Stiles glares at the clock, his Sunday morning appointment now twenty minutes late. He sips at his tea and double checks his leatherbound appointment book again, reassuring himself for the third time that he has the date and time right. Sunday the seventeenth, nine am, Derek Hale, beta werewolf. The appointment is written in his own hasty scrawl, a stark contrast to Lydia’s neat print filling the rest of the pages; he scheduled this one himself, because the client’s sister, Laura, an alpha, had the connections to track down Stiles’ direct phone number.
She wouldn’t take no for an answer when he informed her that there was an eighteen-month waiting period for his services, and after a week of increasingly aggressive-but-not-quite-outright-threatening phone calls, he had relented and scheduled a weekend appointment, the first time ever in the seven years since he publicly shared his gift and opened Soul Stiles. And now, here he is on his precious day off after a particularly exhausting, fifty-hour workweek, and this alpha woman’s brother has the balls to be late.
Irritated, Stiles closes the calendar and tosses it aside, reaching for another leatherbound book, this one a simple journal, one of dozens just like it filed away on shelves in the basement, hand-written records of all of his appointments since his very first. He uses the time to get caught up on recording Friday’s sessions, quickly jotting down the basics of his visions for each client.
Joaquin R., male human. A female pixie named Veronica, with blonde hair and green eyes. Will meet in two years.
Alexandria L., female faerie. A genderqueer witch named Rylan. Crying of Lot 49 tattoo on their neck. Met thirteen months ago.
Matt M., male beta werewolf. A male werewolf named Connor with black hair and blue eyes. Will meet in four months.
Lucinda F., female human. A male vampire named Marcos with a beard. Will meet in thirty-two years.
Stiles sighs heavily writing that entry, annotating it with a small x to indicate that he didn’t tell Lucinda, a sweet, twenty-three year old elementary school teacher, that she wouldn’t meet her soulmate until she was fifty-five years old. He rarely withholds information from his clients, but he just couldn’t bear the look of shocked disappointment she would have made, so he lied and told her the vision wasn’t very strong, that he only saw his face and his name but didn’t get a sense of when they would meet. She was still incredibly grateful, of course. His clients always are.
In the nine since years since he discovered his gift and in the seven years he’s been in business, Stiles has never been wrong, and has never failed to see someone's soulmate when he touches them.
Half-witch, half-human, Stiles first discovered his ability when he was eighteen, just after igniting his spark after years of training with his mother to be a mage. They were prepping a spell in the herb room in the back of Stilinski Spellwork, and his magic already buzzing, Stiles placed a hand on her shoulder, reaching across the workbench for chamomile flowers, and he was struck with his first vision: his long-dead father, the man whose face he only knew from photographs. He had died when his mother was pregnant, killed in the line of duty trying to mediate a vampire territory dispute.
But he image of his father that he saw in his vision wasn’t of any of the photos he had grown up with; his dad was younger, and smiling in a way that none of the photos had ever captured, and Stiles, his magic coursing through him stronger than he’d ever felt, suddenly just knew that he was looking at a man named John, twenty-five years ago, seeing him the very first time he laid eyes on Claudia Zoldak, witch, high priestess of the goddess Nyx, and his soulmate.
“You’ve found your gift,” his mother had smiled when he told her. “It’s incredibly rare, Stiles. There hasn’t been a natural soulseeker for generations. Many think the spark for it has died out.”
Stiles had fallen heavily to a stool, trying to wrap his head around this unexpected development. Loki, his familiar, a black cat with glowing green eyes, hopped up into his lap, purring and offering comfort.
It’s a fundamental law of magic, and thus the universe, that everyone has a soulmate, that the mysterious chaos of fate and magic, obscure and vast, has one fundamental goal: to bring soulmates together, two sundered halves of a dying star cast to this plane in search of reunion, as the faerie legends say. The ability to glimpse into that chaos – to touch someone and see their soulmate and know when they’ll meet, or if they already have – that’s a rare and valuable skill indeed.
Together with his mother and his best friend Lydia, Stiles researched and practiced for two years before opening his own office across the alley from his mother’s shop. They perfected the right combination of herbs and charms for spells to control when he accesses the visions and to sharpen them, to make his memories of them more reliable. There had been rumors of his abilities before he opened for business, of course – the witch community is notorious for its gossip – but there had still been quite an uproar when he publicly confirmed them.
Werewolves, vampires, pixies, mermaids, selkies, witches, mages, banshees, humans – ensouled creatures from all over the world were clamoring to meet with him, to pay whatever he asked, for his help in recognizing the one person in the world made just for them.
It’s been a lucrative and rewarding business, helping others find their soulbond. Stiles loves that he can help people in this way, that he offers them something rare and fragile: hope and reassurance. Everyone knows that finding your soulmate doesn’t automatically mean happily ever after – his father’s untimely death only seven years after he and his mother met reminds Stiles of that every day. And, like any relationship, a soulbonded pair has figure out how to make a relationship work for them. But even so, the love between soulmates is life-altering, deeper than any other love known.
Not that Stiles would know personally, of course.
There’s only one drawback to his rare gift: it doesn’t work on himself. Stiles can look into the past or future to see the one person in all the world destined for anyone, but when he turns his vision inward and tries to see his own partner, he’s greeted with nothing but dark silence. He long ago resigned himself to the irony of this and tries to be satisfied with waiting to find his soulmate the old-fashioned way, a first kiss that sparks and awakens the hidden bond.
Of course, he’d have to actually be dating to have a chance of that happening, and he’s only been on a handful of mediocre dates since he opened his business, so the chances that Stiles is going to find his mate any time soon are pretty slim. (Fortunately he’s friends with an incubus who he helped find his succubus mate, and they gladly welcome him into their bed whenever he’s in need of more than just his own hands and toys.)
The bell over the door rings and Stiles finishes writing his last entry for Friday before looking up at the tall figure stepping inside his small office. “You’re late, Mr. Hale,” he snaps, flipping the seeking journal closed. “No one has ever been late to an appointment with me,” he adds, surprised at how much he’s letting his irritation show.
“I don’t want to be here at all,” a rough, tightly-controlled voice snaps back, and Stiles finally looks up, brows arched up in surprised, because that’s new too.
His eyes go wide when he takes in the werewolf standing before him, crossing his worn leather-clad arms over his broad chest, glaring down at where Stiles is sitting behind his desk. He’s easily the most attractive man Stiles has ever seen, all sharp edges and stark contrasts; jeweled eyes and night-black hair, angular jaw and cheekbones and a dense, soft-looking beard. Under his jacket Derek is wearing a snug-fitting white v-neck, outlines of his chiseled chest visible through the thin fabric, neckline deep enough to show an impressively alluring patch of chest hair that makes Stiles' mouth water.
His aura is vibrant and primal, tinged lightly with blue that Stiles knows must mean his eyes are the same, and he tries not to let his curiosity show, a difficult feat, given how he’s already working hard to hide his attraction. That’s a futile effort, of course; Derek’s a werewolf and can surely smell his interest.
“Why don’t you have a seat, Mr. Hale,” Stiles says, standing up and walking out from behind his desk towards the comfortable, blue-velvet couch where he holds most of his meetings. He gestures for Derek to sit. “Since you are here, and since your sister already paid my fee, you might as well, right?” He puts his hands up in contrition and smiles, trying to make up for his abrupt greeting.
Stiles walks to the table across from the couch and clicks on the electric kettle for tea, feeling Derek’s bright eyes on his back while he fills two metal strainers with leaves and waits for the water to heat. He tries to steady his slightly shaking hands, unsettled by just how unsettled Derek’s presence makes him feel, like his skin is too tight, his blood too hot. His body is thrumming with magic, and he’s sure Derek can smell that on him too, and he rolls his shoulders, feeling even more self-conscious. Rude, late, and here under threat from his alpha: it doesn’t seem to matter at all to his spark (or his dick), his magic (and his dick) awakening and thrumming wildly in the werewolf’s presence. Well, the thinks, pouring the hot water, at least this will be an easy vision to access, if his magic is already so responsive to Derek.
The werewolf is still standing with his arms crossed when Stiles turns around with two fresh mugs of hibiscus tea, setting them both down on the coffee table and taking a seat on one end of the couch. Derek huffs and rolls his eyes, but he sits on the other end, his eyes tracking up and down Stiles' body in a way that makes him flush with heat that has nothing to do with the steaming mug of tea. “So you’re here because your sister is making you,” Stiles begins, voice shaking just a bit. “Why don’t you want to be here?” Stiles usually starts his sessions off with the question why are you here, but it’s abundantly clear that Derek’s not his typical client.
“We don’t really need to do this,” Derek mutters. “Can you just do your magic trick and tell me whatever it is you’re supposed to so I can tell Laura and get her off my back?”
“My ‘magic trick,’ is actually a carefully honed skill,” Stiles bristles, last vestiges of professionalism dissipating. “And it takes some time. So why don’t you stop acting like you were raised by actual wolves and take off your damn coat and drink your fucking tea, okay?”
Much to his surprise and relief, Derek smiles, and maybe even laughs a little, but it’s so quiet and Stiles’ heart is pounding because he very easily could have just gotten his throat ripped out. Derek shrugs out of his jacket, which he tosses over the arm of the couch with a rippling flex of his bicep that strains his sleeve and that Stiles thinks is wholly unnecessary and terribly distracting. Derek picks up the teacup, knife-edged nose twitching adorably when he smells it before taking a delicate sip.
Loki, who usually observes his appointments with reserved disinterest from the windowsill, and who always makes himself scarce when werewolves are afoot, leaps up to the couch, sniffing curiously at Derek’s arm, surprising them both.
“So is this how this works?” Derek asks, startling Stiles from his reverie. “You watch me drink tea?”
Stiles tries to hide his blush in his own teacup, looking away from Derek’s smirk and raised eyebrow. “Uh, well, usually, I talk to my clients a bit. The vision is clearer if I have a better sense of who you are. Beyond just what I read in your aura, I mean.”
“You read auras?”
“Of course I do. I’m a mage.”
“And what does my aura tell you about me,” Derek asks, the casualness in his voice sounding a little forced.
“That you’re a werewolf, and a beta,” he answers. “But I already knew that. You have a good heart, you’re reserved, and sensitive. And your eyes, your wolf eyes, are blue.”
Derek seems surprised. “You can tell that? And you know what it means?”
“And you’re not scared of me?”
“Scared of you? All it means is that you carry deep guilt, a wound so deep it’s coloring your soul.”
“For taking an innocent life.” Derek tenses visibly, and Stiles is momentarily worried about his antique teacup that his great-grandmother brought to the States from Krakow.
“That’s a narrow definition of the mythology,” Stiles presses, even though this is clearly a tense subject for Derek. “Would you like to tell me about it?”
Derek scoffs. “My sister paid you to find my soulmate, not for therapy.”
“Are you really surprised that they’re all that different?”
Derek cocks his head at him, expression softening, looking very much like a confused puppy and Stiles has the ridiculous urge to scratch behind his ears, despite the fact that he’s fairly certain such an action would result in the loss of at least one limb. “What do you mean?"
“People come to me because they want reassurance that they’ll recognize their soulmate when they meet them, or find out if they’ve already met them. They’re looking for hope, for something that’s going to help them feel settled.” Stiles shrugs. “And when you add to that the fact the visions are much stronger after I get to know you, after we talk for awhile, yeah. This is a kind of therapy.”
Derek puts his tea down and crosses his arms again, relaxing into the back of the couch. “I just want my sister to stop bothering me about dating. I don’t need to talk anything out.”
“Sorry, big guy,” Stiles sighs, mirroring Derek’s pose. “Them’s the rules.” He neglects to tell Derek that with the way his spark is reacting to him, it likely won’t take more than brush of their hands right now for him to have a crystal-clear vision of the incredibly lucky person who will some day kiss Derek and know what forever feels like.
The thought twists sourly in his gut, and Stiles realizes that for the very first time, he’s jealous of whomever he’s about to have a vision of, Derek’s soulmate, sure that they're as beautiful as him, he thinks bitterly.
“Her name was Paige,” Derek says quietly, pulling Stiles from his confusing thoughts. “We were fifteen, and we were in love. We weren’t soulmates but we didn't care.” Derek palms his beard, sighing heavily, brows furrowed. “She was human, and she wanted the bite. I arranged for an alpha to give it to her. It didn’t take.”
“Derek, that’s hardly your fault,” Stiles says, unsure of how Derek will react to his attempt at comfort. “That’s fairly common, humans not surviving the bite. You’re not responsible for her death.”
“I killed her,” Derek says, eyes searing into his, flashing luminescent blue. “She was in so much pain and she begged me. The bite was going to…but I did it.” The glow fades from his eyes, but he still stares him down, as if he’s challenging Stiles to try and comfort him now.
“That sounds like an act of mercy,” he says softly.
“Doesn’t change the fact that she’s dead because of me. Just like my family.”
Stiles’ eyes go wide. “Your family?”
“After Paige…I slept around a lot. Men and women, most of them older. There was this human woman named Kate. She turned out to be a hunter. She burned our house down. My entire pack died, except for Laura and our uncle Peter. Eleven people.”
“My gods,” Stiles whispers. “Derek, that’s not your fault either. Hunters are disgusting, brutal. You’re lucky to have escaped.”
Derek goes on like he hadn’t spoken. “That was a long time ago. Almost ten years. I haven’t really dated since. And when Laura wouldn’t stop bothering me about it, I thought she’d leave me along if I told her I was waiting for my soulmate.” One corner of his wide, pretty mouth crooks up in something like a wry smile. “She called my bluff. I didn’t know she knew of a soulseeker.”
“So you really don’t want to find your soulmate?” Professionally, Stiles understands those who don’t want advanced knowledge of their soulmate, but personally, given his inability to have a choice in the matter himself, he can’t believe Derek isn’t even a little curious.
“I don’t deserve it,” Derek mutters, so soft Stiles can barely hear him.
“Derek,” Stiles starts, unsure of what he’s going to say. He comforts his clients often, it’s the nature of his work, of his gift, but he finds himself at a loss for how to even begin to help heal the broken man next to him.
“Can we just get on with it?” Derek asks, voice sharp again. “You know more about me now than my own sister, does, okay? Let’s just do this so I can make her happy at least.”
“Yeah, sure,” Stiles relents, knowing it’s not really his place to try and help him recover from his crippling guilt, but strangely, he wants to. He pushes the urge aside and works on focusing and settling his magic. What he can do, is offer Derek some hope, even if he says he doesn’t care, even if Stiles still hasn’t gotten control of his inexplicable jealousy.
Stiles scoots forward on the couch, reaching across the low coffee table for the large wooden spellbox, another family heirloom, and slides it closer. He waves his palm over the charmed clasp, the protection rune tattooed on his palm glowing hot. Derek makes a small noise of interest and leans forward, watching Stiles flip open the lid. The box is divided into a dozen squares, each one holding a few small pouches of charmed herbs, color-coded by the silk ribbons tying them closed. He grabs one of the purple ones and closes the box, waving his palm over the clasp again to lock it, feeling Derek’s eyes on him, his skin tingling with sensation. “My visions are innate,” he explains. “But a focusing spell helps me read auras more deeply, and that makes them clearer and easier to remember. And different herb mixes work better for different species,” he elaborates, untying the pouch and pulling loose the ribbon. Most of his clients like to keep the ribbon as a keepsake, but he doesn’t offer it to Derek.
He pours the herbs into a small worn stone dish, talking to steady his nerves as much as to explain what he’s doing. “After the spell, I’ll take your hands, just for a few seconds, okay?” Derek moves closer and nods. Stiles snaps his fingers over the bowl, flame sparking to life and igniting the herb mixture. Out of the corner of his eyes he can see Derek’s eyebrows go up in surprise, but he keeps his gaze on the thick plume of curling white smoke. He leans over it and inhales, then closes his eyes and quickly speaks the spell, in Polish, the tattoos on his hands and forearms glowing, thrumming with magic.
When he opens his eyes, he knows they’re glowing purple, and he turns towards Derek, watching carefully for his reaction, which is a further raising of his ridiculously thick and expressive eyebrows. “Oh,” he mumbles, his own eyes flashing blue again.
“Yeah,” Stiles smiles. “Pretty cool, huh?” Derek snorts, but he offers a shy smile. The focusing spell designed precisely to tap more deeply into werewolf auras lets him see more of Derek with his glowing eyes, and Stiles lets out his own small noise of surprise. Derek’s soulprint is fully revealed to him now, his gorgeous face haloed with the wispy-edged, blue-tinged outlines of a wolf, regal and majestic, primal. Derek has the rare ability to fully shift into an actual wolf, and judging by the ephemeral faintness of the aura, he’s never accessed that part of himself. It’s entirely possible that Derek doesn’t even know that he can, Stiles realizes, watching Derek’s wolf face, his real wolf face, fade and shimmer across his expectant and noble human features. Stiles' chest twists in pain for him, for his wholly misplaced guilt, his self-hatred, for this deeply, deeply good man wounded so young that he has no idea what he’s capable of or how extraordinary he is.
Sighing, Stiles reaches for Derek’s big hands and holds them, cradled in his broad lap, his skin fighting up even more at Derek's touch. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, preparing himself to look for Derek’s soulmate. Whoever you are, he thinks, you better be worth him.
Darkness. A blank wall.
Stiles squeezes Derek’s hands harder, moves his fingers up his palms to circle around his wrists, breathes deep and looks again. His magic is still vibrating through him in strong, steady pulses, flowing into Derek, and it feels like every other vision he’s had, but he doesn’t see anyone. He doesn’t see anything. His spark feels stronger than it ever has, but it’s as if it can only go so far into Derek’s aura before it’s snapped off, snuffed out, shut out.
Derek makes a noise of confusion and Stiles realizes that’s he’s been clutching at his wrists a little desperately, that he’s been holding on to him for far too long. “I’m sorry,” he says, gasping, letting him go and opening his eyes. “I…I can’t see anything,” he stutters, utterly confused.
“What? What do you mean?”
“I don’t know…this has never…are you blocking me?” There are all kinds of spells to resist magic and strengthen psychic barriers, but it doesn’t make sense that Derek would actually tell him the truth about not wanting to know and then use something like that.
“I wouldn’t even know how to do that, Stiles, if I even knew what that meant.” Derek sounds irritated, but almost resigned too, like this proves something. “You really didn’t see anyone?”
Stiles slumps back against the arm of the couch. “Derek, I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s happening. It was just…blank.”
Derek stands up and pulls on his jacket, features going harsh again. “Expect another phone call from Laura, because she’s not going to believe me when I tell her. She might even drive all the way up here herself.”
“What are you going to tell her,” Stiles asks, still dazed and confused about the blank vision, and now by the fact that Derek’s apparently leaving, his aura darkening with pain before his still-enhanced eyes.
“That I don’t have a soulmate,” Derek snaps, stalking to the door.
“Derek, come on,” Stiles argues, desperation creeping into his voice, rising to his feet. “That’s not possible. Everyone has a soulmate.”
A rush of cool, damp air swirls in when Derek swings the door open, the chime of the bell harsh and bitter. “Think about it, Stiles,” he says, pausing at the threshold, shadow falling across his gorgeous features, elegant even in anger. “Have you ever had a blank vision before? What else could it mean?”
Before Stiles can fumble for a response, Derek is gone, the door slamming shut behind him.
Loki mewling at him brings him to his senses, and Stiles pulls himself from his stunned daze, the cat glaring at him like he’s a complete and utter idiot. Stiles scrambles out the door, hoping he’s not too late to catch Derek, heart pounding.
Derek’s questions echo loudly in his mind as he stumbles into the narrow alley outside his office.
Have you ever had a blank vision before? What else could it mean?
It’s been so long since Stiles tried looking inward for his own soulmate that he had forgotten what it looked like, what it felt like.
Darkness. A blank wall.
Stiles stumbles over his feet in his haste to catch Derek, arms flailing wildly to regain his balance as he looks up and down the narrow alley, nearly dizzy with the wild rush of stunned excitement.
He knew his gift didn’t work on himself, and Stiles had resigned himself to waiting for that soulmate-revealing first kiss of legend and fairy tale.
But he never thought about what that would mean if he ever tried to read his soulmate.
It had rained all night and even though it’s midmorning the sky is dark with heavy clouds, and Stiles is starting to shiver when he spots Derek at the end of the alley, about to get into a sleek black sports car, still looking angry and impossibly sexy.
“Derek, wait!” Stiles calls out and jogs toward him, splashing in the puddles in the uneven cobblestones. “Please don’t go.” He slows to a walk and comes around the front of the Camaro to stand in front of him. “I think I figured it out,” he says, smiling, feeling more and more sure with each step closer to him, his spark shimmering through him with renewed force.
“There’s nothing to figure out, Stiles,” Derek sighs. “You didn’t see anyone. I don’t have a soulmate. That’s how it should be.”
He crosses his arms again, resolute. Stiles steps closer. “Can I try something?” he asks, knowing that Derek needs more than words to truly believe it. Stiles’ voice is steady, but it’s also barely a whisper, like Derek’s a wild animal he’s trying not to spook, his eyes falling to his slightly-open mouth.
Derek nods, barely, and Stiles steps closer still, pressing against his crossed arms until he relents and lets them drop to his sides. When he does, Stiles grins and falls against him, full up against his warm, broad chest. Slow and tentative, he lifts his hands to Derek’s face, gently rustling his beard, so wonderfully soft yet coarse. His eyes are glittering, opalescent green so beautiful Stiles is sure they have their own spark, and he runs his thumb over Derek’s bottom lip, gentling his mouth open more, a glint of glittering magic flashing at the touch.
It’s unlike any kiss he’s ever had, and not just because it’s accompanied by the shaking, bone-deep rush of magic that’s unlike any he’s ever felt; the awakening and recognition of their soulbond courses through them, shifting Stiles’ world on its axis and settling it back into place with a new, Derek-shaped center of gravity. But Stiles has also never been kissed at once so tender yet so passionate, Derek’s lips soft and gentle, his tongue insistent and feverish. And then there are arms, strong, achingly beautiful arms, circling his waist, pulling him tighter, and a happy, desperate groan escaping from Derek’s chest.
When they finally break apart, magic crackling between them, Derek’s eyes are shimmering blue, and Stiles knows his own are purple again. Derek stares at him, happy it seems, but also clearly freaked out. Stiles smiles softly and takes his hand in his. “I live above the office,” he explains. “Why don’t you come up and I’ll make us breakfast and we can talk, okay? Get to know each other better?”
Derek nods, looking away. “I don’t deserve you,” he whispers, awed and achingly vulnerable.
“Hey, watch it,” Stiles warns, playfully admonishing, nudging him softly on the chin, making him meet his gaze again. “That’s my soulmate you’re talking about.”
Stiles leads him up his small, cluttered studio, an uncanny mix of awkward nerves and familiarity buzzing between them now, their souls knowing each other but not their hearts, not yet.
His apartment feels even smaller with Derek in it, his furniture even shabbier. Stiles can afford a bigger place and nicer things, of course, can afford a whole hell of a lot more than that, in fact, but he simply doesn’t care to. “Sorry about the mess,” he mutters, blushing as he clears away the dirty cereal bowls on the coffee table, adding them to the pile in the sink. “Make yourself comfortable.”
Derek takes off his coat and walks slowly through the studio, nostrils twitching, eyes taking in the overstuffed bookshelves and Stiles’ one extravagance, his large flatscreen tv. The bed, unmade, is shoved in the corner opposite the kitchen, separated from the couch and kitchen by a makeshift wall made of antique stained-glass windows strung together with wire and suspended from the ceiling. Derek drifts towards it, licking his lips, and Stiles feels his cheeks go red. He had a long, lazy jerk this morning, coming all over his sheets that he hasn’t had a chance to wash yet, and there’s no doubt at all that Derek can smell it. And, by the way he’s staring at the bed, transfixed, it’s a scent he finds enticing, to say the least.
Derek lets out a low growl and turns on his heel suddenly, blinking hard. “You’re dating a werewolf,” he snaps, a note of accusation in his voice that seems to surprise even him.
Stiles looks up from where he was trying to hide just how many dirty dishes are in his sink. “What? Huh? I’m not dating anyone. I haven’t in like, ages. You’re smelling Scott, he’s one of my best friends. He’s a beta too. Bitten though, not born.”
“You’re sleeping with him though?” Derek sounds less irritated now, but still not pleased, and Stiles has never been one for jealousy, but he has to admit that it’s pretty cute on Derek. “I mean, his scent is all over your bed,” he adds meekly.
Stiles raises his eyebrows, impressed at Derek’s skill. “Dude, that was over a week ago. We ate enchanted mushrooms and marathoned Archer. Scott passed out. He stole my bed and I slept on the couch because the bite cured his asthma but not his disgusting snoring.”
Derek smiles, relieved. “Oh. I’m sorry, I shouldn't pry."
“Not a problem, big guy. I mean, we’re getting to know each other, right?”
“Would you like some more tea? Or I could make coffee. Or hot chocolate? Shot of wolfsbane tequila?”
Derek smiles again, big and bright this time, and Stiles’ stomach does this twisting, swooping thing that he’s pretty sure would happen even if he weren’t his soulmate, because Derek’s smile is well…just as blindingly perfect and gorgeous as the rest of him, made all the more extraordinary by the sharp contrast it provides from his normally stern gaze. His soulmate is a study in contradictions, Stiles realizes, so many rough edges to hide just how gentle he really is.
“Actually, hot chocolate sounds really good,” he says, walking over to sit on the couch. “If that was a serious offer.”
“It was!” Stiles grins wildly, pleased to have something to do besides stare at Derek and feel awkward about his slovenly habits. “It’s my grandmother’s recipe. You’ll love it. Even though I can never get it to taste like hers. Mine’s still pretty good though.” Stiles flits around his small kitchen, gathering up supplies, heart thumping, each loud beat a reminder that his soulmate, his Derek, is here, finally. “You’ll like Scott,” he calls to him, too excited not to speak. “He’s a veterinarian. Got the bite about ten years ago, when he turned eighteen. His soulmate, Kira, is a kitsune.”
“I’ve never met a kitsune.”
“Neither have I.”
Stiles looks up from stirring the slowly heating milk to see Derek’s brows furrow in confusion. “You haven’t met your best friend’s soulmate?”
“In my defense,” Stiles smiles, “neither has Scott. He and Kira are going to meet in about six months.”
“Oh, right,” Derek shakes his head, looking over the mess of books and drawings on his coffee table. “Do you know who all of your friends’ and family member’s soulmates are?”
Stiles shrugs. “Mostly. Everyone but Lydia, actually. Well, kinda. She doesn’t want to know. She’s a banshee, and she says she has enough foresight in her life, she’d like to be surprised by something.”
“That makes sense.”
“Yeah. I read her once, though, not on purpose, of course. It was a long time ago, I was still learning to control when I have the visions. We were prepping a spell and my magic was going, and I accidentally brushed her hand. I didn’t get her name, or when they’ll meet, but I saw her. A human woman with dark hair and a pretty smile. I didn’t tell Lydia, of course. Didn’t even tell her I had a vision.”
“That was good of you. Do you need help with anything?”
“Nah, I got it,” Stiles smiles, melting the chocolate. “Just relax.”
“That’s my pet project,” Stiles blushes, joining Derek on the couch with two oversized mugs. “The soulmate stuff pays the bills but this what I really want to do. It’s a charmed graphic novel. Check it out.” He takes Derek’s mug from his hands, eyes flitting up to meet his when their fingers brush together around the ceramic, making Stiles’ skin tingle. “See the hero, on the Pegasus,” he says, pointing at his drawing of a young, dark-haired woman, “hacking through the ivy around the castle with her enchanted sword? That’s Haven, she’s a fallen angel leading a revolution –” Stiles stops abruptly at the look of shock that darts across Derek’s face, his eyes going wide and his shoulders tensing. “Dude, you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?”
“Haven,” Derek whispers. “Haven was my sister’s name. One of them, my youngest. Cora was a couple of years older than her. They both died in the fire." Derek swallows hard. "Haven isn’t a common name. Where did you come up with it?”
Now Stiles is the one looking and feeling like he’s seen a ghost. “Um, well, it was supposed to be my name. And, um, actually it’s my middle name too. My parents had a deal. If I was a boy my mom would name me, and a girl, my dad would. He chose the name Haven. He died before I was born, so my mom named me Szczesny after her dad like she was planning but kept Haven as my middle name for him.” Stiles swallows too, eyes going a little hot. “They were soulmates,” he shrugs.
Derek reaches for his hand, tentative, but his fingers are solid and reassuring around his. “I’m sorry, Stiles.”
“I’ve heard all about this,” Stiles goes on, blinking back his tears and twining his fingers with Derek’s. “Little things about soulmates that would seem like coincidences otherwise. All part of the universe’s plan to connect people, bring pairs together.”
“Tell me more about Haven the hero. She has an enchanted sword?” Derek smiles, and Stiles goes a little dizzy.
Heart fluttering, Stiles looks back to the page in Derek’s other hand. “See the tip of the sword, how it’s kinda glowing a bit?”
Derek leans in closer to examine the drawing. “I thought it was glittering ink.” Derek scrunches up his nose as he inspects the drawing further, and he looks absolutely delectable. “But it’s magic?”
Stiles grins, pleased. “Yeah. The idea is to hide little charms, simple little spells, throughout the comic, at key points in the story. Only supernatural creatures can activate the magic, so it’ll have a limited audience, but, whatever. Just press your finger over the tip of the sword.” Derek does, an adorable noise of delighted surprise escaping from his mouth when the burst of glittering, colored light shoots up from the page like a firework, painting a brief, shimmering outline of a castle and flying leaves of ivy, like something out of Fantasia. “Pretty cool, huh?”
“Stiles, this is amazing. You’re so talented.”
He shrugs again, but he’s grinning ear-to-ear with pride that Derek likes his art. “It’s really just a popup book. But you know, cooler.”
“I can’t wait to read it. I’ll buy a dozen copies.”
Derek is utterly sincere, and Stiles positively melts. He grips his hand harder and nudges his thigh with his knee. “You’re just sayin’ that ‘cause you’re my soulmate.”
His soulmate – his freakin’ soulmate – rolls his eyes and nudges him back, pressing their thighs together. He’s kinda dying to kiss him again, but he doesn’t want to spook Derek away by moving too fast or pressuring him into something too quickly. “What do you do,” Stiles asks him instead.
“I’m a writer and a photographer. Mostly freelance.” Derek stiffens suddenly, nostrils flaring and shoulders shifting towards the door. “Someone’s coming up the stairs,” he announces, and Stiles has to resist the urge to pet him on the head and say good boy like he does to Scott.
“It’s probably my mom and her girlfriend Melissa,” Stiles says, releasing Derek’s hand and standing. “She’s Scott’s mom, by the way. They said they might swing by after the farmer’s market. We usually meet there for breakfast on Sundays,” he explains, feeling suddenly awkward at the imminent prospect of Derek meeting his mom. There goes not rushing things.
Derek stands too, shoulders broad and steady, straightening his shirt. “Is this – am I okay?”
Stiles squeezes his shoulder before going to open the door. “You’re perfect.”
He opens his door just as his mom is about to knock and is greeted with a warm, rain-and-sage-scented hug, Melissa following close behind her carrying a canvas bag overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables. His mother, charmed bracelets tinkling, sweeps into the small apartment, skirts flowing. “Good morning, sweetie, how was your appointment? Everyone at the market missed you. Athena sent two of her enchanted cupcakes for you, and she said you should call her son – ” She catches sight of Derek and stops short. “Speaking of enchanted cupcakes,” she grins, raising her eyebrows knowingly at Stiles after take a good, long look at him.
“Mom,” Stiles groans, blushing.
“What,” she says, mock innocent. “Don’t tell me you don’t want to eat him up.”
“Oh my gods, mother,” Stiles cringes, refusing to look at Derek, knowing his cheeks are splotchy and red, horrified.
“Stiles, who’s your friend?” Melissa laughs, tickling his mom’s side.
“Um, Derek, this my mom, Claudia, and, this is Melissa. This is Derek Hale, my – ”
“Your soulmate,” his mom finishes, the rune tattoos on her forearms shimmering. “I can see that you’ve bonded,” she winks, slipping free from Melissa’s arms and walking up to Derek. “A werewolf, of course. Perfect match for Stiles.”
“Hello Claudia, it’s very nice to meet you,” Derek says formally, offering her a handshake.
“Derek, hello,” she smiles, her aura growing brighter with happiness as she pulls him into a hug. Stiles stands next to Melissa and watches Derek freeze in surprise for a moment before relaxing into her embrace, tension leaving his body, his aura growing clearer. Stiles feels it too, a little tug behind his heart that makes him shiver, his soulbond with Derek reacting to the aura-cleansing effects of his mother’s embrace.
Eventually she pulls back from him, hands steady on his shoulders as he sways a little bit, looking at her with wide, grateful eyes. “How did you do that?”
She squeezes Derek’s shoulder. “Soul work runs in the family. I cleanse. Your bond with Stiles made you very receptive to it. Your burdens should feel a little lighter now,” she smiles and gently, lovingly pats his cheek. “Welcome to the family, Derek.”
Derek looks over to Stiles, big eyes shining, but he’s smiling, brilliantly, and that’s the moment Stiles realizes he’s already in love with his soulmate.
Melissa and his mom make themselves scarce quickly, both of them grinning beatifically as they leave, his mom cooing “have fun, boys” while winking at Derek, whose beard couldn’t completely hide his blush.
When they’re alone again, their earlier hesitation and tentativeness dissipates mostly, and Stiles isn’t sure if it’s their ever-growing bond, his mother’s brief cleanse of Derek’s soul, or her teasing, but now it’s suddenly quite comfortable and easy between them. They spend the rest of the day lounging around, talking, getting to know each other, sharing childhood stories and favorite books and pet peeves. Derek tells Stiles about Laura, and about his photography and his writing, which Stiles immediately finds online, heart thumping harder and harder as Derek flusters and squirms under his utterly sincere and adoring praise. He tells Derek more about Scott and Lydia and about growing up in his mother’s Spellwork shop and learning magic and supernatural lore.
As they talk, facing each other on the couch, they ease into casual touches again, cautious at first, then more sure and deliberate, each one lighting Stiles up, making the pooling glow of warmth in his chest burn hotter, his skin lighting up at the contact as well at Derek’s shy little smiles.
At dusk, Stiles, stretched out on the couch, his barefeet resting on Derek’s lap, gets an idea. “Come on,” he says, standing up, searching for their shoes. “I want to show you something.” Stiles finds a canvas bag and gathers the blackberry pie his mom brought him from the farmer’s market, along with a bundle of rare herbs from his personal stock, and the latest three issues of the new Thor comic. “You’ll see,” he answers to Derek’s raised eyebrows, winking.
In the fading daylight, he drives them along the winding mountain road into the old-growth forest, unable to stop himself from looking over at the passenger side of his Jeep pretty much constantly, marveling at the sight of Derek watching him drive, looking like he belongs there. Stiles pulls onto a secluded dirt road just barely wide enough for a vehicle, and drives them even farther into the depths of the forest and higher up the coast range, miles from town now, Derek’s eyebrows rising more the longer they drive, but he doesn’t ask where they’re going.
Stiles turns off the Jeep when they the road deadends into a giant, gnarled blackberry thicket, and grabs the bag and hops out. “It’s just a short walk from here,” he explains, leading Derek to a barely visible path that leads into the oldest part of the forest. He doesn’t let go of his hand when they start walking, and Derek twines their fingers together, trusting Stiles to lead him down the dark trail that he knows from memory.
“Can you guess where we’re going?”
Derek scents the air, chin jutting up, eyes searching, brows up in confusion. “I just smell the forest.”
Stiles grins. “We’re just a couple yards from a hot springs.”
“No way, I can smell a hot spring from a mile away.”
“Not one in a glamoured faerie circle,” Stiles chirps, pulling him of the path and through some brambles until they’re standing in front of a large, nondescript boulder that butts up against a high, steep bluff. “Don’t worry,” he says, sensing Derek’s hesitation. “My family has been allied with the faerie clan that lives in this forest for generations now. We won’t be bothered. And,” he adds, hooking the bag on his wrist to search his pockets, “this offering of gifts will further endear us to them. Siobhan, their queen, loves sweets and superheroes.” The search of his pockets comes up empty. “Um, can I get claw?”
“I need my blood, to activate the rune to open an entrance through the glamour. My pocketknife must have fallen out.”
Even in the dim light, Stiles can see that Derek still looks skeptical, but he still raises a hand between them, pointing one finger up and letting a single, lethal claw slip free, exhibiting perfect control. Stiles holds out his own finger, but Derek doesn’t move. “Are you sure,” he asks, brow furrowing in concern.
“Dude, it’s just a tiny poke. I only need a couple of drops. It’ll hardly hurt. Plus, I heal fast, like you. Well, not nearly as fast as you, but you know. Come on, just poke me.” Derek just stares at him, mouth open, and yeah, okay, Stiles probably could have worded that differently. “Um, here, I’ll do it,” he mutters, wrapping his hand around Derek’s finger. He runs his fingertip across the top of his hard, smooth curve of the long claw before ever-so-gently pressing against the vicious tip, a shiver of knife-edged pleasure running down his spine. It’s possible he makes a noise, strangled and curious, thinking about what it would feel like if Derek dragged all of his claws across his skin like that, tantalizingly and slow. Derek would be gentle, he thinks, pressing the tip of his finger harder against the point of his claw, biting his lip at the sting of pain he barely feels.
With Derek watching closely, Stiles turns towards the boulder, squeezing his fingertip until a fat drop of blood appears. He calls up his spark and locates the glamoured rune carved into the rock, knows from memory exactly where to press his blood-stained finger. Bloodmagic sizzles through him, illuminating the rune and then the air around them shimmers and bends, blossoms with a wild abundance of scents: the earthy but somehow fizzy musk of faerie magic, Stiles’ own sugar-tinged power, the faint sulfur of the hot springs.
Stiles watches the wonder in Derek’s eyes as the glamour partially lifts, revealing a space between the boulder and the bluff just tall and wide enough for them to walk through. Stiles goes in first, leading Derek through the entrance that just seconds ago looked like a bulge in the giant rock, turning back so he can see the look on Derek’s face when he enters the circle. Stiles has been coming here since he was a kid, and the beauty of the enchanted place still leaves him breathless; he can’t wait to see Derek’s expressive face see it for the first time.
Derek may be his soulmate, but Stiles would challenge anyone not think the look of marvelous awe in those eyes rivals the beauty of the faerie circle, expansive and awed, glittering green and gold just like the charmed forest haloing the small, steaming pool of crystal-clear water. Derek's eyes wander up to the old-growth trees forming a thick canopy over the springs, giving the circle an enclosed, sheltered feeling, dozens of floating, glowing orbs of soft light sprinkled through the air all around them, utterly and truly magical.
He leads him to the edge of small, underwater spring-fed pool, a near-perfect circle roughly eight feet in diameter, steam curling from the shining surface in evanescent tendrils. “It’s a natural hot spring,” Stiles explains, toeing off his shoes. “Enhanced with some faerie magic of course. The water's perfect. You up for a little skinny dipping with your soulmate?” He winks, but he’s sure it doesn’t belie his nerves.
Derek’s smile is bright enough to outshine the spheres of enchanted light hovering above them. That’s enough of an answer for Stiles, who begins to strip quickly, Derek doing the same. They toss their clothes in a pile towards the trees, stealing excited, bashful glances at each other when they’re both standing naked at the water’s edge. Stiles is only momentarily embarrassed that he’s more than a little hard, because Derek is too, and he goes a little breathless and dizzy, his not-so-surreptitious look turning into an open-mouthed gape when he sees Derek’s cock, big and eager, mouthwatering. Derek seems to be having a similar reaction to seeing him, and Stiles flushes with pride and affection as they lower themselves in, marveling at the miracle of Derek wanting him.
The pool isn’t very deep, only about waist-high in the middle, with natural rock outcroppings on the sides that serve as perfect natural seats. They both stand in the center and drop to their knees, letting the steaming hot water, slightly oily with glistening magic residue, envelope them like a soft, sacred blanket. “The faeries say that the lights,” Stiles whispers, reaching up to gently tap at one of the small gleaming orbs, “are little bits of souls that get left behind on this plane when they die. Faerie offerings to their progeny, lighting their way.” He looks up, watching the lights drift above them, a couple of bright stars and a sliver of the moon peeking through the trees. “Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”
“Yes,” Derek says, immediate and sincere, and Stiles glances down to see that he’s not looking up at all, but at Stiles, enraptured and reverent.
“Oh,” he mumbles, heart thumping, swallowing when Derek moves closer, his big hand coming up to cradle his jaw.
“Can I kiss you?” Derek asks, barely a whisper.
Stiles wants to tell him that he never has to ask, but all he can muster is a nod and that’s enough for Derek. This kiss is as extraordinary as the first, even though they’re already soulbonded: the real magic is us, Stiles realizes, smiling as he licks into Derek’s soft, warm mouth, arms wrapping around each other, bodies pressed close under water.
“Stiles,” Derek pants, when they finally pull their mouths away from each other, Stiles’ lips already feeling swollen with beard burn that he wants to feel everywhere. Derek’s asking for something, but he seems to be struggling to find the words.
Stiles holds him tighter and ducks down to kiss his neck, pressing his mouth to the hot thrum of his pulse, the soulbond surging between them, and Stiles knows what he needs. “Derek,” he whispers, pulling back to look at him. “Can I…can I touch you? I just want…I just want to make you feel good,” he urges, his voice husky with need, his cock, his entire body, throbbing with desire to explore and worship every inch of his soulmate’s exquisite body.
Derek nods, eyes falling closed and sighing. Smiling, Stiles stands and pulls Derek up with him, the water lapping at their stomachs, still pressed close, cocks rubbing together too, making Stiles weak in the knees with bursts of hot pleasure. He runs his hands down Derek’s back, from his nape to the base of his spine, his magic coming alive under his own skin as Derek’s shivers and rises under his touch. He kisses him again, slowly, hands running up and down his broad, muscled back with slick cascades of water, eventually venturing down to slowly, tentatively cup his magnificent ass, and fuck, if he hadn’t already known that Derek was made for him, the way it fits full and firm in his palms would have convinced him. His fingers are long enough to just barely dip into his lightly-furred cleft, and Stiles teases in, letting his hands move with more purpose, waiting for Derek's reaction.
Derek mouths at the soft spot behind his ear, whining softly, arms around Stiles’ waist, holding on tight. Emboldened, Stiles delves deeper, lightly pressing a finger against his hole, and Derek’s cock twitches hard against his belly and he practically purrs. “You like that, big guy,” Stiles mewls.
Derek answers him with a playful nip to his earlobe, and he lets Stiles walk him backwards until Derek’s pressed against the edge of the pool, tugging on his hips. He gets the message loud and clear and pushes himself up to sit on the edge of the pool, leaning back on his hands, legs spread wide while Stiles slots himself between his thighs on his knees on a rock outcropping. For a long time he just stares him, eyes greedily drinking up every elegant line and muscled curve of his chiseled abs and pecs, his sculpted shoulders and rippling biceps, the way his long dark lashes fall so graceful and sweet against his cheeks, the slight downturn of his wide, plump mouth.
Moving slowly, Stiles makes, deliberate, delicate work of caressing, kissing, and licking all of him that he can, starting at his collarbones and working his way down, teasing his nipples until they’re hard and shiny, delighting in the feel of Derek’s coarse chest hair rough-but-still-soft on his tongue and the salty-sweet taste of his skin. Derek is all quiet, shuddering twitches at first, like he’s trying to control himself, but once Stiles pauses his ministrations and leans up to kiss him again and tells him how badly he wants to hear him, wants to feel him give in, Derek relaxes, giving himself over to Stiles’ careful, adoring hands, laying back onto the soft, warm earth.
Stiles continues to navigate the blissfully erotic terrain of Derek’s powerful body, all that wild, coiled strength buzzing hot under his skin, humming in harmony with Stiles’ own aura and his magic. He moves farther back into the water to kiss and nibble at the inside of Derek’s thighs, hand sliding down below his balls, seeking his rim, breaching him with a wet finger while taking his cock into his other hand and teasing his slit with his tongue, eyes rolling back at the delicious taste of him.
Derek makes the most incredible noise, a mewling rumble from deep in his throat that speaks to years of unfulfilled need. Stiles is desperate to make it good for him, to give him what he hasn’t been able to or let himself have for so long. He takes his time, licking and kissing up and down his thickly-veined shaft, laves over the head of his cock, pulling gently on his foreskin, looking up to meet Derek’s flickering blue eyes, and feels his own eyes shimmer in response, gaze locked on each other as Stiles finally swallows him all the way down. He pushes his finger deeper too, Derek’s body relaxed and pliant under his touch.
He works his cock with his mouth and tongue and slides a second finger into him, his own cock throbbing at the thought of someday soon fucking into that lush, velvet heat. Derek is gasping and grunting, hands running through Stiles’ hair, and he's close, Stiles can tell, so he pulls of his cock and licks down to suckle at his heavy balls, pulling his fingers out too. Derek cries out at the loss like Stiles has betrayed him, but then curses and whines gratefully when Stiles spreads his thighs wider to better get at his slightly stretched, unfurling pink hole.
“Fuck, Stiles,” he whines, grateful and desperate, when he circles his rim a few times before pushing in, plunging in as far as he can, Derek’s hips rocking down, ass clenching around his tongue. Stiles tries to go slow, tries to drag it out even more, but Derek is quivering and panting hard and fuck, he tastes good. Giving in, Stiles licks harder and faster, devouring, slipping his fingers back in and curling them up, still sucking at his rim.
Without warning, Stiles’ spark ignites, buzzing of its own volition, simmering from his heart straight to the tips of his fingers, sending small jolts of magic into Derek’s prostate. Derek howls, back bowing and hips thrusting, cock gushing onto his abs, clawed hands grappling at the ground. Stiles leans back to watch in wide-eyed awe, his magic reverberating through Derek's body and back into his, an ecstatic vibration that surprises him as much as it does Derek, who continues to writhe as he comes and comes, the magic drawing out his orgasm to impossibly beautiful lengths.
Stiles’ magic has never come alive like that before, has never acted of its own accord to fulfill his will. It’s the soulbond, he knows, grinning, drunk with arousal at the sight of the utterly contented, blissed out werewolf splayed out before him, his damp skin shining with the faerie light, ridged plane of his abs glistening with thick come. His mouth still rich with the taste of Derek's perfect ass, Stiles swipes a sticky puddle of it from his belly button, purring at the bittersweet flavor. Derek, claws retracted now, hauls him up by the armpits into a sloppy kiss, licking into Stiles’ mouth and reaching down to get a hand around his leaking cock. It only takes a few firm strokes, and then Stiles is biting Derek’s jaw, groaning, spilling thickly between them, pleasure curling and throbbing through his body, skin alight, Derek stroking him through it until they both collapse at the water’s edge in a tangled, exhausted heap, sated, elated, soulbonded.
It’s well past midnight when they wake from their post-orgasm forest nap and get dressed, leaving the bag of offerings for the fae and meandering slowly back to the Jeep hand-in-hand. Back at Stiles' place, they shower in his tiny bathroom, barely enough space for the two of them to fit in the narrow stall together, which makes showering much more difficult, but lazily rutting against each other until they both come again very, very easy.
Naked, they crawl into bed, moving together like they’ve been sleeping side-by-side for years. Stiles stretches out on his back, and Derek curls around him, resting his head on his chest, sighing sweetly and nuzzling his beard into his skin until Stiles shivers. Derek holds on to him tightly, and Stiles rests one hand, protective, on his rippling back, and with the other, gentles his fingers through his soft, silky hair. Derek falls asleep in moments, utterly trusting, and Stiles’ eyes sting with tears, overwhelmed with the miracle of the gift he’s been given.
Just before he drifts to sleep too, Stiles grins into the dark, reminding himself to record the morning’s appointment in his seeking journal.
Derek H., beta werewolf. A soulseeker named Stiles.