Stiles glanced up from his book, giving a small smile over his shoulder
It wasn't uncommon for kids to see Derek in his wolf form, squeal, and come running up to them
Although, admittedly, Stiles was a little surprised that the toddler had managed to find them all the way out in the preserve, and he vaguely wondered where her parents were as she came running full speed towards them
"Puppy puppy puppy!!"
"Hey there little lady, where'd you come from?"
His question, apparently, went unanswered as the little girl plopped down in the grass next to Derek, reaching out and patting his head
The wolf's ears slicked back and he closed his eyes, but otherwise didn't react, even though Stiles was pretty sure having a tiny human pound on your head couldn't be comfortable...
"Pup pup pup!" she giggled, turning her patting into petting- the kind of hard petting that made Derek's eyes bulge forward
Well there went having any time with the little child to watch her further explore the wonders that was Derek in his full shift
"Sierra!! There you are, I've been looking for you everywhere!"
Stiles assumed that the woman currently chiding the little girl was her mother, watching as she bent down and picked up the child
"How many times have I told you not to run away from Mommy? Or to pet strange dogs?"
Stiles had to actually hold his tongue to keep from saying anything about the "strange dog" comment, he knew it wouldn't do him any favors
"I'm so, so sorry about her, she just.. got away from me for a second, I have no clue how she made it all the way out here,"
"It's fine, it's fine, Dixon here wouldn't hurt a fly so I promise she was no bother,"
Ah yes, Stiles' personal favorite part of this little "Let everyone believe Derek is just a big dog when he's in his wolf form" thing- giving him ridiculous names
"Still, she shouldn't be going up and petting someone's dog without permission, sorry,"
He nodded, understanding the generalness of the statement, and wished the woman good luck with keeping her daughter in control as he waved her off, looking down at Derek and reaching out to scratch behind his ears
"You know, you sure are docile for such a grumpy guy..."
Derek just snuffed, appearing to roll his eyes as he flopped over onto his back in silent begging for belly rubs
Stiles wasn't sure if that was the canine in him, or the fiance' in him, but either way, he wasn't complaining
"I think we're out of croutons, do you remember?"
"I think so," Derek agreed absently
He had to admit, he was only half paying attention to their shopping list
Sometimes- most of the time- he had a bit of trouble fully coming back to himself after being shifted, being stuck in a slightly surreal feeling for about an hour or so after
It wasn't a big problem, it just meant that if he wasn't fully focused it was easier for him to zone out
Wich is exactly why they usually didn't do the casual shift thing until evening, when there was time to settle down and relax
But that morning had just been such perfect weather...
He couldn't help but want to go out and spend a little time in the preserve with Stiles, it was so rare that they had mornings like that
Ofcourse, he was kind of paying for it now, but it was worth it
Vaguely he heard Stiles mutter something about bacon bits, but in his moment of distraction he found it impossible to listen to his fiance', instead his attention turned towards someone else
Just across from them was a stroller with a newborn in it and Derek.. well... he couldn't help but stare
He had always loved kids, especially babies, and just because he had been terrified until recently of having a family, it didn't mean by any stretch that he didn't want one
"Awwww Derek look,"
That much managed to jerk him out of his stupor, flinching a little in surprise when he found that Stiles- who had previously been several feet away- was now right next to him, also admiring the stroller
"She's so tiny and cute..."
"Yeah..." Derek said quietly, feeling a tug of sadness when the baby's mother turned away from her shopping, breifly thanked them, and was on her way
"Man... I can't wait to have our's,"
The werewolf perked, excited and curious about the sudden change in conversation
"And ... when are we planning to do that again?"
"Soon after the wedding," Stiles said with a slight laugh
He knew Derek couldn't have just forgotten that, they had had pretty extensive conversations about it on more than one occasion
"Right just.. just checking," the wolf said quietly, cheeks turning a light pink as he grabbed a random bottle of salad dressing and handed it to Stiles
Stiles, somewhat predictably, put it back and picked up the right one
"Derek... were you afraid that I had changed my mind about our baby making time table?" he asked suspiciously
Somewhat distantly, he thought of correcting Stiles to "baby adopting time table", but ultimately decided to drop it
There was no real point in it honestly...
"I- .. I don't know, I guess I'm just .. excited ...."
Excited about having a family again, having a family with Stiles, having children....
He had been concentrating most of his energy these days on his excitement about marrying Stiles- and on that note, trying to keep himself somewhat contained, trying to make sure he didn't put too much into this one event
Besides the fact that he needed to help Stiles stay grounded, he also had to be cautious, he was still living in a world where good things were often followed or interrupted by bad, even if he had started relaxing more over the years, that had never gone away completely and part of him was still worried that something terrible would happen
But the last few days this was all just starting to get so... real.... and he couldn't help that the craving for that promised family was steadily growing and growing...
He blinked, looking down at Stiles and blushing at the fact that he had zoned out and not even noticed his fiance' talking to him
"You ok? You really zoned out on me there,"
"Oh... um.. sorry, sorry.. I'm fine yes,"
"It's ok Big Guy, I just asked if you were ready to go on to the next aisle,"
Derek licked his lips, nodded shyly as he took Stiles' hand and followed him to the next aisle
The next evening when they went out to relax in the preserve, Stiles was a little surprised to find Derek leading him closer to the main road than usual
Most of the time they sat out in the middle, near where the Hale house used to be, but this time Derek pulled them further out for some odd reason
There was a public park not too far from where they were now, Stiles could faintly hear the sounds of kids playing, he was a little confused about why Derek had wanted to come to the noisier area but oh well, it was his choice
Surprisingly though, not even an hour later, he was distracted from his reading by a frisbee flying overhead
He would have considered telling the kids chasing after it to watch out but God he didn't want to be that guy, and he wasn't THAT old yet...
"Woahh!! Look at that dog!!"
Stiles smirked, resisting the urge to look up from his book as the sound of kids running towards them hit the atmosphere
He was actually a little proud of Derek, in a completely show-offy kind of way
When he was in human form Stiles could be proud of him as a fiance', and when in wolf form...
Well, he'd be lying if he said he didn't find it amusing when people admired his giant pet dog
"Can we pet your dog?"
Stiles never made that decision, it was Derek's decision to make- not his
And judging by the excited wagging of his tail and happy panting that Derek was giving.... he'd be willing to say Derek approved
"Yeah, sure, go ahead," he shrugged back, trying to suppress a laugh as the two boys dropped down to the grass and reached out hesitantly to pet Derek
And, just like a perfect dog, Derek sat patiently still, panting and letting the kids deviate between petting his head and petting his back
"What kinda dog is he?" one of the kids asked
Ah one of the few questions that Stiles never did manage to have a good answer for
He couldn't really say Derek was a wolf-dog, that tended to make people nervous
And he couldn't necessarily name a specific breed either because people might get suspicious if they happen to know the breed well and know that Derek wasn't part of it
So there was really pretty much just one answer that he could go with
"I don't really know, actually, he's just a big ol' mutt,"
Usually Derek glared or even growled at him for that, but not this time
This time he just kept sitting there patiently, letting the kids pet him, like he couldn't understand English
"Huh, he's really cool, what's his name?" the other boy asked
"Bruce, you know, like Bruce Wayne, and Bruce the shark from JAWS,"
The kids stared at him with a little confusion at that, but Stiles decided not to bother explaining it, if they hadn't seen JAWS yet there was probably a reason for it
(Or if they just didn't know the majestic history of Universal Studios.... well that was none of his business)
"Greg!! Mom's calling you!!! Where are you- ohh! Puppy!!"
Stiles would never get tired of people calling Derek- a humongous wolf- "puppy"
"He's a mutt and his name is Bruce!" one of the boys provided as the slightly older girl came running towards them and plopped down in the grass
"Can I pet him too?"
"Sure thing," Stiles shrugged back, shaking his head as Derek flopped over on his back and blinked innocently up at the kids
"You are such a ham..." he snorted
Derek just barked- and Stiles didn't even know wolves could bark- and that seemed to be the end of that discussion
Sometimes Stiles is thankfull for Derek's wolf form, especially on days like this
He just felt horrible, like absolute hell, and as much as he wanted to just pick up their dog and give her a hug, all she wanted to do was play with her squeaky toys
Thank God for Derek substituting and laying with him, the wolf's big head pressed up against his stomach, body curled protectively around him, it felt nice...
Unfortunately, all good things had to come to an end
"Hey... Der.. could you do me a favor?" he hissed, fidgeting a little bit more and squeezing his eyes shut
He was suffering with a stomachache, stress induced as he was liable to get- his father had always said if Stiles wasn't carefull he'd end up on antacids for the rest of his life...- and Derek had been the best fiance' in the entire galaxy and had come to curl up next to him to provide puppy cuddles
But... there was just one little issue...
"Could you go get the mail before the rain starts? I'm expecting a package,"
The wolf gave a small snuff, gently wiggling away from his mate and shifting without hesitation
"I'll be back in a few minutes, do you need anything?" he asked as he grabbed his sweat pants
"The kiss of sweet, sweet death?"
"Sorry, we're all out of that," Derek teased, smiling sympathetically at his fiance' as he hurried to get the rest of his clothes on and rush out of the room
The sky was grey and stormy and definately looked like the rain they were expecting, so he wanted to get this over with as quickly as he could
Thus he slipped outside, staring up at the sky as thunder cracked over head and walking a little bit faster towards the mailbox
Usually they both loved rain- thunder, Derek could personally do without, but rain he enjoyed- but that didn't mean that Derek wanted to get soaked out here
Just as he had his hand on the box though, an ear-shattering cry peirced his ear, causing him to jerk slightly as he rushed to turn around and stare at the source of the wailing
A little girl, probably barely of walking age, was standing in the middle of the road, holding her mom's hand and crying her little eyes out
And on the ground in front of her: An ice cream cone
Derek understood all at once
"It's ok April, it's ok, you can get another one tommorrow,"
April didn't seem very impressed by that offer, considering that her crying reached a new pitch after her mother's attempt at comfort
Derek wasn't sure if it was his place, he wasn't sure if he should do this, but...
But Stiles was always talking about being freindly with the neighbors and Derek just couldn't stand seeing the little girl so upset so...
So he decided to take a chance
"Hi," he said quietly, crouching down to be on level with the little girl- not that she paid him any attention
"I noticed you dropped your ice cream cone, if it's ok with your Mom, maybe I can make one for you?"
The girl stopped crying for a breif moment, her tear-streaked little face turning up to look at her mother with hope
"I don't see why not, you're Stiles' fiance' I take it?"
Derek gave a little nod, shy smile on his face as he moved to stand up straight again and met eyes with the girl's mother
"I met him last week, it's nice to finally meet you, I'm Bonnie,"
"It's nice to meet you too, I'm Derek," he replied, reaching out to shake the woman's hand
This must have been the neighbor Stiles mentioned last week when he had gotten her mail by mistake, he had come back from the neighbor's house chatting up a storm about the new neighbor who had superhero art prints framed all over her living room...
"And you've already met my daughter April,"
Attention drawn back to the toddler in front of him, Derek's smile stretched out again
"I have, it's a shame we had to meet under these circumstances ofcourse, but... I'm pretty sure I can make it better,"
And Derek was right, for what it's worth- one chocolate ice cream cone later, all in the world was right again and Derek was April's new favorite person
"Oh my God where have you been?" Stiles groaned as the wolf trotted happily back to the bed, fully shifted once more, and jumped onto the mattress to provide Stiles with the living heating pad he clearly wanted
Obviously Derek didn't answer him, but he couldn't help preening for atleast the next hour
A week later Stiles and Derek are going for their morning walk, except that instead of walking together as humans, Derek elected to walk as a wolf- even though it meant having to be on a leash, ugh- due to rain from the night before that made the grassy, now muddy area of the preserve that they usually relaxed in fairly troublesome to, you know, relax in
Derek knew that they wouldn't be able to relax in the preserve, so it was probably better that he just use this as his daily allotment of wolf time
Neither of them really thought that they would get any attention, given that it was mid-morning and all of the early morning joggers or walkers were gone and it was still too early for the activity of the afternoon to hit yet
And yet, because it was their luck, they were wrong
But hey, atleast it was a GOOD wrong
Instinctively, Derek stopped dead in his tracks and sat down, pulling Stiles to a reluctant stop as well
Ah, now Stiles got it, Derek never had been able to resist kids and lately he had been going through an extra effort to pay attention to them
Stiles had definitely noticed, and he had definitely chalked it up to the fact that it was finally hitting Derek that he was going to be having kids of his own soon and he was trying to get himself used to it all
Or maybe he was just starting to get baby fever, that was a thing too
"Hey there April, how goes it?" Stiles cooed as he bent down to greet the little girl
April reached out of her stroller, eagerly grabbing for Derek
"I'm so sorry Stiles, I don't know what's gotten into her, she's usually afraid of dogs..."
"Oh no no it's ok, it's fine, rather her want to pet one than be afraid of them," he insisted, watching as Derek's tail wagged and the wolf took a step closer to let the little girl reach out and pet his head
It was too cute, honestly, Stiles had to do some serious self-control to resist the urge to take a picture, but he managed, he resisted
"Honestly I have no idea what's gotten into her though, she's never approached a dog before, she's never even been ok with dogs approaching her before,"
"Yeah well, what can I say? Sirius has that effect on people,"
Well, on kids atleast, who knew better than to judge a book by it's cover
Derek always seemed to intimidate adults and teenagers, because you know, wolf
"It's nice, I was starting to worry that she'd never grow out of that phase,"
"I'm glad he could help,"
It was a little strange honestly, but it sort of made sense
Stiles figured, if there was anyone who WOULD be able to suddenly make someone love dogs, it would probably be Derek
Because Derek was just amazing like that, no matter what form he was in
He had a good heart, a beautifull soul, and children could sense that- hell anyone with half a heart could sense that
No matter if he was in human form or wolf form, it didn't matter
Derek was Derek
And Derek was just that amazing