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When the Bough Breaks

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Stiles answers his door unshaven and red-eyed. He’s still in his shorts and Genie is still crying. It’s insane. He’s been up since four in the morning with Genie’s colic or whatever and the last thing he wants to deal with is whatever it is that Derek Hale is here to hand off to him.

“What the hell is that.” Derek stares at the blanket-swaddled lump on Stiles’ chest like she’s a skin lesion and somehow contagious.

“A cleverly disguised fog-horn.” Stiles rolls his eyes and runs a hand over his face. “It’s my daughter, Derek, what did you think?” He’s been trying to be less judgmental these days, but seriously. This is a lack of observation on par with that one time TMZ mistook Chris Helmsworth’s newborn for a hot dog.

“Since when do you have a baby?” Derek says the word ‘baby’ like most people say ‘second head’ or ‘herpes’ and he’s actually backed up against the railing on Stiles’ front porch with his arms stiff at his sides and his hands cramped into claws.

Stiles would be offended, but after some twelve-odd years of this shit he’s finally figured out that that’s just what werewolves do when something freaks them the fuck out. Sudden onset babies, for example.

On the other hand, Derek’s a grown ass man and really shouldn’t be having whatever sort of panicked bachelor reaction this is to something which is, at its heart, pretty damn normal.

“Really, Derek?” Stiles sighs. “Seriously? I’ve only been trying to adopt for the past two years.”

Two years of constant rejection, of social workers asking him when his wife will be home, of politely worded ‘I don’t think we’re the people to help you’ letters, of Scott on the phone only half-jokingly offering to ask Allison to be a surrogate for him, of his dad quietly giving up on the notion of grandkids because Stiles’ inability to hold down any kind of meaningful relationship for more than a few months is just another in a long string of his failures as a son.

Two years of all that until he got a call from one of his college buddies, who knew he was looking to adopt and who had a niece in trouble, and Derek somehow missed out on it all.

 It’s times like these when he wishes the others aside from Scott and Allison would stay a little more up to date on what’s going on his life beyond how it affects them.

Look, Stiles knows he’s only an adjacent member of the pack through Scott and occasionally Derek, but really? It sucks having his nose rubbed in it.

Ugh, possibly he is too tired to be safely having this train of thought.

“Oh, screw it. Get your ass in here.” He says and staggers back inside. He had entertained the transitory hope that maybe he could get whoever it was at the door to hold Genie for a bit while he grabbed a shower and started a pot of coffee, but judging by the slightly glassy wild-eyed expression on his Alpha’s face that’s not going to be happening any time soon.

Genie continues to bawl right in his ear, clinging to his t-shirt with tiny red fists and rubbing snot into his neck. He’s checked her for fever, changed her diaper about a thousand times, tried every colic cure the internet has to offer, and fed her to keep her from getting dehydrated what with all the tears and snot, but nothing’s helped.

Part of him wants to think it’s because she doesn’t like him and wants her mom instead, except the wailing gets about a million times worse if he tries to put her down.

“Hang out down here for a sec. I’m going to put on some clothes.” He tells Derek and it’s a sign of how tired he is that he can’t even manage enough energy to snicker when Derek falls down onto his couch with a muffled thump, still staring at Genie. Possibly he’s in awe that something so tiny is capable of producing so much noise.

Stiles doesn’t really blame him if that’s so.

Genie reacts to being put in her crib about as well as expected –in that she starts shrieking like the damned even though she can still see him in the bathroom through the slats in her crib.

Stiles washes his face and takes the time to shave because he’s never really been able to deal with Derek competently unless he’s fully dressed and showered. He’s been rocking the stay-at-home-dad couture for the past couple of days, but no one should be expected to have to face down an Alpha werewolf in torn jeans and bare feet.

Mysteriously, Genie starts to quiet down a little as Stiles hops into a pair of trousers and pulls on a real shirt. By the time he’s got his socks and belt on her crying’s gone down to a sort of discontented mewling that cuts off entirely once he picks her back up. Stiles is seriously tempted to rock her to sleep right then and there, but he’s been attempting to coax her into a normal sleeping pattern and an early morning nap is going to seriously set them back.

Miracle of miracles, Derek is still waiting when Stiles makes it downstairs. Stiles had half expected him to bolt out a window the second he turned his back. Derek isn’t sitting anymore, but rather has taken to prowling back and forth by the mantelpiece where Stiles keeps his… ah.

Derek’s looking at the ultrasound picture Becka had framed for Stiles as a joke.  

“I don’t know what you did…” Stiles says as he reaches the bottom step. “…but I will pay you money to keep doing it. She’s been up since oh-god thirty AM.”

“I took your trash out.” Derek says succinctly without turning around.

“Really?” Stiles shakes his head and wonders if he’s gone nose deaf. It’s been a rough couple of days, what with Genie adjusting to the fact that Becka isn’t going to be around and everything. He’s let some things slip that normally he wouldn’t given the fact that Scott and his nose are over almost all the time. “Sorry about that.”

“Don’t be.” Derek turns now and he’s clearly gotten a handle on his initial reaction. He’s got his ‘I’m the Alpha’ face going at full speed. “You’d have been busy.”

“Busy doesn’t quite cover it.” Stiles admits and settles himself onto one of the armchairs with Genie in his lap. Her eyes are following Derek with uncanny persistence he’s noticed. No telling whether that’s a good sign or a bad sign.

He’s too tired to remember the statistics on when infants should be able to track objects with any sort of accuracy, but he’s got a feeling that Genie is ahead of the curve. She already habituates to new stimuli like you wouldn’t believe and he’s pretty sure that she’s figured out that things don’t stop existing once they’re out of her line of sight. Unless that thing happens to be her daddy in which case she’s highly skeptical and not really willing to chance it.

“So what did you need?” He asks once the silence has dragged on for a bit.

Derek blinks and looks up from where he’s been staring right back at Genie like he’s forgotten there was another reason for him to be here. Maybe he did because he almost visible flounders for a split second before remembering what it was and says, “It doesn’t matter.”

“Yeah right.” Stiles rolls his eyes. “You wouldn’t be up and around town at seven thirty on a Saturday morning for anything less than vital pack business. The fact that you’re here and not whoever’s annoyed you recently says it’s either important or you don’t want the others to know yet. So c’mon, tell the Google Fairy what it is you want.”

Derek bares his teeth at Stiles, but there’s no growling to go with it. “It’s a moot point now.” He says and looks back down at Genie. “What do you …need?” He gets a little squinty and a lot unhappy looking on that last word.

“Huh?” Stiles blinks. Genie gurgles in his lap and turns her attention away from Derek, evidently bored now. “Uh –not much, really?” He quails under the murderous look Derek shoots his way, which … what the hell? “I’m running low on formula?”

“Formula.” Derek repeats him in such a flat tone that it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore and then scowls. “What kind?”

“Look, man, I don’t know what you…” Stiles trails off as Derek’s glare goes from merely thunderous to outright psychotic. “It’s the Earth’s Best Organic stuff! Please don’t kill me?”

“I’m wouldn’t…” Derek shakes his head as if to clear it and stalks into Stiles’ kitchen only to return with one of the empty canisters sitting out on his counter from where he’s been putting off tidying up. “This.”

“Uh, yeah.” Stiles confirms with a nod and wonders if maybe he’s been transported to the Twilight Zone when he wasn’t paying attention. There can be no other explanation for why he’s suddenly got Derek Hale brandishing an empty can of powdered baby formula in his face like he wants to beat someone to death with it.

“Stay here.” Derek bites out and leaves, locking the door behind him, and –when exactly did he get a key to Stiles’ house?

Stiles frowns and then goes to check his key bowl for the spare one he had cut for those special occasions when his keychain goes walkabout.

It’s gone.

“What the actual fuck?” Stiles asks Genie, who has no answer for him unless that consternated ‘I am probably pooping right now’ expression on her face is actually a comment on weirdo werewolves.

Come to think of it, it probably is.

 


 

If Stiles thought he was going to get a little piece and quiet until Genie’s next emergency then he thought wrong because Erica, Boyd, Isaac, Isaac’s fiancée Amanda, Jackson, Lydia, and Danny all show up on his front step not twenty minutes after Derek vanishes from his livingroom.

“Oh my god, it’s an actual baby.” Erica makes a noise that is caught somewhere between being a scandalized gasp and a besotted coo. “Who trusted you with a baby?”

“A scared teenager who wasn’t ready to be a mom.” Stiles says and Erica recoils slightly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t meant it like that…”

“No, I’m sorry.” She shakes her head, properly contrite, and hunkers down so Genie can look at her with that thousand yard stare she’s developed in the last few hours. “I shouldn’t have said it, it’s just… I can’t wrap my head around you being a daddy. When did this happen?” She holds up a finger for Genie and makes this delighted little squeal when Genie grasps the tip of it.

“Well this…” He wiggles Genie in his arms, “…happened about six weeks ago, but I’ve been trying to adopt for a while.” He frowns. “You guys really didn’t know? Scott won’t shut up about it. I thought for sure he’d have been handing out pink bubblegum cigars at every pack get together since I brought her home from the hospital.”

Erica rolls her eyes. “Yeah, like McCall’s going to share anything about you or Allison that we don’t extract from him with thumbscrews, the possessive bastard. He’s still two steps away from being a full-on Omega even after all this time. I’m willing to lay down good money he’s afraid one of us will want to eat her. He’s never gotten over that one time Derek said he was like the Alpha of his own pack. Pull the other one, Stilinski.” She looks like she wants to be annoyed but is too busy falling head over heels in love. “Oh my god, a baby. The pack’s first baby. I thought for sure Allison would have popped one out by now, but this is better. I can visit this one without Scott breathing down my neck. Derek must be going insane.”

“Insane’s a good word for it.” Stiles agrees and looks around to where the rest of the pack are…they’re… “Are you guys cleaning my house?” He asks incredulously.

“Well obviously you haven’t been.” Lydia responds tartly as she descends his stairs with two baskets of laundry balanced one on top of the other just as Jackson comes upstairs from the basement with Stiles’ economy sized jug of Tide.

“This has perfume in it.” He holds it out to Lydia like it’s a dead animal she needs to inspect, which is pretty much how she receives it. God, how did it take him until after college to realize they were made for each other?

“Ugh, put hypoallergenic laundry soap on the list.” She sighs. “And baby safe fabric softener.”

“And socket covers!” Danny calls from upstairs. What he’s doing up there Stiles doesn’t even want to know. He’s achieved a Zen state of calm about the entire situation that basically involves pretending like there aren’t werewolves crawling all over his house finding fault with every single facet of his life.

Erica glances towards the door. “Derek just pulled up in front of the house.” She announces to the room in general.

“Thank god.” Isaac exits the kitchen with one of the marker boards that used to live on Stiles’ fridge. It’s covered over with notes in three different colors of marker and four people’s handwriting. “Someone needs to rein Boyd in. I don’t even know what two thirds of the stuff on this list is.”

Stiles feels a chill crawl down his back. “Tell me Boyd isn’t in my pantry.”

“Boyd’s in your pantry.” Isaac informs him gravely. “It has all been found wanting. I’m pretty sure he even found your emergency stash of Reeses Puffs.”

“Well, he’d better put it right back otherwise he’s going to be buying me new.” Stiles grumbles. “Why’d you let him become a dietician anyway, Erica? He’s your mate. You’ve got a higher rank. You could’ve made him go into physical therapy instead.”

“It makes him happy.” Erica says with a fond smile. “Besides, he’s back in school for PT. Nothing saying he can’t do both. Hiya, boss!” She calls that last part out over her shoulder as Derek lets himself in through the front door, not even bothering to hide the fact that he stole Stiles’ spare key and then sicced a pack of lunatics on him.

He’s got way more bags on his arms than a run to the store for formula warrants. Stiles peers over at him and asks, “How much did you get?”

All of it.” Derek replies looking a little wild-eyed and hands the bags, which are indeed all full of baby formula, over to Isaac who trades it for the shopping list from hell. Derek squints at it. “Is this all necessary?” He isn’t even looking at Stiles.

“I can safely say: no, it isn’t.” Stiles tells him, but Derek’s looking at Isaac.

“Lydia and Boyd say it is.” Isaac speaks over Stiles like he didn’t say a word, which: rude.

“All right then.” Derek hands over his credit card and jerks his head in the direction of the door. “Take the van.”

Stiles stares in slack-jawed amazement as Isaac drops the shopping bags off in the kitchen (presumably with Boyd who is in there stripping all the joy out of his diet), collects Amanda from the back room, and leaves with only the briefest of detours to make kissy faces at Genie. He turns to Erica. “What the heck is happening here?”

Erica looks at him like he’s being very dim. “I told you.” She says. “This is the pack’s very first baby and you sort of caught us with our collective pants down. Of course we’re going to overreact. Why do you think Derek put me on guard duty?”

“Wait…” Stiles is started to feel a little hunted. “I thought we were just talking!”

“We are.” Erica smiles with one of those too-wide too-fangy smiles of hers that makes it look like she manufactures her lipstick from blood and tallow collected from the grieving widows of her enemies. “But if anyone makes a wrong move while I’m here then I won’t be talking for very long.”

In the end, Stiles puts up with the insanity until Genie starts to get fussy and he has trouble keeping his eyelids open. He kicks everyone fondly to the curb and drags himself upstairs to put both Genie and himself down for a well-deserved nap.

The crib is missing from his bedroom when he gets there. In its place is something Stiles vaguely recognizes as a co-sleeper set up next to his bed.

“Oh my god.” He mutters and lays Genie down in it (after a brief and thorough investigation to make sure it won’t collapse underneath her while he’s passed out). “When did they even manage to get this in here?” He wonders out loud.

“It was on the list Lydia made.” Derek replies from the doorway. “Danny installed it.”

Stiles sags until his forehead brushes against his daughter’s. “… of course you didn’t leave.” He sighs and can only muster a fraction of a glare for Derek. “You can sleep in the guest room.”

A surly “hrmph” is the only response he gets, which whatever. Stiles has been up for like twenty three hours at this point and has played host to a cadre of baby-mad werewolves for the last five of them. He is totally entitled to being grumpy right now although he has to admit; being able to fall asleep with Genie right there in his line of sight sacked out on her back with limbs splayed out like a tiny starfish is pretty darned nice. He’s going to have to write Lydia a ‘thank you’ note or something because… because… he never really gets to ‘because’. Too busy being falling asleep.

He dreams (and this is a weird one) about someone crouched down next to his bed watching both he and his daughter sleep. It is clearly a dream though because as socially dysfunctional and emotionally maladjusted as Derek can be he has never gone for the Twilight tropes outright before.  

Or at least Stiles has never caught him at it anyway. Hrm.

 


 

He can smell bacon frying when he flounders back into consciousness with all the grace and acuity of a beached dolphin.

Genie is in her co-sleeper when he checks, but she’s got a new jumper on and a conspicuously clean diaper. She burbles happily to herself while Stiles dashes some water on his face and changes into something less sleep rumpled.

Hopefully it’s not Derek down there trying to cook because A. that is a terrifying concept and B. Stiles is reverting back to Single Dad gear because yesterday was an education in all the reasons why new parents shouldn’t wear nice clothes until their infant daughters are past the spit-up stage.

It’s not Derek at the stove, thank god, when Stiles makes it downstairs. Derek is at the sink washing dishes (a sight Stiles’ brain immediately deletes in self-defense). No, the guy happily frying up a pan full of heart attacks is none other than Beacon Hill’s proudest grandpa and -judging by the bags sitting by Stiles’ back door- he’s bought out Macy’s already.

“Morning, son.”

“Is it morning, really?” Stiles squints at the clock and …yikes. He slept through the night. He looks at Derek. “Did you stay the whole night?”

Derek shrugs a shoulder like it’s no big deal, but that means he would have been up with Genie at least once.

“Thanks man.” He says and means it even if he has no idea what to do with this information. “Did you run into any trouble? I wouldn’t have minded if you woke me up.”

“You needed the rest.” Derek grumbles and his eyes stray in the direction of Stiles’ dad.

“He called in reinforcements.” The Sheriff confirms with an amused twinkle in his eye that bodes well for embarrassing stories later. Stiles is well familiar with his dad’s brand of instruction when it comes to handling small children and is kind of amused by the mental image of Derek being coached through the arcane process of burping a baby. Plus Stiles’ dad is one of those old school hardcore style parents who think that spit up pads and disposable diapers are for chumps. “He didn’t do half bad, for a beginner.”

Sounds like you saved the day, Dad.” Stiles says and peers over his shoulder at the contents of the frying pan. “I guess I can overlook the contraband in this one case.”

“Hey, it’s the organic stuff with no nitrates.” His dad fends him off with the business end of a spatula. “Now hold up Genie for me. My hands are full.”

Stiles obediently holds her up so her grandpa can blow a raspberry on her cheek and kiss the foot she shoves into his face, which amuses her greatly and his dad grins.

“She’s developing fast.” He observes. “I don’t remember you doing much beyond sleeping, eating, and crying at this point.”

“Well, her birth mom’s a smart cookie.” Stiles says and lays Genie back down on his shoulder.

“Speaking of, how is Becka?” His dad turns back towards the bacon so he doesn’t have to do something dangerous, like communicate feelings other than those of a proud grandfather.

“Becka’s doing all right, last I heard.” Stiles says and ignores the fact that Derek is totally listening in. “She’s having a little problem with post-partum depression, but they gave her some pills that are helping. She says they make her feel spacey, but make it a little easier than otherwise. I think she’s ready to get back into her routine. Taking time off school was never part of her five year plan.”

“No, I don’t suppose it was.” His dad murmurs, poking the bacon. “…and her parents?”

Stiles shrugs. “I don’t think her dad is going to be truly happy until he has somebody to shoot, but they’re holding up okay. It’s not like …I don’t think anyone blames Becka for what happened or that she chose to let me have Genie.”

“Poor kid.” Stiles’ dad shakes his head. “That’s rough.”

“Her life isn’t over yet, dad.” Stiles shrugs. “She told me last week she was glad something good came of it. I gotta say that I agree.”

“True enough.” He nods, looking thoughtful. “Do you have enough eggs for omelets do you think?”

“No telling. Hurricane Boyd swept through here yesterday so it’s impossible to say what got binned when I wasn’t looking.” Stiles checks the fridge and as luck would have it, there are eggs. They’re weird locally sourced blue eggs from some kind of heritage breed chicken, but if someone out there wants to spend five bucks on a dozen eggs for him then he’s not going to complain. Surprisingly there’s actual butter in there too instead of Stiles’ olive oil spread; a great big lump of it wrapped in clear cling wrap instead of molded into the bars he’s more used to. “Derek, did Isaac knock over a farmer’s market yesterday or something?”

“Possibly.” Derek glances over his shoulder while drying his broad capable hands on a tea towel (again, instant delete. Cannot process. Do not go there, brain!) He cocks an eyebrow at the contents of Stiles fridge, none of which seem to have store labels anymore. “He did the same thing at my place. Something about preservatives?” He shrugs making it clear he hadn’t been paying attention at the time and as Alpha, it’s not like he cooks for himself anyway so why should he?

Stiles hands the eggs, butter, and some mushrooms over to dad and pretends not to notice when he  uses the bacon fat to cook the eggs. “I’m just going to roll with it.” He notices something stuck to the fridge and… it’s a diet plan specifically aimed at new moms. Stiles turns to Derek. “Boyd does know that I didn’t actually give birth, right?” He asks because right now he’s not so sure and he could really use the reassurance. “Right?”

Derek peers at the diet plan and then turns to where Stiles’ dad is cooking and takes away the butter. “Too many fats in one meal.” He mutters and puts the butter back into the dairy drawer. Instead he pulls out a fruit mélange from the organic grocery store and some yogurt.

“Oh my god.” Stiles addresses the ceiling, knowing already without having to ask that the omelettes are going to be off limits to him.

“Hah!” His dad crows and points a spatula at him. “KARMA.”

 


 

Derek completely fails to leave after breakfast is over, not even when the Sheriff offers to walk him to his car. That is a hint that Derek allows to fly clear over his head with about a mile to spare. Instead he’s following Stiles from room to room, all but taking notes and staring at Genie like she is either hardwired to explode or holds all the secrets in the universe.

Strangely enough, Genie cries a lot less when Derek is around …actually Derek and Genie have this mutual ongoing staring contest going and neither is giving so much as a centimeter. Stiles has a vague idea that they’re trying to hash out a pecking order like Scott does with the dogs at work, which: good luck, Derek. Genie is tiny, cute, and hasn’t even broken out the sleepy yawns yet. It is clear who will emerge victorious in this fight and it’s not the big bad wolf.

It gets boring enough after a while that Stiles puts Genie in her sling and puts the sling around Derek’s neck. “If you’re sticking around then you’re watching the baby.” He says and goes to get his laptop; might as well take the opportunity to get some work done.

When he checks his email, he finds his editor has sent back the latest draft of his manuscript all but dripping with virtual red ink and chuffs at the computer in annoyance. “Fuck you.” He mutters. “My tone is totally professional.”

Derek cocks an eyebrow at him and Stiles blows a raspberry at him.

Then he tries to go back to work and not think about how disturbingly good Derek looks in a baby-sling, which …what the hell? The only people who look good in those things are the models they hire to pose as moms in product shoots. Yet there’s Derek sitting on Stiles’ ratty couch with one bare foot tucked underneath him while he stares down an infant …like there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

“Your biological clock went off, didn’t it?” Stiles guesses and knows he’s right when Derek glares at him. He’s gotten to learn the breadth and intensities of the Derek Hale Glares over the years and this one smacks of ‘Quit being so fucking observant’ with fragrant grassy notes of ‘No, really? Dumbass.’

“Who’s Becka?” The question comes out of left field and takes Stiles aback.

“Genie’s birth mom.” He drops his gaze and looks back at his computer. “I know her uncle through my work with the Jameson pack down in San Diego. He’s Magdala’s mate. You know, Hardy’s second? Her. He’s human and he, uh, he heard about my adoption woes.” Stiles shrugs. “Rebecca is… she’s just this incredibly awesome kid and she was in a bad spot. She and her parents were, you know, considering their options and my buddy mentioned my name to them. We worked it out with an adoption lawyer. It’s why I was spending all that time down in San Diego and San Francisco.” Stiles shrugs a shoulder and offers up a dumb grin. “Becka needed a Lamaze buddy and the doctor’s visits were easier if she had a token male around to sit in the waiting room with her. It’s sexist as hell, but there you have it.”

“Scott told us you were on a research trip.” Derek’s expression is unreadable, but ever so slightly dark. His hands are gentle on Genie though and she’s blinking her way towards sleep now that she doesn’t have a staring buddy anymore.

“Did he?” Stiles shakes his head and wonders if he’s going to have to have a talk with Scott. “That was partially true. There are some good archives down there so it’s not like I my wasted time, just …it wasn’t my primary goal, you know? Maybe you guys should open pack meetings back up to humans. Then I could tell you this stuff myself.”

“I’ll take it under advisement.” Derek replies, which is ‘I’m the Alpha’ for don’t hold your breath and …okay; fair enough. The pack’s expanded again and not everyone’s got enough control to stay human all the time. There’s a reason Scott’s been having to report for both Allison and Stiles for the past few years.

“They gonna be okay with you spending all this time over here?” Stiles asks because it’s relevant, yo. Far be it from Stiles to judge Derek when it comes to the quality of the omegas he chooses to admit into his pack, but folks like Squirrely Dave need minding.

“The pack is fine.” Derek flicks his fingers in annoyance. “Scott and Boyd can handle things for now.”

Stiles frowns at the ‘for now’, but can’t come up with a way to phrase the questions he needs to ask in ways that aren’t ‘So, should I just clean out the guest bedroom closet so you can move in?’

Yeah. Probably not the best strategy, that.

 


 

Scott picks up just as the call is about to go to voice mail.

“Y’llo…?” He yawns halfway through the greeting. “Whazza… Stiles? D’you need s’mthing? I juss got off shift at the ER, but I c’n come over.”

“You told them I was on research trip, Scott?” Stiles peeks out the kitchen door to make sure Derek’s not within sight. There’s no telling whether he’s within earshot, but Stiles doesn’t want to have this particular conversation with Creeperwolf breaking directly down his neck. “Seriously?”

“…research? You mean San Diego?” Scott’s clearly not firing on all cylinders yet. “You mean the pack? Yeah, I mean …Genie isn’t any of their business. They don’t need to know.”

Stiles pinches his nostrils. This is his own fault, really. He can see that now, hindsight being what it is.

He should have made the announcements on his own instead of just assuming Scott was blabbing all his private business to the pack-at-large. It was one thing when it was just his own private heartbreak at being unable to adopt, but… but nothing. For all those times he’s carped at Derek and the others about how telephones work both ways, he seems to have failed to absorb that lesson himself.

“Well, the look on Derek’s face when he showed up at my house yesterday was pretty priceless.” Stiles hooks one ankle around his calf and hitches his hip up against the counter in a comfortable slouch. “I think he thought she was going to attack him with baby cooties or something.”

There’s a muffled snort on the other end of the line along with the creaking of bed coils. “Really? I guess he’s not the nurturing sort.”

“You’d be surprised.” Stiles coughs to cover a chuckle.

“…what, really?”

“Yeah, he’s all but taken over diaper duty. Genie’s upchucked on him three times and he didn’t complain once, not even when she got his jacket a little.” Actually, Stiles is pretty sure he smiled which is weird and wrong because baby spit up is still vomit. “She cries less when he’s around, which is to my benefit.”

“That is the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard.” Scott confesses and then pauses. “So… wait, Derek’s been hanging around?”

“Yeah, he stayed the night and got up with Genie. I think this is that was the first full night’s sleep I’ve had since Becka went into labor.” Stiles frowns. “You sound weird. Is something wrong?”

“Yes… no.” Scott says in the least convincing tone ever. “Just, uh, maybe I should… I’m going to come over there.” Stiles can almost hear his Earnest Expression of Manly Decision. “I’m coming over. Is Derek there now? Because if he …nevermind. I’m on my way.”

“Scott, you are not driving after pulling a double.” Allison’s voice filters in from the background. “Also, just because Derek is making time with Genie doesn’t mean you should go re-establish your claim on the house. All your territories are the same territory. Hi Stiles!”

“Hi, Allison.” Stiles has to smile.

“…but, sweetheart. He’s going to…” Scott cuts himself off, presumably because he’s on the business end of one of Allison’s pointed looks. “All right. We’re still on for the weekend though.” Scott is too old to pout unless he’s doing in on purpose for effect. “I don’t want her forgetting who her favorite uncle is.”

“You’ve got more competition than just Derek on that account.” Stiles admits, eying the pile of Baby Gap bags sitting under his breakfast bar. “If Jackson and Lydia buy Genie any more clothes or toys, I’m going to have to rent a storage shed. Erica is already making plans for enrolling her in self-defense classes and Boyd left me with a diet plan I can’t even make heads or tails of. Thank god she isn’t eating solid food yet.”

“She’s barely two months old. How can he have her on a diet already?” Scott asks.

“The diet isn’t for her.” Stiles scowls in remembrance of meals past, all of which have been full of ‘healthful’ ingredients. Stiles may have subjected his dad to a lot of tofu back in the day, but at least he never inflected salt-free faro on anyone.

“…dude, I feel like I shouldn’t have to ask, but…” Scott says. “...they do know Genie’s adopted, don’t they?

“I know, right?” Stiles throws up his hands in relief. Finally! Someone who gets it.

They spend another twenty or thirty minutes swapping anecdotes about bizarre pack behavior. Seriously, Scott has been holding out on him since graduation. Adult werewolves are even more insane than the teenage variety, which is something Stiles would have bet against with actual money.

Stiles feels better when they finally do hang up though. Talking to Scott reminds him as nothing else has yet that sometimes werewolves can be slaves to their instincts. So all this? The diets, the bodyguards, and Derek’s ceaseless presence in the house?

It’s all completely normal and will probably blow over in a few weeks.

… right?

 


 

Derek does not go home and Stiles ends up cleaning out the guest bedroom closet. He’s not 100% sure Derek’s actually sleeping in there, but he feels a bit better as a host.

Stiles knows that technically he should have kicked Derek out a week ago and firmly reestablished the boundaries of their …acquaintance? Friendship? What do you even call a mutual pact of non-aggression that both sides totally fail at most of the time until suddenly they’re caring for an infant together?

Mostly Stiles is trying hard not to think about that last part. Because it implies things. Things he isn’t ready to think about because he will never be able to think about them and Derek’s ghost has already doomed enough of Stiles’ abortive attempts at having an adult relationship.

Only …it turns out that maybe having Derek around as an uninvited co-parent is a good thing.

It’s another crappy day because Stiles is up against a deadline for some stupid article his agent wheedled him into writing and Genie’s had epic gas, like, all day and has thus far completely failed to manage a fart or a burp: only unremitting wails. Derek’s had this pinched expression that possibly means he’s got a headache, but is suffering through it manfully like he does everything else.

“Dude, if you need to go lay down I can handle Genie for an hour or so.” Stiles offers.

“No point.” Derek growls and glares out the front window to where one of the neighbors is puttering with his car …which seems to be running.

Stiles frowns and opens the front door just to check out an idea and sure enough his ears pick up a relentless high pitched skreeeeeeeeeee noise. Behind him Genie’s screams hit a new pitch and Derek starts growling. Stiles slams the door.

“Okay, you know what? Fuck this.” Stiles says and points at Derek. “Go, change. I’m putting Genie in the carseat. We’re going somewhere else for a while. I have no idea where, but even if it’s my dad’s place then at least one of us can have some relief.”

Derek goes.

They end up going to Hale House 2.0 because his dad is hosting a poker game and some of the players smoke. This time of day, the place is mostly deserted because pretty much everyone is either at work or doing their rounds in town. Squirrely Dave is around because, well, he’s Squirrely Dave and places with lots of noise and people tend to make him wolf-out uncontrollably and hide in dumpsters.

Stiles is like 90% positive that Dave’s a were-coyote, to tell the truth, but he’s a nice enough guy. Just fragile in some tragic ways.

“Hi, Boss. Hi, Stiles.” Dave says from the safety of the big couch in Derek’s living room. He waves to Genie over the backrest. He’s under a pile of textbooks and Stiles glances over to see what he’s reading. Ugh, Faulkner.

“American Lit?” He guesses and Dave nods.

“Yeah, at least they’re not making me read Barn Burning again.” Dave pulls a face that is equally repulsed and hunted. It turns out fire is one of the Hunter community’s go-to techniques when dealing with large groups of werewolves and they don’t always notice when some of the kids get thrown out a window to escape. Dave spent a lot of his formative years as a feral in the Blue Mountains until one of the East Coast Alphas caught him. He ended up in Beacon Hills because there aren’t a lot of Alphas who can really relate to what he’s been through and the town is quiet and accepting enough for him to safely reacclimatize to being around non-wolfy people.

Stiles pats him on the shoulder and grins at him when he doesn’t flinch or grow sideburns. Not bad considering he and Stiles only ever see each other but once every other month. Dave grins back and then returns to his readings.

Derek’s gone when Stiles looks up and Genie is gone with him. He finds them both in the Master (hah!) suite where Derek’s changing her with his usual preternatural efficiency. Genie has not had diaper rash once since Derek started hanging around.

“Dave’s doing good.” He observes and hands Derek a fresh cloth diaper, one of the ones with puppies on it that Lydia bought as a gag but turned out to be like, the best diaper design ever.

“He’s stubborn.” Derek grunts and tosses the folded up diaper at Stiles. “There’s a pail in the bathroom.”

Stiles blinks and checks. There is indeed a dry pail in Derek’s master bath that matches the ones at Stiles’ house. Stiles isn’t sure what to make of that so he tables that thought and just stows the diaper.

Unfortunately for him, Derek is bent over Genie and amusing her by helping her play paddy-cake with her feet when Stiles comes back into the bedroom. There’s something like a smile tugging at his mouth and his stupidly big frame is backlit by the window so that he and Genie look like they’re both glowing with the light of an enormous hint from the Cosmos.

There is no way to subtly slap yourself in the face, but Stiles tries. It perhaps says something about him that the only reaction he gets from Derek is a raised eyebrow, but no comment.

 


 

Hale House 2.0 was built during senior year when a lightning strike (of all things) burnt down the moldering remains of the first house leaving Derek well and truly homeless. Maybe he hadn’t really been sleeping there, but he couldn’t exactly have mail forwarded to the abandoned subway station…especially after the county suddenly remembered it existed and started posting security guards in the area.

To this day Stiles is 80% sure that Chris Argent was behind that one. Whether it was in an effort to cut down on the number of werewolf squatters in Beacon Hills or in retaliation for the tires Derek ripped off his SUV the year before (it was a misunderstanding) no one will ever be able to say for sure.

The one good thing that came of Kate’s gruesome death along with those of her many and various lackeys is that Derek’s insurance company was forced to take another look at the fire. With the deaths of his family finally ruled as murder the eventual life insurance payouts involved double indemnity on top of the payment for the house.

The new house is about fifteen minutes away from the site of the old house. In the end, Derek still didn’t have the heart to tear down the last remaining beams. Instead he had a foundation laid down deeper into the private woodlands that made up his family’s territory. Hale House 2.0 isn’t quite as grand as his parents’ mansion, but it’s large enough to house those members of his pack who aren’t to be trusted living on their own in town and Derek’s added a few ‘guest’ cottages to give the families among his wolves a little privacy without alienating them from the rest.

Hale Pack averages in at about twelve members strong, although the number tends to fluctuate as omega wolves come and go. They don’t always stay and sometimes Derek has to run one off, but there’s always someone else who wants to try life in a pack. Right now Derek has ten wolves. There’s Derek’s original three plus Scott (who exists in a perpetual state of one-foot-out-the-door that everyone pretty much ignores by now) and Jackson.

Squirrely Dave seems to be sticking much to everyone’s surprise except Stiles and potentially Derek’s. There’s also Amanda who emigrated from one of the Boston packs to be with Isaac along with a mated pair from the same region, Alex and Cass. They’re living in one of the guest houses right now, content to stick close to their new Alpha. The last wolf is an omega out of Long Island who Derek will probably have to run out of town soon if the local LEOs don’t do it for him first.

Chevy’s a lean rangy wolf who was bitten about ten years back in a bar fight (or so he tells it) and his chief disappointment in life is that he can’t actually turn into a real four-legged wolf, not even if he were to become an Alpha. He expresses this disappointment by never shaving and wearing a lot of shirts with timber wolves silhouetted against the moon airbrushed onto them. His main hobbies include hanging out at biker bars, riding around in his crummy van trying to pick up college girls of questionable legality, and giving Chris Argent itchy trigger finger.

He is not, to date, one of Stiles’ favorite people and that was before he got within ten feet of Genie.

 


 

Stiles has been hanging out at Hale House for about three days with no real clue as to how this came about except that more and more of his stuff keeps appearing in what he’s pretty sure used to be a guest room, but seems to be turning into his.

In retrospect he thinks maybe he should have seen this coming.

Genie has an entire nursery all her own, which would be nice if she’d actually sleep in it. As things stand that’s become where Stiles stashes all the presents his pack continues to shower on her.

She’s napping in her co-sleeper while Stiles goes through the list of changes his editor has suggested for that damn article. At least most of his reference books seem to have mysteriously found their way over here so he doesn’t have to find someone to watch Genie while he goes to get them.

He almost doesn’t notice it when Chevy takes up a spot just outside his open door, but he’s twitchy when it comes to stuff in his peripheral vision. It’s a survival trait that’s paid off more than once. Stiles considers saying something, but decides to ignore him in the hopes that he’ll stare for a bit, get bored, and then wander off.

It’s God’s own mystery why he thought that. That has never actually happened even once in all the years he’s found himself being stared at by werewolves. They always want something and don’t remember how to take a hint unless it’s to their benefit.

“Cute kid.” Chevy observes at length.

“The cutest.” Stiles replies without looking up from his work, ignoring the prickle along the back of his neck that feels like it’s caught between being alarm or aggression. He glances up at Chevy through his lashes and sees the man delicately sniff the air.

“I’m surprised Hale bit an infant.” He observes. “I knew he was nuts when I joined up, but that never bothered me. Might have to change my mind now.” Chevy chooses to wander off then with his mission complete.

The thing is; Stiles knows that’s bullshit. What Chevy knows about his own race might be enough to fill a beer bottle if you round it up. Lycanthropy is like any disease: it’s hardest on the very old and the very young. Teenagers have the best survival rates –close to 100%- but any younger than that and the numbers drop off sharply. Infants die every single time, but every year someone tries it and has to be put down messily by one of the hunter clans if the offenders pack doesn’t get to them first. It’s not always even an Alpha who tries it. Post-partum depression manifests really weirdly in werewolves.  

So logically, Stiles knows that Derek would sooner borrow a gun from Allison to shoot himself in the head than try to change Genie a day before she’s old enough to both give her informed consent and survive the change. It doesn’t stop him from going to his emergency kit for one of the violet light flashlights he uses to confirm early cases of lycanthropy in the field.

Genie fusses and squeezes her eyes shut when he shines it in her face, but he keeps at it until she blinks them open and stares up and him with big golden discs covering her pupil and irises; the tapetum lucidum. All mammals have that reflective layer in the back of their retinas. It’s what causes red-eye in photographs, but a human’s is nearly impossible to see in person and it’s always a sort of rusty red. Werewolves -like real wolves- have eyes that shine a glossy golden green under the right conditions… just like Genie’s are right now.

Ffffuck.” Stiles breathes out as he stares down at his tiny daughter. “I’ve got a werebaby.”

 


 

Rebecca doesn’t pick up right away, but that’s pretty much the norm. Stiles’ cell phone rings a few times and then gets disconnected for a few seconds before  lighting up with the words ‘BABY MAMA’ scrolling across the screen.

“HELLO! Hi! Stiles! Sorry!” She gasps. “I hit the reject button by accident again!”

Stiles bites his lip to keep from laughing. He’s seen the Becka Phone Dance in person. It’s hilarious. For a teenager, she’s remarkably un-tech savvy and only recently got her first touch screen phone. She’s already mourning the lack of a dedicated ‘call’ button. On the other hand, she hasn’t butt-dialed Stiles once since that fateful birthday so he’s willing to call it a net win.

“Hey there, Beckers.” He says once he’s sure he can do it and sound serious. He fails, but who’s counting? “How’s college life?”

“No one’s trying to touch my belly or give me wildly inaccurate information about how my caffeine consumption is going to make me miscarry so it’s better than last semester.” There’s a squeak and a huff on the other end of the line like she just dropped down onto a bean bag chair. “I thought the body police were bad in high school. They’ve got nothing on the belly police. How is the munchkin, anyway? There were only like four pictures of her on Facebook this week. Are you slowing down already?”

“Never.” Stiles promises her and looks around to make sure no one’s around. It’s stupid. If there’s a werewolf anywhere within forty meters they’re going to hear him anyway, but the gesture makes him feel a little better. “That’s actually why I called. I know I promised I wasn’t going to ask you any questions about that thing I promised never to ask questions about unless it was an emergency, but…”

“…but it’s an emergency.” Rebecca echoes his tone and gets straight to the point. “What happened?”

“I’ve been staying over at Derek’s –no laughing, all right?” Rebecca’s pregnancy was hard on both of them. They ended up spending a lot of time together and wound up becoming fairly close. She had a lot of questions about why he wanted to adopt as a single man instead of waiting until he had a partner so she knows about ---well, she knows and Stiles likes to think she understands.

“I wouldn’t.” She tells him, sounding soft and sad. It’s a better kind of sad than what she dealt with after the pregnancy. “Did someone say something?”

“Someone said something all right and –Becka. Genie’s passed three out of my four field tests for the early stages of lycanthropy. I’m pretty sure she’d pass the fourth one, but I’m not exposing her to wolfsbane ever if I can at all help it.”

Jesus.” Rebecca’s voice sounds tinny and so far away. “I’m guessing you want to know about her bio-dad then, huh.”

“I think I know one thing about him at least.” He rocks up on his toes and then back onto his heels. “I don’t need any details you’re not ready to give. I just need to know if I should be keeping an eye out. If Genie’s got pack ties I don’t know about…” Visions of a foreign Alpha arriving on their doorstep and demanding that Stiles hand Genie over have been dancing in his head since Chevy dropped his verbal bomb. Stiles knows better than anyone that most of the US wolf packs are crazy insular and would go to any length to keep their bloodlines close.

“She doesn’t.” Rebecca coughs and then clears her throat. “I, uh… her dad didn’t stick around after I told him. I mean, I’m not dumb. I told Magdala and Dad who he was. Our lawyer sent my cousins out to find him and make him sign some stuff so he can’t show up in a few years to claim paternity or anything. He didn’t seem really interested in her anyway. Genie was supposed to be human. He only took up with me because he thought I was going to take the Bite after I graduated. Magdala’s widwife did every test she could think of. I’d have said something if I hadn’t been so sure, but… yeah. Her bio-dad was a… you know. I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.” Stiles says and means every word. “Genie’s the best thing that ever happened to me. All this means is that I have her first wolf-out to anticipate in addition to first steps and first words.”

“You’re good with her. I’m glad…” She cuts herself off. “I’m just glad. Do you need Magdala’s number?” It’s not a small offer. Stiles has good ties with Rebecca’s uncle because they’re both the same kind of crazy, but that’s not an official pack connection. Magdala is the Jameson pack’s next Alpha and not someone that an outsider can just call up for whatever reason. “I don’t really know how a werewolf baby is different from a normal one.”

“Thanks, Becka. I have some resources, but I might take you up on that offer if they don’t pan out.”

“Okay, but don’t hold out because of pack politics.” Rebecca replies. “I can’t be her mom, but I still want Genie to be safe and happy.”

They chat a bit more after that, but not for long. Rebecca has her own life and Stiles has… well, he’s got plans that need a little changing.

 


 

“Oh my god, you’ve got a werebaby.” Is Scott’s opinion on the subject because Derek’s still at work and the Hale pack wolves are either unavailable or Chevy.

“I didn’t think they could manifest that young.” Allison offers. If Genie’s new furry status has any impact on her Auntie Allison’s opinion of her then Allison isn’t letting on. She keeps dandling Genie on her lap as Stiles puts away his flashlight and the mountain ash he used to make an impromptu barrier between her and a toy. “Although, I guess this isn’t really a full manifestation, is it? She isn’t changing.”

“Nope. I would guess that’s a puberty thing with the hormones, unsightly transformations, unstoppable rage, and all. Just think; now I have all that to look forward to AND she’ll grow fangs once a month.” Stiles replies and holds his hands out for his daughter. Lycanthropy explains a lot about her seemingly capricious moods. A stinky trash can or a high pitched noise will ruin her entire day unless it’s taken care of. At least Stiles now knows why he can’t take her to the park where the good people of Beacon Hills take their children and their dogs off the leash to run it off in the sunlight.

“Oh man, yeah.” Scott nods sagely when Stiles echoes that thought out loud. “There’s this fad for using dog whistles as training tools right now. Some guy on television trying to be the next Ceasar Milan got it popular. It hurts even getting near that part of town when the sun is out.”

Genie burbles cheerfully as Stiles settles her into place.

“I’m kind of glad this happened.” Allison says out of nowhere. “It’s good to know. For future reference.”

Scott goes absolutely still, pale, and shocked so it’s up to Stiles to ask the obvious leading question.

“How much ‘future’ are we talking about here, Mrs. Argent-McCall?” He asks as if her secretive glow wasn’t enough of an answer and Allison grins.

“According to my doctor about seven months or so.” She says and watches Scott go through the elaborate motions of processing ‘I AM GOING TO BE A DADDY’ with an indulgent and enamored smile. Stiles has empathy for that. He really does and gets out of the way in time for his best friend to scoop his other best friend up in the biggest gentlest bear hug ever.

“Hey, Genie.” He whispers into his daughter’s ear. “Looks like you’re gonna have a little cousin soon.”

Genie blows a raspberry at him, but doesn’t look too displeased by the notion.

 


 

Derek’s Toyota is just pulling out of the gravel drive as Stiles gets back. It’s been years and it’s still funny watching him behind the wheel of a mom car. Stiles is an actual parent and he still drives his poor beleaguered Jeep.

Stiles isn’t worried until he sees the Toyota reverse back into the prime spot in the garage. He pulls in behind Amanda’s truck and tries to keep his cool as Derek jumps out of his car and comes bearing down on them.

What did Chevy say to you?” He says instead of ‘hello’.

“Hey, Derek. How’s it going?” Stiles says as he unhooks Genie’s basket from the little car seat attachment. “I’m good. How ‘bout them Cowboys?” He stops as Derek grasps him by the shoulders and physically turns him around so they’re standing eye-to-eye. “Oh my god, do you seriously think I’d believe anything that comes out of Chevy’s mouth? Really, Derek?”

“I’d like to think so, but Dave told me something different.” Derek replies darkly (like he ever does anything any other way.)

“Oh, so Dave was home today?” It’s Thursday so… yeah. Dave has classes on a Monday-Wednesday schedule so he’s usually somewhere around the property the rest of the week, but it’s easy to forget he’s around. He either sticks to his room or hangs out at Cass’s kitchen table to study. So in theory Dave would have been around for both Chevy’s little announcement and… oh.

“I did not bite Genie.” Derek’s hands go tight on Stiles’ shoulders like he’s trying to will Stiles into believing him. “I would never…”

“Hey, hey!” Stiles shakes his head. “I know that. Dude, I know, okay? I know. No one bit her. She’s okay. I don’t know what Dave heard, but it’s not like that. Uh, well, sort of not like that.”

“What do you mean ‘sort of’?” Derek’s forehead crinkles up like a confused boxer puppy.

“You’re probably going to want to sit down for this.” Stiles replies and nudges Derek in the direction o the kitchen door.

 


 

“She is not a werebaby.” Is Derek’s first intelligible response after he’s heard the entire story with a brief break while Stiles had to stop him from going to find and beat the shit out of Chevy for stirring up pack drama. “She’s a baby werewolf.”

Stiles has to roll his eyes. It’s nice not to be on the receiving end of that gesture for once. “I know that.” He says. “I understand the etymology involved. Hello! Supernatural scholar here? The important part is I need you to tell me everything you remember about growing up as a werekid.”

“It’s not…” Derek makes that frustrated little huff that he tends to revert to when words get to be too hard or complicated to convey what he wants to say. “She’s not different from any other kid right now.” He selects his words carefully like they need to be inspected for complete accuracy before he risks saying them out loud. They’re on the couch with Genie laying on her back between them chewing on one of her feet while poking Derek in the leg with her other. “She’ll develop a little faster for the first few months, but she won’t have the accelerated healing or agility until she’s older. She won’t transform until sexual maturity.”

“Awesome, puberty is going to be so, so much fun.” Stiles mutters, rolling his daughter back and forth on the couch cushion until she spits her toes out and makes little grabby hands of ‘somebody cuddle me right now’. Stiles obliges. “So, I… uh. You. Pack. Genie. Um.” He says in a totally mature and coherent fashion.

Derek cocks an eyebrow at him.

“I was totally going to move back into my place at some point.” Stiles says instead. “I just… pack’s a big thing and Scott’s remarkably sane for a mostly-omega, but I don’t want that or Genie.”

“She’s pack. Jesus, of course she’s pack, Stiles.” Derek shakes his head. “You’re both pack. She would have been pack if she were human. I… there’s room for you here. Anywhere you want.”

“That’s not…” Stiles takes a breath and gets his act together. This has been a while in the coming, but for the sake of his daughter and his sanity it can’t go unsaid any longer. “I mean that if I stay you’ve got to stop fucking me around the way you have been.”

“I… what?” Derek’s staring at him now and Stiles glares right back.

“You know what I mean with the co-parenting and the …the dishwashing… and stuff.” He pulls Genie closer and she whines a little in distress, either reacting to his upset or maybe just the fact that he’s holding her a little too tight. “I know you know that I –I’ve been trying to keep it from getting weird, but you don’t make it easy on me.”

Derek isn’t responding, but rather he continues to stare at Stiles like he has a second head.

“Just… I’m not asking for a miracle or whatever, Derek. I know you’re not… I know it’s not about me, but when I see you holding my daughter and smiling like you do I can’t help but get my hopes up. I can’t live like that, all right? I’ve been trying to get over you, but you make it so damn hard.”

If Stiles was expecting a response he doesn’t get one, but he wasn’t really. Stiles knows Derek and how the man’s brain works. It’s entirely possible that Derek didn’t really understand the extent of Stiles’ problem, which is ---well, not fine, but understandable. Derek is stupid when it comes to people.

“Just, think about it, okay?” He says as gently as he can possibly manage. Stiles doesn’t have a lot of goodwill for his fellow man and most of it is reserved for his daughter, but he tries to drag out the kid gloves for Derek whenever he can. It’s not often and he’s not that great at it, but he tries.

He retreats upstairs, puts Genie down in her co-sleeper for a nap, and then buries himself in his research. It’s the best he can do for now.

 


 

So there’s this attitude in fiction, especially in romance that the arrival of an unexpected baby in the hapless heroine’s life can suddenly fix everything that’s wrong about her relationships. There’s a lot of snarky feminist literature blogs who have names like ‘Magical Baby Syndrome’ for the trope.

Stiles wasn’t a real big romance fan at the time and he still isn’t, but about six months ago he was spending a lot of time in an OB-GYN waiting room while Rebecca conferred with her doctor and you can only read the same six home and gardening magazines so many times before you get desperate enough to start pulling trashy Harlequin Presents titles from the 1960s out of the runty ‘take a book, leave a book’ library near the water cooler.

It’s not like Stiles never entertained the fantasy that coming home as a proud, but beleaguered new dad would suddenly pull the object of his fairly pathetic and unrequited affections into his orbit. Stiles is only human, but he’s not an idiot. He wanted and still wants Genie for her own sake not as a desperate band-aid for his love life.

The fact that his idle waiting room fantasy actually came true a little was a source of unexpected heartbreak.

To this day Stiles can’t point to a single moment where the clouds parted, birds began to sing, and he realized he was hopelessly devoted to Derek and his grumpy face. It was a slow thing that probably started somewhere around that one time when he hid in a doorway while Derek distracted one of his dad’s deputies by wrapping her around his little finger. They weren’t even friends then, not even close, but they did work well together and that led to everything else.

He’s never tried to act on his feelings because he already learned his lesson about trying to woo straight men in college, thanks. Of the six relationships he knows Derek has had over the years all six were with women; brave, sassy, gorgeous women and only three of them died in horrific ways. Four of them were also evil, but who’s counting?

Stiles resolved to be an adult about this a long time ago. It’s one of the few areas in his life that he can point to and say he’s made a healthy decision, but at least he has some.

So when he answers the door he’s really not expecting to find Derek there. By Stiles’ guesstimate, Derek still has about two hours of pacing and doorway pull-ups to do before he might be ready to let Stiles down easy.

Stiles blinks and opens his mouth to say something –anything, really- but doesn’t manage to get out more than an orphaned syllable before Derek surges forward and catches his mouth in a hard, hungry kiss. They stumble backwards and nearly tumble onto the bed except Derek controls their descent so that Stiles hits the mattress without the slightest tremor to wake… to wake…

“Oh fuck… Derek.” Stiles wrenches his mouth away even though he really doesn’t want to. “Genie’s right there.”

“Then you’d better be quiet.” Derek’s got this slow sexy smile that Stiles is kind of glad he’s never seen before now. He was already ruined for other relationships and that was before he knew Derek was the sexy kind of biter in addition to the supernatural variety.

“Wow, I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I am way too old to be jumping straight into bed even with someone I know as well as you.” Stiles kind of wants to shoot himself just thinking it. His sixteen year old self is hopping mad in the back of his head, urging him to say ‘screw the consequences’ and hit that like the fist of an angry god.

“You wanted me to stop jerking you around.” Derek settles his weight down onto Stiles with a kind of precision and control that makes it really hard to think non-sexy thoughts. He’s heavy and they fit together like both halves of a seashell. Stiles feels grounded and centered in a way he hadn’t realized it was possible to feel. “This is me not jerking you around.”

“This is you trying to distract me with sex instead of talking things out like adults.” Stiles shoots back. “If this is some backwards attempt to keep me from taking Genie back to my house…” He doesn’t get much further than that because Derek covers his mouth with one hand.

“Just.” Derek lowers Stiles back down onto the bed. “Let me talk.” They stare at each other until Stiles breaks and nods so Derek can take his hand away.

“I knew you wanted me.” Is what Derek has to say because he always goes straight for the earth-shattering revelations. “I always knew. You just … never did anything about it. I didn’t know how to handle that because people always do something whether I want them to or not. What I want doesn’t usually enter into it, but… you were just there. You didn’t demand anything from me.” He makes a face when Stiles snorts at him.

“Dude, I demand shit from you all the time.”

“Not like that and shut up. It’s my turn to talk.” He glares when Stiles holds up his hands in the surrender position. “I don’t know when I started to want you back. I don’t, okay? It was –I thought I had time to make the kind of pack where I could take my eyes off them for ten minutes at a time without something exploding and do something for myself, but then…” He grimaces and drags a hand across his face like he’s trying to wipe away a feeling he doesn’t like. “Then one day I’m on your doorstep with some transparent fucking excuse to get you to pay attention to me after you’ve been out of town for months –and you answer the door with a baby on your hip looking like you just got out of bed and it was like everything I’d ever dared to hope for in the future going on without me. I panicked.”

Stiles isn’t sure he’s allowed to talk yet and even if he is for once in his life he is completely without words. He’s always known Derek was bad with people, but this is a lot worse than the worst thing he could possibly imagine. So he reaches up to touch Derek’s cheek and his heart breaks clean down the middle when he automatically turns his face to kiss the basin of Stiles’ palm.

“I want you to stay here with me. I’m sorry I didn’t say it like a functioning human being, but I can’t just say this stuff the way you do.” He closes his eyes. “It wasn’t fair to expect you to just wait on me. I get that now. Just… stay. I’ll get rid of Chevy. I’ll build you your own library if that’s what it takes just don’t leave.”

“Well, I wasn’t going to...” Stiles reaches up and threads his fingers through Derek’s hair. It’s soft and kind of springy, like it’d be thick if he ever grew it out. “…but now you’re making Beauty and the Beast puns in bed. I dunno if I can handle that.”

Derek blinks his eyes open looking startled and Stiles is reminded that LCD screens give him migraines.

“In the Disney version the Beast gives her a library and that’s how she falls in love with him.” He explains with a grin that just won’t quit and he kind of doesn’t want it to. “And stop looking panicked, I was joking. You’re stuck with me now, asshole. Genie and I aren’t going anywhere.”

A sane person would probably be sweating right about now, but Derek just smiles and says,“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Stiles echoes as he pulls Derek down for a real kiss.

It’s pretty darn good.

 


 

Genie –or rather Eugenia because nicknames are apparently a tool of the patriarchy- wolfs out for the first time because she’s fourteen, having a bad day on top of getting her period for the first time, and the full moon kind of crept up on everybody.

Derek gets her into a headlock before she can actually do anything except scratch up the ugly coffee table Stiles found on a curb after the last one got destroyed in a scuffle between Isaac and Dave over who got to eat the last nacho. Genie tries to sink her teeth into his forearm, but it doesn’t do a lot of good considering the huge grin on Derek’s face.

They get her down into the containment cell that Derek built by hand for pretty much this exact reason. It’s a far cry from the dank torture basement he inherited from his parents. For one thing the torture basement had less wood paneling, but rowan wood looks pretty with the right stain on it and with Stiles around it does a much better job of holding hormonal wereadolescents undergoing their first shift better than steel anyway.

Derek and Stiles camp sit up with her the whole night. Dave checks in every now and then to bring them coffee. Stiles’ phone receives a steady stream of texts to the tune of ‘congratulations!’ from people like Isaac and ‘oh crap, Melissa is probably going to be next. Can I send her over to your house for the next couple of months?’ from people like Scott. Derek growls Genie into submission when it looks like she might actually hurt herself and Stiles amuses himself by taking more pictures for the blackmail book. (Blackmail book, baby book: to-may-to, to-mah-to.)

She comes out of it around dawn to stare in shock at the gouges she left in the walls. “Woah.” She says shakily as Stiles wraps a blanket around her bare shoulders. “Did I do that?”

“You sure did, baby.” Stiles tells her. “I texted a picture to your grandpa. He’s impressed and promised to make you pancakes.”

“Okay, can I sleep for a little before he gets here?” She lists into Derek’s side even as they get her up the stairs and into the den where they dump her on the couch so she can sleep it off. Stiles watches her fondly until she rolls over, snorts, and starts to snore like a power motor. He turns to Derek who is looking equally besotted.

“Is it everything you wanted?” He asks.

“Yeah.” Derek loops an arm around Stiles’ waist and pulls him close. “It really is.”

-fin