There is a familiar smell coming from the woods and it's making Derek nervous. He can't place it, exactly, but the scent is tangled up of memories with his family, laughing and running together on the full moon.
Derek tries to ignore the faint glimmer of hope that maybe another one of the Hales survived, one of his cousins maybe, Max or Jane, they could have gotten out, crazy troublemakers that they were--
Derek scowls. It wouldn't be possible. The only other Hale is his baby sister, Cora, who is right behind him, sniffing suspiciously.
"That's really weird," she says, scrunching her nose. "It smells a lot like y--"
Derek hushes her as there are four much clearer, distinct scents and heartbeats approach.
Scott joins them on the trail, Stiles, Allison and Isaac behind them.
"Hey, guys," Cora says brightly.
A chorus of greetings are exchanged, and Scott coughs pointedly when Stiles starts bragging about his latest magical achievement.
"Okay, so I think it's just a rogue omega in our territory," Scott says. "Should be simple, right? He hasn't hurt anyone so far, and I think he's out by the old river. If we talk to him we can figure out what he wants, or tell him to move along."
"He could just be seeking protection from our pack," Derek says.
Scott nods, shifting into his wolf form, his eyes glowing Alpha red. He howls into the night, a piercing powerful cry that echoes into the woods. Derek can feel Cora and Isaac reacting to the pull of the Alpha, growling with anticipation and shifting as well. He also can feel the growing urge to shift and follow Scott.
There's a faint howl in the distance, and the wolves glance at each other before Scott tilts his head forward, leading the way on all fours. Cora and Isaac bound after him, howling with delight of the thrill of the chase. Derek can feel the warmth of the pack and the bond of working together and is glad that the pack is finally come together, Scott taking becoming the Alpha with stride. The mentorship has been rocky, and Derek is happy to give Scott his moment taking the lead with the omega. He would do him good to conduct some pack business without Derek breathing down his neck.
Allison has already sprinted after the wolves, disappearing down the trail on foot.
Derek matches his gait to Stiles, who is huffing indignantly.
After a moment Stiles asks, "How come you didn't wolf out with the others? You probably would have made it there first."
Derek doesn't think about why he wants to stay behind with Stiles; instead, he scowls at him. "I had to make sure you didn't blow yourself up. What is that, anyways? It looks dangerous." Derek gestures to the weird contraption that is bouncing up and down Stiles' chest as he runs. It's an strange combination of metal and thread, and he can see glowing runes etched onto the metal.
"Oh, this? No, this is awesome. I just activated it today after working on it for weeks," said Stiles proudly.
"Not sure exactly, but it's like an emergency safety transporter, I think," Stiles says, scratching his head.
"You think. You made it without knowing what it would do?" Derek doesn't know whether to be impressed that Stiles could create potentially powerful magical artifacts or horrified that Stiles just created something without knowing the consequences.
"Yep. It looked really cool in the books, and Deaton says it could be really useful if I pulled it off."
Derek rolls his eyes, and he doesn't quite know what to say anymore, so he contents with running alongside Stiles as he tracks the scent. If he sneaks glances at the way Stiles' cheeks flush in the cold night air or the way his pink mouth falls open when he catches his breath, well, he doesn't, okay? Derek's just making sure that the thingamajig hasn't blown up yet, seeing as its starting to glow intensely.
It doesn't take them long to catch up with the others, who had the omega surrounded.
Scott flashed his red eyes and bared his fangs. "I'll ask you again. Who are you and why are you here," he growled.
The guy didn't seem intimidated at all, more annoyed at best. From where he was Derek could make out the guy was older, with a familiar looking face that strongly reminded him of his father for some reason.
"I told you, it would be easier to explain once Stiles is here," the guy says.
"What--how do you know my name?" asks Stiles.
Cora's shifted back into human form, and she's sniffing the air again and her eyes widen, staring between the guy and Derek.
The guy pulls out something from his pocket. It's glowing profusely, and Derek can see its identical to the one hanging around Stiles' neck. As soon as the artifact meets the air both of them flash suddenly and then go dark.
There's a shifting in the clouds, and more moonlight shines down on them, revealing the guy's profile. Suddenly Derek realizes that the guy doesn't bear a strong resemblance to his father, he looks an awful lot like Derek.
"It's okay," the guy says, "I'm Derek Hale. I'm from the future."
Future Derek is hilarious, Stiles decides.
After what seemed to be forever (actually probably only a few minutes) they confirmed Future Derek's identity. With the liberal use of salt, holy water, and other herbs in Stiles' arsenal they confirmed that he was not a demon, skinwalker, or any other supernatural being that they had come across so far. Also with the fact that all the wolves agreed the Dereks' shared a "core" scent, whatever that was. And the most obvious piece of evidence was the matching artifacts. Stiles had given himself a mental high-five for saving Derek's life in the future with his thingamajig.
Future Derek had pulled all of them into a huge bear hug, ruffled Isaac's hair, and even gave Scott an affectionate noogie. It was amazing, he even hugged himself, while Derek awkwardly recieved the hug, not moving.
They were walking back towards town, and Scott was trying to ply information about the future from Future Derek, who was refusing.
"I'm serious," said Scott, "I mean it would be really helpful if you could give us any kind of heads up on whats to come," he said.
Future Derek turns and grins at Scott. "Hi, Serious," he says. "I'm Derek."
There is a moment of silence and a few incredulous stares. Stiles is the first one to burst out laughing, and just the concept of Derek cracking a joke is so funny he's doubled up and clutching his sides. Isaac is chuckling, too, but Stiles is the only one cackling. "Holy shit," he gasps.
"What?" Future Derek asks, his eyes dancing with mirth. He's got laugh lines, Stiles notices, and wonders how old this Derek is.
"You actually made a joke," Stiles says. "Omigod, you actually tried to be funny!" he waggles his eyebrows at
his Derek, and punches him affectionately in the shoulder. This gets him a glare and sore knuckles.
“What are you talking about, tried?” the older Derek asks. “That was a joke! You laughed!”
Stiles coughs. “No, it was a terrible joke, but it’s just hilarious that you made one.”
“Why?” asks the present Derek, scowling. “I make jokes.”
“No, you don’t,” Cora says, giggling. “You stand there and glare at everyone.”
“I do not,” Derek says, glaring.
When Stiles raises his eyebrow makes a Vanna White gesture towards Derek and everyone starts laughing again, Derek responds by giving him a quick shove.
Stiles continues waggling his eyebrows at Derek; it’s one of his favorite things to do, and getting him to break out of that surly shell is always a good time. Stiles looks back at Future Derek, expecting a twin of the exasperated expression on Derek’s face, but instead he’s smiling, warm and open and practically fond.
Surprised, Stiles completely blanks out on the continued (what he assumes) pathetic whining on Scott's part about knowledge of the future.
Stiles also decides during this time that Derek retains his hotness as he gets older. Dude must be pushing forty, his face is worn with a few lines, and there is silver streaking through his hair but he definitely still got it. Stiles shakes himself out of this train of thought by cutting off Scott. "Dude, he can't tell us anything about our futures, it would wreck the time-space continuum!"
Future Derek coughs and says, "This is weird, but I remember this from when I was, well, you," he gestures toward his past self, "And I'm not going to say anything I don't remember saying." He pauses, scratching his head. "If that makes sense."
"Omigod," Allison shrieks, grabbing his hand and holding it aloft. A golden band glints on his finger. "You're married!"
There are a few exclamations of surprise and Stiles feels a weight settle in his stomach. Of course, Derek found someone; it explains why he radiates happiness and confidence. Stiles should be extremely happy for Derek, but he just feels like the chances of his longstanding crush ever turning into a relationship turned to nothing with depressing finality.
"Who is it?" Isaac asks and the eyes of the pack turn towards Future Derek with curiosity. "Is it one of those things you can tell us?"
"Spoilers," the older man says, raising his eyebrows.
"What the hell," Stiles snaps, "You don't even watch Doctor Who."