I had to do something I really don't like doing: I altered a little bit of the last chapter – Laura is three and not five. It's nothing major, just ten words, but I thought I should let you guys know. Also, despite her age, I won't attempt to do baby-speech in this. First because I have no idea how to, and second because I teach three year old kids who speak just fine – sure, they miss a few letters from time to time, but mostly correct all the way.
When it all falls apart
Stiles lies in bed the night before the parent-teacher meeting before the first day of classes thinking about how he's going to handle this – how is he going to face whoever Hale that child belongs to? Beacon Hills is small enough that the school office didn't seem to find it important for the teachers to have a full list of students, just their full names – the parents would introduce themselves on the parent-teacher meeting and that's it.
He had found it strange the year before when that had happened, because in Portland he worked in a sort of alternative, modern hipster school – it was hard to find a job teaching small kids if you're openly gay, and the ambience at that school was different than what Stiles found in Beacon Hills, even if here he got way less crap about being out and proud.
He wasn't even sure if he was really just gay or bisexual. He had been in love with Lydia, sure, but that was so long ago it seemed like a lifetime away. Danny had been… everything.
He had faced homophobic classmates at college, and gotten a lot of crap at some job interviews when he was asked about his home life, a wife or girlfriend as expected, but it had all been worth it, because it was Danny.
Now he didn't have Danny, and his job was pretty much all he had focused on for the past year. He was good at it, he was good with kids, and he was good at teaching, so he found that in Beacon Hills, where most people still remembered him from his Lacrosse playing days, with a buzz cut, a boyfriend and being the Sheriff's kid, being good at his job was actually enough for the parents to respect him.
You could say a lot of bad things about this town, but you could also say he had never lived in a more tolerant place, no matter how small it was.
He looked at the list again, feeling nervous about the meeting in the morning. He had a speech prepared, he'd outline what he planned to teach the kids and how, give his contact info to the parents and ask for theirs in return, ask for any specificities their kids had, if they had been taken to daycare previously, or if this was their first time away from their parents, just a few things to get to know his students before actually meeting them – the meeting was about the kids, not the parents, but those parents there, these ones of Laura Hale, it was bugging him.
Had Peter reproduced? Jesus Christ, he wouldn't have a child and then name her after the niece he had killed, would he? Had Derek had a kid? Who with, Erica? It seemed the only explainable option, because he couldn't actually picture Derek going out and meeting someone.
This wasn't his life anymore, worrying about the Hales. He had left this behind almost ten years ago; he refused to be dragged back.
Sighing, he left the list of students on the nightstand and turned off the light. He should sleep to have a good meeting the next day.
His sleep was filled with strange dreams, full of Danny and werewolves and the woods around the Hale house, still charred and broken down, and a small kid with long blond hair like Erica's, running around the burnt down place.
He woke up at five, covered in sweat, and decided to take a shower and get ready, even if the meeting was scheduled for nine o'clock, simply because he couldn't sleep anymore.
One year, three months, seventeen days without Danny.
Lydia had called and told him, a few days earlier, that he should try to find someone, even if it wasn't serious, and he hadn't answered. When Jackson picked up the phone after she gave up on him, he had just said he understood him – they always thought they were it for each other. Their friendship had had a strange beginning, but they loved each other, and for all those years they had been… them.
Four of them. They got through half their high school careers, all of college and Lydia's and Jackson's grad school, their first job interviews, their epic fights, their biggest hung-overs, their amazing parties, those days when they were feeling like crap, their insecurities, everything – together.
Now they were one person short – it was pretty much like losing a limb, a part of them they couldn't get back, a hole that couldn't be filled, no matter how much they tried. And he missed his friends. He couldn't stay in Portland, and he missed his dad too, coming to Beacon Hills was, perhaps, something they had planned on doing later on, when he and Danny were married, probably planning the adoption of their first kid, and Jackson and Lydia had enough money to buy out the town if they wanted to, when they were all twenty-eight, like they had planned so many times, late at night, half-jokingly and half-serious, all of them sharing a mattress in someone's dorm or apartment, watching crappy TV and eating junk food.
And now he was here much earlier, and completely alone.
One year, three months and seventeen days hadn't been enough for Stiles to deal with it, to let it go – not yet.
He knew Lydia was right, that he should try to get out more, meet some people, maybe even look for some of their friends – not his old friends, but theirs, from their senior year.
He just couldn't bring himself to do it.
He had joked with Jackson that maybe he needed them to have a social life again.
Jackson had answered he'd start preparing for the move right away.
Stiles wasn't sure if he was kidding or not.
He got out of the shower, put some comfortable clothes, and set about making breakfast, eating before cleaning the whole kitchen, and getting ready to leave for school – sure he'd be there super early, but it was better than staying at home, twiddling his thumbs and dying of anxiety.
He got to his classroom, where the meeting would be held, at seven forty. Parents were supposed to arrive at nine.
He spent a good hour putting things in order – he had already hung all his new decorations, and had remembered to go by the bakery to bring some pastries for the meeting, the coffee in a big thermos the school provided him with. He put the brilliant, colorful paper cups he had brought from home on the table, set the pastries and cookies on the side, and put the chairs in a circle in the middle of the room.
The first couple arrived at fifteen to nine, followed by a mother, alone. They clearly had already met, talking animatedly about their kids to each other, and Stiles merely smiled and indicated the chairs for them.
At nine to ten, he heard steps on the corridor, and turned to look.
Derek Hale stood, dark, and tall and imposing, if a little less brooding, looking at him with an unreadable expression.
Stiles took a deep breath and smiled, nodding to a chair.
He was professional, he could deal with this.
"But why you have to go, daddy?" her eyes are full of tears, and it's not fake or something like that. She really doesn't understand why he has to leave, and Derek has to take a deep breath to strengthen himself, and look at both Scott and his mother so he will not to give up this whole pre-school thing.
"Because I need to meet your teacher, so I'll know you're in good hands, ok?" his voice is as soft as he can make it – and that's a lot, because in his first days as a single farther he learned that gruffy and growly around a newborn baby just didn't work in his favor.
She still looks as if she's going to cry, though, and Melissa decides to intervene, saving him the trouble, and taking Laura to the living room to watch cartoons with her and Scott.
Scott gives him a comforting pat on the shoulder, and Derek half smiles at him in thanks. It's not always that he can make someone help him with Laura, and he really needs to go to this meeting.
He feels bad when Scott wishes him luck with the teacher, because he hasn't told him the teacher is Stiles. Stiles is, and always will be, a sore point for Scott – his decisions back then were hasty even if he was trying to do what was right, and Derek knows it still pains him to have lost his friend so completely, and it has been completely. Stiles has been living in Beacon Hills for over a year, and he has managed not to get in touch with any of the pack. A feat, because the town is really small, but Derek guesses he's putting a lot of effort into it.
He's not really sure how to deal with this either – he's seen the name of the teacher in his info package, but it doesn't seem real.
He drives to the school and gets there with ten minutes to spare. He takes a deep breath and goes to where the sign points him to, brilliant signs made with glitter, pointing to the pre-school classroom.
The man that seems to hesitate for a second before smiling at him is not the same boy who left all those years ago.
Stiles is slightly taller and more well-built than he used to be – of course, he wouldn't be almost ten years older and still look like the kid who left Beacon Hills for Boston, but it's… disconcerting. His buzz cut is gone, and his hair is slightly longer, just enough that it needs to be styled in the morning. He still has the same aura he used to, as if there's not enough space for him and all of his expressions in his face, but he's… darker, somehow. Nothing evil or bad, just… sadder.
And then he remembers that Stiles is living in Beacon Hills because his boyfriend died a little over a year ago, and it does make sense for Stiles to be like that – not that it is any of Derek's business because it isn't.
Derek sits on one of the uncomfortable chair he's pointed to and, fifteen minutes later, Stiles is closing his door and taking the only vacant chair in the room, smiling broadly at all the parents. He takes a minute to notice that, at least, he's not the only one without a partner beside him.
"Good morning!" Stiles says cheerfully, and most of the parents smile back at him, because he does know how to make it sound cheerful and bright, as if the darkness Derek had seen earlier has disappeared by sheer force of will, "I'm Stiles Stilinski, even if you'll be hearing my name in slightly different ways for a few months. By the time your kids get to pronounce Mister Stilinski correctly they will be so used to whatever nickname they gave me I won't be Mister Stilinski anymore."
The parents laugh, and even Derek has to contain a smile, thinking about Laura struggling with the weird name of her new teacher.
"This meeting has the sole purpose of you getting to know me, and how I'll be teaching your kids for the next school year. There will be, of course, slight changes along the way, but most of the year lesson plans is solid, and planned for effective work. The changes will happen individually sometimes, if one of the children needs more time to get something, or less to understand another – we'll try to keep it at their pace, but not so distant that he or she won't be able to follow the class. Arts and crafts, along with the actual class and their play time will be monitored by me, while the music, physical education and language class will be handled by our workshop handlers, who are wonderful people. Most of our staff is native, and as Beacon Hills is so small, you may already know most of them" he pauses, looking at the parents, smiling again, "I know it's a lot of information, but this description part is mostly to acclimate you to what expect along the year – you'll be following your child's progress at the end of every class, through their class diary, and you can also feel free to call me, or talk to me at the beginning or end of every class, about any doubts, concerns or complaints you may have along the way" he pauses again, "Any questions?"
A few parents inquire about his qualifications and previous jobs, a specific couple laugh at him when they wish him luck with their kid, because their son is hyperactive, and the man used to be Stiles' teacher in Middle School, and they remember what a nightmare that was. Stiles offers them honest answers, Derek can tell, because of the steady beat of his heart, smiling all the time, even when one of the women seems to think he's too young for the job.
He makes a ten minute break, offering them coffee and pastries, before getting back in the circle.
"I would like to thank all of you for coming, and I hope we'll talk more along the school year. I'm sure these kids are all amazing, and will be great students. For the second part, I just need for the parents whose kids haven't yet been to daycares to stay, so we can talk about acclimatizing them."
Most of the parents leave at that, only Derek and three couples staying behind. Two of them are soon sent home, because while their kids didn't go to daycare daily, they had done learning activities out of home for a few months already, so they shouldn't be a problem.
The last couple asks to talk to Stiles privately about their kid, eyeing Derek suspiciously, and the man looks at him apologetically before nodding.
They talk for about ten minutes, and then they leave – it's only Stiles and Derek.
Well, he can definitely say now that it's Beacon Hills that gives him his crappy luck – in all those years living far from here he's never had one of these moments, as if someone is actually planning to screw him over.
When the last couple leaves, he smiles a bit nervously at Derek, and then sits back on his chair, taking a sip of his now only slightly warm coffee.
"So, you're Laura's dad" he begins, smiling all the time, because this is a parent.
A parent who'll leave his child with him for five hours, five days a week. He needs to trust Stiles, and if Stiles remembers correctly, Derek would rather kill someone than offer them his trust.
He knows it first hand, after all.
"Yes" he answers curtly, and Stiles wants to sigh. Oh my god, almost ten years is not enough for the man to learn how to communicate properly apparently, "She's three, and she's… a bit sheltered" he finally continues, and Stiles wants to cry in relief that he's talking.
"She didn't go to daycare, right?" Derek just shakes his head, and Stiles nods at him, "Well, there shouldn't be any worries, a lot of kids don't go to daycare, especially in a small town, where one of the parents can afford to stay at home with the kid, it's pretty common. I'd like to offer you, though, the possibility of an acclimatizing week. You can come to school and stay around, maybe pick Laura up early. Your… Ahm, the other parent is welcome to come too" he almost said wife, but then again, he's not going to assume anything.
For all he knows, Derek kidnapped the kid.
It's way more likely than going through the proper channels for having a kid, like meeting someone, dating them, sleeping together, having a kid.
"I'm a single parent."
Stiles nods at that, as if he's not completely shocked by it, and tries to keep calm, so that Derek won't pick anything up – Jackson is completely under control, but he's still a werewolf, and Stiles's learned a few things over the years.
"Well, then, you can come and stay around for a few days – the only thing I do not allow is for the parent to be in the classroom, because it wouldn't be fair for any of the other children. If Laura gets distressed, or if she wants you near her, you'll be close by. How does that sound?" he asks cheerfully, staring at Derek.
The man lets out a breath, as if he's worried sick about his kid alone at school, and almost smiles at Stiles.
"Thanks. I'll do that."
"Great! Any questions? Anything else you want to say?" Stiles is fully expecting him to say no, but then Derek seems to be steeling himself for something before speaking.
"When I say Laura is sheltered, I really mean it. She hasn't had much contact with other kids, and the only adults she hangs around are…" he doesn't say the word, but Pack keeps floating on the air between them, and Stiles nods, understanding.
"Don't worry about it. Kids always have a hard time adjusting to school, especially the ones who are used to stay at home, but give her a few weeks, and she'll be in love with everything here."
Derek nods and gets up at last, looking firmly at Stiles before offering his hand. Stiles shakes it and he leaves.
The teacher keeps staring at the door for a good five minutes before sighing and shaking his head.
He didn't expect Derek to be civil, or to be okay with him teaching his kid. Well, he'd have to get used to it.
"Derek Hale has a kid."
Lydia blinks when she hears that. She's called Stiles to ask him how he'd feel about coming to Portland to spend the weekend with her and Jackson – she misses him, Jackson misses him -, so she's not expecting that announcement.
"What did you just say?"
"Derek Hale has a kid. She's three, her name is Laura, and I'll start teaching her tomorrow."
Well, she was sure not expecting that.
"Oh, Stiles, what are you going to do?"
"Nothing? I mean, it's just a kid, and I'm a professional. He says she's sheltered, and at the parent-teacher meeting today, he was completely civil towards me. So I think that whatever happened in all these years, he's at least not crazy with mad Alpha power anymore."
"Still, you weren't expecting that, were you? How did we not know he has a kid? That's Beacon Hills, everyone knows everything" she says, truly baffled.
"He says she's sheltered, and I mean, werewolves are territorial" she huffs a small laugh at that, and can almost see Stiles smiling on the other side of the line, "Maybe he didn't take her anywhere. My dad didn't say anything, and I know he'd have said something if he knew."
"True," she's quiet for a moment, plans already altering in her head, "Listen, you take care with that crowd, okay? As far as we know, wherever they go, trouble follows, and we don't need that."
"Yeah, I know. I'm just… I don't even know what I am. Scott and Allison's kid? That I might be prepared for, but Derek? How did he reproduce? Who's this woman? Because there has to be a woman somewhere. He's a single parent."
Lydia closes her eyes in despair of a kid raised single handedly by Derek Hale and his amazing people skills.
"At least she must be pretty." She hears Stiles laughing again, and smiles, even though he can't see her, "Look, we're going to Beacon Hills this weekend, save some time for us, okay? We have to talk."
"Not really, just, you know, catching up" she goes silent for a bit, "We miss you."
Lydia hears her best friend sighing, and she knows he understands she's not all warm and fuzzy, but she loves him.
"I miss you guys too. My schedule will be completely free for you."
"It better be" she announces before saying her goodbyes, and hanging up.
She's still staring at the phone, without really seeing it, when Jackson gets home, ten minutes later.
"I think it's time we go back" she says simply, turning around to look at her fiancé, and he looks at her for a long moment, before nodding.
"I think so too."
She's not very sure about how that happened, but they are, well, she hates the word, but whatever, they are a pack. She and Stiles, and Danny and Jackson, they are family. They spent so long together they don't know how to be without the other, and losing Danny and then Stiles moving away – that was wrecking Jackson, because he felt the loss of his friends more than she did. Not that he loved them more, but because for him it was more than missing a friend, it was instinct to protect and defend his loved ones.
Losing Danny, his very best friend since they were in diapers, it had almost killed him. He hadn't gone mad with the pain because he knew he had to keep it together for Stiles more than for himself. He tried to be there, and support him, and he had done an amazing job at it, even better the she did. He understood Stiles' loss in a way she couldn't, and she didn't try to analyze it too much. Jackson simply got Stiles, even if, strictly speaking, they had always worked in a Danny-is-my-best-friend-and-Stiles-is-yours between her and Jackson.
Now, she knew Jackson was craving the rest of his small pack with no Alpha. They didn't have a power hierarchy, and nothing she and Stiles had found out about werewolves said much about a lone wolf, with a pack made up entirely of humans, where he wasn't the Alpha, and yet, Jackson wasn't it.
If anyone had power over the others it was her, maybe Stiles, when he got really focused on something, but there was no hierarchy established. And yet, with every full moon, Jackson's wolf grew more and more uncomfortable with the fact that one of his pack was far.
They had talked about moving back for a while now – they had actually started as soon as Stiles decided to go back. They had tried to give him space, maybe their presence near him would be too constant a reminder of the loss of the love of his life, but that was clearly not the case. He missed them, and they missed him, and going back to Beacon Hills had always been their end game, anyway.
So maybe the fact that Stiles would have to be near Derek Hale again was the straw that broke the camel's back, but it wasn't like they weren't planning it anyway.
His dad calls him, telling him to come over for dinner, as a celebration of the beginning of the school year, and Stiles says he'll be there.
He'll be there and demanding answers.
"So…" he begins, once he, Vanessa and his dad are sitting in the dining room, eating veggie-lasagna, "I met with Derek Hale today."
His dad looks at him worriedly, while Vanessa simply looks confused – his dad clearly hasn't talked to her about their dark months, when all Stiles did was lie.
"Why?" the Sheriff ends up asking, still staring at him.
"Why didn't you tell me he had a kid?"
The Sheriff looks like a deer caught in the headlights.
"Would you believe me if I said I completely forgot about it?"
"Well, she's my student" Stiles says accusingly, and John closes his eyes, sighing.
"I completely forgot about the kid. He apparently had this affair with this girl a few years back. She got pregnant, we know she gave birth, and then we didn't see her anymore. I guess Derek is taking care of the kid by himself" he looks at Stiles apologetically, "I know you don't like talking about him, or any of the others, and they are still are tight as they were when you were in High School. I just never caught any wind of anything that might interfere with your life, and it slipped my mind."
Stiles sighs, deflated.
"Well, it's okay. He showed up at the meeting today, she starts school for the first time tomorrow. It was just a shock, that's all."
They go back to dinner and don't talk about Derek or his kid anymore.
The next day, Stiles is as ready as he'll ever be to start teaching his new kids. Parents come to his door, say their goodbyes to their kids and leave with large smiles. He has a special first day activity planned for them, nothing too tiring so that the kids can get used to school before diving in in learning, and he's as excited as the kids are.
The couple who asked to talk to him privately is the first one to arrive – their kid has never been to a daycare, but they both work now, and none can stay to acclimatize their kid – that's what was worrying them. Stiles has assured them he can handle it, it'd be easier if they were around, but he can deal with that.
Unsurprisingly, Derek is the very last one to bring his kid, and both of them look so reluctant to part it actually makes Stiles smile. He looks at the rest of his class, talking and playing with the toys available in the room, before going to the door to greet the newcomers.
"Hey, mister Hale. This must be Laura" he says, and can feel Derek stare at him with an eyebrow raised at the 'mister Hale' thing, but he swore to himself he'd be completely professional with this guy, even more than he usually is.
Laura is a beauty, that much is clear. Her skin is darker than Derek's, and she has his amazing eyes, the green-gray kind of color that it's impossible to determine. Her hair is long enough that it reaches the middle of her back, and it's brushed simply, with no hair clips or anything, curling slightly at the tips – it's also as black as Derek's, and her beautiful eyes gaze at him mistrustfully.
"Come on, Laura, say hi to your teacher" Derek tries to coax her, but she only hides further in his neck.
"You know, there are a lot of kids here for you to play with, Laura. And your dad will be right here, outside this door if you want him" Stiles says persuasively. At that, Laura raises her head a little and looks at him.
"Why daddy can't come inside?" she whispers, and her voice is soft and so very afraid Stiles just wants to hug her forever. He smiles at her.
"Because only the cool kids can come inside this room" he whispers to her, and she looks offended.
"Daddy is cool" she says fiercely and Stiles laughs again.
"Yes, but he isn't a kid" he argues, and she looks at him, raising her head a little higher.
"You're not a kid" she says back, and Stiles smiles broadly. Just as gruffy as her dad.
"No, but I'm the teacher, which is almost the same thing" he says to her, and she finally sighs, looking at her dad again.
"Right here?" she asks, and Derek nods solemnly, making Stiles realize, at the way Derek's hands grip her a little tighter, that he's just scared as she is about leaving her there.
"Right here" he answers and puts her down, kissing her cheek and making her giggle with his stubble.
Stiles has to wonder how can the man spend ten years without learning how to shave properly.
Laura stares at him, and he offers her his hand to get into the classroom, but she doesn't take it, eyeing it distrustfully.
The first day of pre-school is half a day, and there's not much learning going on – mostly games and stories and songs, because the kids are so small, and also because most of them are too scared of being left alone, without their parents.
Stiles' helper is a nineteen year old girl, who smiles a lot and is great at telling stories, with light blond hair and a friendly face, her name is Emily.
Laura stares at her for half a second before changing directions from where she was walking to, the corner with all the dolls in it, and goes straight to a corner with no kids. She picks up a small book and sits on a cushion, but she keeps staring at the dolls forlornly.
This goes on for about ten minutes, when Stiles keeps looking and monitoring a few of the kids playing around, but keeping an eye on Laura, when her eyes fill up with tears.
His heart breaks a bit, because she looks so miserable, so he goes to where a few girls and boys are playing and picks up a doll, carrying it to where Laura is.
"Hey" he says, smiling and crouching in front of her. She doesn't answer him, "I thought this one looked a bit lonely there, do you think you could keep her company?"
She doesn't say anything but takes the doll, her eyes trained on him rather than on the doll, as if he's going to snatch it away any second.
Okay, this is just not right at all.
Once the doll is safe in her arms, Laura turns to look at it, smiling a little, and ignoring him.
Stiles lets his class play for another fifteen minutes before telling them to gather the toys on the carpet and take their seats with Emily's help. There are nine children this year, and their desks are arranged in groups of three. Laura is on the desk closest to his, near a smiling brunet girl and a talkative blond boy, who are talking to each other about something. She sits quietly, and Stiles explains what he wants them to do, just a small coloring work, so he can gather what they can do – their motor skills development and sense of space, mostly.
The kids are not quiet, but they do their work. About five minutes in the activity, when Stiles is making rounds, and telling the children their work is beautiful, even if some are having a bit of trouble with holding the crayons still, he hears a sentence that he's heard a thousand times before, but it always makes him sigh and think about how can small kids be so cruel.
"Your work is ugly."
It's the brunet girl, Kate, saying it to the blond boy beside her.
"Is not" he says in answer, and thus a shouting match begins.
While he and Emily try to calm the children down, he sees Laura's eyes widen, and she closes them soon after, pressing her small hands to her ears.
When they finally stop shouting, and are apologizing to each other, Laura looks at Stiles, her green eyes full of tears.
"I want my daddy" she whispers, and at that precise moment, Derek knocks on the door and opens it, without waiting. Stiles looks at Emily, and she says she can handle the kids. Stiles looks at Laura, but she's already running to her dad. He picks up her small backpack and leaves the classroom.
"Hey, Laura, you okay now, sweetie?" he asks carefully. She raises her head from her dad's neck and nods at him, "Okay, are you sure you don't want to stay a bit more? We are going to play a bit more later on" she shakes her head fast, and he smiles again, "Okay, then. See you tomorrow, alright?"
She stares at him a bit and manages a small smile.
"Thanks for the doll" she whispers, and Stiles reaches out, ruffling her hair a bit, making her giggle.
"Anytime" he answers and then sobers up, nodding at Derek and going back to his class.
He teaches his class and he goes home thinking about the children and the kind of trouble he'll find this year. Kate criticizes everyone's work, and Edward is way too quiet for a three year old boy. There are a lot of small things he'll have to change in his lesson plans for it to work with this class, and he tries to focus on that, but truth is he spends most of his night thinking about Laura's panicked face when the kids started arguing.
The rest of the week follows the same pattern, but Laura is staying a bit more with every passing day, and on Friday she made it through almost the whole class. She isn't the only one having a bit of trouble, but she's the only one who refuses to be calmed down by him or Emily even once – it's as if she can feel Derek is right outside the door.
Maybe she can. Stiles never looked up anything about werewolf babies.
Friday comes way to fast, but he's pretty satisfied with his progress – he and Derek haven't exchanged more than the very basic necessary pleasantries at the beginning and end of each of Laura's class and that's it.
Maybe it will work out okay.
Lydia and Jackson text him that they are coming that night and want to have dinner. He sets up a reservation at a nice place in town, goes home for a shower and a change of clothes, and gets to the place way before they do, waiting for a bit. Every single time the door opens he looks up – he hadn't been thinking about it that much, he had been trying to avoid thinking about it, actually, but he missed them both so much that now that he knew they were near it was like a part of him was missing.
Finally, the door opens and Lydia smiles wide seeing him – he gets up and she walks a little faster, throwing herself into his waiting arms. She's not the most outspoken about her feelings, but she really loves him, he knows that. He squeezes her until she squeaks and says she can't breathe.
"Stop manhandling my fiancé, Stilinski" Jackson says, and Stiles lets Lydia go, just to be engulfed in a bear hug – wolf hug, maybe? – by Jackson, who picks him up the floor, before putting him back on his feet.
"Hey, not fair!" he exclaims, smiling still.
They sit and the waiter comes by to ask for their drink orders.
As he's leaving, promising to bring back their drinks, Jackson tilts his head to the side, as if he's listening to something they can't, or maybe sniffing something. They've seen him doing this plenty of times before.
"What is it?" Stiles whispers, the door of the restaurant at their back opening and closing.
Jackson looks around and shrugs.
"Nothing, I guess" he answers, shrugging it off.
"We have to talk" says Lydia, and Stiles eyes them with trepidation.
Those are never good words coming from Lydia.
Derek can't remember a time when he worried so much about something.
Sure, he had been in life and death situations before, but then it had been his life on the line, and he could do something about it. As time passed, he had learned to trust his pack, and he was happy he could do it – they had never left him down when he really needed them.
In a weird way, when Scott made sure Stiles hated them all, he had brought them closer. Losing someone is a sure way to make people see they can trust the ones they have left.
But Laura is in that classroom alone, with a bunch of kids she doesn't know, and she sounds so miserable, and he can pick up her heartbeat, fast and scared, and he's quite sure he will just get in, snatch his kid and home school her forever.
That first day passes in a blur of him focusing on her heartbeat and voice and a litany of 'just five more minutes' to control his impulse of going in.
When he hears her say she wants to go home, he can't help it and opens the door, picking her up. He's so relieved she's fine, he almost misses the fact that she has smiled at Stiles.
As the week goes by, he starts to relax a bit more. She's still quiet in the classroom, but she talks plenty about it at home, and she really likes her teacher, calling him Mister Styls. The other kids call him the same thing.
She can't stand the girl who helps him, though – Laura, Derek notices, doesn't trust females. The only exception is Melissa, and the helper is as far as one can get from Mrs. McCall.
Friday night is the day when everyone comes over for dinner, and as no one actually likes to cook, he usually orders to go at some place in town.
Of course that on that Friday he'd order at the place where Jackson, Lydia and Stiles are having dinner. He's at the back, waiting, and is a bit worried that Stiles will see him there, but the man doesn't seem to notice him, eyeing the door, making him wonder who's he waiting for.
And then in they come, the rest of his pack, Lydia throwing herself at him, and he's smiling as if he's coming home at last. Jackson picking him up and breathing him in – Derek can sense the wolf in the other man calming down, realizing his pack is okay, they're fine.
It makes something inside him twist – sure, his pack is close, but they are all… them. Him, with his great communication skills, and Scott with his uncertainty and heartbreak, and Boyd who is so quiet you can forget he's there until you need him, and Isaac with his history of abuse who doesn't really like to touch or be touched by anyone. The only one they actually open up for is Laura – but among them there's not much physical contact going on, not while they are human. Running during the full moon, their wolves stick close to each other, but for the rest of the month they aren't really… into contact.
But that right there, the way they sit so close to each other the waiter will have trouble putting their plates when their food come, the way Jackson is smiling, that Lydia is looking Stiles over, that's something his pack doesn't have, this closeness.
His food finally arrives, and he grabs the bags, heading for the door fast.
There's no way in hell Jackson didn't get his scent, but he doesn't stop and doesn't look back.
Stiles is Laura's teacher, but that's it. By Monday Jackson and Lydia will have left, and everything will go back to normal.
And another one!
Wonder how Derek will react when he hears Jackson is coming back to town.
Let me know what you think!