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At first Stiles has to do a double take. He blinks a couple of times and looks again but yep, that’s definitely Peter Hale at the Beacon Mini Mart at eleven o’clock on a Saturday night. That’s not what has Stiles staring, though. It’s the fact that Peter’s wearing a papoose, frowning at the packs of diapers as he  does some sort of soft shoe shuffle, possibly in an attempt to comfort the wailing infant that’s strapped to his chest.

Stiles stands and gawks for a minute, completely forgetting the snack food he’d ducked out for to fuel his insomnia driven internet binge.

Why does Peter Hale, of all people, have a baby?

Stiles glances around, thinking that maybe the child’s parent is nearby, but there’s only them and the bored cashier. He steps closer, and can hear Peter muttering. “Which one, which one, if I knew how old you were it would help…”

The baby continues to cry, and as Stiles observes the pair, he can’t help but notice that Peter looks…rough. He looked better than this when he came back from the dead, honestly. Stiles has never seen him like this – face drawn, eyes sunk deep in his head, hair unkempt, and smelling slightly of sour milk.

Stiles puts a hand out and taps Peter on the shoulder, and the man’s head whips around. He stares at Stiles as though he doesn’t know who he is for just a second, then his expression clears. “Stiles. How big does this baby look to you? The sizing on these things is a nightmare. How am I meant to choose?’

Stiles looks down at the infant strapped to Peter’s chest and into the deepest, widest, brownest eyes he’s ever seen, and even with tears streaking its face he can tell this baby’s freakin’ adorable.

Adorable and tiny.

“I’d go a small,” he says, still staring. “And don’t buy the cheap ones. They leak.” He extends a finger and runs it down the baby’s cheek, unable to help himself. The child observes him gravely, and the crying tapers off a little. Peter nods, still jiggling and squirming in a way that’s eerily familiar, and Stiles suddenly doesn’t think Peter’s just trying to calm the baby. He has a sudden flashback to when he was a kid and the teacher would be reading them a story, and he’d sit there squirming rather than go to the bathroom, just in case he missed a good bit. “Peter,” he says slowly, “Do you…do you need to pee?”

Peter glares at him, but Stiles knows those moves, is intimately familiar with that particular set of steps - Peter’s definitely doing the weewee dance. Stiles, for once in his life, lets the opportunity to mock Peter  slide. Peter looks like he could snap at any minute, and Stiles would like to leave the market with his head still attached to his shoulders. Instead he holds out his arms. “If you want, I could hold him while you…?” He nods in the direction of the restroom.

Peter has the child unstrapped and is holding it out in seconds. “It’s a she, and gods, yes please!”  And with that he strides quickly to the restroom at the back of the store, leaving Stiles holding the mystery baby. It crosses Stiles’s mind briefly that Peter’s kidnapped the infant, but he dismisses it – a child would be far too inconvenient for someone as self-centred as Peter, even a baby as cute as this.

Stiles makes sure he has the baby cradled firmly in his arms, and is quietly relieved when she appears to settle. He rocks her gently, patting her butt with one hand, and coos nonsense at her as she stares at him, shocked out of her crying by a new face. “Who do you belong to, huh?” he croons. The baby blinks and he catches it when her eyes flash. “Oh, I see. Are you a special girl?” He hopes Peter hasn’t ducked out the back door and left him literally holding the baby. That sounds like it would be Peter’s style.

But Peter reappears a minute later, looking far more comfortable. “Thank you,” he says quietly, and Stiles notes the lack of his usual swagger. The baby wails just then, sharp and sudden, and as Stiles looks up he sees Peter rubbing a hand tiredly down the side of his face. It’s a gesture Stiles is intimately familiar with, one his dad employs when he’s almost at breaking point.

“You look like crap,” Stiles says bluntly. “How long since you slept?”

Peter squints like he’s figuring it out. “Properly? A day and a half, maybe?” 

Stiles doesn’t know what prompts him to make the offer. Maybe it’s the sheer exhaustion in Peter’s eyes. Maybe it’s because the baby seems to like him. Maybe it’s the fact that Peter’s out in public with baby spit all down the back of his jacket and he doesn’t appear to have noticed. “OK, we’re going back to your place, and I’m watching the baby while you take a shower and get some sleep. And don’t even argue,” he says when it looks like Peter’s about to do just that, “The baby spit up all down your back and you didn’t even notice.”

Peter  wrinkles his nose. “Is that what that smell is?”  He crouches so his face is level with the baby’s, and he addresses her in the softest, most soothing tone Stiles has ever heard him use. “Were you sick, sweetheart? Did you have a bellyache? Poor poppet.” The baby gurgles in response, and something happens to Peter’s face, then. His whole expression softens as he reaches out and takes the baby back from Stiles, kissing the top of her head as he does so. His eyes crinkle at the corners, and his smile is genuine, not guarded. There’s no hint of the half sneer that normally graces his lips.

Stiles takes in the picture in front of him as Peter cradles the infant and talks softly to her, and he has to forcibly stop himself from cooing.

"I mean it," he says, distracted by how tiny the baby looks against Peter's broad hands. "I'll come over, watch her. You sleep." The baby's cute, and Peter cuddling her is cute, but the pair of them together? Stiles is dead from cuteness overload, and there's no way he's missing the chance to be a part of this.

 

Peter’s shoulders sag, and Stiles isn’t sure whether it’s in defeat or relief. "Please?"

 


 

 

When he gets in his jeep, the first thing Stiles does is call his dad, because they agreed - no more secrets, no more lies. “I won’t be home tonight, Pops. I’m staying with Peter Hale. And before you say it, it’s not what you think. Peter has a baby, and I’m watching her while he sleeps.”

“Uh huh. See you in the morning,” is all his dad says, and Stiles is immediately suspicious at the lack of reaction.

“Aren’t you curious about the mystery baby?” he demands.

His father sounds distinctly shifty when he says, “Yeah, I might know something about that, kiddo.”

Stiles is shocked into silence, and his father takes the chance to explain. “Kid’s a were, parents were killed in an accident. She was stuck shifted, and I couldn’t let anyone else see her like that, so I called around to see who could take her while I traced her family.”

“And you chose Peter?” Stiles’s voice goes high with disbelief.

His dad sighs. “Peter’s probably the only one with any experience with babies.”

“But still – “

“He’s also the only one who answered his phone,” John admits. “Look, its only for a few days - a week, tops. There’s someone on their way to collect the kid already.”

“Well thank god, cause Peter’s barely coping.” There’s a knock on the jeep window and Stiles nearly drops his phone in fright. It’s Peter. “Gotta go, pops.”

Stiles hangs up and winds the window down. Peter has one eyebrow raised. “I assume you were checking in with your father to make sure there were no reports of missing children?”

Stiles flushes a little. “Not exactly. Just telling him I won’t be home.”

Peter just nods. Normally he’d make some lewd comment about Stiles inviting himself to stay the night, and it’s a measure of how tired he must be that he lets the chance sail right on by. Stiles kind of misses it.

The baby in Peter’s arms is making what Stiles can only class as a sleepy grumble. Peter peers down and his smile is impossibly fond. “Let’s get little miss here to bed.”

“Does she have a name?”

“Of course she has a name. Stiles, meet Emily.”

 

 


 

 

When they get to Peter’s place, Stiles takes the now quiet baby and nudges Peter in the direction of the bathroom. “Shower, then bed,” he instructs, because Peter looks a little lost. Peter blinks a couple of times and then shakes his head as though to clear it.

“Right. Shower.”  He hesitates, and Stiles gives him a gentle shove. “You stink.”

"Bossy." Peter gives a half-hearted eyeroll as he heads for the bathroom, but it’s a pale imitation of his best efforts. Peter really must be tired, Stiles reflects. He hasn’t said anything even slightly offensive in over an hour.

Stiles settles himself on the couch and hoists the baby up, so she’s nestled against his shoulder. She squirms and nuzzles, making little grunts and squeaks as she settles, before letting out a contented sigh, her whole body relaxing. Stiles looks around for a cot or a pram, but doesn’t see anything of the sort, so he leaves her where she is as she finally falls asleep. She’s a solid weight against him, and he can’t deny that he likes it. Maybe one day he’ll have his own, he muses. He tries to imagine it, future Stiles and a couple of rugrats. Yeah, he can see it.

He’s dragged out of his daydream by the sight of Peter emerging from the bathroom, freshly showered and wrapped in only a towel, hair damp and wavy.  Freed from the product that normally keeps it tamed, the ends of Peter’s hair curl in attractive wisps that frame his face and make him look unbearable soft, like a mischievous angel. Stiles drinks in the sight, transfixed. Peter must be feeling better, because he blows Stiles a kiss and asks, ”Enjoying the view, sweetheart?”

“You have curls,” Stiles blurts out.

Peter’s hand goes to his head instinctively and he pets his damp hair. “That I do. Tell anyone and I’ll be forced to kill you.”

Yep, thinks Stiles. Definitely feeling better. Then Peter stretches and gives an almighty yawn, and is Stiles a bad person for hoping the movement will dislodge his towel? Probably. The towel doesn’t budge though, even when Peter yawns again. “Go to sleep,” Stiles says, remembering why he’s here.

“You’ll wake me if you need me? Were babies can be difficult.” Peter eyes the sleeping baby warily, as if she’s a bomb that might explode at any second.

Stiles waves him off. “I think I can handle it. I’ve been babysitting Scott for years.”

Peter snorts as he walks into his bedroom and closes the door.  Stiles realises he didn’t ask where the baby’s meant to sleep, and he doesn’t want to open the door because Peter’s probably changing. Unless he sleeps nude. God, there’s a thought Stiles didn’t need to have. He’s here to babysit, he reminds himself firmly.  He settles back against the corner of the couch, baby clutched to his chest, and before long he hears the sound of soft snores coming from Peter’s room.

He doesn’t sleep himself – his sleep schedule’s beyond fucked, and it’s nothing for him to stay up till 3 or 4 in the morning and skate through a day's work at the library on three hour’s sleep. Instead Stiles just sits there inhaling the scent of baby and letting himself enjoy it.  

There’s a slight hiccup when the baby fills her diaper, and wow, Stiles had no idea such noxious material could come from such a small person, or so much of it.  Emily even manages to poop on the baby blanket Stiles lays her on to change her. It takes half a box of wet wipes to clean her up, and even then, Stiles isn’t convinced he got it all.

He doesn’t want her to get a rash or anything, so he leaves the baby on the blanket and fetches a washcloth from Peter’s bathroom, running it under warm water. It’s Egyptian cotton, and Stiles prays Peter will forgive him for using it. The baby coos and gurgles as Stiles cleans her, so he guesses the warm water must feel good. He casts around the room before spotting a pile of tiny folded clothes sitting on the table, and he puts on a clean diaper and redresses her, feeling unaccountably proud of himself.

He settles her against his chest again, but she squirms and grizzles until it occurs to him that she might be hungry. When he goes into the kitchen and opens the fridge, he sees that Peter must have some idea of what he’s doing, because there’s a row of bottles already mixed and waiting. Stiles quickly googles how long to heat the bottle for and how to test it, and he stands next to the microwave tapping his foot as she starts to cry with a little more force.

Emily immediately goes quiet when he pops the nipple into her mouth, suckling greedily, and it’s not long before she’s finished the whole thing. Stiles pats her back until she lets out a lazy burp, and because his arms are getting tired from holding her, he lays the baby across his lap and strokes her back. “You’re a lump, you know that Emmy? You weigh a ton. Is that a werewolf thing, baby?” he half-whispers at her, trying to keep his voice low and willing her to go to sleep.

She doesn’t, though. Sleep, that is. Instead she starts to arch her back, her whole body tensing, and lets out a deafening screech. It’s different from her hungry cry, but Stiles is at a loss. She’s fed, changed, what else is there?He tries lifting her against his shoulder again so she can nuzzle into him like before, but she starts to throw her head back in protest and scream, and he comes closer than he’d like to admit to dropping her.

“Shush, sweetheart, come on, settle,” he pleads, walking up and down and jiggling her helplessly. “We were doing so well. Come on, baby, you gotta work with me here.”

The baby’s response is to scream even louder, heartbreaking wails with long, drawn out breaths in between. As the icing on the cake, her eyes start to flash, tiny claws pop out, and she howls. Stiles holds her at arm’s length as she thrashes, avoiding her new pointy bits and cringing at the noise, and all he can think is no wonder Peter looks like shit.

As if summoned by a mere thought, Peter’s bedroom door opens, and the man himself appears. He stands there shirtless and rumpled, pillow creases up one side of his face, eyes still mostly closed and hands held out wordlessly. Stiles' brain breaks a little bit at the sight.

 He stammers out, "Sorry, I can't get her to settle."

Peter opens one eye, and grunts out, "Wolf. Needs my scent." And sure enough, as soon as Stiles hands her over, the baby shuts up immediately, nuzzling up close and making happy noises. “’s my girl,” Peter mumbles as Emmy’s claws retract, before he takes her back to bed without ever really waking up. Peter lays down and the baby sprawls across his chest, and within minutes the pair of them are asleep. The door's wide open, so Stiles is treated to the sight of a half naked, sleepy Peter, with curls, with a goddam baby curled up on his chest.  If he had ovaries, they'd be exploding right now, goddammit.

 He fights down the urge to snap pictures on his phone, but it’s a close thing. He makes do with staring silently until the image is seared on his brain. Then Peter moves in his sleep, and Stiles starts guiltily.  He feels bad about him being the creeper for once, so he goes to make himself useful in order to soothe his conscience.

 There’s still the baby blanket and dirty clothes to deal with, so Stiles carries them through to the laundry and puts a load on to wash, adding in the other soiled baby clothes he finds around the place. (He might go aaaw when he finds the tiny booties.) Next, he carefully sponges down Peter’s jacket until he’s satisfied it’s free of drool and dried milk, and washes the dishes.

While he’s in the kitchen, he thinks about what his dad said about it being a few days, thinks about the fact that this baby likes to be held. Peter’s probably going to have his hands full. Stiles pokes around in the fridge, and decides that since he’s here and awake and bored, he might as well cook. He finds it soothing, and Peter has some top notch ingredients here.

Two hours later, he’s produced vegetable soup, lasagne, and some cheese and mince filled pastries that he doesn’t even have a name for but that are delicious and can be eaten one handed. He’s also made banana muffins, bread rolls, and a date and walnut loaf, just because Peter has a fantastic oven. Through it all, Peter and the baby sleep on. Stiles knows, because he checks every so often. Purely out of concern, and not at all because he can’t seem to get enough of the sight of a chubby fist resting against Peter’s clavicle.

As the food’s cooling Emily starts to make whimpering noises, and when she doesn’t stop and Peter shows no sign of waking, Stiles goes into the bedroom and eases her gently out from under Peter’s forearm. Peter’s grip tightens just for a second, but Stiles runs a finger down his arm, and he relaxes again. As soon as the baby’s gone, Peter snuffles and rolls onto his side, still out cold.

Stiles guesses Emmy must be hungry again, so while the bottle heats he changes her diaper again, then feeds and burps her. Afterwards, he tries to rock her to sleep, but she whines and wiggles and her eyes glow golden. Stiles bites his lip and looks at Peter, who’s still passed out, and at the clock. 4 am.  Stiles wants the baby to settle, and apparently Peter’s the key. But he also has horrible visions of Peter rolling over and crushing the kid.

In the end, he tucks the baby in next to Peter on the bed, setting her nose against the crook of Peter’s neck, and climbs onto the other side of the bed himself. He figures this way, Peter gets to stay asleep, and the baby’s happy. It works, too. Emmy settles like a dream, and Peter doesn’t budge. It’s not like Stiles will sleep tonight anyway, he tells himself – he’ll just lay here, keep an eye on things.

 


 

 

Stiles wakes a couple of hours later to the barest traces of daylight, and the sound of Peter’s voice. It’s hoarse from sleep, and incredibly fond. “Who’s my adorable poppet?” Peter coos, and then Stiles hears an answering happy gurgle. He prises an eyelid open and is treated to the sight of Peter blowing a raspberry on Emily’s belly, and the baby giggling in response. Fuck, it’s cute. It’s so cute that he might actually die from it. He watches for a moment, transfixed by the sight of this other, gentle Peter, before stretching and yawning.

Peter glances up and Stiles can immediately see that some of the exhaustion from last night’s disappeared. Peter almost looks human again. Or well, you know. “Thank you for last night.”

“No big deal.” Stiles is suddenly very aware that he’s in Peter’s bed. “Um, Emmy wouldn’t settle without you, but you were out cold and didn’t want you to crush her in your sleep, so I stayed to supervise.”

Peter raises an eyebrow. “I must say, that’s one of the more novel reasons I’ve heard for ending up in my bed.”  The baby babbles in agreement, and Peter holds out a finger for her to wrap her hand around.

It’s too much. Stiles can’t resist the urge to roll over a little closer and run a finger down the baby’s tiny nose.  Her skin’s incredibly soft, and she goes cross eyed trying to follow his finger, making Peter chuckle. He blows another raspberry on Emily’s belly and she cackles and kicks her legs as Stiles watches on, transfixed. Peter playing with a baby is causing a fundamental shift in his worldview, he’s not afraid to admit it.  He wonders if this is what Peter was like with his pack before Kate took everything from him - if he was the kind uncle, the favorite.

His musings are interrupted by the baby starting to grizzle. Peter sits up in bed, one broad hand spanning her back as he holds Emmy against his chest. “I think little miss here needs her bottle.” He rises from the bed smoothly, and Stiles is looking at the baby, thank you very much, not at Peter’s muscled back.

Peter moves through to the kitchen and Stiles is surprised to see him pull two bottles from the fridge and put them both in to heat. At first, he thinks maybe Peter’s still a little out of it, but Peter catches his look and explains, “Werewolves are hungry babies. Aren’t you, sweetheart?” he croons, settling Emmy in the crook of his arm and cradling her.

Stiles suddenly feels like the world’s worst person. “I didn’t know,” he admits. “I only gave her one. Oh my god Peter, I starved the baby!”

Peter pinches one fat, rosy cheek. “Oh yes, definitely. Look, she’s wasting away before our eyes,” he deadpans. The microwave beeps just then, and Peter hands Emmy to Stiles while he shakes the bottles and screws the top on. Stiles sees the baby’s nostrils flare, and she starts craning forwards, mouth open, searching, obviously able to smell the formula. Peter hands Stiles one bottle and when he pops it into her mouth the baby attacks it with vigor.

Stiles settles himself on the couch as Emmy gulps the contents down. As soon as she’s finished Peter hands over the second bottle, and she repeats the performance. It’s only when the bottle’s almost empty that she slows down. Peter leaves him to it and goes into the kitchen, and Stiles can hear the coffee machine start.

Seconds later Peter’s back in the doorway, holding s banana muffin and looking at Stiles with a strange expression. “Stiles, why is there food in my fridge?”

“Oh! I couldn’t sleep, and I thought it might make life easier? I hope you don’t mind me using your kitchen?”

“No,” Peter says quietly. “I don’t mind.”

“I threw some laundry in as well, cause she needed a diaper change and it got a little messy,” Stiles admits. “I think I killed your washcloth.”

To his surprise, Peter just laughs. “Isn’t she a toxic little beast? Truly foul.”

He walks over and sits next to Stiles, all shirtless and attractive, and Stiles can feel the body heat emanating off him as he addresses the baby. “That’s my good girl,” he croons, “Saving the mess for Stiles. Well done!”  The baby makes a burbling noise of agreement, and kicks her legs enthusiastically, happy now that she’s fed and rested. Peter grabs one foot in his hand, and the next thing Stiles knows Peter’s mock-growling, making nom nom noises, and pretending to gobble up her freaking toes.

Emily shrieks with delight, and Peter does it again. Stiles might just have a heart attack if this keeps up.

Emily’s waving her arms at Peter and has started babbling, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out she wants him to hold her, so Stiles holds her out and Peter scoops her up in his arms. She immediately curls up against Peter’s chest, and Stiles has a split second of jealousy that it’s not him snuggled up there.

“You said last night, she needs scent?” he asks, in an effort to distract himself.

Peter looks slightly sheepish. “I really did leave you unprepared, didn’t I?”

Stiles shrugs. “We managed. And you were beyond tired. But I mean, if you wanna fill me in now, that’d be good. What else is different for little wolfies?”

Peter settles in, gently rocking the baby, and explains that werewolf babies are incredibly tactile, and basically spend the first six months of their life being carried. There’s no cot because they share a bed with their parents until they’re old enough to cope with the separation at night. Stiles listens eagerly as Peter tells him how Cora stayed in Talia’s bed till she was nearly one, refusing to be moved.

“What about you?” Stiles asks, fascinated.

“I don’t remember it, but my mother tells me I was determined to be independent. I squirmed out the end of the bed as soon as I was able, and refused to go back, creating a huge fuss every time they tried.”

“Wow. So you’re telling me you’ve always managed get your own way?”

Peter smirks. “Apparently so.”

 


 

 

 

Stiles ends up hanging around for most of the day. Peter doesn’t ask him to leave, and Stiles can’t tear himself away. As evening approaches, Stiles hesitantly says, “You know, I’m on vacation this week, and I don’t have plans. If you needed me to help watch the baby…”

Peter raises an eyebrow. “Surely you have better things to do?”

Nothing’s better than this, Stiles thinks but doesn’t say. Instead he says, “I don’t mind. And it seems like she’s a handful.” He’s not lying – Emily’s adorable, but demanding, making her displeasure known whenever someone’s not holding her. “I could maybe stay?” Stiles’s mouth adds, not bothering to clear it with his brain first.

Peter’s brow hitches higher. “You’d do that?” he sounds uncertain, vulnerable.

“Sure.”

“That...that would be very helpful, Stiles. It’s been a long time since I was responsible for anyone but myself, and it’s more exhausting than I remember.”

Stiles is tired, and a yawn slips out. Peter’s sprawled out and has Emmy snugged up against him on the couch, and watching him rock her back and forth is hypnotic, making Stiles even sleepier. He yawns again, and Peter nudges Stiles’s leg with his foot. “Why don’t you go lie down, get some sleep? I’ve got this for now.”

“Still trying to get me into bed?” The response slips out automatically, because Peter’s always been a flirt, and it’s not the first time he’s suggested Stiles come home with him.  

“Always, sweetheart, but this time I want you to sleep.”

Stiles’s eyelids are closing without his permission already, and his tiredness is overtaking him rapidly, so he doesn’t argue, just shambles through to the bedroom, shucks off his jeans, and lays down in his boxers and t shirt. He climbs under the blankets, and barely remembers to call out a thank you before he slides into sleep.

 


 

 

It’s not a full night’s sleep – Stiles and Peter are both up and down with Emmy several times, (this time Peter gets the dirty diaper, much to Stiles’s secret delight) but it’s still more sleep than Stiles has had in a long time.

He calls his dad and tells him he’s staying around to help Peter out, and goes home to grab some clothes and a toothbrush. It occurs to him that spending a week co-parenting a werewolf baby isn’t even close to the weirdest thing he’s ever done.

But it turns out it's one of the best.

They get into a routine, juggling the baby between them. Stiles fails at bathtime – Emmy’s stronger than he thought, and she manages to soak him completely as she thrashes about, while Peter just laughs at him.

Peter drags out old nursery rhymes that Stiles has never heard before, sings softly to Emmy about Mother Moon watching over her, and Stiles melts at the sight of Peter gazing at the baby with obvious affection.

Stiles, for his part, whispers quietly that Emmy’s a good girl, the best girl, as she stares at him and pokes at his face with her fat baby hands. Babies, man. They’re a fucking drug.

Stiles finds that he's sleeping better than he has in years. Sleeping next to someone works for him, who knew?  On top of all that, Peter continues to flirt and tease, definitely coping better now that he’s sleeping.  Stiles thinks what the hell, and starts to flirt right back. It seems to catch Peter off guard the first time Stiles does it, but then Peter’s grin widens and as the week goes on his suggestions become positively indecent.

It’s almost as if Peter means it, and Stiles is going to miss it.

The thought catches him by surprise, and he tamps down on it firmly. He’s just here for the baby, he reminds himself, and her relatives are arriving tomorrow, so there won’t be any need to hang around. He’ll have his life back.

His boring, single, baby free, Peter free life.

He sags a little. He didn’t plan on getting attached to the kid, or to Peter, but they’re so damned adorable together, how could he not? It’s gonna suck when this is over, he just knows it. Stiles can feel himself slipping into a funk just at the thought of it.

It doesn’t last long though, because just then he’s treated to the sight of Peter making one of the most fundamental mistakes of new parents everywhere. He’s holding Emmy over his head, bouncing her up and down as she giggles. “Hey, you might wanna be careful, she’s just  -“   Without warning, the baby opens her mouth and lets out a torrent of warm milk all down Peter’s face.

Stiles can’t help the hoot of laughter as he takes in Peter’s betrayed expression, mouth open in shock as he tries to blink away the mess. Stiles grabs the baby and throws Peter a towel, still cackling. Peter wipes his face and fixes Stiles with an unimpressed glare, but Stiles ignores it. “Man, you should see yourself,” he crows. This more than makes up for the smell of curdled milk that fills his nostrils.

Emily seems completely unconcerned by the whole thing.

Peter takes himself off to the bathroom and Stiles hears the shower start up amid Peter’s muttering about treacherous infants. He looks the baby in the eye.  “Congratulations,” he tells her seriously. “Not many people catch Peter out.”  The baby’s response is to go red in the face and fill her diaper. Stiles resigns himself to cleaning up the mess, even though it’s definitely Peter’s turn. He guesses it’s karma for laughing so hard.

 


 

This is for the best, Stiles reminds himself. It was only ever temporary.

That doesn’t make the utter devastation on Peter’s face easier to bear. Peter’s hand stays lifted in a half wave long after the car containing Emily and her aunt is out of view, and his eyes shine suspiciously. Stiles can sense that if he shows the slightest bit of kindness right now, Peter might actually break, and he doesn’t want to embarrass him like that. So he says, “Joke’s on them. She hasn’t pooped yet, and now they’ll have to deal with the little stinker on the side of the road somewhere. Thank goodness it’s not our problem anymore, huh?”

Stiles sees Peter’s chest rise and fall as he take a shaky breath, and his voice is hoarse as he says, “No, I won’t miss that at all. Or the constant noise.”

Stiles rests a hand carefully on Peter’s shoulder, and the other man doesn’t shrug it off. They stand there for a minute, silent, before Peter shakes himself briskly. “Right. Back to reality I suppose,” he says, and Stiles can take a hint.

He grabs the last couple of items of his that are scattered around the apartment, and packs them in his bag. “I’ll just go. I’ll catch you round, I guess?”

Peter doesn’t answer. He’s standing there holding a small yellow sock. It must have gotten missed when they gathered Emily’s things, and he’s staring at it like it holds the answer to the world’s great mysteries.

Stiles lets himself out.

 


 

 

When Stiles gets home, his dad’s waiting for him. “Baby’s gone home?”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, distracted. He can’t shake the picture of Peter from his mind, standing there forlornly. Hell, Stiles misses the baby himself, so he can only imagine how it must feel for Peter, who probably had all that mystical werewolf bonding stuff going on as well. “ I think Peter’ll miss her,” he adds.

“Of course he will. Kid’s cute as a button.”

Stiles thinks it’s more than that, though. He thinks it’s long time since anyone trusted Peter with anything. And he thinks maybe that’s a little unfair, given that for the entire week they were sharing a bed, Peter never once made a move on him, despite all their flirting, never even suggested it. Granted, the world’s tiniest cockblocker was in bed with them, but still.

Stiles mooches around for the rest of the day, worrying. Finally he can’t stand it anymore. He could call or text, but he needs to see, make sure Peter’s okay. Plus, he misses him. Maybe he needs to admit that the flirting wasn’t totally a joke.

“I’m going to see if Peter’s okay,” he tells his dad. “He was pretty cut up.”

“Uh huh.” His father gives Stiles a look he can’t quite decipher. Stiles doesn’t think too hard on it, just grabs his keys and heads out the door.

He turns up with a bag of groceries and knocks.  When Peter opens the door, Stiles breezes right on in. “So, they had this rump roast on sale but there’s no way my dad can have that much red meat, plus my oven’s not nearly as good as yours, so I thought I’d cook it here, and we could finally eat a meal in peace, what do you say?” Stiles babbles, deliberately not mentioning Peter’s red rimmed eyes or the sock that’s still laying on the coffee table.

Peter waits a moment before asking “ Will there be real gravy, made from scratch?”

“Absolutely. I make excellent gravy.”

“Well then, how can I resist?”  Peter gives Stiles a watery smile, and he counts it as a win.

As Stiles cooks, Peter comes into the kitchen and perches on the counter, legs dangling. Stiles hums as he works, and he catches Peter watching as he bends down to grab the roasting tray out of the cabinet. “Are you checking out my ass?”

“Of course. And very nice it is too.” The corner of Peter’s mouth quirks up in amusement. Stiles just shrugs and wiggles his butt in reply. After all, it’s not like he hasn’t spent the last week eyeing Peter off every chance he got.

Over dinner, Peter seems more like himself, relaxing as they joke about how exhausting the last week’s been, laughing at each other and themselves, about the near misses and disasters. It’s nice, and Stiles doesn’t want the evening to end.

Actually, he doesn’t want this whole thing with Peter to end. He looks up from his plate to find Peter gazing at him with something like affection. It occurs to him that maybe Peter doesn’t want it to end, either.

Only one way to find out.

“So, I was thinking. Maybe we could go out.” Peter regards him silently and Stiles forges on. “Like, on a date. If you wanted.”

Peter's staring at him, open-mouthed. The silence stretches out, and Stiles curses inwardly, thinks that he’s gotten it wrong, that he’s just embarrassed himself.  But then Peter’s mouth quirks up in a grin. “Why Stiles, you mean you were serious with all that flirting?”

It’s such a Peter thing to do, to lay this at Stiles’s feet when Peter’s been the one making overtures all week, that Stiles can’t help but sputter indignantly. “Me flirting?  You’re the one -“

He’s cut off mid-sentence when Peter stands suddenly and rounds the table, grabbing the front of Stiles’s shirt and pulling him in for a bruising kiss. Stiles is only stunned for a second, before he responds, tangling a hand in Peter’s hair, closing his eyes and going with it. Peter finally pulls away, panting slightly and grinning. His voice is low and husky as he breathes out, “That’s a yes, sweetheart.”

Stiles can feel the curve of Peter’s smile against his lips when Stiles pulls him in  for another kiss.