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Love at Second Sight

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MARCH FOURTH

“Boyd? Boyd, help me.

Derek is hissing through the phone, three little boys clinging to his legs. “No, you ass—astonishingly abominable person, don’t you dare laugh. Get me someone to help. I’m in the office. Laura says she won’t be back for two weeks. Two full weeks. Get me someone, now, before I fire you and throw myself out a building.”

“Who would manage the bundles of testosterone-filled joy, then?” Boyd asks mildly, before huffing out another laugh. “Erica can probably wrangle one of her friends up, okay? Until then, just deal with them. They can’t be that bad.” The line goes dead, and Derek struggles to keep from pitching himself off the building as he promised.

“Uncle Der-Der,” the eldest—Jackson—says petulantly, and oh, he’s going to kill Laura for teaching them that name. “I’m hungry.” The boy has sandy hair, and he’s… five. Yes, five. Or six. Or seven. Being a CEO of a company kind of saps away your time for family, alright?

“Me too!” squeals Scott, age four. He remembers him well because he was born on Laura’s birthday, August twenty-third. “I’m so hungry, Uncle Derek, please feed me!” He clings tighter to his legs, and Derek has to grab the counter not to fall.

“Peas, peas, peas,” the youngest chimes—Isaac. He’s two, and Derek is a liar if he doesn’t admit that Isaac’s curls and sweet blue eyes don’t charm him. Of course he loves his nephews. But he just can’t manage them well. His phone dings, from Boyd, and oh thank god. Erica’s sent someone. She says they’ll be there in a minute.

“Alright, boys, let’s get to my office and we can order… Chinese, okay? You boys will like egg foo young.” He hopes. It’s lunchtime, Laura dropped them off at eight, and he’s starving.

“That sounds nasty,” Jackson retorts, crossing his arms and collapsing onto the floor. “I don’t want it.” Derek begins to answer. “I don’t want it.” His reaction sparks Scott to do the same, falling onto the floor and staring up at him with his fluffy hair and dark eyes. “See? Scott doesn’t want it too. And Isaac is too little to know. But he doesn’t want it too.

“Looks like you’ve got a revolution on your hands,” someone says, voice barely stifling laughter, and Derek turns to glare daggers before realizing: a. this must be Erica’s lackey, and b. he is the most attractive man Derek has ever seen. His skin is pale, eyes big and honeyed, body lanky but filled out, and moles freckle his skin like jewels.

“Derek Hale,” he says, moving to extend his hand. The man—boy?—shakes it, smiling widely. He looks happy, and pleased.

“Stiles Stilinski,” he answers, before kneeling down to look at the boys. “Hi, fellas. You can call me Stiles too. I heard you three are hungry? Well, how about we order some Chinese. They have chicken in sauce, and rice too. They call it chicken teriyaki, but I just call it good, y’know?” He laughs, loudly and sweetly, and smiles at the boys.

Scott squeals again—in excitement, and flings himself into Stiles’s arms. Derek is left staring as Stiles picks up Scott in one arm, and Isaac in the other, somehow managing to shift Isaac to hold Jackson’s hand. “That sound good,” Jackson admits, and leads Stiles down the hallway. “We can go to Uncle Derek’s office, he has a really fancy desk, but I think I made him mad when I accidentally scratched it. I’m Jackson, and I’m seven.”

“Hi Jackson,” Stiles says. “And I don’t think Uncle Derek was mad. That’s the good thing about family. They don’t get mad even when you mess up. They just ask you to do better, and that’s okay.”

Derek hears Scott introduce himself excitedly, and then Isaac coo out his name, and Derek is left trailing behind, feeling out-of-sorts, especially when Stiles off-handedly orders egg foo young, enough for two people. “Hey, you got any paper and crayons?” he asks, after hanging up the phone and spinning around in Derek’s chair.

“Paper, yes,” Derek answers confusedly. “And crayons… no?”

“Ugh, fine, stonewall me,” Stiles laments, before pulling out a package of crayons from his own pocket. “Paper me up,” he says to Derek, and opens the box, spilling the crayons out onto the table. “Okay, boys, we’re going to color until the food gets here. And you all can make up stories about your drawings. I’ll do one too.”

Derek fetches the paper, a fat stack of it. Stiles snorts, handing a slice to the boys, one to himself—and passes one to Derek. “You too, sourpatch. Draw your feelings.” He laughs again—something that he must do a lot, and picks up the pink crayon. Derek snatches the black one, disconcerted, and sits down at the other table.

They draw for thirty minutes, silence broken by little requests—“Jackson, give me the red! No, that red!” “Isaac, don’t chew on the crayons, alright, baby-boy?”—until the food is rung up. Derek checks his phone, anxious that Laura still hasn’t called to talk to the boys. Nor let him know she arrived alright.

Jackson is eating messily at Derek’s desk, Scott doing the same, but Isaac turns his nose up at the chicken teriyaki. So Stiles perches him on his lap, and feeds him little bits of his own egg foo young. “Mmm, is right, baby-boy,” he says, rubbing noses with him as Isaac giggles. Derek eats doggedly, ignoring the domestic scene at his desk.

After Jackson unceremoniously dumps the remnants of his lunch in the trash, he begins orating on his picture. “And this is me, playing sports, and Mama’s all proud because I’m so good at it…”

Scott asks about Derek’s picture, and he holds up a little silhouette of a man near the water, shrugging. Isaac giggles, “’Tiles?” And Stiles holds up a picture of him—done in pink—holding Scott and Isaac, Jackson in front of them. Damn, he even included Derek, behind them, in red.

And then Derek’s phone rings. “Mr. Hale?” the voice says flatly, and Derek knows what it means. “I regret to inform you that there’s been an accident…”

*~*

JULY NINTH

Isaac’s birthday is today. Derek slams the door to his bedroom, because it’s the first of the boys’ birthdays without their mother, and the noise wakes them all up. Including Stiles, who’s moved in to the spare for the boys. Derek hears him run to Isaac’s room, soothe the sobbing boy, check on the others, who have drowsed back off due to Stiles’s methodical cooing, and then arrives at Derek’s room.

“Hey, asshole,” Stiles says sharply. “It’s not their fault. Stop taking it out on them.” He crosses his arms, leaning back against the doorframe, as if he belongs, and the scary part is that Derek thinks maybe he does.

Derek grunts noncommittally, and suddenly Stiles is standing on his bed, glaring down. “No, no non-words, you tell me, yes or no, and you can’t say no because they’re children and they miss their mother and they need someone who is family and can tell them stories about their mother, because that’s what they need.” He bounces slightly, as if underlining this.

Derek blinks blearily, eyes locking into Stiles’s, trying to goad him into stepping down. If he does, Derek will have no reason to respect him. But Stiles just stands there on the bed, eyes fluid in the dark. “They need you,” he says coldly, “and I won’t take no for an answer, not for them.” So he’s not going to be goaded. That means it’ll have to be himself who is.

“Fine,” he snarls, burrowing back under the covers. “When I get up.”

Stiles laughs shortly, ruefully, and climbs off the bed. Before he leaves the room, he pauses. “You need them too,” he mutters, before saying something else that Derek can’t hear, and closing the door behind him with a soft click.

Needless to say, that drives Derek out of his mind with curiosity, enough that he can’t sleep. He stands, stalking over to his closet to dress in a loose button-down and jeans. He had debated going in earlier, but finally called in for himself and the boys (well, Jackson, from second grade), returning to the bedroom where he had proceeded to slam the door and bring Isaac to tears. He pads into the kitchen and begins scrambling eggs.

Jackson stumbles in five minutes later. “Uncle Derek?” he asks. “You mad at us?”

“No, Jacks,” he says with a sigh. “I’m mad at other things.” Myself. “But I’m sorry, okay? I shouldn’t have slammed the door. Are you hungry? Can you wake up Scott and Stiles, so he can wake up the birthday boy?” He reaches up and brings down five plates. It’s even more domestic now.

Stiles has been living in Derek’s apartment since the funeral, barely getting enough sleep with all the nightmares that had occurred. Jackson locked himself into his new room, and when Derek finally got fed up, he picked the lock to find Jackson huddled in his closet, clinging to an old blanket that smelled of Laura’s perfume. Scott cried, clinging to Stiles all the time, and Isaac asked for Mommy, but soon stopped. Stiles helped then, and he helps now.

“Scott!” Jackson hollers, banging on his brother’s door. Isaac squalls, and another door swings open—he hears the bang—to quietly open Isaac’s, the click audible as it’s the closest to the kitchen, and bring him in to the dining room, after snagging the plates. Derek hears Stiles’s humming under his breath, and the tune’s familiar.

“Scotty doesn’t know, that Fiona and me, do it in my van every Sunday,” Stiles croons to Isaac, who giggles as Stiles sets the table, returning to the kitchen for Isaac’s sippy cup and the glasses filled with orange juice—two plastic, for the other boys. “She tells him she’s in church, but she doesn’t go, still she’s on her knees, and Scotty doesn’t know!”

“Great song choice,” Derek drawls, bringing the pan in the kitchen to dispense eggs to each plate. “Someone’s going to uncover this memory for him, and they’ll say, that’s what went wrong.”

“Oh c’mon, sourpatch,” Stiles says, eyes sparkling in the light as he grins crookedly. “Scotty doesn’t know, oh, Scotty doesn’t know-oh, so don’t tell Scotty!” He laughs quietly. “I keep wanting to call Scott Scotty, but then I have to remind myself the meaning of the song, and lament life choices. It smells good, sourpatch. Doesn’t it, my three-year-old pumpkin pie?”

Isaac wriggles down from Stiles and hugs Derek round his knees. “Tank you Papa,” he singsongs. Isaac’s good on most of his letters, he just has trouble with ‘th’ and ‘s’. “I love you!”

The boys’ father had died a month after Laura told Derek she was pregnant. Isaac hadn’t known a father. It makes sense. Scott’s called him Papa on accident too, but he blushed and ran for Stiles, who stroked his brown curls back.

Derek stares down at the boy in awe (Papa, I love you) and Jackson and Scott stumble in. “I love you too, Isaac, and Jackson and Scott too,” Derek answers quietly, and when Isaac clambers noisily into his seat, he catches Stiles’s eyes, shocked to find them wet. He crooks an eyebrow at Stiles, who sniffs, wiping them discreetly.

“How’d you sleep, Jacks?” Stiles asks, voice cracking a little. “Any world-shattering dreams last night?”

“I dreamed we were on a boat, all of us,” he answers promptly. “And the waves were big, and it was kind of scary, but Derek, you did something that made the boat stop rocking and then Stiles told us Derek was a superhero and that’s why, and Derek said that no Stiles was the superhero.” He laughs, blue eyes glittering like Stiles’s had.

“That sounds funny,” Stiles says, taking a bite of eggs. “Scott?”

“We were at Mommy’s old home,” he begins slowly, uncertainly, and looks to Derek anxiously. Derek nods shortly, indicating him to continue. “But Mommy wasn’t there. Papa said someone else was, and there was. You were there, Stiles, and you had on a yellow shirt and red pants. And then Papa kissed you and I woke up.” He wrinkles his nose.

It’s quiet for a moment. “You boys, eat for a second. I have to talk to your papa.” Jackson makes a face, but nods. Derek rises confusedly, mind still reeling from Scott’s dream, and follows Stiles into the kitchen. “You’re uncomfortable,” Stiles says. “I’m sorry.”

“You are infuriating. You love the boys. You wake up and keep them company when they cry. Isaac told you he loved you three months ago. Scott, two. And I know Jackson has. Dammit, Stiles.” He’s trying to make Stiles understand, understand without saying the words because it’s hard, so hard.

“I’m sorry?” he repeats slowly. “Is this your way of telling me I don’t need to live here anymore?” No. No. That’s not right—

“No! It’s my way of telling you I love you too, you idiot,” he mumbles, before pulling Stiles to him and kissing him. Stiles tastes like eggs mostly, but something a lot greener underneath—pure Stiles. “And I hate that you make me try, but I love it too. I love you.”

Stiles melts under his hands. He says, just as softly, “I love you too,” before Derek chases him into another kiss.

*~*

DECEMBER 14

Derek wakes to the sound of giggles on a Sunday near Christmas, hushed ones that sound as if they’re up to no good. He stands, in boxers and a shirt, and stumbles out of his bedroom. A shrill, “He’s up!” before the apartment is silent. His phone rings, the special ringtone that Stiles set—a mess of noises, catchy noises albeit.

(“Uncultured swine, it is Sherlock and you need to apologize,” Stiles chastised, sounding a lot like Laura, before putting on the first episode. Derek was pulled into the show reluctantly, seeing a lot of himself in Sherlock, and a lot of Stiles in John Watson. Moriarty was also identifiable, for both of them. He and Stiles watched one a night, for six nights, and Derek was horrified at Reichenbach Fall. He imagined Stiles on the roof, and crushed Stiles to him, who clung just as tightly.)

He finds his phone. Find each of us in turn. It’s just a STUDY IN PINK so don’t be a BLIND BANKER. We’ve put a lot of thought into this GREAT GAME. You won’t need a SCANDAL IN BELGRAVIA to locate us, nor the HOUNDS OF BASKERVILLE.  There’s no REICHENBACH FALL, so don’t worry, Holmes.

“You’re terrible,” he says aloud, and there’s no answer. He first checks Stiles’s old room, now an ‘art room’. There’s no one there. Jackson’s room is also empty, as is Scott’s and Isaac’s. When he opens the lower cabinet, Isaac bursts out, giggling uncontrollably. “You founded me, Papa! Tatusiu and Scott and Jackson are still hiding!”

(It was Jackson’s choice to call them Dad, but when he found out Stiles was Polish, he immediately demanded to call him Dad in that language. Isaac had trouble with the pronunciation, but finally caught on.)

Derek picks Isaac up, carrying him on his hip. “Fee fi fo fum,” he rumbles, and Isaac shrieks from laughter. When he makes it into the living room,  a rustle from behind the curtain is audible. He pulls it back, finding Scott.

“Hi Papa!” he says. “You found me!” He plops himself onto the couch, and a high-pitched growl echoes. Scott collapses onto the floor in laughter, and Derek lifts a cushion to find Jackson, face dark.

“He sat on me, Dad,” Jackson snaps, before climbing out and brushing himself off. “Let’s find Tatusiu.”

They scramble around for a few minutes in the living room, before Derek gets an idea of what Stiles might have done. He walks with the boys into his room, finding Stiles sitting on the bed, smirking as the boys fling themselves onto him, laughter abundant. “You make a good giant,” he says to Derek lewdly, before letting himself be overwhelmed by the boys climbing on him.

Derek waits for them to be settled before fitting himself around the boys to be against Stiles. He feels a rush of warmth for his boyfriend, and dozes off before being accidentally kicked in the groin. Stiles tends to him after apologizing for laughing at the extremely manly scream Derek gave.

“You okay, sourpatch?” he asks concernedly. Derek nods, the boys scattered in the living room, pulling Stiles to him and kissing him. Stiles mewls softly, hands bunching in the shirt, kissing him back. Derek licks into his mouth, tasting green, the same green that’s all Stiles, and Stiles moans into Derek’s mouth.  “Der—Derek,” he gasps. “The boys.”

Derek rolls his eyes. It’s rare when they get alone time during the day, but they manage with office quickies (Erica’s a great help with managing Scott and Isaac while Jackson’s at school) and long sessions in the night. “They’re watching SpongeBob now come on, babe,” he says, hand moving down to rock against Stiles’s cock. He grins as Stiles groans, but the door flings open and he jerks his hand away.

“Come on, Tatusiu, Papa,” Scott demands, and Stiles stands, glaring at Derek as he does so as well. “SpongeBob is on!”

“I know, Scott,” Derek says, smirking at Stiles as he adjusts himself surreptitiously. He leans in, murmurs, “Tonight, babe,” before kissing his cheek, taking his hand, and Scott’s, and walking into the living room with his two other sons. Jackson is sprawled out on the couch, Isaac in front of it, and Scott shoves Jackson over to climb onto the couch.

Isaac tugs Stiles down next to him, and clambers into his lap. Derek sits next to them. He watches Stiles’s eyes trained on the television, and smiles at the muffled laughter he makes at jokes that go over the boys’ heads. He traces a knuckle down Stiles’s cheek, who turns to grin at him, before going back to the television.

Derek doesn’t. He leans against Stiles and falls asleep again, knowing Stiles will be there when he wakes.