Derek is three miles deep into California redwoods when he realizes he’s a bit fucked, and a bit lost. He could solve his problem easily but locating West and going until he reaches the coast - or a road - but this is the first time in three months that he’s shifted, and he’s not wasting his time pursuing that sort of relief.
So he picks up a slow trot instead, basking in the quiet that comes with his presence in the underbrush. Here, he’s a predator with no match. He can’t hear another big animal for miles, and the hundred thousand terrified little heartbeats surrounding him don’t understand that he isn’t looking for them. He isn’t looking for anything, really, but a simply hideaway for a few days.
Beacon Hills is quiet for what seems like the first time in years, quiet for what seems like the first time in his entire life. So he took his chance for the moment being, let his worries lie at bay for the weekend, and took off. He lets the last memory of thinking it was safe, of that horrible afternoon when he and Laura drove to the coast instead of going home after school, and how there was no home to go to in the downfall. He lets those memories lie deep in the back of his brain as he picks up his trot to a lazy jog, and basks in it.
It’s dark, so dark that he’s having trouble navigating in the early morning light, and he missteps beside a tree and almost onto the foot of a highway. It’s still too early for very many cars to be driving, but he can hear one reverberating down the road at a startlingly fast speed, and he doesn’t test it.
He sits back on his haunches and waits.
The car passes, and the driver doesn’t spare a glance outside her car to Derek.
He’s halfway across the road when he hears another low hum, farther down in the valley, slowly approaching. It sounds strangely familiar and - and he plops down without a second thought, directly in the middle of the road with a single ear perked up as the rumble of the engine gets closer and closer.
It shouldn’t be a surprise when a spot of blue comes closer and closer into view, but it is.
Derek huffs then, decidedly ignoring all decency and shifting into his human skin, shaking out the hardened muscles in his legs and arms as the Jeep gets closer and closer until he hears a tell tale set of heartbeats.
Reya scrambles out of the Jeep first, a pair of ripped tights and a ball full of energy colliding with cement. She doesn’t take much notice until she’s halfway to him until she looks down to see a bloodied knee and looks up with a face full of tiny rage.
“I just got these.” Her thunderstruck face is suddenly shadowed by a bright grin, missing teeth and all when she bursts out with a giggle, “ Daddy ! Where are your clothes?”
Derek barely has time to stifle his own laugh as an unrepenting cry breaks from behind them. Breaking eye contact with the absoultely scandalized child, he moves a hand to cover his groin to look past her.
“I thought you were going to stay home.” His other hand goes to wave to the furious looking toddler angrily clutching his father's hand, chubby hand coiled tight but from the looks of it, not very tight at all.
Stiles has a lax look of a dirtied shirt he’s had for years that has BEST DAD IN THE WORLD scribbled with bright glitter glue and a large, eyesore of a red heart directly underneath it. It’s a terribly cute picture that he has to look away to the artist herself, to look down to Reya, to see she’s stifled her giggle attacked with a fist in front of her mouth.
“Who have I ever been to stay behind?” Stiles crooned, approaching, In the short second it had taken for him to step closer, Stiles had grabbed for the little girl and hoisted him onto his hip, the both of them looking a little less harried as the four of them stared at one another.
“Why is he naked ?” Enora asked from Stiles’ shoulder, dark hair ruffled and smushed into the crook of Stiles’ neck. She looks almost shy as she regards Derek with big green eyes, and the pouty lip from her short lived temper tantrum. Nevertheless, she smiles anyways, freshly grown in baby teeth and all.
“Your father is freak we’ve discussed this.” Stiles rolls his eyes, but Derek sees him pull something from his back pocket and throw it at him. A pair of boxers, comical pink with christmas trees with tiny reindeer. He rolls his eyes but shimmies them on anyways, ignoring the way Reya giggles into her hand.
“You’re the freak for finding me. How long did that take you?”
“Considering you got an implant that shifts with you and tracks your location, not very long at all. The kids were bored that you couldn’t take them for boring walks in the boring mornings, and I was - nervous. It feels like something is shifting. Something is happening.” Stiles keeps his tone light, casual, but as he makes his way closer, he can see the single wrinkle forming between his eyebrows. He smooths it out with a kiss when he gets to him, hand closing around Enora’s side as well as he leans in.
“Gross!” She squeals, wiggling in Stiles grasp until he loosens her enough to shimmy down his leg and clamber towards Reya. The older sister is fumbling with something in the Jeep, a single flip-flopped shoe dangling from the passenger side. Enora giggles as she climbs up into the Jeep as well.
Derek takes it as a sign and lets their foreheads pressed together. This close, he can smell the anxiety as a low simmer, a slight tinge with something too sweet to his normal musk. It makes him nervous in return, and he rubs a hand on his shoulder. “What is it?”
“Deaton says something has shifted. The supermoon is soon. My finals are around the corner and if I don’t get my PhD that’s fifty grand down the drain -”
“Stiles, relax.” He shushes with an easy laugh, light as air by now. It’s been years since anything has happened, since even he’s been back. For years afterwards there had been an unease, a sort of sneaking suspicion that something was right around the corner. That haunted them for years, hell, even backed up their progress on getting their lives together and starting a family. He wasn’t going to let it get to them again.
“I’m just scared. I’ve got bigger things to lose now.” Their lips meet again, softer than before, and then they part as a hand pulls at Stiles arm wrapped around Derek’s waist.
“More like lose track of,” He scoffs, looking down. Enora looks cosmic, hair pulled back into a wild looking ponytail and drowning in a t-shirt Stiles had brung, no doubt for him. She laughs when his eyebrows arch, and shimmies out of it when Stiles sighs.
“Give that to your father,” He’s got the hint of a smile beginning at the corner of his lips and when Reya comes stumbling out a second later, shorts that drag behind her and a way too big sweatshirt on, he lets the laugh go. “ Rey !”
“I think it suits me better,” She points out, and her black hair is pulled back too, large chunks hanging in front of her honey eyes like a curtain. When she gets closer, Derek tugs them out of her face. “Ew, stop. You smell like leaves and you have dirt on your hands.”
“You’re so boring . You roll around in leaves all the time.” Enora’s ‘shirt’ is off now, and Derek takes it with a wink as he throws it over his head. A low rumble comes from the canyon, miles away, and he tugs it down quickly.
“Yeah, in the fall. It’s summer -” Reya snarks back, but her head jerks in the direction of the car anyways. “Is that a -”
“Yeah. We should probably go. Wouldn’t want to raise any eyebrows.” Stiles and Enora look on curiously, but don’t question. Without preamble, Stiles begins to tug the sweatshirt off of Reya and hands it to Derek.
The rumbling is closing in on them as they all head towards the Jeep. Belatedly, he wonders just how long he’s had a tracker in him without realizing it. Normally, most electronic devices make little noises - but noises anyhow - that can be detected.
“How did you really know where I was?” He asks a second later, when the Jeep is starting and Enora and Reya are too busy doing something to notice.
“Put a charm on you. Don’t worry, it will wear off in a few hours. You can go sneak off to your other family then.” Stiles says, shifting gears, and raises a speculative brow at Derek.
“Is he serious?” Enora asks around Reya’s head that’s bent over her lap, securing her seatbelt. When Derek glances back, she looks pissed.
“Of course not honey, they don’t have kids,” When Derek squints at him, Stiles sighs, “I was kidding - not yet, anyways. God knows it took him long enough to have his first round.”
“ Dad !” Enora squeals angrily, lip already pouting, eyes shining. Reya finishes buckling then, sitting up and looks over to her sister with an absolutely exasperated grimace.
“Stop crying. They’re joking.” Reya crosses her arms, a teasing grin making her lips quirk. Derek squints from the rearview mirror, guessing what she’s about to pull even as she makes eye contact.
“ Well ,” Stiles looks back as well, his grin matching his daughters. They love to tease delicate little Enora, most of it harmless. Derek disapproves most of the time, but his own laugh is already beginning to start as Reya sighs dramatically, “The relationship is obviously in it’s beginning stages. They’ve got a dog, that much is clear.”
“You won’t even let us get a dog!” Enora screeches, indignant, the salty smell of tears making him let out a single snicker before turning around with a finger.
“Reya, that’s enough.” Her crestfallen look is nothing short of comical as well, but Enora beats her to a response.
“I want a dog!” Enora shouts. Enora and Derek wince while Stiles grimaces out his own reprimand.
“Enough yelling, we can all hear you just fine. Especially our phonetically inclined family members.” Derek smiles at that by himself, look back at his bickering daughters who’ve already began to piece together what Stiles just said. He can almost see the gears in their heads turning, spinning as Enora looks to Reya.
“What does fun-etic-ully mean?” Reya asks, while Enora looks on absolutely furious.
“Why does your other family get a dog and we don’t!” Her foot doesn’t have ground to stomp on, so she kicks her own seat as hard as she can with the back of her calves. He rolls his eyes.
“We already have Reya.” Reya barks out a surprised laugh as Derek shrugs. Enora lets out a delighted giggle despite her tumultuous look.
“Excuse me?” Reya coughs out.
“It means with your voice, honey.” Stiles responds, shifting gears once more. Out of the corner of his eye he sees the confusion cloud their faces before shrugging.
“I want a dog, and you’re talking about phones !” Enora hollers, punctuating every syllable with a double kick - one to Stiles seat, one to her own booster seat - and crosses her arms when she’s done. From his spot, he can hear her erratic little heartbeat, and isn’t surprised at all when her eyes shift to a shining yellow.
In response, he flashes his own, and she looks down at her hands that are balled into tiny fists. “Breath, Enora. We’re only kidding,” He lays a dirtied hand on her arm, sides aching from the awkward stretch, but her eyes stop shining beta yellow for the moment as he lets a soft smile cross his lips, “If it makes you feel better, Nor, I don’t have a phone or a dog.”