Nothing could have prepared Stiles for the first time he saw Derek after Mexico. And he looked fucking incredible. His hair was longer, pulled back in a tight knot at the back of his head, and on anyone else, Stiles would swear it looked like the douchiest thing ever, but somehow, Derek made it work, perhaps because it was paired with two full sleeves of tattoos.
“Stiles!” Derek smiled, and waved. And Derek smiled now. That was a thing that was happening.
“Hey Derek! What’re you doing back in town?” Stiles asked, he wasn’t anxious to have Derek leave or anything, he just knew that getting the fuck away from Beacon Hills had to be the best thing to ever happen to him. He was still in contact with the pack, but had spent the previous two years zen-wolfing his way through Mexico and South America, communing with nature or something. Stiles was pretty sure it was just back packing and smoking a ton of weed.
“I-uh, just had a feeling something was coming and I should come back. Is Scott around? I need to check in with him first thing.” Surprising absolutely everyone, Derek was an exemplary beta to Scott. He thrived under Scott’s leadership and seemed to genuinely enjoy being in the pack more than he ever had when he was Alpha.
They headed over to Scott’s, Stiles pausing in the living room while Derek went to talk to Scott, overhearing parts of the conversation.
“I need to know what you want me to do,” Derek was saying. “Eventually someone will come for me, they’d be insane not to. You know what I can do. My question is, do you want me to cut ties and drag this away from your doorstep, or is this something you can back me on? No hard feelings either way, I can handle it myself.”
“What do you see? If you leave will this resolve itself, or will you being here produce the best result?” Scott was saying.
“That’s the fucking problem, I can’t fucking see anything. It’s like that fucking chick in Twilight who couldn’t see jack shit until it was already decided. I have no idea how this is going to pan out. I’m sorry I brought this here.”
“No, Derek. We’re pack. Pack means family. No one gets left behind. We’ll face whatever comes, together. Like we always do. But I have to ask, can you control it?” Scott said, tone apologetic.
“You reek of guilt, Scott. You’re allowed to ask me that. It was harder in some ways-being away from-but Yes, I’ve got it this time. I’ve had extraordinary teachers, thank for you giving me the time away to learn.”
“I’m just glad you’re back.” Scott said, clapping Derek on the shoulder. “You know eventually you’re going to have to tell him, right? Like everything? Not just about this.”
Derek sighed. “Yeah, I know. I just don’t know how yet. It’s a lot.”
“Give him a chance, he loves you. He’ll find a way to be okay with it.”
Stiles stomach dropped out, Scott was giving Derek relationship advice, well, that sucked. Stiles was pretty sure he was in love with Derek, and he had thought maybe something was happening before Derek left- but there was no way that Scott could know that. As annoyed as he was about that, he was more concerned with what had happened to Derek over the last couple years.
Stiles just hoped Derek would tell him eventually. After Derek had checked in with Scott, he was much more relaxed than he had been before and Stiles was glad that Scott of all people was now someone Derek found comfort in.
“Are you okay?” Stiles asked because he was really worried.
“Yeah, I really am. I’ll explain everything eventually. It’s just been a really long day. Can you drop me at the loft?” He asked.
A few days later, the pack was on patrol throughout the preserve, something they’d taken to doing after the resolution nemeton business in high school. Everyone except Lydia and Jackson, Lydia was at MIT and Jackson was still overseas. The omega running through their territory wasn’t even trying to be quiet about it.
They managed to surround him in a clearing, and Stiles suddenly realizes it’s the first time they’ve all been together in years, Stiles, Scott, Derek, Kira, Isaac, Malia and Allison, who had woken up from her Nogitsune induced coma about six months after Mexico. She’d made a full recovery and returned to the pack and hunting when necessary. Her and Stiles had never been closer.
Seeing them all together made Derek ache for the ones they’d lost.
The omega in front of them was snarling and baring his teeth, obviously surprised to be caught, how, Stiles wasn’t sure, because even he’d heard him clambering around with his second-rate human ears. They just wanted to talk to him, and if he meant no harm they’d escort him across their territory to safety, as was their usual. It was considered exceptionally polite, while also ensuring that their visitors didn’t linger. Then he made the mistake of lunging at Scott.
Scott dodged neatly to the side, before striking the other wolf across the face. “We just want to talk to you!” He screamed. The omega didn’t let up his attack. “Derek.” Scott ground out. And Stiles was so goddamned confused it wasn’t even remotely amusing.
Derek made a dismissive hand gesture and the omega went flying backwards and found himself pinned to a tree. “Talk,” Derek said, with a bored expression on his face.
“So what they say is true.” The omega glared as Derek and if looks could kill, Derek would be in ribbons. “You have too much power, he’s going to keep coming for you. You can kill me, but they’ll keep coming Hale. He’ll get you eventually. I promise you, he never loses. And you’re his very favorite game.
“Oh my god, that totally sounds like one of those stalking murder show intros.” Stiles whispered under his breath because apparently he forgot that he was an adult now.
“Who? Who is after me? Just fucking tell me.” Derek roared.
“I’m never going to tell you. You might as well just kill me.” The omega sneered.
“I’m not going to kill you. I don’t kill people, I’m not an animal.” Derek told him, with a disgusted look on his face. Stiles wasn’t sure why Scott had let it go on this long without intervening, but he thought maybe Scott understood at this was Derek’s fight.”
“But I can’t allow you to go back to whoever and tell them anything, so what to do with you. Derek wondered out loud. Scott roared at the omega and his eyes flashed blue. Derek’s flashed back at him. “Hm, blue eyes, huh. Are you sorry?” Derek asked.
He laughed. “Nope, I’d do it again if I could.”
Derek nodded. “Okay, then.” Derek snapped his fingers. A fucking cloud appeared around the omega and when it cleared in its place was a fucking adorable puppy. Derek walked over and picked it up, then walked over to Stiles. “Here,” he said, holding it out, “I got you a puppy.” And Stiles couldn’t fucking help it, his eyes lit right the fuck up, because it was adorable. “Is he still, like, in there?” Stiles asked.
“No, his mind’s been wiped clear, he just thinks he’s a dog.” Derek said.
“Isn’t that kind of like killing him?” Isaac asked.
Derek shrugged. “I prefer to think of it as recycling.”
Oh yeah, Stiles thought to himself, they really needed to have a talk.