"Good boy ! Yes, you are a good boy!" He heard Peter say from the back porch.
Stiles smiled. He liked hearing people praise his son. All praise was welcomed and encouraged, it was great self esteem boost and essential to the early stage of development, all the stages of development really. Even coming from Peter, who admittedly Stiles had never been a fan of but had accepted as part of his pack, all praise was welcomed. Even this one, which was very close to a dog joke. Derek would be rolling his eyes hard if he was here right now.
Stiles was in the kitchen preparing some snacks. Samuel was starting solid food, or at least Stiles was trying to get him to start solid food. That little guy wasn't excited about it at all. He would grimace the whole way through snack time, moving his tiny eyebrows the way his papa used to do when Derek hadn't been a huge fan of words yet.
Sam didn't have impressive eyebrows though, they were very average and light in color as he was very much a mini Stiles when he was a baby, fair skin, fair hair, fair everything. Sam still did a wonderful job at non-vocal communication. Stiles' years of practice with Derek really came in handy. Sam might not even want to start using real words ever with how good they were at communicating these days.
Solid food really wasn't his thing. It ended in big splash on the floor or all over Stiles' lap, on the wall more than once, but nowhere near his baby's mouth. Samuel's thing was moving. Maybe that was another thing he got from Stiles, this boy just couldn't keep still one second. The whole pack wasn't enough to keep an eye on him when he started to crawl around.
Just yesterday, Erica startled with a screech when she almost stepped on him. They were all grown ass werewolves. One would think they would, you know, hear him ?! It shouldn't be hard with all the extra enhanced senses but it was as if a crawling pack member could go unnoticed. Smelling too much like home, too bonded to feel like a disturbance. That was going to be fun when he would be old enough the prank them, Stiles was sure.
Uncle Peter was back in town for a few days, weeks ? Who really knew when it came to Peter. He was here now. For the first time since Sam's birth. Stiles, even if he was trying to be a bigger man here, wasn't too happy with him for his lack of concern about Derek's well-being, about his baby's well-being. Stiles would have kicked him out as soon as he stepped on the property, coming home like it was no big deal.
He would have done it, but for the fact that as soon as Sam saw him, his eyes twinkled in recognition. Stiles thought it was recognition, with maybe a hint of mischief underneath it. Peter was pack after all, and to Sam he was also blood. Of course the instincts had kicked in. Sam was now glued to his great uncle like a bee goes to honey. Was it a reassuring thought ? Probably not. Peter was still Peter still undead, still a slut (Stiles wasn't willing to get into details for the super sensitive ears around), probably not the ideal babysitter. Yet, Sam loved him and that meant something. That meant more than a few resentments, meant more than the memories of a darker past. They were all moving on. It was all for the better.
"What the f...." Stiles cut himself as the innocent ears were still present. But really, what?
That was a whole new level of not okay here. Stiles took everything back. Peter was terrible. Peter was awful. Peter had to go far away and never come back unless explicitely asked. Just an invitation for Sam's graduation, that seemed like enough time for Stiles to get over what was happening right now.
"What have you done ?!" Stiles exclaimed, trying to keep his heart from stopping altogether.
Peter was cuddling Stiles' son. It would have been sweet and loving, the perfect picture of a family reunion. Except Sam wasn't a baby, he was a pup. An actual pup, all fluff and fur, snout happily licking his uncle's hand. What. No, Stiles' kid wasn't allowed to lick anything on Uncle Peter, nobody knew where these hands had been. (or more like they knew too much about it).
"I'm impressed. He is very advanced for his age." Peter said as if nothing was wrong about this picture.
Sam was not even a year old, he wasn't there yet. He shouldn't be able to shift. Derek as well as all the books Stiles had read on the subject stated that werewolf pups couldn't shift before knowing how to walk. They needed to have control over their limbs in order to shift into wolf form, and more importantly to shift back. Shit, what was Stiles going to do if Sam wasn't able to shift back ? They had an appointed at the pediatrician next week ! It was Deaton's niece and she was a supernatural pediatrician of some sort. She wouldn't report him to the police. And the police was his dad so they wouldn't have any trouble with the law or anything but still ! Stiles wasn't ready to never see Sam's smile, or hear him burst out laughing as if seeing Scott with a pizza box on his head had been the best, most awesome thing he had ever seen in his whole life. (Maybe it was, who was Stiles to judge here? Scott did look ridiculous.)
"Peter !" Stiles cried out, arms stretched toward the scene in front of him.
Sam made some cute little yipping noises and ran to him. He was quicker as a pup, graceful movements even on his tiny little body. He flailed coming to a full stop at Stiles' feet, letting out a tiny high pitch howl. Stiles knew it was meant to be a howl, but it was even less convincing than that one time in high school Scott had tried to howl for the first time. It was adorable. Oh man, Stiles was screwed.
He crouched down next to him. "Hey bud."
"Alright, I'll be in my room." Peter stood up and walked towards the house, the perfect image of nonchalance.
"The guest room." Stiles corrected, automatically, as he did every time Peter seemed inclined to get a little too comfortable around the den.
As soon as the door was closed, Stiles turned back to the little pup crawling into his lap. "What am I gonna tell your papa ?"
Peter snickered from behind the door. Screw him.
Derek would be coming home soon. He had been invited by the Santa Rosa pack for something or the other. Stiles didn't keep track of everything these days. There was a lot. Derek had known that a pup would change things and he had been right. The Hale-McCall pack was now on the map. Relations were building, strengthening, and the territory had never been as peaceful. The peace was welcomed because a baby was more than enough trouble. All joyful happy trouble but still very much trouble. Work. So much work. Even more so as a pup.
Three hours had passed and still no change in Sam. He was still a golden brown ball of fluff. Of course, he didn't want to take his nap because where was Stiles supposed to put him ? In his crib ? On a blanket of the floor ? What was comfortable for a baby pup ? He tried cuddling him to his chest in the hopes to make him calm down enough to sleep but that was in vain. Sam was absolutely ecstatic, the world as a pup was such a discovery. It was like Christmas morning, except he only lived through one Christmas morning yet and he was clearly too young to know the excitement of it. This seemed to feel so much better. Such a thrill for a baby boy.
Stiles heard Derek coming through the front door. He wasn't a wolf, but he didn't need scent or super hearing to know these things. That faint buzz running through him connecting him to the people he loved was more than enough tell.
Sam was running back to him as Derek stepped out on the porch.
"Are you – playing fetch ?" Derek frowned, taking in the sight in front of him. Pup Sam with a tennis ball in his mouth looked up at him as if he had been the one to hang the moon in the sky.
"What's going on ?"
He didn't have to ask if that pup was who he thought he was, all of this pup was very much their own, very much them. He looked exactly like what Derek had said he imagined Stiles' wolf form would be if he ever was to be turned. He described it in so many details one night, years ago, when they were in bed, hidden from the rest of the world. He described all the different shades of brown and gold, the small patches of dark here and there. All of it was there on Sam's fur. He wasn't Stiles but he was Stiles' for sure. A little being belonging to Stiles, belonging to both of them.
Stiles wasn't a wolf but he had that possessiveness that was very much instinct. His den, his pack, his mate, his pup. All of it was his.
"I had no other options than to play fetch ! Sam ate your shoes. And not just your shoes, my shoes, everybody's shoes ! He doesn't want to sleep, he doesn't want to cuddle, he doesn't want to wear a diaper, so all pee is running free here. There were accidents, a lot of accidents. So yeah, he just wants to play fetch ! I blame Peter ! I blame Peter so much." Stiles let it all out nervously.
"He shifted." Derek stated the obvious.
"No shit, Der' ! No I upgraded his Halloween costume and enhanced it with a magical spell. Yes he shifted ! He wasn't supposed to shift, he's too young. You said he was too young !" Stiles was a little hysterical, just a little bit.
Sam headbutted him in what was supposed to be a comforting gesture, but was just on the side of too forceful. Too forceful for grown man, yet coming from a baby !
"Can you do your alpha thing ?" Stiles asked more softly, patting his baby's head, running two of his fingers over his snout.
Derek was strangely quiet. Stiles turned to look up at him. His shiny eyes and that little twitch on the lips, oh no, Derek had emotions. He was getting quite good at these, Stiles was very happy about that. Seeing Derek's face free of all the walls he had before, it was always and would always be such a victory for him.
"What ?" Stiles asked, slightly distressed now.
"He shifted." He repeated, tone neutral.
"Yeah..." Stiles agreed.
Something in Derek's expression told Stiles, he wasn't worried, he wasn't scared. Everything would be alright. Their son had just shifted. Their werewolf pup had just shifted for the first time. A full shift, not a beta shift, Sam went straight for the whole damn thing. Such a little trooper.
Derek smiled and sat down on the steps next to Stiles, Sam in between them.
"Hello, Sammy." Derek said fondly.
The pup turned to lick Derek's nose. Stiles chuckled. God, he loved them so freaking much. Amazing how he had managed to be so lucky, to have two great loves in his life like that. He could just stare at them for hours, studying the sun rays flowing through the longest softest hair on Sam's fur, studying the shadows of Derek's eyelashes the light cast on his cheeks. Studying them, learning them, loving them, that was all Stiles wanted to do. He would adore to never have to go to work, never have to leave this house as to not miss a single second of them.
"Can you shift back, Sam?" Derek asked, even softer.
Sam tilted his head to one side. One slightly too large ear followed the movement while the other said perked up.
"I tried that already." Stiles scrunched up his nose. "It's not working."
"He doesn't know what we mean or how to do it. It's nothing to worry about." Derek smiled.
When had Derek become so peaceful and calm about everything ? He exulted that confident vibe these days. It was damn sexy. Stiles couldn't help but bite his lip because he would very much like to ravish his mate right about now. All soft features, not a worry on his heart or on his face, nothing but these little crinkles on the corner of his eyes that Stiles loved to kiss.
"You're proud, aren't you ?" Stiles huffed. "Our son doesn't know how to shift back but the fact that he shifted in the first place...You're so smug about it, admit it."
Derek arched an eyebrow and kept silent. Smug motherfucker.
"I bet you're going to tell this at the next alpha meeting. Yo, guess what, Alphas, my pup shifted about 4 months early ! That's how smart he is, such a good little wolf. Such a good boy !" Stiles teased.
Sam reacted to the praise and wagged his tail happily. Derek couldn't take his eyes off of him. Stiles laughed.
"I love you." He breathed out, staring at the side of Derek's face.
He couldn't keep it in, and didn't even try. It was that one feeling filling him up to the rim. The corner of Derek's lips curled up but he didn't take his eyes away from Sam. Derek waited until Sam was looking at him again. Right at him. Big brown eyes focused solely on his papa, his alpha. Derek's eyes glowed red. Sam let out a happy little woof.
No more than that though, so if Derek was hoping the red eyes were going to do the trick, he had another thing coming. Sam pushed the tennis ball to him with his nose and barked again.
Derek sighed as he picked the ball up and threw it out in the yard without much force. The small excited pup going after it.
"So it didn't work." Stiles said.
Sam ended up sleeping in between them that night. A warm puppy ball of fur, like a hot water bottle pressed against the low of Stiles' back. The low rumble coming off of Derek was very close to purring. Stiles would never let him live it down.
Peter was of no help of course. Even in the morning, he just fed Sam a bite of sausage like it was natural. Like he had every right to give Stiles' son sausage, fed him like he was an actual dog. Stiles was now understanding the numerous rolls of eyes and dramatic sighs he received every time he so much as hinted at a dog joke. No joke here, this was Samuel John Hale.
"Peter !" Stiles scolded. "First off, table manners, please ! Second, Samuel isn't at the meat stage yet ! He hasn't even accepted the vegetables ! I have an insane amount of baby food, home made by yours truly, in the freezer ready to give him at every stage of taste development and allergy check and all that."
"He seemed to accept the sausage just fine. And werewolves don't get allergies. Could have told you that if you had asked." Peter shrugged with a smirk.
"Shut up, Peter !"
"Look, a pup has teeth when a human baby is all ..." He grimaced, supposedly what was supposed to look like a creepy toothless mouth.
It was definitely creepy on Peter's face. Stiles looked at him in disgust. Samuel had teeth, alright, sure he had spent a few months without any. That was what baby were like, toothless. All gums and no teeth lil cuties, that was how Stiles saw babies now. His son had turned him into mush.
Derek who was sitting on the other side of the table was not impressed by the scene he was witnessing at breakfast, staring into the distance with a long suffering sigh.
"I like him better this way." Peter said, munching on his food while Sam was on the floor pawing at him requesting some more sausage.
Damn it, Peter had officially messed up the whole solid food schedule.
"Uncle Peter, if you don't mind we're still going to get him back to human form. Are you going to help or just act like the typical asshole that you are ?" Derek asked blankly.
"Oh nephew, I love you too." Peter almost sounded genuine, or maybe missed it by a mile. "But I won't help. I have a date, cannot miss it. And that's actually my cue to leave." He said standing up.
"What an ass." Stiles said. Sam whined as Peter walked out of the kitchen. "He probably knows what to do, he's the one who tricked Sammy into shifting. He must know how to help him shift back but he's just a jerk."
"Don't worry." Derek sighed, scratching Sam's chin. "Papa has an idea."
The idea should have been quite easy. It sounded completely doable, but for Sam refusing to leave Stiles' side for some reason.
Derek had called for a pack meeting in the living room. Scott and the betas, after cooing for about ten minutes at how adorable and pettable Sam was in this form, were actually mentally present and were willing to do anything.
Scott had very much taken a step back from the co-alpha position these days. He willingly let Derek go to the alpha meetings and let him deal with the politics, on top of letting them decide everything regarding Sam's upbringing. That could have been a given but knowing pack dynamics, an alpha had as much a say in these things as the parents. Except, luckily, this wasn't the case here, Scott was far from being ready to be a father, too busy mentoring Liam for anything more baby related. Derek being an alpha and a father was a voice no one but Stiles was really allowed to butt heads with.
They were all great baby-sitters though. Boyd, Stiles trusted more than anyone else. His quiet peaceful kind of strength was exactly what Stiles wanted around his son when neither Derek nor he was here with him. Isaac, not so much. He was still very much a puppy himself, and also a little bit of an asshole sometimes, he would very much let Sam eat shoes.
They were all getting ready. All shirtless in the living room, what a sight ! That was Derek's plan, not Stiles'. He wanted to go running and take Sam with them, let the instincts and adrenaline kick in and hope that he would be able to follow when they'd all shift back before coming home. Stiles was all for it, except Sammy was gnawing at his pant leg demanding attention. He kept gnawing and pulling him when they were all stepping outside getting ready to shift. Not letting go of Stiles at all. There were going to be holes in his jeans, these tiny teeth were pointy and sharp.
Stiles sat down on the floor. "Sam, Sam, look at daddy." He said cupping the pup's face. "You know, Daddy isn't a wolf, right ? I'm sure you can feel that. I can't come with you. I can't follow you. You have papa, and you have all this pack, just for you." Sam lolled out his tongue with what looked like a wolfy grin. "That's right. You are the prince and everything the light touches is our kingdom."
"Uh, not quite." Isaac chipped in from where he was leaning against the porch swing.
"Shush, we're having a moment." Stiles lifted a finger towards the beta without leaving Sam's eyes one second. "You go run wild, little buddy. You go find what it is that makes you wolf, you go and then come back to me. Papa will help you find an anchor, don't worry. He's gotten good at that."
Samuel seemed to understand. He looked at Derek who was already bare foot on the grass, ready to unbutton his pants. Stiles didn't need to be there for that part. Well, for Derek's parts, yes very much yes, but watching all the betas getting naked, not so much. He had a voyeur kink when it came to his mate only. Derek could stay naked, always, and that would be a blessing, hallelujah praise the lord ! The others, again, not so much. Stiles had seen his fair share of bodies in the locker rooms.
Sam just sat, his little wolfy butt on Stiles' shoe and didn't seem willing to move from there.
"I don't think you have a choice, Stiles." Boyd shrugged. "Gotta get naked."
Stiles choked. Boyd always had a way of surprising him.
"It's kind of the point of running wild." Scott added.
Stiles threw him a death glare. "Fine. I'll go running. But not wild. Not even commando. I'm keeping my soft skin clothed, thank you very much. I don't need any of you to confuse me with a rabbit and try to eat me or something !"
"That's -" Derek tried to get a word in. This was useless.
"Yeah yeah. Alright let's go !" Stiles said, nudging the warm little body with his foot.
They all shifted in that weird way that was cracking of bones and growing of fur, Stiles always cringed at that. It sounded really uncomfortable. Stiles couldn't help but get an eyeful of butts but what could he do ? That was the life of a werewolf pack, getting naked and running in the woods. Gone were the days of virgin sacrifices and life or death situations at every corner.
They started off, fur blowing in the wind, paws on the soft wet leaves on the ground between the trees, Stiles' shoes ruffling the ground beneath his feet. Sam was yapping happily, enjoying his very disciplined limbs. Finding grace in his better-balanced morphology in this form than as a human baby. Finding a freedom in there somewhere, in the act of running, in the act of following his pack, in the forest, in the wild.
Stiles was a runner. He was fit and trained, for his job as well as for his family life. Of course, he couldn't go as fast as any of them, but this wasn't a competition. The pack bonds were keeping them all together, all the betas keeping pace with baby Sam as they did with Stiles, up the hill and down some slippery slope where Stiles flailed and almost fell, only to find a hold on Derek's black furry flank keeping him upright. They ran, Stiles would like to say hours, would like to say forever, because time wasn't quite the same as wolves and Stiles, although not a wolf, could very much feel the languid haze that came with a peaceful shift like this one.
They ran, snouts sniffing the air of all the earth they called home, their territory, and that meant something. That meant family, hope and future.
And when they finally circled back to their house, slowly shifting back one after the other, until the only ones left were Derek and Samuel slowing down, it felt right to come to a slow jog next to the two men of his life, a little man and a big man, both of them so essential, so fundamental to Stiles' life. Derek's eyes glowed red looking straight at his pup just before a he shifted, Sam following the movement.
Stiles quickly shrugged off his hoodie, and picked up his baby boy before any panic had even the chance of setting in.
He walked to Derek, in all his naked glory, and kissed him sweetly.
"Great job, papa."
Peter rolled his eyes from where he was sitting on the back porch. Some things would never change.