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borrowing a closet

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Stiles remembers a little from when he was young. The secrecy, the hushed exchanges of words, the suddenly locked cupboards and doors that would normally be open, the insistence that no, he doesn’t need to go into the garage. The way he figured out that Santa was not real, and that all the presents under the tree were from his Mom and Dad instead of a bearded stranger in a red outfit.

He wasn’t one of the kids who’d be crushed by that discovery. After all, the presents were still there, and it didn’t matter who delivered them. He was still up early on Christmas Day in the years after, and dutifully kept the secret for other kids, Scott included. His Mom told him that it wasn’t up to him to tell anyone, and that other kids could choose to believe if they wanted to. She also reminded him that good behavior was rewarded whether he believed in Santa or not.

It was only in the year after her death that Stiles didn’t bother with either continuing the charade of Santa, nor behaving for the sake of getting gifts. Scott by then didn’t believe either, but neither of them ruined the fun for younger kids deliberately.

It’s been years since he had to think about any of it.

“Remember how Mom used to ban me from going into the garage?” Stiles asks his Dad when they’re stashing away another bag in the closet in John’s room.

“Did you ever find out that nothing was ever actually hidden there?” John asks with a smirk.

“What?” Stiles yelps. “But that was the only place she ever specifically didn’t allow me to snoop in!”

“Yeah, and you never even considered looking elsewhere,” John laughs. “Her method was foolproof.”

“That’s… I…” Stiles says, and he stared at John, jaw dropped.

“She knew if she didn’t tell you where not to look, you’d try everywhere,” John tells him, still smiling. “This closet and the attic were always safer hiding places, in case you did get into the garage somehow. And sorry kid, but neither of us trusted you to stay out of the places you were told not to go to.”

Stiles thinks of protesting, but he knows that his father has a point. After all, that was exactly why he ended up in a lot of trouble over the years.

“Well, let’s hope that this closet still works the same way, even with extra sensitive noses,” he says, watching John close the doors.

“It’s not like Derek will come in here. At least one of you respects me enough,” John says, and he gives Stiles a stern look.

“It’s not Derek I’m worried about,” Stiles says, not even trying to defend himself. “He’s still a little afraid of you, I think. The kids, though…”

“You should’ve thought about that before getting Deaton to work his magic on that,” John says and chuckles. “Or you should have just had them both have Derek’s DNA. Much calmer.”

Stiles’ jaw drops more than it did earlier with the presents secret revelations.

“Dad!” He blurts out in a weak protest a few beats later.

“What? I raised you , I’m just saying what would’ve been easier,” John says and shrugs. “You probably would have to worry less about keeping Christmas gifts secret.”

“Yeah well, there’s still the issue of werewolf noses,” Stiles says, and he sighs. “Which is why I came to you. No way can I keep anything at our house.”

“The closet is always there if you need it,” John says as he ushers Stiles out of his room and towards the stairs. “Or, you know, the garage…”

Stiles stops in his tracks and turns around to glare at his Dad.

“I can’t believe you and Mom did that to me!”

“Worked, didn’t it?” John laughs again. “Now, what excuse are you giving your two? Oh and Derek, since I’m guessing some of those were for him.”

Stiles frowns for a while, and lets John steer him towards the stairs again. They’re about halfway down when he finally figures it out.

“Can I use the garage thing? Your garage, I mean,” he asks. “It’s not like you ever park there anyway, so it won’t be weird that it’s locked. And it’s big enough that things they asked for would definitely fit.”

“And now he gets it,” John mutters. “Sure son, you can tell them to stay out of there,” he says more clearly just as Stiles’ mind puts the pieces together.

“I was a stupid child,” he mumbles with resignation.

He can’t even fault John for laughing.