"Did you read the instructions for this thing?" Derek asked as he touched and lightly tugged at the contraption in Stiles's hand. "You didn't buy it off a blanket on a street corner, right?"
"Ha ha," Stiles replied, before he stuck his tongue out at his husband. "No, I bought it at a baby store. Parents Weekly swears by it. They say it's great for werewolf parents who want to bond with their babies."
"Whatever you say," Derek said, dropping the straps from his hands and tilting his head at it.
Stiles looked down at the Pup Carrier he'd bought. By itself it looked like a complicated puzzle, but the picture on the box showed a baby sling fitted to a wolf's body. It was for a parent that wanted to go on a run (more like a brisk trot) and wanted to take a baby that was too young to shift with them. He had bought the one for twins.
Talia and Johnnie were three months old, and Stiles had stayed home with them on full moon nights since Derek was a big important alpha pack leader and had responsibilities. Stiles wanted to run around and be silly, so he was making Derek wear the sling this time. They would alternate after that. Or, at least, that was Stiles's plan. Derek was dubious.
"Go on and shift," Stiles told him with a smile, and his mate narrowed his eyes a little. "Let's see if it fits."
Derek glanced at the playpen they were sitting next to, where the babies were on their backs, playing with their toes or gumming their fingers. He seemed to wilt in the face of their cuteness. He shifted, body realigning until he was a tall black wolf. When Stiles smiled as him, he ducked his head so Stiles could slip a strap around his neck.
Stiles moved around his exceedingly patient husband, putting things in place, tightening them and tugging on them to make sure they wouldn't come undone. "Is it too tight?" he asked, and Derek shook his large head. Stiles had to smile, because no matter how big and intimidating Derek's black as night wolf form was, he looked absolutely adorable in a baby sling.
“I love you, you big furry man-beast,” Stiles told him, wrapping his arms around Derek's neck, his fingers barely touching on the other side. Derek leaned into him a little, nuzzling at his side. Stiles could only smile, scratching his nails down between Derek's shoulders and earning a full body shudder for his effort. He continued scratching down, and Derek dropped his head, eyes closing as his huge black tail swished.
“Someday I'll get you to thump your foot,” Stiles promised, and Derek peered at him through the corner of his eyes, irises going from green to red for a second as if to say 'yeah, right, you just try.' Stiles just cupped that wolf's jaw and leaned over to give him a kiss right on the snout.
They both looked over when they heard a howl. The run must have been starting already. Stiles lifted up onto his knees and picked up their daughter. She burbled at them as he put her in one of the available harnesses that was positioned just behind Derek's shoulder. She made an interested noise, grabbing handfuls of black fur and kicking her little feet against her dad's ribs. Derek didn't seem to mind at all, instead turning his head to nose her cheek gently. She cooed happily.
Johnnie made a noise of discontent when Stiles picked him up, apparently annoyed at being interrupted when he'd been trying to pull his footie pajamas off by the toes. He only got more agitated when he was placed in the harness, pushing at Derek's side as best he could and leaning into the cushioned support against his back. He gave a few stubborn hiccups when Derek nosed him, leaning away.
“Oh, there, there, little man,” Stiles told Johnnie, kissing the top of his head. “You'll like this, I swear.” Johnnie made a face like he would have crossed his arms and gone 'hmph' if he were older and had the coordination. Stiles glanced at Talia, who was very happily pushing and pulling at the fur under her little hands like she was trying to read her future in the patterns she was making.
There was yet another howl, this one a question, and Stiles stood up with another brush against his son's cheek. “C'mon,” he told his mate, moving toward the front door. He opened it and waited, pressing his lips in a line when he saw Derek walking extra slow, glancing continuously at the twins hanging on his sides. “They'll be okay,” Stiles told him when Derek finally made it onto the porch. “The box said that the sling could handle a full run.” Derek gave him a look, and Stiles held his hands up. “Not that you're going to run with our babies. I'm just saying you can walk normally.” At Derek's huff, he smiled and closed the door.
Stiles dropped into his wolf form and shook himself, taking a deep breath of the full moon charged air and letting his tongue lull out of his mouth in happiness. It had been nearly a year since he'd been able to shift, and he was fully prepared to enjoy every second of it as Derek played Mr Mom. He plopped down on his butt and lifted his head in a howl to announce to the rest of the wolves in the run that the Stilinski-Hales were out and about. A few moments after he heard two answering howls that were unmistakably Scott and Allison, signaling their position.
Stiles glanced at his mate, who was gazing him rather intensely. “What?” Stiles asked him with a tilt of his head.
“I missed your wolf form,” Derek replied, stepping closer and bumping their noses together.
“You always tell me my wolf form is the silliest thing you've ever seen,” Stiles told him, dipping his head to rub it against his mate's broad chest.
“That doesn't mean I can't miss it.” Perfect Derek logic right there.
Stiles had to agree he made an interesting wolf. He was a dark gray over most of his body with ruddy red around his ears and in a crescent around his cheeks. The underside of his tail and hairs on the backs of his haunches were also red, along with his paws. His chest and belly were white, and so was one (just one) of his front toes. He had a feeling that their children would have interesting fur as well, and he couldn't wait to see them.
Little Johnnie had stopped making noises. Instead he was looking at Stiles with a true childlike wonderment. Stiles nudged his son's cheek with his nose, and Johnnie gave him a toothless smile. “What adorable mood swings you have,” Stiles told the little boy even though he wouldn't be able to hear or respond on the wolf's wavelength yet.
“Don't encourage him,” Derek told him mildly, though the look in his eyes said that he was pleased their son had calmed down.
“How can I not?” Stiles asked, giving Johnnie's ear a little lick, which earned him a happy squeak. Stiles pulled away, before he turned toward the trees and trotted down the steps. “Let's go meet the others,” He said, looking back at his mate and babies. Derek took the steps with caution, before checking to make sure that the babies hadn't turned upside down or something. Stiles had to laugh, and Derek just snorted at him.
Stiles and Derek trotted into the trees, and when that didn't dislodge the babies from the sling, they moved into a smooth lope. This pace made Talia squeal with joy, especially when Derek leapt over a fallen tree. Stiles was sure she even clapped once. Johnnie didn't seem to mind it. He was leaning back in his harness, looking around at the trees and listening to the sounds of the forest with awe in his big eyes.
The first of the pack they saw were Scott and Allison, accompanied by a very excited little Zoe. Scott was a black wolf with a brown underbelly, and his black fur had a blue sheen to it where the light hit it, unlike Derek's black fur that seemed to absorb light like a shadow. Allison was a warm reddish brown with white under her chin, over her cheeks and chest. Zoe was growing into her colors, black with red tipped ears, red front paws and back legs with a silver chest.
Scott was attached to Zoe by a halter around his chest. He was running in circles, leaping and rolling around as Zoe either chased or ran from him. The cute little wolf then got distracted by an especially interesting bug, racing after it then falling on her butt when she reached the end of the puppy leash. This was her first run, as Scott had told him over the phone the day before, and the three-year-old was apparently enjoying the hell out of it.
“Oh, you brought the twins,” Allison said as she looked over when Stiles and Derek came into the small clearing. She trotted over to them, touching noses with Derek and bumping heads with Stiles before she inspected the baby sling. “I saw an advertisement for this a couple weeks ago. I wish it had existed when Zoe was little.” Talia reached out and grabbed her ear, so she tilted her head for the little girl. “Hello, sweetheart, you look like you're having fun.”
“She enjoys it when I run,” Derek told Allison as he watched the interaction.
“So far, the twins have been very easily amused,” Stiles remarked as he moved over to Scott, hopping over Zoe as she tried to run full tilt into his legs. “Are you enjoying the run, ZoZo?” he asked the little girl.
“Moth!” was Zoe's reply as she leapt into the air and tried to catch it in her maw.
“She's trying her best to exhaust me,” Scott said as he sat down and watched Zoe bound around, tripping over paws that were still too big for her. “And she's succeeding.”
“Yay, parenting,” Stiles replied with a wolfish grin. He watched as Zoe tried to climb her father's back, and Scott just sat there and took it.
“Tell me about it,” Scott said as he tilted his head away when Zoe snapped at his ear with her tiny canines then slid right off his back with a yelp. Scott lifted a big paw and set it on her back, and she wriggled around madly trying to get away.
“I can't wait until Talia and Johnnie finally shift,” Stiles told his friend, glancing over where Derek and Allison were quietly talking, probably about alpha things. “They're going to be so cute.”
“And you'll never be able to wrangle them ever again,” Scott said as Zoe got out from under his paw and started attacking his tail. “I do not evny you in having twice the nightmare that Zoe was.” He turned and looked at her as she play growled and slobbered all over his tail. “Is.”
“What are you talking about?” Stiles said with a laugh. “My babies are perfect little angels.”
Johnnie picked that moment to start crying, and Stiles wilted before he stood up to go and console him. Scott got up too, but the moment he tried to take a step forward he flopped to the ground, ass over ears, because Zoe had somehow managed to tied his front paws together. At least that made Johnnie giggle.
Stiles wondered if there were funerals for cars. His Jeep had finally bit the dust one morning when he was going to go pick up some lunch. It had chugged to a start then gave a horrible whine and clunking then shuttered to death. Stiles had hugged the steering wheel and moaned about his poor baby as Derek stuck his head out of the front door curiously.
Derek's Camaro wasn't much better for them, although it still ran perfectly. Sticking a pair of baby seats in its cramped back seat was getting old fast. And the Camaro's trunk was not equipped to handle the amount of groceries they bought each week. Derek would probably defend his sleek black car to his dying breath, but Stiles was putting his foot down.
It was time to get a family car.
Stiles had done plenty of research prior to going to the dealership, looking up the top family cars. Derek just mumbled something about wanted a Chevrolet, because he was just stubborn like that. Stiles was determined to get something in any other color but black, and he would argue his mate into the ground if he had to. Red would be a nice color, but Derek kind of growled at the notion.
Stiles was pushing the twin stroller around the lobby of the dealership, looking at the show cars as Derek talked to a representative. He wasn't particularly impressed with the sedans or the crossovers, even though they had been raved about online. He stood next to the Chevrolet Traverse that Derek had mentioned liking, his lip curling up a little. “What do you two think?” he asked the children, leaning over the stroller handle to look at them. They were asleep, so they had no opinions.
Finally Stiles got to the Toyota Prius, which was in a beautiful red and had a hatchback, something he was really interested in. He opened the driver's side door and got in, testing the seat, leg and head room. Derek would probably like it, since he preferred to lean back and stretch out his long legs while driving with one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. It used to drive Stiles bananas, especially when the kids were born and he was driving like his car was a low rider. But he had gotten used to it, because Derek had the reflexes of a cat and would never do anything to put his family in harm's way.
The trunk space of the Prius was awesome. Stiles jumped in to crawl around and check, calculating how many bags they could fit in it. The back seat was nice and spacious too. And the car had back doors, which was one addition that even Derek couldn't argue as being in favor of the Camaro. He loved the Prius. He wanted it.
“Derek,” Stiles called as he climbed out of the backseat of the car and beamed at his mate.
Derek turned his head, took one look at the car and frowned. “No,” he said, turning back to the dealer.
“What?” Stiles whined at him, before he took hold of the stroller and wheeled the twins over to Derek and the dealer. “Why?” he asked, interrupting their conversation.
Derek frowned further, but the dealer seemed a bit amused. “Because,” Derek said simply.
“Because is not an answer,” Stiles told him, making a face. “What are you, twelve?”
“If you say it's because it's not American made, I'm going to bop you on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.” Stiles crossed his arms.
The dealer disguised his chuckle with a cough. “Would you perhaps like to give it a test drive, sir?” he suggested, and Derek narrowed his eyes at him.
“Yeah, you can't say you don't like it if you haven't driven it. I'll watch the kids, and you can go do a loop or three on the highway.” Stiles grinned at his mate and made a dismissive hand gesture.
Derek looked like he was going to refuse for a second and be petulant, but finally he rolled his eyes up in the true sassy Hale fashion. “Fine,” he said, relenting. “I'll give it a test drive.”
“I'll go get a set of keys,” the dealer said, smiling brightly as if he could taste his commission.
Stiles waited in the lobby, watching as Derek and the dealer drove a test Prius off the lot. That one was black, which probably meant Derek had picked it. Stiles sat in a nice comfortable chair and played peek-a-boo with a now awake Johnnie, wondering if Derek was seething and the dealer was just rambling off the perks of having a hybrid.
When Derek got back with the dealer in tow, Stiles stood up and took in his mate's cagey facial expression. “Did you like it?” he asked with a smile and a tilt of his head. Derek flicked his eyes away and he pushed his lips to one side. “You did, didn't you?” It was adorable that Derek had obviously approved of the Prius's drive ability but was childishly sticking to his guns.
“I don't want a red car,” Derek finally said.
Stiles snorted, putting his hands on his hips. “I don't want a black car.” He and Derek glared at each other for a minute.
“I hear canary yellow is very in right now,” the dealer suggested, and he grinned when both Derek and Stiles made comically horrified faces.
They went with blue.
At five months old, the twins were basically rolly pollies. They couldn't quite crawl yet, but they did a lot of rolling back and forth on their backs. When sat up, they would stay for a few moments before tumbling to one side and then onto their stomachs. If held up on their feet, they would spastically kick their legs like they were trying to lift off into space.
Derek thought his babies were geniuses. He was constantly comparing their progress to the guidelines in the development books he had read. Most of them said the babies would start to crawl around by eight months. Derek anticipated that Talia and Johnnie would be doing so by six months. He could tell they were trying every time they were on their bellies and they lifted up on their arms, doing an unsteady kind of sway before plopping back down.
That was what Talia was doing one afternoon as Derek and Stiles were sitting on the living room floor, their legs spread out and their feet hooked together so that their legs made a kind of diamond shape around the twins. Their little girl kept pushing up on her hands to peer over their legs like there was a great big exciting world out there.
Johnnie was asleep on his stomach with his face pressed against the side of Derek's knee. He was so cute that Derek wanted to pick him up and hold him against his chest, but he didn't because he didn't want to disturb his slumber.
Stiles was leaning back on his hands, looking so relaxed and content that Derek would have covered him in kisses and pinned him to the ground if there weren't two babies between them. "I have never had a client so confused about what they want before," Stiles was saying as he languidly leaned his ear against his shoulder. "But also they're really bossy. I had to present five different versions of teal for the sidebar of their front page, and they kept insisting they weren't vibrant enough. I was like, 'Look, if I make it anymore vibrant, it's going to be neon. Do you want to blind your customers?' Guh."
Stiles dropped his head back to groan at the ceiling. "This is why Danny is supposed to deal with customer relations. But he's on his honeymoon."
Derek chuckled at that but didn't comment. That engagement had been a long time coming, and the only person that had been surprised when Ethan proposed had been Danny. They had only been together for over a decade.
"I'm happy for him," Stiles continued. "But I wish he would come back and be all unfazed and neutral at these people like he's so good at. I end up all snappish and bitey." Stiles rolled his eyes and pursed his lips. "You've seen the state of my stress ball."
"You mean your chew toy?" Derek remarked with a smirk, and Stiles stuck his tongue out at him.
"Is your work any less stressful? How's that one two story in the Applegate neighborhood coming along?" Stiles asked, rocking his foot against Derek's.
Derek immediately groaned, gladly taking his turn to complain. "I never thought I would have to explain why marble is more expensive than linoleum to someone. I want to jab a flathead screwdriver in my ear every time these people ask me their stupid questions." He lifted his hands to rub at his eyes. “You'd think someone with so much expendable cash would figure out what they want beforehand.” He recalled telling them that no, a tile and hardwood mash up would not look edgy, just stupid. It would also be wasteful as hell.
He was about to tell Stiles about the debacle with the grout in the bathroom when he was interrupted by a tiny kitten sneeze and looked down to find not Johnnie, but a little wolf pup in a ducky onesie. Derek was not proud of the sound that left his mouth at the sheer cuteness of the brown cub, but Stiles was squealing right alongside him.
“Oh, hello cutie,” Stiles said as he reached over to pick up their son, pulling him against his shoulder and rubbing at his back. “Who's the cutest little wolf in the world, hm?” He chuckled as Johnnie snuffled noisily at his neck.
Derek couldn't seem to stop grinning. “He's not the only cute little wolf,” he told him, before he reached over and grabbed Talia, bringing her to sit just in front of him. She leaned her head back against his belly, making a cooing sound and smiling brightly up at him. “Yeah, you're going to be super cute, aren't you, princess?”
“It's not a competition,” Stiles said, before he turned his head as Johnnie shifted back to his human form. He looked like he was about to say something before his nostrils flared and he made a face. “And now someone needs to be changed.” He got his legs under him and got up, moving around Derek to the bathroom where they kept one of about ten stashes of diapers and changing supplies.
Derek laughed loudly at that, unable to help himself. “Well, your son knows how to make his first shift memorable.” He watched Stiles disappear through the door.
“Why is he my son when he's gross?” Stiles called back.
Derek laughed further, shaking his head and looking down at his daughter, who was still staring up at him. “What color is your wolf going to be, hm, little lady?” he asked her, turning her around so that she was facing him. She just sat there for a second before flopping back on her back and spreading her limbs out while squeaking like she just did an amazing magic trick. He smiled at her, forever charmed.
Leaning over her, he hid his face behind his hands. “Where am I?” he asked her, and she cooed at him in confusion. He pulled his hands apart quickly, and she looked at him in surprise, eyes wide and mouth in an 'o'. “Here I am,” he told her, smiling big, and she squealed, kicking her feet.
“How on Earth does all of that come out of you?” came Stiles's voice from the bathroom.
Derek snorted, leaning over his daughter. “Your brother is a hearty eater,” he told her in a whisper, as if it were a secret. She giggled and reached for him, so he caught her hands with his.
“Hey, baby girl, want to see a trick?” he asked her, before he got on all fours above her. “Watch closely.” He shook himself, bones realigning and fur sprouting over his body as he shifted into his large black wolf form.
Talia stared for a second as if wondering where her daddy went, before she shrieked happily, reaching for him. Derek bent his head down, sniffing along her face, and she pawed at his snout. He gave her a lick, and she squeaked, before she stuck her finger in his nose.
Derek huffed as he lifted up, shaking his head then licking his nose. That was a sensation he never thought he'd feel. Talia was still reaching for him, so he leaned down and nosed her shoulder until he managed to lift her up into a sitting position, then curled around her with his neck against her back and his paw over her legs. She wriggling against him a little bit before settling against his fur. By the time Stiles came out of the bathroom with Johnnie in his arms, Talia was asleep, her soft, cute little breaths right under his ear.
Stiles stopped, blinking at the display, before he smiled. “Is it wolfy nap time?” he asked, and Derek just squinted at him in a joyful affirmative. Stiles got down on the ground, setting Johnnie in a similar position against his neck before shifting into his wolf form too, his nose right next to Derek's.
Derek closed his eyes and just listened, picking out Johnnie's fluttering heartbeat as he played in Stiles's fur. Talia's was slower as she dozed, snoring ever so softly. Then there was Stiles's heart, a steady, strong beat that he'd listened to countless nights as he fell asleep. It made him sigh, relaxing every muscle in his body and feeling the whole world become those three hearts.
"They're really getting around now, aren't they?" Scott asked as held Johnnie in his lap while Talia motored about in the space between his and Stiles's legs.
Stiles just grinned, grabbing his little girl and leaning in to kiss her cheek, which earned a squeak and a chubby hand swat. The twins were just past seven months now, and they were crawling around like they were trying out for the baby Olympics.
"They're unstoppable," Stiles told him as Talia wriggled around in his arms. She probably wanted her other daddy. Derek and Allison were in the dining room, planning the run for this month. If Stiles leaned, he could see Zoe perched on Derek's knee, coloring as the adults talked.
"Has Talia shifted yet?" Scott asked, smiling down at the little boy in his lap, who was playing with his fingers.
"Not yet. Johnnie only shifted the once."
"Zoe didn't have any control of it until she was almost two, so I wouldn't worry about it." Scott leaned down and nibbled at Johnnie's ear with his lips, and the baby squealed like it was the best thing ever.
"I just want to know what color she is, y'know?" Stiles said as Talia flopped kind of boneless into the concave of his folded legs. She yawned, before she made a face when he booped her little nose.
"I bet she'll take after Derek," Scott said.
"I don't know. She has my eyes." Stiles shrugged.
The twins's eyes finally changed from pale blue to the colors they would have for the rest of their lives. Johnnie's were Derek's green while Talia's were dark brown. She had Stiles's moles too, a few on her shoulders and back to join the Marilyn Monroe beauty mark on her face. Johnnie was birthmark free as far as they had found.
Scott went on to talk about his job, mostly about the kittens since he had a serious soft spot for all things small and furry. Deaton had retired a couple years back and was now traveling the world, leaving the veterinary practice to Scott. He had managed not to burn the place to the ground, and he even had his own high school assistant.
As he was talking, the sun moved out from behind the clouds and shone in through the large window they were sitting near. They both looked over, squinting at the brightness, before they glanced at each other then at the babies. Matching mischievous smiles came onto their faces, and they lifted the twins up toward the sun's rays before beginning to sing. Badly.
"Naaaaaaaah segunaaaaaaah babageesteee mabaaaaa!"
Scott and Stiles started to laugh, pulling the confused babies to their chests. This was proof that parenthood had not cured them of their silliness.
"What the hell is that?" came Derek's voice from the dining room.
"Oh God," Allison said, sounding like she was regretting all of her life choices. "It's that song from The Lion King."
Stiles pressed his face in Talia's hair, managing to control his laughter long enough to hold his daughter up again and sing off key. "From the day we arrive on this planet and, blinking, step into the sun."
"There is more to seen than can ever be seen," Scott pitched in, and Johnnie looked very confused in his hands. "More to do than ever be done."
They paused, looking at each other before flicking their eyes around. It had been a while since Stiles had seen the movie, so he couldn't remember much of the song. He hummed the tune, and Scott joined in, lifting a shoulder in a shrug.
"Something, something," Stiles sang, and Talia wasn't amused, starting to kick her feet. "But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky keeps great and small on the endless ground--"
"Round," Scott corrected.
Then they both took a big breath, tilting their heads back. "In the circle of liiiiiiife!"
"It wasn't funny when you did it with Zoe. It's not funny now!" Allison called to them as said little girl came running into the room, squealing for them to do it again.
"In the ciiiircle," they laughed out, barely even singing now. "The circle of liiiiife!"
Talia's canines were coming in, which meant she was chewing on everything. Toys, teething rings and fingers were all fair game. Johnnie's mouth was still teeth free, but he was more talkative than his sister. He spoke baby language, but he would babble to anyone who would listen.
Stiles and Derek had a running bet. Stiles wanted the little ones to say 'papa,' while Derek had claimed the obviously easier 'dada.'
Cheerios had just been added to the menu for the twins. It was Johnnie's favorite thing to push the little cereal rings around his high chair table, while Talia used them as projectiles. She did the same with her sippy cup while Johnnie was perfectly happy to drain his.
Talia was not transitioning from bottle to sippy cup very well. She always made faces and shrank away from it when it was offered to her. Derek gave in to her pitiful noises easily, while Stiles was willing to sit with her for an hour until she relented and drank. What she was very willing to do was inhale applesauce like it was going out of style.
Derek was spoon feeding the little girl her favorite food, smiling at her enthusiasm. "Talia, can you say 'dada' for me?" he asked her as he drew back the spoon. She stared at him for a second, before she pawed at the little bowl of applesauce he was holding. "Come on," he said, offering her another bite. "It's really easy, just—Talia, give that back." The little girl had clamped her mouth down hard, refusing to let go of the soft plastic spoon. "Young lady." She made a noise, and his eyes popped wide. "Did you just growl at me?"
Releasing the spoon, Derek turned to look at Stiles, who was snickering into the back of one hand, the other full of Cheerios. "She growled at me," Derek told him, shocked and totally proud at the same time. He looked back at Talia, and she was waving the spoon around like a sword.
"Definitely your daughter," Stiles remarked, looking back at Johnnie who was stuffing his face with Cheerios. Stiles pushed the ones that were out of his reach closer to him.
Derek watched, before he jerked as the plastic spoon hit him in the face. He managed to catch it before it hit the ground, and he turned to his daughter, who was smiling. "You're a bit impatient, aren't you?" She just made a sound like 'uh!' and pounded her little hands against the table, so he offered her another spoonful of applesauce. She accepted it happily.
After Stiles managed to convince Talia that the sippy cup wasn't going to bite her and the twins were sufficiently fed and burped, they all moved into the living room. The kids were put in the playpen, and Derek sat down on the floor to watch them as Stiles went to change.
It was date night. It would be the first date they had been on since the kids were born, and they were both very excited about it. Melissa was coming over with Zoe, and they were all going to watch Disney movies while Derek and Stiles went to the movies then dinner. Melissa said she was excited to spend time with all of her grandbabies, which had made Stiles all smiles.
"Okay, kiddos, let's try this again," Derek told his little ones as they sat and stared at him. "Repeat after me. Dada." They continued to stare unblinkingly at him. "It's two syllables, guys. Dada. Daaaada. Dada?" Talia just turned and crawled off while Johnnie rolled onto his back and pulled at his booties. "I have a feeling you two are not putting as much effort into this as you should be," he deadpanned.
"How do I look?"
Derek glanced over and was not prepared for what he saw. Stiles was wearing a pale blue button down with a black vest and tight black jeans. It made him all sharp angles and long lines, and Derek's mouth went dry at the sight.
Stiles took the silence as exactly what it wasn't, getting self-conscious. "It's too much, isn't it?" He asked, taking a step back and toward the stairs to their room.
Derek was up like a shot, moving over to them. "No, no it's..." He wrapped his arms around Stiles's middle, lacing his fingers over the small of his back. "You look great."
"You sure?" Stiles asked with a little laugh. "These pants aren't too tight? I mean, I still have some fat from the pregnancy and—"
Derek silenced him with a kiss, smiling at Stiles's little aborted noise before he melted against Derek's chest. Stiles opened his mouth to Derek's tongue, before he moaned softly and brought his hands up to hold the back of his head. Derek baited Stiles's tongue into his mouth, before he sucked on it, swallowing Stiles's moan.
Derek drew back and smirked at the slightly dazed expression on his mate's face. "I'm going to change," he said, before he patted Stiles's butt.
"Kay," Stiles replied with a grin.
Derek took the stairs two at a time, excited about this date even more now. He undressed in a flash, digging through his side of the closet until he found some nice pants, a white button down and his nicest leather jacket. He waffled on whether or not to wear boots or loafers, but he eventually went with boots. He fixed his hair and stopped in front of the mirror, checking his reflection. It would do.
When he got downstairs, he heard Stiles talking and came into the living room to find Melissa and Stiles standing next to the play pen. "We just fed them, so they should be ready to go down in a couple hours," Stiles was saying.
Zoe had been clinging to Stiles's leg, but when she looked over and saw Derek she grinned and ran full tilt at him. "Uncle Derek!" she squealed, and her R's still sounded a bit like W's.
"Hey, Zoe," Derek said, leaning down to catch her under the arms and haul her up onto his hip. "What's up?"
"We're going to watch The Little Mermaid!" Zoe announced happily.
"You are?" Derek smiled as he walked over to Stiles and Melissa.
"It's my favorite," Zoe told him proudly, before she allowed herself to be passed back to her grandmother. "Nana always watches it with me. Right, Nana?" At Melissa's nod, she beamed. "Nana is the best!"
Everyone looked down to find a smiling Talia holding herself up with the side of the pen. "Nana!" she said again, looking accomplished.
"Oh my God," Stiles whispered, before he knelt down in front of her. "Sweetie, that's your first word!" he told her.
"Nana!" She plopped back on her butt and clapped her hands.
"Nana!" Johnnie announced, rolling on his back.
"Well," Derek said, putting his hands in his pockets. "That bet is out the window." He gave Melissa a smile and didn't comment on the tears in her eyes, hugging her instead.
"It feels like ages since we've been able to go out. Years!" Stiles told Derek as they drove to the next town where there was actually stuff to do. He was an antsy, bouncing ball of energy, half worried about his kids and half elated that he and Derek had time to themselves. His knee was bouncing, and he was wringing his hands. He jumped when Derek's hand landed on his thigh, before he melted under the warm touch.
"Relax," Derek told him with a soft smile, squeezing his thigh.
Stiles abruptly wondered what his mate would do if he grabbed his hand and pulled it to lay over his crotch. Hopefully not crash the car. Maybe he'd pulled over and lean down to—best not think about it. They had reservations. Stiles just enjoyed the comforting weight of the hand on his thigh.
When they pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, Derek went around the car with a quickness, and Stiles watched, amused, as he unbuckled himself. When Derek opened the passenger side door and offered his hand, Stiles tried really hard not to roll his eyes. He took his mate's hand and put the other over his heart, batting his eyes.
"Why, Mr Hale, you are being positively chivalrous," he said with a mock Southern peach accent, letting Derek help him out of the car and smiling up at him. "Are you going to lay your jacket over a puddle for me now?"
"Not this jacket," Derek said as he put his arm over Stiles's shoulder. "Is this you complaining about the special treatment?"
"Absolutely not," Stiles said, bumping Derek's hip with his own as they walked up to the restaurant. "As long as you don't try to order for me, I'm digging this alpha male 'let me take care of you' thing. You know that I'm going to insist we share an Icee at the theatre now, like a couple of teenagers."
"Does that mean you want to go to a make out point?" Derek said, his tone teasing as he opened the door for Stiles.
"I have a feeling we'd do more than make out, and my dad's deputies don't need to shine a flashlight into the Camaro and see us banging like bunnies." He gave Derek a sweet smile, earning a kind of choked snorting chuckle.
If the host heard him, he didn't betray it in his smile. "Hello gentlemen, what name are you under?"
"Stilinski-Hale," Derek replied, and the host ran a finger down his book before he nodded and told them to follow him to their table.
Stiles took a moment to look around at the restaurant, smiling at what he saw. It was all crisp white tablecloths with shining, long-stemmed wine glasses and soft candlelight. It had been a while since they had gone out to a place so fancy, and Stiles could feel his inner child bounding about inside. In a place like this, he felt like the Sheriff's goofy kid and had to remind himself he was a father and actually old enough to order off the wine menu. When Derek held out his chair for him, his cheeks burned and he couldn't stop grinning.
“Any chance I can interest you in a game of footsie?” Stiles asked after the server had taken their drink and appetizer orders.
Derek looked like he was trying very hard not to laugh. “This place is a bit upscale for that kind of game, don't you think?”
Stiles batted his eyelashes at his mate. “You mean I can't flick my peas across the table at you?”
“Our children are more mature than you.”
Stiles glanced over at the other tables, before he lifted his hand and put it at the side of his mouth like a shield, sticking his tongue out at the other man. “You wouldn't have me any other way.”
“Lucky for you,” Derek agreed, flashing him a winning smile before he nodded to the server as their wine was delivered.
The food was great. Stiles probably consumed more pasta than he should have, because he was trying to get back to his old figure, but it was just so damn good that he couldn't help it. He'd just have to run around more. The twins would probably help with that since they were crawling like they were trying to escape.
He might have made an obscene sex noise at the chocolate cake Derek had insisted they order. He looked up to find a hungry look in Derek's eyes, and that was when he started pulling the cake off of his fork slowly and giving it sensual licks to get the leftover icing. He knew it was working by the way Derek's fork paused, poised over the cake, and his eyes widened as his nostrils flared.
They didn't make it to the movie.
Instead they ended up at make out point, because apparently they were teenagers again, and Stiles couldn't find it in himself to complain. The moment Derek turned off the car, Stiles had his seat belt off and more or less leapt on him, leaning over the middle and grabbing his head to pull him into a kiss. Derek tasted like chocolate and dry wine, and Stiles groaned into his mouth as he dug his fingers into beautiful dark hair.
Derek made this noise in his chest, a kind of primal moan or growl or something, and shivers ran down Stiles's spine. He tried to lean in more, but the center console was in the way, so he lifted up onto his knees to loom over Derek. He promptly bonked his head on the roof of the car and winced.
“Ow,” he said, rubbing the back of his head. “There's not enough room in here.”
“It's fine,” Derek said impatiently, running his fingers over the back of Stiles's head before pulling him down again and plunging his tongue into his mouth.
Stiles moaned, but for all the wrong reasons. He drew back enough to say, “The console is digging into my hip.” He put his hand on it, wriggling a bit.
“Will you stop complaining?” Derek said, trying to lean up to take his mouth.
But Stiles couldn't get comfortable, so he pulled away and plopped back into his seat. “We should have taken the Prius.”
“Oh my God,” Derek groaned, putting his elbow on the door and slapping his hand over his eyes.
“At least it has a back seat worth anything,” Stiles went on. “We couldn't even fit back there.” He waved his hand in the direction of the back of the Camaro.
“Yes, but does the Prius have tinted windows?” Derek countered, looking at him again.
Stiles pressed his lips together, taking in a huffy breath, because he didn't want to conceded the point. “No.”
“Okay then,” Derek said, before he pushed Stiles back against his seat and rather acrobatically climbed over the center console to drop into a kneeling position in front of Stiles. He grabbed Stiles's face before he could say anything, drawing him back into a searing kissing where Stiles was sure Derek was trying to suck any remaining sugar from the cake right off of his tongue.
Derek's clever fingers were undoing Stiles's vest as he scraped his teeth along his tongue, and once he got that out of the way, the buttons of Stiles's shirt were next. Stiles tipped his head to the side as Derek kissed down his jaw, letting out a hot breath through parted lips as Derek's mouth licked and nipped down his chest as his shirt revealed skin. Stiles brought his hands up to tangle in Derek's hair as he descended, mewling as the tongue traced a burning path down his skin.
But then he stopped, and Stiles opened his eyes looked down at Derek who had a deeply uncomfortable look on his face. “What?” he asked.
Derek flicked his eyes up, looking reluctant. “I can't go any further. The dash is gouging into my back.”
Stiles let out a loud snort of a laugh. “Told you we should have taken the Prius.”
Derek narrowed his eyes then bit Stiles's nipple, causing him to let out a very manly shriek.
After going to a later showing of the movie that they had originally intended on going to, they headed home. Stiles could feel exhaustion pulling his eyelids down as he leaned into Derek and waited for him to unlock the door. He wanted to make friends with the nearest soft surface as soon as possible. He jerked when Derek moved, before he followed him inside.
Melissa was sitting on the couch with a book and Zoe under a blanket next to her, totally out with her arm wrapped around her stuffed bear and her thumb in her mouth. Melissa looked up when they walked in, smiling at them and putting a bookmark in her book before standing up. “How was your date?” she asked, her voice soften as so not to wake up Zoe.
“Great,” Stiles said, swaying a bit. “Did the kids give you any problems?”
“Of course not. I put them to bed, and they haven't made a peep. They're angels,” Melissa said, and Stiles fought the urge to preen, because yeah, those were his little angels.
“Thank you for watching them,” Derek said, putting his arm around Stiles's waist when Stiles leaned heavily against him.
“Glad to help,” she told them with a smile. She picked up a sleepy Zoe, hefting her noodle-limp form onto her hip, and gathered up her purse and Zoe's bag. She gave Stiles and Derek each a kiss on the cheek, before she whispered her goodbye and left.
Derek dragged him up the stairs, depositing him in the bed before going to check on the kids. Stiles very slowly managed to get his vest and shirt off, tossing them off the side of the bed before his energy just left him and he gave up in the endeavor of undressing himself. The combined factors of his full stomach, the long day and the fact that the twins had cried until three in the morning the previous night just exhausted him.
He was already drifting off when he felt hands undoing his belt and pants, and he opened his eyes to find a pretty amused Derek over him. “And here I was going to suggest a continuation of what we were doing in the car,” Derek said as he tugged Stiles's pants down and off. “But I have a feeling you would fall asleep and leave me hanging.”
“Nuh uh,” Stiles said as he watched through half lidded eyes as Derek pulled off his own clothes. “We can totally bang. Let's go.” Despite his slurring voice, he made come hither motions.
Derek rolled his eyes fondly, before he crawled up onto the bed, pressing against him so the only thing separating them was their boxers. “You're exhausted,” he said, bringing his hand up to run his fingers through Stiles's hair, which made his eyes droop to closing.
“I can do it without looking,” Stiles mumbled, tossing his arm over Derek's shoulder and letting it hang there.
“Sure you can,” Derek said into his ear, a smile evident in his voice. “Go to sleep.”
“No,” Stiles said petulantly, turning his head and trying to kiss Derek. He missed, and that was probably his nose.
Derek laughed, putting his arm around him and starting to knead the muscles of his back. “Yes.”
Stiles turned into a happy, gooey puddle, murmuring out something unintelligible. He fell asleep, his face stuck to Derek's shoulder, feeling warm and pampered.
The first birthday for the twins was a huge, full pack affair. Lydia was the party planner, and she went all out. The whole house was decorated in blue and pink streamers, winding around the railing of the stairs and hanging in arcs on the walls. Hanging from the ceilings were adorable paper lanterns with baby bunnies, ducklings, puppies and kittens on them. They had even moved the furniture around to make way for a table that was draped in layers of blue and pink and covered in presents.
Peter was filming everything. He had bought a digital camera with a built in recorder just for this event. He was kneeling beside the playpen, trying to get the kids to say 'unca.' They seemed more interested in pawing at the silver camera like it was the most magnificent thing they had ever seen.
"They're getting so big," Scott said as he stood next to Stiles, Zoe on his hip.
"You say that every time you see them," Stiles reminded him as he held Zoe's hand.
"Yup, I've turned into you," Scott replied with a grin. "But they are though. Little werewolves grow up so fast." He turned his head and nuzzled Zoe's cheek. "Isn't that right, princess?"
"Yeah!" Zoe agreed with a nod and a grin, shaking Stiles's hand up and down.
Stiles had to agree. It felt like only yesterday when they had brought their little bundles of joy home for the first time, and now they were crawling around and talking. Their vocabularies were growing by the day. Johnnie's favorite word was 'more,' and Talia's favorite was 'no.'
After Scott moved away to go talk to someone else, Stiles looked over at Derek, who was talking with Allison and Jackson, a smile on his face and an easy relaxation about him that made Stiles sigh. Sometimes he was struck by how far Derek had come, how comfortable he was now that he was mated and had a family, a pack. Seeing him happy just made Stiles so happy too.
Derek looked over as if he had felt Stiles's stare, and he politely excused himself before he came over to put his arms around Stiles and press his lips into his temple. "See something you like?" Derek murmured in Stiles's ear.
Stiles chuckled, leaning into him and hooking his thumbs in the belt loops on the back of Derek's jeans. "What? I can't admire my husband from afar?" he replied, nuzzling Derek's neck.
"You know how I get when I feel your eyes on me," Derek said, smiling into Stiles's hair.
"Oh, I know." Stiles pulled Derek closer.
"Oh my God, you two, get a room." Stiles and Derek looked over to find Erica grinning at them. Boyd was at her side, his arm slung over her shoulders and her fingers laced in his. "I thought the honeymoon phase was supposed to end after you had kids," she said.
"Still waiting for that to happen," Stiles said, before he nuzzled Derek's chin just to hear her make a gagging noise. He chuckled before he turned and leaned into his mate, his back against his front, and Derek looped his arms loosely around his waist. "Speaking of kids though," he said as he laid his hands on Derek's wrist. "When are you two going to have some?"
"Well—" Boyd started.
"No," Erica finished. She looked up at her husband and gave a wolfish grin. "We live in an apartment, hon. It's not exactly babyproof. And I want to travel somewhere exciting like the UK or Asia or Latin America before I settle down and start popping out pups. I want to do things."
Boyd sighed but smiled back. "Anything you want," he told her, and she grinned before she lifted up on her toes as he leaned down to kiss her.
Stiles rolled his eyes at the display. "Oh my God, you guys, get a room," he deadpanned.
Erica stuck her tongue at him. "Can we borrow yours?" she asked, batting her eyelashes, and Boyd smiled.
"Ew," Stiles said.
Derek cleared his throat, pulling back. "I think it's time for cake," he said, his voice carrying, and everyone looked over.
They picked up the twins, Derek holding Talia and Stiles holding Johnnie, and brought them over to the dining table where there was a big rectangular cake with icing balloons and rainbow sprinkles. It said 'Happy Birthday Talia and Johnnie!' (They had deliberated on whose name would be first, and they decided on Talia's since she was born three minutes before her brother.) There was a big candle in the shape of the number one, white and outlined in green.
"Wait, we have to sing Happy Birthday!" Isaac told them, grinning as a couple people (Derek and Jackson) groaned. But they sang anyway.
There was some laughing at their collective tone deafness. Derek dug a lighter out of his pocket, shuffling Talia against his chest as he lit the candle. Then he put his hand under her butt again.
"Ready to blow out your candle and make a wish?" Stiles asked his little angels, before he and Derek leaned down. "One, two, three." Cameras flashed all around them as he and Derek blew at the same time, before they stood up, laughing as people started cheering and clapping.
Did this mean he and Derek got the wish? Stiles didn't know what to wish for since he already had everything he wanted. He imagined Derek probably wished for the Prius to turn black.
Stiles's dad managed to beat Derek to the cake cutting knife, taking over that duty and shooing them away to the table. Melissa, Isaac and Lydia helped pass out slices of cake, which was marble with buttercream icing.
Derek and Stiles got their pieces first, and Derek cut off a tiny bit before offering it to Johnnie. "Here's your first bite of cake, little man," he told him, and Johnnie grabbed his hand before opening his mouth wide.
Everyone was quiet as they watched, and Johnnie's eyes went wide, before he starting bouncing in Derek's lap and making grabbing motions at the plate. He said "More, more!" over and over again to a chorus of 'aww's around the room. Derek cut him another piece, and he devoured it.
Stiles grinned as he watched, before he did the same, offering a bite to Talia. She ate it, her reaction more or less the same as Johnnie's. He kissed the top of her head, giving her another piece, before he cut off a bigger one. "Hey," he said to Derek, holding it out, and Derek looked at him before he smiled and opened his mouth obligingly.
But then Stiles smooshed the cake against Derek's cheek, to the laughter of the room and the delight of their children. Derek lifted his hand as if to wipe it off as Stiles giggled, but he grabbed the side of Stiles's face instead. He jerked him close and rubbed his icing covered cheek against Stiles's.
Stiles wiggled, and Derek just laughed before telling him, "Sharing is caring."
"This is going on YouTube," Peter told them, standing on the other side of the table with a grin and his camera aimed at them.
Stiles stuck his tongue out at him, before he gave a high laugh as Derek ran the flat of his tongue up to whole side of his face.
After cake, it was time for presents. Derek and Stiles were instructed by Lydia to sit on the floor with the kids against their fronts as she and Isaac handed them gifts. The twins didn't quite understand what the function of wrapping paper was, but they very much liked the shiny bows. Stiles and Derek pulled the paper off for them, and Isaac and Lydia cleared it away.
From their grandpa John, they got building blocks. They were soft and worn around the edges, and they came in a box that definitely wasn't the original.
"Hey," Stiles said, picking one up and inspecting it as Johnnie smacked two of them together. "I remember these." He looked up at his dad.
John shrugged, giving half a smile. "They were in the attic. I thought you'd want your kids to have them."
"I do, Dad," Stiles said, beaming up at him. "Thanks."
"Sure, bud," John said, looking embarrassed as everyone looked at him. He made shooing motions. "There are more presents. Go, go."
Their Nana got them small, soft dinosaurs that felt like they were filled with little beads. Allison and Scott got them some picture books with buttons on the sides that made animal sounds to correspond with the images. Zoe announced that she helped pick them out. Chris got them a gift card to Babies R Us.
Lydia and Jackson had gone to Build A Bear for custom stuffed toys. Johnnie's was a tiger in, yup, a lacrosse uniform, and it roared when it was hugged. Talia's was a black dog in a pink tutu and a black leather jacket, because she took after her daddy, and it howled.
Boyd and Erica got the kids a Tiny Tots train set. And they apparently corresponded with Danny and Ethan, because they got them add ons for it.
Isaac gift was inspired. He got them a little dome projector for their room that would cast planets and stars across their walls and ceiling as well as play gentle music for them to fall asleep to.
Cora, who was still abroad, had mailed them some adorable clothes. There were two dresses for Talia, as well as a cute pair of shiny shoes. She also had a little red cloak, so she could be the cutest and most ironic Little Red Riding Hood ever. Johnnie got some overalls, one with a moon and star on the front. He had a hat too, but when Stiles tried to put it on him, he grabbed it and started chewing on it.
It was time for Peter's gift, and there were still seven boxes on the table. Everyone looked at him, and he shrugged. “I couldn't decide,” he said sheepishly, before he made a motion at Lydia and Isaac to go ahead, because he was still filming.
The first one they opened was a kind of block box shaped like a cow with a soft tail and a head on a spring that could be tugged on. The top opened, and the colorful sides were cut in different shaped for little hands to shove shaped blocks through. It was adorable. The next gift was a collection of weighted balls that were cut off at the top in zig zag patterns, and the all stacked up, largest to smallest, with a base to hold them. After that were a pair of froggy towel/robe hybrids with hoods. There were quite a few bath toys too, as well as a yellow ducky bath mitt.
“You have really gone all out, Peter,” Stiles said as he watched Derek open the next gift, which was a rolling dog on a leash that wagged its tail and flapped its ears as it moved.
“You know I can't help myself,” Peter said.
Oh, Stiles knew that already.
Last were a set of blocks hollowed in the middle and fitted with Kaleidoscope middles of all different colors. Stiles caught the irritated look his dad sent Peter and tried not to laugh. The kids would probably play with them all together, and the more they had, they happier they would be.
“Alright, last one,” Lydia said as she lifted Stiles's gift off the table and handed it over.
“You didn't get them anything?” Stiles asked as Johnnie dropped one of his new blocks in exchange for grabbing the yellow bow on the gift and tearing it off.
“I did,” Derek replied cryptically.
Stiles squinted suspiciously at him, before he went about ripping open the gift in front of him. Stiles had gotten them two things, both for their room. The first was a kind of mobile made up of a set of large, broad, bright green leaves that had fireflies on the underside, which lit up. The next looked kind of like a plant with three stalks, and on the top were three balls that lit up. The balls could be removed, and they held a charge to glow softly for about a half an hour. They were small enough to be held in little hands and big enough so that they couldn't be choked on.
“Those are awesome,” Scott said in kind of an awed way once the gifts were revealed.
Then all eyes were on Derek, and he grinned at them before he lifted Talia and set her in between Stiles's legs with her brother. He got up and went out of the room and was gone for a minute before he came back with a wooden chest held in front of him. It was about four feet across and two feet tall, stained a deep mahogany color. He set it down next to Stiles, who reached out to touch the spirals of the triskele carved into the front.
“Derek...” Stiles looked at his mate, who knelt next to the chest.
“It's a toy chest,” Derek explained, running his hand over the top. “My siblings and I shared one when I was little, and it went up in the fire. I wanted our kids to have one just like it, so I tried to recreate it.” When Stiles didn't say anything, he shrugged. “We're going to need some place to put all of these toys.”
It was true. They were using a basket for the toys they already had, and it was already over flowing. Stiles touched the carving again, smiling softly, before he crooked his finger at his mate. Derek smiled and moved closer so Stiles could kiss him, and there were many 'aww's around the room.
After deciding which toys the kids could play with right then, Stiles and Derek piled the rest into the chest, and they were both pleased that everything fit. Then they left the twins on their blanket with their blocks and went to mingle and thank everyone for the gifts.
Peter had finally stopped recording, and he was happy to be hugged by Stiles. There were hugs all around. John nearly crushed Stiles's spine, and Melissa let out a squeal of a laugh when Derek picked her up with his embrace. Zoe hugged their legs as they pulled Scott and Allison into their arms. Erica and Boyd both appeared like they were put out at the very idea, but they hugged just as hard as the others. Stiles didn't know Ethan was a hugger until he was almost choked by him. They hugged Isaac between them, and he sniffed before walking away complaining about pollen and allergies. Chris gave them both a solid pat on the shoulder.
Stiles went to play host, handing out beers and glasses of wine. He offered some Moscato d'Asti to Allison, but she shook her head. “You sure? I know we can't get drunk, but it's still fun to try,” he told her with a smile.
“No, I think I'll stick with ginger ale, thanks,” Allison said, before she gave a smile and set her hand on her stomach.
Stiles stared, his eyes widening impossibly, before he blurted out far too loudly, “You're pregnant?!” The chatter around them died instantly, and everyone looked at them. Allison smiled wider, her cheeks flushing. “When did you find out? How far along are you?”
“We found out a few days ago. I'm about four weeks,” Allison said, and Scott came up behind her, putting his arms around her and covering her hand on her stomach with his.
“Allison!” Lydia cried, rushing across the room to hug her before Stiles could even think too. “Congrats! You know I'm going to plan your baby shower, right?” she told her as she pulled back to smile at her.
“I know,” Allison said, beaming at her.
Everyone came over to hug Allison and offer their congratulations, and eventually she got flustered and swatted at them. “Stop it!” she said, laughing, before she put her arms around Scott. “This isn't my party!” With fond looks, everyone dispersed, and Zoe ran up to them to ask what was going on.
As Zoe was learning that she was going to have a new little brother or sister, Stiles looked over at his kids to see how they were doing. Talia had crawled over to an armchair, and she was using it to pull herself onto her feet. She looked over at them, before she let go of the chair and reached her little arms out to them. Stiles rapidly swatted Derek's arm to get him attention.
“Ow, what?” Derek asked, before he looked over too.
Talia took one step, and then another, and another. She seemed to get a rhythm down, and her face split into a grin as she waddled in a zig-zagging line over to them. Her fingers were grasping in the air, ready to grab onto her daddies. Everyone else had turned to look, and Peter had fumbled with his camera a second before finally getting it recording. Talia giggled, before she took a step that was too wide and became unbalanced. She landed with an 'uh!' on her butt.
Stiles let out a kind of squeal at the sight of her. Talia's ears were pointed, hair had sprouted on the side of her face, and her canines were poking out over her lips. She blinked her huge brown eyes, before she lifted her clawed hands over her head and let out a giggle. Then she crossed her eyes and started blowing spit bubbles.
Yeah, that was Stiles's daughter right there.
How in the world his kids went from not being able to walk to being able to run in the matter of three months, Derek would never know. Of course he was proud of his children for being such fast learners, but he kind of missed being able to contain them. They were able to climb out of their playpen and dash around the house, and Derek had to chase them, to the endless amusement of his mate.
No matter how he tried to control them, they always managed to run him in circles. That was why he wasn't sure how he let them lull him into a false sense of security one afternoon while he was giving them a bath.
They were being angels. They weren't splashing and getting Derek all wet. They were just calmly playing with their bath toys and Derek scrubbed them with the yellow ducky mitt known as Walter. The name was Stiles's idea. He liked to tell stories in a funny voice with Walter as a puppet. Derek didn't do that, and the kids complained, so the compromise was to let them have a ridiculous amount of bubbles.
Derek shielded Johnnie's eyes as he poured a cupful of warm water over his head to rinse out the shampoo. He wiped any stray rivulets of bubbles, smiling as Johnnie just continued making little 'zoom zoom' noises as he pushed his boat around.
Talia let him lather up her hair, but when he went to rinse it, she held out her hands for the cup. “I do it!” she told him firmly, and he let her grasp it, though he held the bottom as she upturned it. She got most of it on her face, and he wiped away the soap on her forehead as she looked up at him expectantly. He snorted and got another cupful, helping her aim it this time.
He lifted Johnnie out of the tub, setting him on the mat, before he grabbed Talia under the arms too. He pulled her out then picked up one of the froggy towel-robe things, turning to Johnnie. But he was simply not there anymore. Derek turned to see his little naked butt disappearing down the hallway.
“Crap,” he growled, before he put the froggy towel/robe on Talia then grabbed the other one and took off after his son. “Johnathan!” he called after him, and he leaned down to grab him, but the little boy took a sharp turn and dashed through the space between a loveseat and a table that was too small for Derek. “You little brat,” he said, going around the loveseat and bending down to grab him. Johnnie went right through Derek's legs, causing him to growl, before he dashed toward the front door as it opened.
“Hello, buddy!” Stiles said, and Derek went into the entryway to see him putting his messenger bag down. “You're naked,” he said, before he picked Johnnie up then held him out. “And wet!” Stiles grinned at Derek then let the little boy be wrapped up in the froggy towel before he took him back into his arms. He lifted the hood and rubbed at Johnnie's hair. “Chaos at bath time?” Stiles asked.
“You know it,” Derek said, starting back down the hall. He slipped on the trail of water that Johnnie left behind, and he would have done the splits had his feet not hit the walls on either side of him. Stiles chuckled behind him as he shuffled down the hallway before making it to the bathroom where Talia had put her arms through the holes of the frog towel/robe and was drying her own hair with the hood.
Derek left her to it, grabbing a towel and putting it on the floor of the hallway, before he stepped on it and walked it along the trail of water to clean it up. Stiles was grinning at his by the time he reached it, and Derek just leaned in to kiss him. Then he looked at Johnnie, who looked strangely proud of himself. “I'd ground you if I could,” Derek told him.
“No, you wouldn't,” Stiles said.
“No, I wouldn't.” Derek sighed, before he looked down as Talia ran up to grab his leg.
It was Allison's turn to pick where they were having their pre-run planning lunch, and she chose Greek, probably because she was a craving pregnant lady and would not be denied. The nearest Greek place was forty-five minutes away from the town proper of Beacon Hills and over an hour away from the center of the preserve where the Stilinski-Hale house was. So they piled the kids into the Prius, and off they went.
At first it was fine. The kids were being patient, happy to hold their custom stuffed animals and bounce along with the songs that Stiles was playing from his iPod mounted on the stereo. It was funny how swiftly he and Derek had gotten used to Old McDonald and The Wheels on the Bus. Stiles sometimes sang along, which delighted the twins. Derek didn't sing, but occasionally Stiles saw his lips just barely moving.
It was when they ran out of songs halfway through the ride and had to go back to the beginning that the kids started to get antsy. Long periods of time in one spot for seventeen-month-old werewolves just didn't happen.
"Dada!" Talia cried, sounding like she was five seconds away from screaming.
"What, sweetheart?" Derek replied, using his calm voice and glancing through the rearview mirror at her.
"Want out!" she told him, tugging at her car seat restraints.
"We'll be there soon, then you can get out," Derek promised her.
"Want out now!" Talia barked back.
"Talia," Derek said, a warning in his tone now.
Stiles looked back to find Talia with her arms crossed tightly around her punk ballerina dog, cheeks puffed out angrily. But she didn't seem like she was going to cause anymore trouble. Stiles looked forward again and almost immediately Johnnie let out a shriek then started to cry. Stiles turned around in his seat, finding him kicking and reaching down at the floorboards where his lacrosse tiger had fallen. Talia looked strangely proud of herself.
Grunting and reaching down to get the tiger, he handed it back to his son, which immediately pacified him. Then he looked to his daughter. "Talia, did you knock your brother's toy onto the floor?" he asked her, and she looked down.
"No," she told him, holding her own toy close to her.
"Be nice," Stiles told her, and she harrumphed at him.
Stiles looked forward, shaking his head a little. He had wanted spirited, smart children, and he had them. But they were also little terrors. The moment they learned that they could work together instead of against each other was the moment they would take over the world.
They made it to the restaurant, finally, but only after Talia banged her toy repeatedly against the car window. Neither of the kids were pleased about leaving their stuffed animals in the car, but they were quickly distracted by the change in scenery. Johnnie was pleased to be carried on Stiles's hip, while Talia had demanded she be allowed to walk. Derek kept a grip on her hand to keep her from running in front of a car.
Scott waved from the large round table he, Allison and Zoe were all sitting at. "Hey guys," he said once they got close enough. "We got you some booster seats."
"Thanks," Stiles said, setting Johnnie in one of them. They were between two other seats, that way Stiles and Derek could sit on either side of their kids.
But Talia apparently didn't want that. She kicked and pushed against the seat when Derek tried to put her in it. "No!" she complained.
Derek sighed, apparently tired of her attitude for today. "Where do you want to sit then?" he asked her, and she pointed to the chair next to the one with booster in it. "Next to Zoe?"
"Yeah!" she said, nodding.
"Okay fine, but no more yelling, young lady," Derek told her, moving the booster seat and sitting her on it. She grinned at Zoe, who was drinking very enthusiastically from a straw.
Once they were settled and had their orders put in, Stiles grinned at Allison. "How are you feeling?" he asked her.
"Fat," she said with a snort and a smile. "Ready to have this little man on the outside." She rubbed her swollen belly.
"I'm gonna have a baby brother!" Zoe announced very proudly, before she stood up in her seat. "When he's ready to come out, mommy's belly is gonna burst open and candy's gonna come out!" She thrust her arms out wide, fingers spread. "Then he's gonna come out too, and we'll eat the candy together." She crossed her arms and grinned. "But I get most of it 'cause I'm the big sister."
"I want some!" Talia whined.
"Zoe, sit down, hun," Allison told her, and the little girl did. "I'm apparently a pinata now." She giggled.
"That's more or less how the twins were born," Stiles said, which made Derek choke a little on his drink.
Allison more or less planned everything for the run. She was lamenting not being able to shift herself, so she put herself in charge of everything. She would have no arguing, dammit. Not that anyone would challenge an eight months pregnant alpha.
By the time everything was finished, all three kids had gone into food comas. Derek and Stiles carried their sleepy babies back to the car, buckled them up and put their toys in their laps. Stiles didn't bother with the happy, upbeat music, instead letting the kids be lulled by the silence and movement of the car.
"Allison looked great, didn't she?" Stiles asked as they drove.
"Yeah," Derek replied.
"I didn't look that good when I was pregnant. I wonder what her secret is," Stiles said, leaning back and putting a pout on his face for show. Derek just made a noncommittal noise, so he glared at him. "You're supposed to say that I was beautiful, and she looks like a whale compared to me," he said flatly.
"Huh?" Derek said, turning to look at him in surprise as if he had been pulled out of entirely different thoughts. "Oh, pretend I said that then."
Stiles snorted at him, slouching and crossing his arms. "Praise and flattery were part of your vows. You're failing at your husbandy duties."
"Want to stop by Cold Stone?"
"Nevermind, you're the best."
Stiles's children had extremely refined palates. Talia wanted scrambled eggs and ketchup for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch, and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets with more ketchup for dinner. Johnnie wanted a pile of bacon for breakfast, a peanut butter and mushed banana sandwich for lunch, and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets with barbeque sauce for dinner. At least the kind of agreed on one meal.
His pair of two-year-old terrors would wail and fight against most other foods, pushing the plates away and kicking in their booster seats. Heaven forbid Stiles or Derek put something green on a plate for them. Even covered in cheese sauce, the kids knew steamed broccoli when they saw it and wouldn't touch it. No amount 'but it's good, watch daddy/papa!' would convince them. A toddler crossing their arms and very stubbornly declaring 'no!' was hard to argue with, because they were both particularly obstinate.
His kids were going to be foodies, the both of them!
One compromise Stiles had found was PB&J sandwiches for lunch. He was crazily worried that his kids weren't getting enough nutrition, so he bought natural peanut butter with no oils or added sugar. He went for organic preserves instead of jelly, and his kids loved blackberry and strawberry. He also gave them as much milk and juice (not from concentrate) as he could without hooking them up to an IV each. Of course they demanded chocolate milk, but he still found whole milk with minimum sugar and extra calcium.
While making some sandwiches for the kids, him and Derek, Stiles was humming along to a song floating out from the speakers where his iPod was docked. He had gotten into Imagine Dragons lately, which meant he was listening to them pretty much all the time. It drove Derek crazy, and he had been especially annoyed when he caught himself softly singing along. Stiles took it as a victory.
Out of the corner of his eyes, Stiles saw Talia toddle into the kitchen, and he turned to smile at her. “Hey, baby, lunch is almost ready,” he told her as he cut another sandwich into fourths so they could be held by little hands.
Talia stared up at him, before she stuck her thumb in her mouth and sucked on it like it was her mission before she walked over to the counter, he assumed to try to see what he was doing. She put her fingers on top of the door of the ground cabinet, staring up with interest. When she failed to gain insight, she turned away, but her hand stayed on the door. It didn't open all of the way, instead stopping a couple inches out and snapping back when her fingers slipped off. She stopped, looking at it curiously and grabbing the knob to repeat it.
“There's a child lock, Talia,” Stiles told her with a smile as she pulled at the door and furrowed her little bushy brows when it stubbornly stayed put. She didn't quite have the problem solving ability to push the plastic lock down to free the door. At most she would just tug at it until she got bored.
Stiles went back to to working on lunch, slathering pieces of bread then cutting the crusts off. Then he nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a violent smack, bang, crunch collection of noises. He jerked away from the counter, knife still in hand, and looked down.
Talia was holding the cabinet door in her hands, screws still in the ripped off hinges, and looking at it like it was a magical prize. She turned her almond shaped brown eyes up, before she grinned widely at him. “I did it!” she announced, lifting the door above her head and turning to run into the living room with her trophy.
Stiles could only watch.
“Hey, sweetheart, what's that you have?” came Derek's voice. “Is that a door to the cabinet? Give me that, please.” There was a pause. “Do not hit your brother with it!”
Johnnie let out a wail that probably would have broken the windows if it were pitched any higher.
After they managed to wrestle the door away from Talia, Stiles stayed with the kids while Derek went to the hardware store for supplies to reinforce the cabinets, complete magnetic locks that had keys for the parents as opposed to the simple plastic ones they had picked before. After dinner that night, he broke out the electric screwdriver and went to town.
The next morning when they were all piling into the kitchen for breakfast, Talia immediately went back to the same cabinet door. She looked annoyed that it was back in place, and when she tugged on the handle, it didn't move at all. The locks that they had chosen were unlocked via a magnetic key that they were keeping out of reach in a drawer. This seemed to upset her, because she started making little noises of discontent like she was about to start crying.
“Hey now, little miss,” Stiles said as he hefted her up and took her to the table as Derek brought the plates over. “You bested us once. Be proud of yourself and bow out gracefully,” Stiles told her as he sat her in her booster seat and taking her hand to put the soft plastic spork in it. Scrambled eggs and ketchup for papa's super strong princess.
Stiles sat down at his place catty corner to Derek and watched his kids eye each other's plates. Johnnie no doubt wanted Talia's bacon while Talia wanted her brother's eggs. They were impossible.
Derek had made Stiles a tomato omelette, because he was the best mate in the world, and had made a bacon omelette for himself. Stiles watched as Derek chewed huge bites of his food while reading the paper. Stiles would read the paper himself after breakfast, though on his Kindle via a news app because he wasn't a total technophobe.
It took a minute or two for Stiles to realize that Derek wasn't drinking coffee like he usually did. He wasn't sure what he was drinking, because his cup was opaque, but he assumed it was orange juice like Stiles had for himself. But then Derek got a drink moustache.
"Are you drinking chocolate milk?" Stiles asked, before he became a thousand kinds of amused when Derek looked at him, unaware of his facial addition. Stiles pointed to his own upper lip, and Derek wiped the back of his hand across his lips. "Is this an act of solidarity? Trying to bond with our kids via breakfast drinks?" He smiled when a little color touched Derek's cheekbones.
"I like the way it tastes," Derek said, before he pulled the paper up and got really interested in it.
"Uh huh," Stiles said, before he patted Derek's forearm. He looked over at his kids, and somehow Talia had traded her bacon for Johnnie's eggs. He sighed at them, and they looked smug.
For this month's run meeting, Stiles and Derek took the kids, now just a week older than three years, over to Allison and Scott's. Zoe, who was six, opened the door and greeted them with a big grin. One of her baby teeth had fallen out, and made sure to tell them all about how the tooth fairy had given her a silver dollar for it. Talia and Johnnie had no idea who the tooth fairy was, so they bombarded her with questions.
"Okay, okay," Scott said as he came into the entryway. "Zoe, why don't you take Talia and Johnnie out back to see the garden you and mommy planted?”
Zoe thought that was an amazing idea if her slow gasp and huge smile was anything to go by. She grabbed a hand of each twin and dragged them away.
“She's been telling everyone about her tooth,” Scott said as he beckoned them in so he could shut the door after them. “Including every cashier at the supermarket.” He led them through the house to the back patio, where Allison was sitting on a porch swing with Antonio, an eighteen-month-old mini-Scott.
“Hey, guys,” Allison said, smiling at them, before she looked down at her son in her lap. “Tony, it's uncle Stiles and uncle Derek, say hi.” The little boy waved at them before he turned to hide his face in his mother's shirt. She chuckled, petting his head. “He's still a bit shy.”
“Give Zoe some time to teach him her ways,” Stiles said as he sat down in one of the chairs surrounding a glass table. Derek sat next to him. “He'll be running up to strangers in no time.”
“Don't give him any ideas,” Allison laughed, rubbing Tony's back.
“We ordered some pizza,” Scott said as he sat down next to Allison and put his arm over the back of the bench swing. Tony promptly flopped over both of his parents's laps, so Scott started to run his fingers gently through his thick black hair.
“I like pizza,” was Stiles's very important input.
“How're the twins doing? You guys just started potty training, right?” Allison asked, her fingers rubbing gentle circles on the small of Tony's back.
Stiles glanced at Derek, who gave a 'go ahead' nod, so Stiles sat up straighter. “Yeah, we have. They're both open to the idea, but it's getting them both to use the potty every time that's the difficult part.” He shrugged, feeling Derek's hand on the back of his neck, brushing through the short hairs there. “Probably the hardest part was figuring out how to teach Talia, since neither of us pee sitting down.”
That drew a surprise bout of laughter out of both Allison and Scott. They hadn't faced that issue.
“And sometimes they'll forget to pull their training diapers back on and run around with their naked butts in the wind.” Stiles grinned as he remembered the first few times they witnessed that. His kids had been very proud of themselves and didn't seem to grasp the issue with partial nudity.
“Other than potty training, things are okay. Johnnie has, out of nowhere, started screaming some nights if we try to leave the nursery before he is ready to go down. He cries and begs for stories.” Johnnie was a bit needy, but Stiles was confident that he would grow out of it. They had already learned a kind of compromising system, where he would get a certain number of stories, never more than three, depending on length of reading time and how soon lights out was.
“Talia, on the other hand, has turned into a little biting monster,” he said, shaking his head. “She likes to hide and around corners and jump out to sink her teeth into our calves. When she does it, she yells 'Alpha!' and roars. I blame this guy.” He pointed to Derek.
“What?” Derek asked, his fingers pausing on the back of Stiles neck as he blinked at him.
“You know how you are,” Stiles said with a kind of fond exasperated smile. “If you can't get a package or something open, it's like 'if all else fails, use your fangs!' So Talia has learned that from you, so she's using it in her play.”
Derek huffed at him. “I only use my teeth because you always take the scissors out of the kitchen and hide them all over the house. I'm just being resourceful.”
“Oh, it's my fault?” Stiles asked, playing as offended with his dramatically widened eyes.
“Everything's your fault,” Derek agreed, leaning in to nudge their noses together, which just made Stiles laugh and playfully push at his chest.
“Anyway!” Scott said, holding the front of the word out with a dramatic roll of his eyes. “We should probably get to business, right?”
“Yes, we should,” Derek said as he scooted just a bit closer to Stiles and hugged him around the shoulders. “Anything new that we should be aware off?”
“Oh, yes,” Allison said, before she glanced around her immediately area then frowned. “I can't believe I didn't bring it out with me.” She looked at Scott. “Can you go get the—?”
“The list?” Scott finished for her, already adjusting his sleepy son completely onto her lap before he got up. “Got it. Just a second.” He went into the house.
“There are a few new wolves moving into the territory. They sent us their information and a bit about them. They also seem very nice. Two of them have children.” She smiled as Scott came back out and handed a piece of paper to Derek before returning to her side. “They're all open to meeting the clan alpha before the run. There's also one familiar name on there.”
Derek looked at the list, eyes flying across the names and info, before they widened. “Oh,” he said.
“What?” Stiles said, leaning over, before taking the list as Derek handed it over. Immediately he was taken aback, blinking rapidly. Well, he hadn't expected to see that name again!
Before he could think on it further, his thoughts were interrupted by sudden, sharp screaming, and everyone looked out into the garden where Zoe and Talia were holding a kicking and screaming Johnnie on his back in the dirt. They all hurried up and out to see what was happening. Allison hung back a bit with Tony on her hip, and the moment Scott and Derek pulled Zoe and Talia back, Johnnie surged toward Stiles and nearly knocked him over.
“Oh, baby, it's okay,” Stiles told him, managing to get him to look up. His face was covered in dirt with trails of tears cutting clean paths.
“What were you two doing?” Derek asked the girls in his stern voice, the one that made the kids drop their eyes in shame.
Zoe held up a wriggling worm in her muddy hand. “We were trying to get him to eat it,” she explained.
“Why would you do that?” Scott asked her, taking her hand to toss the worm away into the garden. The little girl just shrugged. “Don't do that. That's not nice.”
“How would you like it if someone tried to make you eat a worm?” was Derek's question.
“I dunno,” Zoe said with a shrug, and Talia just dug the toe of her shoe into the soft earth beneath her feet.
“Talia, tell your brother you're sorry,” Stiles said, petting his son's hair as he hiccuped through soft sobs.
“Sorry, Johnnie,” Talia said, sounding a bit reluctant, but she did look up to make eye contact.
“Yeah, sorry,” Zoe said, unprompted, which made Scott brush his hand over her hair.
Everyone looked over as a doorbell chimed, announcing the arrival of the pizzas.
Stiles turned Johnnie toward the house. “Okay, kids, let's all get washed up for lunch.”
“Then we can watch a movie,” Allison said in agreement.
The girls were quiet through lunch, eating their slices of pizza, cut up into little bite sized pieces, without their eyes leaving their plates. Stiles let Johnnie sit in his lap through lunch, giving him extra slices of pepperoni. After food, Zoe and Scott gathered the pillows and blankets from the beds in the house to make a soft nest for all of the kids to curl up in front of the TV. The kids all decided to watch Tangled, and even though young Tony didn't seem to understand the plot, he made little 'aaaieeee!' sounds when the horse came on screen. When the movie wound down, Tony was asleep, and Johnnie was wrapped around him with the girls on either side.
“You know what they look like?” Scott asked from his position on one of the couches, Allison pillowed against his front.
“What?” Stiles replied, leaning more or less all over Derek, who has dipped his fingers under the hem of his shirt to trace figure eights on his hipbone.
Scott let a wide, lazy grin spread across his face. “A mini wolf pack.”
After blinking once, twice, thrice, Stiles let out a chuff of a laugh, because yeah, they did.
Cooking for himself was irritating, especially since Peter could admit he was a bit of a food snob and only liked cooking with fresh ingredients, never with anything frozen or canned. That was part of the reason he chose to live in an apartment that was within a five block radius of an outdoor food market. He went there every two or three days, always on the look out for the best things to cook with, especially red meats, and he would never turn down a beautiful selection of duck or scallops.
But even though he made amazing food, it was always for one, and that made his meals unsatisfying in several ways.
Peter was contemplating whether or not to have sweet potato or rhubarb mash with his steak that night as he turned toward the fresh produce stands and stopped in surprise as to who he saw. Immediately he was taken back fifteen years to when he had met this man and had helped him track down a twisted hunter known as Gerard Argent. It had been a werewolf vs rogue hunter war that Peter would never soon forget, and this man had possessed a very personal vendetta against Gerard.
The blind wolf had left his pack in New Mexico when he had caught wind that old man Argent was in Beacon Hills, and he had borrowed alphas from neighboring packs along the way. Ethan and Aiden from a pack in Arizona, two teenage alphas at the time, were extraordinary in their ability to combine strength by joining bodies. Kali, from central California, was a cunning strategist that was always at least one step ahead of the hunters they were up against. And then there was Ennis, a large alpha from a strong pack and also one of Talia's close friends and thus a family friend.
The battle against the hunters had been long and bloody. Derek had only just been established as a region alpha, and hadn't had a handle on his pack just yet. Unfortunately that had led to two of his betas, Erica and Boyd, being snatched up by the hunters and then hidden away to be moon starved for three months. The hunters had no doubt intended to turn the crazed betas on their own pack, but their plans had backfired, because Erica and Boyd had torn one hunter apart, nearly killing him, before escaping.
That put Derek on the war path, and it turned the tide in the battle. After extracting Erica and Boyd's memories, they found the hunters and the final bloody fight began. The wounds were grave on both sides, but the casualties were minimal. No wolves died, but Gerard refused to go down alive, eventually falling quite literally on his own sword.
Afterward, the alphas that were helping Deucalion dispersed. Kali went back home and, last Peter had heard, married her pack's emissary, a woman named Julia. Ennis left, promising his help to Derek and anyone who ever needed it again. The twin brothers, Ethan and Aiden, separated. Aiden went back home, and Ethan stayed because he had met and fallen for a beta in Derek's pack named Danny, giving up his region alpha status to become a subordinate alpha to Derek.
Deucalion had gone back to New Mexico, and Peter hadn't heard a peep about him since. And yet, here he was, standing next to a stand as the produce seller explained to him what he had to offer as well as patiently watching as Deucalion ran his fingers over a selection of avocados. It was a bit early in the season, so they were more than likely not very ripe.
“Deucalion,” Peter said, before he was a little surprised at himself because he didn't even remember moving closer to the other man.
“Yes?” Deucalion said, turning toward him. By the question in his voice, he obviously didn't recognize Peter's voice, but that was to be expected since they hadn't seen—ah—been around each other in a decade in a half.
“It's Peter Hale,” Peter said, and Deucalion's chin tilted up in recognition. “It's been a long time.”
“It has,” Deucalion said, switching the basket in his hand to the other so he could offer it for a shake. His mouth curved in a smile, and Peter was privately glad that Deucalion couldn't see the way he was staring at his lips. “I have only been in the region for two days.”
Peter took Deucalion's hand, giving it a firm shake, and he let his fingers linger just a moment or two. “May I ask why?” he asked, raking his eyes down the man's body. He was just as handsome as he remembered, maybe a bit more lithe now and with a touch of gray to his hair, but still a man of striking features.
“I've moved here,” the blind wolf replied simply, his mouth quirking up further.
Peter blinked. “You have?” he asked. He wanted to bombard the other man with questions. Why had he decided to come to Beacon Hills? What happened with his pack in New Mexico? Was he giving up his status entirely? Was he retiring? All of these questions bounced around in his head, but he knew that they were inappropriate, especially when they were standing in the middle of a market.
“I have. I'm meeting with your nephew officially tomorrow,” Deucalion said, turning his head away, probably to put his ear towards Peter.
Peter could see the milky blue of his eyes behind his sunglasses now. Deucalion had always fascinated him, not just in the way he overcame his physical disadvantage, but in the way he carried himself, so proper and refined. In the three months that he and the other alphas had been in Beacon Hills, he and Peter had not interacted much, and they had never been alone. Peter had wanted to talk to him, maybe pick his wonderful brain a bit, once the fight with the hunters had been over, but Deucalion had left too quickly afterward.
Perhaps this was Peter's chance. “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?” he asked, smiling as one of Deucalion's eyebrows quirked up. “I'm making lamb, and I'd love to make dinner for two.”
Deucalion was silent for a few heartbeats, before his lips spread in a smile. “I do love lamb.”
“Wonderful,” Peter said, taking a step toward him and turning so they were side by side. “Would you like to take my arm?” When Deucalion reached out and did just that, his elegant fingers curling around the inside of his elbow, Peter started toward the starches. “Which do you prefer with your lamb, sweet potato or rhubarb?”
“I would have to say rhubarb,” Deucalion said, showing teeth with his smile now.
“Then rhubarb it is.”
On the day of the first run where the twins were old enough to shift and go out, Talia and Johnnie were both bouncing off the walls, two little balls of energy that were using every piece of furniture as trampolines. Stiles and Derek didn't even try to contain them. They just corralled them for lunch and dinner and let them do whatever they pleased otherwise. The only thing that kept them from tearing around the house as wolf pups was the rule that there was no shifting in the house. It was a good thing too, because if they tried to run on the hardwood they'd slip and slide all over it as they lost traction, ultimately scratching the floors and causing Derek to implode.
About the time the moon was nearly at its highest and Derek said he could feel other wolves coming onto the preserve, Stiles moved into the kid's room and found Talia jumping up and down on her bed squealing 'Alpha! Alpha! I'm alpha!' She was wearing her wolf pajamas, complete with paw pad booties and a hood with triangle ears.
“Okay, little miss alpha,” Stiles said as he went over to her bed and grabbed her out of the air to pull her onto his hip, then he looked around. “Where's your brother?” She pointed down at the gap between Johnnie's bed and the floor. After setting Talia back down, he went to his hands and knees and looked under the bed to find Johnnie poised against the wall. Stiles blinked as his son growled at him. “What are you doing, buddy?”
“My den!” Johnnie announced, baring fangs and pawing at him with a clawed hand. Then he giggled and made a noise like 'rawr!'
Stiles snorted, turning to put his shoulder against the ground. “How about you protect your den when we get home from the run? It's time to shift.” He grinned as Johnnie's eyes went wide, and then suddenly Stiles's arms were full of toddler werewolf. He got up and snatched up Talia too, before moving out into the living room. Both of his kids were silly masses of giggling, and it was so infectious that he was laughing too. Derek was waiting for them in the entryway with the puppy leashes that would keep the twins tethered to them. As soon as Stiles set his kids down, they shifted into little wolves.
Johnnie was mostly dark brown with lighter highlights interwoven through his back, head and chest. He had white tufts on his belly and the fringes that fanned out from the backs of his legs. He was pure excitement, wagging his tail so hard that his entire butt swished back and forth as he danced on his front paws. His tongue lolled out of his mouth as he grinned, and Derek was barely able to fit the halter onto him since he was trying to vibrate through the floor.
Like the opposite side of a coin, Talia was eerily calm and still. She was black just like her daddy, but instead of an all consuming shadow, her fur gleamed a steel blue-gray when the light hit it. She dipped her head and lifted her front paws as Stiles put the halter on her, gazing up at him with expectant brown eyes. This was a rare kind of restraint for her, as if the moment she wrapped herself in a wolf's fur, she became composed and graceful just like Derek. It was a tad frightening while also being amazing.
Derek picked up Johnnie while Stiles got Talia, and after attaching their puppies to themselves and going out onto the porch, they shifted as well. Stiles walked down the front steps with Talia looking around excitedly next to him, eagerly taking in the world with her enhanced senses. Derek lingered on the steps, looking back as Johnnie cowered on the front porch, apparently overwhelmed. After a low, reassuring noise from Stiles didn't have any affect, Derek locked his maw over the back of Johnnie's neck and carried the curled pup down to the ground.
“It's alright, buddy,” Stiles promised his son, and Johnnie belly crawled across the grass to slot himself in the safety of being underneath Stiles's body, head under his own paws. “We won't let anything happen to you.” Stiles dropped his head to nuzzle and nibble gently along Johnnie's neck and shoulders. “Don't you want to go see Zoe?”
“Zoe?” Talia asked, perking up immediately, before she abandoned a beetle she had been terrorizing to lope over and paw her brother's head. “Johnnie, Johnnie—Zoe! Let's go get Zoe!” She started pulling on Johnnie's ear, earning a whine.
“Okay,” Johnnie said, standing up and pushed his shoulder against his sister's.
“Race you!” Talia announced, bounding away before she ended up on her back when the tether snapped taut. “Oh,” she said, blinking up at the sky.
Derek snorted, and Stiles nosed under his chin affectionately. “Let's go,” Stiles said, stepping out of the leash looped around his front paws, before he went over and tickled Talia's furry belly with his muzzle. She squealed and flailed her legs before he let her get up.
Getting a correct speed down for all of them to go was a bit tricky. Derek and Stiles both had significantly longer legs than their kids, so they were capable of strides twice or even three times as long. They tried a slow lope as first, but their kids quickly reached the ends of their leashes and had to be jerked back. When Stiles and Derek ran, the kids fell behind. It was about five minutes of trial and error, and by the time they reached a good pace that they could all maintain, they reached the clearing where the other wolves were waiting.
They saw Allison and Scott first, which meant Zoe wasn't far behind. The little wolf came zooming by, bowling over Johnnie and hopping Talia like a hurdle, before she continued streaking through the clearing like a little cannon ball of fur.
“Remember to stay in the tree line!” Allison called after her. She had a singular pup sling on her shoulders, and Antonio was sleeping and most likely drooling into her fur.
“Yes, mommy!” Zoe howled, still running as fast as her legs would carry her.
Allison huffed out a laugh, sitting down and turning to look at Derek and Stiles. “Everyone showed up to the run, including the new wolves in town,” she told them, before she jerked her nose toward some wolves that were off to the side of the regular pack.
Stiles took in their details, noticing a couple pups that looked excited and scared and adorable. He had already met them. It was his job as a region alpha's mate to get to know the wolves in their territory, just it was Scott and Allison's job, as their right and left hands, to keep track of any new wolves that moved in. They were all kind people, and Stiles was looking forward to planning play dates for Talia and Johnnie to get to know their children.
Then there was Deucalion, who Stiles spotted off to the side, half hidden in the trees. He was an elegant wolf of all angles and long lines, sharp snout with slim limbs. He looked black, a pure black like Derek, but when the moon's rays drifted his way there was a blue sheen to his fur. There were wisps of white around his cheeks and nose, as well as down his back, showing his age. His eyes looked white from were Stiles was sitting.
Next to Deucalion was Peter, broader in chest, head and legs black with silver highlights. He wasn't just next to Deucalion, he was right next to him, their shoulders touching. As Stiles watched, Deucalion turned his head and pressed the top of his nose into Peter's neck, and Peter set his chin on top of Deucalion's head.
When had that happened?
As Derek moved around to greet all of the wolves, Johnnie sticking close, Stiles and Talia joined Scott in playing chase with Zoe. Talia seemed really into the game until she suddenly stopped dead, still as an undisturbed lake, and gazed out into the trees. She had her tail straight up, and the hair on her back was standing on end.
“Talia?” Stiles questioned really softly, afraid to move lest she explode.
“Bunny,” she replied in a hiss, before she dropped her head and edged closer.
“Leave it alone,” Stiles warned her.
She ignored him, taking one more slow step toward the woods, before she launched herself. There was a loud snap where Stiles was honestly worried she just killed the poor rabbit, but she came back with a clean, empty mouth. For a second he thought her eyes flashed red, but that was impossible. She was only three. It must have been a trick of the moonlight. Still, he kept a close eye on her as they subtly made their way over to Peter and Deucalion.
Well, as subtly as they could, because when Talia realized that was her uncle, she made a beeline right for him.
“Unca Peter!” she said, colliding with Peter's chest and causing him to give an 'oof!' of surprise.
“Hello, sweetheart,” Peter said as Talia turned and sat between his front legs, panting and happy. “And hello, Stiles. Good to see you.”
“Hello, Peter,” Stiles said as he sat in front of them, then turned his eyes to the other wolf. “Deucalion.”
“Mr Stilinski-Hale,” Deucalion replied with a curt nod of his head. His milky blue eyes were unfocused, but he still gave Stiles rapt attention. “Peter had been telling me all about the wolves that live in the region. I had my own trials heading New Mexico, but Derek is leading a state nearly three times the size. I think it is because he has such a supportive mate. You're both doing an exceptional job.”
“Thank you,” Stiles said, the edges of his mouth twitching up. That was a wonderful compliment to receive from another regional alpha that had reigned for over three decades himself before passing his territory down to a younger alpha. Stiles knew that Derek was going to rely on Deucalion's expertise as an adviser should he need to.
Stiles learned that Deucalion was staying in Peter's extra room for now as he got used to the territory, and he burned to ask them if there was something deeper there, but neither of them felt very open to such personal questions. They were both very dramatically mysterious. Damn, they'd be perfect for each other. They could recite Shakespearean poetry back and forth then make out like teenagers.
Stiles needed to stop thinking about it.
Derek came over after a while, greeting them and nudging his nose behind Deucalion's ear as the blind wolf bent his head in a show of submission to a higher alpha. Waves of contentment were rolling off of his mate, and Stiles bumped their noses together to show him that he was just as happy. Their pups were bounding around them, moon-infused and ridiculous.
But then Talia stopped in front of Deucalion, looking up at him like she only just now got a good look. “Your eyes are weird,” she said bluntly, and he tilted his head down.
“Ah, now it's time to go. Sorry,” Stiles said as he nudged his baby away with his nose.
“It's perfectly fine,” Deucalion assured him, humor in his voice. He turned his head and laid his ear against Peter's shoulder blade.
The wolves in the clearing went their separate ways to enjoy the feeling of the moon on their back and the earth under their paws. Derek and Stiles led their pups deep into the preserve. They had their pace down pat, and they ran until the pups and Stiles were out of breath. Derek had a kind of stamina that was almost unnatural, even for a werewolf. They stopped at a formation of large flat rocks that stuck out of one of the hills that gave the town its name. The largest of the rocks was probably one that Stiles called Pride Rock, because he had no impulse control.
Derek jogged out to the top of this rock, standing tall and proud and beautiful. Johnnie followed, going between his daddy's legs and looking a bit terrified. But as the pup looked out over the town with all its yellow, blue and red lights then up at the clear sky where the moon was hanging low and full, surrounded by twinkling stars, he stood up taller. A breeze played through his fur, and he wagged his tail as his tongue flopped out of his widely grinning mouth.
Talia beat Stiles to the edge of the rock, looking over it and panting with joy. She leaned as far as she could, fearless of falling to her death, but Stiles hurried to grab her by her scruff and tug her back. She settled between his front legs, and he dragged the flat of his long tongue across her face. His sweet little reckless princess. He looked up and found Derek watching them, so he licked his nose too just because he could.
Derek snorted, before he looked out over his territory. Stiles half expected him to tell his kids 'someday, everything you see will be yours.' But, instead, he tossed his big head back and let out a howl that would carry for miles and miles. Stiles joined in, harmonizing with his mate, and soon the kids did the same.
Wolves all around them answered back, and Stiles could pick out the most familiar howls in the pack. Scott was wildly enthusiastic and pushing his lungs hard, while Allison was calm, so her howl would last twice as long as his. Lydia's howl was like a song, and Jackson's was as powerful as his lacrosse passes. Boyd was a contained baritone, and Erica was an exuberant contralto. Danny and Ethan were perfect dual sounds, nearly indiscernible from each other. Isaac brought up the back with his sweet voice.
All the other wolves returned their call, and last was Peter, his howl clear as a bell, and Deucalion, who somehow managed to sound refined and British in a howl, and Stiles was never going to let that one go.
They stayed on the rock for a long time, just listening to the sounds of nature and watching the town wind down for the night. Talia and Johnnie chased each other and bugs. They both went nuts when a lizard was unfortunate enough to scamper before them, and they made the poor thing run for its life. As lights starting going out in the houses of the neighborhoods and the moon moved across the sky, the activity in the forest wound down. Wolves were starting to head home, and the twins were losing energy fast.
Stiles was leaning against his husband, feeling at peace and also fighting his heavy eyelids by the time Derek moved. He jerked a bit, licking his chops and wondering what time it was. He glanced down at their pups to find them curled up together, dozing. They were so sweet that he didn't want to disturb them, but they would be happier in the morning to wake up in a bed. So would Stiles.
It took some coaxing, but Derek and Stiles got the kids up and started toward the house. It was a long walk, and Stiles was not surprised when Johnnie just flopped onto his side and refused to walk any further, as if he'd prefer to be dragged. Derek picked him up in his jaws. Talia dropped on her butt shortly afterward and started to whine, so Stiles lifted her by her scruff. The kids fell back to sleep for the rest of the journey.
The twins were floppy and dead to the world as Stiles and Derek carried them into the house. They changed them into their wolf jammies and tucked them into bed, and Stiles took a moment to admire the beautiful creatures that he and Derek had made. They were just so perfect that it made his eyes misty. He completely understood when parents said that their greatest accomplishment in their lives were their children.
Derek gently took his hand, squeezing his fingers and pulling him out of the room. Stiles allowed himself to be lowered onto their bed, and he sighed softly as Derek curled around him, pressing his nose into his hair and taking a deep breath. “I love you,” Derek told him, his hand rubbing up and down the flat of Stiles's stomach, gently brushing through the trail of hair and his c-section scar.
“Love you more,” Stiles mumbled back, turning and smiling at Derek's snort of laughter. “I do.”
“Wanna bet?” Derek challenged as he pressed his lips to Stiles's jaw then started moving languidly down, in absolutely no hurry.
“Mm.” Stiles tipped his head to the side to give him all the access he wanted.
Giggling woke him, and he slowly opened his eyes to find two sets of eyes staring over the side of the bed at him. “Hey, you two,” he said with a yawn reaching over to poke them both in the middle of their foreheads. “What're you doing?”
They squealed, before they shoved some handmade cards at him. “Happy birthday, Papa!” They climbed onto the bed, barely letting him sit up against the pillows before they draped over him, still clothed in their wolf jammies.
“Well, this is a surprise! Let me see these,” Stiles said as he opened Talia's card.
Glitter spilled out onto his lap, and he would worry about that when he wasn't trying not to cry from joy. The word 'happy' was spelled with only one P, and there was a letter scratched out before 'birthday'. Then there was a rainbow and a cartoon wolf (he assumed).
Johnnie's card thankfully was lacking glitter, but it was covered in smiley faces. 'Happy birthday' was spelled correctly, but the As were backwards. That was fine, because it was a valiant effort from the three-year-old.
He kissed them both, hugging them tight enough that they giggled and struggled against him. “My sweet babies. I love you so much,” he told them.
“Any love left for me?” Derek asked from the doorway, holding a breakfast tray with a little vase that had a daisy sticking out of it.
“If that's French toast, there is,” Stiles told him, taking a deep breath of sugar and coffee.
Derek just grinned.