he went. Derek was already stripping for bed, pulling the sheets back and laying down in just his underwear. Stiles looked to the heavens for a second, praying for strength the way his mother used to when he had done something particularly trying as a kid. Derek just couldn’t wear pajamas. That would be too easy. Instead a broad-shouldered expanse of muscled back was on display where Derek had laid down on his side. Stiles shook his head, but stripped down as well, hitting the light before getting into bed. Derek was so warm, he didn’t even need the blanket before he was falling swiftly to sleep.
Derek’s ears twitched before he was fully awake. He knew he heard something, but he wasn’t sure what it was. The street was quiet and the only other noise he could hear in the house was Stiles’ heavy breathing.
“Did you hear something?” he asked the dark room, figuring Stiles wouldn’t even wake up unless he shook him.
“Huh?” Stiles asked, sitting up with his eyes still closed.
“I think I heard something,” Derek said again, cocking his head to the side so his ear was angled toward the door.
“If you can barely hear it, what makes you think that I heard it?” Stiles asked, rubbing his eyes and blinking sleepily up at his husband.
“I don’t know,” Derek said quietly, not wanting to disturb the night any more than he already had. “I guess there’s usually more wolves around than just me.”
“Well if you need a wolf, wake up someone else,” Stiles said, flopping back down on the mattress and punching his pillow into the right shape.
“There!” Derek hissed, poking Stiles in the shoulder. “Did you hear that?”
“No,” Stiles muttered into his pillow as Derek strained his ears. He could just make out the low whispered voices in the hallway.
“What if they’re having sex?” Heath asked, whispering to Cam from down the hall. “You’re not supposed to just barge into married people’s bedrooms.”
“It’s like three in the morning,” Cam said, yawning halfway through the sentence. “Do married people really have sex in the middle of the night?”
“How would I know?” Heath asked, “I’m nine!”
“Just knock on the door,” Cam suggested, voice getting louder as he padded down the hall toward their bedroom. “Stiles said we should tell them if we’re not feeling good.”
“I’m fine,” Heath protested. “It’s not a big deal.”
“Well I’m not fine,” Cam said, knocking on the door himself. “Derek?” he called out, asking for permission to enter.
Derek, who could hear that Cam’s hand was already on the doorknob said, “come on in, guys.”
Stiles shot up in bed at the sound of the knocking. He looked around for his pants for a few seconds before giving up. It was too dark to bother with being properly dressed. He didn’t have much time anyway, since the boys were already standing at the foot of the bed.
“What’s the matter?” Derek asked.
“Cam couldn’t sleep,” Heath said, arms folded across his chest.
“Heath has a stomach ache,” Cam said in retaliation, folding his arms as well.
“I told you it was the potatoes,” Derek muttered to Stiles, who was still laying the blanket out over his lap to hide the fact that he didn’t have any pants on.
“The potatoes were amazing,” Heath assured them, but his actions told a different story. He was frowning and rubbing a small hand in circles on his stomach. “I just had too many.”
“It happens to the best of us,” Stiles said, yawning midway through the sentence.
“You couldn’t sleep?” Derek asked Cam, who had crept over to his side of the bed and was suddenly much closer than Stiles had expected, given that Heath was still standing a few feet away, looking sheepish.
“No,” Cam said. The look on his face was hard for Derek to put a name to. He looked halfway between embarrassed and afraid. It didn’t sit well with Derek at all.
“I bet you’re used to sleeping with a bunch of other people in the room, right?” he asked, getting a wobbly head nod from Cam in response. “And Heath didn’t want to share a bed with you?”
“He didn’t ask,” Heath protested, offended that Derek thought he would leave Cam out in the cold like that. “I would have if he wanted.”
“This house is new to us too,” Derek went on, smiling softly as Stiles continued to rub the sleep from his eyes. “There’s all sorts of sounds that we don’t recognize… a lot of things that could keep you up.”
“Do you want to sleep in here?” Stiles asked, hoping that the sooner they worked out the problem, the sooner he could go back to sleep. “We can make room if you want. But I’m going to have to warn you, I’m not wearing any pajamas.”
Cam giggled a little, nodding his head up and down vigorously, like the suggestion was the best thing he had ever heard. He looked over to Derek first for the go ahead before he hopped on the mattress and flopped down on his back between Stiles and Derek on top of the covers.
Stiles looked over at Heath and raised his eyebrows. “There’s room for one more,” he offered, patting the open space next to his knee.
Heath looked back at him skeptically. Torn, Heath seemed to be halfway between running from the room and diving on the bed.
Derek smacked Stiles in the shoulder, trying to get him to make a more convincing argument, but Stiles didn’t know what else to say. He shrugged his shoulders at Derek, mouthing, “what?” at him, as Heath stared at his socks, looking more forlorn as the minutes wore on.
“Come on, Heath,” Stiles said, hoping he sounded as earnest as he meant to be, “it’s family sleepover time, and we’re missing one member.”
“You don’t want to leave Cam in here alone, do you?” Derek added, playing to Heath’s sense of loyalty.
“Fine,” Heath said, biting on his bottom lip as he climbed into the bed as well. Cam snuggled into Derek’s chest, and once Derek wrapped an arm around the boy, he promptly fell asleep. Heath tossed and turned for a while, frustrating Stiles, who was fighting to keep still as to not disturb the boy any more.
Eventually, it became clear that Heath needed a pillow in order to get comfortable. Stiles moved over until he was nearly falling off the bed, and left half of his pillow open for Heath. He patted the pillow a little bit until Heath got with the program and laid his head down.
Stiles turned his head to the side, giving Heath a little semblance of privacy as he got used to the idea of letting himself be vulnerable around Stiles and Derek. He had nearly fallen asleep when he felt tiny, cold fingers wrap themselves around his wrist. Stiles turned back around to find Heath looking at him curiously. With a small smile, Stiles inched his left arm under the pillow and tucked himself in against Heath’s back, only closing his eyes when Heath wrapped his hand around Stiles’ right wrist and pulled the arm around his waist, cocooning himself in Stiles’ warmth.
Derek woke up hot. The bed was significantly warmer than when it was just him and Stiles sleeping in it. There was also a bit more ambient noise in the room with the sound of two small children breathing in addition to the faint sound of Stiles’ snoring.
Cam was not only sleeping with approximately 80 percent of his body on top of Derek, he also had his hand fisted in the pillow right next to Derek’s head so that his arm was practically suffocating him. Derek looked to his right and found that Stiles’ face was buried in Heath’s hair, his breath making Heath’s dirty blond hair flutter with every exhale.
“Stiles,” Derek hissed, gently untangling Cam’s hand from the pillow, freeing his face from Cam’s arm. “You awake?”
“No,” Stiles muttered directly into Heath’s hair. “Fuck off.”
“Stiles,” Derek hissed again. “We need to talk.”
Stiles raised his head the slightest bit, unable to move much without jostling Heath awake. “What could we possibly have to tell me right now?”
“Last night,” Derek whispered, side-eying Cam to make sure he was still asleep, “I heard the boys talking outside our door.”
“And?” Stiles asked, frustration mounting. “I swear to God, Derek. It’s seven in the morning and this kid has been leaning on my bladder all night. If you don’t get to the point in two minutes, I’m going back to sleep.”
“They were asking why we weren’t having sex!” Derek hissed, desperate for Stiles to care about the issue as much as he did.
“Why do they care?” Stiles asked, flopping his head back down on the corner of the bed, leaving Heath the rest of his pillow. “They’re nine! I don’t think I even knew what sex was when I was nine.”
“Of course you did,” Derek argued, flicking Stiles on the ear with his free hand. “You were a freaking child genius. You knew everything!”
“Well I definitely didn’t stand outside my parents’ door and wonder why they weren’t fucking!” Stiles hissed back, having to physically stop himself from gesticulating and waking up Heath.
“I think they’re on to us,” Derek said gravely.
Stiles laughed silently. “This isn’t a fucking spy movie, Derek! They’re kids. If our friends don’t know what’s up, they definitely don’t.”
“Kids are more perceptive than you think they are,” Derek said, which was a fair point that made Stiles want to punch him in the face.
“I’m sure they are, but I don’t think that applies to our imaginary sex life!” Stiles said, voice rising as he got more and more worked up. Heath rolled over in his sleep, turning to face Stiles, who looked to the ceiling and huffed out a sigh. “What do you want me to do? Have fake sex with you again so they can eavesdrop?”
Derek looked like he was considering the merits of that idea.
“That was not a serious suggestion!” Stiles groaned, rolling his eyes at Derek’s idiocy. “We are not doing that again! That was a one time only performance.”
“Well I think we need to be a bit more convincing,” Derek said, abandoning the fake sex idea as quickly as Stiles suggested it. “We need to look more like a happy couple.”
“PDA does not equate to happiness, just so you’re aware,” Stiles said, looking pointedly at Derek, who had the good sense to look embarrassed for himself.
“You know that’s not what I meant,” Derek said softly, taking a second to pull Cam in closer to his body, as if he could protect the boy from the conversation they were having. Either that, or he was using Cam as a human buffer, shielding himself from Stiles’ ire.
“Well it sounded like you were implying that sex is the only thing that matters in a marriage,” Stiles said, his tone sounding more like a lecture than Derek had ever heard since they were married, let alone while they were in bed together. “And as your husband, someone who is happy to be married to you, in fact, I think that’s complete bullshit.”
“I’m sorry, alright?” Derek said, wondering when they had started fighting about their imaginary sex life. “I don’t care that we’re not having sex, I just care that the boys see us as a happy couple. I want them to feel like we make a good family.”
“We are a good family,” Stiles argued, hoping he didn’t sound like Derek’s words had hurt his feelings. “If you feel it, and you believe it, it’s true. We don’t need sex to be happy, and I definitely don’t need our kids thinking couples need frequent sex to be valid. Our fake sex life is private.”
“I’m sorry,” Derek said quietly, unsure why Stiles was so upset, but absolutely certain that he had fucked up somehow. “I just… panicked.”
“It’s fine,” Stiles said, though Derek thought he didn’t sound fine at all. “I just can’t do that with you again.”
Derek didn’t know what Stiles was talking about, but found himself saying, “I know. Me either,” all the same. Derek wasn’t sure how much more he could take either, and the thought of that terrified him.
Later that day, Stiles and Derek took the boys to meet the Sheriff and Melissa. Cam got such a kick out of riding in the back of the police cruiser that he asked several times if they could turn on the siren. Derek insisted that no, the siren was only for emergencies, effectively killing the fun. Stiles was impressed to find that Derek may have finally reached his limit of spoiling the kids.
Hearing the car pull up, John and Melissa were already waiting on the front porch when they pulled up. Melissa’s smile was so wide it made even Heath smile back, albeit much less enthusiastically.
“I hope you boys are hungry,” she said, kissing Stiles and Derek on the cheek before leading them inside. “I may have gone a little overboard.”
“No such thing,” Heath said happily. Derek and Stiles shared a look, already dreading the stomach ache that would put the boys back in their bed later that night.
“Maybe not too much today,” Derek warned the boys, giving Cam a little push on the back as they entered the house and sat down around the kitchen table.
“I made mom’s cheesy potatoes last night and Heath almost died,” Stiles said, a hint of pride in his voice.
“Is that so?” John asked, twisting his lips into a satisfied smirk.
“Totally worth it,” Heath said, wagging his eyebrows at Stiles like he intended to do it again.
“You’re only allowed to share my pillow again if you lay off sleeping on top of my bladder, deal?” Stiles asked, holding his hand out for Heath to shake.
“He slept in your bed last night?” John asked as Heath and Stiles shook hands. “I’d have thought you guys would have been too busy with each other to have kids in your bedroom.”
“Why does everyone think we can’t keep our hands off each other?” Stiles asked, mock offended, “We’re adults. We can control ourselves.”
“You’ve never really been subtle about your feelings, kiddo,” John said, pulling a chair out from the table for Cam to clamber onto.
“Yeah, well maybe Derek’s been a good influence on me,” Stiles said, taking his seat next to Heath, letting Derek sit across from him with Cam.
“That’s definitely true,” Melissa said, putting a platter of spaghetti and meatballs down on the table before taking her own seat.
“Scott and Allison aren’t coming over?” Derek asked, wondering why they would be eating without them if they were on their way. Allison would never have passed up a homemade meal from Melissa in her current ravenous state.
“Allison’s so close to her due date, the doctor told her to take it easy,” Melissa said, smiling fondly at Heath, who was piling meatballs onto his plate. “She’s staying in until she goes into labor. Probably getting a little stir crazy by now.”
“I bet,” Stiles agreed, helping Heath get a serving of pasta onto his plate without taking the entire bowl of spaghetti when it stuck together.
“You boys might have a little cousin to play with before you know it,” Derek said, hoping against hope that the adoption would go through and he wouldn’t be making empty promises. “Scott is Stiles’ brother, so he’d be your uncle.”
“You’ll have a lot of aunts and uncles, actually,” John said, thanking Stiles when he was passed the bowl of food. “These two have tons of friends who are always around. You can’t seem to get rid of them, actually, especially Erica.”
“Don’t tell me she’s been coming over here, too,” Derek said, wondering where he went wrong teaching the Betas proper boundaries.
“They run past every night when they’re making their patrol rounds,” Melissa said reassuringly. “Nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Sometimes Boyd comes in to sneak some cookies,” John said, passing the bowl over to Cam.
Derek leaned over to serve Cam himself, knowing they might end up with a big mess of tomato sauce if they let Cam do it himself. He then proceeded to chop up Cam’s meatballs into bite size pieces.
“I can do it, Derek!” Cam whined when Derek started hacking the spaghetti up into short little strips. “I’m not a baby!”
“I know you’re not, buddy,” Derek said, putting the knife and fork down before serving Melissa before himself. “I just don’t want you to get messy. We didn’t bring you a change of clothes and I think you only have one shirt left in your backpack.”
“There’s this thing called a washing machine, babe,” Stiles said, smiling fondly at Derek, who had just taken a bite of spaghetti. Derek coughed and sputtered, nearly choking on his mouthful of food when he heard the endearment pass Stiles’ lips. “And we could always take them shopping tomorrow.”
“I thought you said you were going to teach us how to play lacrosse in the park tomorrow!” Cam complained around the meatball that was halfway into his mouth.
“We are, don’t worry,” Stiles assured him, not wanting to renege on any of the promises that were easy to keep. “We might need to get you a shorter stick, though. We can go to the sports store in the mall in the morning tomorrow.”
Heath coughed and raised his eyebrows at Stiles, who knew the boy was only putting up with the sports for Cam’s benefit.
“And the bookstore,” Stiles amended his earlier statement, getting a smile from Heath in response.
“You any good at lacrosse?” John asked Derek, having never seen the man play before.
“I think I can handle it,” Derek said, smirking. “I’m pretty athletic.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. Maybe they should have warned his dad and Melissa that they weren’t letting the boys in on the werewolf secret yet. He hoped his dad would have enough sense to let the topic die.
“You should have seen him at the batting range!” Cam said, spaghetti trailing out of his mouth. “He hit like every ball!”
“Chew first,” Stiles said, trying not to laugh, “then speak. I don’t want you choking on spaghetti.”
“Sorry!” Cam said, wiping the sauce on his face with the back of his hand, effectively spreading it around instead of wiping it off. “Derek was really good, though!”
“Come here, buddy,” Stiles said, curling his finger at Cam from across the table, who stood up on his chair and leaned forward, confused. Stiles dunked his napkin in his water glass and used it to wipe the tomato sauce from Cam’s face.
Cam squeezed his eyes shut and scrunched up his face, almost managing to squirm out of his reach until Derek held him still. “If you keep your face clean, I won’t have to wash it,” Stiles said, smiling at Cam and then giving Derek a knowing look.
Stiles wondered how thoroughly Cam washed himself in the shower that morning. He hadn’t thought at all about what kind of habits the boys had picked up at the orphanage. Stiles pondered for a second how old you had to be before it got weird to bathe together with other people. He hoped Derek would have a bit more insight into that situation, and filed the thought away for later.
Heath had eaten a second helping of meatballs, but a stern look from Stiles had stopped him for going back for a third. They helped Melissa fill the dishwasher and clean off the table when prompted, and Derek absolutely glowed with pride at how helpful the boys were being.
“Time to wash up,” Melissa had told them after everything was clean. “Then we can play with some Legos that I found in the attic, if you like that sort of thing.”
“Yes!” Cam said, fist pumping when Melissa mentioned Legos.
“Here you go,” Stiles said, lifting Cam up in the air until he could reach the kitchen sink to wash his hands. Heath, being a little taller, didn’t need a boost. As soon as his hands were dry, Cam ran off to the living room where Melissa had a tub of Legos laid out. Derek followed, and began constructing a perfect pyramid out of yellow bricks.
“Do you like chess, son?” John asked, seeing the way Heath hadn’t dashed off to play with the Legos like Cam had.
“I don’t know how to play,” Heath said, but didn’t decline right away.
“Well, you look like a smart kid,” John said, patting Heath on the shoulder and leading him back to the kitchen table. “Stiles started learning when he was ten. He can help you,” he said, smiling fondly at his son. “Why don’t you go get your old set?”
“Be right back,” Stiles said, darting up the stairs two at a time and returning with a handsome old wooden board and box of pieces.
The afternoon passed pleasantly, with Cam falling asleep with his head in Melissa’s lap for a nap an hour into their foray into Legos. Melissa, who was just about to become a grandmother herself, nearly cried when Cam felt comfortable enough to snuggle into her, curling a hand into the hem of her shirt.
“If that isn’t just the sweetest thing,” John said, looking over at the couch while Heath tried to decide on his next move. Derek caught his eye and took out his phone to take a photo, sending it to both John and Scott.
“You’re better with them than I expected,” John said quietly, while Heath was still engrossed in studying the chess board.
“Should I take that as a compliment?” Stiles asked, letting out a low chuckle as his dad watched Derek put the Legos away, careful not to demolish the amorphized truck that Cam had been building. He got up to put it on the mantle above the fireplace for safekeeping, thinking Cam might want to continue building it the next time they visited the grandparents.
Stiles’ stomach clenched as he watched Derek gingerly lean the truck up against the wall where it was a little off balance, Cam having not found four wheels of the same size. He cradled it gently, almost reverently and stepped back to smile at Cam’s work.
“He’s going to make a great father,” John said, nodding in Derek’s direction. The man in question was settling down on the other side of the couch, lifting Cam’s feet into his lap and talking with Melissa about the boys in hushed tones.
“He already is,” Stiles said, not taking his eyes off of his husband. He licked his lower lip, trying to place the feeling that was burrowing its way into his chest. Heat licked up his neck, until Stiles was sure it was flushing his face.
John chuckled knowingly, attention only drawn back to the board when Heath suddenly called, “check!” He tapped Stiles arm repeatedly until he drew his eyes away from Derek and looked back on the board, assuring Heath that yes, indeed, he did have Papa John in check.
John’s mouth twisted at the moniker, but he didn’t protest. He could be Papa John, if that’s what the boys wanted to call him. He could tell already, from one afternoon, that Cam and Heath were going to be sticking around for a long time.
“There’s been an incident at school,” Ms. Pickerbitch’s voice said through the phone receiver, causing Stiles to smack Derek hard in the bicep until he turned the cruiser’s radio down. “I thought you might like to know… seeing as your paperwork is about to be finalized.”
“What happened?” Stiles asked hurriedly, pleased that Derek was already listening in and had restarted the engine, already steering the car toward Roslind House. “Are the boys alright?”
“Oh, they’re no worse for the wear,” Vivian said in that frustratingly vague way she had that was two parts condescending and one part infuriating. “A few bumps and bruises from some of the older boys. Nothing that won’t heal in a few weeks.”
“Weeks?” Stiles asked, completely shocked by Vivian’s nonchalance. Derek’s foot pressed down harder on the gas pedal. The sooner they got the boys out of that God forsaken place, the better. Stiles was pretty sure Ms. Pickerbitch had it out for him since the very beginning, and now that they were so close to finally adopting the boys, he was getting worried something terrible was going to happen.
“It seems they got into a bit of a scuffle over something,” she carried on, not offering up any further details about the boys’ injuries. “Maybe it’s something they’d prefer to talk to you about.”
“We’re on our way, we’ll be there in ten minutes,” Stiles said, catching Derek’s eye, he amended his statement. “Make that five minutes,” he said, before hanging up before Vivian could make him even more angry.
Not waiting for Stiles, Derek pushed open the door of the orphanage without even knocking, heading straight for Vivian’s office.
“Mr. Hale,” she simpered, waving her hand at the chairs in front of her desk. Derek did not take a seat. If anything he stood up even taller, defiant, with his arms crossed over his chest.
“What happened to Heath and Cam?” he demanded, already hot on the case before Stiles had even made it into the room. “Where are they?”
“Cam is fine, as far as I could tell,” Ms. Pickerbitch said, pointedly avoiding the question, yet again.
“What about Heath?” Stiles asked, still slightly out of breath from having chased Derek inside from the parking lot.
“He had a bit of a tumble,” Vivian said, shouting “wait! Come back!” when Derek stormed from the room and went looking for Heath. He was lying in Cam’s bottom bunk, curled up on his side, facing away from the door. Cam was sitting by his side, rubbing a small hand in circles on his back.
Derek’s breath caught in his throat. His son was hurting, and he wanted to know why and who did it so he could kill them, slowly and with malice.
“Heath?” he called from the doorway, entering when Cam smiled warily at him and waved him forward. “It’s just us. Are you alright?”
“I think he’s hurt pretty bad,” Cam said, scooting over to the foot of the bed so Derek could get closer.
Stiles watched from a few feet away as Derek put a gentle hand on Heath’s shoulder and pulled. Heath, for all his usual bravado, rolled over easily, not even bothering to hide his injuries. He hissed in pain when his back hit the mattress, causing Stiles to fall to his knees and inch in closer to the bed.
Heath had a deep bruise on his cheek and a black eye. The painful noise that escaped him when he rolled over told Stiles that he was probably also punched in the kidneys during whatever “scuffle” had happened at school.
“Oh my God, are you alright?” Stiles said, reaching out to brush a shaking finger across Heath’s cheek. Heath sighed heavily, but nodded, almost embarrassed at being found out. “What happened?” Stiles asked next, looking to Cam when Heath made no move to answer the question.
“Some of the older boys were making fun of me,” Cam admitted warily, not wanting to get Heath in trouble, but already conditioned to tell Derek and Stiles the truth. “They started to swing at me, and Heath pushed me out of the way. He fought them for me.”
“Are you alright?” Derek asked Cam, seeing no visible injuries on the boy, but concerned by the way Heath was in so much pain.
“They didn’t touch me,” Cam said, sad, but almost proud of his brother. “Heath got it pretty bad though.”
“I would have been fine if there weren’t so many of them,” Heath huffed, shiner making his scowl even more menacing than usual.
“How many was that?” Stiles asked, wondering if it were really a fight at all. Judging by how bad Heath looked, Stiles doubted if he got any swings in at all. It looked like he had been just held down and pounded.
“Two,” Heath muttered, turning his face away slightly.
Cam huffed in an exasperated way that sounded much older than his years and corrected Heath, saying, “he means four.”
“Four kids beat you up?” Derek asked, eyebrows shooting up into his hairline.
Stiles could hear the faint rumble of Derek’s wolf building in the Alpha’s throat and subtly elbowed him until the noise subsided. The last thing they needed was for Derek to wolf out in the middle of what Stiles thought was shaping up to be a key parenting moment. “What did they hit you for?” Stiles asked, not in any way prepared for Cam’s answer.
“They thought it was bad that we might get adopted by two gay guys,” Cam said quietly, looking at Heath while he spoke.
Heath had a stern, defiant look on his face that silently told Cam that being gay was no reason for someone to throw a punch, but Stiles wasn’t sure it was coming across to the younger boy.
“What do you think about that?” Stiles asked, looking to both Cam and Heath. He wasn’t sure the boys were understanding the severity of the situation. If they were adopted by a gay couple, bullying was likely something that would follow them for the rest of their adolescent lives. No one should make that decision without understanding the implications. “There are a lot of people in the world that don’t like gay people, and kids and adults might be mean to you about it if you decide to have us as your parents.”
“That’s stupid,” Cam said, causing Derek to bite his bottom lip, stifling his pride for a minute to let Cam finish his speech. “Just because you’re both boys doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to love each other. There’s plenty of people who don’t have anyone to love at all, and that’s just sad.”
“That is sad,” Derek agreed, hoping the boys weren’t going to give up on them so easily. “It doesn’t matter if we’re gay or not, as long as we love you. And we do. We love you.”
“We love you so much,” Stiles added, surprised when Heath nearly threw himself into his arms, desperate for affection and reassurance. Stiles raised his eyebrows over Heath’s back at Derek when a tiny whimper and shake of the shoulders told him that Heath is crying into his neck.
“Does that mean you still want to be our dads?” Cam asked, inching closer to Derek, angling for a hug.
“Of course we do,” Derek said, holding out his arms. Cam folded himself into the space Derek made for him and nuzzled in. “It’s all we’ve ever wanted.”
Stiles held Heath, rubbing his back and patting his dark hair until the sniffles subsided and the boy pulled back. Stiles winced, having almost forgotten how swollen Heath’s eye was.
“Why don’t you have a word with Ms. Pickerbitch?” Stiles asked Derek, pulling his phone out of his uniform pocket. “I’m going to call Melissa. I think someone should have taken Heath to the hospital. She might want to check him out.”
“I’ll be right back,” Derek said, heading for the door. Vivian was still in her office, running fingers through her blonde curls while surveying herself in a compact mirror.
“Can I help you?” she asked, snapping the compact closed and putting it back in her snakeskin purse.
“Yeah,” Derek said, crossing his arms and looking at the woman with utter contempt. What kind of person would make a parent worry like that? She didn’t even seem to like children. “We’d like to take the boys for the night. Heath really should have seen a doctor. You should have taken him to the hospital.”
“That’s not how our protocol works,” Vivian said, pushing her chair back from her desk and getting up. She was wearing an even shorter dress than usual and a pair of heels that did not look at all suitable for taking care of children. “Your hearing isn’t set until next week.”
“Perhaps you can make an exception,” Derek said, itching to move backward a step as Vivian moved toward him. He stood his ground. Stiles wouldn’t forgive him if he screwed up this conversation, not after Heath had been so upset. They needed to take the boys home, hold them close, fall asleep together. They needed family.
“Perhaps we can come to some sort of arrangement,” she said edging even closer.
This time, Derek did take a step back, a big one, one that nearly had him up against the office wall. “What are you doing?”
“Oh come now, Mr. Hale,” Vivian teased, in a tone of voice that Derek did not care for one little bit. “We both know that you’re in some strange sham of a marriage with the clumsy one. Surely you’re not in it for the mind blowing sex.”
“How could you possibly know that?” Derek asked. He meant to sound defiant, to tell Vivian that she had no idea how brilliant their sex life was, but she took it as a confession.
“It’s obvious, really,” she went on, inching forward, one sashay at a time until Derek was flat against the wall. “You are so far out of his league. Anyone with eyes could see that he doesn’t deserve you.”
Derek kept his arms crossed firmly across her chest, hoping to deter Vivian’s advances, keep her just those few inches further away. He’d never hit an unarmed human woman before, but she was testing his resolve. Normally, he didn’t like to be touched by anyone, but the boys and Stiles had worn down his resistance. What was it about Stiles that made every red-blooded woman in striking range feel the need to stake their claim over his body?
“You don’t know anything about him, or me,” Derek said, raising his chin in the air. “He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not interested in women.”
“I think we both know that’s just not true,” Vivian said, nearly leering at him. “You’ve been uncomfortable with him since the minute you first came in my office.”
“Maybe I just don’t like people touching me in public,” Derek argued, not wanting to let Vivian know the real reason was that he had been trying to hide his feelings since before they had been married.
“Maybe I could touch you in private then,” she said, a predatory grin making its way onto her smug face.
“Absolutely not,” Derek said again, “I’m getting my husband, and I’m taking the boys home.”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Vivian said, raising her eyebrows at Derek and tossing her blonde curls over her shoulder.
“And why’s that?” he asked, losing patience with every passing minute.
“If you were to do that I think you would find that there might be a little mishap with your adoption paperwork,” she said lightly, breezing over the threat like it was nothing for her to rip a new family apart.
“You wouldn’t,” Derek said, mouth opening in shock. He’d been pursued by fearsome women before, but it had never been anything like this. Vivian wasn’t just threatening him and Stiles, she was threatening defenseless children.
“I think you’ll find that one night with me is well worth the sacrifice,” Vivian said, licking her lips and leaning forward. She was much too close to Derek’s face now, and he panicked. She leaned in for a kiss, and even her perfume made Derek’s skin itch.
Acting on instinct, Derek pushed her away, perhaps a bit too harshly. She stumbled back on her heels, nearly falling over before she caught herself on a chair.
“Let me make myself perfectly clear,” Derek said, voice clear and even. “I’m in love with my husband. Stiles is everything I’ve ever wanted. He’s kind and funny, and so, so strong. He’s going to make an amazing father. The boys already love him, and we make a good team. I have no interest in you, and I never will.”
Derek stalked forward, not wanting to leave any room for confusion. “You will never come near me or the boys, ever again. I’m calling my lawyer, and I’m going to have your job by the end of the week. I suggest you leave town before you find yourself in jail,” he stormed out of the room with such haste that he nearly knocked Stiles over.
“Derek… I--” Stiles couldn’t find any of the right words. His throat felt like it was swelling shut. He had only heard the last few sentences of that argument, but already knew that it had been way more than Derek had been willing to reveal. “Did you mean all of that?” he asked finally, coughing to dislodge the odd croakiness in his voice.
“Of course I did,” Derek said, meeting Stiles’ eyes warily. If Stiles didn’t feel the same way, he didn’t know what he was going to do. They were still going to be living together, still going to share a bed that night. The moment stretched on, indeterminately. He was going to die of embarrassment if Stiles didn’t say something soon.
“Why didn’t you say anything sooner?” Stiles asked, barely registering the shocked look on Derek’s face before he had the man pressed up against the wall next to Vivian’s office, mouth firmly attached to Derek’s throat.
“Umm…” Derek said, brain short-circuiting as Stiles nipped and sucked at his neck, which was definitely one of his most sensitive areas. It was like Stiles was already familiar with his body, and the thought made Derek arch his neck and press his body even closer to his husband’s.
Not wasting any more time, Stiles kicked Derek’s legs apart and thrust a thigh in the space he made, trailing kisses over to Derek’s mouth as he ground his hips forward, pinning Derek to the wall.
There were hands in his hair and a tongue in his mouth, and Derek officially lost it. There was nothing more to do but hang on for dear life and enjoy the ride. Stiles rocked into his body, rubbing deliciously at the erection that was tenting Derek’s uniform pants. He was about thirty seconds from embarrassing himself, when he heard someone clear their throat.
Stiles apparently hadn’t heard anything. He just kept on assaulting Derek’s mouth, biting and sucking at his bottom lip with the kind of focus that only Stiles could give. Derek made a faint sound of protest against Stiles’ mouth, but it was promptly swallowed.
The person cleared their throat again, louder this time, finally catching Stiles’ attention. He pulled away from Derek reluctantly, but not before pressing another firm kiss to Derek’s swollen lips. Thankfully, when the couple turned, Heath was standing there, covering his eyes with one hand and Cam’s with the other. Derek sighed in relief and adjusted himself in his pants.
“Is it safe to look now?” Cam asked, prying Heath’s fingers apart until he could peek between them.
“Yeah, sorry,” Stiles said, coughing and running his fingers through his hair nonchalantly. “Are you ready to go?” he asked, drawing attention to him so the boys wouldn’t see how fucked-out Derek looked.
“We’re leaving?” Cam asked, still looking quizzically at the pair of them.
“Yeah, we’re taking you to see Melissa, then we’re going home,” Stiles said, smiling broadly. “Go pack up your things.”
“Don’t forget anything,” Derek added, “if all goes well, you won’t ever be coming back here.”
The boys ran off to fill their backpacks with their meagre belongings, and Derek slumped against the wall, still practically out of breath.
“I love you,” Stiles said, slipping his hand into Derek’s and squeezing.
“I love you, too,” Derek replied, unable to keep the smile off his face.
Stiles crowded into his space, running the tip of his upturned nose along the broad line of Derek’s throat. Derek let out a very satisfying whimper when Stiles bit down lightly on his earlobe and whispered, “we’ll finish this later.”
Derek nodded, licking his lips as Stiles straightened up. The boys returned, and Stiles took Heath’s hand, leading their family to the cruiser.
The lights were still on at the Stilinski house when they pulled up. Cam had fallen asleep on the short ride from the orphanage, and Derek lifted him from the backseat and carried him into the house, trailing after Stiles and Heath.
Stiles knocked lightly on the door, not wanting to wake up Cam. Melissa answered, smiling softly when she saw Cam’s sleeping form wrapped around Derek. She sighed when she caught a glimpse of Heath’s face, looking much worse in the half-shadows of the porch light.
“Come inside and let me get a better look at that,” she said, opening the door and stepping back so they could all get into the house. Stiles picked Heath up and sat him down on the kitchen table while Melissa flicked on the overhead light.
“Ouch,” she said, instructing Stiles to get an icepack and a dish towel while she searched her bag for some child aspirin. “Does this hurt?” Melissa asked, gently prodding Heath’s cheekbone, checking for breaks.
“No,” he said quietly, “it’s fine.”
Stiles huffed and pinched the bottom of Heath’s tee shirt, “show her the rest,” he prompted, waiting for Heath to pull his shirt up and expose the bruises he knew would be spread across his back and stomach.
“Lay down for me, sweetie,” Melissa said, voice still soft and calm as she checked Heath’s abdomen, searching for broken ribs and sore patches. Heath hissed when she reached a particularly large bruise, and Melissa took several minutes wrapping it for him.
When the boys finally made it home, it was clear to Stiles and Derek that their private time would have to wait a bit longer. Cam and Heath brushed their teeth and changed for bed, and Derek left their bedroom door open, knowing for certain that for at least one more night, their bed would have an extra two bodies in it.
Stiles made a quick call to Lydia while the rest of the family got ready for bed. If possible, she was even more upset about Vivian’s behavior than Stiles had been, and promised she would have a judge approve their paperwork by morning. Stiles didn’t bother to ask how it was possible, his only thought was of curling up with the boys and finally getting some sleep.
“Lydia said you’ll be officially ours by morning,” Stiles said, laughing at Cam’s dramatic faceplant onto the mattress. “Sound good to you?” he asked Heath, who had followed at a much more subdued pace, still sore all over.
“Sounds perfect,” Heath said, slowly and carefully climbing into bed and settling down on his back next to Stiles. Derek pressed a kiss to his forehead, then shut off the lamp, wishing everyone a good night.
The group managed a solid four hours of sleep before Stiles’ cell phone rang shrilly, waking Derek first, and then Cam. Heath, who had had an incredibly rough day, slept on, seemingly unperturbed by the noise.
“What is it, Scotty?” Stiles muttered, managing to unlock his phone without opening his eyes. Derek, who could hear the other side of the conversation perfectly, gently shook Heath’s shoulder until the boy groaned himself awake. “We’ll be right there,” Stiles said into the phone as Derek ushered the boys out of bed.
Stiles and Derek threw on clothes, and after a minute’s consideration decided the Batman and Robin pajamas the boys were wearing were perfectly acceptable attire for a 3 a.m. run to the hospital. Stiles velcroed sneakers onto a half-awake Cam and then bundled the family into his Jeep.
Allison had apparently had the quickest labor ever, because the baby had already been delivered by the time they got to the hospital. Scott met the family in the waiting room, and after receiving a deadly tight hug from Stiles, introduced himself to the boys.
“This is your Uncle Scott,” Stiles explained. Cam smiled and held out his hand while Heath groaned and rubbed his eyes, still not properly awake. “He’s Melissa’s son.”
“Are you guys ready to meet your new cousin?” Scott asked. Even Heath’s lack of enthusiasm couldn’t dampen his mood. “Her name is Lacy McCall and she’s perfect!” he crowed, taking Cam’s hand and leading them through the halls until they made it to Allison’s room.
“Ready to meet your niece?” Allison asked as soon as they made it through the door. Stiles stepped up immediately, arms already in the proper position as Allison laid the baby in his arms. She was pretty perfect, a swatch of black hair sticking out from under her pink hat. She was dead asleep.
Stiles stared at Lacy for several minutes, running a long finger down the bridge of her nose, marveling at how tiny she was. He couldn’t help it when a tear tried to escape the corner of his eye. He wiped at it quickly, but Derek caught him, smiling fondly from a chair on the opposite side of Allison’s bed.
“Ally,” Derek said softly, not wanting to break the quiet of the room, “I’d like you to meet your nephews, Heath and Cameron.”
Cam hopped up to the head of the bed and held out his hand for her to shake. Allison laughed, but accepted the greeting, pulling the boy in for a one armed hug, the most she could manage from her prone position. Heath waved at her from the foot of the bed, eyes flicking back to stare at Stiles and the baby.
“Do you want to hold her?” Allison asked Heath, smiling encouragingly at him. “She’s your baby cousin, after all.”
Heath nodded shyly, and Stiles stood up, letting Heath sit down. Derek showed Heath how to support the baby’s head and hold his arms, and Stiles gently laid the baby down in his arms. Lacy slept on, giving Stiles the chance to snap a few pictures. Cam came over and peered down at her in awe.
“I think it might be your turn, Mr. Alpha,” Stiles said, nodding his head over at Derek and tossing it over in the direction of where the boys were holding the baby.
“I’m okay,” Derek said, scooting his chair in closer to Allison and squeezing her hand gently.
“You should really hold her,” Scott insisted, walking over to pick Lacy up and then delivering her to Derek’s arms.
Derek took a deep breath to steady himself, and took Lacy’s weight. He hadn’t held a baby in a very, very long time, and it had been even longer since a baby had been born into the Hale pack. Yawning with a kittenish noise, Lacy opened her eyes and looked up. Derek smiled.
“Wait for it,” Scott said, gesturing at the baby. Derek waited. Just as he was going to look away to ask Scott what he was waiting for, Lacy’s eyes flashed yellow. Laughing in pure shock, Derek grinned down at the little girl and flashed his eyes red in answer.
Cam hopped out of his chair and ran over to Derek, looking quickly between the baby and his new father. “Stiles!” he asked, pulling on the bottom of Stiles’ shirt as Derek and Lacy got acquainted with each other. “Are we family yet?” he demanded, nearly shaking with excitement.
“We are, actually,” Stiles said, pulling his phone out of his pocket to snap a few more pictures. “Lydia emailed me the paperwork an hour ago. Just a few signatures and a notary and you’re officially Hales.”
“That means you HAVE to tell us now!” Cam insisted, stomping over to Derek and crossing his arms over his chest in the most adorable Alpha impersonation ever. “You said you’d tell us what it meant when we were officially family, and now we’re officially family. I’m a HALE, you just said so!” he nearly yelled, pointing an accusatory finger at Stiles.
“Shh,” Derek shushed Cam, hoping the baby wouldn’t wake.
“He’s right, Derek,” Stiles agreed, folding his arms and smiling at his husband, wondering how Derek would explain the supernatural to a pair of nine year olds.
“Well,” Derek started, narrowing his eyes at Allison when she started to laugh at him. “I was born a werewolf,” he said simply, waiting for a reaction.
“You’re a werewolf?” Heath asked, clearly not believing a word Derek said. “Werewolves aren’t real.”
“Oh kid, they so are,” Scott said, poking Derek on the shoulder and saying, “come on, show him!”
“Are you ready?” Derek asked.
“Don’t scream,” Stiles added, wanting to cover all his bases.
Derek shifted his face, ears pointing, brow furrowing, and eyes flashing red, he snapped his fangs in Cam’s direction.
“I KNEW IT!” Cam screamed, hopping up and down and nearly bowling Heath over in his excitement. “This is SO AWESOME!”
“I said not to yell,” Stiles reminded him, which just prompted a silent celebratory dance by Cam, and a disbelieving look from Heath.
“You’re really a werewolf?” Heath asked, inching over to Derek until his outstretched hand was just a few scant inches away from Derek’s face.
“Yup,” Derek said, inclining his head until Heath could touch one of his pointed ears. “I’ve always been a werewolf. My whole family were werewolves,” he explained, shaking his head until the shift faded from his face. “Now I’m the Alpha and I have my own pack. Scott is a werewolf, and so are Erica, Boyd, Isaac, and Jackson. You’ll meet them later. But this is a huge secret and you’re not allowed to tell anyone. You can’t even let anyone hear you talking about it, alright?”
“Yeah, of course,” Heath said dismissively, like this was already old news. “So your eyes glow red because you’re an Alpha?” he asked, making sure he had all the facts straight before Cam finished his happy dance and started babbling.
“Yup,” Scott answered happily, nodding his head along to the beat of Cam’s silent rave.
“What does it mean if your eyes glow yellow then?” Heath asked, a question which was apparently important enough to stop Cam’s dance and bring him back over to the rest of the group.
“If your eyes glow yellow, you’re a Beta wolf,” Scott said, letting his eyes flash as an example. “I’m a Beta, so are the rest of our friends, and now Lacy is, too.”
“Do yellow eyes always mean you’re a werewolf?” Cam asked, lips spreading into a knowing grin as he waited for a reply. Derek nodded his head and Cam started yelling yet again, “I KNEW IT!!!”
“Angie is a werewolf… who knew?” Heath said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Wait a second,” Stiles said, holding his hand on Cam’s shoulders before he broke out into another happy dance that put him on the other side of the room. “Who’s Angie?”
“One of the girls back at Roslind House,” Heath explained as Cam bounced up and down next to him.
“Her eyes glow yellow when she’s mad,” Cam explained, laughing with unbridled glee at the news.
“How old is she?” Derek asked, wondering if maybe Angie was one of the other staff members.
“Six!” Cam crowed, breaking free of Stiles’ hold and skipping in circles around Allison’s bed.
Stiles raised his eyebrows at Derek, who was already smiling. “I’ll call Lydia back,” Stiles said, pulling his phone from his pocket and exiting the room promptly.
“What’s going on?” Scott asked, throwing Allison a confused look. “Why do they need Lydia?”
“Because if I’m not mistaken,” Allison said, lips curving into a smile, “Lacy’s going to have a third cousin by the end of the week.”
Derek leaned back in his chair, locking eyes with Heath, a smug, satisfied smirk on his face. “Go big or go home,” Derek told Scott, gently rocking Lacy when she started to whine.
Finally understanding what the adults were talking about, Heath chased Cam around the room until he tackled him on the floor yelling, “we’re getting a sister!"