Stiles closes the car door gently, a smaller grip digging into his palm. He looks down and big brown eyes meet his.
“This is where you grew up?”
Stiles nods and adjusts the strap of his backpack over his shoulder. “This is where Grandpa lives.”
“Will I have my own room?”
“Of course. We talked about this. I’m going to be in my old room and Grandpa already set up the guest room for you.” Stiles kneels down, now eye level with his son. “This is only temporary. I’m going to find us our own place.”
“And then Mom will come back?”
Stiles swallows hard and rubs the back of the 8 year old’s neck. “No buddy. I’m sorry. I don't think she’s coming back this time.”
His boy kicks the ground underneath his Nike sneaker. “K.”
“Come on.” Stiles stands. “I promise we will be happy here.” He smiles gently when he sees the front door open and his father and Melissa step outside onto the porch.
“Yeah.” A small voice whispers next to him.
“Thank God that kid looks like you.”
Stiles narrows his eyes at the redhead sitting across from him in the living room. “Lydia.”
“What?” She brushes her long hair over her shoulder. “She’s a bitch.”
“She’s still Harrison’s mother.” Stiles reminds her, making sure to keep his voice down. He can hear his father and his son jabbering away in the kitchen, talking about baseball, of course. He sighs. “He thinks she’s gonna come back. Again.”
“Over my dead body.” Lydia hisses. She shakes her foot over her crossed knees and balances her black pump on the tip of her toes. “You have to put your foot down, Stiles. She can’t keep coming in and out of Harrison’s life like that. It's not fair and it's not healthy.”
“I know. I know.” Stiles rests his head back against the worn couch. “What the hell am I gonna do now, Lydia?”
“You’re gonna move on. You’re going to get a job and take care of your kid and let us help you.” Lydia states matter of factly, looking straight into his eyes. “You’re strong, Stiles. You can do this. You aren’t alone.”
“I know.” He picks at the shedding fabric on the sleeve of his sweatshirt. “Thanks for coming.”
“Of course.” She checks the time on her Prada watch. “I’m only a phone call away. Los Angeles isn't that far.”
“And Scott is here and he loves Harrison as if he was his own kid. Isaac has settled himself nicely back here and your Dad and Melissa are beside themselves with the fact you and Harrison are here. Everything is going to be okay. I promise.” Lydia stands. “I have to get get Jackson from the airport. Dinner tonight, right?”
Stiles nods, standing. He hugs her, maybe a bit too tightly, and her familiar perfume invades his senses. It makes him long for what was.
“Dont freak out, but…” She mumbles against his shoulder. “...you know Derek’s coming, right?”
Stiles tenses. “I figured.”
“I’m not sure what this weird thing you had...have going with him, but it's time to let everything go. He’s a different man now. And so are you. And he’s dying to meet Harrison.” Lydia pulls back and pats his cheek affectionately. “Let him help too, if he wants.”
Stiles nods. “Thanks, Lydia.”
“Always.” She gives him her knee weakening smile and heads for the front door, large over sized purse dangling from her wrist.
Life didn't exactly turn out the way Stiles expected it to. Even though, in reality, he isn't sure what he expected. But he knows it wasn't this.
He didn't expect to be 31 years old, with an 8 year old son, living back in his childhood home, having to crawl back after a failed relationship,no job, no college degree to get him a job, but a massive amount of debt in student loans that got him absolutely nowhere and just as much regret.
And he especially didn't expect to have his chest ache and his stomach erupt into somersaults when he saw Derek Hale for the first time in almost 8 years. He didn't expect, on top of all the other mounds of regret he had on his shoulders, that he would feel the weight of his decisions caving in on him like an avalanche.
Stiles loves his son. Harrison had made his life complete in ways he didn't know were possible. But seeing Derek again, he had to wonder what his life would have been life if he made different choices. If he had gone left, instead of right. If he had stayed.
If he had just kissed Derek that night. The night he knew Derek wanted him to. Practically begged him to. Literally told Stiles, in his own Derek words, that he loved him. That he always had. That he always would.
It had been a long time since Stiles had thought about those regrets. He had too many to keep track of; a new one every night as it replays in his head as insomnia rears its ugly head. But these regrets, he welcomes. Because he’s home now. He has a chance now to make it right.
But luck is never in Stiles favor these days, and he might be fresh out of chances.
Derek looks good. Not just hot good, but good. Healthy. Content. For years it was like Derek’s wolf side and his human side were always at war with one another. But now it's like the two have fused together to make Derek this beautiful, confident force to be reckoned with.
And it made Stiles skin hum to life. For the first time since high school.
Stiles finds himself practically falling into Derek’s arms when he comes through the front door, wearing a goddamn blue sweater that is so soft on Stiles face as he nuzzles himself deeper into Derek’s shoulder.
Derek’s arms are warm, protective. Comforting. His embrace says things his mouth isn't. Promises that things will work out. That he is here. That he isn't going anywhere. That he will do all he can to help.
“Stiles…” He hears Derek whisper against the side of his head. It just makes him tremble in strong arms.
The room is quiet during Stiles and Derek’s moment. When they finally pull back from one another, both flushed and unsure of how their emotions just took over the entire atmosphere, Harrison is standing in the doorway of the kitchen with an unreadable expression.
“Harrison, this is my old friend, Derek. Derek, this is my son, Harrison.”
Derek’s hand lingers on Stiles’ lower back as he makes his way toward Harrison. He sticks his hand out in a respectful way and it just shows how much Derek has changed over the years.
Harrison shakes Derek’s hand, eyeing him gently. “You a werewolf, too?”
Derek sputters for a moment before a slow smile builds on his lips. “I am.”
Stiles smirks at the interaction. He made the decision to tell Harrison about what is really out there in the dark because there was no way he was going to be able to hide it from him for long. His Godfather was a werewolf for Christs sake. And Stiles was...something. A spark, perhaps even magic; it's just not something Stiles looked any further into after Harrison’s mother got pregnant.
The truth; as easily as Harrison took it, even embraced it, was what pushed his mother away. It was just something Krysten couldn't handle. Believe. At first she thought Stiles was losing his mind. The custody battle that developed from him trying to tell her the truth; to involve her in his world; nearly destroyed him. In the end, Krysten finally realized that maybe being a mother was never something she even really wanted after going back and forth with Stiles for years about their relationship. First she wanted him, then she left, then she came back for ‘Harrison’s sake’ then taking off yet again in the middle of the night. For good this time.
That was when Stiles decided it was time to let go and move back home. He needed help. He was sure Harrison blamed him, somewhat, for his mother leaving. If he honestly does, Stiles would never know. Harrison doesn't really talk much about it, but he believes that his mother will come back one day. She has before, Harrison reminded him.
“Can you show me?” Harrison asks Derek, a twinkle in his eye and a small devilish smirk on his face. If he got one thing from Stiles it was his bravery. His curiosity. Derek looks over his shoulder at Stiles and he just nods at the older man.
Derek slowly transforms, eyes glowing the most beautiful shade of blue Stiles has ever seen. He swore it back then, and he’d swear to it now. Harrison, even at 8 years old, practically squeals in delight and his eyes sparkle with excitement as Derek kneels down to give him a closer look at his fangs. After he’s satisfied with his inspection he looks behind Derek to Stiles and crosses his arms.
“Derek’s staying for dinner, right Dad?”
Stiles and Derek smile at each other; something Stiles never in his wildest dreams would happen but it's been a long time and a lot of things have changed and god dammit if Derek’s smile isn't like fucking sunshine; and Stiles realizes just how truly fucked he is.
Stiles gently closes the door to the guest bedroom and finds Derek leaning against the wall. He gives Stiles a small smile and Stiles’ insides flood with a warmth he never wants to go away.
“You wore him out. He hasn't fallen asleep that fast in forever.”
Derek nods, pushing himself off the wall and reaches out tenderly to rub Stiles’ bicep. “He’s a good kid. Like you in a lot of ways.”
“He loves werewolves.” Stiles mumbles with amusement in his voice.
“Like I said. Just like his father.”
Their eyes meet and Stiles swallows. “Curiosity.”
“No. It's more than that. Acceptance. Belief.”
“Think he has the spark, like me?” Stiles asks hesitantly.
“Can't tell yet. His mother was…”-Derek trails off.
“Human. All human. Emotions and insecurities and all.”
“I didn't mean to pry. That’s your business.” Derek assures him. “I’m not trying to get into anything you're not comfortable with.”
“Oddly, Derek, this is the most comfortable I’ve been since I came back.”
Derek takes a step toward Stiles, questions stirring in his green eyes. And answers. So many answers Stiles has been searching for. Years of running around with secrets and it taking too many lies and omissions to finally realize he had nothing to hide from. Stiles should have never tried to hide who he really was. Where he came from. It's what made him who he is. The person Krysten fell in love with in the first place. Even though, Stiles realized a little too late, that was never love. For either of them.
But this? This static between he and Derek? It felt more like love than anything Stiles had ever experienced. He knew it over 10 years ago and he knows it now.
Derek motions towards Stiles’ bedroom and Stiles sighs, closing his eyes.
“Hey.” Derek puts his strong hands on Stiles’ shoulders and rubs them soothingly. “I’m just looking to talk. If you want. I don't expect anything, Stiles, but you. You’re still important. To me. To all of us. I’m just trying to be here. If you don't want to talk, we don't have to.”
Stiles opens his eyes and the smell of Derek’s gum in his mouth and the fabric softener on that snuggly as hell sweater and the smell of his hair gel and god dammit he is so beautiful it hurts Stiles in every muscle of his body to even look at him.
When Stiles brushes his lips against Derek’s, like he should have all those years ago, he isn't surprised when Derek tenses. No matter how much time has passed; how much Derek has forgiven those around him and himself, no matter how much Derek has learned to love himself before he could love anyone else; there is still a fear deep rooted in Derek’s soul.
“I don't want to talk.” Stiles whispers against open lips. Derek lets out a small shaky growl and pushes Stiles backwards toward his childhood bedroom.
Stiles blinks sleepiness out of his eyes as he takes the final step downstairs into the kitchen. His father is already holding a cup of coffee out for Stiles to grasp in his outstretched hand. And Harrison is quietly eating cereal as he scans through a comic book.
“Did you sleep well?” John Stilinski asks with a raised eyebrow.
Stiles can feel his cheeks burn with 20 shades of red and even at 31 he can't look his father in the eye when he gets caught in a compromising position.
“Sorry.” Stiles mumbles.
“Fine by me. Just remember I’m not the only one you need to think about. There’s more than one person who could end up getting hurt here.” John eyes Harrison who is engrossed in his comic.
“But next time tell Derek there is no need to climb out your bedroom window anymore. You aren't in high school anymore. He can spend the night.” He whispers.
“He didn't want to confuse anyone.” Stiles mumbles.
“Anyone? Or you?”John asks.
Stiles sighs and slumps down in a kitchen chair. “I’m an idiot.”
“No.” His father rests his hand on Stiles shoulder. “You’re just looking for something.”
“I think it was here all along.”
“Could be.” John sits down next to his son. “Question is, where does it fit into your life now?”
Stiles watches as Harrison finishes his apple jacks and closes his comic book. He looks at Stiles with wide brown eyes. “Is Derek coming over again?”
Stiles sighs. “Does that answer your question, Dad?”
“Derek, the house looks incredible.”
Stiles stares wide eyed and open mouthed outside the huge white house with black shutters nestled securely and boldly on the Hale property in the preserve. Harrison is sitting on the front porch next to Isaac watching as he shifts his werewolf claws in and out like turning on and off a switch. Harrison is mesmerized. It worries him. Stiles wonders if one day, possibly one day soon, if he will say the thing Stiles is terrified of hearing. The question that even Krysten was afraid one day would spill from their sons mouth.
“Can I be a werewolf?”
Stiles isn't sure how keep the parts of his son he prides himself on; curiosity, open mindedness, acceptance; in tact all the while trying to make him realize that being a werewolf isn't like turning into a superhero. Which is how Harrison looks at Scott, and now Isaac and Derek. With wide eyes and an open heart. It's exactly how Stiles still looks at them sometimes. Especially Derek.
“Thanks. Took me a long time. Not just...physically.” Derek tells Stiles as they walk around the perimeter of the house.
“I get that.”
Derek stops, turning to look at him. “I know you do.”
The silence between them is deafening. There is so much Stiles wants to say. Ask. Explain. But for some reason he’s mute. He’s afraid of the things he wants to say. The confessions that are just on the tip of his tongue. But he’s also afraid of the things he can't say either. Things he knows will change everything.
“About the other night…” Derek begins. Stiles holds his palm up to stop him.
“No need, Derek.”
“No, I need to say this.”
Stiles lowers his hand down and purses his lips together. Derek shuffles his feet and looks out into the dense trees surrounding the property.
“You’ve been gone a long time, Stiles. A lot has changed. For the both of us. But one things hasn't. One things has stayed the same. As if time was standing still.” Derek looks at Stiles with such an intensity it makes Stiles take in a small gasp of air. “How I feel about you. I know back then it never could have worked. And putting my feelings on you like that before you left for college was unfair of me. You needed to leave this town. You needed to experience something other than death and chaos and blood. And you made choices. Mistakes. As did I. We both had relationships. We learned from them. When I heard you were coming back...I…” Derek shakes his head. “It was like time started again. And I know you have a lot going on. Harrison, finding a job, a place to live...I guess what I want you to know is yes, the other night happened quickly. Maybe we shouldn't have slept together so soon. But I don't regret it. I never regretted anything when it came to you and...that says a lot. Bottom line, Stiles? I’m here. I want to be here. I want you.”
Derek glances at Harrison still sitting on the porch with Isaac. “And everything that comes with it.”
Stiles needs to remember to breath after that. His heart is hammering so hard inside his chest he’s afraid Derek can actually see the thumping from under his t-shirt. His eyes he already know look glassy with emotion. But Derek isn't paying any mind to Stiles physical reaction. He’s just waiting. Like Derek does so well. Waiting for Stiles. Waiting for him to make his way out of danger. Waiting for him to come up with the latest brilliant plan to defeat the latest monster.
Waiting for Stiles to finish his long run on sentence and just get to the point.
Waiting for Stiles to finally just make up his damn mind.
“You’re right.” Stiles finally answers. “It wouldn't have worked then. And I think that's why I didn't kiss you the night before I left. I knew if I had...I never would have been able to go. And it wouldn't have been healthy for either of us. But there wasn't a day I didn't think of you. Of this town. What I had left. Of what we could have been. And I love Harrison. He is the best thing I have ever done.” He swallows as Derek’s eyes never leave his. “But I’m a mess. I have no idea what I’m doing. But the only thing I know for sure, the only thing I have ever known, is how I feel about you.”
Derek nods. “Which is?”
Stiles breaks the distance between them and presses his mouth, open and hot against the werewolf's. Derek makes a small gasping noise from his throat and wraps his strong fingers around Stiles’ waist, pulling him flush against his chest. And for Stiles, time stands still. He feels like for the past ten years, the clock hands have been moving so fast he hasn't had a chance to figure out where one moment ends and another begins. But as Derek slides his tongue, heavy and aggressively against his, Stiles feels the world stop beneath his feet. Reminding him to just enjoy this. Take in a moment while it's here. To stop thinking he always has more time. To savor every moment instead of hurdling past them.
For Derek the past 10 years seemed like time had stopped for him. But for Stiles he realizes time was moving so fast just so he could get to this moment. So Derek’s world could start spinning again, and Stiles could stop spinning so damn fast.
So they could find each other, in this moment, in this spot on earth, in the exact same turn of the world’s axis.
Perfectly in sync. Perfect unison.
Stiles finally pulls back, breathing being a thing he needs to do, and presses his forehead against Derek’s. He’s practically nuzzling him as his breath returns to him and the whole moment is so perfect Stiles is afraid he will wake up at any moment and realize none of this is real. But Derek feels real. And fuck is Stiles doesn't deserve this.
“What are we gonna tell Harrison.” Derek whispers against his forehead. We. Stiles smiles at the word.
“The truth. I’ve never hidden anything from him. And I have no intention of starting.”
Derek nods. “Good.”
2 years later:
“Harrison! What did I tell you about leaving your sneakers right in front of the door!? I almost broke my neck. Again!”
The ten year old appears at the top of the long staircase, looking down at his father; his shaggy hair hanging in his eyes. “Not to.”
“Exactly. So why do you insist on doing it?”
Harrison shrugs. Stiles groans.
“Where’s Derek?” Stiles asks, shucking off his hoodie.
“Cooking dinner. He’s making meatloaf. I’m scared.” Harrison answers with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“I heard that!” Derek’s voice echoes from the kitchen into the foyer.
“Oops.” Harrison laughs and bolts away from the stairs and back into his room. Stiles smiles as he follows the smell of food into the kitchen. And sure enough there is Derek, bent over, taking a pan from the oven.
“Should I be scared too?” Stiles asks.
Derek frowns as he turns, pushing off the oven mitts from his hands. “He’s becoming more and more like you everyday with that mouth of his.”
“Well I hope not. I use this mouth to do things to you he isn't old enough to know about. Things I’m not sure I ever want him to know about.” Stiles gives his boyfriend a devious look.
“See? Right there. That's what I mean.” Derek growls.
“Relax.” Stiles eyes the food on the stove, bumping Derek’s hips with his own. “He’s ten. He’s supposed to be mouthy. He’ll grow out of it.”
“Yeah?” Derek folds his arms across his chest and raises his eyebrows. “When are you?”
Stiles huffs. “Stop. You love both of us and are sarcasm. It's a part of the Stilinski charm.”
“That's what you call it, huh?” Derek grumbles, pulling plates from the cabinets.
“Why are you such a sour wolf today, huh?” Stiles gives him a concerned look. Derek mumbles something under his breath but continues to meander his way around the kitchen, taking care of dinner.
“Hey.” Stiles grabs his arm gently. “Talk to me.”
Derek sighs heavily, but stops turning to look at him. “Just nervous about tomorrow, I guess.”
Stiles can't help but smile. “Derek, everything is going to be fine. Krysten signed the papers, we drew up a visitation agreement both we and Harrison agreed on. Everything is fine.”
“Are you sure Harrison wants this?”
Stiles realizes in this moment, what Derek is really afraid of. He’s not afraid of Harrison legally being his son after tomorrow. Its that Derek will legally be Harrison’s father.
“Yes. Harrison loves you. He looks up to you. You have helped him so much since we moved here. I was afraid I was never going to get him to open up again. But he did. Because of you. You’re an amazing father. And you’re going to continue to be.” Stiles wraps his arms around Derek’s waist. “We love you so much.”
Derek cocks his head to the side, looking down at Stiles. He gives him a small smile. “Then marry me.”
Stiles’ eyes widen. “Really?”
Stiles swallows, his throat dry and closing up; his voice stuck inside. He opens his mouth to speak, but no words escape. Derek raises an eyebrow, waiting.
“Oh my God, just say yes already so we can eat. I’m starving.”
The voice behind them dislodges them from their moment and Harrison is brushing past them to grab his plate for food. Stiles laughs and gives Derek a pointed look.
“You sure this is really what you want?”
Derek looks at Harrison as he piles food on his plate, humming a Led Zeppelin song under his breath, and then back at Stiles, and he rubs his thumb along Stiles’ jawline.
“More than anything.”