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I Still Believe

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February 11, 2019

Stiles is out of his mind with pain. He hears himself wail, long and guttural. “Derek,” he moans when it’s over. “Der…”

“I’m here, Stiles.” Something cool touches his forehead.

“Derek, you have to…you have to go…”

“I’m not leaving.”

“No, I need you to check…the results are probably in by now!”

“Stiles Stilinski-Hale.” Derek leans into his line of vision, scowling hugely. “I am not going oh for two on the birth of my children. You can find out who won the election later.”

Stiles tries to argue but another contraction grips him. His son had surprised everyone by arriving on his due date, despite every indication that he would be hanging on for another week at least. Stiles’s water broke right after he’d finished casting his vote in the presidential election.

Now, eight hours later, Stiles is dying to know who won. After Argent was no longer a viable option all sorts of candidates had scrambled to fill his position. It had come down to a pairing Stiles considered just Argent-lite, and Congresswoman Tara Graeme, who had chosen as her running mate the first ever human VP candidate. Stiles’s vote had of course gone to Tara and Lydia, and as of the last time Derek had checked it was too close to call.

“I see the head,” his doctor says from the foot of the bed. “Let’s have another really big push now…”

Stiles bears down and moments later hears a high, shrill cry. “Congratulations,” the doctor says. “It’s a boy.”

#

Fifteen minutes later Stiles sits on the bed with Derek, staring into the wrinkled red face of their son. “You’re so perfect,” he coos to the baby. “Look how perfect you are. Derek, did you see his little fingernails?”

“Yeah, I did. But let’s look again.” Derek is staring at his newborn with the look of dazed adoration Stiles remembers from when he first brought Clara home. “By the way,” Derek says as an afterthought. “Graeme and Lydia took the ticket.”

Stiles had forgotten about the election after he’d first set eyes on the baby. “That’s fantastic. Should we name the baby after them? Martin Stilinski-Hale?”

Derek makes a face. “I still like Daniel.”

“But they’ll call him Danny, and I already know a Danny.” Stiles thinks about it while the baby squints up at him. They’d discarded many names over the past several months, with a short list remaining. “What about Nathaniel?”

Derek considers his son. “That’s not bad. I like that.”

“Nathaniel Peter Stilinski-Hale.”

Derek nods. They had already agreed to honor his uncle through their son’s middle name. “I think that’s perfect.”

Stiles feeds Nathaniel and they grudgingly let the nurses take him away in the bassinet for some sleep. In the morning they have a whole slew of visitors and well-wishes sent from the new vice-president herself while Stiles leans against his pillows like a king, thinking how different this birth is from Clara’s. His firstborn is brought in by John last and placed on the bed with Stiles, so she can snuggle against his side and gaze down with awe at her brother. “Baby!” she says.

“This is your brother Nathaniel,” Stiles tells her.

“My baby?”

“Our baby, yes. He’s your little brother. That makes you a big sister now.”

“My baby,” she says in satisfaction, gently patting his head.

Derek crouches down by the bed so he can put a hand on her back. “Your little brother is human like Daddy, Clara. So you have to be very careful and never, ever bite him. Do you understand? You don’t ever bite Nathaniel.”

“No bite,” she parrots. She’s young enough that an accidental bite probably wouldn’t break Stiles’s skin, but if she bit the baby he wouldn’t stand a chance.

“Good girl.” Derek kisses the top of her head. Nathaniel, who had been sleeping contentedly against Stiles’s chest, yawns hugely and cracks open his eyes. Clara squeals with delight and flashes her eyes at him.

“Hi, Nathaniel,” Stiles says softly.

“Hi, Naniel,” Clara echoes happily. “Hi-hi-hi!” She cuddles even closer to Stiles so she can watch her brother in fascination. Derek grins, obviously relieved at how well she’s taking her new sibling. Stiles grins back and shifts so he can make room for Derek on the bed. “Puppy pile,” he says as Derek joins them.

The day passes blissfully until they’re discharged and head downstairs to the car together. Clara whines a little when she wants her carseat to be rear-facing like Nathaniel’s, but Derek just raises an eyebrow at her and she quiets down.

Nathaniel is certainly a crier— Stiles isn’t sure if he cries more or less than Clara had, since every scream then had been so perilous that he’s sure he’s exaggerated them in his memory. Clara grimaces and covers her ears when the baby starts wailing on the way home. “It’s okay,” Stiles says to her after he finally soothes Nathaniel down to a low sniffling. “Babies cry. He can’t help it. We still love our baby even when he’s loud.”

Clara chews her lip, still studying her brother with fascination. “Me a baby?”

“You mean did you use to be a baby? You were. You used to be just as little as Nathaniel.”

“Pictures!”

“Well, we don’t have any of you when you were very tiny.” Stiles falters. He never thought about telling his daughter about her start in life, and he isn’t sure what she should know. He settles for saying, “But you were very, very cute. And Daddy and Papa loved you right from the start, just like Nathaniel.”

She beams at him. “Clara love Daddy and Papa too!”

Clara wants to show her brother around the house when they get home so Stiles obligingly carries the carrier up the stairs and to Clara’s favorite rooms. Nathaniel is thoroughly uninterested in the various toys Clara tries to show him. “Nathaniel won’t be able to play with you until he’s bigger,” Stiles cautions.

“Okay, Daddy. Bedroom!” Clara dashes into her bedroom, recently wallpapered and decorated to look like the solar system. “Naniel sleep!”

“Nathaniel has to sleep in the nursery. Remember when you helped us decorate?”

Clara’s lip trembles and she spreads her arms wide. “Share!”

“Trust me, Clara-belle, you really don’t want to be sharing a room with Nathaniel right now.” Stiles sniffs the air, immediately realizing that Nathaniel has just filled his diaper. Seconds later the baby starts wailing. “Someone needs a change,” he says, whisking the baby off to the nursery. Clara is in the midst of potty training and frankly Stiles is praying she picks it up quick. Two sets of diapers sounds like an absolute nightmare.

That night it takes a while to wrangle a hyped-up Clara into bed and by the time Stiles makes it back to the bedroom Derek, who was on Nathaniel-duty, is already waiting. “Someone’s a tired Daddy,” Derek says.

“Exhausted.” Stiles strips down to his boxers and collapses beside his husband. “Think we can get in a quickie before one or both starts crying?”

“Not on your life.” Derek shuts off the light. “Personally, I’m looking forward to life with a newborn, after I missed the first four months of Clara’s life.”

“And I’m looking forward to letting my newborn cry without fearing for his imminent death. Isn’t it nice we can joke about these things now?” Stiles fumbles in the dark for a kiss before immediately dropping off to sleep.

Less than two hours later he’s jolted awake by an insistent scream from the baby monitor. “On it,” Derek grunts, immediately climbing out of bed. Stiles leans back against the pillow and is just falling back to sleep when he hears a tremulous, “Daddy?” from down the hall.

He hides a grin in a yawn. A Daddy’s work is never done.

Clara is sitting up in her new big-kid bed, eyes wide and tear-filled at the sound of Nathaniel crying. Her werewolf hearing means there’s no way to keep her from it, but Stiles makes a note to see about buying a white-noise machine or something that might help. “Sick?” she asks worriedly as Stiles sits on the edge of her bed.

“No, baby. He just can’t sleep through the whole night like you. He probably needs a diaper change and in a little while he’ll be hungry. He’s too little to ask for what he wants so he has to cry.”

She doesn’t look convinced so Stiles stands and hoists her onto his hip. “You want to go see him?”

She nods, sticks two fingers in her mouth, and rests her head against Stiles’s shoulder as he carries her into the nursery. Derek is hushing Nathaniel but looks up and smiles. “Your big sister came to say hello,” he tells the baby.

Stiles carries her over to Derek. She leans over and kisses the top of Nathaniel’s head gently. “Okay to cry,” she tells him. The baby quiets a little, but starts up again whenever Derek tries to put him down. They stay there for a while, lit by the soft glow of nursery night-lights, with Derek rocking Nathaniel and Stiles rocking Clara.

“Sleepy now, Daddy,” Clara whispers eventually.

“Okay, sweetheart. Let’s go back to bed.”

“Kisses, Papa.” Clara holds out her arms beseechingly for Derek, who kisses her forehead. Stiles starts to carry her out, only to be interrupted by a tug on his shirt. “Bugs,” she begs Derek through a yawn.

“Night-night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

“But if they do, hit ‘em with a shoe,” Stiles finishes, ignoring Derek’s look of exasperation; knowing Clara she’ll happily start whapping shoes at imagined bedbugs in the middle of the night.

Clara sighs happily and snuggles against Stiles’s shoulder. “Do bugs for Naniel,” she tells Derek as Stiles takes her back to her bedroom. He tucks her back into bed and waits until her breathing evens out before he returns to the master bedroom. This time he’s the one waiting for Derek, and he’s nearly dozed off again by the time Derek slides under the covers next to him.

“Did you do the bugs rhyme for Nathaniel?” Stiles whispers.

“You know, I actually did. Though I kept out the unnecessary violence.” Derek tugs Stiles close. “I like him,” he whispers. “Let’s keep him.”

“Oh, good. I didn’t save the receipt.” Stiles forgoes his pillow and rests his head against Derek’s chest instead. “We can switch off kiddos at the next call.”

“Sounds good.” Derek holds him close and Stiles drifts off, awash with gratitude that his family are all here and happy and, above all, safe.

#

September, 2019

“Old MacDonald had a farm!”

“EIEIO!” Clara shrieks as Nathaniel bangs his tray in delight.

“And on that farm he had some…”

“Fish!” Clara supplies.

“Fish! EIEIO! With a glub-glub here and a glub-glub there! Here a glub! There a glub! Everywhere a glub glub! Old Macdonald had a farm! EIEIO!”

Nate, just shy of seven months, drools all over himself with delight, while the two-year old dances around the kitchen yelling “EIEIO!” at the top of her lungs.

Another lovely day of chaos.

Stiles wipes at Nathaniel’s face with a cloth, not-so surreptitiously checking the time as he does so. He’s working from home today, but if he can get Nate and Clara down for their naps at the same time he might have a stab at finishing some reports for Unity Aid. Ideria is about to have its first free election, which should stabilize the economy, but Unity Aid has been working overtime for months to get help to the many areas depressed by the war. Cora is heading over there herself soon. Stiles isn’t ready to go back even on an aid trip, but maybe someday.

“Finish your apple slices,” he tells Clara as he hoists Nate out of his high chair. He’ll get his son to sleep and then wrangle Clara into bed. He knows that he needs to start phasing out afternoon naps, but not today. Not today.

He hears a blaring sound coming from halfway across the kitchen. “Phone, Daddy,” Clara tells him as she chews around the skin of her apple slices.

“Can you grab it, sweetie? I’ve got Nate.” It’s Derek’s ringtone, so he’s probably just calling to check in on his daughter anyway.

Clara skips across the kitchen while Stiles checks to see if Nate needs a diaper change. “Hi Papa! I did finger paints today! Daddy said I could put it on the fridge but I said Papa has to say so.”

Stiles tries not to laugh. Somehow Derek managed to declare himself the decider of whose artwork gets to be honored on the fridge. Currently magnets are holding up five from Clara, two from Derek, and none from Stiles, because apparently his don’t pass muster.

“Daddy!” Clara sings. “Papa wants you!”

Stiles shifts Nate to one arm and takes the phone. “You want me?” he leers.

“Stiles.” Derek’s voice sounds kind of funny. “Call your dad and get him to watch the kids. The verdict’s in.”

#

Stiles meets Derek outside the courthouse. He’s pacing, hands held into tight fists at his side. Ever since Gerard’s trial began he’s been much tenser than normal and Stiles is so, so glad it’s finally over.

“It’ll be any second,” Derek tells him. “Scott and Isaac are already in there.”

Stiles nods and takes Derek’s hand to try and calm him down at least a little. Derek is worried about the verdict, though Stiles is confident Gerard is going to go away forever. It’s been a tough trial. Due to Gerard’s age and his many victims they’d ended up deciding to have just one trial, which means the prosecution had to prove many, many different charges in a short period of time. Stiles and Derek both testified and say through particularly brutal cross-examinations. Gerard is trying to claim he was set up by domestic terrorists. It’s bullshit and everyone know it…but Stiles will be glad to ehar the verdict anyway.

Inside the courtroom, which Stiles will be perfectly happy to never see again in his life, Scott and Isaac have two seats saved. Gerard must have just arrived. He’s in a suit, but he looks so old Stiles is surprised he’s able to sit up.

Finally the judge enters and the jury files in. “Have you reached a verdict?” the judge asks.

“We have, your honor.” The jury foreman stands. “On the charge of treason against the nation of Luponia, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of murder in the first degree of Christopher Argent, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of murder in the first degree of Peter Hale, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of murder in the first degree of Talia Hale, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of murder in the first degree of Jonas Hale, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of murder in the first degree of Tyler Hale, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of murder in the first degree of Ella Hale, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of murder in the first degree of Lucinda Hale, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of murder in the first degree of Jordan Hale, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of manslaughter of Marlene Argent, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On two counts of attempted murder of Stiles Stilinski, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On two counts of attempted murder of Derek Hale, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of soliciting for the purpose of committing murder, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On the charge of chemical assault against a mated individual for the unlawful purpose of destroying a mating bond, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.

“On four counts of lying to government officials, we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged.”

Stiles can feel Derek exhale at each charge. At the front of the courtroom Gerard is nearly bowed in half, as though he truly cannot bear the weight of it all any longer. “Mr. Argent,” the judge says. “Do you understand the charges as they have been found against you?”

“Yes,” Gerard croaks.

“As part of the agreement between parties we’re going to proceed directly to sentencing. Have you consented to this agreement?”

“Yes.”

“The charge of treason carries with it a mandatory life sentence, to be adjusted to the death penalty at the discretion of the judge. You could also be executed for each count of murder in the first degree, particularly as four of those counts are the particularly heinous murders of children. However, it’s my understanding that you…haven’t enjoyed your time in prison, isn’t that right, Mr. Argent? So I think it’s more fitting for you to remain there. I’m going to sentence you to life for treason and each charge of murder in the first degree, forty years for the manslaughter of your wife, twenty years for each count of attempted murder— that’s forty for each— twenty years for the solicitation charge, fifteen for the chemical assault, and five for each count of lying to officials.”

Stiles adds it up. That’s nine life sentences and an additional one hundred and seventy-five years. Well. That should certainly do it.

“I’d also like to inform you, Mr. Argent, that the court has been presented with evidence that your son Chris was secretly mated to Peter Hale at the time of his death.”

Gerard’s head shoots up in surprise. Stiles doesn’t look at Derek. He knows that the “evidence” has been the brainchild of Derek and some of their friends. It isn’t real, but this is the only way Derek could think of to honor two of Gerard’s earliest victims, at unrest for so long.

“The court chooses to accept that evidence, and to accept the petition to posthumously charge Christopher Argent’s legal name to Christopher Hale.” The judge looks down her nose at Gerard. “Nobody should have to be tainted by your name.”

Gerard sits there, cowering under her gaze. “Court is adjourned,” the judge says, banging her gavel, and Stiles watches as Gerard is taken away forever.

#

June, 2022

For Clara’s fifth birthday, she wants a pirate theme. Stiles tries to be glad that she’s bucking stereotypes, seeing as she presented as an omega a year and a half ago and should by tradition therefore be demanding a pink princess party, but creating a pirate-ship cake is way harder than he expected.

He’s sweating over the fondant when Derek walks in, having just left a costume fitting with his daughter. He looks at Stiles with a tricorn hat, an eyepatch, and a sad little parrot wobbling on his shoulder. “Arrgh,” he says flatly.

“Shiver me timbers, captain. Are you on the hunt for booty?”

“Don’t finish that joke, please.” Derek looks critically at the mess in front of his mate. “Why are you making Clara a coffin cake?”

“It’s a ship!”

“Where are the sails?”

“In Development Hell. They won’t stop collapsing on me. I keep trying to stick in the main one, but no matter what I do it won’t stay up.” Stiles waggles his eyebrows. “If you know what I mean.

“You’re gross,” Derek says, stealing a bite of icing and then kissing Stiles before he can complain.

Derek’s phone rings and he checks the screen before grimacing. “Lydia. She knows I’m not at work right now, honestly.”

“Oh, boo-hoo, the vice-president won’t stop calling me. Humblebragger.”

Derek makes a face at him and answers. “Hey, Lydia. No, I’m in my kitchen. Okay. I have, actually, but not today.” He wanders into the living room and Stiles returns his attention to the stupid Jolly Roger flag, determined to get the damn thing right.

Derek walks back into the kitchen a few minutes later, a funny look on his face. “Lydia’s decided. She’s going to run for president once her term is up.”

Stiles exhales. That’s a big move. Lydia’s well-liked as VP, but having a human president would be a huge step for a country that stopped just short of outlawing all humans only a few years ago.

“She knows it’ll be tough,” Derek says, reading his mind. “Which is why she wants some recognizable, young, and popular as her running mate. Someone with legacy, who’s shown firm support for human rights.”

Stiles’s jaw scrapes the floor. “You?”

“Yeah.” Derek looks completely stunned. “She wants me to be her vice-president.”

“Holy shit, Der.” Stiles has to find his way to a seat so he can digest this news. “Did you say yes?”

“I told her I had to think about it. I mean, I was supposed to be Argent’s running mate, you know? I’d kind of resigned myself to that, and now to do it with Lydia…would I be any good at it?”

“Yes,” Stiles says with certainty. “You’d be amazing. If you think you’re ready— and I think you are— you can do it.”

Derek stares at him. He’s still wearing the pirate getup, but the look of naked fear on his face is decidedly un-pirate-like. “Would you be okay with it? I feel like we just escaped the spotlight— it would be a huge step for the kids.”

“Derek, I’ve already followed you halfway across the world. Of course I’ll follow you to the presidential mansion.”

Derek nods and falls silent for a moment. “I’ll need some more time to think about it,” he says eventually. “But…I think I should do it.”

#

March, 2023

“So what are your duties here as the VP’S mate?” Scott slowly spins in one of the chairs Stiles just had delivered to his executive suite.

“Look cute, apparently. And be philanthropic, which, you know, all I do is charity work through Unity Aid. So I’m super-perfect for the job.” Also manage Derek’s schedule, the mansion, and keep two rowdy kids from accidently causing an international incident at state dinner, but, you know, details.

“Well, you’re killing it, buddy.” Scott checks his watch. “I’ve really enjoyed marinating in luxury here, but I’ve got an eight-months-pregnant mate at home who needs backrubs and kisses. See you tomorrow?”

“Yeah. We’re having dinner with my dad and your mom, right?”

“Right. Which, seriously, if they don’t announce that they’re getting mated, I’m going to throw an intervention. This is getting ridiculous.”

“Seriously. We all know they’re together.” Stiles rolls his eyes and waves Scott goodbye. “See you.”

Once Scott is gone Stiles returns to his work, interrupted only once by a frantic Nate and Clara, who have discovered that the kitchen staff are more than delighted to make them whatever treats their little hearts desire. Stiles accepts the chocolate airplane they bring him and then send them off to the playroom, promising that Papa will be home tonight to tuck them in. Derek was on a trip to Ideria but he should be getting back any minute.

Sure enough Derek walks into the suite not more than a half hour later, shedding his coat. “Hi,” he says, immediately tugging Stiles up for a kiss. “Missed you.”

“Missed you too.” Stiles takes a breath. “Did you hear the news?”

“Hmm?”

“Gerard Argent died today.”

Derek raises an eyebrow. “Suicide?” Argent has tried a few times, to the point where he had to be placed on twenty-four hour watch. He really hates prison.

“No. Just old age. But at least he got to see you become vice president.”

“Yeah.” Derek is lost in thought for a moment, then shakes it off. “Well, good. I’m glad he’s done with, finally. How are you feeling?”

“Good.” Stiles nestles into Derek’s embrace. “This is my third time, you know. I’m basically an expert.”

“I know, but I still get to worry. One whole pregnancy without a near-death experience doesn’t seem like so much to ask for, does it?” Derek strokes the barely-there bump of their third surprise baby. They certainly hadn’t planned to have another child right after Derek was elected, but their marathon sex seesion during the stress of election season had once again proved more powerful than birth control. They’re happy, and the country will love having a baby in the presidential mansion, so they’re just rolling with it.

“Clara and Nate want bedtime stories from you tonight. But I have a request from Nate that you do funny voices like Daddy.”

“But you’re so much better at them than me.” Derek sighs. “The things we do for our children.”

Stiles laughs. Boil rainwater for drinking, kill a country leader, plead with a smuggler, take a werewolf bite, read a bedtime story. “Yeah.” He rests his head against Derek’s chest, enjoying the way his mating bite hums at the contact. “If only they knew.”