Stiles hasn't really seen Derek much lately, and he's just as happy with that. Now that Peter's dead, he's hoping he can go back to his normal life. Or, as normal as he can when his best friend is a werewolf and dating a hunter's daughter. Let him dream at least!
So he's surprised–unpleasantly so–to open the door to his room and find Derek frigging Hale leaning against the wall by the window.
"Gah! Don't do that" he says, hand on his chest.
Derek looks unrepentant. "I need your help."
"Oookay, I'm gonna say no, since all my dealings with you so far have involved terror and/or threat of bodily harm. Or, y'know, actual bodily harm. So thanks, but no thanks."
Derek glares at him. "That wasn't a request. Or would you rather I got Scott to do it?"
Stiles is tempted to say Yes, please, but God only knows what Derek's into now, and he's not the type of person to throw his best friend to the wolves, pun very obviously intended.
"OK," he sighs, "What do you need?"
"I need you to come over while I make a supply run."
Stiles would ask exactly what the hell that means, but Derek doesn’t give him a chance, ducking smoothly out the window.
"I'm going to regret this, aren't I?" he says to the empty room.
He’s proven right as soon as he gets to the Hale house. There are babies crawling around on the splintery, filthy floor.
“What the fuck, Derek!” he squawks, reflexively picking up two of them.
“I told you I needed to go on a supply run,” Derek says.
“But-but…dude, did you steal babies?!”
Derek’s eyes flash red and Stiles steps back. He’s still not used to that.
“I didn’t steal them,” he growls. “Something happened to their pack.”
“So you brought them here?”
“Of course,” Derek says, like it was obvious, then, at Stiles’ incredulous look, “Packs don’t interfere in other packs’ business, but if a member of another pack asks for help, the neighboring pack is required to give it. If the other pack is in trouble and can’t ask for help, they have to do what they can to aid, or, if necessary, avenge it.”
“Wait, there are more packs in Beacon Hills?!” Stiles yelps. Derek sighs as if he’s completely missed the point.
“And you said ‘avenge,’” Stiles continues. “Does that mean that you go up against the Argents for people you don’t even know?”
“I don’t know what happened to the adults. I scouted around and there was no sign of them, and a pack would never leave pups unattended. So I brought them here.”
“But this house is the least child-friendly place ever!” Stiles protests. “They could get tetanus, or…or rabies or something!”
Derek snorts, and speaks to him like he’s two. “I know. Which is why, after I get food and diapers and everything else they need, I am going to start restoring the house.”
“…Oh,” Stiles says lamely. “Okay.”
As Derek’s heading for the door he thinks of something. “What are their names?”
Derek stares at him. “How should I know?”
Stiles ends up taking them to Derek’s bedroom, since it’s still mostly whole and has a bed. He lines them up along it and they fall asleep fairly quickly, thank goodness.
He takes the opportunity to look at them more closely. There are three of them, two boys and a girl, chubby-cheeked and wearing those one-piece baby things. One of the boys has curly hair, and the girl has long blonde hair that’s fanned out around her as she sleeps. The other boy is sucking his thumb.
Several hours later the downstairs door opens and closes, and he hears his name come faintly from below.
He slips out of the room and shuts the door, standing at the head of the stairs. “Up here.”
“I’m going to need some help with this stuff,” Derek says and Stiles rolls his eyes and goes out to Derek’s sports car.
The back is stuffed with diapers and bottles and jars of baby food. Stiles picks one up. “They’ll eat this?”
“What did you think they’d eat, Stiles? Dog food?”
“Nono, nothing like that, of course not!” He was thinking raw meat, but he doesn’t think telling Derek that will improve things.
As they lug the bags and boxes inside, Derek continues, “I’m having cribs and high chairs delivered. The water’s already turned on again, need to see about the electricity.”
“Where exactly did you get the money for all this?” Stiles demands.
“It’s called a bank account. You put money in, and you can take it out later.”
“Ha ha.” It was a valid question. It’s not like Derek has a job or anything.
When they’ve finished unpacking the stuff, Derek’s nostrils flare. “Where are the pups?”
Pups? Stiles thinks, then remembers that Derek called them that before. “Upstairs.” Stiles comforts himself with the fact that at least he got the satisfaction of seeing Derek Hale’s face when he found his bed full of baby werewolves.
Derek’s lucky they just got out of school for spring break, so Stiles actually has time to babysit. When he gets home he goes on the internet and Googles childcare, even though he knows that this will in no way prepare him for taking care of werewolves.
When he gets to Derek’s house he finds the babies (pups?) in their high chairs, food on the walls, floor, high chair trays, and on the babies’ faces and hair. Derek is standing on the table, attempting to clean green goo off the ceiling.
“Uh…you need any help?” Stiles asks, trying to ignore the way Derek’s shirt rides up when he stretches, and the fact that he’s basically talking to his ass.
“Give them a bath, would you?” Derek asks, not even looking at him.
Stiles blinks. “Sure.” He scoops up the curly-haired boy and heads to the bathroom.
Ten minutes later he comes out, soaked above the waist, but at least the baby is clean and happy, gurgling as he brings him to the kitchen so Derek can keep an eye on him.
The girl is more complicated. She shifts as soon as she hits the water, and when he approaches her with a washcloth she growls at him. It’s kind of a cute growl, but she bares her teeth at him and Stiles backs away. He’s already rejected the bite, and he doesn’t want to be turned by a two-year-old. But she’s filthy and he has to do something.
So he dodges past her to pull the plug, waits for the water to drain and heads back downstairs.
“Hey, do you have any gloves? Like, gardening gloves?”
“Hm?” Derek says, “Oh yeah, should be some in the shed in the backyard.”
He finds the gloves after a moment and goes to do battle with Baby Beastie.
By the time he’s on the last pup he’s exhausted. The girl had thrashed the entire time he washed her, and screamed so much that Derek came in to demand “What the hell are you doing to her?”
Luckily, the third pup doesn’t make a fuss, and he doesn’t need the gloves. He really needs to name them; he isn’t fond enough of Dr. Seuss to keep calling them “Pup One” and “Pup Two.”
That can wait, though, since they’ve apparently decided it’s time to play. Stiles grabs a walk-around thing and some of the smaller toys and plops them in the living room, keeping a weather eye out for incipient mayhem. There’s not much, except when the curly-haired boy gets accidentally poked in the eye. He starts crying and Stiles has to rock him and shush him for a few minutes before he bounces back.
Derek’s finished de-gooing the kitchen, and now he’s shoring up the walls, hammering in supporting boards. When Stiles looks at him, Derek gives him a defensive look and says, “I’ll fix it properly later, but I need the materials, and I’ll have to do it one at a time.” Stiles just nods, because it’s not like he was judging in the first place.
He gets a break when they go down for their nap, and flops down on the old, lumpy couch, ignoring the spring poking into his back. This is going to be even harder than he thought.
“How’s it coming?” he asks Derek when he wanders in a few minutes later.
“Pretty good. I’ve got all the major support beams shored up.”
“You need to sand the floor,” Stiles says, staring at the splinters and nail heads scattered around the room. “And wash it, too.”
Derek gives him a dirty look, but he gets out a hammer and starts pounding in loose nails.
The next day, Stiles says, “Let’s take them to the park.”
Derek stares at him for a moment, then says, “You know I have to fix this place up.”
“C’mon, Derek, we can’t keep them cooped up in here forever.”
“What if someone we know sees us?” Derek says.
Stiles scowls at him, but concedes the point. Privately, though, he’s convinced Derek just doesn’t want to do anything that can be construed as “fun.”
After three days, Stiles is totally wiped out. He wakes up at 10:30 AM on Tuesday to a text from Scott. Where u been all wk?
Great, now he has to explain this to Scott. He doesn’t know why, since Derek basically forced him into it, but the thought of talking about this with anyone makes him uncomfortable. Helping Derek, he texts back.
Thirty seconds later, his phone rings. “With what?” Scott demands when he answers.
“He…had something he couldn’t handle on his own,” Stiles hedges.
“And he asked you?”
The incredulity in Scott’s voice stings. “Hey, I might not be a super-strong, super-fast, super-sensed werewolf, but I’m not completely useless!”
“That’s…not what I meant!” Scott says instantly, and Stiles deflates.
“Yeah, I know. I’m just…really tired, is all.”
“You OK? Derek hasn’t dragged you into anything…serious has he?”
Stiles almost laughs. “Serious, but not dangerous.” Hopefully.
“Well, alright, but you need my help, you just ask.”
“Right, because you have nothing better to do when you don’t have any additional schoolwork on top of what you missed. How many classes are you failing again?”
“Screw you,” Scott says good-naturedly, and Stiles congratulates himself on changing the subject. “It’s only two.”
“Only two. Which is why you can’t afford to get behind on any more.”
“OK, OK, I’ll do homework. Right after Allison leaves.”
Uh-huh, sure, riiiight. But Scott’s grades aren’t really his problem, so he just makes a noncommittal noise and hangs up.
The next day Stiles is trying not to nap while the pups are asleep–what? It’s exhausting taking care of werewolves–when he’s jolted out of his doze by a bellowed ”STILES!”
He springs up, following the sound of Derek’s voice, wondering who was killed or maimed or missing.
He finds Derek upstairs, holding the second male pup scruffed in front of him, in full Alpha mode. The pup’s whimpering.
“What–?” Stiles starts.
“LOOK what he did to my Herbal of the Old World,” Derek bellows. “It’s irreplaceable!”
Stiles looks at the mass of damp and torn paper on the floor, and the book missing several pages. “Uh, sorry?”
Derek growls, but not at him, shakes the pup firmly once, then casts him on the bed and stalks off.
Stiles, appalled, goes to check on the pup, but he looks fine, physically at least. He rocks him and sings to him for a few minutes before putting him back down in his crib.
When he shows up the next day, he finds Derek settled on the couch, one pup in his lap and the other two on either side of him. He’s got a brightly colored cardboard book in his hands and he’s reading softly. He looks up as Stiles comes in and motions him to a chair.
So Stiles listens to Derek read ABC and animal and shape books to the pups for the first half hour of his stay.
He can tell Derek doesn’t want to talk about it, so he doesn’t bring it up. But he grins as he sees the small stack of books on the end table, easily accessible to two year old would-be readers.
The house is looking better, at least on the inside. The floors are polished and sanded, the electricity’s working, and Stiles feels less like it’s about to fall down on his head at any minute. The furnishings still make “spartan” look like the Ritz-Carlton, but they have what they need.
“We need to name them,” Stiles says, as he gives the girl her bottle. The curly-haired boy is zooming around the floor in his walker, laughing, and Derek is feeding the other one. He hums distractedly.
“I’m serious,” he says, and Derek looks up. “OK, name them.”
“Why is it my job? You stole them!”
Derek sighs. “For the tenth time, I didn’t steal them! I rescued them.”
Stiles is struck by how utterly bizarre it is that he’s feeding babies with Derek Hale, and discussing what to name them.
“Well, think about it. I will too.”
Derek only nods and brings the baby to his shoulder to burp him.
Stiles looks on some baby name websites that night, clearing his history as a matter of habit. Oddly enough, his dad probably wouldn’t bat an eye at the stuff on werewolves and kanimas, since Stiles has pretty much established himself as a geek, but let him think Stiles got a girl pregnant…he snorts at the likelihood of that. Not that his dad would care that he’s one of the most unpopular kids in the school, and most girls wouldn’t even look at him, much less…that.
“So did you think of names?” he asks Derek as soon as he sees him.
Derek ignores him.
Stiles picks up the curly-haired boy. “How about Liam?”
Derek gives him a Look.
“Daniel?” he tries.
The boy laughs. He does that a lot. Stiles remembers something he read last night. “How about Isaac?”
“Isaac,” Derek says consideringly. “That works.”
“Awesome. What about the girl?”
Derek shrugs and Stiles resigns himself to naming all three of them.
“Winnie,” he says with finality.
“What? We’re not naming her ‘Winnie’!” Derek sneers.
“Well I don’t see you coming up with any suggestions!” Stiles shoots back.
Huh. That’s actually not too bad. “What do you think, huh?” he asks the girl. “Erica?”
She sputters at him, then raises her arms to be picked up. Stiles hands Isaac to Derek and obliges. “Guess so.”
“We need one more name then.”
“Call him Boyd,” Derek says instantly.
“Huh? Why Boyd?”
Derek rolls his eyes like it should be obvious. “He’s a boy.”
Stiles would hit himself in the face if he wasn’t holding Erica. “Great, fine, Boyd. Perfect.”
“So, they have names. Happy now?” Derek demands.
It’s Friday again, and spring break is almost over, but that’s OK. The house, while still not a candidate for Better Homes and Gardens, is at least safe, and Derek’s been helping him take care of the pups, so Stiles thinks he can deal while he’s at school.
He puts Boyd down for his nap, wondering if he can deal. He’s gotten pretty attached to the little guys in only a week.
“Hey,” Derek says softly behind him.
Stiles turns, stifling a sigh. At least he can still come over after school, but it won’t be the same. “Hey.”
Derek raises a brow at him. “You’re upset,” he accuses.
Stiles snorts, motioning him out of the room. Trust Derek to make an expression of concern sound like a complaint. “No I’m not!”
“Stiles,” Derek says pointedly, “I can smell it on you.”
He clenches his fists for a moment before relaxing them. “So what if I am?!” he says a little too loudly. Derek hisses at him, motioning to the closed door.
“Why?” he asks softly. Stiles has a feeling it’s not just because of the sleeping pups.
“School’s starting up again soon. I won’t be able to come over here every day.”
“We’ll be fine, Stiles,” Derek says, then, as if realizing that could sound like they don’t need him, “And you can come over after school any time.”
Derek nods. “Really.”
The next day when he arrives at Derek’s he finds him loading Erica into her stroller. Isaac and Boyd are already strapped into the double stroller.
“We’re going to the park,” Derek says firmly.
Stiles grins incredulously. “Awesome!”
There are several families at the park, but no one they know. Stiles pushes Isaac on the safety swing as he yells and laughs in delight. Derek watches indulgently from the sidelines for awhile, then takes Erica and Boyd over to the bouncy horses.
After about fifteen minutes, Derek tosses a bottle at him. Stiles bobbles it, but manages to catch it. “Huh?”
“Sunblock,” Derek says tersely.
“But werewolves don’t–”
“I know they don’t,” Derek says. “That’s for you. Your nose is going to be peeling tomorrow.”
Bemused, Stiles puts the sunblock on.
They sit down at one of the picnic tables and Stiles manages to eat most of a sandwich in between wiping Boyd’s face and keeping Erica from squishing mashed carrots into Isaac’s hair.
He looks over at Derek at one point to see him looking almost…fond–but the expression disappears as soon as he sees it.
They head back in the early afternoon, the pups either asleep or fussing quietly and put them down for their nap.
The silence stretches, awkward, and Stiles finally blurts out, “I need to go.”
Derek only looks at him, his face expressionless.
“I put off my homework all week and I need to get it done, especially since I was lecturing Scott about–”
Derek nods. “See you later."
He doesn’t go over to Derek’s on Sunday, but he doesn’t get much homework done either.
What the hell? Derek dragged him into this, just like he dragged him into everything since Scott got turned. He’s put Stiles’ friends in danger, put Stiles in danger, more times than he can count.
So why the hell does he suddenly want to spend time with him?
But Derek’s different with the pups. Less moody, more at peace. Stiles finds he likes that Derek, the Derek who read books to the pups and made sure he didn’t get a sunburn, the Derek who restored his entire house so the pups would be safe, who chose Stiles, the only one of them who wasn’t a werewolf, to help him.
But Derek is dangerous. More than that, he attracts danger. The best thing to do would be to forget about him and the pups and concentrate on school.
He doesn’t concentrate on school. And he ends up at the Hale house fifteen minutes after the bell’s rung, staring at it, wondering what to do.
This was a bad idea. As he hesitates, the door opens and Derek comes out.
“Stiles? Why are you just standing out here?” he asks, coming down the steps.
He shrugs, unable to answer.
“The pups missed you yesterday,” Derek continues.
Stiles shrugs again.
“They'll be glad you're here,” Derek says significantly.
Suddenly Stiles explodes, all the twisted, fucked-up feelings about Derek and the pups and this whole surreal situation bursting out of him in a rush.
“Why would they care, huh? They've got you. You're their Alpha,” he spits. “Why would they need a useless kid who's not even a werewolf?”
Derek blinks, as if he has no idea what Stiles is talking about. “Why should that matter?”
“Why should it–” Stiles starts, “It matters because they're werewolves! They need someone to teach them werewolf stuff!”
Derek stares at him. “They have me for that. Look,” he continues, “who are the possible candidates here? There's Scott, who, though he is a werewolf, couldn't find his ass with both hands and a map–”
Stiles can't help but smirk.
“There's Allison, whose family would likely burn the place all the way down if they found out I was raising more werewolves,” Derek ticks off each possibility on his fingers. “There's Jackson.” He doesn't say any more, but then he doesn't need to. “And then there's you.
“You're the best one for the job,” Derek concludes.
“So that's the only reason you picked me?”
Derek pinches the bridge of his nose. “Because you were the best? What other reason do you need?”
Stiles shifts under Derek's stare. "No reason.”
Derek shakes his head. “Anyway, come inside. The pups will be glad to see you.”
"Are they the only ones?" Stiles blurts to his back.
Derek freezes. "What?" he says, without turning around.
"Are they the only ones who'll be glad to see me?" Stiles repeats, taking hold of Derek's elbow and pulling.
Derek turns around, which is significant in itself. Stiles wouldn't be able to move him if he didn't want to go. "No," he says, a quick puff of air, then comes down the steps again.
Stiles' hand is still on Derek's elbow, and Derek's own hand lands on his shoulder, rubbing through his shirt for a moment before Derek suddenly stops, then cautiously shifts up to his neck, his cheek.
Stiles holds his breath, waiting to see what Derek will do. It takes several agonizing heartbeats before Derek leans in, brushes his lips against Stiles', lingers there for a bare moment.
Stiles moves forward by instinct, but Derek's already pulling away.
He opens his mouth, to get air, to say something about this, or possibly to kiss him again, but–