It's only a rhyme, he tells himself. Jedna sroczka smutek wróży, the words come to him in Polish, the way his Mom used to say them, even though he's heard the English version more often since. One for sorrow, two for joy.
Well, it's certainly only one magpie sitting on the branch outside his window now. Stiles is trying to shake off the memory of when he was younger, his Mom still alive but already in the hospital. He fails miserably, and the image of a single magpie in the very same spot overwhelms his mind. Back then, he laughed it off, didn't buy into the superstition, didn't think about the sight of the black and white bird until he was alone in the hospital corridor, waiting for his Dad.
There's something he's supposed to do, he knows, something to counteract the bad omen, but he can't remember.
"Hello, Mr. Magpie," a quiet voice from the direction of the door gives him the answer.
"Oh," Stiles breathes out, and he turns to look at his Dad.
"You're supposed to greet them," the Sheriff says as he walks closer. "Unless…" he waves a hand towards the window, where a second magpie is just landing on the branch just above the first.
"One for sorrow, two for joy," Stiles mumbles the familiar rhyme. "Mom used it to teach me to count," he adds quietly.
"She never believed the superstition, you know?"
"I saw one, before she…"
It's been years and he still can't bring himself to say the words sometimes.
"I couldn't remember to greet it," Stiles continues, and he leans against his Dad's side. "I knew there was something I should do, but I couldn't remember."
"She'd have applied the rhyme to your life now," the Sheriff says with a chuckle.
"How?" Stiles frowns as he tries to remember the rest of it.
"Jedna sroczka smutek wróży, " the Sheriff's Polish comes out rusty, not at all similar to the way Claudia used to speak. "One for sorrow. That one's obvious, there's been way too much sadness it could mean."
"Dwie - radości pełne dni," Stiles' tongue stumbles on the familiar and yet strange language. "Two for joy," he adds the verse in the more comfortable language.
"There has been some of that, too." His Dad smiles a little when Stiles rolls his eyes. "She'd have found the happiness."
"Yeah, she would," Stiles admits grudgingly.
"Trzy to dziewczę urodziwe, three for a pretty girl, that one's about Lydia," and the Sheriff laughs at the blush in Stiles' cheeks. "Cztery - chłopiec ci się śni, four for a boy," he continues, and Stiles ducks his head to hide the burning red of his skin. "Don't think she'd have expected Derek, but she probably knew the boys thing."
"I didn't, not then," Stiles shakes his head. "Wait, Derek?"
"Do you think you're that good at lying, kid?"
Stiles shrugs and tries to deflect from a topic he's not willing to get into. It's not like he stands a chance with Derek any more than he did with Lydia, so it's a moot point.
"Pięć da srebra cały dzbanek, five for silver," he says instead, and laughs. "Argent. Silver bullets. Yeah, I can see where she'd have gone with that."
"Sześć przyniesie złota moc, six for gold," the Sheriff continues. "Could do with some of that, though maybe not like this, not yet," he rubs the gold band on his fingers -- it hasn't left his hand since Claudia died. "You wouldn’t go for gold anyway," he says to Stiles, prompting another blush.
"Seven for a secret," Stiles mumbles the last verse, not even trying to say it in Polish. "Werewolves," he says flatly, because what else could it be?
"Derek Hale," the Sheriff counters, and Stiles throws him the strongest glare he can muster.
"Let it go, Dad. It says never to be told," he grumbles, still trying to deflect.
"Not in Polish, it doesn't," his Dad says with a grin.
Stiles' shoulders slump a little, and he refocuses his gaze at the two magpies that are still on the tree outside, picking on the branches. Two for joy, he thinks, maybe it's time to forget about the Polish version. There's a rustle then, the magpies fly off and Stiles' Dad gets up with a chuckle.
"No time like the present, son," he says, and he walks out of the room just as the window opens.
"Hey Stiles," Derek says quietly, slipping into the room with more grace than a grown man should have, at least in Stiles' opinion.
"So, how much of that did you hear?" Stiles asks, a blush rising in his cheeks again.
"How much did you want me to know?" Derek asks, but instead of the familiar scowl, there's a soft smile on his lips as he walks towards Stiles.
The leaves rustle outside the window, and Stiles wonders for a moment if he's somehow acquired werewolf hearing. But when Derek sits down next to him, the silence returns, and Stiles decides to go for broke.
"Seven for a secret," the words come out as a whisper first, but then his voice steadies. "You're the secret. Well, me liking you is."
"Stiles?" Derek's voice carries amusement, and Stiles looks at him in surprise. "It really isn't."
"Oh," Stiles manages to say, and a second later, he's slowly reaching out for Derek's hand and relaxes when Derek links their fingers, a smile brightening up both their faces.