Universe: Teen Wolf
Character/Pairing/s: Stiles, Sheriff Stilinski, Isaac
Spoilers/Warnings: Through S2
Word Count: 12,255
Summary: Stiles has an idea named Isaac and the Sheriff has to deal with it.
Dedication: Sonia- in case SPN still sucks this year (I want to believe it won’t).
A/N: I don’t know, I blame Isaac’s stupid adorable puppy face. And Stiles and his dad being awesome, I guess.
Disclaimer: No harm or infringement intended.
When Stiles gets an idea in his head, he can be very, very persuasive.
It’s a trait he inherited from his mother, this stubborn, obsessive nature of his, this penchant for being so enthused by the thought of something that he drags everyone around him into it, makes them believe like he does, makes them agree with him helplessly. There’s an inevitability to Stiles when he’s latched on to something that makes it impossible not to be pulled along by the sheer, overwhelming force of him.
No one knows this better than his father, who has been the one sucked into the whirlwind that is Stiles – that is Stiles’s contagious enthusiasm and restless energy and unwitting brilliance – a thousand times before. Stiles has been intent on turning the Sheriff’s life topsy-turvy since the moment he was born and has never stopped for a moment thereafter.
Consequently, the Sheriff has slowly built up something of a resistance – because there’s no such thing as immunity — to Stiles’s erratic way of getting ideas, making him less susceptible to his son’s whims and fancies than the average Joe. Particularly because most of his son’s whims and fancies tend to be out of the blue, half-cocked things that aren’t always out and out bad ideas per se, but that are sometimes simply not fully formed or thought all the way through properly. It’s the Sheriff’s job to question Stiles at every turn, to poke holes in his theories and make him realize where he might have stopped just short of one goal or completely overshot another. Stiles is the dreamer in their family and his father is the realist. Together they manage to keep each other grounded, but not too grounded.
Occasionally though, Stiles gets passionate enough about something that, even as a half-formed idea, comes out startlingly perfect, that knocks the Sheriff over with how much there is there and how strong the feelings behind it are. This is when Stiles is at his most dangerous, at his most convincing, and all his dad can do about it when it gets to that point is stand silently by and let himself be washed away in the waves of it, usually while being thankful that his son only ever tries to use his power for good. In general.
Stiles’s latest great idea is Isaac Lahey.
And as is typical of Stiles when he gets an idea, it turns the Sheriff’s life upside down all over again, in all the best possible ways.
“He has nowhere, Dad,” Stiles rants when he comes home from school one day, looking troubled and hurt in a way that makes his father want to reach out and ruffle his hair, to tell him not to take on burdens that aren’t his own. He knows better now, because Stiles’s heart has always been ten times bigger than anyone else’s. Telling him not to worry, not to care, would be the same as telling him not to talk. Frankly, impossible.
Instead, the Sheriff sits quietly in his armchair as the baseball game plays on in the background. He waits for Stiles to elaborate on who ‘he’ is, and why ‘he’ has nowhere.
Stiles pauses in the doorway, takes in his father’s expectant expression, and realizes that he’s babbling out loud just to hear himself talk. He won’t make sense to anyone but himself (if even that) until he can stand still long enough to string semi-coherent sentences together. “Isaac,” Stiles explains, eventually. “We were taking a practice SAT today in English. That I totally forgot about and probably failed, by the way so heads up. Can you even fail those? Anyway, we were emulating the whole test taking environment like it was the real thing because the department head believes in immersive study and it was the scariest thing ever. Those bubbles are the worst bubbles I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting because they’re trick bubbles that are trying to get you to fill them in with their evil bubble ways and screw you up on purpose. How can people ruin something as fun as bubbles? That’s not right.”
“Stiles,” the Sheriff interrupts gently, and with a look, reins his unruly son back in. He’s good at it. All the practice has made him almost-perfect.
Stiles looks sheepish as he drags his hand over his close-cropped hair and focuses again. “The point is, the proctor was going on and on about where they would mail the scores out during the real thing, and how we’d you know, be able to send it to our schools of choice and home too, obviously,” he explains, shoulders slumping. “But then Isaac just raised his hand and asked what to do if they don’t have an address.”
He sounds completely mystified by the idea of it, of not having home, and something about the image of the Lahey kid, with his sad, scared, eyes, calmly asking about what you do when you don’t have a place to live anymore is the epitome of heartbreaking.
“Where has he been staying?” The Sheriff asks, because he knows the house had been sold after Mr. Lahey’s murder, and that there’s paperwork – just piles of it – sitting in some office somewhere downtown, trying to sort out who gets what and who goes where. Even if the house hadn’t been sold, he’s sure Isaac wouldn’t have wanted to stay at that place, not after what they’d found there, not after what he’d lived through there, and definitely not all alone. The last the Sheriff heard about it, social workers were trying to get in touch with an aunt not too far away, maybe in Oregon or something. But this is the first time he’s heard about Isaac directly, in the weeks following the chaos that were Matt’s murder spree and subsequent suicide.
“Er…a friend’s couch?” Stiles admits reluctantly, like he knows he has to give something away in order not to give everything away. “I think. Maybe multiple friends’ couches.”
Something in Stiles’s tone immediately raises the Sheriff’s parenting hackles, but the news that Isaac is turning into another one of those kids who falls into the cracks of the system is what really alarms him. The kid is still going to school, which is good, but apparently only because he wants to be there. Who the hell has been looking out for him since his dad was killed? Heck, who the hell has been looking out for the kid at all, since, well, ever?
Stiles seems to share the exact same sentiment as the one written on his father’s face. “I know, right?” he enthuses, making am emphatic gesture between a shrug and a flail with his arms. “I mean…” he pauses then, looks a little broken, “…we lost Mom and it nearly killed us. What’s it like to lose everyone?”
“Do you want me to call someone down in social services for him?” the Sheriff asks after a breathless moment of silence between them, where they’d both clearly been contemplating the possibility of dealing with what Isaac has to deal with. Of not having each other either.
Stiles quickly shakes his head, as if he has a physical need to dispel his disturbing thoughts. “What could they do?” he says, resigned. “I mean, if his aunt cared she’d have gotten back to him by now.”
The Sheriff isn’t sure what else to do in the face of his son’s distress. He tries to think of something to say about how Stiles can just be there for his friend maybe, but when he looks at Stiles’s eyes again, he can already see that the kid is a million miles away all of a sudden, his brow furrowed and lips pursed in that way he gets when he’s having the beginnings of an idea. The only thing the Sheriff can think at that point is, ‘uh oh.’
“Hey, Dad,” Stiles begins, clearly without really thinking through the details, “Why doesn’t he stay with us?”
The Sheriff tries not to groan. “Stiles…”
“No, no. Hear me out.” Stiles puts his hands out in front of him in a placating gesture, eyes alight with inspiration as his epiphany crashes in to him. “My old nursery,” he says. “We could clear it out, and he could crash there. There’s all this stuff up there and you’re always complaining about how it’s just sitting there and now we’d have an excuse to just clear it all out.”
The Sheriff shifts in his seat a little, baseball game long forgotten on the TV behind him. Stiles’s old nursery had never really been cleared out after he’d first outgrown it, maybe because back then, the Stilinskis always thought they’d have a houseful of kids one day, that maybe the best way to keep their hyperactive firstborn busy would be to be to have a slew of hyperactive younger siblings for him to scamper after. It had been a nice dream all those years ago, but one that had died with Stiles’s mother. After that, the nursery became a room where things they don’t need or don’t have space for anywhere else go. Even still, the Sheriff isn’t sure it’s a place he wants to clear out for a stranger. It feels like stepping on the memory of the dream that had blossomed there, like ripping apart something he had built with his wife in their hearts, planning for the future. That dusty old boxed up room is something the Sheriff doesn’t think about a lot these days, but when he does, it feels like something he wants to keep for himself and in honor of the memories of better times spent there.
But Stiles doesn’t seem to feel that way, and the Sheriff knows it’s because his son isn’t petty like he is, that Stiles doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body. The way he’s lit up now, with the idea of helping someone, is testament to it, and to how like his mother he really is.
“We could have a garage sale, you know, make the space, then use the proceeds to get him a bed, and maybe a desk, though I don’t think he’s the kind that does his homework upright, he seems loungy. Like he’d just lounge and do it, right? I mean, if he was comfortable. But he’d be comfortable here, I’m sure he’d be comfortable here.”
Stiles starts rubbing his hands together in anticipation now, like he wants to get to work right this second by moving out all the boxes from the spare room and setting them on the front lawn. The Sheriff feels a strange tightness in his chest at how easy this seems to be for his kid. His kid is amazing.
The Sheriff however, is still the realist here. “Stiles, I don’t know if we can just do that,” he begins, gently.
Stiles pauses, and his face is an open book of confusion clearly demanding ‘Why not?’
Because to him, this is the easiest solution he’s ever come up with. Stiles giving things up for someone else has always been incredibly easy for him.
The Sheriff sighs and gestures helplessly with one hand. “He’s a ward of the state right now. I’m not sure how it works, but I’m pretty sure we can’t just take him in like a stray puppy.”
Something about the choice of words makes Stiles’s face look funny for a second, like a mixture of him wanting to laugh really hard and cry at the same time. But then it’s gone, and Stiles says, “Dad it’s been months and no one’s come knocking, looking for him.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that they will come. Eventually.” California budget crises aside, the Sheriff is relatively sure it will happen soon.
Stiles frowns. “Well, okay. I mean, can’t he just tell them he’s staying with us?”
The Sheriff feels something like a headache burgeoning in the back of his skull. “It’s not that easy. He’d probably have to become legally independent for that to even be a possibility.”
Stiles shrugs. “Then he’ll do that. Why can’t he stay with us in the meantime? It’s better than sending him someplace new, with people he doesn’t know and who obviously don’t want him, right? He’s sixteen, dad, uprooting at this point in his life would seriously suck. Can you imagine being the new kid junior year?”
Stiles’s eyes are pleading now, and the Sheriff has to look away, because when the kid does that his arguments always suddenly seem to sound at least 50% more sensible than before. Even to those who have managed to build up some form of resistance to him over time.
Then Stiles’s eyebrows dart up again, like he just had another realization. “Is this about money?” he asks, completely indelicately.
This rips the Sheriff’s eyes back to his, along with a sputter of indignation. “What?”
Stiles doesn’t seem to think it’s an odd question. “I mean, I know we don’t make much on a public servant’s salary, but Isaac’s not exactly in need of cash at the moment,” Stiles points out, sensibly. On seeing his father’s arched eyebrow, hastily adds, “Not because he’s doing anything shady! They sold the house, right? Theoretically the proceeds of that are eventually going to end up with him, once the banks and the state sort out all the paperwork, right?” He doesn’t pause for a confirmation. “Plus he has a job that is the creepiest after school job of ever, as I’m sure you know, so he’s not exactly the freeloading type like yours truly.” This time, he does stop, to grin lovingly at his father. The Sheriff groans helplessly, because this is all starting to feel like a conversation he’s not actually taking part in. He’s superfluous at this point. Stiles is good at having conversations entirely with himself. It makes the Sheriff wonder about his parenting sometimes, that his kid has learned, maybe out of necessity, to have completely in-depth and mostly coherent conversations all alone.
“I mean, really, all he needs is a place to get his SAT scores mailed to. And you know, to stay. A place to stay that isn’t wet and dank and smelly and overrun with rodents…”
“I thought you said he was staying on friends’ couches!” the Sheriff interrupts, when he hears Stiles’s description of Isaac’s current living conditions.
Stiles backtracks quickly. “Well I don’t know how those couches are, Dad,” he says reasonably. Maybe too reasonably. “They could be…dank. And you know, cockroaches are everywhere. I bet they can live in couches.”
The Sheriff huffs in exhaustion. Somehow, an entire day of catching speeders and searching for lost pets in the woods is less stressful than arguing with Stiles when Stiles has an idea. And while he’s still incredibly suspicious of that night when Isaac broke out of jail and they’d found that creepy fake deputy dying in the holding room, the Sheriff also knows that he trusts Stiles’s judgment (for the most part), and if Stiles thinks Isaac is the kind of person he wants to share a house with, then Isaac probably is. Also, it’s not worth fighting at this point, because the Sheriff knows he’ll just blink one day and by the time he opens his eyes again Stiles will have found a way to make it happen without his knowing how. At least this way he gets a say. Kind of.
“Fine,” he relents, and rubs his temples with his fingers, trying to massage away the tension there. “We start cleaning out the spare room in the morning. He’s welcome to stay if he wants to. I’ll ask Child Protective Services about the paperwork.”
Stiles blinks back at him like he hadn’t expected it to be this easy. “Seriously?”
“Yes, seriously. But you better not complain to me about all the work moving that stuff is going to be when we’re doing it.”
“Not a word! I’ll call Isaac. He can help. It’s going to be his room anyway.”
Plans thus made, Stiles turns and heads into the kitchen like they hadn’t just had a completely life altering conversation five seconds ago. “What do you want for dinner?” he asks, to the sound of the refrigerator opening, “TJ’s has these new Tofu Edamame nuggets that look promising. Soy protein, mmmmmm.”
And that, apparently, is that, because now his son is preheating the oven to make him soy nuggets with soybeans in them, like it is his new most important idea in the world. Maybe it is, at this point.
The Sheriff finds himself cupping his mouth in both hands and breathing helplessly into his fingers.
The next morning, when Sheriff Stilinski sees Isaac at seven am sharp, the kid is standing on his lawn in a baggy maroon hoodie looking lost and apprehensive, brow furrowed and staring at his phone screen like he’s waiting for it to magically give him answers to the myriad questions written all over his expressive face. Which probably means he is calling Stiles. But Stiles is snoring away upstairs because it’s Saturday and Stiles is somehow convinced that no one gets up early on Saturdays unless it’s for cartoons.
The Sheriff sighs around his coffee and goes to throw open the front door. Isaac twitches at the sound slightly, like he’s fighting a full on flinch, and the Sheriff feels his heartstrings get yanked on violently when that curly mop of head whirls in his direction and the most alarmed eyes he’s seen in his life are staring back at him. The eyes are quickly averted again though, instinctively maybe, and turned back towards the phone, and then to the ground, when nothing on the phone changes. “Good morning?” Isaac offers, after a beat.
“You might as well come in and have breakfast while you wait,” the Sheriff says. “Stiles won’t be up for another hour at least.”
Isaac’s expression turns questioning, like he’s not sure being around the Sheriff without Stiles as a buffer should any weapons get drawn is a good idea. The Sheriff almost wants to be indignant about that, except it’s kind of how teenagers in general feel about lawmen. Also, the last middle-aged man Isaac ate breakfast with apparently locked him in a freezer in the basement when he was mad at him. Christ.
He sighs. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to, Isaac,” he says plainly, then adds, “but if you get in here before Stiles is up that means we can have bacon for breakfast.” Pause. “You do like bacon, don’t you?”
He thinks Isaac lights up a little then, all shy hope and curiosity at the prospect of a homemade breakfast. It kind of reminds the Sheriff of how Stiles had looked when he was five and his mother was telling him about Santa Claus for the first time.
“Yes, sir,” Isaac says eventually, finally looking up from the ground like he can’t quite believe his luck, like he thinks he’d better enjoy it while he has it because it’s going to get ripped away from him any second now.
It isn’t. The Sheriff is pretty damn sure he’s not going to let it come to that, if he can help it. Everyone should get to have a decent breakfast every now and again.
So he holds open the screen door to his house in invitation –more than just an invitation for bacon – and the moment Isaac smiles back at him, small and relieved, is the moment he thinks he kind of falls in love with the kid.
It takes them no time at all the clear out the spare room. Isaac looks kind of thin and reedy under his too big hoodie, but underneath it all is a surprisingly strong young man. He lifts twice the weight either Stiles or his dad can lift in any one trip and doesn’t seem to tire at all, engrossed in his work, content to be doing something. Stiles calls him a freak in a good natured sort of way while the Sheriff can only think that Isaac must have still managed to love his father somehow, despite everything. Kids that strong don’t just let an angry old man just wail on them and not fight back without a good reason.
It kind of sucks the air out of his lungs when he thinks about it like that, and Stiles seems to know exactly what the Sheriff is thinking, because before he can dwell too long on it, the room is empty and Stiles is announcing that it’s lunch time, which he will be preparing, because cheating cheaters eat bacon while he’s asleep and it’s bad for their cholesterol.
“Veggie burgers and salad wraps and I don’t want a word of complaint!” he announces, marching out of the now empty room, leaving Isaac to share a pained look with the Sheriff.
“Veggie burgers?” Isaac says, and it almost sounds like a whimper.
Sheriff Stilinski can’t help but smile a little bit at his forlorn tone, even though he shares Isaac’s fate. “Aren’t you glad you ate breakfast with me now?” he says, and startles a tiny, choked off laugh from Isaac’s throat.
Isaac looks kind of surprised to hear it, and the Sheriff only barely manages to resist reaching out to ruffle those ridiculous curls. Instead he leans in a little closer and whispers, “I’ve got a stash of beef jerky in my study. We can sneak some afterwards.”
“Oh thank God,” Isaac murmurs back, completely serious and looking as grateful as ever.
The Sheriff laughs and they follow Stiles downstairs to set the table for lunch.
Isaac sleeps in a sleeping bag his first few weeks at the Stilinskis' and doesn’t have a word of complaint about it even though the carpet isn’t exactly comfortable. It’s been more than a decade since it was last steam cleaned. At least.
Stiles complains for Isaac. Stiles has all the words where Isaac doesn’t. “Dude, we need to get you a bed,” he says over dinner, when he passes Isaac the surprisingly tasty veggie lasagna he’d picked up at the Trader Joe’s in town during grocery shopping last week.
“I’ve slept on worse than your floor,” Isaac answers innocently, like it’s just a fact of life and he doesn’t hold any of it against anyone at all. He deftly scoops an extra large portion of lasagna out of the pan, enough that the Sheriff boggles over, because seriously, where does the kid put it?
Stiles snorts and says, “I know,” in this completely unimpressed way. “And you can theoretically drive with your feet but that doesn’t make it okay,” he adds, as Isaac passes the lasagna to the Sheriff. Isaac chuckles a little, a quiet puff of air through his nostrils as he picks extra chicken breast bits out of the salad bowl because it’s the only meat they’re getting with their meal tonight.
“We’ll get you a bed on Saturday,” the Sheriff says, instead of asking what worse things Isaac may have slept on. His mind goes back to that bleak looking freezer that used to be in the basement of the Lahey house and part of him shudders inside, enough that he doesn’t complain about Isaac taking all the chicken for himself.
Isaac pauses at that, swallows his mouthful of lasagna and says, “Sir, I won’t get paid until next week and…”
“Saturday morning, bright and early,” the Sheriff insists. “Since I know you can actually get your ass out of bed on the weekends.”
For a second, Isaac doesn’t know what to say, fidgeting awkwardly in his seat.
Stiles fills the quiet for him. “Hey! Normal people sleep in on weekends,” he complains – without any real malice behind it because he’s simply incapable of it – and grabs the salad bowl to finish picking out the last of the chicken. “Just for that, no dead animal for you.”
“Like hell,” the Sheriff says, and reaches across the table to stab his fork onto a chunk sitting on Stiles’s plate. Stiles bats back at him with his own fork, and the Sheriff grins and evades, popping the chicken in his mouth in a manner that can only be described as gloating.
Isaac’s eyes are crinkled with laughter even though no sound comes out, while Stiles scowls dramatically and looks at his friend in utter betrayal. “Not you too. Man, you were supposed to make it two-to-one in my favor here.”
“I like your dad,” Isaac says with a shrug – like it’s just another simple fact – and looks back down at his plate to keep eating, an intense aura of peace around him.
“Yeah, I guess I do too,” Stiles grumps, and then grins at his dad from across the table when Isaac isn’t looking, his expression incredibly proud.
The Sheriff returns it, but not before stealing more of Stiles’s chicken.
Saturday morning, he takes Isaac and Stiles out for pancakes at the diner before they drive to the mattress store thirty minutes outside of town. Isaac picks something simple and utilitarian while Stiles raves about orthopedic mattresses, memory foam, sleep numbers, and pillow tops. He stayed up doing the research, apparently.
Isaac ignores him professionally, and they’re back at the house installing the bed before lunchtime.
Isaac plops down on the mattress after it’s set up in the back of the room against the window, so that when he lies down, he can see across the hallway through his open door into Stiles’s room. It’s still a little bare inside, but Isaac seems content enough with just that, with something so small and simple and his that it makes the Sheriff start thinking about bookshelves and desks, a throw rug or two, a couple of lamps to make it feel more like home.
They go out for those on Sunday.
Isaac is very good about following all the ground rules in the house. Better than Stiles even, but the Sheriff starts to wonder if it’s because Isaac is too scared to break them, maybe because of the consequences that used to come with crossing his own father in the past.
It drives him a little bit crazy thinking about it, wondering if Isaac is afraid of him, or of something, and then he can’t believe he’s sitting at work worrying about what it means when a teenage boy doesn’t disobey him at every possible opportunity.
He gets a little beat up by a couple of drunk college kids one night, breaking up a brawl at a bar, and when he heads into the hospital to make sure he’s not concussed, he manages to waylay one of the psych evaluators in the waiting room. He kind of just grabs the guy and asks what it means when a sixteen-year-old kid follows every letter of the law in your house. It can’t be normal, right?
The guy gives him this completely weirded out look and says, “Well that depends on the kid,” before Melissa shows up and takes the Sheriff into a room to get his head examined. She has an ice-pack and a strange look on her face as he presses it against the knot forming on the back of his skull. “You okay?” she asks, and he can immediately tell she isn’t talking about the head injury. It must mean there’s a look on his face that is related to child rearing in single parent households. She knows the look well.
He laughs a little and says, “Figuring out teenagers is tough.”
She snorts and goes to get him some Advil. “Tell me about it.”
He doesn’t have a concussion after all, which is good news. He does get sent home early to rest though.
When he arrives back at the house two hours earlier than scheduled and goes to check on the boys, he almost feels relieved when he peeks into their rooms and finds them both gone, clearly out three hours after curfew.
Then he realizes that his life is ridiculous and sits down on the edge of Isaac’s bed to wait them out.
They crawl in through the window ten minutes before he was originally supposed to be off shift, trying to be sneaky about it. They stop the minute they see the Sheriff sitting on Isaac’s bed waiting though, looking sheepish, slightly bruised, and covered in dirt and leaves. He stands when he sees them, and crosses his arms.
“Uh, hi, Dad,” Stiles begins, like he’s about to start chatting about the weather and those crazy Dodgers. He pauses though, to give Isaac this look that clearly blames him for this, like Isaac somehow should have known he was there, waiting for them. “So you’re home early.”
Isaac just shrugs helplessly back at Stiles, dirt smeared on his face and across his nose. He’s frozen mid-crouch in the windowsill like some kind of animal.
“Boys,” the Sheriff says, pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers. “Do I even want to know what you’ve been up to at this time of night?”
They share another look, side-eying each other like they’re trying to come up with some sort of consensus on how to approach this. It’s almost endearing. Isaac sheepishly picks a leaf out from where it’s tangled up in his ridiculous hair.
“No?” they both offer at exactly the same time, hopeful and full of feigned innocence.
The Sheriff is tired because it’s late, and he got the wind knocked out of him by an inebriated twenty-something that he should’ve been able to handle without a problem. On top of that, both of his boys are alive and whole and maybe a little scraped up, but nothing like Stiles had been after the championships, or after Matt.
Isaac, he realizes, just kind of has his lips turned upwards in the corners, like he knows, knows, the Sheriff is tired, and that he’s probably going to let them get away with this mostly unscathed.
It’s a big relief somehow, to know that Isaac knows that he can do wrong sometimes and still come home afterwards, that there won’t be repercussions for his actions far beyond the price of what they’re worth.
The Sheriff points at Stiles, then Isaac. “Since you both seem to have all sorts of fun scrambling around on the rooftops… tomorrow. After school. Gutters.”
Stiles makes a face. Then pauses, when his mind clicks off of the fact that he’s in trouble and on to the fact that his father is home early. “Are you okay, Dad? Did something happen?” he asks, and crawls forward on the bed, to get a better look at the Sheriff.
“I’m fine,” he says by rote. “Just a fight that got a little out of hand downtown.”
“What happened?” Stiles pushes, and he knows that tone. That tone means he’s not letting go until he knows, even if it means calling Margie in dispatch and getting the whole sordid tale from her because she likes his cute face and thinks it’s adorable how he babies his dad.
“Just a brawl, Stiles,” the Sheriff answers, because he might as well save the cell phone minutes. “Some drunks at the community college got into it with some out-of-towners. We just broke it up.”
Stiles isn’t buying it, and even though Isaac’s expressions are slightly less telling than Stiles's, it’s clear he doesn’t either.
“I may have gotten punched once or twice,” he allows with an offhanded wave. “Nothing big.”
“What? Where?” Stiles yelps, and he scrambles forward to grab hold his father’s face between both hands, clearly checking the focus of his eyes. The grip he has on the Sheriff is strong enough that he can’t move his head at all, not even when he hears something a lot like a growl come from Isaac’s corner of the bed, and sees a flash of something in his periphery that’s yellow and haunting. He blinks, and wonders if that blow to the head earlier might have been a little stronger than he’d initially thought.
When he does finally wrench his face from Stiles’s grubby paws, he turns and sees Isaac looking as perfectly serious as ever, eyes wide and worried, the little smile he’d been harboring earlier completely gone.
“It was nothing,” the Sheriff says again, more gently this time.
“Dad,” Stiles presses, and the Sheriff holds up his hands.
“Why don’t we make a deal?” he offers, because his patience is running out and he still needs to hit the shower. “I won’t give you the sordid details of my night out, and you two don’t give me yours?”
Stiles looks like he’s going to protest some more, but after a moment, snaps his mouth shut and considers it. He side-eyes Isaac again, who gives a small nod, and eventually, throws his hands up in defeat.
The Sheriff nods at that, tiredly, and turns to go. “You’re both still cleaning the gutters though,” he points out from the hallway. Stiles’s cries of “Aw, man!” and Isaac’s quiet huff of laughter follow him all the way to his own room.
Two days later, the Sheriff drives out to the edge of the woods on a call and finds all of the rowdy drunks who’d accosted him at the bar tied upside-down from trees in their underwear. They smell like booze and like urine from when they’d pissed themselves, and they’re crying and apologizing incoherently for something (no one knows what). The Sheriff tries to be a responsible adult by cutting them down and taking their statements and not laughing at them at all. To their faces, anyway.
He thinks those out-of-towners really must have been something.
Sometimes, when he comes home from work for the night and finds Stiles and Isaac sacked out in front of the TV together – a mess of snacks scattered between them while they watch cheesy horror movies and laugh – the Sheriff remembers the dream that he thought had died with his wife, the one he’d boxed up with all of the old things in Stiles’s nursery all those years ago. He realizes that maybe that dream isn’t dead after all, just here in a completely different and unexpected way.
In the living room, Stiles yelps when the monster suddenly rips out of the dark and paws at one of the nubile young things trying to survive the night, Isaac laughs at him for screaming like a puppy, and the whole situation dissolves into the two of them throwing popcorn kernels at each other and making a mess of the room for the next five minutes.
Isaac has way better aim than Stiles but Stiles is sneakier, luring Isaac in close by playing helpless before springing up and cramming a handful of popcorn down the back of Isaac’s sweatshirt.
The Sheriff stands in the doorway watching them and thinks, ‘Yeah. Living the dream.’
He shakes his head at his kids and goes to get a broom.