Stiles may be the youngest but he’s not stupid. As often as his father coddles him, tries to keep him in the dark; he’s smart enough to know. He's eight years old but he can tell that he’s different. He’s not like his brothers. Line them up in a row and Stiles is clearly the one that doesn’t belong.
His brothers are beautiful. There’s no other way that Stiles can describe them. He idolizes them, trails after them when the full moon comes and they shifts into Werewolves. Stiles is too little to keep up, so most of the time he just climbs up in a tree, finds an overlook to watch them tussle and fight, chase after one another.
The best times are when Mattie comes along, he’ll pick Stiles up by the scruff , wrestle with him and take him swimming in the creek. Matthew is the oldest, he’s an alpha and he’s almost twenty years old. Stiles thinks he’s a knight come to life, tall and dark, hair like a raven’s wing. He’s also strong, strong enough to carry Stiles home when he gets too tired after playing. Matthew is getting mated today, to a nice beta named Claire, she smells nice and has pretty hair. Stiles thinks that if he could remember his mother she would be like Claire.
As warm as Mattie is, Jackson is the complete opposite. He doesn’t have much patience for Stiles or his questions. Jackson is sixteen but he already commands the attention of the entire room. He’s tall and lithe, sleek and beautiful where Stiles is small and scrawny. He has dark blond hair and jewel toned eyes. Stiles’ eyes are plain and brown.
Taylor is a year younger than Jackson, quiet and kind but he’s like Jackson in his fair hair and coloring. Stiles thinks Taylor looks like a painting in a museum. His disposition makes him even more admirable. He takes the time to help Stiles with his studies, brings him oil paints and holds his hand steady to the parchment.
People are always saying how beautiful the Stilinski boys are. They say Matthew is handsome, they gush about Jackson’s eyes and Taylor’s angelic disposition. But no one says anything like that about him. More often they say he’s smart, but not in a nice way. In a ‘well, at least he has a good head on his shoulders’ way. Stiles has spent the entire night being ignored and hearing comments about how plain he is. The rest of the cubs, most of them from the neighboring packs, feel the same. No one wants to play with him, so Stiles spends the night trailing after his brothers.
It’s not fair that Stiles looks the way he does, crueler still that he’s forced to stand next to three paradigms. Because as young as he is Stiles knows, he knows how it feels to have peoples eyes skip over him as if he doesn‘t matter.
Stiles has always known he was different, ugly and dull, but he never knew why. Until today. Wiping bitterly at his wet cheeks, Stiles tries not to think back to what Jackson said.
You’re not my brother! My father married a mate less beta with a cub because he pitied her. After she died, he pitied you. That’s the only reason why he keeps you around.
The words had shaken Stiles to the core. He never thought that there was an actual, logical reason why he was different. He had held on to the hope that one day, even if he was never as special as his brothers, he would grow to at least find a suitable mate.
That would never happen now. No one would ever want a small, brown mutt for a mate.
Unnoticed, Stiles had slipped away upstairs to his bedroom to cry where Jackson couldn’t see. He’s being a baby, he knows he is, but he can’t help it. His chest aches and he really, really wishes he hadn’t gotten Jackson mad enough to yell those horrible things.
There’s a knock on the door and Stiles scrambles under the bed, curls into a ball when the it creaks open slowly. It’s probably Matthew, coming to see to him. He doesn’t want to ruin his brother’s day; he’s already ruined so much.
It’s not Mattie, Stiles knows that as soon as the Were steps into the room. The scent is different, like pine and sea air. Stiles thinks he’d be happy to smell it all day. Of all of Mattie’s friends Derek Hale is his favorite. It’s not just because he’s nice and brings Stiles candy, it’s because when he tells Jackson to shut up, Jackson actually does and he doesn’t listen to anyone. Sometimes not even to Daddy.
“Stiles.” Derek’s voice is soft and gentle. “I know you’re in here.”
Tentatively, Stiles peeks out from beneath the bed, he’s got dust all over his clothes and in his hair. Derek is dressed formally in a black tuxedo. His shoes are polished, gleaming in the low light. Derek is the only one that can pry attention from Jackson, people like him much more because unlike Jackson, Derek is a kind alpha.
“Come on; out.” Derek sits down on the bed, pats the empty space next to him. “I want to talk to you.”
Stiles crawls out slowly, wiping his nose on his sleeve. Derek lifts him up on to his knee and Stiles wants to yell that he’s not a child but he feels too sad to protest.
“I overheard what Jackson said.” Derek says carefully, and Stiles‘ cheeks go red. “He shouldn’t have told you those things, no matter how angry he was that you broke his vase.”
“Is it…” Hope springs up in him. Derek is old, older than Jackson and he would know. “Is it true? Papa isn’t my Papa and I have a different Mommy?”
Derek looks pained, squeezes his shoulder. “It’s true but that doesn‘t make you any less a part of your family.”
“I knew it.” Stiles shudders, eyes welling up again no matter how hard he tries. “I knew I was too ugly an’ scrawny and --”
“Quiet." Derek growls fiercely. “You’re not ugly or scrawny. You’re little, but that’s normal because you’re just a puppy.”
Stiles shakes his head. “I’m always going to look like this. I won’t be able to find a mate and Papa will be miserable and burdened by me.”
“Look at me,” Derek instructs and when Stiles does, he wipes his tears away gently with his thumbs. “I promise you that when you get older, you’re going to be just as beautiful as you are smart. You’ll be fighting potential mates off with a stick.”
“As beautiful as Jackson, Mattie and Taylor?”
“Even more so.”
Later on that evening, when the guests have departed and everyone has gone to bed, Stiles’ father comes into his room, face lined and tense. Stiles expected him, had heard his Dad yelling at Jackson for the past fifteen minutes. That argument had ended with Jackson storming off, and Stiles feels bad for causing so much trouble.
“You okay, kiddo?” John Stilinski looks awkward, hangs near the doorway. “Derek told me about what happened with your brother. He doesn’t mean to hurt you, he loves you, he’s just hot headed.”
Stiles nods and his father gives him a sad smile. Stiles thinks that this is one of those moments that he’ll always remember.
“About what Jackson said--”
“It’s okay, Daddy.”
“It is?” John sits down heavily on the bed and Stiles realizes that his father is sad as well. His scent is off, bitter with anxiety and Stiles really wants to hug him so he does.
“You’re still my Daddy.”
John holds him tight and the scent of salt fills the air just as dampness hits his cheek. “I want you to know, I loved your mother, she was a great woman, no matter what anyone said. And you, you remind me of her every day. How could I not love you as well?”
“I love you too, Dad.”
After a few moments, John rises to his feet and affectionately ruffles Stiles’ hair. “Shall I turn down the lantern? ”
“No.” Stiles pulls out his journal, “I’m going to do my math exercises.”
“Alright clever pants, don’t stay up too late.”
His father shuts the door and Stiles grabs a pencil. His thoughts keep retiring back to earlier in the evening. If Stiles has to find a mate, he’d like for it to be Derek. He’s as nice as Matt, gentle like Taylor and he‘s very strong. Stiles doesn’t think he’d ever be mean to him the way the packs within the capital are.
Carefully, Stiles writes in his journal. “March 2, 1810. . .Today, I met the man I’m going to marry."