“We miss you, Stiles.”
Stiles pressed the phone against his ear, eyes roving unseeingly over the papers spread across his desk. He’d been called to DC a few weeks ago and had been kept busy ever since then. So much so, he’d almost missed his calls home every night, sometimes forgetting to check the clock until long after Emma had gone to bed.
We miss you.
“I know,” he said quietly, pen between his teeth. “I’ll talk to my boss and see how much longer he wants me out here. It can’t be much longer than a few more days.”
“So there’s been no new break in the case?”
“Nothing I can talk about over the phone,” Stiles said with a sigh. “But… no, not really. Nothing good at least. I could really use your werewolf sniffer skills, you know.”
He thought he heard Derek huff. “I’m sure you could.”
“Is Em in bed yet?”
“She refused to be tucked in until she talked to her dad.”
Stiles’s heart broke a little. When he’d taken his internship under the FBI to the next level, he’d never really seen it taking him out of the house so often. Derek understood, Stiles knew he did, but it still hurt more and more every time he had to say goodbye to his husband and daughter for longer than a week.
“She just wants an extended bedtime, Sourwolf,” Stiles said, putting as much humor into his voice as he could manage. “You just too gullible. Can you put her on?”
Stiles caught the sound of Derek laughing and moving around. Then there was a faint gentle voice, the sound of soft breaths against the receiver, and Stiles covered his mouth as he smiled.
“Hey, Em. You staying out of trouble?”
“I’m here, kiddo,” Stiles said softly, swallowing hard. On the other side of the phone, he could hear Derek saying something else before Emma’s voice came through again.
“Are you coming home soon?”
“Soon,” Stiles said, eyes flitting over the case files spread out across his hotel room desk again. “I promise, squirt. Soon.”
“Daddy misses you.”
Stiles closed his eyes, taking a shaky breath. “I know.”
“I miss you too.”
“But you’re being good for daddy, right?”
He thought he heard a faint chuckle and then Emma was laughing too. “I’m being good.”
“Going to bed on time?”
“Dad gives me a cookie if I do.”
“That’s blackmail and your father is spoiling you.”
Stiles definitely heard the sound of Derek’s laughter abruptly cut off this time. Then Emma’s voice came through the phone again, far too smug to be fair for a child her age. “Auntie Erica taught me.”
“Of course, she did, the heathen. You’re not allowed to be alone with her anymore.”
“She said you’d say that.”
Stiles rolled his eyes, a smile still tugging at the corners of his lips, and then he heard Derek saying something soft again. Stiles’s smile melted once more as Emma’s voice came through again; muted this time.
“Daddy says it’s time for bed.”
“It is, squirt. You know how crabby you get when you don’t sleep enough.”
“I’m big enough to stay up late.”
“We’ll have that conversation when I get home.”
Stiles’s heart broke again. “Soon, kiddo. I promise.”
He really should have known better to make promises that he had no control over, but Stiles couldn’t stop himself when it came to his kid. He scrubbed a hand over his face, blinking hard, and when Derek’s voice came back through the receiver, it was soft enough that Stiles knew Derek realized exactly what he needed.
“She’s alright, Stiles. And you are too.”
“I miss you both.”
“I know,” the man said gently. “But you keep saving the world, babe. She’s already taken your badge to show-and-tell twice this week and I’m pretty sure the only day they had it was on Monday.”
Stiles huffed. “I was wondering where that had gone.”
“I have it in safe-keeping.”
“No,” Stiles said, swallowing hard. “It’s, uh, okay. Let her carry it around. My boss is used to me losing things anyway. I can totally-probably-hopefully get a new one.”
“You’re a mess, Stiles.”
“I know,” Stiles whispered. “But I’m your mess. Remember?”
“I miss you, Sourwolf.”
“I know,” the man said quietly. “But we’ll be here waiting for when you get back. Just don’t do anything stupid until then, okay?”
“Me? Doing something stupid? Never.”
“Stay safe, Stiles.”
“Of course,” Stiles said. He rubbed a hand over his shoulder where there was a triskelion tattoo inked beneath his t-shirt. Swallowing hard, his fingers curled into the thin material and he closed his eyes, resting his chin on the back of his other hand. “I’ll come back to you guys.”
The silence stretched for a little longer, but Stiles was okay with that. He set down the phone, continued to work, and just relaxed to the sound of Derek’s breaths. The faint typing of a computer on the other side of the phone.
And like usual, the call stretched on until one of them eventually fell asleep.
Derek was pretty sure Emma was going to be the death of him. And out of all the things he’d survived, dying like this really wouldn’t be fair. But if he had to talk her out of wearing her underwear on her head and running around the house screaming obscenities one more time (which she had so learned from Stiles) he was going to die.
Derek just needed a nap.
It didn’t help that there wasn’t a corner of the house that was clean, the rest of the betas were dealing with their own problems, and Derek had to remind himself sometimes that he wasn’t just babysitting. This was his actual kid. He couldn’t just hand her off when he needed sleep— especially when Stiles wasn’t around.
The house suddenly quieted and Derek was pretty sure Emma was hiding somewhere with her underwear hat. But he had officially given up.
When the doorbell rang, the distraction was almost a relief.
But then he caught that scent.
The scent of cinnamon and vanilla, with faint hints of electricity.
Derek was at the door in a second, opening it up to reveal a grinning Stiles. For a moment, all he could do was stare. Then he was moving forward, catching the young man’s lips with his own and Stiles rumbled a laugh against his mouth, hand carding through his hair.
“Hey there, Sourwolf.”
Stiles pulled back an inch. “Is the little squirt around or—”
Stiles’s face cracked into a grin and he dropped down into a crouch, blonde-hair covered by an underwear hat crashing into his arms. Derek’s chest warmed at the sound of barked laughter and Stiles pulled their daughter in close. He swore this happened every time; every time Stiles came home. Every time he saw them wrapped in each other’s arms, Derek felt like his heart could explode.
As if reading his thoughts, Stiles peered upward, opening an arm. And Derek crouched down too, eyes fluttering closed as he was overwhelmed by the scent of home.
“Hi, Sourwolf,” Stiles said, softly, pressing a kiss against his forehead. Derek almost whined and Emma’s head popped up between their arms
“You’re back, dad!”
“I am, kiddo.”
“That was soon.”
“Of course, it was,” Stiles said, eyes shining. “I hopped on a plane to come back to you as soon as I could. Had to make sure all the cookies weren’t gone before I got home.”
Emma’s expression turned bashful. Stiles’s eyes rounded.
“They’re already gone?”
“It wasn’t me! Daddy ate the last one!”
Stiles fixed Derek with a wide-eyed look of mock betrayal and Derek rolled his eyes; until Emma gave him an imploring look, that is. Then Derek sighed, dropping his chin onto the top of her head. “Yeah, it was me.”
Derek growled threateningly and he didn’t even have a chance to pull the underwear off of Emma’s head before she was shoving herself up, nearly knocking against Derek’s chin as she took off back down the hallway. He rolled his eyes again, looking at Stiles tiredly.
“I’m so glad you’re home.”
“Every time this house isn’t burned down, I have a little bit more respect for you.”
“But then again, that is your job as the big bad poppa wolf—”
Derek growled again, red eyes flashing as he caught Stiles by his fancy FBI tie and pulled him into another kiss, nothing but heat behind it this time. Stiles laughed around his lips, melting into the embrace, and Derek found his chest growing even warmer as distant laughter rang through the air.
That probably didn’t mean anything good. But he figured that was a later problem. One with Stiles at his side again.
“Welcome home, Stiles.”